Obscured View

A few chosen words on the world of video games

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Site funkiness

It’s amazing how hard it is to move a site between accounts.  Pardon the dust as I get it worked out.

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Red Faction : Guerilla

I learned a few things playing through Red Faction : Guerilla.  Here they are:

  1. Driving on Mars sucks.  Maybe the designers thought they were being true to the spirit of colonizing a new planet when they designed the “roads” in Red Faction.  Maybe it was all a wry statement on the eventual doom of the EDF will have by your hands.  Hey, that can’t build a damn road, how can they control a planet?  In Mosquito Coast, Harrison Ford’s character believed that ice was civilization.  He built a giant refrigeration machine just to make ice in the jungle.  He should have brought a bulldozer instead.  Paved roads — now that’s civilization.
  2. All the vehicles that are on Mars will will be made by taking the worst and the dumbest from the cheapest auto manufacturer on Earth, moving them to China, giving them the Cherry car manufacturing plant, and then building really crappy transportation devices to quality Russian standards.  They can’t steer to save their lives, have horrible suspension, little weight, skid out on any pretense, and roll easily.  Again, the EDF is doomed to failure for not being able to make a decent car to drive around Mars with.  No wonder people on Mars are pissed off all the time and ready to revolt.  If my best option for transport is laughed at by a Yugo driver, I’d be pissed too.
  3. Mars has a breathable atmosphere without any explanation as to how or why.  There’s also no machine infrastructure in place to maintain it.  It’s just all good.  Who knew, right?
  4. Barbaric badlands raiders that everyone calls feral and fears all speak with a high British accent and are extremely technological.  Who knew, right?
  5. A jetpack shouldn’t legally be able to be called a jetpack in games unless you can fly with it.  It’s only a “jump enhancer” otherwise.  I’d hate to be the kid that asked his parents for the MarsCo EDF blaster troop jetpack, getting all excited about flying around and doing loops in the air, seeing the kids on the box and the ones in the commercial doing amazing things in the air… only to find at Christmas that you can now jump a few feet higher and then have to let it recharge for a while before doing it again.  I bet it takes like 23 D batteries too.
  6. Everything on Mars that is not martian made can be destroyed with a hammer.  That’s actually cool.
  7. Everyone on Mars has widely spaced eyes and massive chins.  Maybe that’s how they’re able to breathe on the planet?

What I also learned is that designers need to utilize their tools better.  If you give me a sniper rifle with the ability to see and shoot through buildings, make a mission around it please.  If the main character is a demolitionist, having a mission that involves blowing up something really massive kinda sounds… appropriate?  Is it just me?  Guns of Navarone, hello?

Also, placing safehouses in remote areas does make rational real-world sense, but simply serves to annoy the game player.  It’s not fun to drive in this game, yet I have to do it all the frigging time to get to any mission location.  If the jetpack had been a real jetpack — or better yet, you could capture and fly one of the EDF gunships — I would have a lot less complaints about the world layout.  As it is, the place is a maze, complete with invisible walls (bad!) and it’s not fun to navigate it when you’re trying to get to mission locations.

EDF engineer: “Ok guys, we’re done with this road, let’s move on to the next”

Civilian: “Uh, it’s like a goat trail… for retarded goats.  Couldn’t you… uh… you know… widen it a bit?”

EDF engineer: “Why?  You can easily fit up to 0.98 cars next to each other along this road. It’s clearly designated as two-way truck highway on the plan.”

Civilian: “There’s boulders all along it that capsize cars if they just so much as nudge them.”

EDF engineer: “Intentional speed bumps.  Keeps you yokels obeying the speed limit.”

Civilian: “And what about all the crazy hairpin turns?  You guys have more firepower than most nations.  Can’t you just blow down a few hills or someth–”

EDF engineer: “Look, I don’t tell you how to do your job–”

Civilian:  “Actually, you do.  You’re a dictatorship… a really lousy one at that.”

EDF engineer: “Oh yeah, that’s right.  We are.”

<shoots civilian>

Civilian: “Ow!  Screw this.  I’m revolting!”

<civilian gets in their Yugo wannabe and drives off>

Now there is a primal satisfaction in being able to smash everything and anything man-made to pieces with a big ol’ hammer.  I can’t deny that.  I also liked the balance of weapons and armor.  I felt powerful after a while but not unkillable.  I died if I was stupid (many times), and only a few times when I didn’t think I was.  I just wish there was more of a game built around the concepts and tools given to me instead of just a lot of little and mostly annoying side missions, a few very fun main missions, a handful of just OK ones, and a horribly unbalanced final one.  Any game that ends with a driving mission when driving isn’t the main focus of the entire game is not made of win.

And seriously, what’s up with those chins?!

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Fallout 3 : Brotherhood of Steel

It was fun, and certainly worth the $10, but where’s the Shivering Isles equivalent for this great game? I’m done with the new content and 3/4ths of the way through level 26… sigh. Grinding when there’s no significant pocket of enemies you can throw yourself against is kinda boring.

I didn’t find the expansion difficult except for the new creature types. All I can say is thank god for Fawkes, or I’d be dead several times over, especially from the ghoul ravagers.

The new weapons are fun, but the A-231 Plasma Rifle still beats every weapon for efficient use of ammo vs. damage output… and that one doesn’t even require an expansion.

The announcement of Obsidian doing Fallout 3 : New Vegas makes me smile. First off, because I live there, I’m curious to see what they include from the Vegas area… I’m betting Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Parump, Red Rock, State Line, and of course the Vegas strip… maybe death valley or the valley of fire. Seems like you’re going to need some kind of transportation to get around though… we’ve got a lot of nothing between places out here. Even more grin-inducing though is that a lot of the original Fallout 1 & 2 crew make up the core of Obsidian, so I’m betting it’s going to be just as witty and fun to play as the first two were. FE3 was a great game, but missed out on some of the humor the first two had in spades. We’ll see if that finds its way back in to the franchise.

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Site updates

I’m looking for a better theme with a bigger font and more space for words rather than columns.  I’m just trying stuff out to get the look that I’m after.  Apologies for the drastic changes in appearance.

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Thank you, Target.

So I’ve been trying to get a Wii Fit for a while now, and have always found them unattainable.  So today, I get up early, pour over the Sunday ads, and find that Target says they have them.  Ok, on my way…

I get to Target around 7:45 and there’s two people already waiting there.  By the time 8 rolls around, there’s about 10 people behind me, waiting.  I have a feeling they’re all here for the same thing.  I figure, OK if at least they got one box in, all of these people will go away happy.

So the doors open, we get in, and… they have two Wii Fits.  Two.


Two is more of an insult than having none.  Two, for an entire store?  On a day you’re advertising them in the sunday paper?!  What sense does that make?  I would love to have had a (limited quantites) disclaimer, at least then two would be acceptable in some way.

Walking out, I hear the lady that was in the front of the line say “thank god I got here at 6:45”.

Ok, that’s a bit extreme.  I guess in hindsight I’m really not hardcore enough for a Wii Fit.  She earned it.  I don’t want to work that hard for my casual excercise device.

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Metal Gear Solid 4

Holy shi–

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Thoughts on GTA IV

It’s Grand Theft Auto… 4.

You do what you did in the other 3D GTA games, but with nicer graphics and likely the best main character (personality wise) of any of the installments of the series so far.

The addition of ample taxis has done one thing to the game — I don’t drive nearly as much as in previous GTA games.  After a point, the $20-60 bucks it costs to get anywhere doesn’t even register, and it sure beats stealing a car and then having to lose your wanted level when you’re seen jacking something… or when you’re trying to juggle all the dating in the game.

Also, in the best tradition of Celebrity Jeopardy from SNL, the hostile cab driver from Roman’s company makes the rides well worth it.  It mirrors the Trebek / Connery absurd hostility from those great skits.

Is it a perfect 10 game?  Considering the lock-ups and crashes, I’d say no, but that’s likely because of the 360, not the game.  There’s nothing new here, but it’s all very well done, as you’d expect.

Actually, for the quantity of content in single player, and then multi on top of it, you can kinda see why its gotten such high reviews.


A U@W design post-mortem (my point of view)

But first–

A DISCLAIMER: Since I’m no longer an employee of Petroglyph, know that this is simply my own opinion and not that of my previous employer or anyone else for that matter. I’m not speaking for them, just for myself where I see errors in my own decisions.

Also, there were, of course, others involved with some of these decisions. Games, unless they’re small indy games, are a result of team efforts rather than just one person. However, for the sake of not pointing any fingers anywhere but at moi, it’s just me, me, me, taking blame (or kudos) in this writeup for how things turned out. That’s not 100% reality, but I’ll take my share of both good and bad.

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Wanna learn to dive?

So now for a plug, since we had a great experience.

Kris and I are off to Australia soon, and of course if you’re going to Australia, you have to see the Great Barrier Reef… and of course if you’re at the reef, you really need to dive to experience it. So, we just finished our PADI open water certification yesterday in preparation for our upcoming trip.

Our Dive Master that led us is Bill Duckro, who runs Scuba Views on N. Rancho @ Cheyenne here in Las Vegas with his wife, Marilyn. They’re two of the nicest people you could possibly meet. Bill is a very supportive and patient instructor, and really helped both of us through a few rough spots over the training course in both the open water and pool dives. It really shows that Bill and all the other great people we met while in training really love to dive and want to share that experience with others.

So if you’re in Las Vegas and looking to learn how to dive, or already do and want to meet some great people to do it with, I really can’t recommend them highly enough. They have diver community meetings every first Thursday of the month at 6:30 PM so you can meet other divers from the area and just have fun!

Check out their website, or better yet, just stop in and chat with them in person!

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Reboot in progress…

Stay tuned… it’s going to be basic at first until I get a hang of WP’s features.  Pardon the frilly stuff, but I’ve not yet dived into customizing the themes.  That’ll come next.

Feel free to sign up so you can comment. I think I finally got that sussed out. =P