Backlog: Sets in the West Edition

This backlog was meant to be posted last weekend, so that's why I'm blabbing about my trip to Crater Lake. The above is Saturday night's sunset as it diminished into darkness east of the crater. Megan and I drove around the entire rim to watch the sun fall. It was pretty dang gorgeous.

We're a bit light this week on written content: Spencer's the only one talking about videogames, which goes to show how geared up for summer we all are. -- Aaron Thayer


Hello old friend
Hello old friend
Thursday, July 11th:

As you read this, my hefty human meatsack (body) will be basking in the glorious mid-70s to low-80s sunshine of Crater Lake, Oregon.

Packed in our foodstuffs is a single serving of 5-Hour Energy. I don’t need to remind you what happened last time.

Woe to those camping adjacent to our tent.

This weekend will be sans gaming. No portable devices allowed. However, I will be engaging in myriad activities, the most important of which I will henceforth call Let’s Camp: Adventures in Preserving Meat for Two Days. It’s pretty underground. I doubt you’ve heard of it.

Don’t worry: I bought a camping cookbook and food safety guide by Robin Donovan, called Campfire Cuisine: Gourmet Recipes for the Great Outdoors. This seemed necessary because as a child I camped a lot, but my parents did all the chefing (my word for cooking). I merely torched marshmallows and hot dogs.

So this will be my first trip to Crater Lake. While it’s strange that I’ve lived in Oregon my entire life and somehow haven’t been to our state’s most-famous natural landmark (let alone the fact that it’s emblazoned on my license plate), a majority of my friends and coworkers, also native Oregonians, have also avoided the lake. Weird.

Anyway, I plan on returning rejuvenated and gratified. An opportunity to be outdoors is rare for me. As I approach my thirties I realize the need to relish my free time because the trappings of domesticity are beginning to steamroll me into submission.

So with that in mind I purchased a new piece of glass for my Nikon camera, which has Doug’s approval, him being our resident camera dude. I can’t wait to test it out!

Expect an editorial from me this coming week -- I’ll be arguing that The Last of Us is “new” survival horror.


Spencer be all like, "Scotty, beam me up!"
Spencer be all like, "Scotty, beam me up!"

A neural short-circuit has made me start overdosing on Star Trek. A big part of this has manifest with me watching a lot of Enterprise, which, while not as bad as everyone says, isn’t particularly good. I’m out of the woods that are the first two seasons, so, at least the worst is over.

This also means that I’m playing a lot of Star Trek games, mainly Star Trek Online. For purposes of full disclosure, you should know that I’ve played it on and off since release, and have one max-level character (a Federation engineer, joined Trill). So, reasonably speaking, this makes me an expert on the game, albeit a biased one.

It’s not very good.

STO does one thing really well, and that’s ship-to-ship combat. It plays something like the Starfleet Command series, and is more or less engaging and fun, if a little vapid. Think “EVE Online - for Kids!” Acquiring, customizing, and flying ships is the big joy of the game.

The rest of it, however, is pretty much crap. Ground combat is dreary, slow, and generally un-fun. The missions, while they evoke facts and tidbits from the Star Trek universe, are grindy and repetitive. Perhaps the most grievous offense is that high-end ships are almost exclusively available through real-world purchases, which is so un-Star Trek that it’s a little bit painful.

Still, despite all this, I’ve been working my way through the new Romulan progression. It’s not awful. And, well, it’s free.

Playing STO makes me nostalgic for the span of time when Activision held the Trek license. While this may sound strange for me to say, or for anyone to say, the games produced under Activision were of considerably higher quality than many games in the franchise. I reinstalled one of the stand-out games they published: Elite Force, an FPS by Raven Software that tied-in with the then-current Star Trek Voyager. It hasn’t aged terribly well (being some thirteen years old in December), but my fond memories of the shooter definitely hold up - it’s an enjoyable story (arguably the best in the Voyager franchise) with competent Quake-style gunplay.

Man, licensed games, right guys?