Streaming!

I have a had a blast picking up the hobby of streaming video games online.

A while back, Ashley and I decided to open up the stuff we do on the internet to more content. For me, it didn’t feel right for that content to all be labeled Horseshoes & Hand Grenades. Our show has a certain brand of humor and style that didn’t feel like it should encapsulate all the stuff we wanted to do. That’s where 2Dorks came from. Stephanie proposed the title when Ashley and I were discussing a creative writing project. Now we have a pretty decent little following over on twitch.tv/2dorkstv where we broadcast all the fun stuff we do. Horseshoes and Hand Grenades is over there, along with anytime we want to stream a video game.

It’s been pretty fun so far and we’ve been really happy to welcome Jacob into the fold for creating fun stuff. He and I started doing Diablo streams on Mondays and that’s been super fun. Now we’re talking about running dungeons in WoW as well. Stephanie actually came up with that idea when she got the itch to play it a few days ago.

I’m also officially doing The Adventures of Stephen on twitch every Tuesday night at 8:30pm. I’m going to be playing nothing but point-and-click adventure games, both old and new. I played Full Throttle already and tonight I’m starting a full franchise playthrough of the Monkey Island series. It’s easily one of my favorite series’ of all time. Up there with Mario for sure. I’ve always loved those games for the humor and really smart puzzles. I’m excited to dive back into this one because it’s  been a long time since I’ve played it. I have tried to fire this up once before and found that I got frustrated a littel early on, but I think I’m in the right mindset this time around.

  • The Secret of Monkey Island
  • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge
  • The Curse of Monkey Island
  • Escape from Monkey Island
  • Tales of Monkey Island

I’m doing all of those above games in a row first. Then I’m going to break out into some new stuff. I just figured, why not start with one of the best adventure games of all time and then move on. After that, I might give Toonstruck a shot. I haven’t played that in years and it deserves another look for sure.

Anyway, I’m excited about all this and pumped to get started. Can’t wait to see where it all goes!

Of Star Wars and Skyrim

I just realized that I have yet to write a blog post about what may very well be the most culturally significant announcement of this year. Nevermind that its only January. Legendary, TV/Movie director and creative genius JJ Abrams will be directing Star Wars Episode VII!! I found it hard to believe that they would be making another Star Wars movie, much less they would have the brains to pick a great director who absolutely gets the nerd culture that he’ll eventually be catering to. I don’t know that I could have picked a better person to take this on! I think we’ve all given up on George Lucas at this point anyway, so we’re all glad to have someone we respect in the driver’s seat.  Continue reading →

Sim City

I got into the beta to the newest edition of Sim City! I spent some time playing it today really enjoyed myself. I’m pretty sure that’s the only thing that I did today that’s really significant. I’ve been trying to play the game since early this morning but the servers have been blocking logins all day long because they were troubleshooting some performance issues. It’s a good thing they were though, because if I had access to it all day, I wouldn’t have gotten a thing done. Which is kind of what happened anyway, but at least it wasn’t because I was playing video games all day. Continue reading →

Assassin’s Creed!

I beat it! But not before it stole me away from blogging again. So here I am in the bed blogging from my iPhone. Not the optimal way to go about it. But I must do what I can. Which is not much. AC3 was great. Look to tomorrow for a regularly scheduled rambling.

New Year’s Creed

I decided that this year I would try to spend a bit more time blogging about stuff, or just writing in general. So where better to start than on my blog on the first day of this brand new year. I don’t think this is the first time I’ve written this out or decided that I was going to write more often in the new year so take this resolution with a grain of salt. On top of writing, I’ve also decided to eat better, get healthy, and just be an all around better person. I think I have a shot at the healthy part. Stephanie is working really hard and she’s inspiring me a lot, so as long as we can keep each other accountable, we should be okay. Continue reading →

2011 Geek Week

I don’t know who timed this majestic week in the life of nerds everywhere, but they did something right. If you don’t live in the same circle of heaven that I do right now, it’s because you’re not paying attention to the news coming out of E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) and Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference this week. Holy crap is there a lot to be excited about!

I’m not going to go over everything because you can hit any number of tech blogs on the net to find the info you want, but I am going to gush in general over how Apple totally knocked it out of the park this week. I often pride myself on being able to look at stuff objectively and get excited about what really counts. I’m just as likely to get excited over something Android or Microsoft is doing as I am Apple. I am admittedly an Apple fan, and I wear my badge with pride. But any company that pushes our tech forward, I can stand behind and get excited about. This week, Apple shot first.

iCloud, iOS 5, and OS X Lion was a triple shot of espresso straight to the heart of everyone that breathes in the Apple atmosphere. We live in a world now where you pick a universe to be a part of. Be it Google, Amazon, Apple, or Microsoft, you need to pick an atmosphere and roll with whatever they decide to do. Now that every service syncs with every other service inside one of their respective “clouds,” this choice is getting more excited. Apple’s announcement of iCloud pushes this point even further now that they officially have all of your Apple devices sharing info. You now actually benefit from owning a Mac, iPad, and iPhone at the same time. The “one more thing” of Apple’s mind melting keynote was iTunes Match. It’s Apple’s answer to Amazon’s Music Cloud. For $25 a year, iTunes Match will scan your iTunes library and make any music that is available in the iTunes Store available online for you to listen to anywhere. Unlike Amazon’s service that requires you to upload your music, Apple will simply let you listen to your music automagically. Needless to say, I’m excited about everything they had to say. iOS 5 also gives us features we should have had years ago. Not going to go into everything, but you can catch the keynote where they blew all this up at www.apple.com of course.

E3 is also going on this week and has been melting faces for two days with everything they have to offer. Microsoft is blowing people away with the Kinect, Nintendo just announced their new console, and Sony continues to try to salvage their name from the pits of hell after everything that has happened to them. The applications for Microsoft’s Kinect have grown far beyond what I’m sure they even expected. I’m just waiting for the day when I can tell the Xbox 360 to turn on with my voice and for it to say “Hi Stephen. Would you like to play a game” in a HAL 9000 voice. It’s coming sooner than anyone ever thought. Just for example, they are building voice controls into Mass Effect 3 so that you can SPEAK your dialogue choices. *BOOM* MIND BLOWN. People can live or die not based on a button press, but on your vocal decisions. That’s not even scraping the surface of what they intend to do with this thing either.

The new Nintendo console, Wii U, has also completely changed the landscape of gaming. When I first saw the controller, I have to admit that I was a little astonished and confused at the same time. Nintendo came out with another weird piece of hardware that I was sure I’d spend the next year trying to wrap my brain around. That is until I saw it in action. The Wii U has finally brought Nintendo into the HD era, allowing for games to be played at 1080p resolution with amazing graphics. Think of it along the lines of a 360 as far as graphics go. The controller is the truly revolutionary part of this thing though. It has a 6.2″ touchscreen and 2 cameras built right onto it. It makes for a goofy looking device, but one that has endless possibilities for gaming. Playing a golf game? Lay the controller down on the floor, *BOOM* the ball appears to be laying on a bed of grass! Swing the wiimote and the ball takes off, now look at the TV. The ball is soaring safely through the air and landing on the green. It’s hard to write about and get you to picture how incredible it is, but the videos will do it. Needless to say, I might have to pick one of these up in 2012 when they are finally released.

There’s not much else I can say about this stuff without writing a book on it. Any info you want on this can be easily found on the net. Just check it out for five minutes because this is the future. Technology soared high this week and gives you a glimpse of what is to come. I thank God for these imaginative people that can continue to push the limits of what we think is possible with tech. It’s unbelievable what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time since gaming was born. Let’s hope we never stop pushing foward 🙂

5000 Meters

Aha! The blog is still here with just a little dust sprinkled on the cover. Sometimes you just don’t feel like writing, and sometimes those times last for a very long time. Wow, I used “time” a lot in that last sentence. Well, let’s get right down to it then, shall we?

I would like to think that I am off the grid when I don’t write in this blog for a while, but I’m pretty sure my entire life is being tracked by Twitter and Facebook so maybe I shouldn’t worry that I’m missing things that much. I haven’t done a whole lot of particular interest over the last few months. I’m still digging being married and enjoying life. Things have been relatively the same for a while, but I’ve got a few special nuggets that have popped up that I can talk about.

I ran my first 5k a couple weeks ago! That’s 3.1 miles american! I was so very proud of it. Me and Lando, along with his girlfriend, had been training pretty well for a few weeks prior to the run and I ended up doing pretty well. I made it in under 30 minutes, which was my goal and I couldn’t be more happy about it. I was never a runner and I’m proud to say that I could even run one mile without stopping. I was winded by the end of that thing, but at least I made it. That’s the most I’ve ever run in my life and I can now proudly say that I have a much better chance of surviving the zombie apocalypse. Like we learned from Zombieland, cardio is one of the most important things to have when the zombies get loose. They don’t get tired. Another rule is communication, the HAM radio thing is going to have to come later.

I’ve also finally beaten both games in Mass Effect series on my XBox360. You may not think this is all that big of a deal, but these games are easily some of the most immersive and cinematic games I’ve ever played in my life. The story just sucks you in and doesn’t let you go. It’s been an obsession of mine for the past few weeks and I’m glad that I finally beat the second one just last night. In the game, you are Commander Shepard, a member of the Alliance military, who gets thrust into a huge intergalactic adventure spanning multiple planets and solar systems. You and your team are trying to stop “The Reapers” from coming in and wiping out everyone in the galaxy. There are some pretty awesome undertones in the game about racism and how sometimes doing the right thing might not be the best thing. One of my favorite aspects of the two games is that all of your decisions from the first game get imported into the second game. Basically the fate of your the galaxy is in your hands and the game remembers what you did across what will be a trilogy. I just hope I’ve made the right choices so that everything stays cool when Mass Effect 3 rolls around.

Now, Lando has brought me another game to get obsessed with and I really should be doing something more productive. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to dig into this one and get it done as well. Fable 3 comes out in a few weeks and I’m going to have to be ready for that one. It’s going to be huge too!

Hope everybody is well out there in the universe. Take it easy!

Xbox, How I Missed Thee

This post is going to kind of work as a supplement to my “Broken Addiction” post from a few days ago. Among the things I mentioned that I have time to do now, considering I no longer have to think about WoW, is the ability to enjoy some other games. I’ve been playing the crap out of “Dragon Age: Origins,” but I decided that I should give some other stuff a try too. So I finally picked up “Assassin’s Creed II” and started digging into that. This is also from some pressure from Lando to play it because it’s his game and I’m sure he’ll want it back soon.

This game is so very awesome so far! The original “Assassin’s Creed” was a fantastic game but it also had a lot of shortcomings that I believe they fixed in this one. The old game got pretty repetitive pretty fast, which was really unfortunate because they put an awful lot of work into the style. The guys at Ubisoft, the company that developed the game, said that they just didn’t have as much time to flesh out the content as they really wanted. They spent tons of time working out the game engine, which explains the excellent combat and free-running system, but didn’t have time to really give you a whole lot to do with it. All of that changed with “Assassin’s Creed II.” They already had the framework done so they spent a few years really fleshing out content and adding some features. More missions, more climbing, SWIMMING, and plenty of other stuff has been added to make this game so very enjoyable. Loving it so far.

So I dug into Assassin’s Creed but I also downloaded a couple demos of some games that I’m interested in playing. One of those is “Dante’s Inferno.” There is a ton of controversy surrounding this game, and I totally understand why. Having played through the first couple scenes, you get a really good grasp on just what a “Mature” rating can mean in a game. There’s boobs within the first 10 minutes! BOOBS in a game! Who would have thought? It’s about time if you ask me. The ESRB, the ratings board for games, is way too hung up on nudity when they are willing to let somebody entrails me ripped out and spread across the floor without even a blink. This is a fundamental problem in America that I think needs fixed. I’d rather kids be shown a boob or two than some poor guys head getting ripped off, spit on, and then shoved up his rear. Anyway, I’m going way off topic. This game is so very gruesome. It’s got a quick, button mashing style of gameplay which I really dig. A lot of people have compared it to “God of War”, which I actually can’t do because I’ve never played that game. The closest thing I could think of to it is “Ninja Gaiden.” Yes, I have to go back that far in order to find a game in my memory with a combat system similar enough. Clearly I don’t play enough games.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s a crazy romp through Hell where you slash the crap out of demons and have to deal with the sins you committed in your life all to save your wife who was struck down and taken straight to Hell so very unjustly. There, done! The guys who made it based it on “The Divine Comedy,” which I’ve never read because it’s all Old English and probably way over my head anyway. Kind of like reading the original “Beowulf.” It’s just not something I’m going to run out and do, although I’m sure the original story is fantastic. Somebody tell it to me someday.

So the next big adventure for my Xbox after I finish “Assassin’s Creed II” will hopefully be “Army of Two: The 40th Day.” Steph and I played the original together and have never had so much fun with a console game. I love marrying a girl who is into video games. She’s amazing, our future is going to be so very grand .

Touch Me

Okay, before you freak out over the title of this post, I’m talking about computers with touch surfaces. Got your attention though didn’t I?

I just read one of the coolest articles about computer and technology that I’ve read in a while. It was all about revolutionizing table-top gaming. That’s right, D&D with computers! This is all made possible by none other than Microsoft: the tech company that we all love to hate. A year or two ago, Microsoft announced a computer that looks a whole lot like a coffee table, and it was called Surface. We all thought it would be cool because they showed off how you could potentially split up a check at a restaurant, compare cell phone features, and various other things by doing nothing but sitting the objects on the table and letting Surface figure out what they are. Apply that to Dungeons and Dragons and you may very well have a sweet dynamic campaign map.

If you’ve never played D&D before then this may not be that interesting to you, but if you are a table top gamer, then this is going to be of great interest. Imagine that you sit down to play a game with your miniatures and your books, but you don’t have to draw out the maps by hand or guess whether somebody is in line of sight by looking at a bunch of squares. You can just put your pieces on Surface, let it show you the piece of the map that is visible from your characters point of view, and even choose an action or attack straight from the table! Now you can even roll dice simply by touch and throwing a virtual D20 (20-sided die for you non-nerds) across the table. I would definitely want my physical dice, but the option is totally there for people who may not have any.

This system has made so much possible for the world of table-top gaming. Imagine just having to click a button if you want to bring up a Monopoly board, or play a quick game of clue. You don’t have to go dig through your closet and attempt to find all the pieces; they will just be there when you need them. Everything is LITERALLY right at your fingertips.

There is no telling how much Surface is really going to cost for us casual consumers, but it may be very well worth it to have a fun, interactive coffee table for doing any number of things. This D&D scenario is most of the reason that I decided an iPad might not be a bad device to have. I just like the idea of having all of the D&D books right at my fingertips if I need it without having to lug around 10 pounds of books, if not more. Believe me, I understand the value of a printed book. I think it is SO very necessary that we have a physical record of everything. You never know when a massive EMP is going to come and blow out every hard drive on the planet. I don’t see it coming soon, but it very well may. Look at all the data we lost when the Library at Alexandria burned. Hundreds of years of human knowledge lost in a day. We need to avoid that. Copies, copies, and more copies need to be made of everything, and I don’t mean simply digital.

I’m excited about what touch computing can bring to the way we interact with technology. Do I think it is perfect for every application? Not at all. But I think that it will open some doors to some pretty awesome things that we wouldn’t be able to do with traditional interface systems. This is awesome stuff to think about, and I’m so glad to live in the time that we do. This next decade is going to be so cool.

Broken Addiction

I am happy to say that for the last 3 months I have been completely World of Warcraft free! That’s right! I haven’t logged on a single time for anything, and I can’t be more happy about it. I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “Why is that such a big deal? Video games are dumb,” but I don’t think you understand this game. World of Warcraft has over 11 million people playing and is one of the most successful, long-running Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games of all time. There are so many people that are addicted to this game, it’s ridiculous. People in China have died in coffee shops from playing too much…well that and not drinking water.

I played on and off for about for 4 years or so, but finally got into it pretty hardcore last year. I was playing almost every night, and making time to play so that I could join my buds in slaying the evil beasts of Azeroth. This isn’t all bad, but when it costs 15 bucks a month and you know you could be doing other things, it can be an issue. I’m all for playing video games and having a blast. I mean, look at my last post about Dragon Age. But, since quitting WoW, I was able to get my Linux+ certification and I’m well on my way to Security+ as well. I’m all for earning fun virtual stuff, but earning real life stuff is so much more satisfying.

I finally deleted the game completely off my computer about a month ago in hopes that it would never return. I had a blast playing it, but now I don’t miss it at all. Even when I think about the upcoming expansion, it really doesn’t get me too excited for the game. I’m definitely going to pick up something new in the future but for now I’m just enjoying some extra time to blog and enjoy some of my other hobbies… at least until Star Wars: The Old Republic comes out.