Jean Snow [.net] Is Dead

JeanSnow.net just died on me.

To my absolute shock, the hosting company I’ve been using for 10 years, TextDrive, suddenly shut down – they apparently made it public at the start of March that they were closing down on March 14, but they never sent out any notices. It’s looking like I will not be able to get the data back (there is a slight chance, but I’m not counting on it), and the last full local backup I did was in August of 2011. This affects my personal blog, which I’ve been doing for about 13-14 years – it’s that blog that led to me starting a writing career, before I got involved with PechaKucha – as well as my other sites (PauseTalk, The Magaziner, and Codex). 

All gone.

Is it my fault for not doing regular backups of all this stuff? Partly. But this situation angers me to no end – how they could do this without sending any notice so I could go in and make sure I downloaded all my data is beyond me (and yes, I have checked my spam folder extensively). 

Unfuckingbelievable.

Checking the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, luckily it did do a grab of my main site on March 18, and so I’ll at least be able to recover all of the posts I had written – PauseTalk was grabbed on March 5, and The Magaziner in January, so I’ve lost a few posts for that site.

I’ve quickly put up this Tumblr site, as I start to recover from all this madness, and hopefully I’ll manage to migrate all of my content here – as much as they say not to trust big companies (like Tumblr, or Yahoo for that matter) at least you can expect to get an early – and very public – warning before anything gets shutdown, with time to export everything. 

But yeah, this really fucking sucks. It’s not what I wanted to deal with on a relaxing Sunday afternoon-turning-into-evening. For a while, before I found those 2011 backups, I thought I had suddenly lost my entire blogging history.

It felt like I had lost a limb.

Star Wars: Assault Team

I downloaded another new free-to-play game yesterday, this time for iPad, and it’s Star Wars: Assault Team. It’s sort of a card game – in that the cards basically act as avatars for your characters, that you can upgrade – and each mission has you moving through a space in first-person view, encountering things to pick up and battle. As with most free-to-play games, the start is definitely fun, as I’m not encountering anything that is preventing me from playing when I want – there is an energy system, but I haven’t been empty yet, and I haven’t yet encountered anything that I couldn’t overcome with good management of my team. The game does look quite good, and it’s fun to make up teams with all manner of Star Wars characters. Combat is turn-based, with each character having a regular attack and a special attack/action – for example, the rebel medic has a healing special action, which is quite useful. I doubt I’ll stick with this for long, but for now it’s good fun.

Destiny of Spirits

This is a new free-to-play game that just came out for Vita, a collaboration between Japan Studio and Q Entertainment. I’m finding it interesting so far, although I just started playing it last night. It’s all about summoning and collecting spirits, and then going on missions that are basically just battles, like what you see pictured here. After you’ve selected the spirits you want to sent to combat, it then runs on auto, and you can pause it to re-direct your attacks, use special actions, etc. The big thing of the game seems to be that it uses location data, so where you are when you play the game will affect the kinds of spirits you can summon. You can also trade spirits with friends, and there may be even more friend interaction that you can do, but I don’t know anyone else playing this yet – and there’s no reason you shouldn’t, since it is a free download after all. I’m of course always weary when it comes to free-to-play stuff, but I’m still curious to give this a few more play sessions, to see what I get out of it. 

Smoke and Mirrors

Well, episode 2 of The Wolf Among Us is just as good as the first one was, and I loved the fuck out of that. This game just looks so beautiful on iPad – my platform of choice for all Telltale games – and I’m still really digging the story and the characters. As big a comic geek as I am, I never did get into reading Fables – I think because it started at a time where I was suffering from Vertigo/Sandman fatigue – but playing through this series is making me want to go back and give it another shot.

Out There

I’ve had a lot of fun playing this on iPad, even though I still can’t seem to get past 16,000 points. The premise is simple: try to get to the objective (a far away point) with your ship, finding ways to refuel, repair, etc. along the way. There’s no combat in the game, and it’s all about exploring new planetary systems one after the other, until you die (either with your ship destroyed, running out of air, or what I tend to get the most, running out of fuel). There are fun story bits that add flavor to the game as you enter new systems, alien encounters, new ships to take over, and I quite like the illustrated aesthetics – it sorta feels like you’re playing through a comic book. Can’t recommend this enough, it’s surprisingly addictive.

Angry Birds Epic

Oh boys, what to say about a new big free-to-play game on iOS, and an Angry Birds one at that. Since they’re marketing this as an RPG, I was curious to try it out. The combat is surprisingly fun, and it feels well developed – although not super advanced, you do upgrade both the classes and weapons/armor of your characters, which adds strategy to the mix. But it’s an RPG in fighting mechanic only, as there’s not much story going on – about as much as you experience in any Angry Birds game – and although I was able to play a couple of hours without having any trouble (and it says I’ve cleared close to 20% of the game), I did finally get to a point where I can’t really win my current battle unless I grind a bit to get ingredients for more potions. But I do prefer being able to grind – basically just go back to old battles, to get the items/ingredients that allow you to build weapons and create potions – instead of the energy systems that just stop you from playing. 

Far Cry 3

I picked this up back in January on one of those big PSN sales, but just now am I finally getting around to playing it. I’ve put in about 4 hours, and gotta say that I’ve been having a blast running around this island, driving around in old jeeps, swooping around in hang gliders, and hunting to give me upgrades (although this is taking a bit longer than I’d like – being stuck with just one weapon that quickly runs out of ammo is no fun). As much as I appreciated a lot of Far Cry 2, I never did finish it, but I’m still feeling the urge to jump into this and liberate more bases and the like, so I’d say it’s an improvement over the last one. And I’m also excited at the prospect of a Far Cry 4 set in the Himalayas (as current rumors suggest), traversing snow-capped mountain tops like a mad man.

Free to Play

A documentary – that you can watch for free on YouTube – about DOTA 2 and the big 1 million dollar tournament that was held a year or two ago. At first it feels weird to see something like this about MOBAs with no mention of League of Legends (of course, since this is produced by Valve), but since the focus really is on the tournament, you sort of just accept it, and appreciate the profiles of the top players and teams, and the drama that comes out of wanting to find out who will come out as the winner (I had no idea). Quite enjoyed this.

Symphony of the Night

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I’m usually not particularly interested in playing old games – the experience rarely, if ever, matches the memories I had of playing them in the first place – but this week’s revelation that longtime Castlevania creator Koji Igarashi was leaving Konami to make games on his own got me feeling very nostalgic for Symphony of the Night, and so I picked it up to play on my Vita. This is also the first time I play it in English, as my original playthrough was of the Japanese edition (that I played while I was a student in China), and it was also responsible for the first bits of Japanese I learned – I still regularly quote the “arigatou gozaimasu” from the shopkeeper. I’ve played a couple of hours now, and am really enjoying the gameplay again, but my biggest annoyance is when I die – it takes at least a minute to be playing again, since you first have to go back to the start screen. Dying in games is not the frustrating part, it’s how long it takes before you can be playing again (and of course, how much progress you’ve lost). I am very happy that I’m having a good time with it, still digging the graphics and music, and the pure satisfaction of killing creatures with my sword thrusts and flinging axes. But man, fuck those jumping monkeys – they annoyed me way back then, and they still annoy me now.

Awesomenauts Assemble!

I still haven’t really played much of the two big MOBA games out there – DOTA 2 and League of Legends (a bit of the latter) – but I have found that I actually do quite like this style of game, and was having a good time with the Lord of the Rings-themed Guardians of Middle-Earth MOBA that came out 1-2 years ago. The reason I stopped playing that was because not many people were playing it, and so I would mostly end up not being able to connect with others players online, and was tired of playing just against the AI. I was always curious about Awesomenauts – it’s been out for a while on PC – and finally took the plunge when this updated edition came out on PS4 recently. I really like the 2D twist on regular MOBA play, and the cartoony presentation is really fun. I’m also finding that it’s a terrific game to play with Remote Play on my Vita, because of the simple control scheme (Remote Play falters when you have a game that has complex controls, that wants you to use shoulder and trigger buttons). Playing Towerfall: Ascension’s Quest mode in Remote Play is really great too.