This is Not a Blog | 7.19.2011

There's no time like the present to start a blog, so, uh, here's a blog!

Lately I've found myself really enjoying user blogs here. People like JJWeatherman and Psycosis have blogs with multiple posts on them — something I am clearly lacking. On the off chance that someone out there wants to hear what I have to say about the video games I'm playing, I figure it's time to give this a shot.

Steam: Not for Use on Hotel Internet

Let's say you have the distinct pleasure of relying on hotel internet for an extended period of time. In between admiring your 0.2 Mbps download speeds and 900+ ms ping times you might just want to try and log in to Steam — you know, just to say hi to some friends and maybe play an offline game or two. Unfortunately, hotel internet is playing coy with you. Steam makes a futile attempt to start before incongruously trying to update itself.

Let's say that after trying repeatedly to open Steam and banging your head on your keyboard a few times as your attempts inevitably fail, you temporarily forget how computers work. You briefly consider that reinstalling Steam might be the answer to all of your problems. You, being far smarter than I, probably reconsider this course of action almost immediately. I, however, press on, managing to delete all of my downloaded games in the process.

These guys bailed me out of hotel internet hell. In return, I'm stress testing their network for them.

So now I'm not only stuck on hotel internet, but there are 80 GB of games in the cloud that I need to re-download. The solution? I ordered one of these. I am now in the process of downloading 80 GB of data over the Clear 4G wireless network. I'm pretty sure I'm their new favorite customer.

The good news: ping times under 100 ms and download speeds between 0.25 and 3 Mbps, depending on the time of day. It's not going to get me to 80 GB very quickly, but at least it's going to get me there.

And of course the first game I re-downloaded was...

The Witcher: So I Hear There's a Sequel

The Witcher is a very long game, and I've been playing it for a very long time. Unfortunately, these two facts are only partially correlated. Between unsuccessfully guessing where to go next, dying on significantly more than one occasion, losing progress to an unrelenting series of computer crashes, and taking frequent breaks to drool wistfully at the stunning beauty of The Witcher 2, this game has taken me some time to get through.

This man thinks he is The Witcher.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time with The Witcher, but let me emphasize that it is a lot of time. I'm 40+ hours in and most of the way through Chapter III. I'm told there exists a Chapter V, and that this is followed by an Epilogue. This interminability is almost enough to tempt me into starting the sequel. In fact, during a particularly frustrating series of events involving a bugged door and a scripted encounter, I actually launched The Witcher 2 (which I had spent the previous day downloading in the background).

If there's one thing I now know about The Witcher 2, it's that the main menu screen is incredible. It's gorgeous to look at and the music is superb. It's enough to make you wholeheartedly jump into another 40 hours of monster slaying, and I almost would have, if it weren't for this message:

The Witcher saves unavailable, information will not be imported.

Well, goddammit.

Chime: Ding!

You know how some games are more like choreographed light shows than actual games? Take The Polynomial: Space of the Music — there's probably a game hiding in there somewhere, but I certainly haven't found it. By contrast, Chime is both a choreographed light show and an actual game. If you're not on top of your tetromino matching, you're probably not going to be making very good music.

Covering the entire grid with 'quads' (solid rectangular clumps of interlocked pieces) is actually an intriguing challenge. If you're not exceptionally careful, you will leave one or two uncovered cells here and there, forcing you to go back and rebuild an entire quad around each gap. It gets frenetic and surprisingly fun when you have to balance the rescue of stranded partial quads with the building of new ones in uncovered territory.

I haven't yet invested enough time to master all of Chime's mechanics, but I am wholeheartedly digging its overall style. The combination of starkly minimalistic menu layout and graphic design with a lush, bright, and overwhelmingly colorful game board really works for me. As an added bonus, Chime is developed by the non-profit OneBigGame, which means that the majority of the purchase price goes straight to charity. If you didn't pick this up during the recent Steam sale, you might want to consider just grabbing a copy at $4.99.

Okay, Maybe This is a Blog

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading! One more quick shout-out to JJWeatherman for inspiration on header formatting and post structure. Hopefully I'll be back next week-ish with another one of these. Not mentioned above is my recent purchase of a Nintendo 3DS, which I'll reserve for discussion in a future post once I've had some more time to actually play around with it.

Cheers!

4 Comments
5 Comments
Posted by thisisalan

There's no time like the present to start a blog, so, uh, here's a blog!

Lately I've found myself really enjoying user blogs here. People like JJWeatherman and Psycosis have blogs with multiple posts on them — something I am clearly lacking. On the off chance that someone out there wants to hear what I have to say about the video games I'm playing, I figure it's time to give this a shot.

Steam: Not for Use on Hotel Internet

Let's say you have the distinct pleasure of relying on hotel internet for an extended period of time. In between admiring your 0.2 Mbps download speeds and 900+ ms ping times you might just want to try and log in to Steam — you know, just to say hi to some friends and maybe play an offline game or two. Unfortunately, hotel internet is playing coy with you. Steam makes a futile attempt to start before incongruously trying to update itself.

Let's say that after trying repeatedly to open Steam and banging your head on your keyboard a few times as your attempts inevitably fail, you temporarily forget how computers work. You briefly consider that reinstalling Steam might be the answer to all of your problems. You, being far smarter than I, probably reconsider this course of action almost immediately. I, however, press on, managing to delete all of my downloaded games in the process.

These guys bailed me out of hotel internet hell. In return, I'm stress testing their network for them.

So now I'm not only stuck on hotel internet, but there are 80 GB of games in the cloud that I need to re-download. The solution? I ordered one of these. I am now in the process of downloading 80 GB of data over the Clear 4G wireless network. I'm pretty sure I'm their new favorite customer.

The good news: ping times under 100 ms and download speeds between 0.25 and 3 Mbps, depending on the time of day. It's not going to get me to 80 GB very quickly, but at least it's going to get me there.

And of course the first game I re-downloaded was...

The Witcher: So I Hear There's a Sequel

The Witcher is a very long game, and I've been playing it for a very long time. Unfortunately, these two facts are only partially correlated. Between unsuccessfully guessing where to go next, dying on significantly more than one occasion, losing progress to an unrelenting series of computer crashes, and taking frequent breaks to drool wistfully at the stunning beauty of The Witcher 2, this game has taken me some time to get through.

This man thinks he is The Witcher.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time with The Witcher, but let me emphasize that it is a lot of time. I'm 40+ hours in and most of the way through Chapter III. I'm told there exists a Chapter V, and that this is followed by an Epilogue. This interminability is almost enough to tempt me into starting the sequel. In fact, during a particularly frustrating series of events involving a bugged door and a scripted encounter, I actually launched The Witcher 2 (which I had spent the previous day downloading in the background).

If there's one thing I now know about The Witcher 2, it's that the main menu screen is incredible. It's gorgeous to look at and the music is superb. It's enough to make you wholeheartedly jump into another 40 hours of monster slaying, and I almost would have, if it weren't for this message:

The Witcher saves unavailable, information will not be imported.

Well, goddammit.

Chime: Ding!

You know how some games are more like choreographed light shows than actual games? Take The Polynomial: Space of the Music — there's probably a game hiding in there somewhere, but I certainly haven't found it. By contrast, Chime is both a choreographed light show and an actual game. If you're not on top of your tetromino matching, you're probably not going to be making very good music.

Covering the entire grid with 'quads' (solid rectangular clumps of interlocked pieces) is actually an intriguing challenge. If you're not exceptionally careful, you will leave one or two uncovered cells here and there, forcing you to go back and rebuild an entire quad around each gap. It gets frenetic and surprisingly fun when you have to balance the rescue of stranded partial quads with the building of new ones in uncovered territory.

I haven't yet invested enough time to master all of Chime's mechanics, but I am wholeheartedly digging its overall style. The combination of starkly minimalistic menu layout and graphic design with a lush, bright, and overwhelmingly colorful game board really works for me. As an added bonus, Chime is developed by the non-profit OneBigGame, which means that the majority of the purchase price goes straight to charity. If you didn't pick this up during the recent Steam sale, you might want to consider just grabbing a copy at $4.99.

Okay, Maybe This is a Blog

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading! One more quick shout-out to JJWeatherman for inspiration on header formatting and post structure. Hopefully I'll be back next week-ish with another one of these. Not mentioned above is my recent purchase of a Nintendo 3DS, which I'll reserve for discussion in a future post once I've had some more time to actually play around with it.

Cheers!

Posted by valrog

I've been led here under the impression that this is not a blog. Clearly, I have been deceived. At least I found comfort in your Steam deletion (It happened to me once, well it was because of a Steam Error and I wasn't on Hotel Internet, but still).
 
Now that I'm here, I want to say that I am sorry that your experience with The Witcher was not as Epic as mine (And of many others). And without technical issues. And other things that ruin the experience.
 
Other than that, good Non-blog Blog.

Posted by TotalEklypse

I should have gave the first Witcher a real chance. Fucking hate that lame combat system though. Maybe it got better further on, but I really couldn't have gave less of a shit at the time.  
 
Hah you expected more out of hotel internet and deleted STEAM. That made me laugh.

Posted by Red12b

YOU LIE!

Posted by thisisalan

@valrog: Thanks for the Steam deletion solidarity. I really am enjoying The Witcher and have experienced my share of truly epic moments in it (the Chapter II boss fight, the "posh reception" in Chapter III). It's just a matter of getting past the less epic moments and making it to the end before starting the sequel.

@TotalEklypse: There's still time! The combat does get a bit repetitive and you spend a decent amount of it not in control of Geralt's actions (stunned, knocked down, executing some majestic takedown) until you get the hang of it. The story, atmosphere, and epic moments really are worth it though.