Category Archives: gaming

Welcome 2017!

I guess this is my obligatory new year, new me post. There are a lot of things that I’d like to have happen this next year, but I’m not going to get into that much here. I will say that one thing I want to do is write more. I’ve got a book already written that just needs a really good edit, or maybe it was just a test to see if I could really go long. The kids like it, but let’s be honest here. I’m their dad. I could probably write a turd of a book and they’d think it was the coolest thing ever. Until puberty. Then it’ll be the lamest!

So yeah.. getting into the swing of things again. Let’s see…

This Christmas, the girls got gift cards for Target (at their request) and instead of buying toys, they decided they wanted bedroom decor. I guess my girls are growing up. That’s sweet and all, but I liked them being little too. Those shelves were ordered at the same time, but for reasons only known to the postal service they showed up on two different days. I got the first set up yesterday and the last set up today. I think they look pretty good.

Everyone here is a little under the weather so Cynthia gave the kids medicine and we posed for a humorous Happy New Years picture. Cynthia is the only one who was knocked out though. The kids are all in their rooms either playing Xbox or drawing in their journals. I guess there is only so much YouTube that a person can do in a day.

Finally, I decided to give 51st State a solo run through and that was ultimately a failure. It really seems as if the solo mode was tacked on because I’m following the instructions to the letter, because I’m unfamiliar with the game, and it never tells me when the virtual player builds a building, yet I’m told I can raze the virtual player’s buildings and using their open production spots. Am I to assume that any card that they draw is just automatically built?

I watched Rodney Smith’s tutorial over at Watch It Played and while he does a great job as usual, his instructions are for the multi-player game. He only alludes to the solo rules and tells us to find them out on our own. I saw a couple of YouTube videos on the 51st State solo mode. I’ll be checking those out in the morning.

My completely uneducated first impression is that the virtual player seems to gain victory points at an alarmingly fast rate. Almost guaranteed 2 VP a turn, at least, since he’ll buy up a connection card, if any are available, and at this point, I don’t see how there wouldn’t be at least 1. So 2 VP a turn. When it’s a race to 25, that seems like a pretty nice benefit to have. If you, as first player, don’t take a connection yourself, you’re essentially giving the virtual player 4 VP a turn. At least, if I understand the rules right. I’ll post an update.

That said, I really like the look of this game. It’s pretty. It has a really nice gritty, post apocalyptic style that permeates all facets of the game. It’s themed beautifully. I am really looking forward to learning the rules and getting a few solo games under my belt.

So that’s my new years post. I’m hoping that it isn’t the last post you see from me in 2017. Wishing you all a happy, safe, healthy, and prosperous new year!

Mint Works PnP Alt Text

Mint Works: I know what I’m doing this weekend.

I know what I’ll be doing this weekend. I have my PnP copy of Mint Works and I’ll be playtesting some solo variant rules. The first stab at the rules looks interesting. How to compete against an opponent with infinite resources should be interesting. First to 7 points still applies. I’m eager to give this a shot.

Justin at Five24 Labs is doing a great job with the Kickstarter. Great communication. Great interaction with the backers. Very open to suggestions. The backers are actually informing some of the decisions by way of voting and polls. I do have one concern about one of the existing polls.

One of the stretch goals is for upgraded components (compon-mints? eh? eh? no?) .. okay, sorry. 🙂 So one of the stretch goals is for wooden or plastic “mint” tokens. Last I checked wood was winning the day. I get the appeal of wood, especially coming from a guy who spent hours in his dad’s woodshop growing up. But there are potential problems with the material.

I backed a project where you build trees for little tree spirit dudes to live in. I don’t want to mention the name because the company did a great job with the Kickstarter and it’s an alright little game. One of the component upgrades on that game was wooden disk tokens, which would be very similar to the size of the mints in Mint Works. These wooden disks had a pretty high rate of defect. Notches out of the wood. Shaved flat edges. General unevenness. Some reported getting tokens already broken in half. Quality control wasn’t there.

In the game I mentioned, these wooden tokens were just scoring tokens. Tokens that you were supposed to apply a sticker to. As you can imagine, uneven surfaces mean that the stickers don’t stay on for long. In any case, Mint Works wouldn’t require stickers but it would involve a much greater amount of handling. To that end, I believe plastic to be the much better solution.

Time will tell whether or not plastic or wood wins the vote, but Justin may find himself in the unenviable position of having to take a decision back from the backers and taking matters into his own hands for the good of his game.

What has this got to do with playtesting? Absolutely nothing. Does it dampen my enthusiasm at all? Not even a little. Everything I’ve seen leads me to think that Mint Works stands to be a great little introductory worker placement game that plays in no time at all. It is perfectly priced and I am very eager to see the end result of this campaign.

New 3DS

Yes, CNET, Mario can protect Nintendo from mobile

New 3DSA January 15th CNET blog post by Nick Statt asks the question: How many people really need a specialized handheld game system in the age of ubiquitous smartphones?

My answer? Any mobile gamer that isn’t solely a casual gamer.

Smartphones are great. They make it easier than ever to stay connected to whatever it is you love. Sports scores on the run? Check. Face time with the family when you’re away on business? Check. Phone call with your friend to hear the latest misadventures of the unintentional innuendo guy at work. Check.

See? Great stuff.

Ask anyone who has a smartphone, and uses it as such, how they feel about their battery life. I’m a pretty regular to moderately light user of my phone and by the end of the day my phone battery is in the single digits.

Take note of your smartphone battery and then play Subway Surfers or something for twenty minutes. Did you see a double-digit drop in battery life? Games require a lot of screen-on time and a lot of touch interface. Those things come at a cost to the battery. If your phone keep tabs on the battery, and what’s using it, you may find screen time to be right up there in terms of what’s using that battery life up. This is probably truer the larger your phone screen is too.

It may be no big deal for your Nintendo 3DS to die before the end of the night, but I’d wager you’d be significantly more put out if your phone / messaging / gaming device / camera / GPS / touch-to-pay wallet died.

So yeah. Your smartphone is perfect for an occasionally game of Bubble Witch Saga or Trivia Crack. How is it going to respond to a longer session of Final Fantasy VI? That game was developed for the Super Nintendo. It’s a RPG, which are well known for requiring lots of time and lots of level grinding. This isn’t a casual, ‘pick up and play’ game. It’s a ‘hunker down’ game. It’s a ‘let’s dedicate some time’ game. Your smartphone isn’t the ideal platform for that type of game, and battery life is probably one of the most significant reasons why.

Your casual gamers are probably going to be fine on their smartphones, but were casual gamers ever picking up Nintendo handhelds for the express purpose of playing a game for 5 minutes and putting it away? Maybe. Maybe I just don’t know that type. It’s possible.

I’d argue though that those of us who want lengthier play times, more substantial games and to still be able to receive a call or text message are going to want to hang on to our Nintendo DS’s.

Image of PS Vita, Smartphone & Nintendo 3DS

Link to CNET’s article: http://www.cnet.com/news/nintendo-3ds-midlife-crisis-can-mario-protect-it-from-mobile/

I’m doing my part for economic stimulus

After the last couple of posts I think it’s time to lighten the mood a little. I’m going to lay out my plan to help the ailing economy. Nothing like a little consumerism to do that.  Is consumerism even a word? In any event here are a few of my upcoming contributions.

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Aug. 23 – Terry Brooks : The Measure of the Magic – This is the last book of a duology that I started. It comes out shortly but since eBook highway robbery is going on I’m going to wait for a price drop. Seriously. They thought I was crazy enough to pay $14 for an eBook when the hardcover costs $14.51. I won’t be a victim of price fixing. Particularly when the product is so readily available via other avenues. Eh, who am I kidding? I’m number 7 on my library’s wait list. So much for helping the economy.

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Sept. 13 – NHL12 – I’m a hockey guy and I’ve always liked the EA Sports NHL games. This year has Legends mode and Steve Yzerman returns to the Detroit Red Wings. That alone escalated my level of excitement but there is also rumor of Gordie Howe joining the cast of Legends. Stevie Y? Mr. Hockey? Consider me sold. Careful I don’t hip check you on the way into the store.

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Sept. 20 – Gears of War 3 – It’s hard to say goodbye to Marcus and the other Gears but it’s time to wrap the trilogy. At least until a new trilogy is announced. Epic, makers of this game, would be foolish to let this cash cow dry up. Gears has a cover system that is still the best in the industry. Run and gun will get you killed, fool. Who do you think you are? A Spartan? One of the more interesting story points for me is the continuation of Dom’s story. Gears 2 left him broken after a long search for his wife Maria, who is a tortured shell when she’s found. Off camera he pulls a trigger and ends her misery. In Gears 3 we find his brother. Epic sold shirts (virtual and physical) to decide his brother’s fate. Does he live or does he die? Can Dom’s fragile mind handle another difficult loss? We’ll find out soon enough.

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Nov. 8 – 11/22/63 : Stephen King – I guess the premise of this book is that an English teacher named Jake Epping has a friend who owns a diner that has a portal to 1958 in it. Jake enters the portal on a mission to prevent the assassination of JFK. He takes on a new identity and if I understand correctly even befriends a loner by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald. Sounds like an interesting premise to me.

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Nov. 15 – Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary – The game that established Microsoft and the Xbox as legitimate competition to Nintendo and Sony is being remade in high definition. Same physics, Same AI, modern graphics. It’s time to step behind the visor of Master Chief once again. I expect a great deal of nostalgia. The last time I played this game was 2002. I was a very different person then. I was travelling extensively with work. On long trips, more often than not, my Xbox was packed in my luggage and there were many nights me and co-workers would gather around and slay Covenant forces until early in the morning.

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??? – Verizon 4G Android Phone – The picture above was of the phone I was sure I was going to buy… last month. Then it got delayed…again. And in the time I’ve been waiting, newer models have been rumored and are closer than they were last month. Ask me to wait three months for the next great thing and it’s going to be a lot harder than asking me to wait one month. By the time the Droid Bionic is finally released the Droid HD (which looks and sounds nice) may be shortly behind it  but we’ll also be closer to the rumored Nexus Prime which may be the first phone to rock Google’s next Android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich. Decisions. Decisions.

So there you have it. My contribution to the struggling economy. I can’t do it alone people. So I encourage you to make your own list and get cracking. With any luck we can steer this 800lb gorilla back in the right direction.