sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
As regular readers of my journal know, I recently bought a new PC and went slinking back to the Evil Empire in Redmond. I have to say that Windows 7 has been a better experience than I feared. And I told myself that one of the advantages of going back to Windows was being able to play games again. Computer games.

Not I repeat not CONSOLE games. COMPUTER games. I hate console gaming. More specifically, I hate those damn handheld controllers that I can't work worth a damn. I want to use a keyboard and a mouse to move my guy and aim my weapons, the way god intended. So now that I had a Windows machine again, I could that. First thing I did was join Steam and download XCOM: UFO Defense. They provide a version of this nineties game that will run under Win7. I've been having fun with it.

But I wanted more. And the other day, while at the mall, I popped into Gamestop. I remember when that store was mostly computer games, with a few console games available. Over the years it has mutated until the PC games are relegated a single floor stand in the back. Everything else is endless racks of games for Nintendo, Playstation, Wii, Xbox and the like. But among the PC games on that sad lonely stand was a collector's pack of the Battlefield 1942 series. The original, Road to Rome, Secret Weapons of WWII, and Battlefield Vietnam. Plus the map editor and mod kit for those who want to roll their own. All for $10.

I've bought the game before, lo these many years ago (long before I took a multi-year detour into Linux. But god alone knows where the game disks are, and whether I still have the boxes with the CD keys. Plus, I never got Secret Weapons or BF Vietnam anyhow. And the whole thing was only $10, so I wanted it.

I didn't buy it immediately, though. I went home and checked online to be sure it would run under Windows 7. And lo it will. So I went back to the mall today and bought it. Installed it. And I've been playing it. I love it! That stupid handheld controller is such a lame interface compared to keyboard and mouse. I can't believe so many people prefer that*. I've only been playing the single-player game against bots so far** and may or may not venture out into the world again. I checked and there are still active BF1942 servers out there, but I'd probably have to download updates and patches before I could join them, and I'm not sure it's worth it. We'll see.

In other news, I've spent several enjoyable hours reading old Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis fic. I've discovered that the TV Tropes website often has links to really god fanfic sites. Even if the stories they recommend don't grab me, they usually lead me to stories that do interest me. And so it was this weekend. I've read some very good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff, I've finished the first Marla Mason novel (Blood Engines) by T. A. (Tim) Pratt. I enjoyed it very much, so I bought the second one (Poison Sleep) and I'm reading that now too. I really, really like these. It's urban fantasy--our heroine Marla is the chief sorceror of the fictional city of Felsport--but utterly lacking in angst or romance. Just lots of imaginative magic and butt-kicking action. I highly recommend this series.

*Okay, i realize that mostly what they prefer is not having to constantly play catch-up on the cutting edge machines necessary to play the latest games. You buy an Xbox and you just play until, eventually, you buy a new one. No endless chase for more CPU, more RAM, better graphics card, etc. But man, the interface just SUCKS! Would it kill Microsoft or Nintendo or whoever to allow people to use keyboard and mouse as an option?

**Even using keyboard and mouse, I'm only a mediocre player at best. My online handle when I was active in online multi-player BF1942 gaming, was Bullet Sponge for a very good reason.

sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
Or you do if you've ever played X-Com: UFO Defense.

That game came out in the nineties. I loved it then, and I love it now. I'm playing it via the Steam website, which enables me to play it on my Windows 7 system despite the game being a fossil of days long since past.

In X-Com, you're tasked with defending earth from hostile aliens. You start with one base, two underpowered Interceptor fighter craft, a Skyranger (for delivering your soldiers to the battlefield), and a handful of soldiers, scientists and engineers. You have to: scan the skies; try to shoot down UFOs; send your soldiers to fight the aliens (and recover alien prisoners, corpses, and gear); upgrade and expand your base(s); research said corpses, prisoners, and gear; reverse engineer improved weapons, armor, and tools, and eventually take the fight to the aliens.

All on a meagre budget, which will be cut if the funding nations aren't happy with your performance. Fortunately, there are workarounds. Once you've developed the technology for building laser cannons, you dedicate a workshop or two to churning them out in trainload lots, and then sell them off. (Don't ask who's buying them all.) In short order, you'll have so much money (literally tens of millions) you can buy anything you want. Except the alien element Elerium (aka Unobtainium, Phlebotenum, etc.)

That you get from capturing alien spaceships and bases (mostly) intact. Speaking of which, I just discovered an alien base on earth. Which means I have to send my guys to attack it. If I'm lucky, it hasn't been there long and won't be a very tough nut to crack. If I'm unlucky, my guys will get slaughtered. (In which case, I shut down the simulator, yell at my soldiers to do better next time, and try again. That is, reload the saved game....)

It's fun. And being able to play this game again is, I have to confess, one of the advantages of going back to a Windows machine.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
And quite a pace it is, too. I managed only about  thousand words yesterday, what with spending time on yard work and other things, but it was still a thousand words. Today I regained the pace of Monday and Tuesday, managing a little over 5,000 words. I am, as I expected, having moments of doubt, moments when I wonder if it's all just crap.

But I just keep writing. I wondered about my first one too, and put it away when it was done, swearing that it would never see the light of day again. Then my lovely and talented wife convinced me to let her read it and she really liked it. So did Twoson. They're not the most objective of critics, but they're not just yanking my chain either. If they didn't like it, they'd have said so.

More importantly, when I pulled it out a couple of months after finishing it, I liked it too--much better than I'd expected to, based on how I felt when I finished it. So I will simply continue to ignore my internal editor.

Meanwhile, tonight is my gaming night. I'm playing a high-powered sorceror in an 800-point GURPS fantasy game. Last week we were attacked by two very powerful demons in enchanted armor. Fortunately we had similar armor and weapons; none of our normal weapons could put a dent in them. Even so, the demons were seriously badass. I threw a monkeywrench in the GM's plans by capturing one of the demons in an Utter Dome (an impenetrable bubble of force), so we could concentrate on just one. After a long, hard fight we killed the other. Tonight we get to try to kill the second.

It's been fun. The GM and I have been gaming together for almost twenty years. We know one another's minds very well. Which makes for entertaining battles--he tries to anticipate my reactions to his NPCs' actions, and I try to come up with angles he hasn't planned for, mostly by using spells in unexpected ways. Which makes my victories when I succeed all the sweeter.

Stories in Circulation: 9
Rejections: 35
Stories Accepted: SEVEN
Stories to Resubmit: 2

Novel Queries: 1 Novel, 5 queries out
Novel Rejections: 4

Project 1: Space Opera (Title TBD)
Words Written: 19,755 (5,124 today)




Project 2: Urban Fantasy (Title TBD)
Words Written: 0



sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I've been playing in a weekly face-to-face Champions game for a few months now. First one in years. The campaign ended this week with a double (two night) wrap up, since the GM is traveling to China for an indeterminate period for work. He wanted to wrap up the adventure we were having before he left.

So we confronted the Big Bad Boss Monster, a vampire who was stronger than any of us, faster than any of us, and had vast mental powers.

I was playing the Black Knight. He's based on the Kurgan from the original Highlander film. He regenerates like an SOB (I have 20 points of rPD and rED armor to represent the fact that any wound smaller than that heals so fast that it effectively doesn't even slow him down. Plus some Damage Reduction (even larger wounds heal really, really fast), and Regeneration. STR 50 and a huge sword for lots of HTH KA damage.

In short, he's a combat monster who's very, very hard to stop.

Did I mention that he's got 2x Effect from Mind Control attacks as a disadvantage? And that the vampire had Mind Control? Yeah.

First thing the bad guy did was an area effect Mind Control command "Kill yourselves!" I was the only one who succumbed and I impaled myself on my own sword, to little effect.

So the vampire's second command--to me--was "Kill your friends."

The Black Knight ripped the sword out of his own torso and immediately attacked the nearest player character. As my friend John in Virginia could tell you based on the years I played in his campaign, I have a policy regarding my characters being mind controlled. And that policy is: do your damnedest to carry out your orders.

If my PC is under someone else's mental influence, I don't dither, or try to be deliberately ineffective. I fight just as hard and just as enthusiastically as I do when I'm in my right mind. Anything less is cheating.

Alas for Ben, his character was closest. And he had virtually no resistant defenses. I sliced him nearly in half in one shot, and on my next action kicked his bleeding (but not quite dead yet) body into the next nearest PC. Which killed Ben's character and knocked the other character out.

Another player managed to disarm me and knock me down with martial arts at that point. (He was savvy enough to know he couldn't rally hurt me, but he could keep me out of action.) And before I could do anything else, the rest of the group managed to take out the vampire. But Ben's character was dead as disco.

So next week we start a new game. Ben's the GM. Gee, I hope he doesn't hold a grudge.

I have to say, though, that that was the most fun I've had gaming in a long, long time. Most of my gaming for the last three years has been online. Which is fun, don't get me wrong, but it's not the same. Sitting around the table, rolling dice, and making wisecracks and riffing on one another's jokes--it was loads of fun. I laughed more (and frequently harder) than I have in a long time.

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sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
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December 2016

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