After seeing some of the information coming out of E3, I really want to get my Wii U gamepad fixed.  Last I looked online, it was going to cost something like $100 to have it repaired.  Which is insane.  That’s a little less than half the cost of the entire system.  Ugh.  It’s been in ruins since before Christmas, when I lived in my apartment.  Our in-all-other-ways awesome dog Noli chewed the dickens out of it when I was out.  She also tore my Lord of the Rings Extended Edition bluray set to shreds. 

 

I was very angry.

 

Luckily, I had already purchased a Pro Controller, so I can still play most of my games.  Can’t co-op Hyrule Warriors, which is a bummer.  I just haven’t had the money to get the bloody thing fixed.

 

I didn’t buy anything during the Steam Summer Sale, either.  Nothing really appealed to me.  I’m waiting for a good GTA V sale, but that one stubbornly refuses a price slash.  Far Cry 4 hasn’t been discounted to my target price, either.  Everything else, I either already own or don’t want.  I still have a load of games to get through on both PC and Wii U. 

 

E3 had some exciting announcements.  No Man’s Sky is looking pretty incredible.  When I first heard about it on the Crate and Crowbar podcast, I thought it was going to have some pretty retro graphics.  Or maybe some kind of Minecrafty, super stylized graphics.  I finally saw some videos of the game, and it looks totally beautiful.  I’m interested to see how the developers approach the problem of players using obscenities to name new discoveries.  I mean, it’s a cool idea to let players be the ones to discover and identify new planets and creatures, but we all know how mature gamers are.  Which is to say, not mature at all.  I really want to play the game, I’m just not thrilled to land on Cockshitpussycron IV.

 

I saw the trailer for the FFVII remake.  Color me interested, but wary.  Square Enix has kind of stumbled of late, and I can easily see them cutting out a lot of the fun weirdness and minigames from the remake.  And DLCing the heck out of it.  I wouldn’t put it past them to turn the entirety of the Golden Saucer into a $9.99 DLC pack.  Furthermore, according to an interview, the gameplay will be updated to be more modern.  I dunno, I really liked the ATB system that FFVII had.  And materia is super fun to play with.  Even still, us supernerds have been clamoring for an HD remake of FFVII for years, so it’s nice to finally get one.

 

One the Nintendo front, Splatoon looks super fun, like all Nintendo games.  Star Fox is a no-question purchase.  And yet another reason to get my gamepad repaired.  I love Hyrule Warriors, so I’ll for sure get it when it releases on 3DS.  I hope it has some kind of neat cross-platform play.  I saw that a Metroid game is also coming to the 3DS, and that a bunch of people are super salty about it.  They’re so angry, that they’ve started a petition to cancel it.  In their defense, it does look kind of crappy, and definitely not like the Metroid games I remember.  Still, petitions to cancel a major release never work.

 

Earthbound Beginning is on the VC now!  We’ll buy that and cast the dickens out of it.  Earthbound and Mother 3 are the two best 16-bit RPGs I’ve played.  I actually think Earthbound is better than Chrono Trigger.  Which, I’m sure, is an opinion that will earn me few friends.  Playing the first game in the Earthbound/Mother series will be awesome.

 

Oh, and Ryu in Smash?!  I fricken love Nintendo.

 

I didn’t really pay much attention to the other announcements, other than Xbox One is going to be backwards compatible.  That might convince me to buy one, especially since our 360 doesn’t work, and Remedy’s next game, Quantum Break, is going to be Xbox One exclusive. 

 

On the PC side, Haley is really excited for Fallout 4. and I want the new XCOM, of course.  I’m surprised that it’s a PC exclusive, but I’d much rather that than something like PS4 exclusive.

 

I may have forgotten one or two, but those are pretty much my thoughts on the little I saw of E3 2015.   Looks like a pretty strong showing from Nintendo.  I’m a loyalist, though, and will always be excited by Nintendo stuff.

Currently reading: Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien
Currently watching: The Office Season 5
Currently feeling: good
Posted by Narzack on June 23, 2015 at 10:57 PM | Get some!

I wrote a letter to Stephen Baxter this morning.  He’s my favorite living author, and definitely in my top three of all time.  I wrote it because I’ve never written to an author before, despite wanting to for years.  It was really just laziness that kept me from doing it.  I’d wanted to write to Ray Bradbury and Terry Pratchett, too, but they passed.  I’ve found out that hard way that people don’t live forever, and if you want to thank them, now is the time.  I never got to tell my dad how much he meant to me before he died.  I never got to tell Ray Bradbury just how much he meant to Haley and me, and Terry died before I got off my butt to tell him how much I loved Discworld.

 

So, yeah.  I wrote to Stephen Baxter.  I told him how much his books influenced me, and how much I love them.  I told him about how my dad brought a couple of his books home one day, because he figured I’d like them.  Dad was always able to do that.  Somehow, despite not being a reader, he always knew if I’d like something.  He was the one who encouraged me to read The Hobbit, even though I’m pretty sure he’d never read it.  He just somehow knew.  I read that in 8th grade and never looked back.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that he was the one who got me into Frank Peretti when I was younger.   Dad was a pretty awesome guy.

 

I dunno, I just encourage you to make the effort to tell someone how much you appreciate them.  Even if it’s a guy in England writing nerd books for super nerds.

Currently listening to: Cheer screeching
Currently reading: Raft by Stephen Baxter
Currently feeling: nostalgic
Posted by Narzack on May 1, 2015 at 02:11 PM | Get some!

I posted a short piece on my writing journal.  I've always like 'Hub' settings.  A place where worlds join and travellers meet.  I'm sure my idea has already been done to death, but I wanted to get it down before time and distraction and plain ol' laziness killed it. 

For me, the idea of the Library is neat, because that means you can tell any kind of story and have it still fit in the same megaverse.  Kinda like Not One Zombie, it's an open-universe idea, so anyone can tell a story in it.  I dunno, I just really like the idea of shared-settings, even curated ones.

Click here to read The Library

Currently listening to: Mario Kart Rainbow Road
Currently reading: Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Currently watching: The Sopranos Season Two
Currently feeling: good
Posted by Narzack on March 10, 2015 at 12:56 PM | Get some!

Have you ever played an online game and realized that the whole time, you've thought yourself the good guy?  And every time someone kills you, they're either a bastard, evil, or somehow dastardly?

 

A few days ago,  I was playing Rising Storm as the Axis on some sort of urban map(I really need to learn map names).  As usual, I spent the first ten minutes running to catch up with my team, getting lost, and being subsequently torn to gory shreds. 

 

Finally, after some time, I managed to find another player in some sort of train station building.  He was on the second floor firing out of a window.  I made my up the stairs and peeked out a window beside him.  A couple rounds impacted on the wall beside me, so I ducked back and decided to cover his back. 

 

Now, the second floor was more of a balcony that ran around the inside of the building, with a large opening in the middle through which you could see the first floor.  I laid prone with my gun trained on the first floor.  Apparently, my ally was causing some havoc to the other team, because enemy soldiers kept rushing into the building, quickly falling to my gunfire. 

 

At one point, the return fire from outside grew too fierce, so he left the window as a few more enemies poured into the building.  He dropped down beside me and we dispatched the group. 

 

At this time, I knew that we had been marked, and there would be a push to clear us out of the point.  Naturally, my adrenaline spiked.  Palms sweaty, eyes wide, breath shallow.  The two of us lay on the floor, guns trained on the area below us, waiting. 

 

Suddenly, rounds began to explode and tear through the planks between us.  Someone directly below us was firing straight up, hoping to kill us.  As bullets ripped through, just beside my head, I threw a grenade downstairs, hoping to destroy our assailants.  It exploded and I saw a blood splash on the tile.  I crawled over to the stairs, to check if anyone was coming up. 

 

Once I got there, for some reason, I panicked, thinking I had no ammo left in my clip.  Hands shaking, I checked my clip, counting the remaining rounds.  As I did so, an enemy soldier stalked up the stairs, his pistol ready.  Frantically, I tried to shove the clip back in, but he lined up the shot and all I saw was black.

 

Initially, I was mad.  What an asshole!  Arrogant bastard, you just saunter up here, smug as you please, and kill me in one shot with a pistol!  What a stupid jerk!

 

Then, I realized something. In my mind, I was the good guy.  My story was the righteous one.  I was the one who was wronged.  But, looking at it a little more, I began to understand that he probably felt the same way.  Maybe I had killed him a few times already.  Maybe he'd seen his buddies die to our guns.  Either way, we were an entrenched enemy causing problems for his team.  We were the bad guys.  We were the enemy that had to be stopped.  Perhaps he was out of ammo, and his pistol was his last weapon.  Maybe he'd been the one to fire up at us, and his teammate was killed by my grenade.  Then, vengeful and bleeding himself, he'd climbed those stairs, and, vision clouded by blood, body beaten and burned, managed one heroic shot.  Finally killing those assholes who'd been murdering his buddies.

 

 I wonder what his narrative was.

 

 

Currently listening to: The Crate And Crowbar Episode 038
Posted by Narzack on April 22, 2014 at 06:21 PM | 1 Dropkicked

I got back into Rising Storm/Red Orchestra multiplayer in recent weeks, as Haley can attest to.  I’m still pretty rubbish at it, rarely able to do more than run forward for a minute and a half towards an objective, only to take a bullet to the temple as soon as I crest a hill.  Even still, it’s pretty fun. One interesting side effect of being slaughtered over and over is how much it makes me afraid of war.  Of course, as with any rational person, I’ve never wanted to actually see combat.  Video game and movie glorification aside, at no point past the age of seven have I wanted to be in a war.

 

But, I’ll tell you.  Red Orchestra/Rising Storm stresses me out and scares me so much that it has crushed any childhood dreams of infantry heroism.

 

One night, I was playing on a map- I don’t remember which it was, some snowy forest outside of a bombed-out village- and, for the first time that I can remember, I felt scared during a multiplayer map. 

 

I was prone on the side of a small rise, trying to decide what to do.  I could hear the zip and snap of bullet whipping over my head, as innumerable German troops peppered the forest with gunfire.  I looked to my right to see one of my comrades dash forward in a low crouch.  As soon as he crested the slight hill I was on, he jerked and cried out and a red cloud replaced his head.  His body crumbled and tumbled past me.  Immediately after, a fresh salvo of automatic fire passed overhead, blurring my vision and filling my ears with a terrible rushing sound.  I pushed backwards from the hill, suddenly terrified.  In that moment, I felt real fear. No way was I going to climb over that hill and return fire.  I was too scared to even hurl a grenade.  I was a coward, afraid to die after seeing one of my mates fall so easily.

 

Then came the shelling.  Sudden explosions tearing up the hillside, shredding trees to splinters.  I had nowhere to hide, so I just cowered, stomach churning as explosive death rained down around me.  It was just like a movie, I looked around and saw other friendly soldiers hunkered down as the bombs fell, exploding in a gory mess.  Just unlucky, I supposed.

 

Eventually, the shelling tapered off and I crept forward peering through the smoke to try to see any Germans.  A quick snap was all I heard as an unseen sniper spotted me and put an end to my misery.

 

Later, I was holed up in a shelled building on the outskirts of the forest.  The Germans had pushed us out of the trees and were assaulting our rally points pretty heavily.  I’d pop out of a window, fire a few panicked shots in their direction and duck back, return fire tearing at the windowsill and walls.  They started to enter the building, so I retreated(ran at top speed is more like it) outside.  I put a few buildings between us and stopped to catch my breath.  Then, the shelling resumed.  I dropped to a prone position, hugging the wall since the building I was beside had no entrances.  A few terrified minutes later, the shelling had slowed enough that I moved forward to try to find any friendlies.  A few stray explosions rocked the street and I spotted two friendly contacts across the thoroughfare.  I immediately began to move toward them, as gunfire had resumed.  My plan was to join up with them.  I was just about to cross the street when one last shell landed.  Even as far away as I was, some ten yards, a few body parts landed at my feet.  I was stunned.

 

And then a German shot me in the nuts and I died.

Currently listening to: Azure Crime (Network Nightmare) - MPH
Currently feeling: amused
Posted by Narzack on April 17, 2014 at 06:34 PM | Get some!

Holy crap, I've been here for over ten years.  Tabulas 4 Lyfe.

Currently listening to: Tokyo Rose - Raiders of the Night
Currently reading: The Winds of Fate by Emery Huang
Currently feeling: amazed
Posted by Narzack on March 4, 2014 at 05:31 PM | Get some!

Strategy-style games are not my strength.  I’ve no APM, I can’t tell you the difference between micro and macro, I’ve never beaten a human opponent, heck, I even get stomped by the computer in Starcraft 1.  But, for some reason, I’ve been getting into them lately.  Civ, XCOM, Tropico, Rome, and Age of Empires II HD.

 

Last night, I played AoE with my friend Emery.  The two of us teamed up against four AI opponents on a random map.  We set the difficulty a level higher than I play, which is to say from Standard to Moderate.  Emery has played a lot of AoE and is very good at the game, more than tripling my score the last two times we played, so I entered the game with confidence.

 

 

My starting point as Korea was at the 9 o’clock position, with Emery as China at the 11 o’clock. 

 

“Haha, good allies!” He told me.

 

I started with a few peasants, a town center, and a scout who I immediately sent south to explore the surrounding area.  The ground was covered in snow, with a small gold vein to the east and a forest southeast and northeast. 

 

A few of my villagers built a lumber camp and began to gather wood.  Another built a mill near wild berry bushes.  Food gathering, underway, I began to build houses to support my soon-to-be growing population.  Before long, farms were being built and maintained, gold mined, trees felled, and additional buildings constructed.

 

Usually, on the default difficulty, I can wait until the second age to build a barracks and train up some militiamen.  I knew that this time I would be facing a more formidable group of opponents, so I created my barracks early and trained about four militia men.  I stationed them on the southern pass of my borders, where any assaulting force would be funneled by the trees.  The eastern pass was bounded, so I thought, by ice and water, so I left that undefended.

 

It was a good thing that I had some fighters early, because I found out that the Teutons were neighboring me.  Warmongering bastard that he was, he sent early skirmishers at me.  They bypassed my outpost and entered by lands by the east, traversing the ice river.  They caused some havoc with my civilians before I was able to eliminate the threat. 

 

After this, I began to build a wall.  I wasn't able to completely wall off the border before a force of Teutons and Mongols slipped through and began to harass and attack my supply lines.  Frantically, I trained up as many soldiers as I could to slay them.  My stalwart defenders were able to drive off the aggressors.

 

Then, the attacks ramped up.  I was soon in a constant battle against an overwhelming tide of martial aggression.  As I tried desperately to finish the wall, Mongols and Teutons constantly streamed through, slaughtering my workers and clashing with my meager military.  Soon, the border became a charnel house, where workers feared to be sent, and where the soldiers fought without quarter in a brutal melee for survival.  For they knew that should the border fall, the Mongol and Teuton hordes would butcher every living thing in their homeland.  And so they fought, grim-faced and hard.

 

For decades, the unfinished wall only slowed down the attackers.  Armies clashed, swords met, and blood soaked the ground.  Then, finally the battering rams and catapults rolled in.  Morale faltered, and I pulled back.  I ordered my workers to begin building guard towers with interlocking fields of fire to push back the first wave of assault. 

 

Before long, the wall crumbled and the bloodthirsty hordes streamed in like a river.  The guard towers held true as long as they could, but it only stemmed the tide.  The enemy poured into my farms and homes, killing as they pleased. 

 

My people mounted a final desperate push, soldiers and civilians alike and were at great cost able to repel the invaders.  Battle-weary, and knowing that the enemy would return, I ordered the civilians to flee north to China.  My broken, tiny army would remain to hold the city.  Knowing their deaths would be unsung, the brave fighters bid farewell to their comrades. 

 

The remaining civilians made their way north, pledging to remember the sacrifice.

 

The decades that followed were years of savage guerilla warfare.  The Teutons and Mongols tried to ransack and pillage my town center, and my bleak-faced cavalry repeatedly smashed them.  Time and again, the horde would attack, and my defenders would crash into their flanks and rear, wreak havoc, and fall back.

 

Each friendly death was a heart-wrenching tragedy.  Each enemy death was an uncelebrated act of vengeance. 

 

 

Finally, after years of losses, only a few men remained.  A final, massive invasion army marched in from the south.  Knowing this was their last moment, they rode forth to meet the enemy, woefully outnumbered.  They roared their challenge and charged.

 

As they neared their end, a glint of gold appeared on the horizon.  A thousand thundering hooves shook the earth.  A multitude of voices screamed their battle-cry.

 

China had come.

 

The tide turned.  Victory was won that day.

 

Currently reading: The Winds of Fate by Emery Huang
Currently watching: The Wire Season Five
Currently feeling: working
Posted by Narzack on March 1, 2014 at 07:12 PM | Get some!

There are some games that I really like, but totally suck at.  For instance, I think Red Orchestra 2/ Rising Storm is great, yet I regularly get torn to pieces playing it.  Another is XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

 

I’ve never played the old XCOM games, so I can’t compare EU to the classic offers; all I know is that it’s terribly fun.  Never before had I played a turn-based tactical game, apart from a Warhammer 40K: Chaos Gate demo that game with a PC Gamer disc years ago.  Come to think of it, though, I played that thing a few times, thought it was great.  Maybe I’ve been missing out on an entire genre all these years?  Whoa.

 

Anyway, after I got home from my gig last night, I decided to play some XCOM.  I loaded up my last save game, and I found myself with my squad facing off against the alien menace at a gas station. Immediately, I positioned my sniper, a veteran of a number of skirmishes, behind a pillar for full coverage.  I put my only rookie behind a car, with my support beside him.  I positioned my heavy behind another car and swung my assault soldier, the grizzled Avery Crane, herself my oldest surviving soldier over to a flank on the left. 

 

The battle actually proceeded well.  Avery was suppressed for a time, forcing me to pull her back, but my sniper, Hart, was able to easily wipe out the aggressor.  My heavy, Frank, tore a few aliens to pieces with a well placed rocket.  Macree, my support however was gravely wounded, when a muton in a raised position managed to destroy Macree’s cover and deliver a nearly fatal blow.  Luckily, I was able to eliminate the threat before he bled out and get him to safety.  My secondary heavy, Long, received a promotion due to performance, though Macree and Avery were both heavily wounded.  They would both be out of the duty pool for some time.

 

However, due to the successful completion of the mission, India’s panic was reduced by 3.  Well worth it, especially considering that I lost no soldiers.

 

Some time passed and an alien abduction was reported, so I assembled a squad of available troops, including a rookie, a veteran of only a single battle, and two snipers, to assault an alien craft. 

 

We landed in a wooded area and moved towards the UFO.  There was no full cover, so I put my snipers on the wings and slowly moved my troops behind rocks and trees, setting them in overwatch. 

 

Contact.

 

A group of mutons and a cyberdisc poured out of the craft.  Hart fired on the cyberdisc, and it retreated.  Frank suppressed a muton, and my other sniper, Parr, managed to kill the second muton with help from my support.  That left the one muton left.  I ordered the rookie, who carried the stun weapon forward and incapacitated the alien.  He was then pulled back. 

 

Instantly, the cyberdisc returned with more mutons, a muton elite, and drones.  The cyberdisc felled Parr immediately.  The rookie panicked, and fired wildly, which caused my other soldiers, apart from Hart to panic as well.  In the ensuing fracas I lost three soldiers before I was able to neutralize the aliens.  Having no choice but to push forward, I entered the UFO with Hart, Long, and Frank.  The team survived three further assaults, narrowly evading death each time. 

 

Finally, I made it to the center of the craft.  I positioned Hart in the rear, overwatching.  I had Long and Frank on each side of a door.  Frank activated it, opening the force-field barrier.  Without warning, a new alien sent a psychic blast at Frank, killing him instantly.  The alien’s comrade then mind controlled Long. 

 

Hart hunkered down for a bit, hoping the mind control would wear off.  No luck.  With regret, knowing it would haunt her for the rest of her life, I ordered Hart to put down Long.  Grim-faced, Hart peered down the sight of her laser rife, and squeezed the trigger.  Long dropped immediately, mercifully. 

 

One of the aliens moved out of the adjoining room and entered the main area.  Hart, raging, fired a wild round that went barely wide.  With a volcanic fury, she vengefully resighted the alien and drilled the alien’s skull, and it collapsed in a broken heap. 

 

One left.

 

Hart crouched down behind cover, reloading.  The last alien swept out.  Merciless, the bloodthirsty creature sent a mind blast at my last soldier.  Already weary and hurting from the extended firefights and the trauma of seeing friends die, and in one case, at her own hand, she could not survive the assault.  Bloodied and broken, her body fell to the ground, her last gasp being one of defiance. 

 

The dropship returned to base empty. 

 

What a great game.

 

 

 

Currently reading: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
Currently watching: The Office- Season 2
Currently feeling: cold
Posted by Narzack on January 23, 2014 at 01:54 PM | Get some!

I have three great passions in life: books and writing, video games, and filmmaking.  I’ve talked about the first two quite a bit already.  But, I’ve neglected to really gush about the third.  Video games and especially books are what make me happy.  But, filmmaking is definitely what I was built to do.  I love nothing more.  My happiest moments have been on-set, whether it was during film school working on truly awful shorts or all the ultra, sub-microbudget films I’ve made with Devo and later, Haley.  I love it.  Nothing makes me happier or thrills me more. 

 

Last night, we had our very first pre-production meeting for the latest Not One Zombie film, Alms and Ohms.  It’s sort of an epilogue to The Boys, our flagship Not One Zombie piece.  And let me tell you, I am so incredibly pumped.  I’ve written and sent out something like ten emails today alone, just organizing and building up for it.  We’re not even shooting until January, and I can barely contain my excitement.  We’re building up a bigger and bigger crew (We have a producer and AD this time) and even constructing sets for this one.  Ever production we do becomes more and more professional.  It’s incredible.  I love it so much.  I love thinking about it, I love planning for it, I love doing all the stupid annoying work for it.  I like just talking about making movies.  It’s the biggest thrill.  Without a doubt, filmmaking is what I was made to do.  Even super-low budget stuff like this.  I’m so excited that I want this to be our first submission to a film festival.  I am just so very, very stoked for this.

 

In the meantime, check out the other videos we’ve done:  http://www.youtube.com/notonezombie

 

Currently feeling: giddy
Posted by Narzack on September 26, 2013 at 03:45 PM | Get some!
« · »