Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Backlog Burndown: Bio-Hazard Battle Level Seven

The Let's Play of Bio-Hazard Battle continues with Level Seven. After the change of pace of the previous level, this takes it right back to the same formula.



Read the full Backlog Burndown column on Marooner's Rock.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review - Without Precedent: Commando, Fighter Pilot, and the True Story of Australia's First Purple Heart

Due to my book backlog, it took me far longer to get to Owen Zupp’s most recent release than it should have. Zupp’s previous two aviation collections, Fifty Tales of Flight and Fifty More Tales of Flight were excellent, and I’d been looking forward to reading Without Precedent: Commando, Fighter Pilot, and the True Story of Australia's First Purple Heart since he’d announced it.


A departure from his previous books, Without Precedent is part biography, part war story, shaded in the memories, love, and respect of a man for his father.

We meet Phillip Zupp as a young boy, and follow his upbringing in the hardscrabble farm life he was born into, and share his wonder at his first airplane sighting in the 1920s. As World War II engulfs the whole of the globe, we see Phillip make one of the most fateful decisions of his life, joining the RAAF to train as a navigator before transferring to the army and ending up in Papua New Guinea as a commando before war’s end.
Post-war, Owen chronicles Phillip’s life through serving as part of the Australian Army contingent in Japan near Hiroshima,  his return home, and ultimately, the process that found him back in the Australian Air Force, receiving flight training and being deployed to Korea flying the Gloster Meteor Mk.8 during the Korean war.
It’s the Korean war segment that truly elevates this book. Owen’s look at his father’s activities is unflinching, while taking pains to show the mindset and viewpoint behind the actions. The combat descriptions here are vivid and action packed, putting the reader right into the cockpit with Phillip, close enough to nearly smell the cordite, kerosene, and spent rocket fuel from missions.

If there is a flaw to the book, it’s that I honestly wanted it to be longer. Owen’s chronicles of his father’s post war flying career, which involved additional military flying, airline jobs, and flight instruction before ultimately having a twenty year career flying for the NSW Air Ambulance service gets far less page time than I would have wished for. A couple of memorable recollected life flights in particular left me wanting to read more about this portion of Phillip’s career.

Much more than just an excellent aviation story (though it certainly is that), this is the kind of book that parents should hope their sons or daughters are inspired to write about them one day. We may not live lives with the variety and excitement that Phillip Zupp did, but we should all be inspired to live our lives with courage, making the most of our abilities, and seeking to set examples that will inspire and encourage our own children.

Disclosure note: I bought this book on my own, and all opinions are my own. Amazon links are affiliate links.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Backlog Burndown: Bio-Hazard Battle Level Six

The Let's Play of Bio-Hazard Battle continues with Level Six. This level breaks up the formula of the previous five levels, this one is essentially a giant, segmented boss fight. It's weird, but it kind of works. The biggest issue for me is that feels like the end boss level, but it's not.



Read the full Backlog Burndown column on Marooner's Rock.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Book Review - Atlas Shrugged

It’s one of the most regularly referenced books on both sides of the political spectrum. By the author’s own words, it’s the crowning embodiment of her moral and political philosophies. It’s been made into movies, and theoretically forms one of the cornerstones of modern Libertarian thought. But until this year, I’d never actually read Atlas Shrugged.

It’s amazing how relevant this book is to 2017, despite being written over fifty years ago. The central themes of individualism, achievement, and objective truth fly in stark contrast to modern relativist philosophy that allows for everyone “having their own truth.”

One of my big reasons for reading Atlas Shrugged in the first place was that I’ve seen it referenced so often in political debates, usually by people whom I suspect haven’t bothered to actually read the 1100+ page tome. Dismissed by people on the left as a story with a point of “If we aren’t nice to big businessmen, the world will fall apart” and honored on by people on the right as “That story where capitalism is good, and government is bad” the truth is far more complex.

Yes, there are businessmen (and one very notable businesswoman, the heroine of the story) who are good. There others who are bad or incompetent. There is less a focus on capitalism and far more a focus on empowering people to be their best, and showing the choking effect that regulations, crony capitalism, and leveling the playing field in the name of “fairness” has on the best and brightest.

All of this comes built around Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, the idea that there is objective truth, and that the truth cannot be negotiated, rationalized, or changed, just because some people wish it to be so. There is no room for “micro-aggressions”, “alternative facts”, or “individual truths” in Objectivist philosophy. Either a thing is, or it is not.

Unfortunately, Rand’s Objectivism runs hand-in-hand with Atheism. An omniscient, omnipresent God beyond mankind’s finite reasoning violates one of Rand’s Objectivism tenants, that everything can be known. Lesser, finite gods can also not exist, because we could comprehend the evidence of their existence, and there is none.

As a Christian, I can’t accept that. To me, the order of the universe itself requires a Divine hand. However, I would argue that an infinite God is consistent with the concepts of Objectivism, provided you can accept His existence in the first place. When that tenant is in place, then the observed, Objectivist world actually falls more into place for me.

This is a powerful book. It suffers in places from being painfully slow, and some of the philosophical portions run far longer than they ought, but it’s an important read. For anyone looking for the “why” in the collapse of certain segments of modern society, Atlas Shrugged offers answers. The truth may be painful, but it is true, challenging, and showing a way forward.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Backlog Burndown #13 - Ghost in the (Steam) Machine, now on Marooner's Rock

Time for another Backlog Burndown! This week, I take on the peculiar story of Gearcrack Arena, a "One year experiment" that spent time as the cheapest game on Steam, found its way into a bunch of bundles, and then was abruptly delisted.

Check it out today over at Marooner's Rock.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Backlog Burndown: Bio-Hazard Battle Level Five

The Let's Play of Bio-Hazard Battle continues with Level Five. The obligatory underwater level...



Read the full Backlog Burndown column on Marooner's Rock.

Monday, February 20, 2017

FitGamer Progress - Weight Training By the Book

Sometime around the start of the year, I decided it was finally time to put the weights and bench in my basement to proper use. It's been about ten years since the last time I did a weightlifting routine, and that attempt went off the rails after a few weeks because A. I don't like going to the gym, and B. I was in crunch for some game or another.

Ten years later though, I have all the equipment I need at home. Five weeks in, and things are going all right. Week 1 hurt a bit, but I'm starting to see a few gains, and am almost ready to move to the second basic routine.

I may never look like the guys in the bible of weightlifting, but I can follow a plan and have success over time.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Backlog Burndown: Bio-Hazard Battle Level Four

The Let's Play of Bio-Hazard Battle continues with Level Four. Things start getting a bit crazy here. I really sabotaged myself by saving with one life before the boss, which cost me a lot of time. Lesson learned, sometimes you just have to quit trying to salvage a bad situation, and go back to the start.



Read the full Backlog Burndown column on Marooner's Rock.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Movie Review - The Lego Batman Movie

Over the weekend, I took Thing #3 to see The Lego Batman Movie.

My review of it is now up over at Marooner's Rock

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture – © 2016 Warner Bros.
Entertainment Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Backlog Burndown #12 - Space! Harrier! on Marooner's Rock

"Space Harrier II was the 1989 console sequel to the 1985 3rd-person rail-shooter Space Harrier. Following the same formula of a jetpack equipped, gun toting superhuman taking on a series of enemies in a weird fantasy setting, SHII was also an early showcase for the musical capabilities of the SEGA Genesis."

Catch the rest on Marooner's Rock.

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Backlog Burndown: Bio-Hazard Battle Level Three

The Let's Play of Bio-Hazard Battle continues with Level Three. This is where things start getting tougher.



Read the full Backlog Burndown column on Marooner's Rock.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Broken Badger

The age brittle plastic parted unexpectedly. The snap that left me with a badge-holder in my hand but no string connecting it to the reel was far less of a shock than the realization of what it represented.

The old on top, with the new on the bottom.


It had about a year and a half since I changed industries, leaving behind the rains of Washington and the career I’d focused my teen years to obtain for the (hopefully) greater security of a financial industry job and a shorter commute in South Dakota. Still I’d kept one vestige of my time as a game developer: the hefty metal badge reel emblazoned with the neon green ‘X’ symbol of Xbox. I’d earned that badge in the hours I’d spent on Xbox Live, Kameo, and Forza; it stood out from the standard purple reels to which almost everyone else affixed their ID badges.

But winter cold and summer heat are not the friends of cheaply made plastics, and the inevitable finally happened: the connection holding the reel and string to the badge holder finally snapped. When it went, it did so in the most irrevocable way possible, leaving no way to reliably replace the plastic piece. My badge reel was toast. It’s probably for the best.

Clinging to the past just isn’t productive, better to move forward and focus on the exciting opportunities of the future than to keep looking back at what once was or could have been. I’m sure I’ll be replacing this new badge holder with something sturdier that I can safely trust to not fall off my belt while riding my Harley down the road in summer; perhaps a H-D badge reel (assuming such a thing exists) would be an appropriate mark of my future rather than my past.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Backlog Burndown: Bio-Hazard Battle Level Two

The Let's Play of Bio-Hazard Battle continues with Level Two. So far it's pretty easy.



Read the full Backlog Burndown column on Marooner's Rock.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Gamer History - Battlefield 1's Rumpler C.I

We conclude our series of Battlefield 1’s aircraft with the second and final German two-seater, the Rumpler C.I. First introduced in 1915, the C.I served all the way to the end of the war, first as an observer and bomber, then later as a trainer.
Rumpler C.I. Source
Powered by a 160hp Mercedes D.III water-cooled six-cylinder inline engine, the C.I could manage a top speed of 94mph. Early versions carried only a single defensive machine-gun in the rear cockpit, while later combat versions added a forward fixed gun for the pilot, and provision for 100kg of bombs to be carried under the wings. The trainer version of the C.I dispensed with the rear machine-gun all together, and were powered by a 150hp Benz Bz.III engine instead.

In its operational career, the Rumpler distinguished itself primarily in its trainer role. A solid, docile flier, it proved an ideal mount for fledgling pilots learning the basics of flight. At the end of the war, Poland, Yugoslavia, and Latvia utilized the aircraft as well.

Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any surviving C.Is, nor any specific kits designed to replicate them. It does seem like one of Airdrome Aeroplanes two seat kits could be cosmetically adapted to fit the role, but much more is probably pushing it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Let's Play: Star Wars: X-Wing vs TIE Fighter: Balance of Power - Rebel Campaign Mission #14

Playing through Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter finally gets moving again with Rebel campaign mission #14.



After several weeks of beating my head against this on Medium difficulty, I finally gave in and switched to Easy. What a difference! Easy difficulty reduces the number of ships you have to inspect, making the mission reasonably playable.

I'm not saying Medium is impossible, but it's close. Trying to get all the ships inspected and disabled before they start getting gobbled up by the SSD is extremely difficult. On Easy you at least have a chance.

The strategy on any difficulty is pretty straightforward: Inspect everything, disable the ships containing conscripts, keep the rescue shuttles from being destroyed. Targeting the freighters early to make them launch their Advanced Concussion missile will make your life a lot easier.

Your wingmen will take care of destroying freighters carrying warheads, allowing you to focus on disabling the ones carrying conscripts. On Medium difficulty, you'll have to spend a lot more time dogfighting TIE Fighters. On Easy, your wingmen are much more effective dealing with enemy fighters.

Good luck, and keep flying.

Monday, February 6, 2017

That Game - Superbowl LI

Super Bowl LI (51) is the kind of game that defines why we love sports. In fifty years of Super Bowls, no team had ever come back from more than a fourteen point deficit. At one point, the Patriots were down by twenty-five. 

The statistics said it was impossible. Never been done. Couldn't happen. But yet play after play, improbable catch after improbable throw, the Patriots kept closing the gap. 

We love sports because we want to see the impossible. To see teams break curses. To be reminded that as long as we have breath in our bodies, time on the clock, and the will to fight on, that sometimes - maybe even just one time - there's still a chance to win. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Let's Play - Game Playthroughs Hub

Another World - 20th Anniversary Edition


Bio-Hazard Battle


 ChromaGun


Super Thunder Blade - SEGA Genesis Classics


Star Wars: TIE Fighter


Star Wars: X-Wing Special Edition



Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter - Balance of Power


Volvo - The Game


 

 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Aircraft of Battlefield 1 Hub

Bombers - Caproni Ca.3 & Gotha G.IV

 
Replica Ca.3 in flight. Photo from Warbird News

Fokker DR.I

Photo credit Fokkerdr1.com

Sopwith Camel

Photo credit wikipedia.

SPAD S.XIII

 
Photo via www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/

Albatros D.III

 

Bristol F.2B Fighter

Photo credit: Canada Air and Space Museum
Halberstadt CL.II

Photo via the Polish Aviation Museum

Salmson 2-A2

Lineup of Salmson 2-A2s. Photo via Wingnutwings.com

  Rumpler C.I

Rumpler C.I. Source


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Star Wars PIREP Hub

Z-95 Headhunter

X-Wing

Y-Wing

A-Wing

B-Wing

PAX South 2017 AAR

This was my first year attending PAX South. While I've been to PAX West (formerly PAX Prime, and formerly just PAX before that), this was a totally different experience.

I saw a lot of great games, and wrote previews for the following games:
Dreadnought,
Lightspeed Frontier,
Semispheres,
Hello Neighbor,
Light Fall,
Mr Shifty, and
Streets of Rogue 

I also did some daily wrap-ups.
PAX South Day One
PAX South Day Two
PAX South Day Three

Great show, and I hope to be back next year!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017