Where You Might Be Swept Off To

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Beginning a new adventure with your family is one of the greatest things about having one.

As I post about the various books, television, movies and other inputs I enjoy often the moments that bring me the most pleasure are those that involve the ones closest to me. Starting The Fellowship of the Ring with my eldest daughter is one of those moments.

We’ve all read The Hobbit together so continuing the story on with her in a world that I treasure immensly reminds me not only of the power of stories, but of the power of sharing them.

nine walkers

The Company of the Ring

An unexpected bonus has been seeing the world through her eyes, for the first time. So many questions I don’t even think about, and yet they are jumping off the page at her: why should the hobbits trust Strider? is Barliman Butterbur one of the good guys? who are the Black Riders?

And WHERE THE HECK is Gandalf? This one was really eye-opening; I didn’t see before how much you feel Frodo’s anxiety at the unexplained absence of the wizard.

This only made the Bridge of Khazad-dûm that much more heartbreaking. The Fellowship was not alone in shedding tears for their fallen friend that day.

But a new day is coming and we press on. We’ve since finished the book and are currently on our way to confront Saruman in The Two Towers.

More adventure to come!

I believe we began the book on May 19, 2017 and finished on June 8th. I didn’t take very good notes so I’m not sure if those are the right dates (especially the finishing date.) However I know they are close and I know we started The Two Towers the same night we finished part one of The Lord of the Rings.

 

 

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Cardboard LAN

LANs are great, be they video or board game.

The former is what took place on February 20-21 of last year (2015) and we had a fantastic time – games played:

  • Pandemic
  • On the Brink (Pandemic Expansion)
  • In the Lab (Pandemic Expansion) – first time played with either of these expansions, but I was glad I had someone else looking at the rule book. There was a lot more to keep track of
  • King of Tokyo
  • Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation – this game is always so good. Even when you lose, it’s always so close and goes back and forth so many times. Having said that I still wish I would have won!
  • Coup – we played eight games of this and I did really well, mostly because unlike The Resistance you can use the truth more to your advantage I think
  • Hanabi – first time playing this and really enjoyed it; the goal for us was to try to be perfect rather than just win
  • Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
  • Avalon

Textual Ruins – Drout on Reading Tolkien

Fantastic talk by Michael Drout at Carnegie Mellon University posted to YouTube in October of last year (2013).

You get phrases like “epistemic regime” – which he does explain – but you also get another reason to read Tolkien: textual ruins!

What? That doesn’t excite you? Check out the talk and you’ll see why it should!

This lecture deserves to be parsed out and thought over, in a longer post that basically says, “this is cool, and this was really cool! and Lord of the Rings! and that point was awesome!” but for now just watch it for yourself 😀

October Gaming Weekend ’14

The weekends come and go – we look forward to them all week, and they’re gone too soon.

Yet truly great weekends find a way to last longer, a way to stay with us more than the two and a half days they officially take up.

I point to Exhibit A – a recent weekend (10/10-11/14) – as my latest example of Continue reading →

E3 2008

Originally posted at GameSpot on July 21, 2008

In honor of my first new emblem in nearly three years (watching some of the E3 coverage live for one day), I thought I’d do something I’ve never done before – weigh in on the games at E3 that I’m excited about.

While this is something that everyone else is doing as well, it’s still fresh for me – so here we go in alphabetical order:

Crysis Warhead

Since I have chosen to by food instead of a new computer, I haven’t been able to play the first Crysis game; and I probably won’t get to this one anytime soon. Still, based on reviews and just how the game looks it’s one I definitely want to get to someday.

Empire: Total War

This is a no-brainer for me. The Total War series is an all-time favorite, and I’ve been hooked sinceShogun: Total War. Naval battles and guns – the series time-line keeps moving forward. Will it ever come to present-day I wonder? Whatever the answer, I’m happy in the past.

Fable 2

I enjoyed Fable: The Lost Chapters quite a bit – so a bigger, better version is always a good thing. There’s been a lot of talk about having your pet dog run around with you. I have nothing against owning a dog, but will it really be this amazing game play experience to have an animal with you all the time? Dog or not, I’m looking forward to fun game play and a good story from Fable 2.

Far Cry 2

Much like Half-Life, this is a highly rated FPS series that I just haven’t been able to play yet. Will I get around to Far Cry 2 before the inevitable third installment rolls around? Time will tell.

Flower

With all the explosions and gun shots going off around me in these other games, it will be nice to stroll around the grassy fields for a while. I see this game in the same vein as Flow; who knows when I’ll be able to play Playstation games, but I’ll look for this title when I can.

Halo Wars

It’s Halo. It’s war. It’s Halo Wars. I think that pretty much sums it up.

James Bond: Quantum of Solace

Just because I haven’t finished James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing doesn’t mean I can’t want another Bond game! While most of the games involving 007 have been misses, the hits (such as GoldenEye) have been big ones. Let’s hope Quantum is one of them.

Lord of the Rings: Conquest

What’s that? You’re taking the Star Wars Battlefront formula and putting it in the Lord of the Rings universe? I think I’m in some sort of dork heaven right now…seriously, this is easily one of the best games I’ve played – and it isn’t out yet! Yep, it’s that good – I can already tell.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames

Two words: tactical nukes. I may still get around to the first Merc game, but if I land on this game before so much the better.

Mirror’s Edge

Seems to be some buzz around this one; I do think it looks like an interesting concept but I wonder how truly “free” it is. Can you go anywhere, or is that just an illusion as you move along a linear path? And is that even a bad thing? With anything new, there’s always plenty of room to screw it up – but I’m going to look on the bright side and say this game will turn out just fine.

Prince of Persia

Played Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; still need to go through the last two-thirds of the modern trilogy. This game is supposed to be completely separate from these three games, so I’m interested to see what will be different. From what I’ve seen so far, it’s an acrobatic Prince looking to save his kingdom (and himself) from certain destruction…which doesn’t sound very different at all. It’s a good formula, however, so we’ll see what happens.

Pure

While I’ve had the privilege to play several fantastic racing games (Burnout 3Project Gotham Racing 2Rallisport Challenge, etc.), off-road games seem to have a less stellar track record. Pure looks to change all that, and the videos look amazing.

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix

The first Puzzle Questis great, and this is the next one. The first one is good, so this will be good. I think with iron-clad logic like that, it’s hard to argue.

Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood

There is no denying that Bioware puts out quality RPGs (A little game called Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, for example). I’m assuming the same type of quality will shine through in this game, and the unique idea of Sonic in a RPG on the DS looks very interesting. For those reasons, this one should be good.

Sonic Unleashed

And the Sonic love continues. Truth be told, I haven’t really played the big blue hedgehog since mySonic & Knucklesdays – but those were good days. I’m hoping this game will bring Sonic to prominence in 3-D, because I have yet to see a reason to make the transition.

Star Wars Clone Wars: Lightsaber Battles

At last, all the lightsaber battles I had using my old plastic bat during my childhood will finally pay off! Hopefully the moves you make will transfer to the screen smoothly; to have such a sweet concept fall short would be nothing less then the dark side at work.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

An original storyline coupled with amazing game play and graphics? (WARNING: Tired catch-phrase from the Star Wars Universe about to be used!) The force is strong with this one…

Street Fighter IV

I can remember wishing for a Sega Genesis, and the only game I wanted was Street Fighter II: Championship Edition. That wish was granted, and Street Fighter remains my favorite fighting franchise. I want this one to be good – I won’t get to it for a while, but for the good Street Fighter name I want it to do well.

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.K.

I’ve always been a little wary of flight sims on consoles; but they keep getting closer to the mark and this game could be the best yet. I wonder how this game will stack up against the Ace Combat series?

There it is, my take on what I’m looking forward to from E3 2008. This doesn’t cover everything, and who knows when I’ll actually be playing these games, but they all have great potential.

Potential for what? What else – potential to rock!

Post tenebras lux

Playing a “game” game / Deus Ex Invisible War

Originally posted at GameSpot on June 30, 2008

It’s hard for me to start a new game these days. With everything else going on in my life – not to mention other games I need to finish as it is – who has the time? However, being in a marriage means that you have a help mate, your other half – someone who can bring clarity to any stressful situation.

Enter my wife, and the conversation we had this past Saturday night ( June 28 ):

“I don’t know what to play.”

“Just pick something. . .but no Lord of the Rings”

(Laughs) “Okay, no Lord of the Rings. But what then?”

“Play a ‘game’ game.”

“What? What’s a ‘game’ game?”

“You know, one with a story – a ‘game’ game.”

“Alright. . .I have a few of those still to go. I’ll play Deus Ex: Invisible War.”

“Okay.”

And just like that, my indecision was confronted and conquered by the only woman I know who will actually sit down and watch me play something – as long as it’s good. Is that love or what?

So, here I am at the Invisible War. The original Deus Ex was one of the greatest games I’ve ever played, because it was unlike I had ever played before. The story, gameplay, and atmosphere were all first-rate.

This is my second attempt at getting into the game, and this time I’m going to stick with it. It’s set twenty years after the original, with the aptly named “Collapse” isolating world into pockets of have and have-nots when it comes to the most advanced technology.

JC Denton (my old character) seems to have disappeared along with his brother Paul, and the current WTO government portrays him as the man responsible for the current state of affairs. While this is true, I can tell some rhetoric is already ringing with that familiar conspiracy/propaganda feel…

Still, I find myself “siding” with the authorities so far in the game. I use that term loosely, because it seems as if you can play both sides of the fence without there being any penalties from the other. This suites me fine, because my goal is to see all the endings, not just one. That is something I liked about the original – you could save the game at one critical moment, and then simply re-load to see what would happen if you chose a different path.

I know some people look for high replay value in everything and see this as a defect, but I like the fact that I don’t have to go through the thing again just to see a different two-minute ending.

I might have a little more time to play tonight – heading down to Lower Seattle in search of “The Order,” the ying to the WTO’s yang. We’ll see what happens!

Post tenebras lux

Cerebrations of the past tense

Originally posted at GameSpot on November 19, 2007

(Or, recent thoughts I’ve been meaning to get in here but haven’t had the time.)

These are not in order of importance, just simply how they’ve come into my brain:

Able to see World in Conflict over at my brother-in-law’s house a few weeks ago – the game was just as amazing as the GameSpot review made it out to be. The first thing that struck me was the graphics – stunning. The detail of the terrain, weather effects, lighting, and the smoothness at which the game ran was fantastic. True, he has a state-of-the-art PC that can handle the heavy load – but even at a lower resolution things would have looked great. The level he showed me also had some fun game play, which kept things moving with good voice acting and high drama. All that being said, it was a treat to see what’s currently out there as far as high-quality RTS.

On that same PC, he booted up Medieval II: Total War for me as well. Shogun Total War is one of my all-time favorite games, and I eventually hope to own the entire Total War series. Until then, however, this small taste will have to tide me over. Simply put, I can’t wait. It’s worth noting, however, that this game (from what I could tell) was more of what I was used to playing Shogun, just beefed up and expanded. That’s not to take away from the game at all – in fact, I see it as a compliment. I hope to spend many future hours with Medieval II and the whole series.

A few memories of old Tom Clancy games. My brother-in-law had the gold edition of the first Rainbow Six – a title I used to own – with all his other games. I never could really get into that game. If I had to nail it down, it probably was because I wasn’t that good at it. All the planning, all the map points, all the trial and error – it just didn’t add up to a fun experience. It came down to me executing a well-laid plan – and then doing just as well without said plan and shooting anything that moved.

I had to take back Band of Brothers. I appreciate the need to be realistic, but having the characters swear at least once every sentence made me pop and game out and take it right back to the store. To be fair, the first sequence in the game drops you right in the middle of a battle, and there’s no doubt a heavy amount of loud swearing would be taking place in that situation. Also, to be fair, I’m a father now – and I can’t have that crap on in the background. It’s too bad – I was really looking forward to getting into that game for awhile.

Currently playing Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, and I’m stuck at the second battle against Gothmog. I know I’ll re-visit this thought when I finish the game, but it’s not really “fun” to play. I love the source material, but that’s what carries me through. On its own, I would have stopped playing a while ago. There are some perks that stick out, and I’m glad I’ve been able to see them: 1.) Fighting (or playing as) the Balrog was sweet. His animation is done extremely well; I really feel like he’s a powerful enemy when he steps up to the plate. 2.) A sense of “being there.” Oh, it doesn’t happen a lot in the game – but when the sunset hits the wall of Helm’s Deep just right, I feel like I’m in the movie. 3.) Since the characters are the same models used in The Two Towers and Return of the King, I feel like I’m playing with weather-worn friends when they show up. I played as those characters for hours on the other games, so there’s a “welcome back” feeling when they join my party for a battle in The Third Age.

Unfortunately, a strong feeling of being boxed in by the game, big differences in difficulty from one second to the next, and a weak story (with Tolkien’s literature as a backdrop? How could they have a weak story?!) crush any of these small joys from making it a fun game. Will I ever finish it? Yes. Will I ever play it again? No.

We had a couple over this past Friday and they brought the Wii. I’ve been able to play the Wii at several friends’ houses’ and I really enjoy the console. I mean, you’ve got to love a gaming system that makes bowling that fun. My wife and I were also able to introduce them to Halo, and that was a lot of fun as well. I love that moment when someone says, “Well, we better get going…what time is it…12:40!? Just one of the many reasons why I enjoy this form of entertainment.

Warmed up Fable: The Lost Chapters and Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty: Substance this past weekend. Not really playing, just looking around. I wandered around a little in Fable, and watched the cut scenes from MGS2. I don’t have the time to play these games through again at this point, but a little remembrance tour always makes me feel good.

Post tenebras lux