Contents

Caty and Cara's Page

Our Computers

Snapshots with Text

Essays for Fun

Ken Burch's Tales

Ken's Neocron Tales

More Neocron Tales

Secret Wars

Tales of the Walker Clan

Our Cast

Why Kevin Doesn't Dance

Writing of Mine That Doesn't Totally Suck

Stuff dl Thinks Is Cool

The Old, Old Grandma Story

The Final Battle

James' Photos

James Meyer's Birds:

Introduction

Photos 1 through 25

Photos 26 through 50

Photos 51 through 75

Photos 76 through 100

Reading

a book cover

Playing



alChandler's Halls



Serving dozens since 1999


Puzzles

Here's how bad I am at solving puzzles. I entered the Spire in Lethian's Crossing. Lantry took some rubbings they were incomplete but here's the picture:

Note the faint lines in the drawing, they give you an idea of the complete pattern. When I entered the spire it was fairly obvious that you had activate the lights on the floor until they reproduced the pattern in Lantry's rubbings:

To you I'm sure the whole thing is obvious. I had to go to the net and look at a screen shot. That's how bad I am at puzzles, especially visual ones. It's really frustrating for me because RPGs always have puzzles in them. In the 80s, before the net, before services like Prodigy or Compuserve (I had accounts on both services) and before I even owned a modem it would take me weeks to figure out something like that. That's why games like Ultima II and Zork lasted months for me, it's not that they had more content then today's games, it was that they had puzzles and I couldn't figure them out!

December 6, 2016


Tyranny

You know, I really wish I had been able to pay more attention to Obsidian's other game, Pillars of Eternity because I'm stating to have fun with Tyranny. I had to make a choice between allowing the Scarlet Chorus or the Disfavored lead the attack on Vendrien's Well. Graven Ashe of the Disfavored and Voices of Nerat of the Scarlet Chorus were at each other's throats and finally I gave the go ahead for the Chorus to lead the attack. Now I'm on the Disfavored's shit list, even though I took the Spire in the center of Vendrien's Well and was able to revoke Kyros' death edict. That's gratitude for you.

Now I'm on my way to report to my boss, Tunon the Adjudicator. He's the Archon of Justice. Along the way I stopped off at the town of Lethian's Crossing. There's another Spire in the place and since I have a bit of magical control over the one I took, this one is worth investigating.

As far as my party goes, Barik, the guy locked into his armor, hates me because the Disfavored hate me. He'll obey me out of fear though. Verse likes me and Lantry will obey me for now. It's a little like a D&D game with Trump and his advisors.

December 6, 2016


Tyranny

So, that's the evil version of alChandler. I've teamed up with Verse, a rather chaotic fighter, Barik, who's locked into his armor, and before you ask he pisses and shits in there, and Lantry, who's sort of a rogue/mage type. It's not that these characters are more memorable then the ones in Pillars of Eternity it's just that I'm not in a lot of pain and can take time to get to know them.

One thing I'll never be able to manage is the combat in these games. I finished Baldur's Gate, barely, back in 98. I never got very far in Baldur's Gate 2 and after that avoided games like Icewind Dale. I did finish Planescape Torment but the emphasis was more on character then combat. Which is a long way of saying that I'm playing this game in story mode, AKA easy.

As far as the story goes, I'm a Fatebinder empowered to read edicts from Kyros. Kyros sent me into this area because he was dissatisfied with his army's progress in taking out the last pocket of resistance on the continent. When I read the edict it said that everybody in the area will be killed, including me, unless we defeat the resistance in seven days. These are magic edicts so everybody will die in seven days. Actually, now that I think about it, if Kyros can do shit like that, why does he even need an army? Anyway I just finished helping the Disfavored, who are the regular troops, take a town, now I have to help Scarlet Chorus with one of their problems. The Disfavored are more rational but dammit, Verse is Scarlet Chorus and she's a lot of fun.

The consensus is that Pillars of Eternity is a better game then Tyranny but since I'm not in pain I'm having more fun with Tyranny.

And that's where we're at gaming wise.

December 4, 2016


Things I Wish People Knew: Part 3

I don't have a gaming laptop (see below) but I do have a gaming desktop and every so often I end up dropping $1,000 to keep it (or him, his name is Kosh) current. PC gaming is an expensive hobby. If you're looking at a limited budget, a console will give you the most bang for your gaming buck. You spend, say, $300 for an Xbox One or PS4 and you're good for a couple of years. If you like gaming but don't want to spend money keeping a PC up to date than a console system is the way to go.

December 4, 2016


Things I Wish People Knew: Part 2

I don't get a lot of technical questions anymore but people do ask me about a good laptop for PC gaming. Here's the deal on that. A gaming laptop capable of fast speed and excellent graphics will cost between $2,000 and $3,000. And after two years it's going to have some problems running the newest games with all the eye candy turned up. So if spending, say, $2,500 every three years for a new laptop isn't a problem for you then by all means, get that gaming laptop

December 4, 2016


Things I Wish People Knew: Part 1

These are the minimum requirements to run Dishonored 2:

Ignore them. The minimum requirements mean that technically the game is playable if you don't mind a 640x480 screen resolution. These are the requirements that matter:

Meeting those requirements is no guarantee that you'll be able to run the game with the video turned to the highest setting. It does mean you'll be able to play the game and have an enjoyable experience. In my case I have an Intel Core i7-4790 but I only have a GTX 970 video card. I played Dishonored 2 on with my video settings on high. It never even occurred to me to try to crank everything to ultra.

So, to sum up, if you meet the recommended settings, great, you'll be able to play the game. But it doesn't mean that you'll be getting 60 FPS with everything cranked up.

December 4, 2016


Stupid HTML Tricks

So then, when I posted that little thing about gaming peeves, I grabbed a picture from the article, uploaded it to alchandler.com and linked back to the article on PC Gamer. But in the mid 90s when the web was new, a lot of people couldn't afford to do that. It's not that we were all poor in the 90s, it's just that bandwidth was so expensive back then. So instead of putting the picture on your site, you'd serve it up from PC Gamer's site and they'd have to pick up the tab.

Sometimes the site would find out that you were pulling shit like that and put another picture up to shame you. Of course now we're in the teens of the 21st century and the price of bandwidth has gone way down. Folks don't have to do that kind of thing anymore. I never did that kind of thing myself. AlChandler's Halls didn't get its own domain until 2001 and wasn't up and running until 2002. I had an early version of the site running on MindSpring in 1999 but even then I didn't do things like that. Back in those days you didn't want to transgress the unwritten law.

December 3, 2016


Gaming Pet Peeves

PC Gamer has an article on game design peeves. The picture is from the article and it's accurate, every time I booted up Deus Ex I had to sit through all those screens. And while you can rename certain files so you don't have to see them the game will still try to load them, so instead of looking at the nixxes screen for 10 seconds you'll be staring at a black screen for the same amount of time.

December 3, 2016


Honor Roll 2016

This year there's a + after the games I've completed. The ones without the + are still good, I just wasn't able to beat them. But if Mr. Rogers taught us anything, you don't have to win to have fun.

Rise of the Tomb Raider+
Prospekt
Firewatch+
Superhot+
Grim Dawn
Fallout 4: Automatron+
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
Divinity: Original Sin
Doom
Fallout 4: Far Harbor+
Witcher 3: Blood and Wine+
Pillars of Eternity+
SOMA+
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided+
Path of Exile
Deus Ex: Desperate Measures+
Deus Ex: Shadow Rift+
Neon Struct+
Neon Struct: The Dolce Archives+
Awkward Dimensions Redux+
Dishonored 2+
System Shock Pre-Alpha Demo+

Tyranny isn't on the list because I just started it. By the way, last night in Tyranny I just ordered the execution of a guy who was stripping the corpses of Lord Kyros' soldiers and selling the stuff back to his own army. Being evil is more fun then I thought.

Meanwhile, the most innovative game on the list is Superhot. Awkward Dimensions Redux is a free game based on its creator's dreams, if you're in the mood for something different.

I genuinely disliked Divinity: Original Sin and I've tried getting through it more then once. But it's being compared favorably to games like Baldurs gate so if you like isometric role playing games you'll probably like it.

I think I already wrote that while I finished Pillars of Eternity I wasn't able to give it a chance because of my back. Unlike Divinity: Original Sin I can recommend Pillars of Eternity. In spite of the fact that I was in a good deal of pain, it held my interest and I finished the thing.

Finally, some recommendations, take them with a grain of salt, your tastes aren't my tastes after all. That being said, Superhot was incredible. It's a shooter and time only moves when you move. Next, there's the last bit of content from Witcher 3 on the list. That game was the best RPG I've played in at least 10 years.

I never expected to like the revamped Tomb Raider when it came out in 2013 but I loved it and its sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider. I don't know if it's your cup of tea but I really enjoyed them. I also enjoyed Neon Strut once I buckled down and took it seriously. And let me say a word about the System Shock demo. System Shock came out in 1994. I'm used to thinking of the 90s as having just happened but the game was released 22 years ago. Damn.

System Shock was an innovative game for its time and while I'm not really into remakes, it was nice to dick around in that universe again, even if it was only for 20 minutes.

And if any of you good people have games you've played and would like to recommend, or warn against for that matter, feel free to email me and I'll mention them here.

One last thing, next month you might want to put Diablo 3 back on your box. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the original game a Blizzard is releasing an update that will allow you to replay Diablo in Diablo 3. And I probably should have put Diablo 3 on the list since I put it back on Kosh in October and leveled a character up.

December 3, 2016


A Christmas Tradition

It wouldn't be Christmas without the annual showing of Howard Hawks' beloved version of The Lord of the Rings starring Humphrey Bogart as Frodo Baggins.

December 3, 2016


Software for the Aging Jedi

There was a time in my life when if I was having trouble with a program it was the program's fault. The software was buggy, the interface was bad or it lacked critical features that I needed. In the world of Windows I'm still fairly confident about that sort of thing. But I'm a newbie when it come to Android and I'm unsure of myself. Added to that there's my age, I'm not as adaptable as I used to be, not that I was ever that adaptable.

I still listen to one podcast on a semiregular basis, it's called Gamers with Jobs. I would listen to it with iTunes or in my car on via my iPhone. But now I have an Android phone and my podcast client, Podcast Republic, was a pain in the ass to use, mostly because functions seemed to be buried in obscure little submenus. But I'm 60, I'm not as sharp as I used to be and if I just give the damn thing a chance I'll pick it up.

Today I shouted enough. Yep, I'm old but I'm not doddering yet. I got rid of Podcast Republic, did a bit of research and bought Pocket Casts for $3.99. In under five minutes I was able to figure out how to download new episodes of Gamers with Jobs and how to delete them. And that's all I really want in a podcast client. So in this case, it really wasn't me, it was the fault of the old app I was using, and that makes me happy.


The Battle of the Five Armies

It's too soon for a Tolkien reread so this holiday season I decided to watch the six Tolkien movies. Since the middle of November I saw An Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and, just now, The Battle of the Five Armies.

I haven't seen all three films back to back in several years and while I enjoyed them I think the book would have been better served by doing two movies. In The Lord of the Rings Jackson added some things but he didn't have to pad, that's not the case with The Hobbit. The Battle of the Five Armies is almost all padding.

Yet it was nice to see all three of them again, next up is The Fellowship of the Rings. This may be the year I finally keep an accurate tally of the number of staffs Gandalf went through. In The Desolation of Smaug his staff is destroyed by Sauron but in the next movie Radagast gives him his own staff. Saruman takes that staff away from Gandalf in Orthanc but by the time Elrond holds his Council Gandalf has obtained a third staff. He loses that one in Moria but gets a new one as Gandalf the White. And that one is destroyed by the Lord of the Nazgul. So that's four of them. I don't think Gandalf gets a fifth staff, he definitely didn't have one at the gates of Mordor. I'm assuming that just like a tailored suit, a good staff takes time to construct. And once Sauron fell, perhaps Gandalf felt he didn't need one.

Actually, I've come to the conclusion that a wizard's staff is like a smart phone. I don't need a smart phone but it does make life easier. Something like that anyway.

December 1, 2016


Donald Trump and the Past

Most of the campaign promises Trump made involved taking the country back to some imaginary time of greatness. It seems to me that it's not a healthy sign when a society decides collectively that the past is more attractive the the future. I'm not the poster boy for embracing change but I don't want to go back, I want to go ahead.

By the way, I read a couple of Bramah's detective stories. Speaking only for myself, I suspect there's a reason they're largely forgotten. But Michael Chabon has a new novel out so my reading life is good.

November 30, 2016


Max Carrados

Ernest Bramah created Max Carrados in 1914. Carrados was a rich, blind English guy who solved crimes. His other senses were heightened you see so he picked up clues everybody else missed. The stories are pretty much forgotten now but back in the day Carrados was as popular as Holmes and sometimes when Bramah and Doyle both had a stories in the Strand, Bramah got top billing. But that was in 1914.

And that brings up the question of how I heard of them. Ernest Bramah's other creation was Kai Lung, a Chinese story teller who spun fantasies in the village square. One of Bramah's Kai Lung collections, Kai Lung's Golden Hours was published in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series back in 1972 and the editor, Lin Carter, mentioned Carrados in his introduction. I had a great deal of affection for the Kai Lung stories and always intended to reading some of Bramah's Max Carrados stories one day.

I suspect that Sherlock is still with us and Max has passed into obscurity because Sherlock is an arrogant, neurotic prick and Max is a genuinely nice guy. Neurotic pricks are more interesting then nice guys. It's not fair but that's the way things are.

November 30, 2016


Gaming Notes

I've finished with Dishonored 2. It was fun playing through a couple of missions as Corvo but I decided it wasn't enough fun to go through every mission a second time. I'd hoped when I got the game that Corvo and Emily would each have their own separate set of missions that would occasionally intersect. Instead at the beginning of the game Delilah, the big bad, appears and turns the character you're not playing into stone. After that your character is imprisoned and the game begins. At any rate I played the game for 49 hours.

This weekend was the fall Steam sale. I picked up three games for $5 apiece to experiment and it turned out that I hated all three, that happens sometimes. At any rate it looks like major gaming is over for this year.

Bioware had a little announcement about their next Mass Effect game, the next game will have multiplayer, but:

The team doesn't want solo players to feel like they are obligated to play multiplayer. "If you feel cheated, we've done something wrong," Frazier says.

Of course the devs insisted that you didn't need to play online to finish Mass Effect 3 either. And it was true, you could finish the game playing solo. But you couldn't get the good ending as a solo player, not without doing hours and hours of tedious shit so I'm not in a trusting mood. I want to play Mass Effect: Andromeda but this time I'm waiting for the reviews.

If I do get antsy for a game before the end of the year I just might buy Tyranny. It's by Obsidian, the folks who did Pillars of Eternity. I didn't like that game as much as I expected to but looking back, I bought it at the end of June. Soon after I hurt my back and for most of my play I was in considerable pain, so I wasn't able to get into the lore of the thing. Tyranny at least has an interesting premise, the bad guys have won and you're working for the evil Kyros as a fatebinder. We'll see how I feel in a couple of weeks.

Update: Just ignore the change in box art over to the left.

November 29, 2016


Stark's Brewery

My Dad had me pick up the Sunday papers after mass. I'd get the Asbury Park Press and the Daily News from Walsh's Sweet Shop on Church Street. But sometimes they were out so I'd go to Stark's United. It was the same deal with comic books, Walsh's first then Stark's.

Over Thanksgiving my Sister told me that the Stark family closed the store down, they're reopening it as a microbrewery. That's cool, maybe it's the start of Keansburg reinventing itself as an arts and crafts kind of place, the way Asbury Park and Red Bank did. But still I have images of the Stark brewmaster working franticly to recreate the taste of Schlitz in a microbrew.

November 26, 2016


Dishonored 2: Second Go Round with Corvo

There are two characters you can play as in Dishonored 2, Emily Kaldwin, Empress of the Empire of the Isles or her Father, Corvo Attano the Royal Protector. Corvo was also Empress Jessamine Kaldwin's lover.

My first play through was with Emily. You get a talisman from a god called the Outsider. It contains the spiritual remains of Jessamine, Emily's Mom. Jessamine sometimes spoke to Emily, telling her how she'd like to hold her one last time. But her dialog is the same if you're playing as Corvo and so it becomes kind of creepy.

Having tried out both characters, I'm more comfortable with Corvo. Of course I already beat the game with Emily so naturally I'm more confident with Corvo. And it's good to hear Stephen Russell's gravelly voice again. Russell played Garrett in the first three Thief games but was replaced in the fourth game because they wanted the voice actor to do motion capture as well. Russell was a bit too old for motion capture. But now he's voicing a stealth based character again.

I still don't know about all the fussing over the graphics in this game. I do know that if you have the recommended specs you won't have a smooth experience if you crank the graphics to ultra and a lot of folks are pretty pissed at that. When the game detected my stuff it put my video setting on high and I'm pretty satisfied with that, but that's just me. I do know that a lot of people, at least on Steam. In fact some people are comparing the game to Arkham Knight which seems a little harsh to me.

It is what it is.

November 24, 2016


Low Chaos

I finished Dishonored 2 on medium difficulty, a rarity in my dotage, these days I usually go straight to easy and never look back. Emily has retaken her throne, peace and prosperity are the order of the day and even the villain had a good ending after a fashion. So I'm rewarding myself with a video.

This year I played 21 games and beat 15 of them so even though 2016 has sucked in so many ways, from a gaming perspective it's been a good year for me. The 2016 Honor Role will be posted sometime next month.

November 23, 2016


Dishonored 2

In this mission I'm hoping to get the ghost achievement. That's when no one spots you and no one finds the people you've knocked out. For some reason I still get a kick out of seeing all the folks I've taken out non-lethally in one spot.

November 20, 2016


The Roseburrow Prototype

The other night I finished the fifth mission in Dishonored 2, infiltrating the Royal Conservatory and neutralizing Breanna Ashworth (you can also kill her but I'm a merciful empresses). I stripped Ashworth of her powers but I had a bit of unfinished business, a fence I did business with asked me to steal something called the Roseburrow Prototype. I had no moral qualms about that but for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to pull it off. When I finally figured it out I felt like an idiot. It goes without saying that if you plan to play the game then my movie is a spoiler.

November 20, 2016


The One About Nude Ayn Rand Pictures

I was going to write a little thing here about the possible impeachment of Trump. The idea was that next in line for the presidency is Mike Pence, a homophobic asshole and after him comes our Randian house speaker. The line I was going to use about Ryan was: Then there's Paul Ryan, who used to masturbate to nude pictures of Ayn Rand as a teenager. Then it occurred to me, are there nude pictures of Ayn Rand on the net?

Yep.

November 19, 2016


Cat Enrichment

Apparently I'm going to have to keep a box this size around for the rest of his life.

November 19, 2016


The All Day Project

It took me all day but I just severed her connection to the void, eliminating her as a threat without killing her. Once again the skills I honed during 29 years as an inspector serve me well in real life.

November 19, 2016


History

The Night Land takes place millions of years in the future when the Sun has simply burned out. Stars don't go out like light bulbs and the Sun's lifespan is measured in billions of years, not millions, but let's go with Hodgson's version of things for a bit. All of humanity resides in the Last Redoubt, a pyramid that rises seven miles high. There are very old records in the Last Redoubt, some of them are so old they mention a time, several million years earlier, when the Sun cast a dim, guttering orange light.

In Hodgson's universe, records go back millions of years. They're not too reliable but they exist. And reliable history goes back hundreds of thousands of years.

Isaac Asimov had his own universe. He wrote stories about robots, stories about a galactic empire and eventually he folded the robots into his empire. His history extended far into the future, although not nearly as far as Hodgson's. In 12000 AD the planet Trantor begins its march to galactic domination. The year 12500 AD Becomes 1 GE as the Galactic Empire of the Foundation novels is born. Now then, Asimov wrote a novel called Pebble in the Sky set in the very early years of the Galactic Empire. One of the threads of the book is that historians realize that humanity must have evolved on one world, then spread out, but nobody knows which world. Earth, an incredibly backward and rebellious planet, claims to be humanity's original home but nobody takes that too seriously.

In one of his other novels, Asimov speculates that reliable history probably has a 10,000 year limit. Wars, natural catastrophes and changing technology will inevitably destroy old records leaving gaps in our descendant's knowledge. And there is precedent, in 213 BC in Qin dynasty China Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered all books found objectionable to the state to be burned. Histories took a big hit and our knowledge of events in the Zhou, Shang and Xia dynasties is far less then it should be because their records were fed to the fire.

Our own history is rather limited. In 3100 BC Menes united Upper and Lower Egypt and created a state that existed in one form or another until 30 BC when Pharaoh Ptolemy XV was executed on the orders of Augustus, the first Roman emperor. Egypt did not regain its independence until 1922.

It's not that interesting stuff didn't happen in, say 6523 BC, but writing didn't really come about until 3200 BC. Occasionally literacy has been lost. In 1100 BC Mycenaean Greece went under and with the Mycenaeans went their system of writing. By the 8th century BC the Greek Dark Ages had ended and writing revived but it was with a new alphabetic system. The writing of the Mycenaeans wasn't deciphered until 1952.

We just don't know how long records last. A lot was lost when the Western Roman Empire ended in 476. But the Eastern Roman Empire survived as a political unit until 1453. In spite of that quite a lot of ancient books just vanished.

So, to sum up, writing arrived in 3200 BC. Asimov hypothesized a 10,000 year limit for continuous history. We'll know if he was right in 6800 AD. But if Asimov turns out to have been wrong, will anyone remember him?

November 17, 2016


My Books

I wrote that after finishing The Night Land I would seek lighter reading. I'm reading The Dream of Reason: A history of Western Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance by Anthony Gottlieb. Trust me, after Hodgson that is light reading.

November 16, 2016


My Back

Today I went to the Rothman Institute for a follow up on my back. There's not a lot they can do for a compression fracture other then monitor the thing. In my case, four and a half months after I went out the window, I'm walking better, I can stand longer and I'm in less pain. So that's that, Dr. Woods and I shook hands and her door is open if things take a turn for the worse. I'm still in pain in bed but the bottom line is that if my current situation is as good as it gets, I'm cool with it.

So that's it for medical angst in 2016, at least one hopes.

November 16, 2016


The Night Land

I heard of The Night Land some 45 years ago but I only read it 15 years ago. It was a hard read and while I finished it towards the end I was just skimming. It was a hard read.

I'm doing better with rereading it today. I'm 70% of the way though according to Kindle and I'm approaching the climax.

The book has a lot of cool ideas, the Sun is gone, humanity lives in a pyramid in a valley that has abundant geothermal energy and our far future decendants are besieged by hideous extra-dimensional entities. What's not to like? The book follows an unnamed narrator who is psychically linked to a previous 17th century incarnation. In the 17th century he fell in love and married a woman called Mirdath. Mirdath dies and the 17th century starts dreaming of his future self, millions of years in the future. That fellow gets a psychic call for help from Naani, Mirdath's reincarnation. Naani lives in another pyramid where the "earth current" has failed. She's on the run and the narrator goes off on a quest to save her, braving the horrifying dangers of the Night Land.

The book has two flaws. Hodgson is attempting to write the book in 17th century English prose. There are people who can pull that off but Hodgson isn't one of them. It's pretty off putting. The second thing is the relationship that develops between the narrator and Naani. He's her master, she's his, um, Baby-slave and while they're both cool with that, live and let live I say, it's a little off putting.

That's why I'm doing better on the reread. I know what's coming and I'm ready for it. And to be honest, if you're into the literature I'm into, then The Night Land is an important book. I kind of have to reread it and give it my full attention this time.

A fellow named James Stoddard has rewritten The Night Land to make it more accessible to modern readers. I've read the sample on Amazon and while it read easier, the botched 17th century language is, for my anyway, part of the experience. If you can't handle Hodgson in the original, read The Dying Earth By Jack Vance, The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe or The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke. Hell, go read The Dark Eidolon. The story is set in Zothique, the last continent on a dying Earth.

Me, I'll soon finish Hodgson and move on to something a tad lighter.

November 14, 2016


New Ways of Playing

Ever since Thief back in the late 90s my standard operating procedure in stealth games is to circle around the level taking out the guards one by one. But I don't have that option here and the game is trying to teach me that it's not really necessary if I'm observant.

Just now Emily was taking an electric one seat trolley to the Clockwork Mansion. In order to hijack it I did indeed have to take some fellows out but at a certain point there was a gate and the lever was controlled by a password. The short version is that while there were a lot of guards in the building that had the password, they were all on break. The supervisor was asleep in his office and I knocked him out, looted him and took the password from a note on his desk. To be honest there was no real need to knock the guy out.

So my SOP will have to alter a bit.

November 11, 2016


Emily

Corvo had a cool power called Blink, it allowed point to point teleportation over short distances. Emily has a power called Far Reach. It's a lot like Spiderman's webs. Unlike Corvo, Emily can be seen when she uses it to travel. It's pretty cool looking:

I've put six hours into the game so far and finished the first two mission with low chaos and for me that's the goal.

November 11, 2016


Dishonored 2

In spite of the vile shit going down in Washington, life goes on and I'm finally in enough control of myself to start Dishonored 2. From the start you have the chance to play as Crovo Attano, the character from the first game, or Empress Emily Kaldwin. Since I already played Corvo, I went with Emily this time around.

And just like in the first game there's a nefarious plot and Emily is replaced on the throne by Delilah, the villain in the second expansion of the first game. Mortimer Ramsey, the head of the palace guard hauls my ass to my suite and takes my signet ring. Unfortunately that ring unlocks my safe room with the emergency exit. So I knock out two guards and then have the choice of killing Ramsey or knocking him out. I pickpocket the ring, knock him out and leave him locked up in my safe room. I'm playing for low chaos here.

So, I've made it out of the palace but I'm pretty much a wanted person so I have to sneak my way to the docks where I can escape Dunwall by boat, I'll take care of that tomorrow.

Update: Went back, left the palace and stealthed my way to the dock, jumped in the water and swam to the escape ship. I'm just that good. Kidding aside, the escape from prison opening is a good way to introduce players to the mechanics of the game. Dishonored 2 does have a brief tutorial but the lock up Emily and force her to escape bit really drives it home.

There's been some people complaining about the video performance with the GTX 970s and 980s. It seems fine on my system but then again I'm easily satisfied. But there's another reason, most of the people complaining are also running i5 CPUs. I'm running an i7 and some folks think that the i7 takes some of the strain off the video card.

By the way, I could have been playing the game Wednesday morning at 12:00 AM, that's when the game unlocked. Unfortunately I was too wired about Trump to deal with the complexities of a first person stealth game. But it was nice that they unlocked it then instead of waiting until the start of the west coast workday.

November 11, 2016


Trump Voters

I was talking to a friend, a former inspector, Tuesday night. He acknowledged that Trump was a racist, a misogynist and an utterly incompetent business person but he voted for him anyway. For my friend all that was outweighed by the desire to see change in Washington.

You could get the same results by writing in that guy for president. Meanwhile, you might want to check out Day 1 in Trump's America.

November 10, 2016


The Night Land

In 1912 The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson was published. It was arguably the first book in the science fiction sub genre, Dying Earth. In Hodgson's book it's millions of years in the future, the Sun has gone out and humanity lives in a seven mile high pyramid called the Last Redoubt. The Last Redoubt is under siege by monstrous entities held at bay by a circle of light powered by something called the Earth Current.

The book's unnamed hero is telepathic and gets a distress call from another fortress called the Lesser Redoubt. Being a hero he decides to make the trek through the Night Land to rescue the only survivor. Naturally braving horrible dangers, physical and spiritual.

The science isn't as crazy as it sounds, Iceland gets most of its electricity from geothermal energy. And in 1912 the latest theory about how the Sun worked was Lord Kelvin's idea that the Sun generated heat from gravity. He gave the star a 30 million year life span, after that it would just go out.

The book has its problems, the narrator is a 17th century English gentleman who is somehow in contact with his future incarnation millions of years down the line. Hodgson is writing the way he thought a 17th century fellow would write. I'm sure there are writers who can pull that off but Hodgson's attempt is a little clunky and it takes some getting used to. And his views on the relationship between the sexes are somewhat antiquated, to say the least. The book is the very definition of the term flawed masterpiece.

But it really inspired writers like H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith. And indeed, the idea of all of humanity in a vast pyramid, under siege by cosmic evil is quite effective.

The book is available as a free download from the usual sources, I got mine from Adelaide. But if you decide to give it a go be aware it's 200,000 words long. But to put that in perspective, The Lord of the Rings comes in at 473,000 words so The Night Land although long, isn't too much of a project.

November 10, 2016