#600 – Playing Around

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So I was going to write a bit longer today about what’s been going on lately. The morning was quiet, but the afternoon and evening were very busy. I went to run errands with our house guest after my wife’s lunch break, and only came back home for a few minutes before going to pick my wife up from work. We were home for a little while, but went out to eat with another friend we all know. We had a great time, and afterwards all came back to our place for a couple games. We own one of them, but the one our friend brought was one of the most amazing concepts I’ve ever seen in a game. It’s called DropMix, and it uses an electronic base, NFC-enabled cards, and a phone app to create unique musical mixes for points. There’s a competitive mode and a cooperative mode, and the songs involved use various tracks from popular songs to create a sometimes surprising and always creative, ever-changing mix of music. We both decided that we have to own this game, so hopefully after we’ve settled into the new apartment we’ll be able to pick it up.

I’d write more but we have to be up early to get my wife to work and then go straightaway to the airport to drop off our house guest, and I could use the sleep.

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Plans Thwarted

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This afternoon we went to a barbecue put on by some friends of ours. We saw a few mutual friends that we already knew, a few that we hadn’t met yet, and one that we haven’t seen in years and years. The food was great – pulled pork and coleslaw bagel sliders, pork ribs, sausages, a phenomenal corn dish made with corn, cream cheese, and garlic, and other assorted munchies. The food was fantastic and the company was awesome. The plan was to eat and then throw water balloons at one another and then retire inside for a game or three of Cards Against Humanity. We carried our new, improved Bigger Blacker Box that contains about 90% of the entire CAH line.

Things started coming undone when the bottom fell out and made the water balloons superfluous. All we needed to do to get a proper drenching was just go stand outside for a few seconds, and we’d be soaked to the bone. It was mentioned that of course it rained now that water balloons were purchased for the occasion.

The other thing that affected me and my wife is the bad headache that I started coming down with shortly after we started eating. I tried to tough it out as best as I could, but it just wasn’t having any of my socialization nonsense, despite taking something to combat it. So we said our farewells, left the Bigger Blacker Box for them to enjoy, and headed home.

I hate that we had to leave early. I was enjoying myself and feeling very comfortable being social, which my regular readers know is a recent thing. Just two months ago I would have hidden in the house and done anything I could to keep from being social. My therapy is really producing results, and they are assisted by finally getting me on an effective medication regimen. The capstone on the recovery is the stuff that I’m learning in The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, Sixth Edition by Edmund J. Bourne, PhD. While I’m in the process of giving the whole book a once-through read before really starting to get in-depth with the recommended exercises, even this first reading is revealing a lot of new techniques and mindsets that are helping me a great deal.

It was mentioned to me recently by a friend that my normal seems pretty normal these days, and I’d have to agree. I haven’t had a bad day in a couple months, perhaps even longer. I hope this trend continues. I could really get used to a more normal normal.

A Day of Leisure

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Today has been spent playing computer games and napping. I figured after running completely out of spoons yesterday, I was entitled to be lazy today. I was a little too lazy this morning and forgot a timely item on my checklist, so my latest streak ends at 12 days, but I’m trying to get everything else done on my checklist today. This blog post is the last thing.

The morning was spent playing Civilization V with my wife, and then this evening we’ve been on a Skype call with a friend of ours and starting out in Stardew Valley. It’s a cute little game, 16-bit graphics but entertaining. It’s been a good evening.

Tomorrow I have several things on my to-do list so it’s good that I spent today catching up on the spoons.

Back on Track, and Off to the Moon

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So yesterday was a bit of an anomaly. I was persistently angry with myself, mostly because I was angry, so it was a never-ending cycle. Today I woke up with the same feeling but was much better at dealing with it, and the feeling of being angry with myself passed very quickly. In fact, the weird dreams that I was having stuck around longer than the feeling of being angry. Other than that little morning blip, today’s been great.

Today I’ve been experimenting with a new-to-me game on Steam called Moonbase Alpha. (The game came out in 2010.) It’s the year 2025 and NASA has returned to the moon to establish a base on the south pole. It’s going well and expansions to the base are planned. However, as you’re off doing something on the lunar surface, a meteorite strikes somewhere close to the base, damaging key components of the life support system, and it’s up to you and your team to fix it.

Anywhere from one to six people can play the game, in either Competitive Mode or Freeplay Mode. Competitive Mode sets a timer for you to have to complete all tasks necessary to make life support operational again or you fail the mission, whereas Freeplay eliminates the timer for you to more leisurely carry out your objectives. Several tools are used in the process of fixing the life support system, and you can only carry one at a time, dropping one on the lunar surface in favor of another. In addition, the robots that you need to carry out certain tasks are limited by their battery life, so you’ll need to work quickly to resolve the situations that they’re necessary for. There are three maps, one for one to two players, one for three to four, and one for five to six. Each progressively larger map has more objectives to achieve, and part of the challenge (especially in Competitive Mode) is to most efficiently split objectives between team members and work quickly. Most repair objectives offer a minigame where you have to solder circuits together (essentially you’re tracing lines within borders without leaving the border, all while trying to beat a timer) to shave time off your repair cycle. Some items only need light repair, some could require heavy repair or may be outright destroyed, in which case you need to find a replacement part (oftentimes replacing the part if it is heavily damaged will save time too). Once the system is completely repaired, it will take some time for the living quarters to replenish with oxygen, and once the meter’s at 100%, the game is over and your time at completion is recorded.

If you are playing by yourself, I strongly, highly recommend that you play in Freeplay Mode, especially your first time through. Granted, I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was playing it by ear a lot, but it took me just shy of an hour to completely repair the system and replenish the living quarters with oxygen. Competitive Mode gives you 25 minutes, and I don’t see even the most efficient execution of the game, complete with winning every minigame, cutting that much time off your mission. Competitive Mode also allows you to upload your scores to the leaderboard on Steam, so if that’s not that big of a deal for you, Freeplay is where you want to go.

Gameplay is very well-designed to be accurate to lunar conditions, and while the repairs are simplified to clicking your mouse and playing the minigames while the timer counts down, it still gives an adequate feel of complexity. NASA’s logo appears liberally throughout the game, and it’s intimated that the agency was involved in its development.

While I’ve only played this in solo mode, it’s my understanding that chat between teammates is converted from text to speech, and many reviewers of the game have commented on how much fun it was to play with this aspect of the game.

The game is free-to-play and only takes us just over a gigabyte of space on your hard drive. The graphics are pretty good for 2010, and the game can be played in either fullscreen or windowed modes.

I had fun with it, and maybe you will too. My only concern is that as a primarily solo player, there’s only the one scenario to play, and once you’ve got that down to a science, the challenge of the game is pretty much gone. I plan on playing it multiple times to see how much I can reduce my time, but I’ll be playing in Freeplay Mode to avoid the very constrictive 25 minute timer in Competitive Mode. If it seems that I can get my time close to that point in Freeplay Mode, then I might switch to see if I can do it in Competitive, but that’s not going to be happening any time soon. I also want to try multiplayer to see how that adds a new facet to play.

Anyway, that’s your unsolicited game review for the day. Back to the usual stuff in tomorrow’s post, most likely.