Serenity, the best sci-fi movie I’ve seen in a looooong time, is now available for pre-order at Amazon. December 20th it’s out. That’s pretty quick, but I’m not going to analyze it too much. I’m stoked to see it again, and in the comfort of my own home. Buy two copies - it’s that good.
I decided to keep a tally this year of how many trick-or-treaters showed up to the house this year. Between 6:00p (when I got home and started serving) and 8:00p (when the frequency of arrivals slowed enough to warrant shutting down) we had 155 kids.
Of course, probably 15 of those were probably old enough to be tried as adults for any crime by a jury of their peers (hint: high school means no more trick-or-treating), so let’s use quotes around “kids.”
One kid was pretty lippy, too. Probably nine years old or so, he shows up and I answer the door in my Wonka costume. I hand out the candy and just before leaving, he strikes up conversation:
Kid: Who are you supposed to be? Me: Willy Wonka. Kid: I hate that guy. He’s queer. [Kid exits stage left.]
Give me back that candy, you prepubescent asshole.
Aside from that, all went well. I realize now that the tally would have been much more interesting had I charted the number of kids who showed up both by general age group and time so I could see the trends from year to year, but maybe that’s just overengineering the thing.
We didn’t run out of candy this year, which was good (we did last year). We did go through about six pounds, though. Jenn’s going to take the remains to work so we don’t pig on it at home.
[Folks have wanted to see what my Wonka costume turned out like, so here’s a photo. It turned out pretty well, I think, though the wig and gloves made me super hot (like, the heat was darn close to stifling) and it was sort of a pain to get into and out of - not so great at a party.
Jenn and Tif looked great in their costumes as well (too bad they don’t wear those more often… :) ).
Saturday night was Jason and Tracy’s yearly party, which is the shindig to end all shindigs and is looked forward to every year. (It just happened two days ago, and I’m already stoked for next year.) We played our new favorite game - shot checkers (get jumped, take a shot) - and took all Sunday to recover. Great party, though, and I even won best costume.
Today at work is sort of a rinse since everyone wants to come by and see the costume so interruptions are frequent. I got $25 at Barnes & Noble for “coolest costume” at our company contest, which is sweet. Stu got “most original” and got a gift card to a restaurant. Can’t beat that!
We shall see what next year has in store. I’d like to get some sort of group costume going, but I’m not sure what we’d all be that folks would recognize.
I finished God of War on Saturday and have come to the conclusion that the concept of “save points” in games is crap.
See, I’m not a very good gamer and I don’t have a lot of time. I’m sure there are folks out there who had no problem getting through the ridiculous set of jumping puzzles in hell, which just goes to prove I’m not the greatest gamer. What happened on Saturday, though… grrrrr….
The last battle of the game is with Ares, the God of War. Big surprise from the title of the game, right? Anyway, you fight him and it’s pretty difficult but it’s not impossible. I lost the battle twice while I figured out how he moved and such, then killed him the third time. For a boss battle, that’s pretty good. If I fail about five times on a boss battle, that’s okay. Much more than that and I start thinking that maybe it’s a little too hard. I mean, I like a good challenge, but I don’t want to sit there fighting the same guy all day. I digress.
So I fought Ares and kicked his ass, only to be put into a second “boss battle” where you have to fight a seemingly infinite set of clones of yourself. I think I lost that battle probably 20 or 30 times in a row. Seriously. Fighting Ares before this was a cake walk. But I beat this clone battle, too, and thought, “Yes! I’m done!”
Fighting Ares the first time took about five minutes each battle on average. Losing twice means that battle ran me 15 minutes. 15 minutes after I’ve already played a bunch, so I’m pretty much done by the time I beat him. But there’s no save point, so I can’t quit the game after that because then I’d just have to fight him all over.
Fighting the clone battle ran between one and 10 minutes each time. Say that averages out to four minutes each, that means I spent roughly another hour and a half on the second battle. Like I said, not the best gamer, but I am persistent and I do want to win. Plus, I like to play on the “normal” difficulty because “easy” is generally not challenging enough to make me feel accomplished, but “hard” is, well, too hard. So I was playing on “normal” mode.
By the time that clone battle was over, I was frustrated and tired. It was late in the evening, and I just wanted to quit. Where’s the save point?
There isn’t one.
And you have to fight Ares again, but this time without your weapons.
Now I’m just pissed. After spending another 10 minutes fighting Ares, getting tantalizingly close to winning and then getting the shit kicked out of me, when the game asked me for the umpteenth time whether I wanted to switch to easy mode, I said yes. Then I killed Ares in about two swings of the sword, which was far less than gratifying after all the work I put in, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that I was done playing and couldn’t just save my progress and stop.
Of course, after the last battle there’s a save point, right before you run up some stairs and end the game without fighting anyone. Brilliance, guys.
The point is that I value my time and, while I like gaming, I shouldn’t have to be at the mercy of the game developer as to how long I should allocate my time to their game. I can’t count how many times I wanted to stop playing but couldn’t because I’d just lose my progress. Does that sort of mean the game developer beat me? Sure it does. On the other hand, I’m going to shy away from any game that either employs save points or has levels that take longer than, say, 10 minutes to play. I need to control how my time is allocated and save points don’t allow me to do that. It turns the game from being fun into being a chore, and that’s not why I play.
Game companies: It’s really not that hard. Lose the save points and let me save wherever I want. I promise I’ll be more willing to buy your games if you do.
Playing God of War again (still). Learned something from a theological perspective last night: Hell is full of jumping puzzles.
See, I’m to a particular spot where my character, Kratos, has died and is trekking through the underworld trying to get back up to the surface and it seems that there are three major redundant puzzle types I’ve had to face so far, all of which are reasonably frustrating.
The first puzzle type is the “elevated platform” puzzle. This is where you have a bunch of somewhat randomly placed platforms, all at different heights, that you have to jump across. This puzzle is primarily made difficult by the inability to control the camera, so rather than being able to turn things around and see how high the next platform is or how far away it is, you end up jumping directly into or away from the camera and hoping that you don’t die and have to start over.
The second puzzle type is the “log rolling” puzzle. This is where you have a series of platforms that are connected together by logs that spin in an arbitrary direction (sometimes changing direction). The logs, of course, have blades on them - after all, it is hell - and since you can’t walk diagonal faster than the logs roll (you’d walk diagonal to both compensate for the rolling nature of the log and move across the log simultaneously, right? like a drill bit…), you end up having to do a series of jumps to cross them. Of course, if you hit a blade, you fall off the log and have to start over.
The third puzzle type, and by far the most infuriating, is the “bladed column climb.” This is where you have a huge column broken up into segments, each segment of which spins in alternating directions (so the bottom segment spins to the right but the next segment spins to the left and so on). Each segment also has the prerequisite blades on it. As the columns spin, you have to climb up the column, but if the blades touch you, you fall to the bottom and have to start over. The reason this is so infuriating is the scale of the puzzle - the height of the column is probably 50 times your character’s height, and you have to do two of these columns back-to-back. Not only that, but your character doesn’t really climb fast enough, so you have to “jump-climb” up the columns (if you jump while you’re climbing, you can move a lot faster, but in a more uncontrolled nature). I won’t even get into the level of profanity issued from my lips during that ridiculous debacle.
That said, all of that contributes to my firm belief that the rendering of hell is correct - it is, in fact, full of jumping puzzles.