Having had two weeks off due to a work injury, I’ve had plenty of time to work on my various grad school applications. Of course, I squandered that time horribly. Here’s a list of things I’ve done and am doing.
Watched Dawn of the Dead
I hadn’t seen Dawn of the Dead until a little while ago. Now I have. Solid film. There ya go.
Sherlock is a recent BBC take on the classic with it taking place in modern-day London. Holmes is a semi-professional police consultant who has an eye for detail and an obsession with text messaging and Watson is a vet of Afghanistan with a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder. As a whole, it’s a great show. While I’ve yet to see subsequent episodes in the first series, the first episode was great.
There is one thing I found very interesting, and that is the use of text messaging itself. Sherlock is SMS obsessed, it seems, so texts are flying around all over the place. Typically when that happens in a show, either the character reads the message out loud or the camera zooms to the phone so we can read the message. Instead, in Sherlock, the messages appear on screen, as below:
I think it is a cool way to address the problem of texts on a screen (in that if you have a button-mashing protagonist there is going to be a ton of texts being sent, and you can only pan to someone’s iPhone so many times before it gets old). It is a little distracting, but there is something cool and, I dunno, video-gamey about having messages pop up like that. At the very least, it’s creative.
Watching The Walking Dead
I’m just going to say it: The Walking Dead is a pretty mediocre T.V. show. There isn’t a single character to care about, the acting is awful, the pacing is pretty bad, and the series plot is incomprehensible and/or stupid. The zombies look good, which is great if you just like zombies, but here’s something else: zombies suck. Of all the paranormal undead creatures that walk the earth, zombies have to be the absolute lamest. They aren’t scary, can’t think, and all they do is eat. If I wanted to watch people that were dead inside gorge themselves, I’d head to a buffet, thanks. With it on a break, I am currently evaluating whether or not I want to keep on watching.
It’s still on the air for a little while before its much ballyhooed hiatus, and it’s still, well, good. The thing with Community though is that it is so hit-or-miss. Some episodes are hilarious, others are just stupid. Granted, they seem to be more hit than miss, which is great. In the show’s defense, it has to have one of the most likable casts in awhile and is certainly one of the most unique television shows to hit airwaves in awhile.
Not watching Whitney
I have never seen an episode of Whitney. I only know that it is staying on the air during the mid-season and Community is being dropped. A lot of people have been lambasting Whitney and blaming it on Community not continuing to air because of NBC dropped Whitney, which is allegedly awful, Community could air. However, Community is being swapped out for 30 Rock, which has not been funny in years, so maybe the blame should be redirected?
Enough said, right? Skyrim is awesome and has occupied so much of my time. Again, I’ve done next to nothing and left the main questline relatively untouched, and I’m alright with that.
I think my problem is this: I hate short videogames. I like tons of playtime and replay time. While I’ll probably replay through Skyrim (though probably not as in-depth as this time), part of me is always worried I won’t, or that I’ll miss something by not doing every single side-quest. Which is why whenever I play a RPG I end up doing just about all of the side-quests before touching the main quest. There ya go.
Playing Dungeons of Dredmor
“The dungeon is dark and musty. Somewhere, far off in the distance, the distinct sound of a Sickly Diggler scraping his drill hand against the wall can be heard; in the opposite direction, a Blobby is blobbing back and forth, it’s blobby underside making grotesque slapping noises as it bounces along. Descending from the stairs, torch in one hand, sword in the other, is Thuglor XXVI, the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of Thuglor I, the first adventurer to venture to these depths.”
I’ve been playing this game a ton and between my reckless playstyle and just bad-lcuk, I’ve made it to my 26th guy. It’s brutal but the game itself is amazing. I will keep on playing, as should you.
Not working on grad school applications
I’ve got a list, I’ve got references, I’ve got money saved up for applications, but I have yet to actually work on them. As the days pass I doubt I’ll be applying to any grad schools with a December deadline (most seem to have a Dec. 15 deadline if they have a December deadline at all) and instead to ones in January. I don’t have a good excuse with all this time off to have not gotten them done, which is a shame.
Working on a blog
If you recall from my Skyrim post, I enjoy difficult games. Merciless ones that make you cry and toss the controller aside not because of a fault in the design of the game, but due to your own (possibly vast) incompetence.
Enter Dungeons of Dredmor, the ridiculously fun, simplistic, and difficult game by Gaslamp Games. Currently a bonus prize if you buy the Humble Indie Bundle at above the average donation rate (currently $4.09), Dungeons of Dredmor is worth every penny (and probably more than 409 pennies).
Dungeons of Dredmor is a “roguelike” videogame. Roguelike videogames are characterised by randomization (think Diablo, Diablo II) which results in replayability, permanent death (think Baldur’s Gate, or hardcore mode in Diablo II), and, in some instances, turn-based movement. Due to their deadly nature, roguelike games are difficult but (designed to be) fun. Whereas in some RPGs where you can spend an hour just making your character, your DoD guy is ready to go in just a few short minutes. Coupled with the short character creation time is a short lifespan: don’t expect to last too long.
You basically dungeon crawl, and it is a ton of fun. It isn’t a cakewalk, though. It wasn’t until I had my seventh guy that I was able to last longer than twenty minutes (I’m reckless, whatever — it took twenty minutes to get through seven guys, anyway), a guy appropriately named Thuglor VII. The character creation process is simple enough: you pick seven skills and that guides your character progression. Kill dudes and smash things heroically to get experience points. Level up, get tougher, fight tougher guys. If you overreach or open a room filled with monsters because the game hates you and wants you to die, expect to make another character (unless you’re some wuss who turned off permadeath). The game is tile and turn based, which means that walking “one square”, opening a chest, drinking a potion, or swinging a sword all take up one turn. In that time your enemies get a turn, too, which they may spend chasing you or running away or attacking you.
A nice touch is the pure hilarity of the game; almost every item or monster has a joke concealed in it (including a spot of fungus on a wall that had me laugh on the mouseover when it revealed that the pungent stench of mildew emanates from the wet dungeon walls). It’s hard not to laugh when a Sickly Diggler is clawing you apart, you hit the ground dead and are met with the message “Congratulations! You have died.”
What I love the most though is the pure simplicity of the game which is itself pure brilliance. You pick seven skills and that’s it — those define your character. There are no restrictions on the abilities you can pick, so even shifting one skill here or there can drastically affect your character. It’s not a class based system but a skill based system, which is awesome. You can play this game with just a mouse, if you really wanted to (though I feel weird playing computer games and not using WASD). Shift-click lets you pick up things right to your inventory (very handy), while rightclicking an ability or item (like a crossbow bolt, hint) allows you to use it. Clicking, as you might expect, makes you attack. My only gripe with the game has to do with its simplicity, however: the graphics. While I think the graphics do a good enough job of depicting what’s going on, your character image remains static and most abilities and spells look just austere at best. On the other hand, though, the game is insanely fun so you can easily look past the graphics.
Dungeons of Dredmore is a tough, but very rewarding game. You need to think on your feet and act carefully if you want to make it through (or you can dumb down the difficulty or even just turn off permadeath). To be perfectly honest, I’ve only scratched the surface of the game (making a rogue-like character…) and haven’t even bothered with the dozens of other options. I’m going to do that now, instead of playing Skyrim.
I read LW’s review over at Transylvanilla after I picked up the Humble Indie Bundle. It’s very good and worth a read as well.