Monday, May 21, 2018

Monday Vlogging - Why Homeschooling?

Answering one of the most common questions I get when people find out that my wife and I homeschool our kids.

It's really not that weird.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Let's Play: Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance: Battle Three, Mission Seven

Remember Commander Kupalo? You rescued him along with a bunch of other Alliance prisoners captured on Hoth way back in Battle One, Mission Four. Well... It turns out that may have been a bit of a trap. Shocking news, right? So now we have to stop his shuttle, before he takes all the information we worked so very hard for on the last mission back to the Empire, along with the location of our fleet.

After the massive pain that was the last mission, this one is relatively straight forward. Kupalo will surrender his shuttle once you do enough damage to it, so be careful! Then it's just a matter of defending Storm Unit and AA-23 until they can jump back to the fleet.

Good luck!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Book Review: Daughters of the Night Sky

Daughters of the Night Sky by Aimie K. Runyan paints a tale of love, comradery, and inevitable loss, set against the backdrop of World War II on the Eastern Front. Based on the actual exploits of the Night Witches – Russia’s all female volunteer pilot squadrons – the book tells a story that few Westerners know much about.

One thing that Daughters of the Night Sky isn’t, is an aerial action thriller. To me, the air portions felt like the weakest parts of the book, serving mainly to move the plot of the characters along. Basic terminology mistakes, such as saying that German planes would “stall their engines” in trying to engage the Night Witches’ slow Polikarpov U-2 biplanes, take focus away from the story being told.
Combat isn’t the focus of the book, however, so I’ll leave my criticism of the author’s aviation errors at that. Instead, the focus is on the life of Katya Ivanova as she goes through the war, moving from initial navigator training through to the end of the war with the women of her squadron. Along the way we’re introduced to her comrades and squadron mates, and the man she falls in love with and marries.

In reality, the women of the 588th flew near constant night bombing missions. Often flying eight or nine sorties a night, their primary role was to harass the nearby German camps and degrade the effectiveness of the enemy soldiers. By the end of World War II, their squadron had flown over 23,000 missions. For this, a squadron comprising a total of 261 women suffered 32 fatalities and 28 destroyed aircraft.

Katya and her squadron mates must deal with much more than German bullets, however. Sexist officers at every level cause nearly as many problems for the squadron as the enemy. The challenges push Katya and the others to work even harder, and show they are better than the male squadrons.
In the book, the author carefully tiptoes around the reality that the Easter Front was essentially two of the most grotesque mass-murdering tyrants the world has ever seen throwing bodies at each other. None of the main or supporting cast women that we meet are especially enthusiastic Communists, and several have a secret or two revealed along the way. It’s an understandable author’s decision not to include any particularly patriotic defenders of Stalin’s regime in the book, but it does detract a bit from the historical realism. It’s difficult to believe that none of the women who volunteered for flight duty were hardline Party supporters.

If you’re looking for descriptions of dramatic dogfights, tense cat and mouse battles with German fighters, and dramatic bombing runs, this book is going to be a disappointment. However, as historical fiction, it’s excellent and well worth anyone’s time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Let's Play - Make Sail

Now in Steam Early Access, I did a preview for Make Sail a couple of months ago. A video does the game a lot more justice though, showing off some of the crazy creations that can be made, and really showing off the open world and loneliness feeling that the game inspires.

I really enjoyed my time with this game,and am looking forward to another playthrough when the developer gets the ending built.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Around the Web - Still Crushing The PAX East Content

Over at Marooners' Rock, we're still putting up a ton of awesome PAX East content. Here's a few of the cool things that you might have missed over the last couple of weeks:

Roarr! The Adventures of Rampage Rex Preview

Kaet Must Die Preview

State of Decay 2 Preview

Antigraviator Preview

Aimpad Interview - This is really a cool product interview!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Let's Play Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance Battle Three, Mission Six

Absolutely, unquestionably, the most difficult mission I've run up against in this game.

Here's the thing. (MISSION SPOILERS AHEAD) As the Liberty makes a beeline towards the enemy Interdictor, it comes directly into the line of fire of the Imperial Star Destroyer. That's a problem, and it's a problem that can only be solved by killing the Star Destroyer before the ISD kills your home carrier.

I really can't tell if this is a mission bug or poor design, or if it was intended to work like this. It's a solution that goes completely against all of the in-game guidance, which suggests, at least, that the mission wasn't intended to be like this. Because the solution was totally counterintuitive, it took me a lot longer to figure it out.