Fathers, Fallibility & My Little Gamer

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Happy Father's day to all you dads. And I tip my hat to those of you fortunate enough to be still working on your paternal quals. Keep at it. Diligence pays. Yippie ki-yay, hombré.

Father's DayIt's a sobering moment (is it not?), when we realize our dads are fallible. Human. Not gods. Less than perfect. The first time you find yourself looking down-at instead of up-to. Feeling disappointed when their foibles become apparent.

The Dog has researched this topic and we've had many long discussions about why we felt so strongly about the need to 'get away' (farther the better), such as that epitomized by McCandless in Into the Wild.

He says, Kids cannot afford to believe their parents are less than perfect. So when problems arise, that leaves only one other option. [ » Kids think the problem must lie with them. ]

 So I've endeavored to admit error and say things like, I'm sorry. That was my fault. I should've known better.

I remember the first time I realized my dad was merely human. It wasn't until after I returned home from the Navy (.. where I spent 6 years running a reactor plant on a nuclear sub).

I was staying up the road at my grandmother's place, cuz she had lots of room (.. and was a way-better cook than my mom).

One morning near Christmas I stopped by to see my folks. Dad was on vacation, so they were both home, preparing to fix breakfast. The coffee was already percolating. I offered to cook the bacon. Dad was gonna cook the eggs. Mom was juicing some oranges.

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On second thought .. I probably shouldn't say much more (.. may he rest in peace) .. other than the bacon came out good (.. maybe too good), and that it became clear much had changed in those 6 years while I was away. But that was the day I realized dad was human. Fallible. Sad, sad day.

Once the first crack apppears, it only gets worse. You can never put Humpty Dumpty back together again (.. no matter how hard you try). As a result, I've found it difficult to respect authority figures who do not have the courage to (ever) admit when they make a mistake. Or maybe I should say I admire people who do/can. [ Making mistakes is a part of being human. ]

Bob Came in PiecesSpeaking of fathers .. today was the first Father's day I spent with the Bug (Woohoo!) .. well, for a few hours this afternoon, anyway. A new experience. I was going to mention something yesterday (feeling excited with anticipation), but didn't want to jinx myself.

We split a burger & fries at In-n-Out. Then he wanted to play Bob Came in Pieces, a game about a guy (named Bob) who crashed his spaceship in a meteor storm.

You have to help 'Bob' find the missing parts to his spaceship by solving tricky puzzle-like problems .. by using those parts to configure his ship in different ways.

For example, you might need to attach more powerful rockets to his ship to help lift a heavy block that's blocking your/his path. Or attach a light-rocket to the top to burn away some twigs blocking access to a ship's part above. We finally finished today (level 14) .. and sent Bob back home. Whew. Did we ever celebrate!

The game has nice visuals and is challenging enough that I had to consult the walk-thru several times to solve certain puzzles. If you have some extra hair you don't mind pulling out, you might enjoy it ($10). The Bug however, seems to intuitively grasp the strategies required to solve the various problems. (Must be beginner's luck.) Kids these day .. who grow up with computers...

Default game rez = 1024 x 768, but my laptop struggles to keep up there. Whereas 1280 x 960 is downright unplayable (painfully low frame-rate). We played at 800 x 600, which is smallish but plays at a fairly smooth frame-rate.

Don't Touch My GemsHe also digs Don't Touch My Gems .. a browser-based 'Strategy/Defense' game. But we are stuck at the last level (15), which is kicking our butts. For Father's day, he drew me a big, colorful picture of the Don't-Touch-My-Gems game, complete with meteor storms, super-ninjas and the All-Seeing eye.

These games make you think, especially after the first few introductory levels. He mostly likes games we can play together. One personality trait I recognize in the Bug is how he refuses to quit when faced with a perplexing problem. He wants to keep at it until the thing is solved. (That's how I am.)

Remarkable how just last year, he could barely use a mouse. Now he's a digital warrior with his own folder on my desktop, containing links to all his favorite games. Dad, I want you to put that game in my folder.

He even has a few links to videos about Black Holes there, which he enjoys watching repeatedly. (He's 5.) Best is the one from Discovery channel. (There's a black hole in Treasure Planet .. a space version of Treasure Island.)

We learned about these games from a kid we met at the library, where they have a dozen PCs dedicated for kids to use. This kid is probably 6 or 7, but he's already a wizard. I talked to his mom, who said she used to discourage him until she discovered he could win big money playing games. (Yeah, he's *that* good.) He knows all the tricks. A natural.

I've always been more interested in the technology than the games themselves. Still remember the first time I saw how eye-poppingly gorgeous a game looked with two graphic cards connected in SLI (Scan-Line Interface), where you had two powerful graphics cards working together, connected by a short cable. Killer-smooth frame-rates at 1024 x 768.

Anybody remember those old Voodoo2 graphic cards by (now defunct) 3Dfx, using the Glide API? The only other things to 'wow' me like that was upgrading from dial-up to a cable modem (broadband) and a SCSI boot drive.

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I remember and still have an original 3Dfx Voodoo, which certainly was impressive at the time in improving visuals (although good visuals didn't and still don't always do that much in improving gameplay).

Bob Came in Pieces certainly seems a fun game (I picked it up a while ago in a Steam bundle with some other independent games), and it's good to see independent games do well out of electronic distribution platforms.

By the way, as a fan of "The Road", I hope one day soon you get a chance to play the awesome Fallout 3, set in the DC area; the novel came out during the middle of the game's development and the two match each other very well.

[ Fallout 1 and 2 incidentally are classics in their own right and can be got cheap from www.gog.com - being quite old they should be playable on your notebook even if they aren't as user-friendly as modern games have become. ]

By the way, as atmospheric as Fallout 3 certainly is, it's not the only post-nuclear game in town when it comes to games. If you ever get the hardware to play FO3 then another incredible game is S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, which (via an 1979 film by Andrei Tarkovsky) fuses the plot from a rather trippy piece of Russian science fiction to the Chernobyl exclusion zone and the abandoned city of Pripyat, and is really quite something.

http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/ghosts-of-future-borrowing-architecture.html is well worth a read in looking at how stunning real architecture like that of Pripyat gets used in modern games.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rad published on June 20, 2010 6:20 AM.

The Laptop, The Road & Long John Silver was the previous entry in this blog.

The Bug Graduates & When to Call it Quits is the next entry in this blog.

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