Monthly Archives: October 2018

Game review: Magic: The Gathering: Arena (beta for PC)

I actually planned to do a different review this week for Wizard of Legend, but despite feeling like I’ve played it for ages, Steam swears I’ve only been at it 13 hours. So I figure I’ll give it a bit more time before breaking out the gas and matches to burn it to the ground. On the other hand, only being ten hours into the free to play Magic: The Gathering: Arena (A name with way too many colons for my liking), I already know enough to tell you what you need to know about this game. Really, it’s Magic, but in a digital form. If you’ve played Magic anytime in its entire history, you already know what this means, and have already decided if you’re going to go in on this or not. This, then, is the review for the people who somehow missed out on the game for the last 20-some-odd years.

Before I get into it, I should cover some history explaining why I was originally hesitant to play this and explain why I was kind of right to be wary. I got into Magic: The Gathering at the ground floor with the first generation of cards thanks to my roommate Andy. Andy gave me the “first free hit” that pushed me to start buying booster packs, and after a few weeks of trying to make monster decks of ridiculous sizes, I began to instead create smaller 40 card decks comprised of one or two mana colors and with lots of land and low cost spells and creatures. While most of my friends used mega-decks with high cost cards, I could pull up an army while they were still laying out land to pay for their first summons, and I destroyed them most of the time unless I just had a really bad shuffle.

But I reached the point where I was spending all my free money on booster decks. No, I reached the point where food and bills got shuffled to the side to pay for more cards, and recognizing I had an obsession bordering on addiction, I quit the game and gave away all my cards. Five years later, a random co-worker asked if I played Magic, and I said I used to, but couldn’t afford it. So he gave me a deck to play with, and before you can say obsessive compulsive disorder, I was looking at dwindling finances and a binder full of duplicate cards again. So yeah, even in a digital form, I worried that this game might once again bring out the worst in me. To a smaller extent, I can already feel that tug to spend some real cash to get crystals so I can buy booster packs faster. In this way, Magic can be dangerous even if it’s loads of fun. Continue reading

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Book excerpt 4 from Wolf in the Headlights

Here we are with the fourth and final excerpt from Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), this time from chapter 47. I hope you’ve enjoyed these previews of the story, and that you’ll consider picking it up for some fun Halloween reading. In any case, now that this is done, I’ve got some paid editing work coming up soon, and then I’ll be getting to work on my next book release, which should be in December if I don’t get too lazy with the editing. But for now, here’s Alice involved in yet another bad day already in progress…
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Okay, I need to think and put together a plan. My apartment is off limits with the cops looking for me, and I don’t want to be seen in town looking like I tripped and fell in a swamp. If I’m dealing with a warlock, I’ll need help from friends better equipped to handle magic. So, that’s Peter, who’s probably at work right now. I can’t fathom a run to Matilda’s, and Sophia is out given that she’s in Philadelphia for an art exhibit. I’ll give her a call after I’ve got some clean clothes, though.

I call Mona’s cell phone first. After two rings, she picks up and says, “Alice?”

“Mona, I need you to pack up a clean change of clothes for me, along with my pelt and my geode. If the cops show up before you leave and ask about me, tell them you don’t know where I am.” Continue reading


Game review: Mark of the Ninja Remastered for PS4

Mark of the Ninja dropped a newly remastered edition along with their debut on the Nintendo Switch, (a device I lusted after, but feel less attracted to now that the paid online features have been implemented) and I had vague memories of not liking it. But, my reason then for not liking it was the sales pitch that you could do a fully pacifist run and even get rewarded for it. But in reality, it’s only possible to do said pacifist run in New Game+, and so much of my review on that older version was griping about what I saw as a bait and switch ad. So I thought, “I know I have to kill everything on the first run anyway, so why not buy it again and see it through to the end?”

How does that old saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I’m a complete dumbass who got what I deserved. Because of that, I shall temper my temper and avoid my usual rage filled f-bombing. I did it to myself, knowing what would happen. But I suffered through this, for you. In the words of Courage the Cowardly Dog: “The things I do for love!”

For those of you interested in only the hot take, that’s all folks! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time. Continue reading


Book excerpt 3 from Wolf in the Headlights

Welcome back to the sneak peekage into my newest novel, Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), and this time I’m posting short cuts from two chapters, 29 and 30. (Quite a jump ahead from the first two samples.) Neither of these are complete chapters, but they help show how Alice is having a bad night out while trying to help one of her newer packmates out of their shell.

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Half an hour passes in this sweltering crowd, and my throat soon feels dry and raw. I look for Mona and Jesse, and I find them not far away. Mona wears a huge grin despite being covered in a shiny layer of sweat.

Jasmine leans closer to shout. “She’s doing fine. How about we go and get a drink?”

I nod and shout, “Jesse!” He looks around. “We’re going to the bar!” Continue reading


My biggest problem with modern mobile games…

I got a Kindle Fire last year as part of my efforts to engage viewers on Twitch. The plan was, I’d have my tablet streaming the chat from my channel, so that way I could keep up with what folks were saying whether I was on the PC or my PS4. That plan didn’t work because the Android Twitch app was bugged and wouldn’t show people’s comments. So I’d finish a stream wondering why no one said anything, only to check the channel on my PC and see that folks did try to say hi, and since I didn’t respond, they didn’t bother saying anything else. (And on that note, for the love of God, Twitch fix your shit, PLEASE.)

But after moving to the country, where streaming isn’t possible, (seriously, on a bad day, even YouTube can hang if my husband and I dare to watch videos at the same time) I thought I’d use the tablet to play all the mobile games I’d been missing out on by owning a Windows Phone. (This is the last one. Microsoft gave up on their music service, the only reason I was loyal to them, so fuck them.)

Which leads me to the real meat of my gripe, which is a consistent problem I’ve seen is way too many mobile games. You might think I’m taking about microtransactions or “energy limits” to keep me from playing without sitting through a timer, but neither of those bug me. I don’t worry about microtransactions because I don’t have money to spare on random loot boxes with no guarantee of getting the item or character I want. The timers don’t bother me because I pretty much play solely in the bathroom, and right about the time the game is ready to hold my session hostage, I’m ready to shut it off and get back to work, or back to a game on my PC or console. (Granted, I’m old, so bathroom breaks can sometimes take a while to get everything moving out the back door. But I digress.)

No, the real problem for me is constant downloads. You see a game has a 100 MB install file, and you think that’s big. But then right after you install it, it’s got to download updates, and these can end up being around 300 MB or higher. No sweat, though, it’s all installed and patched so now…no, finish playing the tutorial level and here’s another 300 MB download. Five minutes into a game, it’s already nearing a gigabyte of space for a mobile game with static image cut scenes and “voice acting” like “Ah!” “Aargh!” and “Nani!?” Every time I load up the game, it has to download more, and more and more. No, even worse, I might play one level and instantly get another download, halting my session for several minutes. You thought loading screens on your console were bad because you had to stare at them for a minute? Try waiting ten minutes between levels, and then that one minute wait seems pretty mild in comparison. Continue reading


Book excerpt 2 from Wolf in the Headlights

Here’s the second excerpt from Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), this time from chapter 9. You may notice that instead of posting these one day after another, I’m posting them a week apart. I’m doing it this way to spread out the promotions a bit longer. If I do them in the same week, I’ve spent all my efforts too soon, and with the way social media streams run so fast, it’s practically an eye-blink before I’m off the social radar. So, new plan, yeah? One post a week and multiple promotions in the stream, hopefully leading to catching more peepers.

Aren’t these glimpses into indie marketing for social media so fascinating? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. So, let’s move on to the book excerpt…
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Monica is surrounded in her bed, with me and Jesse standing over one side, and her parents on the other. Pi and Josie are at the foot of the bed, and Evan is sitting in a chair across the room with Uncle John and Brandon standing on either side of him. Continue reading