Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Vive!


I got my Vive early this month and I wanted to live with it and really get a feel for it before writing anything about it.

I felt like I should get over the initial hump of, "Oh my god this is so amazing." and I think I'm there now.  I still really like it!

It feels like as big of a paradigm shift as moving from 2D to 3D games when the N64 and Playstation generation hit.  It feels monumental.  But it also feels like a first generation product.  I expected this as an early adopter, but it's definitely not ready for mass market.  You need to be computer literate and not get frustrated with hardware to be able to set up and use a Vive.

Honestly, the best experience you can get is probably to go to a friend's house who owns one and try it out.  Then they're dealing with all the setup and you just get the gameplay.

I also can't even imagine how VR feels without the handheld controllers.  I bet the oculus feels more like a gimmick (at least until their touch controllers come out later this year).  Room sized VR experiences are simply amazing.

I've tried out about 30 games at this point and most of them have blown me away.  I'll start writing about them soon!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Atlas Reactor Impressions


I love the premise of Atlas Reactor so when I had a chance to jump into a free weekend trial I took it.

That premise is a turn based MOBA-ish strategy game where actions are all locked in during a 20 second window and then all the locked in actions take place during the next phases.  It's kind of real time, mostly turn based, but overall very interesting.

By the end of the first full game I played of it I realized there's a huge execution problem.  The game, idea, and systems are solid enough but watching the locked-in actions play out take way too long.  Like, they could speed up all the animations by a factor of five or ten it would be just fine.

Or they could do what I thought was the obvious execution and just have all the actions for a given phase happen simultaneously instead of sequentially.

I think if they made either of these changes I would stick with the game and give it more of my time, but based on my frustration with how slow it is I just couldn't go on.  For now, Atlas Reactor isn't for me.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Geek to Geek - S1E13 - VR (HTC Vive)


Virtual Reality (HTC Vive)
In this episode:
  • Void bought an HTC Vive! Don’t know what that is? Great! That’s why we’re doing this episode! We want to introduce you to virtual reality gaming. Since not everyone (Beej included) has had an opportunity to experience VR, live vicariously through Void while Beej incessantly questions him about the technology.
  • Playing the Scully to Void’s Mulder, Beej plays (is) the skeptic and questions everything Void knows about VR.
    • First off: is this a fad?
    • What is the HTC Vive, anyway? Is it all inclusive, or is it a PC peripheral?
    • Honestly, who is this technology for?
    • What is the future of virtual reality? Or at least, where does it seem to be heading?
    • Should naysayers/skeptics buy it now or wait?
  • Void’s Must have games for HTC Vive
  • Games to avoid
    • Windlands
    • inMind
    • inCell
  • Weekly Geekery
  • Health Hack
    • Drink some water! It’s summertime, and you have to pay more attention to your water intake. If your mouth is dry and you feel thirsty, it’s already too late--you’re on the way to dehydration. Even if you think you’re drinking enough, you’re probably not (we all overestimate how much we drink). So drink up, geeks!
Be sure to subscribe to the Geek to Geek Podcast your favorite podcast app, drop a review so we know how we’re doing, and feel free contact us via email at geektogeekcast@gmail.com or @geektogeekcast on Twitter with any comments, questions, or suggestions for the show. Thanks for listening, and we can’t wait to hear from you!
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Music by CarboHydroM

Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online


Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online is the overly long title for the first EVE Online history book.  It's really cool!

EVE has consistently been a game that I love to read about but can never actually manage to get into the gameplay of.  I've played a month or two here and there and it just never seems to grab me.  But, it's super fun to read about!

In this book the author covers the major nullspace history and faction wars between the beta of EVE and around 2009.  He hints that there may be more books down the line but this one covers the launch of the game all the way through the first Great War.

It's amazing how much thinking, planning, tactics, and spying go on in this game.  It's especially cool to see how each group adapts to changes and upgrades in the game as time goes on.

If you're one of those people, like me, who love to read about EVE then definitely consider taking a look at Empires of EVE: A History of the Great Wars of EVE Online.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Offworld Trading Company


Offworld Trading Company is a really interesting game.  I don't think I'm any good at it... but I guess I'm not sure how to tell.

It's an real time strategy game but without any units or armies or battles.  It's all about economy and macro skills.  You're a company on mars, you harvest resources and sell them on the open market (which is shared with all the other players).  You win the game by buying out the other player's companies without having yours bought out.

There's competition but it's mostly indirect, which is really cool.  It's just not a typical RTS so most of my RTS skills don't really map to it.

I had a great time with the tutorials and lower skilled AI games but as soon as I tried playing with real players or "normal" AI I just got destroyed.  I feel like there's a gap between the end of the tutorials and actually understanding the early game strategy for a real skirmish game.

I'm still experimenting with it but if I can't figure out the strategy soon I'll probably set it down unless they patch in more tutorial.  If you're an RTS fan you should definitely take a look at it.  It's a unique take on the genre that at least deserves a little bit of your attention.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Captain America: Civil War


Captain America: Civil War is really good.  It's probably the best thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has created so far.

It has so many heroes but still manages to fit them all into the story organically, give them their time to shine, and keep the pace of the story moving along.  It's a huge accomplishment and I can't believe they pulled it off successfully.

It's about two and a half hours but it doesn't waste any of it.  Civil War never feels like it drags or slows down too much.  It keeps moving and stays interesting throughout.  From the tense conversations to the direct confrontations it held my attention the entire time.

It feels like they earned this movie through a lot of hard work and set up.  It doesn't feel phoned in or cheap.  It was visceral and difficult to watch this team we know tear itself apart.  This is the benefit of setting up the MCU with so many movies before making the heroes come to blows with each other.

Not only do they manage all this, but they also successfully introduce both Black Panther and Spider-Man in interesting ways.  Now I really want to see solo movies for both of those heroes!

If you've generally kept up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe until now you need to see this entry.  It's amazing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Escape Room!

We did an escape room the other day and it was really fun!

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, you basically get an hour in a room to solve different puzzles and "escape" the room (even though the doors are never truly locked).  It sounded like a cool idea so we finally lined up schedules with enough people and eight of us tackled a Starship scenario.

We entered the room which was basically the bridge of a starship and learned that the scenario was an alien trapped on the ship which we had to locate and defeat before the hour was up.  I don't want to give away any of the puzzles in case any of you end up running this one, but it was super fun.

There were a series of puzzles, some hidden, some obvious and we organically divided up into teams of two or three to start working on all of them.  We succeeded and finish the room with over 10 minutes left!

When we finished the guy running the room told us that only 25% of groups finish and the majority have less than 5 minutes left when they do.  We were super proud!

If you have an escape room somewhere near you I would suggest checking it out (if you can get enough people to line up their schedules).  I'll embed a video of one below.  I wouldn't have done one with a horror theme like the one in the video but it gives you a general idea about what a room is like.