Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sailing the Stars

Elite: Dangerous is still devouring most of my gaming time, these days. I've done a fair bit of exploring, ranking up to Surveyor. I headed down through Empire space to the very edge of the settled volume and making some decent cash in an Adder before deciding I wanted a piece of combat action. I then made my way back to civilization, bought an Eagle, outfitted it for combat to the extent I could afford, and started taking hunting contracts and looking or bounties. I think my plan for the next little while is to rank up my combat rating, make some money, and eventually get a Cobra Mk III, which should be good for a mix of activities.


I finished up my Seasonal Witch Doctor in Diablo III, getting him to level 70, as well as 10 Paragon levels. In the end I found a build I could rely on, and still hunted with a gargantuan, zombie dogs, and a bunch of fetishes. It's still not my favorite class, but it's alright. I'm planning to level up a Crusader, once season 2 begins. And eventually, I'll take all the shards and fragments I get while leveling in adventure mode and spend them on one of my level 70 characters.


I can't figure out what I'm getting wrong in Dungeon of the Endless. I've tried four times now, and I can't get past the first level of the dungeon, even on Very Easy. I need to do the tutorial again, because there must be something fundamental that I'm not understanding.


I briefly loaded up Fallout: New Vegas again, meaning to get on to the rest of the DLC for that game, but only made it as far as completing one unrelated side quest. So far.


I also revisited Space Marine for a fun session of killing Orks with chainsword and bolter.


Voxatron is a voxel-based game I had on my taskbar for ages without really trying out. As it turns out, it's a pretty simple Robotron-esque shooter with destructible environments. It's nice, but I kind of wish there was more to it.


I played some Minecraft with my older daughter on my knee, doing some cave spelunking and looking around for the pigs and horses and sheep she likes in the game. Our current world is the longest-lasting I've ever had. I think I'll make a go of it in this one. There's a really deep and complex cave network very near the starting position, as well as a stream and some mountains. It's a good place to settle, from a roleplaying perspective.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Discovery and the Seasons

Over the last week, I've been doing some seasonal maintenance in Hearthstone and Diablo. Hearthstone is easy. Once a month, I play enough games to reach rank 20 and earn a new card back, and then I'm done for the month, unless I care to play more here and there.


Diablo is a little more involved, but the seasons are also a lot longer. I believe this one began in about September of last year, and is slated to end at the beginning of February. Playing a season of Diablo, to me, means leveling a new character class (Witch Doctor, currently) all the way to level 70, and possibly beyond. I was just past level 30 when I decided I needed to finish up before time was up. I'm at 60, now, and I think I can probably earn a level or two each session I play.


I'm not really crazy about the Witch Doctor. It seems to me the distinctive thing about the class is the ability to use numerous pets do the heavy lifting while the player takes care of some limited crowd control, area of effect, and damage over time spell casting. This is fine, and gives it a unique niche among Diablo III classes, but I don't find it incredibly fun to play. It's perhaps a little too indirect for my tastes. The other classes I've played (Wizard, Warrior, Demon Hunter) are all very direct, at least how I play them. Wizard and Demon Hunter can lay traps and hazards of sorts, if the player is so inclined. Maybe I should ditch the zombie dogs and the gargantuan and try a Witch Doctor with a different focus, but I can't see how it would be anywhere near as effective, not to mention safe. The Witch Doctor himself has very little protection in the manner that I'm used to with my Wizard. Maybe I'll give it a shot, though.


The other game I've been playing, and where the majority of my game time is going, is Elite. I'm very much into exploring the incomprehensibly (realistically) large galaxy in the game, not doing any hunting, fighting, or trading, indeed not capable of doing any, with my ship kitted out for exploration over any other purpose. I just love exploring the unexplored, and it seems like a way to make a decent amount of money, though probably not as quick as trading or thrilling as combating your way to fortune and status.


Elite is not everything I want in a space game, but everything it is does fall into that category. As it hopefully fills out with deeper and more varied content and assets, I can see it eating up a lot of my time over a long period of time, something like a Minecraft or Diablo. I think it'll be a perennial favorite. I don't imagine Star Citizen or No Man's Sky will cover the same ground in the same way, though they definitely both have the potential to be something special.


I wonder how long it might take to gain Elite status as an explorer. I've already ranked from Aimless to Mostly Aimless to Scout, and I'm just getting started. I only just bought an entry level detailed surface scanner, and I'm still running on the base system scanner and in the starting Sidewinder ship. But after this theoretical rise to Elite as an explorer, maybe I'd try to do the same in trading or combat. We'll see. I really like this game, though. Maybe that was obvious, considering my Game of the Year post. It was a very late entrant to consideration, the latest, I think, but it certainly did click with me in a way that no other game did in 2014.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 In Games and Literature

Another year has drawn to a close, and it is time to take stock of what I played and read in 2014. First up, the awards:

My Game of the Year: Elite: Dangerous
Honorable Mention: The Banner Saga

Past years:
2013: Spelunky/Hearthstone
2012: Dota 2/Diablo III
2011: The Witcher 2/SpaceChem
2010: Mass Effect 2/Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
2009: Demon's Souls/Red Faction: Guerilla
2008: Metal Gear Solid 4/Gears of War 2
2007: BioShock/Halo 3

The games, DLC, et cetera that I finished in 2014, defined liberally, as always. It's a grand total of 32, which is nice, but this is a particularly apples and oranges comparison with previous years when I was stricter about what counted as a completion.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag: Aveline
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag: Freedom Cry
Assassin's Creed Liberation
Baldur's Gate
Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast
Baldur's Gate: The Black Pits
Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Ep. 2
Borderlands: Claptrap's New Robot Revolution
Borderlands: The Secret Armory of General Knoxx
Borderlands: The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned
Chocolate Castle
Civilization: Beyond Earth (Transcendence)
Destiny
Diablo III (Master) (Barbarian)
Diablo III (Normal) (Demon Hunter)
Diablo III (Torment) (Wizard)
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (Master) (Barbarian)
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (Normal) (Demon Hunter)
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (Torment) (Wizard)
Evoland
Goat Simulator
Half-Life 2
Hearthstone: Naxxramas (class challenges)
Hearthstone: Naxxramas (Normal)
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Stranded
Street Fighter IV (Easiest) (Ryu)
Talisman: Digital Edition
Talisman: Prologue
The Banner Saga
Uncharted 3 : Drake's Deception
Vlad the Impaler

The game backlog has continued to expand well beyond control, but I'm not too worried about it. These days I practically only play PC games, so limiting myself to one platform will at least boost the probability that many of these will ever be touched. I like to hop into something new on occasion, anyway. There will be no shortage of that. I do feel like I've made fewer cavalier purchases over the last year, but I haven't done the validation part of that assumption.


On the book reading front, I think this was a pretty good year.

Book of the Year: A Song of Ice and Fire I - V
Honorable Mention: Roadside Picnic

Without a doubt my reading highlight of this year was taking GRRM's series back-to-back-to-back all the way through all of the currently released books. The Horus Heresy stuff I read was also a lot of fun, but no one individual title stuck out as much to me as did Roadside Picnic, the book that inspired the movie Stalker and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game series. That was a cool book, and not too long. I also had fun rereading James Clavell's Tai-Pan and with Andy Weir's The Martian, a hard science-based tale of a near-future NASA mission to Mars.

Books read in 2014:

A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons
Age of Darkness
Book of Cain
Book of Tyrael
Deliverance Lost
Nemesis
Red Storm Rising
Roadside Picnic
Tai-Pan
The Martian
The Outcast Dead
The Primarchs
The Walking Dead 1-125
Visions of Heresy

That was 18, which is not bad, and double my 2013 count.

Here's to much more great playing and reading in 2015!

Steam Winter Sale BONANZA Pt. 2

Capping off the Steam holiday sale this year, just a couple of games.

Might & Magic X: Legacy - I was pretty disappointed with how little the quality of the graphics in game resembled the promo screenshots on the Steam store page. Bullshots, indeed. Otherwise, it seems like a pretty standard turn-based RPG in the first-person, advance-upon-a-grid genre similar to, but not so interesting as Legend of Grimrock, which it should be mentioned, is not turn-based, and more focused on puzzles, whereas M&M seems to be more of a quest-based type. It might be worth revisiting, at some point. Probably not, if I'm completely honest. Lack of time, better offerings elsewhere, etc.

Might & Magic VI - this was a freebie with purchase of the above. I understand it was a very impressive game back when it came out, but it looks like one of the most absolutely terrible things I have ever encountered in gaming. Time has not been kind at all to mid-'90s digitization of photos into game assets. I shudder to recall those pained, disembodied visages.

Apart from those, I've been cozying up more to Endless Legend, Dungeon of the Endless, and Ground Zeroes. I have one other new game to report, and that is Elite: Dangerous.

Elite is one of the oldest, longest-running, and most revered game series out there, despite being only verging on active over the 30 years since the first game came out in 1984. I gather much of the acclaim and appreciation goes back to the first game, which no doubt was a huge influence on almost every other notable 3D space flight, combat, or trading game since. Dangerous is the newest, crowd-funded game in the series,

Elite: Dangerous is very interesting in that it uses procedural generation to turn out billions of stars across our galaxy, all anchoring their respective system of orbiting asteroid fields, planets, and space colonies. The galaxy is built on a 1:1 scale with our own, real galaxy, and all the actual data we have modeled accurately (as far as I know), with the rest being computer-generated.

The game itself is about being a space freelance. Haul goods, become a privateer, a pirate, a mercenary, hunt bounties, explore uncharted space, mine asteroids, and just generally do whatever it is you wish to do to make your fortune and ascend the ranks of space pilots in the areas of military action, trading, and exploration. So far, I've eschewed combat for the most part, and hauled some goods back and forth for credits, but have been spending most of my time visiting and gathering mapping data on unexplored star systems. This is by far where I've made the most of my meager earnings in game to date.

I started in a system I've forgotten the name of, probably less than 50 LY from Sol, and I've been heading in a direction I'd colloquially term "galactic down" which is perpendicular to the galaxy's plane of ecliptic, parallel to it's axis of rotation, and down in that the coordinate number for that direction is negative relative to Sol's 0:0:0 origin location. I'm around 300 LY from Sol, at present. I'm planning to continue my exploration, and maybe to hunt some bounties or take on some military contracts here and there along the way. I got rid of my cargo hold racking in order to make room for exploration tools and a shield generator (mainly for safety from pirates).

I've been very impressed with the game. Very impressed, as I'll outline in my next post.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Steam Winter Sale BONANZA Pt. 1

It's Winter Sale time, and I've been trying to play everything as I buy it. This is my chronicle of this fool's errand, beginning with a few things I decided to catch up on before the sale:


Sid Meier's Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies - just a dumb mobile game ported to PC. It's got kind of a neat tactical WWII dogfighting system. I liked the first Ace Patrol on ipad and I had to win a gem auction in the sale lead-up period, so I chose a game no one else would bid on. It's worth a buck or two, but probably better played on a tablet.


Age of Mythology - Microsoft has seemingly come around to the existence of Steam and acknowledgement of their past as PC game developers, or at least they are allowing another studio to remaster and rerelease some of their past hits, such as this one. It seems it's an RTS where you can play various factions from world myths, such as Egyptian, Norse, and Greek traditions. I just did a couple of rounds of the tutorial campaign.


Dark Souls II - I really only played long enough to create a character and work through the beginning exposition to the point where you are given control of said character.


Dawn of War II: Retribution - I played some of The Last Stand, and started the campaign proper as the Space Marines' Blood Ravens chapter, the same faction (the only faction) that was playable in vanilla DoWII and the first expansion, Chaos Rising. I want to see their story through to the end, then perhaps check out Chaos or the Imperial Guard or another of the several factions in the game.


Dungeon of the Endless - It's a type of roguelike where you don't seem to have direct control over how your party members (2 to 4), but are able to alter the dungeon room by room as you go, gathering resources to level up your party and also trying to move an object from the starting room of a floor through to the end of the floor. I have yet to successfully make it to the second floor. It's interesting in that it shares the 4 primary resources (food, industry, science, dust) with Endless Space and Endless Legend, two other games that exist in the same universe.


Endless Legend - A 4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) empire-building game set in a fantasy and sci-fi melding world with incredible production values and aesthetics and really unique, distinct, and interesting faction design. It seems to be on the whole going for something Civilization-esque, but with a lot of tweaks aimed at making war more interesting by making stacked armies fan out to do battle directly on the hex-based overworld, which temporarily doubles as your battlefield, and addressing the common complaints about the endgame stages of these types of games involving too much micromanagement, as you have fewer cities to administer in Endless Legend due to a one city per region rule. I've been pretty impressed with the game so far.


Inescapable - I was given a copy to play for research purposes. It's a 16-bit looking sci-fi, alien planet, side-scrolling action and exploration game, obviously Metroid influenced, though without that much emphasis on combat, and instead more on revealing a story of ancient precursor races et cetera. It's solid, if not remarkable, though I did seem to hit a game-ending bug where I used up an item I still need to get around an obstacle. I don't see any way to fix this other than starting over from the beginning.


Mario Golf World Tour - It's a good golf game themed in Mario with some power-up gimmicks to spice it up, or not, depending on  your mood. This may see more play in the future.


Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes - A fantastic port to the PC. I made my way through the main mission once to this point, and I'm very impressed with how well it performs, and how well it plays. I'll be playing around with this quite a bit in the lead up to The Phantom Pain. It feels like the Tanker demo for MGS2 that was released along with Zone of the Enders so long ago. Keifer Sutherland as Snake doesn't even really bother me, though I would definitely prefer to have David Hayter back.


Primordia - I'm not a huge fan of point and click style adventure games that make you retread the same old ground over and over combining random items into puzzle solutions, but the plot synopsis made me want to try this out. It seems kind of cool, but again this style of play really does nothing for me, so I'm not so sure about it.


Rise of Nations - Another of Microsoft's old RTSs remastered and rereleased for the next generation. I liked the tutorial missions and the looks of this one a little more than Age of Mythology, I think, and the game has a stellar reputation, so it merits more of a look at some point.


R.U.S.E.  - The first few missions were really cool. It seems like RTS without all the busywork, basically just the strategic parts, with some tactical manipulation, but little if any base building or resource management. I didn't really get into the fake-out head games quite yet, though. I want to play more of this one, as well.


Space Hulk - Warhammer 40,000 Space Marines Terminators versus Tyranid Genestealers in very tightly-confined space ship corridors. It's a very tactical game, based very faithfully on the classic board game. Perhaps too closely for a video game. There are included options to speed up animations, but there is also the more recently released follow-up Ascension which I gather is aimed at taking a more video-gamey approach to adapting the source material. I like this one well enough, for what I played of it so far.


Total War: Rome II - Another RTS I only played the tutorial of. Seems cool, will have to follow up later with more time invested.


Wasteland 2 - Seven or eight hours in, now. It seems like a very solid and well written RPG thus far. I wouldn't say the hook is set just yet, but I get a feeling it might be were I to continue on further.


There are a lot of games above I really need to devote a lot more time to, and I still do not have a definite GOTY/Honorable Mention decision yet, either. The Steam Sale continues, and I kind want to check out Elite: Dangerous, too.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Great Ocean and the Dangers Therein

I hit the Horus Heresy very hard recently, polishing off all of:

Age of Darkness - A short story collection mostly set after the events on Isstvan V

The Outcast Dead - An interesting look into the imperial palace on Terra and the lives of astropaths and other sanctioned psykers

Deliverance Lost - Corvus Corax, primarch of the Raven Guard, and his quest to rebuild his all-but wiped out legion after Isstvan V, also featuring the machinations of Alpha Legion

The Primarchs - A collection of novels centering on Fulgrim, Ferrus Manus, Lion el'Jonson, and Omegon

They were all pretty good, highlights being the material featuring the Lion, Corax, Fulgrim, and Alpha Legion, especially.

I felt I should dig into something more 'literate' after gorging myself on epic Space Marine fantasy, and I'm now reading Moby Dick. It's a classic of American literature, and I'm guessing many read it in school at some point, but I never did. I expected it to be stodgy, archaic, and hard to understand, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how comedic and entertaining it is, and the language perfectly readable, if a little old fashioned. It's fun, so far, though I'm still not too far in.

Travel and Return

I recently went with my family to Japan for about three weeks, during which time I was able to play games relatively little, but I did get some time in, mostly in the company of my brother-in-law.

We played some Destiny with his and my sister-in-law's characters, and that was good fun. Their characters were level 25 to 28, and well advanced from my own meager level 21, but the content they had to run was all basically the same, with small differences brought on by the increase in difficulty settings. Destiny, it's a nice game to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

Also over at their place, I got in a little time with my battle.net account, grabbing a few levels on my Diablo III Witch Doctor (which is still in season, for some limited time), and also to show off Hearthstone and give a quick lesson on how that game is played and what the better (and worse) parts of that are.

The only real gaming accomplishment to speak of during this time was my completion of Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition's Black Pits campaign, which is just a series of arena battles in which you level up a party to about level 9-10 and in the end face some pretty tough opponents. I'm glad I did it, but it wasn't a whole lot of fun.

I had more fun, though ultimately limited by a desire to not get dragged down in what is essentially an obsolete experience, with Far Cry. It holds up well for a game that is 10 years old, and only just taking formative steps into the open-world shooter genre. The core gameplay and concept of what you would see later in subsequent Far Cry games, Crysis, STALKER, and others, is in place and very solid and a lot of fun, but the world is not completely open, and there's not a whole lot to do other than follow the critical path. It also seemed overly easy, though I stopped playing on the third or fourth mission, just after the first time you get a hang glider. I can get the same, but better, from other games in my library, and next time I have that hankering, I'll play Far Cry 3 or another game.

Lacking a definite go to for game of the year, I'm getting into Wasteland 2. So far it's pretty good. The combat draws a lot from XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and feels more like that game than Fallout or Fallout 2 (and certainly nothing like the original Wasteland). The writing seems good, if not remarkable just yet, and the mission design so far is interesting, forcing you to make a choice early on about which of two fires to put out, the other being left to burn. I'll need to play a lot more to know whether it is GOTY material.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tied Up A Loose End

I went back over the last few days and finished up The Banner Saga, which I began playing back in January. That was a really great game.


It's set in a very interesting non-standard fantasy world and tells a pretty desperate story of refugees on the move fleeing before a deadly and merciless invading force. The ending of the game does not really wrap  up anything at all, so there is much more of the story left to tell. I understand there will be another game or two--they're calling it a trilogy at this point, but there's no word yet on when a sequel will arrive. I am definitely interested in continuing the story though, and learning more about this world and the forces behind what seems like a forced migration caused by another forced migration caused by an unknown "darkness".


The art and presentation of the game are peerless in many respects, and the tactical battle system is novel, forcing you to break habits ingrained by other tactical roleplaying games. It is overall a very nice little package, lasting about 12 hours for a once-through. It's definitely on my shortlist for 2014 GsOTY.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Beyond Beyond Earth

The other night I finished up my fourth game of Civ in a row, 2 of Beyond Earth, one of V, and then another of Beyond Earth.


I managed to actually win the last one, going down the Harmony affinity path to the Transcendence victory. I noticed fairly early on that I shared a continent with only two other factions, one with only two cities, and the other a little bigger, with four. By this point I probably had nine, and a healthy military, so without much trouble at all, and very few losses, I dominated both other factions and brought the whole continent under my control. From there it was just a matter of expansion and being on the lookout for any border incursions while I exploited (or rather... harmonized) the land's resources and rushed to build the Mind Flower for the win.


After four full games and about 50 hours of Civ, I think it's time to move on to play other things. I'm not certain yet just what I'll focus on, but I did flirt a little with Diablo III and XCOM: Enemy Unknown last night.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Anything Less Would Be... Uncivilized

I'm a couple of games into Beyond Earth, now. My first game I played as Kavitha Thukar, which I think is the faction whose cities expand to new tiles at twice the usual rate. I was going for Supremacy, and still figuring things out when the victory was snatched out from under me by the African faction. In my second game, I was playing as the Franco-Iberians, focused on Purity and culture, basically building The Imperium of Man pre-Heresy. Everything was rolling along real well until out of nowhere ARC (the American analogue) runs off with the Contact victory. No one else stood a chance.


Beyond Earth is very cool. It is a whole lot like Civ V, but there are some interesting differences aside from just in the theme. The win conditions are different, depending on your affinity (Purity, Supremacy, or Harmony), The tech progression is also interestingly different in that it is a web rather than a tree, which makes sense since this is about civilizations branching out from a common start rather than making the same progression in parallel, just with paces staggered.


Speaking of Civ V, I just kind of wanted to check it out again after finishing a couple of games of the new one, and I got back in and am getting toward the end of a game as Venice, with which you are limited to a single city, and fumbling toward a culture victory. It probably won't work, at this point, but I'm still having a great time messing around with it. This is the first I've really played much with the expansions active, and the religion/culture and endgame stuff they added to the game is pretty substantial, not to mention all of the factions now part of the game that weren't in there, before.


I think it's great that Civ V and Beyond Earth can exist at once and both be unique while still sharing 90% of the same DNA. Neither makes the other feel obsolete or pointless.


Not much to report, outside of Civilization games. I played another short session of Shadow of Mordor. It's cool, but I'll need more time to get into it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Filling Out Twenty-Fourteen

The end of the year is rapidly approaching, and I like to come to some kind of annual conclusion on what my game of the year is, so I am now trying to revisit or look into some of the more notable releases of the year, to my sensibilities, anyway.

I also jumped sooner on at least one game, Shadow of Mordor, after hearing a lot of talk about its interesting Nemesis system. I've only played it for about an hour so far, but it seems pretty slick, with solid (Batman) combat, Assassin's Creed climbing, and multiple systems of unlocks for new abilities. It's a pretty good looking game, as well, especially powered by my new 970 GTX.

Civilization: Beyond Earth has also just come out, and I am most itching to get in and play it some more. I also have only spent about an hour with this one, so far, but I've spent 70+ with Civ V. While I am far, far from anything approaching good or expert at the game, I do really like it, and I see a lot, at least on the surface, of Civ V in Beyond Earth. I think I prefer the exoplanet colonization theme, too, as great as the historical cultures of the world theme, is. Both are very cool.

Legend of Grimrock II is out! I haven't had much time to put into this one yet, either, but so far so good. I really loved the first game, and this seems like more, and more robust, and nice outdoor environments, too.

The Banner Saga is on my short list of GOTY contenders, but it had been several long months since I last played (and never completed) it, so I'm trying to pick it up again. I played for about half an hour last night, and was given a healthy reminder on what is so grand about the game. The art is stellar, the writing is also great, and it even has a cool tactical combat system, though this may be its Achilles' heel, so to speak. It seems easy to play yourself into an untenable state. That may just be it's razor's edge balance speaking, but often the battles in this game have me feeling really stretched thin. I'll have to see how it further pans out. I don't really have any sense as to how deep into the game I am, other than an hour count (6).

Elsewhere, I've dipped into both Borderlands 2 and Diablo III for a bit of click and loot, I'm continuing playing Baldur's Gate (on ipad now) as a solo sorcerer, and I even played the first hour of Final Fantasy VII the other day just in the interest of refreshing my memories (and opinions) on what it seems is finally no longer the undisputed masterpiece of everything ever. While far from my favorite of the series, it is also far from my least favorite, and I think I would like to revisit it, in limited chunks, here and there.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Martian

I just finished Andy Weir's hard sci-fi story about an astronaut stranded alone on Mars after a freak accident and extenuating circumstances. It's very good and goes into a hellacious amount of detail in relating how a man could possibly survive such a situation. The research that must have gone into writing this book is staggering to think about, and seeing just how the main character MacGuyvers through each and every problem he's presented with is really interesting.

The problem with the book is mainly in the dialog between others back on Earth or the Hermes crew (on their way back to Earth after evacuating Mars and leaving behind our protagonist). It's terrible. It reads like awful sitcom-esque TV dreck. It's so bad it is distracting from the rest of the well-written parts of the book. It's not a huge part of the book, and far from the most important part of it, thankfully.

Overall, I did enjoy The Martian, and would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in the nitty gritty of spacefaring in the present and very near-term future. Almost nothing at all in here is beyond our current capabilities.

Blazed Based Baldur's Gate

I went and finished off Baldur's Gate, including all of the Tales of the Sword Coast content. There is some very challenging content in there, moreso than with the base game. The Greater Wolfwere, the Demon Knight, and Aec'Letec were all very tricky fights, and each more difficult than the final story confrontation with Sarevok.

I've had a blast with Baldur's Gate, and am definitely looking forward to more not only with the sequel, but the additional content in the Enhanced Editions as well as the upcoming Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition and numerous other D&D computer RPGs I already own.

For now, though, I'm going to play a number of things, starting with Legend of Grimrock II. It looks to be a refined, expanded, and enhanced sequel to the excellent first Grimrock, and I'm excited to delve in. So far I've created a group and explored a little of the beach you are washed up on after being shipwrecked.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

There Can Be Only One

I'm almost done with Baldur's Gate, I think. I actually finished the game completely unawares the other night. It turns out that Sarevok in the Undercity's Temple of Bhaal is the final encounter. I guess I should have realized that before killing him and seeing the message that my savegame was ready for export to Baldur's Gate II.

I re-loaded to a save just outside that fight and now I'm going around cleaning up all the sidequests and doing the expansion content. I would guess I have another 5-10 hours left with the game. The only things remaining to be done that I am aware of are a quest to get some sea charts and then find the shipwreck of Balduran, the founder of the city of Baldur's Gate, and then to delve into Durlag's Tower, which I think is the hardest dungeon in the game. I guess I could be surprised by a huge new quest chain that pops out of either of those, who can tell.

I've done every other major sidequest, as far as I know. I even have a few maguffins in my inventory whose proper owners I don't know where to find. I'll get through all of the aforementioned real content and then consult a wiki on these few odds and ends before going back to kill Sarevok--on the record, this time.

I'm not sure what I'll play after Baldur's Gate. I think I'll need a bit of a palate cleanser before moving on to the sequel. I did just get a new GTX 970 video card, as well, and I'll want to put it through its paces.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Done With Destiny (1.0.2)

I'm finished with Destiny for the time being. I completed the story missions, ran all of the matchmade strike missions, and got to level 21 out of curiosity for how the light leveling system works. It's a neat idea, but to play much more right now is just a waste of time. There is no way I'd be able to fit the raid into my life right now, especially not having to make it an appointment.

I'll wait for the next big patch or expansion that makes the game more friendly to solo play and interesting--more content, above all else. In the mean time, I'll concentrate on Baldur's Gate, which I am still enjoying immensely. I haven't played anything else on Steam in over a month.