Tag Archives: life


…oh right! I forgot to mention that I unlocked the above Achievement eleven days ago in a tiny chapel in Kinnelon, NJ, but I can’t seem to find it in my big  online list thingy. Hmm. Maybe it’s glitched. Well, the ceremony oh so happened, I swear! Further proof is on my ring finger and in my heart. Love you, hon.

An empty room, ready for doom and gloom

Sorry, dear readers of Grinding Down, but today’s gonna be extra light on content. I had a pretty horrific evening last night, and I’m still recovering from that…plus I think I got about three hours of sleep total. Coffee is keeping me going, as are phone calls and the thought of something cool to drink after work, but ultimately, I’m a headmess.

Also, throw in the fact that I beat Limbo last night, and, well, the depression deepens. I wasn’t ready for it to end; it ended nonetheless. There’s a staggering connection between the boy’s trip through the unknown and my life as it is, and one day I’d like to talk about what I see here, but I just can’t yet. It’s too…tangible. The game’s ending left me feeling cold and unloved, as well as strangely satisfied. It’s definitely a doozy, one worthy of exploration.

But yeah. This is it for today. I gotta give my brainwires a rest.

Save your game or be super lame, the DQIX motto

Hi, my name is Paul.


Uh, hi. Recently, I forgot to save my game when playing Dragon Quest IX. I lost roughly thirty to forty minutes of progress, a good portion of which was grinding, finding alchemy recipes on bookshelves, and a boss battle against the Ragin’ Contagion. Not the game’s trickiest boss fight, but a time-consuming one nonetheless.


Quiet, you. Anyways, I was planning on saving my game. I really was. Just had to get back to the church in Coffinwell. Other RPG games like Pokemon HeartGold and Fallout 3 really spoiled me with the whole “save anywhere, any time” thing, and if there was one aspect that really frustrated me with Dragon Quest VIII, it was its save system. You’d think Level 5 would have opted for a more user-friendly save system on the DS, a gaming device most often played on the go or in short bursts. Saving one’s progress is especially hard in the first ten hours of the game because the main character has not learned Zoom yet, a fast travel spell which is, thankfully, free of an MP cost.

But yeah, I was playing, totally prepared to save, and then my brother-in-law’s wife showed up with her babies and everyone was heading out to David’s Bridal to do some dress shopping. Well, not me. I was going next door to look at tuxedos and suits and get an idea of how I want to dress for my wedding. If only it was as easy as it is in Dragon Quest IX; you know, a wedding get-up would be like so:

If only.


Well, it should be! And I thought I told you to be quiet. Whoever you are. Whatever you are. I’m talking about saving videogame progress here. And, uh, buying wedding attire. Anyways, Ellen and the babies showed up, and help was needed so I flipped my DS closed and dropped it in my pocket. I figured I’d save in the car as we drove to Wayne. Anyways, when I flipped open my DS later on, I found myself staring at two dark screens, void of life and animation and sound. Yes, somehow, most likely when I dropped the DS into my pocket, the power button on the side got hit, and off my game went. Goodbye, progress. I just couldn’t believe it. I even exclaimed to Tara about how much I couldn’t believe this. I mean, I’m a gamer…we’re trained from an early age to save often. Saving is what we do. I just couldn’t believe it, that I’d let myself get so distracted to not save, especially after a boss battle. I mean…what is wrong with me?


Hey, that reminds me! Man oh man, remember in DQVIII, remember when you had that silly girl horse and wagon and had to wait while your alchemy recipes cooked as you battled slime and slime knights. Now, in DQIX…it’s instantaneous! That’s just so great. A smart change. As was dropping the MP cost of Zoom down to 0 (I believe it was 2 or 3 MP in the previous game). A shame you can’t carry the alchemy pot with you though as backtracking to Stornway is (and most certainly will be as the game goes on) a tad annoying.

So yeah, if only they had updated DQIX with the ability to save anywhere. Because traveling to a church, speaking to the priest, selecting to confess, punching A through the same ol’ rambling text, selecting YES when asked to record data in priestly book of saving, and then selecting whether of not to continue playing afterwards…it’s a bit overdone.


You’re right, ominous voice. And so it ends!

Stuff your sorries into a sack

It’s been a rough couple of days in addition to a rough couple of weeks–which will ultimately just be lumped into a rough couple of months in due time–and I just couldn’t find the time or energy to post something at Grinding Down yesterday. Sadly, all I think I’ll be able to post today is this little apology thing, which, I can only assume, is not very exciting to read.

That said, immediately after work today I’m swinging by the local GameStop to pick up LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4. It’s my official purchase of the month for June 2010, and I’m excited, even if some reviews I’ve read recently complain about it being buggy; others said it’s more or less Potter perfection. Either way, it’s a game I need, and despite the guilt festering in my heart, I’m going to get it and play it and enjoy it as much as possible. The plan is even to cover the first hour of gameplay for, well, The First Hour.

Fifty-eight minutes to go, and then I’m off to another world, escaping yet again, flick and swish…

Videogame Paris is as good as it gets

I will most likely never travel the world.

This is an easy assumption for me to make because I know what goes into traveling the world and seeing the sights, and I just don’t have that stuff. Money, time, that kind of drive, and so on. There’s really only a handful of places I’d like to visit, and they include Paris, France, anywhere in Ireland, and Tokyo, Japan. Okay, okay, and maybe New Zealand to check out all those Lord of the Rings locations. But other than that, I’m content with New Jersey and its surrounding states. We have nice parks and fun boardwalks, and hands-down great autumns.

In October, after Tara and I get married, we’re honeymooning it up in sunny, alligator central: Florida. Disney World and Universal Studios will be our main destinations, and what’s kind of neat is that we’ll get to do a little globe-trotting via the World Showcase in Epcot. There we can hit up everything on my list (I think) save for…well, Hobbiton and Lothlorien. There’s a smaller version of the Eiffel Tower at Paris, Epcot, and we’re totally treating ourselves to some sushi over in feudal Japan. It’s a lot of fun just walking from country to country, hearing the music changing, smelling new smells, and really being immersed–if for only a few yards–in a foreign culture.

This sort of worldly immersion happens from time to time in videogames, too. Fallout 3 had you sneaking around a totally effed up Washington, D.C., and I remember a forum posting that actually compared screenshots of the subway tunnels to that of real life ones; they were eerily on the mark. If I am ever to visit the Mall again, I’ll definitely be seeing it in a whole new way…mostly because I’ll be on the alert for Super Mutants. And despite all the hate I spew on Grand Theft Auto 4, Liberty City is a wonderful recreation of New York City, and some areas really do come to reflect that of their real counterpart. I am especially fond of their parks.

The most recent would be Nazi-occupied France in The Saboteur. It truly is quite an accomplishment, especially when Sean finds himself in the really controlled parts, the ones where only yellows and reds shine through the harsh black and white of the world. The countryside feels very much like a French countryside, and again, seeing as I’ve never been there, I’m only able to draw upon references from movies and books and paintings. It sure feels genuine though. I finally made it to the section housed around the Eiffel Tower a few days ago, and doing some missions at night and seeing it glowing tall and great in the background is a wonderful thing. I even spent a few minutes just casually walking down sidestreets, taking in Paris, hearing its sounds and seeing what was where. I have to trust that love and care was put into The Saboteur‘s layout and design despite it being the swan song for Pandemic Studios, and that a lot of what is there is there because…that’s where it is.

So, for now, I’ll take Paris, France from The Saboteur. My sister has gone before, and I’m interested in showing her some of the areas in a few weeks to see if she recognizes anything. Then Sean is going to jump off the Eiffel Tower and get an Achievement. Just so I don’t forget I’m playing a videogame after all.

Depressed gamer is depressed

Clearly, I’m depressed. Well, it might not be all that clear to you, my silent readers, but to me, it’s beyond evident. I know this because I bought more videogames this week after buying some videogames the previous week, and all I look forward to now at the end of the day is coming home from work and immersing myself in another world. Any world but this one. It could be Nazi-occupied Paris or Pandora littered with skags and psycho bandits or even a fantasy farming game that also houses caves of monsters. It does not matter. So long as it passes the hours until I can pass out and do it all over again, that’s fine.

While getting my oil changed over the weekend, I walked around the mall, finally stepping into GameStop. I just meant to wander, really, but then I noticed they had a “buy two pre-owned games, get one free” deal going on. So I did some searching. I knew that I wanted to get my mother a new Nintendo DS game, and I found Dream Day Wedding Destinations for fairly cheap, but now I needed to more games to seal the deal. Seeing as how I was going to be traveling that weekend (and the next 796 weekends), I decided to pick out two DS games for myself. Still haven’t had the energy to beat The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and while Picross 3D is fun, it’s not really a story-driven game, just the same thing over and over and over. I needed a little more drive (pun intended, as you’ll soon see) in my games, and I grabbed Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for about $15.00 each, thus picking up Mom’s game for free.

Both games are pretty good so far, but that’s not what I’m here to write about.

Depression. It sucks.

In high school, I handled it with an outburst of creativity, drawing furiously or scribbling in my notebooks ideas that would never come to fruition (like that one about a school of magical centaurs), but getting them down on paper nonetheless. I almost over-created, in some sense, staying locked away in my bedroom and just letting it all out. My small circle of friends quickly dubbed me “a hermit,” further leading to more depression sinking it, and I later turned the tables on them (though they most certainly have no awareness of this) by writing and selling a little short story about a hermit.

College was much harder in terms of depression. I did not like my college experience; I hid it really well though. If you called me a fake, I would not argue. There were dozens of reasons not to get down, and dozens of reasons countering this. I had a hard time dealing with issues of identity and friends, and ultimately turned to rum and booze and drinking my nights away. Sounds like a cliché, but it’s not at all. My PlayStation 2 was always there, but I never really needed it to comfort me. I did find a way to release my creativity via my guitar, playing “open mic” nights at local cafes and such, which was scary and fun and kept me on my toes, but it didn’t stop the bad thoughts from coming.

Now that I’m out on my own and mostly alone during the workweek, I rely a lot on mindless (and not-at-all mindless) entertainment like videogames. They are both a treat and savior to me come the evening, as I don’t watch any TV shows right now, can’t stand anything that I write short story-wise, and am so turned off by drawing that I have to wonder why I even try. Yet videogames are easy. Push the A button, watch something explode, reap the reward. Instant gratification, instant satisfaction. Lots of goals and Achievements and things to obtain, keeping me focused on something. Sure, some videogames let me down now and then, but never in a sense that my chest wants to cave in or that I want to scream at the sky, “Failure!”

What’s really terrible is the fact that I can’t openly discuss the reasons behind this depression. They are heavy and personal, complicated and unnerving, multiple and multiplying, a total dose of mindfuckery, and I can only imagine what this looks like from the outside looking in: hollow, emo whining. It’s not; that much I can assure you. Depression as depicted on TV commercials is not always how it has to be. You can smile through the day and think the worst things on the inside, and nobody would have a clue. You can still play videogames and have a convivial time, and you can still be the saddest hobbit this side of Middle-Earth.

The great escape plan

I’ve been having an extremely terrible week. There’s a lot of bad stuff happening right now in my life, none of which I want to speak about publicly though I do keeping asking this question of the great being above. Thankfully, there are ways I can escape these horrible thoughts in my mind, if only for a couple of hours, but it’s needed regardless. I’m talking about videogames, and you’re not surprised one bit.

So this is gonna be a, more or less, summary of my week with gaming. Not sure how exciting it’ll be for you to read, but it’s important for me because these are some of the things that have helped keep me sane while everything else falls apart.

Earlier this week I got to try out co-op in Borderlands with Greg Noe. This was a lot of fun, and now I see what I’ve been missing out on. He came into my game at level 50 (capped because of no DLC) and helped me climb from a level 34 to level 39 very quickly. Shockingly fast to be honest. Guess that’s what they call power leveling. We rushed through the main storyline missions and took down Sledge before calling it a night. We chatted and casually shot up skags and bandits, and though he handled most of the fighting I really didn’t mind as I still racked up experience points. Got a bunch of co-op Achievements as well, and I’m one away from getting all of them in Borderlands (minus the DLC ones naturally). Just gotta ping level 50, which I might save for (hopefully) another session of co-op with Greg!

I also spent some Microsoft Points, snagging namely Peggle and Street Fight II Hyper Fighting as of the moment. Still have 800 Points to go. I contemplated getting the recently remade Earthworm Jim HD, but after playing the trial version decided otherwise. As Jim, you can’t jump and shoot at the same time, nor can you jump up off of ropes, only down. These design choices have been there from the beginning, but I’ve been spoiled by much better platformers since then and can’t get past these kinds of hiccups.

Peggle is great fun, and I am now working my way through each challenge level; my favorite power-ups are the dragon’s bouncing fireball and the owl’s zen shot. A lot of the game relies on luck, but there’s also a serious amount of planning and preparation to put into each level.

As per Street Fighter II HF, I don’t have any fighters on my Xbox 360 so I figured why not get one of the classics. Even on a difficulty of two stars out of seven, the game seriously mopped the floor with me. Guess I need more practice, but it’s fun nonetheless and really brings me back to those mall arcades. However, Dhalsim’s level is atrocious. The elephants in the background do not stop making noise the entire time. I had to put it on mute. Yoga flame!

After getting stuck on an Act II mission in The Saboteur last night, I said “feck it” and just ran around blowing stuff up. In other words, taking out some more white dots from the map. I also ended up unlocking two Achievements around the same time: the one for blowing up 50 vehicles and the one for stealth killing 50 Nazis. Guess those two were neck and neck for awhile. Hopefully I can get past this mission real soon. An online guide suggests doing it undercover, but the problem is I get caught too soon each and every time. Not sure what I’m doing wrong or if there’s another way around it all. Will keep plugging at it; unlike GTA IV, dying during a mission doesn’t make you start all the way back across the city. So there’s no reason not to keep trying.

Right. I’m visiting home-home for the weekend so I’ll probably just bring my DS to distract me. Picross 3D puzzles and more Pokemon HeartGold to sift through. Other than that, Tara and I will most likely play the LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 demo together tonight, which I really think she’s going to love. We watched a dev diary video recently that showed off Mad-Eye Moody in LEGO form. He looks simply splendid. This world is so perfect for the LEGO build; I can’t stress that enough.

So yeah, that’s my week of escaping. It’s all I can do at the moment.

Press start to continue

Well, no…not really. But it sure feels like I’ve run out of extra lives after a busy, busy weekend. There was movie-watching, marriage courses, and heavy lifting. Not a lot of videogaming in the end, but hopefully I can make up for that over the week.

You want something to look forward to? How about a review of THE WORST VIDEOGAME EVER MADE BY MAN?

Stay glued for that one.

I’m a Silver-Tongued, Glitch-Using Devil

I did not get to play many videogames over the weekend because, well, I was a little busy getting engaged. Didn’t even turn my Nintendo DS on once! How about that? Caaaaah-razy, I know.

But I did manage to make some more time last night for Fallout 3. Still trying to finish up some achievements and good karma-focused quests before I start over with a new, evil weasel of a character. After sneaking around for an hour and more or less getting nowhere (found one more bobblehead in Vault 108), I did the worst thing ever:


Well, took advantage of a glitch to be more specific. See, I was sitting at around 43 successful speech attempts, and you need 50 to unlock the following achievement:

Silver-Tongued Devil (20G): Won 50 Speech Challenges

Basically, if you go to Little Lamplight, there’s a kid sheriff there named Knock-Knock. Ask him to tell you a joke, use your intelligence to guess the answer, and then select the [Speech 100%] response. Rinse and repeat. You can do this as many times as you need to. Something, perhaps, Bethesda should have caught.

So I did it six more times until I heard that infamous ping, the very same ping that echoed in my head as I tried to sleep last night. It just doesn’t feel right, “achieving” what I did, but I was worried that I’d run out of proper speech options at this point, and I didn’t want to have my evildoer being all talky in my next playthrough. His/her speech success is most likely going to involve a rocket launcher to the face.

Not terribly proud of this, but I guess in the end it doesn’t matter.