Random video game quote of the moment: "We don't see many people wearing pants around here." -- From "Secret of Evermore"
Recent developments in the more mundane side of my life:
- In between my trip to BayCon and a coworker's vacation, I haven't had an actual weekend away from work in literally a month. (BayCon was five days off, but it was a working vacation and doesn't really count.) I've been mostly spending my time either working or recharging. I finally have a few consecutive days off now, and plan to make the most of them.
Tomorrow morning I'm going to throw a bunch of stuff in the car and drive off. Where? To a local Forest Service office, to get directions to a nice backcountry campground. I figure a few miles' hike, settle in for the evening, do some stargazing and reconnecting, get up the next morning, and head home. It may be my only opportunity this season to go hiking, unless I do something similar on one of my subsequent weekends. And I'm virtually guaranteed privacy -- backcountry camping on a Monday night is one of those things only crazy people like myself do.
It's going to be kind of a seat-of-the-pants thing, but I've done much worse on short notice. Like throwing myself into a lake. So, absent any broken bones, it'll just be some nice, simple, enjoyable recreation.
- Among my other lovable quirks, I am a gamer geek. I like role-playing games. I have a tackle box full of dice and miniatures that I lug to games with me, and a small bag of emergency dice that goes everywhere I do.
But when I moved to California, I suddenly entered the wasteland. I live in a little rural community in the Sierra Nevada foothills called Penn Valley. It's eight miles to the nearest McDonald's, half an hour to the nearest Wal-Mart, and 45 minutes to the nearest place where you can buy a hamburger after midnight. (24-hour service? Forget it.) I say this only to illustrate the situation I find myself in -- fairly isolated (not counting the Internet).
This wouldn't matter any if my roommates were gamers -- I could just slip into one of the ongoing campaigns and get my U.S. RDA of hack. But no dice. We're strictly a computer gaming household here. I'm the only one with a jones for die-slinging. So I've tried to ignore the lack of role-playing and take refuge in my other areas of interest.
But what happens this week? One of the guys at work, who I see only occasionally because he works on the press and I work in editorial, wanders by my desk after hours. We'd talked a little before, and I'd complained about the lack of gaming, and it turns out he was a fellow geek, and he's getting a group together starting in July. So I may get my game on again soon. I look forward to it.
- Also, today, while everyone was out of the house visiting the nearest shopping mall, I grabbed Katsuei's copy of "Dance Dance Revolution" and the dance pad, and got my groove on in the living room. I wholeheartedly support the DDR idea (arcade games that encourage fitness and movement? Gasp!), and I love to play, but I've never really had the opportunity, outside occasional forays into arcades, where the games are $1 a pop.
The game basically allows you to set your own difficulty -- songs are rated from 1 to 9 feet (the more, the merrier). Roughly, 1 to 3 are for beginners, 4 to 6 are for amateurs, and 7 and up is strictly professional territory. Not because the game makes you do things that are physically impossible -- but because once you start going up in difficulty, the patterns you have to match are so brutal and come at you so quickly that you literally have to memorize the patterns in order to be able to get through the song at all. In other words, there's a sort of plateau you reach -- up to about 5 feet, you can get by on talent alone; above that, it takes specific training.
I discovered the wonders of Practice Mode today. I sat down with one of the game's hairier songs -- a six-foot deal called "Orion 78." It's got everything -- leaping back and forth between combos (where you have to step with both feet on different arrows at once); crazy syncopation; and four sections where the steps are packed so tightly together that you can't even read what you're supposed to be doing at full speed. The "Practice Mode" lets you play through with the song slowed down, can give you sound cues to when you should step, and lets you review your performance to see which steps give you the most trouble. Between those aids and half an hour of practice, I aced the song (scored an "A" rating) by the time the guys came home. (Before that, I had -- through sheer persistence -- managed to finish the song once or twice, albeit barely scraping by with a "D".) So now I can say that I can make a six-star song look good. I think that means I have to list Dance Dance Revolution on my resume now or something.