Tag Archives: video games

Weekend Update

Larry & I got our first experience with the latest incarnation of Virtual Reality (VR) through Brian, as he finally got his HTC Vive VR kit.  We went over to his place, along with Nicki and Kevin, and after a great lunch at Aroma Cafe, got to finally experience what is truly only the beginning with how things might go in terms of immersion.

tweedievrYou do have to wear that contraption on your head and hold those controllers in each hand, but seriously, once you turn the system on it is utterly mind-blowing what happens to your sense of reality.  You’re really feeling like you’re there – I mean, I get it, you’re basically shoving two screens right up against your face, but it’s fucking amazing.  We got to play a few different games, with one especially cool as you’re in this platform in some space city and flying drones come at you.  The two controllers in your hand become laser pistols, seriously, and you have to try to shoot the drones down.  When a shot is coming your way, something like the Matrix’s bullet-time happens and you can then dodge the lasers.  Oh yeah, the Vive setup includes two camera sensors that you use to define your play area, so you can walk around for real immersion.  It’s pretty damn awesome.  I’m not quite tempted yet to buy one for our house, as I would want the Vive and we definitely don’t have a dedicated space for something like that.  But we certainly are ready to go visit Brian again and play!

weddingpartyAnd OH YEAH, the photographer got back to us with our wedding pictures, and they’re fucking amazing.  At the moment, I don’t have electronic versions to share, but our copies are on their way.  In the meantime, we have access only via a locked-down website, but I was able to get this version by screenshotting the display.  It’s only a hint of the amazingness though.  Seriously, our photographers managed to capture our wedding wonderfully.   Once I’ve got our digital copies, I’ll be sure to share.  So good.

WtPwyTuOqAzj.878x0.Z-Z96KYqAs for video games I’m currently addicted to, that would definitely be XCOM 2, the sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown / Enemy Within.   I recently got sucked back into those first games and focused on beating the game as the last time I got to the final level, got hopelessly obliterated.  Well, this last time I won, and it was glorious.  It’s funny though, that most players never do beat the first XCOM game, so in XCOM 2, the story assumes you did lose and the Earth got taken over by aliens.  Now it’s up to you to overthrow the alien government.  The graphics are improved, the game is just as challenging if not more so, and the customization of your crew is pretty damn fun.  Yeah, I have a Steve Rogers character who doesn’t wear a shirt.  So what?

Sunday run - 22 May 2016 - 7 miles

And yesterday, Larry & I went for a run, and I got over 7 miles.  Hells yeah.  Sure, there were some brief periods of having to walk, but they were short and I always got back to running.  It’s awesome to be able to run this much again!

Alright, that’s the weekend, I guess.  Now it’s a week of work that I’m feeling might have lots of things to think about.  Will soon see, I guess?

Pop Culture Update – March 2016

There’s a lot of good stuff going on and here it is – this is absolutely an irrelevant post but I feel like posting and don’t want a week to go by without posting.

Zootopia-poster-2Zootopia (2016)

Zootopia has been getting great reviews and that’s alright as it definitely deserves the raves.  We went to see this on Saturday after a run in Griffith Park (5.5 miles for me, 8+ miles for Larry) as it had been a little while since going to the movies.  We’re in that weird lull before the spring/summer movie season but I think things are starting to pick up finally.  Anyway, Zootopia was a very good movie with a great story about not letting personal biases cloud the way you live your life and refuse to let fear drive your decisions.  It’s very applicable to today’s world, amirite?  Also great is how cute everything has been rendered.  Anyway, go see this.. You’ll love it.

2890063-trailer_theflameintheflood_announcement_20160516The Flame in the Flood

I had to write about this fantastic video game that I first became aware of when reading a preview about the game a year or so ago.  Former developers from the teams that made Bioshock were part of this and devoted all their money and time to making this.  I gotta say, it was worth the effort.  The Flame in the Flood is a roguelike type game, in which the world is randomly generated in a procedural manner, so the game may not play the same between different players.  That’s always neat, but the execution of how that all happens is key in whether it’s actually fun to play.  You basically have to survive while navigating your thrown-together raft down an endless river along with your faithful dog, Aesop.  You come across various islands you can dock at and scavenge for items to help you survive.  Of course, you also run into obstacles, whether it’s scary wolves and snakes or the elements themselves.  If you’re not paying attention, you could quickly find yourself overrun by the elements and having to start over.  I did start over quite frequently but each time you learn a bit more, and finally I ended up finishing the “campaign” mode – big hint:  Catch & skin rabbits and make pouches.  Maximize that inventory!!!  And run, a lot.

house-of-cards-season-4House of Cards, Season 4

It’s kind of depressing how quick time passes as you realize the a year has gone by since the last season was released all at once by Netflix.  But here we are again, and that means it’s been a year since I started at PwC, as Season 3 came out the weekend I was flipping out over having to fly to Atlanta and start orientation.  So we didn’t actually watch Season 3 for a few weeks.  It seemed like we were on track to maybe yet again not watch this latest season for a few weeks, but nope, we started watching the first episode last night and of course that turned into 3 episodes.  IT’S SO GOOD.  Basically we pick up about a few hours after the stunning turn of events that transpired at the end of Season 3, and it doesn’t let up.  I love the new characters, and those characters that we know and love and that we hope have a sexual connection yet again….anyway, it’s as compelling and soap opera-y as it has ever been, and I can’t wait to see what transpires!

61zAZwTTkOLThe Passage – Justin Cronin

Nah, I don’t have the new book out in the Passage trilogy – I wish!  But I have started a re-read of the first two books, starting with The Passage.  It’s a long and twisty tale, and I’ve forgotten many of the details, but damn if I’m not already hooked again.  If you haven’t read these books, I’d highly recommend you give them a shot.  A lot of fun and quite epic – and I must admit I’m intrigued by the cover of The City of Mirrors and how it looks to be NYC-based.  New York didn’t seem to have much of anything to do with anything so I’m curious how it all ties together….plus the fact that this is the last one.  Here’s hoping this series goes out strong!

In other news, Larry & I have managed to knock out the table centerpieces, I think.  Some assembly is required still, but I think what we chose will look nice and not intrude in guests being able to see each other across the table!  Still can’t believe we’re so close to April 30!!!

Saturday State Amidst the Horseshit

Hello everybody!  With Larry & I both having gotten a run in this afternoon, it feels like it is actually Sunday, as that’s when we normally do that.  But we’ve got some plans tomorrow so today was it!  I ended up trying a variant on the route I’ve been going, using the Griffith Park horse trails to run along.  I enjoyed it as it was a little bit more hospitable than the bike path along the eastern side of the 5 Freeway, but I got to about 3 miles in my run and was like, hmm…what to do now?  I didn’t really want to retrace my path I’d just taken so instead, I decided to go through the equestrian tunnel under the 5.

Will never go through this tunnel ever
Will never go through this tunnel ever28-Dec-2014 14:23, Canon Canon PowerShot SX600 HS, 5.0, 10.591mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 400
 

If you notice the caption of that photo, I mentioned EVER.  Well, I’m a dirty liar.  That was from a simpler time, back in December 2014, when Larry & I were strolling along.  But now it was a practicality – I wanted to get back to where I started and not have to go all the way around.  So this tunnel was the solution.  Funny enough, as I approach this point, I start seeing people on horses.  As I get closer, there are a LOT of people on horses.  And they’re all cowboy’d up with hats and flannel.  I slow down a bit thinking maybe they’re heading into the tunnel and I’ve missed my shot.  But then they all bunch up and hold short before the entrance, and I’m like, THIS IS IT.  I gotta go or I’m going to definitely be running through mounds of fresh horseshit.  So I high-tail it into the tunnel, quickly making sure I’m actually not prohibited from doing so – turns out, only bicycles aren’t allowed.  I head in and it is DARK in there.  The ambient light available does indicate that plenty of old horseshit is in the middle of the tunnel, so I wisely stay aligned against the left wall.  As I’m running, I start hearing over the music from my headphones the LOUD echoing of horse footfalls.  And it sounds like they’re moving fast!  So I put on turbo speed to make sure I’m not gonna get trampled, all the while hoping I don’t plop right into a pile of horseshit.  Happily, all horseshit was avoided and I was not trampled.

FitBit_23Jan2016

The tunnel is there at that southernmost point of the route – it’s a good run and I like that it’s a loop.  The previous runs on the bike trail are great, but can get boring.  Griffith Park is always a fun run.

saucony2016After we got back I ended up buying some new Saucony shoes – I realized I think I’ve had these current pair for much longer than I’m supposed to.  It’s been apparent to my feet for a little while now, especially now that I’m really trying to stay consistent with exercise and that I’m out in the world and not on my treadmill.

In Other News….

So how about that northeastern blizzard?  Very very glad to have made my visit there last week and not this one – I probably would have still been out of there in time, but eh, better safe than sorry.  Some of my FB friends have been posting snowfall pictures and I was telling Larry that I was having a bit of jealousy….then he slapped the sense back into me as while it can be pretty, if you actually have to go out in it to get somewhere, MEH.  I think most people are happy with it as it’s a Saturday and no one really needs to go anywhere.  So you can just go out, take some pics, then go back into the warmth and continue drinking.  Happily Larry’s family are all doing fine back there and the forecast is that it’ll be 40 degrees early next week so the snow won’t really get a chance to stick around.

Barbara was my next-door neighbor when I lived in the UWS of NYC and this is taken right outside where I used to live, looking west down West 72nd St.  Again, I momentarily missed this, but then I remembered that time when we got hit with a blizzard right before we were moving to California.  It was this kind of snow and we wanted to get a Duane Reade that was a few blocks further west than the view above.  PAIN. IN. THE. ASS.  So yeah, it’s neat, but I’m pretty thrilled with cloudy and 65.

Video Games!

There’s a few I’ve been playing and some I recently finished too – this is purely for my own fun so feel free to leave at this point.

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (Finished)

ACS-media-SS-4-big_202195_202309What an amazing return to form for this series!  Unity was a pretty big disappointment, even if it was fun to run around Paris.  I did enjoy the sailing-ship entries such as Black Flag and Rogue, but those kind of are their own beasts.  AC 3, the one set in colonial America, had tons of potential too, but man that was a drag.  So yeah, someone figured out what needed to be done as Syndicate is just so much fun to play.  It’s set in Industrial/Victorian London, and you play as the Frye twins, Jacob & Evie.  They come in to rescue London from the grip of Templars who have command of the city; you can play as either twin throughout the game, which adds some interesting variety.  There are fun side activities and exploring the city of London is very gratifying.  You run into Darwin, Dickens, and Marx in your travels, and in the DLC, you can interact with and track down Jack the Ripper.  The game’s mechanics are just lots of fun, the story is compelling and well-written, Jacob & Evie are fun to tag along with, and it’s just a fun game.  Highly recommended!  (I’m honestly nervous about the news though that the next installment will take place in Ancient Egypt….)

King’s Quest, Chapter 2 (Abandoning…)

Kings_Quest_Chapter2_BannerI really did want to like this next chapter as I loved playing Chapter 1.  But the developers decided to add a mechanic of having to play everything exactly perfect if you want to save everyone trapped in the dungeon with you….and of course explain things ridiculously poorly.  Once you figure things out, it’s too late and even more hilariously, you really can’t restart the chapter.  It’s not clear if the next chapter will have actual repercussions, but I just don’t know how much I care.  Disappointing.

Undertale (Currently Playing…, Kinda)

Undertale-logoThis is a very independent game made by one guy that is getting a ton of raves.  It’s understandable why, as while the graphics are intentionally primitive, there is an interesting and quite funny story to be experience as you embark on your quest.  Also, you don’t have to kill anything and apparently, you really shouldn’t if you want the best ending.  That is frustrating to hear, as I did kill one of the “bosses” as it didn’t look like you could do anything but kill.  So now I’m thinking I need to replay the game, but I’m not motivated enough to do that just yet.  Instead, I kind of faded away from the game and figure once I’m done with some of the other games I’m playing, I’ll go back to it and replay it.  With no killing.

Fallout 4 (Now Playing)

fallout4_wallpaperI was pretty stoked for this game ahead of its release – both when seeing it at E3 last year and when the trailer came out.  BRING IT ON!  Then I started playing it when it released and I liked it, but didn’t immediately love it.  Then I remembered that I got Assassin’s Creed Syndicate “for free” when I bought my new graphics card, and I couldn’t help but start playing it.  Then I couldn’t stop and so I played till I finished it.  It was time to go back to Fallout and post-apocalyptic Boston though, and so I fired Fallout 4 up again and started fresh, and I’m in it this time.  I still haven’t actually entered “Diamond City”, the new name for Boston.  But I’ve been enjoying the outskirts so far and figuring out the new systems, like settlements and crafting.  I did find Walden Pond this morning and it’s hilarious to see it’s now a nearly empty nuked out shell of what I assume it once was/is.  It’s a wonderful game world and I’m kind of wondering how the main story will turn out, but I’ve been delaying that for a little while.  I should probably head into Boston and get shit started.

Diablo III (Now Playing)

VHGE1UOVGE431402697675171Yes, yes, I’ve been here before.  Diablo 3 has been out for a few years now, but it manages to keep coming back into my life.  First, I finally started playing it once the godawful Auction House idea was taken out.  It was awesome.  Then the expansion pack came out, and I waited awhile before getting it, but it was also a lot of fun.  Now there’s concepts of Seasons and Adventure Mode, both introduced in the expansion pack, but I didn’t actually explore them that much as I was happy with finishing the main story.  But I got sucked into it again and am playing a new Crusader character in Season 5 (don’t ask me what the different seasons mean…I don’t know) and it’s just a blast.  I’m hooked.

A New King’s Quest

It’s kind of awesome to be playing a new King’s Quest game – but that’s what’s happening.  An actual, official King’s Quest game released under the Sierra label from Activision.  Who woulda thought this would ever happen?  I happily paid full price for this game, and after having finished this first “chapter,” I consider it money well spent.

kings-quest-ps4-2015-03-14I’ve been a huge fan of the Sierra adventure game catalog pretty much since these games first came out.  Yes, I’m an Olds, relatively, and we had our first computer, a 286, after Harv won some money playing the Lotto.  This must have been around 1986 or so?  I think it was before I went to Santa Fe, so either 86 or 87.  Anyway, we got a computer and I ended up of course getting obsessed with it.  I certainly enjoyed the practical aspects of having a computer, but I think once I started getting games for it, the hobby got its hooks into me.

King_s_Quest_GDC_Screenshot_1.0Besides the various flight simulator programs like Jet, F-117/A Stealth Fighter, and Flight Simulator (which I also got some SubLogic scenery software for, and which also allowed you to create scenery), I also fell in love with the various Sierra “Quest” games.  I think I got into Space Quest first, and I’m pretty sure I played them out of order, but it was pretty shortly thereafter that I got into King’s Quest.  I am pretty sure I played KQ5 first, then went back and played the earlier ones.  They’re addicting and charming and funny and oftentimes, ridiculously hard.  I also got obsessed with the Quest for Glory games, but that’s a post for another day.

quest-610So now, flash forward what, 30 years or so?  OOF.  A new King’s Quest is out and it is amazing.  The graphics have of course received quite an upgrade, and while I think you can play with a mouse and keyboard and click around, I’ve found playing with the controller is pretty great.  I was ready to embrace if the story was going to continue further down the timeline with perhaps Alexander’s or Rosella’s children, but instead we get an interesting hybrid:  King Graham is now very old and through his “retellings” of his past exploits, we end up playing as Graham yet again.  In one segment, we get to replay his activities surrounding finding the Magic Mirror as you did in KQ1.  It’s a much different experience and quite thrilling as a way to introduce you to new gameplay mechanics.

43555_1_8fa88f446eThe next and main part of this first chapter then surrounds Graham’s days before he became a knight for King Edward in Daventry.  It’s a very well-done and hilariously-written set of adventures as Graham competes against some other knight-hopefuls to become the newest Knight of Daventry.  Graham is kind of a goofball, and the adventures he gets in are fairly silly, but they’re also played really well by the voice actors, which include Christopher Lloyd and Wallace Shawn (both of them playing with some of their more well-known movie characters’ quotes and quite wittily too) and the graphics and animations are pretty incredible.  Also?  The puzzles aren’t easy and so you do have to put some thought into them – plus, there definitely are multiple paths to get to the same goal which have direct influence in the outcome.  It’s great, and makes you consider multiple playthroughs to see how you’d tackle the problem differently.

Chapter 1 does end on a cliffhanger, and Chapter 2 is not out yet….so I’m sad to have to wait but thrilled that this is even something I’m playing in the first place.  King’s Quest is back, baby!  And if this first chapter is a good indication of the quality of the experience, I’m very hopeful and optimistic about what’s coming next!

Alien: Isolation Ain’t Playin’

I’m trying to be a grown-up and play through this videogame, but I’m sorry, it’s too fucking scary.  I’m what you would call, “a big ol’ wuss” when it comes to scary movies and things, but for some reason, I just had to play this game that came out in 2014, Alien: Isolation.  It takes place in the time between the first 2 Alien movies and you play as Ripley’s by-now grown daughter, Amanda.  She hasn’t stopped wondering what happened to her mother and gets a lead that some information about the Nostromo, the ship from Alien, may be at this distant space station.  When she arrives with a minimal crew, of course everything goes to shit and Amanda is stuck on the space station.  First she notices that the space station is just deserted and in a bad state, but then she realizes the remaining humans are not friendly.  Then the helpful androids turn out to be homicidal.  And oh yeah, there’s a giant alien xenomorph loose in the station.Alien_isolation_screenshotThe reviews have been very good for this game and from the amount I’ve played, I agree that the mechanics are intuitive and the graphics are stunning.  What makes this game challenging and fucking scary is that you are not a space marine – you have effectively very little in the way of weapons and everything can kill you, so you have to basically try to hide and avoid detection.  But guess what?  This game has got the alien set up with its own AI, so the whole time you’re playing the game, the alien is also prowling around and ready to get you if you happen upon it…or it happens upon you.

2014-10-02_00007-980x551Take this evening, for example.  I figure I’d give the game another try as you see, I’d actually started playing it a few weeks back but a certain section got me all stressed out and I took a break from it.  But tonight?  I was going back in.  I got past that section and was figuring out slowly how to avoid the homicidal androids, and had just snuck into a command area when I heard some thumping above me.  I thought it was the sounds my character was making this whole time, but NO.  That was the fucking alien above me in the vents….and when I wandered into the area beneath a large opening of the vents, guess who got fucking dropped on from above and murdered?  That’s right, ME.  And that was the end of my gameplaying tonight, after having yelled out in terror so that even Larry had to laugh at me from the living room.

This game is fucking ridiculous.  Maybe I’ll be able to finish it slowly but surely.