Club Admiralty

v7.0 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Club Admiralty Blog

A blog about life in general, in as many languages as I can manage. Ενα ιστολόγιο περι ζωής, πολυγλωσσο - σε όσες γλωσσες εχω μεράκι να γράψω.

Half-Life 2 | Done!

Back when Half-Life, the original, came out (November 1998) I was a freshman in college.  I wasn't really paying attention to those types of games for three reason: lots of work, lots of school, and no windows PC.  I was a Mac person, even back then, and we did not often get windows games to come out around the same time on our platform.  I wonder if things have changed these days - as my raptr profile shows I do most of my gaming on console.  In any case, when I started working at Barnes and Noble, textbook department, Half-Life was all the rage among some of my fellow computer geeks.

Fast forward to 2012.  I am working in Instructional Design and one of my colleagues is amazed that I haven't played Half-Life 2, because it - apparently - is quite a good game.  Alright.  Once I had an xbox I got the orange box and I started playing it.  In the game you play as Dr. Freeman, apparently the protagonist of the first game.  I started the game in 2012, played a bit, but I ended up not picking up the game for another two years (i.e. until recently).  I got to a point where  I got stuck and I guess it was easier to put it down (or did I rage quit?  I don't remember).  The point here is that I don't really recall what the heck happened at the beginning of the game when I picked it up again a few weeks ago. I looked up a plot summary on wikipedia, once I realized that I wasn't sure what was going on.  The wikipedia summary didn't help much because I wasn't sure who this mysterious G-Man is, why Freeman was in stasis, and what I was doing in City 17.  I guess this was explained in the original (should have been included in the orange box!).

Anyway, I thought that in order to avoid rage quitting, and making some progress, I enabled god mode, which allowed me to basically go through the game as a terminator and taking no damage (yay!).  Cheating?  Perhaps it was, but my goal was to play for the story, not to see how long I could survive in a post-apocalyptic totalitarian state. Once God mode was enabled the game was actually quite fun!  It was OK before, but messing around freely in a world without fear of death is actually quite fun.  The episodic nature of the game (I played episode 1 and 2 after Half Life 2) unraveled a really nice plot.  The story telling was good, and the gameplay (at least in God Mode) was really great. I liked the Eastern European aesthetics and I found myself stopping to read signs written in Cyrillic.

The one disappointing thing about this game is the ending, or rather the lack of it.  It seems that Valve, the developer, decided to create episodic content for this game, and thus each episode ends in a cliffhanger of some sort.  Well, guess what - there is no episode 3 (and there probably won't be from what I've been reading on the web), and the game ends with a load of questions.  For someone who plays most games for the story element this is quite disappointing.

Overall, I'd give Half-Life 2  and 8/10 score.  I don't think I will be playing this game again anytime soon.  If the ever come our with further episodes I'll reconsider :)
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Adieu Raptr...

Normally with these "adieu" posts the service or software I am writing about the service shuts down or the software maintainer no longer updates the software. In this case Raptr isn't going away, but it's changing focus.  Raptr is (was) a great service to keep all of your gaming information in one place. I could consolidate my xbox gaming, my PC gaming, and the few PS games that I play in one place. I could keep track of all achievements, see what sort of games I usually play and so on. Well, I guess that's changing now. 

The message received the other day:

When Raptr started out, we offered Steam and XBL achievements and PSN trophy tracking, PC/Xbox 360 gameplay tracking, plus unified buddy lists and chat. As Raptr grew, we realized there was a big demand for features that improved the PC gaming experience, such as game optimizations, easy Twitch streaming, and lightweight video capture.

But on the console side, you may have noticed some features stopped updating, as changes to Xbox Live and PSN would repeatedly break our system.

We believe our mission is to make PC gaming fun and effortless, and therefore we've decided to focus our resources on PC gaming exclusively. We will retire all remaining console support in the near future. For additional details, see our FAQ.

Your console-related information is still available on Xbox Live and PSN, and for those looking for a unified tracking solution, we recommend Playfire.

We'd like to thank console gamers for using Raptr, and we hope you'll check out our PC gaming features and stick around!

-Team Raptr

It is a bit annoying to have to move to another service. I guess I will be trying out Playfire and Duxter (two other social networks for gaming) but the main issue is that the games I have on my raptr profile won't import into other services, so the addition of shows is now a manual one again.  I went through this when TVTag (aka getGlue) shut down and I had to re-do all my TV show ratings in other services - major pain...  I suppose I'll keep my profile and see what becomes of raptr, rather than just deleting it altogether.  The perils of free services...

Raptr Profile, ca. 2014
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Η επιστροφή στην Αμερική, το 1994, σήμαινε αναγκαστικά μια κοπή κοινωνικών δεσμών από την Ελλάδα. Αυτό θα ήταν κάτι που θα είχε ζήσει και ο πατέρας μου όταν έφυγε για τα καράβια κατά την δεκαετία του ‘70. Για αυτόν αυτή η κοπή θα ήταν νορμάλ, για εμένα όχι. Εντάξει, δεν είχα και μεγάλη παρέα με την οποία έκανα παρέα, αλλά και λίγοι οι στενοί φίλοι να είναι είναι δύσκολο να τους αφήσεις πίσω. Πριν φύγω από την Ελλάδα λοιπόν πήρα τις ταχυδρομικές διευθύνσεις δύο φίλων, έναν από την Αμαλιάδα με τον οποίον ήμασταν στο ίδιο θρανίο και παίζαμε σχετικά συχνά μαζί game boy, και κολλητό από την Πάτρα. Δεν ξέρω αν είναι ακόμα μόδα, αλλά όταν ήμουν μικρός ήταν μόδα να έχεις φιλαράκια δια αλληλογραφίας (pen pals) από άλλα κράτη ¨Έβλεπες μερικές μικρές αγγελίες στα περιοδικά (μίκυ μάους, μπλέκ, κ.α.). Έτσι λοιπόν μου ήρθε η ιδέα για αλληλογραφία με τα δύο φιλαράκια.

Στην Αμερική, όταν έφτασα, ιδικά το καλοκαίρι πριν αρχίσει το σχολείο, δεν ήξερα τι να κάνω. Ήμουν στην “χώρα μου” αλλά δεν ήξερα κανέναν και ήταν όλα ξένα, και δεν είχα κάτι να μου αποσπάσει την προσοχή. Ο Ντίνος, από την δουλειά του πάτερα μου, μου είπε να βάλω ίντερνετ να μιλάω με τους φίλους μου στην Ελλάδα. Τι είναι το ίντερνετ; Το 1994 δεν το ήξερα, και φυσικά ήταν κάτι που τα φιλαράκια δεν θα είχαν αφού ούτε νέτ-καφέ υπήρχαν, ούτε οι φίλοι είχαν υπολογιστές. Άστο, δεν λέει.

Έτσι λοιπόν, άρχισε η σχολική χρονιά και άρχισα να λαμβάνω γράμματα από τους δύο φίλους - τον Στράτο και το Θόδωρο. Τα γράμματα έκαναν περίπου δύο εβδομάδες για το πέρα- δώθε (άμα απαντούσαμε αμέσως). Μέσα σε δύο εβδομάδες τα νέα μου είχα μαζευτεί και είχα αρκετά να γράψω - πιο πολύ για το σχολείο, οπότε μάλλον τους τα είχα πρήξει με τα μαθήματά μου (όχι πως είχα και πολλά εκτός το μαθημάτων για να γράψω - όπως βλέπεις και από τα μπλογκ με το #metanastis). Μέσα σε μερικούς μήνες, με μεγάλη χαρά, όπως πάντα, βλέπω γράμμα από Ελλάδα. Αλλά δεν ήταν ούτε από τον Στράτο ούτε από τον Θόδωρο Ήταν από την Άλεξ, μια φίλη και συμμαθήτρια που ήταν στην παρέα των παιδιών με τα οποία έπαιρνα το λεωφορείο να επιστρέψω σπίτι. Μετά από λίγο καιρό άρχισαν να έρχονται γράμματα και από άλλους, τον Ανδρέα, την Μαρίνα, και την Ελπίδα, και αν θυμάμαι καλά την Ανδριανή.

Έτσι λοιπόν μέσα σε έξη μήνες, που άρχισαν ως αποκομμένος από το κοινωνικό δίκτυο που είχα στην Αμαλιάδα, μέσω του ταχυδρομείου είχα ξανά αυτή την επικοινωνία με φίλους και γνωστούς όχι από την χώρα που με γέννησε, αλλά από την χώρα που με μεγάλωσε. Άλλοι έγραφαν πιο συχνά, και άλλοι πιο αραιά Δεν είχε σημασία. Σημασία είχε ότι είχα πια επικοινωνία και δεν ήταν όλα διαφορετικά και νέα σε μια άγνωστη χώρα. Είχα κάτι γνωστό, νέα από την πόλη μου, τα οποία ερχόντουσαν τακτικά. Είχα ένα πόδι στις νέες εμπειρίες, και ένα στις παλιές. Ξαφνικά το να μεταναστεύσεις δεν ήταν πια ένα θέμα που με έκανε να χάσω τον αποπροσανατολισμό μου.

Αυτές της μέρες, 20 χρόνια μετά, έχουμε περισσότερες τεχνολογίες επικοινωνιών που μας επιτρέπουν να μιλάμε πιο συχνά. Κινητά με google hangout, google voice, viber, skype, facebook, και twitter. Και πάλι όμως πιστεύω πως τότε, με την αλληλογραφία που έπαιρνε δυο εβδομάδες το λιγότερο, ήξερα τους φίλους μου καλύτερα Τώρα, μεν, βλέπω κάποιες καθημερινότητες, στα κοινωνικά δίκτυα, αλλά φυσικά δεν θα γράψουν δημόσια αυτά που έγραφαν στα γράμματα. Ακόμα και το email δεν είναι μέσον που μπορούμε να συγκρίνουμε με την αλληλογραφία του τότε - αλλά για αυτό το θέμα θα γράψω σε 4 χρόνια, όταν αρχήζω να γράφω για το πανεπιστήμιο.
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Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes | Done (???)

A few weeks back I was debating what game to start next, games being the interactive equivalent of that TV show that you love to follow along with.  I thought that it would be a good idea to get into Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes which I got for a cheap price last Christmas on xbox live (I think it was $7).  I was simultaneously excited that Kiefer Sutherland (of 24 fame) would be voicing snake, and not excited because the previous voice actor for me was snake.  After the initial getting used to Jack Bauer as Snake period the game progressed without me even thinking about the change in voice actor.

The game takes place after MGS: Peacewalker, and with that storyline fresh in my mind, it made sense to play this game.  OK. So the game starts at Guantanamo Bay - you're off to save the two kids from Peacewalker, and you're told to not to kill the soldiers on the base because they are our guys.  I had forgotten about this fact because I started the game in December, saved it just as I had begun the game, and completely forgot about the do-not-kill directive.  Thankfully the game didn't fail once I started taking them out.  After the game was over (and I was penalized for the deaths in terms of points), I was thinking that one thing that Snake needs in his arsenal are zip-ties.  You can knock people out, tie them up, and leave them in some dark corner safe and alive.  If you knock them out they come about eventually and they are back in action.

Anyway, after being spotted at some point in the game I ended up going all berserker on  the remaining station personnel and completed the mission.  There was an interesting cinematic sequence where they take the kids back to the base from Peacewalker which is now under attack.  Some sick individual also saw it fit to place bombs inside one of the kids which made for a gruesome and totally needless death.  I suspect that Kojima is trying to stir emotions in his audience.  Anyway, I am looking forward to having the cinematic end so I can get into battle and.... ROLL CREDITS.  Wait...what??? credits???  Are you kidding me?  Yep...the game was only one stage!  #facepalm.  I am glad I didn't buy this at full retain because I would have been one pissed off consumer.  Granted the visuals are great, the one map of gitmo is great, the game feels immersive...but come on!  I've gotten used actually requiring many hours to complete.  This was more like a tease rather than a full-on game. 

A little detective work after the fact shows that creators are touting its re-playability, but for someone like me, who is more interested in story rather than all the hidden gems that you can discover on your second, third, or fourth run through, the re-playablity isn't that great.  Maybe once I get through other games I'll come back to it :p

For graphics and multimedia, as well as controls, the game is great:  9/10
The brief story we had in the game: 9/10
Story length: 4/10

Achievements earned: 2/15 (13%)...

Hopefully the upcoming MGS V: Phantom Pain will not be a disappointment
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