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4am Pudding

I'm afraid the weekly update this time is rather skimp.  I've had a couple of 6-year-olds about the house as of late, and they've almost utterly devastated the already rather depleted free time of their favorite uncle.

Like a real family man, my work is work, and my home is more work.  If the rest of my family has any concept of why it is wrong to force the life of a family man onto an introvert, they're hiding it well.  I haven't enjoyed the breeders' privileges, why must I pay their wages?

Guess I'll tick down a number of games I've played, mostly at the urging of the nephew, but as we get further down on the list we see more things I was willing to play.

Spore

Honestly, I was sick of playing the Necromancy Mod for Minecraft.  If the nephew wants to create freakish anomalies of creatures ad nauseum, I might as well introduce him to the game that went the whole nine yards in simulating virtually anything your heart can desire. 

In hindsight, they probably should not have made 5 stages, instead just fleshing out the creature stage, maybe have it progress into a more detailed tribal stage that plays more like the creature stage with RPG elements.  Because the creature stage is the most entertaining the game ever gets and also the best use of the creature-generating technology.
Nom Nom Galaxy

Best little coop game I've got on the PC, this 2D side-scrolling soup factory making game is smarter than most games I have ever played.  Pixeljunk is like that.

I enjoy it, and so does the nephew, right up until I tell him to stop destroying our factory... then he gets bored and runs off to kill his astro-worker, spilling shared matter and credits out of reach from where I could retrieve them.

Subnautica and Empyrion

Two takes to the first person sci-fi survival genre. 

Subnautica
undoubtedly has the better production values, but you never leave the confines of its ocean world.  Unlike many games like this, terrain deformation takes a lesser role, you mostly work with what you have.

Empyrion is a game with a wider scope, you start on a planet and can eventually roam a small galactic map in a vehicle you craft block-by-block, like an open-ended Space Engineers with more compelling enemies. 

I ended up mostly playing Empyrion, but this was because it seems to me that Subnautica is turning out to be pretty special and I should wait until it hits v1.0 so I do not spoil it prematurely.  Who knows?   Both games are still in early access and improving by leaps and bounds.

Elite: Dangerous

I finally got a class-4 plasma accelerator for my Fer De Lance.  It hits very, very hard.  Comparing the other weapons to it is like comparing an icepick to a jackhammer.  That huge hardpoint might be the whole point of the Fer De Lance, as it's the only ship with enough maneuverability to consistently use a plasma accelerator of that size. 

That said, I have no idea where to go from here.  The only other ship to fit on a medium landing pad is the Python.  While it is a significantly more versatile ship, it will never hit as hard as that huge plasma accelerator does, so it is no true upgrade from the Fer De Lance in terms of combat.  The game offers a small variety of activities, but combat is the most exciting.

I suppose I could abandon the medium launching pads and consider an Anaconda or Imperial Cutter my next ship.  Part of me wants to get a Type-7 Transport, because maybe going from hunter to big sluggish prey will be more exciting, and I could always sideline combat with a cheaper ship.

Fallout 4

Is it possible to find a fun character to play in this game?   Oddly, I appear to have fished myself back in under that premise. 

I blame the boredom I've been experiencing in combat on the path of least resistance.  If you have a PC and decent mouse skills, you will generally have much higher accuracy than when using V.A.T.S.  However, V.A.T.S. is where the depth of aiming for limbs and using critical hits comes from.  My experience with past characters have habituated me to resolve combat in the most boring way!

So what if I instead rely almost entirely on V.A.T.S. combat?  In order to do this, a specific SPECIAL point commitment and the right perks can make all the difference.  Agility is the bread of V.A.T.S, providing lots of action points.  Luck is the butter, granting greater access to critical hits.  Perception is the plate you rest your buttered bread, upping your V.A.T.S. accuracy to make it more reliable.

Focusing on too much V.A.T.S. effectiveness is a slippery slope.  High agility and perks like "Action Boy" mean I can spend more time in V.A.T.S, which is just what I need.  Perks like "Critical Banker" and "Grim Reaper's Sprint" can enhance the fun by introducing additional game mechanics and variable rewards.  However, perks like "Sniper," "Gun-Fu," and "Concentrated Fire" might be going overboard because, despite their effectiveness in supporting V.A.T.S., suddenly I'm just taking things whose purpose is to make numbers go up, and is that really fun?

Basically, my goal becomes to figure out which perks to pick to help keep the game playing fun and fresh.  Combat is inevitable in Fallout 4, but not everything in the game is about combat, and there might be some perks I can take to make the game fun both in combat and out.  But these perks often reside at the top of the perk tree, which makes it challenging to figure out a build to get there quickly, as opposed to having to play 30 levels to get to where the fun is.

The idea seems good, but I feel a tad apprehensive to experiment in Fallout 4 while a 6-year-old latches on and expresses interest in watching me explode heads in the game.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided 

When I first played this game, I thought I encountered one at last that would require I retire my old motherboard with an AMD FX-8120 CPU.  It ran like absolute crap on my computer, with frequent stuttering and locking up to unplayability in several places...

...well, it turns out that over half my RAM was hardware locked so I was only accessing 3.9 GB/8 GB, probably a consequence of overclocking gone awry.  Frankly, it's a feather in the developers' cap that it ran at all!   Having restored the missing RAM with a bit of fiddling, it looks like I won't need to upgrade that desktop quite yet (although my new laptop beats the pants off of it in most regards).

Personal hardware woes besides, how is Mankind Divided?  Thanks to the above distractions, I am still in the first area past the initial expeditionary segment, a presentation of Prague in a near-future world where trans-human augmentations are a reality.  And things went wrong, so right now the "augs" are being heavily segregated and discriminated against.

As far as I can tell, besides the asinine attempt to push microtransations, Mankind Divided is a damn good game.  I would play it more if I could enjoy the atmosphere without a 6-year-old constantly riding me.  However, as those moments are few and far between, it looks like that's just not going to happen for now.

The Game Of Life

It's not right to blame a couple of 6-year-olds as the reason why I have been unable to get any game development done lately.  Because, speaking from past experience where I had plenty of time to myself, I've piddled away countless hours in other pursuits, such as the above gaming, not being productive.  The disruption of kids running around the house certainly provides a good excuse, though: it's nigh impossible to do the kind of high level thinking required to make a game with these constant disruptions.

Exasperating these feelings, I recently read an interview on The Escapist with Markus Perrson, and it got me to thinking about the power of introverts who are allowed to do their thing.  Granted, it's silly to assume anything I make would be a runaway billion dollar hit like Minecraft, but I consider his situation when he was working on it with a bit of envy.  It seems to me that he had managed to land himself a life without disruptions where he was allowed to do his best... but that's just a common fantasy, isn't it?

Well, if that's the fantasy, then the reality must be that I need to change myself, not my environment.  Before, I was thinking I ought to dedicate half my free time to production.  Now, it is looking like it's all or nothing.  Such a drastic change feels like less an uphill battle and more a desperate scrabbling up an 80 degree incline.  However, as time goes on, that incline is only getting steeper, and if I don't act fast I'll be resigning myself to fall into the abyss of unrealized dreams.

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