Category Archives: Glen

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.

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.

Madden NFL 15 Impressions

Now that I’ve had a bit of time to play with Madden 15 for the PS4, I wanted to detail a few of my impressions for the game.

The first thing that I want to address have to deal with the loading times.  It seems like as the years have gone on, games load more and more slowly, and Madden seems to be no different.  Having said that, here are the loading times that I’ve experienced to this point.

– From starting the game from the PS4 dashboard to the “Press any button” title screen: 36.7 seconds

– From the “Press any button” page to the actual game menu (This second loading period is filled with loading your profile, the community gameplay recommendation, etc.) : 36.8 seconds

– Time to launch an actual game: 50.5 seconds to the pregame

– Time to skip to the kickoff from pregame: 16.7 seconds

– Time to get back to the main game menu when exiting after the completion of a game: 14 seconds

None of these loading time issues make the game any worse, but I do find myself walking away from the system or getting distracted by my phone just due to the fact that there is that waiting time built into the game.  The loading time that is probably the most frustrating is the one right at the start of the game.  Why send you to a screen where you have to press a button just to launch the game?  There is nothing else that you can do from that page, so it just seems to be a page to send you to just to break up a single longer loading time that you cannot avoid.  It’s just a silly and frustrating thing to start each game session with.

Beyond that, once you get into an actual game, there are some really nice changes on the defensive side.  For starters, the defensive line gameplay changes (along with the new camera angles on defense) really make the defensive side of the game a great deal more enjoyable.  As a person who almost always takes a defensive lineman, the snap-jumping and the new abilities to shed blocks are well received changes and add a great amount of depth to a segment of the game that seems to have been neglected in the past.

The tackle cone is another new feature that was added and while it may have seemed like a good idea, I found myself turning it off after a few games because I just found it distracting and haven’t felt that I was having a hard time judging when to make a tackle in the past.

If you are looking for large changes when you are in control of offense, you really won’t find too many differences from previous revisions as it seems that the lion’s share of the work in the game was spent on defense.  The one thing that you will notice when throwing a pass is that the passing accuracy for the QB’s has been adjusted so that some of the “lesser able” QB’s will tend to throw more incomplete (and erratic) passes than someone like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.  That change alone makes the game a bit more realistic, but I have already noticed a few times where good QB’s make some terrible throws when WR’s are wide open, so there is probably some tuning and adjusting that needs to be completed on that new feature before it’s all dialed in.

Another change is the newly added community recommendations that you can see during play selection.  When you go to select a play, the game presents you with data that they have collected to show how effective that particular play has been for you, along with how effective it has been for the entire Madden community.  While that feature does add to the loading times when you launch the game, it is a nice addition to see some of the data that EA Sports collects being presented back to the user.

Beyond the gameplay changes, the presentation for the game has gotten an overhaul and those changes are a bit of a mixed bag.  New sequences before and after plays really give the game a much more realistic broadcast feel and are nice additions, but what I didn’t care for was all of the new pregame and post game show material.  For the first few games they feel fresh and interesting but, like every sports game that I’ve ever played, they become tiresome and annoying after playing 10 or 15 games.  The halftime show in particular stands out because it can’t be skipped easily with a simple button press as you have to wait until it starts the highlights for the first half, and then press a button, before you can skip to the beginning of the second half.  Not a huge issue, but it is just another moment that adds more time to your game that wasn’t there in the past.

The connected franchise mode, which is probably at the heart of most people’s game experience with Madden, as it lets you play online or offline leagues, has been adjusted to include player confidence as a means increase or decrease player ratings as the season wears on.  Confidence is impacted by how well or poorly you play on the field as well as by the new Game Prep feature.  The Game Prep allows you decide which players or parts of your team that you want to focus on before each game.  In theory it seems like an interesting concept, but once I played a few games I started to let the CPU handle it for me because I just wasn’t seeing the value in it.

I can’t say too much about Ultimate Team changes, as I have some internet issues due to my move, but there seem to be more ways to collect cards outside of purchase that haven’t been there in past editions due to new objectives in the mode.  Those might be worth a look if you’re more of a solo player.

Based on my time with the game, I would say it’s definitely worth a rental, but if you really like the defensive side of the ball, you might want to pick it up as the changes there really make the game worthwhile.  If your main focus is Ultimate Team or the Connected Franchise, you might want to take a pass on it this year and stick with last years game.

MLB.TV is awesome

So, now that I’m in Atlanta, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for MLB.TV knowing that I could finally watch Brewers games on my PS4 or on my laptop or phone.  I signed up on Monday night at a time when the price was $24.99.  I figured, even for one month it was worth it for that price.  Little did I know that the next day they would drop the price to $12 for the 12 year anniversary of the service.

I sent them an email asking for a refund of the difference, figuring that it would go nowhere, but amazingly they sent me back an email with a credit for the entire $25 and let me sign up for the service for $12.

That is just awesome customer service and has probably won me over as a customer for next year as well.

Oh, and it is great to be able to watch all of the games now (except probably Braves ones, but I wouldn’t have been watching those anyway.)

Greetings from Georgia

Well, I have made my way down to Georgia after a 13 hour drive on Saturday and have started the process of living in the South.  I loaded up the Prius with almost every bit of clothing that I own, along with 3 TV’s (2 are small spares,)  my PC and monitor, and just about every gaming system that I’ve ever owned (I am a gamer after all) and began bachelor life.

The family won’t be joining me for a few months, but with some luck (all based on getting our house sold,) they will be down here sooner.  To this point, that has to be the greatest challenge of being down here.  When I am at home with my family, there are always times where you can find some quiet time by yourself, but now that I’m here by myself, I find that I want none of that and just want to hear my girls call out “Daddy” or come and give me a hug.  I know that I’ll be seeing them again soon, but each night has been a challenge to this point.

At this point, I’m living out of a hotel room, but am trying to find an apartment (or a house if that can happen quickly enough,) so I can start putting together a place for the family to join me.

I have absolutely no regrets about making this change, but I know that it will probably be the greatest test that I’ve ever had to withstand as far as my family is concerned.  With luck, they will all be here soon and life will get back to normal.  Until that time, I’ll do my best to keep upbeat and write as much as I can.

 

 

Riding the Pines – Interview with Seann Graddy – Madden NFL 15

Today we bring to you an interview that I conducted with Seann Graddy, Senior Producer for EA Sports Madden NFL 15.

Here are a few of the topics that we covered in the interview.

– Changes in NFL involvement with the title over the years
– Camera changes
– Differences between Tackle Cone and Passing Cone
– The focus on defensive changes for this season
– What sorts of information they get from their telemetry that helps guide the game in the future
– Changes to the presentation for the game
– Ultimate team/Connected franchise changes

We hope you enjoy the interview!

Thursday notes

- So, we put in an offer on a house down in Georgia yesterday.  Hopefully we’ll hear something back on it shortly.  One week until I make my way down there.

– Dan beat me in the twitter race.  He hit 100 followers last week, while I’m still at 92.  This makes me sad in some way, but Dan rants about the NE Revolution a lot, so people probably enjoy that sort of thing.

– I started playing Fez this week, due to it being available for every Sony platform under the sun via Playstation Plus and I have to say that it is a very charming puzzle/platforming title.  The cross-save capabilities for the game are awesome as I can transition from the PS4 to the Vita version without any issues.  I love that feature and pray that Nintendo can put something like that together eventually for the WiiU and 3DS, but I won’t hold my breath on that happening (since there is only one Cross-buy title available at this point for Nintendo.)

– Tomorrow is my last day at work, so I’ll probably do a bit more posting next week as I have some more time during the days, but I am sure that I will end up sitting around eating Bon Bon’s and watching “my stories” instead.

Reboot

Well, I’ve held back on posting this for a while here, but I’m just letting everyone know that I’ll be moving to Atlanta, Georgia in a few weeks.

Craig, you know Craig, he sort of posted here once or twice, mentioned a job opportunity to me about a month ago and it looked to be a perfect match for my skills.

One month later, I had my offer letter and today I accepted the job.

It’s going to be a whirlwind to move the family almost 1,000 miles across the country to a new city where we really don’t know anyone, but it just seemed like an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.

I know that my new job will be very hectic for a while, but I don’t see any reason why the site can’t keep going the way that it has, and who knows, we might even be able to get Craig on for a podcast or two as the things go.

I’ll be posting more about the move and all of the other stuff that goes along with it in the coming weeks and months.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Thursday notes

- Hey look, the site has been up for 2 days.  (Of course, that probably just jinxed the whole thing.  Damnit.)

– Not that I have bought the album yet, but I have been loving the new Weird Al videos that he is releasing daily.  How someone has been able to stay consistently funny all while working with different styles of music throughout the last 30 years is absolutely amazing to me.  I sincerely hope that he makes his way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at some point, as he truly deserves it.

– The Destiny beta launches today on the PS3 and PS4.  I will have 2 extra keys for the PS4 version, so send me a shout or a tweet if you want one of them.

–  Life has been pretty crazy of late (and next week will be no exception as almost zero downtime in the next week and a half.)  I’ll be posting updates as I can throughout though, because you know I love you all.

FIFA World Cup 14 (PS3) – $24.99 or $14.99 (PS Plus)

Considering the fact that Gamestop is still selling the 2010 FIFA World Cup title for $39.99, it’s a huge deal to see the newest edition of the World Cup games for $14.99 via the Playstation Store (if you have PS Plus ($24.99 if you don’t,) which you just should at this point.)

Most of the online reviews state that it’s more of a “fun” soccer simulation than FIFA 14 was, so it might be worth a go to hold you over until FIFA 15.  Of course this is all predicated on the fact that you might be interested in taking on the tournament for yourself.  If not, then please disregard.

Monday notes

- Grr.  Stupid database errors.  Database just keeps crashing.  Linux is not my friend sometimes.  Oh, well.  Learning as I go.

– The Brewers season has been a bizarre one, to be sure.  They played lights out in April and June, average in May, and terrible so far in July.  Still, they enter the All Star break with a 1 game lead on the division.

My heart goes out to the family of Jean Segura though.  I can’t imagine losing your child, especially at an early age like that, and I wouldn’t fault him if he decided not to come back to playing the game.  Just an absolutely heartbreaking ordeal for him to have to handle.

– Seeing as how it was my first World Cup where I truly paid attention to it throughout, I was sad to see it end.  I was able to find heroes and villians throughout and loved the entire thing.  Really hope that the U.S. gets a chance to host it again in 2022 (if and when they pull it from Qatar, like they should.)

– Lastly, I have confirmed my tickets to take my daughters to see Crystal Palace play the Columbus Crew next Wednesday night in Columbus.  My oldest daughter desperately wants to see Chamakh now that he has resigned with the team, but I’m trying to impress upon her the fact that usually it isn’t too easy to meet an athlete at a match.  Still, I’m glad that she’s so excited about going to the match (as am I.)

Friday notes (What I’m playing edition)

- Woohoo!  The site has been up for 2 days without crashing.  Gotta love memory leaks in applications that cause database crashes. Or something.

– Dan has been bugging me to pick up Sniper Elite 3 and I just wanted to put forth a script to summarize almost every conversation that I have with him.

(Enter Glen.  A man, who even as he is approaching middle age, is still dashingly handsome.)

(Enter Dan.  A very strange individual.)

Dan: Hey! You should buy <insert game that came out in the last week.>

Glen: Why should I buy it?

Dan: Because it new and it’s a game.

And scene!

Seriously, this happens almost every single week.  It doesn’t have to be new games either.  Last night he was telling me that I should buy Bases Loaded on WiiU, because I should.

I think that living inside Dan’s mind would be one of the scariest places in the history of the world to be.

– Having said all that, I did try out Sniper Elite v2 (due to the fact that Steam had the game for free a few months ago) and have found that while playing it on the easiest setting that it is quite good.  It is certainly incredibly violent, but it does let you do something like this.  My best to this point is 2 kills with one shot, but it is fun to try and line up those kinds of shots and then pull them off.

I can imagine that the new version of the game has improved some of the aspects of the controls and graphics, but I’m definitely enjoying this game for the $0 that I paid for it.

– Also on the playlist of late is Assassin’s Creed IV for the PS4 and what has been interesting for me is that, for the most part, I’m completely ignoring the story (except to unlock the capability to complete certain events) and just cruising around from island to island wrecking the Caribbean and blowing up forts with the big-ass cannons on my ship.

I have absolutely zero interest in the multiplayer side of the game, but boarding ships and killing random Spanish and British sailing crew has been a blast for me.

– With my Club Nintendo rewards points, (I have far too much Nintendo stuff, and am still pissed about missing out on the Mario Bros shoelaces that they offered in the past) I picked up Kid Icarus 3D for the 3DS.

I don’t know if I was some sort of gaming savant in my earlier days or if my skills have faded that much, but the game kicked my arse when I played it last night.

There seems to be a great deal of nostalgia about making games hard again and I feel that eventually we’re going to reach a point where someone will create a game that punches you in the face every time you make a mistake just to make it “hardcore.”

Having said that, there is still something to completing a massive achievement in a game.  I still remember the feeling that I got when I beat Mike Tyson in Punch Out (had to use the cheat code to face him, as I could never beat him after defeating everyone else in the game.)  There is just something special about the challenge that was in some of those old games, so I will stick with Kid Icarus for a while and see if I can find some of my old skills, rusty as they are.

 

Site issues

Sorry for all of the issues that we’ve been having over the past few weeks.  It looks as though we’ve run into a memory bug with Amazon ec2 hosting that has to do with the mysql database that I have configured for the site.

I have implemented a fix and hopefully it will resolve the issues, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the site for the next few days to make sure that the issues are resolved.

Sorry again for the problems.

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