Lost Lake Unfiltered IPA

Another Whistler brew popped up so we had to try it.  It’s another one of the big 650ml bottles.

I’m not generally a fan of IPA, because I’m not really a fan of hops.  I had even more trepidation when I read the label and it said “bold and hoppy”.  Nnngh… but it’s Whistler so I’ll try it.

The label proceeds to say “fruity notes of grapefruit” but what they clearly meant to say was “our best impression of unsweetened grapefruit juice”.  The beer even has a cloudy look that makes it seem like it could be grapefruit juice.  This works in my favour because I actually like grapefruit juice.  That said, it’s kind of meh.  If you like lots of hops it’s probably above average, but I continue to rate IPA low on my list.

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Life of Pi

I read this book ages ago when it first came out (oh my god, 12 years???) and really enjoyed it.  We just watched the movie and I think I enjoy it even more, now.  The movie doesn’t change things too significantly from the book, so this entry can apply to both.

The story is framed as a novelist (Yann Martel himself, I believe) interviewing Piscine, as he prepares to write a biography about him.  It follows a bit of a flashback format, recounting factoids like how Pi was named after a swimming pool, how he went through school with the nickname “pissing”, and how he tried to change that by changing his nickname to “pi”, after the mathematical symbol.
As amusing as it is, absolutely none of that really matters for the rest of the story.  For the amount of time he spends conversing with other humans in this book, he could have been left completely nameless and no one would notice.  I suspect there might be some sort of theme around the meaning of names, considering the name of the tiger, but it was buried deeply enough that I didn’t bother to dig for it.

The story further describes his father’s zoo and the animals within.  Falling on hard times, his family decides to ship all the animals to Canada and start a new life there with the profits from selling them.  Unfortunately, their ship sinks during a storm, and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat in the middle of nowhere.  With a bengal tiger on board.

I’m not even going to describe the rest.  It’s really something that should be experienced.

The first third or so of the book, before the voyage, spends a lot of time talking about various religions and Pi’s attempts to become a believer in all of them at once.  The movie discusses it as well, but spends less time with it.  The book spends a lot of time discussing how people react to that idea and attempt to force him to choose, while the movie really only throws one line at it when his father tells him he can’t worship all of the religions at once.
I fully admit to skimming this part of the book. When I finished the book, I felt that I had thoroughly enjoyed it and did not regret skimming the religious stuff, but I had always sort of assumed I missed some greater themes that would have popped out at the end.  When we sat down to watch the movie I thought to myself “Aha, maybe now I will see what I missed.”  After watching the movie, I still don’t feel like I missed anything at all, but the beauty of this story is that it is so dependent on the reader’s background.  What seems pointless to me will be the crux of the story to someone else, but things that seemed important to me will seem pointless to them.

Religious themes are important to the book, but a large part of the story is about personal interpretation.  I found wandering around the internet looking at different interpretations almost as entertaining as the story itself.  There are so many different – yet plausible – interpretations of the same story, and so obviously coloured by personal beliefs.  An agnostic will get a completely different ending from this story than someone with a strong faith, and yet all interpretations are “correct”.  There is no one true ending, and seeing people squabble over that is pretty interesting as well.  “What does it mean?!” they cry, and the answer is that it means what you think it means.  Literally.  Life of Pi is ambiguity done correctly.

Found Footage (Comparison)

I keep tripping over these things for some reason so I thought it might be fun to do a bit of a compare/contrast on some of the “found footage” style movies we’ve watched recently.

You’re probably aware of this, but “found footage” refers to a movie which is shot as though it was discovered on someone’s hand-held camera and then adapted for a wider audience.  It’s largely reviled as “shaky cam” because, as anyone who watches youtube videos knows, the average person with a hand-held camera absolutely sucks at keeping things in frame.  It’s a double edged sword because if you make it too shaky, people get nauseous or can’t tell what’s going on and it’s stupid.  If you make it too steady it’s pretty obvious it’s actually a movie camera mounted on special equipment, handled by professionals, which ruins the whole atmosphere of “oh shit they found this footage and the people in it are missing and no one knows what will happen!” which is kind of the point of it.  It’s usually resigned to cheap horror movies because of the premise and the ability to use the shakiness to obscure the scariest bits to good effect (assuming they use it to good effect, and not just “annoying as shit” effect, that is).

I was going to start with the worst movie first, but then I realized I couldn’t decide which one was the worst.  Conundrum.  Read more of this post

Red Dawn (2012)

I’m trying to think of how to review this in a way that isn’t just pages of laughing.  It’s tough.

It’s probably important to point out that I have not seen the original movie.  After watching this I DID go read a synopsis, and they actually butchered the premise less than I expected!  This kind of ridiculous premise made more sense in the ’80s, I guess.  I could tell just from reading the synopsis that the original was a better movie, ridiculousness and all.

North Korea has decided to invade Spokane because… reasons.  At least THAT part is reasonably realistic – no one knows what the fuck they’re doing or what their motivations are other than “rar we defeat America rar”.  The least realistic part is that they bother to occupy Spokane.

The movie opens by introducing us to Alpha Male who is a soldier fresh back from Iraq and he’s all badass and shit and is good at combat and hardened and whatever other descriptors you would like.  We establish his manliness with a bar scene and then there is a country-wide power outage (the radios still work to relay this news.  I guess it could be a satellite radio though) and he wakes up to soldiers parachuting into his residential street.
First of all: ahahahaha the CGI in this scene.  I don’t usually complain about shit like that but it felt like someone had taken an image of a single parachute, copy/pasted it 800 times, and placed it in a looping animation to make them appear to be moving.  Then had some planes flying in front of them (think about it.).  If I had more ambition I would attempt to recreate it in gif form.Second of all: It sure is important to send thousands of soldiers to secure this residential neighborhood in Spokane.  Good thing they have such deep reserves of trained military men that they can spare for this.  Also they have lots of vehicles and tanks that materialize on the ground in well placed blockades, despite not seeing any air drops of them or anything like that.  God damn they’re organized!  You’re probably just fucked, America.
[UPDATE] I noticed I’ve been getting a lot of search hits for search terms like “why are they using American vehicles in Red Dawn 2012”.  I was not nerdy enough to notice this about the movie, but I can still answer it for you: Because it’s not a very good movie.
Alternatively, they bought the vehicles from America and then never bothered to ship them back home before invading, which also explains why we never see them being air-dropped!  All problems now solved, the plot makes total sense now.  You’re welcome.[/UPDATE]

The residential invasion was slightly explained by them finding and seizing the Mayor, so you can suspend some disbelief and think ‘okay they were targetting the mayor’.  The mayor of… Spokane…

Alpha Male immediately springs into battle readiness mode and herds a group of mewling teenagers off to their cabin outside of town.  He does this by using the most amazing 1980’s truck ever which battering-rams its way through several military vehicles and smashes shit and kills people and gets shot and keeps on ticking, losing a mere headlight in the process.  They just don’t make them like they used to.  They later get this truck stuck in a mud puddle (despite having EIGHT FUCKING PEOPLE to push it) and abandon it and I will never forgive them.

The whole next part of the movie goes something like this:
Alpha Male takes control of the situation and uses his combat knowledge to guide everyone to safety and lead them in a resistance movement.
Subordinate Male rebels against Alpha Male and refuses to do what he says, placing the entire group at risk.
Alpha Male berates Subordinate Male for not listening and takes control again, using his combat knowledge to guide everyone to safety and lead them.
Subordinate Male rebels against Alpha Male and refuses to do what he says, placing the entire group at risk.
(rinse repeat)
(rinse repeat)
Subordinate Male vomits at thought of doing violence.  Alpha Male supports him during this difficult time in his life.
Alpha Male trains Subordinate Males in combat and they bond or something I don’t even know, I think they needed to fill some screen time.
Subordinate Males are now all hardened combat veterans.  Elapsed time: three days or so?  That’s enough time, right?  Sure it is.
Alpha Male gives inspiring speech about war and how when you’re invading somewhere it’s just a place, but this is our home.  Irony goes completely over his head.

Then the resistance part of the movie commences, where the ragtag group of teenagers manage to defeat the evil army (who, I will remind you, were able to invade and set up organized vehicle blockades before anyone managed to get out of bed in this town) with clever weapons like skateboards and holes in the ground.  The leader becomes angrier with them and the rest of the country is inspired by reports about them and apparently bothers to fight back as a result, because they certainly wouldn’t have that idea on their own.

Oh and don’t forget the scene where they find themselves in a Subway, demand they hand over all their bread (to which the employee says “What kind would you like?” and they list off the entire menu) and toppings, and then have a lovely scene where they talk about how good Subway is as they eat it.  I’m sure that endorsement was entirely sincere and no extra money changed hands at all.

See, I read the synopsis for the original and I see them getting a lot of help from outside sources at points.  They meet up with soldiers from other areas who are involved in their own struggles and who compare notes.  The war as a backdrop is fleshed out and it’s clear the country as a whole is struggling, but fighting.  Not in this movie.  They take the reins and inspire an entire country with a couple of pilfered explosives (I would also like to point out they stole these explosives by… walking uninhibited into a garage containing military vehicles and just taking them out of the back seat).  The invasion seems a bit better explained in the original, too.  In this movie it’s like “whoops they invaded and now they are here, let’s get em!”  Late in the movie they get a report on how the attack went down simultaneously in a number of areas, but that’s the extent of it.  No real plans revealed, no motivations, just “they wanted to attack so they dropped paratroopers and non-nuclear tactical strikes”.  Even the parts of the movie which are retained are badly done – like [spoilers – because you care] in the original, under threat of torture, one of the members is forced to swallow a tracking device and rejoin the group.  When he is discovered as having betrayed them, they turn on him.  In the remake?  The tracking device is sneakily injected into one of the members, and when it is discovered he bravely volunteers to abandon the group and lead the bad guys away.  I don’t think a single person actually makes a fucking mistake in this movie.  Even when things go wrong it wasn’t THEIR fault.  Does anyone even have a character flaw in this movie? Except for the prick at the beginning who betrays them and steals all their food and then runs off to join the leadership of the invading army in a bid to get ahead.  At least he had some decent motivations!  But they get revenge pretty early on, making his whole role in the movie last about 10 minutes of screen time with an unsatisfying arc.

And probably the most revealing is the difference between the endings.  In the original, it’s basically implied that the fight continues and the group’s efforts were not in vain, but it’s not exactly a happy fluffy “yay we win” ending.  In this movie… things go wrong so it’s not all sparkles and rainbows, but the end is all set up as a pumped up “we are inspired and KICKING ASS over here FUCK YOU INVADERS” with heavy overtones of success.  The same ironic speech about “when you invade, it’s just a place” is given, and it still goes over everyone’s head.

I just don’t get it.  Why are remakes always so much worse than the originals?  Updating special effects is one thing (and this movie didn’t even really do that well… I’m willing to bet lovingly crafted special effects from the ’80s were better than shitty CGI from today!) Why haven’t we figured out that trying to “improve” an original by altering its basic elements will likely destroy all the parts that made the original good?

Xenoblade: Second Impressions

First impressions can be found here.

I’ve been playing for about 30 hours now, which is to say I have completed two more areas!

My opinion is now: Holy shit if you have a Wii, buy this game.  If you don’t have a Wii, seriously consider buying a Wii and then buying this game.  If you have ever enjoyed a classic RPG (Final Fantasy, Xenogears/XenoSaga, Chrono Trigger…) you need to play this game.  It is everything that was ever good about those games.

My main complaint is still combat (and graphics.  Yes, yes we know.)  I’ve “gotten used” to the combat but I still feel proper turn based combat would be better in every way.  They’re trying to go for a more action-y combat style with positioning and shit, but you can only control one character and it’s easy to get lost in a more complicated battle, especially when you start throwing fucking status effects in there.  The NPCs are not good at controlling shit so you kinda have to set them up and then hope they do the right thing at the right time.

Probably the worst thing about combat, the most easily FIXED thing, is that when you fight Mechon, you need to use Shulk’s blade to buff everyone else so they can actually hit them.  This buff expires.  If you fight multiple groups, it seems to wipe all buffs as soon as combat ends, so the first thing you do upon engaging is buff everyone, even if you literally just buffed everyone. Often the buff expires before you are done the fight.  You can upgrade the buff by spending exp on it which makes it last longer, but even then, why have this arbitrary limitation?  There have been a few times where I got caught up trying to watch my positioning and didn’t notice either the icon disappearing, the constant stream of “1” damage numbers from my allies, or their constant whining about needing the power of the Monado (everyone yells repetitively in combat and I never listen to them anymore…) and it wasn’t until I realized our power meter wasn’t filling anymore (and/or we started losing…) that I figured out the buff had expired on me -.-.  It is so pointless and unnecessary to have to keep reapplying the buff…

The second worst thing is how much stuff there is to react to.  You need to position yourself, you need to apply debuffs in the correct order, you need to respond to debuffs on YOUR party with cures or counterbuffs, and then shulk will have visions about what is coming up next and you need to react pre-emptively to THOSE with buffs or heals.  And you also have to pay attention to your team mates to see if they need to focus on your target (there’s a whole extra set of team commands hidden under the right button…), if they need encouraging or warning or reviving, and once the party meter is filled you have to set off a combo attack, but make sure you’re targetting the right thing before you do it, and then decide which attacks should come in which order.  I feel like if this were turn based I would love it.  As a real-time system, I find it a bit overwhelming and I tend to go grind a bit just to make sure I’m over-levelled and don’t have to think too hard.

The third worst thing is if your character gets whacked, even if your teammates have some oomph left in them, it counts it as a party wipe.  This was especially infuriating when I was ONE HIT away from defeating a boss and he turned around and wouldn’t drop aggro on me.  I was like “It’s okay he’ll go down in this h…. NOOOO FUCK.”  And then I did it over again -.-

The GOOD thing about the combat – so far I don’t think there is a single thing in this game which actually punishes you.  Except possibly selling your items (turns out you need the random “junk” items a hell of a lot more than you need the cash, FYI.  Which makes having a limited inventory kind of a bitch… but it’s a pretty big inventory…) but that’s not really “punishing” so much as “why didn’t you fucking tell me and now I have to do it again GOD DAMN IT”.  Dying doesn’t cost anything – it just dumps you at the last landmark you were at, and you keep everything that was gained since.  At one point I charged headlong into a room of monsters and was involved in a fairly epic battle for the next several minutes, but eventually I was overcome.  Then I went back and tried luring them out and picking them off bit by bit and was fairly successful, until I got to the big guy at the end and he wiped the floor with me singlehandedly.  Turns out I wasn’t actually supposed to fight them at all and there was a sneakysneaky way of doing it, but I didn’t lose anything for trying.  In fact, I gained a level for killing off most of the room (twice) and all I lost was the time it took me to walk from the nearest landmark.  I had a bit of trouble with a boss that had a gimmick, too, because I charged him when I was a bit underlevelled for the encounter, so everyone kept getting their asses kicked before I got to the point where I could activate the ability that would advance the fight.  I died over and over and over again, but each time I gained some experience from the fight itself and eventually got to the point where I survived long enough to advance.  Inefficient grinding of levels, sure, but at least I wasn’t completely wasting my time trying it.

The story.  My first post was before I had really done much in the game.  I had met the major antagonists and seen what motivates our hero to get off his ass, and that was it.  I spent the rest of my time running around the colony collecting bugs for people.  Now I’ve gone a bit of the way along the story and I really want to know what happens next.  They’ve done a good job of making me care about these characters already, and I’ve still only scratched a tiny groove into the surface of this thing.  I’m horrified to report I’m even somewhat interested in unlocking the lame-ass “Heart to Heart” events and have been gifting items to party members to make them love me more.  I don’t think I’ve been this invested in character relationships since Chrono Trigger… maybe FFX.
[UPDATE] A quick amendment to say that the only thing that would make this game better would be a cannon to fire all of the Nopon into the stratosphere.  Melia is kind of a jerk too but I feel like her character has room to develop, at least.  Fucking Nopon really have nowhere to go but down…[/UPDATE]

The bad guys are a little cheesy so far.  I was all set to believe there was some sort of misunderstanding, but then they started talking and welp.  Turns out they’re just huge dicks.  Huge dicks with stereotypical UK accents.  Their motivations are extremely unclear at this point in the story, to the degree where it’s pretty much “They are evil so that is why they are dicks”.  I fully expect some reveals in the story later to show why they are dicks.  If there isn’t one it will actually be a pretty big knock on the writing… but I trust the writers so far.  And I’m avoiding the hell out of spoilers because I’m really enjoying the story.

Questing sort of unravelled itself as I got used to it… every area loads you up with tons of little “kill X of these” “collect X of those” quests, but you can just collect them and hope it happens at some point.  I don’t think I’ve ever had to actually seek out any of those things, they just sort of come as I play (but I spend a lot of time exploring to finish my collectables!).  Then occasionally you will come across a bigger quest which has more specific goals and better rewards.  This is when the ability to fast jump to any landmark you’ve seen starts to come in really handy.  I really love that the game is sort of “chill”, like “okay do whatever you want”.  There’s no consequence for dicking around, there’s no consequence for rushing forward (unless you get really underlevelled… but even then you get experience for failing, so…), there’s no consequence for jumping all over the map, there’s no consequence for skipping quests (most of them you can go back and do anyway.  There are a few points of no return that will cut off some quests, but there are SO MANY quests that even I am not compelled to do all of them…), there’s no consequence for just fucking trying something ridiculous to see what happens. I don’t even think there’s a consequence for not using certain party members – they still gain exp if they’re on the shelf. I guess they might not gain affinity though.  Not only are there no consequences for dying, but often there are achievements (which award exp) for dying in particularly horrible ways.  I even got an achievement for using the fast travel to move like two feet to the left (something about being lazy.  Hrrmph!).  It’s like the game is “Cool, you’re still playing.  Have a cookie!”

I’m currently on my way allllllll the way back to the starting area because I have a fuckload of gems I should try crafting, and I have a couple quests to return back there, and I have a couple items that are needed to rebuild the city that I think I can gather near there.  The main quest is sort of sitting there waiting for me but I’m just too busy right now dammit!

Pure

PurePure by Andrew Miller
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I am going to start this review with a very important and very relevant fact: I am not interested in history. I really don’t know why that is… I like reading about historical events! I understand the appeal of cataloging and learning from the past. But actually studying and analyzing history? ugghhhh.

So perhaps it is a mystery why I heard about this book and immediately wanted to read it. “Pure” is a story about the Les Innocents cemetery and is probably best described as a historical fiction. This cemetery actually existed, and actually became so full that corpses were packed so tightly that they could no longer properly decay. It stunk up the city and started spilling out through retaining walls into people’s basements, until it was finally dug up and moved elsewhere. It’s all true and the book incorporates all of it into its setting. The book even throws in some references to events which I suspect are true – although I didn’t do enough fact hunting to confirm – such as the discovery of an “incorruptible” body of a girl which was later placed under glass for viewing.

Those parts of the book I actually found quite interesting! Anytime the book started discussing and describing the cemetery I would perk up and dig in. The problem was the book didn’t seem to spend much time actually doing that.

The rest of the plot follows the engineer who is tasked with moving the cemetery. The problem with this is that I found him extremely boring.

Problem #1: Present tense. I hate present tense. Every time I come across it I think I hate it more. It’s so rare to find an author who can use it effectively. It makes even less sense to me to try to use it in this story. We naturally tell stories in past tense – our story telling abilities were honed by telling people about things that have already happened so it just makes sense to us to frame it that way. Present tense shakes things up by being all “woah this is happening RIGHT NOW and we are experiencing it together!” and adds an element of uncertainty about what will happen next. If the protagonist of the story is explaining what happened in the past, well, they probably survived the harrowing sequence they’re describing, right? (unless they’re a ghost I guess).
This story is set in 1785. There is not a single thing about it which is “present”. Furthermore, nothing terribly exciting actually happens. There are no death defying action sequences to “experience” and put you on the edge of your seat and make you wonder what will happen (although there are some close calls here and there, not a single one of them attempts to take advantage of the present tense…). The ending sequences come close to being action-packed, but they miss the mark too. If the intent was to “take me” to 1785, it failed, because the present tense led to so many awkward sentences that I had to trip over and parse. It was exhausting and I finally started skimming a bit just to get it over with.

Problem #2: Unnecessary details. To some degree this is warranted – when introducing the cemetery and the areas around it, there is a LOT of detail, and I suspect it is all accurate to history. The book doesn’t go full out “Unabridged Notre-Dame” and describe the dimensions of every god damn brick, and I suspect actual historians will be delighted by the detail, but it was a bit of a slog.
THOSE details I totally will tolerate, though. It’s historical fiction! The ones I /facepalmed over were the masturbation scenes. On multiple occasions a character will just break into masturbation and then whoops, interrupted by something! In one scene it just casually throws in “rubs herself a little between her legs” when describing getting ready for bed. I’m not a prude, I don’t mind sexual content, but it’s nice if there’s a reason for it to be there. There are enough rambling words in this book that throwing in descriptions of penises and random masturbatory actions feels over the top. The story does cover some romantic relationships, but if it was attempting to build up the characters in preparation for those later scenes, it failed to communicate it to me.

Problem #3: With all the detail that’s thrown around, the book constantly refers to a “Comte de S-.” There is no explanation for why the name is written like that. If I were into history maybe I would know, but a footnote with an explanation might have been nice.

Problem #4: The book feels like it’s not going anywhere. The story of the cemetery is interesting, but that was “already written”, so to speak. The stuff packed around the story of the cemetery feels like cheap filler with no real purpose. Again, if I were more interested in historical stuff I might be more impressed with the accuracy, or the portrayal of the people of the time, or something like that. As it is, I just found myself uninvested and uninterested in the characters. Which is too bad because I did actually find the setting interesting, so maybe it could have gotten me more interested in historical fiction. Oh well.

It really feels like this was a half-formed idea about a story revolving around the story of the cemetery, but it was never fully fleshed out. The story of the cemetery was interesting, but it’s inherently interesting, and it feels like the book relies on its interestingness to carry it. The rest of the book had some potential with the whole “People want the cemetery gone/People do not want the cemetery gone and become hostile to anyone trying to remove it” angle, but that’s not really designated as the focus of the book either. Instead, we spend a lot of time watching people masturbate and pine over prostitutes. Why.

View all my reviews

Innis and Gunn Irish Whiskey Cask Beer

The St Patty’s Day beer is popping up on the shelves and we decided to try this one tonight.  It’s a scottish beer, except it’s brewed in Irish whiskey casks so that qualifies it for St Patrick.  Innis and Gunn has all sorts of offerings at the local store but I’ve never been overly taken in by any of them.  They were all good, but nothing that made me rush back and buy more next time.

Holy shit this beer.  This is a dark beer.  It looks dark but then you drink it and it’s like “woah.  That’s some malt.”  The ingredients actually say “Contains barley malt.” and nothing else.  It doesn’t even list water and I actually believe it.  I’ve heard people refer to some dark beer as something you can “chew on” and this is thick and full enough that I understand where that saying comes from.  My husband compared it to Guinness, then said “actually it might be better than Guinness.”  They should be along shortly to beat the shit out of him.

Also it is 7.4% alcohol and doesn’t taste like shit!

There are signatures on the outside of the bottle, and a seal indicating that it won gold at the international beer challenge.  I am sort of regretting only picking up two bottles…

Powerplay Manager (sort of)

This isn’t so much a review of a game as it is a rant about the current status of certain things. I ended up tagging this both “I like it” AND “I don’t like it” because there are elements of both, I guess.

I’ve been playing “Powerplay Manager” which is a browser game where you manage a hockey team.  I started playing it because there are absolutely no worthwhile hockey manager games on the market right now, and the ones that ARE available via being propped up by the fan modding community (like Eastside Hockey Manager) all use current rosters of teams and players.  I’m keeping an eye on the Hockey manager game being produced by OOTP… but it looks like they’re going for the current roster deal, too, since they’re basically trying to make a modern Eastside Hockey Manager.  I’m not interested in simulating the NHL, I just wanted to play with fantasy teams and players where the “stars” are not based on real-life reputation.  I want to build my own unique team and play against opponents who are not modelled after existing teams, so that I can learn their strengths and weaknesses as I go, rather than try to figure it out based on real history.  It’s actually kind of amazing to me that there aren’t more fantasy sports games available which aren’t just trying to emulate reality.
I actually REALLY want ‘Football Manager’, except Hockey, not Football.  I wonder who I can send letters to in order to accomplish that…

Anyway, PPM is kind of cool in that every player and every team is either player controlled, or computer controlled waiting for a player to make an account and take over.  They’re not based on real teams or players at all, it’s all generated with RNG.  Half of your job as manager is to take your roster and tell them how to train and delegate the players into the best position for their stats.  Each player has a ‘quality’ rating which dictates how well they learn in each stat, and each position values certain stats over others.  At the same time, an offensive player with a higher defense stat will still contribute to preventing the other team from getting scoring chances, and stuff like “shooting” isn’t necessarily tied to any one position but will dictate whether your scoring chances actually turn into goals.  You set “tactics” for the team too which can take advantage of the way you’ve designed their stats – if your defense is high in offense as well, you can go for an aggressive approach, or if your offense is high in defense, go for a shutdown approach… and there are some other, more subtle options, as well.

The other half of your job is to upgrade your arena (making room for people to sit so they can come to your games, buy your shitty food and souvenirs, and give you $$$$$ to provide more capital to upgrade or hire players), upgrade your facilities (if you have better training facilities your players learn better… medical facilities for injuries… yadda yadda), and hiring and training staff to man those positions.  Periodically you have to review applications for new staff or players, and decide if you want to take them on or just reject their resume.

Of course, it’s a browser game.  Which means your team plays one hockey match every two days, and everything happens at pretty much a real-time pace.  I’ve been playing for over a year now, logging in once a day or so to check up on my game schedule, see if any players need to switch to training a different stat, and deciding if I have enough cash to start a new arena upgrade (upgrades take upwards of 45 real-time days to complete, usually).  It’s taken a year, and I’m still not anywhere near in contention for any sort of playoff position or even winning any sort of trophies, but my stars are actually starting to score goals, and my prospects are getting to the point where they’re starting to move into the line-up and bump out the low-quality losers I started with who just sort of take up space.  I kind of want a not-browser based version just so it doesn’t take over a year for my team to start winning a game every now and then; There is a certain appeal to being able to hit “next day” and have it immediately jump instead of literally waiting 24 hours.  Sadly there is no game like that which exists.

Which brings me to my next rant.  I’ve been playing this game for a year… and I’ve been reasonably enjoying it.  They (like most browser games) offer perks if you throw money at them.  In the case of this game, there are a couple “one off” purchases like designing a custom puck you can trade with teams, or customizing your arena, designing a goalie mask… lots of little neat cosmetic things.  There is also a Pro Pack which brings a lot of features, such as designing a jersey logo, assigning numbers to your players, automated training so they can train a number of stats at once without having to micromanage it, and access to a lot of in-depth stats which might help you decide how to train your players (on top of just being kind of interesting, if you’re into that sort of thing).  I thought to myself “It’s probably worth supporting them… let’s see how much a pro pack costs”.

The pack only lasts for a limited amount of time, and works out to about 15 bucks a week.  Seriously?  Seriously?
If you buy in bulk you get a huge discount, so you can buy a year for 50 bucks, but seriously?  I’ve been playing this game for a year but my actual playtime is only a couple of days worth.  Is it worth 50 bucks to get some nifty stats I can look at for 5 minutes a day?  Fuck no.  Especially not when it expires.  If it were a permanent account upgrade maybe, maybe I would consider it… but even then I would be thinking “eeennnghhh…”

Not quite as egregious as playing 65 fucking dollars for a mine in Mine Things, but the mines don’t fucking expire at least. (unless you rent them… and then you get two weeks for 7 bucks or so, instead of one for fifteen.)

Why do these companies feel the need to be so greedy?  I was perfectly willing to support them because I like the game they’ve set up, but the moneygrabbing is so disgusting that I’m not even sure I want to continue logging in.  According to the statistics screen, they have 4000-5000 people logged in at any point in time, so it’s not even really a question of volume.  Have we learned nothing from the age of Steam Sales, where games fly off the shelves and make a killing at 2.50 a pop simply because people are like “fuck it, it’s 2.50” even if they never bother to get around to installing the damn thing?  If it was a year of Pro Pack for 10 bucks I would probably talk myself into it, even with the expiry.  4000 people talking themselves into it is 40,000 dollars.  Is 1/4 of the current player base going to talk themselves into dropping 50 bucks on a year of pro pack?  It’s possible I suppose, but I can tell you I’ve seen maybe two opponents who weren’t on their introductory free week of pro who actually had a logo.  And if they weren’t so greedy with the pack fees I’d probably be more willing to design a puck for my team, or buy in to some of the other cosmetic fun stuff.  Instead, I continue to pay zero.  Which is actually more likely to be a negative number because of bandwidth costs (although I probably don’t use THAT much bandwidth logging in for 5 minutes a day, I guess).

Ugh it’s a shame.  I guess I should have expected it, though… I followed a link to one of their associated games once, which turned out to be a “Mafia-Wars-Esque” style game where you have X number of action points and you try to fill up the little bars and unlock the boss at the end of a stage, collecting money and items as you go.  Mindless and pointless, but progressing is kind of fun to do since it only takes a couple minutes each day, right?  Except every time you went to do an action it would pop up a window saying “Gosh if you gave us money this window would go away!  But since you haven’t given us any money you will be able to play in 3…… 2…… 1……”

Guess what game I’M not playing!