Flower and Noby Noby Boy

Friday spells games at Gambit Lab, and this day was no different. The idea was to try a selection of quirky Playstation Network games, but we got stuck playing Flower and Noby Noby Boy most of evening. The plan afterwards was to follow this up by going for a few beers, but that didn’t happen either.  Most of the people we were going out with were either sick or had a sick partner at home, but we ended up having a beer and some food with Doris at a nice place simply called Tavern. It was nice though, and we’re making up for this by gathering even more people for socialising next Friday when people should be up and about. 

 

Noby Nooby Boy is a strange little game where you control the head and tail of an odd little stretchy worm that can eat things:

 

Flower on the other hand, is an artsy-fartsy game about wind and petals. 

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Movie night

Seeing as we have plans almost every night this week, we figured a quiet day at home was in order. We made tacos, watched some movies, and relaxed at home. Started off with Wanted, which was ok I suppose. Kinda wonky towards the end, but decent action and Angeline Jolie is always cool. Then we tried watching Hell Ride, but gave up after about 30 minutes. The movie has no plot and poor dialogue, and tries to make up for it with random acts of violence, some tits, and a handful of cool actors. It’s one of the few movies beside crappy TV movies I’ve actually stopped watching because it was so bad. 

Other then that, I’m working on a designer test for Funcom, which should keep me busy for the next week. While trying to think of something clever to write I found this cool site for movie recommendations. It’s called What To Rent? (the url might as well read “what torent”, charmingly enough), and it seems pretty interesting. It recommends movies based on a quick personality test, an idea I find pretty cool. Some of what it suggested I’ve seen before and very much enjoyed like Reservoir Dogs, The Usual Suspects and Almost Famous, so I’ll have to check out some of the other movies it suggested and see if I like them as well. Let me know what it suggests for you!

Set phasers to social

Jazzie tipped us about a CS (Couch Surfing) event over at a club called Daedalus, so after a quick workout we hopped on the T bound for Harvard Square. We took the opportunity while there to visit one of our favorite restaurants in Boston so far, an Italian place just off Church street called Bertucci’s, for some quality pizza before meeting up with the CS gang at nine.

Again I’m pleasantly surprised. The people where extremely friendly and outgoing, and while that is to be expected at an event where strangers gather to get to know each other it was at a level that still surprised me. Supposedly this meeting is something of a weekly event that keeps moving around between different locations, and with 1500+ people in the Boston CS group there’s more then enough new people to meet. Good pizza, good beer, a warm cider that tasted like apple cake, and I even got to promote Kaizers Orchestra to a local DJ who was into Norwegian music. All in all, a very good night.

Mars bar toastie

After a cold and quiet day we hooked up with Jazzie, a totally cool girl I found through Couch Surfers. She’s our kind of people, a Star Wars and general science fiction fan with an interest toward the alternative. While she probably felt cornered all alone with two Scandinavians the evening turned out pretty good, and she gave us some good tips on where to meet other interesting people.

We met up at the Squealing Pig, a decent bar with an impressive selection of beverages many of them even on tap. After a few drinks the urge to try the Mars Bar Toastie became too much, and yes, it did deliver. Toasted waffles, mars bars, bananas, strawberries and whipped cream… it was as if someone had created in my image a tasty pub dish. Sweeeet. 

I suppose a long run at the treadmill tomorrow is in order.

Back for seconds

So I went back to Starbucks today to see if they can make real coffee there. Seems like they can.  I’ve paid a lot more for worse coffee at places far more fashionable then Starbucks. You can quote me on that. Tim even remembered me from last time, being friendly and all. I’m wondering if he’s a special case or if it’s simply Starbucks latest policy to be extremely attentive towards their customers. Suppose the only way to find out is to try the same approach at a different Starbucks and see what happends. It’s not like there’s a shortage of them. 

Other then that I booked us a meeting with some random people tomorrow through Couch Surfing, which should be pretty interesting. I also emailed Adam, a relative who live and studies here in Boston, about hooking up for dinner some time this week. And last, I got in touch with Tina, the Asian girl we met at Miracle of Science. All in all it’s shaping up to be an extremely social week. I’ll keep in touch.

Sleepy Sunday

After spending most of Saturday walking the streets of Providence, we deserved a little peace and quiet. I gave the TV a try, but I simply cannot watch American TV and here’s why. 

Commercials, commercials, commercials. The breaks are shorter then in Europe, but only slightly and a lot more frequent. This means you can’t do anything during the breaks. This also means that channel swapping is pretty much impossible. I kid you not, as I swap through channels now there are commercials on 4 out of 5 channels. The result: it’s impossible to figure out what’s on the different channels. 

Strangely, the channels seems pretty bad at branding themselves. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t figure out what different channels I have. The screen usually goes something like this: commercial, series, commercial, series, commercial, end credits, commercial, intro, commercial, series, commercial.. etc, etc. At most, an ad for the next show pops up (or the current show, interestingly enough, as if I’d suddenly forgotten what I was watching during the commercials). Time zones add to the confusion specially for events like tonight’s Oscar show. Figuring out when things start is actually a hassle, and there are even conflicting information online. I can see why TeVo has a huge market here.

I also find the news rather annoying. It feels like an afternoon teen show with cheap overlay effects, bad puns,  silly reporters and completely uninteresting stories. I get the feeling I’m stuck with local channels here, which very well might be the case, but this simply has no depth at all. 

Well, that was a little Sunday blow-out to get ready for the new week. Take care now!

“I am Providence”

After a few weeks in Boston it was time for a day trip outside the city and so the choice fell on Providence, hometown of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. It’s a quick train ride away, and we made sure to catch a somewhat early train to get the most out of our day. Providence is a small and sleepy town by American standards, roughly 180.000 inhabitants and a distinct renaissance flair in the architectural style. It’s not been modernised, in fact many parts has been restored to former glory after a quick dip into industrialism that even left the now flowing river covered by roads. But I digress. 

Lovecraft's College Hill.

Lovecraft's College Hill.

We started off checking out some notable places from Lovecrafts life; his house, the places he used to wander, notable locations from his stories. Lovely neighborhood, pretty much exactly like I imagined New England to be. Then we went looking for his grave, which is quite a walk from the city as it turns out. The cemetery itself is huge, and pretty hard to find your way around if you don’t have a map. One will be provided for you at the office, which is open on weekdays. This being a Saturday we were pretty much screwed. Even with the lot number we spent a good two hours wandering between Tillinghasts, Byrons, Potters and Crowleys before we found a caretaker who could point us in the right direction. The grave itself is small and hidden, erected by fans in 1977 next to the family monument which also bears his name. But it was worth the trip.

Paying tribute to the master.

Paying tribute to the master.

Before heading home we dropped by downtown Providence, which was nice but there isn’t really a lot to tell. It kept in much the same style as the part of Boston we live in, so it was nothing new. When it gets a little warmer we’ll see if we can rent a car and go check out the other small cities around the area. Providence is still pretty large all things considered. I’d love to see one of the truly small cities that have little to no visitors, for that alien, Lovecraftian feel. 

The more I learn about him, the more I feel sorry for him. He is the arch typical artist who lived a sad and lonely existence, never recieving the acknowledgement he deserved before long after his death. A toast then, for a master of the minds dark arts; one who truly deserved more from life then he received. 

Lovecraft Memorial.

Lovecraft Memorial.

The Thirsty Scholar

Friday again, and the theme of today’s gaming session at Gambit is 2D fighting games. Played some pretty weird stuff, and held a Super Nintendo controller for the first time in 15 years! We had other plans though, so cutting the event short we set course for a pub called The Thirsty Scholar. We hooked up with Miranda, a girl Kristine met at a conference in Paris, along with her media friends Josh, Ben, Nina, Heide and Susanna. Pretty interesting people overall, but as some started to cutting the night short it ended early and we went for an additional beer with Josh and Ben at a place called River Gods. Running with a celtic viking theme (tell me about it), it was an odd little bar in the sticks of Cambridge. 

I have to say, so far I find the whole table waitress thing rather annoying and for several reasons. First, as you never stand in the bar ordering drinks, you don’t really get a chance to meet other people. Second, you have a waitress hovering over your table constantly. And third, splitting a check after a handful of beers is time consuming and unnecessary. Add to the fact that two people at our table left early and actually forgot to leave money (odd behaviour, c’mon.. forget to pay?), it took a while for us to sort it out. 

Well, time to get to bed. We’re off on a day trip to Providence tomorrow, the city where H.P. Lovecraft lived most of his life. Hope your Saturday turns out equally great!

Starbucks to grind

Conscience keeps more people awake than coffee. The cold is back, and while the snow is a pretty serious indicator I didn’t realize how cold it actually were before I went for a walk looking for some new clothes. I quickly abandoned that idea and figured that, to warm me up, I’d get a taste of the American coffee culture instead. Tim at Starbucks explained that “sadly most Americans like their coffee sweet”, excusing himself and all Americans for the fact that he was now making me a Caramel Macchiato when requested to make their top seller. He offered to make me a cup of real coffee if I didn’t like it. I passed on the offer, walking back out into Newbury Street. I shouldn’t have. 

The coffee itself, if you can call it that, is over the top sweet and with a caramel like foam. Half way through the cup it’s borderlining nauseating, and I figure that enough is enough. While I do at times indulge in sweet hot drinks, calling this coffee is like calling Mac a computer.. both are fashion items for designer yuppies who don’t know the first thing about either.

Darkfall: paved with good intentions

I’m going to do something different today and talk a little bit about Darkfall, a new MMORPG that’s set for release February the 25th in Europe. It promises a new direction for the genre in a way that other games never had. It’s hardcore PvP, that’s player versus player for you non-gamers out there, and it really knows how to punish a player. In addition, we’re looking at better enemy AI and a proper player run economy. It’s going to be interesting to follow the development of this game and see how it turns out. I won’t be touching it anytime soon, but if it turns out anything like the fantasy equivalent of EVE Online so many people have been waiting for, I’ll be giving it a go some time down the road.

If you want to read more about the game, I suggest going here or here. These are good sources from people who have been trying out the beta, and no rehash of other peoples views. While that might be a bit much reading for people who aren’t interested, here are a few juicy quotes taken from around the web that you can throw around next time your geek friend starts talking about this new game he’s been trying out lately.

 

While I won’t be touching this with a ten foot latex covered bargepole, I really hope it does do ok. Firstly because it’s different, and seeing more variety in this industry is a good thing any way you look at it. Secondly because it will hopefully keep all the ‘leet pownzers’ together where they can frolic with other like-minded sociopaths… far far away from anything I’ll be playing.

Insult to injury? Why yes, they *do* understand their target market! 

That’s when I learned a neat trick. And when I say neat, I mean annoying, and when I say trick, I mean griefing.

So what’s the word on Darkfall? Simply put, savior of MMOs this game is not. While combat is pretty nifty and lag free, the monster AI is pretty awesome, and the exploration factor is phenomenal, this game has huge incentive problems.

My recommendation is that if you’re a fan of a really punishing experience and are really into PvP combat, try it. The combat is well done, the monsters are fun, and the exploration is top notch. If you like quests and directed gameplay, this is not the game for you.

Darkfall will probably be *fun*. Will it save the world? Cure cancer? Let you throw dead babies? Likely not. But is that so bad?

 

So there you have it folks. Now only time will tell who is wrong, and who get their asses kicked by ADHD kids who trade away their weekend meds for coke and pizza.

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