March of the Living

I consider myself well equipped to handle a zombie apocalypse – both mentally and physically. I have spent years preparing myself for the inevitability by reading great history books such as World War Z, playing long hours of zombie related shooters (Left 4 Dead one AND two!), keep to a good fitness routine, and have experimented with other simulators such as Resident Evil (games and movies),  and more realistic ones such as Project Zomboid. I am fully prepared for this eventuality. So when Psycochild recommended I pick up a copy of a new game on Steam, March of the Living, I was compelled. I had a free afternoon and figured this little title would consume about an hour of my time and just be another notch in my belt to prove my worthiness to face the impending apocalypse. Would hardly be worth my time, but hey, it’s not like pro Zombie killers like me would be the only ones playing the game.

10 days.

That’s all I can survive. That is actually my best. On average I think I am lasting 5 or 6 days.

I can’t stop playing.

This is Greg. Pretty handy to have all of those gun skills for an apocalypse, but it hardly has done me well.

March of the living gives an instant classic feeling. It feels familiar and comfortable as a side scrolling resource game with fun (yet simple) combat and is far more complex under the hood. The basic of the game is that you need to traverse a map to complete objectives. The main one is set when you start (find your girl and child) and new ones pop up as you go. Here is the map:

Pretty simple to follow, and as you can see in the top right there are three screens of this spider web. The fun part is it is randomly generated (so there is no learning the best route). Each of those lines is a true representative of distance – so the longer the line, the longer you will walk in that area. Players walk at (napkin math) of about 6km per hour, which is relatively fair according to Google. When you pick a new area you walk towards it and there are events that can happen mid travel (zombie fights, random encounters) but you are always guaranteed to have some sort of special event by the time you get to the end. I don’t want to use any spoilers but they are fitting of the setting and they do not always repeat. A choice one way one time may not have the same result the next. This is fitting of keeping it interesting and the random elements make sure you just can’t play out every scenario and know the best choices.

I will use one example of a text choice and how the environment does change. I won’t show the outcome so it’s not really a spoiler. When walking along…

The choices I often make (that sometimes really, really hurts) is because I am just so curious on what could happen. I play way too nice and am not nearly paranoid enough. The Traits are if you have the proper partner (you can meet people to travel with you) and I have had a few pop up for me advantageously.

After my choice (and outcome) the background changed to be appropriate for the encounter.

The heart of the game is resource management. If you get too hungry, you get fatigued faster, have temporary health loss and have combat penalties. If you get too fatigued, you get in game penalties and lose health faster. If you run out of health you die. Sleep is the fun one – because you rarely find safe places to sleep (unless you are in a city) and that becomes a mini game of watching the growl meter and deciding when to wake up (which does not happen instantly). It’s unsettling and uncomfortable and just one more minute of sleep… I found that you can push that meter pretty far but at the ‘S’ it is ALWAYS safe. So far.

My experience so far has lead me to these tips:

  • Health is the hardest thing to replenish. Meds are few and far between. I try to avoid getting hit at all costs
  • I rarely have run out of ammo on my play throughs (it has happened, but hasn’t been the main issue for me dying) so until you are dying consistently from lack of ammo I’d focus on keeping health high.
  • If you are low on health you cannot let hunger get to red – the temporary HP decrease will kill you
  • Food is scarce. Really scarce. I run out of food before all else for the most part. I have prioritized it.
  • I have lasted longer alone. With food being so scarce, the more bodies you have with you the more you have to feed. It makes fights way safer (and sleeping in dangerous areas as well because you can leave a lookout) but it really drains the resources.
  • On long journeys plan to be close to cities – they are very dangerous places but the best place to find supplies. So if you don’t get fortunate to find things you need on your normal travels, go to the city and take the necessary risks
  • If you are very hungry or very tired but near the end of a travel encounter, get there first. Sometimes the encounter is a safe place to rest, or a barter stand. Frustrating burning through my hunger meter to get sleep only to take 10 more steps and be in a safe town.

At the end (death) there is a short synopsis of your journey. My only negative on the game so far is that this scrolls very, very slow and you can’t scroll back and forth. I’d fix that with a mousewheel control.

I recommend this as a buy if you love zombies and aren’t turned off by the indie nature and graphics. It really is a very fun game. It is $15 right now so you have to judge if you think that is worth it, but I appreciate well designed efforts like this and it has proved a true challenge with excellent replay-ability. It is a challenge so don’t expect a cake walk. It is the zombie apocalypse, after all.

Project Zomboid

I am a gamer of discovery. In the past I would read a lot of things about games that were new to me – best first steps, tips and tricks, things to avoid (etc.) but as of late I have taken a less proactive approach and have just dove into games. Games should, by nature of their design, be somewhat intuitive – most have bread crumbs to teach you the basics and prepare you a bit better for what is to come. I find that good game design in many ways. While this is different than the good old days of tabletop gaming where you were forced to read (and re-read) written booklets of instructions I think it has moved gaming in general forward. One thing digital games have over their tabletop predecessors (besides written rules) is that sense of discovery. EQ was a champion of that and that is why there is so much love for it still.

Much to my surprise and pleasure, I won a version of Project Zomboid compliments of J3w3l over at Healing the Masses and let me tell you, that discovery feeling is alive and well in this fun and challenging independent survival thriller.

True to my introductory paragraph I jumped right in. There were several menu choices on the bottom of a sombering portrait of a man caring for his injured female companion that included BEGINNER, SURVIVAL, and SANDBOX (and more, those were the ones that jumped at me!). Free from delusions of grandeur I selected the “beginner” button and my adventure began. The first thing the game narrates to me, even before character select, that this is the story of how I died. Right off the bat that sets an expectation that long term living is probably not in the works. As I get into game, I quickly start to think otherwise as I plan how I will survive yet another zombie apocalypse setting.

the best graphics in the game, but you aren’t playing this game for graphics

True to my hoarding roots, my home is solid complete with curtains over windows (that close, to hide from intruders) and plenty of storage space. I start methodically looting the houses in a radar pattern around mine and quickly stocking up on EVERYTHING. Clothing, food, weapons. At this pace, I quickly feel that this story won’t be about how I died, but instead, how I lived a life of comfort and luxury while the world burned around me. The good news is that I learned a LOT at this pace (and recommend everyone spend an hour on beginner learning the loot systems, interactivity of objects, needs and how they are met, storage and inventory, etc.) I also recommend you kill a zombie or two on beginner. It’s not easy. Yet, a butter knife makes for a surprisingly effective zombie weapon. Spoons not so much (although they are designated as a weapon category in inventory.)

After an hour of beginner-dom, I felt compelled to face the apocalypse as a true survivor – in “survivor” mode. First off, I started off with way less in my house (and much more realistic) and was forced to leave my home sooner than I originally planned.  My direct neighbors house was inconveniently locked as were the windows, but I had the option to shatter a window which I did after scanning to ensure no Zombies were nearby. I injured myself crawling through the window and quickly learned how to bandage and perform basic first aid. This house had a lot of goodies in it, including beginner books (farming and carpentry) that when clicked on to “read” started slowly scrolling through a counter – 10 of 220 pages. Estimating it would take 15-20 minutes to read I thought it best to continue searching the house. I went upstairs, opened the bathroom and got attacked. My friendly neighbors were zombified and hiding in their bathroom and fighting one with a baseball bat was hard enough on beginner, fighting two with just silverware equipped proved extremely difficult. I did prevail however I had to bandage four wounds on my body and was labelled as “severely injured”. By the time I got back to my home base I was “feeling queasy” and I bled out shortly afterwards. Total survival time – 5 hours, 15 minutes. (not actual time, it is accelerated in game.) Perhaps Beginner mode made me a bit too comfortable with my surroundings.

No matter, a good learning experience! I start up another game and do a better job with visual and sound clues when clearing the homes around me (that are unlocked) and restocking my home base. I get more and more comfortable and start taking less with me so I can carry more back. Houses have far less in them than in beginner and I am venturing further and further from home for little gain. Perhaps waiting it out isn’t the best course of action. I find a grocery store and decide to use that as a second base. Since I haven’t seen another human being (I need to check for multiplayer, or even human NPCs) I decide to make a connection of several bases. Makes sense if I get flushed out of one I can move to another. The plan never happens. I alert a couple zombies and they are fast, so I start running. Turn a corner, pick up a few more. I am too far from home and actually cut off from it, so I frantically try to open doors and windows on buildings – with no luck. It takes a few seconds to TRY and open a locked window, so everytime I pause  to try the zombies get closer. The more I run, the more noise I make, the bigger the horde gets. On top of all of this, in my frantic running, I am lost. Legitimately, and I have a dozen or so zombies chasing me. The town is too populated, I am in too much trouble, so I do exactly what every person does in a horror movie that the viewers say ” I would never do that”. I ran into the woods.

Running, still lost, I see many indicators on the screen. Severely panicked. Thirsty. Hungry. Exposed to too much heat. Still, I keep running, and running, and eventually I am in a clearing in the woods and no zombies around. None chasing me, either, that I can see. I am alive, and safe, for now. A quick check of my health and I have a few scratches on arm and forearm. One is infected. I use bandages to cover them up and take inventory. One bottle of water and one apple. Thankfully, the game allows you to consume food and drink in 1/4, 1/2 or all so being smart I take the 1/4 route for each and that is enough to satiate the menu indicators. The two I can’t get rid of are tired, and scared. I need shelter.

I walk through the woods and eventually stumble onto a cabin. It’s locked. I smash a window and crawl through (and cut myself). I need to find a better way of getting into locked homes. My other two bandages are now classified as “dirty” and not only am I sick, but fevered. This cabin has no disinfectant or medical supplies so I try sleep to combat my illness. I need it anyway. I pick 10 hours and drift off.

I wake up worse off than ever, eat and drink what I have left, and am severely sick. I need medicine. I am so sick that my health bar is slowly going down in a constant matter. I walk back in the general direction of where I remember the town to be and find a trailer park. If I don’t get medicine I am going to die in the next 10 minutes (real minutes, not game minutes) everything is locked and I have to smash windows to gain entrance, and I keep getting minor injuries. None of the three bathrooms I searched had medical supplies, and poor old Harold Ramsey fails to survive the zombie apocalypse (as he was told he would). Survival time? 1 day, 18 hours, 47 minutes.

I have a lot of work to do.

This game is a great experience. You can’t just hack and slash your way through and there is a depth and complexity I haven’t completely uncovered. The pacing is slow, but that is a nice change from today’s games. In the spirit of paying it forward, I am going to give away 3 copies of the game on Friday from people who comment below*. They will be randomized from all commentators on this post but I do ask you to respond to a simple question. It’s the Zombie Apocalypse, who is your partner survivalist? You can choose anyone from the world! Thanks J3w3l for the game and introduction, and I hope others that I gift it to will enjoy it as much as I have.

*via Steam

The Walking Dead Season Two

Better late than never, my segments of reviewing games long out of the minds of the hip kids who grab them on launch day is now called “Fashionably Late”. I have a laundry list of games to play that are outdated in the  world of instant news and updates – but I’ll play them, and I’ll share things that stick out about them. Rest assured Fashionably Late posts have nothing to do with fashion – a glimpse of my wardrobe would prove that.

I was a huge fan of The Walking Dead, Season One and I watched and waited closely for the second season. I purposely didn’t buy it when it came out because I fundamentally don’t agree with the episode system. It’s a neat novelty and I get why they do it for production value, but really, it is just one game that is released over time. I enjoy playing games on my own time and am fine waiting longer to get my hands on it. Netflix is great for this too where I can fire off back to back to back episodes of all sorts of shows that are a season behind.  I purposely didn’t wait this long but it fell of my radar (somehow) until Izlain mentioned it in a post. Of course it was on sale on Steam (isn’t everything?) so I had to buy.

I crushed the game over the weekend in a few play sessions. It didn’t disappoint. Warning, below this picture are some possible (but mild) spoilers. Read on at your own risk if you haven’t played!

This image captures a lot of the spirit

I love the above picture of Clementine. It captures her growth from the first season through the second in a blood-splattering sort of way. I have a nine year old son so for me I tried to play the game as much as I could as if it was through his eyes – how would he cope? What decisions would he make? This made the experience even more personal for me. I was engaged, I cared for what was happening to the people involved, and the reintroduction of certain old characters was also nice to see.

The Good:

  • Believable Walking Dead world. I am a fan of the tv show, the comics, and season one and this game captures the “world” of the Walking Dead really well.
  • Solid story. Not too twisty and gimmicky while being relatable.
  • Introduction of new and mostly interesting characters.
  • Diversity of characters – different races, backgrounds, accents and style. Reflective of the real world.

Needs Improvement:

  • Too many characters left not enough personal investment in them.
  • If I had a weeks rations for every non-believable interaction from adult to child Clem could survive the apocalypse. (A woman telling Clem that the baby she is pregnant with isn’t her husbands? Sending an 11 year old into a room by herself to “scout” for walkers, while two adults scout the other room? Reaching to Clem to make decisions for the group as the deciding vote? Basically anytime someone starts their story chain with “I can’t believe I am telling a kid this” or ending it with “Clem is right”) There are a lot of examples of reaching decisions that were difficult to believe. Often.
  • False sense of “choice matters”. The characters that are going to die are going to die no matter what you do. (Except one).
  • Most of the exploration that occurs is just filler and pushing time out. There really isn’t much of a game here.

The part I struggle with this game is whether it is a game at all. The QuickTime events aren’t challenging and repeat until you are successful, and always only have one outcome. The walk around and click hotspots that are pre-identified don’t add a lot to the experience and just feel like a time filler. The only choices you make, the verbal responses, don’t impact the end result at all – but it does impact how people treat you (and how, in turn, you feel about them). This is just an observation. The experience is still really solid. I am just torn if the QuickTime really adds to it all in the end, or if there was more focus on expanding the conversations and storylines and skip out on the detracting items if it could be an even more rewarding and enriching experience. Either way, it is a very solid game from start to finish and maybe I will be less Fashionably Late for season three.

I haven’t played The Wolf Among Us yet but am queuing that up. Soon as it goes on sale on steam.

Player Servers

Is SOE trying to be a company for the people suddenly?

The idea of separate server rulesets is not new in MMOs with PVP, RP, PVE and other combinations but they don’t go far enough to offer real player choice. While not released (and just being discussed) I am liking the thought that SOE will give playing players a vote on specific rulesets – and they will create those servers to play on.

I still believe in taking it to the next level and allowing MMO players to rent (and pay for) servers with moddable rulesets.

This works well for FPS games and should for MMOs as well.Tesh and I bandied about the thought of it way back in 2008 and he on his blog in 2010.

First Person Shooter server rentals are good and hosts can customize map rotations, community rules, how many players per side (etc.) They are normally rented by clans or guilds and its great – the clan/guild provides the base community and the server populates (or not) based on their choices and base participation. Good servers with fair rules and fun communities tend to be busy. Even “asshole” style teabagfests find solid participation. Why?

Because servers attract different types of people that can play their favorite games the way they want to, and the way it is accepted by the particular community they agreed to join. The premise makes sense. Let people adjust the way they want it. Enough players will flock to what they want to play. Everyone is happy. Publishers get sub fees AND server rental fees, or some sort of combination.

The bullet points from my 2008 post are still valid. I’ll rehash them here. They are WoW centric (and a bit snarky at the time written) but really, insert any MMO acronym and it still makes sense.

Keep public servers still, offer this as a secondary market. All private servers are still hosted and controlled by Blizzard and all core mechanics stay the same.

  • At any given time in your WoW career, 95% of the world is unavailable to you anyway. You are either too high of level, or too low, or haven’t grinded X random raid boss 100 times to get the gear to go onto the next boss.
  • Could create a persistant world – Guild and individual housing? Why not? You don’t need 20,000 plots of land per server. Since it is a smaller and more dedicated playerbase Blizzard could create the tools to impact the world and leave your mark. World events? You wait until you have your players online then fire them off – every player gets to experience it. Think guaranteed Gates of AQ event. How many got to participate in that? NPC’s can remember you are the hero (as you would be in this realm) and not just chat tag %t “is a hero of the realm!” until the next person grinds the faction, or turns in the quest.
  • No Chuck Norris – unless you want that. The Chuck Norris type spammers (who stopped fitting on my ignore list 3 years ago) can all migrate to their own private server and spam away, patting each other on the back along the way, without annoying a single person.
  • End to Gold Farmers – Since I have to privately invite you to my server, and flag your account, no more fighting for resource nodes with thousands of bots and illegal farmers. Yes, you still have to go collect the items (preserving the ever so important time sink) but if you have to clear 6 mobs to get to a node, you don’t have to worry about jerkoff_001 swooping in and stealing it right as you kill the last one.
  • Characters on private servers can be ported to other private servers (not public). If I have a private server, and decide to close it down, everyone on that server still keeps their characters, items, everything – and can go to a new one. Conversely, if we meet a new friend and want to invite them along into our private little happy world – they don’t have to start from scratch if they have already been on a private server, they can port their characters over and play.
  • Wow isn’t really an MMO anyway (once you exclude the inflated-broken AH) and is just a group experience. Why not give me the choice on who gets to play within that group experience?

We could add a lot to that list that are smart and fun ways to enjoy the games, such as vanilla rule sets (etc.) and activating expansions only if the server renters want to, and when they want to.

Why force people onto the same rules when no one can agree which ones are good? Besides a single shard game (such as EVE) are there really any valid arguments against smaller, more specific, tighter knit communities on more varied rulesets? Let’s give up the entire running accepted illusion of “massively” and just let them be the multiplayer online games they really are.

Zombie Defcon Orange

I like zombies. When I checked my tags I was sad to see that I actually only have 4 posts that talk about Zombies. And while I have a Zombie category, I typically only categorize by design house.  Of course, I did change my tag system to a series of misguided, oft-not-funny, sarcastic remarks since tags are rarely used (on here, anyway). The search is all powerful!

Zombies have made for great gaming, and they provide ample fodder for gamers and guns and survival. Some are getting sick of Zombies and the glut of existing and upcoming titles surrounding them – the more the merrier I say! That is odd to say as Zombies are never merry, and yes, all mention of Zombies deserve capitalization. I digress. Anyway – my dream, self designed MMO is a fresh take on the genre and while it has only been built daydreaming about the possibilities Zombies have a place in my heart. World War Z (the book) was a very cool ‘historical’ look at what happened during a realistic outbreak. It’s a recommended read. The movie was a complete and utter waste of a good brand name but still worth watching if you like Zombie movies. Just don’t expect it to reflect the book in any single way or form.

I’m pretty upset about that.

Imagine my delight when I saw on Kotaku through a unified news feeder that the USA army has a real plan for fighting a Zombie apocalypse and there is a direct link to it on Scribd (that I just linked to to save you an extra click). Of course, it was created as a useful training tool for writing attack plans and read the disclaimer because there is no reason to get upset that the USA government “spent money on this”. People will probably get more upset that they don’t actually look at the ZA as a legitimate threat. But hey, at least they account for magical zombies from all sorts of sources.

It’s a fun read if you are into that sort of thing.


My Influential 15

One of my favorite blogs to visit is The Ancient Gaming Noob (TAGN) and he recently posted an Influential 15  list – started by another blogger and other sites are also playing along. The parts I read indicated not too many rules, but just do not overthink it – only take 15 minutes, and list them out.

This sounds like fun. I am going in chronological order!

Mario Bros (arcade) (1985)

I spent most of my allowance money playing this game with two of my best friends at the local bowling alley. It was close enough to our school that we could run there at lunch breaks, and always went right after school as well – but just for 20 minutes before racing home. This introduced me to the side scrolling platform [honorable mentions: Ghost and Goblins, Castlevania, Bionic Commando]

Hardball (c64) (1987)

Two teams – the red, power hitting team and the blue, speedy team. That was it in this baseball game. My brother and I played for hours at home – nice to not have to be at the arcade. (I always got stuck with the blue team). [Honorable mention: Madden (I still buy it every few years]

Police Quest (PC) (1987)

My first foray into the Sierra games series (King’s quest, Space Quest, etc.) and it was always a weekend event at one of my friend’s houses who had it. I think it took us 6 months to complete, since we only had limited weekend time (we mostly played outside – kids those days!)[honorable mention – Maniac Mansion]

Street Fighter (Arcade, SNES) (1987)

Another arcade favorite the one on one bragging rights was a blast. Learning the combos, fighting friends (and arcade enemies) for the right to stay on the machine for the next challenger… flipping a coin for the left or right hand side. All sorts of home field advantages. [Honorable mention: Mortal Combat]

Star control 2 (PC) (1992)

Exploration, adventure, discovery. Space. Has anyone come close since? I am avoiding throwing my money at Star Citizen yet watching it closely. That is a completely separate blog post. [Honorable Mention: Wing Commander. If only for the space.]

Doom (PC) (1993)

We had huge contests at university with Doom – inter dorm rivalries. My philosophy class suffered fiercely. I made a philosophical argument about augmented reality to the prof and he BFG’d me. University was so cool. [Honorable mention: Half Life]

NHL 94 (SEGA) (1993)

Oh Sega hockey, with the one move that would score 100% of the time.. that was up to you do defend properly. Both ends of the rink, there was that ONE move. Yet it was still awesome. Plus bleeding heads.

X com (PC) (1994)

Turn based mastery. This is on many ‘best of ever” lists, so not going to explain its full awesome-ness. Many have explained it better than I ever could. Xcom is the perfect example of a game you loved but refuse to play it again. I have it through steam. It sucked to relive it – but awesome the first time around. We are not conditioned to accept failing the first X missions before we have a chance. (see what I did there?) [Honorable mention – Civ 1 – bit of a stretch, but very turn based]

Baldur’s Gate (PC) (1998)

I had played a lot of Pen and Paper games and this one reminded me the most of them. I hadn’t played a lot of D&D at the time  and this was my first real foray and experience into that. I don’t even remember if I won or what happened in the game – I just remember the hours spent hunched in the darkness… in amazement. Just one more encounter. One more.

Rainbow Six (PC) (1998)

The AI could be buggy as hell when you were planning your rescues, but this was an AMAZING shooter – one shot and you are dead, get caught/spotted and the hostages are dead. Great premise and superbly executed at the time. You could do many missions in many different ways and had the choice of your own path. The planning and thinking part was as exciting for me as the executions. And oh yes, permadeath! [Honorable mention: Counter Strike]

Everquest (PC) (1999)

The MMO game changer that has spawned 100 clones, for better or for worse (often better, jaded vets may argue worse. It doesn’t even matter anymore. It was awesome and really kickstarted the genre.) It has ruined MMOs for me since, but that is also because of the testserver play environment (hint: community). The rose colored glasses often adorned!

Sims (PC) (2000)

Sims the original was the first game that I could get my girlfriends to play. And my non-gaming roommates. It was the first time I realized games could be for everyone. Then I invented the Wii. (or should have, at least). All that being said, I am pretty sure the things my girlfriend at the time did to the Sims (or tried to do) made me realize that maybe she wasn’t the one. Sicko. May have saved my life.

Dark Age of Camelot (PC) (2001)

My second MMO I played the heck out of and my first real PVP experience was also amazing. I also played on the testserver (Pendragon) and the strength of the community there really improved the overall experience. Sadly, game developers have learned that test servers make bad for the quick hitting types of testing they want with enough sample size, and they don’t really exist anymore. The lesson they should have learned is that smaller, more dedicated communities make for stronger ties. Another post. DAOC taught me to embrace PVP and how humans always beat AI on experience – always.

World of Warcraft (PC) (2004)

What to say? The most successful MMO ever made took an inaccessible genre and made it easy for everyone to participate. While I have spent my fair share of time arguing WoW has hurt the MMO space in many ways, you cannot argue against its influence. I still go back every expansion, do the theme park rides, /hug and /hi to my friends still playing, and then out again.  I think the next MMO Blizzard makes is going to say a lot about what they have learned from WoW. I’m intrigued.

Battlefield 2142 (PC) (2006)

The multiplayer FPS I judge all other FPSs against. It was great. It was better than great – it was awesome. The kits, the vehicles, everything. COD always felt too twitchy and gamey in comparison (even the DICE successors did) and I started playing more strategic, slower paced shooters afterwards. BF2142 was just the perfect balance for *me*. [Honorable Mention: Project Reality]

That’s It!

There is my list! Crazy, and a *bit* sad that the most recent game launch on my list is 8 years old already, but influence is influence. As I re-read this there were a few I wanted to add (RTS such as Warcraft -or- Command & Conquer) but I decided to keep it pure – the ones that spoke to me first. I’m sure as I read through other’s lists I’ll have many an “aha!” moment. I hope mine brought along some positive smiles and memories!

Sweet, Sweet Naivety.

My son LOVES hockey. He is 7. He plays twice a week, been in weekend tournaments, and when he gets off the bus after school stays outside and shoots pucks at the net until we drag him in. It’s nice seeing him enjoy something so much at his age. It’s something that is easy to support. We’ve gone to several local Junior A games and he just went to his first NHL game this weekend. 20,000 cheering in a rink is awe-inspiring when you are young.

He is convinced he is going to make the NHL. Hockey has been something we have really enjoyed together.

At the last game, I realized something. When the jumbo-tron inevitably start running a ‘Make some noise’ segment (like the video above) and faux measures the crowd response until (usually) at some point the decibels increase to such a level that it explodes the screen – that is a common, 3-6x a night occurrence at these events.

I’ve never seen my son yell, scream, and cheer so loud – all the while staring at the jumbo-tron. And when they reached the peak, he was so proud that he was part of making that happen.

He thinks it is real.

It didn’t even cross my mind he would, but why shouldn’t he? I wish I would take more time to try and see the world through his eyes. Unfortunately, like Santa, the Easter Bunny (et al), just another thing on the list of ‘bound for disappointment someday’ that I am not looking forward to explaining.

This year the most powerful game I played, hands down, was TellTale Games the Walking Dead. I was emotionally invested. Sure, some of the quirky puzzles didn’t quite fit, but the game really fit the genre (I have read all the comics, and also watch the show for full disclaimer). About half way through the game, awe inspired, I ruined it for myself. I made a choice and afterwards I was so curious about what would have happened if I made a different choice.

I went to Google.

Regretted it since.

to be polite here. =)>

My first play through of TWD was me cheering at a zombi-fied jumbotron. It was exhilarating – I felt freedom and amazement! What characters! Great Plot! I am having impact on the game and world around me – and – what? Google says what? That my choices really have zero impact on the overall storyline? That no matter what I do, Pam leaves? and I get bit regardless of what choices I make? Santa ISNT REAL?!? Why are you telling me this!?

Yes, it was my own fault – I was already mapping what I was going to try and do on my second playthrough. I didn’t play again, and while there was a certain satisfaction in knowing I did my gut reaction and stuck with it for the entire game, I was sad that all I could really effect was how people thought of and perceived me in game (theirs and my word choices) and that the plot was out of my hands. I could only impact  my personality while getting there – I was getting there regardless.

One of those rare times where I would have rather not known.

Zombie Game : [insert verb or adjective here] Dead [insert verb or adjective here], etc.

Dead Island launched this week – a supposed cross between Fallout 3 and L4D. I haven’t purchased it yet (waiting for the sale) but very curious how this turns out.

When I started doing research on the game, I came accross this video:

Dead Island Trailer

Couple of initial thoughts on that.

1) Dead child (albeit Zombie child – although that isn’t really clear until watching the video) – kind of risky. At the same time, it really illicited emotions from me that game trailers typically don’t. The combination of the reverse frame sequence, soft music, and visuals was very effective of portraying the struggle and loss of life. Very impressive that way.

Still effective in the reverse of the reversed version:

Reverse of the Reverse Trailer

2) Being a big fan of the often mindless (did I say ‘often’ – meant ‘always!’) zombie genre, the video gave me hope that the game itself could be a well placed adult oriented adventure of survival and horror to really sharpen up the genre. See: Dead [Rising], [Left 4] Dead,

Initial reviews explain the trailer to be misleading in that regard, and the game is plagued with a few notable hiccups (my pet peeve from those reports: searchable items (luggage, garbage bins) that respawn after time, making ‘limited resources’ actually unlimited).

I’ll probably end up getting it at some point, will wait for a patch and some more reviews. Anyone have personal experience with this title?


PS – Bonus – the family in the video is actually in the game, so you can find their fate. (*spoilers on the video link*)

Family from Dead Island Trailer



Just before launch I made a post about a few bothersome things we would face at launch. I just entered the T3 lands and figured I would review to see how things are going.

1) Gravitation to EvC – still an issue, as I found the T2 and T3 scenarios popping the most for me on my scenario nights (I fly around and queue all pairings)

2) Tanks have worked out as a problem as we discussed on the order side – the Order tanks aren’t as yummy as the Destro ones and they (again, in my experience and on my server) are typically outnumbered 2:1 tank wise with their counterparts. Good news is Mythic is going to pop those characters back in as soon as possible, as free content – no timeline, unfortunately.

3) Cross Pairing Scenario Queues – They are now in! I have been bugging them for the past 6 months in beta (as have others) and because of how quick they got this out, methinks they had the capability all along – and just wanted to see how things played out at release. Mythic I love you, at the bare minimum, for this alone.

4) Destro population imbalance – held true as well. No fix announced for this yet, but I am sure it is on the top of their minds as the whiney-whinertons are out in full force – as they should be. Everyone called this as would-be-happening and while I appreciate being cautious to see how it played out, let’s hope they already have a solution in the wings they are getting ready to launch it. Hopefully it is part [2] above, with the speed of part [3].

On a side note: this is the longest ‘between posts’ since I started the blog, and I apologize for that. I saw the good (bad?) end of a bottle of The Belvanie awaiting my red-eye flight home from a working weekend in Vancouver. Needless to say, two days later, I am still feeling the pain. I don’t recover quite as well as I used to. Once the cobwebs are all out and I am fully healed, I’ll be sure to grant more of my enlightened wisdom upon you all. [sarcasm alert]

On a second side note: Good to see OZ posting again at KTR. He may deny this to save face, but I became a guild member with Oz in EQ on the testserver in The Grove. He and his band of merry men/women showed me what a guild of like minded people can do to an online experience – turn a tag into a home. Sorry for the off topic pingback Oz, but I was wondering where you went. He covers a topic that as an older gamer I am faced with every day – time value. Go check it out. Just stay away from the scotch while you are reading it.