A creativity blog - including reviews, photographs and discussion on a variety of things; such as dragons and other things almost but not quite completely entirely unlike tea.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Asiria update #18

I've forgotten to upload a picture of page 14, so here it is along with page 15. The end of page 15 had some confetti due to Asiria's hair, so it's taken a while to finish. The remaining pages on the third row are background, once again, so it won't probably be too troublesome to stitch.

Page 15 brings the total of stitches to 108'040, which is approximately 33% of the whole project finished.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Boardless games - a packomaniacal breeze

I just recently bought a new boardgame to add to my collection and while it is completely different, it reminds me a little of two other games I have previously acquired, so I decided to write something about them.

First of all, the new game, which is called Lanterns: the Harvest Festival.

The point of the game is to play lake tiles on which different colour of lanterns are depicted - the orientation of the tile in relation to the players positions around the table as well as to the tiles previously played on the lake affect the colour and amount of lantern cards each player receives. Collecting sets of these cards and then using them, one purchases points from the point stacks - one gets little less points from four same coloured cards, some points for three pairs of cards and the most points for seven different coloured cards, but the amount of points in each stack decreases when a player buys the points with the cards. Some of the lake tiles also have platforms on them in addition to the lantern pictures, and to play a platform gives you coinage to switch cards on your tableau to ones in the storage, which allows you to a little extent manipulate the kinds of cards you have. Each player gets cards each time a tile is placed, so you might even end up with suitable cards during other players' turns - or they might be sneaky and set you up to get cards which have run out, which means no cards for you.

While really simple, fast and easy to pick up, it is evident as well that some scheming can take you a long way, too.

Secondly, Hanabi, a fireworks festival.

Similar in its oriental theme, Hanabi is a co-operation game where you attempt to put down cards in sequence from one to five in five different colours (or six, if you step up the difficulty). The problem is that no one is allowed to see their own cards, only those of the other players. So, you need to use tokens to give hints, according to which people will hopefully play. There are also three lightning tokens, which get turned every time a misplay occurs - with all three gone, the game is over. A player can either play a card, discard a card or give a hint on their turn - discarding a card turns over one of the tokens used to give hints. You can only tell one player at a time either the colour or the number on their cards; but, if there are multiples, you have to reveal all of them at the same time. (For instance, two yellow cards or three number fours, etc..) Also, reaching five in any piles turns one of the hint tokens back into use. The score is the sum of the values of the cards that are one top of the decks at the end of the game, which comes when the deck of cards runs out.

Another really simple game, which is more fun the more players you have - four being max amount - but gets a little repetitious the more you play it; especially if you play with the same people, because you'll learn to read the other's hints more and more effectively the more familiar you are with them and the game.

And lastly, Machi Koro, the town building game.

In the beginning you have a field and a bakery, which give you coins with rolls 1-3 from the die. Then you start using the coins to buy more things, maybe more fields and bakeries, but cafés, orchads, stadiums and mines work well, too. Some cards give you money whenever someone rolls their number; with others, it has to be either you, or the others to roll it, or else it doesn't work. The goal is to amass enough money to build four unique buildings, which all give you some gameplay benefits. The first one to finish all four wins the game. You roll the die (or dice) once each turn and you may buy one building each turn. 

The only problem with this game is that you at some point need to start thinking about winning it and not just about maximizing your cash flow.

I also have nowadays got the Harbour expansion for Machi Koro, which adds another player, bringing it up to five players tops and some new buildings, both normal and special ones. Haven't tried it in an actual game yet, but sounds interesting.*

One thing all of these games have in common is that none of them have an actual game board - it's either cards or tiles to be played and or money to be invested, with a different sort of scoring than the numeric train that goes around the side of the board. As such it makes each new game different from the previous one in a way that most boardgames fail to achieve. And also, it makes them a real breeze to pack, since you only need to stack the cards and bag the coins and you're all set to go.

(*) Since editing the photos for the post I have tried the expansion, which adds a City Hall -card to your beginning table and introduces many new cards that in my opinion balance the game rather nicely, especially in the two player game. It probably takes the estimated duration of the game over the 30 minutes advertised on the package, though.

Monday, 7 March 2016

The games I play(ed)

For some reason or another, when it comes to such hobbies as reading and playing videogames, I have a tendency to torture myself. If I have, on my shelf, waiting, something that I just know will be a great, mind altering, neck jamming and soul enlightening experience - I tend to put it off.

I'll just finish all these others that I've started. This is shorter, I'll look into this first. This one is lame, I'll go with this first, because there's no way I'll be able to enjoy it the tiniest bit if the previous one has in no small way redefined my entire existence with its sensibility, nuances and the Way it speaks to me.

Such was when I had read Partrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind and had Wise Man's Fear just biding its time on the shelf - I read at least four other books in between, teasing myself that I'll get there eventually, that after this one and this one and maybe that one... And then, when I finally allow myself to cross that line, the sweet enjoyment is enhanced by the knowledge that I may or may not have suffered some before the bliss.

Such is my madness. It is mine and it shall keep me, and vice versa.

Such a thing happened with some of the video games I have played in the recent year (at least) as well - while I have finished others and started new ones, I've had that One Game (or maybe two, present collection included) that I've been savouring as though a forbidden fruit, not nearly ripe enough for picking, less yet for devouring.

In the mean time I've played games such as New Little King's Story, which was pleasantly amusing and had an enjoyable combat system, but which failed to carry the play all through the ending. (Also, my Playstation Plus membership expired, which had its own effect on the unfinished state of the game.)

I've played Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, which, if truth be told, was enjoyed much more for its level preludes by Sir Patrick Stewart than its gameplay. Or most of its gameplay at least, some bits managed to pull their weight better than others. The real downside of this one is the structure where the story progresses mainly in the cut scenes and pauses between levels than through your actual playing of the game, which is mainly a feast of acrobatics and combo juggling of ghastly enemies - the Chubachabras having been a delightful pain-in-the-ass relief from the most basic applications of the genre. While the game was beautiful both in terms of sight and sound, it really is not my kind of orange juice if the story assumes to take itself too seriously.

Might also been that this particular player has been rather spoiled by such as DMC and Bayonetta alike...

I've played the White Knight Chronicles, twice, I might add, as I found a save game with no recollections whatsoever of the dilemma the party found itself in, let alone of how to fight those pesky lizards in a way that didn't see the dungeon wiped with my characters. Thus, a new game and a quick run back to where we left off and 'lo, understanding and lizards were both painted bloody. Sadly, the running around and fighting in order to run around and fight some more left this role player vying to quench her thirst for Story and Meaningfulness in some other way.

Also, that Level-5 logo jingle in the beginning was just too much after Rogue Galaxy...

Which I also deem finished, as I see that two attempts at an altogether silly final boss, with way too many stages and no way to save in between and all my hard earned weapons out of use as the Story kicks the Over-compensator of the Ages into our brave hero's hands... And besides, the final battle wasn't pretty, which was the main sales point for the whole game from the beginning, so there.

I have also been genuinely surprised with titles such as Legends of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, which in the current player's humble opinion didn't handle sky travel in such an extent as to warrant its subtitling... While the game was a sales purchase after a recommendation by a friend and sat cheerfully there while I hung my head with other titles, the shock of the old school graphics faded quick as the Story started rolling and rather figuratively and spectacularly swept the rug from under my feet. The second part has made its existence known as well, but for now, it has been left to simmer. Good experiences should in any case be left alone for a while, on low heat, so that their aroma is not spoiled by the next dish in line.

Old school having been mentioned, I also managed to finally run through Tartarus in Persona 3 - first few tries of the boss battle left me, if not humble, then at least determined, to run the stories a bit more in search of them elusive experience points, after which the boss-tree fell without so much of a fuss as to leave me wondering if four levels really make that big of a difference or if I just had a luckier run than before.. All in all though, it was a real treat. There is also definitely some re-playing value there, as my Knowledge hath thus been widened and there's So-Much-More that could be done - or at least, I could try that one thing differently and see if it all goes the same. Anyways...

At some point I decided I needed a break and found another sales purchase that I had completely forgotten on the download list: Murdered: Soul Suspect. With a sort of film-noir, search the pixels and a not-so-scary mystery solving, my brain was rejuvenised and I managed to get myself quite hooked on the thing in the end. Didn't bother searching for all of the hidden content as the main story played out so nicely, even though the main character's swaggering through gates was so enjoyable that I visited the cemetery at least once without needing to, just to look at that delightful hip swing again. The only downside with the game in my opinion was the whole demon-thing - I mean, why bother with them? For me the mood was already scary enough (even if they did bring some more suspense into it, sure) and it's not like the initial scare wasn't a bit watered down by the annoyance of not being able to proceed immediately, dammit, with some silly spooks on the way. Other than that, the game was fun, pretty and grim, just the way it should have been. I deleted the file after The End.

Apart from these, I've also tried my hand with several smaller entities, such as Dokuro, Medievil and Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams demo, which fail to entertain me after a while in the nature common of most platformers: they just get too freaking hard after a while. I have played through the beginning in Silent Hill: Book of Memories, but should find the enthusiasm to actually play it, in the grown-ups kind of way. I started Atelier Ayesha with great endeavour to enjoy it to the fullest, but found myself growing restless with the balance of the impeding doom (i.e. the clock), which is like a square peg in the round hole of sandbox-like freedom otherwise available to you in the game. I also have enjoyed to beginning part of Fairy Fencer, but the second part of "hey, let's make a time loop and play all the same levels again, so we don't have to design new ones" got old with me wa-ay back when; you know, like in Final Fantasy XIII-2, but without the typical Square Enix prettiness and megalomania that excuses most of it.

So there I was, with several games finished, unfinished, in progress or not-yet-started, having lost my sense of self and reason of existence, when I just as an afterthought remembered that I have Persona 4 Golden sitting on my shelf just when I was about to leave to the countryside for a few days in the beginning of winter holidays...

If you don't know the feeling you get when you open up an astonishingly great new book, which you know to be great even before laying your eyes on the first pages, ready to be, not convinced but affirmed in your belief in its greatness, then you must be sad and I pity you.

And if you don't know the way a piece a fiction can realign your soul in a way that makes it seem whole and pure and splendid in it own right, then it might be that you have never been alive.

Alive. That is what I feel as I now, on my vacation from teaching, return to school and remember that the most important things in life are, after all, improving your social life in order to fight another day and to survive the pop quizzes and weird-ass lectures as a typical Japanese high-schooler. It is an amazing thing to have your sense of purpose handed to you by a video game - it affects after all not only your inner self but also the environs around you, such as it does now in the form of this blog post.

Profound words they may be, but profound is also the happiness I feel inside.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Asiria update #17

Page 13 is finished and row number three is off to a good start. Too lazy to count stitch count now, will do that later. This page took less than a month, it's an amazing effect an approaching dragon can have. :)

Still haven't had the itch to write anything else in the blog... Maybe one of these days...

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Asiria update #16

Page 12 and at the same time, row two of Asiria finished. The stitch count is at 85'500 out of 328'950, meaning the percentage is currently at 26%.

I had wished to complete the second row by the end of 2015, but due to a few months of depression towards the end of the year I wasn't able to stitch as fast as I was planning. As I'm getting better now, I hope to update this blog a bit more often, too. I've recently read Trudi Canavan's The Black Magician trilogy, which could warrant a review post of some sort and I'm also close to finishing the PS3 game Murdered: Soul Suspect, which I found in my downloads list with no memory of having purchased it... Not to mention all the other games, books and tv-series I binged with during the depressive cycle. Should the mania phase set in at some point, new posts shall surely be forthcoming.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Asiria update #15

I finished page 11 on Asiria last year, on 21st of December to be exact. The last page is mostly white, so it might take a while to finish.