Category Archives: Video Games

Experiments, Beta Testing, and Skyrim

Okay, so this is going to be a LONG post…I’ve been a busy man lately and I have wanted to review Skyrim but it sucked me in…and then I was beta testing SWTOR this past weekend so didn’t even have a chance to play Skyrim more, and I also want to talk about other things in my life. Feel free to skip to the sections that interest you if you wish.

Experiments in Life Hacking

So, last week I had a little bit of money and decided to download some stuff on to my Kindle. I got a couple of recreational books and I saw this one:

The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman

Now, the sex part didn’t interest me because I am not getting any at the moment, but the rest…rapid fat-loss, I am in! Becoming superhuman? Okay! So I downloaded it. And I started reading. The author approaches things with a practical mindset. He says at one point that he doesn’t expect you to believe everything he says, but to don’t let it stop you from trying it. He’s not a doctor, or a scientist, just a dude who wanted to get the most out of his diet and workouts and found some interesting little shortcuts.

Okay, man, I am still listening.

So as I am reading, I started searching for something from this book to try. I mean changing my eating habits isn’t the easiest thing…I want to try something small first to see if it works. Skepticism at it’s finest. So out of all the things I decide to try taking cold showers instead of warm ones. Pretty simple right? Well besides cold showers being used to treat depression (which scientists are still scratching their heads over why it works) the book claims it jump starts your metabolism if you take one immediately upon waking. Now I have only been doing this for 5 days (the requisite number, apparently, for humans to ingrain some activity as part of their routine…from the book) but I have felt a dramatic uplift in my mood, and analyzed my reaction to this not so great activity. Since I have been taking scalding hot showers all of my life the transition was not easy.

Friday, Day 1 – Have to really psyche myself up to get into the water, and it is a constant act of will to stay there. Make it through about 5 minutes of the ten minutes recommended time.

Saturday, Day 2 – At home now, actually woke up and had a mini anxiety attack about taking a cold shower. Finally snapped myself out of it by calling myself an idiot for freaking out about a SHOWER, and comforting myself with the thought of only 4 days left. Eased into the cold more and set an alarm to be sure I stay in for 10 minutes. After my shower experience an immediate spike in happiness and can’t help but grin the rest of the day.

Sunday, Day 3 – Have a smaller anxiety attack, but this is curbed by the mood spike I had. Imagine that, I enjoy being happy. No problem staying in the whole time.

Monday, Day 4 – Ambivalent about the cold shower at this point, just want to get it over with. Found out a better way to acclimate myself to the cold, so the shower is not so torturous.

Tuesday, Day 5 – Actually woke up looking forward to taking my shower, quest complete.

Now, it remains to be seen if this has any effect on my metabolism or weight especially since I am only quasi-dieting (I do my best!!). But I know, for the mood lifting alone it was worth it, and I don’t even feel like it is an inconvenience any more. So maybe this guy has a few things right…but anyway, kind of cool, huh?

Beta Testing and Initial Thoughts on Skyrim

So I was in the SW:TOR beta this past weekend. It is a TON of fun. To quote one of my friends last night “It’s like this game is a drug, and now they are taking away my stash…”, It has an AMAZING story line for an MMO, great character development, and I was worried the grouping would be clunky, not as much fun, or not as rewarding. But there are some missions that absolutely require you to have a group or use your companion (about 50 to 75% equivalent to a group member) and take up a LOT of slack for them. Other than that you can go into other people’s class missions (read storyline) and help them with their objectives, and of course do the open world missions with them. One of the truly awesome things is the group dialog system. Basically, whenever you talk to an NPC you go into a conversation and get multiple options kind of like Mass Effect if you have ever played that. Well if you are in a group you all pick, and a random roll is done to see who actually speaks. Now, you don’t get Light Side or Dark Side points if the person wins, you get the points from whatever option you chose but it creates an interesting dynamic, and a real flow of conversation where the entire group is chiming in at some point and getting a chance to speak. And also an illusion of competition (“Yeah that’s right! I win! We look like buttholes now! HA!” And yes that actually happened) for group conversations that is fun and engaging. Another point, although we just did the first one, are the Flashpoints which are SWTOR’s “dungeons”, This is not your daddy’s dungeon crawl kids. When my buddies and I got to the space port to leave the Jedi planet we had two options…a personal shuttle to Coruscant OR fly first class on this freighter with your friends. I was like “Sweet, we get to kick it on this freighter” and so you are going along…we tried to gamble but they wouldn’t let us because we were Jedi and might cheat…suddenly you are attacked, and the “dungeon” begins. But really, to steal my friend’s summary of it, it feels more like an extended quest line than an instance. It was such a natural extension of the world, and well…fun. The ONLY way we found it hard was *gasp, shock* my friend had to mostly sit back and heal on the boss fights. 😛 I am glad I had to money to preorder the game, because it’s going to be a long two weeks…I can’t imagine waiting longer.

And now for something completely different.

The Elder Scrolls…ah, I have loved thee since Morrowind. I have played Oblivion for over 72 hours, had a completely maxed out character, and beat nearly every quest line in the game. Enter Skyrim. At first, I was like “Wait! Where are my ‘classes’? I don’t have to pick skills? No statistics? WHAT IS HAPPENING!” but I kept playing and it is interesting that a natural set of skills kind of extends out of your play style. So I like that…and you aren’t running around for 3 hours trying to let stuff hit you so you can level up your block/heavy armor skill to get those last few points of endurance. (Don’t judge me, maxing out every stat in Oblivion takes dedication!) My only complaint so far is that some things are based on your level (mostly instanced areas, caves and the like) but the open world is not. Which while interesting, sucks when you, the Dovakhim savior of all, running like a scared little girl from a Frost Troll because he regenerates faster than you can do damage to him. Yeah, bud, don’t worry, I will be back… Killing dragons is epic, every quest line is good enough to distract you from the main one, and as long as you develop at least a few skills devoting to killing stuff you are good to go. My first character was more sneaky and kind of got into trouble…so my second character for a long time I played as an agile warrior until her combat skills were up to snuff. So just a warning. Also, I will have a much more in depth look once I finish the main story line…but that could take time as I keep getting distracted chasing butterflies (for alchemy ingredients I swear!!), crafting, and doing the thief and mage missions…not to mention I haven’t even found the Dark Brotherhood, but I know they are around somewhere.

So initial thoughts. It’s awesome. Go buy it. 😀

Well, kids, that’s all for today. Time to get the day started!

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Wishlist Wednesday: The Secret World

Well, trying this new thing…decided I am going to try and give a preview of a game I currently really want to play on Wednesdays…and probably review a game at least once a week. So coming up this weekend I will be writing a review for Dead Island, but right now I am here to talk about an upcoming MMO, The Secret World. Let’s start with some trailers:

Okay so now that you have watched all of that, a few interesting details that to me makes this my most anticipated MMO of 2012.

The setting is completely modern, and there are 3 different factions to join: the Dragons, the Illuminati, and the Templars. You can cast magic, fight with weapons, and completely customize your skills. There are over 500 different skills and abilities to learn and improve, and the system is an open classless system. What this also means is that there is no “level” system persay, as you gain experience you get access to more skills but you can only use so many at one time. Which means you can still play with your buddy that plays ten times as much as you do (important for people like me who often get burned out and stop playing quite as much). You can group up in PvE with members of opposing factions but in PVP you will be against them (good for my group of online gaming friends because we can never agree on one faction). And randomly generated dynamic events and quest lines that actually seem to matter in the story. All in all, seems like an amazing game, and should be out April 2012.

Well that is this week’s Wishlist Wednesday, I hope you enjoyed my review, and sometime later this week look for a review of Dead Island.

CG

Video Game Wish List

I really want to make part of this blog about video games and review them after I’ve played all of the shiny new ones. But the sad fact is that right now I just don’t have the money to spend for shiny new games. So instead I am going to give you my top 5 games I am looking forward to/I really want to play.

1. Dead Island

First, the trailer. This is one of the most amazing trailers I have ever seen for a zombie survival game. Factor in amazing visuals, an open world similar to Fallout 3 (in game play not so much the setting), a leveling system similar to Borderlands, and a weapon customization system similar to Dead Rising 2 (which I heard was great but I have never played) I am bouncing up and down in my seat and trying to desperately scrape the money together to pay the nice men so I can immerse myself in hours of zombie killing fun. I loved the original Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, and own the second although I haven’t played it. I’ve also played Killing Floor which has a pretty basic leveling system, but all in all I have never been more excited at the chance to roll up my sleeves and get down to some bloody zombie slaying. Let’s do this.

2. Minecraft 1.8 Adventure Update

Okay so not technically a “game”, and since it’s already a paid for…I will be playing this when it comes out and will probably write a review. But I am so excited…I have burned so many hours of my life playing Minecraft it is ridiculous, building houses and castles and always looking for the rarest of rare ores. Spending days mining and mining gathering resources and storing them because I am a pack-rat. And this is a huge overhaul of the game, making it focus more on exploration and killing since everyone who plays has the “survival” aspect down pretty darn well. It is supposed to release tomorrow, but unfortunately it looks like that will be delayed until Monday. But I can’t wait!

3. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Now for any PC gamers out there this is a no brainer. And if it wasn’t coming out in November this would be at the top of the list. Unfortunately, my gaming addiction is based around instant gratification so those that release sooner are up higher. However, given how much time I have played both Elder Scrolls: Morrowind, and Elder Scrolls: Oblivion I expect shortly after my friends get married on the 12th of November I will be locking myself into my room to play this for a good long while. From everything I have read and heard about it, it seems like everything in Oblivion is improved. And since I didn’t think it needed any improvement I can’t wait until I can boot this up and experience it first hand.

4. Torchlight 2

I could not find a good trailer for Torchlight 2, but it is the predecessor to an amazing Diablo-like ARPG called Torchlight. And they’ve given 4 new classes, co-op abilities, and an open world to roam around in. Sounds like a winner to me.

5. Diablo 3

Ah, Diablo, my first love. I remember the first time I booted up the original Diablo one Halloween night and began my trek into the dungeons under Tristram. I have many memories of playing Diablo and Diablo 2 with my friends, having a great time slaughtering countless hordes of demons, undead, and monsters with them. This game looks to be a vast improvement over the system in Diablo 2 and I cannot wait to save the world of Sanctuary once again.

So that is basically it for my top 5 currently most wanted games. I might make this a regular thing where I present one game a week or something that looks to be coming up on the horizon.

As usual, thank you for reading, and please check out my other posts.

CG

Why indie games are the future

So I am awake, at 8 am. So totally not a morning person. I have changed my layout about 5 times, and tweaked things here and there and I think I have finally settled on one that I like.

Now on to the reason for this post. First, here is some help if you have no clue what an indie game is.

More and more I see the game industry going towards small independent game studios rather than the big corporate ones. And the reason for this is simple. Big corporate studios can’t (read don’t want to) take the risks that a small independent developer can and indeed has to by the very nature of their enterprise. And yet you see independent games becoming more and more popular. Why? Because usually they are innovative, quirky, and refreshing. And it’s not that the large corporations can really be blamed, they are just protecting their investments…but at the same time if they took a few risks and put themselves out there now and then they could do some really impressive and amazing things like the things indie developers are able to accomplish on their own.

Anyway, what follows are a few links to my favorite indie games.

Not sure if Torchlight counts, but I’m moderately sure Runic Games didn’t have a publisher until after the release of Torchlight.

Anyway, thank you for reading. Please post your comments or thoughts and share them with me, especially if you don’t agree.