TRP 02/04/16: Live-ish From PAX South

Kaz made the trek down to the southwest (south?) of the country to hang with Tony and friends at PAX South in San Antonio, Texas. Recorded live (unlive?) from the dining room table of Tony’s place!

TRP 01/26/16: Fix It In Post

Tony, Kaz and McFadden plumb the darkest depths of Adam Sandler’s career, navigating gems and garbage alike. To lighten the mood they discuss the nightmarish hell of Darkest Dungeon and the cerebral horror of SOMA. Thank goodness for those breezy titles.

TRP 01/19/16: Olly Olly Oculus

Kaz and Neil join forces to speculate and comment on VR now that we know the price of the Oculus Rift. Neil discusses his enjoyable time with Oxenfree and Kaz espouses more love for Rise of the Tomb Raider and much, much more.

2015 Game of the Year Picks

750px-Elongated_circle_2015.svgDon’t have time for a 3+ hour podcast. We get that. Here’s a list of the Top 5 lists from the show:

Tom Sheppard

  1.  Undertale
  2.  Life is Strange
  3.  Crypt of the Necrodancer
  4.  Axiom Verge
  5.  Super Mario Maker

Tony Divito

  1. Halo 5: Guardians
  2. Rocket League
  3. The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
  4. Ori and the Blind Forest
  5. Fallout 4

Neil Waggoner

  1. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
  2. Life is Strange
  3. Fallout 4
  4. Tales From the Borderlands
  5. Rise of the Tomb Raider

Mike McFadden

  1. Rocket League
  2. Crypt of the Necrodancer
  3. Ori and the Blind Forest
  4. Affordable Space Adventure
  5. Yoshi’s Wooly World

Nick “Kaz” Kosareo

  1. Kerbal Space Program
  2. Ori and the Blind Forest
  3. Rocket League
  4. Rise of the Tomb Raider
  5. DiRT: Rally

Justin Hemenway

  1.  Super Mario Maker
  2.  Undertale
  3.  Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  4.  Splatoon
  5.  Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate

“Nickydino”

  1.  Tales From the Borderlands
  2.  The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt
  3.  Undertale
  4.  Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  5.  Splatoon

TRP 01/09/16: Top 5 Lists for 2015

A fuller house than normal is assembled for a look back at 2015. Neil, Kaz, Tom, Tony, McFadden, Justin and maybe a spectral visitor, too. Apologies for the length and size of the podcast on this one. Weighing in at almost 3 hours and 185mb, do not download this bad boy on a mobile plan if you have data limits.

TRP 11/25/15: Lost In Another World

Kaz, Tony and Neil gather to talk about getting lost in Halo 5‘s multiplayer and completely ignoring the story. Kaz is loving the beginning of Rise of the Tomb Raider and knowing it’s just more of the same. Neil is completely lost in the wasteland of Fallout 4 and things get a little slap happy.

Physical Fatness: Update 1

As I blogged before I’ve been trying to increase (and track) my daily activity for consistently. I’ve been pretty good about the tracking portion of that, just not the increasing part just yet.

Let’s take a look at October:

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I’m definitely doing better so far in November for comparison:

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The success I started seeing increasing my steps and activity at the end of October has rolled into November but I still haven’t hit the 10,000 step goal on any days. I just need to keep increasing the length of walks I take with Ghost to get over that hump on a day.

I’ve gotten to almost 2 miles on a walk, and the puppy seems to be able to handle it well enough. I keep having to remember that he had surgery less than a year ago to remove excess cartilage from his elbow. So I can’t push the dog too far, but he seems to enjoy short jogs and longer walks lately so I should get them in before old man winter rolls in for an extended visit.

As far as calorie tracking goes I have a hard time remaining consistent. I dutifully track breakfast, lunch and mid-work snacks but find it hard to get in a rhythm tracking dinner or snack that occur at home. Something about the regimented way I go thought he work day lends itself to building habits. But the moment I cross the front door into my house it all goes out the window for some reason.

I have reduced portion sizes a bit as a result of the tracking I’ve been able to remember to do. Especially limiting the over-eating I was doing at lunch. But I still need to get some traction with dinner and reducing the amount of eating out I’m doing.

Lord only knows what will happen to my self control through Thanksgiving next week. Pray for my belt.

First Impressions: Steam Controller

My long awaited Steam Controller arrived in the mail yesterday and I’ve tried to put it through it’s paces.

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I do like that everyone has glommed onto the packaging style that Apple has made so famous. The Steam Controller arrived in a clean looking box, no blister packaging to wrestle with and cut myself on.

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I find myself fond of the look of the controller, it’s unique and that helped me to want to try the thing when pre-orders became available. I already have the best possible standard gamepad available for the PC, it’s called the Xbox One controller. If the Steam Controller is going to find a home in my daily routine it’s going to have to do something special.

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The back plate pops off in a satisfying way to reveal the battery compartments in each handle. Hey, name brand batteries! Neat. The buttons that are part of the grip are a little too easy to press, and don’t have a very satisfying throw to boot, same goes for the shoulder buttons. The triggers are an interesting take, they have a digital click at the bottom of the relatively short throw that will instantly remind you of the Gamecube controller. And that’s a good thing to me.

As far as the face button and analog stick: they are serviceable. I don’t really have any complaints other that the buttons are in the analog stick position compared to any controller. The focus here is on the big trackpads and not the traditional buttons. As a result the buttons are kind of hard for me to find when I need to hit them and transitioning from the trackpad to the buttons causes me to occasionally hit the wrong button. Maybe that will change with time.

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The trackpads are where the rubber hits the road. Do they feel comfortable for shooting? Mousing? Camera control?

The short answer: not really.

I knew that the trackpads would fall short replacing the mouse or an analog stick for shooters or any twitch aiming action. But I expected them to feel better for point-and-click controls. The range of motion and precision of the trackpads just isn’t there. I can’t get the right speed or acceleration on the settings to make the controller feel right to mouse with. There isn’t enough precision, as you move your thumb around slowly the mouse seems to stair step everywhere, clicking from position to position instead of smoothly transitioning.

Moreover the lack of a d-pad becomes apparent when you play a retro style game. I used Downwell as my test game for this. The analog stick isn’t very precise for the platforming in that game and the left trackpad is a poor substitute for a d-pad. So I’m left looking at my Xbox controller longingly thinking about picking up the wireless adapter… a product I did not purchase specifically to force myself to try the Steam Controller and give it a fair shake.

I figured that the type of game this controller best opens access to is a slow mouse based point-and-click type game. I loaded up Broken Age to test out the experience (I’ve been meaning to finish that game out). I could not have been more frustrated, an analog stick would be a better way to interface with that game. Which really defeats the whole purpose of the damned controller!

I’m going to give a turn based strategy game a shot, something like Civilization: Beyond Earth would be a good fit. Maybe that will find a use for the Steam Controller. But that does seem a little frustrating, I have to go looking for a use for this controller? Shouldn’t Valve have set up some games that showcase this thing? It seems a little crazy that consumers, in the form of the Steam community creating profiles for every game out there, have to create the justification for their purchases?

That’s not even including the sheer level of anger I felt attempting to type using the Steam Controller’s on-screen keyboard. I was wracked with physical pain as I tried to slowly pound out a simple sentence to a friend on Steam who saw me playing a bunch of games. I felt like I was rehabbing, I know how to type and I had a keyboard three feet away, why was I forcing myself to slowly click my way through when I could pick up that keyboard and be done in three seconds?

So, I’m not very far into testing the Steam Controller, and I’m going to give it more time, but I’m having a hard time seeing what it’s for. The phrase that keeps leaping to mind while I use this thing is “a solution is search of a problem”. I usually hate that cliché because it seems so dismissive of new ideas, but in this case it feels all too appropriate.

Getting Back on the Band Wagon

I made a solid effort to get back into shape a couple years ago. I made decent progress but stalled out after moving from an apartment complex with a gym on site to where I live now. It doesn’t seem like much but the ten minute drive to the gym really did make it fall out of my daily routine.

I am incredibly lazy.

hat fact is probably the largest part in getting me to my current size (285lbs, I’m only 6’1″ so that’s a BMI of “you might actually be deceased already”). My ideal weight would be somewhere around 220. I’m sure medical science would say 185 is a true ideal weight. But I think I know my own limitations too well.

Speaking of limitations I think reducing my weight by 65 pounds is a big chunk to try and tackle so I’m targeting a smaller goal. Assuming an ideal weigh loss rate of about a pound-and-a-half a week I’ll be looking to take out 25 pounds in 5 months. Mostly by reducing portion size and making sure to move more everyday.

I’d love to increase my activity and say I’m going to start going to the gym every day and eating broccoli and baked chicken breast every meal but I know better. I’m going to start by trying to max out a step counter (more on the technology side below) and eating less. I’ve talked to my workplace about bein able to get a standing desk, but that might not happen.

I’m hoping to be more consistent about blogging about it here to give myself a cadence and chance to reflect, change bad habits and reinforce good ones.

And because I’m a sucker for technology I’ve gotten myself something to help motivate. I had a Fitbit for the longest time, a Fitbit One in particular. I really did like racking up flights of stairs and steps, but I kept losing the darn thing or forgetting to grab it.

So I snagged a Band 2 when pre-orders went live. The watch concept fits into my lifestyle well. I forgot how much I liked wearing a watch, ever since I got my first smartphone I stopped wearing a watch.

WP_20151031_17_51_09_ProBetween tracking sleep, heartrate, elevation changes, steps, UV exposure (important for long Cleveland winters) and many other things that don’t surface much I should get more data than I could possibly want. I can create custom workouts to load onto the band that I’ll run in the morning. I’ll also be tracking my nightly walks with Ghost and any other time I can get out and go for a walk.

BuildAWorkoutI’ll also be using MyFitnessPal for calorie tracking, I think honestly tracking how much I was eating made the biggest impact three years ago when I hit my all time low weight. I wanted to use LoseIt but I don’t have a good app solution on Windows Phone. So until a better option appears I’ll have MyFitnessPal.

I’ll look to update every week or so. Wish me luck.

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