Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 2014 Play Log - Day 22 to 28

22 - I wasn't planning on being up late, but these things have a way of getting out of hand. I got into playing the next chapter in Killzone: Shadowfall and just couldn't stop until I got to the end of it. It took longer than it should have because either I missed a prompt somewhere on using my Owl or the game glitched out. I basically thought I was following the correct objective, but when I got there, I wasn't able to complete the objective or have the directional beacon show me where I should go next. So, I had to restart a couple of times and try a different approach. Add in the fact that this level felt like I was reliving Dead Space all over again and I just wanted it to be over with.

23 - Since I got little sleep from Killzone-ing into the wee hours the night before, I'm turning in early tonight. Can always game tomorrow. Oh, but I did finish my PS3 game shelf. Not a bad job, if I do say so myself for someone with the carpentry skills of a jellyfish. *Update*: I found it impossible to turn off the laptop without playing at least a few minutes of FTL first. And yes, I made a new ship, The Enterprise, with Kirk, Spock, and Scotty as crew members. Sadly, Spock didn't make it back to the ship before the space station he was trying to save people on exploded.

24 - The first thing I saw on the Internet today was a tweet from a news feed announcing that Harold Ramis had died. I was suddenly living in a time when one of the Ghostbusters was gone. Yeah, I know, it's not really fair to tie a man's life to a character he played in two movies, but as someone who never knew him in person, it's all I have. And, I hope, I think he wouldn't have been upset at being typecast by me - Ghostbusters is one of my all-time favorite movies. Of the four Ghostbusters, Ramis was the one who mostly faded into the background of Hollywood. Murray, Aykroyd, and Hudson have been in enough films and TV shows that we've seen them age, but my mental image of Ramis was always the thin, black haired Dr. Egon Spengler. And how could someone so young be dead? All I knew is that I wanted my evening's play session to honor his Ghostbuster legacy as best I could. So, I started playing the Ghostbusters game for the Xbox 360 from 2009. Unlike most movie license tie-in's that drift to the bottom of the quality scale, this one was very well done. Maybe it was because it wasn't tied to the release of any Ghostbuster revival so it didn't have to be out by a certain date. Or maybe it's that it was written (at least in part) by the original team of Ramis and Aykroyd, and that the original actors did their own voice parts. Either way, the game has given me a chance to spend some time with Egon/Ramis and for that I am grateful. Losing a piece of your history, especially a very happy part, is never easy.

25 - I decided to stay with the Ghostbusters game for awhile, mainly because this is one of those games where you need to remember a lot of unique button mappings in order to play effectively. It's also a very fun game! There's a surprising amount of dialog/banter between the actors (you play as their new intern) that is genuinely amusing. The ghost and particle effects are very good too. I will say it's not the easiest game to control - there are times when I'm trying to get a ghost over a trap and can't manage it very well. I also think I must be playing it Lego-style - I don't think I can "die" at this level (casual), and that's fine by me.

26 - The busting of ghosts continues. I'm currently in the New York Public Library level (which was the demo level) and it's interesting to see that the designers wrote a history for the librarian ghost from the movie. Apparently, she was a doctor even, but not the medical kind, who felt she needed to "protect" certain rare books. Someone named The Collector tried to use her to get to these books and when that didn't work out, he killed her and that's why her ghost haunts the library. The game is still playing well enough, but I did have one very frustrating area where I was supposed to pull beams out of an archway. While Ray kept telling me to get on with it, I tried to figure out what it wanted me to do. I could grab the beams and "wrangle" them, but they wouldn't move. There was also an artifact somewhere in the corner of the room, but every time I got close to it, the lights would go out and the "night vision" on the goggles wouldn't come on. I finally figured out that there was a space behind the bookcase in front of me (which was pitch black) and found the artifact. When I went back over to the beams, I tried again and this time, since I started farther away from them, I was able to pull them out! I guess the playtesters never tried pulling the beams from only close to the archway.

27 - More ghosts. It's actually starting to feel like I'm trapping them. Early on, the game helps you out a lot and you begin to sort of feel unnecessary. But during a fight in the museum, I caught a number of Civil War ghosts almost without any assistance.

28 - I had originally planned on playing the demo of FFXII-2:LR (which I downloaded mostly to test my second-hand 360's connecting to Xbox Live - I'd had some issues yesterday) but when I went to pick the demo off the dashboard, I accidentally started up Ghostbusters instead. So, that was the game I finished the week up with. I think I'll have to GameFAQs and see how long this one is. It's times like these that I wish games were more like movies in length.

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 2014 Play Log - Day 15 to 21

15 - This week is not starting off on a good note. Didn't feel well most of the day, so very little gaming. I did try Netflix on the 3DS and was pleasantly surprised on how good it is (especially after seeing how bad the Youtube app was). There's something comforting about being able to watch a real movie on a little screen late at night. Computer issues still keeping my main system offline. Do I buy a new system I don't really need or fix the one I have? Leaning toward buying a new computer.

16 - Have to say things are getting worse. One of our Shibas, Keiko, got her leg twisted while we were trying to brush her. Nothing worse than thinking that you might have to have your dog put down because you broke her leg by accident. She's had issues with her legs before and I've taken her to the vet for it only to have her have a miraculous recovery in the doctor's office. (Anything to get the heck out of there, I suppose.) She wasn't doing much better by the evening, so it's definitely a vet visit in the morning. Computer plans on indefinite hold.

17 - Well, a partial sigh of relief. Nothing broken or dislocated, but probably a torn ligament. At nearly 13, surgery for her is out of the question, but she was given extra pain meds and the hope is she will recover from it. As the day went on, she was moving around more. She actually surprised me a few times by "disappearing" from where I thought she was - I was so used to her just sitting in one place because she didn't want to risk hurting. She's also eating and drinking more, which is a good sign. Game wise, I did play some more Mario & Luigi Dream Team and actually got to the dream parts...after 2 hours of play time! I can't say I'm very good at these games where you have to time jumps to either do more damage or avoid attacks. I think that was one of the reasons I stopped playing the SNES Mario RPG game back in the day. Thanks to a Fry's President's Day sale on a 120gb SSD drive, I've decided to not give up on Sabertooth - although I am going to re-skin him with a new Cooler Master case. That RaidMAX case is falling apart. Also, I put in a little time on FTL on my laptop, Aragorn. Good game to play on it, but I think I really need to geek-up the laptop. Way too plain for a gamer.

18 - Doge Watch continues. She'll go through stages where she won't want to move hardly at all, then, like last night before bed, I followed her around the house three times before she was ready to get into her crate/bed. I'd be happy for her to sleep outside the crate, but it's been her "home" since she was two months old (well, not that specific crate, but a crate nonetheless). I can't help but cringe every time she moves thinking she will start screaming again. Pretty nerve wracking. I did finally give up the idea of spending $2,000 on a new computer. If I can get Sabertooth up and running again in a new box, I'll have more than enough computer power to play my Steam games. In the meantime, I played more FTL on Aragorn and am really enjoying it. I've covered five sectors and only have one crewman (crew-woman, actually). I'm not sure how you replenish your crew members or use the droids, but I will say it's a tense game. I keep expecting every fight to be my last. Some sort of bug creature got on board and I thought I could kill it by opening all the doors, but I guess they can live in a vacuum. I can definitely see how people got addicted to playing this - very absorbing! And I needed some game time last night to chill from worrying about Keiko so much.

19 - First night where I felt things were getting back to normal...except for my computer, of course. Keiko is doing much better walking around - she's such a trooper! I bought a new case, a big red LED fan, and a PCIe network card for building up my "new" computer, but only played on the laptop last night. After hearing so much about it, I finally played enough Spelunky to get past the demo. At first I didn't think it worked with a controller (it didn't seem to recognize the ancient Logitech gamepad I plugged in), so I just used the keyboard. Not something I would recommend to anyone. I'll give them credit by assigning U/D/L/R to the arrow keys and not the usual WASD, though, but having jump and attack on Z and X was a little hard to get used to. According to the Steam page, it does fully support controllers, so next time I play it, I'll make sure I have my Xbox controller plugged in.

20 - (Gee, I thought you'd forgotten all about me.) Sorry, Raven, just had a lot of other stuff going on. (Yeah, I saw. I'm glad you're puppy is doing better.) Thanks, but she's hardly a puppy anymore. (Shush. They're all puppies to me.) Anyway, I see you found that inn we skipped over before. (Oh! It was driving me crazy! I knew there was an inn around with a couple of bangers in it and...) Excuse, me? Bangers? (Yeah. You know, those things over NPC's heads that look like exclamation points to show they have quests? Don't you programmer types call those "bang" symbols?) Well, yes, we do. Makes sense then, I suppose. (Thanks. So glad you agree. As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted, I just got a few quests done there. Nothing major. Just took down some brownies, sprites, and threshes. I'll tell ya, those threshes are not fun. And I made it to level 15, too.) Congratulations, just 30 or more levels to go! (I hate you.)

21 - A quiet end to another week. I did forget to mention that a new computer has been ordered - the impasse has been broken! In the end, CyberPower PC had a really good deal (free shipping and a 5% discount) coupled with a "downgrade" of video cards. My original pick, the GTX 770 is something like almost $400, way more than I usually spend on a video card. However, a just released model, the GTX 750Ti will give me more than enough graphics power. If you figure from my previous system, I'll have doubled my processor power, memory, video performance, and O/S disk drive space. Not a bad deal, but I'll still be on the laptop for a couple of weeks. Takes time for them to build it. Meanwhile, I ventured out into the perils of space with FTL some more...and promptly lost my ship. I had gotten my one-woman ship up to sector 5,  but subsequent attempts haven't even gotten me out of the second sector in one piece.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

February 2014 Play Log - Day 8 to 14

8 - Other than a few minutes of Super Mario 3D Land, no gaming today, but we (ie, me, wife, brother, bro-in-law, sis-in-law, nephew) did manage to get tickets to San Diego Comic Con 2014! About 5 months until the madness begins.

9 - As part of my "24 Games to Play in 2014" plan, I started a little bit of Mario & Luigi Dream Team...and fell asleep on the couch! Ok, in my defense it was Sunday afternoon, the house was quiet, and I was playing a game about sleeping (well, one of the characters was sleeping), so I don't think you can really blame me. This is actually a problem I've had for years - falling asleep while playing handheld games. I used to fall asleep on Pokemon all the time. That was fairly easy to do, since the game doesn't require anything of your character if you just stand still. I don't have this problem with console gaming since (from what I've read), your body creates chemicals in your system that keep you awake in response to your eyes seeing bright lights. In a way, this explains why people watch TV (or play games) long into the night and say they can't sleep - it's a self-perpetuating cycle. Anyhow, I played a bit more later in the evening and stayed awake long enough to start to get a little annoyed at the game. I forgot that a number of the reviewers of the game criticized its almost preschool level of hand-holding. This is one of those games where people say that Nintendo must believe their gamers are idiots. I honestly don't need a tutorial on using a "Jump" button, guys! I want to stick with it long enough to see some of the cool things that happen in Luigi's dreams, but I doubt I'll go all the way with this one. I've also read that the game can take up to 60 hours! For a handheld game, that's really too long. My late night gaming was starting the second episode of The Wolf Among Us. According to the achievements, I'm about 4/5th's of the way through, so I'll do a full write up on it tomorrow after I finish it.

10 - As expected, I finished the second episode of The Wolf Among Us. On the whole, I like this type of game distribution - getting a 2 hour or so chunk at a time. It means I'm much more likely to finish the game. However, I don't think I particularly like this game. I'm not sure if it's because it's a point-and-click adventure without exploration or if it's that I wasn't a fan of (or even knew about) the comic books before I played it, but I feel detached from the story in general. I know that if they had done a pricing model like The Walking Dead where the first episode was available by itself, I wouldn't have bought the other four afterwards. Anyway, when I was done, instead of doing the smart-ish thing of going to bed a little after midnight, I decided to start up The Stanley Parable again and see what mischief I could get into. I remembered seeing a catwalk that I thought I could drop onto to get to another area of the building and wanted to see if it was possible. After "splatting" to my death many times, I finally landed on it and it indeed went to another area with some alternate endings (if this game can be said to have a "real" ending). I managed to find the Minecraft and Portal areas which were very amusing! Now I guess I'll have to try to find more "secret" areas.

11 - (Nice to see you haven't forgotten me.) Hi, Raven. It was good to see you too in KoA tonight. (I didn't say I was glad to see you, just that...oh, never mind.) So, looked like you were doing some general questing. Anything interesting? (Oh, you know, the usual. Someone, a monk this time, tells me his monk buddy has gone off in search of adventure and hasn't heard form him in weeks. These things always end up the same way. I go trudging through caves and caverns only to find the poor schmuck stone cold dead with a book of his last, deranged scribbles. I should have taken the job, gone behind a tree, wrote out some "farewell cruel world" stuff, and gone back for my reward. Would have come to the same ending.) What about the people in those ruins? (Them? Weird group. One lady thinks her honey has been turned into an antelope but really he just wants to be rid of the crazy wench. I covered for him and told her that lover boy had been eaten by monsters. Figured I was doing them a favor - it never would have lasted. The other woman was just looking for a scroll her guy had. Didn't care about him, just the scroll. Found him in the same state as the monk. Big surprise.) And that Fae? (Oh, don't go there! What the flower ultra colored kite was he trying to do? First he wants these seeds for some Flowering ritual - if he had said de-flowering ritual, I would have slit his throat then - which are all over the area. Then he tells me to come to this cave and put the seeds in these plant things. Next thing I know, I'm fighting a cavern full of sprites! Mid-battle he's like, "Whoah! You're not supposed to hurt them! You're supposed to give yourself to them." I thought these Fae guys were all happy-nature-forest-dudes, not sacrifice-the-shield-maiden-psycho-freaks. Teach me to be so trusting. It was a messy battle, but I was the last person/thing standing. Now I've got to go sell a bunch of stuff and do some serious repairs.) Then what? (I'm doing a little backtracking before I head over to meditate in the Sidhe. Oh, nice controller, by the way.) Thanks, just got it. I thought the blue chrome looked pretty cool. Feels good to hold. (Do you really want me to get into the whole "men and their joysticks" thing?) No, Raven, not really.

12 - I was a little more tired tonight than usual (probably from being up the night before til 1am running Raven around Amular), so I only put in a half an hour or so on Mario & Luigi Dream Team - and I'm still not to a point where Mario has entered Luigi's dreams yet! It will be interesting to see what my playtime is, according to the 3DS record keeping, when I get to that first dream. Playing this game has me wanting to write a blog post about my experiences with gaming's most iconic figure - Mario. We go all the way back to Donkey Kong arcade machines. A lot of history there.

13 - No gaming tonight, unless you can count trying to pick out a new PC as "gaming". My PC refused to bring up the desktop after running my (until recently) trusted registry cleaner, CCleaner. Old Sabertooth has some sort of hardware problem that's produced some BSoD issues, but none recently and none during this episode. The idea of putting more money into it isn't terribly attractive. Tried booting to Safe mode, restoring last known good config, etc, with no results. Switched over to my laptop, Aragorn for the time being.

14 - Worked on the PC some more and did finally get it to boot up all the way long enough to move my C drive files to a data drive and make a fresh mirror copy of all my data. I used the System Restore Point method by booting off the Windows DVD, but it actually said that it didn't complete successfully. Did enough though. However, it became clear that all was not sunshine and rainbows. I got some nasty errors that basically spelled out "O/S Corruption". So, time to upgrade to Win 7 64-bit, I guess. I did think about getting the new box (would cost around $2K), but if I can get by with Sabertooth, why upgrade?  There doesn't seem to be the overwhelming need to upgrade PC's today like there used to be. Indie games usually have very modest system requirements and even Triple-A games scale based on hardware. You might not get the best graphics, but does it make that much difference? I was interested to see that the min specs for Titanfall are below my PC with the exception of the O/S (it needs 64-bit). Add to that that I only run games up to 1920x1080 and as long as Sabertooth runs reasonably reliably, I'll stick with it. So, the new install starts tomorrow.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

February 2014 Play Log - Day 1 to 7

As a bit of an experiment, I'm going to try to update this blog on a daily basis. I'll update this same blog entry each day this month as I write them.

1 - It seemed fitting that when I went to download The Stanley Parable, one of my 24 games to play of 2014, it showed as being a 3gb file, but when it actually started, it changed to only a 1gb download. Like everything about this game, nothing is as it seems. Even calling it a "game" is a little tenuous. Playing it is akin to reading a crossword puzzle for the story. It's like having a dream or nightmare that is being narrated by Stephen Fry. I did "beat it", but what does that mean in a game like this? Or is it a game? Maybe I should start again.

1 - It seemed fitting that when I went to download The Stanley Parable, one of my 24 games to play of 2014, it showed as being a 3gb file, but when it actually started, it changed to only a 1gb download. In this game, little is really what it seems to be. But is it a game? That's a difficult question to answer. I'm probably not the person you should be asking about it. Why don't you go and check some other websites and see what they've had to say about The Stanley Parable. I'll wait here until you get back. Remember to use the left door on your way out...No? Staying here, are you?...Fine.

1 - It seemed fitting that when I went to download The Stanley Parable, one of my 24 games to play of 2014, it showed as being a 3gb file, but when it actually started, it changed to only a...oh, we've been over this before haven't we. We're right back where we started. I mean, look at the date. It's still says "1". This is the third paragraph and we haven't made any progress! I know, why don't you try to type a "2" before the next line and we'll see it gets us moving.

1 - Oh dear.

2 - Messed around with one of the Mario 3DS games for a little while. (Hey, Nintendo, it's getting a little hard remembering what combination of "Super", "Mario", "3D", "Land", and "World"you're using each time.) Also put some more time in on Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Raven, you there? (Huh? Oh, sorry. I was just admiring the pic of me you added to last month's blog. Nice.) Well, I thought the readers should know what you look like. I never really described you to them. (Yeah, I'm sure all 2 of the people who read this care deeply!) Thanks. So, what were you doing in Amalur today? (Cleaned out the Castle Yovan area. I guess you could say I was getting my Link on - call me Raven, Slayer of Clay Pots! By the way, what is the compulsion of NPC's to put small handfuls of gold pieces in random pots in a deserted ruin?) Uh, they thought they were piggy banks? (Very funny.) How'd it go with the Widow? (Oh, you know, the usual. Saved up all my Fate juice, got her into a corner, pounded her with the ol'electric chakrams, and then skewered her with a white glowing spear.) You really don't like spiders do you? (Don't even start.)

3 - Gamestop's offer for an additional $10 in trade-in value for PS4 games got me motivated to play Killzone: Shadowfall again. It's a better FPS than I remembered - and looks better too. The choices the developer made for the controls take some getting used to, especially if you haven't played it for awhile. I will admit that the graphics are remarkable, but I just keep telling myself that this is the next generation's "Oblivion". By the time they get to "Skyrim", it's going to be amazing! I'm happy enough that I'll keep it for now. It looks like Chapter 3 is going to be aboard a derelict spaceship. Reminds me of Dead Space!

4 - I decided to take a break from PS4 FPS-ness and went back into KoA. (16.) I'm sorry, Raven. What? (16. That's the number of hours that your brother has put into Amalur more than you. At this point. Oh, and here's another number - 165. Know what that is?) I'm sure you'll tell me. (The number of achievement points he's racked up in the game. I'm afraid your's is about half that. 85 to be exact.) Have you been trolling on Raptr again? (Maybe. Girl's got to do something to stay busy.) You looked pretty busy in Amalur. Finished off a couple of quests, didn't you? (Well, yeah. I teamed up with Agarth again and we took out this creepy surveillance thing that the Tuatha were tracking me with. And I met their Numero Uno - Gadflow. Two questions. One, if I'm such a threat, why didn't Mr. Winner of the Satan Lookalike Contest just snuff me out then? I thought we were going to throw down right there!) That would have made for a pretty short game. (Fine, but why do I have to chase his ass all over this friggin world? Anyway, my second question.) Yes? (Gadflow? Seriously?? Not much in the ominous name department is he? I bet they called him "Gaddy" when he was just a young devil! And "flow"? Oh, I could teach him a thing or two about "flow"!) You're not taking this adventure very seriously, are you? (So sorry, my liege. But have you noticed that things are starting to sort of unravel in here?) Such as. (Oh, hearing conversations before I actually enter a location, sudden jumps in the action around quest markers, NPC's being total idiots.) Are you referring to the alchemist in Didenhill? (Yeah, the one that couldn't figure out I had the ingredients he needed for that fire salve.) Ok, that did look kind of broken. (You should send in a bug report. Maybe 38 Studios will fix it in the next patch.) Uh, yeah. Raven? (Yes. Hello?) How do I put this? Your world? It's sort of been abandoned. (Wha?) Your "creators", as it were, went bankrupt and shutdown. Whatever remains of the code of your world belongs to the state of Rhode Island. (...) Raven? (A minute, please.) Ok. Take your time.(....SSSSSSHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!)

5 - After telling two young people at the mall that the only way I get any gaming done is to give up some sleep, I decided to not give it up tonight.

6 - Kingdoms of Amalur again. You know, Raven, you surprised me a bit tonight. (Really? How so?) Well, you must have run past 3 or 4 new exclamation points getting through the main story quest. (Look, not everyone's problems are my problems. I can't do everything in here!) True enough. We should probably work at actually getting through this game or we'll never be done. (Yeah, and then what?) What do you mean? (I've got no future! This is it for Amalur. No expansions, no patches, no MMO! Seventy-five million dollars! How do you spend that much money and not have anything to show for it?) Some of it was spent on your world, you know. Big Huge Games actually started the design and then 38 Studios had them put it in the Amalur world. Sales of KoA:R were supposed to go to creating the MMO, but...(But what?) Well, your world only sold about 1.3 million copies. (Only?! That sounds like a lot.) No, it is. But according to the accountants, it would have had to sell almost 3 times that just to break even. (So, I'm stuck in this single game with no future because someone screwed up the math???) Pretty much, yes. It's a tough commercial landscape out there. Your world just didn't stand out enough. Probably needed more boobs. (WHAT? Excuse me?) Well, the cover art for KoA:R was a big male warrior in full armor. With 90% of the game buying public being teen to twenty-something males, it wasn't a particularly good choice. (That is insultingly sexist!) And probably true. Don't you think that it would have sold much better if Alyn Shir had been on the cover?
(Oh come on, that is the most ridiculous excuse for armor I've ever seen! She should be covered in scars with all that showing.) Yeah, but remember: it's not just a fantasy world, it's a male's fantasy world.

7 - This was my night for checking some Xbox 360 games from Gamestop to see if I needed to return them before the 7-day "rental" period was up. What I didn't realize was that, even though the games had radically different themes, the basic gameplay of all three was the same - 3D environment brawlers.

  • Transformers The Game - This is the HD version of the PS2 title I already have. Looks like it sort of follows the story of the first movie. Sounds like they got the voices of the actors (at least Optimus Prime). Pretty good looking action with a fair amount of button mashing. I'm a sucker for Transformers stuff, so it's a Keeper.
  • Splatterhouse - I think Namco must have spent 75% of their development time on liquid dynamics for blood. That would account for the other 25% being spent on making a less than entertaining game. I like the material - crazed Jason-esque killing machine - but just too much button mashing and too difficult too soon. It's a Returner.
  • Afro Samurai -  How can you not get a game with Samuel L "MoFo" Jackson in it? Well, he's doing the voices because he did them for the anime. Have to say this game has style out the wazoo! Like playing a comic book movie with action reminiscent of the Kill Bill movies. I'm not sure it's going to be a fun game to play unless I really get the combat down, but it's an impressive game to have in my collection. Keeper!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

January 2014 Play Log

I will be the first to admit that this got a little out of hand.

My original intention was just to use a few words to describe each day's gaming experience, as the first few entries demonstrate, so I could go back in a year's time to review what I played. But somewhere in the month (around the time I started playing Kingdoms of Amalur), I got a bit chatty - or rather I started chatting with someone. Read on and see who joined in.

January 2014

1 - Finished Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. One word: Gut-wrenching! (Or is that two words?)

2 - Tried the Bravely Default 3DS demo. Fell asleep on the couch.

3 - A little Hotline Miami and Grid 2 (a PS+ freebie).

4 - Started The Wolf Among Us Episode 1. Love the music!

5 - More of The Wolf Among Us. Only one chapter left.

6 - Finished The Wolf Among Us. Less than 3 hours playtime and no deaths?

7 - Played about an hour of DmC, the new Devil May Cry reboot (newest PS+ freebie). Not sure I can deal with the character's age or look.

8 - On a whim (and after being reminded about it while listening to a podcast), I decided to start Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. A number of games I've been playing recently have been very short, so I figure it's time to dive into a long RPG. After waiting for a 7gb install, I'm about half way through the opening section that was used for the demo.

9 - Made it through the area used in the demo. Already very impressed with the quality of the visuals - rich and gorgeous! Even more impressive in that it came from a design studio (Big Huge Games) know primarily for RTS games. Are we going to have to wait until Elder Scrolls VI to get another single player RPG game of this scale for the PS4/Xbox One? Sad state of the industry.

10 - Zzzzzzz. Too sleepy to play.

11 - Felt really crappy toward the evening, so didn't play anything. But, found a PS4 while I was out doing some running around!

12 - Played an hour or so of KoA:R and did my first (side)quest. Nice to see that quests aren't just, "Bring me X number of Y." Also, amazed at how much voice acting is in the game!

(OK, author's note: All of the entries presented here were written sequentially, usually on the day after they happened, with the exception of this break. The entry below for the 13th could/should be technically rewritten from the perspective and voice of the guest that entered into the blog starting on the 14th, but I felt it would harm the integrity of this record to go back and change it.)

13 - Got in another hour of KoA:R. Interesting quest I'm on (side-quest, actually). When I got into the town of Gorhart,  there was an injured "Fae" writhing in the street. This creature, which looks like a dark elf crossed with a fairy, got shived in the town square and no one stopped to help her. Tough town! When I offered to help (to keep her from groaning in pain every 5 seconds), I was told to talk to another Fae who sits atop a hill and watches the town. When I find her, I discover that a) she finds "mortals" amusing, and b) she can't help her fellow Fae. She suggests I try some of my people's remedies, but only really strong ones. This lead me back to the town apothecary, a sort of grumpy gnome, who won't help me unless I find her apprentice. Seems the apothecary has been dabbling in some medieval chemical weaponry to fight the Tuatha, but her formula wasn't quite right and now there have been plague like symptoms cropping up among the people of Gorhart. Worse, the apprentice took the formula and has gone off to the ruins of Agnur Farhal. When I head out there (a really gloomy place, I might add) and confront her, uh former employee, Karth, I find he has been a very bad boy and wants to run away to join the Red Legion, the local gang of mercenary thugs. And he's given them the formula as a way to get them to accept him. There are now 10 crates of this stuff about to be shipped out and yours truly has to stop them. Frankly, I don't know what the apothecary saw in this guy or how he ever worked around a gnome without stepping on her. He looked like he belonged in a apothecary's shop about as much as an 800 pound gorilla does running a flower stand. To think she was worried about the poor fella! Well, it was a bad career choice for him and the apothecary is going to need a new apprentice. Yup, I killed him. Now to track down those crates.

14 - After yesterdays post, I think I will just let Raven, my character, fill you in on what's happening in KoA:R.

Well, here I thought all of the crates would be in Agnur Farhal. No such luck! I did find a few that were being guarded by some Red Legion lackeys. The odds were me against four. Almost felt sorry for the poor bastards! After I busted them up, I did the same to the crates.

The only other creatures roaming around that gloomy place were some Brownies - short, stout, and bad tempered with mouths like shark's. They were guarding some chests that held a few goodies, mostly for sale, and a handful or so of gold. Nothing major, but every little bit helps. This dead girl got bills to pay!

A pathway out the back of the tunnels put me in Odarath again. Checking my magic map, I saw that the other crates had been moved toward the north and east parts of the territory. It's going to be a long walk to catch up with them, so I figured a stop in town was a good idea.

When I got back to Gorhart, I made the usual visit to Neelie's to get my gear patched up and sell all the crap I'd collected. By the gods, I don't know if they really sell that well, but I'll tell you - I should have come back as a backpack salesgirl. They want over 7,000 gold for one of those things! The markup must be incredible. I'll have to get one eventually, but it's gonna hurt the old money pouch when I do.

Outside the shop, I got the strangest urge to cast off all my armor and weapons, and just walk around in my barest under clothes! It felt so good to feel the sun on my skin and the grass under my feet! None of the inhabitants seemed to notice or care, even the widow visiting her husband's grave. That last part probably doesn't make me sound like the most respectful person, but when you start your rebirth on top of a pile of rotting corpses, it gives you a somewhat skewed view of death and stuff.
(Ed. - Raven didn't know it, but this was to get a special "Streaker" achievement. I hope she didn't mind too much.)

I bought a few extra supplies (healing stuff) and now I'm headed out into the Faelands. When I get this whole "save the stabbing victim/find the apprentice/stop mass murder" thing over with, I still have that nut job over by the monastery to deal with, and I think I might go back and check out that old mine I saw before I got to Gorhart. Might not be anything big, but I have a feeling this adventure I'm on is going to take me far away from this little hamlet and I don't want to miss anything! 

15 - I gave Raven the night off and got my new PS4 setup. It occurred to me that this is the first truly HD gaming generation - there is no option for hooking it up with composite cables (not that anyone in their right mind would ever want to!). For as much as everyone says this is the next generation, a lot of it looks just like the old generation. It's still 1920x1080, which is damn good, but I wonder if we'll ever see the kind of jump in graphics quality again that we did from the PS2 to PS3 (or Xbox to Xbox 360)? I downloaded Resogun and played a little of that. A bit confusing and a lot like Defender, which I pretty much suck at.

16 - Raven, you want to take this? Thanks, but not too much to tell. I found all the crates and destroyed them, making the little gnome very happy. But you know, I still had to buy that crummy Greater Healing potion from her for nearly 1000 gold! You'd think that she could just hand one over for saving her butt (and everyone else's). That's gratitude for you! Well, turns out that it didn't bring that Fae all the way back. Someone messed her up good. Hector, the guy watching over her, told me I needed to go to her council and try to convince them that this wasn't what normally happens to Fae in Gorhart. So, now I've become an emissary of peace, trying to keep this little hamlet from becoming another smoking ruin in the forest. On my way there, I ran into a guy who said he'd been changed from a wolf into a human by some pissed off pixies. Kept calling me "two-legs", which I thought was a little odd, but when you've walked on four your whole life, I guess it makes sense. I got him back to his wolfy form, but I think I should have taken advantage of the situation first. I mean, he was pretty hunky and how often does a girl get a chance to do it "wolf-style", ya know? Other than that, I've got to kill a troll for some traveler so she can get a ring from him. Some sort of reenactment from bygone days that involves collecting animal heads to use as bait. Ewww.

17 - Well, Raven didn't have too much trouble with that troll. As she had Reckoning power built up, she pretty much turned him into troll-burgers. (Yeah, gonna take a week to get that smell off my armor.) However, I think she got shafted over a ring that her accomplice wanted from the troll. I should have looked at it as soon as she looted the troll's body but didn't. Oh well. Must be better stuff out there anyway. (I was so ready to take her down, but you didn't think it was the right thing to do. Wuss!)  Hey, who's doing the blogging today? (Sheesh, sorry!) Anyway, Raven went onto the Hall of Ballads (thrilling place)  and told the seer there that the Fae had been injured, but that the people of Gorhart had saved her from bandits. (And why was I lying to him? I should have told him some town scumbag knifed the poor thing in the town square.) But that's exactly what we didn't want them to find out, Raven. If they knew someone in Gorhart had done that, they'd burn down the whole village. (Oh, and what a loss that would be of the four buildings that make up the whole place! Could it be any smaller?) Oh, stop it. You're just still frustrated that you didn't get to knock paws with your wolf in man's skin. (Whatever.) Anway, they said they couldn't (or wouldn't) help and Raven returned to Gorhart. (Where Raven finds out that the Fae has made a miraculous recovery and doesn't need anymore healing. So why did I haul my cookies all the way to the Hall of Boring Ballads in the first place? Sightseeing?) I don't know, dear, but I'm sure it will all make sense at a later point. In the meantime, you need to start thinking about working on the main quests or you'll never get anywhere in this adventure. You're stalling. (I'm not "stalling"! I'm doing a thorough investigation of the location, and building up my skills and abilities in order to better...) Oh, come on! You just can't resist an exclamation point over someone's head and you know it! I've got a pile of other games sitting here and you could end up finding yourself stuck in that "charming little village" for a very long time. Have you seen how long that guy in Oblivion has been waiting to get to just the first city? So long I don't even remember his name! Think about it, my little blue-tattoo. 

18 & 19 - Thought I'd leave Raven out of the conversation today, and just put in a little KoA:R update. The game has gotten to a rather enjoyable level of getting quests (from "!" marked NPC's) and then performing the necessary actions to complete them. (One quest was ridiculously easy - go into a monastery, pickup a book, take it outside. But hey, the gold's still good.) Quests seem to fall into Main Story quests, Side quests, and Fetch quests. The latter aren't very interesting, but the Side quests are very good for exploring new areas and building up experience and equipment. The game also does a really good job of showing you where you need to go on the map to complete a quest. It even puts up multiple quest destinations so you know if you're near something for a non-active quest. Very considerate of the programmers. And yes, I'm using Fast Travel to get around - I don't need to waste time hiking all the way back to a quest giver for my reward!

20 - Decided it was time to play a "real" PS4 game finally, so I tried out Killzone: Shadowfall. The graphics were spectacular in regards to terrain and buildings. People looked very good, but still some of that "uncanny valley" syndrome. The raindrops were embarrassingly bad - someone must have forgotten to put them in the game and added the programming just before it shipped. Gameplay so far is so-so, nothing I haven't played as well or better in the new Tomb Raider game. I'm still waiting to be impressed.

21 - I bought La Mulana on sale for $1.49 during the day and decided to give it a try - partly because there is a new Kickstarter for a sequel that I had thought about backing. However, 45 frustrating minutes later, I deleted the game from my system. Why, in the Holy Hells, do game designers feel they have to make platforming games so damn hard these days?! If you want people to play your game, work the difficulty up gradually. Have people learned nothing from decades of Mario? At this point, I should have gone to bed, but I decided to try The Stanley Parable Demo again. After hearing more about the way the full game can be played, I wanted to see what I could mess with in the demo. (This is the only Steam game I've seen where the demo stays around after you buy the full game, which I've done.) I found a couple of different things (8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,8,etc) but not too much. Not that I really expected a lot. The whole game is around 3+gbytes and the demo is under 1, I'm pretty sure. But I had to give it a shot.

22 - Raven and I ventured back into KoA:R for the evening. I've traded her chakrams for fae-blades that seem to do a bit more damage, but I'm holding onto at least one of each kind of weapon just for the sake of variety. Combat in this game is getting a little repetitive. There's only 3 combat buttons - X for primary weapon, Y for secondary weapon, and LT for block. Raven has "moves" for each weapon by pressing an attack button in a certain order, but the ones that involve holding the attack button down seldom work since she's usually surrounded and getting hit negates any buildup. Mostly it's X button mashing while pushing back creatures to keep her from getting hit from behind. Blocking doesn't work well when she's surrounded either. I know I probably need to make her dodge more and get her out of the middle of the fight, but so far she's stayed alive just standing and fighting. Yeah, I'm playing on Casual mode, but why make the battles harder just for sake of making them harder? I don't think the rewards are any different. Anyway, we got a couple more quests finished which was nice. I think she's going to have to buy one of those pricey backpacks, however.

23 - I actually wasn't going to do any gaming this evening as I wasn't in a really good mood. In fact, I never even turned on my computer the whole night. But, during a, uh, "rest period", shall we say, I started playing the next puzzle in The Room on my Android tablet. I generally suck at puzzle games (not enough patience, I guess), but this is a very different kind of game. You are trying to manipulate the buttons, dials, levers, secret doors, gears, gadgets, keys and inter-dimensional planes in a series of intricate puzzle boxes. It's unlike any puzzle game I've seen before and is nearly impossible to stop playing once you start. You always figure that you'll just try looking for one more thing that will unlock the next bit before stopping. I decided I'd do a bit more on the living room sofa before turning in. As a result, it was nearly 1am before I finally turned off the tablet and went to bed.

24 - Raven here, guys. This is so cool! I have my own house now! Yup, took care of some interpersonal relations in Canneroc and when I got back into town, Barten gave me keys to my own place, Gossamer End. Then, just when I thought things couldn't get any better, the town blacksmith starts offering me upgrades! And cheap, too! Who else builds house extensions for 258 gold? I've got a huge basement now, a dining room, a statue (guess that was a freebie?), work benches, and an upstairs bedroom. If I was in that Animal Crossing game, I'd be in hock to that racketeering raccoon for about two billion bells by now! Well, for now I'm going to just get comfortable and enjoy my new mansion. Now if I could only figure out how to sit at the table or lie in the bed.

25 - No gaming due to a sick doggie that thought a hand sanitizer bottle was a fun thing to chew on. Fortunately, Nagy ended up with only an upset tummy, but it made for a loooooong night.

26 - Wasn't going to play anything this evening (was still feeling the effects of sitting up with Nagano all night), but did end up playing a few minutes of Lone Survivor on the Vita. I think this will be a good platform to play it on - something to play on the couch in the dark, late at night.

27 - Played about another hour and a half of KoA:R before bed. Finished up a quest to find a surveyor's notebook and then took on a few Mountain Trolls (It wasn't "a few", it was 5, plus a Rock Troll that happened to wander by.) I thought you were sleeping. You seemed pretty tired. (Yeah, I was, thanks for noticing.) Well, you did a good job out there today. (Oh, please! Do not patronize me!) Okay, okay, sorry. (I swear I'm going to have friggin nightmares about that poor bastard I found in the cage. Just kept writing in his little journal! His captors left him in there and he thought he could squeeze through the bars as he got thinner. He got thin alright. Dead too! And then that witch-bitch popped out of the ground right in front of me. Nearly crapped my armor! What kind of place is this, anyway?) Uh, it's a fantasy universe populated with mythical creatures and ("Mythical" my ass! I've got troll guts in places you don't want to know about! Seems pretty real to me!) You're really worked up about all this. (Yeah, yeah, I'm sorry. It was just a rough night's work.) Was it collecting all those silkfarmer's remains thing? (No. Well, yeah, maybe a little. I mean, they were like all over the place. But there was one only a few yards down the road from Canneroc. No one could have just strolled down there and gotten the poor guy? They could have smelled him rotting from the tavern.) That was pretty harsh of them. (And then I get all the bones, remains, whatever, back to town and all they have is this crappy ossuary which is just a few urns packed into an old planter, sitting behind a bunch of crates. So, I put them in, one at a time, and that was it. Better than nothing, I suppose. Just feels like there should have been something more, ya know?) Yeah. So, you didn't get a reward, did you? (Not a god-damned thing!)

28 - Didn't have a lot of time this evening, but decided to at least clean up Raven's inventory. That led to me wanting to explore a little more toward the next main story quest objective. (I thought you were giving me the night off.) No, I never said anything about that. (Yes you did. You were going to only play my game every other day. That way you would get time in on some of the other titles you were planning on playing this year.) Well, I was more interested in playing KoA. (But Broken Age came out today and you even pre-ordered it. The reviews for it have been awesome!) Yes, but it's a new game. I can just jump into your game and play a little without having to learn something new and (This is about your brother playing KoA too, isn't it?) What? No, don't be silly! (You're afraid that he will beat you to the finish of this one because that's what always happens. Oblivion. Skyrim. Fallout 3. Need I go on?) Hey, I finished Duke Nukem Forever and he didn't! (Oh, now there's a real accomplishment! What did that take? 21, 22 hours? And for a game with a Metacritic score of 54? Was that really a worthwhile use of your time?) I still remember when DNF was announced in 1997 and how excited I was about it. I loved Duke Nukem 3D! (Well, if you think I'm going to show you my tits like some pixelated stripper, forget it old man! Don't make me tell everyone that you just had to get the Balls of Steel Edition - at full price!) You just did. (Oh. Ooops. Sorry. Boss. Sir.) Forget it. Water under the bridge. Anyway, good work convincing that fisherman to not marry that water nymph. (Yeah, I don't think they would have made a very happy couple. I was sort of pissed he thought she killed that Ettin when it was obvious that I had. And by the way, what the fried umbrella copper kettle is it with these Ettin's? That Priest one nearly put me down?) I guess things are getting a little harder. Happens in these games. (Well, watch the Health Bar a little better next time. I've already been dead. I have no desire to be that way again.)

29 - I got a late start so I only played a little 3DS before bed. Tried a demo of (something like) World Commander 3D. Looked like a Risk style game, which is fine - I like Risk. I started the demo and, after an explanation on what started World War II that sounded like it came from a 5 year old, I started moving my American "units" around the Pacific. I moved a ship counter to an open sea space. I moved another ship to a sea space with a Japanese ship in it. I got a quick screen showing my ships "fighting" the enemy ships and the combat being resolved with simultaneous 8-sided dice rolls. Ok. I then tried moving one of my infantry units into another sea space with a Japanese ship in it. Another quick screen showing my infantry men (on land, by the way) shooting their rifles at the enemy ships in the water - and blowing them away. Exit. System settings. Delete demo.

30 - So, nice to see you're finally getting some of the main story quests done. (Yeah, I figured it was time, but are all the Fateweavers old foggies like Agarth?) I don't know, maybe. (I'll tell you, I don't think he killed a single creature the whole trip. He could keep them busy, but I had to step in and finish them off. Well, at least the Theater of Fate was kinda cool. And I liked the part where they said I could change people's fates!) Yeah. You do realize that isn't really the case. There's no such thing as Fate. We're all just existing and interacting with each other in real time, producing a random series of events. (That's not what grandpa told me! There's this Fabric of Fate, or something like that, that the Fateweavers can read and they see things before they happen because they know their going to happen because it's written in the weave! And I can change things that are going to happen! I can control who lives and who dies! I'm a god!) Uh-huh. Well, I guess that makes me a Fateweaver too. (How so?) Well, I see that the next time you go out adventuring, you'll be fighting an Ettin your underwear. (You wouldn't!) Hey, babe, what can I say? It's Fate!

31 - Well, January ended on a sleepy note - I take falling asleep at my desk as a sign that gaming is not an option.

Hope everyone who got this far enjoyed my month of rambling nonsense!