Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Getting Back Up To Speed  

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Man, it's been a crazy couple of weeks…
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First of all, apologies to everyone who follows the posts here. I try to make an effort and blog at least every other day, but with everything going on lately it's been nearly impossible to get any time to do writing or reading of any sort.
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After the in-laws left, I thought for sure that yesterday would be my day to catch up on everything.
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How does that line go about mice and plans...?
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About fifteen minutes into my efforts I got called away on a last-minute emergency thing that ended up lasting the entire night. By the time all was said and done, the sun was up and I could barely keep my eyes open… it sort of goes without saying that most of today was a bleary-eyed wash, but I've had about eight cups of coffee and I'm feeling fine for the moment, so I'm going with it.
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Writing: I made note of this on the sidebar, but for those of you who've asked, the current work-in-progress is on hiatus until probably the third week of July. There have been so many legitimately important things popping up lately that I just haven't had the time, and unless I figure out some way to add a few more hours in the day, I decided to put the book on hold so I can stop feeling guilty about not working on the book. I'm really looking forward to getting back to it, though… my co-author and I have hammered out nearly all of the details we need to finish, and I'm feeling pretty good about it.
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Reading: Read a couple of fantastic short stories and I really wanted to get the word out on them.
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The first is called “The Right Way to Eat a Bagel” by my good friend and generally brilliant writer Marshall Moore. You can check it out for free HERE. I can't really say much about it without spoiling the story, so just trust me when I say that it's absolutely worth the read and it's short enough that the average person will be able to get through it in one sitting. I’ve read a number of Marshall’s stories, and while they’re all good, this one was especially visceral-- I had to take a deep breath at the end. (Not to be a Twitter whore, but you can follow Mr. Moore at @articulateink)
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The second story is called “The Bikes of New York” by Cheeseburger Brown (@cheeseburgerb) , and it's available HERE. This tale is about a quasi-dystopian future, and what a Frenchman will do to survive. If the first chapter doesn't grab you, hang in there … it takes a number of unexpected directions, and if nothing else, Brown’s mastery of the language is certainly worth absorbing. Thanks to @merileefaber for recommending!
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Haven't had much time or focus for reading full-length books lately, but both of these stories really stuck to my ribs and re-ignited my fire for the short form.
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Games: This is probably old news, but here’s the latest PODCAST over at GameCritics in case you missed it.
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I'm completely behind schedule in terms of reviews which is a little embarrassing since I pride myself on being an industrious, high-output kind of guy, but I'm making the effort and slowly getting back up to speed. At the moment I’m still chugging through Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood on PS3.
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Although it didn't start off very well, the later chapters pick up and I can say that I'm enjoying it a lot more than I was initially-- though it's not that the gameplay is especially entertaining, but I get a lot of mileage out of the Western setting and the main characters are keeping my interest.
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Their voice work is actually fairly well done so that definitely helps, and it was a smart move on the part of the developers to keep the two playable brothers together regardless of which is chosen since it gives plenty of opportunities for dialogue and storytelling, not to mention the fact that having a buddy along during the game builds an appreciable sense of camaraderie. If it wasn't for the characters (and to a lesser degree, the plot) I would have mentally checked out by now.
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Finally, I did have a chance to put a few hours into Lemmings on PSP. Although I finished Lemmings 3D on PSone, I've never actually played the original Lemmings for more than a few minutes.
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The developers did a good job of smoothing it out and making it look pretty, but I think its core identity needed a little more work.
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Don't get me wrong-the formula and concept are still good, but it was pretty frustrating to get into some of the more difficult puzzles and not be able to zoom in enough for a sufficient level of precision when activating some of the special powers, not to mention that when a lot of lemmings get into a small area, it's basically impossible to pick the exact one you want out of the massed herd.
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Since so much of the game is about being very exact in terms of placement and timing rather than simply figuring out what to do, my frustration level crept up quicker than I expected and I ended up putting it aside with about half the content left untouched. This kind of imprecise control combined with stringent victory strategies might have been all right back in the day, but it doesn't fly anymore. I'm glad to have it in the archive, but I think I’ll be content to leave it as a footnote rather than a personal conquest.
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1 comments: to “ Getting Back Up To Speed


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