Monday, July 27, 2009

Movie Review: Dorkness Rising

Recently watched a "Nerd" movie called, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. Basically it follows the work of a DM/Writer trying to put together a test campaign with a group of guys at the local game shop. Needless to say that it picks up at the most recent attempt at the campaign and it ends in the death of the party. There is a suggestion to add more people than just the 3 guys currently playing so they grab one of the guy's ex and end up with a NPC as well since they could not find a fifth.

The story takes place both in the real world as well as in the game world. The special effects work is kept fairly light. The acting is a bit over done at times but really works in poking fun at some of the weird moments that happen when people game together. The characters are generally likable and you get conflict at multiple levels. It's hokey but altogether fun as well.

If you like card or board games (new style) or read books of a fantasy slant, this you will probably enjoy this movie. It is a niche movie that fills the role nicely.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Book Review: The Difference Engine

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling was an interesting alternative history book. After reading Pattern Recognition, I was not sure if I would like this book, but it was shown to be one of the highly recommended science fiction works. I believe this falls under the steam punk genre, but really I am not an expert in genre definition. There is steam, but not so many punks.

The world of The Difference Engine is set in and around 1850 Britain after Charles Babbage and the mental elite have setup a meritocracy in England around the enterprise of their steam powered computation machines. The United States do not exist other than in a pocket of the Northeast, except for the Manhattan Commune. The South is it's own country along with Texas. Germany is a scattered set of nation states and Britain and France are deep allies.

The story is centered around 3 main characters that have come into contact with a set of punch cards, but the story is not really about those cards (or if it is, I start worrying about the depth of story). The story starts with that of a fallen woman, whose father lead an anti-technology movement but was executed for those beliefs. Next you follow a paleontologist who is attempting to navigate the world of Britain's savant aristocracy. Finally you follow a British spy who is primarily interested in keeping the world that Britain has created and cultivated in existence.

The most interesting thing for me was the section around Thomas Mallory, but I really liked the special policeman that is assigned to help keep him safe and protected. The story is meandering and seems to just hint at these menaces hovering at the periphery. His portion of the story takes place during the most overt of the conflict, the rising up of the communist ideals against the meritocracy.

Overall this has been under consideration by some of my friends as must read science fiction. I don't think I would do that, but it is something that I can recommend as fun reading.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sleep Stomach

Week did not go quite as I would have liked. I ended up with the stomach flu during the week which when coupled with the amount of work I am trying to get done, does not make it any less stressful. Miranda has decided that sleep is also optional making it optional for me as well. Well that was only last night. The night before she slept 12 hours. So overall I guess I can't complain other than I stayed up late the night she slept and then she stayed up the night I wanted to sleep. 7 hours sleep total for the weekend.

Finished reading The Difference Engine by Stirling and Gibson. It was good and I will likely put up a full review soon.

Um, that is it...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

EA... NCAAF 10

Ok... I just got a note that basically says you can unlock anything or start with an advantage by bribing EA. Seriously.

Want to start Road to Glory mode with a 5 star DT or DE? 100 points (or 50 cents) will get you what you want. The same can be said for DB, WR, RB, LB, and QB.

Ok, so you can spend a little dough and get a head start on your first person football mode. No big deal, it's only 50 cents. At least Dynasty mode is pure... right?


Adding new pipeline states is crucial for adding good players and it is normally hard to get, but now can be easily had for 150 points. Unlock new promises will also make it easier to recruit and set you back 180 points. For another 150 points, you can get bumps to your pitches which also boosts your ability to sell on recruits. How about a recruiting advisor to help with your decsisions for 120 points (I do find this to be the least offensive). Or maybe you want to know what your rival teams are focusing on recruiting for 120 points.

Want to download team rosters? 800 points ($10) will unlock all the team building and downloading slots.

Between seasons, you want to keep the best and train them up. Spend a little bit of points (180) to always max out your training. Or maybe you want a boost for retaining them for their senior year for 180 points.

Your stadium can give you an edge. Why not give that a boost too for 120 points.

But why go ala carte? Grab the whole set for 1000 points (or roughly $12).

Someone paying to cheat at games is not really new. Some folks just want to win more than to experience the challenges. That isn't what is really frustrating about this. What is a joke is that if you want to compete online, you will need to buy these packs as the folks you will play dynasty against online will have these.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Happy Anniversary

8 years. Doesn't seem that long ago really. But we have been out here just shy of 4 years. Miranda is over 3 years old. I guess there are years and events the fill the time, but it all really doesn't feel that long ago.

Michelle, when I married you, I had no doubt that you would be able to make me happy. I only hoped that I could do the same for you. Today I know that you have made me happy and that the reason the years have seemed short is because I have enjoyed them so much.

I am glad you are back from Michigan. I am glad we could have some thai food with friends. I wish the chocolate cake thing had been better, but experimenting with baked goods is always asking for trouble. I hope you like the coffee grinder, cause I think the copper sculpture is pretty.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth of July

Also happy First of July for Canadians. July has come in with a little bit of heat. The warm weather is right up some people's alley, but not so much for me. I like things to be on the cooler side. Spent this year's Fourth playing some Munchkin Booty with some friends on ours. I couldn't scrape together a win but it was still fun. Made some lunch of grilled chicken wings which turned out good as well as throwing some walla walla onions in with asparagus in tin foil for the grill. Messy but good.

Lately I have been pretty busy with work but have managed to squeeze in some time to game. Finished Saints Row 2 recently with Ish. A ridiculously fun game. It is completely over the top criminal behavior that just runs to the crazy side. Add a dash of co-op and you have a really great time. Graphics are good and the game play is straight forward. Plenty of side missions/activities to go with the main mission so there is always something to do. Pretty much all I have left is some races, the DLC and some online...

Also finished Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit - Will Travel". Very typical R.A.H. juvenile. I enjoyed it. Next looking at the Difference Engine by Sterling and Gibson.

Also recently got to try some new card games. First up was Anima. This is a card game that attmepts to mimic a JRPG. You control a party of characters that are out to save the world from a great evil, but you are racing other parties trying to save the world as well. One wonders if you should be competing to save the world? But the game is fun and the mechanics are pretty simple and neat. You have an initial mission that has you exploring the world and having random encounters in order to build your party and also complete that mission. Once that is done, you uncover the final mission and attempt to complete that. Ben and I have been working on some slight variations and found some pretty neat ideas for extending the game (base play is about 40 minutes) and also making it a bit more dynamic. It does has some balance flaws around party size and how quickly you can get to full party, but overall I can recommend it.

The other game is Arkham Horror. I went searching around for a board or card game that you can play in a co-op fashion. The adversarial games are just rough on me as they generally make Michelle pretty upset which means I lose arm hair. This one is pretty dark in that you and a group of friends trying to stop and ancient unspeakable horror from destroying the land. So far, Ben and I have only given it a single pass which took about 5 - 6 hours. And we lost. But still had fun in the process. I am definitely looking forward to trying it again and hopefully with more people so that we actually have a chance at clearing out the baddies.

Also, please can it rain? Although with Ish coming out to visit, I think we are guaranteed some rain. :)