Category Archives: Digital Playground

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Fallout Journal, Day 1

Introduction

After the release of the show, I wanted to celebrate the Fallout series for a week. Then, I realized that June was perfect for an entire month’s worth of Fallout. With that plan on paper, I worked to flesh it out more. As recently as two days ago, I came up with the idea to format this as a journal. Then, yesterday, I played through the introduction of the first Fallout game to write the Fallout Journal, Day 1.

War. War never changes.

What Makes Me SPECIAL?

Note: If you never played the Fallout games, they organized character stats into the acronym, SPECIAL. In the interest of time, I consulted a walkthrough for the game.

Strength: 5

Perception: 8

Endurance: 6

Charisma: 6

Intelligence: 8

Agility: 7

Luck: 7

Fallout Journal, Day 1

5 December 2161: The overseer came to see me today. He says that the control chip in the water purifier is faulty. We only have 4 or 5 months until we run out of clean water. He tells me that I am quite possibly the only hope for the Vault. They are sending me out to find another chip and save my fellow dwellers. He suggests Vault 15 as a first stop.

They lead me to the entrance. Only the vault door stands between me and whatever horrors await me on the surface. I check my supplies. 4 Stimpaks, a pistol, some ammunition, and a knife. Red lights flash all around me as a horn sounds. The gears of the vault door grind. It shifts backwards and then an arm attaches to pull it to the side.

I’m out.

But still in. They dug the entrance into a cave. After my eyes adjust, I see a skeleton. The poor guy left behind a knife and some more ammo. Well, he’s not going to need it anymore. Even with the extra ammo, I decide to conserve and pull out my knife in case of attack.

That attack comes quickly! And from all sides! Rats all around me bite and claw. With my trusty knife, though, I am become death. Destroyer of Rats. In a particularly harrowing battle, the little bastard darts all over the place, making it almost impossible to hit him. I finally kill him but not before he injures me quite severely. I conserved ammo, but now I need to use a Stimpak.

Into the Wasteland

After my epic battles with the rats, I figure it’s a good idea to take a rest before stumbling out into the Wasteland. I pause at the mouth of the cave, set up a make shift bed from the roo skeleton there, and lay down for a well deserved nap. Luckily, the rat families don’t come to avenge their dead. I both anticipate and dread what the Wasteland has in store for me.

To be continued….

The Verdict

I actually played through the rat cave twice because I never saved my first game and ended up getting killed by a pack of moles. Thankfully, I learned from that mistake and saved the second time around. That way, when I pick up the game again, I can start from the mouth of the cave. Stay tuned for more of my adventures in Fallout.

Since I’m playing a 25 year old game, I decided to use a blast from the past for my walkthrough.

Marvel SNAP June 2024: The Celestials’ Finest

Introduction

A week of comic reviews usually means a new Marvel SNAP season. And this week is no different. After last month, a month that saw me briefly try to get to level 40 for a title reward, I again fell into my habit of simply finishing daily and weekly quests for the season pass rewards. I don’t see anything changing for Marvel SNAP June 2024.

New Locations

Both of these locations look annoying. I absolutely hate random locations because they always seem to work against me. I build up a lead and then it turns into the bullshit one that destroys all the cards if you have more than one card or the one that ends the game after turn 4 when I have only 5+ drops in my hand. The Ark seems more easily played around because the effect is consistent. Just build up a lead in the other two locations and win. However, I think we might see an increase in Trib decks as a result. Ugh.

New Characters

Arishem

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At the start of the game, +1 Max Energy. Shuffle 12 random cards into your deck.

On first glance, I thought, “I don’t think I want to play any of these cards unless I need to finish a quest.” Then, as I put together the gallery, I softened my stance some. I still don’t see a point in Makkari other than a free card if you draw it. Arishem looks fun just for the chaos factor. Phastos might see play in my Evolutionary deck because I like the possibility of less cost in that deck. Thena works in my ones deck, and Gilgamesh and Sersi might just be good. Both of them could see play in a few of my decks.

The Verdict

I never grew up as a fan of The Eternals. I never watched the movie and not because I heard it was bad. I’ve watched nearly everything Marvel, bad or not. I just don’t have the same connection to them as some of the other heroes. But, Marvel SNAP June 2024 at least gives me some fun cards to associate if I ever watch the move.

Images SNAPped from Marvel SNAP Zone.

Mario Top 10: 5 to 1

Introduction

As I wrote in the previous two articles, the end of school kicked my ass this year. It probably did last year, too. But, this year is fresh in my mind, so the ass kicking feels fresher. That means that any videos related to Mario in May come next month. But, I wanted to keep the page active, I present Mario Top 10: 5 to 1. What’s going to be number one? Actually, you may be surprised by number 3.

5 – Super Mario Galaxy (Wii)

Lest you think from my low ranking of SMB2 that I shun them trying new things in the series, I present you with the first game in the top 5. This game took some big swings with what you can do in a 3D game and mostly hit. The main complaint is that the camera issues continue to plague the games, actually made worse by the high flying game play. But the fun of slingshotting Mario all over the galaxy more than makes up for that minor inconvenience.

4 – Super Mario 3 (First Played – SNES)

As we get closer to number one, it becomes more and more difficult to rank these games. I know number one, but the gap between 5 and 4 is greater than that between 4 and 2. Really, any ranking of these games is possible, depending on my mood on that particular day. This game topped my list for a few years until they took the game and improved it in every way. More on that in a bit.

3 – Super Mario Sunshine (Gamecube)

I told you that I’d zig when you think I might Zag. Unlike the other games up here, I never considered this one my favorite in the series. But, I like it more than Galaxy. I know that’s not an opinion shared by many. What can I say? I appreciate the wackiness of this game and look forward to a similar game or a return on the virtual console.

2 – Super Mario World (SNES)

This game took everything great about Super Mario Bros 3 and improved upon it. For the longest time, this game topped my list. Even now, I pick it up and play it to relive all of the fun that it brought me as a teenager who bought my first console with my own money. Never underestimate that feeling.

1 – Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)

This game blew me away in a way that no other did before or has since. They took everything great about Mario and moved it into the 3D gaming world seamlessly. Okay, not seamlessly. The camera was janky as hell and I missed Luigi. But, I still had a ridiculous amount of fun with this game and it’s the first one that I pursued a 100% completion.

The Verdict

That’s my Mario Top 10: 5 to 1. What do you think? What did I get wrong? Which games would you include instead? With over 40 years of games to choose from, you can’t go wrong with many of them. How many entertainment franchises can say that?

Mario Top 10: 10 to 6

Introduction

As mentioned in the previous article in the series, I recorded the game play for the first video. Then, things (as they do) got crazy. So, I decided to put off finishing the videos until next month when school ends. As a result, this article for Mario Top 10: 10 to 6 will have its companion video next month as well. For now, enjoy this trip through Mario history with me. This time, with the added bonus of ranking the games.

10 – Super Mario Bros. 2 (First Played SNES)

After playing the masterpiece that was Super Mario Bros., I expected great things from this one, too. Then I played the game and, dear Lord, what the hell was that? I understand changing game play to suit a new game. Also, I get trying to keep things new and fresh. But, this game was neither of those. This was simply a reskin of another game with the Mario name. And, for me, it just didn’t work. In retrospect, I don’t hate the game as much, but in any top list, this one will always be at the bottom.

9 – Super Mario Land (Game Boy)

Honestly, this game is no better or worse than Super Mario Bros. 2. I flip flopped a bit between the two of them. This game only gets the edge because of the nostalgia of playing Super Mario Bros on the original Game Boy. The graphics are terrible. The controls are abysmal. Yeah, this should have been number 10.

8 – Super Mario Bros. (First Played Arcade)

I threw many a quarter away in this machine when the Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter games were several players deep. Along with nearly everyone else, I died numerous times at that first Koopa. Eventually, I played it with tokens instead of quarters at the local Putt Putt arcade. I got a little bet better, but couldn’t get further than the 3rd or 4th level. Then, my parents got us an NES for Christmas and I played the game at home. It continued to surprise me into adulthood as I learned about the secret exits. Just a solid game overall.

7 – New Super Mario Bros (Wii)

This is the first game that my kids and I played together. The nostalgia of playing with my brothers combined with the new excitement of introducing the boys to the wonders of multiplayer Mario. Add to it all that the game allowed you to bounce off of your teammates and this offered hours of joy that I’d love to relive.

6 – Super Mario Wonder (Switch)

I got the chance to relive it some when Liam picked up Super Mario Wonder for the Switch. He and Quinn played through during Christmas break. One night, they invited me to play. But, I let them have their moment. Next time, we’ll have to play and get Aiden to play too.

The Verdict

Super Mario Top 10: 10 to 6 brings some old and some new. Join us next week for the top 5. Which game do you think will end up number one? If you know anything about me, it should be an easy answer.

Marvel SNAP May 2024: A Blink in Time

Introduction

I meant to post the Mario Honorable Mention article yesterday. I wanted the video to accompany the article. Then I thought I might post it today. However, with no time to narrate the video, I needed to make a decision, so I posted the article without the video. I plan to release the videos next month once school lets out and I have the time. The other plan this week was the comic articles. Smack dab in the middle of it I’m putting the Marvel SNAP May 2024 article.

New Locations

Other than Scarlet Witch, Magik or other characters who change the location, I don’t see the point of Cancun. On the other hand, Panoptichron works very well with quite a few strats in the game. I can see people having a lot of fun with that one.

New Characters

Blink

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On Reveal: Swap the last card you played with a higher-Cost card from your deck.

I played Blink to finish the weekend quest. I like the targeted abiilty and thin she’ll slot nicely into my On Reveal or Wong/Odin deck. When I watched a streamer unlock Nocturne, I said, “I don’t know if she’s good, but she looks like fun.” That more or less paid off as expected. Sage can give one hell of a payoff, Namora is another decent On Reveal and Sasquatch is going right in both my “Ones” deck and my Skaar deck. He’ll get played easily in both decks.

The Verdict

After two months of less than stellar updates, last month and Marvel SNAP May 2024 bring some fun back to the game. I gave up trying to collect the conquest variants and this one doesn’t excite me none, either. But, I like the rest of it and with Deadpool most likely coming in July, I don’t see myself giving up the game again any time soon.

Mario Top 10: Honorable Mention

Introduction

I finally recorded the game play and put together the video for my Mario Top 10 Honorable Mention. I still need to narrate and post it, though. To be perfectly honest, none of the videos might be completed until after school ends next month. But, I wanted to keep to my promise of Mario in May. So, I wrote this article with the disclaimer that the video comes sometime next month.

Donkey Kong (1981)

I never played Donkey Kong in the arcade. As you all know, I’m an old guy who (mis?)spent his teenage years in an arcade and the movie theater and McDonalds across the hall at the Millcreek Mall. However, I played mostly fighting games at the time. Think Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter and, yes, even Primal Rage. Sometimes, when hanging out in the arcade after Putt Putt, I put a token into Pac-Man or Gauntlet. It wasn’t until recently, when I discovered the cabinet at The Quarters, a local barcade, that I picked up Donkey Kong. Now, every time we go, I try to surpass the high score.

Donkey Kong Jr. (1982)

On the other hand, I owned Donkey Kong Jr. for my Atari 2600. At some point, I must have played it on the NES, too. Because I remember the terrible Atari graphics. I also remember the much better NES graphics. In either case, I enjoyed the game much more than the original Donkey Kong. I still do. The added challenge of the different height platforms as well as climbing vines and moving targets made the game much more enjoyable in my opinion.

Mario Bros (1983)

Back when I tried to launch Mario in March last year, I wrote about my history with the Mario franchise. As part of that, I recorded some video of the early games in the series. One of those videos showed the Atari 2600 version of Mario Bros. Again, as an old man gamer, that’s when I got my start in video games. And, at the time, I was happy for the opportunity to play all of these arcade classics at home. Hell, even today, I own an emulated Atari 2600 system and purchsed Circus Convoy for it.

Mario vs. Donkey Kong

The only game released in the last two decades, I discovered this one working overnights. Before we got busted for napping on the job, they allowed us little perks for the inconvenience of having to stay awake. One of them was the ability to play our portable gaming systems. I bought an emulator cart for my GBA and loaded this game. The rest, as they say, is history. I love the puzzle game with the Mario game play. I nearly put it in the top 10 even though it’s not a traditional Mario game.

The Verdict

Each of these titles in the Mario Top 10 Honorable Mention holds a special place in my heart and represents a different era in my gaming life. Since I restricted myself to the more traditional type games in the actual top 10, I needed a place to show them off. Let me know if you have any others that you’d add.

Terraria Very First Impressions

Introduction

My Financial Algebra class works on a project where they design a “tiny house”. I actually assign it to a few different classes. But, this year, I gave it to them as a way to break the funk and try to get them inspired to do some work. Pleasantly surprising, but it worked. What does any of that have to do with my Terraria very first impressions?

Well, one of the “tricks” I use to hook them into the project is that i tell them they can build the floorplan in Minecraft if they want. One of my previous classes came up with idea. I loved it. And, so, I offer it as an option now. Even though they’re high school seniors, at least one group in every class gives me something really cool in Minecraft.

Well, last semester, one student asked, “Can we build it in Terraria instead?” I heard of Terraria but never played it. Nevertheless, I shrugged. “Can you build it in Terraria?” “Absolutely, he replied. “Neat. If you want to build it in Terraria, go for it.”

Noob’s Journey into Terraria

The student made the claim that Terraria is better than Minecraft. This statement intrigued me because I always thought of the game as a lesser 2 dimensional rip off of Minecraft. So I made a note to try the game on their recommendation. They strike me as someone who knows their video games.

Fast foward to a couple of weeks ago during April break. Inspired by a couple of holes in my daily posting schedule, I figured I could do something on Minecraft and Terreria. Then, I missed those deadlines, so the articles moved to this week. I again missed a Thursday deadline for Terraria. But, I played the game earlier today and finally feel prepared to bring you this article.

Okay, What’s the Big Deal Here?

I started the game . Walked a bit to the right. Then, walked a bit to the left. A zombie killed me. I respawned. Hammered away at some trees with an axe and got an acorn. But, the tree didn’t break and I got no wood from it. Weird. I saw some ore underneath the ground, so I switched to my pickaxe to try to collect that.

I successfully figure out that you have to hover over the block that you wish to collect, and hold the left mouse button, then it works. I noobed it up and committed the cardinal sin of these games. I dug straight down. Then got stuck because I couldn’t see. Frustrated by my stupidity, I resorted to Googling, “Stuck underground in Terraria”. The only results I received talked about the usual collection detection problems and not someone who dug straight down (without a torch, I’d later discover) and couldn’t find their way out because of the darkness of night.

Screenshot proof of my noobing it up.

I gotta say my Terraria very first impressions leave me a bit underwhelmed. I exited out of the game and restarted. It put me back at my spawn point. Since it was night, too, several zombies attacked me. I killed one in completely wild self defense and it dropped a torch. Aha! I can use the torches to dig my way out of the tunnel after mining the resources down there.

Let there be light

The Verdict

I played a few more minutes before exiting the game to come write this article. I also recorded a new episode for the Leaf Riders YouTube series and wrote some notes for Jurassic Park Episode 11. Oh, and a workout. Because of that Terraria very first impressions leave me somewhat humbled. I absolutely sold it short by calling it lesser than Minecraft. Also, I wouldn’t strictly call it a rip off even if there are similarities. As has been proven over the years, a space exists for both games.

Minecraft Update April 2024

Introduction

What comes with this Minecraft update April 2024? Good question. I wrote Minecraft in my calendar for last week when we were on April break from school. I usually get inspired to pick up Minecraft again during the school holidays. Well, inspired by my decision to write the game into my gaming calendar, I started a new world.

Uninspired because none of my kids joined me this time, I piddled around in that world for about a half an hour or so and then turned off the computer to paint my models. So, even though I last touched the game over Christmas vacation (? Maybe?), I honestly don’t have much of an update to bring you this time around. Nevertheless, I committed to this page and updates regularly, so let’s see what happens.

The New World

The spawn point dropped me in the middle of the tundra, as you can see from the picture above. I found some trees and a place to build my mountain cave abode that I always build in my worlds. The one thing that I wasn’t sure about was food. I actually Googled “Minecraft food in tundra.” It told me something about rabbits. Ever since playing with Quinn and his refusal to kill rabbits because of his pets, I too won’t kill rabbits for any reason.

When discussing my recent rediscovery of the game with the boys, Aiden came up with a great idea. I said to him, “I started playing MInecraft again. This spawn put me in the tundra.” He replied, “I hate those spawns.” I said, “This one isn’t too bad. The only thing I’m having trouble with is food.” He said, simply, “Fishing.”

And the light bulb went off. Fishing.

The Verdict

Okay, so not much to this Minecraft update April 2024. But, I think I might have finally delivered what I promised. I hope to bring some more about this game and world over the next couple of months. Stay tuned to see what I come up with.

Hearthstone Update April 2024

Introduction

In yesterday’s update, I gave all the things I liked (and a few I dislike) about Magic the Gathering Arena. I planned to do Hearthstone today. From previous articles, you may expect the list of dislikes to be much longer than the list of likes. However, as I mentioned a few times before, age made me both more understanding and less patient. I can’t explain it, kids. As a result, I came to a place of understanding and even joy with the game as of this Hearthstone Update April 2024.

Events

Hearthstone events happen much more infrequently than Arena. Certainly, unless you count the Tavern Brawl, we don’t get them every week. However, when run, I enjoy them. Blizzard also makes them easy to complete and they give good rewards. Similar to Arena, you receive packs and hero portraits mostly and sometimes card backs.

The most recent event for the release of Whizbang’s Workshop set.

If the rewards this time look paltry, I agree. I think they went lighter this time around because they recently ran an event for Hearthstone’s 10 year anniversary. That one gave many more and much better rewards. Still, how can you complain about free packs and a hero portrait?

Really? 10 Years?

Man, I am getting good at these transitions between sections. And, it only took 10 years. No, that title isn’t meant to remind you that 2 Generations gaming debuted almost 10 years ago. Instead, I refer to the Hearthstone 10 year anniversary mentioned above. If you asked me 10 years ago, I never imagined still talking about this game on this page 10 years later. Sure, the game might last that long. However, when it first released, Chris and I shared a mutual hatred of the game.

Because he sticks to his guns much better than I, he eventually left the game and never came back. I quit and uninstalled more times than I can count. Yet, here I am. 10 years later and still talking about the game I once loved to hate. Hell, I wrote an article a few weeks ago possibly eulogizing the game. Then, they promptly came out with the plan for the new Hearthstone year and here we are. Congratulations, Hearthstone, I guess we’re stuck together until the bitter end.

Other Modes

Instead of talking about the other freebies, which are similar to Arena, I want to mention the other modes that Hearthstone offers. Some of them died after being left on the vine to rot. Obviously, I’m looking at Duels and Mercenaries, of course. I just started playing Mercenaries regularly when they finally decided to pull the plug. Yes, poor timing on my part, but it still stings.

Mercenaries, we hardly knew ye.

Then, only the old stalwarts remain. Tavern Brawl, which gets a bump every time they run the whale backed event, the Brawliseum. Arena used to be the cash cow and everyone streamed it, but then they released Battlegrounds. I wrote an article about it and the time and said that I’d probably only play that mode. For a while, that was true. Then, I completed the rewards track for the mode and now I just play to finish quests.

Rewards Tracks

If I’m being honest (and why wouldn’t I?), I only play for the rewards at this point. As I just mentioned, they give rewards for Battlegrounds. They also offer a rewards track for the main game mode every time they release a new set. No video this time because I played on my Smurf account this morning. But, the screenshots give a general idea.

Overall

Overall, as of the Hearthstone Update April 2024, I found peace with the game. I play to finish quests and to get free (and slightly more than free) rewards on the rewards tracks. I celebrate lasting longer than the ill fated attempt at eSports and look forward to see what the next ten years brings. Raise a glass in the tavern, fellow gamers, and toast with me.

MTGA Update April 2024

Introduction

I wrote Chris a couple of months ago to tell him that I might be done collecting Magic: the Gathering cards. He, Jason, and I played a few times as a three person play group. However, the last coupel of times we tried to get together, we found out just how busy adult life still is, even when you have grown up kids. I imagine that blew up the group because the group chat went eerily silent after the most recent attempt. I feel bad because I enjoyed the times playing with them. it even inspired me to think about trying to find another group to join. Instead, as usual, I played digital Magic against faceless opponents. Can I tell you how much fun that is? Let me with this MTGA Update April 2024

Events

One of the things I give Wizards credit for is the number of events that they run. Every week, we get a Midweek Magic event that costs nothing and gives you 3 free cosmetics if you win three matches. Aside from that, they also put on a special event (again for free) when each set is released. Usually, it comes with already constructed decks, so you just pick your favorite combination of colors and get to the games. These events also give cosmetics. Often it’s five and they are card styles of the new cards.

For the competitive player, there are Open events that allow you to try to win a spot in one of the Pro Tour events. I’ve never entered into one of them, but found myself thinking about it more than once. I have a pretty fun Timeless deck that I might give a shot if they ever use that format.

Other Freebies

Again, upon the release of each new set, they mail you 3 packs from that set. They used to use codes for them, but now they just automatically show up in your inbox to be retrieved. Speaking of codes, they used them in a more creative manner for the Murders at Markov Manor set. There are six clues that you have to solve to receive experience on the rewards track and a card style for the card that the clue describes.

Rewards Track

Speaking of the rewards track (how about these seques in this article, amirite?), I still paid the money for all of the rewards. For 15 bucks, you get access to all of the rewards in the video below. There’s card packs, card styles, little gems for more card styles and sleeves, gold, and sometimes gems. I know they’re all digital, but I feel like it is well worth my money for what they give.

Ranked Ladder

I rarely take any type of ladder seriously in these games. However, Arena makes the prospect slightly more appealing. They give away packs for reaching certain levels. Even so, I usually just play my elf deck when I have a quest for green cards or creatures, so I never make it beyond gold rank. It just gets tiring playing agianst the same stupid lifesteal cards every game.

Overall

In general, I enjoy my time in the game. I still wish I played against real people more often because playing against some nameless avatar who seems like he always draws the best cards against my mana flood or screw leaves me swearing and wishing even harder that I could flip the table on them. Other than that, though, I recommend the game as of this MTGA Update April 2024.