Archives for January 2016

Read In 2015

(Oops this was supposed to be done before the end of the year. Better late than never, right?)

LordOfTheFliesBookCover2015 wasn’t a great year of reading for me. I had plenty of time to read (I spent six weeks in Boston, during the biggest snowfall in decades, and didn’t read as much as I should have). But I did get to check off a couple of the books I have on my ever-growing To Read list. Here’s what I read in 2015:

Roadside Picnic by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky (145)
Roadside Picnic had been sitting on my night stand for years. I bought a copy after I watched the Russian film Stalker, based loosely on RP. I wish all books could be like Roadside Picnic — it was complex, had interesting characters and moved along at a brisk pace. The movie set the stage for how an alien visitation site would have looked and felt but the book really drove the weird, almost post-apocalyptic isolation, home.

Very enjoyable, not heavy on the Sci-Fi but recommended if you like science fiction. Not recommended if you like your stories tied up in nice pretty bows at the end, though.

The Chronicles of Amber: Volume I (The Chronicles of Amber #1-2) by Roger Zelazny (338)
This was the second book I’ve ready by Zelazny. (Technically second and third, but who’s counting?) Lords of Light was difficult to follow but a great read. The Chronicles of Amber: Volume I (Nine Princes in Amber and The Guns of Avalon) made me nervous that it would be equally difficult to follow with the cast of characters (nine princes and four more sisters) and an opening to the book of the main character suffering from amnesia, but it picked up steam quickly and wasn’t that hard to follow at all.

The main character Corey (Corwin) wakes up in a hospital heavily drugged, with no memory of how he got there or who he is. Turns out he is one of nine Princes of Amber, a fantastical world in which our Earth is one of many “Shadow Worlds” of Amber, and these Princes have the ability to walk in shadows, to travel freely between our world and theirs. The first book details Corwin’s first attempt to get back to Amber and take the throne from his brother Eric, with the help of the siblings still loyal to him.

That first attempt doesn’t go too well, which leads to the second book, wherein Corwin attempts to bring gunpowder into the world of Amber (which previously was that to be impossible) and make a second attempt at the throne. The second attempt is a little more successful but still results in things going south for Corwin and Amber.

There are more stories to go in the world of Amber, and I hope to get to them soon.

The Martian by Andy Weir (369)
This book delivered one of the best reading experiences I’ve enjoyed in a while.

It might be called “hard science fiction” but “hard” like college physics or chemistry classes. It’s not obtuse or dense but still feels like what is happening could actually be how things would happen on Mars. The science is solid and thorough. Maybe a little too easy to follow, but is that a bad thing?

The book had a couple of those “moments” I love, where you’re left hanging on a cliff, anxious for the next chapter or section. Highly recommended. (The movie wasn’t too shabby, either)

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (208)
Another in the list of “Classics Tony Needs to Read” has been crossed off. This time, it’s Lord of the Flies and it’s considered a classic for a reason. I was in love with the writing of this book. At times it is elegantly descriptive and beautiful (the imagery of fists being pistons, pounding someone in the face, was a personal favorite) and plain and yet still evocative (“His head opened and stuff came out and turned red,” was particularly jarring).

I won’t pretend to understand all the symbolism and the commentary on society and its morals, but I recognize them and the story is a scathing representation of the breakdown of civilization when there is no rule of law and the way power corrupts and all that comes with that. I just enjoyed the story and I’ll let other people figure out “what it all means”.

That’s the short reading list of 2015. A total of four books and 1,060 pages. What did you read this week?

Books (and pages) read in 2013: Five books (1,546 pages)
Books (and pages) read in 2014: Six books (1,724 pages)

In My Digital Hands

Diablo_3_reaper_of_souls_box_art_0

As Nick said in the most recent Weekend Gaming post, the Buttonmashing crew is back into Diablo 3 in a BIG WAY. That includes the Reaper of Souls Expansion, which Nick and I finished up Sunday night.

The Loot Loop struggle is real.

LOOT LOOT LOOT.

Weekend Gaming – Diablo 3

All aboard the loot train!

…Say that again? The loot trains left years ago? The most recent one left last week? Well, I shall walk the tracks.

Indeed. I am late to the party. But considering how Diablo III has had years to evolve into the game it is now, I’d say now is as good a time as any to jump in.

I can’t pinpoint why I hadn’t committed to D3 sooner. The timing perhaps never felt right. Maybe I was waiting for the price to come down. I don’t know. The game was always in my sight, always a possible buy, but its favorable particulars went noticed…

That is, until last Friday when PC Gamer posted the news of D3’s new patch (which it declares to be ‘a biggie’) and the launch of season 5. I watched the embedded video and my interest finally flared. What in the Everlasting Mother Love is all of this, I thought. Rifts, Seasons, Set Dungeons, additional map zones, adventure mode. Clearly, Blizzard has addressed D3’s end-game problem – reports of which was another snag that kept me from buying. ROS

After I watched the embedded video, I watched the embedded video again. After I re-watched the embedded video, I sat in silent meditation, reflecting on the gamer’s doldrums I felt myself drifting into. Could D3 be the necessary shakeup? And then I discovered that Blizzard now sells the vanilla and the Reaper of Souls expansion together for $40. Welp, that pretty much sealed the deal.

Now, one week later, and almost finished (I suspect) with Act IV, I am still driven by my Everlasting Mother Love ignorance. A line of inquiry about what this game is continues to piece itself together the deeper I investigate and the more I play. There is a giddy excitement resulting from the fact that I don’t fully understand what rifts are, where they are or what they do, or what happens during seasons and what happens when they conclude. And just what exactly can I do with my Death Magnet Monk once I complete the campaign? The meta-inventory for my loot works… how? Greater Rifts? Scaled Torment Difficulty?

Conversely, I find it interesting to learn about this iteration of the game and how it compares to its three years of evolution. Doubly so to hear about it directly from other ButtonMashers as they re-visit the game, having moved on before RoS was released.

The game feels familiar from my time with D2 all those eons ago, but still something very fresh. To my eyes, Diablo 3 is now far more arcade-y than I previously thought. And right now, I so need it.

What are you playing this weekend?

Weekend Gaming

fallout_4_communismIt’s the first real weekend of gaming of 2016 (that New Years Day nonsense doesn’t count), so what better way to get the year started with some video games!

I recently (and very belatedly, I’m ashamed to admit) hopped on the Rocket League bandwagon. I heard people rave about this game for weeks on Twitter and podcasts but never took the time to check it out (Dota 2 still had me firmly in its grasp). It went on a nice deep discount during the Steam Winter Sale, so I picked up a four-pack for me and my fellow co-bloggers.

Rocket League is some good stuff, man. It hits on all this buttonmasher’s cylinders — matches that are quick and easy, excellent co-op, and that sweet, sweet nectar of “HOLY SCHNIKES, DID YOU SEE THAT?!”. Rocket League also hits the Portal 2 areas of my brain, where connecting on a centered ball and slamming it home with a perfectly timed jump is as satisfying as that “ah-ha!” moment in Portal 2. Except in Rocket League those moments come all the time. The satisfaction is real.

So yeah, I think I’ll be playing quite a bit of Rocket League this weekend.

I’m also making significant progress in Fallout 4. As much as I’m loving Fallout 4, I’m also starting to see some serious repetition in a lot of the side “missions”. I’ve defended my settlements enough times to know that it’s a never ending battle, so I’m going to focus on the main mission for a while. I think I just hit a major milestone, so I’m going to follow this next batch of missions to see where it takes me.

So it’s Rocket League and Fallout 4 for me. What are you playing this weekend?

January Releases

gameboxesIt’s a new year and a new batch of video game releases for the month of January. There aren’t any major titles this month (with the exception of The Rise of the Tomb Raider on the PC) so I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to grab any of these titles. Besides, I just recently discovered the joy that is Rocket League, so my gaming plate is full. With that said, on to this month’s releases:

Xbox One

Week of January 19th
Resident Evil Origins Collection – Capcom keeps banging that Resident Evil Remake drum, don’t they?
Life is Strange

Week of January 26th
Warner Bros Lego Marvel Avengers


Week of January 26th
Warner Bros Lego Marvel Avengers


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Week of January 19th
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam – One of my junior buttonmashers will be very excited to hear about a new Mario & Luigi RPG for the 3DS.

Week of January 26th
Warner Bros Lego Marvel Avengers
Final Fantasy Explorers


Week of January 5th
Dead TrailZ
Dungeons Are Random
Contract

Week of January 12th
Big Action Mega Fight!
Oxenfree

Week of January 19th
Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak
The Deadly Tower of Monsters
Resident Evil 0 / biohazard 0 HD REMASTER
The Aquatic Adventure of the Last Human
Crashlands

Week of January 26th
Bombshell
LEGO MARVEL’s Avengers
Rise of the Tomb Raider


PS4 Banner

Week of January 19th
Resident Evil Origins Collection
Life is Strange

Week of January 26th
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers
Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel


Week of January 19th
Steins;Gate

Week of January 26th
LEGO Marvel’s Avengers

What are you picking up this month?

(Note: As always, all Amazon.com links have our affiliate code embedded in them. If you purchase something through our link, we get a little commission. It’s appreciated.)