Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

10 February, 2013

One More Step

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 14:03

I think I was quite spoiled, when it comes to adventure games. My love for the genre was kindled by playing some very good games at an early, formative age. Though the exact order is somewhat muddled now by the mists of time, I recall playing Pyramid: Challenge of the Pharaoh’s Dream in primary school, and while I suppose you might quibble a bit on the genre of that game, I certainly class it as adventure. It was marvellous fun. Then, picking through the PC games shelf in the library, I went on to play such excellent games as Pink Panther’s Passport to Peril and Riven. Although I didn’t understand a single thing on that first play, you all know how I’ve landed when it comes to that game. Eventually, I played Myst itself, of course. All great games, with fun and intriguing stories, and that’s where I’ve been spoiled – eating the best fruit first.

And then, when I was 13 or 14, I played The Longest Journey.

On the list of my favourite games, Riven holds the number one spot. The Longest Journey is on number two. Man, that game told an excellent story. It was one of the first games I actually bought, rather than borrow at the library. I don’t know how long it took me to get through it all, but it was a gloriously good time.

The sequel, Dreamfall, was also a good game, but it did not measure up to its predecessor. Funcom decided to experiment with action-adventure, adding half-hearted combat and stealth sections to the game, and choosing controls better suited for the X-box than the PC, though PC was the main platform. The story was excellent still, and masterfully told, but the actual gameplay left quite a bit to be desired. And it ended on a god damn cliffhanger. Six years ago. And then Funcom began digging itself its MMO grave, and we hear nothing more.

Until just recently! Ragnar Tørnquist, the mastermind behind these games, founded his own little studio and licensed the rights to finally make a new game in the series. And it’s up on Kickstarter right now, trying to fund the project. And they’ve said they’re removing the combat and stealth and going back to pure adventure! I am giddy with excitement! I have seriously been reloading that Kickstarter page over and over for the past two days, watching the number climb, ever slower, towards the goal. I pledged $50 myself, though I am debating going for the physical box, just to have it in my shelves. Will have to do some maths on whether the budget can take it.

If you haven’t played The Longest Journey, I heartily recommend it. It’s on GOG for a pittance, and I believe it is available on Steam as well, for those of that persuasion. Dreamfall‘s on there as well, if you want to check it out. But the Kickstarter is the real thing here. An actual proper adventure game made by people who damn well know how. I only wish I had more spending money at hand.

7 January, 2013

Sticky Stories: The Tolkien Legendarium

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

There are some stories that just seem to stick. Some stories that latch on, and stay with me, never leaving my brain, and resurfacing every now and then to make me ponder the intricacies and details and themes they explore. Stories that I periodically just have to read or see or experience again.

The Myst franchise contains such a story. As does The Dark is Rising Sequence. And the one that’s currently bubbling around near the surface is the vast story found in the works of Tolkien.

Obviously, what has brought this fit of bubbling thought on right now, is the first Hobbit film. I’ve seen it twice now, and enjoyed it greatly both times. It has its flaws – I’m basically of Dave Kellett’s mind here. While it is a very entertaining film, I am far from convinced that it needed to be split in three. And when it is split in three, it does not need to be three hours long.

But while the film is greatly entertaining, it isn’t the book, isn’t the depth and mad brilliance of Tolkien’s writings. Much like the Lord of the Rings films, it is a good, nay great, effort to tell that story in film form, but it mostly just whets my appetite for rereading the books. I want to see again how it all fit together in the text.

The Encyclopedia of Arda did a series of articles back when the Lord of the Rings films came out, the Movie-goer’s Guides, which listed some of the most important changes from book to film. I wish they’d do more of those for the Hobbit, I’m always game for a good explanation of Tolkien’s work.

I did find another list of changes, but it seemed less thought through and coherent in its presentation, listing even the most minor of quibbles as its own huge point, and I was so annoyed by its Cons section I eventually couldn’t read on. Oh, no, this change means using a word of dialogue that Tolkien didn’t write! Horreur!

The point is, I’m now in a mood to revisit this story. The best way would be a reread – Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion all – but considering how little reading I get done these days, I doubt it’s be the best idea. Maybe I can just do the Hobbit, and contend myself with that.

Or maybe I’ll just watch the Lord of the Rings films again. Yeah, that sounds nice and lazy.

19 November, 2012

Oziana

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I greatly enjoyed Gregory Maguire’s Wicked.

I am by no means an Oz aficionado. I have vague memories of checking the Norwegian translation of the original Oz book out of the library as a child, but I have no memories of actually reading it, so it cannot have made a big impact. I actually just bought a copy of the book in English the other day, on account of finding it at a bargain, but I haven’t read it yet.

I do recall the film, of course. You know the one I’m talking about, I doubt I need to specify further.  I don’t recall when I first saw it, but I’m fairly sure it was somewhere in childhood. It was never a big favourite, but I appreciate it for what it is now. Still doesn’t add up to a big Oz interest though.

That came with Wicked. Which is a bit sad, I suppose, that it takes a drastic reimagining to make me take notice. Really, though, it is a testament to the quality storytelling Maguire pulled off in that book. It really was an excellent novel.

I didn’t care to much for its first couple of sequels, Son of a Witch and A Lion Among Men. They were all right, I suppose, but nowhere near as engaging as Wicked. I’ve never felt moved to reread those two, but I was still interested enough in the world to read the final book in the series which came out last year, Out of Oz.

While I still wouldn’t rank that as good as Wicked, I felt this was much more of a return to form. I might actually reread this at some point! It somehow made Maguire’s vision of Oz much more interesting that the previous two. I do enjoy his ordered take on the world of Oz. Baum’s books seem to be the sort that rewrite the past whenever convenient, which isn’t the sort of approach I care for. Maguire’s Oz, on the other hand, takes all these confused elements and order them into a coherent whole. It’s like how Don Rosa organised Barks’s myriad references into a coherent whole in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.

Come to think of it, Wicked‘s full title is even Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Like I said, I’m no Oz aficionado, but having finished this series now, I’m almost tempted to become one. I do have Baum’s first book already, and I’m sure plenty of others are on Project Gutenberg or something.

Of course, first I have to find the time.

12 November, 2012

Dream(fall) Come True

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I apologise for that title.

You will recall that my favourite game is Riven. The Myst games in general dominate my toplist, but in the second spot, breathing Riven in the neck, is The Longest Journey.

I love The Longest Journey. It has its flaws, but I am willing to completely ignore them, because the good bits are so very, very good. It has some excellent puzzles (and some weird ones), some beautiful graphics (and some dodgy ones), and an excellent story (which is great all the way through). I love, love, love it.

I also liked its sequel, Dreamfall, but to a lesser extent. The story was still excellent in that game, but with some dodgy bits in it this time. The puzzles were not as engaging, and several of them were basically just fetch quests. I didn’t care for the interface. And, oh yes, there was combat.

I only finished that game by downloading a cheat thingy that let me instantly win any combat. And then I got stuck after I beat an enemy that was intended to be unbeatable.

Anyway, I did like it, and that’s enough about that. The reason I’m writing about this now, is the recent announcement that another sequel, Dreamfall Chapters, is on its way. I think I can sum up my immediate feelings on the matter by quoting my own tweet-slash-retweet:

Pictured above: elation.

To make it even better, they’re going back to pure adventure game, removing the clunky and dumb combat of Dreamfall! More puzzles! Closure to the Dreamfall cliffhanger ending! There’s apparently going to be a kickstarter campaign to fund development. I say, show me where it is, so I can throw my money at it. Elation.

Man, I hope it will be as awesome as it looks. Nobody’s asked me, but here’s what I think anyway: By dropping the combat, they’ll already be leaps better than Dreamfall. Hopefully, they’ll make better puzzles. In Dreamfall, so many of the puzzled were basically find this person, who asks you to find something else, and to find it you need to talk to X and help them find Y etc. Better puzzles, please! From the interview, it really looks like that’s where they’re doing anyway, so I’m optimistic. And maybe, just maybe we could have all the characters actually do something. In Dreamfall, Kian was pretty much just introduced, then off screen for ages, and then turned his coat out of nowhere when he popped up again. Develop this stuff!

Aaah, I’m just so excited! It looks like Tørnquist is fully and completely in charge on this one, so I’m hoping for awesomeness. The story continues! I’m almost running in circles, here.

 

I’m not afraid to give my heart away yet. Now I just have to count the days and look out for the kickstarter.

5 November, 2012

Musings on Piracy. I Mean, Arrrr.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I’m fairly certain there is a name for the phenomenon that the easier way wins out, that the concept is formulated in a law named after some clever word-smith who managed to relate the path of least resistance to consumer activities. I’ almost completely positive that there is such a named law when it comes to user interfaces for computers, that states that a better interface is the one that requires the least number of actions. For all my googling, though, I can’t find these names, so I shall have to proceed without them.

The point is, consumers will do what is easiest. We’ve heard this in the debate about piracy for some time, and it is obviously true, but the legitimate content providers are very, very reticent about being the ones providing the easiest path. In my youth, I downloaded shows I wanted to watch, because they weren’t on TV where I lived, and I really wanted to watch them anyway. There was no way to get them legally, so I downloaded. Arr, me hearties, etc.

I stopped that after a letter from MGM scared me straight.

Anyway, that’s years ago, but the situation today isn’t all that different. There’s loads of good TV being made, and not much of it makes its way to channels near me – or if they do, they do so months or even years after original airing. Being fickle consumers seeking instant gratification, the pirates are there to fill the gap. I manage to stay on the right side of the law while still getting to see the shows I want – it’s all technicalities. Morally, what I do is no different from piracy, I know, but legally, I’m in the clear. And I do it, because pirates successfully deliver the content in the easy way that the legitimate content providers won’t. It’s not a matter of wanting it for free; even in my downloading days I would go out and buy the DVDs as soon as they were available. It is about ease of access. I have always maintained that I would prefer the completely legitimate way. People in the US have it easier there, with services like Hulu and Netflix.

But now, see, Netflix has launched in Norway! My legitimate path is open to me!

And it’s still shit.

Well, OK, not completely. Netflix Norway has a very limited selection of shows and titles, and most of them are at least a couple of years old. They have shows that are currently airing, but only let you watch up until a couple of seasons ago. I assume this is because the industry is still locked in the model of thinking that gave us the utterly moronic zone system on DVDs – they want to control when people in various regions get to watch their stuff. And never mind that with current technology, they can’t.

I do sort of sympathise with the problem here. I imagine the profits from sales of airing rights to various markets are significant when it comes to making TV. And I don’t want TV production stifled by lack of funds. I’m not really sure what the solution is, but the Internet has so globalised communication that the model just doesn’t work any more.

So, Netflix Norway has poor selection, and I can only get it to work in (gag) Internet Explorer, and it only has Norwegian subtitles with uninspired language. It’s a step in the right direction, at least. I’ve spent the past couple of days diving into some older shows I might not have bothered with had they not been all that was on offer. Andromeda isn’t bad, it turns out. Presumably the selection will expand in the future, but until I can actually watch the latest episode of Modern Family as soon as it’s aired in the US, it won’t hold a candle to the pirates.

And isn’t that just a sad state of affairs.

22 October, 2012

A Lack of Board Games

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

I feel like I don’t have enough board games.

I don’t know if I’m properly qualified to be a board game geek (though I do have an account on BoardGameGeek), since I haven’t really played a wide variety of games. I do however feel like one, like someone who will go out of their way to get in a fun board game. But I feel like I don’t own enough of them. I’m actually less than impressed by some of the mainstays. Carcassonne, for instance, I’ve never seen the appeal of. There are a few I do like enough to have standing on the shelves however.

For a good long while, the only game I had was the Game of Thrones board game, which I’ve written a bit about before,  and which I used to play with friends pretty regularly. I still play it, but much less regularly now. It’s probably my favourite game, but it takes a while and needs many players, so we have to make an Event of it.

I’ve got a couple of card games. Monty Python Fluxx and Chrononauts are both good fun, but rarely see play. Bohnanza is a fairly recent acquisition, and has also not seen much use. Citadels I’ve had on the shelf for a little while, but never played – the opportunity has yet to present itself.

Kill Doctor Lucky I have gotten to play since obtaining it, and it was as much fun as I remembered. I quite like that style of humour – the family board game of murder in the dark. Earlier today I purchased a copy of Pandemic, which I have enjoyed playing in the past. I even played a little solitaire round to refresh my memory of the rules. I won.

And that’s it, really. That’s all that’s on my shelves. Like I say, I feel it’s not enough, but I don’t know where to go next.

I have been watching and enjoying Wil Wheaton’s TableTop show, but it hasn’t really inspired me to go get the ones I hadn’t heard of before yet. Maybe one will show up eventually?

Or maybe you, gentle reader, have some suggestions?

 

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress