Playing Games – Man vs Wife

I had an idea. What if I convinced my wife, who doesn’t generally like games, to play games with me, or rather against me, and I documented each one in a blog series? So I posed the idea to her, and she was lukewarm on it, but over time as I mentioned it now and then she began to like it more.

But what would we call it?

Man vs WifeOh, she didn’t like the name much. But it had actually been the jumping off point for the whole idea for me. I’d seen those shows, Man vs Food and Man vs Wild and the rest, and I thought to myself, “What happens when you take a man who loves gaming and he marries a woman could take it or leave it? Man vs Wife!” And it works for me, as both a play on those reality TV shows and as a play on the ends of wedding vows when the officiant pronounces the couple “man and wife”.

And so it begins. We’ve played one game already and I’m working on writing it up (we actually video tape the session so I don’t have to take notes), and we have a pile of board games and video games. Hopefully I’ll have the first one up within a week. After that I make no promise as to a schedule.

Anyway, that’s it. Just a minor announcement of future content.

Infinite Leveling

Here begins a series of posts, when I remember to do them, in which I will discuss the elements that would make up the perfect MMO for me.

One of the things I hate most in games is levels that “matter”.  And by that I mean content that is gated or trivialized based entirely on level.  However, I do understand the desire to have a constantly rising metric by which players can compare themselves or show some aspect of their selves to others.

In my perfect MMO, there would be levels and there would be experience gained through killing, questing, crafting and any number of other things.  These levels would be entirely a measure of effort.  If you kill 8,000,000 rats earning 10 exp per rat, your level will be higher than someone who has killed only 1 ogre for 1,000 exp.  However, if the two of you were to face off in combat, how you played, what abilities you used and other factors would determine the outcome, not level.

Level would simply be… well… experience.  A beginner would be just that a “Beginner”.  As that person played the game and did things they would become a “Novice” or “Neophyte” and progress up through different titles until they eventually reached something like “Extraordinarily Experienced Grand Master” or some such.  This title could be modified by sub-levels determined by the means which you obtained your experience.  If you did so through a majority of exploration you might be “Worldly Grand Master”, or if you did so by crafting you might be a “Grand Master of Labors”.

Looking at a person’s “level” (which would not be expressed by a number, at least not a single number) would actually tell you a bit of the story of their lives.  And that is why such a system appeals to me.  It also appeals because unless you plan so poorly that you exhaust the entire English language by allowing people to gain ten or twenty levels per session, you could literally have infinite leveling.  All you need is another tier of words, and a formula to calculate how to gain that next tier.

Movie Round-Up: November 19th, 2010

Harry Potter and the Next Three Days, Part 1Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1: (official site)

The entire world is going to see this movie over the next couple of weeks.  Except maybe me.  The movies have been good in this series, and I enjoyed the books.  But the final book was definitely the weakest in the entire run for me.  They had an opportunity to cut all the lame boring parts and shoot a tight two and half hour action packed film… their decision to break the book into two movies leads me to believe that all the boring, stomping around in the woods parts remain.  So I’ve lost a bunch of my desire to shell out the big bucks to see this on the big screen.  Even more so since I have to wait eight months to see the other half of this film.  I could be wrong.  This could wind up being a great film, but I’m willing to wait and see before I see it.

The Next Three Days: (official site)

This is the story of a man and his wife.  She is accused of murder and goes to prison.  He doesn’t believe she is guilty and decides to break her out.  Beyond that I know nothing of this film.  I had a chance to go to a screening for it, but ended up unable to attend.  I will say that I think this looks to be very good and I really want to go see it.  Especially with Russel Crowe and Elizabeth Banks playing the leads because I have really enjoyed a lot of both of their work.

Dead Rising 2 – Case: 0

Dead Rising 2 drops next week and I’m really looking forward to it.  Three weeks or so ago, the Xbox 360 got a nice little exclusive prequel called Case 0.  If you are familiar with the original Dead Rising, you’ll remember that the story unfolds as a series of cases, unlocking each successive chapter as you complete the one you are in.  This tightly made bonus for the 360 seems to fit in nicely, giving the new hero, Chuck Greene, a path to Las Vegas, the setting of the upcoming DR2.

The one thing I enjoy most about the Dead Rising series is the stark contrast it has with the Left 4 Dead series.  L4D is clearly a high octane shooter.  Sure, you occasionally try to silently tiptoe past a witch, but most of the zombies in that world are charging at you at full speed.  Running is rarely an option, you have to fight to live.  The DR games, on the other hand, are populated with shamblers, zombies that shuffle their feet, walk, and sometimes even *gasp* walk fast!  Running is almost always an option.  This leads to Dead Rising playing more like an RPG, especially given its levels and character development.

Back to Case 0… I bought it last week and I’ve been fooling around in the little road block town of the game and it has me really excited to play the full blown DR2 when it releases, and at the same time it also doesn’t just feel like a teaser.  It feels like a complete game on its own, probably the best $5 I’ve ever spent in the marketplace.  And with the announcement of Case West coming to the 360 sometime after DR2’s launch, I imagine that’ll be a well spent $5 too.  If only all games in the Xbox Live Arcade could be this good.  Hell, if Capcom decided to just release a new mini game as good as Case 0 set in the Dead Rising universe every month, I’d be thrilled.

Anyway… if you liked the original Dead Rising and you still have a 360, I highly recommend Case 0.

Movie Round-Up: July 2nd, 2010

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse:


The Last Airbender:

M. Night Shyamalan without a twist.  Or rather, I should say without material he created himself.  Based on the cartoon series I’ve always meant to watch, I now want to see the movie first, if only because I’m sure that it will be good but it will be “less” than the cartoon.  By less I simply mean that it will have elements removed to fit the story into a movie length.  Somehow, despite it being around for years, I’ve managed to not learn anything about the story.  The effects and action look good in the trailer, and I’ll walk in with a blank slate.  This movie is on my radar and I plan to see it.

23 Hours

The fourth book in David Wellington’s vampire series, 23 Hours, continues the story of Laura Caxton and her pursuit of the blood drinking monsters.  This time, due to the events of the last book, Caxton is in prison and the world’s last vampire comes to play.

I’m a huge fan of Wellington’s work, read and loved them all.  So it is no surprise that I liked this one too.  After seeing so many books using vampires as romantic objects, it is nice to return to this world where they are more like sharks, mouths full of teeth, death on two legs.  Anyway, I hope I’m not spoiling too much when I say I’ll be eagerly awaiting book five.

Movie Round-Up: February 12th, 2010

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief:

I can’t be sure, but I think this will be the longest titled movie of the year.  In any event, I’m interested.  I’ve heard good things about the series of books, even been tempted a time or two to pick them up, and I still might.  And from the trailer, the effects look pretty cool.  However, having not read the books I doubt I’m going to catch this at full price.  If it gets great reviews then I might catch this at a half price early morning show or something.  But if it is good, and it does well, they can probably count me in for future installments.

Valentine’s Day:

A chick flick for a chick holiday.  So, yes, I’ll be going to see this.  Plus, I think every actor in Hollywood is in this movie.

The Wolfman:

I’ve heard some comments on Benicio Del Toro’s acting being a bit flat, but even though I’m still wanting to see this.  Hey, I love monsters.  Vampires (that don’t glitter in sunlight), werewolves, zombies, ghosts, etc.  I’ll see them all.  This movie intrigues me because it is more like the classic wolfman films than the newer werewolf movies we’ve seen in the past couple of decades.  If I can convince the wife to go, this movie will get my $10.

The Unnatural Inquirer

After slogging through The Host, I needed something lighter, more throwaway.  Luckily in my reading pile I had book 8 of the Nightside series by Simon R. Green, The Unnatural Inquirer.

When I tell people about these books the only way I’ve found to describe it is that they are like a book version of a film noir movie set in a city of demons and angels and magic and monsters.  It is pulp.  There is no heavy introspection or examination of the human condition.  John Taylor, the main character, fears no evil when he walks through the valley because he is the baddest mutha in the valley.  So to speak.

Anyway, this addition to the series is more of the same, which if you like them is a good thing, and if you don’t like them it isn’t.

Myst it by that much…

I’m a huge fan of the old Myst series of games.  Puzzles and story, no combat.  Awesome.

Back when I was heavier into GameTap, I finally got a chance to play Myst Online: Uru Live … for about two days because they were shutting it down.  Hence the title of this post…

Well, thanks to Massively I have discovered that it is coming back, again.  And it is free!

I’m definitely going to be checking it out.  I might even look into their Open Source project.

Movie Round-Up: October 23rd, 2009

Saw VI:

Another October, another Saw film.  I saw the first one and liked it.  I even saw the second.  I’ve yet to see the third, fourth, or fifth, so I clearly can’t see number six in the theater.  Also, I’m not a big fan of the uber-gore torture films.  The only interest I have in the Saw series at this point is the base plot and how they tie together.  I can get that from Wikipedia.


I didn’t get a chance to see a screening of this one, but it interests me in the same way that all movies about historical people do.  The cast looks great, and while I won’t be running off to see this at the theater, I’ll be eagerly awaiting the release on DVD so I can rent it.

Cirque du Freak – The Vampire’s Assistant:

Oh great… another vampire movie.  At least its not Twilight, which I finally saw and thought was awful.  But this movie has potential.  First, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, so you shouldn’t either.  The actors are all hamming it up pretty well, so you should join them as you romp through this tale together.  Its fun, maybe not worth full price, but probably worth a matinee or early bird showing.  I just hope that if the series continues it remains this light and fun.

Astro Boy:

The character has been around for over 50 years, and while I had seen the image now and then I have never read any of the manga or other comics or seen any of the TV shows or movies.  Going in to this film, all I knew was “Astro Boy is a robot.”  So the direction the movie took was quite startling to me.  Toby, the son of Dr. Tenma, is killed in a horrible accident, and the doctor, being a grieving robotics genius, builds himself a replacement son using the latest technology and the boy’s DNA.  Tenma quickly learns that this robot is not actually his son, and that having the boy-bot around is just a painful reminder of his loss.  The boy runs away, then is hunted, and eventually winds up on the surface below… oh, did I forget to mention they all lived in a floating utopia called Metro City?  Yeah, and the world below them is little more than where they dump their garbage, at least that’s what they think.  Astro finds new friends among the surface dwellers, but he won’t be safe for long as the President of Metro City is looking for the power source that is running the boy robot.  I thought the animation of this film was superb, and the voice acting was great, but really it is the story that knocks this movie out of the park.  I found myself at the edge of my seat, drawn in to this world and caring about Astro Boy.  Not since The Iron Giant have I cared so much about a robot, and while Astro Boy isn’t quite up to that level of greatness, it is great film.  Go see it.