Tuesday, November 22, 2005



Going to be a good week. I've got my family coming up with my youngest brother and his family in tow. The guy just retired from the military. Spent a year in Iraq. I did fly out to Colorado Springs last year to visit him but I think this is the first time the whole family will be together in many many years. I can't even remember the last time.

So I've got a half day today, working full day tomorrow. Off Thursday and Friday although I do have to come in Friday morning for about an hour to take care of some time sensitive data my company needs.

Thursday, Mrs. Lock, Baby Lock and I are traveling 90 minutes south to spend Thanksgiving #1 with Mrs. Lock's Mom and her family. After we stuff ourselves there, we're going to drive two hours east to spend Thanksgiving #2 with Mrs. Lock's Dad and his family.

After that visit, we'll spontaneously combust although I'm not sure how spontaneous it really is when we knew we were getting two Thanksgiving dinners in one day.

But wait! There's more.

Friday we'll celebrate Thanksgiving #3 with my own family at the Lock Stronghold. Our metabolism will get quite the work out with three turkey dinners in 24 hours, we'll waste away to nothing, skin and bones when it's all over.

I'm thankful for many things this year.

#1 is Baby Lock. What a joy she has brought to my life, even when she's screaming.

#2 is seeing my family for the holidays, all of us together.

#3 is having a very cool and fun in laws that make our long drive well worth it.

Happy Holidays.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Single Player Heaven

Single Player Heaven

2005 was a big video game year for me. I think I own more video game titles this year than I ever have in previous years. And before you go blasting me that of course I have more video games this year because I'm just adding to my eternal collection whenever I buy a new one, I should tell you that I have given away and sold most of my older titles. I don't keep video games around for long unless I really really like them. When Gamecube came out, I gave my N64 to my brother, all games included.

So anyway, big video game year. I'm partial to single player games and I did several of them this year. It was probably the best year for video games too. Just some very good titles the video game industry is cranking out. Great talent.

Halo 2, my first single player game to kick of 2005. Actually I picked it up in December, but it gets included with the gambit of single player games that took up most of my 2005 free time, even the newborn arriving in February took a distant second.

Halo 2, highly anticipated, I think it was Xbox's #1 seller and still is to date I believe. Has a tremendous multiplayer side to it which I dabbled in. Single player pretty fun, nothing extraordinary over the single player game in Halo, but new vehicles and weapons to play around with. Not sure how long it took me to solve it. Maybe 15 hours? 18? It was shorter than the others. Fun, but if I had to pick a shooter to play over and over, it's a title I'll mention later. Took me several tries to beat the boss. Like a dozen? I went back and played it on normal and beat the boss on first try. HUGE gameplay difference between normal and the skill level one higher that I played on. 8/10.

Next, the controversial title that's been in the news lately and has certain people seething and if you're not in that group, then you're in the group that is seething over the people that are seething over the game. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Wow, what a great game. Huge. This series has really set the standard for fun loving sandbox games. I had a lot of fun with this game building my thug empire, running over hookers, blowing away old geezers with a sawed-off and doing my civic duty by controlling the gang population with genocide. And all of that was before I started the missions.

I played this game almost daily over a couple of months. I'm not sure the number of hours of gameplay, it seemed endless and since I was having so much fun, this is a good thing. Load screens are a bit much, about the only thing I can dock this game for and given the size of the cities, it's very understandable. Beat the boss (final mission) on the first try. 9/10.

Next, Jade Empire. This actually was my first purchase for 2005, I started playing it but San Andreas came out. Took a break from Jade Empire to play GTA for a couple of months. After I was done with GTA, I came back to Jade Empire to finish it.

I enjoyed this game although the load times were very frustrating and very long. Not so much a Jade Empire as it is a Load Empire. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Once you got into a map though, it was endless role playing fun, until you had to go to the next area.

Save file said it took me about 25 hours to get through the game. I'm going through it again as a Closed Fist (evil) follower to see how it ends for the bad guy. Also, there's a skill you get late in the game that I kept undeveloped during my first run, that I found out on the very last mission is very powerful. I'm going to be pumping it up as soon as I get it on my second run through. Very neat game. Get rid of the long load times and it'd be awesome. 8/10.

Next up, and on the seventh day, God created Resident Evil 4. I never really played the previous titles, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I had more experience with the movies than I did the games, but let me say, this easily became my favorite game this year, possible of all time. There was a small learning curve, the third person shooter if I can call it that, it made aiming a bit awkward but I got used to it after getting hacked by the first few creepy villagers. And there were a few gotcha moments in the game that made me jump out of my seat or scream like the baby that I was. Combine that with the eerie music, dank environment and best graphics for any video game ever to make me feel spooked from start to finish. No game since Doom has affected me this much. I did beat the boss on the first try after exhausting every resource, every health, every bullet I had in my inventory. It was a slobberknocker to the finish.

RE4 took me about 21 hours to complete. After finishing it, a super weapon is unlocked but not accessible right away. You have to buy it and the price tag is very hefty. After finishing this game, I immediately started over and went after the new super weapon. I finished this game for the second time in about 10 hours. Would've been quicker, but you have to save up for this super weapon and I didn't get it until after the half way point through the game. 10/10, not a darn thing wrong with this title. I love this game and I think I'm going to marry it.

After trying Doom 3 on the PC, I picked it up for Xbox. Very good looking game, scary at times, good mood. Good amount of game play. You do a few restarts because some areas are tough to get through. My favorite thing to do was take a chainsaw to one of the "dogs" and slice and dice it up.

So it looked good, simple, scary, a good shoot 'em up gore fest. What more do you want from a Doom title? I beat the boss on first try. Went back and redid the ending just so I could explore the lair since I didn't waste any time the first time through. 8/10.

Lego Star Wars. This is a couple's game. The wife and I like to get these co-op battle games to play together. In that past we've enjoyed the Baldur's Gate series and DND's Heroes. This was to further the tradition. This game took about 35 minutes to finish. Ok maybe not that quick, but it's a pretty darn short game. That's not a complaint though, we enjoy the game (still playing it to unlock other things/characters). It's cute, fun, novel. You can slash Lego Jar Jar with a light saber over and over (he keeps coming back!) if you're into that sort of thing. 7/10.

Another title I'd like to mention, that doesn't really qualify for my 2005 list here because I got into late 2004 and haven't even played it in 2005, is a game Morrowind. After feeling a bit disappointed by the short story line in Fable, I wanted more questing, more role playing, more stat adding, power leveling, more magic using, more everything. Morrowind filled this void for me. It was the super size to Fable's small fry. Morrowind and Jade Empire were purchased to satisfy my RPG hunger that Fable created.

The interesting thing about Morrowind is that I had given it a try the year before on the PC. It was around the time it came out but I did not like it. I thought, simply, that the character moved too slow. Combat was a bit weird, but the thing that turned me off of the game was that I moved way too slow. When I gave the game another try on the Xbox about a year later, I read about an item called Boots of Speed or something like that that added 200 to your speed. The average speed was probably 20? 200, I could go places with those and I did and that got me interested and I enjoyed the game leveling up my mage.

Another cool feature of the game was customizing and making your own spells. If you wanted one spell that could make you fly and turn you invisible at the same time, you could do that. You set the duration, the strength which affected the casting cost and you could name the spell yourself. Very very cool.

There's no way to beat this game. It's huge. Fable had an ending, Morrowind goes on forever, it's a bottomless pit and that's a good thing. 8/10.

Single player games I'm working on today: Half Life 2, Quake 4, Burnout Revenge, Star Wars: Battlefront.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Land of Confusion by Genesis

Land of Confusion by Genesis

Is this 20 year old song out of date?

I must’ve dreamed a thousand dreams
Been haunted by a million screams
But I can hear the marching feet
They’re moving into the street.

Now did you read the news today
They say the danger’s gone away
But I can see the fire’s still alight
There burning into the night.

There’s too many men
Too many people
Making too many problems

And not much love to go round
Can’t you see
This is a land of confusion.

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in.

Oh Superman where are you now?
When everything’s gone wrong somehow
The men of steel, the men of power
Are losing control by the hour.

This is the time
This is the place
So we look for the future
But there’s not much love to go round
Tell me why, this is a land of confusion.

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth living in.

I remember long ago -
Ooh when the sun was shining
Yes and the stars were bright
All through the night
And the sound of your laughter
As I held you tight
So long ago -

I won’t be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
We’re not just making promises
That we know, we’ll never keep.

Too many men
There’s too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can’t you see
This is a land of confusion.

Now this is the world we live in
And these are the hands we’re given
Use them and let’s start trying
To make it a place worth fighting for.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Baby Lock Turns Nine (Months)

Baby Lock Turns Nine (Months)

Today is Baby Lock's nine month birthday. She's been alive as long as she's been a bun. She's bigger than life, always excited to be awake and playing. She loves to express herself, elation when she's happy, angry when she's mad. She still has yet to fall asleep while in the middle of doing something. If she's tired, she complains until someone rocks her to sleep, otherwise, she will stay up all night.

We're fortunate that she hasn't been sick since she was born. She's as healthy as an ox and ready to take on the world. It cracks her up when you try to scare her. The more you do it, the more manic her laugh. She loves exhilaration.

Anyway, won't be long before the big Zero One.