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Digging Too Deep

This weekend, my primary focus was the same as the last two: space mining and some other entertainment to break up the monotony.  

That may change because I finally reached my penultimate goal in Elite:Dangerous of earning access to an Imperial Clipper, basically the sleekest ship in the game.  
Oh, she's not the biggest and best ship in the game, that honor belongs to the Anaconda, a ship whose hull costs about seven times as much.  In fact, the Python costs only twice as much as a clipper and outperforms it in every way (except speed) while fitting snugly on a smaller docking pad.   So the only thing "penultimate" about the Imperial Clipper is that it is arguably the best looking ship in the game, and has a slightly higher cruising speed to show for it.

Perhaps more importantly, it's the last one I plan to grind long enough to get.  From here on out, the diminishing returns for grinding exceed my comfort level.   If I bother to play at all, it'll just be for a little space atmosphere and expecting nothing in return.

In text-based virtual worlds, no one can hear you swearing.

As I hinted at in the last entry, I was interested in playing Caves of Qud, and did so.   

It's a fun little post-apocolyptic roguelike, rich with flavor text illustrating an interesting world and unusual game mechanics such as mutations.  In what other game can you be a four-armed turtle gunslinger capable of spawning temporal clones?

That said, it's far from a perfect game.  I find the RPG aspects of it to be a bit rudimentary, the skills you earn are essentially just perks, so the character power progression curves unpredictably.   Enemy balance is also a bit lopsided, liable to spawn instakilling foes where previously only leveling fodder could be found;many a cheap game over awaits.  However, it's an early access game, so it's forgiven.

You've risen my hopes and dashed them quite expertly.

I also have begun to take an online class in Unity 3D.  It was marked down from $197 to $10 with the right coupon found via reddit.  So far, it's indeed an online class: nothing but lectures, PowerPoint slides, and a message board.  Still, short of taking a live class, this is probably the easiest (wimpiest) way to learn how to use the powerful IDE, but after all my waffling perhaps I ought to just forge ahead on the smallest incline available.
Sensing I might be making progress towards usurping its entertainment potential, reality has rudely destroyed my working operating system.  Worse, it did so in a classic fashion where a mortal is tempted too much power.  

I was tempted to migrate my four-drive RAID 10 array to a RAID 5 because that's still pretty decent data security but also has the potential to be reading from three drives instead of two.  Post-migration, I discovered that I dug too deeply: while the drive managed to keep its data in tact, Windows 7 would have nothing to do with my RAID 5 shenanigans.

So I decided to stop being so fancy and just reinstalled Windows 7 to my fifth, 128 GB, SSD drive.  Performance is all around better with the OS running on a SSD, but I shall forever be plagued with the need to manually redirect everything that's not system-crucial over to the D: drive where the Raid 5 is. Lemme tell ya, a LOT of stuff wants to come live on the C: drive whether you want it or not.  One of these days, I'll shell out for a terabyte of SSD drive space... but not today!

Windows 10 is out, but I won't be migrating to it until I know for certain my RAID drivers are compatible with it.  Otherwise, I lose the data and space that dwells on my newly-merged RAID 5.  I would hate to have to start over again.
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Prospective Pursuits

Despite claiming to be burned out from Elite: Dangerous, what little free time I have managed to focus towards a particular end has mostly been spent engaging in the most boring activity it can offer: mining.

Mining has been made a bit less boring than it used to be because of the addition of collector limpets.  These handy little robots will elegantly fly out, grab any asteroid debris or cargo containers they can find, and drop them off in your cargo scoop.  The fully upgraded limpet controllers expand limpet lifespan to a full twelve minutes... unless you have targeted something to pick up, in which case launching a limpet does only retrieves that and then it self-destructs.  Prior to the implementation of the collector limpets, you had to collect all the debris manually by ramming it with your open cargo scoop, which was challenging enough but overly monotonous.

The other half of what makes mining worthwhile is picking the right target.  I had originally thought mining in Elite:Dangerous was mostly a matter of flying out to asteroid belts, hit up the few rocks you find there, and then jumping to the next.  All that travel time takes forever, and it turns out a much quicker way to fill up your cargo hold involves finding resource extraction sites located within planetary rings.  Planetary rings are made up of effectively unlimited asteroids, so you can gleefully fill your entire cargo hold without having to go back to supercruise first.  Look for "metallic" or "pristine metal" planetary rings, because minerals are worth so much less than ore that I'm not sure why they even bother putting in mineral belts at all.

Currently, mining has me upgrading an Asp Explorer with a 64-ton cargo capacity.  I load up on ten limpets, leave the station, go to a nearby purely metallic planetary ring, zap rocks with my mining laser, use collection limpets to fill my cargo hold, leave the planetary ring, return to the station.  Takes about an hour, and I get about 500,000 to 1,000,000 credits depending on what I find and how many bulletin board missions want to buy those minerals off me.  Mining is a peaceful pursuit, but not very exciting, so I can't recommend it for anything other than taking an occasional relaxing jaunt into to space.

Other Things I'd Like To Do And Why I Haven't Yet:

1. Move out.

Since my little bro put us all through the wringer in June, his eventual release from jail is a bittersweet prospect.   I don't want him to suffer being on the inside, but neither do I want to be front and center when he's being a maniac.  Another major incentive to buy a space of my own is that I really like the idea of having a place completely to myself, along with the freedom to run it exactly how I want to run it.

The primary reason I have not moved out is because it's rather expensive.  In fact, the only apartment manager to give me the time of day first wants proof that I can actually afford rent and living expenses.  Apparently such a thing is beyond the humble part time wage of a library circulation assistant, but I am now scheduled for enough substitute hours to work full time for a full month!

In the meanwhile, the serenity of my free time is ravaged by the perpetual suspense of what tomorrow will have in store for me and my brother.  As one of my coworkers recently put it, "I thought becoming an adult was supposed to make life easier, but it only gets harder the older I get!"

2. Play Minecraft.

I still watch a bit of Yogscast Minecraft playing, primarily Sjin's "Rule The World" series, which is an elegant example of Minecraft at its best, leaning heavily upon the Ancient Warfare 2 mod.

At the end of May, I wrote about the ups and downs of that mod and came to the conclusion that Ancient Warfare 2 is a bit too finicky about its block types and NPC behavior handling to bother using it.  Yet, one thing that really appeals to me about this mod is the idea that you need to feed your villagers, which makes industrializing my food supply to grow my personal town into an important part of the game, and should pair well with many industrializing mods.

I found an interesting alternative called Sim U Kraft Reloaded, which also has conveniently starving villagers, but also require a great deal of resources to build prefab buildings.  On the downside, I get the feeling AW2 NPCs are probably smarter than SUK:R NPCs, and the SUK:R aesthetics (evident in both the building and NPCs) is modern themed, running counter to my desired fantasy vibe.

3. Play Sims 4.

I was thinking of going back and giving this game another spin now that they've had a few more months of development put into it.  I thought I might try something akin to The Asylum Challenge, where you do not control the majority of "insane" traited sims.  It has been my experience that letting the sims' autonomous behavior lead them to horrible mishaps is one of the more enjoyable ways to play the game.

So I stepped back into the mindset of being a Sims 4 player, saw that they released a cool Sims 4: Get To Work expansion pack, and then saw they wanted to gouge me $39.99 for it.  Perhaps "Get To Work" refers to what you have to do in order to afford EA products?  The reminder of how much of a ruthless economic machine The Sims franchise is somewhat soured my enthusiasm to partake.

4. Play Witcher 3.

I don't know why I'm not playing this game.  It's a glorious role playing experience full of rich characterization, vivid imagery, and above par gameplay.  Yet, oddly enough, it seems I am too finicky to play it.
Maybe all my time spent playing Skyrim has exhausted my quota for gorgeous, 3rd person action RPGs in this lifetime.  I'd rather play something like Caves of Qud, a post-apocolyptic roguelike.  Weird of me... I guess my brain gets something more worthwhile out of crappy-graphiced procedurally generated games than it does good-looking hand crafted content.  Maybe it is the additional leeway for my imagination to apply itself?

5. Make my own damn game.

If I could make a game that would satisfy me, among the most finicky of gamers, then I could make the game that challenge the entertainment value of reality itself.  Maybe that's the reason why reality seems to conspire against me every time I try.

Anyway, I am still waffling over the engine.  GameMaker is easier to use, but Unity has far more robust support for a real programming language (C#).   I am thinking I would like an engine that could simulate an entire virtual space at once with potentially thousands of entities, so maybe something that handles threading would be mandatory.  According to the Rimworld FAQs, Unity actually isn't all that good at handling thousands of objects.  I might just have to code my own engine, probably using an API such as LibGDX.

So we have our reason why I'm not right there: making games is hard, especially the way I'm doing it.  But it is self-evident that it would be a better use of my time than just playing them. 
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Where Elite:Dangerous Burns Out

This week, I mostly played Elite: Dangerous.  (Granted, I worked a full time schedule, so I didn't have a whole lot of time to play anything.)  Yet, I find myself a bit disappointed in what I have to look forward to in the latter half of the game.

The main problem comes down to weapon balance.  If I compare the damage per second as measured by the players on an April 2015 forum thread with the actual cost of the weapons and the difficulty of mounting them on ships, what arrive at is the conclusions that the power balance tapers off heavily in the latter part of the game.
The reason is because of how damage scales relative to price in the weapons.  For example, a class 1 ("small") gimble-mounted beam laser would cost around 75,000 credits and do 8.7 DPS, but a class 3 ("large") gimble-mounted beam laser costs around 2,400,000 credits and does 24 DPS.   So you end up paying 32 times the cost of the weapon for less than 3 times the damage.

If I look at the weapon mounts on an Imperial Clipper, there are only four hardpoints, two "medium" mounts and two "large" mounts.  In terms of DPS, there is a potential for twice as much damage as a Cobra Mk III's two "small" and two "medium" hardpoints.  Yet, the Clipper hull costs nearly 60 times more, has only twice the shielding as the Cobra, and is much easier to hit due to its size.

Perhaps the Imperial Clipper's mere 4 hardpoints is an overly extreme example.  Lets take the most heavily armed craft the players can currently pilot, the Anaconda, costing over 6 Imperial Clippers.  The Anaconda hardpoints are 1 huge, 3 large, 2 medium, and 2 small.  Thanks to the weapon balance, those 8 hardpoints are not as relevant as the cost would suggest.

The advantage of the smaller ships is further reinforced by weapon mount types.  A fixed beam laser is one of the deadliest things in the game, a class 3 does around 30 DPS, but it only fires straight forward, which makes it significantly less useful on a large, cumbersome ship like the Anaconda.  So you mount a turreted version, costing severalfold more credits... and it does less than 15 DPS!  Well, that's fair enough, you don't have to aim the turreted version, so it works out to about the same credit cost, right?  Wrong: the weaker, turreted version of the weapons cost nearly 20 times more than the more powerful (but harder to hit with) aimed versions.  So getting a larger, more cumbersome ship carries a compound cost to outfit it.

In some ways, I rather like this "level playing field" balance that puts a player in an Anaconda at not too much of an advantage versus a player in a Cobra  Mk III.  What is bothers me is that it seems like the longer I play, the harder I will have to struggle to make progress.  The credit costs skyrocket for less and less benefit.  Compounding this are the insurance costs that make it so, the bigger and better the ship I am piloting, the more credits I have to fork out to replace it.  It is a pretty unsatisfying balance overall.

My inner power gamer concludes that there is little reason to upgrade your ship past a certain point.  A frugal player might as well just kit out a bunch of cheaper hulls for each role, switching between them for the variety of activities.  I have a pretty good chance at killing an Anaconda with a tricked out Vulture heavy fighter that would cost a hundred times less, so why buy an Anaconda at all?  The prestige; you buy big ships just to say you have collected and flown them.  This is sort of a problem because, for more practical players, it robs Elite:Dangerous of the main impetus to play: if you're not there to earn credits to get bigger and badder ships, then why play?
Well, there is something they added in version 1.3 called PowerPlay, where you can pledge yourself to one of ten rulers and then engage in (largely profitless) activities that make numbers go up to potentially put the rulers in charge.  As different rulers impose a different set of rules on the solar systems under their control, changing ownership is a means to change the shape of the universe.  It looks great on paper, because player involvement that shapes universes is what games like this really need.  Unfortunately, in practice, it's too much of a grind; the PowerPlay activities are repetitious and lack adequate variety for the expected time investment by the players.

Times like this, I see why I ended up spending so much time in Minecraft.  I can vividly remember most of the adventures I have had in Minecraft because I had such an impact on the game world, permanently depleting resources as I delved into massive caves, then taking those resources and putting them towards great projects of whatever I wanted to build... well, so long as it was made out of blocks.  In Elite:Dangerous, I hardly care about mining asteroids, blowing up enemy ships, or docking with space stations, because each instance of these activities hardly differentiate from another of the same.  Thus, the only things that noticeably changes as a result of my efforts are my ship and my credit balance.  

Maybe Notch has spoiled me, or maybe Braben really needs to step up his virtual world savviness.   Maybe all this finicky bloviating over Braben and Notch's differences in game philosophy reminds me that, if I want to do the job "right," I should probably stop wasting time playing games and get back to trying to make them.
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When Your Heart Isn't Here

I've had so much family drama occur that home that I have largely been busy picking up the pieces in my free time.  Rearranging furniture.  Cleaning.  The problem is that home does not really feel like home anymore.  When I was not trying to rectify this, what was I doing with my free time?  Not a whole lot.

I upgraded my old video card (a GeForce 650 Ti Boost) to two new cards (both GeForce GTX 970) running in SLI because Witcher 3 was running a tad too slow and I wanted something I would not have to upgrade for 5 years or so.    The result?  Yes, my computer can now run every game ridiculously well... provided it doesn't lean on my (AMD FX-8120) CPU very hard.  

For example, Minecraft is a rather CPU intensive  app, and it was all I played in May.  Meaning, based on the games I typically play, I probably should have upgraded the CPU, instead.  Well, it'll take me half the year to pay off these video cards first, but there will probably be some good mods for Minecraft 1.8 by then.
I am currently piloting an Imperial Courier and see no reason to upgrade.
So far, my new hardware has mostly been used to play Elite: Dangerous.  In doing so, I seesaw between being grateful it's so immersive and annoyed it's such a timesink.  Some sectors require 5-10 minutes of empty "supercruise" flying time just to get where I want to go, and few game experiences are as transparent in telling me they are wasting my time.

Now that my home environment has radically changed, I might just do some game development instead.  If I can sell some software, maybe I can get a nice hole of my own to hide in sooner rather than later.  In the meanwhile, I am looking into the prospect of full time work, which will curtail my Digitally Staving Off Boredom activities considerably, but would grant me quite a bit of freedom where to bed down.
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That Damn Leaf

I live on the Internet, and on the Internet there's no shortage of people who will dig out every study they can that establishes we cannot prove marijuana is harmful, and even more studies that suggest it might have a benefit.  There are negative studies, of course, but I am a certified critical thinker, public university educated, so when you give me a study that establishes there's a history of mental illness associated with marijuana use, I am well aware that correlation does not equal causation.  Whether you are arguing for it or against it, the evidence we have as to the harm and benefits of marijuana is currently overwhelmingly insubstantial.

Between that and the urging of popular media, I eventually settled on the understanding that, "Well, marijuana is certainly not worse than what people can do to themselves with alcohol, an already legal substance.  So what's the harm?"  I voted in favor it, so did others; it's now legal to possess and utilize marijuana in Washington State.

Fast forward to today, in real life, not the ivory tower Internet bubble, and I am in despair because my younger brother's life is currently in shambles because of marijuana.  Sort of.  Correlation does not equal causation, right?

The thing is, my brother's life was not exactly the most stable thing to being with.  In early grade school, he kicked a teacher on the playground and ended up in a special school for troubled kids.  We eventually came to disagree with that school's policies, so we pulled him from the school.  With the aid of modern psychologists, we came to understand that my brother was a manic depressive - these days, that is considered a subset of being bipolar, but with less mania and more depression.  Twenty years of us letting him do what he wants in the name of stabilizing his depression, and we are more or less conditioned to enable him.  At least he has a GED and some college education, but his greater occupation is living on social security trying to manage his condition.

In time, my brother's lifestyle lead to a number of causes of chronic pain.  Lacking the willpower to properly manage his diet, he ate things that eventually gave him kidney stones and required the removal of his gall bladder, and was a perpetual sufferer of irritable bowel syndrome who still refused to regulate his diet.  Lacking the willpower to properly exercise, he ballooned to about 300 pounds and now complained of chronic pain in his joints and such.  His pain was real, but the doctors would not give him painkillers.  He was miserable, and his antidepressant just was not reassuring him anymore.

About a half a year ago, a friend of his introduced him to marijuana.  At first, it did not seem to really do anything for him, because being conditioned on SSRIs makes you somewhat resistant to its effects.  So he took more until he got high, something he described as "spiritual."  I was against the idea, but advised he stick to edibles because smoking it is bad for his lungs and I didn't want it stinking up the house, and then only use it sparingly.

On April 20th ("420" being an inside joke among stoners) my brother decided to go to the local "headshop" and pick up an vaporizer.  I asked he keep it outside if this was his plan, but he refused, because he was afraid the elements would damage the device.  Being a family of enablers, we stood aside.  My brother was now a real fan of marijuana, he rejoiced at the possibility of trying all sorts of interesting varieties, such as "Willie Nelson" and "Obama Kush."  He not only took it for his chronic pain, he took it because he was bored.

Soon afterward, I ended up moving my room downstairs into our dining room.  Even with his door closed and fans blaring, I was bothered by a smell I described as, "jalapeno diarrhea," quite a bit different from the typical "skunk" smell.  My brother was now hacking and coughing terribly, sometimes deep booming coughs.  Even worse than the smell of the marijuana was the smell of the harm my brother was doing to himself.

Five weeks ago, things were reaching critical mass.  My brother was only rarely manic before, but now his mania was constant and had built up to the point where he could not shut up.  He decided to sue his old elementary school, and was so excited about the idea that he could think of nothing else, and it was driving him up the wall.

Soon, he asked to be checked into the ER, as he had not slept in days and his mind was unbearably a runaway train.  He ended up voluntarily committed to a mental hospital that specializes in detoxification, costing us about $1,700.  He hated it there, begging or raging at us over the phone, and his mania never left him.  He was diagnosed as bipolar with a marijuana dependency, which he deemed a "misdiagnosis."

He decided he wanted out, and being voluntarily committed meant he had that option.  It turns out the same friend who originally introduced him to marijuana also sometimes helped people with mental illnesses follow their treatment plan.  This friend talked a good game, and seemed like a godsend to us when he volunteered to help my brother move in with him and help him adopt some good habits to counteract his initial causes of chronic pain.

My brother left the mental hospital after being there for a about a week, and the first thing he did when he got home was suck on the dry tube coming out of his vaporizer and say, "Aah!  That's my first real medicine in a week."  It was not a good sign, both in terms of addiction and in terms where his mania was.  Off he went to his friend's house to see if a new environment would help him address the roots of his chronic pain.  Still wracked with mania, he showed up between midnight and 5am at our house almost every night.  I was so worried for him that I lost about 15 pounds.

My brother soon gave up on his treatment plan, but he still regularly used marijuana along with his prescribed antidepressant, the same recipe that had him in detox to begin with.  I suspect the weed made him forget he had taken his antidepressant already, so he may have been overdosing.  As his mania continued to escalate, he began to forget things that were told to him 5 minutes ago.  His "friend" expired his stay with them early at the urgings of his wife, and told us we would have to watch my brother for a couple weeks while a place for him to live opens up.  My brother told me his mania made him feel, "invincible," and he much preferred it to his depression.  His raving became psychotic, spouting new paranoid delusions at every turn.  He got the idea he was being evicted, was terrified, and started dropping subtle hints about suicide and murder.

He was not willing to go back to medical care, but we did not want him on the street, so we checked him into a hotel room, where we hoped he would be able to hold out and stabilize so he could live with us until his apartment was ready.  The first day, he lied to get money from his mom and blew it all on the cheapest weed he could find.  That night, he was all over Facebook about the shadows and metal monster moving under his hotel bed.

In the morning, he agreed to be checked into the hospital emergency room to be stabilized.  We picked him up at 5am, he was more manic than ever, having not slept in 9 days, and threatened to hit mom for talking about something he didn't want to hear.  In the ER, he said he had taken, "as much marijuana as physically possible" while he was at the hotel.  The hospital gave him something to help him sleep, and we left him to it.

Later, we heard the news that he attacked a member of the hospital staff, swatting someone with a magazine in a fit of bipolar rage, and was arrested.  He was arraigned and it was decided he would be allowed to come home later that day or the following morning on probation.  I checked myself into a motel room for a week: if he was going to be home like this, I did not want to be there.  It turned out to be a waste of money: my brother attacked another inmate in holding, trying to choke him, and ended up arraigned again.  Currently, he is looking at two weeks in jail, whereupon he will undergo a competency hearing.  If he is judged as competent, he could be looking at several years in jail.

As I write this, my poor, arrested development brother is currently languishing at the county jail, undergoing hard withdrawals from marijuana, his antidepressant, and whatever he was given in the ER room during his stay.  You can bet he's bawling his eyes out, it's a side effect of the SSRI withdrawals, but simultaneously he's so manic he still thinks he's invincible and a constant chatterbox.  Listen to him long enough, and you get hints that, even more than he wants his freedom, he just wants more weed.  There's some potential he might die or get hurt in there, but in his current manic state he is liable to do just as terrible things were he free.  We would rather he was in a mental hospital, somewhere safe where he could be stabilized, but thanks to his mania acting out we need to work through the law now.  Our hands are tied, and he is celebrating this Independence Day in chains.

Admittedly, there are a great deal of qualifiers involved in my claim "that damn leaf" is responsible for my brother's current circumstances, especially considering he was mixing it with an anti-depressant and had started taking marijuana under the wrong premise ("because it's medicine") anyway.  But let me relate the following points about marijuana use from my observation of what happened to our family recently:
  • "You can't overdose on marijuana" isn't telling the whole story.  My brother definitely overdosed on marijuana.  Turns out that herb vaporizer he was using was intended for a party setting to be used by several people, but he would just sit around for hours and inhale the whole THC buffet himself!  However, whereas alcohol could damage your liver and kill you, overdosing on marijuana mostly just damages your brain.  My brother was never this manic before... considering he's been at it for 5 weeks straight, I don't know if he'll ever not be manic again without medication.  Sitting here now, it seems like clear cut deterioration of his mental state, cause and effect.  A doctor suggested he may have developed a brain tumor.
  • Marijuana makes you stupid, but in a very insidious sort of way.  You won't know you're stupid because you're too high to notice, a mild psychosis, and that puts you in a good position to get recursively stupid: take weed, lose inhibitions, so take more weed, and get even more psychotic.  With alcohol, at some point you get too drunk to have the motor skills to easily drink more, but that's not the case with weed, so the potential stupidity just builds.  When my brother checked out of the hotel, he said the seat belt in the van was, "Too complicated" to operate.  It can also take quite some time for the THC to burn out of your fat, so you stay "drunk" for a long period of time.  If my brother wasn't so overwhelmingly manic in the ER and in jail, well after his last use of weed, he probably would not have made the mistakes that resulted in him being reviewed for potentially years in prison.
  • Marijuana is addictive, after a sense.  My brother was dependent on it to ease his pain, but all it did was mask his pain, so he became even more dependent on it.  After awhile, it did not really matter if he was in pain or not, he just felt like he needed to be high all the time.  When that happened, the hook was set, his mental addiction was real, every bit as bad as an alcoholic homeless person who drinks to forget.  My brother said himself that he would rather have weed than a roof, and he had become so psychotic at home that he may have left us no other choice.
So I find myself revising my earlier opinion that, "weed is not any worse than alcohol."  In some ways it might be better, but in others, it's definitely worse.  Most of all, I would urge not to regard marijuana as harmless.  Stoners like to argue it's not harmful at all, a natural herb for a natural high with no consequences.  Well, my brother is facing some pretty damn nasty consequences right now.  We were fools to enable him, it was definitely not the right drug for him, he did not have any idea how to use it responsibly and consequently it damn near destroyed him.

If nothing else, remember this: like any recreational drug, marijuana is not a toy, nor is it particularly good medicine unless you're already on your death bed.  It's more like a different type of alcohol, and should be treated as such.
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Some Rain Must Fall

I haven't been getting nearly as much "me" time as my introverted self really needs to function, but there is a potential clearing up ahead of this little family crisis we've been going through lately.  I did get a fair amount of cleaning done, at least, so I guess agitation is good for something.
Still kicking, but I don't have much to say.  I somewhat abandoned the idea of a Minecraft cheeseburger farm because I decided that I'd rather put together a kingdom of Ancient Warfare villagers.  Didn't really get enough time to do that.  Dabbled with a half-dozen Steam games, but not for all that long.

I will say that Crypt of the NecroDancer is rather good.  But it has the unfortunate consequence of hurting sleep quality by training my reflexes to move to the music.  I think about the music when trying to sleep and end up having minor involuntary limb movements that disrupt sleep.  This game is so fly that you dance in bed later!

My Bizarro weekend is over, but I find my time at work is more relaxing than my time at home right now anyway.  Hopefully, this will change soon.
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Sometimes, The Miracle Is Just To Be Here

Due to a family crisis, I was too busy being worried to accomplish much in the way of "digitally staving off boredom."  I was afraid.  I was anxious.  But I was not bored, it seems.
http://ricksmithphotography.photoshelter.com/image/I0000NrcUvsOmwig
I did get a very basic impression of two Wii U games before I decided I was too anxious to really enjoy the Wii U right now and sent them back to GameFly.

The first was Hyrule Warriors, which is basically a cross between the Dynasty Warriors series and the Legend of Zelda series.  In practice, it is essentially the former painted in the style of the latter: you pick one of many ridiculously good fighters to control, then go to town on a battlefield full of soldiers, but everything in now a Legend of Zelda person, place, or thing.  Well, almost everything: this game was made by Team Ninja, so insert a bit of Dead Or Alive style cheesecake and artistic talent into the mix.  Consequently, Hyrule Warriors is, at times, just a tad too pop culture Japanese. 

Though the game was fun, I actually ended up bouncing off of it pretty hard.  The constant violence and metal soundtrack grated painfully against my stressed nerves.  Yet, even if I were at the peak of my well-being, my mature sensibilities were annoyed a tad by just how much of a blatant power fantasy it is.  The Dynasty Warriors formula presents battlefields as being full of shy soldiers too afraid to hit each other, so you just wade in and beat the crap out of everyone.  Exactly how am I supposed to be proud of a "KO" count in the hundreds in these circumstances?

The second game was Mario Party 10.  If you have ever played any Mario Party game, then you know the drill: it is just a dice-based board game played with four players (some of them CPU-played if you have less than that).  The main highlight is dozens of mini-games, each a fun party activity in itself, each with a Mario series theme.
Mario Party 10 was not a bad game, but if you've ever played a Mario Party game to death, you have already played most of this game to death as well.  This is forever the crux of the Mario Party series, it seems, and the reason why this one only scores about 65% on review aggravates despite technically have nothing wrong with it.  Hyrule Warriors was a much more interesting game in comparison.

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