Category Archives: Me and Mine

Anything about me and anyone I care about. Personal garbage.

Announcing the Summer of Harry Potter!

I missed the boat on Harry Potter. I was just a tad too old to get into it when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released, let alone popular. I wasn’t into it, my friends weren’t into it. Some of their girlfriends (later, wives) were into it, but that was kids stuff! I distinctly recall waiting in line with them for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, except me and my friends were playing Zelda: Four Swords. I was having fun, and they were waiting in line for a kids’ book.

But I missed the boat on a lot of things and I’ve gone back to enjoy them greatly, such as actually reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy way after I saw all of the movies. Good fiction is good fiction. I’ve proven myself countless times to be shortsighted when it comes to looking down on things that are actually awesome but I’m too dense to see it. I’m going to correct course on Harry Potter.

This is the Summer of Harry Potter. I’m going to read all of the (core) books. I’m going to watch all of the movies. I’m going to strap in to the Harry Potter train, cut the brakes, and see where it takes me. I fully expect to learn that Harry Potter is awesome, and if it’s not, I’ll at least have an informed basis for that opinion.

In the next couple months, expect to see impressions and thoughts and whatever comes to mind as I read these books and watch these movies and dunk myself in the lake of Harry Potter. I have seven extremely popular books and eight somewhat less popular movies ahead of me, so I’m sure to have something to say. Some of it might be worth reading if you care about the opinions of a middle aged man experiencing Harry Potter for the first time. The Summer of Harry Potter starts now.

24: Legacy episode 1

I just finished episode 1 of 24: Legacy. It’s still 24, and that’s a bad thing.

I think I made it through the first two seasons of 24 before calling it quits. I didn’t see it going anywhere besides “Mooslums are bad”, “white guy saves the whole free world”, and “torture works”. It was huge while I was enlisted and I found it all insulting on many levels. I felt like a product of a dark time.

In the first episode, 24: Legacy checks two of those three boxes in the first 5 (real time) minutes. It’s like the GWOT and the alternate reality where the GWOT was a good idea never ended for this show. It feels exactly how I remember the show feeling, and I hate that. I don’t know why I was looking forward to this in the first place, but it’s not what I want. The Bomb hasn’t made an appearance yet, but they’re still chasing an item to keep it out of the hands of evil foreigners who hate us for our freedom.

It’s bullshit.

2016 Games of the Year

10 – House of the Dying Sun

Some parts Battlestar Galactica mixed with some parts TIE Fighter makes a pretty good space dogfighter. Missions are short and to the point, and it’s got a real nihilistic feeling to it.

9 – Headlander

It’s a Metroidvania where you can’t jump. It’s pure 70’s sci-fi: weird, colorful, and full of lasers.

8 – Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

It expands the scope of the Call of Duty series in ways that I never expected. They could’ve called this a Halo prequel and they wouldn’t have been far off from how it feels. It also does a better job of building up actual characters than any other Call of Duty.

7 – Shadow Warrior 2

Sometimes repetitive, but I couldn’t stop enjoying it. It’s got tons of weapons and options for destroying endless hordes of demons.

6 – Rise of the Tomb Raider

This was a great followup to Tomb Raider. It expands upon that game in smart ways and it’s a fun action game.

5 – Firewatch

Calling this an outdoor Gone Home is terribly reductive, but it’s pretty close. The story kind of hand-waves away some of its problems, but it’s engrossing from beginning to end.

4 – Quadrilateral Cowboy

I love everything Blendo Games makes, and QuadCow is no exception. It’s got a great aesthetic and I love the retro command line puzzle solving.

3 – Salt and Sanctuary

I could never get into Dark Souls like I got into Salt and Sanctuary. That’s likely because S&S inherits as much from Castlevania as it does from Dark Souls. It’s a game that’s sometimes frustrating but I could never stay away for too long. There’s a huge number of enemies, and the memorable bosses will haunt your dreams until you finally vanquish them.


LIMBO was okay. INSIDE is amazing. It’s short, but impossible to stop playing. The less said about it, the better, but I will say that it’s one of those games that keeps doing incredible things until it explodes at the very end.

1 – DOOM

I like all of the Doom games, even Doom 3, and I was skeptical that DOOM would be good. It spent a lot of time in development hell. It was all worth it. This is an amazing game that retains the feeling of the original while giving it a 2016 makeover.

Honorable mentions: Oxenfree, Asemblance, Batman – The Telltale Series

Games I probably should have liked but didn’t really grab me, so I didn’t spend much time with them: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Dishonored 2

2016 Steam Awards Nominations

For the first time, Steam has introduced some player-chosen game awards called The Steam Awards. They’ve chosen a handful of unique categories, set no release date restrictions, and cut the internet loose on it! While I’m certain this internet popularity contest will be gamed to the degree that it will surely be a disaster, I tried to give it a somewhat measured approach. I tried to stay recent and relevant in my choices, but more importantly chose things I could easily defend. That said, here are my picks for the Steam Awards nominations.

The “Test of Time” Award – Doom II – This is the oldest game I nominated, but for good reason; it best deserves this award. Doom II is a timeless classic that I enjoy going back to at least once a year. It’s one of the best games of all time.

The “I’m Not Crying, There’s Something In My Eye” award – Wolfenstein: The New Order – It’s impossible for me to discuss why I chose this game without spoiling it, but it’s absolutely deserved. I’ve said it before but The New Order doesn’t take any shortcuts. You may not go into it expecting real, interesting characters, but the game is much more than murdering Nazis (although there is a lot of murdering Nazis).

The “Just 5 More Minutes” award – Endless Legend – Endless Legend is a fantastic 4X/Civ style game that improves the genre with wildly different factions and quests that give your simple playthrough a story to tell and explore.

The “Whoooooooaaaaa, dude!” award – SOMA – Here’s another one that can’t be discussed without spoilers, but SOMA is a game with a lot of brain meat to it. It’ll give you a lot to think about humanity and consciousness.

The “Villain Most In Need Of A Hug” award – Doom (2016) – This is a fairly silly award, so I gave it a silly nomination. I guess a hug could solve the problems the antagonist of Doom has. Whatever. Doom is great.

The “Game Within A Game” award – Jazzpunk – Jazzpunk doesn’t get anywhere near enough love or respect, but it’s one of the best comedy games of all time, and it’s got a ton of funny minigames in it. Some are more fleshed out than others, but they’re mostly great.

The “I Throught This Game Was Cool Before It Won An Award” award – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Okay, so The Witcher 3 was getting awards before it was even released, but I’ve been a big supporter of this series since The Witcher and I’m glad this one is enjoying some fairly mainstream success.

The “Best Use Of A Farm Animal” award – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – I guess this one’s a stretch, but a horse is a farm animal, MGSV has D-Horse, and D-Horse is a pretty good horse. Easily more obedient than The Witcher 3’s Roach, and you can make D-Horse poop on command and use that poop as a distraction device.

Write-in award: The “Game That Deserves A Sequel” award – Half-Life 2: Episode Two – This is the only award where I’m doing what other people on the internet are doing. We’ve gone too long without a new Half-Life. I don’t even need multiple sequels or a franchise out of it. I just want a conclusion.

Steam Summer Sale 2016: Indie Greats

On the last day of the sale, I want to call out some indie games that I’ve enjoyed that are super cheap. I love supporting indie developers because they often take more chances with their games, and the developers have more to lose personally.  I want to see them succeed and expand their scope.

  • Bastion/Transistor -75%/$3.74/$4.99 – Supergiant Games might be one of the bigger indie developers on this list, but they’re still an independent studio. Bastion and Transistor are amazing games and I’ve written a lot about them. Get both for under $8, but I also recommend you get their soundtracks. They’re absolutely music worth listening to outside of the games.
  • Axiom Verge -40%/$11.99 – It’s hard to imagine $12 as pricey, but this one is worth it. It’s a brilliant Metroidvania, made by one person! You don’t get much more indie than that.
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail -80%/$2.99 – Another single developer game that’s extremely impressive. It’s also a Metroidvania, with a greater focus on melee combat, combos, and clean art.
  • Volume -75%/$4.99 – The second game from Bithell Games is not a followup to Thomas Was Alone, but the Metal Gear inspired Volume. I’m not good at stealth, but everything about this game works well and gives it a puzzle game feeling.


Steam Summer Sale 2016: FPS Highlights

Since the 2015 winter sale, Steam’s changed the way sales work. Now, the price stays the same through out the entire sale. No daily deals, no flash sales, no community sales. It’s good for consumers because there’s not as much time pressure to jump on a good deal, and you’ve got the entire sale to make your purchases. I’m here to take a moment and point out some good deals on games I really liked. I guess I have a type, because these are all FPS games. But they’re brilliant.

  • Doom -40%/$35.99 – This is the new Doom, the one that came out a little more than a month ago. It is absolutely worth this price, especially so close to release. The game is fantastic if you’re a Doom fan, a FPS fan, or just really love good action games. It’s great.
  • Dishonored: Definitive Edition -40%/$11.99 – Dishonored 2 is coming soon. It looks amazing, but it’s got to live up to Dishonored, which is one of the best stealth action games ever. Definitive Edition bundles the base game, with all of the DLC. The important parts are The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches, which add almost another whole campaign to the game.
  • Deus Ex Collection -75%/$8.24 – You get all of the Deus Ex games for less than $9. Deus Ex: The Fall is absolutely skippable (a mobile game port), and some people hate Deus Ex: Invisible War, but Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Human Revolution are crucial cyberpunk FPS games.
  • Metro Redux Bundle -75%/$7.49 – Both Metro games in their enhanced Redux form. These are grim, post-apocalyptic FPSes that are essentially Half-Life mixed with STALKER.
  • BioShock Triple Pack -85%/$10.51 – This one counts as a good deal, not great. All three games are amazing and absolutely worth the price. However, they don’t include the DLC for Bioshock 2 or Bioshock Infinite. Minerva’s Den for Bioshock 2 and Burial at Sea for Bioshock Infinite are how DLC gets done right, so I recommend getting those as well.


Steam Summer Sale 2016

The Steam summer sale starts tomorrow, and it’s something I look forward to every year. Summer is a great time for a video game sale because there’s usually not a lot new coming out, and we’re months past the biggest releases (November-December timeframe stuff). It’s a great time to catch up. If you’re patient, big seasonal sales are also a good time to stock up on enough games to get you through until the next big sale. Here’s what I’m looking to pick up this year.

  • The Elder Scrolls Online and Elite: Dangerous – I’m lumping these together because they’re both (sort of) MMOs. They’ve both seen enough time since release to be refined and improved, so I’m ready to see what they’ve got.
  • Brigador, Shadwen, Salt and Sanctuary – Recent indie games that I’m really interested in. They’re not likely to have huge discounts, but I’m more excited about them than I am the other three, which means almost any discount will be enough.
  • The Magic Circle, Cradle, Soul Axiom – These are indie games that haven’t had a lot of hype but got some positive buzz. They’re not likely to be games that I’ll play for months, but good weekend diversions. The one I know the least about is Soul Axiom, but it’s from the people who made Master Reboot and I really enjoyed that.
  • Subnautica and Lego Worlds – Two Minecraft-y early access games. I loved the way Subnautica looked on a Giant Bomb quick look, and something about Lego Worlds seems right even if I’ve not read a lot of positive things about it.
  • Warhammer: Endtimes – Vermintide – I bought this before, during the winter sale. It suffers from a bad graphical glitch that makes it look the rats all have wizard beards. I gave it another run during its last free weekend, but it still has that damn wizard beard glitch. I’ve got a couple friends who are really into it, but I’m having a hard time jumping in. If it’s cheap, I’ll get it.
  • Hitman, The Witness, Steamworld Heist – These are basically brand new, not likely to have deep discounts, and I’m mildly interested in them. Steamworld Heist the one that seems most like something I’d actually finish, but the other two have gotten a lot of positive press.

The future sucks.

I don’t want to make this a whole thing, but I want to get it written down. My Xbox One sucks. It won’t play Blu-Ray movies. It won’t play rented streaming movies. Netflix has been broken on it for months. For types of media that aren’t Hulu or WWE Network, it’s a paperweight. It’ll play games, after a long download and install time, but that’s it.

Two of these problems, the Blu-Ray movies and rentals, can be blamed directly on copy protection. I have a (relatively) old TV and I guess it’s not up to the standards Microsoft wants before it will show me the movies I’ve bought. Mind you, my PS3 and Xbox 360 have no problems on this same TV. I didn’t find out until I tried to watch my Evil Dead Blu-Ray on Halloween, and after I’d rented Iron Man 3 today.

I’m not trying to rip anyone off. I’ve bought my Blu-Rays. I paid for that rental. I’m constantly presented with anti-piracy warnings and now I can’t even watch the things I buy through the Xbox One. My old TV is huge and works great, so I have no reason to replace it so I’m stuck. I can switch to my PS3 to watch movies, but copy protection is keeping me from watching the things I bought. If I had pirated them, I would not have these problems. Even better, I could stream them from my PC through the Plex app that Microsoft has made available on the Xbox One. Microsoft has made it more convenient to be a pirate than a customer.

I can’t even explain what’s going on with Netflix. Netflix works on literally every media streaming device I own (several Rokus, Xbox 360, PS3) except for the Xbox One. Ever since Microsoft pushed a big interface change (which was an improvement!), Netflix has been unusable. I contact Microsoft support and they think my network is too slow (it’s not). I contact Netflix support and they say Microsoft botched the release of their app and they’ll fix it with a new version. I’m certain it’s been updated at least once since then and Netflix is still unusable. It doesn’t affect everyone, so I guess I’m in a minority that just doesn’t get to use Netflix on Xbox One anymore.

This sucks. The copy protection on the Xbox One is beyond ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with my TV. I’m doing nothing wrong or illegal. If the Xbox One told me on initial setup that my TV was not good enough to watch Blu-Ray movies or stream rentals, I would’ve boxed it up and sent it back immediately. I’ve contacted Amazon to see if they will grant me an exception on their return policy so I can send it back. The Netflix problem is also incomprehensible. I don’t know what they broke, but they broke something, and now the console is worse off than it was with no way of returning it to a prior working state.

I don’t know what to say. I’m pretty flabbergasted. This shit shouldn’t be so hard. This is the easy stuff; take data, output video and sound. The games work fine! I shouldn’t have to fucking struggle against the DRM to watch the things I buy. Microsoft shouldn’t be breaking their console with upgrades, and then doing nothing to fix them. I feel like I’ve been ripped off because I bought a game console and all it does is play games, but it should do more than that. And that periphery stuff should be the bits that work. What a fucking mess.

Thoughts on completing my first triathlon

Pre-swim: “Okay, the water isn’t as cold as I thought it was going to be. And the distance doesn’t look as far in person as it does on the map. I can do this.”

Five minutes into the swim: “Oh jesus. Oh god. I’m fucking dying. I’m done for.”

I saw one of the lifeguards in a canoe and thought “I’m doing it. I’m going to swim to them and tell them to pull me out. I was not ready for this.” But some other dude was closer and he wanted to hang off of the boat, and I saw another dude swimming on his back and that looked like a good idea. When I started swimming on my back, I felt much better, even if I was going very slowly.

The wave after mine went past me. That was a little demoralizing. I was on the longest swim of my life. I saw my sister, and she was having a hard time too, so I felt less bad. She was marginally better prepared than I was.

The swim seemingly took forever. I cannot understand how people can swim so fast. I learned that I am not a good swimmer. Not even close.

Out of the water: “Why is my right hand going to sleep? I am dizzy. I cannot run to transition. I’m going to die out here. This is it.”

My sister got out of transition a couple minutes before I did, but I’m better on my bike than she is, so I passed her pretty quick and that was great. I passed a few people who beat me on the swim that were having a harder time on the bike.

I got rained on during the bike ride. It only motivated me because I’m good on my bike and I know rain is going to make other people do worse. I don’t know if they did, but I felt better. I got passed by a few people, but they were on the olympic tri, and obviously in much better shape. Some asshole honked at us from behind for some reason.

Post-bike: “…”

I had no thoughts. I knew I wasn’t going to walk but I did sandbag the hell out of that run. My legs weren’t tired, but I was still totally gassed from the swim. I had some pain in my chest and that was longest 3.1 miles I’ve ever run.

Post-run: “NEVER AGAIN.”

I beat my sister, but she was so close behind on the run that she probably got a better total time. I’m never doing this again.

Then again, I said the same exact thing after my first half marathon, and then I did two half marathons on the next year.

I’m going to feel this shit tomorrow.

Danswercise E3 Challenge Wrapup!

Last week was E3, which officially marked the end of the Danswercise E3 Challenge. So how did I do?

I made it. Worked out every day. Some days were more substantial than others, but I made it work. Here’s some of the things I learned in the process:

  • Saturdays are the hardest days for me to workout on. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I don’t have a schedule on Saturdays. On weekdays, I have a clear schedule and I can slot in the workout after work. Saturdays were spent waffling between working out early or working out late. My gym isn’t open past 1 on Saturdays either, which makes those late workouts even more difficult. Sundays generally weren’t a problem because those were days I explicitly designated for a long walk, but Saturdays were my least productive days.
  • If I had counted mowing the lawn, which does burn calories, I would’ve had the Saturday problem nailed. According to MyFitnessPal, I burn about 600 calories mowing my front and back yard. That’s as much as a good workout.
  • Bike riding is a real easy way for me to burn a ton of calories. In June, I changed my Thursday run to an hour long plus bike ride. If I just ride for an hour, including travel to the bike trail, I burn about 800 calories.
  • On days where I didn’t count travel time toward my hour-long ride, I would get to the end of my bike trail before the 30 minute mark. I need to make a longer route.
  • Exercising every day isn’t for me. I’d rather have five solid days of working out and two rest days than seven days that might be good or bad, but I’m doing something to say I did. My heart isn’t in it for seven days a week.

So that’s that. Today, I didn’t work out and I’m not going to feel guilty about it. I’m done. Tomorrow is the start of a new week, and I’ll put 100% into my workouts from Monday through Friday. But if I feel like I need more, I’ll either mow my lawn or go for a bike ride on the weekend and not sweat it if I don’t.