Author Archives: Glen

Daredevil

As most of my friends would attest, I’m not usually a man of few words.  What I can say for certain is that Marvel’s Daredevil, which was launched on Netflix last Friday, is well worth watching and would have to be some of the best work that Marvel has done so far with a comic book story.

As a person who has not read a great deal of the background for any of the characters in that particular segment of the Marvel universe, I found the back story from each of the characters and villains to be quite compelling and they kept  me coming back for yet another episode no matter how late each evening became when I started watching.

Be warned that there is a good deal more violence in this show than any of the other efforts that Marvel has put forth to this point, but the world that they have created for this character could not, nor should it not be, sterilized for regular television and I am glad that they did not.

At the very least, give the first few episodes a chance.  I do not believe that you will regret it.

Hello again

So, I recognize that it’s been quite a while since I’ve written, and I really don’t have any great reasons for not posting lately, but I’ll try to catch you all up.

In late November, I went back to Wisconsin to finalize the closing of our home and pack up the family and move them all down to Georgia.  After that, we had all of the dealings with the moving and setting up in the new home and shortly after that we had the holidays, then work got incredibly hectic and before I knew it March was on the ol’ desk calendar (not that I have a desk calendar, but it sounded right.)

Whilst all this was going on, I have kept gaming, but I have found it hard to lock in on any specific game for an extended period of time (with the two exceptions being Hyrule Warriors for the Wii U, which was remarkably fun, and playing a Master League with Crystal Palace in Pro Evolution Soccer for the PS4.)   Outside of that, I have gone through quite a few spells where I wonder where my lifetime in gaming is taking me.

I read Dubious Quality and I admire Bill Harris’ passion for the games that he is playing, recommending, and enjoying, but at the same time I can’t even get interested in even the basic concepts of 90% of the games that he describes.  That’s not a slam on Bill by any means, I just can’t understand most of what the majority of gamer’s find appealing at this point.

I look at a game like Dark Souls or Demon’s Souls, or whatever sadistic game is being created next, and just shake my head at the thought of playing where the basic tenant is dying over and over and over again, until the way to play is beaten into you.

I hear about people peeing themselves about VR and all I can think of is all of the people that will buy it and have to try and return it to a Best Buy after sloppily cleaning off vomit stains from the collections of cords.

I see Hololens from Microsoft and laugh when people talk about the unbelievable potential because this is the company that brought Peter Molyneux’s promises of Project Milo and Minority Report, all while giving us “XBOX… CHANGE CHANNEL.  NO!  XBOX… CHANGE CHANNEL, DAMNIT!!!!”

I watch Minecraft sell for 2.5 BILLION dollars and can’t understand for the life of me why in the hell anyone would want to pay $20 to play it on their Xbox, Playstation or PC, let alone even comprehend why a massive company would pay $2.5 billion for the ownership of the property (Except for tax write off purposes, which did partially play into it.)

I hear about people called “Pew-Dee-Pie” or something who just play video games for a living (and not even be really good at it) and wonder why someone like that has a voice in the video game industry

Lastly, I read about a tournament for what is probably my all time favorite video game, Tecmo Super Bowl, and realize that the last thing in the world I would ever want to do is be in the room with 99% of the people that are there playing it.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m becoming ever-more curmudgeonly and it’s made me a bit more jaded about some of the future of gaming.

Still, I love The Blog for the Sports Gamer.  I’ve been with this site longer than I’ve been with anything on this planet, outside of being married to my wife and to be honest, that’s less to do with me and more to do with her deciding to give up on finding someone better than me (because there are clearly are better fish in the market.)

So, I’m going to do my best to write as much as I can and rant as much as you will tolerate, but get used to things like this because these damn kids just won’t get off my lawn unless I get out there and wave my cane.

91 miles with my grandpa

It took me 29 days, from the day he passed away, but I was able to run 91 miles, 1 for each year of my grandfather’s life.

Previously, I mentioned that I had not seen much of my grandfather over the last few years of his life, but during this last month I felt more connected to him than at any time than I could recall during my life.  I spent a lot of time thinking about him, the times that I had spent with him, and the fact that I will carry his name for the rest of my life.

I thought about the upcoming Brewers season and thought about the fact that even though we never went to any games together, that I will be taking part of him with me to every game I attend. I thought about how even though he had lost his legs in the last few years of his life, that it didn’t stop him.

My regret is that I just wish that it didn’t take his passing for me to realize that he has always, and will always, be a part of my life.

I know that I’ll keep running with him in the future, smiling while I think of him, and knowing that each step I take will be a bit easier because he is there with me.

Thank you for being a part of my life grandpa.  You’ll always be in my legs, my mind, and my heart.

WWE2K15 impressions (PS4)

When I was in the 10th grade I got really into WWF wrestling.  Being the pasty, and acne laden, young lad that I was, and seeing that people’s of the female persuasion were avoiding me quite adeptly, I needed something to occupy my time outside of my usual video game passions and so wrestling became that vice.

It was something that really only grabbed my attention for about 5 or 6 months, but I loved every minute of the matches that I caught on Fox 47 every Saturday or via video tape rentals from Woodman’s grocery store.  Along with that, I spent a good deal of time playing Pro Wrestling for the NES and started to find that this a sport/game that could be a tremendous amount of fun to play.

Sadly, not many wrestling games could live up to the greatness of Pro Wrestling for a long time until I found WCW/nWo Revenge for the Nintendo 64 and I became enamored with the sport again for a spell.  Revenge had an absolutely wonderful control system and the matches were tactical and entertaining to play, and the multiplayer on the system was chaotic and exciting every time.

For the last few years, I’ve dabbled with wrestling games trying to find that one that would draw me back again, and while last years WWE2K14 came close due to the vast amount of historical content that you could play through, this years version of the game just doesn’t quite do enough for me either.

In my initial time with the game, there are definitely some fun elements to the game, but there are also some pretty frustrating components that prevent me from saying that this is a game that you should run out and purchase.

Let’s start with the My Career mode.  Once you have designed your wrestler, you are dropped into a tryout for the NXT, and even though I lost my first match I was still signed over the, vastly superior, CPU opponent who thoroughly dominated me in every way.  Once you are signed you are sent to the WWE Performance Center to work on working on your skills, but even though you would think it would be more of a tutorial, they give you almost no feedback about how to get better at the game in these training matches.  A brief explanation is given to the new “chain wrestling” mini-game, but beyond that, you’re kind of thrown into the game play without any real instruction as to how to pull off any specific attacks or special abilities even though certain matches report that they will give you bonuses for aerial attacks and such, but without any way of knowing how to do the special moves you have to press buttons at random until you can try to figure out what you are trying to do.  The game could really use a true training gym feature where you could go against a defenseless CPU to get acclimated to the game controls and button configurations, but perhaps that feature will come up next year.

Along with those issues, there is no in game manual, but there is a “manual” section of the options, which when selected gives you a url for the WWE2K15 website.  I appreciate them saving the paper and not printing out an actual manual along with the game, but having a small menu where it showed you button configurations would have been a nice touch.

As for the good in the game, I have enjoyed playing with the 2K showcase where you have a chance to play through two story arcs from the recent past (CM Punk vs. John Cena and Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels.)  While the story segments are fun and you are rewarded with unlockables by mirroring certain segments of the actual matches, it is disappointing to only have 2 story lines presented with the retail version of the game, and to get more stories, you have to pick up the season pass (which unlocks 3 additional showcase segments.)   Also, if you manage to lose any of the matches in the Showcase, which can easily happen if you’re trying to accomplish all of the unlockables, you are subjected to virtually the same commentary over and over for the matches with very little variation.  Again, the mode is fun, but it has some issues that just prevent it from being great.

Speaking of the commentary, even though the game touts that the commentary has been improved, you will still hear a great deal of the repetition from the Jerry “The King” Lawler and WWE announcer, Michael Cole.  This is something that 2K has struggled with in both their WWE and NBA titles and I’m not sure what they can do to make it feel more organic, but it is definitely not a plus for the game.

If you want to know the best feature of the game, it has to be the customization capabilities that are included.  You can modify almost every single element of the WWE universe, from who holds what championship belts to the complete modification of the broadcast calendar for the next year, and along with that, you can adjust sliders for just about every aspect of the matches as well.  If you struggle with the reversal timing elements, there is a slider for that.  If you think that the AI is too good at reversing foreign object attacks, you can adjust those rates.  Want to make the wrestlers bleed when severely injured? Done!  Nearly every aspect of the game can be customized to your own personal preferences and that is a huge plus.

Along with that there is a very rich character creation suite that allows you to modify everything from the words written on your headwear to the placement of various tattoos on your body.  Different outfits, masks, arm and legwear are all available and allow for you to create a very diverse and different wrestlers, which allows you to really personalize the game to make it feel like it is “your WWE.”

To paraphrase a line from an NBC sitcom intro song, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and then you have WWE2K15.”  This is a game with a balance of good and bad elements, but based on my time, I would only be able to recommend the game as a rental.

Now I just have to wait for the moving truck to get here so I can dig out my copy of WCW/nWo and make Sting’s head bleed.

Quick Wednesday notes

Hello again, all.

– Things are finally proceeding on the family front and, if everything goes to plan, they will be moving down here by the end of the month.

It’s been incredibly hard to be alone for this much time (with some flights home every few weeks) and I’ll be very glad to have the company.  You can only talk to yourself for so long before you start to run out of things to say.

When this process started, I thought it would be like when I was single before my wife and I moved in together, but after living with someone for 18 years, I can safely say that it’s pretty hard to go back to being alone.

Once the family is here, I’ll post a bit more about my last few months, but for now, I’m just trying to not to jinx the house selling process.

– By the end of the week, I should have my thoughts on Football Manager 15 on the site  along with some early impressions of Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 for the PS4.

– It seems like site issues are beginning to stabilize, but we are continuing to see brute force attacks on the site for whatever reason.  Hopefully they will go away in time, but it seems like this is just part of running a WordPress site.

– Lastly, through 20 days I’ve run 71 miles.  The last 20 will be a bit more interesting as I’ve got some pretty good blisters on my feet, some pretty good hip and knee stiffness, and I’ve lost 2 toenails.  Without a doubt this is the most I’ve ever run in such a short period of time, culminating with last week where I ran almost 30 miles in 4 runs.  I have to say that it has been very rewarding and has given me a lot of time to think about my grandfather and because of that, it has all been worth it.

 

Thursday notes

Just a quick post to let you know that I’m still alive.

Still dealing with some issues with getting our house in Wisconsin sold, but we look to be very close to having the family back together again.

Outside of that, I’ll be posting my impressions of Football Manager 2015, which releases tomorrow, at some point in the next week.

Lastly, the funeral for my grandfather was a difficult time but I thank all of you who sent notes to me for your concern.  I greatly appreciated all of your kind thoughts and words.

Talk to you all again soon.

Eulogy

My grandfather, William J. Haag, passed away at the age of 91 on Tuesday, October 21st.

Bill, as he was known to almost everyone, was a wonderful man and the world is a better place for having had him in it.  I will always remember him as a kind man and a person who was always happy to sit with me (no matter what age I was) and talk about the Brewers.

Over the last few years, I did not spend as much time with him as I would have liked to or should have.  I don’t believe that I am alone in the fact that I have a hard time dealing with age and have a hard time seeing people as they become less and less healthy.  It is selfish of me, but I like to remember people at their best, so it becomes harder for me to spend time with people as they become less healthy in the later years of their lives.  I am sorry that I didn’t see him more in the past few years and months, of that I am certain, but it is something that I have to live with.

Bill was the only grandfather that I knew during my life, as my mother’s father passed away when I was less than a year old and I never got a chance to really know him, so as I was growing up, everything that I knew about what a grandfather should be was because of him, and it’s safe to say that I believe he was teaching me all of the right things about what kind of man to be once you have grandchildren of your own.

Being one of 36 grandchildren is a situation where you would think that you could be easily forgotten, but that was never the case with my grandfather.  Whenever I would see him and my grandmother, they knew what was going on with my family and loved spending time with us.

I never really know what to do when people pass away except to try and celebrate their lives and do something in honor of them.  So, I have decided that one of the things that I will do for (and with) my grandfather is to run 1 mile, over the next 30 days, for every year of his life.  I never ran with my grandfather, in fact I can’t recall ever even played a single sport with him, but now that he is gone, I want to take some time and think of him as much as I can and envision that he is running with me.

Today, I started by running 9+ miles (1 for every decade of his life,) and will keep running for (and with) grandpa for until I run 91 miles for him.  I am certain that grandpa would want me to keep doing the things that make me happy and right now, being out running and thinking of him, definitely does that.

I love you grandpa, and I’ll never forget you.

 

Friday TV notes

– There have been a few reasons for not being able to post much lately, but I’m holding back on detailing all of them for a few reasons.  I am still alive and kicking though, so there is that.

Today, I’ll focus on the massive amounts of TV watching being done at my new house as I’ve torn through season 1 of The Blacklist, season 1 of True Detective, and wactching the new season of The Flash, Arrow, and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  (Spoiler free)

The Blacklist took a bit of time to get going, but Spader becomes pretty damn evil about midway though the season and it’s great stuff when he does.  (Season 1 is on Netflix for your binge watching pleasure.)

True Detective was incredible through the first 6 episodes and while the last two became a bit formulaic (in my opinion) and weren’t nearly as good, they were still enough to make for a great season, and the show is well worth tracking down on HBOGO, if you have it (or possibly available via their streaming service in 2015 when that comes online.)

The Flash’s premier episode was pretty damn fun and had a quality setup for the season, but the second episode left a lot to be desired and made Barry come across as a pretty big whiner and wimp.  Hoping for better as the season goes on.

Arrow has started off with a bang with a major character lineup change in the first episode, but I can only hope that this season will have as many geeky easter eggs as they had in last season (who didn’t love the Harley Quinn appearance?)

Lastly, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been pretty solid picking up from where they left off (post-Hydra) from last year.  I’m still not that bothered by the big-bad that they’ve cooked up for this year, but who knows, maybe he’ll surprise me as the season moves along.

– Your thoughts?  Shows that you’re watching or want to recommend?

Tuesday notes

– Long time, no see.

– A week and a half ago, I closed on our new home in the Atlanta suburbs and have been doing a bit of work on it since then.  Nothing really major needed to be repaired, but it’s been little things like replacing a shower head, fixing a light switch that had a lose connection, removing bidets that were installed on every toilet (seriously, bidets) and getting the place cleaned.  The people really didn’t treat the place with any sort of respect for a property that they owned.  It was as if they thought it was a rental and just used it up until they sold it.

Once we’re done with it, it will look great though, so that’s a good thing.

– The Brewers season went out with a massive whimper as they completely stopped hitting down the stretch.  The pitching held up their end, but they were constantly getting beat 3-2 or 2-1.  Personally, I blame myself for moving away.   At least now I don’t have to feel bad about missing any potential playoff games.

– Excited that the NHL season starts up next week and I will be signing up for NHL Gamecenter again to make sure that I can catch all of the Islanders games.  It’s a bummer that there isn’t an NHL franchise down here in Atlanta any more, but from what I’ve heard from people here, no one ever really cared about the team.

Still, I have options to get to visiting Islanders games if I want to make a drive to get to Carolina, Florida, or Tampa Bay.  (Not that any of those are short drives.)

– Lastly, it is incredible to look at the Premier League table at ANY time of the year and see Crystal Palace ahead of Liverpool.  Dan can give me grief for mentioning it, but it has been great to watch the Eagles play as well as they have over the last few weeks.  From what I have found, the last time that the team was this high in the table was at the end of the season in 1992.  So, there is a bit of a cause for enthusiasm there.

– I’ll be back with a few posts in the next day or so talking about FIFA 15, the PES 15 demo, Destiny, and Edge of Tomorrow.

NHL 15 thoughts

I’ve only been able to play a few games but here are my very early thoughts about NHL 15.

– After 3 games, I had already seen a repeat video introduction (by Doc Emmerick and Eddie Olczyk) at the beginning of the game.  That doesn’t bode very well for how quickly you’re going to want to skip through that particular pregame feature.

The NHL on NBC presentation throughout the game is very well done and does look quite a bit like an actual game broadcast, so that is definitely an enhancement to the game.

– Visually, the new physics engine is quite impressive and does a great job with the replication of how players bodies react to hits.  There are still some times where players move in a robotic fashion that doesn’t look right and when those moments happen, it is quite jarring.  There are times when you see a CPU player try a tricky stick move to slide a puck past a defender that are incredibly cool though.  It’s in each of those moments that you feel like the game is really moving towards something special in the future, sadly there are a lot of other issues that make you think that we could be waiting a while to get to a point when the game is really feature complete.

– Crowd audio doesn’t really seem in sync with how the game action is taking place.  In one of my games I put a tremendous hip check into a player and was there wasn’t a bit of crowd noise for the hit.  Other times, a period would end and the crowd wouldn’t make a noise for a few seconds then, all of a sudden, they would react like the team scored.  So, there are definitely some audio issues there.

– My early experiences with the game play have been terrific.  In my first game (the matchup that you have to play between Los Angeles and New York once you launch the game) I fell behind quickly due to some bad defensive lapses, but was able was able to put a few goals together quickly to be able to make a game of it.

The pro level, that the game defaults to, does seem to allow for a good deal more scoring than in years past, so if you want some more arcade style scoring, that might be the way to go.

This may be due to the fact that goalies don’t seem to be superhuman at that level and are susceptible to getting beat by shots high to the stick or glove side.  I’ll play more at some of the higher difficulty settings later to see if that adjustment brings scoring to a more accurate level, but the pro level does allow for some fun, high scoring matchups.

– The Be a Pro feature needs some serious patching.  By default your player moves directly into the starting lineup for your team (regardless of rating,) which just seems wrong for a mode such as that one where you are trying to build yourself to be a superstar.

There are other minor issues, such as the fact that if you pick a jersey number it will change it to the next highest number when you are drafted by a team, rather than letting you select a different one.  (Like I said, it is a minor issue, but damnit I want to wear number #38.)

The biggest issue with the mode is the fact that you have to sit and watch the entire game when you are not on the ice.  People might say that it’s more realistic this way, but the mode didn’t play this way in the past.  When you were off the ice, in previous versions, it would let you press a button to skip to your next shift.  By doing that the games took a great deal less time.  This way, the games take a good deal longer than if you a playing as the entire team as the game doesn’t accept any of your button presses while you are on the bench, so you have to just sit there and watch players grabbing each other after every whistle.

– Lastly, there seems to be a great deal more focus on fighting in the game.  After almost every single frozen puck there is some sort of scuffle between players where a fight can begin.  I’m glad that fighting still exists in the game, but there are so very few instances where fights occur 5 or 6 times in a real NHL game, and I have seen at least that times where a fight could begin in each of my games thus far (including in the Stanley Cup matchup, which is just wrong.)

– With the state that the game is in right now, it’s hard to recommend a purchase of the title.  I’m glad that I took a chance on the game as a rental, because there are parts of the game play that are quite good, but the lack of feature parity with previous generation versions of the game, along with some of the poorly implemented new features really suggest that people wait until next year to try the game again.

Sunday notes

– So, I’ve entered year number two of avoiding college and professional football.  After this long, I have to say that it becomes easier and easier each day to skip football.  The people at work seem absolutely flabbergasted that I don’t watch it, but that’s probably because it’s such a huge part of the culture down here in the south.  Some of them seem to be taking it as a personal mission to get me back into the sport and no matter how strongly I tell them that I won’t be following the game, they just won’t listen.  Eventually they’ll have to give up on me though, right?

– If I wanted to be a very superstitious person, I could think that I’m to blame for the Brewers losing 11 of 12 games and completely falling out of the playoff pictures, because of my move to Atlanta.   But even as awesome as I am, I can’t make an entire team stop hitting and make an entire pitching staff fall apart like they have.  At least I’ve been able to keep watching the games via MLB.TV though.  Even though they are losing games, it’s still nice to see Miller Park and Wisconsin.

Even with the division title completely out of contention now, at least I can pull for them to try and crawl back into the Wild Card picture.  That’s what a good fan does, I guess.

– International competition week this early into the Premier League season really stinks.  I know that they are part of the larger world of soccer, but man, it would have been nice to have been able to see some soccer anywhere on TV this weekend.

– Seeing as how we are nearly 11 months from the launch of the Xbox One and Playstation 4, it is astounding to see how badly EA Sports has handled the launch of NHL 15, the first hockey game available for the new generation of consoles.

Polygon has taken a look into the features that have been removed from the previous generation of games and it is nothing short of shocking.  How they can try to justify the removal of all of those game play modes and settings and still try to convince users that it is a worthy purchase is beyond me.

– If anyone is picking up Destiny for the PS4 and hasn’t already added me to their friends list, go ahead and do so.  My PSN user name is Psunami.  I’ll be picking up the game at midnight tomorrow, because I don’t have much else to do, do I?

– Have a great week everyone.

One year

What a difference a year makes.

I know that I’ve detailed quite a few of the things that have changed in my life over the past year, from work to personal life changes, but last Saturday probably had to be one of the most stark realizations of the changes that I have made in my life, when it comes to my feelings about sports.

My family is still living in Wisconsin and since I’m living in Atlanta, out of a hotel and alone, I have a tremendous amount of free time to fill.  The house that we are buying doesn’t close for another week, so I spend a great deal of time in my hotel room trying to figure out something to do until I go to bed and repeat the process the next day.

Last Friday night, I was reading through some Premier League news sites and saw that the Premier League is playing a single match live in movie theaters every week of the season, and as luck would have it, this week it was the match between Crystal Palace and Newcastle United.

When I lived in Wisconsin, these sorts of events were almost always held in theaters that were located roughly 7 days away and would require a sherpa and a ritual sacrifice so that you could track down the specified theater, but in Atlanta one of the theaters was 10 minutes from my hotel room (more sherpa’s and lambs to kill in this area, apparently.)

When I woke up on Saturday morning, I was giddy with the excitement of being able to watch Palace on a huge screen.  The expense of going to see a match in South London is quite a bit more than I can absorb at this point, so this was probably going to be one of the best Palace experiences that I could put together (since seeing the friendly in Columbus a few months back.)

I pulled up to the theater and noticed a pretty empty parking lot, but seeing as how I got there about 10 minutes early, I didn’t think much of it.  I went to the ticket booth, paid my $12.50 (which did seem a bit high for a 10 a.m. soccer match showing) and went in and took a seat in the theater.

When I walked in, my eyes immediately scanned the seating area looking, anxious to find a Palace or even a Newcastle supporter.  Alas, the entire theater was empty and it stayed that way for the entirety of the match.

While it felt a bit comical to be the only person in a theater watching a live event, as time went on, the match felt more and more intimate because I was the only person there seeing it.  Being the only person there meant that I could cheer, or jeer, as much as I wanted.  I could rant at the screen when Frazier Campbell came off the post, in the 74th minute, and allowed Aarons header to get by him to tie the match.  It also allowed for me to swear loudly when Newcastle took the lead in the 89th minute.

The American in me nearly walked out of the theater at that point, because that’s what most American sports fans do when your team gives up the lead when the game is nearly over, but for some reason I thought I should sit back down (after some more swearing and pacing) and sit and watch whatever would remain of the game once extra time was added.

I was rewarded for staying with a wonderful strike from Wilf Zaha in the 95th minute to tie the match and I left the theater with a massive smile on my face as Palace rescued a 3-3 draw from certain defeat.

Later that day, Wisconsin played LSU in Houston and I went to bed not having seen a single minute of the game, nor caring that I had missed it.

When I think back, it has been amazing to think that the two sporting events that have given me the most joy over the last 6 months have been two Crystal Palace matches that ended in 3-3 draws (The Liverpool match from May will always have a special place in my sports memory.)

One year ago, I couldn’t have imagined sitting (for part of the match) by myself in a movie theater, in Atlanta, cheering when Crystal Palace scored a late goal that earned them a draw and then 12 hours later falling asleep having no interest in the Wisconsin football season opener.

What a difference a year makes.

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