Kittens!

Kittens!

They’re on my lap right now being adorable, so I thought I’d show them off. There are two black kittens named Abby and Gibbs (NCIS), and three siamese named Penelope (Criminal Minds), Sheldon (Big Bang Theory), and Oliver (Twist).

In addition to these guys, we have our big cats- Mikoto and Haruka (Siamese), Ootori and Alucard (Black), Yuki (white), and Momo (black and white). I’ll put pictures of them up a bit later.

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Birthday Baby

Hubby left, Kei right

The seventh was my baby’s birthday. Here in Mexico, that was yesterday.

My hubby has an undiagnosed condition that is slowly destroying her liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Earlier this year, the doctors told us that she would need a transplant which she would not be eligible for. Without this, they estimated that she would be left with only 4 months to live. We don’t have a lot of money, so we were really prepared for the worse. So today, several months after it was predicted that she shouldn’t still be alive- she made it past another birthday.

Palacio de Bellas Artes (from Wiki)

Being poor, we didn’t do anything particularly amazing. We woke up at about 2 pm (we’re night owls), and she decided that she would just like to go walk around. So, we hiked Felipa (her wheelchair) down the three flights of stairs, and embarked on a city tour.

Mexico City is really an interesting place, especially on a Saturday. We usually take the bus or a subway to places, trying to stay away from the public as much as possible. People mean sicknesses (swine flu, anyone?), and she really can’t afford to get sick. Walking from our house to the Palacio de Bellas Artes was something I had never done, and there were many things along the way that I had never seen.

People own Mexico City, they don’t just live in their homes and visit the city. They cross the street when they want to cross the street, run red lights when they can, play music as loudly as they want, graffiti, litter, spit, curse- whatever they want. Sometimes this can be disconcerting and frustrating. I’m from the United States, so sometimes these things annoy me. When I see spray paint and piles of trash on the corners, I burn in fury at what I sometimes consider to be a lack of civic responsibility and pride.

Then again, there are days like yesterday. A day where I was able to see everyone piled around to watch a documentary about culture being projected on the wall of a building, a whole park full of all ages enjoying chess, whole tents set out for dance lessons, or an aztec tribal dance taking place in the middle of a business district. It’s not a holiday, though my husband might tell you otherwise, this is just what happens here on a Saturday.

As simple a day as it was, it was a lot of fun, and I was grateful to have another day with my sweetheart.

MMO: Talisman Online

Since this is my first post, I figured I would write about something that I know quite a bit about. A game review for the free to play mmorpg Talisman Online.

I’ve been playing mmos for nearly 10 years, my first experience was with the original Ever Quest series. I subsequently played WoW, EQ2, EQOA, RO, and FFXI. Needless to say, I love mmorpgs. My standards are a bit high as a result of being introduced through pay to play games. However, graphics aside, I think that companies like Perfect World Entertainment and Aeria have proven that it is possible to both develop solid and interesting game play (PWE), as well as successfully publish/manage a game(Aeria) with a micro-transaction business model.

This said, let’s begin.

General Information:

Talisman Online is published by Miracle Castle Ltd., and features 2.5d graphics, 5 playable character classes, 70 levels, instanced scenarios, numerous quests and items including pets and mounts.

The client download is more than reasonable at less than a gig. It also runs on low spec computers, which is rare even for f2p games these days. The requirements are a Pentium 3, 256 ram, and a 32mb graphics card or IGP.

Website:

The Talisman Online website is arguably one of its weakest aspects. The site looks nice enough, but on slower connections it takes a long time to load. It also is not the most easily navigable site, and often contains a great deal of outdated information. There are two forums, since Miracle Castle recently added a Talisman Online forum to their company website. The original forum contains a lot of great informational threads, but due to a lack of moderating and the fact that the search option is not available, you’ll have to dig to find it.

Graphics/Music:

For  a low spec game, the graphics are fairly nice. Like many f2p titles, it suffers from repeat character and monster models. For instance, you’ll be fighting the same tiger graphic with various colors and names throughout the game.  Skill graphics have some minor over-lap, but they’re shiny.

Customization is fairly low: there are 5 classes, 2 of which are male only, and 2 of which are female only. Each has 8 face and 8 hairstyle choices. All of the equipment is class dependent, and looks different each 10 levels.

Music is a bit of a disappointment. While it isn’t horrible, it gets monotonous, and does very little to improve the mood of the game.

Gameplay:

I’ve been playing Talisman on and off for a little over a year. While it definitely is not my favorite free to play title, it has some good points. The main attraction for me to this game is it’s simplicity. Don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite mmorpgs of all time is FFXI, because of the depth and intricacy of game play. Sometimes, however, it’s just nice to not have to think too much. In TO, choices are limited. The skill sets are attached to the weapon choice, of which each class only gets two. You don’t even have to appoint your own stats. Builds are related to equipment choice, and even then, each piece of armor has only three stat combination choices.

Most of the game is able to be done alone. This isn’t always the case with the instanced scenarios, but up until level 45+ , scenarios can be done alone with a higher level and decent equipment. Personally, I would hate this aspect of the game if it wasn’t for the fact that there are a lot of obnoxious community members that I, when possible, enjoy the privilege of avoiding at all costs.

The most complicated aspects of the game come into play in the higher levels. Some of the upper level scenarios require more strategy, and as you gain levels you’re likely to get invited to a guild which does PvP and GvG warfare. Even this isn’t that difficult, and is mostly a matter of learning what combination of skills works best to counter each class. Unfortunately, beyond this, end-game content is sorely limited.

Service:

Miracle Castle is a relatively new company. It was founded a little over 2 years ago, and they have no previous game publishing experience. You can tell. This company is also from Shanghai China, with limited English proficiency. This game suffers from poorly chosen staff and moderators. Despite marketing to a primarily Western audience, they seem to have no comprehension as to what customer service means. The support and admin emails are full regularly. If you dig through the original forums you’ll find many complaints and suggestions which have been thoroughly ignored. One such complaint, you might notice, was counting down the amount of days in which no one had responded to him about his support ticket at all. It was on 70 something days by the end of the thread, and he never said if it had been resolved. If you’re looking for a game with an active and helpful staff, I would definitely suggest looking elsewhere.

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Essentially, this game is simple but fun. It’s not something that you should feel like you’re going to want to invest a significant amount of your time into, and most certainly not your money. It’s possible to get the best equipment, pets, and mounts without spending a cent of your own money. I should know. But, for people with low spec machines, who just want something to occupy an hour or so a day with- it looks nice, it has a low learning curve, and all in all it’s fairly well balanced.

For my guild, friends, and new players who might not turn out to be obnoxious, I made an Unofficial Talisman Online website. I need to update with the most recent patch (last month), which upped the level cap to 70 and added an area, but if you plan to try out the game, be sure to check it out.

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