Wild Man Ted Update & What I’ve Been Playing

Greetings!  Wild Man Ted here, responding to nasty rumors of my disappearance from the internet.  No, I did not perish from a Dramamine overdose and neither did I have to check myself into a clinic for video game addiction.  In fact, it has been something far more mundane – just life.  I don’t know if you have ever felt like this but sometimes just having a full time job can sap most of my strength.  When I would come home, I just wanted to relax and play a game – not try to think up something to write about, find appropriate images, and publish.  So for now, I’m just going to write a little something and see if I can get back into the groove.  I appreciate all my friends from the Theology Gaming University Facebook page for being patient with me.

I have a new piece of equipment in the video game room.  It is one of those video game chairs.  What is cool about it is that it folds over into an ottoman.  It is relatively comfortable to play in.  It has built in speakers but I have not tried them out yet in the game room.  Just a quick test on Christmas morning with my Surface RT plugged into it.

The game I have been playing the most lately is HALO: The Master Chief Collection.  I had never played all the way through so it has been fun getting the whole “HALO” experience.  Plus, it is hard to beat a deal like four full games all in one package.  I am currently on HALO 4, on the fourth chapter.  Here are some of my the Master Chief Collection thoughts:

HALO One was fun to play because it was the only one I was playing as a repeat from the original Xbox.  It did have a new HD remake so it looked better.  I noticed how far game design has come since this game.  I can’t run!  Boy, I thought all FPS’s would let you run!  Second, I remembered how much back tracking I had to do throughout the game.  The best part of the game though is the driving sequence at the end – intense!

HALO Two was the most recent game to receive the HD treatment.  It truly looked stunning and the cut scenes were spectacular.  I liked having the ability to go from the new look to the original look with the press of a button – even the cut scenes.  Game play was more of the same although I personally enjoyed playing as the Arbiter.  I understand some fans didn’t like that very much.

HALO Three almost felt like a graphical let down after playing all the way through Two.  It had a great storyline and the same consistent game play. It had another fantastic driving sequence at the end and wow, what an ending.

At some point I watched Forward Unto Dawn on Netflix, I was told it would help me understand the events from HALO Three and Four a little better.  I guess it did, a little.

Finally, I have been working my way through Four and it has been challenging.  When I am playing alone I have to be very patient or I will die.  I am very motivated to finish the game.  I want to get back to Earth and save Cortana.  I’m going to try to complete another chapter tonight.

When I have completed all four, I can move on to the next game that sits unopened on top of my Xbox One…

VGT – When Is Playing A Game Too Important?

I just got back from the drugstore where I purchased a small vial of Dramamine for motion sickness.  I’m not going on a flight or a long sailing voyage; I’m going to try to play Destiny on my XBox One.  You see, I have always had trouble playing games from a first person perspective.  The most common type of video game for this perspective is the first person shooter or FPS.  From the time I first played Wolfenstein 3D up to the present I have always had trouble with motion sickness and first person shooters.  This prevents me from enjoying a large percentage of games that are out there!

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Dramamine required for Ted to play

There have been exceptions to my problem.  For example, my son and I once played all the way through the original Halo on the Xbox with a split screen.  Recently we played Borderlands 2 through system link and I did not have a problem with it.  In both of those situations I was in the same room with my co-player and we were playing cooperatively – not trying to shoot each other.  I found that if I had someone to follow that it was a fun experience for me and I didn’t get sick to my stomach.

Enter Destiny.  I downloaded the game onto my Xbox One.  It took FOREVER!  Almost 20 Gig of game software.  Once the game was ready I played through the tutorial alone.  I made it through that part without an issue.  Then my friend and I connected online and we started to play together.  It was FUN playing this game!  I had a buddy to follow around and every once in a while I was even helpful to him.  We played through several missions and we were having a blast.

Then the motion sickness started to affect me.  It was right at the point in the game in which you ride on these “air scooters”.  We were zipping around together and I was feeling like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars – and then I felt a sourness in my stomach and I knew I was going to have to quit soon.  I was kind of bummed because I was having a good time, but my body/brain was unable to enjoy it.

Apparently I am not the only one who experiences such issues, and I was told that I can try ginger ale, ginger gum, or even medication.  I went to the store today and looked for the gum.  I couldn’t find it.  I completely spaced and forgot about the ginger ale, but I did remember to buy a small travel size pack of the motion sickness medication called Dramamine.  I’m going to give it a try this afternoon.

All of this leads to the question in the title, “When is playing a game too important?”.  Why am I even considering taking medicine just so I can play a video game?  Perhaps the reason is that I am invested in the game.  I spent $60.00 on this game and I spent another 4 hours waiting for it to download.  Perhaps another reason is that I’ve always heard so much about how much fun it is to play online and yet I can never seem to find the right game.  I picked Destiny because it is a fairly new game and other players won’t be too far ahead of me.  I have had experiences in the past of playing an online game in which everyone else is level 50 and I’m just getting started.  It made me feel either like a victim in player vs. player, or made me feel like a liability in a co-op game.  I thought to myself, “at last I will be experiencing new things in Destiny at the same time as most of the other players”.  I also wanted to hang out with my friend in this game world, and talk and laugh as we completed missions together.  Perhaps I bought the medicine because I think I can “get over it” and maybe teach my body how to play these games without getting sick.

Have you ever had a similar experience?  It doesn’t have to be Destiny or even a video game for that matter.  I am interested in hearing other perspectives other than my own.  Is it wasting time?  Is it not wasting time?

“Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time never returns” – Thomas a’ Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

VGT – Texas Instruments TI-99/4A

When I was in junior high school, I had a friend named Andy.  We lived in the same neighborhood and I was often asked to “watch the house and feed the cats” when his family was away on vacation.  As a young teenager, I enjoyed having a place to myself and would often watch movies on their Sony Betamax.  They also had a Texas Instrument TI-99 with several game cartridges.  I don’t remember if the games were any good, but it was cool to have a computer all to myself.  Hmm…  They had a Betamax, which was an unsuccessful video medium – and a TI-99, which was an relatively unsuccessful computer system.  I’m not making any judgments, but I hope that Andy’s parents didn’t play the stock market.

Texas Instrument TI-99/4A

Texas Instrument TI-99/4A

Since becoming a retro game collector, I’ve been keeping an eye out for this classic computer from the 80’s.  I have a simple standard for collecting computers – they simply must have a game cartridge slot.  If it does have a slot, then it is no longer a computer in my eyes, but a gaming system.  I was recently at a friend’s garage sale.  I didn’t see a lot that I was interested in but casually asked if they had any older game systems they wanted to sell.  She remarked that she only had some old Texas Instrument computer that they have been storing in the attic since the 80’s.  She couldn’t get it right then but she promised to bring it by and we could make a deal.

Box Front

Box Front

She came by a few days later and I could not believe it – she still had the original box!  Unfortunately, it had severe heat damage but it was still interesting to see the original package and even a rebate sticker still on the box.  The back of the box was in much better shape and it showed how the TI-99 was supposed to be used.   The ultimate setup had the computer with a monitor, a voice synthesis module, joysticks, a modem coupler, and a huge expansion pack.  I’m sure that it would have costs at least $5,000 back then to have every component.

Box Back

Box Back

My newly purchased computer included the system, RF adapter (for connection to television), 2 joysticks (broken), a voice synthesis module, and 2 game cartridges.  I had all the equipment, but would it still work after storage in a hot attic for more than thirty years?  YES!

TI-99 screen

After searching for the right television connections, I turned it on and the TI-99 start screen came right up.  It had a friendly rainbow of colors!  Even though it gave me the option of programming in BASIC right away, I chose to turn it back off and load the first game cartridge: Ms. PacMan.

She's more than Pacman with a bow!

She’s more than Pacman with a bow!

The game didn’t look too bad and I was surprised to get decent sound as well.  But with broken joysticks, I had to try and play the game using the keyboard.  Normally, that would not be a problem except the computer has no number pad, so I had to use letter keys.  It was hard for me to remember so I died frequently.  I can play Ms. PacMan on much better systems – so enough of that!

Unsuccessful Wumpus hunting

Unsuccessful Wumpus hunting

The second cartridge was for a strange game called Hunt the Wumpus.  I did not have any instructions, but I wandered a maze until I was killed by the Wumpus.  This game had no appeal to me without some understanding of the game’s purpose.  I would have been very disappointed back in the eighties to spend a lot of money on a cartridge like this and then play it.  I couldn’t even get a decent picture of the maze, although the game seemed to delight in telling me how many times the Wumpus killed me.

Wumpus 3, Ted 0

Wumpus 3, Ted 0

What do I think of this as a game system?  Well, before I pronounce judgment I need to be on the lookout for more games.  There are plenty of them for sale out there.  I seem to remember playing Miner 49er on the system back at Andy’s house, so I’m definitely going to look for that one.  But so far, this is a game system that is a challenge to set up, has broken joysticks, and has either sub par games or games that I have better versions on other systems.  This one, for now, is destined for display on the shelf.  I made a short video on youtube about the TI-99/4A for you to watch below:

VGT – Playing Atari On My Colecovision

I mentioned in my previous post about the Colecovision, that when I purchased it, I received a bonus.  That bonus was an expansion module that allows me to play Atari 2600 games on my Colecovision.  Why would I want to do it?  That is a good question.  I already have an Atari 2600 that was given to me by a friend.  But now I don’t have to unplug my Colecovision from the TV and then set up my Atari!  Instead, I plug in the large awkward expansion module and then start playing River Raid with less fuss!

Expansion Power!

Expansion Power!

Why did Colecovision build such an expansion?  For one, it gave them the ability to truthfully claim that they had the largest game library of all the systems at the time.  It is amazing to me that they were able to build the expansion module (and later the Gemini) using “off the shelf” parts which prevented Atari from any legal recourse.  It is perhaps even more incredible that it still works today, almost thirty years later.

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Swordquest – Fireworld on the Expansion Module

The third party Atari joystick that came with my purchase does not work well, but I have several authentic Atari joysticks – and there is always the Genesis joypad.  I can’t say whether the Expansion Module worked better than an original Atari 2600 but it certainly worked the same.  I wonder what the cost was like back then?  Did a person actually save money by purchasing the Expansion Module?  I would guess that if was cheaper it was only marginally less.  But there is such a cool nerd factor in having one system’s games play on another.  That is just not supposed to happen right?  But I love that stuff.  I remember back in the mid 90’s when I connected a Gameboy expansion to my Super Nintendo – and then plugged my Super Nintendo into the TV card installed on my Pentium computer – and it worked.  I thought I was the coolest guy around – playing Gameboy games on my computer monitor.  It’s amazing that I’ve ever had a girlfriend, or even convinced a woman to marry me.

But wait, there's more!

But wait, there’s more!

The final bonus of my Colecovision purchase was that I actually received not one but TWO of them.  The second one seems to be fully functional except for the power adapter.  The controllers don’t seem to work perfectly but I hope to repair them with a good cleaning.  It just means more fun playing around with my childhood dream, the Colecovision!  Thanks for letting me share it with you.

VGT – Colecovision Discovery

I remember the first time I ever saw a Colecovision.  I was in junior high and was invited over to a friend’s house in my neighborhood.  We were friends but not necessarily best friends – that all changed when I saw his Colecovision.  I wanted to be his best friend for life!  When I was young, I did not have any of the newer gaming systems at my house.  Sure, we had a Pong clone but it just wasn’t as much fun as those newer cartridge based systems.  So what did I do?  I made sure that I had friends with game systems!  I don’t want it to sound like  video games were the ONLY reason I chose my friends,  because that is not true.  But most of my friends had similar interests – sports, computers, and video games.

When I saw the Colecovision, I could not help but to compare it to the Atari 2600.  The Colecovision was easily superior in both graphics and sound.  Donkey Kong looked, sounded, and played like the real arcade version (or at least closer to anything I had experienced up to that point).  The controller was a tad bit difficult to use, but it only added to the challenge.

The other day I was listing an item for sale on Craigslist.  Just on a whim, I decided to search using the term “Colecovision” and I was surprised to get a hit from a seller who lived just down the road from me.  He was selling a Colecovision and a “Super Intendo” for $70.  I was surprised that it was still available – but after reflection, it may be that it was because of the word “Intendo” rather than “Nintendo.”  Perhaps it wasn’t coming up in searches?  I don’t know.  We made arrangements for the sale.  He was a nice person who had played with the game systems when he was a boy.  He was cleaning out his attic and decided to sell his “Super Intendo”.  I decided not to correct his incorrect pronunciation of one of the most popular video game systems in history.  Both systems were in excellent condition, with several games.  Plus, there was a huge bonus item which I will discuss in a future blog entry.

Colecovision and Games

Colecovision and Games

The Colecovision needed some cleaning (the Intendo was in excellent condition) but I really enjoyed cleaning it up with cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol.  I had to clean the contacts on all of the games but they all worked.  Of course the controllers were just as cumbersome as I remembered.  The side buttons did not work very well but I disassembled the controllers and cleaned them up – they worked good as new.  I had heard that you can play some Colecovision games with a Sega Genesis controller so I gave it a try.  You sure can!  The three best games I played were Donkey Kong, Galaxian, and Q-bert.   WarGames is based on the hit movie from the 80’s but it looked pretty complex.  I’m probably going have to search on the internet and figure out how to play it.  It looks like some kind of super complicated Missile Command.  I didn’t try to play Pit Stop but I assume it has something to do with racing and not going to the bathroom on a long trip.

It still runs great!

It still runs great!

As a collector, I have a mental list of certain game systems I would love to own.  The Colecovision was on my list.  I always wanted to have one to call my own.  Adding it to my collection is the fulfillment of a childhood dream.  Maybe now I will have friends who want to hang out at my house just to play it too!  Of course they would probably be complete nerds – but that’s OK with me!

Senegal 2014 – Post #5

We finally said goodbye to our friends in Ndjemane.  It took a while to get everyone on the bus, but everything takes a while in Senegal.  For example, we went to B’s compound at 1:30pm to have lunch before we left.  We sat and lay on mats until 3:00 and we finally ate lunch at 3:30 (Fish, rice, and cabbage).  We sat and lay on mats until 4:15.  At last, we met in the middle of the compound and various people spoke about our love for each other, safe journeys, and other blessings.  Finally, we climbed into the bus and waved goodbye.

The church thrives in Ndjemane

The church thrives in Ndjemane

Some of pastor B’s comments before we left expressed great appreciation to Christ and his church.   Back in 2008, the chief of the village had said that the village was dying.  However, since the Christian church has taken an interest in Ndjemane:

  • They have a well that provides clean water
  • They have better health (he mentioned that cholera has all but disappeared)
  • They even have better harvests
  • They have a church building

We drove for a while on the sandy roads before eventually driving on asphalt.  We soon arrived at a city called Diourbell (sounds almost like “gerbil”). The hotel was not what we in the States would ever consider using, but for this grimy bunch it was paradise. It didn’t matter that the toilet was missing a seat. It had a TOILET. It didn’t matter that the “shower” was a hand spray that you might find in your kitchen – attached to the same water feed as the toilet. It was a shower and it was refreshing.  I slept comfortably on a springy bed.

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The next morning we were off to visit a different village.  This was a new experience for me.  There was already a history of church involvement with the village, but for many reasons it had not worked out.  My group was meeting with village leaders  in order to establish a sense of relationship.  When we arrived, I could immediately feel a different attitude from the villagers toward our group.  There was a certain coolness.  The women of our group immediately started to spend time with the children and women of the compound.  They seemed to like each other almost immediately.  Meanwhile. the men of our group went to another area, sat on some mats, and waited.  The experience that followed can only be described as a town meeting.  Each participant was given time to speak.  Some of the key points discussed were:

  • The well has bad, salty water
  • Because of the water, there are health issues
  • The village is dying.  The young adults have to leave the village during the dry season in order to survive – some don’t return
  • Where did the church go?

What a contrast to the previous village!  One village was growing and thriving, the other was struggling to survive.  It seemed to me that the main difference was Christ.  I do want to focus on the final bullet point.  For me, it was the most challenging part of the meeting.  You see, when they asked us why we had not been in contact, we could not explain every reason (some reasons involved politics on several levels).  But they remembered the last time the church was visited years ago.  They even had photographs of various villagers with their namesakes.  Some of the Americans in the photos we knew, but some we did not.  But there had essentially been little to no contact.  From their perspective, the Americans came, took some photos, and soon forgot about the visit – but I assure you that the villagers had not.  For them, it was a significant event.  For us, it may have been little more than a photo opportunity.  Never forget that your smallest actions can have a huge impact on others.

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By the time we left, there had been some restoration of relationship.  But the work is far from finished.  I need to be sure to print and send the photographs I took to both of the villages I visited!  It is a big deal.  Perhaps you and your church may want to become involved and partner with this different village.  You could be a part of what God is doing in Senegal.

 

Senegal 2014 – Post #4 (Pictures)

We made it back safe and sound!  I have a few more posts that I wrote offline on my tablet – but in the meantime, here are a few photos and a short video.

The Village Church

The Village Church

Luxury Accomodations

Luxury Accomodations

How cool to have a pic of TWO missionaries that I sponsor side by side IN SENEGAL!

How cool to have a pic of TWO missionaries that I sponsor side by side IN SENEGAL!

View of Dakar from Goree Island

View of Dakar from Goree Island

A Special Friend of Mine

A Special Friend of Mine

Me Walking Around

Me Walking Around