Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cat Pictures and Vitriol


So it's been quite a while. I feel as though I say that a lot and, well, it's probably true. However, as I've said many times in the past, I don't post anything here unless it's actually worth posting and, today, I think I have something. Let's begin.

The Internet. It is a wondrous invention that brings joy to many people in the form of lolcats, videos, and other assorted silliness. It's also a perfect place to spread hatred, intolerance, and overall malaise. Sometimes, when perusing Facebook, I get the same feeling that I used to get when trick-or-treating as a kid (or last week)--I would hold out my bag and, if I was lucky, I'd get something really awesome. If I was unlucky, I'd get peanut butter taffy. Seriously. PEANUT BUTTER TAFFY! Ew.

That feeling comes around when I see certain things, mainly on Facebook. I am not referring to well-written posts about someone's views with which I happen to disagree. We can't all agree on everything but that does not make us enemies. It makes us different. And variety is the spice of life, no? Some say it's cumin but I don't see it.

So, yeah, I really enjoy seeing thought-provoking, opposing viewpoints and pondering them. Sometimes I engage in a brief debate about them, but avenues such as Facebook are terrible media for any kind of cogent debate. I always look forward to learning and, yes, my opinion can be swayed.

This is all great stuff...until it isn't. The peanut butter kiss in the candy bag comes along in the form of snarky, shallow, one-sided posts. They are never actually written by the person posting them and they are almost always in the form of a captioned picture that the poster found somewhere. They don't open up a dialogue, they don't cause anyone to think, and they don't offer up anything useful. They only serve to point fingers, assign blame, or irritate people.

And, it being the Internet, everyone be damned! It's the Internet and we can say what we want, right? We're very courageous when sitting behind our keyboards and it's so very easy to simply share something we've found without any context or independent thought of our own! Why think for ourselves when someone else has done it for us?

I sort of called someone out on this today. I may have been a little harsh. I will note, however, that it was face to face, in person. This is how I am. If you ask me a question, you will get a 100% honest answer--sometimes brutally honest. And, when I've a bone to pick, it happens. I decided that expressing my opinion in the same vein was appropriate and, hopefully, it got the point across.

I have become friends with some fabulously wonderful people via the Internet. I never would've encountered these fantastic individuals without it. Some of them I have had the pleasure of meeting in person while, others, I still desire to meet. I've been exposed to great things and have sometimes had my views changed for what I consider the better. I'm still a major work in progress but I am confident that I am on the right track.

I've no room in my life for negativity. The irony, here, is that I used to be something akin to the king of negativity. Nothing was going to turn out right, people were all jerks, and everything was doom and gloom. What turned me around? I really disliked myself. I wouldn't have wanted to hang around me. I was basically the person who would've posted the snarky, pre-fab quotes and pictures. I'm not really sure why I didn't so I'll just chalk it up to laziness.

Are you a conservative? A liberal? Gay? Straight? Do you use an iPhone? Android? Play PS4? Xbox? Excellent. Good for you! Do you want to tell me "Xbox sux!" or "PS4 sux!"? Can you put down the typos and have a decent discussion as to why you think so? No? Alright, then, bye.

The problem is not Republicans or Democrats. It's not conservatives, liberals, Christians, atheists or whatever. The problem is poverty, violence, bigotry, abuse, intolerance, economics, and possibly the fact that I still cannot find Waldo.

But, most of all, stop trying to tell everyone how to live their lives simply because you disapprove or because you're offended. Most people have a massively difficult time living their own lives without poking their noses into everyone else's business. Stop shaming people simply for being people who are not you.

I once had someone on Facebook point a finger and say that a particular large group of people was the cause of all of the problems we have today. How does that make anything better? Finger-pointing and accusations? No thank you. We live on the same rock. You can't possibly convince me that your farts smell like roses but that this group over here is the cause of all of planet Earth's woes.

Let's make things better, people.

I hope to contribute more activity here in the near future (if I can muster the creative juices) and, hopefully, my posts will be more lighthearted and along the lines of "Pool of Radiance II is possibly the worst game I've ever played".


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Join Me. It Is Your...Um...Just Do It. I'll Be Your Best Friend.


The game was hyped for upwards of a half-billion years but, now, it's out and being played all over the place. Reviews have been mixed but what really matters is what kind of game you want to play. You may have heard that Borderlands + Halo = Destiny but I will argue that it is actually Borderlands + Gears of War = Destiny.

The game is very much like Borderlands but without the offbeat humor. In fact, Destiny is a bit dark which is where the Gears of War element comes into play. Well, that and some of the environments feel like Gears of War. But Destiny also centers around a role-playing element just as much as it involves loot collection and splodin' things.

Basically, shoot lots of enemies, gather different guns and armor, level up your character, rinse and repeat!

I don't want too much into the plot mostly because the plot itself isn't very deep. Evil looming in the distance, aliens want to snuff out the rest of humanity, and a giant bocce ball hovering above the last city on Earth. Bungie probably could have put a bit more writing into the game but, regardless, the game is fun anyway. I guess, sometimes, you just need to loosely tie action together with a story and it works.

And Destiny does work. It's fun and, even if the story is thin, it keeps me interested enough to play the next mission and advance the story. There have been no "Omg! X is Y's father!" moments but maybe those aren't necessary.

Destiny is an MMO and I am notorious for disliking MMOs. But it's an MMO that I can get behind because it's an MMO that doesn't really have to be an MMO. Wha??? Yep.

See, Destiny can really be played singleplayer through a lot of it. You can play through the story, retrieve bounties, and patrol all by yourself with no help from anyone else. As far as I know you could finish the game without having to ever play alongside anyone else. Sure, there are other guardians roaming about the zones, performing their own tasks and they may fight the same thing you are fighting but that is about the extent of it.

There are public events that bring players together, should any of them so desire, and their are raids, strikes, and the Crucible (if you wish to partake in PvP). These can be pretty minor parts of the game...sort of.

Right. "Sort of". See, once you max out at level 20 the character advancement dynamic changes a bit and, now, the multiplayer aspects become a bit more important. You can earn reputations and currencies (or items) by partaking in the multiplayer activities that you either can't earn otherwise or just earn much more slowly. I'm not a real fan of PvP but there are certain things I feel I can't accomplish without participating.

So, that much, I'm not really happy about but I also knew that I was getting into an MMO so I suppose I am willing to take the good with the bad. So far I've very much enjoyed the game and look forward to finishing it, then playing through with the other two classes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Get Off My Lawn!

Kids these days. They don't know how good they've got it, what with their Internets, their tablets and...their pants. They've grown up with all the cool technology and toys that they probably take for granted. Growing up, to play any semblance of a "good" video game, I had to hang out in arcades and plop endless quarters into the vast sinkhole of pixels.

Oh, sure, I had an Atari 2600 and I played the living heck out of it! I found the easter egg dot in "Adventure", and I discovered a glitch in "Combat" that allowed me to shoot through the wall. I think I played two or three Atari units into the ground, not stopping until they were molten, smoking piles of goo. And, back then, we took them somewhere to get them fixed because it was cheaper than buying a new game console.

The Atari was fun, sure, but it obviously had major shortcomings. What I wanted was a game system that could replicate those games found in the arcade. The Atari fell way short in this department. I remember the excitement when I plugged in Pac-Man and loaded it up. This was quickly followed by crushing despair and disappointment when I played the game and it was nothing like Pac-Man. It was as if someone started coding the game, realized that it would never actually be fun, and then just gave up.

The same was true for Donkey Kong. You have no idea how giddy I was, sitting in the car with the game box on my lap, anticipating playing it. But what I experienced was actually somewhere close to, instead of going to Disneyland, ending up at the slide in the park...that was metal...and really hot. Yes, slides were made of metal back then and we burned our butts and WE LIKED IT!

See, Donkey Kong on the Atari was a deformed blob that sort of jumped over squares and made weird noises. It was terrible. It was an atrocity and probably should have been buried in the desert along with all of the ET cartridges (one of which I still own...somewhere).

The point is, there was absolutely no way to recreate at home what was available in an arcade. Not even close. So I hung out in arcades a lot. Money was rather limited so I picked my games wisely. Sometimes I had grown adults betting each other that they sucked so bad a kid could beat them. I was that kid. And, yes, I beat them. Every time.

The Colecovision was years away but, yes, it was the first console to accurately recreate games from the arcade. Computers began stepping up but were still not quite that good at it. But when I first saw Donkey Kong Jr. on the Colecovision I nearly cried. It was perfect. Then the 8-bit NES came along later and it was all smooth sailing from there.

These days, you can play a game on a console and it's at least as good as the game in the arcade (if there is even an arcade nearby). Of course, in my opinion, the PC platform is superior in most ways but that's an argument for another time.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Game on!

First off, I need to too my own horn for a minute.

"The Forgotten Years: The Call of Chaos" is finished! And I must say that this brings mixed emotions.

On the one hand IT'S FINISHED! After it is edited it will be ready for publishing. I will not be ready for publishing as this is the part of the whole writing endeavor to which I do not look forward. It's a lot like throwing a party--if I actually did that. Throwing the party is awesome but paying for all of the supplies really wet cat and feet. Also, there may be a hangover involved with publishing. Since I've not had anything non-journalistic published, I'm still a bit foggy on this.

That aside, I'd also like to say how happy I am that Midwest Geekfest 2014 was a success! Planning the event has its ups and downs every year (well, both years) but, in the end, I really enjoy seeing all of the awesome people who want nothing more than to show up and have fun. And Midwest Geekfest 2015 will be even better! Pinky swear! Is that still a thing?

Gaming...yeah, poor gaming. My infatuation with writing the first book has left my inner gamer a bit neglected. In fact, I think my gamer self is sitting on his bed throwing paper airplanes at my head and trying to get my attention.

The fact of the matter is, yes, I am in the middle of a huge writing blitz. I am enjoying every minute of it. I view it a lot like running a game of D&D, only a lot less interactive for the player/reader. But the process itself is very similar. In D&D I have always had to think more quickly and improvise no matter how deep the story. In writing I have more time to think up concepts, characters, and plot. And, shortly after, throw them all to the wind and do whatever my brain comes up with on the spur of the moment.

But I do promise to return to my gaming roots. I just got Saint's Row IV (thank you, Steam!) so that might happen. Come to think of it, I have about a billion Steam games waiting in line to be played. But, really, it's going to take a new game to kick me back into the habit, most likely. I do still have this nagging in the back of my mind that wants to play through all of the Halo games again. I started a while ago and got through Halo: Reach, then played a bit into Halo: CE. But I may take a 24-hour chunk of time (when I nobody's around) and play through the remaining titles.

In fact, it seems that most of the games I want to play are older titles--Halo, Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, L4D and L4D2. Maybe even some Civ V. I'd like to fire up Black Mesa and check out the updated game. I'd like to play through the three seasonal DLCs for Borderlands 2 as well.

So what games have I been playing? It seems I always return to "FTL: Faster Than Light". Though, for the next week, Diablo 3 is offering better chances at awesome loot, so maybe I'll hop in.

Game on?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Honey! Where are my PANTS??

I'm splitting it up again. Hold me back! I'm a wild man!!!

The only gaming I've been doing is Diablo 3. Gaming has always been a large part of my life and I believe it will continue to be in the future. I started Halo: Reach with the intent of taking a while to play through all of the Halo titles. Even after I've played them a billion times each, I still enjoy them. Better yet, I still discover little nuances in each one that I didn't see the first go-around...or the 15th.

So...the Xbox One and PS4. Yeah. I have no intention of buying a PS4. I've nothing against it--I think it is a solid platform. But it's not had a library of games that I've felt compelled to play. Sure, I'd like to give God of War a spin and I'd definitely like to play through the two Infamous games. But I'm not going to get a whole new console for that. Anyway, the old games aren't compatible with the PS4. So maybe I'll just buy a PS3 on the cheap some day. But I doubt it. But maybe...

As far as the Xbone goes, I'm not really in a hurry to buy one of those, either. I've heard mixed reviews of the system. Some people have had massive problems with it while others have had none. The fact of the matter is, even now, there are no games out for it that I need to play. If I want Titanfall, I'll play it on my PC.

Sure, Halo 5 is being thrown around, and Destiny is coming out in November. Destiny isn't available on PC so it might convince me to eventually pick up an Xbox One...maybe. But I don't buy a lot of console games and, truth be told, Microsoft keeps throwing free Xbox 360 games at me. And since I haven't even been gaming much, I've got a backlog on the 360 that rivals my Steam library.

As far as the writing goes, it is the reason I am not gaming much. And I am thoroughly letting it monopolize my time. And the reward I am reaping from it is amazing. I have completed 22 chapters of the book thus far and I'm still going strong.

I do, however, admit to one anxiety. Whilest I write within a chapter everything is all awesome and stuff. And finishing a chapter feels amazing. It's nice to sit back and feel the sense of accomplishment. But it also brings on a bit of worry in me. I have this fear that my brain is suddenly not going to be able to come up with material to write. If ever I get stuck in a writer's block state of mind, it is between chapters.

It's happened. It's happened a lot. Luckily, it eventually subsides. But I can't force myself to overcome it. I either write on another work or, well, play a video game. Sometimes sleep helps--though I almost never wake up with ideas. A lot of inspiration comes while in the shower, believe it or not. Sometimes an idea reveals itself at work or in the car.

I used to come up with a plethora of ideas while running. This doesn't happen much anymore. I am notorious for zoning out completely while I run. Much of that used to be because I was lost in thought. But, now, I just let go of most everything and simply run.

As of late I have been camping out at Starbucks on Sundays and I write. It is actually less distracting than being at home because, while I'm surrounded by people, I am not surrounded by pets, video games, and televisions. And I get a lot written. And it is amazing.