When fire burns, is it at war?


I haven’t finished a single-player game since completing Mass Effect 3. When it came out, Lisa and I put an entire weekend aside to finish it in one complete play through. For the record, we were fine with the original ending (we chose Synthesis). As I later put it, the entire game felt like an ending, played out over a series of very emotional hours. The line “Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.” still gives me major feels.

But still, I haven’t really picked up any new games since then. While I appreciate the growing power of narrative in gaming, something in me just isn’t drawn as much towards them any more. I still like multiplayer games, and quite enjoy the social aspect of sitting down and having a stressful time with friends while other friends (or even complete strangers) trounce us over and over. I’m not very good at games. I was all right at Starcraft once,* back when I was procrastinating over editing a novel and playing game after game of it could fill the time quite nicely, but now I just feel angry and disappointed as everyone else seems to have mastered their sub-15 minute builds while I’m still dawdling over which building to make.

I don’t think I can play a MMO again, either. I enjoyed World of Warcraft when it started but by the time we stopped it had passed through feeling like a job (or an obligation, making sure we were ready to raid every evening) to something that we just happened to fill our evenings with, like Eastenders or trips to the local. Not that there’s anything bad about any of these things, but I was starting to get that itchy feeling at the back of my head, that feeling that I was spending all my time consuming and not doing a whole lot of creating. It’s no coincidence that I started writing almost as soon as I stopped paying my subscription. Your milage may vary on that sort of thing – certainly there are plenty of creatives who can and do juggle their time effectively – but nevertheless: that’s at least one thing I had to do to get my arse in gear.

But I still like games. I’d like to play more, or at least to have opportunities to play more. I’ve had it in my head for a little while that I would really like to build a little arcade table…well, build is a strong word. I’d like to drill a bunch of holes on a suitably-sized piece of easy-build furniture and put two arcade sticks in, then hook it up to a dedicated computer so that I could play arcade games on the tv with my other half or anyone else I could trick into coming to the house. Nidhogg looks like the most fun ever and I know there are other games that would equally fit the bill.

On that note, I think Johann Sebastian Joust would be an incredible convention game. It’d be hell getting it on the official programme (Health and Safety nightmare, or what?) but if someone were to suddenly start carting round a laptop and some Move controllers, I could well imagine a few people would be well up for it.

*Bronze league “all right” which is just north of “acceptably poor”.


Birthday Haul

So, I turned 31 yesterday. Was it as climactic as you anticipated, as all 31st birthdays should be?, I hear you all ask and in return I answer:

Yes, yes it was.

Lisa bought me a Kindle, one of the 3G-enabled ones that allows you to buy books as long as you have a signal, and before I’d had breakfast I had already spent £15 on books for it.  It’s disgustingly easy to shop with.  Having played with a Sony PRS-505 before, I already know what it’s like reading an e-ink book – the only issue I still have with it is the formatting issues files have – some books are better set on the Kindle than others, and clumsily laid-out text is a big no-no for me.

While we’re on the topic, BIT-101 takes a nice microscopic look at text on the Kindle versus the ipad, versus various types of print.

My brother chipped in on the purchase of a new Xbox 360, one of the 250 Gb models.  It’s exactly what the Xbox 360 should have been on original release: a lot quieter (still noisy compared to my PC and PS3 though), a lot smaller, and generally just more attractive.  It comes with wireless connectivity built in, but for some confusing reason there’s no HDMI cable – and after a trial with the SCART cable out of sheer morbid curiosity I can tell you quite firmly that 480p looks like shit on a 1080p television.

I transferred my HD contents using the needlessly expensive cable I also had to buy (simply because I can’t bear the thought of losing my Mass Effect saves) and started downloading the Shadow Broker content for ME2.  I hooked up with Liara in the first game and stayed true through the second, so I reckoned it worth the 800 MS point purchase to keep that story going.

While unable to play, I bought one of the Mass Effect books to see what it was like, because I thought the fact that the lead writer from the game was also the author was an encouraging fact.

How wrong I was.  It made the HALO books seem refreshing and lively.  someday there’s going to be a post about novelisations of films and why The Abyss is an important exception to the general rule, but I can’t bring myself to read enough dire books to make my point robust enough.

I also picked up a set of Rock Band drums new for £10. Bonus.

Lisa’s parents bought me a lovely t-shirt, which includes both books *and* owls and is therefore perfect for me (the logic is undeniable), and have put aside some money for me to buy a nice watch.  I have a nice watch already (Lisa bought it for me a few years back, and it alternately tells me how fast my heart is beating and exhorts me to exercise more) but it’s not “dressy” and apparently responsible adults need “dressy” watches.

Finally, I got some flowers and chocolates.  well, I was going to get flowers and chocolates but they got delivered to the place that I wasn’t.  Two weeks ago.  Lisa was understandably upset over the cock-up, so the florist gave her a refund, and we got a free bunch of flowers and a box of Terry’s All Gold out of it.  The flowers are a half-dozen red Naomi roses, which are now esconced in our Kosta Boda crystal vase on the living room table.