Stupid Computer Things

Sometimes even an old, bald wargamer gets the urge to just sit in front of a computer and blow up stuff for a little while without having to read 24 pages of rules.

I’ve been getting that urge more frequently lately, as my spare time has been compressed by the rigors of 10-year-old-Junior-back-to-school and my evening brainpower has been diminished by basically the same thing. Being the over-aged dad of an under-aged person has been more time and energy consuming that I would have ever imagined.

My mind is pretty much a one-track gadget, or at most a track-and-a-half, so I can typically handle only one computer game at a time. (It takes time to train this old brain on all of the buttons, twitches, and tactics.) For the past year or thereabouts, my go-to game for virtual mayhem has been Borderlands 2 — a combo shooter/RPG with eye-catching cell-shaded artwork, some excellent writing, and a lot of wry humor.

A few weeks back I bought the follow-up game, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, on a Steam sale for cheap. I cleared some disk space on my creaky old computer and installed it a week or so ago, and it’s diverting serious time away from my Borderlands 2 play. As a quick note, I’ve beaten BL2 twice with two different characters — but I still haven’t managed to explore anywhere near all of the game’s content.

Roaming around Elpis in a moon buggy.

Roaming around Elpis in a moon buggy.

As a stand-alone game, in the hands of somebody completely unfamiliar with the Borderlands franchise, The Pre-Sequel (TPS) would still be a worthwhile gaming experience. All of the systems BL2 players love — destruction, loot, humor, more loot — are included in TPS. But TPS has a special sort of ‘insider’ appeal for players of BL2. The playable characters in TPS are, for the most part, characters you encounter as villains in Borderlands 2. Since I haven’t finished the game yet, I can’t comment on the story arc that leads to their ‘conversion’, but it’s an interesting setup for the game.

My first character in TPS is an Enforcer named Wilhelm. He has some mad combat buffs, a few cybernetic implants, and his Action Skill lets him toss out a couple of drones: Saint, which regenerates his health, and Wolf, which attacks bad guys with blasts of shock-y, laser-y looking stuff. In Borderlands 2, players encounter Wilhelm as a completely robot-ified Hyperion ultra-badass who deploys multiple repair and attack drones. Continue reading

I Remember My Blog Password

It’s been a while since my last blog-eration (obviously), but that doesn’t mean the Not So Big Anymore Table (NSBAT) here at the swamp bunker hasn’t seen a fair amount of gaming. Heroes of Normandie remained in action for quite a while, although it was sadly back in the closet by the time the Commonwealth Army Box arrived. It’s an entertaining and good-looking game, though, so I’ll probably drag it back out soon enough.

Since HoN went into the closet, the NSBAT has hosted a few ASL scenarios to celebrate the arrival of the system’s re-engineered PTO module, Rising Sun. There was some miniatures building and painting, followed by a couple of large Warhammer 40k games on the (bigger) dining room table while the rest of the family was out of town — a project undertaken to mark the release of 40k’s 7th Edition rules. A few games of X-Wing miniatures, followed by an interlude of (gasp) empty table while I tinkered around with the new 2nd Edition Dark Heresy RPG rules set.

Borderlands 2 - you gotta love a game that gives you Badass Points.

Borderlands 2 – you gotta love a game that gives you Badass Points.

Then — presto — suddenly it was the season for a whole bunch of Kickstarter projects I supported in the wayback to begin arriving at the swamp bunker. Technically, the season … er, kicked off … with the arrival of Heroes of Normandie, but since then there was a bit of a break. All in the space of just a few weeks I received both games in Conquistador’s “War Stories”, Red Storm and Liberty Road; Tiny Epic Kingdoms; and both core game sets from Flying Frog’s “Shadows of Brimstone”, City of the Ancients and Swamp of Death. Also toss in there the new-ish 4th Edition release of GW’s classic Space Hulk, which wasn’t a Kickstarter but arrived in the same time frame. Continue reading

Missing Inaction

Contrary to what it may appear, I ain’t dead — and neither is this blog.

Anybody see a pattern? It never fails. Things are rolling along, I’ve got a bunch of blogging irons in the fire and then poof! Real life interference blows the whole thing to hell and gone and it’s two months before I manage to remember that I have a blog.

In this instance, the real life interference is entirely my own doing. All of the blog damage is completely self-inflicted.

Some of you may have been thinking that one of the graphic artists or designers I panned in my ‘geometry’ post back in April showed up at my door with an old Macbook and clubbed me to death. Nope. I just decided to wander off and fiddle with something else for a while. It’s how I roll. Continue reading

Débile and Dumber

There are many wonderful things I appreciate about France. I’ve visited there a number of times and have always enjoyed the experience — except for driving a van around Paris, which was, um, “exciting,” to be polite.

Unfortunately, since the turn of the last century (maybe a bit earlier), French foreign policy has hardly been what I would call subtle and effective. Not to be too insulting, but it’s pretty much been on a par with our own; to paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, “Mumble a lot and hit yourself in the head with a big stick.”

To be fair, not too many countries are doing any better. Over the last 100 years or so, the world has seen at least three major shifts in the character of international affairs. I’m not sure any government has really managed to keep up. Continue reading

Et tu, George?

In a post some time ago, I grumped and grumbled about how the Internet is enabling the human tendency to reduce our social and intellectual interactions into circles of ever-shrinking tribal orbits. Instead of using the Internet to reach out and discover the diversity of the wide, wide world, we use it to devolve inward upon ourselves, pulling a small community of like minds and self-affirming information “sources” in after us.

The Internet and so-called “social” media don’t create the tendency; they merely serve to magnify it or make it more obvious. How we humans interact with our technology often seems at odds with why we create the technology in the first place. But I’ll argue that, ultimately, it’s not the intent of the creator that matters. Our interaction with the creation is what tells us the most about ourselves; that same interaction is also what defines the desire to create. Technology doesn’t create the behavior; rather, it enables behaviors we desire to express. Continue reading

Another sacrifice in the interest of science

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

I was thinking along those lines on Saturday afternoon as I stood in one of the large, open areas of property surrounding our church. The occasion wasn’t nearly as melodramatic as the quote: my turns-seven-too-soon son, my wife and myself were getting ready to launch some model rockets. Continue reading