Speaking of Tomb Raider

Why do developers feel compelled to mar the otherwise exceptional gameplay of puzzle games like Tomb Raider (pick one) or Prince of Persia (Sands of Time) with combat?  Especially boss fights?  I have been reminded of this penchant for the odd fight as I have been playing Lara Croft: Guardian of Light (GoL) and Tomb Raider: Underworld (TRU).  GoL isn’t so bad as it’s limited camera view (yay for isometric!) but TRU is especially frustrating as it has multiple enemies and a fairly limited camera view.

In those games my reaction has always been the same.  The internal monologue goes something like this.

“Oooh, this room looks rough.  I’ll have to climb over there, drag the box off that ledge, move it over there, position it on that lever, bounce it onto the other ledge and clime up from there.  Nice, and now…  Aggghhh, stupid ‘gators!!!!  Ok, done with those, cripes.  What’s in the next room?  Uh-oh, a cinematic.  That can only mean…  no, not another %#^$% boss fight!”

5-6 tries later I often quit for the day before I hurl my controller into my TV.  Seriously, my play time in these games always ends on a boss fight.  I’m just loving all the puzzles, getting from A to B, doing all the cool flippy, jumpy, pulley, pushy, swing…y(?) action only to be fun blocked by stupid, out of place, annoying combat.

I love combat.  I really do.  My thousands of hours in FPS and MMORPGs attest to that fact.  I just don’t play puzzle games for combat.  It’s like entering a poker tournament where every 10th hand is alternatively cribbage, spades, hearts, go fish with the final table being a rousing hand of Uno (not even the cool Hot Death Uno).

When to Forgive?

Recently a former girlfriend from my high school days messaged me on Facebook. The contents were the same as the message she sent to me previously on Facebook, to my email, to my dead account on emotional-sucker spam site, Classmates (dawt commmmm). Mainly something about how I look in whatever photo associated with that account, hoping my life is well, missing me and platitudes about the wrongs which led to me rather abruptly severing all communication with her on day about 13 years ago.

In every case I’ve ignored her message.  Really, what does it take for someone to get the hint?  You’d think the utter and complete silence from me for over a decade would clue people in.  Well, that and the fact that I know that sometime after making my decision I explained, in detail, why it was made and that I never wanted to hear from her again.  Details which won’t be expressed here.  Those who aught to know them do.  Those who don’t know don’t need to know.  They are not germane to my present quandary.

See, I too have been rather forcibly ejected from someone’s life.  It was around the same time 13 years ago, maybe a year or two later, that I befriended two people, husband and wife, who had a rather profound impact upon my life.  I won’t say they had as much influence on my life as my parents, no one really does.  But after having met them and spending time with them my world view was altered, my way of approaching the world shifted.  I guess the best word to describe that impact would be that they were mentors to me.

Then one day I did something, said something.  The wife of the pair said she never wanted to speak to me again.  The husband was much more cordial.  He spoke to me.  However he would not explain what I had said or done to his wife to have her so utterly sever her friendship with me.  He said that was up to her to explain to me if she so chose.  A position I respect to this day even if I have never understood the reasons it happened.  It is a sore patch of memory I worry over from time to time, like one does any other persistent hurt.  I longed then, and still do now to some degree, to be forgiven.  Or, at the very least, have whatever I had done explained so I may offer a sincere apology.

I am a different person.  This is obvious to pretty much anyone who has recollection of themselves from a decade past.  Not so different as before but certainly more refined in my beliefs and much harder on myself for my mistakes.  Simply I am not so young and stupid and inconsiderate.

But does that not also apply to this woman whom I have written of as not worth having in my life?  How can I simultaneously desire some sort of dialog in one case based in part of the changes life has wrought in me without also entertaining the notion that similar changes might have occurred in the other?  If I feel I am…  I cannot think of the word to fit there.  Owed?  No.  Deserving?  Worthy?  No.  Each implies that I am entitled to something which can only be judged and granted by another; certainly not entitled.  If I desire that contact should I not entertain the notion of granting it when someone feels the same of me?

Maybe that is the wrong question.  Maybe I am right in my decision then.  Maybe the answer isn’t “should I entertain the notion of once again talking to this person I left behind years ago” but rather “should I let go of the idea that the person who let me go so many years ago should talk to me?”

Need Time Travel NOW!

Homina, homina, homina….   Wow!  Just watch, more below.  Watch in 720p if you can.

Yikes!  Star Wars might be in my blood, Guild Wars never really caught my fancy, but this is video, this title, has me hooked.  I’m sure the hype will far outshadow what they can do but the fact they are trying matters.  Because even if it falls short, it is progress.  Progress than another company or they themselves can later build upon.

“The most important thing in any game should be the player.  We have built a game for them.” — Ree Soesbee

Sometimes Technology Astounds Me

I just had one of those moments where the technology I am using in such a sanguine manner astounded me.

12 years ago the coolest thing I did as a geek was to work on my machine at home.  See, I was doing so while at work using VNC across a 14.4kbps dial-up connection.  It was horribly slow but oh-so-cool.

Today I just used VNC in much the same manner.  I VNCed into a machine to start my media application so my wife an I can watch videos on the XBox tonight.  Except the machine which the VNC client was running was a virtual machine (VM).  Its connection is an encrypted VPN tunnel to another machine which is, itself, a VM.  From there the connection went to my main home Linux box which is headless so the VNC display is itself virtual.  Finally the media application doesn’t run on Linux so I have a WindowsXP VM in which to run it.

Connecting from a VM to VM on a virtual display accessed across a VPN run on a VM intermediary.

Makes me wonder what I’ll be doing with technology in 12 years time.