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19 February 2010 @ 05:51 pm
What i've been doing  
Recappy stuff:


Friday i pretty much just came home and crashed. Actually i spent some time listening to the KSPC video game music show while unpacking boxes (something i ought to do a little more of real soon) and then spent the evening playing some of the new video games.

Saturday the plan was for shelleycat and i to go pick up thaisa and go to the LA Street Food Festival. Unfortunately shelleycat decided she wasn't feeling too well that morning, so i ended up leaving to get thaisa myself. I picked her up between 1:30 and 2. Traffic on the freeway was rather slow, so it was close to 3 by the time we actually go to the local area, and then we ran into a ton of traffic. It was 3:30 before we found a parking place, which we used just long enough to walk the 0.4 miles back to the event grounds and find out that the people about halfway back the line had been waiting for an hour and a half to get in. Given that it was supposed to close at 5 we decided it wasn't worth doing. So instead we went to Langer's Deli, an awesome pastrami place in downtown LA that i'd never heard of before but thaisa was pretty familiar with. So even though we didn't make it to the street food fest i still got to try new yummy food :)

We drove back to thaisa's place and ended up watching the first episodes of Torchwood before i headed home.

The plan for the day had also been that shelleycat and i would go to Ruin together, however she still wasn't feeling well and i didn't really feel like going on my own. So instead we hung out and played more video games.

For Valentine's Day we... sat around and played video games :) Also we went to Mimi's Cafe for dinner. Also i got tempted into checking out the Valentine's Day/Week sale on PSN, and ended up getting the DLC packs for Valkyria Chronicles and Burnout Paradise. That in turn led to me deciding to try out Valkyria Chronicles when i got a little tired of the new games. But instead of being just a short break i got totally sucked into it and have been playing it every night since then :)


And perhaps i should have saved this for next week's "fun friday thing," but this list has been building up for quite awhile already.

Books movies and video games:

Books:

Patricia McKillip's "The Forgotten Beasts of Eld", real version: Pretty standard young adult fantasy novel, but it's Patricia McKillip so it's pretty good. It's definitely one of those fantasy books that does lots of fantastic legendary/historical name dropping which makes it seem like it has a deeper history than the book actually goes into. Also it has lots of animal semi-protagonists in it :)

Issac Asimov's "The Stars, Like Dust", audiobook version: It was a kind of amusing "plots within plots within plots" type book, though the document plot was both painfully obvious and somewhat silly. (A quick check of the (spoilery) wikipedia article indicates that in retrospect Asimov agreed with that opinion.)

Mercedes Lackey's "The Phoenix Unchained", audiobook version: Not sure why exactly i picked this up, maybe Audible was doing a sale at the time? In any case it was about what you'd expect for generic light fantasy from Lackey. It turns out though that it's the first book in the _second_ trilogy in that world. I'm not sure if i want to get the second book in this trilogy next, the first book in the first trilogy, or just give up on the whole thing :)

Movies:

"Surrogates": The Bruce Willis SF movie from last year, in which everyone is using artificial android bodies to go about everyday life. The basic concept was pretty cool, and they did hit on a couple interesting points as far as the consequences go, but they really didn't explore it quite as much as i'd like, and the "science" behind the whole process was both confused and murkey, as well as seemingly just wrong. Kind of fun action and (subtle) special effects movie, but the flow kept getting interrupted by the internal (okay, frequently external =) exclamations of "but it doesn't work like that!" :)

Games:

Defense Grid - The Awakening: This is what got me started on the latest video gaming kick, and i managed to suck shelleycat into it as well :) It's a cool and pretty cheap tower defense game for PCs and... XBox i think. For a tower defense game it has a pretty good story, and even has a voice actor :) There's a lot of variation in maps, some have a set path where you build towers on the side, others are wide open grids where you can create your own mazes, some have separate areas with multiple choke points dividing them and you can decide which to block off and leave open, and further combinations of the above of course. You eventually get a satellite death weapon that you can fire every so often at any point to destroy monsters. The one innovation they added that i haven't personally seen anywhere else is the incorporation of your life points as a physical item in the game, "power cores," which the enemy has to grab from your base an then carry off the map. If you kill a monster carrying one before it gets away the power core will slowly float back to your base on its own, but can be picked up by another enemy who runs into it who isn't already full. This doesn't seem like a huge factor at first, until harder levels where the enemy is leaving by the same path as they're coming in and they start forming a bucket brigade for the power cores.

Gemcraft - also PC: When shelleycat finished Defense Grid she went out looking for another tower defense game to play and found this. I'd tried it out before but hadn't gotten sucked in the first time. This time with her "support" i got fully sucked in =P She thought "Chapter 0" was too hard, so we both went through the first one, which was a lot easier. We got through that fairly quickly, with the help of a couple very late night sessions, and then moved back to "Chapter 0." We made a fair bit of progress in that, especially after i discovered the super-gem strategy on a forum somewhere, but we got distracted by the new games before we finished it. Gemcraft is fixed path, but you can build towers _usually_ just about anywhere you want that isn't on the path. You create gems to put in the towers, and you can swap gems into and out of towers, so the "type" of each tower isn't fixed. You can also combine different types of gems in various ways to increase their power or combine attributes. The key aspect to Gemcraft is that you have a character who gains experience and levels, and can learn different skills to improve a lot of different aspects of your gems/towers/whatever.

Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe - PS3: It certainly looks cool, and the fighting is decent. Or at least i say that as someone who's pretty damn mediocre at fighting games. The story mode takes forever though, and the "jiggle physics factor" makes the female characters look stupid. And on top of that (er, literally i guess) Catwoman has a really stupid outfit. Mortal Kombat never had very interesting/attractive female characters to begin with, so this all certainly didn't help =P Getting to beat the crap out of people as a superhero _is_ fun though.

Soul Calibur 4 - PS3: Okay, it has the same "jiggle physics factor" problem as MK, especially in this latest version, but i like the weapon based combat more, and at least the female characters are interesting and attractive _aside_ from that. And then i discovered in the character creation system you can reduce the "physique" of a character and give them whatever clothes you want (leather pants are awesome =) so that helped out a lot. And i like spending time leveling characters up and unlocking new stuff (does this surprise anyone? =)

Red Faction - Guerrilla - PS3: I listened to all the discussions i've been hearing on video game podcasts and made sure to play this in "Casual" mode. I'm not great at either first or third person shooter games so i don't really need extra challenge. Plus it's claimed that you get money a lot faster in casual mode, so you can unlock the really fun stuff sooner. I miss being able to create pit traps and such from the first Red Faction games, but smashing things and blowing up buildings _is_ fun. I've tried out Grand Theft Auto 3, and it was okay, but for some reason stealing a car on Mars is a lot more fun to me than stealing a car in San Andreas or wherever. Plus now you can drive the car through walls :)

Mirror's Edge - PS3: I haven't actually been playing this one, but shelleycat seems to be having fun with it, even if she does spend a lot of time falling down and getting shot :)

Valkyria Chronicles - PS3: A turn based real time tactics RPG game :) In short, you're in a somewhat fantasy version of WW2, and your characters are from a small "neutral" nation that gets invaded by the big evil empire as part of the opening campaign. (The country seems a little like a cross between Poland and Sweden.) You control a squad of people, and each turn you get a certain number of action points, which you can use to take over member of your squad, at which point it changes to adventure/third person shooter mode. Except when you want to attack you switch to targeting mode, a kind of FPS view except with the action paused, during which you target and fire. However the actual shots are "rolled" randomly based on your accuracy and how close you are to the target. That description is probably too complicated, so here's a video. Oh yeah, and did i mention that you get a tank? :) The plot is very predictable (so far at least) but the variety of characters is interesting, the art and design is cool, and the combat is fun.
 
 
 
Kirin: Goomba-transparentkirinn on February 20th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC)
I loved Valkyria Chronicles sooooo much. I'm kind of sad that the sequel is on PSP so I can't really play it (and also slightly worried that the anime-troped-up designs I've seen may undermine the pretty awesome world design from the first game, but at least the gameplay still looks good).

Pity I can't follow your progress in either VC or SC4 by looking at your profile since they both came out before widespread use of trophies.

I'm trying to remember what I managed to make in the SC4 character editor now. I think I had a passable Terra, among other things...
DonAithnendonaithnen on February 21st, 2010 05:11 am (UTC)
I haven't tried to make anyone specific in SC4 yet, just made a generic cute girl with a cool outfit and an awesome move set :)

I'm kind of surprised that they still don't have trophy support in VC given that they already have trophies in the game =P I expect they could convince a lot of people to pay a dollar or two just to get the trophies they've already collected to show up in PSN.
Kirin: Servbot-3Dkirinn on February 21st, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it seems like for some behind-the-scenes reason patching in trophy support *must* be more work than it really seems like it oughtta be, since there are several games from around the transition period like that. Heck, doesn't SC4 have some in-game achievement things too?

I'm actually kind of torn on the whole trophy concept - getting them is reasonably fun (and if it's not I can ignore them), and sometimes they encourage me to try new things I otherwise wouldn't with a game, which is good. On the other hand, because they're also a way to measure E-Peen online, they suddenly have to be treated as Serious Business, which means a bunch of game saves are copy-locked to prevent people from "cheating". This is especially maddening for games where it makes sense to want to take your save to someone else's console, like games with extensive character customization... like, say, Tekken 6, where it's apparently completely impossible to actually play with two different people's customized fighters in local VS due to this issue. Argh! I don't care if people cheat at their stupid fucking trophies, let me move my save! Grrr.

Sorry, tangential rant.
DonAithnen: maddonaithnen on February 23rd, 2010 08:34 pm (UTC)
You think that's just because of the trophies? They've been doing that with GameCube and Wii games for ages! =P

Apparently we'd be at risk for not having enough fun or something if we copied save files and unlocked everything early, so they're "protecting" us from that. Of course that means you can't take your favorite constructed F-Zero car over to your friend's place and play it over there =P
Kirin: Geddoe-grrkirinn on February 23rd, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
Well, I know it also gets done for games that have some other sort of online comparison or competitive mode that gets affected by unlocks (heck I actually approve of measures to keep people from cheesing actual online VS modes), but are you saying this gets done for games with unlocks but no online component at all? If so, that's beyond retarded.