Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In which the vacation commences.

Thank goodness. It really couldn't get here soon enough. I'm not sure if I have a whole lot to show, physically, for my first three months at EA, but mentally and emotionally, coming after the end of my 17 years at Ziff Davis, I'm tired, and ready for a break. EA is the kind of enlightened company that doesn't actually pretend that anyone really works between Xmas and New Years, so they dispense with the charade and just close the offices for a week. To which I say: Yay!

The travel part of my vacation is already out of the way: This past weekend's visit to LA is it for us this time. And I don't know about you, but sometimes just being at home, with no plans, is the best kind of vacation there is.

I do have some chore-like items on the agenda, which I will put off as long as possible without raising the ire of Nagzilla (just kidding, dear!). For the most part, though, it is going to be Chillax Central chez moi. I'm determined to finally finish this goddang Erikson book, and then need to decide whether to immediately torment myself with the next phone-book sized tome in the series, or take a break with that nonsense for a bit. On deck are three possibilities: Dave Egger's What is the What, Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon, or possibly The Book Thief, by whoever the hell wrote it. All three have been sitting on my nightstand, taunting me, as I've struggled with the "light entertainment" of this fantasy book, which I swear I like even though all I do is complain about it.

Games I will be playing:
Prince of Persia: I downloaded this over the weekend and am about 4 hours into it and loving it. This is how you do a reboot. (Though some better dialog and voice actors would have been nice--hi, this series isn't set in the San Fernando Valley OMIGOD). But the art style is beautiful, the non-linear structure is a surprising and welcome change of pace, and the re-emphasis on platform and environmental gameplay over combat is a huge relief. Also, I gotta say--and I know opinions are divided on this--I am in love with the "do-over" mechanism in place here, which lets you instantly get back to the action after a failed jump or whatever, without having to needlessly replay sections you'd already finished, or, worse, going through menus and load screens. Yes, I know some folks find this "too easy," but to you I humbly and respectfully request that you go forth and get bent. Look, you *still* can't advance in the game until you do the part you've blown. It's not like you're cheating. It's just not punishing you with replay of stuff you *did* accomplish. Mirror's Edge is more punishing this way, and that's why, for now, I've stopped playing it. I was loving it, in theory, but in practice I found certain sections just too hard and too frustrating. I revise my earlier assessment that the game was generous with the checkpoints. Actually, no, it's not. I still think it's a cool game, and a great achievement overall, and I will get back to it. But after having a minor tantrum the other night--complete with hitting the 360's Eject button and whizzing the CD across the room---I decided I needed a break. And Prince of Persia is giving me the same kind of gaming experience, minus the frustration.


Dead Space
Yeah, I'm gonna finish this one finally. And I have nothing bad at all to say about it. Great game.


Lich King:
Duh. I'm level 74 and climbing. Just got an achievement for finishing 110 quests in Dragonblight. Yay?


Sacred 2
: Also downloaded off Steam but not played yet. I'm a sucker for hack-and-slash, though, and the reviews have been good. So I'm in. (My favorite, by the way, other than the Diablo series of course, is Titan Quest. In case you wondered.)

Lost Cities-: the real card game. Got this for Hanukkah--woot!--and have been engaged in a battle royale with my daughter, who is just too dang smart for me, as the current won/loss record indicates. Apparently she got the wife's brains. This means, of course, that I need to move to Plan B: Cheat.

Movies I plan to see: Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler. and maybe Frost/Nixon if I can get over my aversion to Ron Howard.

Yes, folks, it is going to be a lazy, pop culture orgy for this worn-out dork. I also, of course, will be spending lots of quality time with my loved ones, and will be exercising, and blogging, and maybe even doing some "real" writing.

Here's hoping your vacation gets off to a nice start as well. Merry New Year to you all!

33 comments:

Hanjun said...

What Is The What is a very interesting read. My college advised us incoming freshmen to read it this summer before orientation, and I have to say it was a fine choice.

Eggers and Achak somehow manage to portray their plight convincingly without either going for the "woe is me" angle or raising their fingers at any particular country or ethnicity for the situation. Quite the accomplishment really. Although, it's not a cheerful book by any means next to your non-denominational eggnog and non-denominational tree during your non-denominational holiday.

Cory said...

Man, I have to follow an intelligent literary comment with, "That Dragonblight quest at the Wrathgate sure was awesome, wasn't it? We need more of that in MMOs and less of the 'Go kill a guy you will probably run into another group of players killing and have to wait for the respawn, completely killing immersion' variety."

Derek said...

When you're done with your current book make sure you read Altered Carbon before the others. Having never heard of any one else reading this book I would be delighted to hear what you think.

Great book and well worth the read. As long as you don't mind some saucy moments (you played the witcher so you know the drill).

Joe Rybicki said...

Damn sir, that sounds like heaven. I'm gonna try to set up a similar vacation, and hopefully this year I can actually pull it off.

But hey, don't forget to blog a lot.

darvoid said...

So, my vacation started today at 5:00. I'm on my 3rd 4 finger glass of Wild Turkey! I couldn't play a game or read a book right now if you payed me!
I feel great though and loved reading your blog, even though I'm drunk.
Love, Darvoid

Rhody Tobin said...

I know Xbox 360 discs are too small, but I'm pretty sure they're not CDs. ;P

G-Man said...

The Wrestler, eh? As someone who willfully admits to watching way too much wrestling, I would be interested to hear your take on it. I have not seen it, but I could use an "outsiders" perspective to compliment my smarkiness.

Barrock said...

Sounds like an awesome time. I had a 18 hour car ride on Sunday. I listened to old Legendary Threads and cackled the entire time. Those were the days, eh?

Tomorrow night we leave for my grandpa's, the house where technology dies. He has no VCR, let alone a DVD Player. No computer either, frowny face. This year we bought him a microwave because the one he has is from the first year they started making them. And the man has a pacemaker. He says "I just start it and leave the room quickly." Crazy old man.

Have a good Christmas Eve, and keep up the blogging. Some of us aren't fortunate enough to be able to play World of Warcraft, so grind away for us. =P

Anonymous said...

Nagzilla?

Ho-lee!

I'm a single guy, meaning I have no real understanding of marital relations (and quite frankly, in my opinion, ignorance is bliss), but I would've thought that giving one's wife the nickname Nagzilla, even if just in jest, would've been the sort of thing one would've, maybe, you know, kept to oneself?

For example, there's a guy at my work whom I think of as The Level 10 End Boss.

I'm presently at Level 10 myself, and would LOVE to advance into the next level.

But until I actually do advance into that sacred realm I really do have to refrain from calling The Level 10 End Boss all the nasty little names I've made up for him during the course of the year. I keep these names secret - you know, in my head, like.

In fact, I'd have to say that that's my new year's revolution... resolution right there: to defeat The Level Ten End Boss.

Because I hate that guy.

Also, how insanely gratifying to learn that Green is going to be doing exactly what I'm going to be doing during the Christmas break - which is immersing myself in pop-culture. I always feel a tad guilty for overdoing it, so it's nice to see that other people are doing the same thing. And there's not a minute to lose either - tomorrow I'm going to be watching The Thorn Birds in its entirety! And after that I'm going to rip open the shrink wrap on Storm Of Zehir, the final expansion to Neverwinter Nights 2.

That and take lots of long, hot baths. I'll probably have about twenty baths this week.

The Goose

(Oh yeah, and Merry Crimbo, Jeff, and Merry Crimbo to everyone else, too.)

Boba said...

*gasp* aversion to Ron Howard? Say it aint so Jeff! Arrested Development? Apollo 13? He does good stuff...excluding the Da Vinci Code movie that is...

And the quest line after the Wrath Gate is amazing. Happy Hanukkah!

Stephen said...

No love for LotRO or the more recent Mines of Moria anymore, Jeff? I just picked it up and I must say I'm enjoying it more than the grindfest and nothing-really-new-to-add-but-we-still-enjoy-your-money WoW. Still have Lich King on the desk uninstalled so will give it a shot in the new year.

Happy Yule Tidings to you and yours.

Greg said...

Lost Cities is a really fun game... I used to play that at lunch hours and never did buy my own copy (er.. deck). Thanks for reminding me about it, I'll have to rectify that soon.

Plonkman said...

Play the new KINGS BOUNTY! Go on! DO IT! You know you want it.

Anyhoo.. Have a good one!

Plonkman said...

p.s. Yeah Prince of Persia and Dead Space are on my list to..

:D

Tydas said...

Have a great time! One item for your list is to create your own podcast!!oh wait, that my Christmas gift!

Dawg said...

Please read Altered Carbon. It is easily my favorite sci-fi book, nay, favorite BOOK in the last 5 years. Okay, there's the Song of Fire and Ice trilogy that's probably close, but I digress.

Morgan creates a world with well-realized noir, hard sci-fi, military culture via solid prose and dialogue. There was talk of it being made into a movie, but I haven't heard anything for years, which is goddamn shame.

And remember. Jesus was a dreidel spinner. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhRDC38-8CI

Slapshot said...

Merry Christmaskuh!

The Frost/Nixon movie looks good. I liked Michael Sheen as Tony Blair in "The Queen" and I've no doubt he'll be a great Frost.

And Frank Langella as Nixon is wicked good.

Have a nice vacay Jeff!

Chris P said...

Hi Mr Green

A month or so back I was on a ferry.
Trip should have been 3hrs. Ended up being over 24.
No food, no sleep, facilities packed up and overflowed 4hrs in, people vomiting etc. Not the most fun I have ever had.

Anyway, I happened to have my ipod with me - loaded up with old podcasts from 1UP. Listening to you and the others from the team interviewing people, cracking jokes and goofing around kept me smiling, laughing even. Maybe its just a case of doing your job, but you guys did a great job and kept me entertained and distracted, for which I am very grateful.

Cheers.

xx-Thor-xx said...

Don't forget to sign into WoW and nab your christmas gifts there. Other than that hope you have a chiller holiday old man.

Dick Ward said...

Are you seriously not planning to take in one of this week's three Nazi flavored films? Good, Vakyrie, and especially Defiance are chock full of possibly Nazi death. As an American, it is your duty to love them.

The Wrestler though, looks amazing. As an actual wrestling fan, (though not in the last 5 years) it's nice to see this taken from a realistic viewpoint. And let's face it. Mickey freaking Rourke.

Dan said...

I'm going to have to agree with you on PoP. I am enjoying it quite a bit, and am about the same length in. The whole series has been looking for an answer to the question of how you deal with platforming that may or may not be clear or doable the first time through. The rewind was just a do over and made up for some poor level design where you'd have to make many leaps of faith to determine the path. This one just has you restart at any point. Even for combat!!! I got beaten to crap while trying to figure out the counter button, but then I finally got it and ended the battle never having to see a load screen the whole time. Yay. The game is also a little more automatic, but this was always present in the other PoP games as well. Will we both keep this opinion to the end?

Maurice said...

Altered Carbon is the way to go if you're up for a heavy dose of scifi and an interesting detective story. Morgan's prose is very fresh and interesting
P.S. Finish Deadhouse Gates to see how how the shit hits the fan, and then move on to Memories of Ice to see how things manage to escalate even more!

@DAWG
A Song of Ice and Fire is not a trilogy, a fourth book has been published and officially seven are in the works.

geo said...

I dislike Ron Howard on principle but went to see Frost/Nixon to keep the family happy and I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed the movie: great acting, camerawork, and an exciting story... which is hard to do when the audience already knows the end before walking into the theater. Thumbs up.

thecapps said...

You should have picked up Stalker: Shadow of Cherynobyl of Steam's weekend deal last weekend. That is if you never played it, like me. Loving it so far. Took me a while to get into the combat and to understand how they want you to play it.

Doesn't really get going until you get a couple of decent guns, but once you hit that point and you're more capable of holding your own, it's fun. Atmosphere and mood galore, if you can overlook the shoddy hit response and some quirks.

Jon G said...

I think you'll enjoy Sacred 2. Out of the three classes I've played so far, I'd reccommend the High Elf for fun factor.

Chris Chambers said...

Altered Carbon is my favourite SF book (close tie with Alistair Reynolds - Revalation Space series).

Morgan is a great writer and the book never stops for breath which for me is great.

If you like this one you should try his latest, Black Man (13). Broken Angels is quite good as well!

Happy holidays matey!

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