Layer over Layer over Layer

just let me be
just let me be

I sit on a method (a manner) that I know will make me perform my duties more efficiently. Yet, I have to build a case to get approvals from I don’t know how many people. Still, I drafted an email last week on Thursday with options and was hoping that I will have the decisions (one way or another) very soon. I came back into office today (4 working days have gone by) and the first layer of approval is not in place. And yes, there is at-least 1 more that I know of (maybe more).

I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I sit here with years of experience of building things, yet I have to “seek approvals” on trivial things. This is part of a larger design in my life and how I have been working. While I have the freedom to build things how I want to, yet somehow everything I do needs someone to sign-off. Something I should have been using today most probably I will never do now as there are other things I have to do.

People need to realize I am not their average technology/architect that they work with.

<rant over/>

The Perfect Blog Post

Recently, i told someone that i stopped blogging because I need time to frame my thoughts and when i sit to write down it takes me hours to compile a thought i a manner that it would make sense and i am happy with it. what was happening that in the process of getting the “perfect post”, I would not get anything up there.

once again, i find myself at a time where my head is crowded with several things and i can not really make up my mind. And i need someone to bounce of my ideas to be able to get my head sorted out. Of course while I can (will) speak to my wife, I need a way to go back and view the structure of how i am thinking. This space has been a good way for me to write down what I am thinking and it has always helped, but like always I am charred with this being global and vary about how this may impact when people read about it. So of course while I construct my thinking, I find the need to be politically correct and this is becoming a more of a burden than anything.

I want to take a leap of faith and just go with the flow and see what happens.

https://uberchord.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Uberchord-Incorporated-Leap-Of-Faith.jpg
What if…?

A good bye note which made me feel proud

One of my colleagues left my organization and moved on to do bigger things in his life. While there have been a lot of GoodBye emails in past, this is the first time that someone took time to write to me a personal good bye/thank you note. This is what he had to say and it felt proud that I made a difference.

As you may already be aware that I have decided to move on in my career in search for a more exciting career opportunity. I am writing this email to you, to say goodbye and thank you for your support during our stint together in RIC.

Our first correspondence happened during the AEM training delivered by you and your team and believe me, I was left in awe. It gave me a clear indication of the great leadership that Sapient has. With you moving in to lead the RIC account, I got another great opportunity to learn from you. I always looked forward to our technical discussions, because they helped me shape the approach that I should have while solving a problem.

Seldom in our lives, we meet people who we can call ‘Influencers’. They impact your lives (professionally or personally) in a lot of ways and I can safely say that you have been an influencer for me. In many ways, you are an inspiration for me and have shown me a clear direction to move my career. I hope one day, I can be half as good as you are. I deeply admire, not only your technical but also your leadership skills. The only thing that is constant in life is change, but the memories of working with an inspirational person like you would never go.

I hope I get another chance to work with you in future, after all it’s a very small world.

For One Self

Long time back I wrote about “life is all about sacrifices” and when I try I don’t even remember in what context did I make that post. Nevertheless it’s so true. It’s about what you chose.

Since then almost 5 years have passed and with time I have gained perspective around life. I believe that these 5 years have changed in ways that I can’t go back to who I was earlier. I do not know if that is for good or not but it has happened. Along the way somewhere I started to realize that this life or at least the one I have lived up till now has been about trying to make people happy. It all started when I was a kid and that was the conditioning which was given to me and my sister too. From the smallest of the things to the big ones it was always about “what will people think” so when relatives were visiting we had to be home arrested, when it was about studies it was about what my parents wanted me to do and countless things that I do not even remember now.

Somewhere down the line I started to revolt and my transformation started and it took me about 10 years to finish that transformation and realize that either I can live in the limbo and just do stuff that people around me want me to do or I can do something else. It was not a choice that I made at-least not consciously. For better or worse I am no longer the person I used to be. I have those times in a day when I am just plain happy because I just do things what I like to do and now what people want me to do. Simply put – I just do stuff.

During this transformation what did stuck with me was the sense of responsibilities towards someone but it was a weird sense. I realize that what I do hurts people and it hurts all the time and there is a sense of guilt, but that sense does not lingers for long. I get over it and at time I get over it dangerously fast. I hope that does not makes me a bad person but I am sure that surely does not makes me a liked person as well. Part of this transformation has morphed a world around me which only I understand. No matter how much I try no one can understand this world at least not until they are willing to understand the process I went through in last 30 years to get where I am now.

I have several people around me who expect me to do things that they want me to do; that they prefer. It’s build of an implicit set of expectations that comes with a relationship be it a son, sibling, husband, father, friend, boss, colleague etc. But, little those people realize that I am also an individual and I have my own needs. Little those people realize that I have gone through a set of life for 30 years or so and there are several million (if not billion) things that have happened which have made me a person who I am.

Like any thing or person there are good and bad things. I look at people around me (and i mean everyone) and I watch for the great, good, bad and ugly and I prefer for large part to ignore the bad and the ugly and see the good/great barring a few people in my life who I resent (long story for another day). I have stopped expecting things from people ~ actually the only expectations I have from people around me is to stop expecting stuff from me. I am happy with the way they are because thats what they want to be. Who am I to tell someone around me “what they should do” or “how they should behave” or “anything for that matter”. They are mature adults and they know what they are doing. They of course want to do things that make them happy and I mean small day to day things be it be on phone, go to office, spend time reading facebook or posting on facebook or whatever. I know I am happy just seeing them around me. I care and hence I am around. I do not go to a friends hours every night/evening – i come back home because I care about the people at home and I find happiness to be around the, “just around does for me”. I work in an office where I like the people around me. I may not like their every action but I like to go back and talk to them and speak with them and work with them.

Why can not people return to me the same courtesy/expectation/kindness? Why is it so difficult for them to realize that I like to do things my way ~ whatever those things may be? how hard is it?

now unless someone expects to do things with me thats a different story all together because then you have a clash of 2 universes and one will always loose because those are 2 opposite ends. It’s like a cricket match – one team has to come out losing. Now you do not play for “win some, lose some”. Everyone plays to win all but there are bad days. I have my good and my bad days but what happens on those bad days is because of choices I make. Now if my decisions on a day makes someone sad because they did not get what they wanted – does that makes me a bad person? Or should I simply just give in all the time and sacrifice?

You can either live loved and die with about 400 people besides you but knowing you did not do stuff for yourself or you can live for yourself and maybe die alone and hated.I am fast moving towards the later and I do not know yet if that is a good place to be. But, I know end of the day these are my choices and I wont have anyone else to blame when I am on the death bed. I will at least be saying to myself I lived my life on my terms rather than cursing 100s of people of making my life something I do not want it to be.

Does that makes me a bad person?

‘The Crew’ Diary } First Impressions

For those who don’t know about The Crew just ignore this post and any posts that has the title from here on. But, you are following this game, should pretty much subscribe to this blog/RSS feed as I will be putting in a ton of material which help you with this game in long run.

For starters anyone who is thinking why do I need to put in stuff around a game in a blog.. because The Crew is a MMO and like any MMO every decision we have in the early stages will impact our gameplay in the long run and when it matters most you wont be to change it. Also, given this is a MMO if you have to restart, you cant just delete save files and start over. You are stuck with your game play and given the save file is linked to your PSN ID or XB1 ID; you may end up starting a new account of struggling in later stages of the game. So hook up to this feed..

TLDR;

This is the best racing game that I have played in a long time and when I thought racing genre was dying Crew came out and I was hooked from the day I saw the launch trailer back a few months. The game meets every expectation I had and even more. It’s pure simple amazing. I will give this game a 10/10. The only downside for me has been that UBISOFT and Sony hasnt been able to deliver my Gold Edition content for 3 days now. Apart from that – everything is just great. Well done Ivory Tower and UBISOFT and everyone who worked to make this game  such a huge success.

 

First of all it’s important to ensure that we get some basic understanding of the game as it is not your typical Racing game and from what I have read a lot of people don’t like this game because they don’t understand what it is. On this point, I think UBISOFT (Producer) and Ivory Tower (Developer) did not do a good job of informing people what it is all about. They said what it will do, but little they would know that the the a lot of gamers out there still are so naive.

This is not a simulation racing game.

And it’s important to understand that. If you are looking to get in a few cars and a new car every 3-4 races this wont happen. You have to get a couple of cars and look to level it up. Also, you wont find a car with most optimum handling and getting into an options screen and tweak how it drives. This is RPG or shall I say CaRPG. By design it’s meant to handle not very good at start. The levels start at 1 and go upto 1299 which means that your first car will handle 1/1299th than it would be when fully upgraded. It will slide and difficult to turn – this is by design and not a flaw.

You are free to go anywhere and do anything

And that too anywhere in US with 7 cities detailed out (of course at a scale). That is the level of freedom you get. If you can see it, you can go there – no invisible walls. Of course this comes at a price of not excellent graphics. But, the graphics are pretty good for the scale we get. I can get to these various landmarks and they look beautiful. The day-night cycle is great and night looks like night. Drive in NY at night and then take a trip outside the city and you wont see many cars. thats because this is how driving in US is at night. I am sure thay can do AC U graphics, but it was not needed for all of us. We wanted a beautiful game with lots of stuff and not something that is just as small as Europe with kick ass graphics. It’s a tradeoff – you like it or not; in the long haul you play to drive not to watch the graphics. As a matter of fact when you are driving an intense race you don’t even notice those smaller things.

Never Drive Alone

Just as the logo goes, this is right. (at least for me) there was always someone to see around of joining a session or do a co-op race. The only challenge I had was that for Story missions everyone is at different level and either I am too far ahead or too far behind. While I may be cruising in Miami, someone will ask me to do a missions in Detroit and if i accept after the missions I will be in Detroit and then I have to go back and travel to Miami again (no fast travel for me). Also, the other point is that I have been playing this game with objectives… next 2 hours I will be just hunting hidden parts or I will be leveling up my car and I dont like to be disturbed in doing something else so when I get an invite I struggle to accept it right away. Then the most disappointed part is that for faction missions, I get into a race and my crew quits on me because it’s very very long and I am forces out of the missions (I was not the crew master both times) and I sense that people have similar challenges too. So what everyone wants is a quick co-op mission for a good score or progress. Which needs me to find a permanent Crew – people I can trust and do stuff together. I am gonna find those 3 people and then i truly – Never Drive Alone.

Invest in Perks

Some perks are really valuable and you should definitely take time to get some on board. The ones I like are – braking and handling. Just max level them and if you need to buy a few with Crew Credits thats a very good investment. Also, the racing line one is a good one. Given this is a street race, you are not told of your route upfront and then suddenly you have to take a turn and you screw it up. For Faction missions it’s a lot of problem. Just 1 level of racing line is enough to give you a route and make predictable turns.

If you are gonna buy some cars, ensure you have that spec perk on as it will save you a lot of bucks. But be careful every reset doubles up the price (thanks to Florin Blaj). So chose them carefully.

Play how you want to play it

This game needs a long haul. The max player level is 50, but the game doesn’t stops there. Getting to 50 can be rewarding but how the story is progressing and I have been Level 14-17 for 2 days now i still have tons and tons to do. I personally want to go slow and if I level up my player it’s okay and if I dont thats okay too. I just want to get my cars very high level. I think getting to Level 20 and unlocking some new kits and Perf Specs is key to reach fast. after that this game needs to go a bit slow. Take the time to climb the leaderboard, redo some stuff and do some missions. Just running to Level 50 and finishing the story can get really challenging. The AI is tricky and Normal races can get hard. The problem you will have is you wont get Gold Parts and your car level will struggle a lot while you keep growing up and up. I still have to understand the progression and maybe car level catches up with higher parts, but i am not sure. So take is slow and enjoy the game.

Car Upgrades

this is very interesting and important to understand. When you get a car and install a spec kit – they are like 2 cars for you. Anything you do on a Street Spec Mustang will not be there on Dirt Spec Mustang. So let’s say I play with Street Spec (SS) Mustang and win Gold parts for all categories. I just can’t go to Mustang Dirt Spec (DS) and buy/quip those parts. I will have to do those missions again or win those Gold parts so that I can upgrade DS mustang again. The car you use to do a missions gets the part automatically, and the Spec you used will have that part unlocked. Any other Spec will not get the part. Let’s take an example

  • Use Mustang SS for Initiation mission and win a Differential Gold Part
  • Install DP on Mustang – Differential Gold Part is not available for Dirt Spec
  • Buy Shelby and install SS on Shelby
  • Buy and then Equip Differential Gold Part on Shelby immediately
  • Buy Charger and install Dirt Spec – Differential Gold part is not available
  • Switch to Charger and do the Initiation mission again – win ECU Grip Gold Part – auto quip on Charger
  • ECU Gold part if available for Mustang DS only (Shelby SS and Mustang SS wont have those parts)

Hope this makes sense; so you will have to use various specs if you want to level up. Just playing one single spec wont work. Remember CaRPG.

Also, remember the Parts have levels too. If you win a part which is applicable for a higher player level it will just wait for you in the Workshop and will unlock when you hit the level. Every missions (skill, story, faction) has a level and the higher you go the better part you will get. Sometimes you may have a Bronze part which is better than a Gold one as it higher level. The higher the level on mission, the higher the part, the more impact points you will get on car. This is where you I think car level should even out, but then if you climb too high you wont get a lot of Golds as missions get tougher.

 

Next thread will cover

  • Missions – various types and how to get most points
  • Tips for a starter

 

A community can’t grow unless…

… it has strong leaders. The community I am talking about is IndianVideoGamer. The growth is not just about adding more and more people which I am sure this community will get as the Indian gaming arena continues to grow and especially in this digital age when we have more and more people with access to internet. The growth is about how do you make this community meaningful.

I was introduced to this community a few weeks back by a friend of mine (not gonna name him) and he spoke very highly about this community. Well I joined in hope to make some new friends and also to be able to possibly trade games. The experience I have had since then has been nothing but dismissal. After a while now I am someone who just doesn’t wants to go back to this community anymore and I dont think I will unless I have a pressing need to buy or sell anything. But, as someone who was so excited to be able to add value to this community is just so dis-appointed as of now.

You try to join a forum about a game and all you see is 99% of the people just trash talking the game (DriveClub or AC Unity) – it seems that people here just wait for a game to have something wrong about it and they all go hyper about it. The negativity about the game is so much so that it just reflects back into hate. Given that 99% of the people on the forum are such and the comments are so biased just makes me never want to go back there. The energy is so negative. I just found 1 comment in 1000s of comments where someone had a balanced view of the game and was willing to give credit to the game where they did good.

Now let’s talk about the moderators. The part of the community that deals with Trade (Sales/buy) of games is governed by a set of moderators – who are like gate-keepers of the sanctity of the  forum and ensure people get a fair experience from the setup. Of course that means it comes with certain guidelines and rules. The part that sorries me is that the moderators are nothing but a set of people who do not apply their heads when dealing with people in a community. Well someone got to tell them that these are people and this is a social community. When we deal in a setting like these we got to not just follow the “letter of the law” but treat people like people. I made a selling post which had a date of few days (4 days to be exact) in past and my sales post was rejected and I was forced to take a new set of images and post again. I tried to deal with this moderator – piper; who wasn’t willing to listen. As a matter of fact he didn’t even repost to my 2nd question/request and just went into solace. I get it that many people would reach out to you, and you can chose to answer a few of just ignore to make people do what you want to do (i did eventually took pics again). But, they forget that this is a community and you need to be able to orchestrate the behaviors in there.

And today came out the blasphemy of the all interactions I have had. I have been dealing with a certain guy to sell 2 games. For 3 weeks I have been providing this guy with my account details for him to transfer funds to my account. And his person – ck has been trolling me by saying that I havent provided him with account number when it was sitting right in there. The text which I copied for several other users were able to make payments by ck – no he wasn’t.  Eventually I left some negative feedback for him. CK then invited piper to the conversation and asked him to review on grounds that my feedback was not against guidelines where in the deal was not done and until deal is done I cant leave any feedback. CK claimed that he didn’t give me damaged goods or didn’t steal my money so i can’t leave any feedback. piper agreed and without even waiting to hear my side of the story he just removes my feedback from the site.

I left a message with my disappointment in a private conversation to piper and ck and left it at it. But, then i realized that this community just lost 1 member and maybe many more as I will not be the one who will recommend anyone to this community or maybe if i do I will have a few “buts” attached to it.

I am going to post a link to this post on the site in wake that someone reads and tries to improve the forum and overall maturity of the moderators on the site. I am very well aware that this post might be deleted and I may even get banned after this – and if that happens it will even re-affirm my trust that this community needs a change of leadership where they need people who listen to the members and not run this like this is a private business for them.

 

 

Assassins Creed Unity

This is that time of the year when I go back to playing my favorite games on PlayStation. This year the gaming arena has changed a lot and I am experiencing a lot of exposure to games in India people + the fact that there is a huge play of Open World, freedom of choice, how would a player play the game, and of course multiplayer.

Every game I will play this year, I will make a post about it as to what was my experience and it will be for my PlayStation friends who I share the experience. So let’s start with Unity..


 

Before I get into my experience Unity this year like other games (noticeably DriveClub) have had several launch issues. Unity was pitched into the same arena as of AC 3 where the game has several bugs and was not performing and FPS issues. The reviews from major players have not been awesome. IGN reviewed the game at 7.8/10 and GameSpot reviewed the game at 7/10. So much so that several people cancelled their pre-orders (or so they said on forums). I still went ahead and got the game.

I haven’t been able to play for hours but I have played enough. I am start of Memory Sequence 6 and have 3 more memory to go. So, I would say about 60% played and dealt with. Here is my view…

GamePlay

It’s more or less what you come to expect from a franchise. You cant expect them to change how the game plays. AC has been around for 8 years and it is all about history. We did see Naval Gameplay in AC 4 Black Flag but will we see guns and airplanes in this series – not anytime soon. We can expect it to go there some day but the progression to the overall Assassins vs. Templars play has to be continued. So you wont find this refreshing but if you were looking for something different in this title it was probably a mis-placed expectation to start with.

Even then, the game has some new things which excite me and want me to go back. The foremost is the free running and introduction of the new Parkour system. The dedicated buttons for going up and going down are awesome and it gives me so much more control. The free running has been improved as well – I am able to jump from roof to roof and roof to ropes and what not with a very high certainty as to what I want is what Arno does. This is the first game when I love to hang about on roofs and just travel across Paris all the time.

The missions have been changed and they are no longer – follow directions sort of missions. There are some help and some opportunities but you can ignore them and do however you want to. I have completed several missions exactly how i wanted to. Some of them get linear because of the location as there are no many ways to reach the final location but when I can, i find my own ways.

The AI is highly improved and soldiers remember you. So, you just cant have a conflict, run away and go back into the same area hoping to sneak by – the soldiers will recognize you immediately and attack you. The fights are no longer click-click kill. You can’t take on more than 4-5 enemies and if they have guns you will die. I am still a Soldier and have a lot to upgrade but it’s tough so you have to rely on stealth a lot. Several missions, I just use Crouch and Cover to do what I need to do. I sit around in a hidden position and find my opportunity – see enemies to cycle on their path and sneak by. It’s not easy to do missions any more and certainly if all fails – go in and kill all doesn’t work any more.

RPG

This is a new one and I love it. As of Sequence 4, I didn’t have my Double Air Assassination and I had to earn it and it was making my life miserable. But, as I saved up for that skill and when I got it I felt a sense of achievement. It was so fulfilling of a sense that I fell in love with this RPG system. The customization of character is another big one – not only can i make my Arno look like how i want it to look like I can now chose what gear he has and how it affects my game play. I have chosen to grow my Arno on Stealth and Health and my gameplay is not melee or range. I have to stay in shadows and find cover kills and it enhances my experience several fold. The RPG system is still very linear and apart from Health and Lock Picking everything is single level. I would like to see UBI take this concept to next level and provide me more, and quicker upgrades which make me do missions more and more.

The only downside I feel in this system is that it’s only Co-Op (later on that) and single player missions that give Upgrade Points and it’s tough to earn them. It’s maybe a bit too harsh on that part and I would have loved a bit more freedom – especially when every mission gives you something but lesser so you are compelled to do other missions too. Right now, I want to rush through all of Single Player missions to get all upgrade points but once the story is finished i have little to come back to the game and again like all AC games before – side missions have little consequence in the RPG.

Bugs

How can i not talk about it. Many people reported a few issues broadly – Arno stuck, Arno falling into ground, Low Framerate, etc. I saw Arno getting stuck only ONCE (1 time) in all of 30 hours I have played and i didn’t notice any frame-rate drops that impacts my experience. Some places where there are 1000s of NPCs, I do feel Arno running slowly but it’s okay. I had to strain myself to notice that. It wasn’t there until someone said it to me it was there. I dont know where these bugs are coming from but my experience of the game has been smooth.

Graphics & Story

The city of Paris is beautiful. I haven’t visited Paris ever but now I want to go there for sure. The structures and their details are so real. And you can go almost everywhere inside houses, there are windows, doors unlocked and locked which you can pick and go inside. For the first time I feel connected with the city and it feels like I am in one city for real unlike previous games where they were just structures helping me to navigate around and hide and complete missions.

Story till start of 6th sequence is not great but it still draws me in. I want to go forward but Paris and all of it’s missions keeps me from going in. Arno is pretty much on a revenge path but he is going through the journey of becoming an assassin. He is still new to the Creed and his mentors are helping him. I still have to see if everything he does – does it links to something bigger i.e. assassins vs. templars. There is a small side story on Abstergo and talk about Sage – the story does tells that the Grandmaster that Arno is after is the sage that Abstergo and Assassins in current world need information on, maybe that’s the connection. So while the story is probably about Revenge by Arno it seems to be connected. Does it draws me in fully – not really but it draws me enough. It seems like a stop over before a big push that AC franchise can do in next series. More on this once I finish it.

Multi-player

I have only played Co-Op missions (heists still pending) and once time it was 2 player and other time it was 4 player. Both times it was fun and there was some serious co-ordination. The 4 player Co-Op was awesome – we all were random players matched and we just went about knowing what to do and were supporting each other. It was a case of some skilled and experience AC players. We didnt chat even once and we successfully finished the missions. The experience as awesome and I can’t wait to do a heist with a friend and talking and planning. We don’t have PvP as it was in AC 4 but I didnt like that much. This Co-Op is so much more fun and the amount of co-ordination it takes to get to stuff done is great.

 

Overall

I love this game and my decision to get this game on preorder and enjoy has paid off. The reviews I think are just not doing justice to the game (I know they are professionals), but having played the game i just cant agree to some of their comments. If you like AC games, this one if not to be missed.