And now it’s official. Effective April 7th, I’ll be starting out on Level I of the Rapidfire Improv Workshop – apparently situated in the same bloody building I spent 7 months of work experience in, slaving away on an unpublished animated short without pay and without sunlight. It’s not a big building either – it’s some random cranny wedged between big two restaurants. The bottom floor is a bike shop, and there are two apartments over it. I’ve already been in one; now I get to be in the other. Considering the hundreds upon hundreds of buildings in that area, what are the odds I’d get sent back to that one? At least I know how to deal with the parking situation this time.
Oh, yes – and before going any further, I should perform some free publicity for my friend Frederik (the kindly chap who’s writing the music on my game.) He plays guitar in the rock band Ikaros and you can hear and download two of their tracks here on their MySpace profile. Really great stuff in my musical opinion.
Carrying on, I…. ummm… yeah. Guess there’s not much else to report on. Visited the mom, watched a couple movies, met with Uncle Norm and Bobert, ate at a couple Chinese restaurants, made stir-fry, watched Dollhouse and Simpsons, finished all the character modeling in my game, wrote a walkthrough for VSB, and finished playing “The Last Express.” Actually, that’s a lot to report on, but there’s not much else to say on that stuff at the moment. Hey, look – the weather’s getting better!
I recently learned that Skittles doesn’t claw at my feet when I rub his belly, so he’s no longer a dick. Give a big hand to Skittles! He’s trying, God bless him!
March 30 2009 | Daily Life | No Comments »
If there’s one thing I don’t ever think I’ll get tired of hearing, it’s “so how is your new place?” from relatives. Relatives who ask that exact same question every time I see them. And if it’s not relatives, it’s my parents’ friends. Basically, anybody in the 45+ age bracket.
I really don’t know what kind of answer they’re looking for anymore. “It’s fine?” “It’s going fantastic; we just got a pool!” “It’s great; I just found a portal to Narnia behind my toilet!” Heck, I live at the bottom of the city, half an hour from anybody I know and anything remotely fun. From that description alone, wouldn’t the most likely response be… “Sad, alone, and depressing?”
Of course if I said that, they’d just tell me “I need to get out more,” which is the second-most thing I’ll never get tired of hearing – and first-most thing I’m likely to snap and kill someone over.
I don’t think many older generations can relate to anything outside the practical when it comes to younger generations. I remember trying to explain to my grandmother what I do with my spare time, and she just sort of did that cross-eyed thing she does – followed by suggesting I take a cooking class or join the priesthood.
Last Friday, Brittany and I sat our friend Sandy down in front of Dragonball Z movies and video games and spent all night converting her to our fandom – I really wouldn’t know how to begin describing that to my grandmother. It doesn’t even look right in writing; you’d have to have been there. It was pretty freakin’ sweet.
I suppose it’s a two-way street – I know zilch about my own relative’s lives, but even I know there’s not much to learn simply by asking them “how is this” and “how is that?” What does that mean anyway? “How” refers to the means by which something occurs. Logically, the correct answer to “how is your new place” is “the city commissioned a bunch of construction workers to build it from wood, metal, and various materials.”
Why not ask less vague questions? I can give more detailed answers if someone inquires about my specific activities on Tuesday night. I watched Reaper, then celebrated St. Patty’s day by getting drunk, harassing friends on Facebook, and photoshopping somebody pouring caramel into a Caramilk bar. See? Now THAT’S bound to get a conversation going!
Unfortunately, whenever I try it on an old person myself, they either don’t remember and shrug, or give me some weird look, thus sucking all the fun out of me trying to be social. But at least I have a better appreciation for all the people who do tolerate me. Next time, I think I’ll catch someone off-guard by telling them my new place wants to know how they are.
Also… I’ve been living in my new place for three years. How much longer until it stops being new?
Some Cool Links I Found This Morning:
12 Famous Video Game Characters with Undiagnosed Mental Disorders
Cops help design the Patrol Car of the Future
March 23 2009 | Daily Life | 7 Comments »
Well, here we are. Week three of quitting my addiction to movie sites. It doesn’t sound like a hard thing to quit in theory, but when so much of my on-line social interaction revolves around arguing with people like pSyCh0mAn32 over why Adam West is the only good Batman, the loneliness tends to creep up on me after a while.
It’s funny how easily one can mistake the entire internet sub-culture of geeks as the voice of the people. Outside the internet, no one really seems concerned over who’ll play the next Thor or whether Watchmen followed the book. Nope – it’s all about Britney Spears reading the Bible and Paris Hilton with a cockatoo (or three.) No matter where you look, people still find unimportant things to complain about. But it’s unimportant things that seem to bring people together, so I guess it’s all good.
Movies I watched this Week:
||Race to Witch Mountain (2009)
Rating: It’s almost like they wrote it for Eddie Murphy, and then Dwayne Johnson showed up and beat the crap out of Eddie Murphy. Next thing you know, it was good.
The General Idea: Dwayne Johnson (I guess he’s too high and mighty to call himself “The Rock” anymore) plays a cab driver who gives a lift to a couple of kids who turn out to be aliens with special powers who are being hunted by both the military and an alien bounty hunter. Also, the Earth is in danger.
Pros: A lot of action stars can’t make the transition to family movies very well. Sure, we all had a good laugh when Arnie asked us who was our daddy and what does he do, and then we all have a good laugh again when he tried getting his son a Turtle-Man doll for Christmas, and… well – okay, it’s mostly Arnie who set the standard. Still, The Rock doesn’t do a half-bad job when it comes to breaking noses and dodging explosions. As for the movie itself, it walks like the line between being as serious as the first Witch Mountain, and as goofy as the second. This is the way a family action movie should be.
Cons: I really wanted to see the kids use their powers more. It’s fairly low-budget and there’s a couple of really bad FX shots. Otherwise, it’s good. Not a soup genie in sight.
Movies coming out this Weekend:
Knowing: Nicholas Cage grabs a flashlight, runs around in his jacket, and tries to save the bees.
I Love You, Man: This better not have penises in it.
Duplicity: Julia Roberts ruins a perfectly good Clive Owen movie.
March 20 2009 | Movies | 1 Comment »
Back in the old glory days of Sierra On-Line, the world was taken by storm with franchise after franchise of quest adventures: King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, Eco Quest, The Colonel’s Bequest, etc, etc. In 1989, one of their programmers, Corey Cole, helped his wife Lori-Ann get an adventure series off the ground as well. The at-the-time named “Hero’s Quest” (later changed to “Quest for Glory” thanks to copyright infringement and the legal system.)
What made the QFG series stick out from the other adventure games at the time was the inclusion of RPG elements and a battle system, as well being able to start the game as either a fighter, magic user, or thief. The story, characters, and puzzle solutions would change depending on your chosen profession.
The game also had a great sense of humor. To my knowledge, it was the first game to quote “Monty Python” on a regular basis. You’d always be answering the “Questions Three,” and trying to pass yourself off as Sir Robin the Not-So-Brave. In one game, you even had to fight the killer rabbit.
Throughout the series, you’d always be training, raising your stats, eating, staying at inns, meeting up with people, and solving quests. And what’s nice is that all the puzzle-solving made sense. There was no solution where you’d need to go through endless puzzles just so you could find a stick and use it to knock down a bird’s nest with a ring in it. Nope. You just picked up a rock and threw it at the bird. And after each game, you could save your hero and import him into the next.
It was pretty fun and well worth replaying, so I thought I’d share a review of each game, ranking each one in the series where it sits on my favorites.
Quest for Glory 1: So You Want To Be A Hero?
The General Idea: You start off as the Anonymous Hero (or whatever you name him – I called mine “Batman”) as he wanders into the Germanic village of Spielberg, looking for wrongs to right and a few bucks to be made. Eventually, you figure out that in order to become a hero, you need to find the missing Baronet, rescue the Baron’s daughter from the invading brigands, and defeat the evil ogress Baba Yaga (who lives in a chicken-legged hut.) The story’s very paper-thin, but good for beginners.
The Pros: The first game in the series is pretty fun. In spite of the day/night cycles, there’s almost no time limits or specific order you need to accomplish tasks. You can actually just spend days at a time smacking around goblins or playing wizard’s chess. A fighter would have no problem with this game, and a thief has plenty of houses to break into at night.
The Cons: Playing this game as a wizard is BRUTAL. You start off with low health, little strength, and limited magic. In order to get anywhere, I had to fight a goblin, steal his money, rest a few hours, then fight another goblin until I had enough cash to buy room and board. The rest of the time was spent saving up to buy more useful magic so I could actually get on with the game (also training with that magic so it wouldn’t keep backfiring on me.)
Wackiest Moment: Near the end, you get attacked by the Three Stooges and end up dropping a chandelier on them.
Quest for Glory 2: Trial By Fire
The General Idea: After Batman saves Spielburg, he rides off on a magic carpet with two cat-people to the land of Shapeir. There, you must save the Arabian city from Elemental demons, and journey off to the sister city of Raseir to restore it’s Sultan. On the way, however, you get hypnotized by the evil vizier Ad Avis to break into the Cave of Wonders and release an evil Genie. So then you have to save the world from that too.
The Pros: Much heavier on story, QFG2 adds an interesting twist to the gameplay when you find yourself working for the bad guy and doing the opposite of being a hero. All character classes are equally fun to play in this game, and if you’re a fighter, you can even unlock Paladin-mode and make your sword burst into blue flames. The ADGI version of the game includes a very kick-ass battle system where you can perform all kinds of crazy moves.
The Cons: Before taking off for Raseir, you need to spend 16 days training and chasing off Elementals. Unfortunately, there’s only four Elementals to defeat, and each one of them can be taken care of in 10 minutes or less, so then you have all day to – you guessed it – train some more, and two more days until the next Elemental shows up. I maxed out my stats early, so it got very boring walking around to see what else needed doing.
Wackiest Moment: Just as the caravan you’re traveling with gets attacked by an army of desert bandits, the game goes to an intermission, prompting you to get some popcorn. When you come back, the battle is already over and the hero is posing victoriously on a pile of his attackers.
Quest for Glory 3: Wages of War
The General Idea: After earning the title of “Prince of Shapeir,” Batman teams up with his Liontaur friend, Rakeesh, to go visit the African-based kingdom of Tarna, where there’s trouble a-brewin’. Demons are causing the cow-people and leopard people to go to war, so you have to stop them. That’s pretty much it. It’s a very short game.
The Pros: You get a talking monkey sidekick!
The Cons: The whole game seems rushed. For starters, most of the puzzles are fetch-quests. If you want anything (a dispel potion, a magic staff, a love bride) you need to run all over the country collecting things. The fighting system is clunkier than usual, there’s no adventurer’s guild, the thief doesn’t have any of the usual breaking-and-entering sidequests, and the best way to raise your stats is to sit and throw spears at things all days. There’s also this really annoying plot trap where if you don’t give food to a homeless guy at the beginning of the game, you’ll die at the end.
Wackiest Moment: Sometimes when you’re camping out on the Savannah, a talking aardvark will show up and start rambling about purple giraffes.
Quest for Glory 4: Shadows of Darkness
The General Idea: Ah, here we go. An excellent recovery from QFG3. This time, you’re magically whisked away to the Transylvanian land of Mordavia where, after escaping from the literal bowels of an evil cave, you find yourself fighting the forces of the undead to save a small town and it’s very ungrateful people. Eventually, you find out your old nemesis, Ad Avis, has been turned into a vampire by Katrina, the dark mistress. The two of them intend to use you to find the six missing Dark One rituals and unleash the forces of Hell on Mordavia.
The Pros: The whole game kicks ass. You’ve got vampires, werewolves, a mad scientist, wraiths, zombies, talking skulls, an incarnation of Cthulhu, and a naked ghost chick who lives in the lake and tries to drown you. And for the first time in the QFG series, you don’t receive a hero’s welcome by the townsfolk. You actually have to earn their respect throughout the game. The game itself has a fantastic creepy atmosphere. Arm hairs rise whenever you walk into a new area of the game just to find a freaky ghost screaming at you. And what about that little vampire girl with the glowing eyes? To top it off, the game is narrated by the guy who played Gimli.
The Cons: There’s still a lot of training to do, and more do-or-die time limits on the puzzles. Not much else past that, other than the game bugs. It’s one of the few games that actually gives you the feeling that you’re accomplishing something as the game progresses. I like it.
Wackiest Moment: It happens again and again, but watching the hero defeat a vampire bunny and then strike his victory pose as he lords over it’s tiny corpse never ceases to amuse me.
And I just noticed his pants changed color between games…
Quest for Glory 5: Dragon Fire
The General Idea: In the Greek Kingdom of Silmaria, the king has been murdered, and Batman has been summoned to compete in the Rites of Rulership for the throne. Batman meets up with a lot of familiar faces from the rest of the games and embarks on several Rites, including slaying the Hydra, venturing into Hades, and fighting the forces of Atlantis – all the while dodging assassination attempts. It leads up to an epic showdown against the Dragon of Doom, which ends the series quite nicely with Batman becoming the King of Silmaria.
The Pros: It was one of the first Sierra games to venture into 3D territory, making for a much improved battle system. Batman could also be customized with different armors, weapons, and funny hats. Aside from that, it’s pretty fun venturing into Greek mythology with the whole arsenal of skills I accumulated over the series (including a magical thermonuclear suicide attack.) All the classes get a fair share of side-quests, and the thief even gets to repeatedly break into a bank and read about his accomplishments on the notice board the next day. Oh, yeah! And there’s Toro the Minotaur, the funniest sidekick ever. Everybody loves Toro.
The Cons: For 3D, the technology was still new, so all the characters look shiny and deformed. Even the epic Dragon of Doom looks like a cookie-cutter monster you could kill with a slingshot. What really pissed me off were the bad guys who could spray fire on me, since I’d die in just two seconds from that. Then came all the technical bugs that needed patching. Blaaaah. Otherwise, good game.
Wackiest Moment: I like how even though my character can beat two written exams, he doesn’t get accepted into the Academy of Science until he can make a pizza.
In the end, the Quest for Glory series was probably one of Sierra’s best at the time, and maybe the only one that’s actually complete and doesn’t need any future sequels. I’m surprised the current copyright holders have never tried to revive the series since it’s very suitable for today’s WoW gamers. If you’re a fan of the old games, this one’s worth checking out.
March 18 2009 | Video Games | No Comments »