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Tag - A DPB Tag


California Water Saving Tips

August 19th, 2015 Posted in Lists No Comments »

California is in a perpetual drought.  We need tips!  Tips that will help save water!!!

– There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.

– Rip out all of your grass. Dirt needs to be watered a lot less than grass.

– Use only paper plates and plastic-ware.  Water isn’t used to make those things.

– If you want to take a 15-minute shower, just don’t eat a hamburger.  You save water in what is probably a completely different state than California, and you don’t have to feel bad about it.  Those damn cows drink as much water as a 25 minute shower at least.

– Only use water from water bottles, they are probably not from California, maybe.  The likelihood goes up if you buy something labeled as a foreign country or place.

– Use vodka to make your Kool-Aid.

– Don’t drink water, drink your own sweat. It’s like recycling your own water.

– Bathe in fire.  It kills more germs.

– If you take a shit, remove the shit from the water, take it to work and flush it there.

– Wash your hands with your pee.

– Import ice from the North Pole/Antarctica.  It is melting anyway.

– Move out of California.

– Continue to disappoint your mother and harvest her tears.

– Shoot people who use water.

– Travel back in time and use the water before its gone.

– Use only your hands to drink water.

– Don’t eat fruits or vegetables.  You won’t waste water having to wash them.

– Keep a pitcher of water next to the toilet, that way any toilet water that splashes out goes down you and not on the floor.

– Reuse leftover water from the nuclear reactor to cook your spaghetti.

– Don’t cook food that requires water.

– Don’t buy fruits or vegetables that originate from California.

– Freeze water, that way it expands and you will have more water.

– Wash your laundry in another State.

– Don’t wash your clothes.  Use them one time and then return it to the store.

– Don’t take a shower.  You’ll save like a bajillion gallons of water a month.

– Put food coloring in your toilet.  It will mask the unpleasant color your unflushed piss and poo water will create naturally.  Don’t let FoodBabe know.

– Upgrade older toilets with rocket capability.

– Turn off the water while you brush your teeth.  That will save 40 gallons a minute.  That’s up to 250,000 gallons a day for a family of 6748.

– If your toilet was installed before 1992, thank the plumber.

– Consider a dual-flush toilet.  It will flush your toilet twice and use twice as much water.

– Take showers instead of luxurious baths.  You’re getting clean here, and only babies take baths.

– Don’t have children that use water.  Birth only dirt babies.

– Avoid having fun with water.  Fun wastes water.

– Avoid recreational water toys, they use water.

– See a leak you can’t fix?  Learn how to by going to plumber’s trade school for a year.

– Steal your water from a multinational corporation that isn’t based in California.

– Remove the cement from your driveway so that water can flood your home and not drain into the ocean.

– Start calling California “Arizona” instead of “California.”

– Plant alien plants that require human blood to live.

– Consider converting your home into an alien spaceship that does not require water to run.

– Start a compost pile in your bedroom.  This keeps the compost pile from evaporating its precious water.

– Don’t jerk off in the shower anymore.  Or just jerk off without the water on and then clean up afterwards.

– Plant water-hating plants.

– Hire the 10 year old kid next door to rip out your irrigation system.

– Catch water in an empty tuna can.  Then drink it.

– Use your hanging basket plants as pinatas.

– Only have sex in the Jacuzzi, the swimming pool needs too much water.

– Make your swimming pool tacky by removing waterfalls and stupid bullshit that makes it look nice.  Then you won’t want to swim in your pool anymore and you will contemplate just getting rid of the whole thing.

– Get rid of pesky pets that need water to survive.  Pet Rocks are coming back in style.

– Post a hotline in bathrooms that people can call so they can finish their shits faster.  I don’t know how this saves water, but I can at least take a shit since I’ve been waiting for 10 minutes!  God damn!

– Water-shame people who keep water in a bottle that is clearly not purchased from a store new.

– Do not drink processed water, it is unhealthy for you, similar to processed meats.  It is not as nature intended!

– Clean water is man-made, therefore it is unnatural and unhealthy!  It takes a lot of water to make clean water.

– Don’t put water inside water.  You lose the water you are putting inside of the water as it becomes just one water.

– Appoint a water ambassador to the ocean and beg it for rain.

– Marry or seduce a televised meteorologist and convince them to say there will be rain coming on the news even if it isn’t true.

– Strike up a conversation with a plumber and ask them how the plumber the seven seas.

– Lick dishes of their food and dirt instead of rinsing with water.  You can also get a dog to do this.

– A recent study showed people care about water usage.  Ain’t that cool?

– Destroy all decorative fountains you see.  Especially ones that are not yours.

– Don’t wash your car ever.

– Pee in the shower.

– Pee outside.  Select a private space near a bush you don’t particularly like and go at it.

– Don’t let children maintain a swimming pool.  They suck at math.  It is dangerous because they might miscalculate how much water to put in the swimming pool and that would suck for when you were having sex in there.  There is also a higher chance of them seeing you since they are responsible for the swimming pool.

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Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire (iOS) Review

July 30th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Cervo Media GmbH || Overall: 8.0/10

Hardware Used: iPhone 5 with iOS 6

Reviewing sequels to games you enjoy tend to be a typical thing when you are a reviewer.  It’s easy to sit there and write out how everything in the sequel is the same, but better in so many ways, and even pull from your previous review for inspiration.  In this case, Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire is the sequel to a previously reviewed title, Slots – Pharaoh’s Way; it essentially boils down to this: it is a slots game that is a sequel to a slots game and it is still… a slots game.

In my previous review I went through the ethics and personal feelings I had with the business model this slots game (now series) presents itself with.  The structure is very much the same in Pharaoh’s Fire as it was in Pharaoh’s Way, and really all that you’ll initially see (if you are moving from the previous game to this) is that you are resetting back to zero.  Pharaoh’s Way is an endlessly-updated grind to the next slot, and Pharaoh’s Fire is not much different.  There’s no point, really, in talking about what is the same, but it’s an opportunity to talk about what IS different.

It is an interesting observation that many of the improvements I had suggested in my previous review seems to actually have come to pass — namely in more significant time-based rewards and an interesting meta game which rewards you as you play.

Free bonus credits are earned by increment of four hours as Pharaoh’s Way had done and still seem to scale higher as you progress — you also get a “special bonus” on every fourth redemption, which is a unique bonus game.  The “Money Rain” bonuses (credits you earn as a bonus to leveling up) that occur also scale higher along with your level.  Another vital, new, free bonus happens now in the form of a Return Bonus independent of your hourly bonus — if you visit every day your rewards slightly increase as each day goes on.

A meta game has been introduced in this title that revolves around collecting relic pieces, signified by a moving piece that represents your progress through leveling.  As you complete the relics you gain a large payout of credits.  Whereas before you would attain this payout at a certain increment of levels, the progression is “broken up” and given a visual representation to tell you that you are almost at the next milestone.  This is a welcome change as it gives the feeling of an adventure and collecting relic pieces to add to your overall collection — of which there are many relics to collect.  Your piece moves every 1/3 increment of a level and you gain a relic piece at every two levels.

Included with the meta game is also a bonus chance to earn credits within that meta game progression.  A chest moves every five turns (slot plays) within your progression path, and if it appears on top of your moving piece, you get into one of the bonus games unique to this chest.  One is a spinning wheel that lands on a number and the other I encountered was a “Risk to Double” game – you roll a number and risk it (to double it) by choosing heads/tails.  If you lose in the Risk to Double game, you get a consolation prize regardless, but it is usually going to be a paltry amount.  It is pretty much the same idea as the bonus card game that you get access to on regular slot wins.  The bonus card game is still essentially useless, and the same rules apply as in the previous game.  Because they are essentially the same game, I am lead to think that the Risk to Double just isn’t worth the risk.

There is more diversity in the initial few slots, and it is seemingly less reliant on the “Pharaoh’s” theme, unlike the first game.  The second slot level you are all of a sudden in the African safari with elephants and shit.  What happened to the God damn pyramids and whipping slaves?!  I want some more Anubis and King Tut shit before I start traveling all over the world.  Every 10 levels unlocks a new slot and this time around there are no numbers showing how many diamonds you earned so it’s not as easy to tell what your progress is other than a visual bar.  I assume that they’ve reigned in the required amount of diamonds to make it more linear rather than it’s exponential growth that occurred in the last game, but it isn’t easy to tell.

Buying credits still seems like something predatory, but there can be plenty in-game to at least make you feel like you are earning credits with the extra bonuses and the new meta game portion.  Where the ethics get involved here, is that the game has to feel rewarding to keep you hooked, but they can’t be too rewarding since they want to sell credits. It’s a very fine balancing act that appears to sometimes rig the bonus games to not be very rewarding all of the time. For example, a risk/reward game that stops between a large number and a small number will seemingly skew towards the small number more often than not. Even the “meta chest” game is privy to this, despite being essentially an added system for overall bonuses.  There are lots of added bonus games involved with the title, but none are overly rewarding, which takes a little bit of the excitement out of hitting one of them.

As someone who grinded quite a few million diamonds in the previous iteration, it feels a bit daunting to get into and start yet another slots game (with essentially the same progression system) from scratch.  Personally, it feels like there should either have been some sort of credit sharing between the two games, or Pharaoh’s Way upgraded with the additions they made for Pharaoh’s Fire.  Business-wise, I completely understand why you would want your players to experience a full reset — the grind is necessarily subject to becoming hooked as you gain levels with more regularity at the lower levels and hitting level 243 might not mean anything anymore.

There are some graphical enhancements (addition of more 3D graphics/animations is the biggest difference) and some sound “additions” that are a bit corny as some deep-voiced European-sounding dude (read: not Egyptian) is one(?) of the performers.  As always, I turned my sound off within ten minutes of booting up the game, so it didn’t matter to me.

Is the game good?  Sure.  It’s not any better or worse than the previous game, really.  A lot of the additions I proposed were actually included and its made the game a better package, however the intent of the game is to make money at the end of the day and they can’t go too crazy with the fun.  For the benefit of the series, it would be interesting to see a different progression system than grinding diamonds and levels to unlock more slots.  For a more in-depth look at all of the basic functions of the game, please check out my previous review as almost all of it is relevant for this game.

App Store Badge

 

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Squacklecast Episode 27 – “How to Eat Grilled Cheese”

July 25th, 2015 Posted in Media, The Squacklecast 1 Comment »

This entry is part 27 of 27 in the series The Squacklecast

Wow!  I don’t know who keeps making these Squacklecasts, but they keep getting made.

We talk about ABC Family’s Harry Potter marathon a bit and which ones we like overall.  Also we realize how we can’t remember what happens in which one or what they’re called.

Comic Con 2015 began and ended in a boring whimper considering Marvel was a no-show.  Trailers from the convention are at Wired.

The current status of Marvel and how Ant-Man is or is not their current “peak.”  Avengers 2 was basically Cameo: The Movie.  The X-Men properties are discussed.

We talk about the DC properties which were arguably the most interesting part of this year’s Comic Con.

Movies about movies that didn’t get made — Superman Lives and pre-Lynch Dune.

Will Smith is Deadshot in the new Suicide Squad movie.  Hopefully he’s more like Capt. James West from Wild Wild West:

willsmithwildwildwest

Dave was mostly into the Garfield/Calvin and Hobbes types of comics instead of the Marvel/DC stuff.

Since Garfield likes lasagna, that was a segue into talking about food and Grilled Cheese.  Billy doesn’t like Grilled Cheese because his only experience with it was eating it at a buffet.

Perfect Grilled Cheese on sourdough is as follows:

grilledcheese

Awful wheat grilled cheese is this awful awful thing:

awfulgrilledcheese

More random food talk about bacon and other things.

Davepoobond’s Hate List for Celebrities (5 is average rating)

FRED 10/10, Bono 10/10, Owen Wilson 9/10, Jackie Chan 6/10

Melissa McCarthy 10/10, Julia Roberts 9/10, Drew Barrymore 8/10, Geena Davis 7/10, Cher 4/10

Fuck you FRED.  See you guys next time!

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Hacknet (PC) Preview

July 17th, 2015 Posted in Games No Comments »

Developer: Team Fractal Alligator | Publisher: Surprise Attack Games || Outlook: Good

Writing previews for games are a bit of a challenge.  Previews serve as a way to give the readers an introduction to a game they may anticipate, and hopeful readers look for positive impressions before they have access themselves.  I tend to typically give preview builds the benefit of the doubt and stay hopeful that the final product will potentially deliver.  In this case, Hacknet definitely holds an interesting and unique potential.

Hacknet simulates a hacking environment, not unlike something you may see in exaggerated form on a TV show.  Through a number of commands you’ll solve what is essentially multi-layered puzzles that will force you to master a routine while solving the unique mission at hand.  The preview build provided to me allowed for approximately 40 minutes of gameplay, which included a Tutorial, a “test mission,” and an actual mission.

The gameplay serves as a backdrop and a storytelling device to a mystery involving the death of a hacker named Bit.  The preview build didn’t delve too deeply into the actual meat of the story, but mostly just alludes to some of the characters you are potentially going to have more interaction with later.  The simulated hacking environment uses real UNIX commands, so if you have experience with command line actions you’ll be able to pick up on most of what is happening pretty quickly.  The forced memorization of commands has the potential to be daunting if you aren’t comfortable with that sort of interaction with a computer, however.  One of the highlights of the game is its lack of hand-holding, so it appears that you’ll need a notepad or a good memory to execute the time-based puzzles correctly.  Ideally, you’ll be learning most of the commands as you go along, so the puzzles will probably become more advanced and require greater care to execute perfectly.  Hacknet aligns itself with “Papers, Please,” challenging different parts of your brain than what you may normally be accustomed to for games.

What got me really digging the puzzles was the sleek/futuristic user interface coupled with the music.  The music was contextually designed and matched the mood of what was going on appropriately.  The music really played a key part in turning up the tension when the first hacking challenge took place.  They didn’t want to give too much away so the game abruptly turns off once you hit a certain point in the puzzle/mission.  As an aside, they included a functional clicker mini-game, which implies there are possibly other mini-games that might be added to create variety.

The preview build left me with a generally positive impression, and I’m looking forward to what the complete game will offer.  Hacknet will be $10 when it releases in August.

Information from the press release is as follows:

Hacknet is an immersive, terminal-based hacking simulator for PC. Dive down a rabbit hoIe as you follow the instructions of a recently deceased hacker, whose death may not have been the accident the media reports. Using old school command prompts and real hacking processes, you’ll solve the mystery with minimal hand-holding and a rich world full of secrets to explore.

Bit, a hacker responsible for creating the most invasive security system on the planet, is dead. When he fails to reconnect to his system for 14 days, his failsafe kicks in, sending instructions in automated emails to a lone user.  As that user, it’s up to you to unravel the mystery and ensure that Hacknet-OS doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Exploring the volatile nature of personal privacy, the prevalence of corporate greed, and the hidden powers of hackers on the internet, Hacknet delivers a true hacking simulation, while offering a support system that allows total beginners get a grasp of the real-world applications and commands found throughout the game.

Hacknet will launch on PC via Steam and the Humble Store on August 12, 2015.

 

Reveal Trailer:

 

A preview build of Hacknet was provided to Squackle.

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Chariot Wars (PC) Review

June 9th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games 1 Comment »

Developer/Publisher: OM Entertainment || Overall: 1/10

Hardware Used: Windows 8.1, i7, Nvidia GTX 780

When it comes to reviewing bad games, it’s always a hard decision to make. Do I make a tongue-in-cheek positive review, or perhaps a sharply sarcastic review full of jokes, or just a traditional opinion about the hopes and dreams that “Chariot Wars” completely and utterly destroyed? For this review I’m not quite sure what direction to go, because Chariot Wars just leaves me confused and maybe even a little sad when reflecting upon my time playing.

Considering the game is originally developed for mobile phones, the basic features are limited. You have only three modes of play to choose from: Multiplayer, Single Player Time Trial, and Single Player Story Mode, called Championship. Multiplayer requires you to register an account with the developer’s web site rather than using Steam. Single Player Time Trial is racing around one of the four possible unique tracks, alone, with no A.I. to race against.  Each track has two variations: Night and Day – all of which are unlocked only through the Championship Mode.   Time Trial is consistently pointed to by the “Game Tips” and even prompted as a gate before you enter the real “meat” of the game, which is the Championship Mode.

Here’s where things get… “interesting.” Chariot Wars’ Championship mode is a graphic novel murder mystery story with boring gameplay in between chapters. The story is by far the only redeeming factor this game has to offer and is actually quite hilarious and dark, in a campy way. The backdrop of Ancient Rome is used as the Captain of the Guard is called to investigate a double murder – one man crucified and a woman with her throat slit, holding a tattered symbol of the Cabal, which is a group of conspirators who assassinated Julius Caesar. The murdered man is related to Ben-Hur (we finally have our sequel to Ben-Hur, ya’ll!) and before researching much of anything about the murder, the current idiot Caesar thinks it would be a good idea for the lead investigator of a murder to stop doing that and to instead replace the dead guy in the chariot race — and that’s when you take control of your chariot and race.

After winning the race, Quintus Octavian, the protagonist of the story makes out with a hot chick with a very large rack in some random room and then with her help figures out what the symbol is from, and so on. I don’t necessarily want to explain every facet of the story here, but you are rewarded for your effort of winning races with these story interludes. It may take a few tries depending on how well you know the track and if you can catch up to the computer players, but you’ll eventually win each race… hopefully.  Besides, you don’t have much else to do.

The gameplay itself is very standard in its rules – just get first place and win after two laps. For some odd reason there are huge floating coins that give you temporary speed boosts that don’t really make you feel like you’re going faster. When using a speed boost, everything becomes blurry and it feels like you’re all of a sudden in a Michael Bay movie, not knowing what the hell is going on. Considering the boosts are supposed to be good, they sure as hell don’t make you want to use them other than hopefully never having to play through that race again. Wonky physics, bad collision, weird animation, and the lack of any “warring” with other players (though you can bump into them) just isn’t fun. The scenery is also very strange, considering chariot races were always in a coliseum. There are snow-covered mountains surrounding you everywhere (and curving with the sky, which is fucking weird), waterfalls, random mixed species of trees, a blinding light source as bright as a sun coming out of a mountain (while it rains), and other oddities. This alternate dimension doesn’t seem like a very nice place to spectate or even race, not that the game is meant to be an accurate representation of anything.

And that’s kind of the game.   The music is generic and there is a strange chime that rings every time you click one of the menu buttons.  There are a lot of weird translation things going on, which adds a certain “charm” to the game, and the incessant badgering to go to the Time Trial mode to learn how to play is almost hilarious since you can’t play any new tracks unless you unlock them through Championship Mode, which you only do by beating the track! The races get harder as you go on, but you have to wonder how the difficulty is really ramping up when your chariot likes to all of a sudden go out of control a lot more often on turns as you progress.  At least the game didn’t crash while I was playing it.  You can also make funny things happen when you boost into one of the invisible walls on the race track.  If you ever get stuck in the scenery of the game, the only solution is to restart the track from scratch.

You can choose from several racers, chariot colors, and horses (all of which you have to unlock through play) which may or may not have an influence on your racer – it is sort of hard to tell. Another point of contention is that it’s $25 on Steam. Considering the amount of content the game has to offer, you have to wonder what the hell is going on.

And so there’s not a whole lot to keep you going. Other than the graphic novel portions and the strangely long CG video that displays a full length chariot race (presumably what you’d be “experiencing” while playing) full of random characters you probably don’t even play, you aren’t going to want to touch this game.

A reviewable copy of Chariot Wars was provided to Squackle.

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Quote #23856

May 27th, 2015 Posted in Quotes No Comments »

“The cause of the explosion happened, because the president of the U.S. didn’t want to take the insults in anymore.”

– davepoobond, for a 7th grade writing assignment

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Quote #23855

May 27th, 2015 Posted in Quotes No Comments »

“It was obvious that the oblivious child had jumped off the cliff.”

– davepoobond, for a 7th grade writing assignment

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Quote #23853

May 27th, 2015 Posted in Quotes No Comments »

“‘Whether or not the weather will be sunny or not we will have rain,’ the weather reporter said.”

– davepoobond, for a 7th grade writing assignment

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Quote #23852

May 27th, 2015 Posted in Quotes No Comments »

“The affect of the explosion caused the side effect of a nuclear winter.”

– davepoobond, for a 7th grade writing assignment

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Quote #23851

May 27th, 2015 Posted in Quotes No Comments »

“‘The role of the person lying on the street is to roll out of the way before the car runs over him so that the car would swerve to the right and blow up to try not to hit him,’ said the drama teacher.”

– davepoobond, for a 7th grade writing assignment

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Quote #23850

May 27th, 2015 Posted in Quotes No Comments »

“The most exciting part of the show was when we were exiting from the theatre.”

– davepoobond, for a 7th grade writing assignment

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Quote #23849

May 27th, 2015 Posted in Quotes No Comments »

“I have a suit in the suite in the hotel, and there are sweets on the table that you may help yourself to also.”

– davepoobond, for a 7th grade writing assignment

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Letter to Scott the Naturalist

May 27th, 2015 Posted in Dave's Kingdom, Screwed Up Chronicles No Comments »

I wrote this as a “thank you” note to Scott, who was a Naturalist at a school camp I was forced to go to in 6th grade.

March 16, 1998

Dear Scott,

My name is davepoobond, and I was in your group (duh, I wouldn’t be writing to you then). My favorite activities were eating and sleeping.

One special thing I learned was to never ever climb up a mountain more than 3 inches tall. I learned this from OUCHY-OUCHY Mountain and going up the “Check This Out” trail. It should’ve had a big sign that said, “ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE!!!!!” and it should’ve been called, “ The Freaky Trail from HECK!!!!!”

Sincerely,
davepoobond

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Windward (PC) Review

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

Developer/Publisher: Tasharen Entertainment || Overall: 7.5/10

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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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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