Posts Tagged 'games'

Computer Games

Story time. If you want to skip to the interesting list at the end, go right ahead. I’m in the typing mood though so I’m about to tell you my entire life story as it relates to gaming.

English: A NES console with the Super Mario Br...

English: A NES console with the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve always loved video games. My grandpa was kind enough to donate his Nintendo Entertainment System to my parents when I was very young, probably after we visited him once or twice and he saw how the machine captivated my brother and me. I must have been five years old (plus or minus the standard deviation for my poor memory).

Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, Baseball, Duck Hunt, Gumshoe, Master Blaster, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Marble Madness, Captain Skyhawk, and many more games filled the earliest years of my memory.

Then, after much entreatment from my brother and me, we got a Sega Genesis for Christmas, and years later a Nintendo 64. I believe my grandfather may have had a financial hand in one or both of those acquisitions as well.

Our time with those game systems shaped who we are. My brother is now lucky enough to work for a small but well-known game development company and I… well, I make useless JavaScript toys in my free time.

As a part of my interest in games, teenager me wanted to become a 3D artist. To this day I work plenty in 3D and the skills I gained in my teens will forever benefit me. However, in support of my quest to learn 3D modeling my parents loaned me the money to buy a PC (circa 1998, plus or minus whatever my memory is wrong about). I got my first job to pay my parents back. I was 15.

Anyhow, the computer I got worked for very limited 3D work (renderings took forever and often never finished due to hard drive crashes or other terrible mishaps), and it also allowed me to try my hand at PC gaming for the first time.

I had tried a couple of very simple games on my father’s Power Mac, but these PC games were entirely different. I can’t remember everything I played (I’ve spent quite a bit of time in bursts of nostalgia trying to hunt down those games), but a few of them were Jane’s Advanced Tactical Fighters, Descent, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, Blastdoors, Return Fire 2, Mech Warrior, and Gravity Well.

Unfortunately my PC was junk and barely ran most of those games. I had no idea that games could actually be played at more than five frames a second. I thought all PC games were supposed to be choppy and slow. Then I tried a few games on a friend’s computer and everything changed. He had built his machine for speed. He had one of those things called a graphics card.

When I went to college several years later I made sure my computer had a graphics card. I was going to be studying 3D animation and I knew I’d need some serious power. So I got a mid-level desktop replacement laptop (this would have been sometime around 2003). It had a whole 512 MB of ram, and an NVIDIA graphics card with several MB of dedicated graphics memory (I don’t remember how much).

Despite all of this raw power, I didn’t really get back into computer gaming. I played a few games here and there, but for some reason I forgot all about what a good graphics card did for PC gaming. I still remembered playing Return Fire 2 at 5 FPS with the textures and effects turned off, and I think that left the impression that PC gaming was inferior to console gaming.

Eventually I got married and that laptop became an aging family computer. After one particularly hefty tax return when my wife and I didn’t have any major purchases in mind we decided to get a new (first generation) HP TouchSmart computer. Our young son would be able to have so much fun on the touch screen, we thought, and since the mouse was on its way out as an archaic technology we figured it was time to introduce our child to the future (right?).

That computer lasted us several years, but eventually the integrated graphics burned out and rendered the entire motherboard useless. I salvaged the hard drive, but we needed a new computer.

Once again, with a new baby girl, we decided that a touch screen would be handy. We now knew that the computer mouse was here to stay, but babies do better with touch screens. Plus, the second generation of TouchSmart PCs had been out for a while, and there was a model with a graphics card. So we got that one.

English: HP Touchsmart PC. With Rob Miles using it

English: HP Touchsmart PC. With Rob Miles using it (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, with an actual graphics card, I was ready to start playing computer games again. I started with emulators (I’m a sucker for nostalgia), but eventually installed Steam and got a game (Super Meat Boy, at my brother’s suggestion). I figured my fancy new graphics card should be able to handle the latest 2D game. Well, I was disappointed to discover that my system choked a little on that 2D game. I eventually figured out that, on the lowest settings, I could run a few modern games, but with serious restrictions and difficulties.

I played through Portal, but Portal 2 was a little too much for my system (I did eventually play through it, but with the graphics all turned down to the lowest settings again). I played Mount and Blade with all the settings configured for a crappy system. I played Minecraft comfortably for a while, but in the last few months my system began sputtering even on that game.

Unfortunately that computer lasted a full two years and some change. Though I knew we couldn’t afford to just replace it, I always secretly hoped it would die so that we could start looking for a way to pay for a new computer.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I got my wish, and, thankfully, we were financially prepared for it. My wife had gotten into a few of those computer games with me, and she agreed that it was time to get something that would comfortably play most of the games we wanted to play. We both knew we weren’t going to spend thousands on the best hardware available, but we didn’t want to have to play Mount and Blade at less than 30 FPS with all the textures and effects on the lowest settings.

I’m not saying what I got because the purpose of this post is not to open my system up for criticism. I want to talk about games.

As someone who has had to turn down the opportunity to play any new PC games for several years, there is a whole list of games I haven’t been able to play and I’m looking forward to playing on my new computer. I’ve got the list divided into three parts. The first part is stuff that’s out now and I need or want to play it (according to me). The second part of the list consists of games that I’m interested in but they aren’t out yet (I’ve backed a few of them on Kickstarter and will be getting the full game when released). The final part is for suggestions. A coworker suggested a few games, but I want you to help me add to the list.

I realize that not all of these games require a modern graphics card, but my poor graphics card made me disinterested in PC gaming for so long that I skipped over a lot of games that I was interested in. Add your suggestions in the comments!

Part 1: Games Available Now that I Want to Play

Part 2: Games Coming Soon that I’m Interested In

Part 3: Suggestions of Games to Play

  • Bioshock
  • Halflife 2
  • Black Mesa
  • Stalker
  • Dwarf Fortress

Again, add your suggestions in the comments. I’ll look into the game and if it’s pertinent to my interests I’ll add it to my list. Also, if you see any games in my lists that you think are not worth spending money or time on them, let me know your reasons (don’t just say, “Don’t play that awful game!”). I’ll take them into consideration, and if you’ve got a good point I’ll skip over that game. Thanks!

Review: Pokémon Diamond (Game for Nintendo DS)

Game Cover

Game Cover

I first played the original Pokémon Red and Yellow versions for the old Game Boy system many years ago and fell in love with the simple RPG style game play, cute Pokémon creatures, and the ability to link up with my brother to trade and battle Pokémon. I felt that 150 different species Pokémon were more than enough though, and stayed away from the subsequent iterations of Pokémon games out of a fear that the addition of more Pokémon and more things to do would complicate things and take away from the elegant simplicity of those first Pokémon games. Plus, I grew up and decided that the whole Pokémon thing was a little childish.

For anyone who hasn’t played Pokémon before, see below for an in-depth look at what is so fun about it (for adults and children). If you’ve played older Pokémon games but aren’t sure about this one, you’re in the same position I was when I got my DS.

In Diamond (and Pearl) there were many new ideas for me: berries and poffins (not new to those who have played Pokémon on the Game Boy Advance), seals to decorate Pokéballs (I guess, though I haven’t gotten into it much), more in-depth relationships with your Pokémon, contests (kind of like beauty pageants, but for Pokémon), an underground cave system for use with wireless multiplayer, and many other things I can’t even think of because I don’t use them. That’s right, even though they went and complicated the game by adding stuff, you can still enjoy the basic game the same way you could back with the first games. These additions only add to the experience for those who wish to participate in them.

There are other enhancements as well. The interface for navigating menus, viewing information, and battling has improved drastically (especially since there are two screens on the DS), and they have finally incorporated some true 3D elements (mainly just in the environment, the characters are all still 2D sprites).

While this version may not represent a huge leap forward in the Pokémon series, it certainly does take a few steps forward, and no steps back. Anyone who has ever enjoyed another Pokémon game will appreciate Pokémon Diamond (or Pearl), and anyone who has never played a Pokémon game would do well to give this game a chance. Pokémon may not be for everyone, but many have fallen in love with these simple RPGs, including me.

If you’ve never played Pokémon, allow me an opportunity to sell you on the idea. It turns out many adults can enjoy this sort of thing as well as children (even if the story is a bit childish).

Pokémon are creatures that inhabit the land in the Pokémon games. In Japan, the game is called “Pocket-Monsters” (I believe). The first generation of Pokémon came around the time that virtual pets were becoming popular, so essentially these Pokémon were modeled after the virtual pet concept (just without the little buttons for “feed” and “clean up mess”).

In the Pokémon games, you become a Pokémon trainer – someone who catches and trains Pokémon to battle. Though the monsters battle, the loser simply runs out of energy (measured in HP – health points) and faints – nothing ever happens that is graphic or unfriendly to children.

As you wander around the game (not aimlessly, there is always something to do), you encounter more and more monsters and use special capturing balls (Pokéballs) to catch more Pokémon (you may recall the catchphrase – “gotta catch ’em all”). You battle your Pokémon against other wild Pokémon or against those of other Pokémon trainers and any Pokémon on the winning team that participated in the battle gets experience points (and the trainer gets money to spend on stuff for the Pokémon). As they grow in experience they level up, learn new moves, and sometimes they evolve into more powerful Pokémon. In this way you raise the most powerful team of Pokémon to win every battle and become a Pokémon Master (lame, I know).

The trick is that you can only carry six Pokémon with you at a time (the rest are stored in a computer system), so you must assemble a team that is diverse enough to tackle any foe. There are many kinds of Pokémon (flying type, fire type, water type, electric type, etc) and some are more effective against others. Most of the time, these pairings make sense – a water type Pokémon does very well against a fire type for example. The same goes for the individual moves they know (one Pokémon can not know any more than four moves to use in battle at a time).

The basic formula is simple, easy to understand, and allows for a lot of strategic consideration. The execution in the game is challenging (but not too hard), fun and great for multi-player experiences. From the beginning, the franchise has focused on allowing game pack owners to trade Pokémon and battle them with friends. These days, on the Nintendo DS, trading and battling other Pokémon players has never been easier. There are no cables, and you can even connect over the Internet.

A lot of people criticize that the story in every Pokémon game is basically the same, but that is what I love about them (not that I wouldn’t enjoy a departure from the formula). You start out some place where there is someone that wants you to go out and see/catch all of the local kinds of Pokémon and you are given a starter Pokémon. There are side missions, caves, an evil group/entity at every turn, other trainers, and of course your rival to deal with, in addition to gyms, badges (earned by defeating gym leaders) and the Elite Four. The above description is good for basically every Pokémon game (as I understand it, though I haven’t played ALL of them).

A final note for those who are not familiar with the Pokémon franchise: You may be asking yourself what the difference is between Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Simply put, there isn’t enough of a difference for you to worry about it. Since the first two were released (Red and Blue) they have always released Pokémon in pairs (with the exception of an occasional special edition – Yellow was a special Pikachu edition, and Platinum is a special DS version with even more side features than Diamond and Pearl). Each version has a few things here or there that are marginally different, most notably there are usually a few Pokémon you cannot catch on your game pack so you must find someone else with the sister game pack and trade them for it (especially since you have some on yours that they can’t find in their game). Don’t worry though – you don’t actually have to catch all of the Pokémon to win the game – you can do it without having both game packs.

Review: Lock’s Quest (Game for Nintendo DS)

Summary: Surprised me…

Pros: Excellent music, great replay value, good game-play variety.

Cons: Can get monotonous, can’t skip lengthy title screens when starting the cartridge, a little frustrating at times.

 

Game Cover from Best Buy

Game Cover

This is one of those games I would never have thought to get for myself. It looked like just another run-of-the-mill RPG, but then the product description mentioned something about building fortresses and I wondered if I might like it.
You see, ever since I was a young child I have been obsessed with castles, fortresses and defensive architecture. If you’ve ever had an interest in any of those things, this game might be for you.
This game is an effective mix of some of the best elements of Desktop Tower Defense, Defend Your Castle and the Final Fantasy series. Ok, so maybe not the best elements of those games, but it’s a delightful blend of features borrowed from all of those games (or games like them).
If you’re familiar with Desktop Tower Defense, you’ll be used to ideas like building walls, slowing the advance of the enemy to give turrets more time to attack, strategically placing and strengthening offensive and defensive weapons, and using weapons that do a variety of attacks for ground or airborn enemies.
In Lock’s Quest you are an “archineer” – that’s the job title, though you’re really just a nobody from a small village – who is given the task of defending important things or people from the invading “clockwork” army. You build walls, turrets, gates, traps and many other defensive implements with the aim of defending a “source” well (source is what the people in this universe use to build things, among other nifty uses), some soldiers, or who knows what else. From there, Lock’s Quest departs from the Desktop Tower Defense model and adds some cool new features – like prototyping new weapons before being able to build them (a fun puzzle-like segment of the game), and ocasionally having to man a turret tower.
Battles are fought day by day (a system closely related to Defend Your Castle – you even see the sun travelling across the screen) and at the beginning of each day you must repair and add to your defenses. One of the best parts of the battle sequences is that you don’t have to just sit there and watch the little robot dudes tear your walls down and smash your turrets. Your character, Lock, can run around repairing damaged units and even engage in combat. Throughout the game you learn new moves for attacking (all of them simple to execute), but you must watch your health bar to avoid fainting.
There are other modes as well, such as wandering around talking to people, and a side view mode where you are manning a turret. You purchase upgrades for the turret at the end of each day, and blast enemies as they come toward the wall and attack. This portion of the game reminds me of Defend Your Castle, without being able to fling people into the air – you’re shooting at them instead.
Occasionally, navigating Lock around obstacles can be frustrating. Or sometimes I’ll tell him to repair a turret (something he usually does from inside the fortress) and he will run out through the gates instead, where he gets beat up a bit before I tell him to run back inside and try again. Otherwise, the controls are relatively natural and smooth.
Perhaps my biggest complaint comes from the title screen. Every time you start the game (as in, turn on the system and load the cartridge) you are forced to watch the opening splash screens for the companies involved in making the game. I don’t mind being shown the logos, I just like being able to rush through them so I can jump into the game. The titles don’t last all that long, but they seem to take forever when you just want to flip it on for a second to do a quick round.
I think my favorite part of the game is the music. The game-play is fun, the graphics are nice, and the controls are comfortable, and the story is ok, but I could say that about a lot of games. When was the last time you heard a video game score that really impressed you though? Zelda games usually have good music (Twilight Princess was awesome) and Final Fantasy games are usually pretty descent (Sid’s theme, anyone?) but the focus on games in the last few years has been on graphics, not music. Some big names have been called in to compose scores for a few games lately in an attempt to revitalize video game music. David Franco did the score for Lock’s Quest, and though I hadn’t really heard of him before, it looks like he’s done quite a few scores for television and has been involved with movie music for a while.
Most of the score is powerful and fun to listen to, but I feel that the music is a little hit and miss – with far more hits than misses. I think Franco lacks the polished experience of some composers, but the average game player will appreciate the work he put into Lock’s Quest. Overall, it is a pleasure to listen to, and it really adds to the experience of playing the game.
If you already know you love thinking defensively and you don’t mind fixing things that people break (sometimes over and over again), then Lock’s Quest is perfect for you. None of the battles I’ve fought so far have lasted more than five or six days, so you’ll never find yourself locked into the same old motions for more than forty five minutes, and so far I’ve won all of them. The wins don’t come too easily, but it’s not impossible – it’s just challenging. I haven’t tried the two player mode yet, so I can’t include that in my review, but overall I am glad I played this charming game for the Nintendo DS.

New Fun Page

In an attempt to deliver something that will keep me entertained as well as providing a little bit of fun for my visitors, I have begun a final page for my “thing” called “Other.”  The Other page contains links to several pages I might or might not add (only two for now) that would contain lists of links or perhaps images, or anything at all.  You name it.  In fact, that’s the idea.  I want you to add to the lists.

Granted, I think one or two of you might have made suggestions in the past, but I want those suggestions again, this time on these pages.  There is one page (linked to from the Other page) for links to free games that are played online and another page (also on the Other page) for links to download stuff (mostly games also).

So, if you know of any good (free) entertainment online (free game downloads, free in-browser games, etc.) please let me know about them.  I won’t add all suggestions to the main list, but comments with valid links will be approved for visitors to browse through and if I like the suggestion enough I will add it to its respective official list.

Review: Wall-e (Game for Wii)

Summary: Fun Game – Rent Me First

Pros: Fun to play, easy-ish controls, tons of multiplayer options, nice graphics, cheat codes.

Cons: Not a whole lot of replay value, only a couple of multiplayer games are fun, cheat codes cause glitches.

Game Cover

Game Cover

I rented this game, and I’m sure glad I didn’t rush out and buy it.  As much as I loved the movie, I was hoping the game would be good.  Plus, I read some reviews and found quite a few people saying the game was actually pretty fun (as far as movie games go).  Since most movie games turn out to be lame, and some people were saying this one was fun, I decided to get it.  I almost just bought it, but in a fit of good judgement I decided to rent it first.

 

From the very beginning the game established a routine with me – lots of waiting for things to load.  This game loads especially slow, even for a Wii game.  I imagine the load time comes from the massive graphics.  Every new level brought a loading screen that would show hints and tricks completely unrelated to what you were about to do.  I love Wall-e though, so I was willing to wait for him.

I imagine that you, as a potential buyer of this game, are interested because you loved the movie like I did and are hoping to jump into the story and feel of the movie through this game, reliving those beautiful memories.  While this game does a much better job of carrying the feel of the movie to your game console than past attempts, it still falls short on too many levels to really get me excited.

The production of the game began before the movie was released, and the game crew was working with concept sketches and written descriptions of many parts of the unfinished film in order to do their job.  In several places they had to do their own thing rather than follow the actual movie, though most of the time the game follows the movie’s storyline almost exactly.

I was able to work through the entire game in a matter of hours (two or three) which unlocked most the game’s content.  The remaining unlock-ables are cheats that can be found by searching the web.  Unfortunately, the cheats rarely made the game more fun, and in most cases they caused severe glitches that, on occasion, completely crashed my system and necessitated restarting the Wii.  This may not be the experience everyone has, but it was certainly enough for me to avoid using the cheats and recommend that you do the same (or, cheat at your own risk!).

The little Wall-e character was adorable on the screen (just like in the movie) and the look and feel of the environments was appropriate.  Some of the challenges were difficult, but beating the game was not.

I especially enjoyed a couple of the multiplayer modes, but was disappointed that only one or two of them was worth my time.  In fact, my overall evaluation of the game was not as positive as I would like to report.  Video games based on movies are rarely up to the quality that they should be, and I was hoping (in vain) that this one would be the exception.  If you have ever played and enjoyed a game based on a movie in the past, and you loved the movie Wall-e, then I recommend that you try this game.

Try it, then buy it if you like it.

Side Project & Had to Share…

I started a side project that I want you all to know about, but first I got a chuckle out of something that I wanted to share with you.

You may or may not have heard about the new Microsoft ad campaign.  They hired Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates (remember Gates doesn’t work for Microsoft any more, he’s retired) to do an ad campaign aimed at erasing the bad image Microsoft has of being the devil.  The first ad was released earlier this month and I thought it was a good first step but I felt like they should have done a lot more with it (I didn’t laugh even once, which left me wondering why they hired Seinfeld at all).  The second ad came out last week and I just got around to watching it today.  I laughed out loud at this one and you just have to watch it yourself.  I watched it embedded at Engadget, but here it is if you don’t want to click through to their site:

I think it’s an interesting concept and was well executed.  I look forward to seeing more of these ads in the future.

Now, for the project I started.  I linked to it from here sometime last week and even inserted the feed (you may have noticed it if you visit my page often) in the side bar.  The project is called My Favorite Quotes.  If you are subscribed to my feed in a reader, I recommend that you subscribe to this new feed at http://ilikethesequotes.wordpress.com/feed/ and if you just stop by my site every once and a while to read what I have written lately, be sure to look at the My Favorite Quotes feed toward the bottom of my side bar.

Here’s the deal: the feed only displays the quotes, not what I write about the quote.  What I am not trying to do is start a “quote of the week” service (once I’ve got a few more quotes up, I’ll start doing it once a week or so but over the last few days I have written commentary on four different quotes).  The feed only serves up the quotes, but the whole point of the project is that I write my thoughts and commentary about each quote.  Thus, if you see a quote that interests you, be sure to click through to the site to see it in context where you can read what I wrote about it and (please) leave your own comments.

Also, the new site has an About this Project page where you can leave quotes you like in the comments and, if I like the quote too, I’ll do a commentary on it.

I hope you at least enjoy the quotes.  Many of them are humorous and most of them contain a great deal of wisdom.  I also hope you read my comments on the quotes and share your own comments.  As always, I am listening and would love to hear your thoughts.

In other news I have rearranged most of the side bar here (at the Mediocre Renaissance Man site) to remove some of the clutter and make the new features easier to notice.  I shall have to do more if it is ever going to be a truly efficient place to interact with me, but this is a good step forward.

Work on my game project has slowed, no screeched to a halt.  I intend to pick it back up a bit this weekend, but my wife’s patience was wearing thin so I decided to give it a rest.  It has been difficult for me, and I am worried that this break may prevent me from ever completing the project.  I need momentum to get projects like that one finished, and my momentum is all gone.  I will still upload the project even if I never finish it, so you will get a chance to check it out even in its unfinished form.  No time frame on that though, it’s just going to happen when it happens.

Also this weekend I plan on writing a more in-depth review of Google Chrome since I have had a while to test it out and gather my feelings.  I may not actually get around to writing the whole review this weekend, but expect it by next weekend at the latest.

For all you family readers out there, we have new videos to upload, but we’ll just add that to an already bursting list of “todo” items.  Maybe I can start the upload now and let it run while I do other things…

Finally, I have added a page to this site called About You.  I recommend you check it out (not a lot of text, I promise).

All in all, I really just plan on relaxing and playing some games with my family this weekend.  There’s always a list of at least ten things I’d love to do in a day, and if I get around to just one of them I’m happy.  I’m going to go play some SSBB.  Later.

Long-Awaited Update

I’m sure thousands of pairs of eyes are anxiously reading this in hot anticipation of the mounds of news I’ve been sitting on for the last three weeks. This particular post will serve it’s purpose as an update for friends and family, and the geekiest of you are going to have to wait a little longer for a solid update on my current project.

Just on the side though, my project is coming along nicely and little remains to be coded by way of the engine. All that’s really left is to design the levels, maps and events that will make up the story of the game. Much of that exists on paper for now, but coding is proceeding at a steady rate as I have completely dedicated my writing time to the development of this side project (as you’ve all noticed). Once it is finished, the stories that have been brewing in the back of my mind will begin to spew forth in a garbled flush. You may want to have your rain coat handy.

Now for the family news. Micah started school, of course (this should be old news to you by now). We only recently got the photos from his first day downloaded from the camera to the computer and subsequently uploaded to the Internet. OK, we only uploaded ONE photo to the Internet. Allow me to explain…

Photo by Rochelle, edited in Photoshop by Brian | From Family Stuff (album)

OK, if you’ve got relatively sharp eyes or if you are actually paying attention to the photograph, you might have noticed the background (what is BEHIND Micah). No, we didn’t send him to study in Egypt, he’s safely sleeping in his room right now. What you see in the photo is the product of my last half hour’s work in Photoshop.

You see, I wasn’t there when my wife took these photos of Micah before taking him to school, so I wasn’t there to suggest they turn on a light or take the photos outside instead of against the front door in the entry way with the light off. When I filmed a short video clip of Sophie crawling a week and a half later, and tried to transfer it to the computer yesterday, I didn’t realize there were photos on the camera as well.

As can be expected with technology, there was a hiccup, and the data on the camera’s card became corrupt. The software that handles the transfer of our photos reported a complete failure and I had to reformat the card. We were depressed because the video was really cute, but today I caught her doing her thing again and shot a couple more videos (more on those below).

When I downloaded the videos and a couple of new photos of Sophie, I was surprised to find that yesterday’s attempt hadn’t been a complete failure. All of our photos and the video were still completely in tact.

Unedited Photo by Brian | From Family Stuff

Well, when I saw the pre-first-day-of-school photos I was not impressed. I was impressed that Micah wasn’t making an entirely ridiculous face or pose in every single one of them like he usually would be; but the lighting was horrible, and thus the images were grainy, and the backdrop was completely flat and dull (our white, plain door with parts of the door knob and dead bolt showing).

Perhaps the saddest part of it all was that Micah was so presentable in these photos. We don’t have any nice photos of Micah because he always loses it in front of the camera (even if the camera is off, fake or broken). He goes bonkers, and we can’t get a good picture.

Well, being the Photoshop lover that I am, I decided to see if a little touch-up could work a miracle for one of these ill-fated photographs. I fixed the histogram and levels, then I did a cheap trick with the despeckle and unsharp mask filters (I hate doing it, but sometimes it’s the only way…), and finally did a little more with the brightness/contrast until it looked descent.

My biggest gripe was still the backdrop, so I edited out the door knob and dead bolt, and started thinking about what kind of background would look better. That’s when I remembered the horrible shadow from the flash and cloned it out.

In the end I went with an Egypt backdrop (from my Egypt photos album) because I thought Micah would enjoy visualizing himself there. I finished blending the edges and realized the image still looked flat because everything was in focus. So, I blurred the background and it looked better.

Not by best image manipulation, but not a bad job for half an hour while tending a crying baby off and on. I did a test trying to deepen the lighting effects on him (more shadows and highlights to simulate the outdoor lighting of the backdrop), but decided to leave him lit the way he was (flat). Not because it looks better flat, but because my painting skills stink at any resolution greater than 64 by 64 pixels (but I don’t think I’m a bad pixel artist).

There isn’t much more news to share that you can’t get by watching the three videos I uploaded today. I’ll provide links at the end, and if I feel like it I’ll even embed them here so you don’t have to jump to YouTube to watch them. Be sure to check the third photo I uploaded today too at our Picasa Web Album (the google album). The videos deal mostly with Sophie’s newest trick: CRAWLING! You may remember she was trying a month ago to get it. Well, as of a week and a half ago she’s been totally mobile around the house. We are still baby-proofing everything, but so far the worst she’s done is stick trash from the trash can in her mouth.

As always, keep in touch with us via e-mail (it’s easier than phone calls because we are always running around). Let us know if there is any news and we’ll keep you informed as well. Thanks for reading and enjoy the videos!

Oh, and sometimes I wonder how many of you don’t ever see the notes I write about the videos on the video page at Youtube (in the upper right-hand area by the video window). Sometimes I put little antecdotes or facts about the video there that I don’t mention here. Make sure you read them (you might have to click the “more” link to expand/lengthen the text).

BONUS VIDEO!  Since I love Wall-E, I thought I’d share a video of my favorite little robot with you!  Enjoy it until next time.


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April 2017
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RSS My Favorite Quotes

  • Quote #60
    "The greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as the greatest virtues." - Rene Descartes
  • Quote #59
    "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Ernest Hemingway
  • Quote #58
    "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." - William Shakespeare

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