My biggest gripe about the Forza games…

May 30th, 2013

I know that DLC’s are the big thing now, and a big money-maker post release for just about every game developer.  That being said, while Forza 4 and Forza Horizon are both fantastic games, the real world cost of adding additional cars via DLC is absurd.  Here I am thinking I got a great deal, $40 per game, and then as I’m choosing a new car I see certain vehicles tagged with “DLC” which can be purchased for anywhere from $2 or more.  They don’t even have a DLC package where you can just buy all of them at once, even the so called “Season Pass” is limited in what it can provide… to this I say, wtf?

The entire purpose of games these days should be to keep the players playing them.  Forcing us to commit even more real world dollars into a title just for the privilege of driving a twin turbo AMC Gremlin is ridiculous.  I’m all for dropping a few dollars for a steaming pile of pungent new content, but all of this piecemeal BS is infuriating…  Wow, great, the game has hundreds of cars… of which maybe 10% I have any real interest in driving.  I’d like to run a few races in a Dodge Omni GLH for instance, but I can’t unless I drop real money to do so.  That’s a load of crap.

I supported the developer by purchasing the game, I further support them by continuing to play it. There’s got to be a business model out there that can get me the content I want for FREE and still make money for the developers.  Years ago they started doing really obvious product placement via billboards and whatnot – some folks complained, personally I think it made the experience more real.  Maybe they could make the DLC cars available via in-game points.  Instead, I need to spend more real money.  BULL$#@!.

It’s the little things in life that put a smile on my face…

May 20th, 2013

Over the weekend I got to see one of my oldest friends tie the knot, was a great (albeit rainy) time.  Still, my mind works in mysterious ways and the thing that stood out was related to one of my ex’s being there.  Now I rarely talk to them, but we’re on good terms.  They’re married, have a few kids, and I made a point to at least do a happy ‘hi, how are ya’ and leave it at that.

Still, one thing I noticed ages ago, is that the ‘other half of the equation’ couldn’t really take their eyes off me.  I initially noticed it at ‘group events’ mainly any time I actually spoke with my ex but then noticed that just about every time I’d scan the room, or be in the middle of a conversation with other folks… this guy’s just watching me.

Now the wedding marked the first time in… more than a few years since I actually ran into the happy couple in person, said my hello’s, etc… and moved on to the other two dozen people I hadn’t seen in ages.  Made a point for the rest of the night to steer clear for the most part, but seriously… everyone’s on the floor dancing, and where’s he looking (while dancing)?  Me.

My ex?  Still a knockout.  Given the option of looking at me, or looking at her, I’d have to say I can’t blame him – I’m one handsome SOB, but just the same dude… Past is the past, you’ve got a family, I’ve got… something, lol… As Lilly from How I Met Your Mother would say… where’s the poop?

Jealous?  Intimidated?  Over protective?  Am I yet again this mysterious bogeyman?  Honestly, I got a kick out of it. 🙂

Already bored with Defiance… here’s how to get me un-bored.

May 14th, 2013

A bit of background here – I must have played World of Warcraft for a good 3+ years before I finally hung up my gear and decided to venture out into the daylight again.  I’m sure that if I was so inclined, I could install it, load up my old character, and pick up where I left off without a hitch.  I’d probably even get sucked right back into the addiction.

There’s problem #1 with Defiance.  It’s not addicting.  There’s really nothing to make me want to log in and play, as at its core it is a very basic shooter in the post-apocalyptic style of the Fallout or Borderlands series but without any of the real meat that can get me to reinstall any Fallout or Borderlands title and play it through to the end again.  I’ve compiled a short list of what I think can and should be done to improve Defiance for me.

1. Upgrades, upgrades, upgrades!  In WOW, Fallout or Borderlands, half the fun of playing is upgrading your weapons and armor every 5 minutes.  Sure, it might sound frustrating – but not nearly as frustrating as completing a handful of missions in Defiance only to collect a bunch of crap that’s no better than what I have been using for the past 300 levels.  Sure, there’s the mod system which allows the player to customize the weapons on hand when there are available slots for upgrade – but even then, the mods are rarely earth shattering.  Woohoo, new scope, .10% increase in accuracy.  There’s no armor in defiance, you can customize your look but beyond that all you have are a fairly limited selection of shields that vary in capacity, recharge rate, recharge delay, etc…  Want to customize your look?  Break out the greenbacks.

2. Skill tree?  Who needs a skill tree?  Sure, reaching higher EGO levels allow you to unlock various perks but they only take effect if you equip the perk.  Better yet, you can only equip a limited number of perks.  What a load of crap.  Sure, it puts a higher emphasis on making the most of your loadouts, but who wants to back out to a menu and swap loadouts in the middle of a firefight?

3. Speaking of loadouts – get rid of them.  The menu system in the game is at best cumbersome, at worst completely daft.  Sure, I bet a bunch of development meetings were held but from the way it works I’d guess the leaning tower of hot pockets got more attention.  You’re locked in to using two weapons  in any loadout.  In any game of this nature, I like to have a good shotgun, a machine gun, and a sniper rifle on hand at the same time which allows me to quickly adapt to any situation.  There’s no quick adapting in this game.  You go in with the wrong loadout, or the right loadout and run out of ammo, forget about it.  If you’re lucky you can find a semi-safe place to hide and swap loadouts, but in the mean time you’re still getting hammered from all sides.  How about 3-4 weapons on hand – no need to swap loadouts and you can keep firing instead of hoping a PDA can protect you from a bullet.

4. Loot.  Maybe I’ve been spoiled by other post-apocolyptic shooters, but one of the things that encourages anyone to explore these unique and highly detailed open worlds is scavenging.  You don’t scavenge in defiance.  You kill, get stuff, and if you’re really lucky through some miracle get a weapon that’s worth using.  The numerous ammo crates scattered across the landscape are nice, but why bother checking out a random site if all I’m gonna get are the same plug and play NPC’s with the same crap drops?  Woah, 10 scrip.  Woah, a white weapon.  Big deal.  Give a player more reasons to explore beyond the ridiculously repetitive side missions.

5. Vehicles.  The vehicles in this game are a nice touch, but regardless of how they look, they’re all crap.  How about the ability to modify them?  Rims? Armor? Paint?  Mounted weapons?  Sure its fun to drive in to a crowd of baddies and try to take a few out before jumping out and hoping that you’ve got the right loadout to keep you from getting fragged 2 seconds later… but how about a fender mounted weapon to have some more fun thinning the herd?  Why can’t we sell them?  Now that I’ve got my orange Challenger, whats the point of having a half dozen quads in my inventory?  Let me sell the things.

6. Vendors.  Woohoo, I’ve got 20k script on hand and no place to spend it because all of the vendors sell crap.  Sure, there are the faction vendors I can access by completing races or completing other competitive tasks – but even then – crap.

7. Lockboxes are a joke as well.  The whole lockbox thing is that if you have enough resources or buy enough bits with real money – you can access the lockbox and get some random weapons, shields, etc…  Thing is, these lockboxes all issue crap.  You’re lucky if you get a purple, best you’ll get it blue.  I’ve heard rumors that you might even see a top-tier orange but as an experiment one night I dropped $20 on bits and bought several tier 4 lockboxes.  That entitled me to several random pieces of crap.

Now I’m sure that there are folks who absolutely love this game, and at the start, I was one of them.  Every time I login though, I spend less time in game before I logout and play something else that cost me less and provides more satisfaction and replay value.  The show the game is based on is actually pretty good IMHO but not enough to keep me playing.  I’m glad that they aren’t charging to play the game beyond the initial purchase price because unless some significant changes are made there’s no way in hell this game becomes another virtual ghost-town in the shadow of numerous other titles that aren’t even MMO but are easily worth the price of admission several times over.

There’s a world out there, and I really don’t give a crap.

May 10th, 2013

Can’t say I’ve ever really been a positive or happy person, in general I think my emotional progress peaked at “content.”  I don’t go against the flow, or with the flow, I just bob on the surface…  I don’t lean left or right, I just play the averages, avoid extremes, avoid latching on to anything for too long.

I’ m bored.  I can’t really put into words just how bored I am, but it’s both excruciating and comforting at the same time.  There’s a lot of freedom to be had in not giving a crap about anyone or anything, but one huge side effect is of course boredom.

All the stuff I used to enjoy now bores the crap out of me.  I’ve never been able to focus on just one thing at a time, so now I find myself focusing on many things at once all of which bore the crap out of me.

Video games were always my hobby, any time life gave me lemons I fired up the ‘ol Xbox and buried myself in a world where I didn’t share a house with someone I’m trying to divorce but won’t fucking leave me alone, where I had little tasks and jobs that actually excited me and got my brain working…  I could never just play a game though, I always needed something else going on, either music or something on TV.

Right now, I’m actively playing Sim City, Defiance, Just Cause 2, Fallout New Vegas, and Mass Effect 3.  None of them can keep me interested for long.  Eventually I get bored, and my attention focuses on something shiny… It used to be an escape, now it’s just another pile of things to do… like pay bills, mow the lawn, do the laundry, clean my room… it’s relentless.

Most days and nights when I’m not taking care of necessary things I’m in my room, like a goddamned teenager.  Laying down, watching TV (while playing a game on my laptop, my ipad, or my android tablet), endlessly switching through games hoping something will light a fire in me and at least make the days not seem so long.

I’ll go out still… most days I’ll go to my favorite bar or the local coffee shop… Whichever one I’m at, whether I’m eating, drinking, or both – I’ve got some electronic device on me where I can read the news or play some pointless little game to pass the time.  I even talk to people – something I never really had a problem doing – but now when I talk to them I genuinely don’t care where the conversation goes, what it’s about… I just play the part and move on.

Hell, I used to love getting on my motorcycle and just ride it from dawn till dusk, and as was the case last summer – right through till dawn again (1200 miles on a bike with a 2.9 gallon fuel tank, who’s hardcore now?).  Music, politics, games, religion, the great outdoors… I don’t give a crap.  Last night I was watching “The Family Man” – a Nic Cage movie from 2000… I got about halfway through it, up to the part where he started to see how happy his ‘other self’ actually was with the life he didn’t want…  I’m sick of seeing that hollywood happiness, it’s a load of crap.  I could just sit in my room and watch the pull string on the ceiling fan swirl around all day and get as much satisfaction (read: none) from my day as if I actually did something that involved using my brain.

So yeah… there’s a world outside my window, and I honestly could care less.  The only thing I’m hoping for at this point, if anything – is for my ‘instant family’ to finally leave and take their goddamned psychosis with them.  I have enough trouble sorting out the crap in my head without having to guess when the next bipolar outburst is going to have me wishing I had a damned escape ladder in my room so I can find a nice quiet place to escape to.  Maybe a new job where I can make enough to move out, hire a lawyer instead of a mediator and put this shit to rest forever.  I can’t tell you how much I’m waiting to start making alimony payments.  I’d sell a nut today if I could start paying alimony tomorrow.

Hell, I think I’d feel better if I knew more divorced people.  Last one I knew was a coworker, and that crazy SOB moved to RUSSIA to get away from the bullshit.  My grandfather divorced my grandmother, my uncle divorced his wife, but they’re all dead.  My wife… I’m really sick of calling her that… she’s divorced, but hardly an expert as her problems became mine and generally speaking I’m going to blame her for my current state of being until I’m free of her and can’t use her crap as a bullshit justification for my crap.

Recently I ran into my ex (who is divorced) twice at the local coffee shop.  Thankfully I wasn’t spat on or hissed at either time, honestly I didn’t even recognize her either time until I was ready to leave.  I’d ask her how her divorce went, but the last time I said hello she emailed my parents and brother to accuse me of doing some pretty vile shit… None of which was true, as anyone who actually has to support a family and raise kids doesn’t generally have the time to do what she thought I was doing.  I always figured that, and her spitting / hissing at me was an attempt to evoke a reaction, start a conversation… but that leads me back to the whole ‘perks of not giving a crap’ thing.  I don’t care.  Spit on me, hiss at me, try to make people think I’m the bogeyman outside your window while I’m busy being a “dad” – shrug.  Have ya considered saying “Hi?” lol.

I want to be left alone and rescued at the same time.  Nothing interests me anymore, but at the same time if I actually get invited to do something… the effort required to actually do it is excruciatingly exhausting.  There’s no bright sides anymore, just a few things I’m waiting to happen so maybe my life will be a little less crappy and a whole lot less complex.

I need something new, I know I’m looking… I must still care at some level if part of me hopes that one day I’ll actually be able to see the sun again through this foggy haze of bullshit, boredom, and apathy that’s become my security blanket.  No clue what it is, where it is, but there’s got to be more to life than walking into the same old walls every day just to see how much less I can care once the swelling from the impact finally subsides.

I’ve still got some hope left… no fucking clue why… but until I discover the justification for that hope I guess I’m just perfectly content not giving a shit about anyone or anything.

Taking a brave leap back into MMO hell… and loving it.

April 22nd, 2013

I’ve never been big on “fantasy” type games, nor have I ever really cared for online/multiplayer games – I prefer to be a lone gunman than have to deal with other players who for the most part are unrepentant twats yet to have their first real sexual experience that doesn’t involve a family member.  That being said, the fact I devoted nearly 3 years of my life and killed at least 1 relationship playing World of Warcraft was a shock to say the least.

In the time I devoted to WOW, I saw many other attempts to oust the 6 million lb elephant in the room fail…  Nothing could pull me away quicker than the simple realization that I was devoting many hours a day grinding to earn enough money so I could buy some new weapon, some new armor, etc… so I could grind killing bigger and badder things to repeat the process.

Now that SyFy (I still hate that name, it’s SciFi damnit) has taken the wraps off of Defiance – which from what I can tell is an entirely new take on a game based on a show – or a show based on a game (which is it???) I’ve been gloriously sucked back in to the MMO world.  FINALLY an open world MMO that isn’t confined to the world of elves, trolls, magic, etc…  I’ve got guns!  They make things die!  I even get a quad (or mount for those of you already initiated to MMO hell) to tool around on without having to grind for hours on end.

Defiance is a futuristic science fiction open world MMO (with no monthly fees, even) that places you on a changed Earth years after several alien races popped by for cocktails only to overstay their welcome, terraform the landscape, and generally mess our shit up.  There are two “friendly” races to pick from with several sub-classes to choose from as far as the type of character you’ll be developing.

The graphics are top notch PC quality (I still consider the PC as the standard for graphics, not a console), controls are very well done, and overall the gameplay is smooth and refined.  There is no real learning curve to the game, both MMO virgins and veterans who have played pretty much any open world shooter can hit the ground running.  If I could break out the broad brush of generalization – Defiance is a mix of Fallout, Borderlands, and (simply for the framework) World of Warcraft.

All of the standard weapon flavors are there, pistols, SMG, LMG, Assault Rifles, Shotguns, Rocket/Grenade launchers… and once the proper “EGO” level is achieved, you can modify them to your hearts content.  Other more sci-fi options are available such as the BMG which can either drain bad guys of life or restore life to allies.  If I had a single complaint about the weaponry so far it would be that you can only actively use 2 weapons at any given time.

My general preference for most any game is a solid sniper rifle for ranged attack and a good SMG for close range assault.   I’ve never been big on shotguns in any game going as far back as Doom, but they’re just about a necessity in Defiance.  Thankfully even the low-end shotguns offer massive damage with a decent rate of fire and magazine size.  This is where my complaint really comes into play though.  I think that to do the best job at killing I should be able to swap between a long/medium/short range weapon on the fly…  Instead I need to take a guess as to what would be the best loadout for a given situation and keep my fingers crossed that I got it right.

If I discover too late that I’m better off with a shotgun, or I’ve burned through all of my ammunition, I need to jump to my inventory menu – double-click the weapon I want to use, select the weapon it will be replacing, and then dive back into the fray.  Defiance being an MMO though, the action doesn’t stop while I dig into my collection for the best weapon of pixelated destruction… 99% of the time I’m getting attacked and unless I get my timing just right I’ll hop out of the menu just in time to find myself on my ass in need of being revived.  I’ve read something about being able to set up alternate loadouts in the game that can allow me to swap weapons faster but its still not ideal.  This is something the dev’s should seriously address because IMHO – if I’m not killing or exploring, I’m not playing, and their goal should be to keep the action at the forefront instead of forcing players into the menu screens during an attack.

One of the most frustrating aspects of any MMO is that the open world maps are generally MASSIVE, and even while sprinting it can take forever to get where you need to go.  Defiance handles this brilliantly, as once you finish the “tutorial” missions, you get a simple quad with a boost function which vastly improves the task of traveling across the map.  Other perks?  GPS.  Set a waypoint on the map, and you’ll get a route on your minimap of how to get where you’re going.  Lastly, any area you visit that has a ‘fast travel’ allows you to get back to that area simply by double-clicking the fast-travel icon on the map.  Much of my travelling that wasn’t mission based so far has been getting to areas that have the fast-travel so that I don’t have to waste extra time later on getting around.  Now going by the cut-scenes and what I’ve actually seen in game, it looks like Dodge has thrown some money at the game as some of the quads  have a “Dodge” emblem and oh yeah – there are Mad-Max style Challengers roaming around as well.  I haven’t found the vendor which offers those yet, but it’s pretty cool to see some post-apocalyptic rides tooling around that are actually recognizable.  Personally, I’d prefer a RAM or even a Durango, but hey that’s just me.

There are a few different types of currency in the game, each allowing you to modify various aspects of your experience.  IAP’s are also enabled, so far the IAP “bits” I think they’re called allow you to get lock-boxes (grab bag of random weapons, etc…) inventory size increases, outfits, vehicles, etc…  I dropped $5 on some bits but haven’t used them just yet as I’ve been able to get what I need as the game plays out.

I  mentioned earlier that if you get killed, you have 3 options – one (which can only be used every once and a while) is to self-revive, another is to re-spawn at a nearby spawn point, and of course at any time you can be revived by another player.  Something I’m not sure exists yet (but should if it does not) are med packs.  A lot of times I’m just moments away from killing that last bad guy only to get dropped.  If I could click a button and use a medpack – that’d be sweet.

Another unavoidable weakness of Defiance (which holds true for every MMO I have ever played) is the grind.  Sure, there are races, rampages (kill as many bad guys in a specific time limit), and other ways to get XP, loot, and currency – but in the end there are a ton of “Go here, kill bad guys, get the item” missions.  Thankfully, picking off enemies with a rifle is more fun than killing 1000 boars to obtain the sword of infinite truth, plus you always have the option to run the bastards over.

The last feature I’m going to mention here that I like are your “EGO” abilities.  I forgot what EGO translates to, but essentially it’s a computer in your head that gives you powers.  My choice was the cloak which allows me to sneak up, Predator style, escape an attack with  my life by cloaking while out of sight, and generally wreak invisible havoc.  Other choices are overcharge (ramp up your weapon damage), blur (run really fast), and decoy (total recall style).  I’ll probably create some other characters to try those out, but as your character develops you’re able to increase your skill tree along side your increasing EGO level and unless I’m mistaken it looks like you can actually branch out into other powers… Not sure yet.

Overall, I’m loving the game.  It’s a fresh take on the MMO style, the fact it’s tied to a SciFi series (even horrible shows can go 10 seasons there) is a perk.  The show is pretty good as well, and provides a lot of the back story that is lacking beyond hints and whatnot during gameplay.  $59.95 will get you a standard copy while a whopping $100 gets you the ‘deluxe’ edition.  I have a feeling I’ll be upgrading to that version eventually as if history has proven anything… me + MMO = time sink of epic proportion 🙂

Android VS iOS… Round 1

April 8th, 2013

Recently I decided to pick up a new Android tablet as I’d been using it on my phone for some time, and while I absolutely adore my iPad 2, I wanted to see how far Android had come as far as providing a real challenge to the market domination held by Apple.

My choice was the ASUS Transformer TF300T.  It’s a 10.1″ tablet with the NVidia Tegra 4 processor, 1gb of RAM, 32gb of built-in storage, and an available microSD card slot.  It’s a few ticks lighter than my iPad2 with a higher resolution as well.  I looked over the other options but I felt that short of going online and ordering a Nexus, this was my best option as far as a balance of performance and price.  The option of an attachable dock -w- keyboard was also nice but wasn’t something I picked up at the time.

Now some folks might say it’d be better to compare this against an iPad3, but to be perfectly honest if you’ve got an iPad3 – how likely are you to switch?  Sure, the cost savings are obvious, but if you’re already in the tablet game the big question for you would be whether to stay with Apple or to try something new.

Now lets get my complaints out of the way right off the get go here…

* Power jack is on the long-edge of the tablet.  One thing I didn’t realize was great about my iPad until I got the TF300T was the location of the power jack.  Generally I use my tablet in a seated position or while laying down in bed.  That leaves the jack pressing into my chest, stomach, or against the table which puts undue stress on the joint between the plug and the cable.  I foresee this wearing out sooner rather than later, which leads me to my next complaint…

* Power cable is unreasonably short.  I’d guess it is 3-4′ in length, so if you enjoy using it while plugged in to maintain the battery, plan on buying a longer cable or only sitting intimately close to the nearest outlet.  Good news is that a 3M charging cable is less than $3, but this leads me to my next complaint…

* Cannot charge / use the tablet when connected to a PC via the USB cable.  I generally kept my iPad jacked in to my PC unless I had the power adapter available.  After installing a 3rd party app from Asus I was able to both maintain the charge as well as use the device.  It seems that the TF300T is specifically designed that when connected to anything BUT the available charger, it will only charge when the screen is off.  LAME.

* Apps?  The only way to really get the full experience of any modern tablet is by downloading and installing apps to the device.  Personally, my priority is on gaming but I also require other apps to allow me to do my job remotely.  I’ve never paid much attention to the Google Play store until now, and when compared to the Apple App store – there is very little to actually compare.  The whole Play store interface is generally cumbersome.  Searching for various keywords results in a long list of Apps with a small number that actually provide what the user is looking for.  Other app stores (such as Amazon) are available but as they’re based on providing app’s to the same Android system, you may get more flexibility but IMHO – much less convenience.  It should be able to provide greater granularity to the store without being sued by Apple for copyright infringement.

* Games.  Like I said, I’m an avid gamer.  You don’t have a gaming laptop, Xbox 360, Wii, and iPad 2 each with an obscene catalog of games if your hobby is fly fishing.  I love to game.  I love to explore, conquer, and generally bake the workday out of my brain in new games.  There’s a pretty large collection available, and the HD titles look prettier overall than their sister titles on iOS, but I’ve discovered that there’s just way too much … CRAP in the Android app store.  There’s no real distinction between what plays best on a tablet vs a phone beyond “HD” or “THD” branded titles, so the global availability of Android across many different hardware platforms has drastically cut the price point of owning an Android based tablet but it has also contributed to the general confusion of making the most of the tablet with new apps.  As far as my current addiction – sandbox titles – there are a handful, but none of the 2D staples that I’ve enjoyed on my iPad.

Now for the pros.

* Performance.  This thing is FAST.  Loading the same App on the TF300T vs my iPad 2 indicates that the TF300T spanks it, hands down, as far as loading Apps and booting the device.

* Options.  The TF300T has a GPS, a standard mini-HDMI port, expandable storage, and ‘rooting’ the device allows the user to install any number of custom ROM’s, apparently some folks even install Ubuntu linux on these.  I’ve already rooted it so I can fully explore what it is capable of, I even tried a custom (and popular) ROM known as “Cyanogenmod.”  I ended up removing it shortly after as I found that the performance rapidly degraded with that ROM.  I may try some others but for now the stock ROM, rooted, appears to work just fine for me.

* Price.  With tax, the TF300T cost me $374 at Best Buy.  My iPad2 64GB Wifi cost about $800 new, and an iPad3 with 32gb of storage will run you about $600 and generally lock you in to the “Apple” universe while the TF300T offers many more options for expansion and utilization.

Overall, Android is the best option for a new tablet user IF you’ve never owned an iPad.  When it comes to apps, Apple wins hands down.  Jailbreak the device, and Apple still holds the lead.  If I could make a simple metaphor here, Android is like the wild west of portable computing where iOS is the shining city on a hill.  Not without its flaws mind you, and unless Apple retires its legal department and dusts off its innovation department, I don’t see a future where Android will not dominate… but it’s not there yet.

Here’s hoping that Google gets off its ass and tightens up that app store so there will be a day where I don’t need to switch between my iPad and my Transformer anymore, until then – I’ve got the best of both worlds.

Delving into the 2nd dimension of sandbox gameplay…

April 1st, 2013

For years now I’ve had a healthy addiction to Minecraft, even going as far as developing my own mods for the game.  Still, night after night, collecting resources, building, fighting, etc… in the nearly infinite sandbox world eventually grew repetitive and tiresome.  That put me on the search for something new to whet my sandbox style appetites, and with that in mind I’m hoping to build a fairly complete list of what I’ve played so far as well as a brief review of what I think is worth playing.

Terraria: terraria2As of last week, my primary addiction was Terraria.  I picked it up for my PC via Steam for $2.50.  It has all of the boxes checked as far as feeding my addition… mining, crafting, fighting, etc… The worlds range from small to massive with a massive inventory of items to create and quite possibly the best lighting I’ve ever seen in a sandbox style game.  One of the best aspects of this game are the number of bosses and enemies, and that defeating bosses such as the ominous sounding “Wall of Flesh” will reshape your entire world and provide a whole new set of challenges to face.

Junk Jack:

junkjack

This game is in the same vein as Terraria, but only available on iOS for $2.99 I believe.  It has some IAP options, but nothing necessary to actually play and enjoy the game.  It also provides large open worlds with copious amounts of crafting and exploration options.  Enemies are fairly diverse and provide even more resources for crafting.  The worlds aren’t as large as what you’d find on Terraria, but there are many different biomes available which always keep things interesting.

Blockheads:

blockheads

My first experience with 2D sandbox games, also only available on iOS, it follows a traditional ‘pay to play’ model.  Crafting options are much more limited than either Terraria or Junk Jack and my biggest gripe with the game is the general requirement of IAP (In App Purchases) in order to progress through the game and accomplish anything before the next generation iPad arrives.  The graphics are done very well and I also enjoy the ability to queue several actions, but there aren’t any threats in the game besides the environment (ie, gravity and lava if you go deep enough).  It has potential, but this one is strictly about mining, crafting, and if you want to do anything really cool – paying.

Deepworld:

deepworld-embed-02

This was a game that sucked me in quick, sucked some cash out of my pocket (the basic worlds are free, but if you want premium access as well as better tools and resources, be prepared to perform some IAP’s).  Constructed in a “steampunk” open world, there are a handful of enemies and while it offers a fairly large amount of resources to craft with – what you can craft in the end is also pretty limited.  Every world starts out polluted, and in order to purify it and create life the player must defeat dungeons teaming with insanely overpowered boss characters.  Most worlds are generally harvested by their player base and stripped clean with very little consideration for actually purifying the worlds.  I dropped $10 on my own private world to collect resources from, as well as another $30 in IAP points to upgrade my available tools.  It’s not something I do on a regular basis (I blame the tax refund).  It’s fairly fun to play and offers PVP, but overall needs a lot more content.

Epic Inventor:

epic-inventor4

I’ve only played about an hour into this game so far.  The control and crafting setup is pretty cumbersome.  You start out with an open world and a robot sidekick that can both defend you as well as provide some advanced transportation options.  Resources are gathered by holding down a keyboard key and the duration of collecting the resource is determined by the level of the tool you use.  Graphics are much simpler than Terraria, and so far I do not see any real options as far as being able to “dig” your own world.  The biggest problem that I had was the crafting interface as there are MANY crafting options and even with the ability to filter down a specific type of item to craft, you’re limited by a single line side-scrolling selection of what to craft.  I need to spend some more time in game to see if it’s worth even a temporary addiction, but so far it hasn’t really hooked me.

Clonk:

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Honestly I logged in to this game for about 5 minutes then logged right back out.  I’m going to give it another shot but the graphics were seemed dated and I didn’t quite grasp the controls right away.  There are both free and paid versions of the game.

That’s pretty much my top list as far as your “traditional” 2D sandbox style games that I’ve played through so far.  Up next? 2d drilling and resource collection titles. 🙂

Current Movie List

April 1st, 2013

10 Things I Hate About You
200 Cigarettes
27 Dresses
28 Days
28 Days Later
28 Weeks Later
30 Days of Night
300
50 First Dates
A Bronx Tale
A Christmas Story
A History of Violence
A Man Apart
A Nightmare On Elm Street 1984
A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 Freddy’s Revenge
A Nightmare On Elm Street 2010
A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 Dream Warriors
A Nightmare On Elm Street 4 The Dream Master
A Nightmare On Elm Street 5 The Dream Child
A Nightmare On Elm Street 6 Freddy’s Dead
A Nightmare On Elm Street 7 Wes Cravens New Nightmare
A Time To Kill
Abduction
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Addams Family
Addams Family Values
Adventureland
Aladdin
Along Came Polly
American Beauty
American Pie
American Pie 2
American Psycho
American Reunion
American Splendor
American Wedding
Anchorman
Annie
Antitrust
Armageddon
As Good as It Gets
Austin Powers
Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me
Avatar
b and the b
Baby Mama
Back To The Future
Back To The Future 2
Back To The Future 3
Bad Santa
Bad Teacher
Bambi
Barbershop
Batman
Batman Begins
Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 1
Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 2
Battle Los Angeles
Battleship
Battlestar Galactica – Blood & Chrome
Bee Movie
Behind Enemy Lines
Big Daddy
Big Fish
Bill And Teds Bogus Journey
Bill And Teds Excellent Adventure
Bitter Moon
Blade
Blade 2
Blade Runner
Blade Trinity
Blazing Saddles
Blood Diamond
Bolt
Brave
Braveheart
Bride Wars
Bridesmaids
Bridget Jones The Edge Of Reason
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Broken Arrow
Broken City
Brother Bear
Brother Bear 2
Bruce Almighty
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Caddyshack
Camp Rock
Can’t Hardly Wait
Captain America The First Avenger
Cars
Cars 2
Casino
Casino Royale
Chances Are
Charlie Wilsons War
Charlies Angels
Chernobyl Diaries
Chicago
Children of Men
Christine
Circle Of Friends
Clerks
Cloud Atlas
Cloverfield
Collateral Damage
Con Air
Constantine
Coraline
Couples Retreat
Cowboys & Aliens
Coyote Ugly
Crimson Tide
Cruel Intentions
Daddy Day Care
Dane Cook Isolated Incident
Dane Cook Viscious Circle
Dark Blue
Dark Shadows
Days of Thunder
Dead Poets Society
Deadfall
Death Race
Deep Purple Live at California Jam
Defiance
Dennis Leary Lock N Load
Dennis Leary No Cure For Cancer
Despicable Me
Devil’s Advocate
Did You Hear About The Morgans
Die Another Day
Die Hard
Die Hard II
Die Hard III
Die Hard IV
Dirty Work
Disturbia
Dogma
Domestic Disturbance
Domino
Don’t Say a Word
Donnie Darko
Dr No
Dream House
Dredd
Driven
Dukes Of Hazzard
Easy A
Eddie And The Cruisers
Eddie And The Cruisers Ii
Edge Of Darkness
Edward Scissorhands
Ellen Degeneres
Enemy
Entrapment
Equilibrium
Eragon
Euro Trip
Extreme Measures
Faceoff
Fair Game
Falling Down
Fast And The Furious
Ferris Buellers Day Off
Fight Club
Final Destination
Finding Nemo
Fire With Fire
Flight
Flight of The Navigator
Flight of The Navigator
Forever Young
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Formula 51
Four Weddings And A Funeral
Friday Night Lights
Friends With Benefits
From Paris With Love
From Russia With Love
Fun With Dick And Jane
G
Ghost Of Girlfriends Past
Ghost Rider
Gi Joe The Rise of Cobra
Gladiator
Goldeneye
Goldfinger
Gone in 60 Seconds
Good Luck Chuck
Good Morning Vietnam
Goodfellas
Gothika
Gran Torino
Grave Encounters
Grave Encounters 2
Grosse Point Blank
Grumpier Old Men
Grumpy Old Men
Half Baked
Halloween
Halloween 1978
Hancock
Hannibal
Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle
Harry N Hendersons
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban
Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone
Herbie Goes Bananas
Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo
Herbie Rides Again
Herbie The Love Bug
Highlander
Hitman
Hollywood Homicide
Home Alone
Hook
Horton Hears a Who
Hotel Transylvania
House at the End of the Street
House on Haunted Hill
How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days
Hunt For Red October
I Am Legend
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
In
Inception
Independence Day
Indiana Jones and Raiders of The Lost Ark
Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom
Inglourious Basterds
Irobot
Iron Man
ironman 2
IT
It Could Happen to You
Jeff Dunham – Minding The Monsters
Jeff Dunham Arguing With Myself
Jeff Dunham Controlled Chaos
Jeff Dunham Spark Of Insanity
Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special
Jerry Maguire
Jumper
Juno
Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park 3
Jurassic Park The Lost World
Just Married
Kick Ass
Kill Bill 1 2003
Kill Bill 2 2004
Killing Them Softly
Knocked Up
Kung Fu Panda
Kung Fu Panda 2
Last Action Hero
Law Abiding Citizen
Lawnmower Man
Lawnmower Man 2
Legally Blonde
Legends Of The Fall
Les Miserables
Lethal Weapon 1
Lethal Weapon 2
Lethal Weapon 3
Lethal Weapon 4
Lewis Black Unleashed
Limitless
Lincoln
Little Nicky
Looper
Lord of The Rings – The Fellowship of The Ring
Lord of The Rings – The Return of The King
Lord of The Rings – The Two Towers
Love Actually
Madagascar
Madagascar – Escape 2 Africa
Madagascar 3 – Europes Most Wanted
Maid In Manhattan
Man On Fire
Matchstick Men
Matrix Reloaded
Max Payne
Maximum Overdrive
Mean Girls
Meet Joe Black
Meet The Fockers
Meet The Parents
Meet The Robinsons
Men In Black
Men in Black 2
Men In Black 3
Mickey Blue Eyes
Minority Report
Mission Impossible
Mission Impossible 2
Mission Impossible 3
Mission Impossible 4
Mona Lisa Smile
Mr
Mulan2
Munich
Murder By Numbers
Music And Lyrics
My Best Friends Girl
My Best Friends Wedding
My Cousin Vinny
National Treasure
Natural Born Killers
Next of Kin
Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Night At The Museum
Nine Inch Nails And All That Could Have Been
Nine Months
Notes On a Scandal
Notting Hill
Office Space
Old School
On The Road
Once Upon A Time In Mexico
Outbreak
Over The Top
Overboard
Patriot Games
Pirates
Pirates
Pirates
Pirates of the Caribbean
Police Academy
Poolhall Junkies
Practical Magic
Pretty Woman
Primer
Prometheus
Public Enemies
Pulp Fiction
Quantum Of Solace
Queen of the Damned
Rambo
Rango
ratatouille
Rebel WIthout a Cause
Red
Red Dawn
Red Dawn 2012
Red Dragon
REPO The Genetic Opera
Reservoir Dogs
Resident Evil
Resident Evil Afterlife
Resident Evil Apocalypse
Resident Evil Extinction
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Road to Perdition
Road Trip
Robin Hood Prince of Thieves
Robocop
Rock Of Ages
Rockstar
Rocky 1
Rocky 2
Rocky 3
Rocky 4
Rocky 5
Rocky Balboa
Ronin
Rush Hour 1
Safe
Sahara
Salt
Sam Kinison Breaking The Rules
Save The Last Dance
Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan
Scream 1
Scream 2
Scream 3
Scream 4
Scrooged
Seeker Dark Is Rising
Serenity
Seven Psychopaths
Sex And The City
Sex And The City 2
Shakespeare in Love
Shallow Hal
Shanghai Knights
Sherlock Holmes
Shrek The Third
Sinister
Skyfall
Skyline
Sleepy Hollow
Small Soldiers
Smokey And The Bandit
Snow White & The Huntsman
Something Something Something Dark Side
Source Code
Spaceballs
Spanglish
Species
Speed
Spiderman 1
Spiderman 2
Spiderman 3
Star Trek
Star Trek 1 The Motion Picture
Star Trek 10 Nemesis
Star Trek 2 The Wrath Of Khan
Star Trek 3 The Search For Spock
Star Trek 4 The Voyage Home
Star Trek 6 Undiscovered Country
Star Trek 7 Generations
Star Trek 8 First Contact
Star Trek 9 Insurrection
Star Wars A New Hope
Star Wars Attack Of The Clones
Star Wars Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars Return of The Jedi
Star Wars Revenge Of The Sith
Star Wars The Phantom Menace
Stargate
Stir of Echoes
Sunshine
Superman 2 Richard Donner’s Cut
Superman Doomsday
Superman Returns
Swordfish
Taken
Taken 2
Taking Lives
Ted
Terminator 2 Judgment Day
Terminator 3 Rise of The Machines
Terminator 3 Rise of The Machines – Fan’s Cut
Terminator Salvation
The 5th Element
The Adjustment Bureau
The Amazing Spiderman
The Avengers
The Aviator
The Boondock Saints
The Boondock Saints II
The Bounty Hunter
The Bourne Identity
The Bourne Legacy
The Bourne Supremacy
The Bourne Ultimatum
The Break Up
The Breakfast Club
The Brothers Bloom
The Brothers Grimm
The Butterfly Effect
The Butterfly Effect 2
The Cabin In The Woods
The Core
The Craft
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight Rises
The Day After Tomorrow
The Dead Zone
The Departed
The Devil Wears Prada
The Divide
The Expendables
The Expendables 2
The Fighter
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Godfather Part 1
The Godfather Part 2
The Godfather Part 3
The Golden Child
The Goonies
The Grudge
The Hobbit
The Hunger Games
The Incredible Hulk
The Island
The Karate Kid
The Last House On The Left
The Last Samurai
The Ledge
The Lion King
The Little Mermaid
The Lorax
The Lost Boys
The Matrix
The Matrix Revolutions
The Mummy
The Mummy Returns
The New Guy
The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
The Others
The Patriot
The Polar Express
The Postman
The Proposal
The Pursuit Of Happyness
The Recruit
The Ref
The Replacements
The Ring
The Rock
The Running Man
The Silence Of The Lambs
The Terminator
The Thing Called Love
The Transporter
The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 2
The Ugly Truth
The Untouchables
The Watch
The Wedding Date
The Wedding Singer
The Whole Nine Yards
The World is Not Enough
The Wraith
They Live
This is 40
Thor
Thunderball
Time Travelers Wife
Timeline
Titanic
Tomb Raider Cradle Of Life
Tombstone
Tomorrow Never Dies
Top Gun
Total Recall
Total Recall 2012
Toy Story 1
Toy Story 2
Toy Story 3
Trading Places
Transformers
Transformers Dark of The Moon
Transformers Revenge of The Fallen
Transformers The Movie
Tremors
Tron Legacy
Tropic Thunder
Trouble With The Curve
Twilight
Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1
Twilight Eclipse
Twilight New Moon
Twister
Two Week’s Notice
Uhf
Unbreakable
Underworld
Underworld – Awakening
Underworld Rise of the Lycans
Underworld- Evolution
Unforgiven
Urban Legend
Urban Legends 2 Final Cut
Urban Legends 3 Bloody Mary
V for Vendetta
Varsity Blues
Waiting
Wall-E
Wanted
War of The Worlds
Watchmen
Wedding Crashers
Wedding Planner
What Happens In Vegas
What Women Want
White Christmas
White Noise
White Oleander
Whitesnake In The Still Of The Night Live
Wild Things
Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory
With Honors
Wizard Of Oz
Wreck It Ralph
X-Men 2
X-Men 3 The Last Stand
X-men First Class
X-Men Origins Wolverine
Xmen
Young Guns
Young Guns 2
Zero Dark Thirty
Zombieland

It’s not hard to keep a kid from buying something on your phone or tablet…

March 19th, 2013

How To Avoid Handing Your Tot A Blank Check Made Out To Apple

I keep catching stories about how unwitting parents hand over one of their (fill in the blank) electronic devices which are capable of making In App Purchases (for the uninitiated, many games on Apple / Android / Windows based devices allow you to make real purchases in game of various tools, supplies, etc…) only to discover that the child has racked up thousands of dollars of purchases in a very short time.

This is completely avoidable.  There are a few ways to avoid it.

* Don’t let your child use the device.

* Don’t associate a credit-card with the account on the device.

* Log out of your account prior to handing it over.

* Disable the internet access on the device.

Personally, I think Apple should take the initiative with this by adding a few new options to the App store…

* An option to disable IAP.

* An option to prompt for the account password with *every purchase* instead of caching it for a short period of time.

It can’t be that hard.  I realize that innovation doesn’t come easy to Apple these days, but if they put as much effort into raising the bar as they do in suing their competition – they wouldn’t have to worry about competition.

The customer is almost always an idiot.

March 15th, 2013

eBay’s VIN System Error Costs Me $1,000, They Don’t Particularly Care

So apparently Ebay Motors has a feature that lets you punch in the VIN of a vehicle you are selling, and it looks up the information in order to populate your auction.  Pretty cool feature, right?

Well this guy California decided to buy a Prius via Ebay.  He bought the car, and shortly thereafter realized that while the car was advertised as a Prius III, he actually got a Prius II.  The big differences beyond some trim differences?  A “solar roof” and a “nav system.”  Once he realized that what he bought wasn’t actually what he wanted, he tried to get the seller to resolve the $1000 price difference on the sticker between the Prius II and Prius III.

What has me scratching my head here is… you bought a car on Ebay, but didn’t realize that the car you bought lacked a nav system or solar roof?

I’d like to think that most people who decide to buy a car sight unseen via Ebay would actually do their research and make sure that the car they are planning to buy has all of the options and features that they are looking for – this yutz obviously skipped a few steps.

Most auctions have pictures.  Most auctions have a full list of the features on the car.  If it doesn’t have the feature you want, or the color you want, or the trim you want… DON’T BUY IT.  If anything this guy probably impulse bought the car and then afterwards realized “Hey!  For $1000 more I could have had a nav system and a solar roof?!  Let me whine to the seller and Ebay about it!!!”

The customer isn’t always right, many of them are idiots, and I don’t see why Ebay or the seller should care unless it was advertised as having specific features that it didn’t actually have.  This looks more like buyers remorse or an attempt to abuse the system to extort money from a seller.

My advice?  Don’t buy a car online without seeing it and making sure it has everything you are looking for, or that you can afford to add those features after the fact.  If you do – enjoy driving a car that does more damage to the environment in the process of creating its battery pack than you could ever offset by driving it. 🙂