All posts by Pike

“Comfort Games”

Ever had a “comfort food”? Something that you know will cheer you up when you’re feeling down? I have one. Ice cream. I LOVE ice cream. Actually, it really doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, I’ll eat it. So I suppose that sort of defeats the purpose of my intro. But!

I was thinking the other day and realized that I have such a thing as “comfort games”, which I tend to play more at certain points of my life than others. Let me give you a good example of what I mean:

Harvest Moon.

AKA the world's most addicting waifu simulator!

I love the Harvest Moon games and I’ve played them a lot through my life, but I can guarantee that I’ve played them most when I’m sick and stuck in bed. There’s something just relaxing enough about it, but still just addictive enough, that it can distract me from all but the worst sicknesses and keep me well occupied and entertained, without having to do too much heavy thinking.

Here’s another game that I frequently turn to when I’m sick:

SimCity DS.

Except I always pick the robot advisor. ALWAYS.

Like Harvest Moon, SimCity DS manages to offer juuuusst enough complexity to keep myself distracted from the disturbingly large pile of tissues beside my bed without stressing me out due to having to worry about a limited number of lives or an excruciatingly high difficulty level. As such, it falls nicely into the category of being one of my comfort games.

So those are the games I lean toward when I’m sick. What about when I’m feeling particularly scared or uneasy about something? Well, for a long time, that was when the RPGs and adventure games come out. The classics, usually. There’s something about stepping into the shoes of a stereotypically heroic character that can chase away fears. I’ve told stories before of the way Ocarina of Time and Final Fantasies IV and VI all did wonders for me when I was having a tough time. It’s completely true, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Lately if I’m not feeling too optimistic about things, I’ll multiplayer something with a friend. Nothing like going on some sort of genocidal rampage in game to cheer you up, right? (Come on, admit it. You’ve done the same thing.)

Oh, and long car rides where I’m not driving?

There is one thing and one thing alone for those:

You know it.

So what about you guys? I can’t be the only one out there with “comfort games” that I always go back to!

Top Five Things I Say When Playing Hearts of Iron 2

Top Five Things Pike Says When Playing Hearts of Iron 2:

1. “I need more tanks.”

2. “I need more tanks.”


4. “Heisenberg/Zuse/Von Braun/[insert other historical boyfriend here], you beautiful man. <3" 5. "YOU MAD, POLAND? YOU CROSS? WHY SO CROSS? AHAHAHAHA *maniacal laughter*" (You guys may think I'm exaggerating. I'm not. Mister Adequate can confirm this to you. This game, it... it does things to me.)

How I Mine For Fun? aka Why Minecraft Didn’t Do It For Me

In case you’ve been living under a rock all year, Minecraft is a game that was cooked up and released by a guy who calls himself Notch and has since spread like wildfire to all odd corners of the internet. The premise of the game can be summed up by two words: Build stuff.

Somehow, in spite of (or perhaps because of) this simplicity, the game has spawned a huge fan following and various jokes pertaining to aspects of the game have become as ubiquitous on many online communities as Portal jokes are.

The obsidian is a lie.

Frequently, I have people asking me if I’ve tried the game. Presumably this is because I’m a huge fan of building and creating things, and thus, the game should be right up my alley. Right?

Well, I’m not gonna lie, that logic is quite sound. So yes, I did try the game, some time back when it first burst onto the scene. Unfortunately, it didn’t grab me the way the hype had me ready to believe it would. There were, I believe, a few different reasons for this, but here were the big ones:

  • Nighttime.  Sitting around for ten minutes– not in-game minutes, but actual minutes– in the dark, doing nothing, waiting for the sun to come up, gets old quick.  Yes, I know you’re supposed to build a house and get torches and whatnot in advance.  But if you’re new to the game and don’t realize this, this is a big turnoff.
  • Blueprints.  From what I gather, Minecraft is largely supposed to be about discovery and figuring out what sort of tools you can build from your random blocks.  Unfortunately, there was really no sort of help or hints for this, and I found myself consulting an outside wiki every few minutes trying desperately to figure out how to make what I wanted to make.  Not to say I haven’t been-there,-done-that with other games, but it seemed rather over my head, considering I’d just started playing the game some five minutes earlier.
  • It’s basically virtual Legos.  Which is cool and all, but I could just, I dunno, play with some Legos or something.

So those three things, in roughly that order, are why I only played Minecraft about two or three times and then promptly quit being interested. They may have changed some of these things since then– I don’t know, I haven’t tried to play in months– but, in a nutshell, that was my experience.

Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the game was terrible or that you shouldn’t play it. Obviously, considering the game’s enormous fanbase, there is something that it offers to certain people. People who love building and sharing things in a virtual space and people who love those sort of sandbox style games will probably eat Minecraft up. And I’m not going to deny that I have seen some amazing pictures and videos of Minecraft creations on YouTube or image sharing sites. If the game works for you, then that’s great.

Ultimately, what the game offers on its most basic level– sheer freedom to create– is appealing to most everyone, and I can definitely appreciate that. But I suppose that some of us are looking for a little more interaction with our building games (spoiled by SimCity as we were), and I’m one of those people.

…or, if you’re Mister Adequate, you can just go play Dwarf Fortress. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

It’s Not You, WoW, It’s Me

As I’m sure most of you know, I hail from the vast and amazing World of Warcraft blogging community. I love this community and everything it entails and I’m proud I was able to share a corner of it with everyone for so long.

Likewise, I love World of Warcraft. I don’t even care if that makes me a cooped-up nerd with no life or whatever that makes me, I love it. (Besides, I already am a cooped-up nerd with no life, so).

I think Cataclysm did a lot of really great stuff. I love the zone revamps. I love the new Cataclysm zones. The few new instances I did were pretty great. I love that Blizzard is trying to take the best stuff from both Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King and weld them together into something great. How much they succeeded at this is up for debate, I’m sure, but the intentions are there and I appreciate it. As far as I’m concerned, WoW is in pretty good shape right now.

But I’m not playing.

You know, I’ve quit and returned and quit and returned to WoW so many times at this point that you’re probably getting sick of hearing about the details, so to make a long story short let’s just say that I really consider myself to have quit WoW back in early 2010. I’ve had stints since then where I’ve briefly returned to flirt with the game and in general be the very definition of casual, but I really haven’t done anything like I used to. I did play rather solidly for a few months late last year. But even that went something akin to this: Got Cataclysm, leveled to 85, glanced around, decided it was a job well done, and then logged out and pretty much didn’t log back in.

So I quit. Again.

A few weeks later, Mr. Adequate and I both re-subbed specifically to make tauren paladins and geek it up together. We had a blast. We ran around and smashed things with our hammers and we PvP’d and we did Shadowfang Keep (during which I fell in love with tanking) and we giggled over the Azshara quests and all in all we had a great time for about, oh, a week or so.

Then we quit again. And that’s where I’m at currently.

And you know, when I try to explain all of this, it’s really difficult to articulate how or why, exactly, I fell off that treadmill. There was a time when, if I wasn’t playing WoW, I was probably thinking about it or writing about it or reading about it. Obviously that isn’t the case anymore. Which is ironic, because these days I think the game is better now than it has ever really been before. But a certain spark is missing. And you know what? I don’t think that’s Blizzard’s fault. Rather, it’s mine. I had my fun, I changed, and I’ve largely moved on. Nothing wrong with that.

All around, I seem to see concerns and/or rumors that WoW is dying and people are leaving in droves and whatnot. Perhaps it’s because I still hang out with the WoW blogging community on Twitter, and most of these are people who grew up alongside me as a part of my blogging/WoW generation and many of us all sort of reaching the same stage. That’s my theory, anyway.

Or maybe I’m entirely wrong and WoW really is dying.

I don’t think so, though.

I’d like to think the game will still be there next time I suddenly get the urge to roll up a new character and level and explore and tame rare pets and play lowbie Arathi Basin just like I used to.

Because the details may have changed, but the spirit is still there, of this I’m sure. I know this because sometimes, even lately, even with how jaded I am over here on the porch with my rocker and my cane-waving and my “When I was your age we didn’t get mounts until level 40 and we had to run up and down Stranglethorn Vale for ten levels”– sometimes I catch a glimpse of that spirit, and then it reminds me why I dumped well over half a year into WoW playtime across all my characters.

Keep doing that, Blizzard. I’m sure I’ll be back. It’s not you. It’s me.

We’re still friends. Right?

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Civ

Believe it or not, I’d never played a Civilization game before Mister Adequate made me encouraged me to get the complete Civ IV pack during a Steam sale. I know, I know. How dare I call myself a strategy game fan, etc. The truth is, I’d always been more of an RTS kid, and I’d never had much chance to mess around on the turn-based side of things.

So it was that I installed Civ IV, booted it up, and promptly began flailing around because I had no idea what I was doing. It was all a very different experience to my typical playstyle in, say, an RTS game, which goes something akin to this:

  1. Get resources.
  2. Build an army while building tech buildings/researching on the side.
  3. Scout around, figure out where the other guy is, possibly send in a small team to distract him for a bit
  4. Build a bigger army
  5. Expand if needed
  6. Attack the other guy
  7. ???
  8. Profit!
  9. Game won in about 45 minutes or an hour.

Now superficially, Civilization follows the same exact pattern (excepting the whole “Game won in about 45 minutes” thing, but we’ll get to that in a moment).  The details, though, and the pacing especially, are very different.  And this really threw me for a loop.  You mean, I don’t tech through the buildings, but through an entirely different system?  You mean your buildings are all in one tile?  You mean your UNITS are all in one tile (or “stack”)?  You mean you can have a game where there is no war if you want?  You mean a three-hour-long game is considered short? And what’s this “Press ENTER to end turn” business?

There was something about it, though.  Something that made me blink a couple of times and then promptly start up a new game when Linux decided to pitch a fit and crash about a third of the way through the game.

And that same something made me start yet another game when it crashed yet again.

By the third or fourth crash it was getting on toward bedtime and I had to tear myself away from the computer because I knew I was just going to keep making new games and stay up all night if I didn’t stop.

Anyways, to make a long story slightly shorter, I spent most of the next day tweaking winecfg and getting it all working on Linux, and once I had done so, oh goodness, I was hooked. I can’t even explain why, there was just something so intriguing and compelling about it all. And not in some sort of carrot-on-a-stick way either. It was just FUN. It was the same compulsion that had me playing Starcraft for hours on end back in the day, or running my clan around the map in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance just so I could have random clan encounters. Gosh it was refreshing to feel that again.

Also: Historical boyfriends.

Another thing about Civ: You can play it as a newbie and do relatively well even if you have no idea what you’re doing, and then later when you DO learn what you’re doing you’ll wonder how on earth you survived earlier. Of course, this game is so deep that you’ll “learn what you’re doing” several dozen times before you really figure it out (if you ever do “really figure it out”). At this point I’ve stopped being surprised when I learn something new about the game rules or how it operates, and I just embrace it instead.

TL;DR I’m a newfound Civ Addict and I couldn’t be happier about it.

P.S. there is nothing funnier than teaming up with a friend and lobbing nukes around and then taking off to Alpha Centauri, leaving behind a scorched and barren world in your wake. *cackles*

P.P.S. We have the best music.

P.P.P.S. Accurate. Especially at 1:21.

Intro Post: Pike

So here I am. Blogging again. I’ve called myself a serial blogger before and it looks like this is still a fitting title. I am, it would appear, not quite myself if I’m not pounding furiously away on a keyboard somewhere, making sure the world can read my thoughts if they feel so inclined.

This blog came about mostly in a flash of inspiration that really should have come to my mind several years ago, but hey, no one ever said I was a logical person. Anyways, let me explain where I’m coming from here. My “blogging” career probably really started back when I was a wee tyke and filling up empty notebooks with my chickenscratch. I had diaries and journals at a young age, and going back and reading through them is always hilarious because they tend to focus on exactly how far I got in Super Mario World that day while foregoing any other details about, I dunno, school or whatnot.

This trend continued as I got older and eventually this culminated in Aspect of the Hare, my World of Warcraft blog that most of you readers probably initially got to know me through. Aspect of the Hare was originally a place for me to dump my thoughts where no one would have to read them. Of course, that plan backfired on me spectacularly and it wound up becoming a pretty big deal– much bigger than I ever would have expected. People were linking to me, WoW Insider was interviewing me, I had some thousand-odd subscribers at my peak, and it was a beautiful feeling knowing that I’d successfully managed to combine two of the things I love the most– video games and writing– into one exciting and neatly wrapped package. It was really a grand old time and I absolutely loved every minute of it. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and as my WoW playing began to wane, so, too, did my blogging.

Now I’m not me when I’m not writing, so obviously this was followed by Clockwork Hare, a “personal blog” of sorts where I could talk about whatever struck my fancy. Which is all fine and good, and I fully intend on maintaining that blog, but I’ve missed having a niche and a genre to talk about, which is what I had with Aspect of the Hare.

So then I was playing the vidya with a longtime friend and partner-in-crime, and I was thinking about it and I thought, you know what, Pike, why the HECK have you not started a video games blog yet? And why the HECK aren’t you writing it with your friend?

Enter The Android’s Closet, where a couple of dorks who wish they were mechanical talk about games. We hope you’ll enjoy the ride.

And about me, personally? Well, I imagine a good deal of you already know of me from my previous blogs, but if not, here’s the rundown: I’m Pike. I like goggles and pocket watches and history and ice cream and playing copious amounts of video games, and I have been doing the latter since I could hold a joystick and figured out that I could make Pac-Man and Dig-Dug move on the screen of our Commodore 64. Strategy and tactics based genres are my favorites, but in the end I’ll play anything. And then write about it. And then write about it some more.

So let’s begin, shall we?