Contents

Caty and Cara's Page

Our Computers

Snapshots with Text

Essays for Fun

Ken Burch's Tales

Ken's Neocron Tales

More Neocron Tales

Secret Wars

Tales of the Walker Clan

Our Cast

Why Kevin Doesn't Dance

Writing of Mine That Doesn't Totally Suck

Stuff dl Thinks Is Cool

The Old, Old Grandma Story

The Final Battle

James' Photos

James Meyer's Birds:

Introduction

Photos 1 through 25

Photos 26 through 50

Photos 51 through 75

Photos 76 through 100

Reading

a book cover

Playing







alChandler's Halls



Serving dozens since 1999!


De Sardet vs. the Nadaig Glendemen

The nadaig glendemen is a boss in Greedfall and killing it was necessary to finish Vasco's companion quest.

Vasco is a Naut, that is a member of a seafaring guild. Rather then have their own navies, the nations in Greedfall contact the Nauts for trading and suck, and navel warfare doesn't exist. At the beginning of the game a ship carrying a nadaig glendemen from the island of Teer Fradee docked at the Sérène. The thing broke free, severely damaged a ship and I had to kill it. Vasco was the guild's fall guy for that fuck up and his companion quest was to help him regain his good standing with the Nauts.

The second nadaig glendemen was tougher then the first but after multiple tries I managed to kill it and Vasco's good name was restored and he's now a big thing among the Nauts. And De Sardet learned that boss fights are a bit easier if you hit the left shift key to dodge when a nadaig glendemen is barreling towards you. Who knew?

By the way, Greedfall does not support level scaling. In an RPG with level scaling, the NPCs level up with you so if you're level 60 the wolves you encounter will also be level 60. In Greedfall if a fight is too tough, go forth and kill other stuff and then come back, you'll have out leveled your foes. The devs felt that if you've put some time into a game you deserve to feel like a badass.

January 24, 2020


Freeing a Prisoner

I planned to go to bed around two this morning, instead I got involved in a Greedfall questline. I was trying to help out a native merchant by freeing his cousin who had been wrongfully arrested by the guards and sentenced to fight in the arena. I couldn't just free him but I could enter the arena with him. Since I'm a hero that's what I did. We had to fight a rogue and his two trained bulls. At level five I died repeatedly. But now I was level eight, unfortunately I still died repeatedly.

Frustrated now, I did a bit of in game shopping and then I realized what was wrong, I'm a magic user and in order to use magic I have to be wearing a magic ring. I was still wearing the ring I started out with. So for 469 gold coins I bought an archbishop's ring that boosted my spell power, went back to the arena and killed the rogue and his bulls on my first try. After that my reputation with the native islanders went up by +2. I was hoping that would get my native companion, Siora, to start to like me but she's still suspicious of me. Since I did the companion quests for Kurt and Vasco, this would be a good time to do her quest, after I get some sleep, it's now after five in the morning. I'll go to bed knowing I made this guy pretty happy.

January 22, 2020


Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures

I have a number of ebooks stored on my hard drive from the University of Adelaide. Given the choice of downloading a book from Project Gutenberg and putting it on my Kindle and downloading it from the U of A, I'd always choose the latter, their books just looked better. But when the University of Adelaide took their books off line I realized that I had no easy way of telling Gutenberg's books from their Australian counterparts. But yesterday I fired up Calibre, an ebook management program I used to covert books in .epub format to .mobi so I could read them on my Kindle. At some point I let Calibre access my collection of downloaded books and it had metadata for the books, including where they originally came from. So a few of the books I put on my Kindle from Gutenberg have been replaced by their Australian counterparts. That made me happy.

By the way, Kindles have been around for 12 years. They supported their own .azw format and .mobi but not .epub. In those days authors like Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow would release something for free in ebook format to encourage the adoption of ereaders but make it a point to not release them in .mobi format. After all, everybody hates Amazon. So programmers would convert them to .mobi, with the blessing of the authors, and eventually Calibre was developed, a program that allowed anyone to convert .epub to .mobi. It almost seems moot at this point, the Kindle seems to have won the ebook format wars, but back then it was a thing.

January 19, 2020


Head Cannon

This week I went on a gaming binge, playing a lot of Greedfall and replaying the first four acts of Kentucky Route Zero before act five drops on the 28th. Today it occurred to me that Kentucky Route Zero and Mr. Robot are both surrealistic works. With that in mind my new head cannon is that E Corp. in Mr. Robot got its start some 40 years before the series as the gas station in Kentucky Route Zero.

By the way, during the replay I realized how very sad Kentucky Route Zero is. Slate sums is up nicely:

The world of Kentucky Route Zero is a stretch of Rust Belt twisted into a Mobius loop, a hollowed-out husk of a community full of foreclosed houses, abandoned mines, and lost, discarded people. But it’s also an adventure sewn together with dream logic, full of impossible, non-Euclidean spaces and magical realism that glosses even the grimmest circumstances with a sheen of absurd beauty.

I've played games that aren't so much about winning as they are about providing the player an experience and telling a story, games like Gone Home, The Beginner's Guide and What Remains of Edith Finch. Kentucky Route Zero belongs in their company.

January 18, 2020


I Am Not a Clever Man

There are several ways to tackle a problem in Greedfall. Last night I had to enter a warehouse and doctor some records. I could have fought my way in but I decided on sneaking in, that generally means I hop a fence and use an unguarded door. The problem was I couldn't hop any fences in the area and eventually had to use a walkthrough to discover that you can only hop a fence if it has faded white paint on it.

To be fair, in the tutorial section the game walks you over to a fence with faded white paint and tells you to press the e key to hop it. I'm sure the devs assumed that most people would get the connection between the paint and fence hopping. Sadly, I'm not most people and I feel a tad embarrassed.

Two other things of note, I've already put seven hours into the game, a good sign, and the video no longer has the Bandicam watermark, I sprang for the full version.

January 17, 2020


Love Means

Love means that even though Newton's bed is askew and it's driving me crazy I'm not going to straighten it out because I don't want to wake him.

January 15, 2020


Sérène

There was a tutorial at the beginning of Greedfall that took me forever to get through. In part because some of the directions weren't overly clear and in part because I'm still a little zonked from the flu. But I got through it, said goodbye to my mother and now I've left the family palace and am about to walk the streets of Sérène, the big city around here.

It's the age of exploration and Sérène has been hit by a plague with no known cure, but there's a newly discovered island that may hold the answer so that's where we're going, once I find out where my idiot brother got to. I tend not to roleplay in roleplaying games very much but with the plague and all I'm going to try to get into I'll do whatever it takes to find a cure mode. I don't see myself as a character who'll move to the island and just rob and pillage my way through the place but I don't think I'll have much patience for any Yes we have the cure but we can't share it with outsiders bullshit. We'll see how things break when I get there.

January 14, 2020


Greedfall

I checked, I haven't really finished a good role playing game since Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and that was well over a year ago. With that in mind I took the plunge and bought Greedfall, a game set in a fantasy world's colonization period. Most reviews I've read compare it favorably to Bioware's games, specifically The Dragon Age and Mass effect series. Just as you had to navigate politics in the world of Dragon Age, in Greedfall you have to decide how big a bastard you'll be in the game's version of the New World.

And it's almost 3:00 AM, I've stuff to do, I've downloaded the game and created my character. The rest can wait until tomorrow. And by the way, I don't have Comcast's top speed but I was able to download a 20 GB game in 15 minutes. I feel absurdly pleased over that, like I had something personally to do with it.

January 13, 2020


Kentucky Route Zero

I just put Kentucky Route Zero back on Kosh. It's not an adventure game although it has a bit of adventure game DNA, it's not really an interactive novel, it just is what it is. Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

Kentucky Route Zero is a point and click game and contains text-based dialogue instead of vocal audio. There are no traditional puzzles or challenges, with the focus of the game being storytelling and atmosphere. The player controls Conway by clicking on the screen, either to guide him to another location, or interact with other characters and objects. The player also has the choice to choose Conway's dialogue, and occasionally the dialogue of other characters, during in-game conversations. The game is separated into various locations, which Conway can travel between using his truck. A map is shown when traveling on the road, and the player must guide the truck icon to the destination of their choosing, mostly areas where the player has been pointed or sent out to. At certain points, the player may take control of characters other than Conway within the game's twisting, self-referential narrative.

Close enough. It's episodic and while episode 1 was released in 2013, I didn't try it our until 2016 when episode 4 came out. Since then it's been on my hard drive, waiting for the fifth and final episode to be released. That goes down on 1/28 so I'm replaying parts 1 through 4 to refresh my memory. To be honest I had sort of given up on it until this video dropped last year. And with that, here's a couple of minutes from Act I:

Yep, it's unusual.

January 13, 2020


Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

There's a lot of thoughtful, well thought out science fiction out there. Star Wars doesn't fall into that category, it was always pulp science fiction and while it tried to maintain a sort of continuity it's quite prepared to ignore embarrassing stuff that didn't work out. When was the last time you heard midichlorians mentioned?

Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope was a 1930s science fiction serial, Buck Rogers with a bigger budget and that's how I judge it. That's why I can accept space horses galloping on a super star destroyer in The Rise of Skywalker:

But there's a certain laziness in The Rise of Skywallker that bothers me. Still, I was willing to ignore the callbacks to A New Hope in The Force Awakens so I don't feel that I can bitch about the callbacks to Return of the Jedi in The Rise of Skywalker. I had my chance to speak up in 2015 and I remained silent.

But I enjoyed myself and I'm philosophical about these things. Remember, I'm a fan of Star Trek, I know what it's like to have a movie franchise tell you, "Shut your fucking mouth! You'll take what we give you and you'll like it.

January 12, 2020


Flu and/or Cold!

Yeah, I'm recovering from that. Today's the first day I feel confident enough that I can go to the store without sounding like I'm in the last stages of consumption. And the downtime allowed me to get some reading done, I finished The Peripheral, City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi and I'm a good ways into Whose Body?. Even bad things turn to good and all that.

I preordered Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener, that's about her years working for tech start ups in San Francisco and on the 21st William Gibson's new novel Agency is published. A week later that last episode of Kentucky Route Zero arrives on Steam. So I have stuff to look forward to.

January 12, 2020


Achievement Earned



No really, I love it when a game kids me like this.

January 8, 2020


A Fond Farewell to ebboks@Adelaide

The University of Adelaide had a small collection of ebooks in the public domain and while their selection was miniscule compared to Project Gutenberg's the the books they did have were beautifully formatted, indeed I considered them works of art. But things don't last forever and the University shut down the service with the new year.

I'm considered a pessimist by some and I have to say that it's true, but I am not without a sense of gratitude. So rather then bitch about the disappearance of their collection I'm going to focus on the books I have from them and I think I'm going to send them a thank you note for a service freely given.


January 8, 2020

The Expanse

I finished watching the last three episodes of The Expanse and man were they good. You know, the AV Club pretty much summed up why it's the best science fiction show around right now:

The show’s canny use of consequences ensures that its wilder sci-fi concepts exist in a context that grounds them without diminishing their impact. Even more importantly, those consequences always exist for narrative purposes. Information is never introduced simply for its own sake, but rather to ensure that the viewer is constantly aware of the cost of all this space travel and terraforming. Unlike the pulp fantasy of Star Wars or the utopian vision of Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Expanse is a fictional future that takes what we already know about humanity and the systems we cling to, and just gives us more room to fuck everything up.

Which is not to say that I don't have room for less gritty works, Tivo is recording the next episode of Doctor Who right now and in a bit I'm going to watch it. But it's nice to see something far more grounded.

January 5, 2020


News of the Day

Late last night I finished Bulletstorn. It was cut from the same cloth that Duke Nukem was but while Grayson Hunt, your character, is a juvenile asshole he's not the misogynist that Duke was. For $9 I had a good time. This morning I was moved to put Amid Evil back on Kosh. That game was a tribute to the ancient game Hexen. It's harder then Bulletstorm but it allows you to save anywhere so it's an acceptable trade off. I gave it up as too difficult last year but since I finished Bulletstorm I'm feeling lucky, or perhaps arrogant is a better word.

Tonight I watched four episodes of The Expanse. It's science fiction that doesn't require as much magic hand waving as things like Star Trek and Star Wars. That being said, I'm looking forward to Star Trek Picard dropping later in the month.

Finally, I boxed a bunch of comic books in my closet. I had a tower of old one there and when they fell over I realized it was time to get rid of them. I'll get another box next week, pack some more up and when Edie comes over to clean she'll haul them away for me. It's not that I'm lazy, it's just that I hate the idea of throwing out a book, even a comic book. Edie will tell me she's donating them somewhere and then dump them in the recycling bin. All I need is plausible deniability.

January 5, 2020


Some Random Notes

I forgot to put Gollum up this Christmas! That makes me sad, I was and still am proud of that. It wasn't a great photoshop but it wasn't horrible either and that's something. I also forgot to put art up for the games I'm playing, that's been remedied. And speaking of that, last night after I posted the update below I fought a boss in Bulletstorm and did a perfect circle strafe around him. In my younger years I had to give up on games because I couldn't circle strafe. I guess there is something to be said for old age.

Finally, Newton is mad at me. I started turning on the bathroom faucet so he could drink from it but got into the habit of waking me up at five in the morning demanding that I turn it on for him. So that shit has stopped and he's in the bathroom now, crying like he's gripped by inconsolable grief. The little asshole has a water bowl and two toilets to drink from if he's thirsty.

January 2, 2020


Sleep of the Just

I just took the picture of Newton, I've been playing Bulletstorm for almost an hour and Newton has been sleeping about two feet away from my right speaker, the speaker that has been blaring out gunfire and the screams of the dying. it fascinates me how cats can just tune out loud noises, or rather loud noises that don't sound like predators or prey.

During WWI cats were brought to the trenches to keep rats and vermin in check. The sound of the war meant nothing to them so they stayed, oblivious to their peril.

January 1, 2020