Showing posts from March, 2015

The Last Colony

The Last Colony is a great book by John Scalzi.  I've read it a bunch of times but I just re-experienced it in audiobook format for the first time.  It's a really good audiobook too. The Last Colony is part of my favorite Scalzi series, the Old Man's War  books.  It's a universe where humans are colonizing, aliens are generally upset with us for doing so, earth is treated like a military recruitment center, and super-humans are green.  I can't do the setting justice, but I can say it's one of my favorite book series ever. I highly recommend The Last Colony .  If you're interested in the series you should probably start with Old Man's War  but you can feel free to skip the second book and move right into reading The Last Colony.   It actually provides a much better paced story if you skip the second book, Ghost Brigades,  and jump right into The Last Colony  instead. There are so many cool sci-fi things in this series.  I don't want to spo

New Posting Schedule

If you haven't noticed, I've been on a bit of a post streak.  I started posting every day sometime in December and I kept it going for about four months. It was a really good exercise and I had fun doing it, but in the past week or so I've felt like I can't quite keep up the pace.  I don't want writing to become a chore, because I really enjoy it right now. So, I'm going to try moving to a 5 day per week post schedule.  I've noticed that my posts on the weekends don't get read as much anyway, so I'm going to try to aim for a post each weekday.  Except for April 1st.  No one takes anything serious on that day and it's right around the corner. Anyway, I'm giving myself permission to skip posting on weekends if I don't feel like it.  You might still get 7 posts per week, but I'm not going to hold myself to it.  We'll see how 5 days per week feels for me going forward. That's it for housekeeping.  Expect a return to your n

New Star Wars Canon Timeline

Oh my god.  It's so tiny.  Look at that new canon timenline. Just compare it to the abridged version of only the novels for the Legends Expanded Universe. I'm having trouble letting go of the old Expanded Universe.  Can you tell?

Final Fantasy Type-0 Wrap-Up

I finished up Final Fantasy Type-0 last night!  As always with Final Fantasy spin-off titles it was really interesting to see what they did with the game and where they differed from normal. I think the best thing they did with Type-0 is making it a mature game in a way that no other Final Fantasy game has been before.  Within the first few minutes you see an actual tragedy of war.  Death and being mortal are huge themes throughout the whole game.  And death often happens brutally, with blood.  Blood may not seem like a big deal in a game with war, but there is rarely any blood in a Final Fantasy game.  I'm surprised by how much weight it gives to the injuries and death in this game. The themes and the story in Final Fantasy Type-0 are the strongest parts.  I loved watching the members of Class 0 develop together as the story progressed.  By the end of the game I felt a connection with each member, even though there are 14 playable characters!  The developers made it work s

Link-up Fridays

My friend, B.J. Keeton , has been doing Link-ups on Fridays for awhile now.  They're a really cool idea.  Basically, you embed the linkup code on your blog and let anyone submit a relevant link.  It's like a curated list of articles for the week, but both writers and readers of articles are submitting their favorites. This past week he pointed out something interesting to me.  You can use the same embed code on multiple blogs and have it all contribute to the same Link-up.  He asked if I would be willing to try it out with him and I jumped at the chance. So here it is!  My first Friday Link-up.  Check it out below.  Submit any link from the past week that you think other fans of this blog might enjoy.  Anything geeky, video gamey, exercisey, whatever.  We're not going to curate it and pull links out.  If you think it's cool and want to share it with the community then feel free to drop it in the Link-up. And if you're interested in joining our Link-up and embe

Final Fantasy XIV: Low Level Magic

I played to level 15 with all three magic classes.  Later, these classes evolve and split off into more than three jobs once they reach the job stage at level 30, but all Discipline of Magic jobs stem from these three classes. Level 15 is a key point in Final Fantasy XIV because it's the point at which you can use the Duty Finder to automatically find groups and run dungeons.  It's when the game really picks up and becomes much more fun. Dungeons are one of my favorite parts of the game and they also give great loot and experience.  I would much rather level via dungeons than via grinding out Leve Quests.  And that's what I've had to do while getting these classes up to 15.  Lots of Leve Quests. Actually, under level 10 isn't too bad if you do your class quests and your class hunting log.  It'll generally get you to level 10 without too much grinding.  But leveling from 10 to 15 is a slog.  That's where Leve Quests come in.  Unfortunately, Leve Que

Card Crawl

Card Crawl is a diamond in the rough.  By rough... I mean the Apple App store and by diamond... I mean a good game. Card Crawl is kind of like playing through a tactical solo dungeon crawl... with cards.  It's also a little bit like solitaire?  I feel like I'm not doing a good job here.  Stick with me, the game is good. What happens is you are dealt a hand of four cards and you have to manage them.  They're in the middle area which represents the dungeon.  There are six types of cards in the dungeon and a few ways to deal with them.  The card types are shield, sword, coin, potion, special ability, and monster.  All of the card types can be dragged down into the section around your character, but the catch is that you only have two hands and one backpack.  This means only three items can fit on your character at any time.  Monsters, on the other hand, can be attacked with swords, get hit by special abilities, be defended against with shields, or dragged directly onto

Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi

This was a Star Wars New Canon Universe Novel.  I still don't know what the official terminology is for that.  I know that the old Expanded Universe is now called Legends... but I don't think the new books, comics, and games have an official classification.  I'll keep an eye out for it. Anyway, this novel takes place between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back.  It happens to be the same time period that all the new comic books are in right now.  It wasn't ever explored very much in the Legends universe so it seems like they're finally taking a chance to flesh out more of what happens in the middle of the rebellion. While the novel is about the rebellion, it's much more of a character piece about Luke Skywalker.  He's the main character and he's given most of the focus in the book. Luke is just starting to understand the basics of the force and get experience in the wider galaxy.  He's breaking out of his farm boy roots and is excited to exp

Path to The Force Awakened

There was a Polygon article last week about the path of the new Star Wars canon universe leading up to the release of The Force Awakened.  There will be about 20 different books, novels, and comics leading up to it.  They'll cover the time period between Return of the Jedi and the new trilogy.  It will give hints about what has happened with the heroes from the original trilogy. I'm actually really excited for this announcement, especially the part about giving hints as to what the characters from the original trilogy have been up to.  If they're only giving hints... that means that the novels will be full of unique characters and situations that have real stakes.  They can grow the universe, put characters in real danger, and have true character growth.  It's hard to do that when your main characters have plot immunity because of the films. My problem now is going to be keeping the Star Wars Legends universe separate from the Star Wars Canon universe in my he

The Flop Among Us

The Wolf Among Us was a flop for me.  I bought a season pass and played episode one when it released, but I hadn't gotten back to playing the other four episodes until this last week.  I buckled down, played episodes 2 and 3, and then gave up. I gave this story plenty of time to grip me but it failed.  It was a murder mystery where I never actually got to solve anything.  It was very unsatisfying. I know these Telltale story-based games are on rails.  There's not much you can do to effect the overall outcome.  But, while most of them keep me on the edge of my seat, this one completely failed to connect with me. It's sad because I loved the Walking Dead and I've loved the episodes of Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands that have released so far.  I'm actually super excited that the next Tales from the Borderlands just released.  I never felt any of that excitement about The Wolf Among Us. It would probably be different if I were already inv

Final Fantasy XIV: Crystal Tower

I did my first raids in Final Fantasy XIV!  After finishing my run through of all the level 50 dungeons I figured it was the next piece of content to experience. There are two main sets of raids in the game at the moment, The Crystal Tower and the Binding Coil of Bahamut.  The Crystal Tower is much more approachable and newbie friendly, so that's what I did. I had a set of guildmates walk me through the entire thing.  This is definitely the best way to learn the fights.  I'm sure you could find youtube videos too, but learning from real people is awesome.  Especially people who will answer your questions and not get frustrated that it's your first time. They were all running it anyway because of the weekly incentive Final Fantasy XIV provides.  The game developers are so good at social engineering.  Once per week you can run through the entire Crystal Tower set of raids and if you complete all three raids you get an item that can increase the stats and item level

Monster Hunter 4 Demo

I've wanted to like Monster Hunter ever since I first heard about it.  The premise of taking on giant monsters with 3rd person action skills appeals to me.  The problem has always been the execution and unfriendliness of Monster Hunter.  It's never been a game that's easily approachable for new players. In fact, it's a game that's been extremely difficult for new players to figure out.  I think I would have gotten into it long ago if I had a friend to answer questions and guide me through the game.  But, that's never happened. Everything I've heard about Monster Hunter 4 says that it's the most newbie friendly Monster Hunter game that they've ever made.  So, I gave the free demo a shot.  Thanks 3DS eShop! I sat down and played the demo for over 3 hours the other night, just trying out all the weapons and attempting to get my head around the basics of monster hunting while in the beginner section of the demo.  I finally settled on two weapon

Final Fantasy Type-0: Initial Impressions

Type-0 just released on PS4!  As I'm writing this, I've played the first four hours or so of the game.  Just enough to get an impression. I have a bunch of minor issues to nitpick, so let's get that out of the way, because I actually like the game.  Here we go.  It's obviously an upscaled port from a lesser game system.  The graphics could easily have come from a PS2, though they came from a PSP in this case.  There's a lot of loading between areas of the map.  I'm sure that made sense on a less powerful system, but it's annoying here.  At least it's really fast loading.  The voice acting is a little forced and I doubt the actors got to record their dialog together.  Tone and responses to statements don't always mesh well.  Just like in Final Fantasy XIII there are a lot of proper nouns early in the game which aren't clearly defined.  But, it's not as bad or unclear as Final Fantasy XIII, so it has that going for it. That's is for

Agent to the Stars

The other day I finished Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi and it was well worth the read.  Well, in this case, the listen. I listened to the audiobook version on Audible narrated by Wil Wheaton.  He narrates a lot of John Scalzi's books and they make a good team. Scalzi is one of my favorite authors, but Agent to the Stars was released before I had discovered him.  I finally got around to reading the book but I wish I hadn't taken so long. Agent to the Stars is about a Hollywood agent who is asked to represent an alien species trying to make first contact with earth.  Instead of the traditional model of contacting world leaders they would like to make first contact through Hollywood.  Their thinking is that American media sets the standard of culture for the world, so it's best to make first contact through them, they just aren't sure about the best way to do it. It's a great sci-fi novel and also gives an interesting glimpse into the world of being

Final Fantasy XIV: Endgame Bonus

I "finished" Final Fantasy XIV, but I've actually still been playing it.  My twitter friend and free-company mate (guildmate) in the game, Belghast , encouraged me to jump back on and try some of the content that unlocks at level 50. Wow, there is a ton of content that unlocks at level 50.  When I wrote my wrap-up post I was at 84 hours of play time after leveling to 50 and completing the main story.  I'm now over 160 hours and I have yet to repeat content after hitting the level cap.  I haven't even had to run the same endgame dungeon twice. Let's talk about content.  Final Fantasy XIV releases huge amounts of content on a regular basis.  In one of their recent "small" updates they patched in an entire mini-game center and new location in the game called the Gold Saucer... on top of adding new story quests and dungeons. At this point, after 5 major patches, there is almost as much story after level 50 as there is leading up to level 50.  

There Came An Echo

There Came An Echo is an interesting game.  It's real time strategy controlled entirely by voice commands. It actually has really good voice recognition... once you get your mic configured.  But, it took me way too long to find settings that would work for it.  I probably spent my first 30 minutes with the game just fiddling with mic settings.  Once it was finally set up, the voice command recognition worked great, so I do need to give it credit for that. And not only is the voice recognition good, but the voice acting is really good too.  They hired great voice talent, including Wil Wheaton!  He's one of my favorite author/voice actor/actor guys.  He's cool.  And the rest of the cast does a good job too. But while the quality of the voice acting is good, there's just too much of it.  Overall there's too much story, and not enough gameplay.  I played the first 3 hours or so of the game and I feel like I was only in control of gameplay for maybe 30 minutes


Heavenstrike appears to be what happens when you take Square Enix's talent at making tactics games and neuter it with Free to Play mechanics.  Ugh. I tried it because I'll try most things that Square Enix releases.  They always have my attention since they're the company that makes Final Fantasy... and if you haven't noticed by now, I love Final Fantasy . Heavenstrike is a turn based lane pushing strategy game.  You summon units using mana and the units push up each lane trying to get to the enemy commander to do damage.  The first one to take out the opposing commander wins. The basics aren't bad, but the game has all the free to play trappings that I try to avoid.  Energy is used each time you enter a battle and if you run out of energy you can either wait a while or pay real money to buy more.  You can also pay real money to have a chance to recruit new super units.  This is not the way I want games to make their money. It's the worst of free t

Nothing Will Stick

Ever have one of those days where you try a bunch of games in your library and nothing will stick?  You just jump between games for a few hours before giving up on all of them?  That happened to me the other night. I think I'm finished with a couple more Steam games.  These are games from my positive impression pile back when I did my big backlog playtest.  Wolfenstein, Shadowrun: Dragonfall, and Saints Row IV are all good games but I can't seem to get them to stick. They're just not games for me at the moment even though I can tell they're good games. I don't think I'm in a big FPS mood, so Wolfenstein was fun for a few play sessions but I have no desire to play it to completion.  It's going in my "Games I'm Done With" Steam folder.  Maybe I'll revisit it in the future if I get a sudden FPS craving... but not anytime soon. Shadowrun: Dragonfall is good too.  It has solid turn based mechanics with a variety of classes and option

Star Wars Legends: The Truce at Bakura

Let's just get this out of the way and say... this isn't a very good book.  It doesn't fit into any other overarching narrative or character development.  It's a one-off novel that isn't very interesting. The novel takes place the day after Return of the Jedi.  The Rebels are reorganizing when they get a distress call from a remote imperial outpost about a new enemy that could threaten the galaxy.  Luke Skywalker is given a task force to command and goes to assess the situation.  He brings along the main cast from the movies and together they discover that the alien threat is stealing human lifeforce in order to power their technology. The only real character development that happens is Luke getting slightly better at force healing through practice and Leia coming to terms with Vader being her father. In the end, the alien menace is destroyed, the planet that was threatened joins the Rebel Alliance, and some imperials defect. Don't waste your time on

Super Time Force Ultra Complete

When I did my big Steam backlog playthrough I saved all the games that I had a positive impression of so that I could swing back around to play them later.  I've started doing that a bit with Wolfenstein and now with Super Time Force Ultra. Super Time Force Ultra is a time traveling game where you never truly die, you just choose to rewind time and try again.  But instead of your old self disappearing, it persists.  This means that on some bosses you'll have 30 copies of yourself all attacking from different angles at the same time.  It gets chaotic but it's super fun. The game is full of humor too.  The reasons for missions are often along the lines of, "Wouldn't it be cool if the dinosaurs weren't extinct?  Let's go stop the meteor from wiping them out and see what happens."  Philosophy and consequences of time travel are nowhere to be seen, but it's better that way.  They make it work and they make it funny. I finished the game the ot


Since finishing Rogue Legacy, I've been dabbling in other PS4 and Wii U games to play while I'm exercising. One of this month's free PS Plus games was CounterSpy.  It's been a ton of fun and fits into my workout routine with my stationary bike.  It fills the same niche for me that Rogue Legacy did. But it's not like Rogue Legacy.  CounterSpy is a stealth platformer, a stealth shooter, and a cover shooter all at the same time.  It's really cool. Basically you start as a stealth platformer, but there are certain areas of the environment where you can hit a button and snap to that piece of scenery.  At that point you're playing a cover shooter, unless you have a silenced weapon, at which point you're playing a stealth shooter.  It's a really cool mash-up of genres and control schemes.  It took about half an hour for the game to click with me, but after that I was loving it. The setting and art style are amazing too.  It's basically a new c

Failing at GTA V

I tried, I really did.  I bought GTA V around the holidays and I've tried to play it and get into it multiple times.  I just can't. I used to love this series.  When I was 13 I thought GTA 3 was one of the greatest games of all time.  I have amazing memories of playing GTA Vice City when I was just a little bit older.  But somewhere around GTA San Andreas or GTA IV the series lost touch with me.  I don't think it's GTA that's changed, I think it's me.  I'm not the same person at 28 that I was at 13. It doesn't do anything for me anymore.  Somehow all the hype convinced me that this time would be different when GTA V released for PS4 a few months ago.  I've tried to get into it multiple times and I've met with failure every time.  Not failure at actually completing objectives in the game, but failure at being remotely interested in the game. I guess I'm not the right demographic for GTA anymore.  It takes itself too seriously with to

Star Wars Legends: Shadows of the Empire

The two books I wanted a quick refresher of in the Rebellion era of Star War Legends were Shadows of the Empire and The Truce at Bakura.  Luckily for me, I found the audio book abridged versions of both of these books.  I wanted to jog my memories but didn't want to re-read the whole book for either of them.  As I've said before, I think this is the least interesting era of the Star Wars Legends novels.  They're much too constrained by the movies.  I remembered them not being very good, and it seems like I was at least correct for Shadows of the Empire. This novel takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  It focuses on Luke, Leia, Lando, Darth Vader, and Xizor.  Essentially, both Darth Vader and Xizor are hunting for Luke Skywalker while Luke and his friends are looking for Han Solo.  Darth Vader wants to capture Luke and turn him to the dark side of the force while Xizor wants to kill Luke in retribution for a past transgression that Vader

Playing with Toys

Last weekend we were out and about at an activity.  After exploring for awhile my son wanted to just sit down at a table and play with toys.  He's 2 and he's a blast. Playing cars with my son while waiting for my wife and daughter was awesome.  We drove them across the table.  We let them drive themselves off the table.  We crashed them into each other.  We had a giant dinosaur puppet eat them.  He was laughing and playing and having so much fun. It reminded me that sometimes it's nice to disconnect and just play.  We don't always need to be online and be connected.

I Beat Rogue Legacy

I beat Rogue Legacy!  I guess it was alright. The only reason I stuck with it is because it's a great game to play while I'm exercising on my stationary bike.  Certain games lend themselves to being played while doing other things and this is one of them. And I'm always doing other things while playing Rogue Legacy.  Usually I'll mute Rogue Legacy, get on my stationary exercise bike, play a podcast, and just zone for awhile. After you understand the mechanics and basic classes of the game it becomes about execution of platforming and attacking.  It doesn't require a lot of thinking or planning.  That's exactly what makes it perfect as a game to play while exercising. I played it almost every day for the past few weeks and I finally beat the last boss.  I liked my time with the game and at this point I would pick up a sequel if they were to make one.  That being said, I would never sit down and play this game as a solo activity.  It needs to be accompa

Vader #2 and Princess Leia #1

More comics! I was initially turned off by the first few Star Wars comics I picked up.  But I got some more anyway... because Star Wars.  Don't look at me like that... it's my weakness. After two issues it's easy to say that Vader is a much better series than the main Star Wars comics.  The Star Wars main comic feels very generic with too much action and not enough plot or character development. Vader, on the other hand, is all about Vader's character development.  It focuses on his relationship with the Emperor and his place in the Empire hierarchy.  Since they're both Sith they don't trust each other and they plot behind each other's backs.  It's really interesting.  It has action too, but it's much more measured and intimating actions taken by Vader.  It's not action for the sake of having action. The Leia series is still a bit too early to tell.  There's only one issue released and it eases into the premise of the story.  I li

House of Cards Season 3

The release of House of Cards Season 3 on Netflix last week gave my wife and I another opportunity to binge watch a good show.  We loved House of Cards Season 1 and 2 so we were excited to jump into Season 3 right away. It's still good, even if it has gone off the rails a bit this season.  It's definitely not as good as the first two seasons.  The first two seasons were all about the dirty and desperate power climb in the American political system.  Season 3 starts out with Frank Underwood already being president and most of the season he doesn't quite know what to do with himself.  It's a disappointing change compared to the other seasons. Another thing that bugged us is that anyone who has looked into the actual daily life of a president would notice a ton of inconsistencies and things that aren't realistic this season.  I'm able to let it go, but it bugged my wife throughout the entire season.  Frank Underwood barely seems to have any kind of staff or

Final Fantasy XIV: Patches and Endgame Content

I'm still playing Final Fantasy XIV and I'm still trying to get my head around everything the endgame has to offer.  But, I wanted to mention how impressed I am with their patches. Patch 2.51 just released last week.  In terms of Final Fantasy XIV patches it's a "minor" one.  A minor patch in any other MMO I've ever played would include some bug fixes and small balance tweaks.  This patch in FFXIV added the Gold Saucer.  It's an entirely new area of the game that is completely visually unique and has a bunch of new activities.  They added Triple Triad, a complete digital card game, along with things like Chocobo Racing and mini games scattered throughout the area.  This patch really impressed me.  It might be what convinces me to subscribe to this game. I mean, they just add so much content per patch.  Every "major" patch has added new storyline quests as well as 3 or more new dungeons or encounters to run.  They make other MMOs look like

Star Wars: Tarkin

Yesterday I finished Star War: Tarkin .  It's the second novel in the Star Wars New Expanded Universe.  I must say, this novel was much better than A New Dawn. The novel is a character piece all about how Grand Moff Tarkin became a Grand Moff.  It also details how he became involved with the Death Star.  It's a good read for the background alone, but it's actually a really interesting look at his life and how he works within the Empire to achieve his goals. I jumped back and forth between reading the kindle version and listening to the Audible version.  Have I mentioned how much I love whispersync syncing between kindle books and Audible?  It's amazing. The audio book version is great.  It has amazing sound design.  They manage to capture the atmosphere of scenes as well as adding sound effects as characters are acting within the scenes.  I've never encountered an audiobook with these productive values before.  It's easy to recommend it. And over

Hero Emblems

Yesterday I mentioned how I latch onto good mobile games whenever I find them.  Since my phone is always within arm's reach I can sneak in quick mobile game sessions... and I do. I've been playing a bunch of Hero Emblems.  It's really fun, despite being a match-3 game.  And it doesn't have any predatory pricing model!  You pay for it once and get the game.  No in-app purchases.  That's always a plus in my book. The reason it's better than most match-3 games is because there are always obvious available matches but the game is about choosing the right one at the right time.  Compared to most match-3 games It has a bigger board, with less variety of matching items.  In this case they're called emblems, but they function just like gems in Bejeweled. The cool part is that the game is actually an RPG and each emblem on the board corresponds to one of the members in your party.  When you match that set of emblems that character will take their action.  T

Star Wars Legends

After writing my other post about the Star Wars Expanded Universe I learned that the old Expanded Universe is now called Star Wars Legends .  It's actually a pretty good name for it, since it is essentially it's own separate universe now.  From what I can tell, there's no official name for the New Expanded Universe, but from now on I'll refer to the Old Expanded Universe as Star Wars Legends. I've decided to do what I was contemplating.  I'm going to re-read a big chunk of the Star Wars Legends in order and rekindle my fond memories of the series. I've been referring to this handy chart while planning my reading.  I suggest you glance at it , just to see how many novels are in the Star Wars Legends collection.  It's impressive. I've read the majority of the Star Wars Legends book, from all the eras represented.  Going back and reading absolutely everything isn't something I feel like doing right now.  But I do have a plan for which novels