Tag Archives: video game

Out of the Park Baseball 18 is a hoot

Greetings, readers. About a month ago I purchased from Steam a really good-looking baseball video game. I watched the trailer, and thought to myself, that’s for me. The price was right, and I love sports games, so I clicked purchase and downloaded it. My fun was just beginning.

Obviously I was going to take a good look around the game to see what it had to offer. I quickly learned that the graphics when playing a game are something from the 1990s. That, my readers, is this game’s only downfall. OOTPB18 more than makes up for the bad graphics with every conceivable statistic you could want and several game modes you can choose from. You can be the manager of the team or the general manager and hire and fire as you see fit. You can play a season from any year 2017 all the way back to the beginnings of baseball, including the Negro leagues. I’m not certain if all the correct players are there since the Negro leagues were before my time, but I imagine that they have as many correct names as they could find, with all appropriate statistics. There is an on-line mode which someday I will try out and all major league teams have their own appropriate farm systems in place. lt is such fun to watch the Portland Sea Dogs – the Boston Red Sox AA team – play a season.

Now, for my favorite part. You can create your own league. When I saw this, I went bananas. I spent an entire evening putting together my new league. The NABL, or North American Baseball League. I have two teams in Mexico, one in Cuba, and yes, Montreal has a team again, the Montreal Mounties. With me being from Pittsburgh, you just know I had to have a team representing my home city. The Pittsburgh Steel Hounds got off to an 8-2 start and have fallen on hard times since. I tried to renegotiate a new contract with my best player and when he didn’t respond, I withdrew the offer, intending to make it better, but to my surprise and utter disappointment, he, “will no longer negotiate with this team.” Now I know how George Steinbrenner felt.

Another cool feature is the daily news page, complete with newspaper, all the leagues’ activities, team injuries, and standings. It’s your whole league in a nutshell. This is what I do when I get up in the morning; I check my team’s page as I sip my morning coffee.

Also, there is a fantastic feature called real-time simulation. When activated, the games will be played at true-to-life speed. You see just the box scores in this mode, which in itself is intriguing. If there is a pitching change needed in any of the games, there will be a pause of a few minutes. That is how real this game is. If you choose to view the game, it will speed up again.

This is one of those games that I am going to discover something new about a month from now. It is never going to get old to me. Me and my North American Baseball League will be very happy I’m sure for many seasons to come.

Here is my final score, no pun intended. Graphics: 4 out of 10. On-line mode: bravo, lets give that a 10. Statistics: 10. Ease of Operation: 9. Features: 9.5. Bringing the final score to a 8.5.

A side note for you. Because of my fall last week I have a follow-up doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning. I didn’t want to take another personal day, but I also don’t want to damage the foot if there is something wrong that can be taken care of now. Rebecca will have another blog up tomorrow, and I will be back next week, hopefully for both blog days.

Until then, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

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From Rebecca: My day so far, May 4, 2017

Hi, Joe’s readers. I would have started this blog entry earlier, but I had to wait for Microsoft updates to process. After my husband Darren used the computer this morning, it downloaded updates when he shut it down. When I turned on the computer early in the afternoon, it installed those updates – for an hour and a half! I’m not used to updates taking that long. I read a book for a while, Borderline by Nevada Barr, until Darren started playing a video game, God of War Ascension, and I started watching him.

Darren is still playing while I write this. He is occasionally getting his butt beat but is holding his own. Lots of hand-to-hand combat with a few puzzles here and there. I don’t play many video games myself, though I used to when we first dated and early in our marriage, but I love watching Darren play. Sometimes I can see things that he misses, especially for the puzzles, and then it feels like I am doing it too.

I slept in this morning, since Joe is taking a personal day today and I didn’t have to go into work. (I love being able to do the blog from home!) When I woke up, Darren and I spent some time together. We watched The Price is Right while he ate lunch and I ate breakfast. We watched a bit of the news, then I turned on the computer to do this entry, and then waited for the update.

Later this afternoon, Darren and I will clean the apartment. We clean as we go and keep it tidy for the most part, but every other month or so we do a more thorough job. One will take the kitchen and the other will take the bathroom and vacuuming. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to do, which isn’t bad. We used to do it every month, but we don’t get to it that often any more. We probably should though.

I will finish the night with the CBS lineup on television and a check on the internet. Everyday at some point I look at the sites Tor.com, John Scalzi’s Whatever blog, Carrie Vaughn’s Filling the Well blog, Facebook, Twitter, and the web comics Questionable Content, Gunnerkrigg Court, and Girls with Slingshots. I look at other sites sometimes, like PBS, but those are my favorites.

So, that’s my day off. Cleaning, blog entry, internet, video game, television, eating, and my sweetie, Darren.

Joe will be back next week with posts. Until then, as Joe would say, take care, enjoy May the Fourth Be With You Day if you are a Star Wars fan, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

Review of My Summer Car

Greetings, readers. For the past week and a half or so I have been fighting with my laptop to try to play a game on Steam called My Summer Car. This game was produced by one person in Finland, Johannes Rojola, and the graphics are awesome. The language is Finnish with English subtitles. It is set in 1995 and the cars are from that era. I’ve seen numerous YouTube videos dealing with this game and they are loads of fun to watch. However my five and half-year old Asus laptop just won’t play the game correctly. I can play the game but the mechanics of my laptop won’t let me do it correctly. I believe I’m having frame rate issues. The game just won’t run smoothly at all. I’ve tried changing the settings on the options menu to the worst possible graphics and screen size. That helps ever so slightly, but still not enough to really play the game. If anybody can tell me how to solve my graphics problem, it would be greatly appreciated. Leave me a comment here or on Facebook.

Here’s how the game is supposed to go. Your parents are away for the summer and you have the house to yourself. You have a shell of a car, basically the chassis, with all the parts in your garage. You have to assemble them one by one, including tightening all the nuts and bolts. All the while, birds, mosquitoes and pesky phone calls do their best to distract you. The most annoying creature in the game is the overnight cuckoo bird which never stops. If one or two bolts are not tightened completely, they will shake out and your car will die.

You have five meters on the top left of your computer screen which are urine (yes, you have to go to the bathroom in this game), thirst, hunger, fatigue, and dirtiness. You can die of fatigue, hunger and thirst, but not dirtiness. You always have to keep track of these meters, and eat and drink beer, water, or milk to keep the meters low. You have a sauna for cleaning, which is really cool, and a bed to sleep in for fatigue. When you are good and refreshed you can hop in the van, drive to town, and purchase items such as beer, pizza, sausage, milk, and the much needed mosquito spray. Later on, when your car is almost ready, you can purchase motor oil, coolant, and other such things at the same store.

Now, for the funny parts. One of the two main sources of income are that you are the septic man. You take a phone call saying that some neighbor’s septic tank is full, you drive the septic truck to that place and empty the tank. I believe you get 2,000 Polish marks. You can also chop wood at the barn and use your tractor to deliver it to whoever calls and requests it. Each job gives you a varying amount of money to buy your food, drink, and other supplies. This leaves you very little time to work on your car, which is the main goal of the game. On the weekend, when your car is finished and rally ready, you can race if you want to, or on Saturday evening you can go to the pub next to the store and get drunk on beer or vodka and eat polish sausage. Again, let me remind you that one person made this game; it is incredibly detailed.

My favorite aspect to this game is the boat you can take around the lake, and the island which was added in an update. You can visit the island with its small working cottage, and also you can dock at the town to buy groceries. It reminds me very much of rides in my boat around Bear Spring Camps. I don’t know where this gentleman got the sound-bite for the boat engine but it is spot on. Bravo.

To give this game a final score, I’ll have to rely on the YouTube videos I’ve watched of my friend Squirrel playing. Paul seems to be an expert at this game. Here are my final ratings:

Graphics: 8 out of 10

Modern game look: … okay, but it is set in 1995 and the game interaction is very retro, for example – the shopkeeper has hardly any facial movement when speaking. We’ll call it 6 out of 10

Things to do in the game: … I could literally spend all day playing this game. 10 out of 10

Total average score: a good solid 8.

For anyone who plays games on Steam, I highly recommend this one. Ready, set, go have fun.

Until next time, take care, enjoy the warmer weather, and happy reading.

One hour of sleep does not cut it

Greetings, readers. I don’t want to call myself fortunate today that Rebecca’s husband is under the weather and therefore she has to leave early, because Darren could use some help with a family chore. However, I am grateful for the early stop time.

I had an extremely rough night last night and I am working on a grand total of one hour of sleep. Way not enough. Traci had an issue and she needed my assistance. Her call came at ten minutes until 4:00. By the time I got back to the apartment at 4:15, I was up. You know how that goes. Your brain goes into crisis mode and when the crisis is over it is hard to shut the it down again. So I turned on the computer and checked out Facebook. Not much going on at 4:30. I wanted to play music but couldn’t without disturbing the neighbors. I couldn’t use my earphones because at the moment I am suffering from a severely clogged left ear. I am hoping it is the usual ear wax issue I have about once a year, but this is an unusually bad case of it. I may have to go to my family doctor to get my ears sandblasted, as I call it.

I was going to make this next topic a separate blog entry, but because I played it this morning, why not just tell you now? The other day I purchased from the PlayStation store a rather cheap two-year old video game, which is NASCAR racing. The graphics and physics are excellent. Steering the car is a bitch. The first time I tried to make a lap on the Daytona Speedway I came off turn four and plowed into the wall. And yes, I was turning the joystick to the left; nothing happened. This morning before Rebecca showed up I tried a few short races. I actually got better. One race I didn’t finish last – I finished next to last. NASCAR ’15 is a winner.

Finally, on March 1st ’17, State College experienced its first thunderstorm of the season. Caring about my electronics as I do, off went the PS3 and television. I don’t want any power surges around here.

As I get ready to sign off, I am looking to the rest of my day. I’m going to have a nice long nap while Traci has an appointment, then I shall visit her around 5:30 in the afternoon. That seems to be our pattern now. I think it is a wonderful time for a visit. We listen to music and talk about our day. By the way, I shall let you all know when the wedding date and venue have been arranged. We’ll be sending the “save the date” notices when they are made and ready to be mailed.

Until tomorrow, I wish you a good day, take care, and as always happy reading.

Many topics to talk about, including American Truck Simulator

Greetings, readers. We are finally back. Yay! After a week of working on the blog by myself, Rebecca is here once again to help me. Obviously, I can write the blog by myself, but after all this time I just feel more comfortable with my editor friend by my side to catch any little mistakes I might make. She already caught one from my last blog entry.

Not that I’m going to title this hodgepodge whatever, but I do have several topics to touch on. So here we go.

First, I’ve been thinking about this question: Is the National Football League fixed? There have been rumors that since the early 2000s, the NFL has been “steered” in certain directions to allow the powerful teams to make the playoffs. The stronger the teams in the Super Bowl, the better the ratings. Or, at least, that is the NFL’s way of thinking. Let’s take this past Super Bowl for example. The great Peyton Manning,  perhaps the best to ever play the game, is all but certain to retire. I would have been shocked if Denver lost. Carolina quite frankly looked pathetic, though Denver’s defense did play a great game. What also makes me wonder, is that I saw part of a YouTube Top Ten List video, pointing out that the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl just months after 9/11. What are their colors? You guessed it, red, white and blue. Is this hard-core evidence that the NFL is fixed? No, but it raise my eyebrow. Add in that this team has been proven to cheat since then and the NFL has barely spanked their wrists.

Topic number 2. Recently, I’ve been enjoying, on YouTube, reruns of the 1970s sitcom Maude. It is a Norman Lear spin-off of All in the Family and is it hilarious. There is one interesting thing. You would never see that show being produced new today. Maude’s husband, Walter, played by Bill Macy, is a strong-willed proud man that did not like his wife to work outside the house. Add that to the fact that he was a drinker early in the series, and you can imagine some of the arguments they got into. Maude, also strong-willed and very liberal, would also argue with all the other characters when she thought it was necessary. The only episode I did not care for and will not watch again, was the ground-breaking Maude’s abortion episode. Was it well done? Absolutely. It is just that my own personal religious beliefs made that episode a chore to watch. That is not the case with the rest of the series. Most evenings I will sit with my snack and have out-loud belly laughs. Norman Lear can do that to me every time, whether it be All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, or The Jeffersons.

Topic number 3. All I need is $100 and I will never want a car again. Today, I want to tell you about perhaps the best video game I have ever seen. It is called American Truck Simulator. People who play Euro Truck Simulator 2, and make videos for YouTube, have been talking about the new game for two years. Where is American Truck Simulator, we all said. When it came out on February 3rd, we found out why it took so long. On the up side, the level of detail on the maps is incredible. There are three trucks to choose from and you can drive in California and Nevada. Arizona will be added soon. The few people who are giving this game a thumb’s down bring up the question, after two and a half years of development, why are there only two states? My answer to them would be this: You try producing maps with those kinds of graphics, fabulous detail and clean game play, and we will see how long it takes you. How long will it take to complete the lower forty-eight? Probably about two years. Can I wait? Hell yes. This game also has the potential, if the manufacturer desires it, to include Mexico, Canada, and Alaska. All I need to do now is get a steering wheel and pedals to clamp to a table, so I have better control of the steering. The left and right arrows on the keypad make for marvelous wrecks. I must admit, I am getting better at it with the arrows, but I’m going to see if I can’t scrounge $100 together and get one of the cheaper gaming wheels. As for the most expensive one, which is $299, that is out of the question.

Lastly, a quick note about the weather. Yesterday we had snow, ice, and slush. It was not a good combination to go out in. I needed to take my girlfriend to her follow-up doctor’s appointment. Yay, us, we did not slip and fall.

Well, you are all up to date. We’ll have another new blog entry for you, possibly as early as tomorrow, though if not, then definitely on Friday. Take care, have a good day, and happy reading.

This morning I had a minor health issue while playing my new video game

Greetings, readers. I’ve never enjoyed talking about my cerebral palsy and all of its side effects. But this morning something happened which really had me concerned. I had slept in a wee bit and had taken my meds later than usual. I then settled down with some coffee for a few hours of my new game, WWE2k16. After the first 40 minutes, even with that annoying screen shake toggled off, I felt a seizure coming on. Everything started to go black, I felt shaky, and I instinctively grabbed both chair arms and held on for dear life. It didn’t last very long, I must say, since I was able to ward off the actual seizure. I immediately turned the game off, shut off all the lights in my apartment, and did what I do best, took a nap.

When I awakened at 11:15, all was normal once again. I’m really going to have to watch myself when playing this game. I can play MLB baseball indefinitely with no issues. I think in this wrestling game, the flashing lights of the arena and all the simulated pyrotechnics are just a little bit too much. From now on, I’ll play for an hour or so and then take a break. I am really enjoying this game and want to get better at it, but to do that I have to play. It is frustrating when I have to stop all the time because of my condition.

I first saw this game on YouTube, being played by a gamer who calls himself CMPuLs3 (pronounced c.m. pulse). His channel is excellent and his wrestling videos are introd by the actual WWE champion, Seth Rollins. Way cool! I want to thank CMPuLs3 for getting me into this game and making super cool videos, especially the James Falcon series.

I’ve written to this person on Facebook, asking him for any help on how to play the game for people with bad hands. Luckily, and to my surprise, the game will play computer versus computer, so I can watch and at least learn the moves. Next, I need to know how to do them, quickly enough. I’ve played four matches now. I am 0-4, with an average losing time of 8 seconds.

How cool is this? I created my own character called Thunderbolt Jimmy Storm, paired him with Stone Cold Steve Austin, and we are now a tag team tentatively called The New Foundation, working our way up the ranks to hopefully take the title.

Lastly, it is a rainy day here in State College and I might have to keep the gaming machine off. That is probably a good idea considering what happened this morning.

Until Wednesday, when we’ll be back to a normal week, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

My new addiction, WWE2k16

Greetings, readers. Ever since I watched a couple of YouTube Videos about this PS3 game, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I got my copy of it. Back in the day, I was a huge professional wrestling fan. This game has rekindled my love of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).

First off, I bought the game via the Playstation Store, not a physical copy at Wal-Mart or Best Buy. The download time was literally six hours. Yes, the game is that complex, with wrestlers, arenas as well as lots of un-lockable content. Also, the graphics are stunning and spot-on in their realism.

Players have the ability to practice in all different types of matches, such as one-on-one, tag-team, ladder matches and extreme rules. During practice mode, a player can decide to have the match in any of the big pay-per-views. The Royal Rumble, Wrestlmania, Summer Slam as well as weekly series such as Raw and Smackdown are represented in every detail. Voice talents of Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross, Lilian Garcia and others add to the intense realism.

Does the game have things to work on for next year? Not many…., but yes. First, though the announcing is exciting and true, it is way too repetitive. Next – and this would be better if it could be toggled off – when a wrestler is put in a submission hold, the entire picture on the TV screen shakes. Not good for people like me who suffer from mild seizures. 😦 Lastly, for my bad hands anyway, the controls are too complex. I lost my first match in 5 seconds. One missed command, my opponent’s finishing move and it was “One!-Two!!-Three!!!”

My final score for WWE2k16 – 8.5 out of 10. 🙂

Until tomorrow, take care, have a great day and happy reading.

Train simulator replaces flight simulator as my favorite

Greetings, readers. I never thought I’d say it but it is true. Train Simulator 2014 is my new favorite simulation program for the computer. Flight Simulator X is wonderful and it helped me immensely during my depression. Looking at the clear blue sky and the white puffy clouds did make me feel better. However, with Train Simulator you are on the ground and can see all the fantastic scenery.

When I first purchased this game from the Steam website, I was a little leery. My anti-virus constantly fought with it for the first two weeks, which made matters worse. Once I learned that anti-virus systems include an exceptions list to blocked sites, I put Steam on this list. Finally Train Simulation 14 worked wonderfully. With my older laptop, with a not-so-great graphics card, I do have to have everything on the lowest settings. That is okay with me; it runs. So far I have run trains in England, Germany and the United States.

Now for the downside of Train Simulator 14. Unlike Flight Simulator X and its primary uploading website, Simviation, trains are not free to download. You must purchase everything. For a person like me on a budget, that can get mucho expensive quickly. So I’ve purchased everything I am going to purchase for a while. I’m done.

Let me briefly tell you about the trains that I have. I have three very fast Amtrak trains, three old-style steam locomotives, various trains powered by electricity, and a couple of old-style diesel trains complete with authentic sounds. Five stars on those.

Am I going to pump hundreds of dollars into this hobby? No, I can’t afford to do that. I have probably spent too much on this already. But it is extremely relaxing to hop on a train, choose your run, and set out. I have runs ranging from twelve miles in the Portland Maine scenario, to the northeast corridor route which is roughly ninety miles long.

To summarize, I would dearly love to see this game with its fullest graphics settings to get the sheer beauty of it. With the five-year-old laptop, I am grateful it runs at all. When it comes time for the next laptop I will make sure it has a good graphics card for my simulations.

Until next week, take care, have a good weekend, and happy reading.

Report on Madden25

Greetings, readers. It’s official. I am addicted to this game. After scrimping and saving for months, I was able to save up just enough to purchase Madden25 (the 25th anniversary of Madden) online via the Playstation store. Here is my report on this game and my rating.

Having not played the last two Madden versions, I did not know that they had switched their announcing team from Cris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson to Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. Sorry Cris and Gus, but Jim and Phil edge you out. That’s not to say that the old team didn’t bring style and class all their own. Now on to game play.

Madden25 has something called connected owner mode. It is simply fascinating. After one season of play, you can move a team, there are seventeen cities to choose from, and change the team name or keep it the same. There are usually three or four team names to choose from. For instance, the Rams could go back to Los Angeles or become the LA Aftershocks. Other cool team names are the Toronto Thunderbirds and the London Black Knights.

As always, you can adjust how many minutes per period you play and the skill levels. Even though I am using what they call custom sliders, I’m still winning rather easily. My made-up team the Portland Lumberjacks (I moved the Rams to Portland) are 8-3. Next season I will probably increase the difficulty level. As you know I am a glutton for punishment. My next season test will be to move a team to Barcelona and choose one of their two or three name choices. I’ve had the game two weeks now and I’m still learning. Such fun.

Now to the very slight negatives of this game. Sorry Mr. Simms but I gotta tell you that even though your commentary is excellent, I have two criticisms. And I don’t know whose fault they are. Number one I suppose is the developer’s fault for making a lot of your commentary way too repetitive. Second, I’m not sure if you do this in real life, but they have made you a very negative and picky broadcaster. When I say out loud to the TV screen, “Oh, shut up, Phil,” I know I’ve heard one of your picky comments, such as, “That’s just a bad play call by the offense,” too many times.

Other than the commentary being a bit too repetitive, this is probably one of the best video games I’ve ever gotten my hands on. As some of you know, I am a MLB TheShow baseball nut and Madden25 made me shelve the baseball game mid-season. As with all addictive personalities, the newness from this game will wear off, and I’m sure I won’t play it quite as much in the weeks and months to come.

Now for the four final grades.

Gameplay: A+

Commentary: B-  (The sideline reporter, Danielle Bellini is a definite highlight.)

Ease of Game Play: B+ (The verdict is still out on this one, for I am still experimenting.)

Other intangibles, such as ambiance and team movement: A+

Final rating: A- (A good solid 9.75)

Ok folks, let the debate begin and please do chime in with comments if you wish. I will respond.

Until next week, have a good weekend, take care, and happy reading.

The Show – MLB13 vs MLB12

Greetings, readers. This is my second, and possibly final, report card on MLB13: The Show. As usual, OMG I love it. However, there are a few things, much to my dismay, that I either don’t like as well or fail to see any significant upgrade from last year’s version.

First off, and to me most important, is the replacement of Dave Campbell with Steve Lyons. As I mentioned in my previous blog entry on this topic, I believe the franchise was going for someone more youthful – just my personal opinion. For someone new, it seems like Steve was not allowed to bring his own personality into the game by receiving new lines to say; when playing the game, I hear Steve saying some of Dave’s lines almost verbatim. I would have preferred that the writers come up with a different way to say the same thing.

The lines of dialog this year seem to be more repetitive than in years past. Especially in beginner’s mode, where there is lots of computer assistance in the defense. The same situations come up with the very same dialog supplied. I briefly tried the next level the other night, with less computer assistance than I was used to, and noticed that the more errors I committed, the more play specific dialog was used. For example, “Oh, the catcher just threw the ball into center field,” an error which would almost never happen in computer mode.

The graphics are as good as they are going to get with current PS3 technology. The faces and stadiums look the same as last year. There were a few changes to details, like fireworks displays after a homerun or a home victory were moved from being shot into the sky to the stadium’s Jumbotron, but graphic-wise it looks the same. When the PS4 comes out in a year or so, I will be very interested to see whether or not the graphics and all the subtle nuances will have substantial improvements. Obviously, there is only so much realism you can put into a game. This is not Star Trek holodeck technology we are talking about. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

MLB13’s biggest gold star, which 12 did not have, is to load up your favorite teams in the appropriate brackets and do the playoffs without having to play a full season. With newer camera angles, more exciting music, and a brief shot of the pre-game team’s line-up announcements, I was more than happily surprised at that part of the game’s realism. I watched a few YouTube videos on this game and learned that the online features and the Diamond Dynasty mode have also been improved. I must admit, I have only tried Diamond Dynasty a few times and I don’t play online, so I really can’t make a fair judgement. If any of my readers are avid online gamers, please chime in with a comment.

MLB13: The Show … I’ll say final report card grade: A-. Though I didn’t blog about it at the time, last year I gave MLB12 a grade of B+. I gave this year’s version the bump up because of the post-season mode, which is actually my favorite part of real baseball.

Until next time, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.