Monday, September 1, 2014

Monthly Update: September 2014

Happy September everyone.  Bloody hell this year is flying by, or maybe it just feels like that for me as I'm getting hitched next month.  Yes, I am looking forward to the wedding and I am very excited for it, so don't go ahead thinking that I am one of those "ball and chain" types.  

On other fronts, the Summer Reading BINGO is progressing nicely.  I am currently trudging through Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian on audiobook and I say "trudging" in the most sincere form of the verb.  I am not 100% sure where the story is going which is understandable for me as I am finding out that unless I am paying full attention to the story, I'll end up tuning out for a bit and come back when I realize I don't know what is happening.  So it's now article writing, game playing, reddit browsing for me while listening to the disparaging tone of Mr. McCarthy's prose, but instead it's sitting quietly awaiting the next description of the happy-g0-lucky times of mid-late 19th century Texas.  But yes, I am enjoying the book.

In paper form, I am reading Robert J. Sawyer's Flashforward which received a season of TV viewers on ABC back in 2009.  If you're not familiar with the story, a mysterious event happens that causes the population of the world to lose consciousness for just over two minutes and during those two minutes, people experience their lives 21 years in the future.  In turn, those who are not alive 21 years in the future experience nothing.  What I'm finding interesting is after the event, the beginning of each chapter (so far) begins with newspaper-type snippets about the worlds reaction to the event and while some are mundane such as reporting on the death of a news anchor or a continued car pileup due to the event, others are more intriguing, "After a record number of applications were filed in the last 24 hours, the United States Patents office has closed until further notice, pending a decision from Congress on the patenting of inventions gleaned from the visions."

Flashforward is not a long book, coming in at only 317 pages and it did not spawn additional books in this world so I feel that by the end, I will still have plenty of questions, such as, "Why don't I own the TV series on DVD yet!?"

Moving into the realms of video games (finally!), I have started again playing The Elder Scrolls: Arena thanks to a link posted by "Roger" in my Daggerfailed article from last year.  The links are to downloadable copies of Arena and Daggerfall but have all of the DOS commands prewritten so all I have to do is open the application and the game starts up without having to type all of the DOS commands that prevented me from being able to play Daggerfall.  In Arena, I also learned how to open up the world map (Shift+M) and fast travel to other locations as travelling from one city to the next closest would take about 3 days (0n average).  Apparently being able to fast travel in a flat world without any form of topography (trees don't count) has made the game infinitely better.  I will most likely put out a Second Impressions in the coming weeks, now if I could only master swinging a sword with the mouse.

So PAX Prime happened this last weekend.  I might have said something about absolutely not missing PAX again, but due to the general lack of funds due to a false criminal identification (#PeopleWithIncrediblyCommonNamesProblems).  The only presentation I was able to catch was a talk that Hironobu Sakaguchi gave about the "Past, Present and Future of RPGs," but it looks like that presentation was not archived/saved on PAX's Twitch channel.  Ah well.  It was, I felt, more of a retrospective on Hironobu Sakaguchi's career at Square(soft/Enix) and a brief look at a mobile game in development (Terra Battle) at his current studio, Mistwalker.

In semi-PAX related video game news, Gauntlet was showcased this last weekend and it seemed like the remake of the 1985 Atari game received some favorable press.  What surprised me the most about the game was that it is rated M.  Personally, I've never viewed Gauntlet as an M-rated franchise.  From the gameplay footage though, it looks like they're taking a Diablo approach to dispatching enemies as well as what happens to their entrails.  I feel like I can be an old fuddy-duddy about this because the decision doesn't affect me either way.  When I was a kid (mid/late 80's) I loved playing Gauntlet, but having the M-rating is going to limit the demographic that will be able to play this game, which essentially is a massive dungeon crawl with an annoying life timer.  I don't feel like the game needed to go for an M-rating, but that's just me.

Oh damn, I almost forgot.  Last week Nintendo unveiled their New 3DS, which coincidentally is the name of the system: "New 3DS" and "New 3DS LL" for the larger version that we've seen with the 3DS XL and DS lite XL; although that might just be a Japanese thing.  There are some much needed improvements to the system such as an added C-button type joystick to the right side of the system, improved 3D effect that causes less blurring, improved battery life, a micro SD card slot and two more shoulder/trigger buttons.  What they need to improve on is the life expectancy of the hinges, but that's just me being paranoid that the hinges on my 3DS are on the verge of breaking as they did with my DS lite.

So, welcome to September!


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