Choice of Robots
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 January 2016, 10:00 am

Lately I've been spending a bunch of time with interactive fiction.  It's had a modern resurgence and it's kind of what I always wanted from choose your own adventure books.

iOS is a great format to read and interact with these pieces of fiction.  I've already recommended 80 days a few times, but I've also played/read a bunch of the "Choice of" games that are all published by the same company.  They vary in quality but generally they're fun.

This one, Choice of Robots, is about AI and robotics and what choices you would make if you were one of the first AI inventors.  It has big concepts about consciences and responsibility.  Not to mention some cool looks at future technology and what it could do to the world.

I really liked it.

I highly recommend checking out the "Choice of" series of interactive novels on iOS if you've ever liked choose your own adventure stuff at all.  They have a ton of different interactive fiction available for all sorts of tastes in all sorts of settings.  I'm sure you can find one that fits what you're interested in.

If you're interested I would highly recommend Heroes Rise: The Prodigy.  It's where I started with modern interactive fiction and it's really good.

Star Wars Legends vs Star Wars Expanded Universe
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 January 2016, 9:46 am

Before The Force Awakens I started re-reading my way through the old Star Wars expanded universe which is now called Star Wars Legends.  I was moving at a decent speed and then The Force Awakens released.

I love Star Wars Legends, but now all I want to know is what happens next in this canon version of Star Wars.  Legends is still cool and will always hold a special place in my heart but I've completely lost my motivation to re-read through it again.

I feel like I'll revisit Legends again sometime in the future but now isn't the time.  I'm too excited about the new reality of the universe that The Force Awakens has presented.  I want to know more about that.  I don't need to drag myself into what could have happened.

There are more canon novels and comics coming out all the time.  So, I'm putting my Legends exploration on indefinite hold.  I'll explore the new canon Star Wars expanded universe as it releases and outside of that I'll have more time for new books again.

I was kinda surprised at this reaction after watching the latest movie, but oh well.  Life is full of surprises.

Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 8 January 2016, 10:00 am

The Perfect Weapon is a Star Wars novella that left me wanting.

It does a decent job of painting the picture of a life as a mercenary or bounty hunter on the edge of the law while the pacing and action are decent enough.

My problem with the novella is that it all seems to be leading up to finding out what is so important that is contained in a box the main character has to retrieve.  And (spoilers) in the end she gets the box but doesn't open it.

It's a frustrating end to the decent story that led up to it.

Instead of adding a unique little facet to the Star Wars universe this novella doesn't really add anything.  You're safe to skip this one.

Best of Buffy Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 January 2016, 10:00 am

After writing up my Buffy Season 1 impressions I dove into season 2 hoping to see the series really come to life.  But after hitting the half way point in season 2 I realized that the week to week 90s-ness of the show isn't for me.

There are too many filler episodes and tons of episodes that don't move the overall narrative arc forward.  I know Buffy isn't really a horror show but it's setting is definitely "horror" for lack of a better word.  That genre/setting has never appealed to me and the monster of the week formula quickly got stale.

But I could see the core of the show and there was still something there that I liked.  The core cast and central story arcs are good.  So I googled "best buffy episodes" and "essential buffy episodes", consulted a bunch of lists, and then kinda mashed them together in my brain.

Then I started skipping.

Sometimes just a couple episodes at a time and later almost entire seasons.

But I really enjoyed it this way.  Buffy overall isn't a show for me, but I really like the highlights.

If you're curious and only want to check out a couple episodes I would recommend Angel (S1E7), Prophecy Girl (season 1 finale), Innocence (S2E14), Becoming (Season 2 Finale), Lover's Walk (S3E8), Graduation Day (Season 3 Finale), Hush (S4E10), New Moon Rising (S4E19), Once More With Feeling (S6E7).

I watched a lot more than these but personally this list has my highlights.

I should call out Hush and Once More With Feeling as my all time favorite 2 episodes.

In the episode Hush within the first 10 minutes the monster of the week takes away the ability to speak from everyone in town.  The next 30 minutes of directing/acting/show production are amazing because they tell an entire story without being able to use any dialog.  It's an amazing episode of TV.  It was almost my favorite Buffy episode, but in the end it holds the number 2 spot for me.

My favorite episode is Once More with Feeling.  A demon shows up that turns the entire town into a musical and everyone is liable to random burst out into a musical number.  It's fantastic.  If you watch one episode of Buffy it should be this one.  Even without having a greater context for the show you can still get a lot out of the craft of this musical episode.

And that concludes my venture into the world of Buffy.  It didn't provide as much entertainment as I anticipated and I don't think its one of the greatest shows ever but hitting all the highlights turned out to be a lot of fun.

Besiege Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 January 2016, 10:00 am

Besiege is a fun little sandbox right now.  It has a handful of levels and lots of cool parts to assemble.

Oh, and the point is generally to destroy stuff.

It's still in alpha and it's obviously not a fully formed experience yet, but it reminds me a lot of Kerbal Space Program.  You're given some tools to build a vehicle or machine with, a task to complete, and told to go for it.

After that it's all experimentation.  I'm not nearly as good as videos and gifs I've seen of other people playing the game, but I will admit that it's fun to mess around with the tools provided.

If you see this one for cheap on a Steam sale like I did then it's probably worth your time to grab it.

Buffy Season 1
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 January 2016, 10:00 am

I've been listening to the Story Wonk podcast series lately.  They do story seminars and pop culture analysis in podcast form and they're amazing.  After listening to their entire backlog of the general pop culture podcast The Lightbulb, their Harry Potter series Dear Mr. Potter, and the Star Wars series Story and Star Wars I still wanted more.

I saw that they had a Buffy The Vampire Slayer podcast series called Dusted going through the entire TV show episode by episode.  I had always kind of dismissed Buffy since it was before my time but I figured if these two people think it's worthwhile to cover the entire series then there must be something there to check out.

The first season of Buffy is rough but I can definitely see the core of a series that could become good.  The setup to kick off the series isn't bad but then it's followed by a lot of "monster of the week" type episodes that don't hold up as well.  The episode about Angel halfway through the season is the first one that made me stop and think, "hmm... there might be something to this show."  Then I got few more monster of the week episodes but then the season ends really strong with an episode all about prophecy and Buffy's role in the world.  That was an excellent episode.

After the entire first season my verdict is... cautiously optimistic.

I can see the heart of what may become a good (or even great) show but it's not there yet.  Shows have a way of finding their feet better after the first season so I'm interested to see what happens in season 2.

Sunsetting my Wii U
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 January 2016, 10:00 am

In the last month my Wii U started having an issue.  It stopped playing nice with the external hard drive that I've had hooked up to it from day 1.

I wish I never had to buy an external drive, but the "big" storage version of the Wii U that I bought is only 32GB.  That's like nothing in today's modern gaming landscape.

I'm purely digital now with my gaming, I just don't buy physical media anymore, so it was the obvious choice to pick up one of Nintendo's recommended external drives.  Unfortunately, external drives are the only place I've ever had problems with digital gaming... and this has turned into the same thing.

Now, the Wii U will randomly decide not to mount the external drive.  I could buy a new one and re-download all of my game that aren't on the internal storage (most of them) or I could just deal with it since the Wii U seems to be at the end of it's lifespan.

All signs point to the Nintendo NX releasing next year... so instead of drop $100+ bucks on another compatible drive I think I'll just keep it in anticipation of the new console.

I've moved my most played games to the internal storage where they're stable, but I'm still disappointed in Nintendo.  I really hope the next console comes with a 500GB or 1TB internal storage drive.

Most Anticipated Games of 2016
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 January 2016, 10:00 am
It just occurred to me that I don't actually know that many games releasing in 2016 that have a firm release date.  I can't really anticipate a game for 2016 when I don't even know if it's going to release this year.

And no, a release "month" or release "quarter" don't count.  That means the company doesn't actually know and it could change with no warning.  It happens all the time.

If those counted then I would be super excited for Final Fantasy XV, Star Fox Zero, No Man's Sky, Zelda for Wii U, For Honor, Mass Effect Andromeda, and the remastered version of Final Fantasy IX.  I'm still cautiously optimistic that these will release this year, but until we get firm release dates I'm putting them to the side.

The only two games that I'm really excited for with actual release dates in 2016 are Fire Emblem Fates and Firewatch.

Fire Emblem Fates is the first Fire Emblem game after the amazing success/modernization of the series that was Fire Emblem Awakening.  Awakening is constantly brought up as one of the best 3DS games ever and it's still sitting at the top of my favorite 3DS games.  I love a well made turn based strategy game and Awakening nailed it on so many levels.  Fire Emblem Fates is shaping up to be similar but with improvements all around.  And three different campaign paths which will add a ton of replay-ability.  I'm so excited for Fire Emblem Fates.  It's easily my most anticipated game of 2016.

Firewatch is a different story.  I only learned enough about it to become really intrigued.  Intrigued to the point where I know I'll buy it day one when it comes out.  Since that decision I haven't gone back to dig up more information about it.  It's an exploration game in the wild where you're some kind of park ranger with only minimal human contact.  It looks super interesting.  I'll definitely be checking it out and letting you guys know what I think.

And that's all I have.  I just glanced through a few lists of 2016 games and everything else I'm interested in has no official release date.  I'll start getting excited for those games once I know if they're actually coming out.

Besides that, I really hope the Nintendo NX launches this year.  I've basically owned every Nintendo console and I've gotten so much joy out of them.  I want to know what surprises the NX has in store for us and play around with it.

Looking Ahead to the New Year
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 January 2016, 10:00 am
Happy New Year!

What are you looking forward to the most in the new year?

I'm so excited to see what Disney does to continue the Star Wars fandom after the launch of Episode VII.  I really want to see what direction they take the anthology movies since the first one is due out this year!

I'm also really excited for more information about the new Nintendo console, currently codenamed NX.  All signs and rumors point to a launch sometime this year.  More and more it seems like it's due to be a hybrid between a traditional console and a handheld system.  I'm super intrigued to see the final design.

Not to mention that Nintendo is going mobile!  This is the year that Nintendo starts rolling out their smartphone games and getting all their separate systems and services rolled into one.  They have an amazing brand with a fantastic catalogue of games.  If they do it right they could explode onto the mobile scene unlike anything before.

Although my 3DS hasn't outlived it's usefulness yet.  It's still one of my favorite systems and this is the year where we will finally get sequels for two amazing series.  Fire Emblem Fates is shaping up to hook me big time and I'm super pumped to get my hands on Bravely Second as well.

Playstation has consistently given me great content over the past few years with the PS4 and Vita.  Although Vita feels like it's on the way out the PS4 is coming into it's prime.  It's been out for a couple years now and very soon we'll start seeing the second generation of games on the system.  That's when they truly start pushing the system in it's capabilities.

How about you guys?  What are you excited for in the new year!?

My Year in Gaming
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 December 2015, 10:00 am
Happy New Year's Eve everyone!  Well... almost.  It's almost a new year!

I don't want to do a top ten list or anything so formal this year, I just want to talk about games that stuck out in my mind from the year.

Mario Maker has got to be the coolest thing that came out this year.  Infinite Mario levels plus the tools to make your own?  I'm in.  I love this idea so much and the execution has been fantastic.  Not to mention that Nintendo keeps updating and improving the game too.  It's nice to see them finally getting with the times and offering expanded content past a game's release.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate turned out to be my favorite Assassin's Creed game so far.  I was expecting some fun but most just another entry in the series.  That's generally what we get year-to-year.  But honestly, I love all the small changes that they made to truly tighten the game up.  It's now my favorite game in the series.

Hearthstone was a constant companion this year.  I did more traveling than usual in the last year and Hearthstone has been my game of choice on the go.  After giving up on it a month after release I'm been so surprised to get back into it.  I love all the new modes and that they're constantly adding to the game.  Tavern Brawls give variety every week and the Single Player adventures are a ton of fun too.  This is a game that will continue into the new year for me.

Persona 4 was my biggest find of the year even though the version I'm playing, Person 4 Golden, was released in 2012.  I played the first few months of the year in the game and realized that I wanted enough free time to truly give Person 4 my full attention.  So I put it on hold until I'm not so busy.  I'm still waiting for things to calm down because I really want to get back to this game.  It might become one of my favorite JRPGs ever.

Final Fantasy XIV took up a lot of the early part of my year.  It was the first time I seriously got into an MMO since before my kids were born.  Going into not expecting much I was blown away by how much this game earns it's place in the Final Fantasy mainline series.  The story is Final Fantasy through and through.

Having wrapped up FFXIV after beating all the content in the expansion I was finally officially caught up with my Final Fantasy Project!  A couple years ago I set out to play all the Final Fantasy mainline games in chronological order and this year saw the culmination of it!  I'm so happy to have done this project and it's only made my love for the Final Fantasy series grow.  I'm super excited to see what Final Fantasy XV holds.  Hey, it might even come out this year!

Indie games have become a mainstay in my life now too.  I love picking up little games released by small teams and experiencing new things from them.  There's so much more innovation in the space.  I still enjoy my AAA big budget gaming experiences but now I constantly have my eye on the indie scene as well.

PAX was one of the highlights of my year.  I got to go to a gaming convention for the first time ever and it was awesome.  It was especially great because I got to go with my brother.  I wish it could become a yearly thing, but being in the middle of the country means the cost of long flights to get to any PAXes.  Hopefully we'll do it again sometime in the next few years.

I have to end with my biggest gaming accomplishment of the year.  I cleaned out my Steam library.  I had hundreds of games that needed to be played and I gave each one at least 30 minutes of my time and tried them out.  I was able to separate out the really good games and give them the time they deserved but the rest of my library got organized into folders and hidden from day-to-day view.  It's so nice to look at my Steam library now and not feel overwhelmed.

Overall I had a really good gaming year!  How about you guys?

Clone Wars Season 6 Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 December 2015, 10:00 am

Ok... so I kinda got on a roll and flew through the last three seasons of Clone Wars.

Season 6 is interesting since it's the season of "Lost Episodes."  It turns out they were halfway through production of this season when they decided to cancel the Clone Wars TV show.  They decided to finish up production on the first set of episodes they were working on but they didn't actually air until much later.

Now they're on Netflix as part of the show.  It's interesting to see how much better they've gotten at storytelling by season 6.  None of it packs the punch of the Ahsoka story arc at the end of season 5, but there are a bunch of good episodes in this "Lost Season."

There are four main story arcs in the season and I felt that two of them were worth my time.  One of the others was about politics with Padme.  The one that made me cringe was all about Jar Jar and Mace Windu going on a mission together.

But the very first arc of the season is about a clone trooper who has order 66 activate early and kills a Jedi.  The rest of the story arc is about another clone trying to get to the bottom of what happened and if there's something mentally wrong with all clones.  It was well done.  Clone episodes tended to be good throughout the entire run of the show.

The best story arc was the final one that closed out the show.  It starred Yoda and his journey to learn about becoming a force ghost when he dies.  It directly ties into the original trilogy as well as the prequel movies.  It gives more depth to yoda as a character and shows new aspects of the force.  It's right up there with the best story arcs in the entire show.

And that closed out Clone Wars for me.  The Yoda story arc is where the Clone Wars ends.  After that it's Episode III Revenge of the Sith.

I'm glad that I've watched the Clone Wars because now I'm once again 100% caught up on the Star Wars canon... but I wouldn't actually recommend it as a show.  Your time is much better spent watching Star Wars Rebels or just revisiting the movies themselves.

Clone Wars finds it's feet by the end but it really struggles to get there.

Clone Wars Season 5 Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 December 2015, 10:00 am

For me this season of Clone Wars justified watching the entire run of the show.  It ended with one of the greatest Star Wars stories I've seen.  And I've seen a lot.  And read almost the entire extended universe.  And played most of the games.

The last story arc in season 5 is, in many ways, a stronger story than any of the prequel trilogy.

There were still some rough spots earlier in the season, but wow, it ended with a bang.

It's the ultimate culmination of Ahsoka Tano's story as a Jedi.  Now I see why she has turned into such a fan favorite in the Star Wars universe and why it's so awesome that she showed up in Rebels.

I don't even want to talk about the rest of the season even though it had some cool episodes with Darth Maul coming back and an in-depth look at the process of Jedi building their first lightsabers.  Those were great episodes.  But the final story arc was amazing.

I don't even want to spoil it with discussion of the episodes at this point.  Even though the show has been out for years.

If you're interested and you have Netflix you should watch the story arc.  Go to Clone Wars Season 5 Episode 17 titled "Sabotage" and watch the four episode arc.  All you really need to know is that Ahsoka has been Anakin's padawan throughout the majority of the Clone Wars and they're a tight knit team.  It's worth your time to check out.

Clone Wars Season 4 Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 December 2015, 10:00 am

Clone Wars keeps getting better as it goes along.  I can tell they're getting better at telling compelling stories.

This is the first season where there aren't huge sets of bad episodes.  There are still some lame storylines that don't really lead anywhere, like the droids random adventures or Obi-Wan going undercover to bust a crime syndicate's plan.  But, for the first time, the majority of the season was good.

The season opens with a multi-episode storyline about underwater war on Mon Calamari that has cool battles and unique underwater stuff.  The storyline could have been faster but it was decent.

There's a mid-season storyline dealing with the clones that's amazing.  It's easily in the best storylines of the whole series so far.  It's about what happens when a general treats clones more like droids than like men.

The second half of the season has a compelling storyline about Anakin (and crew) dealing with slavers that makes him come to terms with some of his past.  It actually develops his character further which is something I always like to see.

And then the season wraps up with Asajj Ventress, the night sisters, and the return of Darth Maul.  After that, I'm really interested to see what they do with Ventress in the final seasons.

This is the first season where I can recommend most of the episodes as good, and that's a great change from the past seasons.

Now there's only one "true" season left in Season 5.  Season 6 is the bonus episodes that were completed but never actually aired on TV.  Now that I'm on a roll I might try to wrap these up quick and move on to a new show.

Holiday Gaming
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 December 2015, 10:00 am

Merry Christmas!  Or Happy Holidays!  Or whatever applies to you!

Today I'm curious about everyone's holiday gaming traditions.

What do you guys do for the holidays?  Does the holiday season inspire you to play a certain type of game or is there a specific group of people that you play with?  What are your holiday gaming traditions?

For me, I just try to find some time to play Mario.  I got an SNES with Super Mario World one Christmas when I was younger and it's one of my strongest holiday memories.  So now I always try to make some time for Mario on Christmas.

Besides that, the fall into winter holiday season always gives me a craving for a good RPG.  This year I spent a ton of time in Fallout 4 for the first week or two that it was out and I'll probably revisit it again.  But I'm also eyeing Persona 4 because I really want to get back to it and one of these days I'll revisit Final Fantasy X-2 since I haven't played it since it originally released years ago.

Let me know what your holiday gaming traditions are!

Gaming Gifts
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 December 2015, 10:00 am
What should you get for the gamer in your life?

I always struggle when people ask me what I want for the holidays.  I'm in an interesting (and lucky) position now that I'm an adult with a decent income, if there's a game or system I want I can usually find a way to buy it.  It might require a bit of saving if it's a new gaming system, but even those aren't out of reach.

These days my limiting factor is time.  I put a lot of time into my family and into my work, so my leisure time is what takes a hit.  Of course, no one can buy me more time, so I never know what to say when asked what gifts I want for the holidays.

I usually default to saying a Kindle gift card is a good bet for me.  I mean, I'll always buy more books.  I love books.

What about you guys?  Is there anything that you're really hoping to get for the holidays?  Do you have any tips on getting good gamer gifts for people that are hard to shop for?

Star Wars The Force Awakens Novelization
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 December 2015, 10:00 am

I finished The Force Awakens novelization this weekend after seeing the movie twice.  It's probably not something most of you would get a lot out of.  The movie is obviously the superior experience here.

But the novelization added some additional context to situations and that's what I was really hoping for.  It had bonus scenes that were either cut from the movie or never actually shot.  And it added just enough that I found myself drawn through the book in two sittings.

Especially towards the end of the novel it delved more into what the characters were thinking and feeling during the final scenes.

Again, it's too early to throw spoilers into a post like this.  I don't want anyone to accidentally have the movie ruined by me.  But, if you're a die hard Star Wars fan like I am chances are you'll get something out of the book.  If you're not, then go see the movie!  It's fantastic!

Master of None Season 1 Review
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 22 December 2015, 10:00 am

I really liked this show.  Master of None is about modern life in your late twenties or early thirties.  And it's definitely a show aimed squarely at people in their late twenties and early thirties.  This is exactly where I am in my life at the moment.

It's quick 20-25 minute episodes each focus on an aspect of life and explore it.  They never overstay their welcome and it's always easy to just click to watch the next one.

The acting can be a bit off sometimes but I think it's mostly the actors figuring out their roles.  By the end of the season it's not evident anymore.

Overall it's another good Netflix Original Series.  I love seeing things like this that we wouldn't ever get to see on broadcast or cable TV.  And I still love Netflix's model of releasing an entire season at once.  My wife and I watched all of Master of None over two nights.

I'm also starting to really dig this trend of 10-15 episodes in a season of a show.  A lot of shows that I really like have adopted it.  Game of Thrones, Jessica Jones, Star Wars Rebels, Downton Abbey, and this one.  10-15 episode seasons make for more compact narrative and less filler.  They also make it quicker to digest seasons of content.  It's really cool.

Clone Wars Season 3
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 December 2015, 10:00 am

Clone Wars keeps improving as a show each season I watch but it's still not a good show overall.  It's wildly inconsistent with the quality of it's episodes.

Clone Wars is at it's best when it's either adding to the dynamics between main characters from the movies or actually putting some of the key Clone Wars characters in danger.  Part of the problem is that anyone who is in the later movies has complete plot immunity so they're never in real danger.

At this point, Ahsoka is my favorite character.  She's an original creation for the Clone Wars TV show.  She takes the role of Anakin's apprentice and basically picks up his attitudes toward the force.  That means that she sometimes rides the line between the dark side and the light side, which is where most of the interesting aspects of the force are.

There was one fantastic three part storyline in this season.  It involved Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka stumbling on a planet that the core of the Force flows through.  The events on the planet have the ability to affect greater conflicts throughout the galaxy.  It's inhabited only by three people, one represents the light, one the dark, and the last represents the balance.  Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka all have force visions and character development.  The episode manages to tie in the entire prequel series of movies into the plot.  It's amazing.

But that's three episodes out of twenty one.  The overall quality and entertainment is better than seasons one and two so I'm hoping that trend continues with season four.

Honestly, at this point I'm mostly just watching Clone Wars to understand Ahsoka's story.  She shows up as an adult in Rebels, which I'm loving, and I want to understand her better as a character.

Star Wars The Force Awakens (non spoiler) Thoughts
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 December 2015, 3:17 pm

I don't feel like I want to do a formal review for The Force Awakens.  It's much too difficult to encompass all my feelings and thoughts.  But I've seen the movie twice already and I have to say I love it!

The Force Awakens captures the spirit and the feeling of the original trilogy while still managing to become it's own movie.  It feels like the Star Wars franchise has finally gotten a movie to live up to the originals!

This may become my favorite Star Wars movie.  I'm too close to it to tell right now, and hype is crazy.  Perspective and time is needed but I know that this one is right near the top of my favorite Star Wars movies.  The Empire Strikes Back is a difficult one to topple from the top spot but I'm thinking The Force Awakens may have done it for me.

Like I said, I need time and perspective before I'll truly know.

But I love what they've done.  The new cast is fantastic and they are definitely their own characters.  They don't fall squarely into any of the tropes of the old characters and I think it's going to give us a different view of the universe.

Not to mention that this is the movie where the original cast is starting to hand the series over to the newcomers.  I'm so excited to see how that happens over the course of this trilogy.

There are so many things I want to talk about but I know that so many people haven't seen the movie yet.  I don't want to accidentally spoil it for anyone.

The Force Awakens makes me really happy as a Star Wars fan.  I think the series is in good hands going forward.  You should see it if you haven't already!

Battlefront Battle of Jakku
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 December 2015, 10:00 am

The Battle of Jakku is the first (free) downloadable content for Battlefront.  It's the setting of the first major battle that happens after the events of Return of the Jedi.  I got to read all about the battle in Lost Stars which is an amazing Star Wars book.  It's cool to actually get to see the battle in action.

In the battle tons of ships get destroyed, fall into the gravity well of the planet, and crash.  It seems like this has made it into a ship graveyard by the time The Force Awakens happens.  I'm writing this post earlier in the month, but I'll probably know one way or another by the time this post goes live since I'm due to see the movie yesterday!

Anyway, it's cool to see the battle in full force.

It also introduces a new game type that I actually like.  I was mostly only playing Walker Assault and Squadron modes but this new control point mode is really fun too.  I hope they roll it out to other maps as well.  Basically you have a series of staggered control points and the attacking team only needs to capture one in a set to push the defenders back to the next set.  It starts with three points in the first set, then two in the next, two after that, and finally culminates with one control point.  This has the effect of the battle slowly closing in as the game moves on.

I'm happy to see them rolling out new content for free.  It'll be interesting to see how much more content they give out to players before they make us pick up the season pass that they're pushing so hard.

Telltale Game of Thrones Season 1 Finale
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 17 December 2015, 10:00 am

Episode six in the Telltale Game of Thrones games wrapped up what is apparently only season 1.

I was actually really frustrated by this episode.  I'd been loving this game so far and it seemed like everything would come to a head in episode six and wrap up the story.  Instead, there are some character deaths and big shifts in power but there's not actually a conclusion.

It appears that they've kicked resolution down the road so that they can create an entire season 2 of the Game of Thrones game.  I wanted definitive conclusions and I didn't get them.  At this point I wonder if they'll just try to milk it and create as many seasons as they can out of it.  That's not what I want from a Telltale game.  I want a quick series of episodes that give me a complete narrative arc.

Not to mention that episode six was the buggiest one in the whole season.  Loading times were terrible and I experiences a ton of glitches in graphics and with characters saying things twice or not saying things when they should.  It just felt shoddy compared to the previous five episodes that I loved.

Overall it was a disappointment and now that I know they're averse from actually concluding the story I'm not sure if I will be tempted to pick up the inevitable season 2... since it might just leave resolution until season 3, or 4, or 10.

I still like Telltale games in general.  By all means I think what they did with Tales from the Borderlands is amazing.  But this may be where I bow out of the Telltale Game of Thrones series.

Wayward Cultural Lessons
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 December 2015, 10:00 am

You never know where you're going to be exposed to a new way of thinking.

Earlier this week I mentioned that in finally sampling 90ish comics from last year's free comic book day I found two series that inspired me to actually pay money and pick up more comics.  One of those was Wayward.

Wayward is about supernatural occurrences happening in modern day Japan while most of the people are none the wiser.  It has relatable characters, fun powers, and an engaging story.

The thing I like most about it is the section in the back of every issue that has a short essay on a facet of Japanese culture.  It's honestly the thing I look forward to the most in each issue.

It's often an essay explaining the Japanese mythological origin for a character or group encountered in that week's comic.  But sometimes it's simply about the structure of day-to-day life in Japan.  I find both unbelievably fascinating.

I love being exposed to new culture and finding out about new belief systems.  It's amazing how things are set up in different parts of the world.  Right now I'm finding myself excited to get the next issue of Wayward so I can read the next essay but I'm realizing there may be an itch that hasn't been scratched in awhile.

I might need to venture outside of my normal pop culture channels and actually do some research or find some books about other cultures around the world.  I didn't realize how much I had missed the subject.

Sunless Sea Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 15 December 2015, 10:00 am

Sunless Sea is a game that got a ton of praise when it came out last year.  It finally fell enough in price that I picked it up in the latest Steam sale.

It's a narrative driven game in the vein of Fallen London.  Fallen London is a free browser based story driven game that I got fairly heavily into for about a month a year or two ago.  Sunless Sea is actually created by the same team and with the same engine as Fallen London and it shows.

It's basically Fallen London with more gameplay elements tacked on top.  There's a ship that you navigate around the sea while having to manage your crew, inventory, and combat.  It's a smoother and more engaging version of the free Fallen London game that's been available for awhile.

My problem is that I got my fill of Fallen London when I dove deep into that game a few years back.  This feels like playing it again.  It's an interesting game and the sea is fun to explore... but I've already gotten my fill of this style of game in this particular engine.

I can see why a lot of people liked this game.  I'm sure I would have loved it if I hadn't already played Fallen London.

Belated Free Comic Book Day!
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 December 2015, 10:00 am
Free comic book day is something that happens every year in May.  I've still never gone to a free comic book day in person at a comic book shop, but the last few years Comixology has done free comic book day digitally.

When I first started getting into comics it was digitally with Comixology and right around the time of year for free comic book day.  They released a ton of comics for free and I devoured them.  The last two years I've been busy during that time of year but I go "buy" them all digitally for free and download them.

I just finally got around to reading through all the free comics from the past two years worth of free comic book day.  I started it on my trip last month and finished them all up within a week or so.  Most of the comics were either an issue one, special issue, or one-off.  They're meant to entice you into picking up more comics from the series and get invested.  Honestly, it's really smart.

I read somewhere between 80 and 90 comics in that week.  It was fun to see such a variety but I'm really picky in my comics, I don't like a ton of them but the ones I enjoy I really latch onto.  Out of the 90ish I read I picked up more issues for two series.  That sounds like a really low success rate but I was actually not expecting any to intrigue me enough to the point where I would pay for more.

The two I liked are Wayward and Rat Queens.

Wayward is all about a half-Japanese transfer student who just moved to Japan for the first time in her life.  She quickly finds supernatural happenings going on and she starts having encounters with traditional Japanese monsters and spirits.  I really like it as an interesting look at Japanese culture and Japanese mythology.  The fact that the main character is an outsider helps me relate since I've never stepped foot in Japan myself.

Rat Queens is a sarcastic look at a fantasy world full of quests and monsters.  It definitely shows DnD roots but it's the sarcasm and the main cast of female party members that make it entertaining.  I've already read the entire series that's been released to date and it's wonderful.  The adventuring makes a nice backdrop for a lot of mature issues and interpersonal relationships.  Rat Queens deals with characters and relationships just as much as it deals with adventures and violence.  Chances are good that I'm going to keep up to date with this one going forward.

Now I'm really excited for next year's free comic book day.  Sampling so many different comics in such a short amount of time was a ton of fun!

The Escapists Impressions
Posted by A Green Mushroom [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 December 2015, 10:00 am

Continuing with my new Steam game impressions is The Escapists.

I like the premise of this game.  You're an inmate and you need to escape a prison.  There are different difficulties for different levels of prison.  It seems like there are quests, routines, items to buy and sell, and some light crafting.  I really like the premise of this game.

I played through a couple levels but on PC I had a lot of frustration with the controls.  It's not intuitive at all when to use which click or how to interact with different types of objects.

I think I would much rather be playing this game with a controller.  Sadly, it doesn't support a controller on PC so I can't play the way I want to.  I bet this would even control better on a touch screen.

At this point I've basically been striking out on all the games I grabbed on the Steam sale.  I'm mostly ok with that.  I picked up all these games on the cheap for just this reason.  I knew that I might not like them but the premises were interesting enough that they've stayed in my Steam wishlist.  I have a couple more to try out.  I'm hoping to find something that sticks.

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