Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Radial Nerve Palsy Experience Part 3

This the last post regarding my life experiences while I was slowly recovering from my Radial Nerve Palsy hand injury.  I'm just getting this all down in my blog.  So I can move on to the topics in my backlog of things to blog about this past year.

My iPhone and iPad was my new gaming platform. (Shadow Cities and The Walking Dead)

Like I mentioned in my previous blog posts, my iPad was one of the only things I could actually interact decently with as an interface to both my PC and iOS apps.  It was just much easier to poke and drag on a touchscreen than toil with a mouse/keyboard or console controller.  I looked for iOS games beyond just the plethora of dinky casual games that I could play on my iPad. I found two games that saved my sanity and kept me entertained.

The first one is called Shadow Cities. It's a geo-location based augmented reality action RPG. Basically, you pick one of two mage factions, and engage in building structures, destroying spirit beings, leveling up, learning new action skills, slaying enemy mages, etc.  There was some semblance of a skill build in the game to boot.  Casting spells was easy to manage one-handed. You essentially draw the shape corresponding to the specific spell. So you can imagine my amusement when I found out that I can interact and play this game easily.  I picked the Architect side out of the two factions available primarily because the other faction was the top choice of the two and seemed like the good guys. I thought I picked the evil faction. But there's hardly any difference between the two other than picking a side and picking green or yellow/orange as a color.  This was an iPhone game and had no iPad version.  It ran decently enough on iPad.  So when I was out, I would play the game on my iPhone.  When I was at home, I'd fire the game up on my iPad instead.

The game's world took place in a virtual replica of your actual geographical location. Since I live in Makati, my home base in the game was in Makati. I found it amusing that my Mage could astral project (essentially warp) to other friend mages around the world. So from the comfort of my own home, I have travelled to the US, France, Japan, South Africa, etc.  All the street names and locations were all Google maps accurate. I also found it amusing that my mage's starting location when I log into the game, would be relative to where I am in real life. So if I was in Mall of Asia, for example, my mage would start in the Mall of Asia area in the game when I log in.

The game even had raids.  The game had normal spirits (esentially mobs) of different house/types and sizes (amount of HP). The raids came in the form of these huge spider looking spirits that required at least 20-30 mages to kill.  The spiders were essentially the largest form of those spirits and were regarded as bosses in the game. There was no way you could down a spider on your own. So you really had to make friends with other players of your faction.  When a spider gets taken down, a random 1 or 2 mages that participated gets a spider token.  When you earn enough tokens, you get to unlock spider sigils to change the look of your mage in ingame chat.  Not a big deal cosmetic wise at all.  But it was valued by all players in the game.  The rest of the mages that were not awarded spider tokens get experience for the spider kill.

The game also facilitates wars between mages of the two factions. Enemy mages that are located near you can prove troublesome as they can start attacking you and your structures on their own or en-masse with 50++ enemy mages. So you have to call for help with your comrade mages when a war in an area erupts. Killing enemy mages was quite satisfying to say the least.

Even when my hand already recovered, I continued to play the game until my mage reached max level (Level 22).  I invested so much time in the game, that I felt I needed to keep playing until I hit the endgame.  It felt good to hit max level just like how it would feel like in any MMO or action RPG that I've played.

The game was waning in terms of revenue for the developer for quite some time before I started playing the game. I was sad to learn that the developer made the decision to close the game down. The game closed down back September of this year based from the comments of the Facebook fan page.

I'll get into the Walking Dead game on iOS after the jump.

The second game was The Walking Dead game. This was developed by a company called Telltale Games; largely known for how well they interweave storytelling into their projects. You play a character that is relatively unknown to the existing comic/TV series storyline. But somehow Telltale was able to retain the flavor of the series and made the game stand on its own. I was sucked into all 5 episodes of this game. Before I even played a minute of it, I already bought all 5 episodes all at once to take advantage of the bundle discount.

I used to like reading Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novels when I was a kid primarily because they were short and allowed me to actually make decisions on where the story would go. The Walking Dead game was made in a similar fashion.  The art style was amazing. The game controls were intuitive and was truly made for a touchscreen interface. The game did come out on both Xbox360 and PS3. But I really think the game was best played on a touchscreen.

I didn't do anything for Christmas and New Year back then. I did have plans for some debauchery on New Year's Eve. But those plans were foiled last minute. It left me not wanting to make any last minute plans to compensate. Somehow my continued hand injury prevented me from being in a celebratory mood to begin with. Ironically, the very thing I was doing when the clock hit 12:00MN was playing the Walking Dead game on my iPad.

I did stop playing for a while to view the fireworks right outside my window. But I admit that my only company to usher in the new year was my iPad and that wonderful game.

Below are some screenshots of the results of my choices and adventures in the five episodes of that season.  It might not make much sense to all of who haven't played the game.  But I'm posting the screenshots in here as a record for myself.

I know that there are interim episodes after that first season of that game, as well as a second season. I will definitely get around to those some time.  The climactic finish of the Walking Dead game season 1 left me with a heavy heart. But I applaud Telltale Games with how they put that game together. They really left me emotionally invested in the characters I was playing and interacting with.

My iPad gave me hope of music-related things to come.

Given, that I couldn't play any of my instruments, I decided to look for iOS apps that would allow me to make music even if it's just for my personal amusement. I already got it in my head that I won't be performing music any time soon. I even had notions that I will never be able to get back to music. Personal amusement was the only compensatory way to enjoy music.

I found a number of apps that mimicked real instruments. But none could really capture playing those instruments in real life fairly well. Apps that emulated playing a guitar were the worst of them since you can't exactly fit all the frets of a guitar in one screen let alone allow for proper fingering on the frets, strumming, or finger plucking. Drum apps were the easiest because they've been done before as physical electronic instruments. Sadly, there were no decent apps that emulated hand percussion well. All the ones I found were dinky and plainly just served as sound byte banks with touchscreen triggers. Piano/keyboard apps worked well. But I didn't really have a lot of knowledge playing a piano or keyboard in real life to actually enjoy those kinds of apps. There were those non-traditional music apps that provide either an artistic or practical interface that just made it easy for you to put music together. I see it as a form of cheating, mind you. But given my inability to play real instruments, who was I to really complain about it.

And then there were the handpan apps. I found a few apps that allowed me to virtually play a handpan on my iPad. Of course, it was nowhere near the same thing, and the scales available on those apps were not similar to the scales of my handpans. But at least, I was able to make music even if it's just to lighten my heavy heart.

That ends my blot post series on my experiences with Radial Nerve Palsy.  Those 4-5 months were tough.  But I'm just glad I got through it.  As depressed as I was during that time, at least I found ways to live and keep myself happy.  And in the end, that is what matters whenever something bad happens in my life.  Just try to make do with what you have and what you can do within the limits of your capabilities.

Involuntary Devil Horns.
Rock on!


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