I just got these Husky slippers:
I was searching for a pair of bear paws slippers, but came across these Husky slippers, and yelped with delight. I just HAD to get a pair. They are pretty comfy, and don’t impede with my walk that much, except when going up the stairs, they get in the way a little bit–nothing serious though. If a gigantic klutz like me can walk with them on, so can most people.
A couple of photos:
I’ve recently moved to Scrivener for most of my writing needs (although I still use Writer’s Cafe for plotting, since the multiple lane Storylines feature is indispensable during the outlining phase). I’ve customized it to match my needs, and it looks like this:
If you also use Scrivener and wants to use my layout, you can download the .scrvlayout file on this page. If you’re on the Mac, I also provided the customization numbers for the colors on that page, so you can replicate my layout.
I’ve been trying to catch up on some games that I’ve missed out on in the past. Here are some impressions:
The Witcher – I heard a lot of good thing about this game, and now that I finally tried it, I was disappointed. The game just doesn’t feel very polished in terms of storytelling and presentation. I keep reading about how the story is sophisticated and the moral grayness is its strength, but the way the story is presented is so clumsy that I just couldn’t bother to continue after the first few hours. The game expects you to know the books it’s based on and doesn’t bother trying to build a premise for you to be immersed in. The transition from the opening chapter at the Stronghold to the outskirt of Vizima was so sudden that it felt like the game glitched and skipped a cinematic or a transitioning area. The writers also did not do a good job setting up the the relationship between the characters–I just didn’t care about any of them, and felt no bond with them.
The gameplay was also a bore-fest. All you do is click on an enemy and try to chain attacks together by clicking again when the cursor turns into a flame. How is waiting for a cursor to turn into a flame icon and then clicking it interesting? You have a few fighting styles to choose from, but all you do is match them to each enemy, and that’s it–there’s no other strategy beyond that. There are magic abilities, but it’s nothing interesting–more like what Jedi’s do with the Force.
Another thing that I didn’t like about The Witcher is you don’t feel that sense of camaraderie between characters such as with Bioware’s group system, where characters banter and actually feel like living personalities. I don’t mind lone wolf type of adventures, but it has to be compelling, and The Witcher just didn’t compel me.
I tried watching some “Let’s Play” videos on Youtube and realized the story just didn’t interest me. Having plot points and characters and conflicts is not enough–there has to be emotional resonance, and that, is what is missing from The Witcher.
As a writer and a gamer, I think Bioware’s RPG’s are far stronger in emotional resonance, and I’ll gladly replay any Bioware RPG before ever trying The Witcher again, or bother with its sequel.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords – The first KOTOR game is one of my favorite RPG’s of all time, and I have always wanted to play the sequel. I had tried numerous times previously but due to strange technical issues on the PC, I never was able to run that game smoothly–I always got stuck during the tutorial level. Recently, after discovering a patch, I was finally able to run the game, and I’ve started playing it.
I was surprised by how dated it looked, and how clunky the combat and GUI felt. For all the bitching and moaning that PC gamers do about how console games dumb down the gameplay and GUI’s of RPG’s, I actually think it’s a good thing to make gameplay and GUI as streamlined and intuitive as possible. Seriously, was it ever a good thing to have dozens and dozens of commands mapped to a QWERTY keyboard? Customizing and learning the keyboard layout of a new game was always a monumental task and I never enjoyed that aspect of PC gaming. The only time it works well is for mapping individual weapons/powers of twitch-reflex games–that’s when instant access really matters. For RPG’s, I actually prefer console-styled controls more than PC ones.
I haven’t gotten very far yet in the game, so I don’t have anything to say about it yet, although it started a lot slower than the first game, and I don’t particularly like slow beginnings unless it really draws you in, which this particular beginning doesn’t.
The Longest Journey – This is one of my favorite games of all time, and recently I thought I’d play through it again to feel that nostalgic magic again. This time around, I noticed things that I was much more willing to forgive ten years ago when I first played it–for example, how slowly the characters talked. The voice acting is great, but everyone just talked too slow, like they have all the time in the world.
On a whim, I searched for “Let’s Play” videos on Youtube, and sure enough, there they were. So I think I’m just going to watch the rest on Youtube instead, since it’s not the kind of game you play for the gameplay–it’s all about the story. There are no multi-branching endings, so you can just sit back and watch someone else play. I’ve already solved the puzzles tens years ago too, so I don’t really need to do it again. Besides, I always hated puzzle-solving in adventure games, because they often have the most contrived and annoying puzzles out of all the games.
If you have never played The Longest Journey and its sequel Dreamfall, I highly recommend you watch the “Let’s Play” videos for them on Youtube. The writing for these games are excellent (although TLJ can get a little silly at times, while Dreamfall is a lot more mature overall).
Cathrine – I have no interest in playing puzzle platformers, but the story for Catherine seemed interesting, so I just watched the “Let’s Play” for it (skipping all the actual platforming).
Despite a cast of Caucasian characters and based totally in western culture, there’s that Japanese-centric storytelling, dialogues, visual style, and includes even a question about whether the player gets nosebleeds if he is excited/aroused. I wonder if the writers even knew that’s a totally Japanese thing and westerners have never even heard of such a thing except when they see it in anime and manga?
The story really isn’t anything all that interesting, and felt more like a much shorter story being padded to hell to make it last much longer.
The only thing about the game I really liked was the voice of Catherine (voiced by Laura Bailey). Now, that is a really cute and sexy voice. Laura Bailey’s natural voice doesn’t sound anything like that though (there are videos of her doing panels at Comic Con), but I guess that’s why she’s an awesome voice actress.
Syberia/Syberia II – I tried playing Syberia years ago and was bored by it. Now, I’m watching the “Let’s Play” for these two games, and I’m still bored. There’s just no emotional resonance in the storytelling, and some of the voice acting’s just awful. I can’t stand it when they use an adult to voice a child character, and the voice actor sucks at doing children’s voices–it completely destroys the suspension of disbelief.