C moved out about a week ago. The exact date was April 21, a Friday. There is no good or bad timing. I had a one-week medical leave and was there almost full-time through the process. During that week, I was counting all the remaining moments with Bailey. Because Bailey would be moving out as well.
A picture of Bailey taken on that Friday late afternoon, home alone, just he and me. He probably didn’t know that I wouldn’t be moving out with him.
Dogs are amazing companions. Just that I am not good with responsibilities when it comes to pets. Perhaps … no, most definitely I have inherited my dad’s genes. My dad is never good at looking after pets. My mom had to do all the daily chores. Turtles, goldfish, birds, rabbits, and a dog. I have probably missed out on a few species. But that is my dad. And here is me. The only thing perhaps both of us were good at was raising butterflies from caterpillars. And I know why. Because dad and I do not need to look after the entire lifecycle of a butterfly. As butterflies flew off our hands, that ended our responsibilities.
I don’t miss the morning noises. Bailey would either wake me up for his morning walk at 7 am and/or during his feeding time at 8 am. He would bark with his undivided enthusiasm toward food. I don’t necessarily miss the late afternoon walk although most of the time while he was living with me, I enjoyed the walk away from work. It can be so refreshing and relieving. The walk was a good cure for work stress. I don’t miss the mess he was used to leaving behind. Like his fur on the floor and on the surfaces (as he was blown dry after his weekly shower). Or his saliva marks. I don’t miss the hassle of having to guard my lunch or dinner or snacks all the time. Because in his mind, we are a pack. And pack shares food.
Having said that, whenever it rains in the morning, I thought of Bailey if he would be okay having his short walk in the rain. Today while I was driving, at the traffic light, I saw a young lady trying to ask her dog – a Singapore Special – to walk with her only to have that brown dog dug in and refused to walk. Just like Bailey often did. I chuckled a little. At times I wonder if Bailey misses me. I don’t know where I stood in his eyes of the hierarchy. To the least, I would think that he saw me as his pack. Whenever I eat apples, I am reminded of how Bailey would eagerly wait for me to feed him apples, resting his chin on my thigh just to remind me that hey, we are a pack.
And when thunder rolls at 5 pm, I would wonder if he would be in time for his eagerly anticipated late afternoon walk. Different people have different ways to cope with losses. For me, I write.
Bailey is a guard dog. I have witnessed on multiple occasions that he made sure no one was left behind. Perhaps Bailey doesn’t miss me per se. He just feels anxious that I am the one who is left behind.
Ever since I have upgraded to a gaming laptop (note: back then, GPU was super overpriced thanks to crypto farming), I had always wanted to upgrade my gaming monitor to at least 2k resolution. I have done a fair amount of research on G-sync and G-sync compatible. Since my gaming laptop has questionable capability to connect to a G-sync or a G-sync compatible monitor (via a USB-C through Display-Port), I do not incline to invest on a $1k to $1.2k monitor (note: those ROG monitors are so yummy). I have decided to support a local brand – Prism+.
I must say, the first Prism+ monitor I have received was faulty. After a rather lengthy interaction with the super friendly service support team, I have a 1:1 exchange and this replacement works perfectly, as it should. To be frank, this sort of scenario happens to big brands too. Such as Sonos and Samsung. So long as my current monitor works in the next … 12 years like my good old Samsung, I would be grateful.
But seriously, the moment I upgrade my desktop to a 4080 graphic card, I shall be looking for a 4k resolution gaming monitor, preferably an OLED.
In any case, this brand new monitor of mine is good for gaming as well as for work. I am a happy man!
What bothers me most is not one day I am fine, another day I end up with a scar on my brow. What bothers me most is that I do not recall how it happened.
I was on a bicycle in the early Saturday morning. I must have been cycling pretty fast because when I collected my bicycle from the security guards who cared for me before the ambulance arrived, it was in the lowest gear (or was I really cycling fast at the moment of the accident?). The bicycle looks okay. In fact, while my face took the most hit, my body besides a few minor scratches with a bit of soreness was okay too.
If I were to fall off at a high speed, I would have ended up with some nasty scratches on my exposed arms and legs. According to eyewitnesses, I hit a pillar. But how? Wouldn’t the bicycle take the first hit? Wouldn’t I have hit my back while falling down? I was wearing a helmet. How would my eye get hit so badly?
I said I was being assaulted. But no one believes me.
Nothing was stolen though. Not my wallet, not my iPhone nor my Rolex. Just me fell unconscious with pools of blood next to me, according to a photo taken by one of the security guards (I don’t even want to know how my iPhone was being unlocked while I passed out).
I don’t recall riding in an ambulance. I was in and out of consciousness. I gradually gained the notion that I was in a hospital. The bright white light, lying on a bed, being wheeled to and fro. At one point, I heard a male Philipno nurse with a kind voice speaking to me, “Would you like a plastic surgeon? $500”. Whatever energy I have left, whatever brain power left I could process the information, I said, “Yes”.
It was probably one of the best decisions I have made in life.
I remembered doing an MRI. My first. I waited a long time until the plastic surgeon arrived. I didn’t get to see her face as she was wearing a mask. But I recalled seeing the physical scar on her arms. It looked like a burned mark. I couldn’t help but wonder: was it why she wanted to be a plastic surgeon?
27 stitches, I had. She told me that because she needed to stitch up my face, the stitches have to be close to each other. It took a long time. Towards the end, I could feel the pain. But I endured. (On the record, she has done an amazing job.)
In fact, after I was discharged, I was given three types of painkillers. The normal one. The stronger version. And the extreme version.
But I didn’t take any. Even the nurse who took out my 27 stitches one week later was impressed.
I don’t like painkillers unless I absolutely need to. I’d rather manage the pain instead.
Like thinking happy thoughts.
I was alone when I had my accident. I had someone, my angel, who couldn’t contact me, went around the neighborhood looking for me. Looking back, I am grateful. I am not alone. I contacted her in the end, when I gathered enough energy to do so.
Due to the blood loss, I was feeling weak after I left the hospital. Before I was discharged, I was told by the Accident & Emergency (A&E) that I would receive an SMS on my appointment to remove the stitches on Friday. I Googled. Stitches on the face area have to be taken out within a week.
I worked on Monday because there were important meetings. That was tough. So hard to present and focus, even without a webcam on.
I took the rest of the week off, a much-needed rest from my intense work life of mine.
On the following Friday, I waited for the SMS that never arrived till late morning. I couldn’t wait anymore so I called up Singapore General Hospital (SGH). The main line asked me to call A&E, which I did. A&E said that they have missed booking the appointment for me but I could turn out at Clinic H any time.
So, I cycled to SGH and headed to Clinic H at block 3. SGH is HUGE!
At the registration counter, I was told that I have no appointment. I explained my situation whereby I desperately needed the stitches to be removed. The receptionist disappeared to consult a doctor. After a while, she came out and told me that Clinic H doesn’t remove stitches. Clinic J does. Clinic H is “ophthalmology”. Clinic J is “plastic”. In my case, it is both “eye” and “plastic”.
Where is Clinic J? Just next door.
So I headed to Clinic J and repeated the entire process. They took my doctor’s referral letter (essential for insurance claims) and asked me to wait in front of the treatment room.
The plastic surgeon who attended to me was different from the one who operated on me. She did some basic diagnosis and said that I am ready for stitch removal. She asked if I wanted to book a follow-up appointment with her. At that point, I said no. And immediately, I regretted it.
The nurse who removed my 27 stitches asked me to count as she operated on me. To be honest, I would rather think happy thoughts. I like her though. She was from Malaysia now a Singapore citizen. She has been with SGH for 17 years. “Too long,” she said. “You look young,” I said. I meant it. At the end of the treatment, she asked if I wish to take a photo of the 27 stitches removed. I politely declined. She commented that black stitches are so hard to spot against my eyebrow. I agreed. She said the stitches should have been in red or blue color. To that, I also agreed.
Bad news. The receptionist has lost my letter of referral. I have to get it reprinted. Somewhere somehow.
After the treatment, I was told to visit the pharmacy to get my cream to minimize scarring. The doctor said that it would be expensive. $90 (more like $70). In a heartbeat, I said, “I want it”.
It’s for my face, for god’s sake.
It took me more than 1 hour to get a tube of cream.
At the A&E, it was chaotic. I explained to the nurses that Clinic J has lost my letter of referral. I needed it to be reprinted so that I could proceed with my insurance claim. Very grumpily – understandably so as A&E can be stressful – the nurse printed the letter and more.
According to the report – which I wouldn’t have a chance to read had Clinic J hadn’t lost my letter – the MRI scan was good.
After I got the letter, I had lunch and returned to Client J wanting to book an appointment with the plastic surgeon who “looked after me” in the morning. It took me a long time to recap the summary to the receptionist. Way too much effort. But at least I have the follow-up appointment booked.
With that, I cycled back home.
Timeline for reference.
10:45 – No SMS from SGH and hence called the main line. 11:45 – Got a queue number from Clinic H. 11:55 – Asked by Clinic H to approach Clinic J instead. 12:55 – Exited from treatment room with all stitches out. 13:05 – Arrived at the hospital pharmacy to collect my tube of cream. 14:15 – Got my cream from the pharmacy. Headed to A&E for the reprint of my letter of referral that Clinic J has lost. 14:50 – Had lunch at Coffee Bean. Tuna sandwitch with coffee, S$17. 15:15 – Finished lunch and headed home.
I am not a big live recording fan (classical music is an exception). I prefer studio recording whereby all the tracks are perfectly recorded and mastered. A great live recording requires every band member to do well and the song rendition should offer something different, something better than studio recording (otherwise, why bother?). Live Tour 2022 “A revolution” at Showa Women’s University Hitomi Memorial Hall 2022/11/23 ticks all the boxes for me. Before writing this blog entry, I was thinking hard about what other live albums I like. I can only come up with one. Pink Floyd’s Pulse (Live).
The recording quality is amazing. I can hear different tracks clearly. The band plays very tight offering a different experience from the studio recording. Kumi, the main singer, delivers the live vocal track well, soaring through the music, crisp and clear with good control. And of course, the songwriting is so unique whereby there is only one Love Psychedelico. With songs from their latest 2022 album all the way to their very first 2001 album, when Last Smile was performed, I was on an emotional high being taken all the way to the early 2000s. Life was simple back then.
Love Psychedelico, thank you for continue making music and be part of my life journey. Whenever I want to think of the good old days, I listen to your music.
How time flies is an understatement. A little over 11 years ago, I have participated in the Diablo 3 beta. Last weekend, I played the open beta early access. I would like to share with you my afterthought. The beta weekend has its ups and downs. I will address my concerns first and end this on a good note with things that I like.
D3 Beta (2011) versus D4 Beta (2023)
If I were to compare D3 and D4 beta experiences, I would say D3 beta was more polished and it ended with little difficulty in taking down Butcher in act 1. I bet a lot of you had a very positive experience with D3 beta and that could explain the commercial success of its launch. D3 beta had demonstrated a huge step forward from D2. Not only graphically speaking, but also combat-wise, how we interacted with the environment and solid storytelling with iconic characters we cared about.
D4 beta shows us another step forward from D3, but it is more like a refinement of what we have today, and I will go over the key points in just a moment. D4 beta probably has left us with more questions and concerns on one hand and perhaps, the anticipation of how well it may turn out on the other hand. Some of you may take a more wait-and-see approach. Some of you may be very excited about the upcoming June 6th release.
Server Availability & Latency
For those who have prepurchased the game and joined the open beta early access, you may have encountered a long queuing time and felt frustrated. But that is the least of my concern because I am sure Blizzard will iron it out. My main concern is latency and Internet Service Provider (ISP) specific issues one may face.
Over the beta weekend, I was at my friend’s place wanting to play Diablo 4 and my friend is using SingTel, the major service provider here in Singapore. The latency was so bad that it was unplayable. At my home when using Viewqwest as the ISP, the gameplay was smooth. Some friends of mine who had encountered the same issue had to use mobile data to play the game! This is one area of concern of course because it is not that easy to switch ISP just to play an online game.
Even when the game is playable, I am experiencing stuttering and rubberbanding. D4 doesn’t play as smoothly as D3. I don’t think this is a frame rate issue. My frame rate fluctuates but most of the time, it is above 60. I am using a gaming laptop with a 3070 graphic card. I reckon the stuttering was due to a latency spike as I sometimes saw latency changing from 100 to more than 1,000 and back to 100 in a short duration.
Right now when I play D3, I am using the Australian gateway for more consistent latency. I am not sure if D4 has a similar setup.
Also, I won’t be surprised if D4 will have weekly server maintenance, one of the very few aRPG that still uses such a dated technology.
The Open World and The MMO Aspect
One major difference between D3 and D4 is that D4 has an open-world concept. The map is huge. D4 plays like a proper RPG. Actually, the scale of D4’s open-world reminds me of Grim Dawn. However, I must say, D4 open world feels a little bit empty. The environment looks rather generic and the mob groups are far and spread out. It reminds me of Wolcen early access, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
For those who are used to World of Warcraft, to see D4 turned somewhat into an MMO could be a welcoming change. For those who play exclusively the Diablo franchise and prefer to play alone, you may feel the opposite. As a fan of Marvel Heroes, I think an MMO aRPG when done right can be really fun. For Marvel Heroes, the story maps were not that huge. It was easy to encounter other players to complete the story objectives. There were special instances or dungeons that encouraged MMO play. “World Bosses” were spawned very often with map markers to draw people onto the same “hot zones”. In contrast to what I see in D4, D4 is a half-hearted approach to MMO. I doubt players would purposely stay in one open-world zone just to farm events, like back in Marvel Heroes’ days. At least I do not see that happening during open beta.
The Skill Tree & Respec
D4 sees a return to the concept of the skill tree, very much like the Dragonflight expansion of World of Warcraft. The skill tree seems pretty linear with main skills that can be unlocked through main nodes augmented by another fixed node and another node that you can choose between two options. That to me is a step down from the D3 rune design whereby we can have more than one variant for the same skill picked. D4 skill tree allows us to make one skill more powerful than others by investing more points in it. Also, we can pick up certain passive nodes with a trade-off against active skills. That is probably one of the minor improvements over D3.
My D4 sorcerer plays similarly to my D3 wizard, which I don’t know if that is a good thing or not. I teleport. I use hydras. And there is an armor skill. I have one basic skill to generate mana. And I use meteor. D4 is indeed a D3 upgrade. Nothing evolutionary. Having said that, I do look forward to playing Druid.
I am hoping that D4 doesn’t box me into a particular build like D3 does with set bonuses. And end-game itemization would open up more build options, especially for those who are not chasing the S-tier builds, like myself.
Respec now costs gold. It doesn’t come free like D3 or WoW. Only time will tell if it is as nominal as Grim Dawn or as expensive as Path of Exile. I am for the freedom to experiment and not to rely on cookie-cutter builds. I think Warhammer 40,000 Inquisitor has the best balance on respec. It only requires you to speed time playing the game and you can earn 1 respec token every hour.
So what does it mean now that D4 respec requires gold? It will limit the freedom of build experimentation but that would mean nothing if there aren’t enough viable builds like Warhammer. Take D3 as an example, we are free to change our builds. But most would follow a cookie-cutter build at the end game and we can count the number of viable builds per class with less than 10 fingers.
By the look of it, we will not be able to switch between speed farming build versus hard content push build like in Diablo 3 through the Armory. At the end game, we would likely stick with what we have in D4. Again, my speculation. Only time will tell.
I must admit, the story of D4 hasn’t quite grown on me as D3 did. Leah, Deckard Cain, and Tyrael, characters of D3 act one instantly hooked me in. I genuinely wanted to help Deckard Cain, care for Leah, and be curious about Tyrael.
For D4, we have Lilith and Inarius, and their firstborn Rathma. The story doesn’t have that hook effect like D3. I must say, as the story unfolds, I wish D4 offers me the option for an alliance with Lilith or Inarius, very much like how Horde and Alliance work in World of Warcraft and let my action changes the course of the story. I haven’t seen the rest of the story. I highly doubt my wish would be granted.
Without a doubt, D4 graphics looks awesome compared to D3. After all, they are 11 years apart. I wouldn’t say though, D4 graphics are ahead of modern-day aRPG’s. But I welcome the upgrade.
The Game Pace and Difficulty
It is hard to tell what the game pace would be by looking at the open beta. My gut feeling tells me that the D4 game pace is slower than D3 and other popular aRPG. The first 20 levels feel slow playing at veteran difficulty, one above the easiest option. The gears often dropped at 10 levels below my character and don’t seem to make my character much stronger relative to the difficulty level. D4 is more difficult than D3 and this manifested in boss fights.
Boss Fight, Evade, and Active Use of Health Globe
I enjoy the multi-stage boss fight, though I think it is a bit too difficult and a bit too unfair to melee classes like Barbarian. I play the Sorceror and like the early days of D3, it is back to kitting and passive damage. I wouldn’t want to stop and deal active damage. My character would be dead by then.
Unique to D4 and common to other aRPG, there is an ability to actively dodge or evade an incoming attack on top of other movement skills you may have. This soul-like gameplay may take a bit of getting used to but I think it is good in the long run.
I also like the active use of health globes. Unlike D3 whereby health globes are automatically used to replenish health even at full health. In D4, you have a limited time to decide if you should use the health globe to refill your potions. On difficult encounters, I would want to pace out the consumption of time-limit health globes with my potion usage. There is a bit of risk and return and I like it.
What I don’t like is to get one shot or two shots by a boss spawn that I could do nothing against it. D4 can be frustrating. Again, that reminds me of Wolcen and I sincerely hope that D4 will not turn into another Wolcen.
In conclusion, I don’t regret prepurchasing the game, though it is one really expensive game. By the look of it, given what I see on the scale of the beta, I would most likely have a good time completing the story and the side quests. Will I play D4 as much as I do with D3? Only time will tell.
Thanks for tuning in. I will make more D4 videos when the game officially launches this year, June 6th. I’ll see you in hell or heaven or wherever the D4 story will bring. Ciao.