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Returning To The Universe

Got to hand it to Hello Games.  Despite No Man's Sky being a major thorn in their side of public ridicule, they kept patching and improving it.  It's quite a bit better than it was at release.

Is it perfect?  Well, there's still the annoying texture pop-in, and it's pretty much a grind of getting more minerals to power your equipment and build a lot of blueprints.  Space travel feels pretty weak, too, especially if you put it next to something like Elite: Dangerous or even Descent: Freespace; space travel in No Man's Sky is very rudimentary.  But this is about the worst I can say about it.

What No Man's Sky excels at is being a chill walking simulator of a practically infinite universe.  As such, most of the time you just walk around a procedural generated planet, scanning rocks, flora, and fauna.
Your backpack's resource needs are never off your back, so nearly everything you can scan is also able to be broken down with your mining beam (although the f…
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My Oculus Arrives

Funny enough, my first exposure with a motion-tracking head mounted display (HMD) was back in high school, about 20 years ago.  Of course, there was not nearly as much graphical firepower for PCs of the day, but the technology was still accessible enough for my high school tech teacher to be able to invite over some graduate school geeks to show it off.  A lot of time has passed since then, and it's safe to say that VR is now something that nearly every consumer can finally get their hands on.

To these ends, if Facebook was hoping to increase the consumer base for its acquired Oculus Rift hardware by running a summer sale, subjective evidence from my house indicates they may well have succeeded.  By dropping the price of headset and touch controller a full 33%, to $400, they convinced me that it was now accessible enough for me to take the plunge.  What's $400 in 2017 money anyway, a month of fast food?
So far, I'm somewhat glad I splurged.  I say "somewhat" beca…

Two Be Frank

Despite the fact that Dark Souls is probably all the game I would ever need, I found myself distracted last week by two things: a nasty tension headache, and Dead Rising 2: Off The Record.
Off The Record is basically a non-canonical spinoff game of the original Dead Rising 2 where the protagonist is replaced by the protagonist of the first game, Frank West, a hard nosed war journalist who is a bit of a likable jerk.  The canonical hero of the second game, Chuck Greene, was a former motocross champion and a more sympathetic single father with a sick kid.  Sorry Chuck, Frank was just more fun, and I guess that sentiment was strong enough for this spinoff to happen.

Of course, the real star of the game is the zombies.  Dead Rising is a series very much about navigating seas of the walking dead.  Perhaps the foremost feature of the series was putting hordes of them on the screen at once.  Tens of them in the foreground, with several times that in effective imitators shambling about in the …


If I have been quiet lately, perhaps it is because I am content. Dark Souls is a lot more satisfying than anything else I have been playing lately.

What is so satisfying about this game?  Perhaps it's the intricate attention the developers have paid to the idea of medieval swordplay, where a wide slash in a narrow corridor does not work for obvious reasons, and an armored warrior has inertia enough that they control a bit like a tank on legs.  But if you drive this tank closer to hit an enemy with your sword, you had better be ready to block or dodge, because everyone in this dark world has forgotten how to pull punches.  Yes, I think it is the difficulty I enjoy most of all.
Given that modern gaming has been inundated with casual friendliness, a truly challenging game feels like an impossibility.  Yet, here is a game that makes you walk everywhere across its tight, treacherous expanse.  Here is a game that not only has no quicksave, it spaces its save points like oases in a merc…

Thoughts On Overcoming Game Development Analysis Paralysis

I am not really any good at this, either.  But I have developed two-part theory on how to get over it.

Part 1: Keep the game development habit going.

My #1 problem with game development is that I get derailed constantly.  It's partly because my immediate family is apparently addicted to drama and can't seem to avoid making messes to needlessly complicate my life nearly every week.  But I'll take some of the blame as well: even left to my own devices, I am often prone to distraction, perhaps an inevitable consequence of being a lifelong computer gamer.

The obvious consequence here is you get rusty at game development and completely forget everything about your project, leaving them half-completed messes.  How did this happen?
Lately, I have learned of the power of habit, probably thanks to motivational speakers who literally name their book that.  But the simple point is basically this: human beings are creatures of habit, and if you slip out of the habit of doing something…

The Madness Of Animal Crossing

Looking at how I spent the majority of the last few weeks, a lot of was watching too much Game Grumps.  Arin and Danny are the two likable art school roomies I never had.  However, I suspect a greater part of my impetus towards progress was robbed, one or two hours of each and every day, via a sneaky little time thief known as Animal Crossing: New Leaf.  Why do I feel like my reasons for playing this game are not entirely pure?

Part of that was because I recognized that this game is a quadruple-reinforced Skinner's Box.  The villagers give things out constantly for a wide variety of reasons.  Even the very trees are like slot machines: pull them and see what falls out.  In these ways and many others, everything the player does gives them a little endorphin hit, and so an association with such a game seems a tad unwholesome.  Am I playing this game, or is it just an addiction?
The other part of this is because I'm probably a bit of a closet furry.  Never enough to attend to a f…

Twitterpation Nintendation Expotation

I had four days off to watch streams of E3 2017, and boy, is my brain tired. Not that I am here to give you great coverage on that, as there's probably a thousand and one reputable Internet gaming outlets doing that already.  My perspective is more reactionary, that of a computer gamer, albeit one who has been at it for over thirty years...
...honestly, what passes for gaming these days is not quite as interesting as those early halcyon days when we there thrilled just to see pixels move.  Clearly, the bar has been raised.

For the most part, I ended up fixating on Nintendo's efforts.  What I saw from Microsoft and Sony was a whole lot of staying the course with bigger and better hardware.  Compared to that, what Nintendo does is fun.  (Granted, they are all out for our money, like any company with AAA budgets to recoup.)

On the low end of Nintendo's innovation was Mario Odyssey.  It was just sad.  Super Mario Galaxy was perhaps the perfect 3D Mario game, and I guess tryin…