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Thursday, May 14th, 2015
9:32 pm
LJ is back, and in a big way!

Just kidding. 

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Thursday, August 9th, 2012
8:34 pm
do you believe in save and reload?

i don't, because keith died and i don't get why i wouldn't reload after that. maybe there was nothing I could have done to stop it. maybe i tried everything but couldn't do enough because causality must be maintained. maybe i saved late at night and it was too late to change anything. maybe i never prayed for his safety. because maybe that's what prayer is, letting the player in charge know what you want to happen so they can steer you in the right direction.

fuck that, fuck save and reload. time is a line, and possibilities are points that change the vector. but it's just a line. 

you know you wouldn't know, though.

you wouldn't know how many times you've lived this day before. how many runs did it take to get it exactly this believable? how many failures did it take to get everything exactly right so you can just move on and live another day without chaos completely fucking you?

did you learn anything today? or is every day the same?





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Saturday, March 12th, 2011
11:00 pm - RFTG Expansion Link
I've started up a board game development log on BoardGameGeek.com. Specifically I am going to be updating the world on my progress in designing an expansion for Race for the Galaxy which I have been putting a lot of time into lately. The first entry can be reached via the link below:

http://boardgamegeek.com/blog/356/voxens-development-log

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Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
4:02 pm
I think I will extrapolate on my recent facebook update. Seems like the place to do it.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World the Game, available on xbox live arcade and ps3, is a really great game. As I'm playing through on supreme master difficulty it has stayed challenging and offered a great learning curve. It's simple, and formulaic, but the formula is one that is rarely tapped and so it doesn't seem old. And it plays really well.

The production is top-notch and old school. The music is seriously bumpin' 8-bit, but with bass. The characters are fun and the wit of the license shines through (after all the story plays out like a video game anyways). Progress is satisfying. Man. Just a great game.

I realize my tastes and criticisms have been leaning away from the story-heavy, interactive movie type games which are more prevalent. As soon as we get some VR/'ractive interface I imagine there'll be a schism between the holodeck and what actually constitutes video gaming. I'm not saying narrative games aren't games or that they're worse games than more basic ones. The best games are the best games because they have some emotional value, which is usually from a good story or narrative. But I've been playing a lot of castlevania HD (repetitive boss-grinding for rare items) and some scott pilgrim (simple 2D beat-em-up) which don't need friggin' 5-to-15-minute cut scenes to get me started. As a meandering example I downloaded the Costume Quest demo. Reads like I'd enjoy playing it but there's too much exposition. I'm much more a fan of the "you have amnesia." start that lets you figure out things as you go along.

My original notes for 2 1/2 hours, now nearly 15 years old, didn't really focus on the story-telling aspect besides the repetition. You make your own story by playing the game how you want, setting your own goals. I'm not a huge fan of pure sandboxes but it was an interesting concept; your first play-through, you meet a bunch of characters. now you know who they are, maybe where they'll go next, and you can confront them with that knowledge in a different way. It's very Groundhog Day. But I'm not sure the media is right for it anymore. Games are more fun when they're games.

Also been pondering the whole 'photon' thing. obviously photons are a thing, but are they actually particles? is anything actually a particle? i kind of see them as a measurement of where the energy transfer occurs. your photon detector gets hit by some light, the energy transfer happens, and ding. it can't happen somewhere else (there's only so much energy after all), so it looks like a photon hit "right there". particle trails in an accelerator, same thing. it transferred here, then here, then here, etc. obviously things have mass but maybe that's just the universe's expansion canceling out the expansion of the 'particle'. i dunno i'm not a scientist. but i'd be ok if the atoms in my body were really just energy locked together by the propagation of the universe through time. well, enough crazy talk.

Viola has been sleeping for quite a while now. It's good, she needed a nap, but it always weirds me out a bit when she goes down for so long. I worry about her (even though she's perfectly capable of surviving a nap) but if I go in to check on her she'll wake up (cranky?). Said it before and I'll say it again: Parenthood is strange.

There she goes.

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Sunday, January 9th, 2011
1:58 pm
Since my last post was about McRib, I figure I should follow it up with some commentary. I used to like McRibs, but it appears that whatever cost-cutting measure McDonald's discovered to re-release them for two bucks each also meant they are no longer delicious. Changing times.

My baby is now a year old. I'm something like forty. She is adorable. I am not.

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Sunday, November 7th, 2010
5:13 pm
I ate McDonalds for lunch today (McRib)... and it filled me with some sort of chemical despair. An hour afterward, I began feeling terribly sad for no reason. Really weird. I guess i'll stay away from those.

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Monday, October 4th, 2010
10:01 pm - what
I bought a standard shitload of D&D miniatures lately. I don't know why. Oh man.

I recently took part in a play-by-forum which worked quite well and was a lot of fun. The DM took screen shots of the battle map and everyone posted their turns. I am thinking of doing something similar, and could use a few interested people. I tried, once, to do a sort-of-D&D thing on line but I hadn't really figured out how it would work. Using a forum handles it quite well, though if I knew a tiny bit of php and had my own web space i'm sure you could do one with a bit more interaction (since it'd be great for players to move their own figures and etc). A google wave might also work well, but there's not a "google drawing" widget which would be perfect. In fact using a plain ol' google doc could be even better, except that there's no way to get it to remind you when there's an update.

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Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
10:45 am - Ljeets
Got a webcam. Don't know what to do with it.(44)

Designed a game. Haven't uploaded the rules yet to BGG, so I feel conspicuous and pretentious with the "Game Designer" badge on my avatar.(137)

Drinkin' coffee.(16)

Civ Revolution is actually pretty great; it distills Civ into a raw spirit and chucks a lot of the painstaking parts.(117)

It would be very hard to break down mono Beefhoven tracks into their constituent parts in order to turn them into Rock Band tracks.(131)

What should my next game be called? Yes, I am asking.(53)

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Thursday, August 19th, 2010
8:09 pm - City of Heroes: Issue 18 and Going Rogue
I've had a chance to play a couple hours of City of Heroes lately, and the new issue (along with the new expansion, the second ever paid expansion for CoH) is really great. Tons of QoL (Quality of Life) issues have been taken care of and the game is really solid.

If you used to play and quit I'm not sure if you'd be into it, because it is still an MMO and it still feels the same. But it's better.

The expansion, Going Rogue, brings a couple things to the table that are cool. First there's a few new zones that encompass Praetoria, the capital city of an alternate (utopian) Earth ruled by a Lawful-Evil (or is he?!?) version of Statesman named Emperor Cole. Dissenters are rounded up by the PPD and disappeared. There's a resistance group, cleverly named the Resistance, which is devoted to thwarting Cole and exposing him for the tyrant that he is; and who, like the PPD and Cole's praetors, are also complete dickholes that usually believe the ends justify the means. So it's interesting, as the storylines play out far from the black-and-white, good-vs.-evil.

And play out they do. Throughout the storyline your character makes decisions that can alter their loyalties from Cole to the Resistance and possibly back again. Besides a couple pure shit find-the-outdoor-glowie missions (Pick Roses for Praetor White? /killself) the new arcs are all quite good, and enhanced by some of the new scripting tech like dialog trees for interacting with NPCs and choices that can affect what happens later in the mission. And there's enough content to keep you busy all the way up to level 20, when you'll choose whether to become a Hero or a Villain.

Cole *is* the bad guy, of course, and as any high level hero knows he has his sights on extending his grasp into Earth Prime. Praetorian characters who remain loyal to Emperor Cole become villains, Resistance fighters become heroes. So no longer are certain archetypes pinned to one side or the other: There can be hero Brutes and villainous Defenders.

It keeps getting better, because the other thing that Going Rogue did, by introducing the alignment system, is provide a way for characters that aren't Praetorian to switch sides, which creates some really good opportunities for getting a richer, more role-playing-ish experience, and adding a lot more mileage for your existing characters, on which I will elaborate.

The game now includes a "Tip" system. Upon defeating an enemy, occasionally you'll get a tip, which is a bit of story fluff that serves as an introduction to an Alignment mission. What is subtly fantastic about these tips is that they give you a choice, adding a bit of why your character is doing what they're doing. For example, you might beat a confession out of a 5th Column solider: Apparently they've got their hands on a dangerously powerful artifact. SO, do you go steal it and gain its power no matter how dangerous it is, or do you go destroy it to make sure no one (especially your enemies) can get it? The first is a more villainous choice (reaffirming your villainousness) and the second moves you towards possibly becoming a Rogue, which is a half-step towards becoming redeemed and being a hero. Once you become a Rogue, you can go into Paragon City and join heroic teams (and do hero task forces), but you're still a villain and can't get hero contacts until you give up villainy for good (well, at least until you switch back).

For heroes that slip toward darkness, the half-step is Vigilante, but the system works the same. The simplest thing, being able to choose the reasoning behind your motives, makes me feel a lot more invested in my character. Even though the system is just a shoe for a mechanical process that allows you to switch sides. It's really cool.

Also they made a lot of other subtle adjustments and additions to improve the game overall. I'm really impressed with Paragon Studios' commitment to making a better game that is not just a WoW clone. (because if that's what you want, just play WoW, right?)

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Sunday, August 15th, 2010
9:37 am
have decided to design games. one a week or so. needed a name, asked around, forced jason to give me one. Cogtown in progress

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Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
4:36 pm
Pulled something weird in my back yesterday, probably from carrying Viola or possibly sitting on the floor and looking up at Puzzle Quest 2. It started out just feeling kind of tight in my chest but by the time I was lying in bed moving anything--like rolling over--was momentarily excruciating. I don't think I was having a heart attack.

Picked up another copy of Quirkle Cubes at B&N for 85% off. I figure I pay 5 bucks for a magazine that I'll just throw away, surely it's worth spending as much to get 90 colorful wooden cubes... Though it's my fourth clearance set (on top of the one set I paid wholesale for a while back). Of a game I have never and possibly will never play. Oh well. Blocks are blocks. I'm sure Viola will enjoy them in a few years... and I could always use them to create a "traditional wooden Bejeweled" set

V is sitting on the floor nearby trying to eat dust bunnies. It's fantastic that she sits up so well and has the manual dexterity to shove them into her mouth, but yecch. She's been cranky lately but is milked up and pretty happy right now, flashing me a huge smile. I calmed her down with some guitar playing earlier, that was cute, since previously the noise of it sort of disconcerted her. Any day now she will be pulling herself up to stand by things, which is alanic because she probably isn't even close to crawling. But trying to stand up, oh yeah. Reaching for my mouse (on a low table) has turned her from happy smiley into screamy frustratey. Oh, the joys of parenthood.

I've been enjoying the new Futurama episodes. After the first two which left me saying "umm..." they've picked up and are quite, well, enjoyable.

Screamy baby needs a change I think.

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Friday, July 23rd, 2010
12:32 pm - games and such
Bought/received some video games lately.

I watched Tom playing Red Dead Redemption for a few minutes at Jason's house. Looked fun, so I picked it up. Even though C.W. told me it was like GTA I wasn't suspecting it to be SO similar. So far all I've done is tiresome newb missions that involve a lot of waiting and following people while they talk. Also, the game seems to have a "Mike vs. Half-Life" hatred of me. Ever since I saved up $50 I've been trying to buy the next location (a saloon in Armadillo) to use as a save point, but every time I head out that way I get killed for some reason or another. First it was a party of bandits.
Then a couple of highwaymen robbing a guy who I tried to assist (being up on a horse makes it easy to get shot).
Then I decided to go to the other town (thieves' landing), couldn't afford that save point, couldn't find a "flat expanse of ground away from roads and water" to camp and fast travel, and wandered around trying to do so until I eventually fell in the river (killing me instantly?!)
Then another bandit. Never stop to help.
Finally, I successfully make it to Armadillo. On the way I had stumbled upon a kidnapper's camp, lassoed him up and untied his victim who gave me a fat reward.. go me! Then I put the kidnapper on my horse and head into town... When I get to the saloon I'm going to buy, a guy is roughing up a woman so I shove him off, he shoots me, I shoot him. Which is apparently enough to turn the entire saloon against me. Soaking up bullets at the door, I kill a guy coming out of the place and (since I haven't saved yet) run for cover, hoping to escape with my life (and the money I've just made), but no, a guy sprints out and guns me down. "Well fuckity fuck" I say politely, and respawn back in the other town. There goes my $75, along with most of my interest in the game.

The first level of Super Mario Galaxy 2 seemed decent. The graphics don't look great in HD though. Ah well.

I decided to give the City of Heroes Going Rogue beta a try, but so far the process of downloading and correctly installing it has taken four hours or so. I realized too late that nothing happens for about a minute when you run the program (oh, of course, why didn't I think of that), and so trying to run three independent copies of it (and shutting down the processes) might have caused problems which it is now "fixing" at 4.5K per second. woo. Maybe I'll restart...

Finally I have tried out some AdultSwim games. Robot Unicorn Attack is a brilliant joke and actually sort of fun too.

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Saturday, May 15th, 2010
6:38 pm
Haven't called WF since my computer got screwed over by "Antimalware" malware.

Mass Effect 2 was good. The characters were fantastic, the story was very interesting, but there were a lot of questions that weren't answered (to the game's detriment!). The end was either really cool (if it leads to some exciting revelations later on) or a hokey Contra boss (if they just hand wave it later on).

ME1 had a lot of slow character progression, you'd learn about the character by returning to them many times over a long period. ME2 does a good job of filling the loyalty missions with all this content so it doesn't seem as fidgety, but then the drawback is, you go and talk to your crew and they enter 'RPG repeat mode' very early on. It felt like it took two or three conversations to fully romance one squad member and then they're essentially non-communicative. It undermines the (unilaterally awesome) characters when you get to know them and flesh out their backstories with a compelling loyalty mission, then have one of them reduced to a one line refusal to speak just because you become romantic with someone else.

Still the amount of game-to-game continuity is awesome. My choices in ME1 had big consequences in ME2, and I can only imagine that the things I did in ME2 will really change the scope of the conflict in ME3. In addition, tt will be fun to play through ME2 as a different character (having killed Wrex in ME1, for example) and see the changes, and the more unique class powers should offer more concrete differences in play style (an exciting prospect).

I made a couple of observations about subtle story elements that I think will likely be more important overall, and I'm interested to see if they end up being correct. Though one of my theories about the ending of this game, which would have been awesome, seems to have been proved wrong.

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Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
10:05 pm
I am not a technophile. I thought about getting an iPhone and thought "eh, not really interested." And iPhones are pretty cool.

Six to eight months away (at least; as far as I can tell), I am very excited to buy a cheap, fast, light google chrome OS netbook. Me. Just a guy who doesn't like paying $100 extra for his OS and wants a computer that moves easily from room to room.

Imagine an ad where the Mac and PC get mugged from behind so fast they don't know what's hitting them. That's what it's going to be like. The fact that I am excited about this product so far in the future means that there are some serious market implications. I just thought you should know.

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Monday, November 23rd, 2009
4:42 pm
The new Prisoner show, on AMC, was pretty cool. You should watch it.

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Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
4:36 pm - Atlantis
shuttle Atlantis lifts off in the distance
Had a good time with Jaye in Florida. Played some mini golf, and had one fun evening after meeting up with Zach and some of his friends.

Being at the shuttle launch was amazing. Pictures can't describe the exhilirating sensation of Being There. In the age of Hollywood special effects and sci-fi, it's easy to forget what an awesome accomplishment space travel is, and the Kennedy Space Center does a good job of reminding people how important it is for humankind to keep reaching for the stars. Space exploration has led to beneficial scientific discoveries in many fields, and thrives on a peaceful spirit of international cooperation. For the sake of future generations, we shouldn't forget that astronauts are Big Damn Heroes.

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Friday, November 6th, 2009
10:17 pm - More Borderlands
I've played Borderlands obsessively over the past week. I finally beat it (the first play-through, anyways) with my level 35 Mercenary, and have a half dozen alts in the twenties, mostly sitting around after reaching New Haven. It's a lot of fun.
Reviewing Borderlands is difficult. New games are challenging our perceptions of what makes a game good, and the games are changing faster than we can change the discussion. It's not that Borderlands is challenging the standard of gaming (despite being an innovative mashup). Any comparison to Diablo is well-earned, though mechanically they're totally different they appeal to the same primal instinct of collect and improve. Plus it's an FPS. The difficulty comes when you try to quantify How good is it exactly? and end up with apples to oranges comparisons. Borderlands is fun but lacks the emotionally charged narrative that many modern games are able to provide. Should that be considered a failing of the game, which otherwise excels in being what it is? A question which provokes the discussion on what games are and where they are going and whether or not game-ness and narrativity are inseperable or in fact completely separate.

Suffice it to say I've probably had as much fun with Borderlands as I did with Mass Effect (a game I boldly suggested was the best game ever made), but I did not get as much out of it.

I learned that while it's fun to play online with friends, public games invariably have one guy who puts the I  in team and consequently, the F.U. in fun. Also, final boss issues (how's Brick going to use his action skill in that fight?).

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Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
6:15 pm - Borderlands
Borderlands is quite fun so far. It was exciting to find a shotgun with the added ability of "Holy crap! It fires rockets!" and I gleefully await using the cool rifle i will be able to use once i hit level 19.
The only faults I've encountered seem related to the dual-platform release.  The friends system isn't hooked into Steam's friend list, but instead uses GameSpy. I suppose that's just because it's not a valve game, but at the time I was flubterred by it. I played multi with Lem last night, we had a few problems at first but once each of us had gotten through the tutorial type stuff it seemed to work. Apparently the voice chat support is along the lines of 'on all the time', which we couldn't get to work (maybe talking too quiet), which was a bit frustrating. Skype, or I suppose steam voice chat would be easier, next time. Hopefully we can get a group of 3 or more going. I think I'll run the other two characters through the tutorial stuff just to be available in case that role is taken when we do.

Dinner time.

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Monday, October 26th, 2009
8:33 pm - I talk about co-op games again
there's this new game, Borderlands, that is some sort of FPS with loot and character progression, which is apparently fun co-op. if you buy a four-pack off of Steam it's $37.50 instead of $50 ... are any of my friends interested in perhaps going splitties on it?

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Wednesday, October 14th, 2009
12:13 am - I talk about games
Double XP/Reactivation Weekend in City of Heroes was a lot of fun. I got to play with quite a few people, and gained quite a few levels with a handful of characters. Now comes the odd process of shopping for cool enhancements and figuring out what powers to focus on.

Even though double XP was over, I had a milestone day today as Completist on Guardian. That's the character I keep at level 10 and collect badges and other lateral achievements with. I did a couple rikti raids and got the Adamant and Celebrity badges. Celebrity requires gaining 500,000 influence over the course of your career and is usually achieved in the mid-20s (as influence rewards increment steadily over time), and getting Adamant means taking a million points of damage, which is pretty much insane for a level 10 to have, but a bit easier to do when sidekicked up to high-level content. Beyond those, the last badge I achieved was The Unwavering, for accumulating and paying off 50,000 debt. Seeing as Level 10 characters get debt in intervals of 160, it means that character has been defeated at least 313 times. (Indoor defeats only count for 80). Games are fun.

20% of the way to my Talsorian Bow. Hot stuff.

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