Archive for the ‘PC’ Category

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Sims 3 Saturday: Two Sprogs And Counting

August 4, 2012

The “Family Man Challenge” saga continues. One of the first steps to every Sims game is setting up your Sim in your neighborhood. I saw to that by moving my Casanova into an unoccupied lot across from the Single Moms household and almost immediately started working my charms on both its residents, Fiona McIrish and Molly French. In retrospect, that was my first mistake, and I’d made it right off the bat. Note to self: it’s always a risk trying to concurrently romance two Sims who live in the same household. If one finds out about the other, IT’S ALL OVER.

Despite this initial fumble, I plowed on (the first of many bad puns in this series, no doubt). My first success was Fiona McIrish, which came much quicker than I thought. It did help a lot that she was flirty little Sim, just like me, so all I did was spam suggestive jokes and amorous hugs until we were a couple. Getting the option to have a child was easy after that.

Agnes Crumplebottom was next. Not much of a story behind her, I’m afraid. She just literally showed up at my house one day and said yes when I asked her to stay over. Little did she know… (By the way, at this point, the game helpfully informed me that my Sim was getting a rightly deserved “bad” reputation.)

Between running around romancing all these women and keeping up with my daily needs like food and sleep, I was barely finding time to clean my house. A messy abode sort of cramps my style, so that was when I hired a maid, Kate Pistachio. Maybe I was starting to get a tad too ambitious here, but the moment Kate showed up at my door for her first day I work, I knew I had to have her. While chatting her up, I found out she was a kleptomaniac (wait, what? Why am I still hiring her to clean my house?)

Towards the end of my play session, I have to say I was feeling pretty good. Two hours in and I was already juggling four Sim relationships, and two of them were already expecting. But here I must have gotten too cocky because that was when my troubles began.

It all started with Molly French. She was over at my house, and we were having a good time. And then right as I was on the verge of asking her to “Woohoo” she suddenly hightailed it out of there. To go to work or for some stupid reason, imagine that! I figured, no problem, I’m patient and can wait for another day. But there was a problem — every time I would call to invite her over, she would agree and then promptly change her mind. Not sure what was happening, but this repeated itself for about half a dozen times until I got sick of it and just decided to walk across the street to try to catch her at her house.

Molly wasn’t home. But Fiona McIrish was! She had just given birth to our beautiful baby boy, so there I was with her, marveling our little miracle and sneaking in some romantic hugs and kisses, when BAM! Molly French came home, walked in on us and caught us in the act. Right away, my affection level with Molly plummeted down to the negatives.

It was no use; no matter how much I begged, pleaded, or apologized to Molly, she just got angrier and angrier. Those red negative symbols were flying over her head like there was no tomorrow. It was clear I was in the doghouse with her. And then came the dreaded pop-up one day: Molly French and I were no longer in a relationship. All the effort I had put into the two of us had come to naught.

The setbacks didn’t end there. Kate Pistachio the maid and I were still an item at this point, but she and I soon hit our own roadblock. One day after she was finished cleaning my house, I asked her to stay over. Things got real hot, and I was raring to go when the “Woohoo” option appeared. But then to my dismay, the “Try for baby” option was blanked out. Turns out, Kate came from a household that was too full for a new family member. Once again, all that hard work down the drain.

This is a lot harder than I thought.

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Sims 3: “Family Man” Challenge

July 28, 2012

Note: One thing you have to know about me is, it is impossible for me to play Sims games “properly” like a normal person.

Time for a non-MMO post. This usually happens whenever my husband goes out of town, barring me from playing online games without him due to the clauses in our Spousal Leveling Contract, leading me to seek other gaming avenues for my entertainment. Coincidentally, I’ve also been looking for an interesting yet easy single-player game to amuse me for all those times I can’t sleep after a middle-of-the-night baby feeding.

Apparently Sims 3 was the answer, thanks to some recent chatter on Twitter taunting me, teasing me, tempting me ARRRGGGH! reminding me what a great game it is. Besides, every few months or so I tend to get into control freak mode and the irresistible urge to dig up my Sims and play them rises. It was time.

Anyway, the last time I went full throttle on Sims 3 was probably a few years ago, when it occurred to me what an excellent idea it would be to take my single male Sim and see how many children I can father on all the women in the neighborhood. At the time, I was patting myself on the back for being oh so naughty! Little did I know, there actually exists entire Sims 3 challenges built around this very concept. Only recently did I stumble upon the rules and guidelines for the ironically named “Family Man” challenge.

And indeed, a challenge it was. It’s all coming back to me now: the never-ending cycle of trying to meet new Sims, juggling multiple relationships, always waiting for that elusive “WooHoo!” option to show up — all the while having to remind myself to eat, sleep, take showers and go to the bathroom. As I recall, though, it did lead to some rather comical results. After a couple generations, none of my Sims could find girlfriends or boyfriends and get married because all of them were related to each other in some way or another. My family tree was a hilarious mess.

Last time I did this, I think I ended up with around 37 children.

I plan on doing better this time.

To be continued?

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Steam Summer Sale: Damage Report

July 23, 2012

Real life obligations over the last year or so have made me miss out on the last few big Steam sales, so it came as no surprise that the one this summer has raised its wallet-assaulting head to bite me in the ass. Barely two days into it, and I knew I had to put my foot down or my family was going to end up living in a cardboard box by the end of the week. So, I gave myself a new rule: thou shall refrain from purchasing anything more than $5.00.

After that, it was easier to resist the temptations. Realistically speaking anyway, there’s really no wiggle room in my gaming schedule right now to play big games like Witcher 2, even at the very sweet price of about $10 and change. Instead, with my new rule in place I found myself mostly picking up games at about $2.50 to $3.75, many of which were classics, casual, or indies. This works much better for me. It also helps that I told myself some people spend more on a cup of coffee every day.

Of course, while my wallet may be spared this summer, my games list has expanded by almost a dozen games since the beginning of the sale. So unless someone invents one of those nifty remote controls like the one from “Click” or I can get my hands on a DeLorean with a flux capacitor, time is ever going to remain the limiting factor.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s get on to the damage:

Back to the Future: The Game

Speaking of time traveling DeLoreans, this was the first title I fell victim to in this Steam sale. Picked it up when it was one of those flash deals, and the only game I was willing to drop a bit more than the agreed upon five dollar limit to buy. I’ve enjoyed other Telltale games in the past, and anyway, HUGE BttF fan here. HUGE.

From Dust

Who knew this little sandbox god game could be so addictive? Gorgeous too.

As the user, you can control certain types of matter (soil, water, lava), manipulating the environment to help your nomadic tribe accomplish goals or survive natural disasters like tsunamis or volcanic eruptions.

It was surprisingly challenging; I played until I got stuck, and also because I didn’t think my sense of decency could take watching any more of my poor little villagers get washed out to sea.

The Longest Journey + Dreamfall

I totally blame my The Secret World guildies for this one. While talking in-game about the great writing and dialogue of TSW, someone’s comment about it all being reminiscent of TLJ pretty much sold me. That and my new found gamer crush on Ragnar Tornquist led me to pick up this Funcom classic I’ve always known about but never played.

World of Goo

See, I love casual games like World of Goo or Plants vs. Zombies.

Thing is, I just can’t freakin’ stand playing them on a small screen like on a smartphone or even a tablet. On the other hand, on my computer with a mouse, I can do.

S.P.A.Z.

I’ve wanted to own Space Pirates and Zombies ever since I learned about it last year. Really love the gameplay, and the space setting.

Seeing as it was the final day of the sale, I decided to grab it. Also, I knew if I didn’t, I would have to live with the regret for the rest of my life until the next Steam sale.

LIMBO

By they way, I’m pissed off at all of you now. Why has no one told me about LIMBO before this?

This game makes me feel lucky. I mean, you can go through life fantasizing about the satisfying experience of one day spending $2.50 on a gem of an indie game which can keep you entertained for hours, and then one day BAM! it actually happens.

You play a boy in this puzzle-platformer, traversing dangerous environments and traps as he searches for his sister. I love the black-and-white film noire type presentation, and at times the game can get pretty creepy and just downright disturbing. I finished this game in about 5-6 hours, as some of the puzzles can be really frustrating, but always brilliant.

Torchlight

What can I say? Couldn’t resist (hmm, just how many times have I said this during the sale, now? Dangerous last words.)

Another one of those classics that I’ve never had the pleasure or joy of owning for myself, so I snapped it up the first chance I got. And just in time before Torchlight 2.

Dear Esther

I wish I could plaster my blog with screenshots from this game. Beautiful. Just, beautiful.

Gameplay-wise, I don’t even know if you can call Dear Esther a game. Completely story and exploration driven, you walk around this island in the Hebrides picking up fragments of the story whenever you hit a checkpoint and trigger a narration. There are no puzzles, no activities, and in fact you barely interact with the environment at all. The whole thing takes no more than two hours. Still, it is very atmospheric. Lonely and haunting, but in the good way. Just sit back and enjoy the scenery and the eargasm inducing music.

That said, of course I bought the game and soundtrack package for like $3-something. Considering Amazon sells the soundtrack alone for $7, I was quite happy with the deal.

Audiosurf

This was very rough (as in unpolished), but I can see it being a fantastic time waster. Has high risk of becoming a dangerous obsession.

Still, in my whole life, I don’t think I’ve ever found myself sitting in front of the computer doing nothing else but listening to my music. But hey, if I ever find myself in that situation, I’ll be sure to keep this game in mind.

Bastion

And here’s where I get to the part about how I love being part of this gaming community. Bastion was a gift from the very awesome and talented blogger Stargrace, who surprised me one day with the game and soundtrack pack.

Yep, the soundtrack too. She totally gets me! Thanks again, Stargrace <3

Legend of Grimrock

Another surprise gift from another member of the gaming community. Thank you, Grey! Opening my inbox and seeing this brought me such joy and made my day. I am so very looking forward to playing this one.

These little gestures are just so unexpected, and it leaves me feeling so touched.

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Why So Hard On E3?

June 8, 2012

Now that E3 2012 has wrapped up, opinions on the event from all around the net are pouring in. I’m looking around and am given a turn by some of the words that have been used to describe it: Atrocity. God AWFUL. Shameful.

Now I grant you I was a little disappointed as well. I’ve even made my share of snarky remarks, like about the Wii U and Wonderbook and how the industry appears to be hell-bent on adding new peripherals to make us gamers look more and more like ridiculous fools while gaming.

Still, I have to wonder if my sentiments derive from just not being all that interested in this year’s showings. But even to that end, I doubt I’d use a word like “shameful” to describe the time and effort that companies and developers have put into making any of the games/technology showcased over the last few days. In fact, I think it’s anything but.

I’ve actually been quite impressed by some of this year’s games and tech at E3, even the stuff I have no desire to play/use at all. Quite honestly, a game like The Last of Us would probably give me disturbing dreams. But to say that innovation is dead because The Last of UsWatch Dogs, Splinter Cell, Tomb RaiderDead Space, Black Ops, Star Wars 1313, etc. etc. etc. are all just variations of the same game (an assessment I’ve come across more than a few times on various gaming sites in the last few days) because you get to swear a lot and/or shoot people in the face? I think that’s a little disingenuous. That’s basically ignoring all the other little things that can make a game unique, everything from story to graphics. I was personally excited that E3 2012 was a year of a handful of new IPs.

I also notice folks have been pretty hard on the all the press conferences, but especially Nintendo’s — after all, no price and no release date for the Wii U as well as the rehashed franchises and already released third-party titles. But while I may not want a Wii U, I think what it’s capable of is pretty amazing. Same goes for Microsoft’s Kinect and SmartGlass app, really; I may not end up using either, but I can’t deny that what it does is incredibly fascinating stuff.

Was E3 really so bad? Or have I just gotten out of touch due to my little break from gaming?

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For The Science – Thoughts On Portal 2

June 6, 2011

You’ve no doubt heard already — Portal 2 is an awesome game. I probably should have written my thoughts out long ago,  but I wanted to finish the whole game first (including the co-operation portion) before I did, and I guess late is better than never.

Upon completion of the single-player, my first thought was: Wow. Portal 2 is bigger than its predecessor in every sense — the length, the challenges, the story, the scope. They took everything that was great about the first game, made it better, and managed to do it without making me feel like I was going back over old ground. That in itself is quite a feat, considering what a brief but quintessential experience the first Portal game was. The sequel feels fresh while staying loyal to the spirit of the original, expanding upon it physics, humor, and whacky puzzle-based gameplay.

And speaking of puzzles, Portal 2’s are more fun than ever. The basics of momentum and portal mechanics remain the same, but the game throws a lot more technology at you this time around, everything from energy platforms to bouncy gels. Thanks to our deranged friend GLaDOS, the entire facility environment also comes to life, making things a lot more interesting.

That said, some of the test chambers can get pretty tricky. I was a little concerned at first, recalling some of the troubles I had from the first game. For the most part, however, I had little trouble with the puzzles in Portal 2. I don’t think they got easier, just that I may have been more familiar with the mechanics, physics and how the game “works” this time around.

Not that there weren’t other challenges to contend with. I’m mostly cool with the problem solving; given enough time, things can always be figured out. Instead, it’s needing to be quick and precise enough to fire a portal here or there or wherever at the right time that gets me. I mean, I’m not exactly Miss Coordination of the Year. That’s my problem, though, not the game’s — because in my opinion, all the puzzles were very well designed.

Still, the best part had to be the storytelling. Unlike the first game where the story had to gleaned from bits and pieces, Portal 2 has a clear beginning, middle, climax and end. Right from the explosive start, I was hooked. I enjoyed meeting Wheatley the excitable robot sphere, though I was initially a little annoyed with having a sidekick until I realized his bigger role in all of this. Between solving puzzles, I was filled in on the background of Aperture Science as well as my own character’s history. What impressed me most was how so much of the story was told through one-sided conversation, environmental cues and my own puzzle-solving driving the plot forward.

As for the co-op, arguably one of the most anticipated features of the game, I have to say: it was wild. If you played Portal 2 and enjoyed single-player, then you will probably like co-op too, where you and your teammate play as robots and continue to solve GLaDOS’s tests for the sake of science. The general idea is the same — but with two people, the puzzles are taken to a whole new level and require a very different way of thinking.

I had the pleasure of completing this portion with Blue Kae, who also suggested the neat idea that we should do a co-op review of the co-op gameplay! So here it is:

Blue Kae: I had expected the co-op game to be fun, but it turned out to be a lot more fun than I realized. Challenging in different ways than the single player, and somehow easier too. What surprised you about playing co-op?

MMOGamerChick: From the start, I knew co-op was going to be about playing together, but what I didn’t expect to see was how often we were put into situations where we had to work together…but separately. Initially, I think I was picturing something akin to a two-player platformer, where you and your partner would go everywhere together, do everything together. There were some puzzles like that, but I’d say most of them involved each person doing very different things, sometimes in different parts of the room. It made things more interesting, in my opinion. It’s still very much about the teamwork because our chances of success still depended on both people accomplishing their respective tasks, but that meant trust was also very important — especially when we couldn’t see what the other person was doing and had to rely on coordination and communication.

Okay, my turn to ask a question. What did you find was most challenging about co-op?

BK: Remembering that I was playing with someone. I mean we were chatting the whole time so I knew you were there and all, but after playing through on single player I was so used to running into a new puzzle and starting to throw portals around that it was an adjustment to remember I was playing with someone. I know there were a few times when I wiped a portal of yours out with one of mine because I wasn’t thinking.

I very much agree with your surprise about how the co-op worked. I assumed that our portals would link up instead of being separate. It was definitely more about communicating, coordinating, and trust. The spike maze comes to mind. :)

The best part was having a second person to help figure out how to solve the puzzles. I wasn’t tempted to go look at Youtube once. If/when there’s a Portal 3 are you looking forward more to single player or more co-op?

MMOGC: Both. I mean, obviously the co-op is a huge draw, but single player has its moments. And both portions were filled with humorous moments, GLaDOS doing her thing. That’s what made the whole game, I think. It would be difficult for me to say which I prefer or look forward to more.

And I totally agree with you about remembering that I was playing with someone. Though with regards to wiping out each other’s portals, I just like to think of it more as both of us being on the same page. Great minds think alike and all that!

BK: True! I think the single player had a bit more personality, maybe that’s because it stretched across two games. Did it seem to you like the single player was more about how to solve a puzzle and the co-op was more about actually doing the solution?

MMOGC: Oh yeah, definitely. I approached single-player and co-op very differently. In co-op (and I think you might have noticed this too), the first thing both of us did with a new puzzle was run in there and start exploring, playing with whatever buttons or stuff we found. I found myself “working backwards” in co-op more than I did in single-player. First find the exit, then “do” the solution.

BK: I wasn’t quite that organized about it. Mostly I was just trying to make sure that when we picked a solution that it was using all of the different parts in the puzzle.

MMOGC: Let me ask you another thing. Were you stressed at any point? ‘Cause I know I was. I kept thinking, “Oh crap oh crap oh crap, I’m going to let Blue Kae down and he’s going to think I’m an idiot.” I’m not the best when it comes to coordination and reflexes. There were several times that I botched a jump or a portal and I just felt terrible.

BK: A couple of times, definitely. I worried about getting you killed on a couple of puzzles where there was timing involved. But most of the time it was so easy to run back in, that I didn’t worry much. I can’t remember getting frustrated at all though.

MMOGC: Well, it was definitely much more enjoyable to play with a friend.

BK: I totally agree. The frustrating parts for me in the single player game were figuring out what to do next. Having someone to talk with and point out things I missed made the game much much more fun.

MMOGC: I totally carried you. Haha, just kidding.

BK: There were definitely puzzles that you just got right off that I didn’t and vice versa. There was only one puzzle, I remember, that stumped us both for a bit.

MMOGC: That part really was cool. I saw where my own weaknesses were, and was grateful when you figured stuff out that I couldn’t. I was really happy that we were able to figure everything out between us without going to outside help.

BK: Yeah, I ended up hitting Youtube twice for puzzles in the singleplayer game when it stopped being fun.

MMOGC: And fun is what it’s all about.

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Speedy Thing Go In, Speedy Thing Come Out – Thoughts On Portal

May 2, 2011

Yeah, Portal. The first one. I’m late to the party, I know. While folks were finishing or have already finished the sequel late last week, I was just in the process of playing the original game for the first time ever, thanks to Anjin of Bullet Points, who gifted me the free Steam copy he got for pre-ordering Portal 2.

Though I’ve never played it, I’m aware of the context behind many of the memes this game has spawned over the last few years. I don’t think you can be a denizen of the net and not be familiar with phrases like “the cake is a lie” or the image of the hearts-bedecked Weighted Companion Cube. I also knew of the game’s concept, have seen the footage and watched briefly as other people played it, but it wasn’t until that I actually finished it for myself that I finally, truly began to understand the enormous popularity behind Portal.

It was bloody fun. I love obstacles and puzzle-type games, and the unusual physics in this game was exhilarating in both its innovation and simplicity. And what I didn’t expect was the humor — the dark and nebulous kind, ah, my favorite! By the time the credits were scrolling down my computer screen to the best game ending song ever, I was laughing so hard I almost had tears in my eyes. That’s not how I expected to finish this game — well, any game — at all.

I was also impressed by Portal’s entertaining, albeit short, storyline. Again, the storytelling was just so clever in its simplicity. I finished the game in a little more than 3 hours, but I didn’t mind; it was like settling back with a mini novella on a nice evening.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and start shopping around for good deals on Portal 2 now.

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The Sims Medieval: A Day In Ye Olde Life

March 28, 2011

They say behind every great kingdom, there is a great king. Or at least I think they do, anyway. For the charming, picturesque kingdom of Fairhaven, this man was Lord Wellic Kyranny. He loves family (which doesn’t really mean much, ’cause he hasn’t got one), is friendly (only when he needs something from you), and his fatal flaw is being uncouth. But seriously, can uncouth really be considered a fatal flaw when you’re a king? It’s not like being a merchant or anything, where being a total boorish and vulgar clod would actually hurt your livelihood. On the other hand, who’d dare gainsay a king?

Now, Lord Wellic isn’t a bad man. He’s just…pragmatic. And feeling a little tired in the above screenshot. Hey, give him a break, running the kingdom is hard work! But don’t just take my word for it, let Lord Wellic take you on a tour of a typical day in his life as king of Fairhaven.

Early in the morning, the day begins with a hearty meal of bear stew (breakfast of champions!) This is also the perfect time for Lord Wellic to meet up with all his royal staff and advisors to discuss the going ons of the kingdom.

“A fine job we are all doing, lads!” he says to all. “Now what kind of death and suffering can we inflict upon the good people of Fairhaven today?”

Like all kings, Lord Wellic has a weakness for the thrill of the hunt. “If it bleeds, we can kill it!”

The royal inventory happens to be running low on whale, so Wellic is tasked to take to the high seas in order to fill the larders up again with some Humpback or Bowhead (was so about to write Sperm, until I realized how that would sound).

The crew, however, finds no whale that day. Instead, the lookout in the crow’s nest cries out, “There, over by the rocks! A mermaid, m’lord!” Indeed, an enchanting, beautiful young creature with a head and torso of a human female and a tail of a fish, sits sunning herself by the water. The men on deck are moved to tears by her sweet song.

“Pshaw!” Wellic snorts. “Everyone knows mermaids don’t exist! Harpoon the thing, butcher it for lunch, and let’s just go home already, I’m bored.”

Okay, enough mucking about, time to do some real work around here. One of the most important jobs of being a monarch is to listen to the petitions of the common people. “Perfect! I practiced extra hard on my ‘you-must-be-kidding-me’ and ‘you-are-soooo-far-beneath-my-notice’ expressions last night! Let’s go meet the peasants.”

Villager #1: I would like to have a female sheep from the royal flock. All my ewes died. May I please have one?

Lord Wellic: NO EWE FOR YOU! Do you think simoles grow on trees?! If I just simply pandered to every single bloody peasant who comes in here asking for livestock, how would I be able to afford that solid gold statue of myself I’ve been planning to install on my front lawn?

Villager #2: I seek guidance. A neighbor always leaves out food and attracts stray dogs. They’re mean! They taunt our chicken and eat our shoes! What should we do?

Lord Wellic: BRIBE ME! Not only will I sentence your neighbor to death and get rid of your stray dog problem, you can go to sleep happy tonight knowing you did a fine service to your kingdom, by generously donating to the royal coffers. Oh, don’t look at me like that. Did you think “Lord Wellic Kyranny” rhymes with “tyranny” was just a coincidence? (It was, actually!)

Villager #3: Mighty One, I have a problem. I am possessed by demons. That’s not the problem, though. The problem is that I’m beginning to enjoy it. What should I do?

Lord Wellic: GET THEE TO A TAVERN! There’s only one thing to do when you feel that good — get stinking drunk and fornicate the night away. Go on, enjoy! You’ll thank me in the morning. See, I’m an awesome king!

Time for the daily afternoon tour of Fairhaven. First stop, the Judgment Zone where the stocks are located and where the kingdom’s pet beast of justice resides. Oh dear, there’s something terribly wrong here. Lord Wellic does not seem to be liking the sight of those empty stocks…

“AH HA! Much better!” Lord Wellic laughs. “Come on, gather ’round my countrymen, don’t be shy! Hurl your eggs and rotten tomatoes at the prisoners, it’s so much fun! Especially when they are completely innocent!”

Man, all work and no play makes Lord Wellic a dull boy. One of his favorite things to do besides shirking his royal responsibilities is to sneak into the back of the storeroom and make out with that saucy foreign lass Fionnuala, Merchant Princess of Tredony.

Wellic says, “Hmm, we’ll just file this under ‘diplomatic negotiations’, shall we?”

Ah, what a nice way to end the day. The king falls into bed, glad for a hard day’s work, ready to do it all again and more tomorrow. “I am a wonderful monarch,” he thinks to himself as he stifles a yawn. “Fairhaven could not ask for a better king. I was born to do this job — I love my people, and my people sure love me!”

Huh. If that’s so, why is our Lord Wellic suddenly dreaming of assassination? Find out next time!

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