Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated

So yeah, it has been what, like a year since I posted?  Guess I didn't really have much to say.  Well, nothing I wanted to share with people I suppose.  But I find myself at a crossroads, and felt it was perhaps time to step back into this somewhat cathartic enterprise.

I have a new job, with a schedule that is going to leave me with very little in the way of free time to devote to my favorite genre of game.  Massively Multiplayer Online Games have been an obsession of mine for some years now.  I hop from game to game, but I have a core few I play frequently.  However, I find I have increasingly less time to devote to the core gameplay of these games.  Namely, getting my schedule to match up to others to participate in group content.  On a related note, I'm finding it harder to be excited about the various games, especially any that require a subscription, as I find myself questioning the value of paying monthly for a game I can only play for 6-8 hours a month.

There are other factors as well, with each game having a weakness that makes it harder to stomach.  SWTOR slaps you in the face constantly with the cash shop and the need to subscribe to enjoy the game.  STO is a bit grindy, and with the upcoming changes I've taken a break to see how they play out.  Everquest 2's graphics are incredibly dated, Landmark's engine isn't optimized well, LOTRO seems to have lost it's way amid the cash shop, I could go on.  About the only MMO right now that I have no complaints about is Guild Wars 2.  However, going back to my infrequent playing times, doing some of the group content is a bit trickier, and I'm not a fan of PvP which is most of the endgame between seasonal episodes.

So, what's a gamer to do?  Give up?  Well, I'm going to adapt.  I have a huge catalog of single player games that I have accrued through various sales.  I think it's time to sit down and play through some of them.  Stepping away from PC is helpful as well.  I've recently rediscovered my love for the painful, lengthy grind that is the Monster Hunter series and it is my go to game on the 3DS.  It helps that I can transfer my data to the Wii U when I want some HD gameplay when I have the TV to myself.

The trick now, is to decide which game to dive into.  I think Assassin's Creed 4 will be first.  I've never really gotten into the Assassin's Creed games.  I've heard good things, and besides, there are pirates.  What could go wrong?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

And I take a deep breath and I get real high

I don't like to write when life is not going well.  Kills my creativity, and I get a little whiny, and frankly, no one wants to read an entry on why someone's life sucks.  Well, I don't anyways, so why post one?  This is not a "Please, pity me" post, simply an explanation of why I haven't posted.  I'm not going into detail, I'm simply summing up, as if my readers care.  They may, they may not, but I at least feel an explanation is in order.

The last six months have been unpleasant.  First I worked 70 hour weeks for longer then I should have, then my job was abruptly gone.  Not dealing well with stress, I lost myself in games, as that is my equivalent of drinking myself into a stupor.  I managed to get a part-time job, thanks to my Dad, which did not pay enough nor was it particularly pleasant to do, especially considering that during my first week the company announced they would be closing the facility in 3 months.  3 months passed, I managed to make myself useful by just doing my job and trying to do it well, and not letting the juveniles I worked with make my life more difficult then it was.  A new job opportunity came up, I took a chance, and now I'm back to working at a rate of pay that I am more comfortable with, and life is looking pretty good again.

So, I am returning to this project, although some of my gaming habits are changing out of necessity to the schedule I work.  I work from 3 am to around 11 am most mornings.  My children get off the bus at 2:30 pm or so.  I go to bed around 7 pm.  That leaves me maybe 2-3 hours a day for gaming, if I don't have any other responsibilities that day.  I'm a husband and father, I usually have other responsibilities.  So, when I find time to game, I put some serious thought into what it is I'm going to play.

MMOs are out, for now.  It started with WoW being out, because the one character I play is final raid tier ready, but my guild raids at 8 pm at night my time.  Looking at my schedule above, you'll note this is impossible for me.  They're a wonderful guild, The Insiders, with some truly neat and good people in it, but alas, I just can't bring myself to level yet another character up just to be able to socialize with the rare member on during the hours I can play.  As for the rest of the MMOs, well, I was diving into Rift and leveling up a character there, but the other day, I came to a realization.  It was around 1 pm, EST, and the general chat was just full of some of the most ignorant, hateful stuff, and that's when it occurred to me.  This is a school day.  During school hours for the entirety of the US.  These horrid individuals, begging for attention, were adults.  I logged out in disgust.  Now, I am perfectly aware that not all adult gamers are like that.  But enough of us are that it has become something of a stereotype, and one people automatically assume of me when I mention that I'm a gamer and what sort of games I play.  So, I'm done with MMOs, for now.  LOTRO has a new expansion on the way with some major game changes, and even though they have some of the most hideous character animations in the business, it is a gorgeous game, and one I return to at least once a year.

I'm diving into some games that I have in my back catalog, and some I've picked up recently through sales.  I'm focusing on single player games and just working on playing through some.  In a couple of weeks I plan on buying Skyrim and letting that take over my gaming life, but until then expect to here my thoughts on whatever I'm playing.

It feels good to be in a place where I feel like writing again.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The dandelion sun is scorching

Not much of a post, but figured I'd put something up, if only because I've gone too long since my last update.  Life is hectic lately, crazy work hours, haven't been in the mindset to actually blog for fear of it turning into a rant.  Suffice it to say I've been working on a new project that I'm very excited about, sort of embracing the whole spooky New England style made famous but better authors then me.  More to come when I'm not working 70 hours a week.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A little glass vial?

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is everything I hoped it would be.  Which is good, considering it is one of the few games I paid full price for, on the week of their release no less.  No buyer's remorse this time.  I've got about 12 hours clocked in, and I'm not even done with all the tutorial quests yet.  I'll let that sink in for a moment.  My son watched me play it, when I was still doing some of the initial quests, and commented "I thought you said this was hard.  It doesn't look hard."  He's since learned otherwise.

It comes from an old school game mentality, and a distinctly Japanese game design.  It doesn't hold your hand, it throws you into the mix and expects you to read and learn through playing.  You will spend hours killing the same monster over and over to make a suit of armor that you will swap out for the next suit of armor that you spend hour upon hour grinding monsters to make.  It has never really caught on here in the West, and I can't say as I'm surprised.  The kind of gamer who will like it, has never heard of it, and the kind of gamer who has heard of it is too busy bitching about how hard it is and will then promptly go back to Call of Honor XVI. 

I'm pretty well done with MMO's for the time being.  I'm tired of the juveniles honestly.  Nothing ruins a game for me faster then children arguing over chat about ridiculous things with badly spelled words and no concept of punctuation.  Oh, and their answer to this complaint?  "Well, if you used voice chat, you wouldn't have to see my bad spelling."  Because I really want to have my game immersion destroyed by actually hearing you whine about ridiculous things and having no regard for the fact that I have children running around and for God's sake will you watch your damn mouth! . . . Sorry, sort of lost myself there.  So yeah, I love these games, but they are just no fun if you have no one to play them with, and every guild I've made an effort to track down and join has either been completely devoid of anyone to play with, or is dominated by juvenile asshats.  Right now I'm playing a couple of hours a week of LOTRO, but that has more to do with the fact that my wife plays than anything else.

So, it's single player games for me.  When I feel like playing anyways.  Been devoting myself a lot to the Sims 3 lately.  I never understood why the hardcore crowd disliked the game.  It's as much of a sandbox as you can get while still having some direction to it.  My Game of Thrones mod stopped working with CK2 during the most recent update, so that's a shame.  I think it's time to go through my back catalog and finish some games.  Torchlight 2 will be my next project, so expect some thoughts on that eventually, as I consider myself a bit of an ARPG connoisseur.  I wrapped up Fire Emblem on the 3DS not too long ago, and am now devoted to Etrian Odyssey 4.  If anyone has a 3DS and they fancy a nice strategy game, you could do worse then Fire Emblem.

Friday, March 29, 2013

And I'm thinking what a mess we're in, Hard to know where to begin

Writing's hard.  To be more specific, trying to write an original story that doesn't come off as trite, cliched or otherwise unoriginal is difficult.  I'm also trying to avoid a common trope that annoys me to no end, and that is turning the lead character into a sexpot.  Bond is the best example I can think of, but he's been doing it for years, so I can kind of forgive him that.  For example, based on an Amazon recommendation and buzz I've heard, I started reading the Iron Druid series.  I'm about, oh, 6 or so chapters in, and the main character has been accosted by one naked goddess, slept with another, and flirted with another supernatural girl, all of which are described in overtly sexual descriptions.  Now, I know, it's fantasy, but please, it's just kind of ridiculous to beat us over the head with the author's fantasy sex objects. 

Another issue I have with the book is the overabundance of the supernatural in it thus far.  Yes, urban fantasy is about the mundane and the supernatural existing together, but again, 6 chapters in and we've met a couple of werewolves, a vampire, 2 goddesses, a group of fae, and a coven of witches, all in the same small town.  That's not even including the main character.  They're supposed to be "hiding" but none of them seem to take pains to hide what they are.  At least the Sookie Stackhouse and Anita Blake books have the excuse "supernaturals have made themselves known to the world at large" in their favor, but even then they don't scream "Ooh, isn't this cool, look at all the supernatural critters!"  Maybe I'm just spoiled by the subtlety of Charles de Lint (and if you have no idea who he is and you consider yourself a fan of fantasy, or even writing as a whole, stop reading this and go find one of his short story collections to read.  Dreams Underfoot is a good place to start) who incorporates the mystical into the urban in a flawless manner while still keeping it mysterious.  Or even the Dresden Files, where each book we're shown a little more of the supernatural world, until by book 13 or so, we understand why there are so many supernaturals.

Needless to say, I won't be reading any more books in this series.

It's not the only culprit of these sort of mistakes though.  For every Stackhouse or Dresden, there are dozens of wannabes that just don't get why these books worked.  Hell, even the writer for the show True Blood doesn't seem to always grasp why the books worked.  (Seriously, wtf is up with Tara and why must we be tortured by her every season?) 

I'll also admit, perhaps there's a bias on my end.  I'm painfully aware that most of my generation and younger just aren't familiar with classic literature in the way they should be.  Nor are they as well versed in the English language as they should be.  I know I'm not perfect but I at least attempt to use proper grammar and even will check a dictionary or thesaurus from time to time.  So yes, perhaps my high standards are to blame for my dislike of trite, unimaginative rehashes.  But here's the thing, you won't find me trashing the Twilight novels.  It's an interesting plot, and it got young adults reading, something I consider extremely valuable.  I'm perfectly willing to look at something, and say "It's just not for me" without having to make up reasons to condemn it.  However, if there are valid reasons, then I will share them.  If I haven't read it, as is the case with Twilight, then I clearly can't condemn it.

Well, that's my rant for today.  I will mention that I'm scrapping the serialized story through blog idea, as it would raise too many copyright issues, but that doesn't mean I won't be writing.  I am discarding the idea I was working on though.  I don't want to be lumped in with books like Hounded.  So now, onto idea . . . well, I lost count, but it should be fun.  For me at least.