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 stinks...like 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.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Obligatory Title

Writing!

I'm waist deep into Chapter 14 and loving it! But I have to be honest. While I have written plenty of original material over the years, this book is not entirely original. And, by that, I mean that I wrote it once before--after college. Only, back then, it really sucked. But I was proud of it! Until I wasn't.

See, when I first started out on the "I want to write stuff and get published!" expedition. the Internet was a baby. And, if that was true, The World Wide Web was essentially a zygote. A cute, addictive zygote that would quickly grow to love porn and cat videos. Warped, right?

So, to get published, one bought a book, trolled through agent listings and then sent said agents proposals. Then you got rejected over and over again. Things are much different, much more pleasant, and much tastier now.

I'd given up for a long time. Sure, I still wrote some tasty nuggets but they were mostly for my own satisfaction. See, I'm one of those wusses who will play guitar only when nobody is around and who will write a bunch of stuff but is too embarrassed to share it with anyone. But, also, I realize that this stuff isn't going to publish itself.

Well, it might...or at least come close. You see, the Interwebz now offer many more things besides cat videos. It offers all kinds of ways to get discovered and self-publish. Which got me thinking, which got me writing, which got...well, here we are.

So this book--I am writing it from the ground up. There are elements from the original--characters, ideas, plot points etc.--that are still in the book. But it's much different now. It flows, it makes sense and, most importantly, it doesn't take up a billion pages. It is, indeed, a work that I am so far very proud of. And I am excited every day to write it. Anyway, this is why I haven't blogged in a while. In fact, I haven't gamed nearly as much as I normally do. And I'm okay with this.

Speaking of gaming

Back to gaming! Well, until we're not.

Let's get real for a moment and talk Diablo 3. A recent patch just came out for it that, well, changes the game entirely! It now feels 90% like Diablo again! And we have Jay Wilson...'s absence to thank for that! Seriously, that guy worked really hard to mess up one of the best franchises in gaming. I think he's in Siberia or Detroit or somewhere he can't do any harm.

Of course, Blizzard really had to release a patch that completely reworked the game if they wanted to sell their upcoming expansion. Too many people dropped out of playing Diablo 3 because, well, it just didn't have replayability. Heck, to a lot of people, it didn't have first time playability. I had plenty of problems with the game (and still have a few) and gave up after a while. Fundamentally, it was flawed.

However, it is now a much different game and I am looking forward to the expansion!

Anyway, that's all. I figured I'd put something up to confirm that I am still alive. I will, no doubt, have more later!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Let's Switch Gears

I tend to cover a wide range of subjects here but gaming tends to take center stage more than anything else. I am going to banish gaming to the side stage for a moment--you know, the stage off to the left and rear that usually has some act you've never heard of, but that involves a tank of water, peanut butter, and some kind of monkey.  Yeah, that stage. But I'll bring it back and it'll smell only slightly worse. Promise.

I have always been a writer. I used to enjoy writing fiction and, one day, dream about publishing it. The goal was never to become famous and rich because I'm much more realistic. A lot of people write things but few ever really make it big. I have no illusions.

Back when I started, the process was rather archaic. You fished around for an agent and they fished around for a publisher for you. It was a rather terrible experience. I did actually make an attempt. I sent off probably a dozen letters to agents and got rather nonchalant, uninterested responses. So I eventually shelved it because I had bigger fish to fry. Tasty, tasty fish...to fry.

But, recently, the bug has hit me again and I have embraced it 100%. Getting published by a major publisher still is not easy. About that I have no illusions. But, since it was never actually my goal to be published by a big publishing house (don't get me wrong, it'd be awesome if that happened), then I can now follow a much easier route--self-publishing.

E-readers have made it much easier for writers to get their works out. Sure, we don't make money hand over fist but a true writer simply wants to entertain--to have someone read his or her work and enjoy it. And that is what I want to do. If I can make a living off of it, then so be it.

This week I started a novel. I intend to finish it, edit it, and get it published both in e-book format as well as publish it in a physical book. And I am having SO MUCH FUN doing it! Thanks to "the cloud", I can write pretty much anywhere on any device at any time. This is very handy when an idea strikes or I just want to get out some material.

So I am pretty psyched. Hopefully the momentum not dwindle and I will produce something that both I can be proud of and also that people will not only want to read but enjoy!