Hey Grayskullers, Colin here. I just wanted to share some screenshots of the little homestead I’ve put together for myself on my current Minecraft adventure. Hope you enjoy!
This is a very nostalgic topic for me. Diablo II is easily in my top 5 favorite games of all time–and easily my top 1 or 2 in total time played! It’s awesome to see people put this much time and effort into reconstructing this inside of minecraft. I hope it brings back some good memories for you. Enjoy!
How goes it, Grayskullers?! It is once again time to delve into my closet and find what really makes my nerd heart pump. This time it is flight simulators, and more specifically Microsoft’s long running Flight Simulator series. Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0 was released in 1982 and spawned 9 sequels culminating in Flight Simulator X released in 2006. Fascinated by my Grandfather’s service as a pilot in the Army Air Corp during WW2, I developed a love of aviation at an early age. I was first introduced to the series either with FS95 or FS98, but did not own a copy until Flight Simulator 2000 was released. I was finally able to take the controls and replicate what I saw at air shows and in film. I got down all of the basics in no time and was taking off and landing with style and grace. But it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I really dove head first into the deep end of learning many of the intricacies involved in flying a plane in real life such as navigation techniques and proper mechanical operation. Previously it had been just taking off and flying around for a bit then landing wherever happened to be closest. Now I can take an ultra realistic 737 from a cold & dark (completely shut off) state and complete a cross country flight using almost all the same controls and systems a real airline pilot would. Unfortunately, Microsoft Flight Simulator as a franchise has probably seen its final iteration. The internal studio that created them no longer exists and most of the intellectual property has been sold off. The X-Plane series of simulators is fairly popular and Lockheed released an improved and updated version of Flight Sim X known as Prepar3D for use in flight schools, but Microsoft’s involvement is probably dead forever. Fortunately the Microsoft Flight Sim community is still as big as ever, and many third party companies still create new content for FSX, such as the beautiful 777 from PMDG, the undisputed creme de la creme of add ons. Though my interest always begins to wain after several months, I always find myself returning to the skies somewhere down the road. Until next time, fly safe!
Above left: My collection of FS games. Above right: an image from Flight Sim 1.0. Below: Me flying past Mt. Rainier on my way from Seattle to Burbank on FSX.
Hello again! It’s time for the second installment of “Coming Out of the Closet”. On this edition I will be talking about the first, and maybe my favorite, MMORPG that I ever played. Released in September of 1997, UO grew to become the first MMO to ever have 100.000 subscribers and reached a peak of about 250,000 in 2003. That may pale in comparison to the 12 million subscriptions World of Warcraft held at its peak, but UO is widely regarded as the MMO that broke open the floodgates for the many successful games in the genre that would follow after it.
I was first introduced to UO in jr. high, sometime around the turn of the millennium, by my new South African buddy, John (or Johannes, as we used his real name more often as we got older). Unlike nothing I had ever played before, the depth on complexity was quite overwhelming at first. With the help of John and his older, wiser, and supremely powerful brother, I eventually began to catch on, although never did I fully master all the ways of Britannia. One thing I did master was the games mining and blacksmithing systems. The crafting in the game was a major part of what hooked me in, even more than the combat. I would spend hours upon hours just mining the mountains to collect the many varieties of ore, turn them into ingots, and either sell them for profit or craft them into armor, weapons or other various items. Unlike most RPGs that followed it, there were no character levels, and each skill increased proficiency only with use, up to level 100. Personal housing was another feature that I absolutely loved. From the single roomed basic house, to the multi-roomed and multi-storied castle and keep, your domicile was yours to decorate and furnish as you saw fit. You could also set up NPCs (non-player character) at your house and use them as a store for other players to come by and purchase items you have put up for sale. John and I also spent plenty of time on the game’s test server, which allowed instant maxing of any skills, attempting to gank(kill) other players, with varying degrees of success. Though my time with UO only lasted a couple years at most, I’ve been hard-pressed to find a similar experience that has provided as much joy in the dozen years since. Until next time!
A screenshot of my character, Doug, on the free Ultima Online server hosted by UO Second Age
Hello Grayskullers, Colin here. This is the first entry into a new series of articles I will be releasing that will chronicle my feelings and experiences with some of the biggest check marks on my list of nerd credentials. Seeing as most of this stuff currently finds a home in my closet I felt the title of this segment was appropriate. Having Magic the Gathering be the first entry was an absolute no brainer. No other hobby even comes to close to touching the amount of time and money I have spent on MTG over my lifetime. As you can see in the photo to the left my collection is quite extensive, containing somewhere over 6000 cards. First introduced to the game in later elementary school, it became a massive part of my life through jr. high and high school. The trio of myself and my buddies Adam and Jeff spent countless hours locked in battle and putting together new decks to try to counter an opponent’s deck we just had no answer for. The endless variety of cards allowed for and endless variety of possible decks, creating a level of strategy like no other game I’ve ever played. Similar to many strategy video games (which I am also a big fan of) the actual battle is only part of the equation. The outcome of the match has as much to do with the design of your deck, as it does with how you put it in to action. Though my MTG heyday is in the past, with only minor resurgences over the last decade, I still hold on tight to those fond memories and my collection. Until next time!
EA has announced that online gaming service, Gamespy, will be shutting down due to it mostly being obsolete at this point in the game. This shut down spells the end of online support for a plethora of older titles including the older entries of the Battlefield series. Although it has been a while since I last played any of them, I was still a bit saddened that some of my favorite games ever would essentially be dead in a couple weeks (although possibly not forever according to EA). Battlefield 1942 was revolutionary in its time for it’s scale and gameplay, and spawned a franchise that is now among the most dominant in the video game landscape. What shooters from the past do you Grayskullers have fond memories of?
Mike D commented in episode 6 that he did not like the Tom Cruise film “Jerry Maguire”. Inspired by this, in Episode 7 we connect Mike’s comment to discuss how hipster this is. “But Joe,” you say, “how does not liking Tom Cruise and hipsters relate to each other?”. Strange connection between the two, I know, but let me elaborate.
If I were to name all of the movies Tom Cruise has starred in to someone in their 30’s, it’s arguable that they have most likely seen at least half of them. I’d venture a guess that even the younger folk would admit to seeing at least five of his more recent films. So the idea that people must like Tom Cruise is an argument I make based off the fact that a strong majority are watching so many of his movies. People are watching him, so people must love him. A sound argument, right? Then why doesn’t Mike D stop being a douchebag and fall in line?
It’s pretty safe to say poor Tom has had his share of bad press. Whether it be his uncompromising dedication to Scientology (fighting the good fight alongside Dana’s cabbage?), his affinity towards megalomania, or outright odd behavior (cough, Oprah Winfrey “I’m in LOOOOOVE!” cough), I think we tend to intermix our judgment of Tom the actor and Tom the IRL person.
To be fair however, preconceptions we make based on bad press should be tossed out when making judgment on ol’ Tom simply because 99% of us do not have TC in our lives personally. We have him in our lives only because he is in our movies! What is my point? I’m not entirely sure…but originally I believed that to hate Tom cruise is to adopt a hipster’s approach to pop culture; an easy way to go against the grain, if you will. But that turns out to be false.
As I questioned more and more people about this, I found that a lot of them have negative feelings towards TCruise. In fact, the majority of people I spoke to don’t like Tom at all. Armed with this knowledge, it now seems maybe my argument should be that to be hipster IS to love Tom Cruise. Based on my findings that Mr. Cruise is apparently so uncool, any true hipster HAS to. Ha! I got you good you fucker!
Follow the pack or jump on that Vespa towards a screening of Top Gun 2. I’ll see you there, you wide-rimmed-glasses wearing sonofabitch! I have to stop off at the tattoo parlor to touch up my TC armband beforehand, but I’ll see you after for fucking sure!
Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you. Tom Cruise I love you.
….JK. He’s just alright.
(My thanks goes out to Mike D for his editing and art.)