Checkpoint: Thanksgiving 2017 Edition

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Thanksgiving normally isn’t a thing for my family. We’ve done the turkey thing and for the past couple of years we’ve been hamming it up. This year has been quite different; I’ll be having not one but two turkey dinners. I’ve also had my share of Korean lunches and dinners after it’s all said and done. I’m in Toronto spending time with my girlfriend’s friends and family. 

There’s something about the traditional thanksgiving rigmarole that makes scratch my head. Why the cranberry slop? Why stuffing? And why turkey? And why do North American immigrants feel the need to follow such traditions when it’s really not exactly their thing? It feels formulaic and forced like Valentine’s Day or any other of the token holidays. Christmas dinner seems to be more freeform and open to ideas which is why I tend to lean heavily towards that holiday dinner. I have similar feelings with traditional Chinese New Year dinners too.

At least it was prepared well and had some interesting tweaks made but in the end, it’s just turkey and fixings. It’s like saying I had the best rice cakes ever — in the end, it’s just rice cake. 

On the plus side, I get to enjoy some quality apple pie from The Big Apple.


On the plus side, I’m getting a lot of Breath of the Wild time in. 

Checkpoint: HTC Vive Edition

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I tried virtual reality for approximately 40 minutes today by way of a friend’s HTC Vive headset. It was pretty much as I expected it to be – I wasn’t disappointed but at the same time, I wasn’t amazed either.

I played a bit of Space Pirate Trainer, Valve’s The Lab, NVIDIA’s Carnival freebie, Onward and SUPERHOT VR. SUPERHOT VR was the only game I really wanted to dig in and play, all the others were fun experiences that I was happy to try once.

I’ve watched GiantBomb’s VR coverage for quite some time and thus had a pretty good idea of what to expect when donning on the headset for the first time.

The Hardware

The headset felt lighter in my hands than I expected but after it was affixed to my head, I felt it was a tiny bit heavier than I anticipated. It wasn’t perfectly configured for my head but I was able to turn and move about comfortably. If I had a bit more time, I would have had my friend loosen it a bit so more air could circulate through the headset. It did get a bit warm after all that arm waggling.

I expected to see the screen door effect and relatively lower resolution so I wasn’t taken aback by it. For certain titles like, Onward, those shortcomings stood out. In titles like Space Pirate Trainer and SUPERHOT VR, it was a non-issue.

The controllers are bulky and heavier than I would like but they do work as expected. I was very impressed with the tracking. Buttons and triggers felt responsive as well.

The bulk of the controller and the protruding headset resulted in me accidentally bopping myself when I tried to bring an object to my face.

I wasn’t bothered by the cable as much as I thought I would be. I always knew where it was and was able to navigate it without issue.

The Software

SUPERHOT VR was the star of the short VR demonstration. I didn’t pass the first set of levels but it was the only game I wanted to just buckle down and seriously play. It highlighted a brand new gaming paradigm where designers can place things anywhere and everywhere and I have to get used to glancing left and right quickly. It’s not just about what’s directly in front of me or just to the left of me.

Space Pirate Trainer was a fun romp but there’s really nothing much else to it that makes me want to try it again. I can see it being a fun leaderboard hot seat game but I don’t know how hot the seat will be since it takes a bit of time to configure the headset between people.

I don’t like how I have to swap hands and controllers between games. It’s an odd quirk but one worth noting. It may be related to which controller I use to launch the title but I think it should be a Steam VR level calibration at the beginning of each session and that’s it. These are the quality of life things that remind me that it’s a first generation product.

Promising But Not Quite There Yet

I was glad to have tried the HTC Vive and I look forward to additional sessions with it but I came away feeling the exact same as I went in: it’s neat but not quite there yet. I will jump into VR when the headsets are more comfortable, wireless and come equipped with a higher quality screen. I want the controllers to be lighter and feel more natural. And, of course, I want it to be cheaper.

None of my demands are out of reach though. The Oculus Touch and Valve’s upcoming Knuckles controller appear to be the refinements I am looking for on the controller front, for example.

I see the potential of virtual reality but I don’t think it’s ready for prime time just yet.

Checkpoint: Agent Activated Edition

The more time I spend with The Division, the more I enjoy it. It doesn’t seem like it’s a large game in terms of geographical scale but it does appear to be very dense with places to visit. I’ve spent 10 hours with the game, repeated content with different people but I’m still discovering new details in the environment. I believe I’ve seen every enemy type this game has to offer but I am still looking forward to their higher level equivalents and curious what spins they will give each of them.

My brother and I have found it a more engaging game when we’re a little bit out of our element with regards to levels. Being 3 levels under the level requirement is too much for two people to overcome but 2 levels is fun.

So it’s been an enjoyable journey so far but I felt the same way about Destiny at the same 10 hour mark. Now we just need to see if this game will end up like original Destiny or Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition.

I’m inching towards the end of Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright but it’s clear that I’m over grinding. I just can’t help it though. I see a high level challenge mission and I just have to finish it.