2016
01.19

Paying respect to the video gaming roots…

I have some new “art” on my home office wall. 🙂

As one might imagine, in the weeks leading up to Lucas’s arrival in the world, Jennifer and I were making space in our house. His nursery was originally our spare bedroom, and we had been using its closet as a storage location. Needless to say, we needed to consolidate our storage, especially as the closet would now be needed for his stuff. Some of the containers from the nursery closet needed to be moved into my office closet.

In order to make space, I decided it was time to get rid of some of my classic video game library. In particular, I chose to get rid of almost all of my old Atari 2600 and ColecoVision cartridges, as I no longer had working hardware to play those games. I kept the NES and SNES cartridges, as not only do I have (presumably) working consoles for them, there are modern consoles available that are able to play those cartridges via emulation. In the end, I took a few bags full of cartridges to Game Over Videogames off the Southwest Freeway, and sold them for a nice bit of store credit.

Of the collection, I ended up keeping two Atari 2600 cartridges. One was my copy of Space Invaders, as it was the very first home video game I had ever owned. The other was Defender, and it was saved because it had somehow managed to escape its bag while I was taking the lot to be sold. 🙂

Of course, I didn’t exactly know what I was going to do with the cartridges once I had saved them. It was Jennifer who came up with the idea of putting them in shadowboxes, so that I could display them on the wall of my office. We found decent shadowboxes at Michael’s, and she eventually came up with a good method of mounting the cartridges into them. Once that was done, they ended up sitting on my desk for lack of a place on my wall to hang them. 🙂

A few days ago, I ended up moving a print off my office wall to replace a print that had been moved out of our bedroom, which left space on my wall for the shadowboxes. I mounted them last night; I think they ended up looking pretty good.

The displayed Atari 2600 cartridges.

The displayed Atari 2600 cartridges.

Granted, one can’t tell that the Space Invaders cartridge is actually Space Invaders. The cartridge is a Sears Tele-Games rebrand, which my parents had bought for me along with a Sears Tele-Games rebranded Atari 2600 for my seventh birthday. As much as I wish they had the original game artwork like the original Atari cartridges did, they instead looked kind of generic. I briefly considered buying an actual Atari cartridge and displaying that instead, but I decided that I wanted to reflect what I actually started with.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with how things turned out. The cartridges were almost never certainly going to be played again, but now instead of taking up space in a closet, they’re on display where they can be appreciated. It’s nice that they’re getting a new lease on life, and are useful once again. 🙂

2016
01.12

It would be heresy for me to skip this game.

It’s no secret at all that my favorite board game is Talisman, considering how often I’ve posted about it in the past. I even picked up the Steam and iOS versions of the game. Now it appears that the developer of the video game version, Nomad Games, is releasing a new version called Talisman: The Horus Heresy.

Talisman: The Horus Heresy is a sci-fi game based on Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 universe. The titular Horus Heresy is an event that takes place ten thousand years before the 41st millennium setting of the game universe, where half of the human Space Marine legions turned traitor and aligned themselves with the evil Chaos Gods, leading to a Imperium-wide civil war. As the title suggests, the game takes place during the Horus Heresy, where players play as either a Loyalist or Traitor Space Marine legion commander, making their way through the regions and gathering forces and equipment, before reaching Terra and facing either the Emperor of Mankind or Horus (warchief of the traitor legions).

Making a Talisman game set in the universe of Warhammer 40,000 might seem a little strange, but the two have been linked previously. While Talisman is currently published by Fantasy Flight Games, the original developer and IP owner is Games Workshop. More, the second edition of the game had an expansion called Talisman Timescape, which included characters and concepts from Warhammer 40,000.

The game is currently scheduled to be released on Steam next month, with pre-orders opening on the 26th. Nomad Games was less specific about the release date of the mobile versions, saying only that they’d be out in spring. Personally, I’ll be waiting for the iOS version before I buy the game; while I have the Steam version of the original game, I almost never play it except to play friends in online multiplayer. Most of the time I play on my iPad.

In any event, if The Horus Heresy is as polished as the original game, I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun with it. I’m looking forward to when it drops. 🙂

2015
12.01

Cutting the proverbial cables…

It’s amazing what you can get away with getting rid of these days.

Recently, Jennifer and I discussed discarding services at the house. After some discussion, we decided it was time to get rid of two home “mainstays” that we realized we no longer needed anymore: our land line phone, and our cable TV service.

Getting rid of the land line was a no-brainer. Essentially, we only used the number as a spam trap, and the only people who would call us on that number (other than solicitors) were Jennifer’s parents. It also helped that our cordless phone system had support for two cell phones via Bluetooth, so we could make and answer calls while our cell phones were in their normal charging locations. Since canceling the land line, we almost literally have not noticed a single difference outside of our phones not ringing that often anymore. 🙂

Getting rid of our cable TV service, on the other hand, required a little research beforehand. We had to make sure that we could access all of our shows through other methods. Fortunately, most of the shows we watch are available on Hulu. Other than those, the main shows Jennifer and I watch that would not be available on Hulu right away are Doctor Who, Star Wars Rebels, The Big Bang Theory, Elementary, and those shows on the Food Network. We decided that we could wait a season on The Big Bang Theory and Elementary, and catch them when the archives hit Hulu or Netflix. Doctor Who and Star Wars Rebels are both available to purchase on Amazon Instant. Food Network shows appear to be completely unavailable, but for me at least, I can go without them.

In the end, we replaced cable TV service with over-the-air, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant. Fortunately, our home theater receiver in the living room already supports all three apps. The only hardware I ended up purchasing was an HD antenna for the living room to receive over-the-air broadcasts, and a Roku 1 for the bedroom TV in order to watch the streaming services. It’s only been a couple of days, but I honestly can’t say we’re missing the cable TV at all. In fact, the thing I miss most is the clock that was on the front of the DVR. 🙂

All in all, we’re happy with our decision. There was no point in paying for a land line that we didn’t need at all, and Hulu and Amazon Instant are much cheaper than cable TV service. That might change later down the road, but for now, I think we made the right choice. 🙂

2015
08.28

And now, baby’s first vacation.

This past weekend, we had a first with Lucas: we took him on his first vacation. 🙂

Jennifer and I decided VERY early on that we wanted to get him used to travel, so that when it came time for us to go on very long trips, he would be ready for it. We wanted to do something easy for the first vacation, though. Normally in the summer, we do a two or three day trip to Corpus Christi with Jennifer’s parents and have some quality beach time. However, we felt it would be easier if we went somewhere close in case Lucas wasn’t ready for it or had problems. Moreover, as a contractor, I don’t get paid if I don’t work, so I can’t afford to take extra days off.

In the end, we all decided to stay at Moody Gardens in Galveston overnight.

Lucas is ready for his vacation.

Lucas is ready for his vacation.

We actually started the weekend at our favorite hole in the wall place in Galveston, Shrimp ‘N Stuff, for lunch. As always, the food was excellent, and Lucas was as good as always. In fact, he was VERY social, smiling and flirting with whoever he happened to make eye contact with. Afterwards, we went straight to the Moody Gardens hotel, where we managed to check in early and get rooms next to one another (we had booked separately). Once we had gotten into our rooms, we unpacked, changed, and made our way down to the pool.

Speaking of unpacking, I’m going to digress for a minute. Several months back, Jennifer and I went to an event at Baby’s 1st Furniture called “Gearapalooza”, where we got to see demos of baby gear from several different manufacturers. While we had wanted to win a stroller or car seat as a door prize, we ended up winning a Nuna SENA mini travel crib and play yard. In retrospect, we’re VERY happy we got it, because it worked perfectly for Lucas while we were in Galveston. He slept very soundly in it, and it was extremely easy to set up and pack up. It’s a keeper for future trips.

The pool at the Moody Gardens hotel was great. It wasn’t crowded, the water was cold and clean, and best of all it had a swim-up bar. Even better, the hotel could have skimped on the drink quality, but they were well made; my frozen margaritas in particular were very refreshing. We spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun and taking turns dipping in the pool while Lucas slept. After a while, we left to go back to our rooms to rest in the air conditioning and decide what to do next. We briefly considered visiting the rainforest pyramid (the aquarium one was closed for renovations), but chose not to as Lucas isn’t old enough to truly appreciate the pyramids. Instead, we decided that seeing as the pool was such a success, we would go back there. This time, it was even nicer as the sun was setting and so it wasn’t as oppressively hot. After a couple of hours at the pool, we went inside to the casual restaurant (with a quick stop to change into regular clothes) to have a nice dinner.

Daddy, I'm ready to try this pool thing!

“Daddy, I’m ready to try this pool thing!”

The next morning, we had breakfast at the casual restaurant, and then decided to make our way to Moody Gardens’s “Palm Beach” area, which was the resort’s official waterpark. That part was the only real disappointment of the trip, because the waterpark is small, doesn’t have that much to do (especially with a baby), and it was crowded as all hell. It also seemed to be a fraction of the size of Schlitterbahn, which was literally right across the street. I personally tried to get on the lazy river, and found that I couldn’t comfortably fit in one of the inner tubes. After a half-hour or so there, we gave up. Frankly, we were glad the room cost covered the price of admission, or else we would have felt ripped off as well as disappointed.

We returned to the hotel’s pool, and spent a couple of hours there having drinks and lunch from the swim-up bar. To us, the hotel pool was far superior to the waterpark, if only because of the fact that it was much less crowded (because only hotel guests could get in). Now we know for future trips…

This time, we decided we wanted to bring Lucas into the pool for his very first pool experience. Admittedly, we didn’t know how he would react to it, but he rather enjoyed it. He didn’t fuss or complain, and even seemed to like the cold water. Of course, it helped that the sun was behind the hotel so it wasn’t as bright and hot as it could have been. After he had been in the water with us for a while, we went ahead and took him back to our table (strategically positioned to have plenty of shade) so he could rest and have his lunch. 🙂

Once we were finished with the pool, Jennifer and I decided to take Lucas back home, so that we could get him back into his usual routine. The drive home was uneventful, with Lucas sleeping most of the way.

All in all, it was a great little vacation, with the only bumps being those that would have happened whether or not Lucas was there. We’re now confident he can handle a proper trip, and we’re already looking forward to our next one. 🙂

2015
06.09

After four years, I’m moving on.

I admit to some nervousness.

After nearly four and a half years at KEMTRON Technologies (now Elgin Separation Solutions), I’ve moved on to new employment. I start work today as a long term contractor for a Fortune 50 company.

This new job is going to be quite a change for me. This will be, by far, the largest company I’ve ever worked for. Up until now, I’ve been either an IT department of one, or part of small group. I’ll be one cog in a big department now. Also, where my focus at KEMTRON/Elgin was on a Windows environment, my OS focus here will be Linux.

The real nice thing about this job, though, is that I will no longer be on-call after hours. Getting calls from security and monitoring vendors during my time off gets really old after a while, though I accepted them as part of my job responsibilities. For the first time in many years, my free time will belong entirely to me and my family.

I’m really looking forward to this opportunity, as in the end it was something I could not pass up. While I was sad to leave KEMTRON/Elgin, I know this was the right move for me.

Let’s see how it goes. 🙂

2015
06.08

Player Three has entered the game.

I’ve pretty much let my site rot for the past couple of months. There is, however, a good reason for that.

I’m now a father.

Introducing Lucas!

Introducing Lucas!

My son Lucas was born on April 15th. As of this blog post he’s nearly eight weeks old, and I have to say life is a lot different with him.

The thing is, though, I was expecting fatherhood to be far more frustrating and draining. It helps that Lucas is so laid back; he almost never cries unless there’s something actually wrong, like if he’s hungry, has a dirty diaper, etc. In fact, our nickname for him is “Zen Baby”. I’ve also adapted to the new chores extremely well. For example, changing his diaper (something I was particularly worried about) is pretty easy, to the point where my father once commented about how quick and efficient I am at it. I’m also the go-to when it comes to burping him. I’m not sure why, but Jennifer and her parents seem to think that I get burps out of him faster than they do.

Jennifer has been a trouper throughout the whole thing, staying up with him and getting up during the night whenever he needs feeding. I usually take the early morning/breakfast and evening shifts, which allows her to take a break. I rather enjoy spending the time with Lucas, especially now that I’ve figured out what his different cries mean. I’ve even been able to take him for a while and anticipate his needs so that he doesn’t even need to cry.

About the only “bad”, so to speak, has been how it’s affected our leisure time. Whereas before Jennifer and I had a great deal of freedom and could do whatever we wanted within reason in our spare time, we now have to take him into account. To give a particular example: one would imagine I’d have been playing Mortal Kombat X non-stop since the game came out. Instead, if anything, I’ve played the mobile version more. It’s easier to play on the tablet when I’m keeping an eye on the wee one. However, compared to how much fun we’ve been having with him, we’re pretty okay with that change. We have been able to get out on occasion, thanks to the fact that Jennifer’s parents relish the chance to babysit. 🙂

This is the beginning of a new journey for me, and while I was scared before, I’m really looking forward to showing Lucas the world. I’m also looking forward to showing him my interests (Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, Transformers), and watching him discover his own. It’s a change in my life, and one I’m looking forward to as the years progress.

2015
03.03

Preparing for mobile Kombat…

I admit to some surprise.

A couple of months ago, NetherRealm Studios released a new mobile fighting game called WWE Immortals, which is a “card-based” fighting game similar to the mobile version of Injustice: Gods Among Us. With the release of WWE Immortals coming so close to the release of Mortal Kombat X for consoles and PC, I took that to mean that we wouldn’t be seeing a mobile version of the newest MK.

It turns out I was wrong. Yesterday, NRS announced that they were releasing a mobile version of Mortal Kombat X.

On one hand, I’m really looking forward to this game. I haven’t owned a dedicated portable gaming console since the Game Boy Advance, so the most “recent” (as opposed to a port of an older game) Mortal Kombat I’ve had in a portable format was Mortal Kombat: Tournament Edition, which was a companion release to Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance for GBA. It’ll be nice to be able to play MK on my phone and my tablet, which have essentially become my portable gaming devices in the interim. Mortal Kombat X will apparently have the same kind of gameplay as Injustice, which I found to be fun to play. The gameplay style works well on touchscreens; I had EA’s port of Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for iPhone, and found that even with the simplified controls it was annoying to play.

On the other hand, Mortal Kombat X is also similar to Injustice in that it’s free-to-play. While I enjoyed playing Injustice on my tablet, I realized relatively quickly that in order to make any large amount of headway in the game, I would have to play either an insane amount of time or buy a lot of credits from the online store. I’d much rather pay a fixed price and have everything available from the get-go. Of course, that’s not going to happen, as free-to-play is much more profitable than a fixed price is. I also worry that the game may not run properly on the iPhone 5c I use; I’ve already encountered one recent game that won’t run on it (Vainglory).

In any event, I’ll still definitely pick it up when it becomes available. Even if it doesn’t run on my phone, it’ll run on my tablet. The free-to-play portion will annoy me, but if the game is fun enough I can deal with that. Either way, it’ll be nice to have a recent MK game that’s portable and plays well. 🙂

2015
01.26

I have attended my first PAX.

The inaugural PAX South was this past weekend.

Jennifer and I had talked in the past about going to a PAX, though nothing ever came of it. This time, though, it made sense for us to go as San Antonio was only a couple of hundred miles away. We decided to attend Saturday only, as we weren’t sure we were going to like the show and we didn’t have enough accrued time off at our jobs to justify going the entire weekend.

I should point out before I go any further that Jennifer earned herself 40 million wife points that day. Originally our plan was that she would only be at the show for about a couple of hours in the morning, and then go out shopping at San Marcos for baby stuff. Instead, she stayed the entire day with me, helping to keep me grounded and encouraging me to go see things I probably would not have normally. It’s especially impressive when you consider she’s seven months pregnant. I was really thankful she stayed as long as she did.

So, how was the show, you might ask? In short, it was better than I expected, if a little different.

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2014
12.03

My gaming choice for this generation is decided.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been trying to decide which way to go this gaming generation, when it comes to the platform. I had been looking at Playstation 4, Xbox One, and even some variation of PC. In the end, I finally made a choice.

For my birthday, Jennifer got me a Playstation 4.

While I have an Xbox 360, I’ve never been a purely Xbox person. It was my console choice of the last generation simply because it had more games that I wanted to play, like Gears of War. The generation before that, I started with a Nintendo GameCube (because of Metroid Prime), then ended up purchasing a Playstation 2 when Mortal Kombat: Deception wasn’t announced for GameCube. This generation, I didn’t see anything that was exclusive for Xbox One that grabbed my interest, while at least one game for Playstation 4 (Mo Man’s Sky) caught my eye. In the end, I went with the system that interested me most.

I admit, I had considered going PC-only this time around. The issue I mainly had was the cost, as all of the research I did towards upgrading my desktop PC for recent games showed that I would likely end up spending more than I would if I were buying a new console. Not only that, the machine would not last as long as a console would; my desktop PC’s memory, CPU, and motherboard were last upgraded in 2010, while I had my Xbox 360 since 2006 or so. Also, if I wanted to play on my TV, I would need to either put together a small Steam Machine to connect to the TV so I could stream my gameplay or connect the PC directly to the TV via an extra-long HDMI cable.

In the end, I decided it was easier to just go console-only for gaming. I’m not even going to bother making my current PC gaming-worthy anymore; if anything happens to it, I’ll likely just replace it with my laptop and be done with it.

As for games, I only had one game I really wanted to get: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. However, when we went to purchase the console, we were offered the limited edition console with Destiny included. I had heard of Destiny, of course, but hadn’t had much interest in it. However, as it was a Bungie game and I had enjoyed their Halo games, I decided to go ahead and give it a shot.

As it turned out, I’m actually enjoying Destiny more than Shadow of Mordor. In fact, it’s the first MMO I’ve gotten into since EverQuest, even if I haven’t being doing any raiding or much multiplayer. It’s fun for some casual gameplay, especially when I just want to blow off some steam in a FPS. That’s not to say Shadow of Mordor isn’t fun, too; it plays very much like a Batman: Arkham game set in Middle-Earth. If anything, the only thing I don’t like about Shadow of Mordor so far is the fact that there are several orc chieftains who’ve kicked my ass enough times that trying to fight them usually ends up with me getting killed AGAIN pretty quickly… and they love to show up when I’m busy doing missions to cause me grief. 🙂

Since getting those two, my friend Josh also got me a game called Transistor. It’s a nice little action RPG that takes place in a bit of a cyberpunk world. It’s not the sort of game I would have purchased on my own, but after a few nights of playtime, I’m really enjoying it.

Right now, there are only two upcoming games that I’m waiting on: Mortal Kombat X and Batman: Arkham Knight. I’m sure there are others coming that I’ll want to get, but I’ll take those as they come.

It’s nice finally getting up to speed with the current generation of gaming. In a sense, it’s sad that I’m more or less leaving PC gaming behind, but then again that sadness is due to nostalgia more than anything else. It’ll mean less money out of my wallet for hardware, and it wasn’t as if I play very much on my PC these days anyway. It’s for the best, and when all is said and done, I’ll be able to play the games I want. 🙂

2014
11.21

D’Arque Bishop: The Next Generation

Jennifer and I are proud (nay, ecstatic) to make an announcement. We’re going to become parents. 🙂

IMG_0063.JPG

Our son will be making his debut come April. Both mother and son are in good health.

While we’re excited and looking forward to the life of being parents, it’s also understandable we’re a little terrified. Still, I’m looking forward to introducing my son to the things I like, like video games, Star Trek, Doctor Who, and others.

We’re both thankful for the love and support of our family and friends, and can’t wait for them to meet the new arrival. Until then, we’re just going to prepare as best we can. 🙂