Friday, July 14, 2017

I'm Going To The Fjäll!

Here is something unrelated to gaming for a change. Or is it? Let's call it real-life open world. Or sandboxing maybe. In essence, I'm going hiking. And not just your around-the-corner-neighbourhood-forest-hiking (in Sweden we have plenty of those) but a week long, set-up-your-own-damn-tent-and-kitchen, shit-in-a-hole-in-the-ground-like-you're-on-Survivor kind of hiking, in the Swedish Fjäll, aka northern mountain ranges. If you wonder what that looks like, it's a whole lot of nothing, which is really cool if you're into that. I'm not not into that, so it'll be interesting to experience.

Just me, myself and the lemmings.

I have, save once as a 8-9 year old, never even been to the Fjäll, nor done any significant kind of hiking. When I was around 9 I remember going there with my parents and then 5-year old brother, and I remember doing a lot of walking and liking it, but how much hiking can it really have been with two kids in tow? I don't recall us tenting for instance, I'm pretty sure we had rented a cabin and did day-excursions from there. So this is on a whole 'nother level and eventhough I love being in the forest I haven't tented since I was a teenager either (let's pretend that wasn't 15 years ago).

How did I get into this mess? Well, my mother loves hiking and seems to spend more time in her tent than at home, especially during her vacation. She loves it so much in fact she recently decided to become a Fjäll Hiking Leader with her SO, ie someone who leads other people into the wilderness (and hopefully also get them living out of there). They mentioned they were going to lead a group of people at the end of July and I sort of mentioned it would've been fun to be there. Mom obviously said I could come too. Well then! Why back down now? The fact that I have literally no experience? The fact that I have literally no gear? No, why let those pesky things be a problem, right? Right?!

It probably won't be this green...

I got really into the idea but at first it looked like we wouldn't have someone to babysit my son, as my SO was still working. Fortunately my dad and his SO came to the rescue and offered to be with him for the week I'm gone. Unfortunately they live 9 hours away by train. Fortunately it's on the way I am heading up north anyway (which is 18 hours away by train). Unfortunately that means spending 9 hours on a train with a 3-year old. Fortunately he's really into the Gameboy. I also actually swapped to a 22gb internet plan (from 3gb) for my phone just so I would have enough Youtube to entertain him with on the train.

Mom said I could borrow a lot of gear from her, so for instance tent and kitchen were sorted from the get-go. I still had to invest a couple of hundred euros into clothes and food but what the heck (apparently I'm made of money now) (I'm really not btw). Finding the right kind of clothes and food was a bit tricky, especially when you've never done it before. I felt very lucky to be able to phone my mom with every question I had, like "do I need to bring a bra?" (If you want), "Do I need to bring soap?" (No, just wet wipes will do), "are these the right kind pants/shoes I need?" (No, no, no). Finding the right pants took three tries and finding the right shoes took two tries. Thanks a lot to the outdoor-store for their patience with my fumbling.

Part of Kebnekaise

So the plan at the moment is for me to take a 9 hour train ride up north to where my dad lives, mind you I'm going to deal with all the luggage I need for my trip and for my 3-year old, while also dealing with a 3-year old. Then leave my son there and continue up north on another 9 hour train ride up to someplace called Abisko, which is about as far north in Sweden as you can get. From there we're hiking down south over a week to a place called Nikkaluokta from which I will be able to get a car ride back to where my dad lives. We'll pass Swedens highest mountain Kebnekaise too, but I don't think we're going up there. I hope. Oh, and apparently the weather is particularly shitty this year with a lot of snow still lying around so I am picturing an Arctic Expedition basically. I know what happened to Robert Falcon Scott.

Add to this that not only have I never been on anything close to a week-long trip outdoors, I have also never been anywhere close to away from my son for that long. The longest we've been separated has been when I still had my 25-hour workshifts. Eventhough I think it'll be hard on me, I know I can tough it out knowing I will get to see him soon again. But I am of course worried how my son will handle it. With no prior experience there is no way of telling. Because we live 9 hours apart, he doesn't get to meet my dad and his SO very often (grandpa and grandma), but I know he likes them. They live in the countryside with forest and lake right next to the house, so there will be loads of fun things for him to do. I hope time will fly fast for him and that he will have a blast. I have no idea what reception is going to be like, but I guess very patchy, so I won't be able to keep much contact. I'm sure he'll be fine though.

Question is, will I?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

My Top 5 Fallout Fails

I am slowly but suredly making my way through the Fallout series. After getting through 1, 2 and 3 (can't remember if I played much of Tactics) I don't have much further to go now as I am currently playing Fallout New Vegas and having quite a good time. In fact I have had a good time the entire time, and the best thing is that I couldn't even say which game I prefer as I think for all their similiarities, they offer quite different experiences. The first one is fairly short and tight-knit compared to the other ones but still very enjoyable. The second one expands on pretty much everything the first one did right and offers the freedom that would return in the later instalments. I can't remember anything about Tactics, but I am sure that was fun too. I had a blast with Fallout 3 but looking back I realize I only played it for 35 hours before finishing it and feeling I was done with it. I played Skyrim for twice as long and I didn't even particularly like that game. Maybe some parts to Fallout 3 were a bit repetetive, had you seen one Metro station you had pretty much seen them all but overall I would definitely recommend the game.

Literally the first thing that happens when I started up Fallout NV however was my friend telling me he didn't like it. What the actual F, dude? I guess it's alright though because our tastes differ so much I can pretty much tell I am going to enjoy something when he says he doesn't. So far that has definitely been true, I only had a slow spell somewhere 10 hours into the game but I blame that on the fact that I chose to do a quest I wasn't high enough level to do. I can't say yet whether I prefer Fallout 3 or NV, but I think NV will last me longer because I am getting very close to those 35 gamehours and I don't think I am anywhere close to the end. That might be because I have all the DLC to play as well, but still.

Either way, having played almost every Fallout game there is (and I bought Fallout 4 in the Steam Sale) I have recognized that I've played them all pretty similarly. Overall that is not an issue, you find something that works you'll stick to it. The problem is when it doesn't work and I don't learn from it but make the same mistake over and over. Here are Five things I've noticed I mess up every time I play a Fallout-game.

5. Shit a Brick When Ghouls Breath Down My Neck
I wouldn't call any Fallout game particularly creepy, eventhough there are segments that can be a bit scary I guess. But if there is anything remotely jump-scare inducing, it would be the ghouls. This is definitely more of an issue in the later first-person games, as in the isometric top-down view of the first three games you rarely get surprised enough by anything to make you jump. In Fallout 3 and NV however, the ghouls are probably the only thing that have made me jump a couple of times. 

You can hear them breathing heavily from a far, but they still have a tendency to come up right behind me without me noticing, how?!. I turn around and hit V.A.T.S in panic because there is this ugly zombie-looking thing right in my face, and this happens way too often. Fortunately ghouls aren't very difficult so even though they can make me jump every now and then, they don't instill true fear in me like a pack of Deathclaws can...

They aint pretty.


4. Sneak, Damn It!
Although I loved Thief and Deus Ex, I often choose to play the spray-and-pray way when I can. Problem is, I often end up regretting this decision because the sneaky way can be so much more fun. I know sneaking around and getting critical strikes in Fallout is what I really want to do down the road, but for some reason I always forget about it in the beginning hours of gaming and once I get to that point in the game I've spent too many points on other things for it to be possible anymore. So when I burst out of my Vault my first instinct is always to go guns-a-blazing but by the time I've done my fill of shooting I always end up wishing I had put more points into Sneak instead. Once you've tried every weapon on every enemy you start wishing you could either avoid them completely or kill them faster.

3. Where Was That Again?
The Fallout games are full of quirky, fun and interesting people and places. Some are more useful than others, and sometimes you come across things you don't have use for at the time but you know you will further on. In fact, this happens all the time. You run into someone who sells a really nice weapon or armor, but you don't have the caps for it yet. Or a safe that requires just a bit more lockpicking than I am capable of at that moment. So I move on and think to myself "I'll get back there later". Do I ever? No. I always forget where these things are, so the only way I can get to them is if I happen to come across them again by accident. But why would I? These are places I have already visited on the map, so I tend to go into areas that are undiscovered. Sometimes a quest will make me backtrack to an old area, but otherwise those safes will continue to be unlocked and those weapons will continue to be unbought (by me). 

Currently in Fallout NV I came across a doctor who offered to augment my body (Deus Ex style). This was useful but very expensive but I decided I'd come back to it once I had the caps. I have the caps, but I have no idea where this doctor was. I have been looking in what I thought were the obvious places but nothing yet. I know I could just Google it... but that would hurt my pride. I probably will in the end though.

And then looking for things I run into these...


2. No Need To Walk
This one is partially connected to the previous one. I don't why it is, but I often forget that Fallout 3 and NV allow you to fast travel. I'm pretty sure this wasn't the case in the first two games (can't remember about Tactics), so I guess somehow it has been ingrained into me that if I want to go somewhere, it has to be by foot rather by fancy-schmancy ultra-conventient fast-travel. It took me several hours into Fallout NV before I remembered I could fast-travel. By that point I had already needlessly trecked, on foot, back and forth from a couple of quest objectives. I say needlessly, because once you have travelled a distance and cleared it from enemies, there is almost no reason to travel it by foot again. Nothing will happen, except maybe the occasional random spawn of a Legion-group, trying to kill me.

And because I forget I can fast-travel I am even less inclined to backtrack to old areas when I don't absolutely have to. I could technically just fast-travel all over my map to all those places I have visited to find that doctor that could augment me. But I forget.

Marcus from Fallout 2 did a cameo in NV too!


1. Hoarder
I do this in every game and it irritates me in every game. I save everything and in Fallout especially I want to keep every possible weapon just in case. Different guns are often good against different kinds of enemies too, for instance I found that the really annoying Cazadoras were pretty easy to handle with a 10mm Submachine Gun, but I wouldn't use that weapon on anything else. But that means carrying that around just in case I run into those bastards. I prefer shooting human enemies with hunting rifles, and ghouls with the hunting shotgun. I haven't found anything that works well against the Deathclaws yet though...

Because of this my inventory is always right on the edge of what I can carry. This means that whenever I find something else I want to pick up I have to find room for it or run around encumbered (and you really don't want to do that). And this means I probably spend way more time micromanaging my inventory than I should be. 

I do this in every game too! Me and the bf were playing the Witcher, and he used the bank space whereas I just ran with full bags all the time. I did the same in WoW.

I am just way too lazy to give my inventory much thought. I pick things up and solve the problem when it arises rather plan for it ahead, although in the end that ends up being a lot more work. Not only that but sometimes my on-the-fly decisions turn out to be pretty bad, throwing away something I actually wanted to keep. Then of course, I completely forget where it was I had put it...

At least I have one more chance in Fallout 4 to make things right.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Secret of Monkey Island Nostalgia

The bf had been in a bit of a gaming slump lately, relating to the fact that he is a massive (and I mean super massive) Dark Souls fan but lacks the means in which to play the third installment. His computer is not good enough simply, and the PS4 version wasn't worthy apparently (DS is to be enjoyed only on the highest of settings, or something like that). So anyway, as it had started to bother me to see him fall into his usual rut of watching yet another clip from some DBZ episode for the 500th time, I started suggesting games for him. Pretty much anything retro, as other than DS the bf isn't particularly interested in modern gaming. Even then he shunned all of my suggestions, because he is a very, very picky man. Nothing was good enough. Then, for some reason, his interest seemed piqued with Secret of Monkey Island. In a way it made sense, he has some small interest in point and click adventure games and had previously played Grim Fandango (which he didn't like) and Day of the Tentacle (which he thought was ok). So Secret of Monkey Island should be a good idea then, seeing as it is a classic in the genre. I was thrilled. I am a big fan of SoMI and was looking forward to seeing the bfs reaction to it. I should have known better.

Those new graphics though... *shudder*

As he started playing it, and I had told him that for the love of all that is holy to play it with the original graphical settings rather than the remade ones, I pretty soon noticed that something was amiss. He was clicking around, doing the things, trying to half-heartedly solve the puzzles, meeting all the funny and whacky characters that inhabit Melee Island and just so obviously, clear as day, not feeling it. What?! He didn't enjoy SoMI? How is that even possible?

True enough, eventhough he did complete it, he proclaimed he didn't understand what the "fuzz" was all about. I didn't know what to say. How do you explain the "fuzz" about Monkey Island? It's just there!

The "combat" suited my pacifist child-self perfectly.

Like I said, I love SoMI. I don't remember when or where I first played it and I probably didn't get very far that time as I probably was quite young. But I have replayed it a couple of times since and also some of the sequels (possibly even all the sequels come to think of it, yes even the Tales of Monkey Island one) and it holds a very fuzzy (!), warm spot in my heart. I fell in love with that perpetually dusked island way back and it's always been one of my favorite examples of a game with a very good "feeling". The mood of the game is just right and even through the crude but beautiful pixels it manages to instill the sense of being an actual place with actual (albeit a bit crazy) people (and monsters). I believed in Monkey Island. Somehow it's like an actual place to me without actually feeling like a real place, but I know that probably makes no sense. And whenever I think of it I think of it more of a place to revisit than a game to replay. Maybe like a really vivid dream? I don't know very many games that give me this feeling, World of Warcraft used to be that but has with its many new expansions that I haven't taken part in lost some of that nostalgia for me. Thief definitely gave me some of that feeling, but was a bit too creepy and stressful to give me a pure happy sensation (still love that game though). Some old movies can give me that feeling, movies you watched a hundred times as a kid and you wished really existed.

Exactly.

I'm not even sure I would have patience with most of the puzzles in SoMI nowadays (and eventhough you'd think I remember most of them, that is never the case). Actually, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't. But of course it's not about the puzzles, the puzzles are just the reason to introduce you to settings and people that will stick in your memory. To me Monkey Island was always just the island. Sure there is the troll by the bridge, the circus guys, the red herring, the dogs, the guy in that store who walks all the way to the Sword Master over and over... But somehow what really stuck in my memory was just being on that island, on that endless night where everything was nice and calm and I could just chill out.