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Squacklecast Episode 25 – “Mad Max: Spoiler Road”

May 16th, 2015 Posted in Media, The Squacklecast | No Comments »

Hey all!  We talk about lots of stuff today, including Japanese game shows, Mad Max: Fury Road and lots of upcoming/canceled TV shows this year.

We don’t talk about any Mad Max spoilers really until we accidentally let some slip, so we don’t talk about Mad Max until about the 25 minute mark.

Here are some clips to look at for the Japanese game shows we are talking about in particular:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFaF2etEJaE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlGWOBpZObg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qh4VNuW_1w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfMLmv1jULs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2lzoEwRUA0

Then we talk about Mad Max: Fury Road for a considerable amount of time:

New TV shows for the upcoming 2015/2016 season.  Lots of procedural shows where there is a person/thing that has a lot of extra knowledge or abilities to solve crimes.

Limitless being one of them, where Bradley Cooper plays lovable huggy bear who only appears in one episode per season.

And then there are like procedural shows for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend or whatever, and then Legends of Idiots which is another super hero show procedural based on a comic book.

There’s a lot of time spent on TV show stuff.  We stop talking about Mad Max completely at around the 1 hour 1 minute mark.

See ya next time!

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Windward (PC) Review

May 26th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games | No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Tasharen Entertainment || Overall: 7.5

Hardware Used: Windows 8.1, i7, Nvidia GTX 780

Sandbox games are varied and plentiful nowadays.  Needing to strike the right balance between theme and progression is important, otherwise interest can be lost quite quickly.  Windward, a naval-themed sandbox game, is one such game with an interesting theme and progression system.  While the game can feel rewarding, you may find that you are stuck in an endless grind cycle on the high seas that will test your resolve in more ways than scurvy can.

With no formal tutorial, single player might seem the obvious first choice for a new player of Windward. When starting a game, you’ll be asked to create a character, choose a faction, and start a new procedurally-generated world.  Once you establish a new game and character you’ll enter the map that you’ve generated and with your little starter boat you’ll find your way through figuring out the mechanics and progression the game offers.  Little help tips at the top will pop up in lieu of being initiated through a tutorial.  This may feel a bit cryptic at times depending on your ability to understand and find things with little direction as the help tips seem contextual and will change or pop up as you stumble across a new feature or thing it wants to tell you about.

While the maps are probably never the same, not much is unpredictable in the way the regions are laid out.  To actually play the game you’ll visit a town, take up quests, complete the quest, then get more quests, and repeat the cycle.  Quests usually fall in a couple of categories, such as killing pirates or traveling from Point A to Point B (which is what I named a couple of my towns).  Quests can be framed differently (such as hunting down a pirate/defending a town) but the end result typically is a variation of those two main quest types.  You’ll build up your resources and get equipment as you complete quests.  You also build up XP which allows for the assigning of talent points that increases your ships stats at certain thresholds (essentially levels, but they’re not really framed that way).  Selling the gear/random items you find is probably the fastest way to earn gold, but you can also dabble in trading cargo between towns — although that isn’t as straightforward as you would think as not every town is willing to accept all cargo.  Quests and Cargo both take up cargo space, so it usually ends up being more worthwhile to take a Quest instead of spending money to buy Cargo.  Depending on the faction you are in, you may fight against other factions (players and/or AI) who are vying for control of your region.

The first couple of hours I was in single-player mode, the grind became very prevalent.  Once you “get” the point of the game, there’s not much left to really “do.”  There is general game progression: leveling up towns by completing quests, and capturing/establishing new cities, and capturing zones until you ultimately capture everything in the map you’ve generated.  The progression in single-player is very slow and that is purposeful because the game actually seems to be balanced for a multiplayer environment where there are a large group of players completing quests and upgrading towns instead of just one person doing all of the work.  With that said, the game gets a lot more pleasant and less daunting if you play on an Internet server where you can find upwards of fifty people playing depending on which server you look at.  Albeit they are typically spread out on the world map, you do interact with people using the chat system and can potentially coordinate zone takeovers/defense by following orders.

The character you make at the beginning of the game will carry through to any new Worlds you generate and can be used online as well.  Your progression is saved locally, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were server settings that force a cloud save for your character, which may mean starting from scratch.  You can also enter an Instance, which is separate from the main world you are currently playing in.  In Instances you fight against pirates and capture towns in a completely fresh region, offering gear and rewards from doing so.  Once you leave the instance, it disappears and will put you back into the persistent map you’ve been previously playing on.  Moving through the World’s map requires you to gain talents as regions have a minimum requirement to enter.  Being exposed to the multiplayer chat on a larger server, talent levels seem to extend past at least 100 and may extend as the game is updated.

The equipment in the game increases your stats, and generally improve your ship and abilities.  Combat can be a strategy-laden ordeal depending on what you get yourself into and equipping the right gear will allow you to hit harder challenges and capture towns/towers faster.  Most of the strategy comes from the way your ship is facing and making sure you keep within the firing arc to maximize your damage.  The equipment is ship-themed, such as hull, sails, crew, and captain among other things.  There are nice in-game customization items that change the look of your boat, as well.  You can also upgrade by buying larger ships, which take a significant amount of gold.  Apparently you can also get airships/blimps but it seems to take a very long time to get to that point.  It also seems that more ships are currently being added from chatter in-game on the server I played on.

Visuals of the game are nice to look at, although you’ll mostly see the same stuff over and over.  The game’s visuals all have an island/beach theme and you don’t see the art taking much of a varied approach to try different things.  It would have been nice to see different tile sets for regions so everything in the game doesn’t look and feel exactly the same.  The music in the game is very nice, but most of the tracks seem to be very short and loop quite often.  Water also looks really nice and I can appreciate the quality of the visuals existing in the game considering its scope.  Altering terrain is also an interesting aspect and you can make areas passable where they weren’t before.  Combat is also visually pleasing, although it can be a bit funny to watch cannonballs bounce around like basketballs and then disappear.

Perhaps the worst part of the game comes from its user interface design and potential quality of life enhancements that aren’t included.  My biggest problem is that the on-screen mini-map doesn’t display town-names, forcing you to open the larger map to see which town is which and how to plan out your quests better.  The larger map is also not resizable, so you wouldn’t be able to have it open as you were moving around.  I was also pining for an auto-travel or a way to constantly change direction of your ship without having to click down the whole time.  Positively, your ship’s abilities are able to be re-bound on the fly by right-clicking them and then assigning a key which reduces any sort of option-hunting.  The old-paper style of the UI is also very pleasant as it keeps with the naval theme and it’s more-or-less easy to tell if an item is an upgrade or not due to color-coding.

The most admirable aspect about Windward is that it is completely designed and programmed by a one-man developer.  It also seems that regular updates are coming through, as my game has updated at least two or three times since I started playing.  As far as a future update plan goes, nothing was currently readily available on the Steam Community that I could find.  I personally experienced no game crashes or frame rate drops and had a very positive technical experience.  The server I connected to a few times never dropped me and I was able to connect without much difficulty.

Windward is a nice, slow-paced experience that can definitely just be used as a time waster or a multitask while watching Netflix.  If the theme resonates with you, you may enjoy it more than others, but the grindy progression system could be a potential turn-off.  There’s no story and not even really an ultimate goal other than getting the best gear and ships, so the motivation to play is driven solely by progression in power level, which can easily get stale unless you get into the persistent PvP aspect of the game.

Windward is currently available on Steam for $14.99.

A reviewable copy of Windward was provided to Squackle.

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Quote #23832

May 21st, 2015 Posted in Quotes | No Comments »

“It’s the Coca-Cola of beers.  Not its popularity, but in its consistency.”

– D-Win

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The Whitman’s House: A Halloween Story

May 20th, 2015 Posted in Stories | No Comments »

I wrote this in 6th grade for class.  I preserved all of the bad grammar and/or spelling errors that might be present.

I. There was always something strange about that house in Hintelville. The house in Hintelville is so weird every time someone walks past it they is scared to death! Every Friday the thirteenth all the ghosts attack the town of Hintelville … the town where Anthony lives.

II. “Hey guys if we’re going to get to Anthony’s house by sundown we have to go NOW!” Dave and Matt’s dad yelled

“Just a minute dad!” Dave said. Dave is twelve years old, he hopes something exciting will happen in his life. He can hack into any computer system, and he has black hair and hazel eyes. Dave’s brother, Matt, has black hair and hazel eyes, is 11 ½ years old, and he can program games on computers. Anthony is their favorite cousin. He is awesome, at age thirteen, and has cool ideas on how to have fun. Dave was stuffing their clothes in his gym bag while Matt was getting their laptop computer in his bag.

III. When they finally got to Anthony’s (from a two hour car trip), they rang Anthony’s doorbell. In a few minutes Anthony opened the door. He said, “Dave, Matt what are you doing here?”

“We’re going to stay over for two weeks! Isn’t that great?” Dave said.

Anthony said, “Come on in, I gotta talk to you about something.” When they went to Anthony’s room, Anthony closed the door and said, “It’s really bad that you came today.”

“Why” Matt asked.

“Because tomorrow is Friday the thirteenth. At the stroke of twelve the ghosts of the old Whitman house attack Hintelville. Every Friday the thirteenth we’ve been able to stop them from taking over the town.” Anthony answered.

IV. So tomorrow was Friday the thirteenth. Everybody in the town was ready for action. The people of Hintelville had made a little “army” outside. While Matt was outside with the “army” Dave stayed inside with the laptop. Suddenly Dave heard screams, gun shots, and more screaming. Then Dave looked back to the laptop and opened a file called “Ghost Houses.” There were about twenty houses. Dave typed in “Whitman” and then he saw the house! Dave looked down at the “What you should do to make the ghosts disappear”: 1.Call the Ghostbusters. 2.Get outta Hintelville. 3.Hack into the house’s computer system.

“Hey, wait a minute! Since when does a haunted house have a computer system?” Dave said. Dave heard a bloodcurdling scream. Dave pressed on “Hack’em!” At the bottom of the page. Inside the Whitman computer system, there was were many types of ghosts and everything. “So the ghosts are all computer holograms!” Dave said.

V. Then Dave rushed to the window and yelled, “Everybody head for the house!” Everybody listened to Dave and started racing to the house. Inside Dave put on a bullet proof vest that Anthony had left him just in case. He also took two hand guns and a machine gun. He also took a helmet. Then Dave scampered to the house for the final confrontation. When Dave got outside all the “ghosts” had suddenly disappeared!

VI. When Dave got to the house everybody was waiting for Dave him.

Then Anthony said, “So, are we going to get in or what?” When he said that, they started banging down the door and breaking windows to get in. When they got in they started ambushing the bad guy behind it all. They chased him through the house. Finally they caught him. It was some guy named Antonio Pilowpioosowsomething. He said, “Dang, I almost captured the town.”

THE END

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Essay on the Iceman

May 20th, 2015 Posted in People, Screwed Up Chronicles | No Comments »

I wrote this in 6th grade for class.

The Iceman is the best preserved human ever found. He was found in Italy. Nobody knew where he came from or who he was.

The Iceman’s clothing was a cape, shoes with grass on the inside (found only in the Alps), a leather sole in each of his shoes, and ibex shoelaces. He also had a coat made of animal skins and a leather pouch. The Iceman is about 5,300 years old. He was said to have lived in the New Stone Age or “Neolithic Epoch.”

The Iceman had some tools. His tools were: a flint knife and a metal blade ax made of copper with a wooden handle. He also had a quiver of arrows, and a wooden bow.

His copper blade ax had a wooden handle but strangely enough the Neolithic Epoch was before the Copper Age when Copper was first found, so what was a Neolithic man doing with a copper blade for an ax? That’s something that we might never know.

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Tales of Phantasia: These Guys SUCK ASS!

May 20th, 2015 Posted in Media, Pictures | 1 Comment »

theseguyssuckass

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Street Fighter Fan Service

May 20th, 2015 Posted in Media, Pictures | No Comments »

streetfighterfanservice

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Quaow Mix

May 16th, 2015 Posted in Dictionary | No Comments »

Quaow Mix – n. food that really really hungry cats ask for, by name.  <see quaow>

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quaow

May 16th, 2015 Posted in Dictionary | No Comments »

quaow – n. the cry of a cat when it REALLY wants something. For when just a “meow” won’t cut it.

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Quote #23819

May 3rd, 2015 Posted in Quotes | No Comments »

“During the last two hundred years, Americans have broadened the right to be an ass by eliminating barriers based on ass belief, ass ownership, ass payment, race, sex, and ass.  At the same time, the ass government has assumed a greater role in deciding who can vote and how elections should be run.”

– davepoobond

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Finland: The Conquest

May 3rd, 2015 Posted in Stories | No Comments »

This was a thing I found at high school.

Hello, I’ve taken over Finland. The new name for Finland is the Empire of Finland, therefore, that makes me emperor. (Point to audience member who disrupts, and say, “You, dungeon, now”.) The Euro is now banned, and an ounce of Pepsi equals 1 US Dollar.

You may also be wondering about defenses, well, that’ll involve snowball throwers and people armed with cell phones. The cell phones part is in my plan to conquer Canada. You see, Finland is the base of operations of Nokia, and because I control Finland, I get an unlimited amount of cell phones. With those cell phones, I would just make them constantly dial random Canadian phone numbers, until the country is in a state of depression, and therefore, this will lead to the Canadian government cutting their defense department!

This will force the Canadian government to cut their standing army by 50%. From 4 to 2.

So, once I control Canada, I sell the land off to Bill Gates or someone else, use that money to build a mind control machine and then…

I TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

Who’s with me?

Also, if you disagree with me, I’ll be forced to put you in the snowball making camps. (Then point to everybody and make them work in the snowball camp)

Who’s with me?

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Ireland: Status Quo for Ireland

May 3rd, 2015 Posted in Screwed Up Chronicles, World | No Comments »

Note: This is a debate about whether or not reforming Ireland in the 1800s would be good or not.

By davepoobond:

Ireland will stay the same when it comes to the British. Irish hate British. Irish don’t like the British because they tried to rule over them, but they don’t like that. Crumpets and tea – no way! The Irish don’t like anything about the British, no sir.  Fish and chips – yeah, right.

The Irish like to fight, so therefore they fight the British. British don’t like the color green so they fight the Irish. Irish don’t like Scottish because they’re on different islands.

The Irish like to drink magnificent amounts of alcohol, having boxing matches with farm animals, the first Irish war started when an Irishman blew up on a hot air balloon, and boxed it for 3 hours straight.

By Soup Nazi:

Dave and I are for the reform of Ireland. Anglican churches were using Irish money to support themselves. This wan an unorthodox and a poor way to flourish, even for a church in our minds.

This is also towards the landlords. They charged their tenants unfairly with outrageous rents. The reform protected them, and the land they worked on.

Overall the reform ensured no one abused their power, we feel that many abuse their power enough.

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Hawthorne Heights – If Only You Were Lonely (2006) Review

May 3rd, 2015 Posted in Music, Music Review | No Comments »

I like this album, though it’s a lot mellower than their previous album, “The Silence in Black and White.” Most of the songs were slow to medium tempo with only a couple songs being fast. I hope the next album has a faster overall feel to it though. There are a lot of songs on it that would qualify as some of my favorite songs of all time.

Song Ratings – Overall – 4/5:

This Is Who We Are – 5/5
We Are So Last Year – 4/5
Language Lessons – 4/5
Pens and Needles – 5/5
Saying Sorry – 5/5
Dead in the Water – 5/5
I Am On Your Side – 5/5
Breathing In Sequence – 5/5 – This was probably the song I listened to the most.  Very catchy song.
Light Sleeper – 5/5
Cross Me Off Your List – 4/5
Where Can I Stab Myself in the Ears – 5/5
Decembers – 4/5

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AFI – Decemberunderground (2006) Review

May 3rd, 2015 Posted in Music, Music Review | No Comments »

As a big AFI fan over the years, Decemberunderground is definitely a huge difference from their previous albums. I view the album as more of an extension of Sing The Sorrow, which took me a while to get used to, but when I did I couldn’t stop listening to it. Same goes for Decemberunderground, but the “getting used to” period was definitely longer this time around due to the screaming and integration of more electronic sounds.

Song Ratings – Overall – 5/5:

Prelude 12/21 – 3/5
Kill Caustic – 5/5
Miss Murder – 5/5
Summer Shudder – 5/5
The Interview – 4/5
Love Like Winter – 5/5 – Very catchy song, the best off the album.  I couldn’t stop listening to it for a loooonnnnnggg time.
Affliction – 5/5
The Missing Frame – 5/5
Kiss and Control – 4/5
The Killing Lights – 5/5
37mm – 4/5
Endlessly, She Said – 5/5
Rabbits Are Roadkill on Rt. 37 0 – 5/5

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GameLoading: Rise of the Indies (2015) Review

April 25th, 2015 Posted in Movie Review, Movies | No Comments »

Game-Loading-Logo2

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies (2015), directed by Anna Brady/Lester Francois

Production Company: Studio Bento | Length: 85 min | IMDb || Rating: 8/10

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies is a documentary on the modern indie game movement. Not unlike something you may see on an informational cable channel, the documentary takes a specific aspect of the gaming industry and peels back the different layers to see what is beneath. This documentary is primarily focused on a smattering of the social, philosophical, and human elements of the indie game movement, and less so about the games themselves.

Throughout GameLoading: Rise of the Indies, we are primarily presented with a few recurring indie developers; Davey Wreden (Stanley Parable), Zoe Quinn (Depression Quest), Rami Ismail (Vlambeer) and Robin Arnott (Soundself) primarily drive the overall tone and base of the documentary.   A wide-range of diverse indie game developers and people who are famous historically for their indie roots (John Romero and other founders of id Software) also make an appearance and drive along some of the overall points in the documentary. A lot of people from different aspects of coding, from education and into the very niche corners of indie game development also offer insight into what motivates them or what their goals are and what challenges they face, including sexism, social media trolls, and of course, money.

The tone of the first roughly 30 to 40 minutes of the documentary is setting up the basis of what indie games are, who these people are, what their philosophy is, and what the motivation for doing what they’re doing is. You instantly feel a romanticized and articulated quality to nearly everything that is going on, and at times it can feel like the documentary is sort of dragging its feet in moving on from this introductory phase due to how this first piece is structured. They intersplice the stories of Davey Wreden and Robin Arnott with all sorts of other random game developers giving their small tidbits of information to expand upon a particular point. It can be a bit hard to follow the narrative of the documentary at this point because you are not sure who you are actually really supposed to be invested in paying attention to and who you are going to see repeatedly.

A big thing missing in the first chunk of this documentary is a conflict to keep the viewer invested in what is going on. You don’t realize that the primary focus of the documentary is Davey Wreden until much later.  Considering the game had released in 2011, it was a bit disorienting to finally figure out about halfway through that the Stanley Parable had been on the cusp of release while the documentary was in production rather than taking place after its release.  If the documentary were structured a little bit differently, it could have framed the Stanley Parable as something that was impending release during this segment to create a slowly progressing storyline as the narrative base since there is no narrator to provide that structure.

We learn a lot of interesting tidbits about the thought process behind the Stanley Parable, and as we are introduced to and follow that game’s progression, we also follow Soundself. Other games such as Depression Quest, Cart Life, and Analogue: A Hate Story among others, are profiled in the same fashion, though not as in depth as the Stanley Parable or Soundself.

Overall what the documentary helps us learn is about the philosophical and human elements of these games as an outward expression of the developers themselves. Giving these games a human element gives people a reason to connect these products with emotions and events in real life. In the context of this documentary, most of the indie developers view their games as interactive art projects and storytelling devices. The whole of the documentary focuses on these indie “art” games, and less so any of the indie “pure game” games, which primarily focus on level design, controls, and the concept of “fun.” While mentioned where necessary, the “pure game” games are definitely not the focus here which elevates the purpose of the documentary to something that seems to be selling “indie games” to someone who doesn’t normally play them and also may not find one of those “pure games” as fun or interesting. Which is FINE – it is an interesting look at this segment of games regardless, but the flaw is that the documentary unfortunately doesn’t take a tempered approach to both of the main draws to the indie scene when it calls itself “Rise of the Indies.”

Another large part of the documentary is the different events/conventions that are introduced. There is a small piece on an event called the Fantastic Arcade, but the main event of the documentary is GDC. Leading up to the GDC, there is an interesting coding event called the Train Jam where people form teams and create a game within a 50 hour train ride from Chicago to San Francisco where GDC takes place. We have a quick overview of some of the games being quickly developed on the train and Zoe Quinn takes part in some of the festivities. I thought this segment of the documentary was very interesting and it was cool to see how things like that happen. While it wasn’t supposed to be a huge focus of the documentary, it would have been nice to see a little bit of a more in depth look at what was going on.

Overall the documentary looked very good. It seemed professionally shot and I didn’t notice any terrible lighting or editing issues (for reference, I am a video editor so I notice these things). There were some questionable backdrops where a couple interviewees were against a completely white backdrop and Ben Kuchera from Polygon was in a seemingly empty office in a tall building of some sort. The frequency of the cuts between different people during the interview portions prevented the documentary from having time to breathe at certain sections. I also thought they could have completely cut out a couple of people and/or interview cuts because they added nothing to the overall information in the documentary. It would have been nice to be a bit more focused on fewer secondary interviewees instead of including a lot of extra random people who are of questionable value to the overall product. An interesting aspect of the documentary seems to be that there are a lot of people with different colored hair, with the primary color being pink. There is sort of an “alternative” lifestyle being sold in this documentary and the interesting looks and clothing people wear in the documentary fits into that quite well. While not everyone they interview is going for that look, there are enough in the documentary where you begin to notice it as a theme.

At a running time of 1 hour 25 minutes, I thought GameLoading: Rise of the Indies was interesting overall and a nice introduction to deciding whether or not you may want to get into the indie gaming industry itself as a hobby or otherwise. It was less informative about the technical and day-to-day aspects of indie gaming, with an idealized look at the culture and events of the indie gaming scene instead.

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies can be purchased on Steam, iTunes, and other gaming storefronts.

A reviewable copy of GameLoading: Rise of the Indies was provided to Squackle.

A trailer for the documentary can be seen below:

 

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