SWTOR – Profit and Plunder, Chapt 13

opening Welcome to Star Wars, the Old Republic’s latest instalment, Profit and Plunder. If you don’t know the story to this point, beware SPOILERS!!!! May follow.start

Apparently, the galaxy is still suffering, despite your best efforts, you being “possessed” by Emperor Valkorion, and having created an alliance of Empire and Republic.

The first instalment of this new, month by month release schedule, back at the beginning of the year, was quite interesting. The last few chapters have been pretty boring. I suspect that what bioware is trying, and failing to do is to keep people interested, and subscribed, by releasing stuff this way. They promise a free gift, and early access (2 days) if you subscribe. Subs are basically 15USD per month, so it’s not huge. However most of us can’t afford to pay for multiple games, and this is their attempt to deal with that.

The upshot is, the gifts are not really fansecondtastic, and the chapters are becoming kind of boring, especially when a lot of people have to do it multiple times. The promised “what you say and do will have huge effects on the story” does not seem, up to now anyway, to be true.

Anyway, on to the chapter. The first time you do this chapter, it seems like it might be pretty cool, striking the heart of the Zakuul Empire, right where it hurts, the wallet. You are reunited (or united, depending on which class you are playing) with 2 companions you may or may not have had previously. I recently did this using a dark side Bounty Hunter, who previously had Gault(the broken horned chap – who is the dodgy underworld, untrustworthy gambler type – always looking for  scam) apparently his Likes: Greed, indulgence, thinking your way through a problem and his Dislikes: Fair fights, pain, charity, rules. He ripped off his girlfriend (Hylo Visz, which I reckon is probably the best character name ever, and who is also in charge of part of your alliance), so you understand the kind of guy he is. Some of the conversations were pretty fun, or at least as much as they can be. The fourthblue lady is Vette, a tomb robber, who is also pretty feisty and likes to play practical jokes on people, particularly Gault, which is fun the first time, but a bit boring after novelty has worn off.third

Basically, without spoiling the story, Zakuul, as foolish as they are, store all their gold in one place, which conveniently Gault knows about, and your task is to get in and steal it to fund the resistance. It’s a nice story, but it seemed just a little bit long, a little bit slow, and the ending is kinda predictable.



Star Citizen – first impressions

I had the chance to have a demo of star citizen, so I thought I would regale you with my impressions of the game.

A demo is a good idea, because while you can register an account at https://robertsspaceindustries.com/, you cant actually download the game without buying a “pack”.

A “pack” consists of a ship (or some ships) which range from USD$40 up to prices in the thousands or a subscription – I found USD$10 and $USD20 per month options.me

Very clever marketing has enabled Chris Roberts, the visionary who came up with the game, to crowd source over 100 million US Dollars in order to develop this game, 2016-04-29_20-03-51which is touted as a living, breathing science fiction universe with unparalleled immersion. By getting people to buy into the vision and pre-purchase ships they have been able to get the game off the ground and it is quite amazing.


Once you do the initial 20GB download for the Alpha (they expect that once it goes beta it is going to be something like 100GB), you get to login and begin trying to figure out your way around the game.

The first thing I noticed was how beautiful the graphics are, and they are stunning. They are also resource hungry. Most games I can play on my set up in “high” (some even in movie mode), but this I ended up running in Low. I could get around in high settings but it was a bit jerky, which was ok while just wandering around but not usable when trying to do something like flying.

So you might notice the odd screenshot here is a little lower in quality, but they were taken while trying to do something requiring low settings, but even then, the graphics are still awesome. If you go to the webpage, what you see there is pretty much what you see in game.


So, you get a few options of things you can do, go to the Universe, electronic access, hangar, set options and exit. Universe gets you into the combat zones, only one of which is workin2016-04-29_20-13-28g. Electronic access is the packs you purchased, in this case there was 2 space flight combats (at least I think it was 2 flight), only one was working so I am not sure what the second was. Iwas unable to figure out what I was supposed to be doing in the few hours I had to play, so I gave up. I did have a bit of a run around the corridors and halls though, added some journal entries and got the odd task to do but I could never find where I was supposed to go to do them. I couldn’t find a map to tell me where I was or in what direction I should be heading. The area is huge and I got lost. I did at one point go out through an airlock into space and float about a bit.

The vista was amazing, with stars, suns, a big revolving disk, which I suspect is supposed to create gravity or something. Again, I didn’t really know, nor could I find out what I was supposed to be doing there so I quit out and decided that probably what I was missing was doing a demo. Yup, if all else fails, RTFM. Do you think I could find one though? No. By this point I am beginning to question my ability to game, and my sanity (mostly my sanity). So I retreated to the safety of my hangar, where I could at least look at the ships that had been bought (2 ships cost USD$550 – glad it wasn’t my money).


I decided to look once more at the electronic access section an where I found a demo on how to fly one of the ships. At this point I was about 45 mins to an hour into the tour, admittedly some of that time was spent googling for answers and setting graphics up and so forth.

approchI got into the hangar and was greeted by some helpful instructions and a gentleman with a blue arrow on his head. Woo hoo I thought, finally something I can do. So I engaged with him in some helpful conversation and entered a nearby ship, the view from which was stunning.


Amazing. Unfortunately it all went downhill from there. I was told to watch what the instructor did. It was about the third time through I realised he was in a ship behind me, and I had to left ALT, and look around to watch him. He then tells me that I need to do what he did, and that the blast doors would open automatically and let me leave.


Well. After about 30 mins and some irritated googling, I discovered how to decouple from the dock and move around. However, I didn’t seem to be able to get myself in the right spot to make the doors open. 1.5 hours later, I decided I had seen enough and quit.


Star Citizen is epic. I think it is going to be a huge time soak, and probably hugely expensive, in fact, I won’t be paying anything to play it. I think that because of its size and scope, you need to be able to get into it and have a play around, and decide whether you want to invest the time and money. At this stage, I’d say it’s not possible. The lack of guides and help throughout seem prohibitive as well. I know it is only alpha, but I believe that once you are taking money from people, these things should already be in place.

There are 2 different keyboard maps, one for non flight and one for flight, and they too are very complicated. The flight keyboard map uses nearly every single key including the number pad and ALT+ and CNTRL+ options. If you have the time to invest in learning everything, I think this game will be epic. If you don’t have a lot of time to get over that initial learning curve, then I think you will just be frustrated and wish you had not spent the money.


Star Wars, The Old Republic

A while back, a friend suggested I try Star Wars, The Old Republic (http://swtor.com) as an epic, free to play RPG where I could just play verses the environment, and follow some interesting storylines. So I signed up, and this is what I found.


This game first came online in a partnership between Bioware and LucasArts, and was first announced in 1008, going live in 2011, and is set 3000 years prior to the rise of Darth Vader (http://www.swtor.com/info/setting).

When you first join the game you find there are a number of species to choose from (and many can be unlocked for real $), and 8 classes. Some races can only select some classes (humans can select any) which are: Bounty HunterSith WarriorImperial Agent, and Sith Inquisitor for the Sith Empire; and the TrooperSmugglerJedi Knight, and Jedi Consular for the Galactic Republic. Each one has a sub class, for example a Sith Warrior later gets to choose a specialisation and be either a marauder (DPS) or a Juggernaut (TANK). Ultimately, if you want to have one of each, you would end up with 16 characters, all of whom form a part of your legacy (a family tree, along the lines of the Skywalker family). The stories are the same, for each class regardless of specialiGalaxyMapsation.

Each of the 8 main classes has their own story, and each story has 3 chapters. Once you have completed these you then move into expansions, which can be fun and the game opens up hugely allowing you to travel in your spaceship throughout the galaxy


Along the way you meet companions, whom become a part of your story and have their own side stories too, which you can choose to assist them with. Companions used to be able to be dressed, and equiyavinpped, and had certain specialisations, which had a huge impact on your game play. Your character gets the choice of making light (good) or Dark (evil) decisions, which your companions either agreed with or not, although this had little effect really. In recent expansions, the need for armouring/weaponing was removed (although you can still play dress up), and any companion can have any specialisation (healer/tank/DPS), so a lot of people just stick with one whom they have the most “influence” with, which increases their abilities (and makes them a bit OP). With the new expansions comes the possibility that your companion might leave if they disagree with your – frustrating if it is your best one.

All the way through your story progression you will fight beasts, bosses, peasants and royalty. You can also do PVP (although I find it confusing and hard so I don’t bother), and Starfighter battles (even more confusing and hard). You can buy your own stronghold, and join a guild that has a guild stronghold and even its own command ship (which is massive). The strongholds can be HUGE, the one on Yavin4, can take several minutes to get from one end of it to the other; it has secret caves and rooms and waterfalls and a temple!


Every game has its issues I guess, and the primary issue these days is the change to more “story” oriented game. It has removed many of the skills required to play. There are less customisations, less need to know how to use your characters abilities in given circumstances. There is also a growing push to subscriptions and having to “pay for the good stuff”. Unfortunately this has resulted in a number of the “old school” players giving up, as they find there is no challenge any more.


The up side is with the new content, decisions you make some times do have an effect on those around you, and I have on some of my characters (called “toons”), lost a companion – fortunately I didn’t like him anyway and I am looking for a way to get rid of him on my others too 😛


SWTOR is definitely epic. The scale of the game is galactic. You can move around the galaxy, visit 17 or more planets. On planets like Tatooine and Hoth there is the potential to spend time flying around – I once got lost for 30 mins, just a note, on Hoth, a shortcut is often not a shortcut. In the recent Star Wars movie, Rey is seen climbing in a Ship Graveward scavenging for parts. There is a similar graveyard on Hoth, and you too can scavenge in a ship with the same kind of scale. Epic.sithwindow

https://youtu.be/SoG1SjfBB-U – cruising around Hoth.


Currently Bioware are releasing a new chapter a month until the end of the year, as opposed to just releasing a bunch all at once. I guess it is designed to try and keep people subscribed and interested, however, some of the chapters are a bit boring, and a lot of people have multiple characters (I know people with 20!), and each one has to do each chapter. Some of the storylines are quite epic (a lot of people really like the Imperial Agent story), but you know that if you get to a slow bit, you can speed through to some action, but that is not possible with the way it is now. Some of characters are quite hard case, and will give you many laughs over the things they say, so will your companions.


If you’re into Star Wars, this is a very cool game. Some of the graphics are a bit outdated (2011 styles), but each new chapter brings new and better graphics. You’ll get to live in the SW universe for a little while, get to explore worlds and defeat impossible bosses, view amazing scenery and meet some pretty awesome people (and some not so awesome too, sorry). This game has a bit of everything for everyone, and I reckon, if you haven’t at least tried it, you cant really call yourself a geek 😛


kickstarter campaign for a young Christian movie director

Hi Folks

I work for a christian national radio/tv station in New Zealand, and one of our talented staff is raising money to make a movie.

He has one week to go and needs about $5000NZD (USD$3000 approx) more to buy the equipment he needs. He will be doing this in his spare time, but has already done a few films in a similar vein which have been submitted to go to various film festivals.

This movie will have Christian themes and messages in it, but the idea is that it will appeal to people generally.

If you are interested in knowing what it is about, go  here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2144253652/down/ – Mikey has a promo there and an explanation of what he wishes to achieve.

If you know someone who supports these kind of projects, please refer them to the link, and click back project.

Otherwise, just keep an eye out in the future for this movie, filmed in New Zealand.

please ignore this if you find this offensive 😛


Geoff – 




The Hardened individual

The Church has frequently ignored that Paul considered the heart to be ametanoetos, incapable of repentance: therefore the Church often zealously requires the individual to repent.But because the heart is ametanoetos, Paul was an evangelist, rather than a preacher of repentance. Hence he was able to bring the individual into relationship with Jesus and thereby implanted in his heart that which is new, which broke apart the old thought constructs and resisted the old pattern of volition

Adolf Schlatter: Romans, The Righteousness of God.

Schlatter talks about the difference between the prophet, and the evangelist. The evangelist is the one who lives with, and serves the community. He does NOT preach at them. That is the job of the prophet, the prophet who has been properly educated in the scriptures, and who is called to bring the things of God to the understanding of the people ONCE they have been evanglised and decided they need to know more.

That is to say, the evangelist brings people in touch with the loving heart of God, through Christ, where the prophet brings revelation and understanding to those who have begun to be made new.

Adolf had this right nearly 100 years ago, and yet nearly all the Church STILL think that they need to stand on the street corner and insult the intelligence of people is the way to convert them. It wasnt the right way in the first century, and it sure isnt now.


Transient Global Amnesia – no lasting effects?

A few months ago I was diagnosed with Transient Global Amnesia (TGA) – it is a weird stroke-like condition that results in your brain not being able to form memories for a period of time (about 13 hours for me).

This occurs in 0.004% of the population, and is supposed to rarely occur.

On the morning in question, I recall taking my daughter to school, waving goodbye as she crossed the road at about 8:30am. Then about 1:30AM the next morning I remember my wife saying that she was tired, and that I seemed better and she was going home to sleep (taking our then 5-6 month old son with her).

Apparently my brain was on a loop of a few minutes, constantly asking where I was, what time it was, and exclaiming how time flies, over and over for the whole time. I dont recall much of what happened, I think, because as my brain was not recording anything I was unable to know what I didnt know, that is, that something was wrong. I had been to the gym, I have a foggy snippet in my brain that this happened, and that I had a shower (also, my gym app on my phone had entries in it). Apparently, my workmate said, when I came out of the shower I was crying and confused, and I called my wife. Various other things happened, I am told, but I have no memory of them at all. Vaguely, I recall my wife taking me to some carpark (McDonalds I think) to meet my parents to drop them the oldest two kids – but I am not sure if I remember it, or because I was told it happened.

At some point after midnight that night, my brain started piecing together information, or rather, recording again. I could begin to remember what people told me 5 mins ago, then still remember it 10 mins later, then 30, then an hour…

Right about now is where you start realising that you can not remember anything, then you start wondering what, why, how, have I had a stroke? What’s going on? Fortunately my wife was still with me, as had I been alone I think it would have been scary. As it was, once she left, I spend many hours lying there wondering what had broken in my head. I am not that smart a person, but I am fairly confident in my abilities to work stuff out, to figure out things with my mind. I have a degree, and work in IT, and spent a lot of time reading, and researching, debating and discussing. The thought that my mind might not be able to do this any more was.. well.. I think you understand.

I borrowed this from another blog, from a guy recounting his experience:

The hardest thing for me to wrap my brain around since my episode of TGA is the concept of consciousness. During the time I could not form new memories, I saw nothing, heard nothing, felt nothing, though I walked, talked, heard and saw what was going on around me in everyone else’s eyes. So was I truly conscious?

Read more: Danger! Exploding Melon! Or A Day With Transient Global Amnesia « { go2jo.com } http://www.go2jo.com/medical/danger-exploding-melon-or-a-day-with-transient-global-amnesia/#ixzz3FKlZK09v
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives
Follow us: @joestreno on Twitter | joestreno on Facebook

And from another:

As I discovered, your mental existence is predicated strictly on the existence of your memories. Without access to your entire life, you virtually cease to exist. Your personality becomes somewhat “flattened’, but its essential qualities seem to be unaffected. Your native intelligence remains intact, but without access to all the information stored in the rest of your brain, you have nothing to discuss. You are completely without knowledge and you are incomplete without it. World War II no longer exists, yesterday no longer exists and you don’t know they don’t exist. (http://gerryporter.blogspot.co.nz/2012/11/transient-global-amnesia.html)

Both of these are worth a read, especially the last one, he explains what happened far better than I can.

At some time in the morning, after a few hours stewing, and a CAT scan, the doctor and his team came in and said, “You’ve had TGA, you can pop off to work now..” (The abridged version). I went, really? What the…? I didnt really feel up to work so I had a day or two to make sure I could still function.

Several months later, after having been told there would be no lasting effects, I am writing this to make a record in case someone else is struggling with the same thing. There ARE effects that last. First and foremost is in the back of your mind that your brain doesnt work properly anymore, and perhaps you will forget another day, or an hour, or a minute, or not to step out on the road in front of a bus, or which side of the road you are supposed to drive on.

Secondly, I have trouble remembering stuff. Prior to this I was able to remember a number of 7 digit numbers, names, places, things I read, appointments, and tasks. No longer… Any more than one thing, and I have to write it down.

Thirdly, I have headaches a lot. Not just little ones, but big ones in the back of my head that make me feel nauseous. Never had these before. I have them when I wake up, off and on all day.

Fourthly, I’m grumpy. I’ve always been grumpy, but now I am really grumpy and incapable of doing anything about it. I used to get short tempered when I had type 2 diabetes, and had a hyper episode, but there were other effects with that, but with this, there is just irrational grumpiness.

Fifth, I used to lose myself in a conversation, because I have a lot of ideas and would move from one thing to another in my mind faster than I can articulate it. Now, however, more often than not, I get lost because my mind goes blank.

Sixth, the only time I feel really comfortable now is when I am “doing something” – running, cycling, riding my motorbike, working out at the gym, making stuff in the garage. I feel very much like I cant converse with anyone, or read/study, or do my job properly.

Finally, I cant sleep. I am tired, and it feels like my brain is cloudy all the time, you know, like when you have pulled an all nighter. I also used to have Sleep Apnoea, so I know what its like to be severely sleep deprived. This is similar but not the same. When I say I cant sleep, I can make about 5-6 hours, which is 2-3 hours short of what sleep testing suggests that I need to get properly rested (having sleep apnoea means you get sleep tested, BONUS!).

Anyway, that’s the story, and if you have had TGA, or want to know anything about what I have said, feel free to contact me either by posting or using the form


believe without a reason

I was listening to the Michael W Smith song “Missing Person today, and I was struck by the line:

And like a child he would believe without a reason

I find this more than just a little bit annoying. Firstly, its a misuse of what Jesus says in Matthew about “becoming like a child”.

This means to unlearn everything the world has taught you to value, and to relearn how to live in the kingdom of God.

Secondly, How can you “believe without a reason”? There is no possible way you can believe something without a reason. At the very least, you believe something because someone you trusted told you something. 

Its an old and very stupid thing that Christians, particularly evangelicals, hold on to. I can remember many Pastors preaching this. “Just believe like a chid” – WELL WRONG. Children believe like children, but then they grow up.

Christians do not, and should not “believe without a reason” – just like when you are at school, or anywhere else for that matter, if someone tells you something, or teaches you something, you dont “just believe it” – you take it with a grain of salt, and you go away and find out, or get a second opinion, consult an expert.


No, friends, there is no such thing as “believe without a reason” – and it marrs what would is otherwise a cool song (and Christianity!)


Creation Ministries and Oscar Pistorius

Many of you wont know about Oscar Pistorius, you can read up on him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Pistorius

Its been a quite interesting case with many experts giving evidence. What’s also quite interesting is an article on creation.com where they detail the various kinds of evidence and some of the issues with it. The crux of their argument being that even experts disagree on evidence, which they are able to reproduce, and measure scientifically.


The problem is that whilst the CMI might consider themselves experts, they are not. They are “people who have an interest in firing guns” and not “ballistic experts”. When they DO employ “ballistic experts” they only employ ones who agree with their perspective on how they should interpret the evidence.


This is completely contrary to to facts, and good “Science”. Most of us study the texts to determine what they are for, what was intended to be said, its socio-historical context, its theological context, its historical theological context, etc. The “Science” involved in interpreting scripture is called Hermeneutics. This is what you do BEFORE you start making any scientific conclusions about creation. In fact, once you do this, you realise that any scientific conclusions you make about creation have very little bearing on what Genesis says at all.


They say this:

Further, with the lure of prestige, fame and fortune accompanying evolutionary ‘discoveries’ in academia today, and with most universities firmly ensconced within the reigning materialist paradigm, one would have to be naïve not to believe that much of the evolutionary interpretation is also influenced by the rewards that come with telling the ‘right’ stories.

Apparently evolutionary studies are not based on science, but because scientists are being bribed to manipulate the evidence. Its beside the point because the bible does not have anything to do with the study of evolution, other than the God who ordered the universe also made it possible for science to be done. Either that or all science is a lie.

I liked this article which popped up today on the subject: http://agreatercourage.blogspot.co.nz/2014/09/more-pannenberg-on-genesis-1-2.html


… when it comes to the past, an objective, reliable eyewitness account of events carries the most weight. When it comes to origins, the claimed evolution from the Big Bang onward had no eyewitnesses and has never been observed in the field or repeated in a laboratory

Of course we know this to be true. However, scientists can measure and observe, then draw a line backwards and get some idea of what happened. However, this same criticism is true of Genesis, because the author of Genesis was not present at creation either. Worse, the author did not ever intend the text to be understood as an explanation of WHAT (the scientific detail) but rather, the WHY (the theological implications of a God who orders the universe), and HOW (this God is the one God who is above all other gods, and understandings).

They go on to say:

By contrast, creation had the ultimate, most reliable and truthful eyewitness possible, the eternal Creator God Himself. And He has given us an account of that supernatural, six-day, once-off event—primarily in the book of Genesis, but confirmed by many other passages of the inspired Word of God. Noah and his family were eyewitnesses of the Flood judgment about 1650 years after creation, and God (and possibly Noah himself) ensured that the account was also recorded for us in the Bible. As in a court of law, let us take the objective, unbiased account of the ultimate eyewitness at His plain meaning when evaluating the evidence for where this wonderful universe, including mice and men, has come from. When we do so, we will find that all of the ‘forensic’ evidence available to humanity as made in God’s image makes perfect sense when interpreted in the light of that record.

God did not WRITE the Bible, he INSPIRED it. There is a huge difference, and the author of the passage in question was not recounting, as I said, the details of what happened, he was not there, he did not know. He was INSPIRED to write about why things are the way they are. He also was not present at the flood, and did not know NOAH.

These people have stolen what it really means to believe in creation, and the name “creationist” and perverted it into some perverted shadow of the truth.

Its time to claim it back.


tweeted: http://t.co/RKUNRP5Unw



tweeted: http://t.co/kKomEBwkGf http://t.co/SvbVTc51gX

nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/art… fb.me/2V2AMmBek