Brian Still Hasn’t Beat Pools of Darkness, Part Four – Dragon’s Lair

The monsters rejoice for the party has been destroyed.

We had a lot more trouble with the fire giant mage’s cave than I was expecting, so I decided it was once again time to leave the Realms in undeniable peril and spend some time irresponsibly leveling up. Nevermind the clouds of dragons ready to descend and level everything in sight—we headed west for experience and mediocre loot.

Go on….

Brian Still Hasn’t Beat Pools of Darkness, Part Three – Another Giant Mess

Bane briefs his lieutenants

[Hey. This is part 3 in a series. You can find Part 1 here, and Part 2 here!]

The last big sidequest I wanted to complete before accepting that box social invitation from the hill giant shaman involved…well, more giants. I can’t seem to get away from these guys. This time, we were investigating a fortress called Taydome’s Keep in the plains of Thar. An enchantment had been placed on the keep that bewitched any giants within, placing them under the command of some half-baked wizard named Kimarr, who was feuding with another wizard named Quil, and had taken our good pal Sasha hostage. Kimarr had bent a good number of hill, cloud, and fire giants to his will, along with some ogres. Since they were reluctant servants to Kimarr, we were hesitant to fight them (well, all of us except for Veda), and tried to make our way through the keep as stealthily as possible to avoid the patrols.

Go on….

Brian Still Hasn’t Beat Pools of Darkness, Part Two – Ignoring the Plight of the Realms for Some Sweet XP

[Hey. This is part 2 in a series. If you wanna read part 1, you can check that out here.]

[Be forewarned: I’m real bad at remembering to take screenshots, so you may have to use your imagination until (and if) I get my act together. I stole some from MobyGames.com so you would at least have a lil’ something to look at.]

Elminster hurled us back through the portal, but it deposited us in unfamiliar territory. Fortunately, our party members vaguely recognized the geography as an area far to the east of Phlan, so we gathered our bearings and headed west. What the heck, Elminster? Why’d you throw us so far off course?! Ah well. 

There are a number of sidequests I normally do at the beginning of Pools of Darkness, but this is the first time I’ve used the class-change feature, and our party is currently stuck with a level 1 thief in Scholtz II. I wanted to level this guy up as much as possible in a fairly controlled environment so as not to get caught unprepared in a deep dungeon with a low-level character. Also, a character can only gain experience points up to one point below the amount needed to gain two levels, so I needed to be able to train frequently to get the most out of my experience, otherwise the points just go to waste.

Go on….

Brian Still Hasn’t Beat Pools of Darkness

Pools of Darkness Title Screen

It all started as an innocent computer game purchase from Babbage’s in 1993. It has grown into a monster that eludes me to this day.

I have what practically amounts to a wrecked semi’s worth of video games at my disposal, and none of them have achieved White Whale status quite like Pools of Darkness. It’s the fourth and final game in Strategic Simulations, Inc.’s original “Gold Box” series of Dungeons and Dragons PC games, preceded by Pool of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, and Secret of the Silver Blades. I’ve beaten all three of those games. Multiple times. Not Pools of Darkness.

Go on….

My Top 10 Video Games of “2018”

Funny quote from Earthbound

With 2018 being my first full year as a father, the value of shorter games that I could play to completion in just a few hours became greater than ever. While binging a 5-10 hour game over a weekend is a perfectly cromulent option, I only have 45 minutes to an hour to play games, most days. That being said, I can drag a 5-10 hour game out for a week or two and perceive what most would consider a short game as a full, meaty experience. Naturally, you’re going to see a nice variety of these shorter games in this year’s top 10. They are the perfect length for my current lifestyle, seeing as I rarely finish a game thinking, “What? That’s it?”

However, I also filled a good portion of my 2018 gaming time with some lengthy roleplaying affairs. I have to approach games like this as a long-term commitment that might take six months or more, and to be prepared to take numerous breaks from them in order to enjoy a shorter experience along the way. A couple of these games captured enough of my imagination and attention to make the list, however.

This write-up took much longer to compile than usual—waiting five months later than usual to wrap it up and allowing my memories of these games to deteriorate didn’t help. So, what made the list in 2018? I better hurry up and tell you before I forget everything!

As always, the games on this list didn’t have to be released in 2018 (hence the quotation marks in the title), just that I either beat them or played the majority of them in 2018.

Go on….

Consistency, or Lack Thereof

Inconsistency.

This is another one of those blogs in which I talk myself through a problem I have. I hope that it is helpful for me, and maybe for you, as well.

When I was a bowler in high school, there was one particular Saturday afternoon in which I was the only member of my team who could make it, and the opposing team only had one guy show up, as well. While our absent teammates’ handicaps played into the scoring, it was, essentially, a one-on-one match-up. My opponent was a nice kid a couple of years younger than me. Quiet, no trash talk, no hot-dogging. He was just there to bowl, like me.

I had a not-so-great day on the lanes. A strike here or there, a bunch of splits, and I couldn’t pick up a spare if a dude was standing at the ball return paying me money to do it. I think I carried a 160 average that year, but if I had to guess my scores that day, they would have been probably 115, maybe one good game at 170, and 137. Meanwhile, my opponent, a developing bowler in his own right, had a career day. If his average was 140, he bowled a 210, a 180, and a 190-something that afternoon. While my opponent wasn’t much of an underdog, he was an underdog. And I was beaten handily.

At the end of the third game, I sat, dejectedly, changing my shoes at the scoring table. My opponent approached and said simply, “You lack consistency.” He wasn’t being mean, just offering a critique of my afternoon. He was so correct that I didn’t know how to respond. I just sighed and said, “Yeah.”

Go on….

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Nuked My Video Game “Want” List

Bionic Commando Explosion

In my 2017 year-in-review post, I teased a scintillating future blog about video game-buying habits. I’ve reached a desperate point in my life in which these habits must change, and I’m ready to reveal everything in this exclusive tell-all blog that I definitely didn’t just write on my lunch break.

Some years ago, maybe from 2012-2015 or so, Kickstarter overflowed with crowdfunded video games. Every week (probably every day, to be honest!), a new game with a clever pitch, a sizeable funding target, and enticing stretch goals hit the service. Some were entirely new games, while others were long-awaited sequels, hollow nostalgia bait, or spiritual successors from the creators of long-dead franchises.

The onslaught of new and exciting crowdfunded games was a lot for me to keep track of. I simply have too much professional wrestling knowledge clogging my brain matter to remember all the video games I want to buy. Priorities, man. So, I started a “want” list that included all of the Kickstarter games I eagerly awaited. In time, this list expanded to also cover upcoming games not on Kickstarter, plus already-released games that I did not yet have, but wanted to get. This all seemed perfectly logical and harmless, and the want list became my go-to resource for all of my game-buying decisions. I made a spreadsheet and organized games by platform and scored them as low, medium, high, or very high priority, based on how badly I wanted them. Clearly, I don’t take my hobbies too seriously.

Go on….