Ok everybody! I must say that I have introduced myself pretty well (not) but just in case… my name is Balthazar Gradin and I shall teach you all about weird games, art, food, culture, and more! Please write comments to me for any specific questions. Anyway, today I am going to teach you about a computer game called Fez. Fez is a 3d dimensional game where the main character is a little ghost white stick man in a crazy flying block world. The objective of this puzzle game is to solve different mazes in a 3d world. watch the video to learn more!
Several people on the freely available game, League of Legends, have noticed that my username is actually a nudge to my website. So for all of you fellow champion-slayers out there, this is my hello! See you on the battlefield. Before you go – leave a note in the comments so I’ll know you were here.
Some of you may recall the classic text adventure game of Zork. It died out long ago – around the time of the BBS’ demise, though I played them for a bit afterward. Well now we can relive the golden years of “Internet” gaming. Legends of Zork have been reenvisioned by Jolt Online Gaming. It’s a marvelous piece of work and continues to get better through weekly updates. The game is free to play, but there are ways in which Jolt can make some cash on their efforts too. You spend a little cash and you get a sort in-game money that you can use for bonuses (only available to those who spend cash). It’s an ingenious model and I’ve contributed a little to their coffers. They also spun up Utopia Kingdoms recently which is quite different and possibly a little more engaging. The cash model is the same, however, and still a good one. I haven’t contributed to this one yet as I’ve only just learned how to play…thanks to Sean. It takes a few more brain clicks to comprehend Utopi Kingdoms than what it took to get into Zork wholeheartedly.
My son, at nearly 5 years of age, is big into the whole good vs. evil concept. He loves superheroes, Star Wars, and nearly every incarnation of fictional character one can imagine serving one of the aforementioned roles; good or evil. We played “superheroes” most of the day, Sunday. I was “The Oxidizer,” or “Flame Boy” as Balthazar preferred. Mommy had a lot of work to do, but she was “Shower Girl” before leaving that morning for the studio. The boy is apparently schizophrenic, and went between a lot of different characters and roles. One such role was “Hanger Boy.” It’s not what you think – it could have been a gruesome depiction of a nefarious creature that can perform a lynching with jerking hand motion. But no. “Hanger Boy” had the wonderful power of shooting hangers out of his hands at you. They could hurt you, what with the dangerous hook on the top. His hangers were particularly useful in that their internal dimension was apparently discontiguous with our own. Getting caught by one of these weapons would very likely remove you from this plane of existence. I presume that it deposited you into a random closet throughout the Universe. You could end up in Narnia, a stinky foot locker, or the deniable state of homosexuality. It’s a tricky weapon, really. There was another interesting personality in that little head of his too. “Reading Boy.” Amy was impressed by this one. She thought he might have the power of absorbing Great Expectations with joy and fervor. Able to recite drab poetry into the numbed minds of his foes! Alas, “Reading Boy” was not what we thought. Balthazar says, “I read you, buddy. Do you read me?” with his hand brought to his mouth, Dick Tracey-style.
It was in my junior year at high school (1993-1994) that I began playing the soon-to-be wildly popular card game, Magic: The Gathering. Over the next couple of years, I played the game…a lot. You win some you lose some. I didn’t have the money to be the best player, but I had friends who took pity on me and got me some good second-hand cards.
Fast-forward to 2007; I have a shoe box full of Magic cards that haven’t been touched since the mid to late 90’s. Balthazar is four years old now and I felt it was probably a good time to start teaching him the subtleties of strategic card games. He can’t read, but he likes scary monsters and heroes. He’s a little torn as to which he likes better…monsters and heroes are typically diametrically opposed.
Balthazar beat me in Magic Wednesday, three days after we played our first game. He didn’t cheat, and I didn’t let him win. He just beat the pants off of me, fair and square! He wanted to play again Friday night and I told him I was going to annihilate him. No holds barred – daddy was going to skool the child. I did win, I’ll have you know, but only by the narrowest of victories. One more turn and he might have had me again.
Really though, I’m thrilled that he likes the games so much and is already acing it. I think next time we play, our hands are going to be hidden from each other. Maybe that will teach him some humiliation! Ha, he can’t even read yet!
It’s so much fun to be able to sit at the free computers in Schlotzsky’s Deli, surf the Internet, eat some food – all with the boy. He’s good with engaging himself with games on the Internet while I sit with him and peruse things. I’m an awful parent for this I’m sure, but it means we both are peaceable and I feel that he’s learning *something* from the experience. His favorite thing to do is jump on PBSKids.org or Playhouse Disney to play the games they provide. At Schlotzsky’s – unlike the Gradin household – they have iMac-looking things that seem very alien to us. The mouse buttons are under the mouse for some reason, so I had to invert the mouse and click that way, all while simulating movement to the laser with my hand in an inverted X/Y axis scenario. I didn’t feel the Mac was very user friendly because of this.
More importantly, however, Disney’s Playhouse Disney site doesn’t actually support Safari browsers. I didn’t feel up to bringing Schlotzsky’s browsers to Firefox or IE (possibly from my mouse experience), so the boy had to go without Playhouse Disney. PBSKids, as I discovered, does support Safari. Or probably more likely doesn’t care what browser you’re on, just as long as it can rock-n-roll with Flash. Doesn’t Disney have a billion dollars or something? Why can’t they create a kid-friendly site with no ads, and simple system requirements? Oh well – back to my most excellent Texas Schlotzsky!
I’ll bet you can’t click just one…
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Just now, I was trapped into playing Ka-Glom on my BlackBerry and had to do so for a couple of games before I could put it down and attend to the evening duties. I walked into the living room where my lovely wife was laying on the couch playing Tetris on her cell phone. Balthazar doesn’t have a prayer.
I’ve not written about it before, but the Kingdom of Loathing (KoL) is the best piece of crap since Legend of the Red Dragon (LoRD) way back in BBS days. KoL is chocked full of PHP and MySQL goodness to bring forth one of the more entertaining web games out there. Your a stick figure in a ridiculous world of stick-like objects and other drawings by two-year-olds. The currency is meat and you may indeed wear a meat helmet. You can engage in PvP or simply quest your heart’s desires in the places like “South of the Border” where you most likely be attacked by a Waretaco and be rewarded with uncooked chorizo. To compete with the more financially-backed games such as World of Warcraft or Everquest 2, there are more socially acceptable forms of adventure in this game too. You may learn to mix drinks in KoL, where drinking is generally a good way to get further in the game and boost your stats while you’re at it. Or send you on your way in a drunken journey to flail about and make a general mockery of yourself. You could learn to cook, smith (yes, with meat), and ‘glue’ objects together – again, with meat. The bounty of humor is unending in the Kingdom of Loathing. I’m on my second character, the first having been deleted due to activity. Hopefully, I can keep Braunschweiger alive to reach KoL Ascension, whatever the hell that is. I just reached level 7 tonight, so things are on the up-and-up.
Saturday ended at 3:30am Sunday morning. I played D&D for the first time since the 80’s with a group of friends. They’re old pro’s, but I have some catching up to do. We played all day and night, so that’s a good way to get a refresher course. We didn’t actually have time for any combat, so it was primarily just role-playing. The game was fantastic! It’s vastly different from the games played in my early days. As one would imagine, the stories are more mature and the depth is amazing. The Game Master (GM/DM) really has to keep his head straight the whole time. Quite a task, especially considering the detailed storyline these guys have followed for over a year now.
Since getting ready to play this a couple of weeks ago, I’ve noticed my vocabulary mutating in my head. I say my head because it hasn’t ebbed out onto my tongue and spilled onto the ears’ of others *yet*. I keep thinking about situations I’m in in terms of DC checks. Criticals, modifiers, and situational effects keep gnawing at my consciousness. That will either fade with time or leak into reality where I will become the biggest dork ever!