Pushing the reset button on the state of gaming

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Apocalex’s Kerbal Space Diaries: Rover Woes

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Fact: The Dukes of Hazzard TV series was based on a 1975 film called. . . Moonrunners.

Now that we’ve landed on the Mun, established a space station in Kerbin orbit AND one in lunar (munar?) orbit, I figured it was time to get down to the nitty gritty of space exploration.  No, not safely returning astronauts home alive, driving around on the Mun!

Again, I’m playing vanilla, mod-less KSP, which means the parts I have to choose from are pretty sparse.  In the end I decided that I would attach a rover atop my rocket stack, and use a few tiny engines to assure the lander wouldn’t be smashed to bits.

In the end: smashed to bits.

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Let’s find some sweet jumps!

So I began approaching the problem as I would any other way, rebuild it from scratch.  The General Lee prototype was initially built that way because I had no real way of attaching a lander in a way that would survive being sandwiched in the main stack of rocket fuel cylinders and engines.  The problem arose though of control, upon activation, The GL simply flew out of control and impacted the surface.  The General Lee Mk2 basically circumvented this problem by building the final descent Munar lander as a square, with the lander nestled up underneath the command module.  Not the most stable in terms of flight, but it made landing quite easy.

The Mk2 suffered a fatal flaw that became obvious though.  I used the thruster blocks instead of the thruster nozzles, which I initially wanted as a kind of VTOL for the rover so I could land it if I accidentally took it off a sweet jump.  Instead, after coasting down a huge slope at over 45 mph, the rover inexplicably exploded, probably because itwas far past the rated speed of the wheels.  If I had used the thruster nozzles, I could have used them to reverse thrust, as I didn’t have any other way to slow down.

The aftermath of exceeding max speed.

The aftermath of exceeding max speed.

Lessons learned.

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*snicker*. So is that we’re gonna call it?

Next on the agenda: experimental rocket designs and Minmus (the second moon) approach.

Should I try some mods?

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Apocalex’s Kerbal Space Diaries.

My god, it's full of stars.

My god, it’s full of stars.

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Borderlands 2: Apocalex’s GOTY


About as serious as Borderlands 2 gets.

About as serious as Borderlands 2 gets.

With a suspension of faith in science and physics, as well as a more relaxed attitude towards anarchy and chaos than might be considered normal, Borderlands 2 ticks off all the boxes.

The story does something few games do these days: BL2 does NOT take itself seriously.  While the scale of the story falls well within the realm of the very Gamerish term “epic”, and there are a slew of ideas that feel quite ret-conned in, the variation in characters and vastly imaginative dialogue propel Borderlands 2 past the competition as my GOTY.

This is not to say that 2012 was a year of such gaming awesomeness as mean that Borderlands 2 was a hallmark achievement in gaming.  2012 to me felt marked by the increasingly boring trend of the recycle and franchise game.  Without new IP’s coming from the major studios that aren’t hyped from oblivion to the sky(rim), 2012 was a year where the indie game truly got steam for its cause.  Nevertheless, the big budget of Borderlands 2 paid dividends in the excellent voice acting and solid design of the game.

Old friends.

Old friends.

Borderlands 2 does follow in the path of greatness as a franchise game in that it takes a tried and true gameplay formula and follows it up with bells and whistles rather than an evolution or even continuation.  Torchlight 2 (which lived on my list of highly anticipated games before it was released) fell flat on its face because in an effort to distance itself from Diablo, every single similarity to Diablo was then magnified, and the multitudes of similarities made Torchlight 2 a bore to play.  Franchise games Halo 4 this year fall on the other end of the bell curve of great, innovative franchises these days because they latch onto tried and true gameplay, and run it into the ground with sequel after sequel that end up feeling much like a Nightmare on Game Street.

Borderlands 2 takes to heart the complaints/comments of gamers while keeping in mind that gamers are pretty much greedy little spoiled brats in the way they approach games and gaming in general.  The game is best played with a group of real life friends, as I did, and the experience was well worth the trouble caused by the mayhem the devil on your shoulder inspires.

Despite my usual practice of trivializing gaming review standards as graphics and audio, BL2 does a good job of bucking the realism trend while affecting their art style with dramatic flair.  They realize, much in the way Halo: Reach and Battlefield: Bad Company, that the characters are what make you feel emotion in the plot.  And, rightly, they do not exactly implicate seriousness in their characters despite dire conditions or environments.

So, Borderlands 2 gets my seal of approval and gets my award for Multiplayer, Cooperative, First Person, Adventure, Role-playing, Action, Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Real-time, Strategy, Open World, Shooter Game of 2012.

About as sane as her dialogue gets.

Gaming Accessory Review: Leopold Mechanical Keyboard

Keyboards are the living fossils of the computer world, along with, say, desks, chairs, and ELECTRICITY.  I mentioned in my last gaming accessory review about how the peripheral industry moves forward much faster in cosmetics than it does in ergonomics, and the slowest one of all (contrary to Moore’s Law) is actual innovation and technological improvement.  While nearly every other component related to computing has gone through several refreshes or revolutions in technology and/or size and shape, keyboards are still being made to mimic (or people are actually still using original examples of) the venerated IBM Model “M” keyboard. . .

From 1985.

That’s not a typo.

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Sleeping Dogs: Review

Shh, I'm an undercover cop.

What do you mean there’s something on my shirt?

Sleeping Dogs reminds me very much of Grand Theft Auto meets True Crime: Streets of LA.  And I suppose you might as well throw in a bunch of connections to the Yakuza series as well.

Anyway, Asia, organized crime, open world, J-game.

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The Three Promises of Gaming Friendship.

I was thinking the other day about how gaming is shaping the lives of kids these days.  When I was growing up, gaming was still a niche hobby; arcades were dying out (I hit pinball machines at the local mini-golf or the Street Fighter cabinet at the mom and pop video rental near my house) and home consoles were still just 2 player affairs.  Nowadays with online multiplayer, persistent game worlds, and stats progression, we’re at a point where gaming is an investment of time – which creates several subsets of gamers based on just how much and how effectively they use their gaming time.  We’re creating classes of gamers.  The casual, the enthusiast, the hardcore, the pro.  So how do these different classes get along?

Friendship in gaming is probably the one thing that I value most.  Meeting new people online is a wary thing with me.  I’m willing to sacrifice points and gold for fun.  Strangely enough, the huge majority of gamers out there is not (unless the points and gold are so far below their in-game level that it is a painless charity).  Even among friends, there is a certain amount of one-up-manship that goes on in terms of finding good loot, getting in a good round, or doing something exemplary.

So here are the Three Promises of Gaming Friendship.

We Will Start Over

You know how it is, you’re friends, but you work a lot more or have more classes than the other, you get home and your friends says, hey look, we found this new game and I found all this great stuff, they’re 10 levels ahead and telling you this game is great fun and they got epic loot for you.  But you don’t want it.  Well, I personally wouldn’t want it.  I want the joy of finding and earning stuff myself or as part of a equivalently leveled team (Blizzard needs to do research into cameraderie).  Promise #1 then is: when you have a new player join a game with progressive levels and loot and skills, you start over.  It’s okay to gain experience or points at different rates.  But the point is the ground and starting pistol be level and start at the same time.  This matters less in proficiency based games or games where levels don’t give you access to insanely better skills or perks.

We Won’t Cheat

Again, going back to the whole 1-up thing, no one should cheat in order to get ahead of friends.  I wholeheartedly wish that ALL gamers would adhere to this promise, but at the least, I expect all my friends to abide by the non-cheating promise.  Cheating makes games boring.  If not now, then later.  I totally disagree with the idea of “endgame”.  If you give two kids the Battleship boardgame with just one ship left, they’ll look at you like you’re a madman.  If you’re a father and give a kid a model airplane kit, and then proceed to put it together yourself except for one minor bit of painting, and then tell him it’s all his to admire, you’re a terrible father.  To me gaming is about the journey.  Cheating is taking a helicopter to the top of Mount Everest.  It’s a motorcycle in a marathon.  Don’t do it.

Help The Team

It feels like I’m bashing on Blizzard in this post, what with Diablo 3 being an endgame/exploity/powerleveling hodgepodge nightmare.  But I’m for helping the team.  Sometimes that team means you and your mates.  Sometimes that team means that random person in chat (not D3 general chat though ::shiver::).  Sometimes it means a suicide run to help a friend.  Sometimes it means guarding a flag that no one is attacking in order to hold a decent spawn point or point base.  The point is, you don’t go off and do your own thing (at least, not a lot), and you come back when your team needs you.

Can we agree on these points, you think?

Turning Off The System: Terraria’s Obituary

Well friends of internetland, it’s time to do something that is always a bit hard to do in a gamer’s life: remove a well loved, well played game from the hard drive / remove it from the tray / delete it from the favorites list.  Today, the dear friend is Terraria.

"Remove from Favorites", the death knell for many games.

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