Tag Archives: Thoughts

A Long Rant About A Game I Used To Love

“This year is going to be different,” I told myself. “This year I’m going to set some challenging yet attainable New Years Resolutions and actually stick to them. No excuses, no delays…just doing what I want to achieve, and what I can achieve.”

Well, so much for that, eh? I blame my wisdom tooth. It was extracted on the 20th Feb and between the initial pain (bad), the dry socket (worse, much worse), and the subsequent removal of the emergency dressing (not so painful, but the horrible aftertaste lasted forever), it took over three weeks to recover. Doesn’t explain the time before the surgery, nor the period between recovery and now…but hey, I’ve been busy working, and playing Gears, and watching Supernatural, all super important tasks (Supernatural especially, for a special reason I’ll announce eventually – perhaps next month when I discuss my other TV obsession), so when did I even have the time?

Yep…totally justifiable delays. Besides, I can just change the goal posts, and say by January, I meant 20th March (when better to restart than the one month anniversary of losing my tooth?). Boom Nailed it.

Ahem.

So today’s post (or this month’s post, if I am to stick to my plan), is about gaming. And how, despite my efforts to become a professional Gears of War 4 player, I am, in many ways, falling out of love with my favorite pastime.

I should preface this by saying, my attitude towards gaming could and should (I hope) change in a matter of hours when Mass Effect Andromeda comes out. I’m expecting it to be awesome, and if it is, then everything in the world is great again and I’ll be super happy. Hours* away, guys! I’m seriously hyped right now. I can’t even stand it!

And yet, reality grounds me. As much as I love the Mass Effect series, the potential greatness of Andromeda will not change the fact that I’ve been largely unimpressed by the recent standard of mainstream games, and my general apathy to new games means I view even this upcoming launch with apprehension.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t good games on the market, nor am I saying the industry as a whole is regressing, just that the games I’ve bought in the past couple of years have disappointed me. Gears of War 4 aside (a game that is also far from perfect; were it not for the competitive scene I’d probably have stopped bothering with it), I haven’t loved a new game for a long time. In fact, on the Xbox One, I’d say there’s only been two games that have really drawn me in – Dragon Age Inquisition and Sunset Overdrive. Everything else I’ve played has either immediately or gradually pushed me away.

Annoyingly, I can’t really explain why I feel this way. Perhaps it is inevitable now that I’m working, my time is more valuable so I have to become more selective over games. By necessity, my standards are much higher than when I was a feckless teen with time to kill. It would make sense. The games I criticize the most (more on that shortly) are supremely popular games. Millions of people enjoy them, and I feel like an older version of me would be included in those millions. Therefore, it must be me.

But then again, is having higher standards my fault? My problem, sure, but when my biggest issues aren’t to do with superficial issues like the graphics, but core features of the game, such as the plot or character development, I think I’m right to be critical. True, in the past, I could have bypassed a ‘meh’ story to play a game (looking at you, Army of Two sequels), but when a game is attempting to motivate me with a powerful narrative, and that narrative is fundamentally flawed, I can’t be blamed for losing interest. Nor can I be blamed for voicing my disapproval at such a poorly written/devised game, a point which brings me to the worst offender on my personal hate list…Fallout 4.

Now, I will preface this by saying I never completed Fallout 4 and it’s been a long time since I played it. However, I did commit over 50 hours before reaching my breaking point, and I have in spoken at length to a fellow gamer who did complete Fallout 4 yet agreed with my criticisms, so I think I’m on solid ground here. If you disagree, please tell me why. If you haven’t played Fallout 4 but want to read on anyway, be warned that there are some SPOILERS ahead. And if you have no interest in Fallout 4, or gaming in general, I apologize, as this blog post probably isn’t for you. Unless you really enjoy a good story, then you should read on regardless so you can comprehend my anger.

Urgh, Fallout 4. So much promise. If you were around me prior to the game’s release, you would have known how giddily eager I was to play. Once it came out, that’s all I did. I was immediately encapsulated with the world, even more so than I was with Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. It was my biggest obsession for weeks. It wasn’t perfect, there were flaws, but I loved it…until those cracks in the game’s foundation became too big to ignore. Despite my best efforts to use my mind canon to fix them (mind canon is like Sherlock Holmes’ mind palace, just it only revolves around making my experience within a game make sense), the damage was done. Fallout 4 no longer appealed to me. I stopped playing completely. And though there are aspects of it I still think of fondly, I don’t think I’ll ever reload my save. Quite the damning statement, no?

So, what was wrong? Well, as I indicated earlier, the story was fundamentally broken, and only got progressively worse. How so? Well, let me break it down for you!

Issue 1: Story contradicts gameplay

First, a rough plot summary: after a nuclear war is initiated, you enter the safety of a vault with your partner and son, only to see your love shot and your son kidnapped while you drift into cryogenic sleep. You then wake up some undetermined time later with one goal: find your son. Pretty straightforward, right?

*sighs*

Now, I should explain that Fallout is a game series known for exploration. Fallout 4 is no different. You are encouraged to wander the radioactive wasteland, create settlements for other survivors, and kill every hostile force that dares to attack you in future Boston. This type of gameplay is what Bethesda arguably does best. However, this ideology downright conflicts with the premise of Fallout 4.

Admittedly, I’m not a parent so I could be wrong here, but I imagine if my baby was taken from me, I would spend every waking second searching for him. I wouldn’t be helping strangers unnecessarily, clearing out old buildings or helping the minutemen retake back their HQ. No, I would be entirely mission-orientated, an approach which is the complete opposite to how you’re supposed to play a Fallout game.

For someone who obsesses like I do, this contradiction is bloody horrible. I spent many fun hours going after side quests and building settlements, yet I could never displace the thought that I shouldn’t be doing this, I should be looking for my son. I tried to use my mind canon to explain why I was spending an insane amount of time building a junk wall around my primitive looking Sanctuary, but was largely unsuccessful in my efforts.

So, why didn’t I just do the story? Well, as I said, that would have been super boring and would mean ignoring Fallout 4’s greatest features. Besides, when I tried to get into finding my son, I ran into another problem…

Issue 2: The main story starts badly, doesn’t improve much

Another bit of background: after escaping the vault, you head back home and on the way, you save some settlers (or something like that, I forget). In this group is Mama Murphy, an old hag who happens to be a psychic. You give her some drugs, and she tells you to go to Diamond City, as that’s where your son was taken to first. Begin your quest!
Uh, no. No. Get out. I don’t care what gaming universe you are in, using a damn psychic to kick start your search is a load of crap. There is no bypassing her stupid prediction either – Mama Murphy literally initiates the bloody plot. It made me so angry, especially as Diamond City is the biggest settlement in the Commonwealth, and they could have done literally anything else (I know I’m overusing literally here, but that’s how utterly stupid this concept was) to get you to go there. You could have found a random dude and said “hey, I’m looking for my son, any ideas?” and after you shot him in the gut for trying to steal your stuff, he would have told you “never saw him, but he was probably taken to Diamond City because that’s pretty much the only place that isn’t filled with death, desperation and creepy dudes like me.”

Urgh.

Sadly, the story doesn’t get much better. You meet an investigator and track the man who took your son in a highly improbable way (I know dogs are great and all, but I don’t believe for a second even the best sniffer dog could follow a vague trail for miles, especially when a decent amount of time has passed since the dude went), and then…more things happen. I’m not entirely sure when I stopped caring, but it didn’t take long for the main story to mean nothing to me. I blame Mama Murphy for putting me on the wrong path. Well, the right path but you know what I mean.

To be fair, it isn’t all her fault. Another part of the problem is the dialogue tree. For Fallout 4, Bethesda took a Mass Effect approach to dialogue, giving their character a voice instead of block text at the bottom of the screen. I would generally approve of this, but it was too simplistic in Fallout 4. I could never ask the questions I wanted to ask, questions I feel I may have been given as an option if the protagonist was silent. And when I’m not given the option to ask questions, nor am I given the answers to these fairly obvious yet unspoken questions, I begin to ask myself questions instead, such as “why am I still bothering with this?”

The biggest example of wasted potential is the key plot to the story. Early on you are introduced to the idea of the Institute, a shady group that are suspected of replacing people with synthetic lookalikes. Their motives are unknown, but everybody is incredibly paranoid/scared of synthetics taking over. And even though I can’t ask an ousted synth some logical questions about how he exists (you go over some of it briefly, but nothing much in detail), I loved this angle. You can’t beat a good body snatching mystery!

Frustratingly, it doesn’t go anywhere. Even when you finally meet the Institute leader, the reasoning for their actions is never explored. You don’t get any answers as to why they are doing what they are doing. Or if you do, it happens after I hit my quitting threshold. After being told that I would learn the truth and promptly learning nothing despite completing at least 3 or 4 biggish quests for them, I gave up on the game. Sorry, but LOST, though I love it, took away all my goodwill towards never-ending mysteries. You need to give me some answers or I’ll find something better to do.

Now, this complaint is probably more of a story writing issue, or lack thereof, than it is about having a speaking protagonist (who should theoretically pull me deeper into the game…so much for that), but I do think the emotive yet uninformative dialogue tree hindered my enjoyment/understanding of the game. It wouldn’t, however, have helped with the biggest problem Fallout 4 has, which is…

Issue 3: There is no villain, and thus there is no point.

Fallout 4 tries to replicate the success of Fallout New Vegas by giving you factions to fight alongside. You have the Minutemen (a group that you lead, yet do every irrelevant task for because evidently nobody else can be bothered), the Railroad (who want to save the synths, and make you do irrelevant side quests despite being the only person who can achieve their goals), the Brotherhood of Steel (they want to take down the Institute by making you do everything), and the Institute.

Unlike Fallout New Vegas though, none of this really matters. There is no motive to care. The Institute, the apparent bad guys in the game, fail to really drive their evilness to you. As I indicated before, it isn’t explained. Are they even bad? I have absolutely no clue. I suspect Bethesda did this purposely so you could pick a side without being a bad person. Not everything is black or white in their world, and by leaving the story open and grey, the team you choose is effectively your interpretation of who you think is best. A neat concept but ambiguity is a detriment when the factions in Fallout 4 have no depth. Having checked the wiki page, it appears the end goal of the game is picking a side to destroy the others. Therefore, the worst response you can incite in your gamer is complete indifference to all your factions, because without the drive to pick a side, there is no reason for them to finish your bloody game. So they’ll stop playing.

And that’s what I did.

Annoyingly, explaining the Institute’s motives, even if showed them to be despicable human beings, wouldn’t have fixed the issue. Having an inherently evil group would have been great, obviously, and it would have helped me to pick a side. Not necessarily against them either – maybe I’m cool with being on the villains side. But the keystone of this issue is that, regardless of motivation, I need to make a choice. Bethesda had to force my hand and they never did. I got deep into the story without annoying a single one of the four factions, despite deliberately acting against two of them. The game was so determined to ensure I still had a choice, it actually showed me there was no consequences to my actions, and thus no point to playing.

How bad was it? Well, I intentionally screwed up two major Institute missions, categorically picking the other side, and yet they still wanted me to be their leader. What the hell?! In contrast, Fallout New Vegas provided a choice early on the game and I decided to shoot up one faction. From that point, I was their enemy. Even if I wanted to be their friend, I couldn’t, and that was awesome because it showed there was some meaning to my actions. Even if it screws my game up, I need consequences. Otherwise, what’s the point?

*deep breath*

BONUS NON-STORY ISSUE: The game never ends.

Fallout 4 boasted that even when the story is complete, you can continue to explore the wasteland. This isn’t a good idea. Games, even though we don’t want them to have one sometimes, need an ending. Yes, if you want to attempt to create the best settlement in the world, you should be able to do that. However, extending the runtime of the game by giving me the same side quest over and over again only causes me to hate you, Bethesda. It proves everything I do is meaningless (and I already know that, I don’t need the game to shove it in my face, thanks very much) because there is no consequence to my actions and nothing changes. Telling me to help the same settlement repeatedly, despite the fact I put fifty turrets around a junk wall that physically stops intruders, doesn’t tell me the game lives on, it tells me I’m stupid for still paying it.

Stories, even shoddy ones, need an ending, because there is no satisfaction or resolution without one. That’s why I’ll always pick Dragon Age over Skyrim, Mass Effect over Fallout. The fact that the Bioware games end with you wanting more is a damn sight more appealing than constantly clearing out the same cave or saving the same dopey settlers from ghouls for eternity. I’m not having it, Bethesda. I see through your bullshit. Preston Garvey, you can take your “settlement needs your help” crap elsewhere. I’m done.

*deep breath*

And that’s Fallout 4. A game that I once loved but ended up hating. Weak story, unchallenging gameplay (started fun, but got too easy) and infuriating bugs with my settlements just made it unenjoyable and unplayable. Maybe Fallout 5 will be better, eh?

*checks word count*

Boy, this got out of hand. I was going to also hate on Destiny, Grand Theft Auto 5, and Halo 5, but guess they’ll have to wait for another day. Sorry. My anger and disappointment at Fallout 4 ran deeper than I thought.

On the plus side, in less than two hours I can start playing Mass Effect Andromeda. Hopefully it’ll be everything I ever wanted. If not…well, shit.

Alex

——————————————-

*I wanted to post this blog post before Andromeda’s release, but because I’m an idiot, I didn’t start it until 5pm, 6 hours before release. And because I refuse to delay publication until a later date, this is effectively a first draft copy I’m sharing with you all. So, if the writing is poor in places (highly likely), or I waffle on too much (already know that one from the word count), I apologize. I promise I’ll edit next month’s post before publishing (if I don’t forget about it or get sidetracked) which will also be a more positive piece, as I’ll be talking about my new favorite show of all time, and of course, our big Supernatural news!

Until then,

Alex

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My New Lab Coat Life

So after a two month hiatus, I have jumped back onto the working life treadmill (thanks for that phrase dad), and already I’m sick of it. Seriously it’s just…

Nah, it’s fine. I do admit going from having all the free time in the world to ‘here, have a few hours before you crash into a coma sleep’ has been an adjustment, but otherwise it’s been good. Next week (tomorrow; urgh, where did the weekend go?!) will be my fourth at Marshfield Food Safety, and it’s going well. It’s a completely different job to what I’ve done in the past, which I wouldn’t say is a bad thing. I’m not entirely sure what I can say about the job, but essentially we complete a variety of tests to ensure our client’s products are up to standard. It’s busy but I enjoy it.  Science has always interested me, so I enjoy learning more about the biology/chemistry side of food safety.

I also get to wear a lab coat everyday which is cool. Between that, the purple gloves and the safety glasses, I’m like a bona fide scientist. I even act like a scientist, what with my pipetting, plate counting, and, uh…other sciency things that I do. And my job title is Lab Analyst, so yeah, I’m all about the science.

Admittedly it might not be as glamorous as I’m portraying it, but it’s a good job. There is a lot of standing around mind, which wouldn’t be so bad if the benches were designed for tall people, but that’s probably still better for my posture than being slouched in an office chair, staring at a computer screen for eight hours.

I currently work 2nd shift, which is 11:00 to 19:30 (often goes beyond that, but thankfully I have only had to stay until 20:30 once). It isn’t too bad – I’m not a morning person so I love the lie ins – but I still need to find a balance to my leisure time. Currently I eat, play Gears for a bit and then watch Supernatural. I like doing that, but I really should find time for my book. Maybe if I only watch 2 episodes of Supernatural…hmm.

Anyway, what else can I say? Well, everyone has been very nice to me so far and there seems to be a lot of flexibility, which will be important later this year(big news coming up, just waiting for confirmation). Only disadvantage is that I work every third weekend, meaning I’ll might miss Chelsea play if they have a later kick off. Other than that though, I’m very grateful for this opportunity. It’s a paying job and it’s a paying job I like. Yay for me, right?

Guess that’s it for now. There will be more updates coming up soon though. Our 2nd year anniversary is on Tuesday, and later this month Vanna starts college. Both momentous occasions that signify to me that the good things in life for us are only just beginning.  It doesn’t end there though, as in September we have a Trivium gig and a paintballing weekend marked in the calendar. And then there is the big news I mentioned earlier, which is in some ways far bigger than anything else in this paragraph. I can’t wait!

Alex

 

 

 

The Day I Set Fire To The Microwave…

I blame GQ magazine for the fire. A few years ago I had a yearly subscription to GQ because the boy Vanna used to care for was offering various magazine deals to raise funds for school. I actually wanted a gaming or football magazine, but as they weren’t available, I went for GQ instead.  I vaguely remembered reading a copy once, and it was cheap, so why not? Maybe I’d enjoy them.

As it happens, I only read 3 of the 12 magazines sent to me (turns out they are mostly about men’s fashion and grooming; two things I have no interest in whatsoever) but I did take one piece of advice. It was from an article on…something. Doesn’t matter; the helpful suggestion, however, was regarding dish sponges. Apparently they aren’t very hygienic, and you shouldn’t use them more than once. But if you aren’t a rich bachelor with money to spare (GQ’s target audience; again, not exactly me) and prefer to hold onto your sponges for more than ten minutes, they recommend you microwave them after each wash. It prolongs their life expectancy, you see.

So, for the past couple of years, that’s exactly what I’ve done. I wash the dishes and then bung the sponge in the microwave for two minutes. Sponge steam doesn’t smell too great, but at least I felt better about doing the dishes. Thanks to GQ, I was no longer a dirty commoner with a dirty sponge.  Totally worth the $24 subscription!

Cut to last week; there I am, doing the dishes like a good husband while Vanna is at work. I finish, chuck the sponge in the microwave and hit the button. I then start sweeping, because I’m a really good husband, while I wait for the magical purifying process to finish. But the regulation two minutes pass and the microwave is still going. Unfortunately I’m watching a particularly enticing episode of Border Control: Australia’s Front Line (the guy had drugs hidden on his body, I’m sure it) and don’t realize what I’ve done…until it was too late.

The smell got me first. A foul, acrid smokiness. Then I think, ‘did I hit the wrong button on the microwave?’ so I stop sweeping and head back into the kitchen. The answer? Yes, yes I bloody well did hit the wrong button on the microwave. The sponge is on fire and there is smoke everywhere. I yank open the microwave door and, uh, panic.

I don’t like fires, you see. I have no pyromania tendencies. I’ve never had a obssession with fire, or had to be warned to avoid flames. I’ve always known fire = bad. Heck, I don’t even use matches. I sit away from campfires. In fact, since an incident in my childhood when the trees bordering our property were set on fire (nothing to do with me, I hastily add), I’ve always had nightmares of my house burning down. So I can’t say I’m accustomed to dealing with open flames. This is probably why my first instinct, after a suitable injection of panic, was to blow on the sponge, like I was a 6 year old with a birthday cake and a wish to make.  Unsurprisingly, this did not put the fire out.

Thankfully my second instinct was more logical. Ignoring the fire extinguisher in our apartment (I refuse to be that guy), I grabbed an old hand towel (I wasn’t going to use a nice one, was I?), soaked it in water and then threw it onto the sponge. Boom, fire out, problem solved, I’m a hero!

Sadly, not everything turned out perfectly. I wasn’t able to save the sponge; I had to throw the charred remains in the trash after one use, making me the exact person I hated to be.  And despite our best efforts, the microwave is stained. It still works, of course, but it seems the memories of my error will forever be engrained onto my favourite kitchen appliance. Every war has its casualties, I suppose.

Oh, and remember how I said smoky sponges don’t smell too great? Well it turns out burning sponges smell even worse. It took DAYS for that stench to clear. This isn’t a big apartment, folks, so it wasn’t like I could avoid it either. Granted, it was better than the residual puppy pee smell that seems to linger in the entryway, but that isn’t really saying much. Seriously, don’t burn sponges. You’ll regret it.

But we’re okay now, at least. The microwave still smells, but I’m confident a few months of zapping my leftovers will fix that. And I’ve learned a valuable lesson from this experience, one I think is worth repeating: folks, whatever you do, don’t read GQ.

All the best,

Alex

Oh, and before I go, I have news!

I have a job! Starting Monday 25th, I’m going to be a lab analyst for Marshfield Food Safety! It’s going to be very different from everything I’ve done so far, but I’m excited. I’ll let you know how it goes in my next update.

 

 

So This Almost Happened…

Fortunately the little turd came home last night, almost 24 hours after disappearing. No idea where she went, or how she got back. All I know is that I searched for her at least ten times throughout the day (a day which had a heat advisory and tornado warnings), putting aside my daily schedule so I could find her. I knocked on houses, checked out gardens, got poison ivy…but despite the hours calling her name, got nothing in return.

Vanna had an even worse time, as she was stuck at work for ten hours. Neither of us could concentrate (I couldn’t write, couldn’t enjoy my gaming), too worried about our little kitten. When your cat is missing, the questions running through your head get worse with each passing hour. Is she trapped? Is she hurt? Did someone take her? Is she dying? Is she dead? Not knowing is a very frustrating and troubling experience. Automatically you think the worst, but until you know it for sure, there is no relief. It’s horrible.

Thankfully our story ending on a happy note, and she’s home safe. We don’t have answers (the grass was wet yet she was bone dry) but we have Anya, and that’s all that matters. However, this experience has told us that she is never going out again. We can’t risk losing our little one. Time to build the catio. She can enjoy the outside in a small space from now on.

Let’s not do that again, okay kitten?

Normal service will be resumed soon…once I’ve secured Anya’s future, and my heartbeat has returned to its usual pace.

Alex

A Short New Years Eve Post

Howdy folks,

Well I hope you all had a good Christmas break! It didn’t last long enough for my liking, but thankfully I have another three day break starting tonight. It offers much needed respite, or at least much wanted respite, and it should be a great time as I mostly plan to do absolutely nothing. Football, Xbox, lounging in my chair…oh yeah, I’m excited to do nothing, especially after the busyness of Christmas.

So what did I get up to last week? Largely what I said before; Friday and Saturday in cities, Sunday at home and with family in Brainerd. My favorite part was probably Thursday night though, eating curry and watching The Great Escape with the wife. We also opened our gifts from my folks, which was a good combination of  chocolate, British sweets, and some personal items. There was also a few other cool things we didn’t expect to get, like a personalized calendar and a Skye jigsaw that I might complete someday. It’s only 100 pieces…I’m sure I can manage that, right?

From the Vanna side, we got more food-related gifts and a cool knife which I’m looking to use at any occasion, whether it is necessary or not. The ‘big’ presents, aka my games, were bought in advance so no surprise there, though I have enjoyed playing Rise of the Tomb Raider during my Fallout 4 hiatus (it was getting too much for me, I could sense that I was losing enjoyment for it…should be good to play again after a few weeks though).

What else is going on? Well we still hope to see Daddy’s Home at some point, but that might not happen until midweek. Tonight Sharissa is coming over for New Year celebrations, and Friday we’re having dinner at Becky’s with her family. As for the rest of the weekend? Well, I think I’ve already covered that. And for the New Year? Um, I suppose I do have a few resolutions:

1) Be healthy. Couldn’t hurt to exercise and lose some weight.
2) Spend more time with Vanna. Now that she works less, we can do more things together.
3) Write every day. I need to finish my book already!

I think that’ll do. I’m not sure how far they will go – according to my work calendar, 17th is the give up day for resolutions – but I’ll do my best to be consistent, especially with 2 and 3.  They are both very important to me, and things I want to do. Eating healthy…that’s just a bonus.

Another bonus would be keeping up more regular appearances with the blog. I’ll try that too. For now though, I’m off to celebrate.  Have a happy New Year, guys. See you again in 2016!

Alex

Work, Work And Work…Oh, And More Fallout 4, Obviously.

Howdy folks,

Wow, it has been a while since my last update, hasn’t it? For once, however, my excuse of being too busy is a legitimate one. This past weekend was the first time I’ve been in the house for an extended amount of time with no responsibilities since the beginning of Thanksgiving week. Between my work, Vanna’s work, and all the time spent with friends and family (pft, those people), I haven’t really had much of a chance to relax in my chair. Some days I was lucky to enjoy an hour of television/Fallout 4 before I had to sleep, never mind finding time to publish another blog post (after being used every day, my laptop has now begun gathering cobwebs) As I say, it has been a very busy month!

Things have been pretty good though. I’m enjoying my job and I’d say I’ve had a successful start so far, despite the many technical difficulties slowing me down. I’ve picked up a lot of information relatively easy, and I’m largely capable of working independently with my assignments now. Hopefully I can continue to progress and become more integral to the team. Sometimes it can be somewhat daunting (I am a complete rookie when it comes to finances) but I’m getting there. Well, at least I think I am anyway.

What has really helped with my integration is the friendly atmosphere at Ascensus. Everybody has been very nice, helpful and patient with me. It’s easy to get involved and I think I’m fitting in well.  There are lots of things going on too. We started secret santa after Thanksgiving week (which was pretty festive), and this week there is a free lunch, three days of cookies, ugly christmas sweater day, and our team meal…so yeah, lots of fun. Lots of work, obviously, but lots of fun too.

Of course, my new working life isn’t perfect. I’m still adjusting to the different schedule (ie not going to bed late, sleeping in, and then doing whatever I want all afternoon), and finding time to write my book hasn’t been easy. I’m more inclined to spend the few hours I have free gaming or catching up on my sleep, but hopefully this balance will change soon (Vanna has worked evenings most nights this month so I’ve stayed in Brainerd which hasn’t helped; thankfully that’s changed so I’ll actually be home most nights from now on), and I’ll be able to incorporate my book writing into my evening routine. In some ways the time restrictions could work in my favour; if I am disciplined, one scheduled hour of writing could be more productive than my output in a full afternoon, as the time restrictions will prevent procrastination from taking hold. Guess I’ll just have to try my best, won’t I? If I want to do it, then I should just do it, right?

Anyway, I suppose that it is for now. There are other things I want to talk about (Thanksgiving, our trip to Duluth, our Christmas tree) but that can wait for the weekend or something. I really just wanted to touch base tonight, remind you guys that I haven’t died/forgotten about you all. Can’t believe it has been a month since I started work/last posted. Time goes by fast when you’re having fun?

Hmm.

Speak again soon. And this time, I mean “soon.” Like, within reasonable boundaries of the word’s definition…possibly.

Alex

 

Nothing But Fallout 4…Until Monday.

Howdy folks,

How’s everyone? Things have been pretty good here; I start work on Monday (after being informed earlier this week that the background check would take until 4th December, I then received a call yesterday letting me know that it was done), we have new furniture to make the first floor of our apartment a hospitable area (I’m typing this up on the recliner sofa right now), Vanna has been exploring her artsy side, and I have, rather predictably, become addicted to Fallout 4.

We all saw it coming. To say my life for the past week and a half has been food, sleep and Fallout 4 is no exaggeration. In many ways, even eating and sleeping haven’t been that important to me (reduced appetite, irregular and erratic sleep patterns) since the 10th. Tis rather shameful; I can’t tell how many hours I’ve spent gaming in the past nine days, nor am I willing to say the times I’ve gone to bed this week. All I will disclose is that I’ve already played roughly the same amount of time on Fallout 4 as I did on its two predecessors (which were completed over a few months)…and that I have climbed into bed with the sun shining in my eyes on more than occasion (never a good sign, especially not when it is November). So yeah…addicted is probably the right word to use. Going to be rough changing my schedule for Monday, isn’t it? Urgh.

Thankfully I have a very understanding wife who hasn’t complained once about my current obsession, even when I try to engage her in conversations about the settlements I have saved (the fact she can use my laptop – which is so rarely out of my hands – has probably made my overexcitement easier to handle). Of course we’ve still had “couple” time; last week we went to Zorbaz (a great bar/restaurant ruined by their decision to replace every single use of ‘s’ – only one of the most common letters in the English language – with a fricking ‘z’, a choice which gives me an aneurysm every time I try to read the menu…honestly, it is the worst thing ever), and we always make sure to eat and watch television together too. We’ve actually gone through a few Netflix shows* in recent weeks, despite my Fallout 4 cravings and Vanna’s hectic work schedule. Regardless, I appreciate her for being so forgiving about my many hours up in the attic. Sadly it appears that my binging going to end before I am ready to move on. How am I going to cope?!

*sigh*

You may think I’m being dramatic – to an extent I am – but there is a level of seriousness to that asterixed (tis a word!) sigh. I have become attached to Fallout 4, and it will be tricky for me to not play it. Why? Well because Fallout 4 is a fantastic games, even better than I expected it would be. I’m enjoying it a great deal, and there are a lot of things I love about it. The new settlement feature is addictive, the Boston Commonwealth is a rich and diverse wasteland, and the combat is challenging yet satisfying. The only thing I can’t praise is the story…as I’ve barely started it (told you building settlements was fun). As a consequence, I feel like I can only give a brief impression of the game so far, despite the many hours I’ve already racked up. What can I say? It’s an impressive game.

Having said that, I can’t say Fallout 4 is perfect. There are some flaws; the opening story is weak in some aspects, doing anything other than the main campaign gives me a disconnected feeling**, the settlements sometime glitch and cause me problems (I wasted over an hour last night trying to figure out where people had gone), the dialogue, though a step in the right direction, is somewhat simplistic and flawed, and the lack of a manual*** to help with all the new features is bloody frustrating. I’m still in agreement with the 9+/10 reviews so far, but I’m not going to worship it as the best game ever just yet.

Of course, my opinion might change once I’ve completed Fallout 4. I’m sure there are a lot of surprises still in store. Who knows what I’ll think when I’ve finished the campaign? Maybe the good will be better, or the bad will be worse. Perhaps I’ll share a more in-depth analysis once I’ve reached that point. For now though, I just wanted to provide a brief summary of my thoughts so far, which essentially boils down to Fallout 4 being a very, very good, arguably amazing game, with some minor issues. There! Now I can go back to playing rather than writing, and you can rest easy knowing I haven’t wasted away in my chair.

Right then. I guess that’s it for the moment. Unless you, uh, want to hear about my settlements?!

…you don’t? Oh. Well then. I’ll be back next week for a job/ Fallout 4 update (providing I have the time…should probably sleep and eat between my working and gaming).

Take care,

Alex

P.S. If I’ve made any grammatical errors, I apologize. WordPress has changed the format and I can’t find the little check button which usually flags up my biggest mistakes.

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*After finishing season 2 of The 100 (very good, a definite recommend), we watched Happy Valley (grim but good), before then moving onto iZombie (name aside, a surprisingly good show). No promises – I’ve made that error in the past – but I’ll try to talk about these and more sometime in the future.

** This is hard to explain as I probably sound insane, but I tend to obsess about my actions within expansive games, and have to logically reason out everything I do. Essentially if my character has this huge, super important mission, and needs to get from A to B, I need to mentally explain why I’ve decided to detour to C, D, E, and F first. This happened a little bit during the Mass Effect trilogy (I guess I found this urge easier to pacify with those games), and was bad in Fallout 3 (even though my side-tracking happened after I completed the campaign!) but is especially problematic now I’m playing Fallout 4 (given the context of the plot, it seems wrong to do anything other than search for Shaun). I don’t want to go into too much detail right now as I think this could make for a good blog post, but yeah…my own brain is causing problems with my immersion in the story. Grr.

*** Embarrassingly, after complaining non-stop about having to figure out the settlement builder by myself, I’ve discovered there is a little help page in the pause menu. Ooops. I still think the system could do with improvement (especially with assigning settlers to different tasks) but my criticism has wavered now I realize the answer, or at least something of an answer, was staring me in the face this whole time.