A Light In the Darkness

Happy Eclipse Day, everyone.  Just remember, this afternoon’s darkness is only temporary; the political and social climate of the country will remain darkened for (at least) the remainder of 45’s term.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I occasionally have trouble getting motivated to continue writing here.  Sometimes it’s just because I don’t have time; sometimes it’s because I don’t feel like I have anything important to say; most of the time it’s because I’m well aware that there are far more important things to be paying attention to than whatever I might write, especially since what I write here is about rather trivial stuff.  That being said, sometimes I find that I need to concentrate on the trivial stuff, if only because it’s a necessary reprieve from the crushing Sisyphean despair that comes from constantly refreshing Twitter to see if the world is still falling apart.  And, also, my mom is back in the hospital for the third time this year and while she’s in much better spirits this time around, it’s still emotionally draining and stressful to be worried about her, especially since there’s not much I can do beyond visiting.

So, then, allow me to indulge in some nonsense.

1. My glasses finally arrived!  A week and a half after they were supposed to arrive, but still!  New specs!  That’s the old look on the left, and the new look on the right.  (Yes, I’m wearing the same shirt.)  Similar-ish style, to be sure, but the new prescription is finally up-to-date and features lenses that are both progressive and transition[al].  I’m still getting used to them, but they’re already making a big difference.

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2.  Yes, I pre-ordered the super-special Project Scorpio edition of Xbox One X.  Don’t judge me.  I think I’ve mentioned this before, but bear with me just in case I haven’t – ever since I went on my quest to break the 100K Achievement barrier late last year, I’ve more or less made the Xbox One my main console of choice, despite knowing that the PS4 is more powerful.  Yes, I’ve played the same games on both consoles; yes, I can see the difference.  Nevertheless, I like the Xbox One’s UI a lot more, and the Elite Controller is by far the best controller I’ve ever used, and since I knew I’d be getting this new Xbox anyway, I figured I’d be able to put up with some performance issues since they’d get patched down the road.  And I have, for the most part.  I don’t have a 4K TV, nor do I feel like I need one, but at least now I’ll be able to justify getting one in a year or two.

3.  I’ve rented and have played a few hours of Agents of Mayhem, the new Saints Row-adjacent 3rd person shooter from Volition, and I think I love the hell out of it?  It’s this weird hybrid that lies somewhere between a single-player Overwatch (in its multiple hero system), Crackdown (in its visual style, as well as its super-powerful characters who defy the laws of physics), and Saints Row (obviously).  But there’s also something…. I can’t find the right word for it, but I want to say that it feels sincere.  That’s a weird thing to feel for an over-the-top open world game where everything blows up all the time, but it’s also true – I get the sense from playing it that the developers were really excited to work on something new, even if Saints Row’s DNA is heavily embedded in it; instead of having to try and out-do the off-the-wall insanity of Saints Row 3 and 4, they just went in a completely different direction.  I don’t know if I’m going to finish it – my backlog is INSANE at the moment and there’s some new stuff arriving shortly that I’m eager to try out, but for the time being it’s a very pleasant diversion.

4.  Regarding that backlog – yeah, it’s rough.  To wit:

  • Sonic Mania (looks and feels so much like the original Genesis games that it’s almost scary)
  • Tacoma (I’ve only played the first 30 minutes, but I’m always down for a Gone Home-in-space thing)
  • Observer (bought this because of some very intriguing word-of-mouth recommendations; I’ve only played the first 30 minutes or so but I’m still very much intrigued)
  • Undertale (Vita)
  • Hellblade
  • Pyre
  • Superhot VR (need to get back to this now that there’s been a few patches; when I first tried it my hands were glitching out all over the place and the game was near-unplayable)
  • a replay of the new and improved No Man’s Sky (I don’t know how much time I’m going to sink into this but I’ve already visited a few planets in a brand-new playthrough and it might as well be a completely new game – if you bought this and gave up on it when it first came out, I’d suggest giving it a look now)
  • Vostok Inc. (I am, as noted, a weird sucker for idle clickers – this is an idle clicker hidden within a twin-stick shooter, which is a pretty interesting hybrid)
  • a replay of Headlander (strictly for Xbox ‘cheevos)
  • Halo Wars 2 (why did I even bother getting this in the first place, I’m allergic to RTS games)
  • FF15 and FF12 

Plus:  this week sees the release of the Uncharted thing, and then there’s also the Horizon Zero Dawn DLC shortly thereafter.

5.  At some point I’m going to write a thing about my fascination with / addiction to the idle clicker genre.  But I did want to at least mention that I have “finished” Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire, in that I’ve gotten every driver up to their maximum level and now there’s nothing else left to do.

 

friday lists: distraction edition

Games I Should Be Playing, Apparently, According to Twitter:

  1. Undertale, which is somehow already old news thanks to
  2. Stardew Valley.

To be fair to both of these games, it’s not their fault.  It’s mine.  I have a PC that’s barely holding itself together, and I’m also missing the part of my childhood that has any nostalgia for retro graphics and/or Harvest Moon.*   (This is also why I’m finding myself somewhat immune to the charms of the (currently free for PS+ members) Broforce.)

Games I’m Playing, Not Quite Begrudgingly, But Mostly Just Because They’re There:

  1. Far Cry Primal.  It’s not bad!  And while it’s more or less the same game as the last two, I find that I do prefer the emphasis on stealth.  And certainly ever since Elder Scrolls: Oblivion I’ve always found myself in open-world RPGs gathering plants obsessively, and it’s nice to finally have a real, legitimately important use of them.  Do I care about what I’m doing?  No, but that’s never really stopped me before, as far as Far Cry games go.  Will I finish the game?  Probably not, since The Division is coming next week.
  2. Train Conductor World, which just hit iOS this week and is the third (and best) iteration of the Train Conductor formula.  Also, I’ve been using it as a negotiating ploy with my son; if he stays in bed, he gets to play it on my iPad in the morning.  (He is obsessed with trains.)  (He is also getting somewhat better about staying in bed.)

Books I’m Currently Reading:

  1. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra, which has been on my to-do list for a while.  The problem is, I’m not really in the mood for it right now; I do want to get to it, but I’m finding myself unwilling to stay with it.  So I’m putting it aside for the moment and instead I’m reading
  2. Songs of a Dead Dreamer / Grimscribe, by Thomas Ligotti, which is ABSOLUTELY my speed right now.  Why is my current speed that of super-creepy dread that gets under my skin and stays there all day?  I don’t know, but it’s what’s happening.  I’d previously read Ligotti’s Teatro Grottesco, which was similarly creepy and dreadful; I’m still in the beginning of this collection but I’m ready to say that it’s far superior already, for whatever that’s worth.

Things I’m Currently In Denial About:

  1. that there’s $11 in my checking account
  2. the Republican party
  3. that I’ve had Cookie Clicker running in my browser for two weeks
  4. that I’m still no closer to getting my album done, even though I’m taking off a week from work in early April with the specific purpose of finally finishing this goddamned thing
  5. the impending NJ Transit strike

(Normally I’m very much pro-union, and I hate Chris Christie with the fire of a thousand suns, and if Christie is the sort of shitbag who’s willing to fuck up the George Washington Bridge just out of spite, I have little to no faith that he’s going to be a reasonable negotiator at these talks.  That being said, have you ridden NJ Transit lately?  It’s a fucking joke.  The morning train has been overcrowded and inexplicably late all week this week, and Penn Station during the evening rush is the living embodiment of a panic attack, and I only wish it were possible for me to work from home.  It is literally impossible for me to work from home.)

 


* I know I’ve said this before, but if you’re just joining us for the first time, I went from the Atari 2600 to my younger brother’s Sega Genesis, and then only had cursory knowledge of the PS1, and my first console that I bought with my own money was the Dreamcast.  Actually, that’s not even true; the Dreamcast was a birthday gift from an ex-girlfriend.

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