Gaming without your brother

Monthly Archives: May 2013

YOU GUYS. 50 people follow my blog! My mind is blown. A hearty thank you to everyone who clicked the “Follow” button on this little site; dumb milestones like that make me feel good, even though I’m pretty sure less than half of that number actually read the content I write. BUT! For the non-zero number of you that do read the content, I love ya. Thanks, sincerely.

On that note, if you don’t look at your WordPress feed too often and want to keep up with my posts, you can like my Facebook page, Little Sister Gaming.

On to more important matters! Remember when I said gaming is not a chore? I still believe that, but I also think blogging shouldn’t be a chore. And even though I’m going strong on my daily-except-for-vacation blog posts, I’m still not exhausted by it. But with the vacationing, the moving, the unpacking, the all-the-other-things, I haven’t gamed in FOREVER. I finally got to game with my brother last night and we restarted the Halo 4 campaign on the Legendary difficulty setting. Damn, it is difficult. Mainly because I am not a valuable contribution to our duo, ha.

Anyway, my point is this blog is not a chore to me, I love it, I’m more motivated than ever now that we’re a thriving community, but I am scraping the bottom of an empty, dry, splintering barrel for content (e.g. yesterday’s repost of an article without even any critical thought from me – I AM SORRY, GENUINELY). This is all a lead up to an actual, legitimate question I thought of asking you all today:

What’s your gaming furniture/hardware setup?

I moved, and I had to buy a desk because I have a gaming desktop and awesome, massive monitors, and I kept getting perturbed by desks that required me to either put the desktop on the ground or in a tight, non-breathable cabinet. I also had to buy a TV stand that would hold my Xbox and my Wii and my games and controllers and other peripherals and movies and cables and headset. Booooo space. So I bought my second favorite desk choice (opting for speed of delivery over what I exactly I wanted) and I bought the cheapest, open TV stand (but didn’t think about cable management at the time, facepalm).

The cables behind the TV look pretty horrendous, but all of the stuff I’ve crammed into the shelf hides it fairly well. I had to STUFF that stuff into the shelf so it would all fit however. And I’m realizing the desk doesn’t have enough drawers/cabinet space, and the desktop has to sit on the floor (at least it’s a hardwood floor) and I’m just a little bummed out.

Do I just have to spend a ton of money the next time around? Do I just have to build my own furniture like a boss (even though I have no knowledge or means to do so)? Am I just anal retentive (yes)? Do you guys worry about cable management, or have you ever had to homebrew the perfect solution for your gaming set up? I’m also in the conundrum of finding a great gaming chair, since the couch in the living room is on the wall opposite the TV, and too far away to game properly. Any suggestions on that front?

Share your woes, celebrate your triumphs, give me some obvious advice that I need to hear from a stranger to know that none of this actually matters.


I read this article yesterday and was going to “review” it, but it’s just too good. If you love the concept of storytelling and exceptional writing in video games, you have to go read Susan O’Connor’s take on it. Who cares about Susan O’Connor? Oh, I dunno, she wrote some of the best video game plots of the past 10 years including Tomb RaiderFar Cry 2, and BioShock. She also headed up the Games Writers Conference. So yeah. READ IT. Then come back and talk to me about it 😀

http://gameological.com/2013/05/susan-oconnor-game-writer/


The Sunshine Blogger award goes to bloggers who inspire you to create!

Well tickle me surprised, The Chindividual nominated me for a blogging-type award thing! I’m flattered, and really grateful that I have something to post today because while I took care of pre-vacation blogging, I had no thought of the dry well that would be my brain for post-vacation blogging.

Here are the stipulations, so I am told:

  • Use the “official” logo of the award in this post – check
  • Link back to the gentleperson who nominated you. Thanks again, Chindividual! – check
  • List 10 pieces of information about myself.
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers who specifically (in the words of Chin) “who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”
  • Notify my nominees that they are in fact nominees!

So let’s get down to brass tacks.

  1. I just got my city’s Yelp Elite squad badge and I’m way too excited about.
  2. I’m THAT person that falls in love with a song or album and listens to it on repeat for days. Weeks. MONTHS maybe. I don’t force others to listen as frequently though, so I’m not THAT THAT person.
  3. Related to the above statement, my current obsessions are Heartthrob and The Con by Tegan and Sara and The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake. Prior to that it was Camp by Childish Gambino and Cardboard Castles by Watsky.
  4. Sushi is by far my favorite food, and I just admitted that to myself yesterday.
  5. To steal some ideas from others: my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving (ALSO FOOD RELATED! Lots of themes through this list).
  6. Because I feel like it’s such a non-issue in my life now: the long-term hiatus on this blog you’ll notice from a few months ago is because I was engaged, but then I called it off, and lived my life as it was prior to engagement again.
  7. I think my favorite movie is Stranger Than Fiction.
  8. A story that got shared often this weekend as I was in the rainy environment of coastal Oregon: as a child, slugs terrified me, and while they no longer scare me, they still disgust me and I do my best to never look at one.
  9. I just ate two massive donuts this morning.
  10. THIS IS SO SHAMEFUL, but I’m just going to do it anyway: I help write a soda review blog called The Fizz Wizards and it’s been lacking in content the past week because both of us wizards have been traveling, BUT! we have some great video content coming down the pipeline, and we’re funny, and it’s about soda so that’s fun, right? Check it out if you get super bored some day.

NEXT:

  1. Edutainment and I recently found each other and let me tell you: great original content! If you want to read some deeper thoughts about games, more than your standard “Me like” or “Me not like,” then you should definitely check out the site.
  2. Another recent discovery! The Rhodes Review has the quick and dirty lowdown on a ton of games, trailers, and upcoming content from everyone’s favorite developers. This guy publishes tons of content all the time which is awesome when you a) want the news and b) are bored and need new things to read at work. Check out the site!
  3. If you came to this blog because you thought I would actually play the games on The List and are disappointed that I’m doing a HORRIBLE job of it, check out Playing the Canon! Joel has some great thoughts about old and new games alike and we have bonded over our need to catch up on old games to buff our game cred.
  4. League of Legends really befuddled me in the beginning, and frankly still does most of the time when I play. Stumbling across Two HP Too Few‘s blog specifically about LoL strategy and just general thoughts about the game, the changes in gameplay, the community, etc. has been a really interesting read! Read it, do it, do it, do it.
  5. Gaming Grad knows his stuff and does a great job not only relating said stuff in a quick, easy-to-digest way, but he also seems to cover all he big new stuff that comes out, to help us all keep up with the young ‘uns. Because kids, amirite? This is getting tangential; check out his gaming news site!
  6. For less traditional, following-the-pulse-of-the-industry gaming news, check out The Video Game Nebula. I love reading Astro Adam’s thoughts about games, the state of gaming, and just the funny stuff he puts out on his blog. A great break from obsessively clicking refresh on big sites for the next tidbit of info about next-gen consoles or upcoming game releases.
  7. If your hobbies extend past gaming (weeeeeird) then check out The Vortex Effect for reviews, updates, news, etc. about a smorgasbord of entertainment news (movies, TV, wrestling, ranting, etc.).
  8. Ohhhh these guys should’ve been at the top of the list. What’s Your Tag! Funny comic strip, interspersed with gaming news, reviews, and opinion. Seriously, a great read all the time, do yourself a favor and follow these guys.
  9. I love browser/freeware games, and doing my part to destroy any stigma about the genre. My blogger-in-arms for the same cause is Games That Exist! Deep thoughts about games that are actually deep and not the popcorn genre that so many impose on it.
  10. And I’ll round out the list with a recent collective of bloggers I found, all over at Counter Attack! They do it all: podcasts, news, reviews, editorials, videos, and it’s all high-quality content at their labor of love. Subscribe to all of their outlets for great info about the haps around the industry!

Off to tweet to ten people about their awesomeness! Seriously, if you’re lacking on content or are want to spice up your current blog roll, check out any of the authors I highlighted above – they’re doing great work!


Isn’t really that little. I was thinking about this as I was responding to comments last week, and as I had to choose (for this particularly post, more shout out posts forthcoming) which of the awesome gaming blogs I follow to give a holla to. The gaming blogs on WordPress are such a vibrant community! I know the majority of my followers are real people, who are actually interested in the topics I’m writing, who are responding to those posts within their own sites, or in insightful comments, or even just in their minds. I know the majority of my followers are not only real, but they want to network. I know we all work hard because we have aspirations, or just want an outlet of expression and want to do that well, and we have all of these awesome blogs. And then we all get together and do things like United We Game and Geek Force Network and it brings just one of the tiniest of tears to my eye because my heart is so warmed by it all.

Okay, everyone can stop vomiting from the cheese overdose. I JUST WANTED TO SHARE MY FEELINGS, OKAY? Everyone rocks, I really appreciate the community I’ve found here on WordPress, and how they further my goals, and how they improve my critical thought about video games, and how they inspire me to do better. THANKS, DUDES. If you’re looking for more good blogs to follow, check out anyone who has ever commented on any of my posts (seriously, they’re all good), or anyone that follows me (seriously, super good), or anyone that I follow (seriously, crazy good).

Have a happy Memorial Day weekend, Americans. Take a break from this blog tomorrow and Monday (because I am!) and read some other great content from our community members!


Credit to flickr user netzkobold

Credit to flickr user netzkobold

Shortly after posting my blog yesterday, I bit the bullet and read a really brief synopsis of the release event. The only thing I can say might be good or bad that I can’t tell yet is the controller re-design. I think the Xbox controller is the most ergonomic and best designed controller in the history of gaming peripherals. Messing with that recipe makes me hesitant, but it looks good so . . . here’s hoping. Coming with Kinect seems cool. I have heard that voice commands, when they work properly (eyeroll), are very fun and really add something to the gaming experience. I also enjoy niche party games like Dance Central, so making Kinect better seems really cool to me. Also, I don’t have the hardware design. Boxy, sure, and bigger (which blows), but kind of utilitarian, and minimalistic, which I love. So hey! I don’t hate everything!

The lack of backwards compatibility is unsurprising to me; upping hardware specs will always eventually lead to that. What was saddening was the complete lack of an ATTEMPT to help gamers get their old content. And for the first time since my brother bought the original Playstation when I was in the third grade, I have a desire to purchase Sony hardware. When it was announced that the PS4 would not be backwards compatible, Sony conceded to their fans and said they would make some cloud space available for gamers old software. When asked point blank if Microsoft would do the same thing in the future, the Microsoft employee said no. ಠ_ಠ

From what I can gather, essentially used games are getting an added fee to play? A small, very quiet, optimistic part of my heart wonders if this will prompt GameStop to reduce used game prices (which frankly, I feel like are still too close to new game prices). Most of me realizes that this is just another way for Microsoft to stuff more green in their pockets. And it’s sad. But I do slightly get it. SLIGHTLY. People are always just trying to get money, and while it’s mostly helping Microsoft (it sounds like), it will slightly help developers. And I’m always all for that.

I really got the saddest bit of news this morning. Indie developers won’t be able to self-publish on the Xbox One. My literal facial expression when reading that can only be described as aghast. The hits of the past few years like Limbo, Braid, Fez, etc. won’t be able to reach an audience from the Xbox One. My heart . . . And I know what you’re going to say, that they have other avenues, it’s good they should just release on PC, etc. etc. etc. It’s undeniable though the audience that those devs reached by going through Xbox Arcade Live was massive. At the end of the day, for me, I recognize that every dev needs to eat, and I want people that are passionately following their dreams to get the most exposure they possibly can. Microsoft just cut off one really wide avenue for devs to be able to do that. A single tear rolls down my cheek.

What does this mean for me? Still nothing, like I highlighted yesterday. I now have a PC gaming rig that I’m in love with, and with games being cheaper through Steam, GOG.com, GamersGate, and other online distributors than new physical discs, buying Xbox games are completely unnecessary  And really, I still have a great 360 that’ll last for awhile, so hopefully I’ll still be able to get in on any Xbox exclusives (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, ROCKSTAR, COUGHREDDEADREDEMPTIONTWOCOUGH). But it is interesting to me the differences between the Xbox One and the PS4. It’s making Sony very tempting to me, if for no other reason than voting with my dollar about how much better I think the PS4 grand entrance/innovations (air quotes, because both are pretty lackluster improvements for supposedly next-gen hardware) were than the Xbox One event.

Rant with me in the comments! I haven’t really read any defense of the Xbox One. I mean, usually you get at least one outlet being like “Now, now, this is actually cool” but pretty much across the board of all the major news outlets I read were disparaging about the poor showing. Do you want to defend? Do you want to fuel the rage? Comment!


Just call me controversial Cathy.

The perhaps most acknowledged/blatant reason is because I don’t have the money to buy whatever they’re selling. But even then, there are probably a lot of fans who are anxiously looking forward to the press event while knowing the won’t be buying this console for another few years at least. Tying into this reason: I just bought my Xbox 360 about a year and a half ago, it’s still in tip-top shape, I’m not replacing it any time soon even if I had the money.

I think my true source of apathy about the whole thing is a) overhype (I’m just a contrary human being so when people say “Be excited about this!” I instantly am not excited) and b) how great can this new hardware be? I highly doubt there will be anything groundbreaking in whatever is coming in this new box. Beefier hardware specs, a Blu-ray player, probably some cool integration features with Windows 8, Windows Media Player, and Windows Phone, but I don’t own any of those products. I think that’s all we’re going to see today. Cooler motion sensing? Great. Not something I have the space to use right now, but on an unexcited level, I can appreciate how that can lead to cooler peripherals/gaming experiences.

Partly this apathy must come from playing more on my PC as well. It’s beefier, games are cheaper, I have plenty of screen real estate, etc. etc. I don’t need a console, although the network is fun for playing with non-PC gaming friends. Also gaming on the couch instead of my office chair.

POST SCRIPT: Whoops, took too long to post this. It’s the Xbox One! Cool name, better than the 720. The depths of my apathy is that I’m not even going to read what they’re saying about it. I haven’t read any hypotheses of what will be in it either. Lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy.


Inspired by this post about the music throughout the Mass Effect series, I started thinking about all of the excellent soundtracks that I’ve enjoyed while playing games. This is by no means an exhaustive list; please comment and share some of your favorite video game soundtracks too! I’d love to listen to more.

Mass Effect 3 – It was highlighted in the article I linked to above, but it does make my personal list of favorite soundtracks. The compilation overall takes you through a range of emotions, but there are some individual tracks that can take you from elation to heartbreak to resolve within a four minute space of time. Definitely worth a listen through, if you’re looking for a well-rounded, very orchestral driven experience. Not to mention, it makes you feel like whatever you’re doing within your cubicle is contributing to saving the galaxy!

Red Dead Redemption – The soundtrack of RDR made a huge chunk of the atmosphere of this game. When the genre “western” enters most people’s heads, they think of hackneyed banjo music with a clanky washboard accompaniment. How refreshing then that the music used to great the bring depth to the western theme in RDR wasn’t twangy or cliche at all. Some of these tracks are unnerving, most are energizing, and a few (particularly the song through the credits “Deadman’s Gun” by Ashtar Command) can bring you to tears. Although the songs with lyrics are closer to the end of the game, the three of them are my favorites on the album. Do yourself a favor, get lost in the old west by listening to this soundtrack.

Splice – You can read in the game title link that I’ve already highlighted this incredible soundtrack. Ethereal and stirring, it brings you along a ride you didn’t think possible with a protagonist-less puzzler. The movement that takes the audience on a journey is the incredible strength in every song on this soundtrack. You’ll be doing a disservice to yourself if you don’t check out this soundtrack (free to preview in its entirety on bandcamp).

Bastion – This . . . this soundtrack is perfection. I saved the best for last. I’ve heard this soundtrack be compared to the Firefly soundtrack, which I thought was fitting. It gives off a non-western (hemisphere) vibe, mixed with a few, very subtle western (cowboy) themes. A diverse range of instruments orchestrate every track, and the songs with vocalists are . . . haunting, but in the best most moving way possible. I realize all of these descriptions sound very hyperbolic, but seriously, this one . . . the money soundtrack, undoubtedly.

Like I said, there are lots of other game soundtracks I love (Catch-22, Braid, Super Meat Boy, Cave Story, Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong, etc.) but these are really some of the cream of the crop. I’ll also take this chance to give a shoutout to a YouTube artist who does incredible acapella covers of video game songs. He hits some of the most popular jams (e.g. Guile’s Theme from Super Street Fighter 2) as well as a few more obscure hits that are just great songs (e.g. DuckTales’ Moon Theme). His username is Smooth McGroove and if you love raw talent recreating your favorite video game tracks, you have to go and subscribe!


As you can see (I’m trying not to jinx myself, but I’m going to state it here), I’ve been trying really hard to post five days of content a week. This was a terrible time to start, because I’m moving and going on vacation and just trying to sort other things out, but doing it despite all of this is kind of encouraging, internally. But, the vacation thing, I’m going to use to my advantage instead of auto-posting something, because I’m that lazy.

So! In lieu of a post tomorrow, check out my gaming buddy, The Married Gamer. You might’ve noticed his comments on this blog (Ashton is his name), and their constant insightfulness and depth. Can you believe it – he writes whole blog posts like that! He’s a great writer, and a great gamer, not to mention a great game critic (maybe I only say that because we have mostly the same tastes in games and preferences for deep narrative experiences, but don’t worry about it . . .). So, while you’re twiddling your thumbs tomorrow, because I haven’t posted anything (how narcissistic to assume), check out The Married Gamer, and give him some comment love!


Not from lack of games. In that department, I’m actually drowning. I should rather say my gaming writing well is running dry. I haven’t played games in so long! LIIIIIFE. WHY HAST THOU FLOODED ME!? It’s a great thing, really, but seriously, the best gaming experience I’ve had in the past week was playing Fruit Ninja in the bathroom at work. How do you guys do it? How do you carve out time to prioritize games in your life? Teach me your ways!

In lieu of being able to talk at length about one or more games, I’ll just highlight some flash/mobile games that I’ve gotten a chance to check out in the past little while:

Disclaimer: I’m not an iPhone hater, but I do have an Android phone, so all the app links are to the Google Play store. ALSO! Lots of these cost money, but there are really awesome free apps everyday in the Amazon App Store so be sure to check that to pick up some of these for free, like I did!

Pixel Dungeon – My brother put me on to this game a while back (for the subtitle of this site, “Gaming without your brother,” he certainly does come up a lot . . .). It’s a randomly generated dungeon crawler; find the next set of stairs down, go down the stairs, try to find the ultimate artifact, the Amulet of Yendor.

It’s still in beta, but that also means it’s free for the moment! There’s 20 levels at the moment, with more coming in the next update says the dev. It’s difficult! Which makes it fun, but there is perma-death which is heartbreaking. Three classes (warrior, rogue, mage), potions and enemies and weapons and armor and items – all the needed elements for a fun action RPG. And the pixel art . . . gets me right in the nostalgia every time. Well done pixel art is my jam.

Candy box ! – Automated ASCII art?! Get out of town! The key in this game is to just wait until you have more than two options. Then it becomes seriously exciting/addicting because you wonder “WHAT COULD HAPPEN NEXT!?” You can also “save” which is nice for a browser-based game. Shoutout to friend and reader Susan for putting me on to this super fun game.

Robot Unicorn Attack – Super old, but I figure it’s mildly relevant because RUA 2 just came out, AND, I really am playing this game a lot. Something about endless runners . . . I just want to beat my old high score! I would’ve been hopeless in the 80s, all those arcades around. I also can’t try RUA 2 until I feel like I’ve sufficiently used the original app approximately $2 worth (for the app, free online though). Anyway, an oldie but a goodie!

Continuity 2 – Another oldie but goodie that again my brother put me on to. I had never heard of it, but this a puzzle game I can really get behind. You move around tiles that are snapshots of the actual level to facilitate the character you’re controlling to be able to move through, collecting the key to the last door, as well other little tokens. ALL AS FAST AS YOU CAN! Three factors rank your level success: time taken to complete, how many tokens collected, and . . . moves maybe? I forget, and to find out and tell me how stupid I am, download Continuity 2!

Osmos HD – This game. YEESH this game. I mean that in the best possible way. It’s so good! So addicting! Such a great soundtrack! So hard for me! In general, the object of every level is to become the biggest cannibalistic blob. You can only absorb blobs you’re bigger than, and you die by bumping into blobs bigger than you, which then absorb you. There are some different types of blobs that attract things, and move faster. A cool mechanic is being able to slow down time in the level which gives you a little bit of reaction time buffer. And fo’ real, the soundtrack. Dat soundtrack. Check out the game!

Temple Run 2 – I wasn’t going to include this game because I am a little embarrassed that I play it so often instead of playing some of the other critically acclaimed games in my library, but what can I say? I just love unlocking stuff and endlessly running (virtually that is, never in real life. Have you seen me?) It’s a good game! If you want something mindless that’s easy to play while you’re going to the bathroom at work, this would be my top recommendation.

I enjoy these games that have depth, that I can spend an hour or more on (equivalent to how much time I would spend playing a console or PC game) but can do out and about, away from my TV or monitor. Ya hoo for the increasing caliber of mobile gaming!

What about you guys, what games do you love on your phone, or tablet, or browser? Let me know in the comments!


Credit to Flickr user Contz

MAN! I am two for two this week of just being inflammatory, borderline rude, in my post titles.

I saw this post by the Geek Force Network (check ’em out, lots of great content, but only after you read my blog, please don’t leave my blog, sob) and then proceeded to read the comments and was once again struck by the overwhelming popularity of the Dragon Age series. Based on the hype alone, I bought Dragon Age: Origins in a Steam sale ages and ages and ages ago (truly, I think it was one of my first Steam purchases ever). At the time, I tried to get started on it, but my laptop struggled so hard the game would just quit after about an hour of play, so I just shelved it until I knew I could get a better gaming rig.

Enter last summer, after I built a sweet-a gaming machine, and told you guys that yes indeed-y, I would inaugurate the beast with Dragon Age: Origins, to really get back into the story that so many gamers I respect, really love. I started. I tried so hard. And yet, I got to the first city area, and I just . . . can’t care. I just . . . have so few f—s to give (hi, Mom).

I think in this last attempt, I got to the camping waypoint after that first town, after I handle the thugs on the road heading out of town. I’m pretty sure my lack of interest stems from the difficulty of combat in that first town. The story, when I stop and think about it, is legit. Trying to save the world, recruiting people and help on the way, rich conflict between “races” if that’s how the magic-users are designated. I have multiple characters die in the first few battles. I often have to go back to previous saves to try again, so I don’t lose my power house when fighting that thing at the top of the first tower. And perhaps that’s the only reason I haven’t gotten really invested?

On a side note, I think another aspect of my lack of caring is that I am way out of practice of managing character parties. That was THE THING of Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, all those wonderful SNES RPGs, but lately, I just play who I play and who has to come with me is who has to come with me, and I like getting off easy in that regard. The little bit you have to do in Mass Effect 2 doesn’t even matter that much (for the most part . . .). So getting all of these characters in the beginning and having to immediately use them intelligently? Also adds to the difficulty, even though I’m just playing on normal.

That’s sad and troubling to wonder if that’s really the reason I don’t love this game. Am I so lazy, such an entitled gamer, that unless I succeed for the first half of the game, I can’t appreciate the experience? The thought really terrifies me. Enough to dive into Dragon Age yet again to try to find the joy in it. Also, I recognize I’ve devoted very few hours to the game, and where I am is not very far at all, so it deserves from me (if for no other reason than I should get my money’s worth out of it).

So educate me, friends of the internet! What do you love about Dragon Age? What do you hate about it? Worth my time, or should I finish Tomb Raider, and AC3, and Saints Row III, and To the Moon, and my million other Humble Indie Bundle games first? Rant at me in the comments!