The Claiming of Man – Audio Version

The Saturday Storytellers have been awesome enough to do another audio version of one of my short stories.  This time, they did The Claiming of Man.  You can check it out below, or here.  Be sure to like the video and subscribe to their channel.  They do a lot of cool stuff.

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Little Planet Factory

I recently came across the store Little Planet Factory.  They make extraordinarily-detailed models of planets and other astronomical bodies.  They look absolutely amazing; I’ve never seen anything comparable.

I especially like their Solar System in a Bottle.

I might just get that or a Jupiter for myself for Christmastime.  Isn’t Jupiter gorgeous?  You can even get a tiny Earth to scale!  I wish I had a friend who was really into astronomy so I could get them something from here.

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What I’d Like to See in Dragon Commander 2

Honestly, this is probably more for myself than anyone else, but I wanted to write out what I’d really love to see in a hypothetical Divinity: Dragon Commander 2.  I really loved the first game, and it was an especially unique offering, but I felt like it did a lot of things okay, rather than great.  And I mean, that made it a very interesting game.  It combined a lot of things that other games didn’t.  But I wish it had had more polish, and in some cases, had a different direction entirely.

The part I disliked the most were the RTS battles.  It was awesome being able to transform into a dragon and rain destruction down upon your foes, but, for me, at least, I had a hard-time multitasking, and I’d have to switch back and forth between dragon-mode and building new units.  If they keep the basic idea, I’d appreciate a way to pause the action, zoom out from the dragon, give orders and such, and return to the game without getting rid of my dragon.

What I’d really prefer, though, is a RTS system more like Rome: Total War than Warcraft.  Dragon Commander’s RTS felt very hectic, and it was bizarrely possible to overcome a massive disadvantage in battle by rushing to grab recruitment citadels and building enough turrets to delay the enemy long enough to build up a giant swarm of units to overwhelm them with.  I never felt like I was outwitting the enemy, like I did in Rome, where I was able to pin down their infantry before wheeling around my cavalry to attack them from behind and cause them to rout.  I was just building lots of units and telling them to attack anything in their path.   Continue reading

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Divinity: Dragon Commander

I got Divinity: Dragon Commander during the last big Steam sale and I really loved it.  It does a lot of different things well, but I wish it just had a bit more polish, because it really is a unique and good game.

Dragon Commander, as a game, is split into three big parts.  You have a turn-based strategy layer that plays like Risk or a similar game.  You move units from province to province in order to capture then or start battles, and you can play cards in provinces to sabotage enemies or help yourself.  My biggest issue with this layer is that it felt a little flat.
Each province has a primary race, and each race has its own level of happiness with your rule, but its effect is so minor as to be negligible.  If a certain race loves you, you can build have more units in RTS battles, but I never had a battle that hit the unit cap anyway.  Besides the gold and research each province produced, and the buildings contained within, all of my provinces felt completely interchangeable.  Only having one building per province, and a small selection of buildings, too, contributed to that.   Continue reading

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Majora’s Mask Asks

I came across a Majora’s Mask-themed questionnaire on Tumblr, and since it’s one of my favorite games, I thought I’d go through and answer the questions.

Deku Mask Who is a historical monarch you find interesting?
Agathocles, Tyrant of Syracuse, is definitely one of my favorites.  He was born the son of a potter and became hegemon of most of Sicily after warring with Carthage.  He even left Syracuse with an army to Carthage while Carthage was besieging Syracuse itself, later inspiring Scipio to attack Carthage directly, as well.

Goron Mask Do you have a favorite gemstone?
Not especially.  Tanzanite is pretty, but I like them all.  The gems area of natural science museums is usually one of my favorites.

Zora Mask What’s your favorite piece of music?
, by Holst.  It’s the most beautiful piece.

Fierce Deity’s Mask What’s your greatest strength?
Intelligence.  It probably doesn’t show much here, though…

Great Fairy’s Mask Do you believe in the supernatural?
Nope.  I used to be really into paranormal and supernatural stuff, especially in middle and high school, but I’m pretty materialist now.  I don’t believe there’s anything out there unexplainable by science. Continue reading

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Dia de Muertos

“Mama, do I have to go?”

“Ay, vida, what’s wrong?  I thought you liked Dia de los Inocentes.”

“It’s boring.  It’s just the same stuff every year.  I’d rather stay here.”

“Oh, but you get to see everyone.  And there are all the beautiful orchids and ofrendas.  Your sister worked so hard on it.  Please go, mijo, for me.”

“Alright, mom.  I’ll go.  But what about you?”

“Don’t worry about me.  I’ll visit tomorrow.  I can’t wait to see your little sister again.  Her grandkids are just so precious.  It really is sweet of her to still think of us.”

Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed it, you can find more of my stories here!

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Happy International Orangutan Day!

Happy International Orangutan Day!

John Kutensky

Happy International Orangutan Day!  As is probably obvious, orangutans are my favorite animal, so I’m glad that they get their own day.

I’m not entirely certain why I’m so drawn to orangutans.  I think part of it is because, out of all the non-human great apes, I see more of myself in them than in any other.  I think of them as intelligent and introverted (especially the adult males).  They’re patient and good at problem-solving.  They’re usually the hardest animal to keep enclosed at a zoo, with their strength, dexterity, and intelligence being enough to break out of all but the best-designed enclosures.

They’re just such marvelous beings.  I really hope that humanity can preserve them for the future.  It would be such a loss if this species went extinct.

IMG_0705Satu the Orangutan Eating at the San Diego ZooSatu the Orangutan at the San Diego Zoo 2Satu the Orangutan at the San Diego Zoo 3

Here are some resources for learning more about and helping orangutans.

Reflections of Eden, by Birute Galdikas, is…

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