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Being A Blockhead, Per Usual

Another week has come and gone, but what can I say about the time between now and last week?  Well...
Pinkie Pie summarizes how I spent my week in perfunctory perfection.  Best blog entry thumbnail ever.
I suppose some things of significance have happened:
  • An aunt moved a trailer home out of our back yard, and this eases my mind somewhat considering it spent most of its time empty while she was out of the country.   
  • Independence Day has come and gone without the neighbors accidentally burning the house down in their firework-related revelry, and that's always a good thing.  It's been about 236 years since the United States broke off of British rule, and we're still burning a lot of money on fireworks every year.  Here I thought we were in recession.
  • Pain.  Both in the form of an exposed nerve ending on the left side of my tooth and a nasty headache-like feeling that's been coming and going from the back opposite side of my neck.  I'll be seeing a dentist about the former, and am hoping the other just needs some time to heal.
  • Looks like Seagate is going to accept my hard drive for a warranty replacement.  Hopefully the remaining hard drive in my RAID1 will remain active until the replacement gets here... seems like a silly worry unless you've witnessed how often the Barracuda model has failed on me.  I wonder if I can afford to go RAID 10 next paycheck?  I'll probably want to upgrade my power supply first - it's actually a fairly old power supply whose fan is showing signs of being clogged with dust.
Aside from that, I mostly just had a fairly busy week at work.  Still, between work, I had maybe 60 hours to myself this week, and what did I do with it?

Oh, the same old wasting of time, such as chatting with people on the Internet who generally don't respect me... I really need to do something more productive.  Exercise.  Use that copy of Game Maker I purchased or something to make some games.  Or just write - that's easier.  Whatever... all I can say for certain is I'm not getting much less financially destitute in my current regimen, nor am I really doing much but ticking down the hours until it's time to be escorted off this mortal coil.

I am a bit off topic now - this being a blog about, "Digitally Staving Off Boredom," after all.  Perhaps I aught to try to explain that, hmm?
  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf seems to be getting the lion's share of my play time.  I don't know why, maybe it's because I appreciate the robust feature set of this simulation?  The animal characters' personality is just an over-trumped magic 8-ball, that illusion rarely ever fishes me in, but there's an undeniable appeal in customizing your town, your avatar, your home, and more.  Having the content unlock through effort makes it that much more worth it.

    I just finished unlocking the first new room of my house after the upstairs, and am pleasantly surprised to see apparently my virtual home will eventually have much more than just a basement and upstairs in this installment of Animal Crossing.  I'm glad: I have a lot of furniture, floors, and wallpaper sitting in storage that I have been loathe to dump on Re-Tail.  I think I'll have a mermaid-themed bathroom and a balloon-themed attic.

    I bought a hint book for it today... I don't really need it but, considering how this seems to be a game has actually managed to hook me, I feel I owe it a nod of recognition for its success.  In time, this hint book may prove to be useful... well, yes, I already have the Internet.
  • Brain Age: Concentration Training.  I'm doing one of each kind of exercise a day. 

    I don't know if it's working, since brain fitness is so tough to prove and all, but at least I'm getting lots of practice doing basic mathematical operations - such advanced methods of counting tend to erode when you have no use for it in the day to day. 

    I do know I should use my gym membership and get some physical fitness done.
  • Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2.  Apparently the original Despicable Me is currently #72 on a list of the most profitable films in box office history.  Downsides of a popularity contest aside, such a number should really get your attention.

    To watch the latter, which is in theaters now, I felt it was necessary to watch the former first, and I did so yesterday.  It did not blow my mind, but it was extremely accessible, very clever in places, had scenes that probably made good use of the 3D (unfortunately I had to watch it in 2D) and the story hit all the right emotional notes.  There's a kind of subtle genius in that... perhaps the best kind of genius. 

    Despicable Me 2
    felt like a worthy supplement.  It was not as emotionally hard-hitting as the original, but it continued the story of the original characters marvelously.  Was that a certain voice actor just doing her Lola Bunny for the new Lucy Wilde character?  Apparently so, and they even drew Lucy somewhat similarly, but the character clicked well enough the show's current aesthetic, so no regrets.
Finally, Cube World.

I watched some Yogscast videos on Cube World and was suitably amused, so I decided $19.90 was not too steep a price to pay in order to give the game a spin.

Well, at this time I'm going to say Cube World is a pretty good alpha, but still has a ways to go before I can recommend it:
  • The game is rock solid, did not crash once on me in many hours of play.
  • The world is colorful and has some impressive sights.  RPG exploration is the primary focus of the game, and there's already plenty to explore.
  • The dynamic world generation engine is rather wonderful.  I honestly suspect that Notch and company gave them the code for it, or at least the theory, considering I've heard that the Cube World developers did work with the Minecraft developers briefly.
  • There's a solid implementation of four character classes... albeit there's only 3 skills and 3 weapon types for each, so combat is not adequately deep, but this is partly made up for with a reasonably visceral combat mechanic.
  • There's a solid crafting engine implementation where you can create your own weapons and armor, even customize their appearance pixel-by-pixel by gluing on voxels... albeit, currently, you're more likely to find equipment than get any benefit out of crafting it. 
  • You can even tame pets... albeit by mixing up strange arbitrary matches of food like cotton candy to sheep.  The tamed pets become cages in your inventory that can be swapped into the appropriate equipment slot to summon one pet at a time.  They simply respawn after awhile upon death, which is probably a good call considering they die constantly.
  • No building construciton mechanic yet.  Don't expect to be harvesting blocks and making little forts for yourself in Cube World, it's currently not in the alpha and maybe never will be?  In fact, the only mutable terrain that I've seen is that you can blow up certain boulders with bombs (unless you count attacking resource nodes to collect them).
In all honesty, they could release this alpha and Cube World would stand as well as most release-state games... but, I feel something is missing from Cube World in much the same way I find something is missing from Minecraft.
  • In Minecraft's case, all there is to do is explore and build arbitrary projects, these are purposes you bring into the game yourself.  To what ends?  Maybe to devise something else to build.  Maybe go kill the Ender Dragon if you're feeling like you want to end the game... I wager most players never bother.
  • In Cube World's case, I think the biggest vacancy is that the only real long term goal is to keep exploring, gaining levels and equipment as you go.  To what ends?  To continue exploring.  You don't hear a lot of epic tales involving exploring just for the sake of exploring (even The Illiad had more going on than that) and there's probably a good reason for that.
One thing that might help is if there was some kind of collection mechanic - go out and collect one of everything - that's what I do for Blathers in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and it does add one long term goal besides just exploring for exploration's sake.

What I'm really hoping for is some kind of dynamic population mechanic where you're actually clearing lands of credible threats to civilization.  Rift simulates that, and Din's Curse showed it can be taken further.  That's something I hope Minecraft will do eventually, too.

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