Video Games – A Winner, and Another Freebie!


Well, last week I posted offering a free copy of The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings – and today I am announcing a winner!

I had to REALLY dig deep for this one … joking, there was only one person who commented, so Darlin’ Rae wins! Yay! 🙂 I have sent an email with the code. I really enjoy her site, she just got married and her posts are loads of fun – check it out!

While I am at it I have ANOTHER freebie! Age of Wonders, a classic 1999 turn-based strategy game! Here is the description:

Welcome to Age of Wonders, the authentic turn-based fantasy strategy classic that started the hit series. Age of Wonders’ intimate atmosphere with painterly graphics still shines today. The game’s fully patched up, start building your fantasy empire today!

The Age of Wonders, once a time of magic and peace. An age swept into the ravaging gale of chaos by the arrival of a single, uninvited race: the Humans. The fragile balance that existed between the ancient races, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs and others, has changed into a struggle for power and survival in the wake of the turmoil the Humans have brought to the land. Prepare for a strategy adventure where you will uncover wondrous ancient artifacts, awesome magical power, and the secrets of a shattered empire. Ally with the forces of light or darkness to determine the fate of the world in the Age of Wonders!

* Age of Wonders is a turn-based game combining the best elements of strategy, adventure and role-playing.
* Forge strategic alliances with compatible races to leverage each race’s unique skills and abilities.
* Experience captivating single player campaign playable from the light and dark side.
* Play multi-player games against your friends through hotseat play, play-by-email, or over LAN or the Internet. The latter two modes feature an additional game play mode of simultaneous turns for a fast game pace.
12 unique fantasy races, over 50 different heroes with upgradable abilities, dozens of spells and scores of locations to explore
Employ strategic and tactical skills to command troops in capturing vital locations and defeating enemies
Battle your way through vast open lands, breach the outer wall in city sieges and explore deadly dungeons

The rules? You comment, you’re entered. I’ll select a winner on Friday the 12th.

Hey PC Gamers – Want to Win a FREE Copy of The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings?


Recently (Good Old Games) had their huge sale, and by checking in once a day you collected ‘stamps’, and getting all 7 stamps netted you a couple of freebies – a copy of the movie ‘The Gamers’, and the acclaimed RPG “The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings”. Thing is – I already own the game, so I want to give away my copy to someone who wants to play.

Here is the description:

The second installment in the RPG saga about the Witcher, Geralt of Rivia. A new, modern game engine, responsible both for beautiful visuals and sophisticated game mechanics puts players in the most lively and believable world ever created in an RPG game. A captivating story, dynamic combat system, beautiful graphics, and everything else that made the original Witcher such a great game are now executed in a much more advanced and sophisticated way.

What’s New in the Enhanced Edition:
– Professional mod tool – REDkit beta: The REDkit is the best way to craft vast, living worlds – shape environments using intuitive tools and adapt them to your needs! Create your own RPG adventures and do it CD Projekt RED style!
– Additional hours of gameplay: New major adventures set in previously unseen locations, expanding the story and introducing new characters, mysteries and monsters.
– New Game Introduction and Cinematics: All new animations and cut scenes, including a new, three and a half minute pre-rendered cinematic depicting the assassination of King Demavend of Aedirn. BAFTA Award winner and Academy Award nominee Tomasz Baginski brings this key historical event to life, setting the stage for the story told in The Witcher 2.

You can get more information about the game at the page.

So how do you win? Just enter a comment below. Next Monday December 8th I will announce a winner using a not so secret formula: frequent visitors/commenters/readers who comment get 5 entries, occasional visitors get 3 entries, and first-timers get one. Since it is a random drawing, everyone has the chance to be Primrose Everdeen!

30 Days of Gratitude – Day #13, The Small Joys of Video Games


Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for the little things that make me love video games.

Day #13 – Gamers Gonna Game, Game, Game

I have been playing computer games since before 99% of the people reading this were even born – to the point where when Nintendo launched the GameBoy in 1989 (yeah … 25 years ago!), I was enough of a gamer that my parents bought it for me to carry on airplanes on my frequent business trips.

The great thing about games is they are an interactive form of escapism, rather than the passive forms such as movies or TV. Like reading a book requires your mind to fill in the visual blanks, in games you control the action and cause the narrative to unfold.

My personal favorite games are in the RPG (role-playing game) and FPS (first-person shooter) genres, though I am pretty open to most things. Most recently I have been replaying a game called ‘Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast’ on the Mac, which is one of my favorites and gives you the great feeling of wielding a lightsaber and Force powers against the remnants of the Empire in the years following Return of the Jedi. I have also been playing two tablet ports of classic games – ‘Icewind Dale’, a combat-centric RPG on my Android tablet, and perhaps the greatest RPG ever ‘Baldur’s Gate 2’ on my iPad. Great deep complex stories and characters.

A good game needs many things working in its favor, most importantly quality gameplay and some type of ‘hook’ to keep you engaged. Games that engage you on multiple levels will be your favorites. But once you get all of that, you will find that games giving you ‘something extra’ will remain memorable for years. For me those things mostly come in two flavors: music and ‘unexpected extras’.

Unexpected Extras

Several years ago a CEO of a big game company said it was very hard to justify content that nearly ever player who made it to that point in the game wouldn’t experience. Voice acting is expensive, graphics assets are expensive, and so on. What this means in practice is that all of those little ‘Easter Eggs’ stopped showing up in games. No longer were there random dead-end paths, go-nowhere quests, fun things to overhear, and so on.

But there are still plenty of great moments in games, here are a couple:
– In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, if you have Mission Vao and Bastilla in your party on Tatooine, and are headed out towards the desert, Mission will start bugging Bastilla about using the Force to get at others, play small tricks and so on. Bastilla says that I Jedi would never stoop to such things, but Mission persists until Bastilla shuts her down and Mission lets go with a final snipe. Moments later Mission trips and falls, Bastilla says that she should be more careful and Mission is left saying ‘hey …’! Classic moment!
– In Baldur’s Gate 2, there is a staggering amount of incidental dialogue – between members of your party (similar to above, things change depending on who is with you and where), between random characters, and between your protagonist and creatures you meet throughout. You can also ‘romance’ members of your party, which often turn into huge and sprawling quests unto themselves!
– Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, you can switch on the radio in a number of places (and in some shops it is always on in the background). Aside from music, there is a talk show ‘The Deb of Night’ with call-ins, commercials and more!
– Throughout Jedi Knight II – especially wandering through the Cairn base or the Doomgiver ship, there are Stormtroopers having random conversations about experiences, weapon accuracy, and so on. As I have played this game dozens of times I have heard them all before, but it is fun to stop outside a door to listen before igniting the lightsaber and charging in!
– And finally, you know you are a hardcore gamer when you know this scene from Divine Divinity:

Existential skeletons? Who knew …

=Great Music

I love great music, and we know that movies can have great soundtracks … so why not games? Just as film has John Williams and Hans Zimmer and Danny Elfman, gaming has composers such as Jeremy Soule (Neverwinter Nights, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, etc) and Alexander Brandon (Deus Ex) and Matt Uelman (Diablo II) and Inon Zur (Fallout 3) and Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy I – VII) and more.

I love all of those guys, but wanted to share my top game music choices … which I narrowed to only seven entries. 🙂

Divine Divinity – by composer Kirill Pokrofsky

Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines – from “The Last Round”, this is ‘Lecher Bitch’ by the Genitorturers –

Gothic 2 – by composer Kai Rosenkranz

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – by composer Jeremy Soule

Blade of Darkness – by composer Oscar Aurajo

Baldur’s Gate 2 – by composer Michael Hoenig

Arcanum – by composer Ben Hogue

How do you feel about video games?

Parents of Young Kids – Great PC Edu-Game ‘Flash Sale’


Hey guys – quickie here … if you were a kid or had kids in the mid-90s, chances are you know of Humungous Entertainment. They are famous for the Putt-Putt series, the Freddi Fish series, the Pajama Sam series and the Spy Fox franchise of educational games for kids.

Right now on the ‘Humble Flash Bundle’ you can get some or ALL of these games with direct downloads or Steam (for PC, Mac or Linux) keys for a ‘pay what you want’ price. There are some games that you need to pay a minimum to unlock, but for just $20 you can get ALL of it! If you have pre-school or early elementary school kids – or know someone who does … these are classics.

Humble Bundle works with developers to get games to offer, and the proceeds are divided between developers and charities. For this bundle it is the American Red Cross and the Child’s Play Charity that are supported.

As noted, they all run on the PC, Mac or Linux, and the sale only lasts for $24 hours (there were about 22.5 hours left as I wrote this). Head to Humble Bundle for all of the details!

Award Post Part 2 – Even More Stuff (you didn’t care to know) About ME!


OK, I am a total slacker … over the last month I have been nominated for SIX Liebster and other blog awards, and been meaning to do a post about it ever since the first one from Running Boston and Beyond. My initial problem was that I did one of these posts back in February, and felt like I was spent in terms of personal reveals … but now I am ready to give it a go – and these nominations each have plenty of interesting questions so you can learn even MORE stuff you didn’t care about!

Running Boston and Beyond

Let’s start with Kelli from Running Boston and Beyond (and yes, she did run Boston in 2014)! She is a 40-something wife and mom who loves running and her family and has a great blog – definitely check her out!

1.How did you choose your blog name?

I initially had a blog since ~2006 called ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ where I wrote about stuff I couldn’t post on any of the game review sites I wrote for … and had basically zero readers. So when I got serious about running went beyond what I could comfortably write about for Gear Diary, I needed a new outlet. I was getting older but not ‘over the hill’, and my new focus on ‘serious’ running was a different take on a familiar habit – so not really ‘turning the corner’ or ‘changing course’. So more “Running Around the Bend” … and I landed on WordPress rather than Blogger (where I also have an account) because that name was in use on Blogger.

2.What is your favorite thing to write about?

If you read my post ‘mostly the miles are boring’ you know that running isn’t my favorite topic; nor is cooking and eating – again, because I eat pretty much the same things for 12 or so meals every week (breakfasts and weekday lunches).

But if you read this blog even occasionally you know my favorite things in the world are my wife and kids … so writing about stuff we do together is my fave thing in the world.

3.Why did you start blogging?

I started doing ‘game reviews’ back on USENET in the 80s before the web, then started writing for early websites – again gaming opinions. Then as time went on I started writing editorials and other opinion-based stuff – and from there I found the limits and needed to express myself more. Like I said, at first I was basically writing for myself, and left it behind for a few years.

But last year, after ‘becoming a runner’, and having gone through a long running streak, and done it all mostly posting to Facebook with some stuff written for ‘official posts’, I again found the limits (or rather, they were pointed out to me). So I kicked back into my blog, started using that in my comments … and just over 7 months later here we are!

4.What kind of workout makes you feel the best after it is all over?

Running … is there another kind?

5.What is your favorite post workout recovery food?

Smoothies! Seriously – in the cold weather I like water and later some coffee, in the warmth it is water and then something cold like a smoothie. Or homemade peanut butter ‘fudge’ (melt a bit of butter, stir in peanut butter, add some confectionary sugar and chocolate syrup and stick it in the freezer!)

6.What motivates you?


Sounds odd, but love for my wife, for my kids, for my friends, and for myself is what motivates me.

7.What is your “A” race or biggest fitness goal for 2014?

I still want to run an Ultra … but aside from that just PR everything I do (no biggie, right?). But really – if I am still running 5+ miles 5+ days a week by the end of the year I will be incredibly happy.

8.What is your favorite motivational song?

Maybe it is because I saw it in theaters in 1976 when I was 10 … but Bill Conti’s ‘Rocky’ theme still gives me chills. I don’t use music for workouts, though.

9.What is your favorite “fun” thing to do besides run/train/work out?

Aside from stuff with my family (already mentioned), I would say music. I am still finishing setting up my old studio again and re-adapting my song files to the new configuration (which is simultaneously fun and annoying) … but eventually I will share stuff here.

10.If you could give your 16-year old self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Focus more on being happy, and stop caring what other people (including your family) thinks.

11.Are you going to pass on the torch and nominate 11 fellow bloggers?

Can I ignore this one? Seriously I am not going to for one main reason – I already skipped out on it last time because everyone else had already been nominated. Still true.


The Gluten Free Treadmill

Next we move on to Laura from The Gluten Free Treadmill. Now I am going to embarass Laura by saying that she is absolutely one of the most wonderful people I’ve met since blogging and a truly treasured ‘internet friend’. She writes about powerful and important stuff and we share loads of common thoughts on things. I have loved seeing her site continue to gain traction and followers – well deserved!

1) What is your spirit animal and why?

I have always been the ‘bear’. Solid, strong, even-tempered and ready. I had a teddy bear from when I was in the hospital at 4, and later on Lisa gave me one for when I was traveling. Even though my size is no longer ‘bear-like’, I will always be the bear.

2) What is your happy place?

On the couch with Lisa, drinking coffee or wine. My ‘personal’ place would be out on a run.

3) What is your favorite ethnic cuisine?

Chinese food of all types, from junk at the mall food court to gourmet stuff in a big city to more exotic stuff to things we make at home. Love the flavor profiles and ingredients and pretty much everything about it.

4) What was your favorite food as a kid?

Steak, from an early age.

5) What is your favorite food today?

Hmmm … would have to choose between sweet potato and … yeah, steak.

6) What are you typically doing on a Wednesday at 11:30 AM?

Something related to work … specific to most of the last two months or so on my new project, either at my desk or in our development clean room … likely thinking about lunch!

7) Why do you blog?

Because I have felt the need to express myself in the digital world ever since that was a possibility. I have always found writing a cathartic outlet, yet never had an interest in pursuing it professionally (to the chagrin of my AP English teacher in high school) … so for me blogging was a natural. And more recently I have found less of a desire to do reviews and more desire to ‘do my own thing’.

8) What do you do when not blogging?

Well, my job at Corning keeps me busy about 50 hours per week, and I have a very busy life with Lisa and the boys and the dogs and the cats. Music, video games, house-related stuff and so on take up the rest.

9) What’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learned to date about nutrition/food/health?

Food is fuel. Get rid of the good / bad labels, the ‘meat is murder’ mentality, and just figure out what best fuels the life you want to lead … and stop judging yourself and others.

10) What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned to date about something other than nutrition/food/health?

Honest, open communications is the key to everything – it is more important than talent, intelligence, or looks.


Life Between the Miles

Then I was nominated by one of my more recent blog discoveries, Sara from Life Between the Miles. She is from Massachusetts, recently ran the Boston marathon, is married with a cute little boy, and writes a fun and honest blog I look forward to reading all the time.

1. If you could spend the day with one famous person, who would it be and why?

On the one hand, I would love to get the chance to talk to a whole variety of historical leaders, freedom pioneers, artists and musicians and ground-breaking scientists … but on the other hand I can never choose just one because what I would ultimately want is to understand the person behind the story. I place very little value on ‘fame’ or ‘wealth’ and even less on pure ‘celebrity’, so spending time with a person because they are ‘famous’ has no draw for me.

2. What is an attribute you admire in others?

Honesty. In crowded engineering fields, saying ‘I don’t know’ can be seen as weakness, so people will sometimes pretend to know things they don’t. In my personal life I’ve had many people say things for no reason that are clearly not true (why?). Yeah, for me it all starts with honesty.

3. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would be the 3 things you would take with you?

OK, I am assuming Lisa, Danny and Chris is cheating?

4. If money was no object, what would you choose as your career?

I would still be working, but would push the measurement science side harder. When I was younger I thought music store or studio, or book store, or teacher or something … but none of those really appeal to me enough to mitigate the downsides.

5. What is YOUR greatest achievement?

While professionally my direct contributions to the first 1GHz microprocessor technology, or significant work in the development of the technique of Scatterometry for sub-100nm semiconductor measurements are probably my ‘biggies’ … for me it is marrying Lisa, as even having our boys stems from that.

6. Why did you decide to start blogging? *answered in the first group*

7. What is your biggest pet peeve?

People who have no regard for others.

8.What is your favorite pizza toppings?

When I was young I used to get onion, pepper, hamburg and linguica … now I would say just cheese.

9. What is the theme song of your life?

Miles Davis Bitches’ Brew – within that 27 minutes there is everything I love about music; elements of classical, rock, funk, soul, free jazz, fusion and so on.

10. If you had $1,000 that you could spend on anything, what would you spend it on?

Funny thing that as such a techie I am also not very materialistic … so I don’t immediately think about some new gadget. Instead I think about paying off things like the one car payment or working down the mortgage so she the kids are done with college we will be more free to choose our path forward.

But since I should really choose stuff … I would get Lisa some Hoka One Ones to support her ankle and redo her Pandora bracelet so it fit better … and myself some running gear, and the rest for some clothes and shoes for the boys.


She’s Going the Distance

Next the hilarious and sarcastic dude Cori from She’s Going the Distance (yes, like that Cake song). Both she and her fiance Cameron have great blogs I enjoy, and I look forward to reading about their wedding later this year (yes, I am a total sappy romantic type):

1. Do you have a night before or race day ritual that you HAVE to do?

Nothing on the creepy superstitious level, just make sure my crap is ready and try to get some sleep.

2. Do you love your job?

Yes I do … like the line in Real Genius ‘I love solving problems’. Today I helped a young engineer figure out a critical experimenal problem on her project, taught her some statistics and more details about some software. She was super happy and grateful … which makes it all worthwhile!

3. Why did you start blogging? *answered in the first group*

4. What is your favorite running shoe brand?

Right now I am loving Saucony – I’m on Virratas now, but I just saw Amazon clearanced the Kinvara 4s as they prep for the 5! Might have to grab a pair cheap!

5. Ice cream, popsicles or milkshakes?


6. Where’s the last place you traveled?

Glorious Troy, NY! The trip to RPI and my fraternity was worth enduring Troy, as I wrote about the other day!

7. Power song to run or train to?

Music for running?

8. Beach or Mountains?

Beach! We watched one of those ‘house hunter’ shows the other night just because it was all beach houses!

9. Are you afraid of heights?

Not at all – I seek out heights and rollar coasters.

10. Favorite show on tv currently?

I tend to ‘lose track’ of shows fairly easily, so for me it has to be something we all can enjoy. Right now we’re doing Grimm, Castle, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Sherlock and Hannibal. The BBC shows are less frequent, and the others we watch on Hulu more often than not due to schedules.

Last 2014 Cold Selfie1

Run Salt Sun
Next came Lauren from Run Salt Sun … or just #mamaSalt, who has gained quite a bit of success both as a speedy runner and a ‘mommy blogger’ – though she is not typical of that breed (thankfully). She has an adorable little girl, and a husband who loves her in spite of her running ‘problem’ 🙂

1) Who is your favorite Sesame Street character?

The Count! I was just 3 when Sesame Street launched on PBS (when there were all of a half dozen stations between UHF/VHF), so I mostly know Big Bird, Kermit, etc. But the Count was always a fave.

2) How do you feel about treadmills?

Aren’t those the things they make lab rats run on for experiments?

3) Are you good at math?

My job is as a statistician and metrology (measurement) engineer. Does that answer the question? Ask my family … I torment them with math,

4) What is your favorite brand of running shoe?
5) Coolest celebrity you’ve met?

For me the coolest thing was riding the elevator with jazz guitar legend John Scofield in the late 80s – I was going to see him play that night, so it was cool to chat in the elevator and he was awesome.

Also, at a wedding of one of Lisa’s friends we got to see Chet & Nat – two Boston news icons.

6) What is your dream job?

You know … I really have no idea. I am pretty happy where I am, no desire to move, and get to spend enough time with my family. Seeing so many people try small businesses has shown me that is NOT what I want … and really most of my hobbies I am happy with as hobbies.

7) What is your favorite kind of pie?

Lisa makes a killer apple pie (yes, despite being allergic) with a sugar cookie top-crust. Yeah, probably that.
8) How many brothers and sisters do you have?

I have one of each and I am the middle child (explains a lot, really). Both of my siblings are divorced at this point (within the last few years), and each has had significant heart issues. My brother lives in NJ and my sister in MA.

9) Why did you start blogging? *answered in the first group*

10) Do you take selfies at races?

Sometimes afterwards, but generally I have some part of my crew so they take pictures of me.

Vacation 20023


And finally Abby from thesecretlifecoachofdc, who is a fun and energetic young blogger with a great philosophy that “all aspects of a healthy lifestyle (fitness, nutrition, social, mental, sleep, etc) are intertwined”. All about balance!

My Questions for My Nominees

1. What are your three favorite things to do in your down time?

– Spend time with my wife and boys.
– Go for a run.
– Make music

2. What is your life motto?

I had one ‘find excess within moderation’ that I liked a lot when I was younger … and while I haven’t ever really been a ‘live by a motto’ person, I still like it.

3. What is your dream job? *answered in the previous group*

4. If you described yourself as a color, what color would you be and why?

A bright vibrant blue … because it is my favorite color, shows energy with a certain coolness, and has higher photon energy than all of those ‘warmer’ colors!

5. If someone wrote a book about your life up until now, what would the title be?

“Why the heck are you contemplating buying this boring story about a happily married, well employed middle-aged family man with no addictions or tragic flaws?”

6. Who would you choose to play you in a movie?

Another weird one – and again no clue. Many people I might have chosen ages ago I feel have aged poorly (James Spader), or are too good looking (George Clooney) and would seem arrogant. I dunno – who would YOU think?

7. If you could be a professional athlete, what sport would you choose to be a pro at?

Running for sure – it used to be basketball but that has lost its allure to me, whereas I would be fine being a pro runner, traveling around meeting other runners, and getting to enjoy all of the incredible races.

8. Who do you look up to the most in life right now?

My wife – she has had to go through many things in her life, yet she approaches every day with bright eyes and an open and loving heart.

9. What is your favorite thing about blogging?

The people – definitely the people. Sure I like writing and reading stories and perspectives and all that – but ultimately it is the people BEHIND the blogs that I find intriguing.

10. What stores do you frequent the most (online or in-person)?

Online I am very much an Amazon person for … well, everything. In the real world I would love to say it was someplace more glamorous or gourmet … but it is Walmart. Because it is close, convenient, and cheap.

11. Favorite book right now?

Fave is always tough … but I am re-reading the Night Watch series by Sergei Lukyanenko. They are translated from Russian and a decent fantasy series. I started re-reading it because the English translation of the latest book is coming out later this year.

Though if I had to choose a singular favorite it would be ‘Cat’s Cradle’ by Kurt Vonnegut. It is a book that I read and re-read, and it always either shows me something different or strikes me differently.


My Final Thoughts

As I finish this I realize how much more useless crap I could talk about – so I started a ‘random facts’ post that I will do some time in the future.

I mentioned that I wasn’t going to nominate anyone – since this cycle started a few months ago I have been reading about all of these different cool things about bloggers. Pretty much everyone has had at least one Liebster post, so I couldn’t find anyone to nominate!

But – if you are reading this and have not done a Liebster post, or you want to do another one … consider THIS your invitation. Here are the rules:
– Pick 10 questions from the ones above.
– Answer them.
– Link back to this post so I can see you’re post.
– Nominate someone if you want.

And that is it! Happy Thursday everyone … we’re getting close to the weekend!

Friday Freebies – De La Soul Discography and ‘Dungeon Keeper’ PC Game!

While I hadn’t planned a second post for Friday, this is too good to NOT post about! Two great limited time giveaways came across my email this morning. Let’s get right to them!

GoG Weekend Sale

Classic game site is doing their very best to help you forget about the abomination that is Dungeon Keeper mobile. To that end they are hosting a free giveaway of the original Bullfrong classic for the next 48 hours, and a dual-sale special on D&D games and multiplayer classics for the Valentine’s Day weekend.

There are three things of interest:

Dungeon Keeper Giveaway – the 1997 classic that turns the tables and has you DEFENDING the dungeons from adventurers. Great dark humor, tons of options and great gameplay. Oh – and Dungeon Keeper 2 is only $1.49 in the Multiplayer Sale below!

Dungeons & Dragons Sale – some of the absolute classics of the RPG genre, such as Planescape: Torment, Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 and more – all on sale for up to 90% off!

Multiplayer Game Sale – not enough yet? There are 29 games based around competitive or cooperative multiplayer. Games such as Syndicate Wars ($1.49), Arma 2 ($4.99), Fistpuncher ($1.99) and Trine ($0.99), with staggering discounts up to 90% off original price.

If gaming is your love – GoG has your Valentine’s Day gifts!

De La Soul Giveaway

It is hard to overstate the impact of groups like Tribe Called Quest, NWA, Jungle Brothers, Black Sheep and De La Soul on hip-hop, and now De La Soul is giving away their entire catalog for FREE!

This week their site teased “Check back on Valentine’s Day at 11 AM EST for some de la love!” And now that the time has arrived, we know what it is – you can enter your name and email to ‘sunscribe’ and get their entire library (or any subset thereof) to download for free!

I did it – entered my info, got my confirming email, subscribed … and got my email with all of the download links!

Check it out!

Here is a live performance of their hit ‘Me Myself and I’ from the Arsenio Hall Show:

Six Things Saturday – My Favorite Video Games of 2013


Since I totally missed the ‘Five Things Friday’ or my usual ‘Friday Playlist’ because I am doing a year-end music round-up, I figured I would do something a little different – a round-up of my favorite video games of 2013! For a bit of context, I generally play games on the Mac or PC, as well as iPad. I have never been a console gamer (though we have a Wii & X360), and I stopped playing much on my Sony PSP and Nintendo DS when the iPad games became worth playing.

In general I consider 2013 a pretty weak year in games, especially in genres and platforms I care about. There were few games that met expectations as the search for blockbusters and franchise entries far outstripped innovation. Also, the growth of content-based DLC for PC & console games, and the explosion of the in-app purchase model for mobile games has dramatically altered the focus of gaming from satisfying gamers to figuring out how to get them to click ‘buy now’ on that $0.99 item every hours or so.

But for smaller studios and so-called ‘indie’ games, I thought it was a pretty great year, which is why most of my favorite games come from those studios. I know I called this ‘Six Things’, but I am actually putting up seven – six for Mac & PC, and one for iPad. Here we go – no specific order, just a list of great games!

Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite: The Bioshock games are spiritual successors to System Shock 1 & 2, two of the all time greatest games (I replayed SS2 recently and it is still awesome). The first Bioshock broke ground with excellent story-telling narrative in a shooter, and while the sequel was rather lackluster, Bioshock Infinite is perhaps the best story-based shooter since System Shock 2! I have a massive review at GearDiary, where I say:

With Bioshock Infinite Ken Levine and Irrational are back, with the best story yet, a challenging shooter, great character, great customization of your character, and loads of intriguing twists and turns along the way. Not only that, but unlike way too many games it is highly polished with few crashes or bugs, works very well across platforms, and scales well on low – or high-end PCs. I see this as a strong ‘game of the year’ candidate.


Driftmoon: I thought I had completed a review for this, but apparently I never finished up my draft (embarrassed!), but this is a indie game from a small team that I’d never heard of that turned out to be one of my favorite games of the year! You get a classic ‘old school’ RPG with a fun yet intriguing story, top-down graphics that work well once you get used to them, and a bunch of enjoyable characters and locations to explore across the few dozen hours of gameplay. Since it is a RPG, you get to choose how to carry out your actions, what type of character to play and so on. For a small husband & wife team this is a very fun and effective RPG experience.

Drox Operative Invasion of the Ancients 3

Drox Operative: Invasion of the Ancients I am currently working on the review for this, but in many ways it is like every other Soldak game, and in some ways completely different. It is an action RPG with choices, consequences, alliances and so on – but now you are controlling spaceships! The gameplay is satisfying, the depth is incredible, and the replayability is tremendous due to the variety of options and actions throughout the game. Soldak is an incredible developer and you should really check out all of their games!


Avadon 2 () The latest release from Spiderweb Software, who has been doing indie game development for 20 years now! I reviewed the Mac & PC release here, and there is an iPad version coming soon. The game contains all of the hallmarks of a Spiderweb game – great story, interesting characters, loads of side-quests, huge world to explore, challenging turn-based combat, and more. But one thing I appreciated was that my time as a gamer was valuable, so there was very little ‘grinding’. From my review:

In his personal blog Jeff Vogel reflects the values of loving gaming, but as a developer, husband, and parent he lacks the time to do all of the gaming he wants. I find that reflected in his development sensibilities – I never felt like he was wasting my time: by allowing me to enter regions from various points I don’t have to do excessive backtracking; by balancing the need for combat with the boredom of trash mobs my combat time felt well spent; and I never felt the need to go around bashing every barrel looking for gold nuggets like in Neverwinter Nights.


X-COM: Enemy Unknown I loved the original X-COM games and have been a fan of turn-based combat games since the early 80s. So I was deeply concerned what would happen with this reboot – but it turned out to contain the best of the old and modern gaming conventions. The levels are fun and tricky, characters are well done, missions are deep with surprises that make you plan every element, and your research and engineering at the home base require careful planning to succeed. The iPad game is an incredibly faithful port that is a great value for the price.


Metro Last Night Metro 2033 came from some of the developers of the STALKER series, which were hugely ambitious open-world shooter games with RPG elements. Metro was a tighter experience, but brought the best of the shooter elements. Now Metro Last Night comes along, taking us into a larger world with an even bleaker outlook. It is an easier game than Metro 2033, but you can compensate with a higher difficulty level. What is striking is how much better of a straight shooter it is, all while maintaining an intriguing narrative and tense environment.

The Shadow Sun

The Shadow Sun (iPad/iPhone) I continue to be impressed with iOS gaming, from the G5 hidden object adventures to ports like X-COM and originals like Ravenmark … but my favorite iOS game this year was The Shadow Sun which released just before Christmas. I reviewed it at GearDiary on release day, and have replayed it since – it is a great action-RPG that combines interesting story and characters with fun combat and loads of choices to impact the flow of the game. More than a few years coming, this IS the RPG mobile gamers have been waiting for!

And that is it – what games have you enjoyed this year?

Check Out the Official Trailer for ‘The Shadow Sun’


If you are a fan of iOS role playing games (RPG), chances are you’ve been tracking The Shadow Sun for a very long time (I first wrote about it over at Gear Diary at the end of August … in 2010!). What started as an iPhone-only game now supports the iPad, and even takes advantage of the iPad Air! Today we get the official trailer!

Ossian Studios doesn’t have an exact release date yet, but the game is getting very close – they haven’t changed from the ‘Fall 2013’ launch window yet, so we could well see the release before the end of the year.

As a huge fan of their ‘Darkness Over Daggerford’ adventure for Neverwinter Nights and ‘Mysteries of Westgate’ for Neverwinter Nights 2, I have been anxiously awaiting the release of their first new game.

Check out the trailer – it is the first look at in-game combat and live gameplay!

Cool New Indie RPG Alert: Avadon 2: The Corruption

Avadon 2 - The Corruption

Since Wizardry on the Apple ][ I have loved the RPG genre, though for many years I mostly played first-person shooters. But in recent years I have been all about RPGs, from Gothic to Baldur’s Gate to Fallout to Neverwinter Nights and more.

I also have a strong love for indie RPGs such as Eschalon, Din’s Curse, and Avadon – and that starting for real with Avernum IV back in 2006. I have been fortunate to be on the Beta Test team for Spiderweb Software for the past several years, which has given me early looks for the ends of the Avernum and Geneforge as well as Avadon on the Mac and iPad.

Today Spiderweb Software launches Avadon 2: The Corruption, the latest chapter in this new fantasy RPG franchise. Bigger, deeper and better in every way, Avadon 2 is definitely worth checking out for fans of the genre. And it is on sale through my favorite digital game store –

Avadon 2: The Corruption Features:

– Epic fantasy role-playing adventure in an enormous and unique world.
– Five different character classes, with dozens of unique spells and abilities.
– Uncover the fascinating histories of Avadon and the many lands of Lynaeus.
– Many different endings. Will you be loyal to Avadon or switch sides and bring it down? The choice is yours!
– Dozens of side quests, dungeons, and secrets to discover.
– Hundreds of magical items to find. Use powerful crystals to make your artifacts even more powerful.
– Huge adventure with lots of replay value. Experience with Avadon: The Black Fortress is entirely unnecessary to enjoy Avadon 2.

Right now the game is on sale for 25% off – just $7.49 at is remarkable in that they provide Mac & PC versions, loads of extras from developers, and everything is DRM-free! No Steam client, no cumbersome internet activations / client software / code wheels … just a single file you can keep on a backup drive to reinstall whenever.

Great game, great price. Check out the Avadon 2 home page or head to to grab it on sale.

Here is the trailer:

Baldur’s Gate II Enhanced Edition Coming November 15th!

OK, anyone who knows me know that I’m a gamer – I have been into computer games since Castle Wolfenstein way back on the Apple ][! For the longest time my preferred genre was shooters – Doom, Dark Forces, Duke Nukem, Jedi Knight, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Medal of Honor, Soldier of Fortune, Jedi Knight II … you get the picture.

But when LucasArts announced a Star Wars RPG ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ for late 2003, I knew I had to check it out! To prepare myself, I played their 2002 game ‘Neverwinter Nights’ when it came to the Mac in mid-2003, then thorougly enjoyed KotOR (which is now on iPad, by the way). After I was done with those games, and also the expansions for NWN – I wanted MORE.

Suddenly I was hooked into the RPG genre, and there were two games I played based on RPGDot (now RPGWatch) forum recommendations – Gothic 2 and Baldur’s Gate II.

Baldur’s Gate II is always close to the top of ‘best video games of all time’ lists – and for good reason. Great characters, excellent writing, ‘real-time with pause’ combat system that is a great compromise between depth and speed, and just an amazing overall experience. Between the original ‘Shadows of Amn’ and the ‘Throne of Bhaal’ expansion there is more than 120 hours of gaming … so this is not the sort of game I knock off every year like Jedi Knight 2!

The original release still works well on the PC, but doesn’t take advantage of wide-screens, higher resolutions and so on. The Mac version has long since been left behind in the sea of Apple changes including Power-PC to Intel and OS X. So now we get the news that Beamdog, Overhaul Games and Atari are releasing the game – including all original content plus new stuff – for Mac & PC on November 15th. You can pre-order here.

Check out the trailer.