Xbox Roundup!

When last we spoke of the box of X, I was morosely trudging through Skyrim. Not long after that I bagged it. I can’t even say I lost interest in it; one can not lose that which one never had. I may try it again some day if I think I’m in a more receptive mood towards standard fantasy junk and playing as a jerk. Hedruga will not be getting her pie.

Instead I grabbed Dishonored on the cheap. As is so often the case, I started out with the best of intentions and tried to be a reasonable person, but before long I was surrounded by corpses. The whole “stealth” angle had been lost on me. You can play that way, but I wanted to do it nonviolently, so I re-started and soon I had traded slashing throats for simply choking people from behind until they pass out and disappear.

I enjoyed Dishonored a lot, even though throughout it my entire plan for saving a plague-wracked city whose empress has been assassinated involves putting a twelve-year-old girl on the throne so maybe I shouldn’t be involved in the politics here. Nevertheless, the stealth and sneakery is a lot of fun, especially the teleporting you can do. My kill total was 1 for most of the game (and seriously, eff that guy) but towards the end it rose to I think 8 as I got sloppier. When I play again, I’m going to pretty much fill the streets with blood.

Xbox Live Gold celebrated me buying Dishonored by then offering it for free with Gold, which sucked but reminded me about other free games I’d gotten and not played.

Deadlight, a puzzle-platformer was next. Despite not wanting anything to zombies, I found the game to be pretty cool, and the “how to get from point A to B” aspect of it is something I enjoy. Unfortunately it had two major hits against it. First, the script and voice acting are just terrible. I realize this was made by a non-English company, but I can’t imagine “it’s the survivors that tell the story of a battle” sounds less dumb in Spanish. Secondly, the controls are maddeningly unresponsive. There are scenes where you have to run to escape a helicopter and this involves jumping fences. Your guy will get to the top of the fence and just hang out, with no control inspiring him to move and not be shot. They also decided there should be at least four different ways to open a door, and if you choose the wrong one you just stand and stare at it. This game should have been a lot more fun, and I did finish it, but it was a slog.

The next of the free games was Lara Croft: Guardian of Light. Despite this game not being titled “Tomb Raider” it’s non-stop tomb raiding, as opposed to other games we could mention which ARE called “Tomb Raider”. A third-person isometric game, it gave me lots to shoot at, puzzles to solve, and secret things to find. I wasn’t really expecting much from this game, but I turned out to really enjoy it, and would like to play more games of this ilk.

I was starting to jones for some shooting, and I was tempted by Destiny, but held back on it for now. Instead I decided to finally grab Torchlight for the Xbox, and got further along in it than I ever did on the PC. However, as great looking as it is, it’s kind of dull. It’s pretty much just the same thing over and over, the environments are all functionally identical, I’m level 20 or so and have never died. It’s just kind of there. It’s possible that Borderlands has spoiled me on shoot-and-loot, but there’s no sense of wanting to see what’s over the current horizon with Torchlight, in regards to monsters, weapons, or locations. It’s all pretty much just more of the same. I haven’t finished this yet, but I probably will, eventually.

Becky had been wanting to do a two-player thing, and I remembered I had actually bought Lego Batman 2 ages ago. It had gotten lost in the shuffle both because the Lord of the Rings Lego experience was so bad and because I’ve gradually moved from finding Batman to be somewhat interesting to kind of being tired of Batman to never wanting to see Batman again to smothering Chris Sims in his sleep. It turns out to be not quite as bad as LOTR, but having a major bug in the very first scene, as well as sudden lockups, in addition to maddening controls (particularly involving flying) have dulled the experience some. I’m not crazy about them adding voices to the Lego games, and some of the cutscenes go on waaaaaay too long, but it’s nice to see little Lego Black Canary and Cyborg and Martian Manhunter (who is sadly untroubled by Lego fire). Since this game released there’s been Lego Marvel Superheroes (who I care about even less than Batman) and the Hobbit, as well as The Lego Movie game. I’ll probably pick them up cheap, as they are fun to co-op on.

The big upcoming news is next week, when Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel drops. I’ve pre-ordered that, so as soon as it arrives everything else will be pushed aside.

Posted in Videogames | Tagged

Kathy Sierra on Trolls (Read This Now)

I’m linking to this because it’s a powerful encapsulation of the bullshit that women in the tech industry have to go through every goddamn day for ten years from assholes like the #GamerGate morons. Kathy Sierra is a software developer who was the victim of a massive harassment campaign several years ago which nearly drove her out of the industry. This is the exact kind of campaign that women such as Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, and others still have to deal with. What she’s had to deal with should appall and sicken anyone, but the kinds of people who were behind it just recently got Intel to pull advertising from some game sites to avoid making them upset.

I would have added this to my weekly link roundup, but Sierra is going to be removing it from this link soon, so it needs to be shared as soon as possible.

Wired magazine has reposted it (with her permission) but in their wisdom they put the standard comment section underneath it, and you already know how that’s gone.

Well done, Wired. Way to be “helpful”. Wired apparently feels we need to hear both sides of constant aggressive harassment so we can form a more valid opinion on it.

So don’t go there, read it at Sierra’s site while you can.

Trouble at the Koolaid Point

I especially cheered for this:

Yes, sure, “don’t feed the trolls” has been the standard advice, a bullshit talking point propagated by trolls to blame their targets. “You brought this on. You don’t want this? Don’t engage.” Except that’s not actually true. It’s the opposite of true, once you’ve been personally targeted.

As any parent of a two-year old can tell you, ignoring the child usually leads to escalation. Cry harder, scream louder, and in the most desperate scenarios, become destructive. Anything to get the attention they crave. Simply moving on is not an option for the haters once you’ve been labeled a Koolaid server and/or a rich source of lulz. Ignore them, and the trolls cry harder, scream louder, and become destructive.

Posted in Link | Tagged ,

The Berenstain Bears in: “Too Many Boardgames!”

Last night I played games with the Tuesday night crowd, and had a pretty good time. We played Cypher, which is a not-bad AEG microgame, Chaos & Alchemy, which was a light and inconsequential Kickstarter thing, and Abluxxen, which is a fun card game from Kramer/Kiesling which hopefully means they’re back on good games again. But that’s not the point.

I added them to this list where I track the new-to-me games I play, and I am appalled. In 2013 I played 67 games that were new to me. In 2014, it’s only barely October, and I’m already at 81. Eighty-one. Even figuring in my first-ever trip to GenCon that’s insane, and I’m not entirely thrilled about it.

I like trying new games, but I don’t want to play a bunch of flavor of the month junk that we’ll never touch again, and that’s a lot of what’s on the list. Part of it is being polite; one of my groups has a Kickstarter Enthusiast and both have some “Cult of the New” folks, and part of being in a group means sucking it up and playing things you’re not particularly excited for but someone else is. I’m actually lucky that a lot of the people in my Sunday group also play together elsewhere so I am spared even more elegantly intriguing games with innovative mechanics that no one will even be thinking about in two months because Uwe Rosenburg put out another game about tilling.

I’m thinking about hosting once-a-month game days of only played-before favorites; no new stuff allowed. Maybe some of the games I have and enjoy will actually get played if Spice Farmers of Manila isn’t even invited in the first place. Snowdonia deserves to be played once and forgotten. These us doesn’t.

Posted in Boardgames | Tagged

SNOT Rocket

At last the final version of this can be revealed!

For the past two years I’ve been in a building slump, so to get back on track I decided to practice the basics. I’d heard that SNOT (Studs Not On Top) building was a popular technique, so I wanted to hone my skills at that. The result? The SNOT Rocket, a Classic Space-ish model with nary a stud on top; in fact, pretty much the whole thing is upside-down. Is that SNOT enough for you?

Here is the original image I blurred before. As I said, this was just a proof-of-concept to see if I had the pieces to actually make an upside-down spaceship. Once I confirmed I did, I scrapped a lot of it and worked on making it look nice.

In the process I also re-sorted all my Legos back into color-separated bins, though larger ones than I had before.

Speaking of, do you know how many of this piece I have?

Answer: more than this many

Please enjoy SR826-77, a/k/a the SNOT Rocket. If it confuses you, you’re not alone.

Posted in Lego | Tagged , ,

Why is Tom Going Into The Wizard’s Ottoman?

You will find out in due time.

Posted in Comics | Tagged

I Had That! #33: Lego Steam Shovel With Carrier

This is the first Lego set I remember having.

I vaguely remember the circumstances surrounding when I got it. I sort of remember being at my grandmother’s (my father’s mother) apartment (condo?) in Baton Rouge. We were there because someone had died, possibly my maternal grandfather. I was five or so at the time, and didn’t really know any of my grandparents, so to keep me occupied and out of the way, this was given to me.

It’s fairly old-school Lego. Minifigs were still a few years away, the wheels are the old metal-pegged ones, and the bulk of the pieces are what we think of as “standard” rectangular bricks, the stuff people who don’t actually buy Lego think aren’t produced any more in favor of box after box of Millennium Falcon cockpits.

Looking at the set on Peeron, it’s clear I couldn’t rebuild it with my current parts, even if I still had the instructions. I don’t have the doors anymore, and while I thought I had that big chunky turntable still, the one I have is white, but the one that came with this set was black. (I have no idea where the white one came from, as looking through the sets that came with one of those reveals only five sets that I know I never had.) I may still have the blue 1×6 brick with the headlights and grill pattern, and I still have the yellow winch. The 1×2 brick with the Lego logo was a favorite for a long time but it’s disappeared. And I still have the weird axle with the long bar on top (it’s split into two pieces in the Peeron list, but here it is assembled).

I would sporadically have Lego sets for the next few years, but Christmas of 1978 would really start me on the path to Lego fandom, and I’ll talk about that later.

When did I get it? This set was released in 1973. I don’t believe we were living in Louisiana yet, and I started first grade there, so I’m thinking I got this in 1973 or maybe early 1974.

Do I still have it? I still have some of the pieces, but not all of them, and I don’t have the instructions.

Posted in Lego | Tagged

This Delicious Week

Shared bookmarks for delicious user

Posted in Delicious

I Had That! #32: Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine

A constant theme of my youth was trying out different fandoms. I criticize the nerds of today as being more interested in being into a fandom than in whatever that fandom is about, but I can’t deny that this was me as a kid. I wanted to be into Star Trek, though I didn’t watch a whole lot of Star Trek. I dabbled a very little in comic books. I theoretically liked science fiction. And there was also my Godzilla phase.

I had a model of Godzilla (there was a model-building phase as well) that had glow-in-the-dark pieces. I had a Godzilla jigsaw puzzle (there was a jigsaw puzzle phase). I bought the Marvel Godzilla comics. I loved everything about Godzilla except for actually watching the movies, which were too slow for me. When I was in the drugstore and saw the above cover of Famous Monsters, I couldn’t resist.

It was Godzilla that brought me in, but one inside the rest of the contents were fascinating. I read about all these old black-and-white scary movies, the actors in them, and the weird stuff for sale in the back. The next issue’s cover featured Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, and I had seen other Harryhausen movies, so that interested me as well and I got it. After that Star Wars took over the cover spot for a few months and you know how that was.

I would end up buying the magazine sporadically. If you look at the covers here, you can see a parade of things that would have caught my interest, especially the Alien stuff. It was the current movies that kept me buying, but I also dug reading about the classic horror movies discussed within. I of course wouldn’t actually watch any of the movies. Back then, before VCRs even, the best you could hope for was one of them coming on the Sunday Morning Movie, and the few times I watched those they scared the bejeezus out of me (even such later Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder as The Crawling Eye and Fiend Without a Face.) But reading about them was pretty interesting, and I fancied myself a horror movie “fan” based on these articles alone.

Soon, though, I would gravitate away from Famous Monsters and move on to Starlog, which was more my speed, and which I may talk more about later.

When did I get it? July, 1977 is the cover date here. I don’t know how on target those dates are, considering Star Wars doesn’t show up on the cover until two months later, despite premiering in May.

Do I still have it? Not a one of them.

Posted in Movies | Tagged ,