Sunday, April 26, 2015

Let's Play Saints Row II: Part IX

So, Shaundi, after so many days, you finally decide to show up again.

And I see you've brought me a little present.


Girl, I think you've been smoking it.

She tells me the Sons of Samedi have cornered the market on smoking light bulbs.

Maybe drugs are what the people want.  Dunno.  I've never been in touch with my feminine, nurturing side.

'K  Sounds good.  But lemme guess...I'm the one who has to go get it. 
My brilliant plan is to beat up the drug dealers and take their drugs.


Bystanders huddle together for protection from my wrath.  Awww...I'm really bringing people together.

Drugs procured, I go back to my car only to find two goth kids playing paper, rock, scissors over it.  MINE, you little punks.

Do I remember something about a horrific car crash?  No, no, still here in front of my car with two goth kids fighting over who gets to steal it.  These lightbulbs are giving me the heebie jeebies, I guess.

Meanwhile, my devious Rasta Cam captures a high-level meeting in the mobile fortress of the crime boss known only as "The Samedi."

Awwww, you can't find your drugs today?  *heehee*

Mobile fortresses are sortof cool, but what if you need a lot of room so you can smack a pimp?  Then they are USELESS.

*live footage from Stray Cat Cam*

Somehow my car has picked up a smoking habit.  Did it have something to do with that horrific crash earlier?  The one that actually didn't happen...imma drop these lightbulbs off with Shaundi now.

Back at my crib, my Secret Feminazi Spy Force informs me they have begun infiltration of the Police Dept.  Excellent, my minions.

You cold tho girl?  Just sayin.

The boys have been working on a map of a city.  We now own a purple (of course) blotch in the middle of Samedi's territory.  I've finally started to make my mark on this city!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Year 2013 Lists: Good and/or Interesting Books I've Read This Year

(Republished from Facebook)

Science Fiction:
# Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer. An amateur hacker discovers a powerful secret and uses it to goof off with his bros.

# The Golden Age Trilogy by John C. Wright. In the distant future when people switch freely between virtual and incorporated existence, humanity and cyber intelligences debate the course of the universe as a millennial celebration approaches. Contains way too much verbiage (I love it!). (reread)

# John Dies at the End by David Wong. Sci-fi horror comedy. Several jaded misfits might save the world from horrors unknown or whatever.

# Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. A man narrates his highly improbable life to a traveling bard. Contains enough excellent writing to distract me from the hundreds of pages of frolicking with a love-nymph and a ninja/gymnast in book two. The final book is not yet out.

# The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker. A female police officer in a steampunk/secular egypt setting suspects the emperor is in danger. 89 action scenes ensue. (It's free on Kindle!)

# The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. Probably more "magical realism." A golem and a jinni find themselves in recent-immigrant situations in turn-of-the-century New York City. (There is no general knowledge of fantasy creatures; they are the only ones.) Explores the roles of men and women, religion, ethnicity, etc.

Young Adult:
# Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Durst Beth. If you read only one terrible YA vampire novel this year, I recommend this one.

# The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin by L. Jagi Lamplighter. A young girl is excited to be attending magic school for the first time. Her friends are improbably diverse. There is some worldwide mystery afoot. More interesting than good.

# Sanctum by Sarah Fine. A girl travels to the afterlife to rescue her friend who has committed suicide. A bold choice of topic. Action ensues.

# Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Illustrated humorous essays. Hillarious. (Seriously, I laughed for hours.)

# Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer. A rom com set in Georgian period England. A lot of frothy nonsense with witty dialogue.

# Stitches by Tom Reimann This is definitely _dark_ humor, so beware. Three variously messed-up roommates start noticing that one of them is more messed up than the others.

# All Creatures Great and Small (series) by James Herriot. Semi-true stories of a veterinarian in Yorkshire at the turn of the century. He treats farm animals and the occasional pet while revealing the unique personalities of the animals and humans around him. Contains a lot of British cuss words and the insides of various animals. (reread)

# Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story by Christopher Moore. If you read only one terrible Adult vampire novel this year, I recommend this one.

# The Cuckoo's Calling by "Robert Galbraith" A jaded detective with a missing leg investigates the death of a supermodel.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Year 2013 Lists: Games I Have Played This Year, Good, Interesting, or Otherwise

(This post reprinted from Facebook.)

Capture-a-Feeling Games
# Unemployment Quest. You are a jobless guy living with your parents. You go on a quest fighting enemies named things like "Self-doubt" so you can achieve resume-ness. Something about it captures the unemployment experience. Graphics: RPG Maker anime. Gameplay: Click on the dialogue, turn-based combat.

# First Person Tutor, the flash game. You are a TA with a $200,000 student loan debt. Your horrible, spiteful professor boss will pay you to fail students he hates. Gameplay: Click on grammar and spelling errors in student essays as fast as possible. This is now a phone app called The Grading Game, apparently.

# Proteus. You are dropped on a procedurally-generated island. Wander around and view flora and fauna that make gentle twinkling noises. Figure out how to advance through four seasons on the island to end that game. This is a bizarre thing. Apparently, the developer was interested in seeing if beauty could be generated with an algorithm. The graphics are too garish and cutesy for me to call it beautiful.

Games that Are Pretty Much Just Fighting
# Guacamelee! In an Aztec-inspired setting, you are a burly farmer who dreams of being a luchador. Fight skeletons who are attacking the town plus the occasional chicken. Also has puzzles. You can also play as a girl, but in the cut-scenes you will still be referred to as "Juan." I got "Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!" for free with this one. It is one of those games where you move to the right and collect dots. Seems cool, but it's impossible to play on a keyboard.

# Word Realms. At some point during the semester, I was like "my vocabulary is getting worse by the second!" So, I started visiting Free Rice, and I also bought this game, which is speed scrabble with RPG elements. It was fun until the ending, which was the most thematically inappropriate ending I've ever seen. Also, there is no ability to continue free playing to practice scrabble.

# Torchlight 2. I got this one for $5. It turned out to be a mistake. So. Many. Collectibles. I had to delete this one due to me having an irrational need to collect things. It is fun, but I can't play it for a sensible amount of time.

# Half-life 2. I keep trying to play this because I love the machinima series Freeman's Mind, but the gameplay is just shooting endless things and moving boxes, so I am always disappointed. Among people who like shooting games, this is a perennial favorite.

# Costume Quest. Your twin has been captured by candy-eating monsters on Halloween, and the police don't believe you! Collect and wear different costumes to use special abilities and battle monsters in turn-based combat. It is amusing.

Games that Are Pretty Much about Puzzles
# Portal and Portal 2. You are the captive test subject of a sadistic computer. You are in possession of a "portal gun" that allows you to link any two surfaces. You have to figure out a way to exit each puzzle room. All the narrator characters are very interesting, and the puzzles are challenging. I love these!

# The Swapper. You are an astronaut with a device that allows you to make duplicates of yourself that move in sync with you. Later, you obtain the titular device, which allows you to trade places with your duplicates. This one suffers from nonsensical writing (like many games), but the puzzles are fun. The graphics were apparently made with miniature sets and stop-motion animation.

Games that Don't Have Interactive Gameplay?
# Dear Esther. You are on a spooky island. One to eight crazy people narrate things about stuff as you walk along the trails. You may be one or more of them. It is possible you are dead. I get the feeling this game was trying to say something, but the writing is too nonsensical to communicate much to me. The graphics are cool. Lots of phosphorescence and gently waving grass.

# Gone Home. You are a college-age girl arriving home from a trip to Europe, but no one is home. As you wander your house, you discover clues to everyone's whereabouts and the troubles they have been having. Very thorough character development with distinctive voices for all the characters despite none of them actually appearing. Story line is pretty cliche, though.

# To the Moon. You are one of two terrible people working for a company that alters the memories of the dying to make them feel as if their dreams have come true. The story could have been interesting in other hands, but the dialogue is truly awful. There are "puzzles" in this game, but they are very much an afterthought. Anti-recommended.

# The Stanley Parable. An exercise in depth-first tree traversal. Contains British humor.

Point-and-Click Adventure Games

# Stacking. You live in a world of stackable wooden dolls. Stack with larger dolls and use their special abilities to solve puzzles. I like this game, but the very modern dialogue combined with the "silent movie" aesthetic was quite jarring for me.

# Botanicula. You are sort of a bug? Click on things to cause effects. Keep clicking until you win? Reminds me of a Miyazaki movie...I don't really like his movies. Graphics are very pretty/cute.

# Kentucky Route Zero. This seems to be set in an episode of the Twilight Zone. I haven't finished it yet, but I like it so far.

# The Walking Dead (Seasons I and II). In the first game, you play as Lee, a former history professor with a troubled past. You must take care of a little girl named Clementine while everyone around you is going crazy from fighting zombies all the time. There are a few puzzles, but your main job is defining Lee's character arc by selecting from conversation options (you are not allowed to pick more than one option). In the second game, you play as Clementine, and society has degenerated to the point where it consists of small wandering groups that kill each other on sight. Both games are really cool. Playing these games is the closest I've ever been to being in a holodeck.