Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

There’s Just Too Much

May 10, 2022

So, after abandoning “Hearts of Iron”, I wanted to get back into playing other video games.  I mused about it for a while, as is my wont, and then decided that I’d be clever and schedule in finishing off that run of Dragon Age Origins with all of the expansions and playing as Spencer from “Pretty Little Liars”.  And, well, so far I’ve booted the game up once to see where I was.  Now, one of the issues with my picking that up again is that it’s the PC version and I have a subconscious — and probably invalid, since it wasn’t an issue when I started playing the game — paranoia that I won’t remember how the controls work and so won’t be able to do well in the fights (this is also the reason that I never returned to a character in VTM:  Bloodlines, although in that game that fear is more valid).  But another issue that I was having was that there still were a lot of options that I was musing about to fill my rather limited video gaming time even after I had supposedly made up my mind.  I keep thinking about playing “Star Wars:  Rebellion” again as the Rebel Alliance.  I’ve mused about picking up “Wizardry 8” again, since I was having fun with my last run.  I’ve thought about picking up some of my PS2/PS3/PS4 games again.  I’ve thought about picking up games like “Icewind Dale”, or Might and Magic, or the Gold Box games, or other older RPGs (I’ve been reading the CRPG Addict again, which makes me think of that).  I’ve also pondered hooking up one of those classic consoles and playing some of those games. Thus, one of the things that’s stopping me from committing myself to Dragon Age Origins is all of the other games that I have in the back in my mind that I could be doing instead.

So the only game that I’ve been playing regularly is “The Old Republic”, and the only reason that works is because it slots into a specific time slot that I have set aside specifically for it and almost nothing else (occasionally, errands).  It’s not that it’s an MMO because I haven’t been playing “Dark Age of Camelot” for a while despite having a semi-set time slot for it.  No, the main reason I can play it is because I have a specific set of characters I want to get through and I have a time set aside for it and nothing else.  But when I have time slots that cover more a specific hobby rather than a specific instance of that hobby I often can find myself not doing any of them because I can’t decide which of them to do.  In fact, my scheduling things exist because of this, because when I left time slots open I found that I spent so much time deciding what to do that I didn’t do anything that I wanted to do.  At least here this only happens for specific hobbies or things to do.

This hits video games the worst — I mean, I’ve even managed to have specific “Wizardry 8” runs shortcircuited by my coming up with another party that I want to try instead — but, yeah, it can in theory hit anything.  The main reason that I haven’t hit it with DVDs for the past while is that I create a specific time slot and a specific stack to watch them, and so all I do is proceed through the stack.  And since I in general want to finish a series to talk about it, I have another incentive to stick with it and not switch to anything else.  And yet when I switched to rewatching Babylon 5 in December the urge to pick something else, even while watching it, from the stacks of things I wanted to watch again rose.  For books, again right now I have a stack of historical books to read in my general reading time and a set commitment to Shakespeare in a specific time set aside to read those sorts of things (while doing laundry) and so far that’s working, but at one point not so long ago I ditched finally reading the “Heroes in Hell” books because, if I recall correctly, I wanted to re-read the “X-Wing” series more.  Right now, I have shelves of books that I want to read in that time and hope that when the time comes to get around to them the stack and commitment to the stack will help me stick to them (again, there are some book series that I started and wanted to finish but never got around to finishing).

But, yeah, video games are the worst.  I was busy this week and used my video gaming time for other things, but I hope that when it starts up again I’ll finally be able to commit to something.  Otherwise, I may not be playing games for a while.

Accomplishments Update

March 29, 2022

So it’s been pretty close to six months since my last vacation ended and I reworked my schedule, and with another vacation coming up it’s a good time to look back and see how the new schedule is working out (right before my life circumstances change and my schedule also changes, it seems).  And as it turns out I have some interesting things to note about why things are the way they are, which is rather unique.

As usual, DVDs are working out pretty well.  I got through both The Bionic Woman and House M.D. which means that I’ve gotten through two TV series that I wanted to get through at the start of the year, and most importantly wasn’t bored out of my gourd doing that.  I think my pace is significantly slower than it used to be, and when my schedule changes it’s likely to be ever more so.  The big thing with both shows — but especially House — is that my schedule said that I should watch 2 episodes 4 days a week and 4 episodes 3 days a week, which was supposed to align with how the disks at least used to pan out — most DVD collections in the past had 4 episodes per disk for the most part — and with those shows that didn’t work.  House, for example, typically had 5 episodes per disk, except in some cases where it had 4, and maybe 2 at the end.  Since I really hate changing disks in the middle of my evening — my TV watching schedule has me turn off all the lights and everything and just watch right before going to sleep — this meant that in general I would split between watching 3 episodes and watching 2 episodes, and might have watched 4 if it was a 4 episode disk, which completely overturned my evening schedule since on some of the days that I planned to extend my late afternoon/early evening stuff later I was actually starting earlier and on the days that I planned to do little in the late afternoon/evening I actually had free time.  My next show — Party of Five — does the same thing as House, so I’ll be maintaining that “flexible” schedule.

Why does that matter?  Well, doing that means, as noted, that I’m taking longer to watch these shows than I might have otherwise.  The good thing about this is that despite my worries it doesn’t seem like taking the extra time means that I’m getting bored with those shows and so desperately wanting to watch something else.  I would have watched House M.D. for about 2 and a half months and didn’t really notice how long it was taking me.  I have 11 seasons of my next two shows — Party of Five and Ghost Whisperer — which should take me until early summer and hope that they work out as well (although they are unlikely to be as good as House was).  So one of the keys to this schedule is going to be how well I can handle watching one show or similar shows over a longer period of time than normal.  (I’m also running out of shows to watch, with only Heroes and the original Twilight Zone left if I don’t find something else).

I’ve also managed to squeeze some time in to keep up with the horror and science fiction movies.  This is more challenging with the schedule from January and even more so with the new schedule, because it’s difficult to find 2+ hours to watch things when I haven’t just eaten and/or can delay eating for a while, because I cannot watch these things after I eat, because I need to watch them carefully enough to write about them and if I watch TV after eating I usually end up dozing off.  Still, I am a bit ahead in watching for both and hope to keep that up and so keep making regular posts about them in the future.

Books are also working out really well, and also have an interesting link to the schedule.  I had set aside a specific time to work on little writing and programming projects, and then couldn’t figure out what to do in them, and really felt that I wanted to get through some of the classic literature that I hadn’t been reading while still reading and re-reading a bunch of the historical books that I wanted to read.  The issue with that, of course, is that I would normally do all of this reading in the unscheduled time that I have to reading for fun, and it really wouldn’t work to put both of them into that time.  So I took over the projects time and inserted the classic reading into that time, which allowed me to get through “The Divine Comedy” and make progress on the rest of the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft.  I have the complete works of Shakespeare to get through after this.  On the other side, I was able to get through “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” and am about halfway through “Storm of War” again, after taking some time to read some new graphic novels that I bought in the meantime.  I plan to keep that time slot assigned to reading in the new schedule (the actual plan is to do that reading while doing laundry, which is a two hour block once a week where I don’t have to pay a lot of attention to the laundry itself and so can do something else, and reading is easier to interrupt when I need to move things from the washer to the dryer than a movie would be).

Video games are, for the first time in a long time, not an utter disappointment.  I managed to fairly consistently play “The Old Republic” and “Dark Age of Camelot”, even though on some says I didn’t manage to play them because other things were happening or a needed to run errands.  Still, that’s all acceptable and for the most part I was indeed still getting in some regular time with them.  As for other games, I started out playing “Hearts of Iron” twice a week, and it was working out fairly well.  Sure, the default game speed was a bit slow, but I started playing as Australia and so found it kinda relaxing, as with there not being that much that Australia can do I was able to start playing while watching game shows and only had to acknowledge messages every so often, do some planning, and select new building and research projects when I felt the desire.  However, I then did the math and figured out how long it took to get through a month in-game at that speed, multiplied that by how many months I had left and divided it by how long I could play a week and discovered that just getting through a round with Australia would take way too long, let alone the multiple rounds I had wanted to play.  And it wasn’t clear how to actually change the game speed (it’s not as easy as it is in “Star Wars:  Rebellion” for example).  So with a vacation coming up I decided to delay the game until I went on vacation and could play for 3 – 5 hours every day and so get through that round and maybe another.  Which turned out to be a good idea because I also had other things infringe on my game playing time and so it would have only taken that much longer.

Still, I had some time to play some games and so started trying to figure out what to play at that time when I had some time.  I decided that I’d take a shot at “Disco Elysium”, but played it for a couple of hours before bouncing off it really hard.  There were two reasons for this.  The first was that the game is pretty dark and I wasn’t in the mood for a dark game.  The second was that the game felt to me like it was balancing itself in a gray area between having a defined character and a player-defined character.  I had a fair amount of choice in what I did and what things I tried, and could choose my archetype which would suggest from my skills what I should do, but the character itself made most of the comments and seemed to be making a lot of decisions and also seemed to have it so that their history was driving a lot of what’s going on.  I can work with a pre-defined character like in the Persona games or in a mostly player-defined character — even with limited real choices — like in TOR or KotOR, but this was just bugging me.  So, yeah, the game didn’t last that long.  I might pick it up again later at some point, but it wasn’t what I wanted to focus on with a month or so until I returned to HOI.

So, since I was watching House, at one point I decided to start a new Wizardry 8 party based on the characters from that show, and was overjoyed when early on the character I had selected for House himself chimed in with “Now don’t do something stupid and get me killed!”, which really fit the character (these sorts of moments are what I really love about Wizardry 8 and why I keep coming back to it despite the fact that I’m never going to actually finish it).  But I ended up dropping that for a couple of reasons.  The first was that while the game was indeed one that I could play for an hour at a time, I ran into the issue that exploring every nook and cranny is important and playing for an hour or two and then not coming back for a week meant that I tended to forget what I had explored.  It does have a decent automap, but that works less well when you are exploring areas with different levels, which is where I was at the end of the monastery.  So that was becoming a bit problematic.  The second reason was that I recalled from my list of games to play and how I wanted to play them I was supposed to start at Wizardry 6, and felt bad for not doing that, but didn’t feel like I’d have the time to get through all of them, and so didn’t really feel like playing it.  And I ended up, as already noted, having things take up that time anyway.  In the new schedule, I have the same evenings set aside for them, although I’ll have less time per day to play.  That being said, the times set aside for MMOs are the same so I should at least be able to play some games in the new schedule.

As might be predicted from what I’ve said above, projects other than the blog haven’t happened.  The blog, as you should be able to tell, is still going at its normal pace, but anything else has not been started.  The good news for this is that I have time set aside to do stuff like that in the new schedule that isn’t taken up by reading.  The bad news is that I’ve tried to run on the new schedule for two weeks now and have not even looked at starting any kind of project.

So, I have a two week vacation coming up, and then I will be on some form of the new schedule, so we’ll see how that all works out.

Final Vacation Update

January 3, 2022

At the time I’m writing this — I’m scheduling it to actually go up later — I technically still have some time left on my vacation, but I also know that other than working out my schedule for the next few months (which is a “New Year’s” thing instead of a “vacation” thing) I’m not really going to do anything of consequence in the last couple of days of my vacation, so since I have a bit of time to kill while waiting for my laundry to finish it seems like a good time to write this out.  This continues on from my previous update just before Christmas.

The big thing is that I actually did manage to finish Persona 5 Royal, clocking in at 92 hours of play time.  I actually made a mistake with it, as with other elements of my schedule dropping off I decided to take a run at it in the morning — I normally played it in the afternoons — and managed to finish the main plot at about 11 am.  So all I had left was the new dungeon and extra month of socializing, and so I figured that I could probably finish the entire game that day.  I figured that I could probably finish it off by about 3 or 4 — about one regular session — and at worst it would drag into the evening but I didn’t have anything else to do that evening so that would work pretty well.  And I ended up finishing it at … 12:30 am.  So it took me over 12 more hours to finish it from there.  That was, of course, really, really late for me, but I wanted to push through it to get it off my list and free up my afternoons again.  So I was successful and I don’t regret it, but if I had known that it would take that long at 11 am I would have left it for another day.

The last week of my vacation I didn’t play MMOs, preferring to focus on other things, and in fact didn’t get another run in after my last post on them.  But that was a success, because I got to try them out and decide which ones I liked, and am planning on at least poking around with them in the New Year (I’m trying to decide what slot they should fit into).  I don’t think I’ll subscribe to Star Trek Online at the moment, because I’m still not clear on how it’s all supposed to work, but I’ll be maintaining my subscriptions to The Old Republic and Dark Age of Camelot.

I did manage to get through Babylon 5 and Crusade before the end of my vacation, despite my not being sure that I could do it.  I finished Babylon 5 before Christmas Eve and burned through Crusade on Christmas Day, partly while doing other things.  That let me get through some movies before I’ll be turning to new TV shows in the New Year.

I managed to keep up with the blog, but didn’t really manage to get ahead.  I have some time around New Year’s Day to get ahead a bit and maybe to try to watch some movies ahead, since it’s looking like it will be difficult for me to find time for them in the New Year.

I also managed to do a decent amount of the chores and errands that I wanted to do over my vacation, which made me feel pretty good.  I was worried about this because while I did not too badly at this at the start of my vacation I let it slide until the very end.

I made progress in the lighter books but I’m going to have about four books of the “Heroes in Hell” books to get through in the New Year before I can turn to other things, which I will figure out on New Year’s Day.

General projects didn’t get any better, as I didn’t do anything wrt them at the last part of my vacation, and had pretty much given up on them at that point.  I am planning on putting them into my schedule for the New Year.

And finally, on other traditions, I did my full day watch of the Star Wars movies — excluding all the new ones but including the prequels — but didn’t get around to doing my full day watch of the Lord of the Rings movies because on the day that I was supposed to do that I had to do something else and then the next day I played Persona 5 Royal all day, and so at that point I just gave up on it.

I didn’t have too many days to relax — Christmas and the day I watched the Star Wars movies were probably the only ones that really counted — but it was a pretty productive vacation, and I got the things that I really, really wanted to get done done (Persona 5 Royal and playing the MMOs, along with the biggest errands and housework).  So that makes me feel pretty good about it.  Hopefully I can keep the productivity going in the New Year.

2021 in review

January 1, 2022

In terms of hits, this was not a good year for the blog, as after a few years of relatively steady growth I ended up with the lowest number of hits that I’ve had since 2016, which was a sharp decline from last year.  The views per visitor climbed to a height that I haven’t seen since 2015, which indicates fewer visitors reading more things, which could explain the drop.  I’m not sure what the explanation for the change is, but since this was a year-long trend that I was watching it really drove home the idea that I do the blog to get my ideas out of my head and not so much for views, because while I found the drop disappointing ultimately it didn’t make me want to stop blogging.

So, like last year, I don’t plan any changes this year, and as always thanks to everyone reading and commenting.

New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2021

According to the recommendations from the local authorities, I am supposed to cancel my plans for New Year’s Eve.

According to the same recommendations, I’m supposed to stay home on New Year’s Eve.

Well, which is it [grin]?

Happy New Year.

I’m Really a Traditionalist

December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the reader of my blog.

Don’t you mean “the readers”?

No, WordPress says it’s still pretty much just the one.

Vacation Update

December 20, 2021

So I’ve been off on vacation for about three weeks now — this is what happens when I don’t take it during the year — and it’s a good time to stop and reflect on how I’ve been doing.

One of the big things I wanted to do on this vacation was play video games, because I had been having a really, really difficult time finding the time to play them and so it was the biggest thing that I wanted to do that I hadn’t been doing while working.  They’re going pretty well.  I’ve put enough time in on the MMOs to get a sense of how the new ones work and to decide what I do and don’t like, while still finding some time to advance my character in The Old Republic.  I’ve also managed to put over 40 hours into Persona 5 Royal.  However, with all the adding things in that game I’m starting to worry a bit that I won’t get it done before the end of my vacation, and there isn’t really any room to expand the time I play it and it is a game that really, really will not work well when I go back to work.   I’ll see how it goes, but I may have to adjust things because I really do want to get through it all at least once.  Still, other than that, I’ve done all I wanted to do and am in pretty good shape for after New Year’s.

I wanted to watch Babylon 5 and Crusade while I was off, and have that cleared off the books for New Year’s when I’d return to new shows.  I also wanted to set up some movies to watch while eating or while playing the MMOs.  I’ve been doing pretty well with that.  I should finish Babylon 5 sometime this week, and am playing on watching Crusade all in one day at some point.  I also have my Star Wars and Lord of the Rings rewatches scheduled, which will probably be the first real days that I could be said to be “relaxing” the whole time, as I have found that in general right now I’m always doing something that has a purpose to it beyond just relaxing, which is probably not the best thing for me.

I have some science fiction and horror movies in the backlog to write about, but have a much bigger stack to watch and am having a difficult time figuring out where to fit them into the vacation schedule and in the schedule for after New Year’s.  I still want to keep at them, but right now I have to be opportunistic with them.

I set out to read some lighter books for this month and vacation, mostly re-reads.  Amazingly, that hasn’t been going as well as I had hoped.  I did manage to get through my Ravenloft books (and plan on writing posts about them, and you can probably guess what that means) and am working through “The Finder’s Stone Trilogy” as I was reminded of Curse of the Azure Bonds by the CRPG Addict.  But after that I have the “Heroes in Hell” books and so I have about seven and a half books to get through.  It’s unlikely I’ll finish that before New Year’s when I had hoped to switch back to things that would more readily count as accomplishments.  The thing is that I don’t have the unfettered time to read that I used to have — both in general and that I have when I’m working — and so I can only read pretty much while I’m eating.  In general, I can probably get through about 3 small paperbacks in a week, and now I can get through one or maybe two in a week, which is a much slower pace.  While I’m finding this a bit disappointing, it’s not a big deal and I will be able to easily pick up accomplishment books after I get through these.  So it’s slow, but not something I’m worried about.

I had a list of errands and housework and the like to get through.  I made a good stab at it, but the list is still pretty big.  I’ll need to put a focus on some of it to get it done before the end of my vacation, but I should be able to get through at least the important things, so again while it’s slower than I might have liked it’s working out well enough to not bother me, especially since one day for me to do those things was lost to a snowfall.

And finally, general projects … sucked.  I had a couple of days set aside to do them and over the first three weeks didn’t do them at all.  Okay, I read a chapter in the Deep Learning book that I want to get through.  That’s it.  And now I’m going to co-opt those days to focus on housework and other things.  That being said, the other projects were programming things and I don’t mind that I got away from programming while on vacation, so it isn’t all that bad.  It’s more the implication that I never get around to doing them that’s bothering me, but that has more implications for after New Year’s than my vacation and so I’ll work that out then.

Anyway, that’s how my vacation has gone so far.  I have two weeks left to see how much I can get done before I have to go back to work.

57 Channels and Nothin’ On

December 14, 2021

Since I’ve been working from home, I’ve had to tell my co-workers that they can’t just call me out of the blue and expect me to answer a call.  Other than the fact that I really, really want to put my headphones on for calls, the main reason is that where I live is both too quiet and too noisy for me to go through the day without something on for noise.  I live in a smallish village/town in a rural area, which means that, in general, there’s not a lot of noise during the day.  So for the most part, then, I hear everything else, meaning creaks in the house and other things.  And when I don’t, the house is dead silent.  That can get a little creepy.  However, I am in a town and sometimes there is noise, like people walking down the street, or cars and big trucks driving past — I’m on a main route to a school and two churches — or construction or people fixing things or mowing the lawn or whatever.  So I need to have something on for noise to cover up the silences and the noisy parts, and so if someone calls I need to shut that noise off because obviously if it’s loud enough for me to hear and to cover up other noises it’d be loud enough to hear over the call, even with the headphones.  And this would be even worse when I was watching “Dark Shadows” and so there’d be the potential for horrific screams happening in the background.

Now that I’m on vacation, I still need to have some noise (and don’t have to worry about someone calling me and having to mute or turn off the noise).  What I would have liked to do — and had done in the past — was simply leave the TV running and use that both for noise and for something to look up at when I’m doing something like playing an MMO where I get some time to look up from what I’m doing.  But long before I went on vacation, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do that, because flipping through the channels I have it was abundantly clear that at the time when I most needed it — mornings, basically — there was absolutely nothing on that would work.  And since I have a couple of channels that show movies and vary that line up, it wasn’t just the case that on some days there wouldn’t be anything.  My expectations from checking it out before I went on vacation was that if there ever was anything on that would be the exception, not the rule.  Thus, I might be able to find something on, mostly on the channel that shows classic sporting events — they actually ran classic Grey Cup games leading up to that event, and showed old curling events at one point, which did kinda work when I didn’t want to do something else — but in general there just wasn’t going to be anything on.

Now, in the past, there had been.  I have a couple of game show channels and the Canadian one used to show some decent shows in the past that could at least carry me through most of the morning if I wanted it to.  But then in the fall they redid their schedule and stuffed their mornings full of shows that I not only don’t care that much for, but actually actively hate.  While I could tolerate “Cash Cab”, I strongly dislike the lead character in the reality series “The Liquidator” (and, to be fair, I think even he’d acknowledge that what I dislike about him — his aggressive approach to business — is a fair take on him and something that, yeah, people can dislike) and I tried out “Instant Cash” (a show about a cash machine that runs people through trivia questions and stupid dares in malls so that they can win money) and ended up loathing it because I hate the stupid and embarrassing dares it foists on the people.  And that’s the morning.  When the American game show network gets out of infomercials, it actually has some shows that I don’t mind watching — “Catch 21”, “Master Minds”, and “People Puzzler” — but there are a couple of problems with that.  The first is that that doesn’t start until 8 am, which is a bit late for me, since I start actively doing things by about 5:30 or 6 am.  I’d need to find something else for two hours before that can fill in (which means that it actually works not too badly on weekends, when the scheduled shows shift a bit to “America Says”, because on Sunday, at least, I have errands to run that mean I’m not really in the house at all until that time anyway).  The other issue is that for a lot of the shows I’ve already seen those episodes, and they are not shows where you can rewatch the episodes and be anywhere near as interested in them.  I’d likely have forgotten a lot of “Catch 21”, but not the other two, and when you know the answers and know who won then there’s just not that much that’s interesting about the shows anymore.

So, I need — and have needed for a while, even while working — something else.  Now, while working things aren’t as complicated as this, but on vacation my morning schedule varies enough that some options won’t work, or at least not as well.  Since ’tis the Christmas season, I wanted to listen to the collection of Christmas CDs I have (all burned to USB).  This works very well on the mornings that I want to do housework or write blog posts or program.  It does not work at all when I want to play MMOs or any other game — which means it doesn’t work in the afternoons since I’m usually playing Persona 5 Royal then — because all it provides is noise and I already have noise from the game.  What I want when playing a game is to have something that I can look up at when things aren’t happening, which was usually done by leaving the TV on and doing that.  In the afternoons, the Canadian game show network has a number of classic game shows that interest me enough to at least leave on while playing — “Match Game”, the “$100,000 Pyramid” and a rotating cast of other old shows — but as already noted that doesn’t work for the mornings.  So what I decided to do — and I had done this while working as well — was take some movies out to have on while playing the MMOs and then rely on music for the other times, with perhaps the TV filling in if there was something interesting on (usually on the weekends if there was an interesting sporting event on).

So for the MMOs I started with the Star Trek movies and then moved on to the James Bond movies.  However, I also realized that except for on the weekends there wasn’t anything on while I was eating lunch either and so stuffed some movies in there — some of the Star Trek movies I wanted to watch and not just half pay attention to, mostly in the TOS era, the “Scary Movie” movies, a rewatch of “New Mutants” and the two “Gremlins” movies so far — to watch.  There is just one little problem with this:  I found that while playing the MMOs I wasn’t paying any attention to the movies.  At all.  The worst was with the James Bond movies where I barely noticed what happened in them and only noticed when they ended.  So I can’t be said to be watching them at all.

This could mean that I don’t actually need to have them on, but then at some times I did pay attention to them — long runs in DAoC, for example — and so I don’t want to give up on them yet.  However, I guess I can’t really say that I’m actually rewatching them either, and they are movies that I do like to watch.  Fortunately, if I want to actually rewatch them I could always actually do that at some point, and I’ve seen them all many times already so I know what happens — which is why they fit into these slots since if I ever want to look up at them it won’t take me long to figure out what’s happening — so I don’t really miss it.  It’s just a bit odd that at least this time I’m not paying attention to anything at all, when I know that with TOR specifically I more often did pay attention to at least part of the TV shows.

And, of course, on New Year’s Day I need to figure out how I’m going to deal with noise while working, since I have at least two or three more months to be exclusively working from home.  In the past, I watched shows like “Doctor Who”, “Pretty Little Liars” and “Dark Shadows”, but two disks a day of the longer shows — most noticeably with “Dark Shadows” — meant that if I ever had to run an errand or skip changing a disk or something they’d run too long past the time I want to quit working and cause me some issues, and I also didn’t get the chance to listen to music either, which I like to do.  So something will probably change there.  I haven’t decided yet.

If there was just something remotely interesting on TV, that wouldn’t be a problem.  But there’s 57 channels and nothin’ on.

Vacation gaming

December 8, 2021

If you’ve been following my accomplishment update posts, you’ll be aware that one of the big things I’ve been struggling with is playing video games, and that I was going to be going on vacation and wanted to make a big push to play video games.  And I’ve been off for about a week and a half now and have indeed been playing games, so I’m going to take the day to talk about that a bit.

The game that I’ve played the longest so far — up to 30 hours at this point — is a game that I really, really wanted to finish on my vacation:  Persona 5 Royal.  I picked it up a couple of months into the pandemic — I had preordered it but a lockdown kept me from being able to get it — and played it to the start of the second palace and then ran out of time to play it, and could never fit it in afterwards.  One of the reasons for that is that the game added a lot of things, both in and out of dungeons.  There are at least two or three new S-links.  In the dungeons, there’s a grappling hook gimmick and Will Seeds to find (which haven’t been that hard to find so far).  In every S-link, there are more occasions, at least, where the link will contact you after you advance their link for an additional short conversation.  I think there are a few new scenes.  Add to that the fact that I have to build up all of my attributes again and there are more activities to do that, and there’s just so much more to do in the game.  As I just said, I’m 30 hours in and can’t decide if I’m ahead of or behind my regular Persona 5 time of over 80 hours.  Given that I might not be able to get all of the S-links that I want to finish done this time around, I might think about replaying it … except that I’m quite sure I won’t get through a second play this month and it’s not a game that I can play for a couple of hours a week and get anywhere.  So I’ll have to muddle through with this one and see if I can get a decent romantic relationship out of it (I prefer Makoto, but she gets blocked by Charm later in the game and I’m not sure I’ll be able to get there by then).  But it does indeed look like I’ll get through one play and so finish it this time around, and it will be very nice to finally finish it after about a year and a half.

The other games I’ve been playing are MMOs.  I started a new character in The Old Republic, playing as Dori Doreau from Sledge Hammer! as an Imperial Agent who is an expert in terrorist psychology who will come to believe that the Sith are a terrorist organization that’s a threat to the Empire.  After that, I might take on ol’ Sledge himself as a Smuggler — I alternate between Empire and Republic side playthroughs to keep the planet missions fresh — with the underlying story being that they were police officers who were kicked off the force and forced to do other things, with Sledge’s story being his chagrin of having to associate with scumbags all the time.  I’m even considering another run with Captain Trunk as a Sith (likely Consular), finally letting his anger work for him.

But I also am trying to return to an old MMO, as I reupped to Dark Age of Camelot and started playing it.  It’s amazing how much it felt like returning to an old world that I hadn’t been in for a while and liked.  That being said, it still is an old school MMO, with rather repetitive but constant and somewhat unfair combat — you can easily get jumped and swarmed if you are not careful, especially in dungeons — and relatively thin quests.  It’s also quite hard for me to figure out what level I’m actually at, and amazingly it’s really hard to find a clock in the game, unlike the others where I can see what time it is on the UI.  Still, I enjoyed it up until I got swarmed in a dungeon, and those were optional quests anyway so I might just pick up the main thread of quests again and gain a couple more levels before venturing in again.

The other MMO I picked up is a new one that I was tempted to try, which is Star Trek Online.  I’m playing the Free-To-Play option and have played one session for about three to four hours.  I started with the TOS-era, and found that it’s a mix of traditional MMO combat and quests in the ground missions with the space combat of Starfleet Battles, which is an interesting combination.  That being said, it’s not a very good MMO.  There is equipment, but I’m not entirely sure how to use it and make sure everything is properly equipped, and don’t know, at least not yet, where to sell it or buy other equipment.  The ground missions are also pretty weak when it comes to what you need to do to finish the quests, and I haven’t seen that many bonus missions or any side quests beyond what seems to be the main quest so far.  In the same time frame, both DAoC and TOR gave me a wider variety of quests and better explained how equipment worked and what I was supposed to be doing.  That being said, while it’s an inferior MMO I find it to be a really good Star Trek game.  The main quest moves you along through a number of situations taken from the episodes of TOS, with a new twist on them so that we aren’t just redoing the episodes.  I’ve seen the Gallileo 7 planet, the Gorn, the Tholians, and the mind-controlling creatures that killed Kirk’s brother.  This is all wrapped around a main plot that references the Temporal Cold War but does a better job of it than Enterprise did, and has you interact with the crew from the Original Series in interesting ways.  There are also a number of eras and cultures to choose from, allowing for a fair number of different experiences.  So it hasn’t really been an issue that I’ve just been following the main quest along in a linear fashion, and things might open up later.  It’s just a bit weird for an MMO.

Anyway, those are the games that I’m focusing on for this month.  Obviously, that’s going to change after New Year’s.

Exploration

December 1, 2021

So as I’ve mentioned before, I’m going to completely redo my schedule and priorities on New Year’s Day.  As I’ve also mentioned, I have an hour walk in the morning which gives me lots of time to think, so I’ve already been thinking about how that’s all going to work out.  And one of the things I’ve done is create a list of the games that I want to try to play:

Wizardry run (6-8)
Might and Magic run (from 6?)
Icewind Dale 1 and 2
Baldur’s Gate
Ultima (IV – VI)
Hearts of Iron exploration
Avernum series
Krondor games
General Adventure games (Rise of the Dragon, others)
Dragon’s Lair series
Europa Universalis exploration
General strategy (Tropico, Age of Wonders, Hero of Might and Magic, Disciples 2, King Arthur, King’s Bounty, Majesty, etc)
Fallouts
Freedom Force
Gabriel Knight series
Leisure Suit Larry series
Mass Effect series
Dragon Age series
Star Trek games
Star Wars games
Elder Scrolls games (Morrowind, Skyrim, Oblivion)
Zork series

Now, if you’re looking at that list, you’re probably thinking that it seems a bit ambitious, to say the least.  Just playing through the Wizardry games listed or the Might and Magic games would take something like 40+ hours, and there are a lot of other RPGs and long games listed.  Well, to make things worse, I’m thinking that I could only play games for maybe three to four hours on two or three days.  Oh, and my schedule is probably going to have to be reworked in the spring sometime when my workspace goes back to having us work at least more often from work, so I have maybe four months to work with.  There’s no way, then, that I could get through this entire list in that time.

Fortunately, I’m not crazy enough to actually try to do that.  This is just a list of all of the games that I think I want to play at some point, but I’m not planning on finish the list in the next few months, or even in the next year.  What I’m going to do is pick two or maybe three of them and use them as my focus, and then leave the rest for the next time I have to rework my schedule and decide which of them I want to play.  After all, I’m not that likely to change my mind about what I want to play that quickly (especially given that I’ve had lists of games I wanted to play that lasted for years).  And if I decide that I don’t ever want to play a certain game or set of games anymore, and want to play others instead, I can always delete and add to the list whenever I feel it appropriate.  So it’s a list of anything that I might want to do so that I can decide what I want to do.

But there are two elements of the list that I’m currently finding quite compelling but that I’m also hesitant about:  Hearts of Iron exploration and Europa Universalis exploration.  It’s not the games that are responsible for all of that, per se, but instead that “exploration” part tacked on.

I’ve had the “Hearts of Iron” games and “Europa Universalis” games for a while — I have disk versions of both, but am working with the GOG versions now — and what compelled me about the former in particular was the idea of putting myself into a historical situation and then seeing how that history could have gone differently.  Taking on a country in WWII and changing how WWII happened was compelling to me.  But aside from whether or not that game would really allow that, the big concern of mine was always that I wouldn’t be good enough at the game to pull that off, particularly with the military.  It wouldn’t work if I managed to get a huge production advantage and huge armies and then couldn’t do the things I wanted because I wasn’t a good enough general.  And that’s assuming that I managed to manage the production well enough to do that.  I wanted to change history and get into that sort of historical situation, but knew that my own lack of ability would get in the way of creating a really interesting history for me to follow and enjoy.

Hence, the “exploration” tag.  What I am considering doing is getting into the games I have — and for “Hearts of Iron”, for example, that might involve going through all three in order — and playing around with it and exploring its systems, seeing how it works in various situations and seeing what happens, while learning how all the production and warfare systems work without having a specific goal in mind.  Then, once I feel confident that I understand what’s going, only then might I try to change history or work for a specific historical goal, and I’d only do that after I tried one of the major powers and was able to hold my own.  So the plan for “Hearts of Iron” would be to take a minor country first — Australia, maybe, or one of the South American countries — and see how things play out without my direct involvement, and then take on a more involved country — or Canada, where I can’t help but have a vested interest in how things work out for Canada — and so on and so forth until I can take on one of the major powers and participate at a reasonable level, and then try to change history.  And then maybe move on to the next game.

Why this is filling me with trepidation is because I, personally, am not a player who likes to explore.  I’m not like Shamus Young who could have fun trying to see how early he can get firearms in Civilization.  I want to play a game and achieve some sort of goal, even if that goal is entirely personal.  This is also why I can’t simply be satisfied like Shamus is writing code and learning a lot, even if nothing comes of it.  I always want my projects to be usable and/or playable at the end, and get frustrated and bored if that isn’t happening quickly enough for my liking.  So doing this goes completely against my play style and my personality.  Therefore, I’m at least as likely to end up horribly frustrated by this than entertained by it, which is, obviously, not what I look for in my gaming experience.

I haven’t decided on anything yet, but I am leaning towards this.  I do think that the historical connection of “Hearts of Iron” and “Europa Universalis” will give me something interesting to follow while trying this, which means it’s more likely to work out than most other games (like Civilization).  But if I do this, it will be an interesting experiment, even if it turns out to not be interesting.