The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall

| June 26, 2014

So, I’ve been dark because I’ve been using my free time to play through this. Excellent scenario. Every time I thought I was about to be finished, there was another turn in the road. It had very much of a classic Shadowrun feel of not knowing whom to trust, and had a lot of ethical dilemmas.

I won’t go in to the spoilers, but it’s currently on sale on steam, and is well worth the $7.50 for the base game and $9 for Dragonfall expansion. This means you’d get to play through the base adventure Dead Man’s Switch (which felt short and left me wanting more) and Dragonfall was of a pleasant length and depth.

There is also a lot of fan created content, of varying quality. I played a bit of one, but then my brother got me X-Com: Enemy Unknown (which, BTW is now apparently available for Linux too), and that distracted me. So, it has a decent amount of new content to keep it playable. Oh, and it’s available for Linux as well. More games on Linux makes me a happy boy.

Anyway, despite getting the Wasteland 2 and Warmachine: Tactics betas, I’m likely going to work on non-videogame stuff for awhile (likely picking up my Showdown: 40K conversion project again, with perhaps a slight deviation into Firestorm Armada house rules for Star Trek ships), and will pick up the next video game (likely Wasteland 2) when I get tired of that.

Update on the boys and other things.

| April 8, 2014

The boys continue to grow like crazy. Max has decided he likes things that he sits in (bouncy chairs, etc.) and Miles has decided that he likes laying on his back and hitting those types of things that dangle in front of your face. Both of them are over 13 lbs, with Max at nearly 14 lbs.

Anyway, I’ve added several more pictures spanning from the end of February to the end of March to The Max and Miles gallery (scroll down, they’re in chronological order, with the most at the bottom)

On the programming front, a friend of ours introduced us to Rockabye Baby! so we picked up some CD’s off of, and I ripped them to a USB stick so I can play it in the car. Of course, this brings up the age-old problem of there not being any decent .m3u playlist generators or synchronizers (or, at least, not any that I like). So, I wrote one. You can find it on one of my github repos. You’re looking for manage_playlists.

On the consumption of media front, I’ve finished Monster Hunter International, very good, highly recommended.

I’ve also been playing through X-Com: Enemy Unknown, which is also highly recommended. This is a bit different than the original, more streamlined. The key with this version of the game seems to be to drag it out so that your troops can gain experience and make scientific advancements. If you research the priority items too rapidly, the game progresses too rapidly and you get overwhelmed.

Additionally, I’ve been playing a little bit of Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall, which I’ll likely be playing more of now that the manage playlist script is finished.

I also finally got to cooking up my hot sauce from the peppers for this year:

Hot sauce - peppers

Hot sauce – peppers

Hot sauce - blending

Hot sauce – blending

Hot sauce - straining

Hot sauce – straining

Hot sauce - done!

Hot sauce – done!

So, that’s about what’s been going on in my world.

On games

| November 9, 2008

  • I’ve decided to start playing some video games again. This is not unusual, since winter is coming and there’s lots of evening darkness – aside from working on indoor projects (including the garage) it’s not like there’s much else I can do. I started with some computer games, and played a little bit of Vegastrike and Tremulous. Vega strike was very “meh”. Hard to learn, didn’t much see the point, etc. I suppose I could make the effort to learn, but at this point, with such a large selection of games which I have to choose from, I’m not really going to bother with too much learning (unless the game comes highly recommended, which this hasn’t). Now regarding Tremulous – this was VERY good. Well done FPS with lots of variability/points/classes/etc. That said, as much fun as it is, I’m looking more for “progression and accomplishment” – beating levels/games/etc. and playing through storylines. So, I’m picking up my large pile of PS2 games – 3/4 of which I bought used and haven’t beaten – some of which I haven’t played. Right now, I’m hitting the Star Wars: Battlefront games, playing through the campaigns. I also have several platformers (Jak and Dexter, Ratchet and Crank), those sneaky shooty special ops games (Metal Gear, SOCOM, Splinter Cell), the “roaming” games (GTA, True Crime), and a few other noteworthy ones – Red Dead Revolver, Resident Evil 4, etc. So, that will keep me busy for awhile.
  • Since I didn’t get off to Carnage this weekend, but also hadn’t planned on being here, I split the difference and got some work done around the house, cooked lots of food, hung out with Liz and and worked on assembling and basing a pile of microarmor (for playing Dirtside II… by myself).
  • The furniture for upstairs is coming in this week. This only pertains to gaming in that it gives me a bright, central, happy place to read gaming books.
  • Speaking of books, I found Amerikkka, which is being given away for free for the month of November in celebration of the election. After that, it will be $5. The rules are simple, but the setting is really the interesting part – a Balkanized and fragmented former US – the Confederate States, the United States of Nugent, Texas, the Free States Coalition, etc. Really good stuff.
  • We watched The Gamers: Dorkness Rising Good stuff. I highly recommend it.
  • Partly because of Dorkness, and partly because of a conversation which I had with some weeks ago, I think I need to reconsider my aversion to fantasy-based roleplaying genres. (For anyone who doesn’t know, my general rule is that if gunpowder and steam power haven’t been invented, I’m not really interested). I mean, really, think about it – is there really much of a difference between LOTR and Star Wars? So, I’m going to try to back off on some of my prejudices and be open to any opportunity to game which presents itself. I’ll also be reading the Burning Wheel rules (I liked the Burning Empire rules.. well, the first 50 pages, which was all I’ve read so far) and will also be picking up the D&D 4th edition rules.
I think that’s about it.

More random bits

| December 5, 2007

  • The Wii output looks significantly better when shown in 480p via component cable. The Mii's are less jaggy.

  • Hmmm.. There is Manhunt 2 for the Wii. I wonder if they use the motion control in interesting fashions.

  • A Grand Theft Auto game for the Wii would be interesting – it knows you are holding your gun sideways!

  • Running badblocks -svw to test/burn in a 750GB HDD takes a long time.

  • MondoRescue looks badass.

  • The foster kittens went to an adoption clinic this weekend and got adopted. So, Nuts and Bolts will have a good home for Christmas. I leave you with some photos of them. There are some other cats in there too, but whatever.

Sent to Nintendo of America

| November 27, 2007

To Whom It May Concern: I’ve recently had the unfortunate experience of downloading the SEGA Title Super Thunder Blade, for my Wii. Unfortunately, it would seem that nostalgia had me jumping at the chance to play the game again, but age seems to have made my memory fuzzy. To wit – this is NOT the game I thought it was. Thus, I find myself in the situation of having spent 800 Wii Points (equivalent to $8 US) on a game which is complete and total garbage, yet I cannot return. Now, while I realize that this is exactly what would happen were I too have bought a game at a store (once it’s open, you own it because most stores won’t accept returns), I can’t really claim that the Virtual Console concept is flawed – it merely takes the current physical game model into the virtual, with the same limitations. However, I cannot help but wonder if it could be better. Suggestions: (1) A time limited window where one can return Virtual Console games after some reasonable amount of time – perhaps 6 hours. (2) A demo version of Virtual Console games containing the first few levels. (3) A demo version of Virtual Console games which allows time-limited play (only works for an hour then requires that you buy it, etc.). I’m sure the technology could be added with a firmware upgrade, and I think that this would present a better value for customers. Personally, I am now hesitant to download any other Virtual Console games with which I am not intimately familiar. Thus, I will not be spending money on games which might be good, or which I heard were good, but will instead be limiting my purchases only to games which I am certain are good. Since I never played anything on Neo Geo, SEGA, or many of the other consoles represented, I will not be looking at those categories for Virtual Console titles, lest I make this same mistake again. Thank you very much for your consideration, Matthew Caron

Games (Video and Otherwise)

| September 27, 2007

Video Games: I’ve stopped playing Baldur’s gate for a bit – it just got too monotonous, and makes me long for real RPG’s. So, I started playing Warzone 2100 again, when I realize that it suffers from a fatal flaw – you can’t restart a mission from the beginning. If you get to a point where you can’t win, even from your last save point (easily possible with the time limited games), you start over from the beginning. I did, and it keeps locking up on me. Now, I’ve gotten past this point before, so I’m not sure why it is happening now, but I’m not going to chase it down. Given that what I was really looking for was a RTS fix (like StarCraft), I figured I’d just install Starcraft and play that. True to a vow I had made to try all these games under Wine before loading them on the Wintendo, I did. You know what? It worked. Almost flawlessly. We’ll call it 95%. Game installed. Expansion installed. Patch installed. Running the game worked, but sound was choppy and I could still see the top and bottom taskbars from my window manager. A quick firing up of wineconfig and a tweaked the sound emulation settings and the “let WM manage windows” for Starcraft.exe (apparently you can have per-executable emulation settings, so if Starcraft wants to behave differently than notepad, it can. Very nice.) Of course, then I was talking about this to a friend of mine, and he was mentioning X-Com. Since I have the collector’s edition which runs under Windows, I tossed that in under Wine as well. Doesn’t work. The app DB says it does, but it doesn’t. Well, it runs fine in a Window, but not full screen, no matter what I tried. Tossed it onto the Wintendo, only to find that it runs too fast. Not too fast to be playable per se, but fast enough to be annoying. I googled around, and happened upon UFO: Alien Invasion. This is an open source game based around one of the Quake engines and done in the style of the original X-Com. Aside from the various issues one would expect of a game in development, it is very, very good. However, the unwillingness of the developers to add an “in mission save” button basically makes it unplayable. I am an adult. I need to be able to save and quit a game NOW because something else demands my attention. I do not accept this from other computer games (and I take a hard look at console games which lack this feature as well, going to far as to make such a stink that the store let me return Black. Resident Evil 4 gets a pass because I can save at any time – as long as I go find a typewriter, which is usually only a few minute walk away. Call of Duty autosaves at checkpoints which are about 5 mins apart, so that’s okay too. Red Steel annoys me because it doesn’t allow a proper save except at the very end of a mission. But, anyway…) When that failed to hold my interest, I installed UFO Aftermath. The problem with this one is that the fonts are all goofy in the Wintendo. Maybe it’s the video card, maybe it’s the game – who knows? It worked on my laptop, so it’s cool on XP, it just doesn’t seem to work on this box for some reason. At this point, I’m a little annoyed, so I think I’m going to go back to playing console games and working on other hobby related stuff… which brings us to…. Tabletop games: I found a local gaming store, RK Sports, which has local game nights, but it’s cramped and seems to cater to more of a younger crowd. The “sports” in their name comes from the fact that they do a brisk trade in sports cards. They seem to focus on Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000. Their prices are good, but the selection is small, though they can order you whatever you like for less than it would cost to order it from GW (sticker price is MSRP, but then everything is discounted a variable amount depending on what you buy). I am not sure if I will show up and play. 40K is nice, but I like to play other games too. Regardless, I have some retooling of my armies before I can. My Tau army seems to be up to date, I just need to paint it. My Dark Angels Army got a new codex. A first glance, the net result is that things will cost about the same, but some options go away, others I get for free, and my squad sizes are no longer limited by the size of the transport, but rather the size the codex says (this holds 6 guys, but I can only have 5 man squads, so the extra space is wasted). I’ve also decided to fix a problem with the paint scheme. Basically, I had used a light green highlight color which looks sharp but is a pain to get right. The problem is, in order to paint the new guys without it, I have to go back and paint over the color on all the old guys, then hit them with a shot of varnish so it doesn’t rub off. I’ve been hesitant to do that, but I think I’ll just bite the bullet on this one and just do it. It will save time in the long run, and it will stop people from thinking these guys are some custom chapter, since this highlighting makes them not look like Dark Angels. I’ll also be casting more blocks and building terrain, painting Battletech minis, and painting microarmor for FOW Modern (or any other modern game). I should note that I have no idea when I’ll play these games, but it is a hobby which keeps me entertained and allows me to de-stress, and that counts for a lot. Oh, there is a local con put on by the Schenectady Wargamers Association, which I was considering attending, but they charge con fee (normal) plus a per-game GM fee (this is a dead idea which no one does anymore, since waiving the GM’s con fee (which these guys do as well) is more money than you make off the players, and the $10 or so you’ll get from the players for running the game is not even remotely worth the time. Be a bigger person and do it for the love of the hobby). As such, I refuse to attend. These guys also run weekly gaming, but it’s the same deal – per game fee. Now, that might be a deal worked out with the venue; I’m not sure. I accept this from stores, who look to make money – they stay open another 4 hours to do a 40k night and everyone who shows up to play contributes $5 and the store makes money from the game night. Now, I don’t think this is good business practice, but I at least understand it. But not from a gaming club. I’ve also been thinking of posting an entry over at Pen and Paper Games. Put it out there, see what comes up. The problem is, gamers can be .. sketchy. I’d much rather meet someone and get to know them and then game with them, rather than meet them through gaming, not like them, have a falling out, etc. Maybe I’m just paranoid. After all, that is kind of how my first group got together. I was in the coffeeshop, talking about RPG’s, someone overheard us and say “hey, my boyfriend and I would be interested, and maybe a friend of ours, etc.” and before I new it, I had 5 players.

Gaming stuff

| August 10, 2007

(This is partially a test of Deepest Sender, an LJ app which runs as a FF widget. I am not tremendously impressed – it gets clobbered if you use it in the sidebar and then open your history, which was the compelling thing about it…)


Video games:

I started playing Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn again. I'd forgotten how much fun this game was. Problem is, I was playing an “interesting” (read: dies easily) character – a bard/cleric, if I remember. If the character dies, your game ends. Finally, I just gave into it and remade the character as a fighter, restarting the game. If they're going to write an automated dungeon crawl, then I'll play the absurdly strong fighter.

Tabletop games:

  • I've managed to convince Liz to try out a Battletech campaign. She likes Battletech well enough to play, and the campaign makes it a little more interesting.

  • I might have convinced her to play an RPG, if we can get her friend Sarah to play, and it's only them, and it's a setting that they like. Liz's problem with RPG's is that they end up just dragging on as we look up rules and bicker. I tend to agree, but am willing to put up with it.

Anyway, In that vein, I am looking for simple, easy playing systems.

First, I had a look at Fugde. Meh. Their core mechanic is simple (tally the +’s and -‘s and they bump your skill up or down for an end result) but I don’t know if it is any more simple than d20 (d20 roll + bonuses – penalties = result). Then I pulled out my d20 modern book. It’s not a bad system, except there are some big things in it which I don’t like, specifically: – the wealth system – classes – the way armor is handled – some other things which I don’t quite recall. Now, d20 Call of Cthulhu fixed most of this. Problem is, my d20 Call of Cthulhu book seems to have been misplaced. Since they’re out of print, they’re going for obscene prices on ebay. I’ve also been looking at True 20, which might actually work well. However, I need to do more research to ensure that it is really compatible before I go spending money on it. Basically “will my big book of d20 guns work with this system”. If it works, I’ll probably buy the PDF. I’m really liking these PDF’s – they’re cheaper, I can grab the tables from them and make a GM screen, and if I do buy a paper copy of the book, using the PDF keeps the Mountain Dew stains off it.

Mega photo blog update

| July 1, 2007

Some of the goings-on in my life captured in pictures (with plenty of kitten pics).

The cats see a rabbit. Mikey likes being outside… as does Arthur. Arthur gets tired being outside all day. Mikey is still a Momma’s boy. So, I was putting together some bookshelves, got them all together, then tried to lift them into place. My hand slipped and the shelves came crashing down… right onto my toe. I have to be honest – I’ve never had that much blunt force trauma before – it hurts. I vastly prefer slipping with a knife and cutting myself – it’s a much sharper, more easily mending pain. Liz’s bear finally came in, and we got it all set up on the railing. We’re going to rig up a “skirt” for under the head, so the insulation doesn’t show anymore. Mikey has become quite the little hunter – I have to go around with a bucket two or three times a week picking up the carnage. He’s basically tried every type of critter around which he can realistically catch, including…. a snake. Toby does not like to go outside. He just stays on my desk and make sure the papers don’t levitate away. He also likes to sleep on my iPod, for some reason. Aside from the occasional bird, Arthur doesn’t really seem to like to hunt much either, but he did find this little fellow… The thing is, Arthur didn’t hurt him at all. He was just carrying him around like a kitten… but he wasn’t being mean. He just would snuggle up to the bunny and when it would try to run away, it would bop it on the head. It’s kind of hard to read him – I don’t know if he wasn’t hungry and was just playing with the bunny as part of a predatory instinct, or if he’s so domesticated that he treated the rabbit as a fellow pet ( and tell me that their cats and rabbits get along). Still, the rabbit was petrified, and when Mikey decided to join in the fun, Liz and I decided to bring the cats in and make sure the bunny was uninjured. It was, and we let it scamper off. Now, we have also seen some good eating sized rabbits, and once I have a decent recipe for them, we’ll probably take some for food. Of course, this is also predicated upon getting my 10/22 sighted in for 31gr JHP ammo, as opposed to the 40gr lead I had zeroed it with before. I had it shooting quite well at 75 yards with that ammo, but with this lighter ammo it was about 4 inches high and 6 inches to the right at 50yds. I was trying to pop a woodchuck in the garden. I saw the bullet hit high, so I held low and fired again (it froze, presenting me with an excellent opportunity for a followup shot. I fired, and clean missed, and then it was gone. I checked where the second one hit and the elevation was right, but it was way right. I hadn’t noticed this before. I adjusted the scope the requisite number of clicks to get me where I want to be, but I haven’t actually tried it yet. I need to hit the range and set it up correctly. While I’m there, I might as well take the opportunity to move the scope forward – it’s too far back for where I place my head. Last week while working, Liz and I saw a doe and her fawn outside the window. Presumably they were headed down to the creek to get a drink. Now, one thing I do not have a picture of is the fox I saw while working on Thursday. The cats were out and I hadn’t seen Arthur in 24 hours, so when I saw the fox I was worried (foxes eat cats, amongst other things). Not having a proper “large varmint” caliber rifle (.22 is good for woodchucks, but too small for fox), I grabbed the AK and headed out the door. Now, a .30 cal bullet is probably overkill for a fox at 25 yards, but it would work. However, by the time I got the rifle and was out the door, the fox had scampered off. I stalked around trying to find him, but no such luck. Anyway, I’m off to bed. I’ll try and post more about what I’ve been doing (basically living the country lifestyle, as well as guns issues, what’s going on with my pistol permit, etc.) later on this week. I’m trying to get the house cleaned up for a cookout I want to have this weekend, and made a lot of progress on that, but there is always more to do. One thing worth mentioning – I was able to sit and play video games (Red Steel on the Wii) for the first time since we bought the house (though I might have played Zelda: Twilight Princess a bit while it was still snowy… I don’t recall).


| May 2, 2007

A nifty flash Zombie Videogame which is worth a mention.

Video game update

| February 25, 2007

In my New Year's post I mentioned that I was going to try and play more video games, and that I wasn't going to use Wine, because it was too unreliable. responded and says that Wine has gotten a lot better. Consequently, I will now be testing every Windows game on Wine before I start to play it under Windows.

The first test is Diablo (the original one). It installed fine, as did the expansion, but then I went to play it and the screen is all black. It appears that the menu is there but not being displayed. However, this basically means that you can't start the game.

So, I'm playing it on the Wintendo.

Then I got distracted by Destroy all Humans 2, and started playing that. Now that I've beaten it, I'll likely go back to Diablo.