On Gaming Roots

So one thing that I have seen other people talk about at some point is what games have been most influential to them in their lifetime. To be honest I’m not sure I could pinpoint exactly what games might fit in to that category for me. Certainly there are games that I just always remember as being my favorites, but I can’t really think of any that really changed my outlook on things.

So instead of writing about games that might have been super influential I am going to talk a little bit about how I got in to gaming in the first place. Keep in mind I’m 31 (for another month) so most of the games I feel got me in to gaming will have come out late 80’s early 90’s. Most of them pre Sony & Microsoft days.

The first time I can remember playing a video game is actually before I ever got my first NES. There was a mom & pop restaurant by where I lived at the time and they had an old 8 bit Mario arcade cabinet. This was the same game as the NES version, just with a different title, “VS Super Mario Bros.“. I don’t recall getting very far, but that isn’t saying a lot since I didn’t actually beat the original Mario game for a long time.

So as I mentioned the first console I ever had was the NES, and I remember having a couple games for it. Mario Brothers, and Track & Field that had the awesome floor mat pad that looked like the mat from Twister. We didn’t have many games, but back then I wasn’t cooped up playing them all the time either. I couldn’t say all the games I ever had for it, I just remember having the Mario games. I still love a good platformer, and that comes from growing up on that genre.

After the NES I got the SNES and the Sega Genesis (not the Master System). My love of platformers continued with both of these consoles but I got my first taste of the Zelda series when I borrowed a friends copy of “A Link To The Past”. I didn’t finish it at the time, though I did eventually. This was also the time when fighting games such as Street Fighter II and the original Mortal Kombat were seeing home releases.

Years passed by and consoles came and went. I can say I’ve owned or played at least a good majority of the various consoles that came out. At least the major brand ones from Sony, Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft. We didn’t really have the money growing up to buy a lot of games so most of them were borrowed or rented at blockbuster. Only in the last few years as I’ve finished up college and got a well paying job that I’ve been able to start buying games seriously.

I do still have an old SNES and Sega laying around. I need to find a good, legal way to play these on my tv. I know people always talk about playing ROMS and stuff on the PC but I don’t feel the same sense of joy playing an old game if it isn’t with the original console, or at least the original cart & controller.

I probably could have talked at length about this topic, but I feel like maybe various parts can be discussed individually.

That and I really need to get back to work.

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On Fitness/Health vs Gaming

So if you follow me on Twitter, and if you don’t you should, you might have noticed me posting something quite interesting this morning. That is that I have cancelled both my WoW and ESO subscriptions. Now, I know that I have said that I wouldn’t be doing this as I enjoy both games but I had to pull some money out of somewhere to pay for something else. That something else being $125 per month membership fee for a kickboxing class.

This is where the inner/outer fat kid at me is screaming “Why God why!?!?!”. It is no secret that I’m not exactly in shape and that I’ve been trying and struggling to lose weight for years. I’ve been going to the gym mostly regularly for a couple years, and I am always trying to eat better which lasts a couple of weeks and then I fall back in to old habits. Now recently I’ve met and started talking to someone who achieved some amazing weight loss results and is helping me out with advice, and one of the things she had mentioned doing was cutting back/out a lot of her gaming. Now I find that a bit drastic, though I don’t think it’s a bad idea, it just isn’t for me. I plan to continue gaming but I will be cutting back on the money I spend on it.

The story here is that a few days ago a friend of mine that I work with and is my weight lifting partner said he was going to try out this Kickboxing class to see if it would be a good fit for him to keep doing cardio. Me, thinking “heck why not” said I’d give it a shot as well and if I found the price okay I would sign up with him.

This leads to last night where I did more cardio work than I think I’ve done in a long time, if not my entire life. Needless to say that out of the hour long class I was about to die 30 minutes in. By the time we finished it looked like I had jumped in a pool. I did have a good time however, but was a bit dismayed with the price. $125 a month is a bit high for me, but I really feel like I need to make a drastic change if I want to achieve my goals.

Unfortunately this means I have to stop playing my subscription based games, and possibly less time laying on the couch watching Netflix. I’d say there is a question here about which is more important, your health or your gaming life. But to me this isn’t a question. I think I want to be healthier more than I want to sit in front of the computer eating cheetos and drinking dr pepper. Being a gamer doesn’t mean I have to be the stereotypical overweight guy who doesn’t go outside. I feel like I can still do all the gaming I want and still have a better quality of life. If this means that I have to suffer a couple hours per week doing cardio and having trainers yelling at me to keep moving then I’m going to do it.

So not really a situation where one is better than the other. I view both as equally important to me. I want to be healthier, but I want to be able to play my games and be lazy. Maybe these are not the easiest things to do together but there are plenty of in shape gamers out there too.

On Following Your Friends To New Games

So, if anyone noticed I did not write anything yesterday, which kind of breaks my posting every week day goal. In my defense real life crap came up and I just didn’t have the time. One of the responsibilities I have on the project I work on is taking an on call shift once every five weeks. This involves a lot of small things, but mostly making sure things are working. Yesterday we started having issues with one of our servers in what we are now referring to as “Fileocolypse”. So yeah, just didn’t have time to come up with coherent thoughts. Today I passed that on to someone else and it’s not my problem anymore.

So for a quick post I though I’d talk a little bit about how we choose games. I think I’ve touched on this before, and hopefully I haven’t already written this post. What got me thinking about this was the recent release of Wildstar, the latest MMO that people have jumped on. Personally I have no opinion on this game because my time playing with it amounts to maybe 1 hour. This is just an example. I have previously stated that I have chosen several games because I like the group of people I play with and want to play the same games as them. Wildstar is one of the few examples that I can think of that I did not “jump on the bandwagon”. I don’t feel guilty about this though, I like my friends and I like playing with them but there comes a point when you realize you only play games because you’re following other people around.

Is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think there is. I mean I’ve done it enough myself so what right do I have to judge? Do I think it’s a good reason to buy a game? No I don’t. I’m getting over this myself, but the internet definitely makes it easier. There is always a wealth of information available if you look for it. The hardest part is hearing strong arguments for playing a game from a friend. Because then are you following them or are you there because you want to be?

I think that really is a personal opinion. I personally don’t think that would mean you followed them in to a game. They may have made a very persuasive argument or they had information on a game you were already interested in that helped you make that decision. When I think of “following” people I’m thinking of blindly playing a game because everyone else is. It’s like when you’re a kid and someone asks you if all your friends jumped off the cliff would you too?

There may have been a time where this was less of a big deal because there were limited means of communications but now voice chat is readily available and it is easier to communicate across games. Now if there was a good solution for cross platform voice chat I’d be all over that.

I’ll admit that having people to play with is a factor in some of my PC gaming decisions. I do prefer to play with friends but I find that is no longer a requirement. I find that I want to base my purchases more on reviews and features and maybe seeing some game play footage. Just enough information to help me decide if I want to drop $60 on it. That to me is the main thing I look for now, is it really worth paying $60+ for?

 

On Gaming and Fitness

As I sit here digesting my lunch I can’t help but think about things like how much is to much, or will I or won’t I go to the gym tonight (the answer to that is yes I’m going tonight). But I also think about my diet and how I need to lose weight and how to go about doing that.

Personally I think the word “diet” is evil and I don’t like using it. I’m not on a diet so much as I’m trying to shift my eating habits so that I can lose weight. I’m not a small guy, I’m 6 foot 4 and I have some broad shoulders. The problem is I like to eat, and for a very long time I didn’t care about what I ate or how I looked. So a few years ago I decided to better manage what I eat, which I’ve had varying amounts of success with. There are still plenty of days I eat more than I need to, but I’m more conscious about it and don’t normally do it deliberately.

My problems come from a couple of factors:

First off I don’t really like to cook, and my skills are limited. I’m trying to change this though, having bought plenty of cookbooks to try and find easy things that I like to eat. You don’t have to be a master chef to eat healthy. I think if I cooked more often I would enjoy it, but living in an apartment I feel slightly limited in what I can make. This is because I really don’t want to set off the smoke alarm in my apartment. Recently I purchased an indoor electric grill, which doesn’t seem to smoke too much, and does allow me to make some things I couldn’t before like grilled chicken or steak. Now I know you don’t need to have a grill to make either of those, but I think they taste better that way. If I cook chicken in the oven it is usually covered with some form of shake ‘n bake.

Second, I often use the excuse of not having enough time to cook. Now, I at least recognized this as an excuse, I could easily make time to cook. People have been juggling work and cooking long before I was born and will long after I’m dead and gone. I just don’t like spending a long time in the kitchen. I prefer recipes that involve sticking something in the oven, or something that is easy and only takes like 20 minutes.

My main issue is snacking. I have come to realize over the years that I tend to snack a lot in the evenings or on weekends when I am bored, or if I’m really stressed out. My brain will often start off with the “you aren’t hungry don’t eat” argument but then the rest of me beats that part of my brain up and I grab a snack. I’ve been trying to combat this in two ways, healthier snacks or not buying any so there’s none to have.

That all being said, the question comes up of how do you really manage to stay healthy, lose weight and still maintain the lifestyle I want, namely sitting in front of the computer or tv playing video games? Personally I think it is a hard thing to juggle, but I’m trying to make an effort to balance these out, even if I wind up sacrificing game time. I love games, but I also want to be alive to play them. Right now I’m trying to keep track of my calories using an app/website and going to the gym at least twice a week (I need to start going more often again). Currently I can bench press 300 lbs and the two regular times a week I go to the gym it is lifting weights. I need to get back on my regiment of cardio on the non weight lifting days.

I know a few people have had varying amounts of success with this, and I read one blog post by someone in my guild that said she a considerable amount of weight (resulting photos are amazing too). I’d like to reach that kind of goal, even if it takes longer than I want.

This is where I ask for input. What do you guy/gals do to overcome snack cravings? I tend to always want to have something sugary or caffeinated. I don’t know of any alternatives to soda other than tea or coffee which I’m not a fan of. Any helpful websites for easy/quick meals for 1?

On Playing Multiple Games At Once

Todays topic is one I’ve thought about on and off for awhile now, and that is, is it really possible to effectively play more than one game at a time? I know plenty of people who are very good at this, or at least have an effective schedule set up to allow them to play more than one at a time. Personally I’m not very good at this, and often say I have video game ADD.

For example, right now I have 2 reoccurring MMO games, World Of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online. These are on top of the other PC/Console games I’m trying to work through, namely Dark Souls 2 and the new Wolfenstein game. That list is going to grow pretty quick once Watchdogs and Murdered: Soul Suspect come out over the next couple of weeks.

For me, this presents a bit of a dilemma, what game do I play? I feel like I should play the PC/Console games first as they all have a definitive ending, unlike the 2 MMO’s. At the same time however, I feel like I am neglecting my online friends by not being around to hang out and talk or participate in guild events. Not to mention I’m stuck paying $30 a month between the two and not really playing either one. As you can see I feel like I am in quite the pickle.

Right now I’m probably going to put Dark Souls 2 on the back burner, mainly because that game frustrates me so much and because I think that Wolfenstein is probably a shorter game, and while not the hardest game ever, it is also pretty straightforward and mindless. To be honest, that is the kind of game I want to play right now. I don’t need complicated dodging mechanics, or have to worry that much about death penalties. I just want to blow things away.

The other problem I have is that I’m go to the gym at least twice a week if not more, and those days I get home fairly late and generally don’t feel like sitting in front of my computer. Even on days that I don’t go I tend to gravitate towards the couch just to relax after work. This would probably be fine if all I had were console games, but I feel like I should be on the MMO’s more than I am because of the subscription costs.

So I guess to poll any potential audience, how do you work out your gaming schedule? Do you give specific games specific days, or do you just wing it?

On Pre Order Bonuses

So one of the things I’ve seen becoming more frequent over the last couple of years is video games developers and retailers offering some kind of pre-order bonus as incentive to buy the game. These usually involve extra missions, or a different case or in game items. The new Wolfenstein game that launched today offered beta access to the next Doom game that will be coming out. So the question is, are pre-order bonuses really worth it?

Personally I pre-order games all the time. I don’t always do it for the bonus items, and if they weren’t offered it would almost never affect my choice to pre-order the game. Most of the time when I do this it is because I have done some research on the game, watched some videos and basically scrounged around the internet looking for information to see if it is a game I’d like. This doesn’t always work, and sometimes it backfires on me. I’ve been known to drop $100+ on pre-ordering a collectors edition of a game that looked really interesting and then quit playing it within a month or two. I’ll admit that sometimes the bonuses help the decision. I do like extra stuff like soundtracks or making of videos. I find that stuff interesting and there might not be another way to get those items.

The only time these bonuses annoy me is when they are offered as exclusive content and then a month after the game is released they are sold as DLC. I think that defeats the purpose of the pre-order model. I don’t mind DLC as it gives extra life to a game, but I think if I get something special for buying before any reviews are out that it should not be available after launch.

Now, I am more likely to pre-order console games than I am to pre-order the PC counterpart because of where I live and the availability of physical copies. There have been a number of times when a game launched and I could not find a copy in the local store. I’m not going to hunt for any video game, doesn’t matter how much I want to find it.

I don’t always pre-order games either. There are plenty of good looking games that I might look forward to but are not able to convince me they are good enough to spend money on before it comes out. These games I will usually wait for a sale to happen or to read reviews to see if it is worth my money.

Early access games are another thing entirely. I’ve decided recently I am not going to be buying in to any early access programs unless the game looks very good. I’ve been pleased with my Hex early access, but I think that most people think they are paying for access to a finished product when that is far from the truth. Game companies would have a much more difficult time getting me to drop money what is effectively beta testing.

In the end I could say I enjoy that the option exists to pre-order a game, but if that wasn’t there it wouldn’t bother me either. Pre-order bonuses are just the way things are going now for whatever reason. I’d like to think that these bonuses are a reward for showing interest in the game and not there to trick you in to buying a game just because the bonus “looks awesome”.

So why do you pre-order? Is it for the bonus or is it to support a game that you are really looking forward to?

 

On being lazy and forgetting my password

So as always it’s been a terribly long time since the last time I’ve posted anything.

What can I say, I’m lazy.  And I forget my password a lot.

I’m going to try to keep this one short, and try to write up some more detailed posts soon. So to start off I’m going to talk about what I’ve been up to since the last time I posted.

Work

This is probably the main thing that has been keeping me busy. I work full time as a software developer focused primarily on internal business applications. Last year we added a new client and as a result had to translate part of our windows application in to a web based application. This is because the licensing for the web software is cheaper than the windows license and this particular client will have a lot more users than the other clients typically have and they don’t have that kind of money.

So most of what I’ve been doing is trying my best to make these pages function as close to the original version as I can. Which, according to my boss should be super easy, which it isn’t. We only recently went to beta testing and have already had to make a lot of changes, which needless to say, keeps me crazy busy.

This kind of affects my desire to play PC games when I get home. The harder the day I have a work, the more I don’t want to see or touch a PC when I get home. Now, my online friends are awesome, and I enjoy talking to them, but there are just days I can’t bring myself to go home and sit in an uncomfortable chair for 3 hours. Most days I barely have the energy to even play console games, so I just Netflix binge.

Gaming

So I just said I didn’t play every day, but that does not mean I have not been playing any games at all. Around mid march I bought a PS4 and and new TV and don’t regret the purchases. Granted there is not much out for the PS4 that I want yet, but playing it on a bigger tv that supports 1080p resolution is great. Right now I only have Thief and Metal Gear Solid 5 $40 demo but I enjoy them both. Right now I have 3 games on pre-order and can’t wait for them to come out (Watchdogs, Murdered: Soul Suspect & Witcher 3).

On the PC side I’ve been playing WoW again because I’m a sucker, and Elder Scrolls Online. I picked up Dark Souls 2 for PC when it came out on Steam and it is already more aggrivating then the last one. But that is for a different post.

I don’t really fall in to the PC or Console camps as I enjoy both for different reasons. I love PC gaming cause I prefer staying inside to going out and I have several friends that I talk to on voice chat. I love console gaming for the same reason, except that there is noone to talk to, and it what I do when I don’t really feel like talking to people.

So in general not much new going on. I’ll try to put up some more detailed topics soon. I plan to talk a little bit about some thoughts on MMO’s as well as talking about specific games I’m playing.

Other Stuff

One of my friends, and most of the time guild leader Belghast (aggronaut.com ) has started up a podcast and I think you should go listen to it. Yes this is a shameless plug, but I find it fun to listen to.