GGR First Impressions: Blade and Soul

        Blade and Soul is a Korean MMORPG that was released to Western Markets on Jan 19 of this year. After a little over a week of playtime, here are our first impressions of the game.

        The first thing I have to say about this game is that it definitely has style. From the outfits, to the combat, to the character movement everything looks like it has been cut straight out of a kung fu movie. Check out the video above. This is the first time that I have actually enjoyed just moving from place to place in a game, because of moments like what you see in the video. Granted it’s only been a week, however so far the movement effects still have not gotten old. The far-east influence absolutely permeates the game, to the point where you feel like you have just stepped into a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon-esque action movie, and the best part is the game never feels like it’s forcing it. I’m not gonna lie, when I saw the original trailers for the Western release, I was pretty skeptical that the kung-fu slant would go over that well. I have never been a fan of fighting games and although this was an MMO it basically struck me as an action version of Tekken. Truth be told that’s actually a pretty good summation of what the game is like, Tekken meets World of Warcraft. It’s a unique comination, and in this case it really works. Going into battle against NPC’s or other players never feels like a “here we go click these buttons in this order and bang, you win”. Every encounter requires enough dynamic movement and on the fly changing of tactics that I actually feel like I am engaging and reacting in order to best my opponent. As an MMO veteran (WoW, FFXI, Guild Wars, SWTOR, FFXIV, Guild Wars 2, and Wildstar) I can say that the combat is always the first thing to go for me. I can love the story, the world, the characters, the items, but after killing the 10,000 random mob in the exact same way I killed the 9,999 other mobs before  it, it almost always loses it’s luster. Typically that isn’t enough to sour me off the game, as I am STILL playing some of the ones I just listed, but the combat ends up being the worst part of the game, which is where the term grind came from. It literally becomes a grind that you have to keep going at again and again in order to get to the next level or get the next loot drop or whatever. Granted, I am only a week into Blade and Soul currently so things may change, but as it stands right now, I am still very much looking forward every time I wade into combat.

Glorious, glorious combat

        Now, so far we have covered the high points of the game, but I do have to say that it is by no means perfect. So far, other than the movement system and the kung fu influences, it doesn’t really bring much new to the table. Although the combat system is different from most other MMO’s out on the market so far, it is glaringly similar to the combat found in another free to play MMO: TERA Rising. As in, so similar that if I was a developer for TERA I would be pissed. Also similarly to TERA comes a screen that is just crowded as shit when you play it. Seriously, my wife even commented to me last night that she almost can’t see the game for all of the other stuff on the screen all the time.

Obviously there are some menus open here but still, there’s ALOT going on in that screenshot

I just can’t for the life of me figure out why developers feel a need to put all that crap on the screen all the time as a default. It’s especially strange because the game is made by NCsoft who have other games such as Wildstar that have a much more streamlined and open HUD. Don’t really know what went on there. My last gripe, and this is a smaller one, is that so far the story doesn’t really seem to be different for any of the various races or classes that are chosen. It’s a shame too because the main storyline so far is a damn good one, very well thought out and that I’m actually invested in. Unfortunately I have already seen the exact same story 3 times with all 3 of the characters I have played because none of them have individual branching storylines. It’s most likely a result of the game being free to play, but still, in this day in age when there are other games with such great class stories it is definitely a drawback. Still, none of these issues are things that should keep anyone from enjoying the game overall.

        All this being said, Blade and Soul is an engaging and fun MMO, and coupled with the fact that it is free to play there is no reason that you shouldn’t give it a whirl. The good graphics, the fresh gameplay, and the engaging story are giving it a strong forward push into the western marketplace. Our verdict: Worth checking out!


Let us know your experience playing Blade and Soul in the comments

Google Computer Beats Professional Go Player


A massive accomplishment has been made in the development of artificial intelligence. For the first time a computer has beaten a professional go player. For decades humans have been creating computers to play games. This may be a combination of a deep fear, that all scientist secretly share, of having to interact with other humans and their general their love of board games, or it may be because board games require decision making skills. The more complex they are, the more intelligence and skill are required to play them well making them a perfect way to measure a computer’s thinking power. In the past scientist have created computers capable of playing and winning at backgammon, checkers and chess. The last of which involves a rather famous incident where the computer Deep Blue beat the reigning world champion Gary Kasparov. So what is go and why is this a bigger leap than beating Kasparov you might ask? Well go is an ancient Chinese game with relatively simple rules, the difference for a computer is more of scale than anything else. There are approximately 4,670,033 possible variations on a chess game which is certainly quite a large number, but not out of the realm of possibility for a computer to analyze and predict its opponents moves. Go however has a possible 2.082 × 10^170 variations, which is a number so large it is hard to comprehend. Just let the enormity of that number sink in. Here is a link to their published paper.


Opinion : The Revenant


Let me start by saying, I liked it. There got that out of the way.  I think a lot of the rave reviews I have not only read online, but have been given by friends and family have been slightly overblown. Not to say it doesn’t deserve praise but I think a lot of people realized it was an artsy movie with some philosophical themes and decided that it must be a great movie because it made you think deep thoughts about life and death and stuff. It was a very good movie, but I doubt it will go down as a classic, though I admit only time will tell. It was beautifully filmed and the idea to only use natural lighting was great. The way the sun, shadows and fire light illuminated a scene really added a since of realism and authenticity to the environment. The action sequences I though were choreographed very well and lent a sense of frenzy to many of the more intense moments of the film such as the bear attack and the ambush at the beginning of the movie. I found Tom Hardy’s character, Fitzgerald, very compelling, and in many ways more so than DiCaprio’s character. The idea that he is a man with a troubled past, it is shown he was scalped at some point, who just wants to make some money and is not truly, in my opinion, a pure evil man. I wish they would have played up the moment when he stabbed the dude’s son a little bit, maybe make it seem like an accident or have Hardy show a little remorse or something. Bottom line that particular scene seemed to be over too fast which is a shame because it was a great opportunity to show a little more depth in both the main characters. Personal gripe, I had a hard time deciphering what Tom Hardy was saying sometimes, probably just me as I have not seen anyone else complaining about it and my hearing isn’t great so yeah like I said might just be me. Our protagonist Hugh Glass, played by DiCaprio, however seemed very one dimensional he wants revenge and misses his family and likes the Native Americans, that is about it to his character. Leo did a great job with the character that being said. It must be very hard to portray someone in intense pain which Glass was for the majority of the film and Leo did a great job of that. Alright time for some general gripes that bothered me through out the whole film. The biggest one that bothered me the most was how quickly the main character seemed to heal. That bear attack scene makes it extremely likely Glass would have had multiple broken bones most notable his arm and one of his legs. The leg is later shown being set showing that at minimum he has a broken leg apart from the claw and tooth wounds. Yet in what seems like just a few days Glass can be seen running, falling of cliffs, riding horses and several other things anyone who has ever broken a bone knows is impossible. The real Hugh Glass (yes this movie is loosely based on a true story) took six weeks to make it back and he had to crawl most of the way. Either this was a severe oversight on the writer and directors part or the audience is meant to believe more time transpired than was shown, but as most of the scenes are displayed sequentially it is really not apparent that any more than a few days have passed, a week at most. This is really a major flaw as it broke my suspension of disbelief and pulled me out of the story making me wonder if I had some how wandered into a super hero movie by mistake. The film takes place in winter yet characters are constantly wading and floating down rivers with reckless abandon. This may not seem out of place to most people, but anyone who has spent significant amount of time outdoors knows that cold and wet is a great recipe for hypothermia or frostbite. No one in the movie ever seems to suffer from or even be concerned about these things. In fact in my experience I would say Glass was in more danger from hypothermia after his float down the river than he ever was since surviving the bear attack. Moving on I was mildly annoyed by his constant dream sequences they were too frequent and weird. I fail to see the significance of why his wife had to be floating over him, and it actually made me giggle inside a little remembering a similar scene in Ghostbusters. If they had been done a bit more like the scenes from Gladiator, I would have appreciated it more. Less frequent and more normal would have been better. My final grip is that the whole daughter of the chief plot was unnecessary it added nothing to the film. Any Native American attacks could have been easily attributed to the fact that a lot of tribes didn’t like whitey stealing their land, and it could have been left at that without the need for random back story with no depth. All in all I thought it was a good movie and thoroughly enjoyed it though I doubt I would watch it again.


B.o.B and Neil deGrassse Tyson Are Now Officially Beefing And It Is The Greatest Thing Ever

The face of all evil…

        So this is kind of a follow-up to our article yesterday about the lunatic ravings of some of Hollywood’s self-appointed truthers. Luckily we were not the only ones following the “Flat-Earth” tweets, Neil deGrasse Tyson was also chiming in and of course his science as well as his sense of humor were totally on point. Well apparently B.o.B. did not really appreciate all the… facts I guess? Anyways, as shown in this article from Popular Science, B.o.B has officially taken all of his anger and frustrations and funneled it into the first ever straight up rap dis track directed at a scientist. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence. Crazy times folks, crazy times. The track is titled “Flatlined” (because of course it is) and was released yesterday. It is a legit dis track, complete with all the language, metaphors, and anti-Semitism that one comes to expect when rappers are beefing. At least I think that’s how it works, I mean they can’t all be Holocaust deniers right? So the whole situation is absurd but at the same time absolutely hilarious, and truth be told the back track to Flatline is actually pretty catchy so hey, B.o.B you are still a magician but a scientist you are not.


If you want to listen to Flatline here you go!

What is Cancer?

In the wake of several celebrities dying from cancer recently, namely David Bowie, and Alan Rickman. I though I would take a moment to talk about what cancer is and why finding a cure is more complicated than it sounds. First let me start by saying that I am actually a cancer researcher, I wake up everyday go to work, put on my lab coat on and work to cure cancer, so it is safe to say that I have some knowledge on this subject (that being said I’m going to keep this simple). Half of all men and a third of all women in the United States will get cancer. Stop, now read that sentence again. Sounds high doesn’t it, but I would bet anyone of us knows at least one person, if not a family member, who has had one form of cancer or another. With these statistics being as high as they are it is amazing to me the number of people who don’t know the first thing about cancer. So today I want to give a brief explanation of what cancer is and why curing it is a bitch. Most of us are aware that the cell is the basic building block of life. An easy way to think of a cell is to imagine it as a little machine it takes in nutrients and preforms basic tasks that keep it alive and when the time comes it multiplies and/or dies off depending on what type of cell it is. There are so many cells in the human body that the number is virtually astronomical, and all these cells are super efficient at their jobs, more efficient than best computer on the market. Even so sometimes errors are made, these are called mutations. These mutations can be the cause of many diseases, but when we talk about cancer we are mainly talking about mutations in the cells growth. Specifically the things that tell a cell to stop multiplying or tell it when to die. These signals come from the cells DNA which for all intensive purposes is the brain of the cell, and that is where these mutations occur. As a result these cells grow larger than they should and multiply more rapidly than they should and no longer do the work that they should be doing. Soon they grow into a large mass that is called a tumor. These can be hazardous in multiple ways not the least of which is just getting in the way. They can block blood flow or clog your lungs or intestines, they also muscle out normal cells that are working properly leaving the body with not enough workers to preform essential tasks like breathing. Now here is the hard part, every persons DNA is different and therefore every persons cancer is different. There are also many different areas of the body that can get cancer and each one of these is unique as well. Finally there are many different types of mutations that can occur and often there are multiple mutations present in a single tumor. That is the crux of the problem with finding a cure, there isn’t just one type cancer there are many many types and each will require its own unique cure. Good news is your chances are much better now than they once were and there are people working everyday trying to improve your odds.


How The Hell Is “Flat Earth Theory” Even A Thing??

        First and foremost, let me start off by saying that this is not going to be the most scientific of articles we have done on this site. How can it be when the subject is the fact that there are people out there known as “Flat Earthers” who are convinced that not only is the Earth a flat surface, but that the idea of a round Earth is a conspiracy being put forth by NASA and our government (completely disregarding the fact that this isn’t a new idea, a round Earth was proven more than thousand years ago, but whatever let’s not get bogged down in logic). It was something that I would stumble upon online every now and again that would cause me to just shake my head and lose a little more faith in humanity, however it was never something that I could ever really take seriously. I thought it was an eccentric little corner of the net reserved for people like the “Dinosaurs aren’t real” lady (don’t even get me started on her) and the “enemas cure autism” crowd. It’s actually kind of painful to plug those websites because I DON’T want to increase their traffic, but I just want to offer proof that I am not making this stuff up, these are legitimate albeit somewhat idiotic theories. So now that I have set the tone for the rest of the article, let’s get down to what has currently triggered today’s rant.

(Photo: Twitter) 

You know anytime you are using Tila Tequila as a part of your story, there’s not going to be very much logic involved

        For some reason, over the last 24 hours both Tila Tequila the MTV reality show has been and rapper B.o.B. have taken to twitter to have a war of the minds with… I guess intelligent people, over whether or not the world is round. I saw the headline this morning and thought well what the hell, how many people could actually be following these two on twitter? Unfortunately the answer is FUCKING MILLIONS. Why? I have no idea, but there are literally over a million people that follow these two and want to know what they say. Although that was a somewhat startling revelation, what was even more so was the fact that although there were quite a few people trying to show them evidence of how they were wrong. And for real, there is TONS OF EVIDENCE. This isn’t even hard, there is just so much of it out there. But there was a surprising number of people singing their praises that they are finally getting to the truth of the matter and speaking for those out there who know the “real truth” about the hoax. I actually had to put my phone down, I was so shocked at the sheer volume of people who were on board with this. Confession: I didn’t put my phone down for long, this was like one of those moments I get pissed off at a video game and turn off my Playstation only to come back and turn it on 10 minutes later because I refuse to let it beat me. So yeah, I have been on B.o.B’s twitter about 6 times today and holy shit, it doesn’t get any better. As a matter of fact, the longer that it has been going on, the more supporters are absolutely FLOCKING to the fray to try and throw in their two cents about how the earth is flat. It was hard enough to have faith in a world where Tila Tequila was actually a name most people would know (I mean at least B.o.B is actually talented), but to actually see the stupidity that flows freely from some of these people, it just sucks. How did this happen?? In this day in age when we have the complete combined knowledge of humanity literally at our fingertips, how do we get here? Actually now that I ask that question I know the answer: people are watching goddamn Tila Tequila instead of the science channel. One good thing to come out of all of this though is that the face of modern science himself, Neil deGrasse Tyson decided to chime in on the issue himself, and it was a gem.


He has a good point, no need to miss out on the sick beats

        So I guess that’s it. End rant. Enjoy your Monday.


A Product of the Times: Why The Newest X-Files Will Be More Frightening Than The Original

        Aliens, government conspiracies, viruses, mutants, the X files had it all. Although it originally began as a “monster of the week” type show, over it’s 9 seasons it developed a very strong ongoing storyline of a government trying to conceal it’s associations with extraterrestrial beings and the resulting scientific experiments and cover-ups. It was something that was just real enough for people to relate to, but was way too far-fetched to ever truly be frightening. It was just a damn good sci-fi show with memorable characters and the best theme-song in the history of theme-songs. Seriously, don’t try to argue this point, because it isn’t a question. Although it was a show with forward thinking ideas regarding the future of scientific progress and the dangers they would pose in a modern world, for the most part things were still so very stuck in the 90s.

I mean check out those shoulderpads, does it get any more 90s than that?

        I recently went back and started watching the show again from episode 1 to celebrate the upcoming new season that is being released in a few days. I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me that ridiculously nerdy it is to try to watch them all again but whatever, I’m a fanboy. This was all well and good, but a funny thing happened as I got farther into the show. Somewhere around season 3, right when the story starts shifting to the long term arc about Mulder and the alien conspiracy, the show started losing some of that “oh this is funny because it’s so out there” flavor and started to become a little bit more real. Real in a kind of scary sense. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that our government is in cahoots with an alien overlord and that the FBI is caught in the crossfire of a coverup, it was more the overall tone of the show. The way it treated it’s characters and the mistrust that is at play all the time. The truth of the matter is that many of the things that seemed to be purely tension builders back in the day are no longer outside the realm of possibility. Let me preface this next part by saying I am not trying to get political or voice my opinions in one way or another, I am just going to be pointing out certain situational similarities that I think ring more true today than they did during the show’s original run.

        The first most glaring thing is the way that as Mulder tries harder and harder to bring all of the coverups and illegal goings-on to the attention to the rest of the FBI, he is gradually pushed out and persecuted to the point of actually being labeled an enemy of the state and having to flee from the very government that he works for. It is basically the Edward Snowden story with a sci-fi twist. Of course they aren’t exactly the same but they are close enough that you could have slipped Snowden’s story into the show without missing a beat. There was also the fact that time and again, the higher up supervisors in the show were constantly portrayed as hateful, fear mongering men who were basically just a cartoon charicature of  whatever the general population’s fears were for that given episode. This was actually the thing that was hardest to swallow about the show even when I was a teen. I would always find myself thinking how the hell would someone like that ever actually be able to move into a position of power? Enter one Donald Trump. Even more so than the Snowden thing, if you were to take him and insert him ANYWHERE in the show as the smarmy I-don’t-care-what-evidence-you-have-Mulder-this-is-what-I-think-and-I’m-in-power-so-suck-it guy you would not even notice a difference. And Trump isn’t even just trying to be the head of a government agency, he is dangerously close to being the head of the freakin country. Holy shit. I can’t believe I just typed that. On top of it all is the fact that if you were to tell me tomorrow that the government had been covering up some crazy dangerous technology or disease that had accidentally gotten out and caused the destruction of a small town, I genuinely don’t even think I would bat an eye. That’s some scary shit right there. This is all taking place in between continuous threats from individuals and groups throughout the entire show to use things such as mutations, viruses, new technologies to wreak havoc and hurt innocent people in the name of various personal vendetta’s and causes. Considering the number of terrorist attacks we have seen take place in the last decade and the way we are constantly inundated with new threats from some group or another, this is probably the most unnerving of all. Now that’s not to say that this is something that is unique to the X-Files as it is a story device for countless TV shows but still, it just seems alot less far-fetched this time around than it did in the past.

        Hey maybe I am just looking too far into it. Maybe this isn’t a product of the times so much as it is me growing up and losing some of my childish nature. That certainly is a factor, but really even as I am typing this out I can’t help but think that the world is just in fact becoming a crazier place. I am still totally psyched for the new season of the show, but I can’t help but think that this time around the of the fiction will have lost some of its luster.


Water Bear Revived After Being FROZEN SOLID For 30 Years!

        They aren’t called extremophiles for nothing. Scientists have recently revived a  specimin of Tardigrade after 30 years of being frozen at a temperature of -20 C (-4 F) in a lab in Japan. The  two Tardigrade (also known as a water bear to some) was originally recovered on a frozen moss sample along with an egg in Antarctica in 1983. The Tardigrade was already known throughout the world as an organism that could withstand extreme conditions, although the previous world record for the longest a specimen had been frozen was 9 years. Out of curiosity the team of researchers decided to warm up one of the specimens to see if it would come back to life. Much to their surprise, after 13 days it was not only almost completely back to normal, it even laid eggs which then proceeded to hatch. Although this is the world record for the revival of a Tardigrade, it is not the record for the longest an organism was able to revive after being frozen, that honor is currently being held by Tylenchus polyhypnus, a nematode worm that was successfully revived after being frozen for 39 years. Still it’s a damn impressive feat and just goes to show how incredible the natural world can be.


Winning With No Competition

Back in December CDL posted Gamers are Great (and possibly psychotic) and I silently applauded because my brothers and I own maniac moments in Rollercoaster Tycoon 1, 2, and 3.  We owned all three when we were in elementary school.
If you want to turn $10 into happiness forget the lotto tickets and pick up this gem on ebay.
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What can I say, my brothers and I were destined for engineering, architecture, and industrial distribution, respectively.  We were pretty brilliant visual-spacial kids that enjoyed building some pretty cool stuff, zoning the cute little landscapers to the puke-heavy rides, and selling concessions for like $15 a piece.  (Business tip: commoners get pretty thirsty when they can’t find the park exit)
Our maniacal moments didn’t stop with highway robbery at the concession stands.  We figured out on our own (read: before Googling cheats was a thing) some ridiculous ways to ruin the day at the park for our guests.  Everyone knows you can fling a coaster off an incomplete track, BUT did you ever consider that you could re-land the coaster with the right adjustments?
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Spoiler alert, you can’t.  RIP pixel people, you died in the name of science.
I won’t elaborate further since but sometimes we would laugh so hard we cried.  Someone even wet their pants but I won’t name names.
Instead, my main topic: you can win even when there isn’t competition.
In traditional terms this is an impossibility.  But I am not talking about the cause–>effect sequence that has lead to some great advancements in society/science/entertainment/etc.  I am talking about the people who said FFS I want to do this because why the hell not.
Have you ever been so bored you decided to balance office supplies?  Or make a monstrously huge bubble with only dish soap and your hands?  Or set up dominoes to topple them?  Don’t lie. You did and it was awesome.  You felt like a winner.
Welcome to the club Champ:
The Founder: Rube “BadAss” Goldburg 
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If you self identify as a geek I PRAY that you know who I am talking about.  Hopefully you have already seen one of my favorite Rube Goldberg videos.  You want to have a car roll down a ramp?  Okay, you could just shoot the commercial with the banner thing.  OR WE COULD WIN AT THIS.  *cheer*!
Otto the 3-year old Bulldog
When you see, “A bulldog has set a new world record for the longest human tunnel travelled through by a skateboarding dog” I watch the damn video.
My dogs can barely ride in the truck bed without acting like happy drunks. This dog has skills!    And now an official certificate!  Winning!  His owner said this all started as a game, haha!
The Majority of The Slow Mo Guys stuff
If you need to cut a watermelon but only have 200+ rubber bands there is still hope.  And a guaranteed fist pump.  They murder more than one melon in this video so I recommend watching the whole thing.  There is no point aside from it being awesome to watch.  That means they are still winning.
Also, it is disturbing how similar the watermellon explosion is to the Alien eggs.  Ick.  Fruit Ninja probably nutted in his pants.  Double Ick.
There’s a lot more spectacular wins out there.  I might do a Part 2.

Gravitational Waves: What Are They And Why Do They Matter?

        There has been much anticipation among the scientific community over the last couple of days as LIGO, the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory believes they have discovered gravitational waves for the first time in history. This is something that Scientists have been searching for since their proposal back in 1915 by none other than the grandaddy of them all, Mr. Albert Einstein during his research into the theory of relativity.

That’s right, you know the guy. Here he is in all of his bushy-headed glory

        Obviously, anything that gives us further understanding of the theory of relativity is obviously going to be a big deal in the scientific community, but what exactly does it all mean? Well, to put it simply, these are the ripples in the fabric of spacetime that occur when extreme gravitational occurrences happen out in space, such as on the event horizon of a black hole and when two stars smash together. Think of them as the ripples produced by a drop of water on the surface of a lake or river, except in this instance the drop is a black hole and the lake is the fabric of the universe. It would essentially give astronomers a new way to view things happening out in space, as well as further proof of aspects of the  theory of relativity. It would also provide much needed support for the theory of inflation (the theory that at the beginning of the universe all matter was sent through a astronomically huge expansion aka the basis of the Big Bang). Needless to say in astronomical circles, this would be HUGE.

        Now, to be fair, nothing has been announced yet. The LIGO group is currently having their findings backed up by independent researchers, and will then go through the painstaking process of writing a scientific paper and backing up their findings and having it reviewed. However, at times like this, no news is good news as that means that things are going forward as planned and diligent work is being done to verify all results. Good luck to all those at LIGO, hopefully they have something for us soon!


For more on the developing story, click here and here.