Who Am I Talking Too?

My dog always has to go outside when I play Heroes Of The Storm with my friends.  At first I thought I just noticed it more when playing online because of the inconvenience of telling everybody, “AFK doggy BIO.” in voice chat and then leaving for a while as I take her outside.  But I’m starting to think that she actually wants to go outside more often when I’m playing online.  Or at least I think she really comes over and stares at me more.

 

Action shot of her staring at me while I’m online gaming, doesn’t it look like she wants something?

 

Ordinarily when she needs to go potty she comes over to where I am in the house and just kind of stares at me for a bit.  So when she stares at me as I game I assume she needs out.  But sometimes while I’m gaming she’ll come over and stare at me thirty minutes after she was just out.  That’s statistically unusual for her.  So what gives?

 

Staring at me doesn’t necessarily mean she needs to do her business.  If I’m eating for example it just means she wants some of my food.  And other times she just wants to be petted and then she’ll wander off and go to sleep.  So what if the staring during Heroes of the Storm is something else, besides begging for food or attention or needing to water the lawn?

 

I’m starting to think it’s because I’m on voice chat.  I wonder if she’s just confused about why I’m talking out loud when nobody else is home.  She must think I’m going completely insane!  Maybe she wonders if I’m talking to her, and she’s staring at me trying to figure out what I want her to do.  She’s like, “I’m right here, why are you telling me to ‘push top lane’, whatever that means?”

 

I’m going to continue to take her outside when she stares at me because if I’m wrong and she does need to ‘start streaming’ I want her to do it outside.  But maybe after the third Doggy Bio Break in one gaming session I’ll wait a bit before going again.  I think we’re both just totally confused by the others behavior.

American Truck Simulator

I’m continuing my experimentation with racing games today with the kind of fast paced high speed maximum velocity racing game that makes NASCAR fans hearts beat faster.  American Truck Simulator!  This game simulates being a truck driver.  You get to stay inside the lines, keep under the speed limit, and corner very carefully so as not to damage your cargo.  My adrenaline is pumping just thinking about it!

 

Hauling some kind of construction equipment down a little side street is pretty challenging, those little roads are narrow and full of turns.

 

Okay, this game isn’t an adrenaline junkies wet dream.  But as a generally nervous person this is my dream.  Peacefully driving down the highway, in a virtual world where crashing will have no consequences, I can achieve a relaxed state of mind.  I can “zone out” while hauling a trailer across California.  In short, this game is turbo chill.

There is some beautiful scenery to enjoy, but remember to keep your eyes on the road.

 

A lot of people drive in real life for fun and relaxation.  I’ve always struggled with that, driving is stressful for me.  It makes me nervous.  But I think I can achieve a similar effect to that of people who drive to relax in real life by driving in the video game world.  I find that distracting part of mind with the menial task of keeping the vehicle inside my lane and gently turning around the corners frees up another part of my mind to wander a bit.  But not the way I disappear completely into my imagination when I’m daydreaming in a boring meeting or something, the need to pay a little bit of attention to playing the game or driving the vehicle keeps me anchored a bit.  It helps me think about stuff in a way that other activities don’t.

 

You can haul a big, rectangular trailer.  But I find hauling construction equipment looks cooler when I pause the game to take pictures. 

 

If you want you can run a company, hire workers, plan routes to maximize profits, buy better trucks and trick them out.  There’s a lot “under the hood” if you want.  And you can chose to play it very realistically, manually shifting gears, signalling your turns, always staying within the speed limit.  Or you can get a bit silly, pass people on the shoulder, drive into oncoming traffic, or see how fast you can go while hauling construction equipment.  And there is a lot of challenge there, can you drive cargo from Los Angeles to Las Vegas without a single speeding ticket, collision, or without running a single red light?  You have the freedom to play how you want.  And for me playing it *pretty much* realistically is what makes it peaceful and fun.

 

In closing, American Truck Simulator is not really a racing game.  But whatever kind of game it is, it’s a good one.

 

Here’s a YouTube video I made of me actually playing the game.

 

The Fall

A man stands up.  Where was his phone?  His lap, his pocket, his hand?  Now his phone is in the air.  Falling.  The man raises his left foot and moves it forward.  His phone impacts the floor.  Sound vibrates through the air and hits his eardrums.  Electrical impulses shoot form his ears to his brain.  His mind recognizes the sound of his cell phone landing on the ground.  Adrenaline.  Where exactly did the phone land?  His foot falls, completing the step he began a moment before.  His foot is on his phone.  He shifts his weight to the other foot.  He looses balance.  Now he is in the air.  Falling.   Sound vibrates through his bones as he hits the ground.  Electrical impulses shoot from the body parts that hit the floor the hardest.  He’s hurting.  His hands feel the floor.  Searching.  His left hand finds his phone.  Lifting it, bringing it to his face.  His eyes scan it.  Electrical impulses shoot from his eyes to his brain.  His mind is relieved.  The phone is okay.  His body is hurt.  His body will heal.  The phone is fine.  Relief.

Personal Assistants

An important person like myself naturally has a personal assistant.  I couldn’t get through the day without her.  She schedules my appointments and makes sure I’m on time to meetings.  She answers questions I might have and tells me about good places to eat.  And in the middle of the night I can ask her what time it is so I don’t even have to open my eyes.  I just say, “Hey Siri, what time is it?” and she tells me.  She’s great.
Everything has a digital personal assistant built into it these days.  The iPhone obviously has Siri.  All the Not An iPhone phones have assistants too. Windows has Cortona.  Electronic Digital Assistants are like fidget spinners, everybody has to have one nowadays.
Obvy, I like this because I saw people talking to the computer and the computer answering them on Star Trek.  So many things from Star Trek are starting to pop up in real life that a hard core nerd could almost believe Star Trek is real.  You know, late at night when you’re only half awake and asking Siri what time it is.  I can almost see myself on the bridge of the Enterprise and … I mean, a hypothetical other person could forget Star Trek isn’t real….yet.
There are some privacy concerns with phones and TV’s and other devices listening to you all the time.  If you’re phone is listening for you to call it’s name does that mean it’s listening to everything?  Who else can listen to your phone listening to you?  It’s not something I have to worry about too much because nobody cares if I’m asking Siri what time it is in the middle of the night.  And I can’t think of a single conversation I’ve had today that anybody would want to listen in on.  Usually I can’t make people listen to me even when I’m talking right at them.  Plus there’s all kinds of security to prevent people from spying on you through your phone.  But it’s important to point out that this technology isn’t perfect.  Unlike nuclear energy and gun powder this new technology could potentially have negative side effects.
There’s still a long way to go before we maximize this tech.  A robot voice in my phone that can schedule things in my calendar is nice and all.  But until we put that AI in a robotic body that can walk around and play basketball and give hugs we’re only taking advantage of the minimum of what this technology is capable of.  Siri needs a body.  So she can carry my luggage and do stuff.

Project CARS

I’m not a Petrol Head (that’s what they call car lovers on Top Gear which is in the UK, I guess in America we’d say Gas Head) nor do I play a lot of racing games.  Super Mario Kart is probably the racing game I’ve spent the most time in and it’s probably not what Gas Heads would call “hardcore”.  But lately I’ve been trying out more serious racing games.  Which brings me to today’s article, a review of Project Cars.  A game that is at least twice as serious and half as silly as Mario Kart.

Catching air, this time on purpose!

Project Cars has everything you want in a racing game.  It has cars and places to drive them.  Some of the cars go very fast.  Some of them look like race cars and some look like ordinary cars.  And some look like Go Karts, because they are Go Karts.  And the game keeps track of how quickly everyone finishes the race and the fastest person wins.  I don’t know much about racing games but Project Cars seems to have it all.

Even if you aren’t fast you can still enjoy the beautiful scenery.

The graphics are great.  There’s a course where you drive down the California coast that is just gorgeous.  Even if you spend most of the time spinning out and crashing into the railings there’s some lovely scenery to look at.

Proving it’s more realistic the Mario Kart, Project CARS let’s you in the cockpit.

The number of things you can customize in the garage is staggering.  You can decrees the traction control which allows you to “drift” and also makes it easier to “spin out of control and crash”.  You can modify a million other things too and save those changes per track.

I’m in the blue and yellow one.  It looks fast.

I haven’t tried the online play but the option is there if you want.  I probably should play online a bit, if for no other reason than to make other people feel better about themselves.

Here’s a YouTube video of me actually playing Project CARS.  Watch me and mock my complete lack of skill.

In conclusion I give Project Cars a 5 out of 5.  The only thing that would make it better is blue shells and banana peels.

 

Gang Wars

There’s a turf war raging in the world today.  Gangs roam the streets doing battle with those who sport enemy colors.  They aren’t limited to one neighborhood or city or country.  It’s a worldwide epidemic.  Coordinating on Facebook and Twitter and … I don’t know SnapChat I guess?  They strike deep into their rivals territory then drive (or bike) away.  There’s a three way battle for the world raging right under your eyes.

 

I’m speaking of course about Pokemon Go.  It’s been out for a while now but it’s still pretty popular in certain circles.  Even though about 75% of the people I know who had played it at launch have stopped the remaining 25% of players are still trying to Catch ‘Em All.  And a subset of that group is hard core.

 

Now I haven’t gotten hard core about Pokemon Go myself because … I’m lazy mostly.  But I hear stories, which I assume are true because life is more exciting that way, of people who coordinate the capture and retention of Pokemon Go Gyms.  Basically places in the world that are Pokemon Go Gyms can be battled over in the game and if you control a gym you get … I don’t know but I guess it’s good.  I’ve never gotten good enough at the game to capture a gym myself.  But these folks will literally call their teammates and all drive out to a gym together to capture it, or to re-capture it if another team grabs it.  So, according to reliable sources (i.e. coworkers)  if you capture one of these gyms and wait there for a few minutes four or five cars will pull up, retake the gym, and then drive off.  It sound awesome and also terrifying.

 

I like Pokemon Go.  I started playing again recently because it’s finally summer in Alaska (Pokemon Go was not much fun in the Alaskan Winter, although that probably didn’t stop the hardcore players)  and it’s a great excuse to get outside and get some much needed exercise and sunshine.   But the idea of coordinating with other people to this level and paying this much attention to it 24/7 … that’s not why I play video games.  I’m casual, in all things I’m casual.  I have a lot of respect for the hardcore and I see the appeal, but if I ever do capture a gym and then later on I lose it I’m probably not getting out of my chair to go reclaim it.  I’ll just say, “Nice while it lasted.” And keep watching my show.