Thursday, March 31, 2016

Trying out Master of Orion Early Access

Master of Orion is a space 4x game that is a revamp of an old game by a new company that grabbed the rights.  It's fairly pretty and it's solidly made for a space 4x game.  It has a definite Civ V feel and I found myself continuously getting that "one more turn" feel while playing.

Master of Orion really is better than most 4X games I've played, but it still didn't quite click with me.  I should really give up on this genre one of these days.  I'm generally disappointed in them when I pick them up.  They're never quite what I expect.

It's my own fault, because I can tell this is a solid space 4X game, so if that's your genre you should really take a look at it despite it not clicking with me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Stardew Valley "Complete"

Stardew Valley can never really be complete but after I wrote last time I was sitting around 45 hours and decided that I needed to set some goals for myself to "finish" the game.

I set out to:

  • Make it to year 3
  • Max out all my character's stats
  • Buy one of every building
  • Have one of each animal
  • Grow/Harvest each plant once
  • Finish the dungeon quests
  • Get married
  • Have the biggest size house
  • Finish the Community Center
I did all these goals except one by mid-winter in year 2, so all I had to do was play a bit more to get to year 3 and complete my final goal.

So now I'm "finished" with the game.  I could totally keep playing and setting new goals for myself, or try to start knocking out achievements.  But, at this point I have 60 hours logged in the game and I'm going to take a break.  I can see how people could easily keep going and enjoying this game.  Or even restarting at this point and playing the game while going down a different path with villager relationships or the Community Center.

For me, I'm taking a break.  I bet I'll come back to this game either when the developer drops a major update or when he implements multiplayer in the future.  I know I'm not actually done with this game, but it's definitely time to take a break.

If you still haven't played Stardew Valley you should really give it a shot.  This is probably the best money to time ratio for any media I've purchased in a long time.  $15 will get you the game on Steam.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Agents of Shield Season 1 Review

Agents of Shield is a weird series for me.  I really wanted to like it when it came out.  I watched the first handful of episodes but it completely failed to captivate me.  I drifted away around episode 6 or so.

I just came back to the series and finally picked up where I left off.  A lot of people I trust told me that it gets better but you have to give it time.

This is very true.  Around episode 16 the show starts tying into the events of Captain America: Winter Soldier where Hydra has infiltrated Shield and basically destroys Shield from within.

Before this, the characters started growing on me, but the plot was basically worthless.  It was super boring.  But, once Hydra makes their move and starts destroying Shield from within the plot picks up a lot.  Not to mention that you never know which one of the characters might be a sleeper agent.

I still wish it were paced better.  The first half of the season isn't that great and the second half of the season could pick up the pace of the plot faster.

But now that I've finished season 1 I'm really interested to see what happens in season 2.  The end of the season sees our main characters tasked with rebuilding Shield from scratch.  It's a really good premise, I just wonder how it will be executed.

At this point it's looking like this show is almost a side plot to the Avengers movies, which is really cool.

Thankfully, Agents of Shield is in it's third season right now which means all of season 2 is sitting in Netflix ready to watch.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Aeronaut's Windlass

The Aeronaut's Windlass is the first book in a new series by Jim Butcher.  I've loved his writing in the Dresden Files and Codex Alera so I had to give this one a try.

The setting is a world of magic with early industrial revolution levels of technology where all humans live in Spires that are essentially gigantic towers very far above the ground.  No one ever goes to the ground because... something.  It's not really explained.

And that's how a lot of this book felt... not really explained.  By the end of it I liked the main characters and I'm curious to see where they go next but the big McGuffin they were chasing the entire book is never actually explained or revealed to be anything interesting.  It was a big letdown.

But then I started thinking back to Jim Butcher's other series.  They both got really good, but neither of them started particularly strong.  I'm starting to think that, as a writer, he really needs a few books to get into the characters and setting before he can truly shine.

The Aeronaut's Windlass was a longish book but I enjoyed the characters enough by the end of the book that I'll pick up the next one, whenever it releases.  I can't give this a rousing recommendation, but if you like Jim Butcher and were able to get into his other two series I suspect you'll be able to get through this book and get slightly engaged with the new setting.

I haven't heard much about this book from my other friends that read a lot, but I'm very curious to know what others think of it.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Geek to Geek - S1E3 Everybody Knows Batman’s Parents are Dead

Another Geek to Geek podcast is out for your listening pleasure!  This week we're talking DC Superheroes just in time for the latest superhero movie!

DC Superheroes
In this episode:

  • We discuss DC comics and how every single person in the world loves Batman: The Animated Series. Anyone who says they don’t is a robot or lying. Or Both.
  • Arrow, the Flash, and the current slew of DC comics TV shows.
  • DC’s take on a cinematic universe (or is this take 2, given the Nolanverse?). The grimdark feel is here to stay--but is that a good thing? In related stories, this low-budget, low-hype movie called Batman v Superman releases today. Have you heard of it?
  • DC’s video games, namely the Batman: Arkham series.
  • Void and Beej give their Weekly Geekery recommendations about what they’ve been geeking out on all week long.
  • Void: Daredevil Season 2 on Netflix
  • Beej: The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances
  • Health Hack: You can bake Quest protein bars and turn them into cookies!


A Return to Editing

As you hopefully noticed, I launched a podcast with Professor Beej!  So far I'm loving it and having a great time creating it.

What this podcast means is that I'm also back in the editing world!  I was a professional video editor for years and after I moved over to the world of web development and digital marketing I haven't cut any video or audio.  I was just too burned out after doing it daily for years.

Now I'm back and I'm loving it again.  I can't even remember when the last time was that I got to edit a video or audio project for myself before the Geek to Geek podcast.  It's been a long time.  It was years of only doing client work and grinding along every day.

It's so fun to be back.

For the Geek to Geek podcast I'm mostly using Audacity and Adobe Audition.  I almost cut it in Adobe Premiere because I'm super familiar with it and have all the shortcuts ingrained in my muscle memory... but it's an audio project so I made myself cut it in Audition.

I've done a ton of Audition work for cleaning up audio back in my video production days but never actually cut a project in it, so it was a really exciting new experience!  Audition has some quirks but I'm already learning the shortcuts and getting faster with each episode.  All my video editor skills are still in me and came right back when I sat down to edit the first episode.

If you're interested, here's my basic workflow:

We each jump on Google Hangouts and fire up Audacity.  We record 2 local tracks with Audacity on our computers and then Beej sends his over to me.  I do some cleanup and post processing in Audacity on each of the tracks individually, then I sync them up in a multitrack session and add the intro.

Then I edit.  Editing is a process different for every editor, but I mostly just tighten up dialogue and spacing between dialogue.  Occasionally I'll cut out a small section if we accidentally ramble a bit.

After the edit I'll export to a full quality audio file.  I take that file (Usually 400MB+) and use Adobe Media Encoder to transcode it into a 128kbps MP3 file.  This crunches it down to a manageable file size.  I take that file and upload it to our Libsyn hosting where it gets pushed out on the feed to all the podcast services...

At which point YOU GET IT!  Yay!

If you haven't listened yet, here are some handy links:

Thursday, March 24, 2016

More Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

After my brother and I played Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes at PAX last year we knew we would absolutely need to play it when it released on PC.  I picked it up right when it launched because it was fairly inexpensive and it sat unplayed on my computer until last week.

We finally got around to playing and it was super fun.  I was the bomb deffusal player and he had the bomb manual.  As we got into more and more complicated ones to defuse he ended up spreading out every page of his printed out manual on a table so he wouldn't have to flip pages.

We also started using shorthand verbal cues to identify different modules and patterns.  It's a game all about communication and it worked super well over headset.

If you aren't familiar with it, the player in the room with the bomb isn't allowed to look at the manual and the manual player isn't allowed to see the screen with the bomb.  It's asymmetric and it's kind of amazing.

You should take a look at the Bomb Manual to see what it is that player is dealing with.  I didn't take a look until we finished our play session that night and I was super impressed with my brother's ability to parse the manual and get me the information I needed.

The other thing that I would love to try is more than two players.  I've seen other people do it on streams.  Basically, you still have one person interacting with the bomb, but you can have any number of people on the side with the bomb manual.  Each one can be in charge of different modules and it can be a team effort.

If you have a friend that plays games and you have fun communicating with I highly recommend Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.  It's a great game.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Stardew Update!

As of when I'm writing this (a week and a half before it's posted) I'm sitting at about 44 hours played in Stardew Valley.

I've just been playing it so much that it's totally on my mind and I want to share more about it, let me get into the weeds a bit.

I'm half way through my second summer in the game.  At this point I have an amazing automated sprinkler system set up so that I can have almost 4 times as many crops at a time as I did in my first year.

The first winter ended up being a great time to catch up in the mine and get a ton of ore, which forged into bars of metal for crafting.  That's where all these automated sprinklers came from.

I also just realized that I messed up in my first Fall and forgot to turn in a pumpkin as part of the Fall Crop Bundle in the Community Center.  That means I can't unlock the greenhouse on my farm until this Fall when I can grow pumpkins again!  Ugh!

But I've made so much progress on the Community Center bundles which end up unlocking new things around town.  I think the only major thing left to unlock is the greenhouse... all the other Community Center bundles are just to increase friendship with townsfolk.

I'm really looking forward to getting the greenhouse set up with plants that keep producing fruit without replanting.  Then it's basically a money making machine.  I'm anticipating a lot of cranberries in there.  And ancient seeds once I finally find one.

But I need to make more progress in the desert dungeon.  It doesn't have an elevator to "save" progress the way the mines do.  And I have a quest to get to level 25.  That will take a full day and probably a lot of luck.  That is... unless I just craft 25 of the stairs that let you skip a level.  That may be the way to go, but it'll take a lot of stone.

I'm also trying to woo the townsfolk.  My daughter has been watching me play and insists that I need to get a wife for some reason.  So, I'm trying to now.  Maru, the science/techy girl is the one I'm attempting to romance.  Let's see how that works out.

And that's kind of where I am with Stardew Valley.  There's a lot going on, it's super fun, and when it feels like too many things to do I just go fishing because it's surprisingly relaxing.

Stardew Valley.... still two thumbs up.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


I saw a bunch of people I trust were playing Warframe and I heard interesting things about it on the Agrochat podcast.  So I thought I'd give it a try!

The first thing I noticed is that there's really bad player messaging.  It's often hard to know what the game wants you to do or even what they're trying to teach you.  It led to a lot of frustration right off the bat.

But, I also noticed the fact that I was essentially playing a PVE game as a robot ninja... so I stuck with it for a bit.  There's something satisfying in the core mechanics of the game and most of it comes down to that robot/ninja awesomeness.

I can definitely see the possibility of a good game in Warframe but after spending a few hours with it I realized I'm not willing to slog through the bad explanations and player messaging to find it.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Goodbye Mythbusters

Mythbusters just wrapped their final season and it was fantastic!

I've followed the Mythbusters for as long as they've been around.  It's been almost 15 years and it's finally come to an end.

There were some seasons that were better than others and occasionally an episode or two wouldn't quite hit the mark but overall it's been one of the most consistently good shows on TV.

I stopped keeping up episode to episode around the time where they were testing 4-7 myths every episode.  I've heard from a lot of friends that they did the same and only watched the show sporadically since then.

If that's you... you should know that this final season has been amazing.  All 11 episodes were fantastic and I was excited every week to see what was coming up next!

Not to mention they went out with a huge bang.  After rocket-sledding Buster in oblivion they drove a giant wedge truck through props from all the seasons of the show and then had the biggest explosion in the history of their show when they blew up another cement truck.

If you are a lapsed fan I can't stress enough how much you should go back and watch this final season.  It's completely worth your time!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Geek to Geek S1E2 - Let's Do This, I'm Watchin' Some Fast Cars

Our very second podcast just released today!  If you didn't get a chance to dive in and listen to our first episode last week, now's the perfect time to catch up.

This week we talk about writing and go in depth with Professor Beej about the entire indie authoring process.  If you've ever been a writer or been interested in writing you'll find something for you in this episode.

Here are your weekly links to the podcast:

On-ramp to Tabletop RPGs

After a talk with a friend the other day I realized that I've always wanted to get into tabletop RPGs.  D&D has been the front-runner in my mind and I've played a few sessions here or there with friends but I've never actually had a persistent RPG campaign... and that seems like where all the fun is.

On a whim I bought the D&D starter set without actually having a group in mind.  But then I starting thinking about it and I realized that my kids my like to use their imaginations in an RPG setting.  At 3 and 5 they both have great imaginations and communications skills.

"That's it!"  I thought, "I'll DM for my kids!"

I got the starter set and immediately realized that there were too many numbers, stats, and violence to play D&D with kids their age.... so I started googling and found this gem.  It's a starting place and basic rules for non-violent D&D for kids.  It's super simplified and it gave me a good jumping off point.

I took that author's rules and simplified them even more.  Basically my kids were just using their imaginations and rolling D20s whenever it made sense.

And they loved it!  It was a huge success and the next day they asked to play again.

After running a couple adventures for them I see more places to simplify the rules even further.  I think I might even write up a basic ruleset and create my own characters sheets for them in this new rule system.

I'm really excited to see where this goes.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Clash Royale

I have a tendency to browse the app store every Thursday when it updates and grab at least one game to try.  Some weeks nothing catches my eye but most weeks there's at least one game that looks interesting enough to try out.

Clash Royale is the latest of these.  It pitches itself as real time strategy in a compact package where matches last around 2 minutes.  That's all I needed to know to try it.

I loved my first couple hours with the game.  I was playing these short little real time strategy battles, getting new cards that contain abilities or units, and customizing my deck for the next match.  The core of this game is solid and fun.

But then the F2P mechanics reared their ugly head.  The main progression in the game is done through opening chests to get new units and abilities or getting duplicates of ones you already have which will allow you to upgrade.  But, once you're out of "gems" you can only open chests in real time.  This means you click on one chest and then wait three or eight hours... and in some cases even longer.  It completely killed my momentum in the game.

Once I grabbed my "free chest" which respawns every couple hours and I did my daily "crown chest" challenge I was out of things to do.  I had a chest opening in real time and no real incentive to play any more.

I'm not always against F2P games, if they're done correctly they can be amazing.  Clash Royale is an example of the business model killing the game.  The core idea is sound but all the bullshit around it makes it worse.

After playing for about a week I'm deleting this from my phone and chances are I'll probably never revisit it again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is my latest gaming obsession.  It snuck into my life, grabbed all my gaming hours, and hasn't let go yet.

Stardew Valley is basically like Harvest Moon minus the sucky parts.  I'm amazed that this is the first time a Western developer has taken on this genre of game.  The creator is a one man development team.  He basically lifted everything he liked from Harvest Moon, left all the junk behind, and then started improving on what was there.

He created it by himself over the course of the last few years and now that he released it the game has gone viral.  It's been right up near the top of the Steam charts lately, right next to all those AAA $60 games with the biggest dev teams in the business.

I tried to explain the game to a friend.  You inherit a farm from your grandpa and get to rebuild it from the ground up.  Outside of managing crops you can have animals, fight monsters in the mine, go fishing, increase relationships with townsfolk, go foraging in the wild.  Nothing on that list sounds all that amazing on it's own but there's some strangely soothing quality about the game.

My friend said, "Oh, it's like farmville?"  That's when I almost killed him.  Here's the thing... farmville is what happens if you take Harvest Moon, suck the soul out of it, completely destroy the fun parts, and then throw the worst kind of F2P mechanics on top of it.  Stardew Valley is maybe... kinda... barely the same genre.  It's what happens if you take Harvest Moon and lovingly improve on the formula until you have a fantastic game.

Stardew Valley is one of those games that I'm going to struggle to convince you to play with words or videos but if you play it, and you should, you will most certainly love it.  Give it a chance to find it's way into your heart.  It's an amazing game.  And hey, it's only $15, it's worth so much more than that.  Seriously, go play Stardew Valley.

If you need me I'll be on the farm.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fuller House is Surprisingly Good

I don't know what I expected from Fuller House, but it blew away whatever those expectations were.  I had no idea if this show would click with me... but it definitely did.

It's weird in a way because it's a 90s show made in 2016 through and through.  The production values and topics have been updated but the characters and the structure of a given episode feel straight out of the 90s.

It's basically the same show as the original Full House... but somehow it works.  It just works.

I was a TGIF kid.  If you don't know, TGIF was a block of shows that aired on prime time every Friday night.  Most people from my generation would tune in for at least one show in the block, if not all of them.  I remember many Friday nights ordering pizza and watching TGIF.

Fuller House sees almost the entire old cast return to make cameos and be part of the story.  But the new main cast of the show are three of the kids from the old show (played by the same actors) and their kids.  DJ has grown up, gotten married, had three kids, and then her husband died.  Kimmy is still her best friend and has a kid of her own with an ex.  And Stephanie is the cool aunt who decides to move in with all of them to help out.  DJ's three boys and Kimmy's daughter are all new actors but they definitely fit into the show seamlessly.

I'm sure part of what sells the premise is that the show isn't afraid to make fun of itself or mock it's previous 90s-ness.  It's so well done.

I just love it.  My wife and I watched the entire season in two sittings and immediately wanted more.  I guess we're not the only ones since Fuller House was already renewed for a second season by Netflix.

If you were a kid in the 90s and watched Full House you absolutely need to watch Fuller House.  If you never watched the original show I'm not sure if you would get the same joy out of it that I did... but it might still be worth a shot.

I just know that I'm really excited to get a second season soon!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Geek to Geek Podcast

I made a podcast!  Well, really, we made a podcast.  Me and Professor Beej that is.

And it's live... RIGHT NOW!

We've been working on it for awhile and our podcast feed just got approved!  Go check it out!

In our first episode we talk about the subjective value of games as we touch on Firewatch, Superhot, Stardew Valley, MMOs, Steam Sales, backlogs, and lots of other good stuff.

I'd love to hear what you guys think of it.  And if you could rate it and review it in your podcast app of choice it would help us out so much.  That's what will let people find us in the future.

I'm so excited to share this with you:
It's filtering out to all the third party apps right now too.  If you're not an iTunes user try searching your app.  Otherwise just paste the RSS feed URL into your app and you should be good to go:
Or if you're someone who really wants to listen in a browser instead.... here you go:

Bouncing Off More Shows

I've still been working through my list of shows to try and I've found myself bouncing off a few more after a couple episodes.

Legends of Tomorrow

I liked the premise of this one.  A team of B-List superheroes and villains from the current DC superhero shows team up to fight and enemy that is going to destroy the timeline.  It's a superhero time travel show!  The pilot had me interested and then the first few episodes after it completely lost me.  It got boring, and stuck in the 1970s for some reason.  If this gets critical acclaim later I might come back and check it out again but for now it's lost my attention.


A cool premise of a zombie show where our zombie protagonist is perfectly functional in human society because she got a job at the morgue and can eat brains regularly.  The brains let her relive some of the memories of the dead person, as well as pick up their skills or quirks.  Unfortunately it quickly became a police procedural for some reason.  I hate police procedurals.

Marco Polo

The pilot had me really interested in the adventures of Marco Polo but then the next episodes had horribly slow pacing.  As I go back and try out all these shows I'm learning that plot pacing is the most important thing for me, otherwise I feel like I'm wasting my time.  If Marco Polo were telling the same story, only faster, I would be more interested.

That's it for now.  I still have a few other shows on my list to check out and I'm hoping they might stick.

Friday, March 11, 2016


SUPERHOT is a game where I love the core mechanic, hated the story, wrapped up a playthrough in about 2 hours, and felt like I shouldn't have spent the money.

That's my basic trajectory.

The core concept, which is the part I loved, is that time only moves when you move.  It's kind of like having permanent bullet time... but only when standing still?  It works really well.  It's fun and it's new and it's interesting.  Even by the time I wrapped up my playthrough I felt like I was getting better at the game and learning more about it every level.  The core mechanic is strong.

It's everything else surrounding it that I didn't like.  The story is annoying and over-serious cyberpunk dystopian fare.  The worst part is that it shoves this story in between really fun gameplay and totally breaks the fun pacing of the actual levels themselves.  It could have been done so much better.  Or it could have been skipped and nothing would have felt like it was missing.

This is the opposite feeling I had with Firewatch.  I finish up Firewatch, felt like I had an amazing narrative experience, saw my playtime was around three and a half hours, and felt pretty good about spending the $18.  SUPERHOT wrapped up and my playtime was 2 hours and I felt very ripped off.

Here's my recommendation.  Buy this game.  But don't buy it now!  Wait for the inevitable Steam sale and pick it up when it drops below $10 or $5... whatever your threshold is.  There's really cool core gameplay here but that's about it.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright Campaign

I beat Birthright within a week of picking up Fire Emblem Fates and I loved it!

Fire Emblem Fates sees you taking on the role of Corrin, a prince or princess (you choose) who was raised by the Nohr royal family but then soon finds out that they were a member of the Hosido royal family that had been captured at a very young age.

If you're unaware of the Fates situation, basically there are three campaigns but you don't buy them all together.  You purchase one version of the game and get that as your first campaign.  This is either Birthright (which I picked) or Conquest.  Birthright sees you siding with Hosido the family of your birth while Conquest will keep you with the family that raised you.

Once you beat that campaign you get the choice to purchase either of the other two campaigns at half price and download them directly into your existing game.  The third campaign, Revelations, is a middle path that ties both of the other two together.

All of the campaigns start the same way and have the same first six chapters.  After that point you have to make a decision that will determine the rest of your path.  Each campaign has a few characters that show up in all campaigns, but for the most part it's full of it's own cast.  And each one has a totally different story.  It's amazing that there's 20+ unique chapters for each path.  It's basically like they've made three Fire Emblem games worth of content and created a way to wrap them all into the same package.

The turn based strategy battles are similar to previous Fire Emblem games.  You control a group of characters as they move around a battlefield and try to complete an objective or defeat the other force.  Some weapons and classes are more powerful against others and the whole battle system has an underlying rock, paper, scissors mechanic to the weapons.

The battles are fun but I had the most fun with the characters.  Each character grows relationships with other characters when they fight together on the battlefield.  The more characters are near each other while doing actions in battle the more their relationship grows.  If you can get two characters to reach max relationship level they get married and through a magical story constraint they will instantly have a child that is old enough to join you in battle.

I can't tell you how much joy this has bought me!  I love forging these relationships and seeing the children that result.  I also think a lot of the relationship dialogue between the characters is more interesting than the main story of the game.  Not that the main story is bad, it's just that I love getting into the personal lives of these characters and getting to know them.

The Birthright campaign overall is fairly straightforward.  The "evil" Nohr empire is trying to invade and conquer your Hosido kingdom.  You fight back with the help of other members of the Hosido family and end up taking the fight all the way to the Nohr king.  It's a classic evil empire story but serves it's purpose well enough.  I actually picked this one first because I've heard the other two campaigns have a lot more depth and nuance to them and I thought I'd use this one as a baseline.

Overall I'm loving Fire Emblem Fates.  I liked it enough that as soon as I wrapped up the Birthright campaign I immediately downloaded Conquest to jump into and see the other side of the conflict!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Spectre Review


I've really liked a couple of the Daniel Craig James Bond movies.  To be specific, Casino Royale and Skyfall are two of the best Bond movies ever made.  Quantom of Solace isn't great but I was glad I watched it once.

Spectre is the worst of the four by far.  It's super slow and boring.  Even the action sequences didn't do much for me because they felt so disconnected from anything important.  I dunno.  Something about this one didn't click with me at all.

I'm ready for Bond to get away from this continuity arc and either give Daniel Craig a new storyline to play around with or... just get a new actor for James Bond.

I think it's time for a new direction or revamp of Bond.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Arrow Impressions

After loving The Flash so much I thought I would check out Arrow.  I enjoyed the characters during crossover episodes so I thought it might be another show I would have fun with, especially since it's in the same universe as The Flash.

Unfortunately, this is another show I quickly bounced off of.  After watching the first few episodes I moved onto a "best of" list and even then the show failed to grab me.  It takes itself way too seriously and tries to be dark and gritty... but mostly fails.

I've determined that I like the characters and actors of Arrow as written by the team in charge of The Flash.  In the future, when it comes to Arrow, I'll be sticking to crossover episodes only.  But hey, I still really like what DC is doing with The Flash!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Street Fighting With Family

A few years ago my wife and I discovered that we had unexpected amounts of fun beating each other up in Street Fighter IV.  So when I heard Street Fighter V had launched I knew I needed to obtain a copy.

Street Fighter V is still street fighter.  I've never been a fighting games pro.  I can't tell you the nuanced differences, tweaks, or improvements in this version.  It's still Street Fighter!  If you like Street Fighter you basically know what this game's about.

The funniest part about playing together is that I try to learn the moves and my wife is firmly in the button mashing camp.  I do my best to learn special moves for characters, figure out what their strengths are, and attempt to learn some combos.

She wins 70% of the time.

The important part is that we're still having fun with Street Fighter.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Flash Season 2 Caught Up!

After blasting through the first season of The Flash I was hooked and jumped immediately into season 2.  The second season is still ongoing so it's caught in that weird spot between Hulu/Netflix streaming services.

But I was able to catch up on all the currently aired episodes and now I can start watching it week to week just like everyone else.

Honestly, the second season took longer to hook me than the first.  The premise of the show takes a shift when a bunch of breaches are opened in Central City that link it to an alternate version of Earth that team Flash quickly names "Earth 2."

For the first five or six episodes the multi-dimensional plotline feels really forced.  It seems like a way to just keep shoving the same characters and situations back into our faces even if they had been neatly wrapped up in season 1.  But, around episode six or seven it finds it's feet and once again I was hooked.  Now I want to know more about Earth 2 and I really want to see how this season will wrap up.

The mid-season detour into a crossover episode was pretty cool too.  I've never watched Arrow, but the main characters from it have made some fun guest appearances in The Flash a few times.  In Legends of Today and Legends of Yesterday they truly cross over in what turns out to be an origin story for Hawk Girl.  I had never heard of her and had to look her up which I suppose is bound to happen since I don't know DC superheroes that much.

I do know they recently launched another spin off show called Legends of Tomorrow so I'm assuming these two episodes tied into it.  It was interesting in that the first episode was an episode of The Flash but the second episode was actually an episode of Arrow.

We're approaching the end of the season of The Flash but we're not there yet.  The premise is fully formed while the characters and situations are all set up.  Now all that's left is to start bringing them all together towards a season conclusion.  If they do it as well as they did in season one it should be a good time.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Revisiting FFX-2

FFX-2 is one of the Final Fantasy spin-off games that I've been the most excited to get back to.  I remember the basics of the story but the main thing that stood out in my mind from the game is the battle system.

Firing up the remastered HD version on my Vita I quickly found that I still love the battle system.  It's the fastest and most active version of the Active Time Battle (ATB) system that is found in the majority of Final Fantasy games.  I love how dynamic is it too, it allows characters to swap out their class via dress spheres in the middle of the battle.

The progression system ties directly into it.  Each character can use any dress spheres, but each dress sphere levels up it's abilities separately for each character.  You'll naturally start relying on certain characters with certain dress spheres but the system is flexible enough that you could change out all three character's classes at any time, even in the middle of battle.

After playing a few hours I realized that I like the story for what it is but I'm not really in the mood for it right now.  Most of FFX-2 is a girl-power treasure hunting j-pop carefree adventure.  The undercurrent is investigating a sighting in a recorded video sphere of Tidus from Final Fantasy X and I remember that storyline has payoff at the end.  But, most of the moment to moment in the game is about the carefree treasure hunting adventure.

It also reuses a lot of assets from Final Fantasy X and I played FFX not that long ago.  There are plenty of unique locations and new takes on existing locations too but I don't particularly want to retread ground that I played through so recently.

I still like this game a lot and I'll definitely swing back around to it later when I'm in the mood for this type of story.  Honestly, the battle system is so good that it almost carries the game.  If you haven't ever played it and you're a Final Fantasy fan you owe it to yourself to check out how great this version of the ATB system is.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

X-Com 2 Initial Impressions

X-Com 2 seems to have clicked with me much more than the first game.

I always appreciated X-Com as a decent turn-based strategy game but something about it just didn't quite click with my personal taste.  I tried playing through a few times but always gave up, despite my general love of turn based strategy games.

X-Com 2 generally plays the same but there's just enough differences that make me like it a lot more.  I think the tactical battles are tuned to force players to play more aggressively, which is how I always played the original.  I didn't realize until I saw complaints online but I guess most people played the first X-Com very slowly and defensively... I guess I was playing it wrong.  X-Com 2 often has an objective with a timer that forces you to keep moving.  I love it.

I also never seemed to make good decisions in the strategy layer of X-Com between missions.  Apparently there's one "correct" way to play it that I never figured out.  In X-Com 2 it seems like any choices you make in the strategy layer are totally valid and it does a great job of actually highlighting the important optional missions to take on.

Most of the complaints I've seen online come down to "I knew the perfect choices when playing X-Com and now I don't because the game is different."  I bet this type of talk will calm down quickly as those people figure out the game further.  But, for people like me who never min-maxed X-Com... X-Com 2 has a lot to offer.

Hopefully I'll stick with this one long enough to at least finish the campaign once.  If I do I'll write up a full review.  For now, I'm enjoying my time with it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Telltale Fatigue

I finally have Telltale fatigue.  I knew it as soon as I tried to go back to Minecraft Story Mode and was immediately bored with it.

I'm burned out on the Telltale formula.  Yes, every one of their games has a different story to tell but the core of the gameplay behind it is identical.  They're all obviously built on the same underlying structure.

I must have just played too many of their games last year.  I played all six episodes of Game of Throne and all five episodes of Tales from the Borderlands.  Not to mention playing a bunch of The Wolf Among Us.

For me it's time to step away from Telltale games for a bit.  I loved Tales from the Borderlands and really liked Game of Thrones this year but they've apparently overdone it for me.

I think the key will be to wait for the next franchise that I'm super excited for from Telltale.  I'm sure there will be something that I get pumped up about, but Minecraft definitely isn't it.