Tuesday, July 24, 2012

VIDEO ESSAY: BEAVER'S LODGE: EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE | Press Play

VIDEO ESSAY: BEAVER'S LODGE: EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE | Press Play

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday shenanigans (now with 10% more tomfoolery)

This whole "no news is good news" (which I've always been vaguely confused by - is it implying that any sort of news is bad news or that having nothing to report is a good thing a la the curse, "May your life be eventful"/"May you live in interesting times" - I've always gone for the latter) might make for peaceful Hobbit living but fuck me running it makes for boring blogging. 

I haven't been console gaming that much lately, in part because I haven't been inspired to play anything.  Dawnguard was diverting for a bit, I never finished Witcher 2, and haven't had the extra dough to check out the arcade games.  Frankly, my XBOX is turning into something I just watch movies on which I could do with my computer any way and the XBOX Arcade games I would play end up on Steam or in the Humble bundle for next to nothing.  If it weren't for my crappy video card (GTX 460) which works just fine for most games but not for new releases I would probably cancel XBOX Live and sell my XBOX.

Been spending most nights boppin around EVE highsec, fine tuning my Ishtar, and generally staying out of trouble.  Lately I've been reading more EVE blogs and socializing with Aliastra corpmates and noticed something Mabrick (of Mabrick's Mumblings) brought up on his blog today about the "more risk more ISK" saying I've seen bandied about in chat along with decreases in profitability in highsec industrialism/manufacturing (causing a ding in his profit margins).  I've never mucked about with manufacturing so I'm not particularly concerned.  What I am interested in is the "more risk more ISK" mentality and the avarice behind it.  I've heard some players crow about their billions and pissing contest each other at how much they can make per diem and yip yip yip about nullsec and pvp.  I've also met a number of people who, like me, are pefectly content making a decent in-game living as carebears (miners, traders, missioners).  I was joking around with someone that I didn't understand what the Scrooge McDucks were doing with all their ISK.  There's a finite amount of things to buy in game and isk can be traded for PLEX which can be traded to game time so one could never have to pay for game time, okay I get that.  You can only fly one ship at a time and in theory one should "never fly more than you're willing to lose" and if you're not getting blasted every time you undock so as an individual you don't need more than a dozen ships spread across your regular business routes (though I'm gonna start leaving a Noctis in each of the primary systems I work in, but that's out of laziness).  What it comes down to is simple - I don't play EVE with the same mentality as a lot of other players (and vice versa).  For all practical purposes I am a hell of a lot nicer, friendlier, and more altruistic in EVE than I am in real life (I'm also staggeringly paranoid).  Somehow I've ended up with a decent selection of boats and gear and a bucket of ISK (since I never buy anything anymore and I just stockpile trade goods and sell when the market is good).  It's bizarre but I think my EVE experience is that of a mildly successful boring middle class capsuleer (who shoots the fuck out of NPCs with ball smashing drones of fury). 

In other news:
I've set up a facebook for hooliganyouth on the facebookery (if you're into the whole social media thing).

I want a brisket sandwich - stat.

Spicy shredded pork and stuffing is good.  Especially if you add sauteed onions and serranos to the stuffing.


Here's a picture of The Punisher at the beach.  Because I love you.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard

The first DLC for Skyrim!  EEEEE...yeah...it's more Skyrim.

A majority of the reviews have been summing up Dawnguard simply as more Skyrim.  Which isn't a particularly bad thing considering how much fun I had until I discovered everything and couldn't restat my character and generally fell into boredom.  I started a new character, Crucifracture, who has turned out to be a fine character considering I know what skills I want and where to put points (I've actually been trying to save as many as possible) and what I can skimp on (and just get juiced on gear and performance enhancing drugs - e.g. Lockpicking).  I'm playing her as a summoner/destruction magic in one hand and shield in the other/heavy armor character which has been entertaining and frankly using magic in combat is a lot more natural than the suck ass melee system.

Dawnguard is centered around an infestation of vampires.  Do you join them or do you destroy them?  Does it even matter?  Fortunately there's not a lot of game breaking gear if you start a new character and begin the Dawnguard story arc.  The crossbows are pretty sweet.  You can use bows on horseback (which sounds awesome but is actually kind of lame and clunky).  There's some cool looking armor and some other gear you'll never see because you're always in first-person.  You can transform into a Vampire Lord (if you team up with the vampires) which is kind of cool and summon a gargoyle and you can force choke, sorry, use blood magic to choke enemies.  There are new enemies - I particularly like the Death Hounds.  Dawnguard is as much as an expansion as it is a new story arc.  In fact, Dawnguard might be one of my favorite Bethesda DLC (except for the fact I have problems with the whole DLC price gouging yadda yadda yadda). 

The reason why it might be my favorite is because the story is kind of awesome and there were a couple of set pieces that genuinely kicked ass.  It's much more a dark "gothic" fantasy - think Ravenloft (man, a Ravenloft game could potentially be a really good game) - and there were a number of areas that were a welcome change of pace from the now sadly over-familiar areas of Skyrim.  I finished one of the story arcs with Crucifracture.  I plan on going back and playing for the Dawnguard vampire hunters with Scoville. 

Worth $20?  Yes and no, considering the 8 to 10 hours it'll take you to get through the story (unless you're like me and have to explore everything and pick up every side quest - which put me at about twenty) and that's better than your average game length these days.  Then again for twenty bucks you could buy a whole shit ton of games during the Steam Summer Sale.  Plus, if you haven't picked up Skyrim, you can just wait until the GOTY edition comes out and save a bundle of cash. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Assorted news and things und schtufz

Finally getting around to recovering from working the TIK TOK Productions event for which I made over two hundred shredded pork tacos.  It was a challenge and a learning experience but rewarding and I met some awesome people and they liked the tacos and no one got food poisoning.  There were a couple of problems I hadn't foreseen but no plan survives combat. 

I'm seriously considering this whole selling food to people or catering thing as something I could do (since I've done it a couple of times) and maybe make some money.  I like money because it lets me buy things (and I need new pants).  I also like feeding people.  We'll see.

In other news:

Uh...

Well...

I started watching Deep Space 9.  It gives me something to look at while I'm on the floor eating gummi bears.

Sherlock Holmes and the Game of Shadows was pretty forgettable, not bad just absolutely devoid of memorable qualities.  I liked the first Downey/Law outing but this one was just meh.  The cinematic equivalent of a white bread sandwich with baloney and yellow mustard.  It does what it is supposed to do but it's not really thrilling.

21 Jump Street did not deserve to be as funny as it was.  I laughed heartily at one or two parts and am turning into a Channing Tatum fan, though I'm still not a huge Jonah Hill fan.  Worth watching if you just want a comedy that actually doesn't suck or star Adam Sandler (or both).

Not much else to report.  It's summer in Texas.  Decided not to take summer classes so I'm working and putzing around the house.  Yup.

Hope you guys are doing well and not sweltering too bad.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Secret World (2012) Funcom

I didn't know if I could write about my experience with the beta until the game came out or not since I agreed to a non-disclosure agreement.  Truth be told this was my first beta, which was kind of neat.  I had been following the press and videos for The Secret World and played the facebook game and was generally excited to play the game.

As we all know I am a pretty serious horror/dark fantasy/ghouls and ghosts kind of guy as well as generally am exhausted of damn near most "high fantasy" (elves and magic and assorted fantasy crap).  It also turns out I'm not really a fan of most Japanese or Korean MMOs or standard RPGs.  This leaves me in a strange kind of limbo where I just kind of play EVE (sometimes I think because I don't have anything else to play - which isn't true).  The Secret World is a horror game in a modern setting across the globe.  Boo-yah!  I was really happy when I got the chance to play the beta a couple of weeks ago for about a week and a half.

My happiness dissolved pretty quickly for an interesting reason: the game cannot match it's atmosphere, story (or at least elements), and quests.  It's an awesome game that handles like a box of turds on mismatched wheels.  I keep coming back to the term "counter-intuitive" when thinking or talking about The Secret World's mechanics (along with cumbersome, frustrating, and profanity-inducing).  It has one of the most crafting systems (apparently the crafting is "Minecraft"-esque) I've come across - there are no instructions on how to use crafting in-game and the forums were tits-on-a-bull useless.  You collect assembly parts and blueprints (okay) and then put them in the shape of the...item...on...a grid.  But you can't look at the blueprint/kit to see what the layout is for the item and (I think) the shape of the item changes with the type of parts you're using?  Whaaa?  I craft in games, I like crafting and collecting junk, and an extra step of think-y would have been a welcome change to the regular spam crafting of many games.  However, when combined with the mewling botched abortion of an inventory system I actually ended up yelling profanities at the computer and just threw all my supplies on the ground (after a few hours of failed crafting).  Inventory control is terrible for reasons that there are no excuse for: no auto-stack, no auto-sort, no way to change the icons or have text next to the items, and there's no way to hot-key items.  This last factor was the last straw for my playing experience.  It's a dynamic combat game (which is kind of cool) and you can't just stand and whack at stuff and spam a la most other RPGs.  Right on, however combat also requires a lot of movement (seemed like I was doing a lot of strafing and running backwards) and enemies are kind of brutal (awesome).  But when you need a health pack on the fly, you have to go into the busted ass inventory and get the right...oh fuck, you died.  This didn't happen once or twice because I'm a total cock-eyed n00b, I even tried to keep the inventory window open with the items I needed at the ready but in the time it would take to use one healy-bob I'd get my face holes gang-banged by gribblies.  I died again and again and again in some areas (and not because I was under-powered because my gear was shitty because I couldn't craft anything better...oh wait...).

Another big fuck-up is the counter-intuitive and clunky chat system.  Chat should be clean, simple, easy to use for general chat and group - right?  Maybe I was taking stupid pills for my time in The Secret World 
but I could not figure out how to chat easily to other players in my vincinity.  I kept ending up with random chat windows for areas I wasn't in and the few times I grouped I couldn't figure out how to isolate group chat in a new window whilst attempting to juggle dickhead inventory and combat.

I think a great deal of my frustration comes from the immense potential The Secret World has and the amount of love put into the game.  This was made by proper horror fans and not just Saw wanks.  The three areas I wandered around made me really happy: New England, Egypt, and Transylvania.  I spent most of my time in New England since I was too underpowered for the other areas.  One section is very Castle Rock-y with brilliant references to classic horror writers and their works.  Another is Miskatonic University and another a mining area.  The creature designs (and I didn't tangle with the big boys) are really creepy and have their own spin on themes (I particularly liked the autopsied cadavers/medical dummies).  There's a night and day cycle in game (fucking awesome). 

One thing I was overjoyed by was the game's puzzles.  Yes, a MMO with puzzles.  Proper puzzles for certain quests and a bunch of different styles.  There's no hand holding either.  You're given clues and then it's up to you to solve the puzzle (one of which I admit I felt like a fucking genius when I figured it out).  I wonder how many people are gonna just skip the puzzle quests.

After thinking about the game and writing this I realized I would pee my pants for it - if it was a single player or small group (a la Borderlands) game (or there are faction only areas).  Actually I wonder if the game wouldn't have been a much better game if it had been single player.  On the server I was on there was a great deal of bass-ackward playing, missions could be completed because players were lumped up in one area trying to complete a goal (I think a rotating group of about a dozen were swarming over this one area that was a story quest completion point for the last two days I played) and thus the goal couldn't be completed.  It's a shame really, I would have been willing to over look some of the technical flaws (e.g. toons are kind of weird looking), but as it is I ain't gonna pay for the game and then a monthly on top.  Made that mistake with WoW and SWTOR.  Check out The Secret World when it's free-to-play in a year.  

Blast from the past video game: Shadowgate (1989)

Many moons ago, when I was a hardcore Nintendo kid, Shadowgate was one of my favorites.  A point & click adventure that I seemed to be more suited to play than the rage inducing platformers and brawlers many of my peers seemed to excel at.  This was an era of what I affectionately call, "games that hated you".  Horrific, brutal, and genuinely malevolent games that beat you like a red-headed stepchild.  The sad thing is you always went back for more (even when your controller was held together with tape because you rage-spiked it into the 12" CRT during some bullshit Ninja Gaiden - p.s. fuck Ninja Gaiden).  I was also a big fan of fantasy and horror Choose Your Own Adventures when I was a kid so when I got my nerdly mitts on Shadowgate I nearly wet myself.

I loved Shadowgate (not as much as I love Shadowrun for the SNES) and whilst looking around youtube:



This game was madness and I blame it for several of my current RPG techniques. Torches would fizzle out and were a precious commodity. Any mistakes caused death after death after death. The thing was there was no gamefaqs.com, no IGN help guides to this bastard. Trial and error and intuition were all you had to rely on. Truth be told I don't know if I ever got to the end of the game even though I felt like I played it for a very long time and often (for some reason I have the memory of starting a new game every time I played).  I no longer own a NES but I might poke around the internet and see if I can find a ROM.  I kind of hope I can, just so I can do a review of it.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Another easy dish from the Haven

Spent my 4th at the Haven chillin' out and generally attempting to stay out of the sun - though I wandered with the group down to the Freedom Festival and got some pretty awesome homemade barbacoa tacos.  However, it being any month except November - March in Texas the weather was complete garbage and I was a sad panda because of the heat.
 
After the Freedom Festival some folk went on a grocery store run and brought back a metric shit-ton of gulf shrimp and the fixing for spring rolls and vermicelli bowls.  Everything was awesome except for peeling and deveining several lbs of shrimp.  If you have to wrangle with that much prepwork get an extra hand or two.  Just sayin'.

Amazonbutterfly made the spring rolls and did the veggie prep and I did the shrimp.  I think it was the first time I had homemade spring rolls and I think that they would a super easy thing to do when/if all the prep was done ahead of time (like sitting in containers in the fridge).  The shrimp while a bitch and a half to prep were simple to cook and I did a very straight forward garlic & ginger puree*/fish sauce stir fry with lime juice as a finish.  They turned out pretty good and kept their sweet shrimp taste with out turning into erasers.
 
I ended up eating most of mine for lunch today - cold - and it was an awesome thing to sit down to when the weather is so nasty out.

Here's the gist of the shrimp:

  • 1.5 shrimp per spring roll so think 18 per dozen spring rolls.  That is two per person.  Actually this is kind of awesome because you can go for bigger shrimp but not have to buy a lot.
  • For a vermicelli bowl, depending on how big of a bowl you wanna have I would say, maybe a half-dozen decent sized shrimp per bowl.
  • For a small # of shrimp, peeling and deveining isn't a terrible chore, especially if you get them fresh from the market.
  • Peel and devein the shrimp.
  • Heat oil in a pan (doesn't matter what kind, and you don't need to over oil the pan - you're not deep frying the shrimp.  A good way to test whether the oil is hot enough put a quick splash of liquid in the pan.  If it sizzles and dances the oil is hot enough.  Just don't overheat your oil to the smoking point.  That's bad.
  • Once the oil is ready, throw in a teaspoon or so of equal amounts of ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and then salt and pepper to taste.  Once you start smelling the ingredients, add your shrimp.  Don't overcrowd the pan - you'll drop the overall temperature of the pan - and keep the shrimp moving.  I add lime juice as a liquid while I'm cooking shrimp. 
  • Shrimp cook pretty quickly, almost surprisingly so, don't walk away from the pan.  Should take, roughly five minutes-ish.
  • Remove the shrimp from heat.  There you go, all done.  If you want to use them for spring rolls you might want to throw them in the fridge to cool them down before you cut them in half.
  • Try not to overcook the shrimp.  Doing so gives them a gum eraser texture.
That's it.  Shrimp are one of the easiest things to cook.
 
Hope all of you are well and had a safe 4th of July.  "Party on and be excellent to one anothers."
  

*We used a tube of garlic puree and one for ginger.  I also mashed up some fresh ginger for the juice.  I know some folks might poo-poo a tube of garlic but sometimes you just don't want to fuck around with peeling and all that jive.  Next time I think I would use my roasted garlic paste.

Monday, July 02, 2012

A recipe that sounds fancier than it is:

Country Sausage with red onions, chiles, and sun-dried tomatoes on couscous with minced basil and lemon juice.

Ooo-la-la, Mr. Fancy Pantsy

Seriously folks, the hardest part of this is having the patience to brown up the sausage.  Also if you've never heard of or experimented with couscous before it's a grain primarily used in dishes from around the Mediterranean.  It's easier and faster to make than rice and in some ways I prefer it because I get bored with all the damn rice I eat.  Here's the directions for couscous -  1cup water.  boil.  add 1 cup couscous, stir, cover, remove from heat, check in five minutes.  Hell, I was lazy and just nuked a mug of water and added couscous and covered and it worked.

Saucisse avec des oignons, de piments, et tomates séchées au soleil:  (ain't everything fancier in French?)

1/2 lb Country Sausage - browned and drained

1/2 red onion - chopped
2 tablespoons minced sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons dried chile flakes (or less if you are scared)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 small can chopped mushrooms (optional) - reserve juice for couscous

1cup couscous - plain
The juice from the canned mushrooms and add water to make a cup
1 lemon 
1 teaspoon of basil (I used dried)

1.  Cook sausage till it's done.  How do you know it's done?  If someone gave it to you, would you eat it?  No?  It ain't done.  Break it up as you stir, to normal human bite size-ish pieces.
2.  Put cooked sausage on some paper towels on a plate, get rid of excess fat and grease.
3.  Return pan to heat, saute the onion, chile flakes, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes.
4.  After a few minutes, return the drained sausage (tee hee hee) to the pan.  Cook for a couple of minutes.
5.  Boil water for couscous.  Add couscous to boiling water.  Remove from heat and cover.  Wait five minutes.
6.  Fluff couscous with fork, add basil and juice from a lemon.

Cook and prep time is roughly 30 minutes.

Hope all of you are well and not sweating to death.


Actual news

Right out of the gate, thanks to the efforts of a dear friend the new url is: www.hooliganyouth.com

Yes, gone are the days of oppressive typing and excessive remembering of the old url.  Additionally it'll look cooler when printed on hooliganyouth related schtuff.


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