Garden Warfare Redux

This article about microtransactions in Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare is a few days old now, and the option to purchase coins has already appeared in the game. Definitely not worth it to me at those price points, but YMMV. Also, I’m unemployed, so if I want to buy the chance at some nifty stuff, I just play a few rounds of Gardens and Graveyards. But that takes time.

In any case, my main concern about this change is that it would fuel the jerks who go beat up on people on the Welcome Mat, but I don’t know if that’s a problem or not. Again with the prices; I don’t think it would be worth it to any serious player. The thing is probably too big to tell.

I’ve spent some quality time with this game this week, and my initial reaction of “what?” has become the inability to put it down. I got obsessed with leveling a couple of characters. I got obsessed with my Vanquish to KO ratio. Hell, I just plain got obsessed.

And why? Because this is a good game. It’s well put together, there’s a nice balance of characters to choose from, and in my case the sheer silliness of the thing makes the transition into multiplayer shooters somehow more gentle. I really am still a newbie, Titanfall love aside.

Name By Sound, People

This is fascinating data and analysis of a naming trend that’s gotten out of hand, making names ending in N the overwhelming choice for boys. A big factor is rhyming name families, including sets of the same name with many spellings. Take all the spellings and call them one name, and something like Jayden, a name I only heard of for the first time several years ago, is up in popularity with the classic popular names. When the wife and I were picking names, apart from two of them being homages, we pointedly tried for ones that were not in the top 100. By sound, not spelling. We even preferred middle names that wouldn’t be too popular, without being weird or hard to spell, either.

Creepy photos of abandoned malls.

Here.

TBH, as a Life After People addict, these didn’t strike me as all that terribly creepy…except the one that awesome scene from The Blues Brothers was filmed in. New Oldsmobiles are in early this year. And God help us, now we live in a Life After Oldsmobile. And I’ll have to explain that line to my kids. And the passage of time is sometimes staggering.

Which, come to think of it, is exactly what these pictures are about.

Titanfall

I have never played an online multiplayer shooter of any kind, unless your *really* want to count Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, which is sort of an example of the genre and sort of too goofy for it to feel like an example, even though you are indeed there with the idea that your team is out to kill their team, or that you’re defending a given point. Which sounds an awfully lot like the sort of game I said I’d never play after watching a friend get his ass kicked playing one of the Battlefields, and I’ve steadfastly resisted it up until now.

But Titanfall. Oh, Titanfall.

You lured me in with your graphics and your robots and your awesome tutorial that made me feel a hundred times less lame. Then you charmed me with your gameplay and all of the ducking around corners and shooting the bad guys and then leaping up into this enormous mechanized killing machine. I never thought I could be seduced by a game where I can step on the enemy, but the power of the Titan is enough to make me giddy. And being able to let my Titan go auto? Sublime.

The control scheme is smooth, it plays like a dream, and even my newb ass is succeeding well enough to keep me coming back again, looking to do a little bit better, to kill more pilots or destroy more Titans or merely die less than 10 times in a match. And each time I get a little bit better. Well, except when luck keeps me spawning right next to the enemy. That just sucks.

In any case, I’m hooked. And the worst part is that I’ve been playing on a friend’s Xbox One. I don’t have one of my own. So no Titanfall for me until I can steal his for a few hours again. Damned depressing, that.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Know what? I really don’t give a shit what this woman has to say. I haven’t lived in her world, and she hasn’t lived in mine. What we haven’t experienced is always hard to understand, and sometimes that gap is not bridgable. I do find it intensely annoying, however, when folks insist on talking endlessly about things they know nothing about. So my advice for her? Shut up and go make a movie.