Month: January 2013

RACCOONS IN THE GAMES: Sly Cooper Animated Prequel

In less than a  month, the fourth Sly Cooper game, Thieves in Time, will be released on the PS3.  In order to build hype for what will undoubtedly be the premier platforming stealth action game starring a raccoon this year, the developers, Sucker Punch Productions, has released a short animated series to set up the storyline of the new game.

You know, last year I bought the PS Vite during a pretty kick-ass sale.  It came with a couple of bundled games, including PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale. I sold the two games on eBay to defray the overall cost of the bundle, which was kind of a dumb thing to do because Sly Cooper is one of the playable characters in that game.  Oh well, I’ll just have to be content with playing as Rocket Raccoon in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

RACCOONS IN THE NEWS: Well, they’re always called "bandits" after all.

Almost certainly the game that was being played.

An iPhone recently disappeared from a golf course in Palm Beach, FL (the home of weird.)  When people used “find my iPhone” to get it to signal its location they realized it was up in a tree, taken there by an at-large raccoon that’s made the course its home.  Unfortunately, because the raccoon was wearing a mask they couldn’t get a positive identification on him.

Moments of the Year 2012

Last year was not a good year for me.  I’m not sure any year has.  But last year I ended up unemployed yet again and remain so.  Maybe to help combat crippling self-doubt and depression I’ll look back on 2012 and pick out my top five moments of the year:

  1. Quitting My Job – I was miserable there.  After a week of fighting with my boss he demanded that I develop a plan for getting along with him better.  I decided to just end the aggravation and say “it wouldn’t be worth the effort.”  On the one hand, I feel somewhat ashamed that I didn’t try to overcome an obstacle.  On the other hand, I think back to the time that I spent a Sunday evening in complete dread of having to go back to work for no particular reason other than I dreaded facing my boss at all, and accept that the worst thing that could have happened (worse then being unemployed for the past 10 months) was if I’d stayed there.
  2. Driving Cross Country – I decided to visit a friend of mine who moved to Albuquerque, NM a year and a half prior.  It was a really interesting experience for me to drive cross country (well, okay, I was only as far as the eastern side of the Mountain time zone, but still it was a pretty far drive.)  I’d never seen desert roads, flooded plains, driven up mountains, or gone 48 hours of driving without hitting a single traffic jam before.  It was an amazing experience going to and from New Mexico.  The drive back was especially interesting as I wandered a bit and went sight-seeing in Coffeyville, KS (because I got lost,) St. Louis, MO (because there was a Star Trek exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center), and Metropolis, IL (because a friend said I should.) It’s an interesting experience doing all that by yourself.  I guess most would say it’s pathetically lonely, but I just like to think of it as being comfortable with oneself.
  3. Seeing Old Friends – A big part of the trip was to see a friend who moved away from here in late 2010 and another who I hadn’t seen since Jr. high.  It was actually surprising how easily rapport can be restored.  Also, in communicating with some people from my past I learned that people have a better memory of me than I do of myself.  This of course creates a problem; I’m comfortable with myself (as mentioned in the previous point) because I think I’m a terrible person?  But it was great to see them again and see that life is treating them well.
  4. Being Happy at Work – I only managed to get about five weeks of work after quitting my job. It was a temporary accounting assignment or fairly rudimentary complexity.  At one point I was awestruck to realize how … not unhappy I was (dare I say I was even happy) to be working a straight 8-hour day (even with an hour-and-a-half there and back) with no stress.  A lot of my coworkers complained about the task being beneath them, but I was so incredibly pleased to just be able to work and get paid for it and have no baggage otherwise.  
  5. Listening to Old Music – I know I usually deride music as the work of the devil.  I’ve been uncomfortable talking about music for a very long time because one’s taste in music is so closely tied to others’ perceptions of your social standing. One thing I did this year was make a concerted effort to rip the last of my CDs (or track down torrents of them) to add to my iTunes library.  While cranking away at not unpleasant temporary job I listened to them and really was mentally transported back to the times I used to listen to these albums.  It was … magical!

And some other things:

  • Derecho!
  • At the Albuquerque Botanical Garden, I tried to get into the dragonfly sanctuary pond because I’ve always thought dragonflies were pretty.  My path was blocked by this really ornery duck! It was just standing there, in the path, and every time I got close it would start squawking at me like Gandalf telling the Balrog “you shall not pass!”
  • Getting an e-mail from my former boss a week after I stopped working wherein he complained about me.
  • Learning I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get along with my boss.
  • Being one of only a select few people to see Piranha 3DD in theaters.
  • Spending election night among the young Democrats.

Upgrade or Downgrade?

Years ago I bought a Macbook (Late 2008, the first model with the aluminum “unibody” design.)  I wanted to have a laptop for some inexplicable reason and decided to see what this Apple thing was all about (I also bought an iPod Touch at the time.) In the end, I learned that I don’t much care for OSX and the MacBook has largely gone unused over the years (although I really liked the iPod touch, so much so that I stick to an iPhone these days.)  A couple of years ago my MacBook became a very noisy piece of hardware, and for whatever reason I was unwilling to take it to an Apple store to fix what was a probably a faulty a fan.

Recently I decided “what the hell” and decided to buy a replacement fan off eBay.  I was able to easily replace the fan without the hallowed help of a “Genius” and am happy to report that my MacBook is now running delightfully silent!

While I was poking around in there, I decided to swap out the hard drive with a solid state drive I had lying around.  The thing that’s inexplicable is this: I can’t determine whether this is an upgrade or a downgrade.  Shortly after I got the laptop I upgraded the RAM from 2GBto 4GB (at a savings of about $100 over having it shipped that way from Apple) and replaced the 250 GB HDD with a 500 GB one.  However, I never used more than 150 GB or so on a hard drive (most of that being my iTunes library.)  Now, the SSD I used was only 64 GB, meaning I had to drop iTunes from the computer (no big loss; last year I transferred the whole thing to my desktop PC and had even stopped updating the MacBook library because “sharing” between the two over wifi had broken several months ago for no apparent reason.)

Is doubling the HDD than cutting it down to a quarter of what it originally was but gaining a faster and cooler storage a good move?  I can keep the iTunes library in an external enclosure, but isn’t that complicating matters unnecessarily?

Also, I’d like to kvetch about the “it just works” mentality of Apple.  When I started the installation with my Snow Leopard disk it complained that OSX simply could not be installed to my SSD.  At first I was worried that OSX was incompatible with a SSD, but then looked it up (on my PC) and saw that I had to format the drive a particular way with the Disk Utility before going through the installation process.  Really?  I’ve installed Windows and Ubuntu multiple times.  Either of those, when you direct them to a drive, will give you a warning along the lines of “I’m about to nuke that drive and format it the way I need to install.  Are you sure?”  It’s insane to me that OSX’s installation is so un-user-friendly and finicky. 

The Games I’m Looking Forward to in 2013

That sounds only slightly crazy.

I have a lot of bad luck with these lists.  I’ve done the the past three years and every year, half the games end up getting delayed and a couple of the ones that do come out I end up not bothering with due to lukewarm reviews or something.  Then the games that I do end up really digging completely flew under my radar at the time I made the list.  For instance, this year I totally dug X-COM: Enemy Unknown, and I wasn’t even aware that was coming out at the start of 2012!

So here they are in alphabetical order:

  1. Bioshock Infinite (PS3, FPS) Holdover from last year.
  2. Dragon’s Crown (PS3, Platformer) Holdover from last year.
  3. Injustice: Gods Among Us (PS3, Fighting) There were a lot of fighting games that came out last year.  I got way too many of them considering how generally bad I am at fighting games (and am unwilling to put in the time or effort to “master” them.)  Still, this one looks pretty awesome from the purely geeky perspective of “fighting evil versions of superheroes” (but woe be it to the developers if alternate “normal” costumes for them are not in the games, I guarantee that will be a deal breaker for non-gamers with any interest in the game.) 
  4. Metal Gear Rising Revengeance (PS3, Action) I hate the Metal Gear series.  I consider it the cancer that’s killing gaming, by putting more of an emphasis on its terrible story over game play.  This spin off title, however, is being made by Platinum Games (the madmen behind Vanquish) and is derided by MGS fans as “not a real MGS game.”  That’s more than enough to pique my interest!
  5. SimCity (PC, Strategy) I want to want this game.  I’ve put a lot of time into the Sim City series over the years, from the SNES to the Sim City 3 on the PC.  However this sequel will be burdened by DRM and over-marketing (e.g., the lack of a 4 in the title.)  I have a feeling that despite all this, I’ll end up buying SimCity when it comes out just because I trust the series.