Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Maybe It's the Candy

Only hours away from zero-hour, it's finally starting to feel like Halloween.

As a kid, I remember the lead-up to Halloween was often weeks of planning and covertly lighting off firecrackers. The firecracker part is self-explanatory, with the possible exception of bottle rockets -- single stage; three stage rockets are inferior -- that are akin to Silly Putty in the many different uses we came up with, which mostly revolved around firing them out of metal tubes.

But the planning...

That always seemed to me as "carefully considered" like some kind of complicated math problem. We'd consider the best route through the neighbourhood to take, cutting across lawns when needed, take into account what houses gave away full size chocolate bars last year, then timing it out because after a couple hours people took in their jack-o'-lanterns and turned off their lights. Planning the route was key!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"I Read it for the Articles"

Over at The Armchair Empire - Infinite we recently published an interview with Pamela Horton, a.k.a. Miss October 2012, who it turns out really is a fan and player of video games. She even has aspirations of getting into the industry on the development side (specifically, character design).

What I really enjoyed with this interview was the fact I did some actual research. Well, maybe more accurately, confirmed something with a source.

During the course of the interview, Ms. Horton mentioned she'd had a letter published in an old issue of Nintendo Power when she was twelve. Not that I was sceptical, but it's one of those things that could be said off the cuff (i.e. filler) in order to create an air of credibility.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some Recent Writing

I signed myself up for the annual NaNoWriMo novel writing contest/project for November, so I expect that all available words in my head will be used up for that cause. I'm planning to write a full-length story about Aloysius and Mitchell. I've done some thinking about these characters and I think something longer might actually work, rather than one-off blog posts. ("3rd One Down" and "Aloysius Recounts" if you're interested.)

So, I've been trying to keep my plate clear or at least manageable so I don't get too far behind in terms of game reviews and other articles for November. Here's a few of the more recent articles that have gone up on
There will no doubt be a bit of a lull on this blog. Like I said, all my words will go toward my novel.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Adventures With Diapers" (2000)

Wa-a-a-y back on January 16, 2000 another piece I wrote for the Vancouver Province appeared in the "You've Got Kids!" section of the paper. The last column I wrote was about sleep deprivation; this one's about diapers.

Changing diapers goes hand in glove -- you'll wish you had gloves! -- with having kids and this recounts some of the "joys" and challenges of diaper changing. While I'm sure my 13-year old son appreciates reading about himself in this piece, it can't be said that my diaper-changing days are behind me. My youngest is just a little more than a year old so in all likelihood I have another year (maybe) of diaper changes. That's when we switch to changing bed sheets on a regular basis and thanking Science for plastic undersheets.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Strong Silent Type

I'm glad I'm not the only one that has been picking up on the silent protagonist connection between Dishonored, Half-Life, and BioShock. But the games really do share more in common than just a protagonist that says absolutely nothing in reaction to things happening around him. Even bone-breaking falls illicit little in the way of reaction.

Strong silent type and creepy walkers.
Another  connection with Half-Life.
What really connects these games is the way the story is spun out. There's a mythos to each game that the developers do their best to not spoon feed the player with information about what is happening. The player is left to fill in the blanks from what's laid out in each level, and the bits of evidence and "filler" that textures the whole experience.

In Dishonored, the first time I came across a rat trap I was a little taken aback. Not content with snap traps or poison, Dishonored showcases rat traps as big dumpsters. What they're baited with or how they work isn't provided -- at least not so far, from what I can tell -- but my mind fills in those blanks quite easily.

Friday, October 5, 2012

"Dishonored" Doesn't Bother With Spelling

Reviews of Dishonored are embargoed for a bit so this isn't a review by any stretch. This post is more along the lines of "impressions."

First, for some reason I can't stop reading the title as "Dish ono Red!" No real reason for that, it just happens. Maybe it's because I've been staring at the title looking for the missing "U." Localization of video games is big business but apparently Bethesda Softworks and Arkane couldn't be bothered to slip in a "U" for Canadian and British gamers. Or possibly the "U" escaped at some point and wound up at Nintendo.

The Rat Plague is pretty cool. At first, I thought maybe this was like The Plague in the traditional sense but this is actually a rat plague in the Biblical sense. I'm looking forward to how that part of the game pans out -- a squeaky third faction.

I can't figure out if Arkane was going for Steampunk or Whale Oil Punk or Medieval redux or American Civil War or what with the design of the characters and setting, but I'm certainly enjoying the look of the game. For some reason these clashing styles are blended together to make something interesting to watch and look at.