A harrowing week and heeding the call of games…of one game…

Y’know those weeks where all the days seem to mash together into an incoherent pile of work and non-work activities? That was my week last week, and partially this week. I’m not even sure I could describe to someone in words just how bizarrely the days went. Things happened, and I’m still here. That’s about all I know. Sadly, I didn’t blow up any shit on the 4th. In fact, when it came time to, at the very least, watch the local fireworks display, I was pretty much all like “meh, seen it.” I was just too damn tired.

Meanwhile, things are going great with our bathroom renovation, thanks for asking.

*crickets*

Continue reading “A harrowing week and heeding the call of games…of one game…”

A Life, Through Computers

The following post originally appeared on Geek Force Network, August 16, 2013.


The other day, a short post appeared on Kotaku titled “Explaining Microsoft Windows’ Evolution Is Simple” that featured this image uploaded by Twitter by user @kataoka_k.

windowshouses

It made me chuckle, and it made me feel ancient. As the post and some commenters point out, this “history” omits a few operating systems like DOS, Windows 1, 2, and 3, and Windows ME. I’ve not used all these systems, but I’ve been exposed to most of them throughout my life either at home, school, or work. But my personal history with computers dates from before even DOS, when I learned to program in BASIC on our TRS-80 Color Computer.

If it doesn't look like it could do much, well, that's because it didn't.
If it doesn’t look like it could do much, well, that’s because it didn’t.

The TRS-80 was nicknamed “Trash-80” for good reason — it wasn’t much of a computer.   I mean, I liked it, but I was kinda young then. Oh yes, I can see it now…that dull, gray, boxy complexion, replete with small, square keys in rich, foggy-colored plastic with deep onyx imprinted letters and numbers.  And what of those itty bitty keys, filled with playful, independent spirits mingling among the electronic underpinnings! Why you made typing so, so…unique!  Did you just type a “p” or a “q”?  Well, let’s say you typed a “2″ and leave it at that. How jovial! The accompanying cassette player and its graceful if incessant whirring – it made a game out of recording!  How much force is needed to push the button today?  Only by trying and failing and trying again and failing again will you find out!

In my world, the TRS-80 was good for only two things: playing simple games like checkers (shut up about the fact that we did have an actual board with pieces) and writing BASIC programs. The computer didn’t come with a monitor, so we had it hooked up to the TV — a color television set nonetheless!  Oh man, and did I make that screen turn colors! Cyan, you were always my favorite.~

cyan
Pretty, on computers. Not clothing.

From the TRS-80, my parents quickly progressed to DOS and Windows machines; and for awhile, those were my primary gaming devices. (It was the only time in my life that I could truthfully claim to be a PC gamer. Also nobody did their homework on a computer, silly.) Meanwhile at school, I swear we were using Commodore 64’s for the longest time. In high school I took a programming class where I worked, for the first time, on an Apple computer – the Macintosh. I’ll tell you, I was terrible at programming, but I did like those Macintoshes. Yes, their screens were teensy weensy compared to the monstrous 15 inches of CRT monitor I had at my house, but they were spry machines with very little lag. The programs we created worked so smoothly and the interface was clean and simple.

When time came for college, I was sent off without a computer – why that’s just crazy talk! —  because mobile computing then was a thing for high-class business people in their stupid suits and ties, not poor, lowly, yet much cooler college students. Instead, I had a shiny, new electronic, Smith Corona word processing typewriter. Oh you can laugh if you want, but I got a good many assignments done on it AND there was no white-out or correction tape needed. And…

…okay, fine…go ahead and laugh.

It kinda looked like this, and it was just as sad. I mean happy! But sad. (source)
It kinda looked like this, and it was just as sad. I mean happy! But sad.

Speaking of college, I did end up having regular access to some pretty nice computers during that time. After my freshman year, my electronic typewriter was nearly banished because I did most of my work in the lab, using a new thing called the “Internet” on a fresh, white batch of Windows 95 PCs. That was a nice OS; it worked well for my purposes and was robust enough to handle whatever we threw at it. The first computer I ever owned after college was a Windows 95 machine. And yes, it was a brick, large and heavy, suitable enough to serve as a deadly weapon.

Meanwhile our household technology grew by leaps and bounds. In just a span of a few years, we had gathered up a number of machines: a Windows 98 machine was quickly and unfortunately replaced by a Windows ME machine, which was thankfully replaced by a Windows XP machine as soon as it could be afforded. We still have the XP machine running today, and only recently has it begun to show its age. But it still works like a charm, even if we could watch a full-length movie in the span it takes the thing to boot.

WinXP
Like a gentle giant, only it eats less.

Several years ago, I made the mistake of getting a Windows Vista laptop. It was only intended as a home office computer – word processing, emails, and Internet. But its “security” interface was ridiculous and annoying, and it seemed to be constantly bogged down running some program or another. And forget about trying to run Norton scans or some such – those could render the thing useless for hours!

My current laptop runs Windows 8 – only every now and again do I regret having made the upgrade from Windows 7. I don’t mind the “tiles” interface but I also don’t use it much, instead favoring the regular desktop. As tempted as I am to use the Vista laptop under a short table leg, I have to keep it because Windows 8 isn’t compatible with everything, and that’s problematic. Case in point, not long ago I sought to update my old Android phone. The only way to do this was with a computer and some downloaded software.  Without reading the fine print, I stuck the necessary program onto my Windows 8 machine and attempted to run it; and each time it failed. After thinking that my phone was at fault, I took a closer look at the software’s specs. Nowhere was Windows 8 listed as compatible. So I went through the same process using the Vista machine, and…success!! Oh, Vista hated being made to work as it chugged along with the program, but it still worked. Hmmm…maybe I could update that laptop to Windows 7…

I could not be less excited for Bioware’s new game, Anthem

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

This year’s E3 press conferences have come and gone, and my big takeaway from it all — from the X.B.O.X. to nothingness from Bethesda to “looks like Nintendo isn’t dead after all” – is that I couldn’t care less about Anthem.

After watching EA’s presser on last Saturday, the looming question was “what the hell is Anthem??” was the only one that remained. Both my husband and I rightly assumed that it could be something very cool from the mere few seconds that were shown. It was at least enough to get the speculation gears churning, and it was enough for us to sit through the orgy of teasers and trailers shown off at the Microsoft, aka “You REALLY need an Xbox One X, right??” press conference the next day.

The reveal of Anthem was…ick. It was just icky.

That’s pretty much what I said after the reveal. “Ick.”

Okay, not everything seemed icky. The graphics were really pretty and impressive. Everything else was icky. From it feeling like a Destiny clone to a rather lackluster narrative to…oh my god…those three dreaded words:

Open.

World.

Game.

Mark my words, people, I cannot and will not invest in another open world game from Bioware. I’m sorry, but it simply will not happen.

“But wait!” you cry. “You were one of the jerks who gave into Mass Effect: Andromeda after professing that you weren’t interested! That’s…that’s just a dick move, you evil…jerky….flip-flopper!”

That’s true. So much can change in the course of a year. (Anthem is due out in 2018.) I’m only speaking from my gut here, and that’s really only after seeing the smallest sliver of what’s to come.

Honestly, though, what’s promoting these feelings is open-world fatigue. I mean, really do love open-world games. I swear. But when it came time to search for something else to play after completing Mass Effect: Andromeda, I realized that I had spent most of the first half of 2017 (and a little bit near the end of 2016) playing nothing but open-world games. I just finished Borderlands 2 (check out Virtual Bastion tomorrow for my run-down about its insane brilliance), and before that, I was all about Andromeda. Prior to that, there was Fable Anniversary, Fallout: New Vegas, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Assassin’s Creed II, all of which fall within the spectrum of open-worldness. Sure, I played through a couple outliers, but I’ve pretty much been open-world, all-the-time, and…I’m tired of it.

Seeing Anthem only reinforced that self-imposed exhaustion. As such, I remain fully uninterested in investing…or rather, planning to invest…any more of my personal resources into this particular title.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017 (am)

Confused? Why the dates? Well, I started writing this post last night after reading more non-news about Anthem. I was so un-buzzed about the general buzz that’s still surrounding this game, that I felt compelled to put a directive into words: DO NOT BUY ANTHEM (*at release). Because today, while I feel less jazzed up about the whole thing, I feel that, given time and how weak-willed I’ve been about giving into Bioware titles in the past, I may more than likely curl once Anthem is on the market.

But, I can’t! I just…can’t. {sob} I’ve no interest in returning to Dragon Age: Inquisition! I can barely bring myself to play Mass Effect: Andromeda again despite that fact that it is a good game! It’s not that I hate Bioware, but I just haven’t truly, madly, or deeply loved their recent open-world games!!

… … …

Damn. This is all quite silly, isn’t it? Me getting worked up over a game that won’t even see the light of day for some time. I’ve got to have better things to do with my time. Like, Shadow of the Colossus, which I just started. I’m not even sure what to make of it yet, except that I’m having trouble with the control scheme. But boy oh boy, it is ever pretty.

I’m currently feeling like this is a pretty worthless post, but I’m not going to delete it. It may really be that I’m not particularly mad at Anthem itself, but rather at the fact that E3 was simply blah. (Though seeing a bit more of Detroit: Become Human was a high point.) I’m much more excited about Shadow of the Colossus and playing/replaying games in my current collection over just about anything that was shown during this year’s E3 press conferences or otherwise. Mass Effect: Andromeda also reminded me that release dates are overrated. If I had known that I’d be picking up a somewhat incomplete and broken (for some) game at the start, then I surely would have waited on purchasing it.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017 (pm)

Well, this turned into a rather jumbly post. As I’m re-reading it now, I’ve no clue how to turn it into anything cohesive. So I won’t. It’s not a good post, but it does reflect some of the most in-the-moment writing that I’ve ever done…which is probably why I’ve refrained from a lot of in-the-moment writing before. Haha. I’m still sour about Anthem and E3, but those feelings are quickly fading. There are simply better thing to do/play/worry about, like figuring how to take down more colossi! It is a damn pretty, pretty game.

Ac!d Commander takes a breather

If you’re reading this, I’m dead.

Bwahahahahahahahahaha…hahahaha…ha

🙂

No, I’m not. At least, I’m pretty sure I’m not. These days, the line between this life and the afterlife seems to be growing blurrier and blurrier by the second. But I’m still pretty sure that I am of this world.  What I am not is this blog, today. Thanks to the power of the almighty vacation day, I’m taking just that. I’m skippin’ town for a bit, all in the name of remoteness, refreshment, and relaxation. In fact, for the next couple days, I might not look at anything electronic, save for a lamp or a microwave or an A/C unit.

It’s time to unwind, but I’ll resume Ac!d Commander next week. Just so long as I don’t really die between now and then. That’s not part of the vacation, but life is life…and death.

Oh man, that’s a horrible way to sign off.

Seriously, there will be no dying over the next seven days.

So let’s just leave things at “I’ll see ya next week, good people.”

Remembering the Video Game Crash of 1983

During a recent review of the contents of a couple old USB drives that I had forgotten that I stashed away, I found a handful of articles that I had written for a gaming site that went defunct. Since I hate for words to sit unread (even those in incoherent, rambly sentences), I decided I might as well share them here. Here’s one from around January 2013 in which I did a little looking back on the history of video games and the video games industry. Interestingly, though this post was written over four years ago, the questions here remain relevant, as it seems we are still in the process of understanding and debating what this industry, which has itself undergone some significant changes in just the past decade, means to us today, as well as where its future lies.


Though we’re just a few weeks into 2013, it’s already shaping up to be an interesting year for gaming. While next gen Playstation and Xbox consoles burn up the rumor mill, an elder statesman of the industry, Atari, declared bankruptcy. A plethora of new sequels and new IPs promise nothing less than sheer gaming ecstasy. And new technologies continue to push the boundaries between gaming and reality and force the question “what is a video game?”

But 2013 also marks something else a little less spectacular (or just a spectacular, depending on your point of view) — the 30th anniversary of the video game crash of 1983.  It was kind of a big deal. And now that we’re in a time of gaming overabundance, I can’t help but see a few parallels.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, video games were THE thing.  In less than a decade, video games had rapidly evolved — from Pong to Ms. Pac-Man — in a time when personal computing was just beginning to take off.  Electronic games, arcade games, consoles that allowed video games in the home were incredibly popular and technology was in vogue.  This “golden era” of gaming was akin to the “space race” of the 1960s, except now kids could go to the moon…virtually, anyway.  With high demand came abundance. Arcades popped over seemingly overnight (like Starbucks still do today). Consumers seeking to buy a console had no less than a dozen (or more!) from which to choose. Games, great games, crappy games were made public without a second thought.  There was money to be made in video games, as much as there was once gold in them thar hills!

Through a series of unfortunate events, retailers found themselves with more video game related stock than they could handle, video game companies such as Atari were hit with some big time failures (ahem, E.T., ahem), and internal strife developed within the gaming industry.  Video games and gaming fell almost as quickly as it had risen.  Between 1983 and 1985, the billion dollar industry lost millions in revenue.  This led to bankruptcy for some companies that could no longer compete.  A bunch of games were supposedly buried in a desert, and people moved on with their hair metal and acid-washed jeans.

So here we are 30 years later. The video game industry is comfortably back to being a billion-dollar industry.  Great games and crappy games are still being produced for…how many systems?  PC, Mac, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Android, iPad/iPod/iPhone, Nintendo DS and 3DS…and maybe someday soon the next versions of the Playstation and Xbox.  That’s about a dozen or so systems.  There are too many publishers, developers, and game companies to mention — mergers seem to happen every day and new ones quickly pop up.  We have no shortage of games to play.  We have abundance.

The video game industry is in a much more stable environment than it was years ago.  The spirit of the early video game industry probably wasn’t ready to be a shooting star. Video games then were like meteorites, they shone bright and powerful but were destined for a quick, hot demise. They were a fad like pet rocks and friendship bracelets.  But they weren’t destined to become little more than an historical footnote. Video games survived, the industry survived, and it today is reigns alongside the film and television industry and vies hard for our everlasting attention.


The industry was founded on invention and innovation and its spirit remains, well…where is that spirit? Is it with the big companies or the independent developers?  It is with those that have money or those just scraping by? Is it with the players or the publishers? What do you think of the industry today?

“Of course, who has a dining room table anymore?”

The following post originally appeared on Geek Force Network, May 9, 2014.


Hmmm…good question. A strange yet intriguing one. It was uttered during a conversation we recently had with a professional framer about hanging pictures . She was talking about proper height at which to hang certain types of framed art, mirrors, etc. Such thoughts had never passed my mind before when accomplishing such a task other than: does the picture fit? Yes? Good. No? Move it elsewhere.  But she discussed all sorts of things to consider, from windows and glare to wall heights and other objects in the room to perspective. That’s where the dining room came in – perspective. Would people be viewing the picture standing or seated, like in a dining room? A formal dining room, presumably.

Continue reading ““Of course, who has a dining room table anymore?””

The Mystery Blogger Award is no mystery!

If you’ve been following me here for awhile, you know that I’m a big ol’ sucker when it comes to blog awards. Chain letter comparisons aside, there’s no denying that they are kind of fun. And who doesn’t enjoy a little peer-to-peer recognition every now and then? All this is to say that the very kind Mr. Steiner of Falcon Game Reviews recently sent the Mystery Blogger Award my way, and I’m more than pleased to say thank you. By the way, he’s no blogging slouch, so do check out/follow his incredible site that’s full of all sorts of gaming goodness!


Now, we all know how these things go, so let’s get on with the rules. Or, at least, some of them.

Continue reading “The Mystery Blogger Award is no mystery!”

This nostalgia trip was brought to you by the letter “c” for “cereal” and “cartoons”

At the beginning of “Breakfast Club,” rapper Murs alludes to the notion that we should all be able to relate to the following childhood memory: waking up on Saturday morning, grabbing a big bowl of sugary cereal, and watching cartoons.

Sounds pretty sweet, right? If that’s how you remember your childhood, then bully, just bully! I, for one, harbored a very similar routine, only sans the sugary cereal.

You remember the whole “anti-dentite” routine from Seinfeld? Well my folks were “anti-sucrose-ites.”

Continue reading “This nostalgia trip was brought to you by the letter “c” for “cereal” and “cartoons””