Punctuation wrangler and orthographic enforcer, feminist, atheist, glutton, geek, scatterbrain, and Seattlite.
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  • Portal 2: I LIKE THIS GAME

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Portals are orange
    Portals are blue
    Pew pew pew pew pew pew pew

    I like this game so much I just had to write some poetry about it.

    As far as being a followup to one of the strongest contenders for Most Perfectest Game Ever, Portal 2 did really well. Superbly in fact. It managed to take what was good about Portal and turn everything on its head while keeping the gameplay fresh. I’ve finished my first playthrough of the single-player portion of the game, so this seems like a good time to stop and write down my impressions. No doubt there is much more in store with another playthrough and the coop mode. Spoilers below.

    Portal 2: The starting area of Portal 1 is now overgrown with vegetation and filthy.

    (Read the full entry)

    Weekly Quickies VII

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Been a while. No matter.

    Half-Life 2

    This has been my major game for a while. I played Portal again in anticipation and then decided I should finally get around to playing HL2, as part of my effort to un-newbify myself of FPSs. I’m creeping along under a bridge right now. I expect another airship fight. I’m actually having a really great time. The action is fun and challenging without being too difficult. It feels like the only times I die during gunfights are when I do something stupid, like stand still switching between all the wrong weapons or leave myself exposed. It really feels great when a fight goes just right and I can anticipate the enemies and their moves, take appropriate cover, switch to the right gun, and take them out efficiently. And Ravenholm, needless to say… that was fun and freaky.

    Half-Life 2: A disfigured zombie's upper torso rests on a giant sawblade that is stuck to the wall of an old shack. There's a bit of blood too.

    As fun as those parts of the game are, the vehicle sections so damn frustrating. The hover-bike part took foreeever, and took so much trial and error just to figure out where to go. The dune buggy thing was even worse because of the ants and the vehicle’s tendency to get stuck on things, requiring me to reload a save.

    The thing that annoys me most about FPSs is the lack of peripheral vision: I think part of the way a game presents itself is through its translation of how we sense things in real life. Obviously, the player can’t sense things exactly as their character does, and it’s up to the game to create that analog. In FPSs, for instance, in order for the player to play effectively they need to constantly evade in directions other than straight forward—places they can’t see. A third-person game accounts for the lack of spacial awareness a person normally has by showing us the space around and behind the PC. Even a radar with red dots serves this purpose of compensating for our missing in-game senses, however poorly.

    Anyway, when you’re supposed to be going that fast on Half-Life 2’s vehicles this feeling is exacerbated. Hard to steer, hard to see where I’m going… maybe I’m just not good at these games, but I actually ragequit for the first time in a long time in that stupid dune buggy thing. It feels needlessly difficult without being challenging. I enjoy the challenge of the rest of the game, but the vehicles just feel cheap.

    Puzzle Quest 2

    I can’t even remember why I started playing this game again, but I’m loving it now. I bought it when it came out and was thoroughly bored. As with the first game, the fusion of RPG and puzzle just didn’t work for me. I still can’t say it does, but what I’m enjoying this time around is being able to mess with the different skills and work out synergies. When something works out it feels unique to me. I’ve been playing the templar class, so my first move is to put up Defensive Wall, meaning I block 90 – 100% of attacks. Then I bide my time, hoarding action points and keeping Counter Attack up as much as possible. I win in a series of sword attacks, maybe 4 or 5 in a row. That method is probably not at all unique, in fact probably intended to be standard templar style, but the game’s done a good job at making me feel it’s my specific style. Beyond that aspect, the exploration, quests, inventory, character leveling, and even the puzzle itself are all pretty tedious. Still, it’s a game I can play while listening to podcasts and taking it easy.

    Guild Wars

    More GW, as usual. Oh, I should mention that GuildMag has recruited me as one of their new editors! I’m very excited about that. Go read it.

    My GW time lately has been lazily pursuing various titles on my rit: vanquisher, skills, and survivor. Those overlap in various ways, and generally speaking I’m over a third of the way there. I’ve also been bumming around pre-searing as a way of taking it easy in the evenings. It’s so beautiful and a great way to wind down.

    Guild Wars: A view of river rapids through some rocks in Pomgmei Valley. Kaineng City can be seen in the distance.



    Most of my building has been done underground and into a cliff face, leaving me with huge amounts of dirt and cobble that I have no idea what to do with. So I built a tower to the top of the sky one evening. Then I jumped off it.

    Minecraft: Giant windows run along a cliff and underwater. I tower rises out of the top into the clouds.

    Dragonier! Agier!: My first playthrough

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    This game. What a mess. But it’s a fun mess.

    Last time, you’ll remember, I tried to come to terms with my love/hate relationship with Dragon Age: Origins, and came to admire the way it tells its story. Now I’ve finished my first playthrough of Dragon Age 2 as a warrior. I thought I would be a mage first, but I knew I wanted to play as Lady!Hawke first… and I didn’t want a warrior Bro!Hawke… thus Esme Hawke! She is awesome. My character is the best and everyone else’s are losers. Here are my thoughts on the game after my first time through. Spoilers!

    Dragon Age 2: Esme, in fancy blue heavy armor, talks srs bizns with some soldiers.

    (Read the full entry)

    Ferelden is O.K.!

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    I didn’t write about Dragon Age: Origins while I was playing through it, but the few times I tried I kept getting stuck comparing it to Mass Effect 1 & 2. It’s unfair to compare them, being completely different games. But the reason I finally jumped into DA:O was because I foolishly hoped for a fantasy version of ME. So fuck it, I’m going to compare them—here goes: Dragon Age is checkers compared to Mass Effect. There, that ought to express all my deep and profound thoughts about DA, so I’ll just spend the rest of this post entertaining you with dirty limericks. Ahem. There once was a gal from Wooster— What? Okay, fine, we’ll talk about Dragon Age.

    Spoilers  for Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect abound.

    (Read the full entry)

    Talk to dolphins? BAD IDEA

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Science is bringing us closer to talking with dolphins:

    “We thought, ‘This is fascinating, let’s see if we can take it further,’” Herzing said. “Many studies communicate with dolphins, especially in captivity, using fish as a reward. But it’s rare to ask dolphins to communicate with us.”

    Now is a good time to look back on Miriam Goldstein‘s (now of Deep Sea News“The Dark Secrets That Dolphins Don’t Want You to Know” from May 2009, just so we know what kind of monsters we’re dealing with here:

    Dolphins are not gentle or psychic. If they could talk they would not impart eco-wisdom or deep spiritual truth. Dolphins are violent predators with a predilection for baby killing and rape. I feel it’s my duty to warn you, despite the risk of insulting creatures made of hundreds of pounds of muscle and rows of sharp teeth. Throw out your rainbow dolphin painting, and check out dolphins’ low-down dirty secrets:

    Read the article to find out! She’s also listed further reading on her blog.

    This is your warning, folks. If you get on a bus and see a pod of dolphins, steer clear! Go find a shark and tell it you need a chaperone. If a dolphin knocks at your door and asks if your parents are home, say “yes they are in the shower.”