Wednesday, May 27, 2015

MIDI Week Singles: 'Opening Menu' - Blackwell Legacy (PC)

"Opening Meu" from Blackwell Legacy for PC (2006)
Composed By: Peter Gresser
Released By: Something Else Works
Developer: Wadjet Eye Games

Hey, why not?  Trifecta on Blackwell Legacy.  The opening track is pretty good, slow, spooky piano melody layered with even slower, spookier cello.  The timing is off, which makes it work.  It all adds up to a pretty solid spooky track.  Which I suppose is appropriate in a game about ghosts.


Monday, May 25, 2015

The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited: A Co-op Experience

Yes, I have previously reviewed The Elder Scrolls Online before, but that was back in the days of yesteryear.  In the days before the Zenimax/Bethesda changed the pay structure from a monthly fee to a pay once to play with no subscription fee.  This was also my first real foray back into the game since I ended my subscription back in June 2014 due to the omnipresent "lack of funds" despite the game becoming subscription free back in March.

But now Conklederp's computer (from 2007) has been replaced and it is capable of running TESO:TU so we finally have been able to, more or less, play Skyrim together.  The first night we put in an hour and-a-half, followed by five and-a-half hours the following day and a few minutes ago (before going back to work), we adventured for about an hour.

Having already played 100 hours with my main character (Nord Dragonknight, Ebonheart Pact) and 13 hours with my secondary character (Bosmer Nightblade, Aldmeri Dominion), For my co-op playing, I created an Aldmeri Sorcerer as part of the Daggerfall Covenant to go with Conklederp's Breton Sorcerer.  Sure, a lot of people will tell you that it's probably not wise to group together with only two sorcerers, but we're not looking to become the Emperor as part of the siege in Cyrodiil, we're just running around exploring, doing quests and trying not to die/be killed/die.

These two are totally trustworthy. . .
Having come from a severely limited background in online gaming (Diablo II, Path of Exile), the experience of questing with someone else (along with umteen thousands of others in the background) has definitely been an experience (we're currently both level 7, as long as we're talking about experience).  The little arrow/crown above the other person's head is a nice touch, which is still visible when looking at the map screen, so finding the other person isn't too difficult.  Dealing with lag on the other had can be frustrating.

This is something that I did experience when I was playing solo, but presently, both Conklederp and I experience some-type of lag somewhat regularly, especially in towns and waiting for dialogue options to crop up.  Exiting out of conversations is always doable, which is sometimes the only way to progress with a quest when we find ourselves unable to continue with a conversation after incessant clicking.  The only other frustrating experience I have had is that I have been kicked off of the server (so out of the game) due to "Error 318."

What is funny/odd/weird about this error popping up, is that the only person I talk to is Conklederp, and since she is sitting right across the table from me, there is really no reason to talk to her in chat when I can just use my mouth hole and throat tube to verbalize what it is that I want to tell her.  Sure, I will often have my character play the lute, do pushups or just sit on the ground while I wait for her to find me or if I wait for her outside of the bank/smithing shop.  And this has now happened four separate times (three yesterday and this afternoon.  Thankfully Bethesda is aware that Error 318 is happening to people like me who have been kicked out.  So all I can really do is every time I have been dropped is to log back in, submit a bug report (/bug) using the chat window and let them know about what I was doing at the time.  I should also note that this has not happened to Conklederp.

Well, when I am not getting dropped from the server, I am approaching my sorcerer from the point of view that my character is fawning over Conklederp's character.  He wants to protect her even though she is a fully capable mage.  He hopes that one day she may fall in love with him, but in the meantime, it's questing time.  I have him wearing a combination of heavy and medium armors (what with trying to be a protector and all) and I have been switching back and forth using either the Destruction Staff and the Bow.  Not having played a magick-type before in any of The Elder Scrolls games, this a quite a departure for me, but for the time being I am quite enjoying the game so far.  I should also say that neither Conklederp or I are paying attention to any of the many guides for how to build the best possible class if you want to enjoy the game.  I guess then we will not be enjoying the game together, to the best of our ability.  N00bs are we!

So, taking TESO:TU, for what it is, I think that I would recommend the game, if Dr. Potts and I were ones to actively recommend games in the fashion that one tends to recommend games.  If the recommendation comes in the form of, "Yes, I will still be playing this game today and tomorrow with Conklederp," then that's exactly what it is.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Breaking News: Angry People Online Angry At Other People! (NSFW)

People are angry.  And not just angry, violently angry.  I brought this up briefly at the beginning of the month regarding Konami's cancellation of Silent Hills and the outcry regarding the destruction and imminent failure of the studio due to disappointing their most fervent (violently aggressive) and devoted fans.  This morning, Bethesda Softworks tweeted/instagrammed/social media'd a 12 second teaser of a Revenant shooting/screaming at something it apparently is not rather fond of.  And let me tell you, the outpouring of support for a new game in this beloved franchise has been so incredibly heartfelt.

Just a warning, the rest of this article will contain language, both taken directly from the interwebs as well as general sentiment interpreted and reworked by me in order to make a point.  I feel odd to mention that I do not, in fact, agree with genocide of any magnitude upon anyone.

And it's not even that those who apparently only want to see Fallout 4 released by Bethesda to be announced/released at E3 this year as being the game, that for lack of a better and friendly term, unfriendly people here really want to see/hear about.  Even some of those in favor of the development by id Software and release by Bethesda Softworks of Doom by taking a defensive position are just as crass in their response to people complaining about no Fallout 4 announcement.

I can only imagine what Tumblr, Pintrest, 4chan, digg, fark, forbes and reddit all have to say about the people on the other side of their personal opinion.  And no, I am not going to be looking.  I can only take so much of people yelling at their screens about their displeasure expecting a sudden 180 in a company's decision.  Like someone at Bethesda and id will be scratching their heads in a years time wondering why no one said anything about their bad decision to develop and release an updated vision of a game that kickstarted the fps genre.  If only they had bothered to actually listen to what the rest of the world and not the people tasked with writing and designing their own product.

I genuinely wonder what occurred in these people's lives that have made them believe that demanding that what they want is what everyone else wants.  That by making demanding in a derogatory manner will give them what it is that they so desperately crave.  Has yelling "I want General Mills to release the Super Mario Bros. cereal again fucking-damnit!" ever worked out?  For anyone?  At the end of a relationship, do they yell "If you leave me I'm going to commit genocide on your mother fucking family!"  Has company ever been thankful for the "Hey, leave them alone for making a game you don't want to play you whining bitch faggots!" comments that are left in their defense?  When has ever threatening a company or complaining like someone whining while online ever given someone their way?

The comments that really get me are the ones that sound like "No one cares about Doom, everyone wants Fallout 4!  Why don't you listen to your fans!?"  Which are usually followed up by some conglomeration of "Shut the fuck up whining fallout fanboy piece of shit!  Doom is amazeballs!"  Meanwhile, Bethesda is over in the corner drinking themselves into an early grave wondering why they didn't listen to their real fans and publish a game that real gamers actually want to play and not this Doom shit.  Sarcasm.

I saw similar fallout (eh?) when The Chinese Room announced that their upcoming game Everybody's Gone to the Rapture was announced as a Playstation 4 exclusive, which included infuriated statements.  I read statements wanting The Chinese Room to fail with their game resulting in the closing of the company and that people would cancel their pre-order of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs as a sign of protest against PS4 exclusivity.  As a fan of both Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, I was saddened to hear that EGttR was going to be an exclusive, but I wasn't up in arms wishing for the failure of the studio and death upon everyone associated with the company.  

Granted not everyone wanting Fallout 4 wants to bomb Bethesda back to the stone age until they create Fallout 4 (or Elder Scrolls VI: [Insert Name of Desired Geographical Tamriel Province that You Think Everyone Will Only Want to Play in and Everyone Can Suck a Bag of Dicks Because They're Wrong, Obviously]).  Some people just leave "Fallout 4" as a comment, and while it can be annoying to see a page full of a game's title on a teaser video for a different game, at least those people are not threatening to set a person's dog of fire (Bioware helpfully suggests not to pet them).

I'm just going to stop as I know that I could just go on and on (and on some more) often repeating myself and how I view the people who apparently feel that complaining in the above referenced (and shown) manner will get them what they want.  See, I was just about to do it again, but I stopped.  That's called self control.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Second Impressions: Blackwell Legacy (PC)

Wow, that was fast.  Seriously, it took 3 hours to beat Blackwell Legacy, and it seemed to pass by in a snap.  Nonetheless, Jane and I enjoyed ourselves enough for me to move forward and buy the 'Blackwell Bundle' on Steam for $20, which has the first four games of the series.  Unfortunately, that leads to me re-buying Blackwell Legacy, which is a waste.  Oh well.  I wanted to sample the series first, and I did.  I hear it just gets better from here.

Good story, voice acting, a little buggy.  The puzzles weren't too tough, but there's a cool notebook mechanic that I like.  All in all, I'm hooked, I am excited to see where the series goes from here.  It's a shame the games are so short though.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

MIDI Week Singles: "Music 3" - Tetris (NES)

"Music 3" from Tetris for the NES (1989)
Composed By: Hirokazu Tanaka
Released By: Nintendo
Developer: Alexey Pajitnov

I chose this song for today because is entered my head unbidden.  Then I got to thinking about how Time has sealed the 'tetris theme' as the Tchaikovsky song dance of the sugar plum fairy (Music 1 on the NES version).  In fact, for some the 'Tetris theme' has eclipsed Tchaikovsky as the home of that song.  I've certainly heard "Oh, it's the tetris song!" linked with that melody before.  To that end, I want to say that the above track was always a nice departure, after having heard SugarPlum Fairy repeat a billion times.  

Composed by Hirokazu Tanaka, Music 3 is a cool theme and I don't mind listening to a few dozen rotations.  It is most certainly not a staple of Russian Classical Music.  Incidentally, Tanaka did other compositions for Nintendo, including the oft-paired contemporary of Tetris on the NES:  Dr. Mario!

Finally, I want to note that Tetris was a Family Fun Time game for me, growing up.  It stands as the only game we own that wasn't given for a birthday present, Christmas or from relentless badgering.  In fact, I don't remember asking for Tetris, my Dad just really liked it, so he went out and bought it when he was out returning the rental.  


Monday, May 11, 2015

First Impressions: Blackwell Legacy (PC)

I've mentioned in the past that I have a subscription to the google + account of Indie Game News, wherefrom I get a lot of my favorite Pak Watch featured games.  One thing I have noticed about Indie Game News is that they report a lot about point and click adventure games.  For this reason, I have paid more attention to that particular genre of late, and It has piqued my interest.  I pitched the idea of playing an adventure game to Jane, and she was really into the idea.  I review the best rated games at Adventure Game Studio, and settled on Blackwell Legacy.  Jane approved of my choice, and we started playing.

So far, so good.  The writing and voice acting is solid, though it takes a minute to get used to the sort of stiff flow of conversation that happens by necessity when you control the flow of scripted conversation.  It's really fun to play two-players, putting our heads together and solving puzzles.

That said, the game falls into the same problem so many games fall into:  when you can't solve a puzzle, and you just click on everything in one location, go to another location, click everything there.  Go back to the previous location, click things, talk your way through every conversation tree.  Check gamefaqs.  The answer is just some small detail you neglected, and thank god the game has begun to flow again.

When it is flowing, Blackwell legacy has interesting characters and a compelling story.  I happily anticipate the next time we get to play it.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

MIDI Week Singles: "Battle of Hope" - Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA)

"Battle of Hope" from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on the Game Boy Advance (2003)
Composed By: Ayako Saso
Released By: DigiCube SSCX-10083~4

As weird as it may sound, I don't think this is a great song, nor is it the best song on the album.  It's even the Game Boy Advance compression of the song and not the uncompressed version that's available on the second disc of the soundtrack.  What this song does though, is remind me of how much fun I had playing Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, how much time I spent playing that game (125+ hours I believe), the fact that I bought it a second time after thinking that I had lost the game along with me Game Boy Advance only to find both stuffed in the couch cushions of my parent's couch.  To me, this song is mostly about nostalgia.  It's also a good song that captures the feeling of battles in this Game Boy Advance title in the Final Fantasy Tactics series.

While FFTA was a watered down version of the masterpiece that was Final Fantasy Tactics, it was still very much engaging (It's the game that introduced the now staple Judges to the world of Ivalice).  It had a light hearted feel littered with darker elements that would not have worked in the original 1999 title.  "Battle of Hope," I feel, embodies that sense of fantasy and adventure that I look for and want to feel anytime I play/read a fantasy story in a medieval-type setting.  What Ayako Saso brings is perfect for the what is used for the majority of the battles, or at least what I remember playing.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Monthly Update: May 2015

Happy May, or I guess "May the 4th be with you."  I'm sure y'all've already checked out the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer #2 by now and even if you have, it wouldn't hurt to watch it again. . .for the 47th time. . .this week.  There're also apparently some new pictures up from the movie which may or may not contain spoilers.  Ye've been warned. . .arrrr. 

Reaction to Konami cancelling
Silent Hills.  Decency people!
(Public posts means I don't have to
black out names).
Aside from that, it's been an interesting month in the Land of Gaming where apparently a fair amount of people were pissed off at one person or another for any reason or another.  There's been the Silent Hills cancellation, and Valve allowing modders to charge for use of their mods in Skyrim (but only if they want to charge) then nixing that idea after less than a week. On Friday however, and on a happier note, (so technically May) the splinters from Rare who created Playtonic have started a Kickstarter for their game Yooka-Laylee (which is, as of this writing, 412% over their target goal of $270,041 and it's been less than 12 hours since their email announcement).  And there's Rare's announcement that they've been working on something that's been a lot of fun for them that will be announced at E3 next month.

But that's all well and good for the rest of the world, but what about little ol' me?  I've been keeping pace with course work which has left some time for putzing around with a couple of video games, this time across multiple platforms.

I've gotten back into playing the Atlus time travelling multiverse fantasy game Radiant Historia, which originally came out on the DS back in 2011.  The game can be a bit overwhelming with multiple timelines and people/items/skills that you might need to learn in an alternate timeline before continuing with your current timeline.  At the moment I'm only transitioning between two separate outcomes, but I have  feeling that things will begin to branch off in the next chapter or two.  Thankfully you have the ability to speed through conversations that you've had umpteen times before and the music is good as far as JRPG soundtracks go.  I'll stick this one out until the end, barring any 4 Heroes of Light graves that I manage to dig myself into.

On the PC gaming front, I'm finishing up Borderlands (the first game) and I recently started Mass Effect 2.  My first off is that Borderlands is a great FPS with a crappily weak story.  Mass Effect 2 is a great story with too much online emphasis about who Shepard is going to doink.  Who Shepard (male or female) ends up with relationship-wise and what is unlocked in Mass Effect 3 based on your relationship choices from the previous two games seems a bit overwhelming on top of trying to save the galaxy.  It's almost like in order to experience the "full" game, you have to have a separate save file for each decision regardless if you have the option of using a paragon/renegade response; basically like in Radiant Historia.  And then there's Miranda, who apparently is nude with painted on clothing that is frequently emphasized by the camera panning or holding over her gluteal maximal region.  I know body paint's a thing, I saw a video about it once.

Lastly, and back to handheld, is Silent Hill (1999) which I'm playing on the PSP, influenced from all of the Dead Space posts last month.  Presently my biggest complaint is that the game screen doesn't take up all of the PSP screen that it should be able to.   There is an empty black space around the entire gaming-viewing window when it looks like the viewable window could have been stretched out diagonally in both directions by a couple of more pixels.  I've actually been conversing with Dr. Potts textually while playing and it's very reminiscent of 1999 when we were living in the same abode and would frequently talk to each other about where we were at in our respective games.  It was nice.  I should probably also check to make sure he has an unlimited texting plan, or I'll just revert to Google's Hangout app which Chreekat inadvertently introduced me to last week.

Leading up to the December release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, my unofficial plan is to finish Star Wars: Dark Forces and start another of the Star Wars games that Humble Bundle bundled together a few months back.  There might even be a "Why A Star Wars Game?" post somewhere in there as well.

Oh, and D&D has now reached a "regular basis" status for which I am very grateful.  Maybe a post in there about this as well later in the month.  Although I should probably get everyone to sign a release form, but being the DM, I can always make up some threats.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Monthly Ramblupdate - May 2015

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me a better introductory phrase!  I need only to get started, and I will proceed on a ramble of most ramblonic ramifications.  According to the online Etymology Dictionary, the word 'ramble' comes from a dutch word meaning the 'nightly wanderings of an amorous cat.'  I think this is hilarious, especially since we use the word so much.  I really love etymology.  

Alright, what's up?  Well, on this very day I am going to start a garden at a local community garden.  I'm pretty happy about that.  I really love gardening, and since I don't have a yard, or even a porch, it will help get me outside.  Of course, the weather is heating up, 90 degrees this week, so outside is kind of a shitty place.  Still, it's worth it.  

In other news, I'm looking forward to playing an adventure game with my best girl.  We've picked out Blackwell Legacy,  which is supposed to have a good story.  I'll let you know how it turns out.  She's also a big fan of Mario Kart, and to that end, I've been hunting around for a used Nintendo Wii and copy of Mario Kart Wii (6?).  Granted, it's not Mario Kart 8, which is really a fantastic game, it's not a Wii U either, but it's a much cheaper alternative, which fits my budget.  I spent $100 on Magic Cards last month, and I really need to take it easy on spending.  

Yes, Magic the Gathering has devoured my brain.  I play it regularly, I even started a Magic Online account.  Magic Online is clunky, but it's nice to have a digital way to organize my cards.  The game has a learning curve that could wrap around the world,  but I finally feel like I'm catching up to todays standards.  It helps that I started listening to the Limited Resources Podcast.

Oh, that's right, I've been consuming other media as well.  I'm currently reading 'Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro.  He writes a lot of British stuff.  This book is the most unusual genre fiction story I've ever read.  It's the sort of book that is really easy to spoil, so I'll try not to.  There is an air of mystery that pervades early on and carries through the whole book.  However, there is also a powerful sense of sentimentality, but I wouldn't say it was sappy.  I recommend this book, though it may not be quite what you're used to, if your into Sci Fi and other nerdy things.  Nonetheless, I really do recommend giving it a chance.  

On a more sci-fi front and center note, Jane and I just finished up "Other Space" a sci-fi comedy released by Yahoo.  Yes, even Yahoo has TV now.  But Other Space is really funny, and actually tends to contain at least one legit science fiction plot point in every episode.  It's a bit like a live-action Futurama.  I recommend it and I hope it gets picked up for a second season.  The first one is kind of short.  

Hmm, yes, I think this may be all the nerd fit to print.  Looking forward to Blackwell Legacy and Nintendo Wii!  Hasta Pasta,


P.S.  I think the entertainment world is long overdue for a sitcom about hens and roosters.