Microsoft has jumped onto the free-to-play bandwagon with its latest game, a text-driven adventure called Visual Studio 2010. The innovative new game marries the traditional interactive fiction text adventure with its arcane commands and exploration with the free-form, open-ended gaming pioneered by the likes of SimCity.
There are two major modes to the game, a textual spell-casting game, and a more complex interactive puzzle mode.
Play starts with the spell game. The game has three difficulty modes. In the two easiestmodes Visual Studio questers must cast spells to appease a malevolent gatekeeper known only as "the compiler," combining the text adventuring of Zork with the wizardy and magic of Loom. If the player's spell contains even a single faulty incantation, the compiler will respond with a torrent of abuse and spells of its own; the player must piece together clues contained within compiler's response to determine how they went wrong.
The other day, while my wife Sara was preparing for a trip, I heard a 'tink' and a muffled imprecation from the washroom where she was packing something. Shortly thereafter, she asked me to help her look for one of her rings which she had dropped while drying it off after cleaning. I went into the washroom and did a quick search, but found nothing. She was under the gun on time, so I assured her that I would look more carefully and let her know when I found the ring.
I agreed quite a while ago to go snowboarding with Kiernan, but it's taken at least a month to find a usable weekend day, which turned out to be last Saturday. Kiernan has taken a few lessons before deciding he liked skiing better, but I haven't been interested in skiing since I was a kid, and boarding seems to have more fascination potential for me.
We started with a two-hour lesson from a young lady named Louise. Kiernan did better than I did, of course. Not only does he have some experience, he's a natural athlete. While Louise showed me how to push myself along, use my edges, go down the hill forward and backward, Kiernan simply did it all.
As Ducky says, boarding is, well, boarding makes you sore :-)
When boarding down hill, you dig in with your uphill edge to slow down, and ease off digging in to go faster. If you dig in with your downhill edge, you fall down. Fast. You slide from side to side by shifting weight from one side to the other. In order to do all these things, you use your leg muscles. A lot. You bend your knees and and shift your weight back and forth (or side to side, depending upon how you look at it) to control direction and speed of travel, as well as to cushion vertical impact. When getting up, you go from kneeling or sitting to standing using primarily (or exclusively) your calves and thighs. It's hard work. When pushing your uphill edge in, you use your calves and feet. And I, at least, had to use a lot of leg strength to shift my weight enough to go left (right was easier for some reason). Rest was essential -- and I got it by falling down whenever I needed it.
The night after spending 2 1/2 hours boarding for the first time, I woke up several times with severe thigh cramps (a first for me -- I've had calf and arch cramps, but never as high as the thigh). I wanted to scream, but we had to get up early to get Sara to the airport, and I wanted her to have as much sleep as possible. So I went downstairs to scream :-). A week later, my legs still hurt, and I'm actually bruised on my right thigh. Bruised from mere exercise. Quite an experience.
Still, it was fun,and I certainly plan to try it again.
In a gallery of anti-American/anti-Israeli murals decorating the "U.S. Den of Espionage" in Tehran (i.e. the former American embassy), I noted the clawed hand crushing the Earth appeared similar to the cover art from a sci-fi novel
by Scientologist overlord L. Ron Hubbard. But an astute reader points
out that the weird, bifurcated fingernail/claws actually point to the
cover art for classic 1990 video game Star Control as the mural's real inspiration. Ur-Quan akbar!