Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sudden Short Story 55

The cargo container stood out, black against the white snow.  Around it, charred husks of some unknown material lay.  They had been used, apparently, when it was burned, for that the less-scorched spots on the container read:  QUARANTINE ME
Fearing for the worst, Dr. MacGhabhann pounded on the container.  "Is anyone in there?" she shouted. 
"Me," he shouted back, "Doctor Fletcher.  Have you sent anyone to the main camp yet?" 
It was within sight, but still fairly far out.  The flat snowscape made that possible.  Dr. Fletcher had hauled the container as far away from the camp as he could while guaranteeing that the rescue party would see it first.  "Not yet," answered Dr. MacGhabhann.  "We hit you first, and besides, there's a quarantine warning up." 
"That's why I put it here," he answered.  "As you can tell, I've arranged it so that I can't get myself out.  You'll find out if you read my research notes, which are at the camp, but I can tell you anyway.  There was a contagion going around the camp.  Doctor Teague got it first.  It must have incubated in him overnight, because we never saw any initial symptoms.  It changed him.  He's the one who smashed up our radio.  Someone might have been able to repair it, with enough time, but we didn't have it.  It spreads fast.  We tried to isolate whoever got infected, but there was always a new infection by the time that we got the old one contained. 
"Eventually, it was down to just me and Doctors Zielinski and Landvik.  That's when the worst of it happened... but I don't want to go into that right now.  After it was all over, though, I burned the bodies to make sure.  There was only so much fuel left, though, so I just tossed a starter in and let nature do the rest.  I towed the cargo container out here, then drove the tow back.  I torched it, since black stands out against white.  I also gave myself enough water to last until when you guys arrived, but I'm quite hungry.  Also, it's gonna stink in here." 
"Is there any chance that you're infected," asked Dr. MacGhabhann, as she sent three from her team to go find the research notes.  
"You're here, so it must have been ... five days since I isolated myself?  I know that you would have set out when we went overdue for our radio check in, but I lost track of the intervening time.  Anyway, if I were infected, then it would have taken hold by now.  I'll still insist on being quarantined, though, until a full lab's done, just to be thorough."
He left out the part about how the fully incubated acted just like their old selves most of the time.  He didn't want to overly worry them, after all.
Dr. Fletcher would have told them to avoid the camp, for its infection risk.  Dr. Fletcher would have told them that he burned the outside of the cargo container to try to destroy every last virion, just in case.
But Dr. Fletcher died three days earlier.  

Misc. Video Game Updates

As you probably know from a previous update, I've been focused on Pokémon X lately.  However, I haven't dropped other games completely.  Here's the latest on stuff: 
  • Pokémon:  I'm about to beat the 2nd gym.  
  • Team Fortress 2:  This year's Halloween map is actually pretty good.  I like that each person gets his own gift, when they spawn.  It's been a bit crashy, but I think that today's update fixed that.
  • Minecraft:  FYI, I've gotten my boss addicted to Minecraft.  That said, I've been too busy w/ Pokémon X to play!  FWIW, he's tried the new Thaumcraft 4 for Minecraft release candidate 1.7.x, and it's apparently unnecessarily hard, including a new creeping evil force thing and recipes that are sometimes literally impossible to solve.  I think that I'll hold off on updating, not because I want to avoid it, but rather because I'm still doing a lot of exploring in Thaumcraft 3.
  • Kongregate:  I've just been checking dailies & getting badges of the day.  The latter seem largely scary-themed these last few days.
  • Miscellaneous betas:  Well, I can't talk much about most, & I haven't been playing them much due to Pokémon X.  
So, to summarize:  Pokémon X.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pokémon X - my play so far - October 30th, 2013

Pokémon X is quite fun! 
I am catching so many Pokémon.  I've actually had to organize my boxes by generation, since they seem to have included ALL THE POKéMON in these games.  That said, I'm still limiting my team to new Pokémon.  After all, there are plenty of those.  If they allow me to re-battle gym leaders, then I'll probably do post-Elite-4 runs with teams from every generation.  XD
I think that the new Fairy type is going to get a lot of use, since it has so few weaknesses.  I'm bad at memorizing, so I'm just learning the type associations from use (they tweaked a few others, too), but I know that they resist Dark and Bug, which is surprisingly handy.  Note:  In addition to using only new Pokémon, I'm making it a partial point to keep a Fairy on my team. 
Sadly, I'm not very far through.  I work full time, there was stuff going on during the release weekend, and two weekends ago was a convention, but things should clear up a bit now. 
(A note for my fan:  Pokémon takes up far less time than doing a novel, so don't feel like this prevented NaNoWriMo or anything; I didn't have a workable novel idea this year.) 
Here's a list of the Pokémon in my rotation.  Note that I'm about to get the second badge: 
  • Frogadier - evolved form of my starter
  • Floette - trying out a Fairy
  • Swirlix - I swapped this in because I heard that it's version-exclusive.  I'm hoping that it will evolve soon.  
  • Vivillon - incredibly useful for catching Pokémon, but still good at fighting in its own right - also interesting for a fully-evolved Bug to have Shield Dust
  • Skiddo - trying to evolve it into Gogoat!
  • Honedge - physical powerhouse Ghost/Steel type - sadly, its evolutions have been spoiled
  • Hawlucha - a never-before-seen type combo (both from the original 15, no less) and ZOMG THERE'S A LUCHADORE POKéMON!
  • Meowstic - previously said that it would murder me in my sleep if I didn't use it
  • Litleo - my earliest Fire type, & Fire/Normal is new
  • Fletchinder - non-legendary Fire/Flying Pokémon!
I like to be, off-and-on, training Pokémon of each of at least most of the types, so I'll probably expand my team a bit as I go on.  For instance, I just noticed that I have neither a Rock type nor a Ground type.  It's no big deal, though - if I find something that I like, then I'll add it.  So far, I'm seeing a lot that I like!  (For instance, Pancham was about to enter my rotation when I discovered Hawlucha.)

Pokémon X & Y

Pokémon X and Pokémon Y are now out and, for the first time in many years, I've got the newest Pokémon game while it's still new.  Despite being behind the curve, what with having a job and all, I've still managed to avoid most spoilers, which helps keep the series fresh, since I'm discovering things through play. 
First, there are two main criticisms that I have: 
  • The Lumiose City Glitch - This is kind of a huge deal, since it's a save-killing bug.  (For those who don't know, possibly because they're reading this in the future:  Saving outdoors (later discovered to be specific areas) in Lumiose City, then loading that save file, could actually lock up the 3DS.  The game was obviously unplayable.)  I have no idea how this got past playtesting - or component testing, for that matter, though I don't know how Nintendo/Game Freak/The Pokémon Company coded it, so that breakdown might not work as well.  Fortunately, we live in a day and age when such things can be patched.  That said, I'm honestly surprised at how long it took them to release the patch.  (Also, this is the one time that I'm glad that I got spoiled, since I just avoided saving anywhere within the Lumiose City limits.)
  • The controls in 3D areas are a bit weird.  It's easy once you know the trick:  You can only move forward (usually), and sideways buttons rotate you.  The main issue w/ this is that it's unlike the controls for the rest of the game, so the controls in any over-the-shoulder area are always unintuitive.  
Now, here's stuff that I like: 
  • So far, the new Pokémon designs are pretty cool.  My personal favorite is actually Spewpa, since it's a new - yet realistic - approach to the 3-stage bug Pokémon.  (Cool note:  Just before the release of the games, a praying mantis made an egg sack in our garden.  Like Spewpa, it's just kind of spat/frothed up and then dried.)
  • Wonder Trades are awesome.  Finally, I don't have to do a bunch of online stuff to find someone with whom to trade, but I also don't feel compelled to overthink things like with GTS.  
  • The roller skates handle really well, once you get used to them - which isn't very long.  Weirdly, they seem to be putting the bike to shame, since they're much easier to don/doff.  
  • Item registration is much better in this system.  In generation V, if more than one key item was registered, pressing Y resulted in a small menu, which had to be navigated up/down if one wanted anything other than the top item.  Now, if more than one item is registered (up to 4), a directional menu pops up, making it much easier to select the item w/ one additional button-push.  This also makes it quicker to use, since it's easy for me to remember, for instance, that my Old Rod is Y-Up, while my bicycle is Y-Right.  
  • Berries are back in the game.  In generation V, it became a chore to have to make sure that a Pokémon was tucked in, then go onto my computer to go online to the global link, to make sure that I was berry-ing.  This was compounded w/ the knowledge that it would only be up as long as Nintendo bothered to maintain the servers, and is further compounded by the fact that Nintendo is phasing out the Gen V Global Link by mid-January. 
  • Berry growing is changed for the better.  Admittedly, having to pull weeds is technically tedious, and doesn't add any game value, but I like the rest of it.  I like that I can get random fights against Bug Pokémon that are trying to eat the berries.  While there are 2 stages added to berry growth - thicker trunk and buds - this is compensated by increased berry output, so it's all good.  The game just plain starts with 36 berry growing spots, and making mulch out of berries is a nice optional.  Also, hybridizing berries to get other (existing) berries is a neat way to make it not just an item-hunt.  
  • Gogoat!  I don't technically have one yet (working on it!), but the idea of riding a goat Pokémon still seems awesome. 
That's all for now.  I'll probably mention more later, though possibly not in a dedicated review post.