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Birthdays, Backlogs, and Board Games–Oh my!

Keen's BirthdayFirstly I should very much like to wish Keen a happy birthday. You are one step closer to kicking it, etc. I think I do the mortality joke every year but I’m just not feeling it this time. But yeah, Happy birthday and all that! Hurray!

Now onto more important matters…

Backlog

My gaming backlog is really starting to creep up on me. Even more since I’ve neglected many games in favor of playing board games. Right now, just off the top of my head and not including current stuff like Toukiden and Bravely Default, I have:

The Wonderful 101 – I played the demo of this game and I really liked it. Apparently enough so to buy it not to play it. Just recently, i.e. last night, I started playing it and I was reminded why I liked it in the first place. I seriously need to put more time into this one.

Sonic Lost World – I think I’m something like 75% done with this but I really need to finish it up. I’m not exactly sure why I stopped but seeing that I have the attention span of a goldfish I suppose it’s not that surprising.

YS: Memories of Celceta – This one I actually got for Christmas. At least I think that’s when. I did start playing it recently and I’m really enjoying it but it’s probably going on long pause until I finish more current RPGS like Bravely Default.

I don’t even want to look at my Steam list. I’m more than sure it’s full of impulse buys (sales, etc) and the mere sight of it would be enough to cause a panic attack.

Board Games

cavernaWe didn’t get any real chance to play this week but I’m hoping that can be remedied this weekend. Perhaps we can complete the first scenario in Robinson Crusoe and maybe even squeeze in some Pathfinder: ACG. I guess it really depends on what Keen wants to do since it is his birthday and all. He should at least get one day where his vote counts.

We’ve started looking towards future games, too. The Witcher game is on my radar and we already went ahead and pre-ordered Caverna. Technically that last one already came out but it’s near impossible to find. Fortunately they seem to be reprinting it soon. We also decided to back a couple of Kickstarters that looked very promising. One of them is Tiny Epic Kingdoms, which is a micro 4x game and looks absolutely fascinating. The other is a tactical superhero game called Heroes Wanted which I think looks absolutely fantastic. The humor and style plus the superhero theme is right up my alley. It reminds me of games like Freedom Force and The Superhero League of Hoboken. I’m really looking forward to it.

In Other News…

Keen decided to bite the bullet and get a new PC. That’s pretty nice for me since it means I get his old one and now I don’t have to try and run stuff like Battlefield 4 with HALF of the REQUIRED RAM. Seriously, I don’t know how but it does work. I suppose I will also get to play EQ Landmark now that I’ve been set free of my 32 bit system shackles.
I was able to instruct Keen on how to build a circular pillar. I’ve never even played the game but it only took me a couple of minutes to figure it out. He looked at me like I was some kind of mystic space wizard. I’m not saying that’s untrue, but you just don’t go around telling people that kind of thing.

 

The Frustrating Flipside of Board Games

As much as I’m loving my new hobby I have begun to notice several different aspects of playing board games that are starting to irk me. I’m sure some of these things might be personal quirks but others seem to be common amongst every single game I play.

Box

When I refer to the box I don’t mean the outside but rather what is inside. The one thing that I can’t seem to understand is why almost every box comes with some kind of cardboard insert that renders a huge portion of free space absolutely WORTHLESS. This issues especially pisses me off when you can already barely fit the game components into the box. I’ve already made plans to replace the interior of several of my boxes with custom foamcore interiors that will not only accommodate everything but make organizing and setup so much faster, which can be a big deal since…

Space

…some games seem to take up SO MUCH real estate. I’ve touched on this one briefly before when talking about Mage Knight. This point is obviously only a problem for some people, those who have limited space. I’m starting to think that I might need to set up both of my tables next to each other just so I can fit everything. One of the biggest problems I face is leaving games set up so I can come back to them later since…

Time

…some of these games take several hours per session. Honestly this doesn’t bother me so much as it does Keen. Still, that directly effects me since he is pretty much the only person I could convince to play with me. Even if all of my games have solitaire play it’s always more enjoyable to have somebody to play with and talk to. Some games are naturally just long but play time can be drastically increased…

Rules

…if you don’t fully understand the rules. Some of these rulebooks and other resources don’t seem to explain certain elements all that well and sometimes the language can be very confusing. I am not very good at teaching myself something through reading which has been demonstrated several times over when I need to hit youtube to learn how to play a game. So of course some of it is on my end but there are several instances where it seems many players can’t seem to agree on the interpretation of a rule. Fortunately most of the time these things get addressed in online FAQs or errata or even by the game creator themself, which is always nice. Still, I think one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing an example laid out in a manual that runs you through a scenario with outcome A but doesn’t fill you in on what happens with outcome B, which seems to be what I always need to know. This whole issue is probably Keen’s least favorite aspect of playing board games. Any time I need to double check something or consult the manual I can see a little piece of his soul breaking off. It seems to be an extension of pausing a fighting game to check out your character’s moveset, which is apparently one of the worst sins you can commit around him.

———

Those are really my biggest complains, at least that I can think of off the top of my head. Mostly it’s just nitpicky stuff but it does feel good to vent. Thanks for listening to complain for several paragraphs. Here’s a bonus picture of a Cthulhu miniature I’m working on since according to Keen I “can’t get away with making an entire blog post just one picture.”

Claythulhu demands your worship and love!

Video game instruction manuals

baldurs gate 2 manual

Our copy of the Baldur’s Gate 2′ Instruction Manual — So thick it was spiral bound!

I miss those really big instruction manuals that used to come with games.  When I was younger, in 5th-8th grade, I would bring my instruction manuals to school with me and study them during recess.  I loved the information, pictures, and ability to bring my game with me wherever I go.  Maybe that’s what was so great about having those wonderful smelling, cheaply bound pages.

Back in 1996 I met one of my best childhood friends because I overheard him and a few other kids talking about a video game with a Sorcerer, Rogue, and Warrior. At the time I had no idea what the game was about, but I did my  best to pretend I had a clue so that I’d be included.  I remember begging my Dad to take me out to the store later that day to pick up a copy of Diablo.  When I got it home I ripped open (actually I carefully pealed back the tape) the box and pulled out the holy grail — my ‘in’ with this group of kids — the instruction manual.

Remember how big manuals used to be back then? Loaded with facts about potions, armor, spells, and everything we needed to know, or simply wanted to read about in the bathroom or on a lunch break.

Reducing costs, the internet, mechanical familiarity… I”m sure there’s a dozen reasons why instruction manuals disappeared.  I just know that I love them and what they represent.

I Love Old School Video Game Boxes

I sat down in our gaming room this evening to think up ideas for blog content.  I casually looked around the room and realized I was surrounded by inspiration.  While growing up I had trouble throwing things away — I still hate throwing things away.  If something looks neat, I have a natural desire to display it.  One of my favorite things to collect when I was younger was video game boxes.  We have hundreds of PC game boxes on display in this room.  In our built-in wall unit we have these sections near the roof that go along the edge of the room with recessed lighting.  What’s in them? Computer game boxes.  Across the room from where I’m sitting now we have 2 very large book cases.  Are there books in those shelves?  I think there might be 12 books, 30 game boxes, and some action figures.

Here’s one my favorite shelves.

old school video game boxes

That shelf alone represents more than ten years of memories, and contains some of the greatest video games ever made.  I can lean back in my chair, close my eyes, and transport myself to a world where the memories of these games are alive and well.  I remember watching Graev play Final Fantasy 7 every day when he got home from school.   Graev and I used to go online in Nox, coordinate our play, and just stomp other people.  Age of Empires… my gosh, I got my Mom into that series and to this day even she has fond memories.   Black & White consists of game mechanics which, to this day, are still untapped. Need I say anything at all about the original EverQuest or DAoC?

Collecting boxes has become a hobby.  I can look around this room and see how video game boxes have evolved — how my hobby has evolved — over the years from enormous, cardboard works of art to the smaller boxes with those flaps on the front.  Then came the plastic thicker boxes, and not long after that the thinner boxes shrink wrapped like console games.  In a way, I feel like my collection validates my love for the older generation of gaming, and in a small way I know exactly how some of you must feel about your Atari and even older collections.

I feel almost sad about PC gaming shifting to almost being entirely digital.  How will I keep the memories alive decades later?

Returning to Normal!

Whew! What a long two weeks.  I’m so glad to be back in SoCal where the weather is amazing and life is just so much more laid back.

I’m really sorry for the lack of posts and general activity on our blog and forums.  Taking finals, graduating from college, hunting for jobs, picking up and moving my life several states away, and really just trying to settle down has been a real time-sucker.  All of that is just about over!  I plan to unpack my desktop today, and maybe even find a few spare minutes to play something.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I’m away from my computer for several days I feel like I lose track of what’s happening in the world.  Fill me in! Has anything big happened out there? What are you up to?  In all honesty I’m sitting on my couch right now touching my laptop for the first time, so I haven’t even checked Camelot Unchained’s kickstarter numbers or been to any of the news sites to see what’s been going on.

Look for a post either tonight or tomorrow. I promise to inspire you, fill your minds with thought provoking ideas, and have you questioning your own gaming beliefs in no time — or maybe I’ll just give you something to read.  Either way, it’s great to be back!