Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Aaaaaand We're Back!

There's probably like one person out there thinking, WTF did this site go for the past four months!?

Well, lots of stuff happened! I was laid off. I applied for a job at Blizzard. I got a new full time job at the startup nearby. Our son, Sam, was born. My subscription for this domain expired because I was distracted. We officially went into Crunch Time at work so we can get ready for CES in January. Namecheap put my domain into "Redemption" so if I wanted to renew it, it would cost like $280. I received an offer from Blizzard but had to decline it for personal reasons. I waited two more weeks for the domain to become available for purchase again and bought it "new".

So yeah, busy times!

More posts forthcoming.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hiding in a Dark Corner: Analysis of Amnesia: The Dark Descent

The following is the essay I wrote for my application for a position at Blizzard Entertainment. The requirements were: 

The game analysis should demonstrate your understanding of the gameplay mechanics and relationships to the design and implementation of the game. The game analysis should be on either a computer game or console game. This game analysis should not be on a game made by Blizzard Entertainment. Please limit your game analysis to no longer than 5 pages (the average length of an analysis is approximately 3 pages).

Amnesia: The Dark Descent[1] was made famous by the fact that it scared the pants off of just about every person who dared pick it up and play it as it was intended (that is, at night, with the lights off, with headphones). It was surreal, supernatural, and terrifying. And dark. The subtitle is serious: the player spends a lot of time in the dark as well as descending deeper into it. What made Amnesia so effectively unsettling was that it removed almost every standard mechanic from a first person shooter and then replaced them with new mechanics to make gameplay even more scary and unfamiliar. Sanity, in addition to restrictions on player actions, and the game's willingness to alter musical and event triggers make Amnesia a truly terrifying gaming experience.
The most distinguishing mechanic of Amnesia is Sanity. Our poor protagonist, Daniel, has had a pretty rough few months preceding the starting point of the game. He now has some psychological damage (beyond mere amnesia) that the player will need to manage. Players are informed via tips on the loading screens that Daniel's sanity will decrease as he spends more time in the dark, witnesses a disturbing scene, or looks directly at a Gatherer. Gatherers are grotesquely deformed body-snatchers that the antagonist uses to find people for his experiments and are the most common enemy that the player will encounter in Amnesia. There are some scripted events in the game where Daniel will take a hit to Sanity. Players are also told that Sanity increases as Daniel spends time in the light without anything disturbing going on and when the player is able to solve a puzzle. 
In gameplay, losing Sanity is manifested with an increase in difficulty, as well as visual and audible changes. With low Sanity, monsters will be better able to follow and find Daniel, and there are a few situations where additional monsters will spawn in the area due to very low Sanity. Much more noteworthy, however is the visual and audible implementation. With decreasing sanity, the screen will become blurry. Additional disturbing events, such as bodies hanging from the ceiling or doors suddenly closing (seemingly without reason), will occur. And, paintings of the principle antagonist will change into a more ghastly image. Roach-like insects will occasionally begin to crawl across the screen as well. Audibly, the player will begin to hear additional sounds such as Daniel's ragged panting. Daniel's footsteps will begin to sound as though he is walking through a slime or liquid of some kind even though he is not. And, the player will even begin to hear the distant crying of a child wherever Daniel goes. Finally, if Sanity reaches the lowest possible point, Daniel will collapse onto the floor and lose health. The player will only be able to make him crawl slowly on the ground for several seconds, and then he'll get back up.[2]
To the player, this is an obviously disorienting mechanic. The visual and sound queues are very effective inducers of stress and discomfort. The player immediately learns that darkness will lower sanity, and that low sanity means the game will become even more dangerous, difficult, and scary. The obvious solution to this is to stick to the light as much as possible, but this is purposely made a very difficult task. Conflicting with this idea is that if Daniel is constantly in the light, he is more visible and easier for monsters to find and kill.
Additionally, looking directly at enemies will lower sanity, so if an enemy is encountered, the player will generally turn away when hiding. This action creates additional mystery around the danger, making it all the more uncertain and scary. Players are forced to go against their instincts of defeating enemies and resort to fleeing and hiding. While hiding, they are left to listen to the scary music, hear the sounds of an enemy shuffling around while hunting them, and frequently stare at the wall or the box they’re hiding behind through blurring effects of the screen to further disorient them. This is a decidedly abnormal state for the vast majority of games. Should the player be found, the game will most likely end with Daniel’s death, and there will most likely be nothing the player can do at that point to stop it.
Before going any further, it is important to note an early version of a surprising and significant mechanic shift. In Unreal (1998), at the start of the game, Prisoner 849 awakes in a cell on a prisoner ship that has been shot down and its inhabitants massacred. She has no weapon or any other means of defending herself. As she proceeds toward the ship’s exit, she encounters enemies but manages to avoid them without fighting (generally because they are distracted or she is unreachable in some way). With an increasing sense of vulnerability and panic, the prisoner leaves the ship and, after a loading screen, enters the second level. Right here at the start of the second level she manages to find the first weapon of the game, the Dispersion Pistol, just before an actual potentially-fatal encounter with an enemy begins. This lack of defense was a jarring start to a first person shooter game. Players were surprised to be in a situation where all they could do was run from enemies and hope for the best, and not simply face them head on as with the majority of games in this genre.
Similarly, Amnesia subverts the expectation that a player will be able to defend themselves. The only thing Daniel will ever pick up and hold between himself and danger is a rustic oil lantern. The lantern’s only function is to light up nearby surroundings; Daniel can't even swing it at anything. This persistent offensive and defensive limitation is in direct contrast to almost all other first-person games for adults.  Daniel never finds a way of dispatching enemies. If Daniel should turn a corner and find something dangerous, he has to run, hide, and hope to be overlooked. The only way he can escape danger is to avoid enemies effectively enough to survive as long as it takes to solve the puzzle in the area and move onto the next area, leaving enemies behind. Daniel's danger is real and (as far as the player can tell) constant. This mechanic is not only novel, but is effective in inducing stress on the player throughout the course of the game. The player will constantly be reminded of their inability to defend themselves and their perpetual vulnerability.
This lantern also requires oil to continue to burn, and the player is forced to keep a sharp eye out for more oil and tinderboxes (which can be used to light one wall fixture per box). While needing to collect a scarce resource is nothing new in this sort of game, the oil and tenderboxes are in very short supply. Unless he is very, very conservative, Daniel will be running out of both constantly, leaving him in the dark for longer and longer amounts of time, leading to lower and lower Sanity. Thus, the player is forced to make a choice with lingering and unsavory consequences. Does the player to spend their resources on more light and more Sanity now and hope they find more resources later? Or, save them for greater light and Sanity later when they may need it more? Either way, the reality is that Daniel will probably need to spend more time than they player would like in the darkness.
Another way that controlling Daniel is very unique is the mechanic to open and close doors. In the majority of games, when a player encounters a door they press an "activation" button and the door opens. In Amnesia, there are two ways to open a door, both of which are much more purposeful. The player will left click and hold to grab hold of the door's handle and then can open/close the door slowly and quietly by moving the mouse forward or backward until the door is completely opened or closed. Alternatively, the player can left click and hold and press the right click to slam a door open/closed.
This greatly affects gameplay in two ways. Firstly, opening a door is changed from a thoughtless, one button, affair to an active procedure that actually takes a little getting used to. The player is now in control of not just when a door opens, but how it opens. Secondly, the player becomes psychologically tied to the opening of the door and whatever may be lurking behind it. This change in control adds an enormous amount of suspense to the game and players will begin to fear every door they encounter. At each door, the player will have to decide to just stay put and progress no further in the game, or to continue and risk additional dangers by proceeding to the next room.
The last mechanic is the game's willingness to alter previously-established mechanics for dramatic effect. Generally, this fluidity of established rules would be called a "cheap trick," however, the primary design goal of Amnesia is to scare the player, so anything that will more effectively incite fear is valid. There are many instances of this later in the game. I will focus on two, music queues and enemy spawns.
In the beginning and midpoint of Amnesia, there is a certain musical track that will play when a Gatherer is nearby or on the attack. It consists mostly of string instruments and distorted drums. During general gameplay, this music means that Daniel is in immediate peril of dying and escape is unlikely. Much like Pavlov's dogs, players learn very quickly to associate this music with stress and will automatically begin to panic and (at least in my case) start screaming at the computer monitor. However, at some points of the game, similar music will begin to play for entirely different reasons, sometimes just for entering a certain room. The effect is jarring and scary. Players aren't in any immediate danger, but the player does not know this, and will play as though each step is a step closer to peril, building greater and greater suspense indefinitely.
Another instance of mechanic alteration is based on an early portion of the game where the area that has been flooded with about two feet of water. In this water dwells a water monster of some kind that will injure and eventually kill Daniel. Interestingly, there is no visible threat at all, the player can see and hear the distinct splashing of movement in the water as well as growls and hisses. The player is forced to navigate the area on top of boxes and bookshelves to avoid the water, and sometimes must create a diversion of some kind to distract the monster while Daniel sprints through a door or down a watery hallway. In a later portion of the game, Daniel is again forced to travel in a semi-submerged environment. As he makes some progress, that distinct splashing and growling is again heard, but the monster never actually appears. The player's knowledge of previous danger is again used against them, causing stress and fear, even when no actual danger is present.
Amnesia was a truly unique experience at the time of its release. Sanity was, and is, such a unique mechanic that it made for a gameplay that had never been seen before and scared the players to great effect. Amnesia is a model for how to play on the status quo, the mundane, and the “already been done” with the result of achieving incredible drama. Sanity, a restrictive yet more deliberate set of abilities, and a willingness to stretch mechanics make Amnesia a great example of unique mechanics and design. 

[1] Frictional Games. Amnesia: The Dark Descent. 2010.
[2] "Sanity." Amnesia Wiki. Web. 01 Aug. 2014.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Heroes of the Storm: A First Look

At the time of this writing, Valve has raised over $7 million to be paid out as prize money for one single eSports tournament, the DOTA 2 International Championships 2014. It has also been a $21 million payday for Valve for minimal work. They have done so by selling the "Compendium", a digital companion book to the tournament. If a player buys it, they can make predictions for the tournament for prizes, vote on two all-star teams, and get in-game items and boosts. This is in addition to the warm and fuzzy feeling you get every time you contribute to eSports. It costs $10, 25% of which goes to the tournament prize pool and 75% goes into Valve's pocket. Furthermore, it's only been out for a couple weeks now and will continue to sell until the end of July, when the tournament ends. Marketing level: Genius. (Sidenote: Did I buy one? Absolutely!)

In an attempt to start getting in on those MOBA/Hero Brawler dollars, Blizzard has finally released a Technical Alpha of their entry to the genre: Heroes of the Storm. (Note: I posted a trailer of it back when it was still called Blizzard All-Stars, literally two years ago. see new trailer here.) By Technical Alpha, they mean the game is playable but there are still lots and lots of changes coming, large and small. Also, you can already give them your real money to unlock characters and items that will later be re-locked (and your money refunded). Heaven forbid they don't get that feature in ASAP.

Anyway, I've played it. I like it! My favorite things about it so far are the things that really make it different from other MOBAs. I like that the games are short. I like that the maps are varied. And I like that the heroes are recognizable to me. However, there are shortcomings, too. Lots of those.

Game Length: If I sit down to play a game of Starcraft, we're looking at a possibility of a 45-minute game. Probably only 15 to 25, sure, but it really could go as long as three-quarter of an hour. Or even an entire hour. A game of DOTA 2? Forty-five minutes, EASY. You have to plan on that before you start a match. It could run as long as an hour, maybe longer, but probably not. I have never had a game of Heroes of the Storm take 25 minutes. Boom. Quick and easy. I love that.

On the flipside, however, each victory or defeat feels very insignificant. But my instincts aren't telling me it's because of the time commitment; it's just a matter of scale. A game of Heroes of the Storm does not feel grand or epic. It just feels like a quick little game. Maybe that's because it's a lot easier to tell if you're ahead or behind in HotS than it is in Starcraft or DOTA. But there's something going on there. And it's ruining it for me a bit.

Maps: So far there are four (maybe five) different arenas (chosen randomly when you queue up), each with a different layout and a major map-specific mechanic in addition to your standard MOBA creeps/towers/lanes. The mechanics all revolve around either collecting something or trying to hold a location, resulting in a nice boost of some kind over your opponent (see in-text image). This kind of activity encourages more frequent teamfights, forcing the players to get up in each other's faces. If you try to ignore the mechanic, your team will undoubtedly lose, so there's even more encouragement. Additionally, these maps are much smaller than your DOTA or LoL maps. This also encourages teamfights, but not in an exciting way. It's in more of a you simply can't go anywhere without bumping into someone else kind of way. Not fun.

Heroes: When I play a game of DOTA, I think in these terms: "Oh! This character is based on [so and so] from Warcraft" (see here). Many, many characters are like this. It's understandable given the game's history, but it's still always in the back on my mind. In Heroes of the Storm, I get to play as the ACTUAL characters! It is extremely satisfying. The selection is currently rather low. And it isn't helping that Blizzard has decided to go the LoL monetization route (pay to unlock heroes) rather than the amazingly-awesome-community-contribution-driven way of DOTA (all heroes unlocked, pay for community-made customizable cosmetics). That means you can't even play as whoever you like at any given time (although you can try all heroes once before you have to buy them) with the exception of a rotating "Free Heroes of the Week" deal. So, that kind of sucks. But that could always change with time. I hope it does.

All in all, I'm very glad I get to be in the Alpha and be part of the process. I am very optimistic, but Blizzard has a long way to go to get this game up to a caliber that will compete with League of Legends or DOTA. I'm going to keep an eye on it and keep playing when there's a new update, but in the meantime I'm sticking with DOTA 2 when I have a MOBA itch to scratch.

Unless I'm short on time, of course.

See the show below!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisitions: Hammerwatch

Hammerfall? Hammerfell? Hammertime? Hammerwatch! Okay, I'm just going to level with you here. I don't feel like I played this game to really make a good judgement. It's a multiplayer Diablo-style game except that all gear and leveling has been reduced down to coin gathering and spending. I was enjoying it for the most part, and then I realized that it was time to end the show after what felt like five minutes. One of THOSE kinds of games.

It's definitely worth checking out. And it's super cheap. Win-win!

See show below!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisition: Orcs Must Die! 2

Orcs Must Die! 2 appears to be one-third to one-quarter as fun as it looks on paper. It's a tower defense game. You play as a War Mage guy or a Sorceress lady (and more that unlock over time) that runs around summoning towers and shooting orcs in the face when you get the chance. The music is pretty catchy and the traps are very diverse. A good time, right? Eh, not really.

It's hard to explain, but I was just bored for most of the game. All progression comes in the form of unlocking levels and collecting gold during those levels. That's fine enough for towers, but I'm playing a character! Why doesn't he level up? Why can't he get collect gear? Why aren't there character-specific traps and abilities? Sure, the little soundbites and the victory dances at the end of the level are great (especially the dances, that was an awesome surprise), but that doesn't actually motivate me to keep playing. This game came out after Dungeon Defenders which has all of those things and more, why isn't there any innovation?

Everything else is fine enough, but I wouldn't recommend that someone go out and grab this game. I'm sure the game is a bit more exciting once multiplayer kicks in, but what, really, is the point? They'll be just like you! Just more of the same. I'll have to check out the original Orcs Must Die sometime, but that may be a while.

Check out the show below!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisition: Jamestown

Finally. Finally, finally, finally getting to write a blog post for this game.

Jamestown is a historical fiction bullet hell flight sim that combines the legendary adventure of the American frontier in the 1600's with steam-punk flying ships, trains, and cyborgs. Unfortunately the Spanish have allied with the malevolent Martians, causing only more problems for the English settlers. I know what you're asking yourself: How could this NOT be amazing?

The answer is that it IS amazing! Fast paced. Scary bosses. Awesome music. There's just so much to love. There aren't very many levels, but there are many difficulties, ships, as well as challenges to keep you busy. Also there's a DLC that I do no own, so I guess I can't vouch for it. But I do know that this was one of the games that really sold the indie game movement for me. The premise is just so weird. It's short. It's inexpensive. It would never have been made by a major company. Yet here it is, and I love it.

See play through below

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Increasing Legitimacy!

Turns out there's a thing I do not enjoy. It's creating logos and branding media. Seriously. Totally not into it. However, as a result of my labors my stream looks way better. And I made this awesome logo! It looks like that Photoshop class I took in 9th grade is still paying off! The production value on the stream is going to look much, much better. Additionally, I started up a Facebook page for the site/stream/stuff. So I'll be posting everything that I'm doing on there instead of bothering the crap out of all of my relatives and Facebook friends.

Also the offer is still out: If anyone would like to take over the logos and art design crap for the site and stream, you are 100% welcome to it. I wouldn't really be able to pay you, but I'm sure we could figure something out. Ads? Free game(s)? A nice poem? Something.

Also, I just read that Google is acquiring Twitch for over a billion dollars! Holy crap! I hope this is a good thing.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisions: Bit.Trip Presents: Runner 2: Legend of Future Rhythm Alien

Bit.Trip Presents: Runner 2: Legend of Future Rhythm Alien might be the game with the longest title that I've played for Humble Bundle Acquisitions. I wish I could say that it could win more awards than that, but overall I thought it was fairly boring.

You play as Commander Video, or one of his compatriots, as you run, dash, jump, kick, cannon, and bounce across long stretches of platforms for the purpose of...gold bricks? Is that it? I'm not sure if that's the real reason or not. The only thing that I got out of the story is that we had been teleported to another dimension!!! Therefore we must run. A lot. Whatever.

It's a fun enough game. The visuals are very pretty but not distracting (except for a giant purple dome thing that looks a little pervy). The running and jumping were...fine. Maybe if endless runners are YOUR thing this is a great catch, but overall I was just kind of bored after the first 15 minutes. I enjoyed games like Ski Safari and the classic Jetpack Joyride much more. Granted, this game is not an "endless" runner, but a runner of stages. Which didn't really do it for me. Maybe it was seeing Meat Boy in the intro video, but I just felt like nothing about this game was very exciting. I never felt like it drew me in at any time. I think that more meaningful short-term goals would have helped (like in endless runners) to give the player more of a sense of why we run so constantly.

Maybe running should be its own reward, but in this case running felt like how it always feels now that I've gotten fat: Work.

See play through below!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisitions: FTL: Faster Than Light

FTL: Faster Than Light, is so good you should stop reading and go play it right now. It's simply a brilliant, addicting, and beautiful game. Events are heavy on RNG, so no playthrough is the same and there's no predicting what challenge you'll have next. GO PLAY IT!

See the show below!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisitions: The Lord of the Rings Online

If you're not already super burnt out on WoW, or maybe just looking for a little free MMO time, Lord of the Rings Online, or "Lotro", is a solid game that is worth your attention. 

See the show below!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisitions: Monaco

Trying to play some catchup with a new schedule. Monaco wasn't very fun at all for me. It looks like it's best played with a group of 4 that are either in the same room or on Skype. That would have been way more fun. Also, the game doesn't even bother teaching you how to play. Boo.

See terrible playthrough below!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisitions: Beatbuddy: Tales of the Guardians

I screwed up a show. I knew it would happen eventually, but it sill hurt my little heart very much. I'm sorry about the audio issues.

Beatbuddy, unfortunately, is pretty much the same game as Aquaria but instead of having to learn songs, everyone is obsessed with music and rhythm. This leads to some really cool design--lots of movement in game and even lights on my computer box bouncing with the beat--but the puzzles themselves were just kind of boring.  

I may have enjoyed the game more if I hadn't just barely done Aquaria, which seemed more complex and interesting, but there is a certain humor and excitement in the game that is very enjoyable. I'm not going to play it again, but you may still like it. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I, for one, welcome our new Israeli overlords!

Imagine my surprise this morning when I checked my blog stats and saw that I had 980 views yesterday!

I figured something was amok, since I usually have about ~20 per day. I'm up in the 30's on a good day. Apparently a bot or web crawler of some kind hit up my site like a warhead. I got 950 hits from Israel last night alone. No idea how or why.

However, that does lead me to believe that my site and show must be the #1 Best Blog and Web Show in Israel. The Israelis LOVE me! (The opposite of those stupid "Linguists HATE her!" ads) I'm blowing up! I'm the best! I don't plan on making any changes to adapt to a mainly Israeli audience, at least not in the short term. I'll just keep on keeping on with the quality content you (and by "you" I mean my new best friends from Palestine) have come to expect!

New show tonight! Tune in on twitch.tv!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisitions: Aquaria

So I played Aquaria, which I got probably a couple years ago. Turns out it's really good! I shouldn't have waited so long!

You play as a mermaid named Naija. Yup, you read that right, and you have an epic quest/destiny/thing to go on. Using the power of your voice and mystical songs, you can solve puzzles, defeat enemies, and cook food. Yes, that does not sound very good, but I felt that it was definitely worth the time I played. It has great underwatery visuals and music (as you would hope...being that singing is a primary mechanic) I plan on playing more. Also, I was going to put down money that the narrator was the same person as in the new Tomb Raider game. I was super wrong. Sorry everyone.

It's pretty cheap on Steam, but it's also available on the iPad, which sounds like would fit it well.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisitions: A Virus Named TOM

A Virus Named TOM was created by indie studio Misfits Attic, a husband and wife duo, which is completely adorable and awesome. However, I still think this game stunk.

Let me elaborate. It's your standard action puzzler. There's a cute story and swell, futuristic, art, but those things aside, I just felt really bored after about 10 minutes of playing it. Each level is constrained to such a small board where the solution is either blatantly obvious or (as more mechanics are introduced) so obscured that it comes down more to trial and error than anything else. It was very infrequent that I really felt like I was really solving a puzzle or having an "Ah ha!" moment.

Maybe it's just not my kind of game, but I think this title would be better suited to a mobile format for easy pick-up and put-down-ness. Playing straight through on my PC got old really quick. Video of play through below.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisitions: Guacamelee!

Imagine a bold artsyle, luchadores, and countless jokes about tequila.If this sounds at all interesting to you, go play this game right right now. It's hilarious and I thought it was a whole lot of fun! The game focuses on Juan, who, after an untimely death, is chosen by a mythical lacha mask to be resurrected and restore balance to a Day of the Dead festival as the ultimate luchador. Seriously. That's a perfect premise. I wanted to play a bit more before writing a post about it, but I didn't have time for it over the weekend. My 30 minutes of HBA: Live is right here and as you will be able to tell, I had a great time!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Humble Bundle Acquisitions: Surgeon Simulator 2013

I went into this game expecting one thing and getting something a lot weirder.

Firstly, there was a lot less blood than I expected. Actually, for the most part, this game is more or less bloodless which is especially surprising when you consider that "Blood Loss" is a key losing mechanic in this game. Sure, you get little blood spots on your hands and arms during a procedure, but as far as drops, puddles, pools, squirts, or sprays of blood, I was surprised by their complete absence. It was a good surprise.

The surprise that I didn't like was just how obscene the entire game felt at all times. Ripping out a person's lungs with my bare hands does not feel good, even when I know it's fake. It just felt very wrong, like I was desecrating something sacred. I've been a gamer all my life, so I've done some terrible things in the name of high scores and victory screens, but this was one of the actions I have felt least comfortable with. The somewhat cartoony visuals made it feel even more bizarre, and I can't decide if more realism would have been an improvement or not.

And the controls! My heavens the controls!!! They were simply terrible, and more or less seemed to be so intentionally. For me, that does not add a layer of complexity or mystery or anything else; it's just irritating. It made the game feel like you were playing Operation (which I imagine was point), except there's someone sitting behind and purposely constricting your movement the entire time. Eventually, you would want to punch that person in the face. While playing Surgeon Simulator 2013, there is no face you can punch, it's your own face, constantly slamming into a wall of terrible controls until you either win or lose, occasionally at random.

All in all, I'd put this game at a solid "Try it." I have no intention of ever playing it again, but it was a pretty fun time for a little while. Even better, I'd say to play it with a couple of friends, so there's someone to enjoy the antics with (just like the original Operation! :O).

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some Small HBA: Live changes

Whew! It was an exciting week. I loved streaming these first two episodes and I wish I had been able to do it sooner! And now that I have even a little experience, I'm going to make some changes .

Firstly, these shows need to be shorter. Two hours is just too long, both for myself and for anyone who might just sit down and want to watch from start to finish. I'm going to scale the shows back to 75 to 90 minutes, tops. If I'm really liking a game and I have more time, I may end to show and continue to stream a little after that, but I'm only going to hold myself to an hour or so.

Secondly, my critical analysis after the fact is going to be of a lower priority should life events cause me to be short on time. I have some stuff going on with work this week and that I need to do, so the Antichamber writeup suffered hard. There were no overt characters, but there was a lot of room for analysis of themes. In short, it would have been difficult and time consuming so I'm skipping it. Sorry, Antichamber. And I'm sorry to future games that may fall to the same fate. I love writing and writing critically, but between the writing and the streaming and the real life things, writing comes out third.

Finally, and this isn't a change so much as just a PSA, I've got a long way to go before I understand all the technical and logistical aspects of streaming. I'm still not sure what my computer and my internet is capable of producing, or even how to coax it to do so. So I'll be continuing to adjust settings here and there to get things to an optimum viewing experience.

Thanks to everyone for the support so far, especially Aubrey and, awesomely, my Mom.

Friday, February 21, 2014

HBA Wrap-up: Antichamber

Antichamber. It's minimalist, confusing, and fantastic. The easiest way to describe it is to imagine that the labyrinth in the movie Labyrinth swallowed the Portal games but left all the muppets and David Bowie behind. The design is sharp and physical laws of matter are completely disregarded for the player's benefit. I would definitely recommend it as both a puzzler and an exploration game.

HBA: Live #1 Antichamber Blind

HBA: Live #2 Antichamber Spoiled

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Introducing Humble Bundle Acquisitions: Live!

This weekend my wife and I were talking about The Future. Long story short, I'm going to start a regularly scheduled show on my stream! This show will be Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 8pm to 10pm (Mountain time. That's 7pm to 9pm Pacific). The format of the show will be as follows.

Tuesday: I will pick a game that I received through a Humble Bundle and start playing it on my stream. I will have made an effort to go into it as blind as I can without any prior knowledge or opinions about the game. I'll provide as much charming commentary and observation as possible. Audience participation is greatly encouraged.

Wednesday: I'll do my homework about the game. Who made it? How was it received critically? Did it win any awards? Were there any scandals in production or afterward?

Thursday: We'll dive into the game for another two hours, this time armed with all kinds of context. I will again provide as much charming commentary and observation as possible. Audience participation will again be greatly encouraged.

Friday/Saturday: I'll write up an analysis/review of the game and put it here on the site.

Fun, right!? I'm very excited to get started, and Humble Indie Bundle 11 was released this morning. We're going live with Antichamber tonight! See you then! :D

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bored At Work 1.9.14

Hello internet, how are you?

I'm doing well. As the title indicates, I'm at work and I'm bored. I work at a great little company called inthinc. Shortly put, we produce vehicle tracking devices that are used by companies with large fleets of vehicles. I work in Tech Support, which is definitely the bottom of the barrel, but it's a great gig for someone who hasn't finished (or has no interest in) a college degree. I have very high performance overall at work, if I say so myself, and sometimes (like today) I finish up all my work early and don't have anything left to do for the rest of the day except wait for phone calls.

It is during this waiting time that I struggle. Playing on the internet is discouraged and there is quite a bit of traffic by my desk, so I try to be discrete or to find new projects. I've decided that blogging will be a better use of time than Facebook or taunting people in the Tech Support group on Skype. Most of the posts on here will still be the same kuality jernilizm you have come to expect on this site. But if I'm not in the mood to work on those, I'll just write up a more personal post. Like this one! I know I have a personal blog...but I'd rather keep it all in one place.

Anyway, It's January. The time of the year when people try to get their ducks in a row. As for me, I'm trying to get school and career things more in order. I'm doing really well at work and I keep my eye out for new positions here but nothing has panned out yet. I would totally go to another company for more money, but nothing tempting has come up for that either ;).

This past Fall, I was informed that I was on academic suspension for the next year so I can't take any classes. Blerg. My GPA was too low after taking three classes.... Kind of pathetic. I did very poorly on my first course at the end of 2012 because I started my new job and life stuff. Apparently my next two courses were not enough to pull me back up, so now I have to wait. I know there are several classes I can get credit for by just testing out of them. I'm trying to get in contact with my adviser to see if I can do that while I'm suspended or what, but I haven't heard anything back yet.

Also, I want someone to pay me for being involved with video games. Playing games, making games, writing about games...any of those would be nice. The writing part can be improved by this blog. The making part is harder, because I need to get better at programming and school problems make that hard. I know I could just do it on my own, but it's hard to keep up on without deadlines. The playing part would mean streaming, which is a lot of fun, but my laptop struggles with it. Last night I wiped out the hard drive and we'll see if that helps it at all. I think it will, but we'll see how it goes. I do think I'll be able to get up to a pretty high level of competition in Hearthstone, which should get me some viewers, especially once it is officially released. I'll depend on all of you to watch my stream and tell your friends about it! Or, at the very least, open up the stream and mute it and leave it running the background somewhere so I get a viewer boost :P.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Hearthstone. It's a really fun game. And I'm doing really well at it right now! So well in fact that I'm going to start streaming me play it, especially if I really can get into the top league. How awesome will that be!? I still only have my crappy laptop, so that makes things a little difficult, but I'm thinking if I clean it out and reinstall Windows or something that will be an improvement. We'll have to see.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in with that. Overpower3d.com didn't really work out in the end as things got busy with work and school and life, as it does. But it was a good experience and I hope to keep on writing and streaming going forward. Now all I need to do is create content worth reading/watching! ;)