Friday, June 30, 2017

The Stammering Stickman has moved

I will now be blogging under my "The Stammering Stickman" name via, at I've just started it and the new layout is under construction.

Here's to a new platform - and Blogspot / Blogger, it was fun!

Monday, June 26, 2017

I'm still doing stuff!

Well, I've managed to let my personal blog get away from me again. But I am doing stuff! Just

I need to regularly update this blog and not let it continually fall away from me. But I've been busy with other projects lately.

One, there is my Thief Diaries project (see, which is still under construction). This is a continuation of my work at and I have the first entry up in rough form and am still working with the design via But within the next week it will be "officially" started.

Two, I continue to write and edit at

Three, I work full-time. Must never forget that that's a thing!

And four, I've been working on other, smaller side projects, like playing and writing about a Calculus-based game, recording gameplay footage and planning montages and other stuff to make with it, and personal projects like a poster-overhaul in my room (this is serious life stuff, folks).

So "Stammering Stickman" may have taken a backseat, but it's still in the car, and it's sharing said car with a lot of other folks, if you catch my drift.

All this said, here's my small gaming update for now: Prey remains the last "big" game that I played. This month I've done a lot of replays, Thief FMs, and got and played most of Crash Bandicoot: Warped (the one Crash I hadn't played of the original three). I got it partly because of the remake releasing this Friday that I plan to check out and write about here. I am holding out, though - if it is mildly received by critics I will hold off.

As for E3...I better do a separate post for that. Or accept it's too late for an E3 post and write simply: I was excited most by Wolfenstein II, Super Mario Odyssey, and the Metroid Prime 4 tease.

With that, I'll sign out and say: see you in a month!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Prey review, etc.

My Prey review is up at GameLuster. I liked it!

Now on to the massive backlog of 2017 titles I've missed, including Zelda. I will not be reviewing it for GameLuster as it's a bit past the time and someone else already has. But, I may review it here...

Then there are gameplay videos, like my Quake speedruns. My latest I haven't posted here, but they are up on YouTube. I will post them here too, though.

I'm excited for summer and am excited to be a gamer. This year I'm even somewhat looking forward to the Call of Duty title ("World War II"). How could 2017 offer more?

Currently Playing, 5-21-17

This prior week I have been enjoying one old game, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, and one new game, Prey, that take me back to the “good old days.”

Soul Reaver is a game I had purchased in a Good Old Games sale some time ago and have finally gotten to. It is serving as my gateway into the greater Legacy of Kain series – I have Blood Omen for the PlayStation ordered and on its way. I wish I had played these games back in their day.

Soul Reaver reminds me of Super Metroid for its open-world which you progress through as you gain new powers. The combat, like in Metroid, is there, but not deep or central. The material / spectral world dichotomy adds flare. The soundtrack is great. So once again I’ve discovered a gaming treasure I’ve, so far, missed out on.

As I referenced, Soul Reaver takes me back to the early days of 3D third-person games like Ocarina of Time. That Zelda title was one of the first 3D console games I played, so it’s a point of reference for me, personally.

I love that Prey, as I noted in the last post, takes me back to System Shock 2. The further I progress in the game, the more the flashbacks keep coming. I also get many original Shock vibes due to the space station, rather than space ship, setting. I love rationing ammo and neuromod upgrades, always feeling vulnerable – like the good old days!

I have also played Strafe, but have been let down by it. I’m tired of games that advertise themselves as a throwback FPS but are not that. You can as much call Strafe a throwback shooter as you can call Spelunky a throwback platformer. It’s a rogue-like. Elements of old-school shooters are there, but the core of the game is not 90s FPS. I’ve had some fun with it, but it’s not anywhere near the experience I thought it’d be. I let myself get too hyped about this one, buying into false advertising. Should’ve known.

So I’ll be focusing on Prey and Soul Reaver. (Oh, and there’s Zelda: Breath of the Wild that I need to get back to…and Yooka-Laylee…)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Update, 5-6-17

Yooka-Laylee, so far, is good.
I was hyped for Yooka-Laylee, Banjo fan that I am. I’ve been playing it since it launched, and it’s fun, smooth, and nostalgically-pleasing. The world design and difficulty vary from just-right to underwhelming, but I’ve only unlocked and have explored three worlds (two of them just barely). Once I have completed the game, I can give a fully-formed “Thoughts On.” My feelings now are “Good.”

I am currently playing through Prey, for fun and to review for GameLuster. I had not followed the coverage for this game, so knew little about it going in. As such, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that it’s a spiritual successor to System Shock 2.
Prey is my kind of game.
System Shock 2 is one of my favorite games ever (if I ever got back to my favorite games list, it would be one of my top ten favorite PC titles). The atmosphere of isolation, the compromised space station with bodies everywhere, the communicant sending you messages, the Neuromod upgrades, the open-ended design, the very fun GLOO Cannon, the ability to sneak, and the sense of horror are each game design elements that I love – this style of game is perhaps my favorite (or second favorite to Thief’s design). Again, I had not read about any of this – I only knew Prey was a sci-fi themed shooter-with-powers, so I have been in heaven playing it.

Strafe looks great.
I am looking forward to Strafe, the throwback shooter from Pixel Titans and Devolver Digital. I love all the “bleeding edge 1996!” humor in the game’s promotional material (check out It’s even priced at $19.96 (on PC and Mac)!            
Otherwise, I’ve got my eyes on Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and need to get back to Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Games I’ve skipped, but will check out later, are Resident Evil 7, Persona 5, and Horizon Zero Dawn. I will also get around to Torment: Tides of Numenera, but I need to play Planescape: Torment first (which I’ve started). 
I’d rank 2017 better than 2014, ’15, or ’16, so far. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Quake Speed runs

The Quake Champions beta has begun. I have not received an invite yet, but hope to in the coming waves. I can easily say it is my most want-to-play game for 2017, if I choose to use categories like that.

Quake has been a big part of my life for over 20 years now, but there’s always new things to do with it. Though I have speed run before, I now have started to speed run in earnest. I am starting to post these videos to YouTube, and will also post them here.

I am late? Yes. But, I’m also young, and there’s always time to try new things. I have no illusions about this. I do this because I enjoy it and post it here mainly as personal record. I flout nothing.

First up: E3M6, also known as “Chambers of Torment”.


More Quake speed runs to come.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

'Dishonored 2' Review

Dishonored 2 review (PC version)

By Trevor Whalen

            Dishonored 2 is Arkane Studios’ follow up to their 2012 release Dishonored, and similarly is an immersive, first-person game that allows for a stealth approach, an action approach, or something in between. Like the original, it is a spiritual successor to the classic PC games Thief and Deus Ex, and it’s a success. Dishonored 2 is a really good game with great level design, beautiful visuals, and multifaceted, enjoyable gameplay.

            The game begins in Dunwall, the industrial, whaling-centric city from the first game. Empress Emily Kaldwin (daughter of Empress Jessamine Kaldwin, assassinated in the first game) takes to the throne room in Dunwall Tower with her “Royal Protector”, Corvo Attano (the protagonist from the first game). The occasion is the memorial for the day Emily’s mother was killed. An entourage from Serkonos, the island country to the south of Dunwall, marches into the throne room. Royal Protector Corvo had known about this visit, but he had not authorized the surprise gifts it bore: a few “clockwork soldiers” and a Delilah Copperspoon, someone claiming to be Emily’s aunt and the rightful heir to Emily’s throne. In a coupe, Delilah, aided by her magical abilities, takes power. At this hectic point, you choose to play as either Emily or Corvo, and are imprisoned in Dunwall tower. The first mission of the game is escaping the tower and going on the run.

One of the first views from the game looks out over the cloudy Dunwall skyline.
After the Dunwall prelude, most of the game takes place in Karnaca, the capital city of Serkonos. (Dunwall is the capital of Gristol, the larger island nation north of Serkonos. The two island nations are part of the game’s fictional “Empire of the Isles”.) Karnaca is warmer than Dunwall, and while Dunwall’s economy centers on whaling, Karnaca’s centers on silver mining. The theme of mining runs throughout Dishonored 2’s story. One mission takes place in Karnaca’s “Dust District”, the area just outside the mines. Karnaca also has problems with “blood flies”, annoying maggots who infest some of the games’ buildings with their large nests. Destroying them with flame (via flammable liquids or incendiary bolts from your crossbow) may reward you with items and valuables tucked away behind where they were nesting.
Karnaca in the day.

Karnaca in the evening.
            While playing through the game as either Emily or Corvo, you may exploit the game’s powers and items or adopt a minimalist approach. I played the game as a stealth game, a method by which I think one can experience more of the game’s details, but an action approach is an option, as is an action and stealth hybrid approach.

I played as Emily Kaldwin, who has slightly different powers from Corvo. Her “Far Reach” ability is similar to Corvo’s “Blink” as it transports players quickly from one area to another within a reasonably close distance. Emily’s power has her pull herself very quickly, whereas Corvo’s power instantly transports him. Far Reach is the main power I used as I traversed the rooftops and ledges of each area or shot out of sight into cover just as a guard spied me. I ignored the other powers except for late-game uses of “Dark Vision” (an ability that allows you to see AI and security systems through walls) and “Shadow Walk” (an ability that allows you to sink into the ground as a shadow for a time and better sneak around). Early in the game, you can even choose to play with no powers available to you.

            If you choose to play with powers, you can unlock and upgrade them by using Rune Stones. Emily’s Far Reach ability may be upgraded to pull items and people toward you. Passive abilities, that may allow you to jump higher or to gain more health from eating food, can be activated by using Bone Charms. Both Rune Stones and Bone Charms lie throughout each level for you to find. They are in addition to other collectibles like blue prints for upgrades to your items, weapons, and self, and all the basic loot (coins, valuable trinkets, etc.). If you like exploring every nook and cranny and picking up collectibles, Dishonored 2 has a lot in store for you. The more you put into the game, the more you will get out of it. I explored and collected, and was satisfied by how much the game had to offer.
The collectibles each mission has. I didn't do too bad.

            Like in the first game, each mission has a target person for you to dispose of. In Dishonored 2, the goal is to eliminate Delilah’s inner circle of powerful friends in Karnaca. You may either kill each person or get rid of them in a “non-lethal” way. Discovering the non-lethal method of disposing a target requires a little more work, but the alternative is easily progressing straight to the target and killing them. Only one mission, an early one, offers real conflict, even for stealthy players, in choosing whether or not to kill the target or take the person out non-lethally. In most missions, the non-lethal path is usually accessible and interesting enough that choosing it is preferable to choosing a simple assassination. Going the non-lethal route leads to less overall “Chaos”, as does opting not to kill AIs. Less “Chaos” leads to a better ending, and the game tells you such early on. I’d prefer that this remain secret, but Dishonored 2 lets you know up front that if you kill more, you will earn a worse ending.
Taking down Clockwork Soldiers (like the one pictured above) won't add to your Chaos level.

            You can save the lives of average NPCs as well. Dishonored 2 has a few scripted scenes where members of the guard or of other in-game factions are threatening a civilian’s life. Initially I began only watching these moments, as if they were typical scripted sequences that I shouldn’t mess with. To my surprise, and after thinking, “Why not?” I once fired a sleep dart at one of the NPCs threatening another’s life. Doing so saved the potential victim. I noticed that the game has achievements for such life-saving acts. This ability to meddle in what might otherwise seem set-in-stone scripted sequences is another part of Dishonored 2’s fluidity.
The results for how hostile or stealthy you were. I came up a bit short.

            The level design in Dishonored 2 is excellent. The missions each provide you multiple pathways to any destination, several areas to explore, and room for trial and error. The latter depends on your method of play. The more perfectionist and experimental you are, the more you may fail and have to re-attempt any given feat. You will encounter multiple pathways because each area has ways to progress that are below or above street level. I usually took the higher road of rooftops, balconies and street lamps, as on ground level, even creeping about, you can be detected by NPCs frequently.

            The level design inspires through the whole game not just because the levels themselves are well built, but also because there is variety in the gameplay, structure, and purpose of the missions. Though each mission does ultimately center on a large structure you must infiltrate, these structures vary in ways that affect your progression in unexpected ways. One mission, the “Clockwork Mansion”, centers on a house with walls and floors that change via buttons on panels you find. Another mission, late in the game, has a fun and clever component that gives you a break from the standard gameplay. This interesting component could be the core of an entire game. Variety in missions pairs with fantastic level design as Dishonored 2’s greatest strengths.

            Intricate design is complemented by beautiful visuals. The art styles and the architectural designs are well realized and at times breathtaking. The designers wanted the Void Engine to enable graphics that look like a painting in motion, and it shows. I played on PC with the settings a mixture of Medium, High and Very High (the range goes up to Ultra), and it looked beautiful.
There are beautiful views at just about every corner.
The game is not void of technical issues, however. I played after early patches had been applied, with an Intel i7 6700 at 3.4 GHz, an Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 with 6GB of onboard memory, and 16 GIGs of RAM. Though these are the recommended system requirements, and I was not playing with every setting on ‘Very High’ or ‘Ultra’, I experienced severe frame rate drops throughout. This was not so frequent as to be game breaking, but it is clear Dishonored 2 was optimized for consoles, not for PC. Recent patches have fixed most of the problems that plagued the early release, and the many graphics settings, including a much-loved-by-me field of view slider, make Dishonored 2 better than most. Still, it isn’t ideal conditions if anyone with a standard high-end PC can experience such graphical hiccups.

            The audio design, like the visual design, is solid work hampered by some technical faults. The voice acting is excellent throughout. The cast includes Stephen Russell (Corvo Attano) and Terri Brosius (some NPC lines), both Thief alums. Like in the first Dishonored and the Thief games, guards and other AI will mutter lines to themselves as they patrol. These add humor and charm to the game as you sneak by, and can make you feel guilty about choosing to kill, or even render unconscious, AI. How could you murder or strangle a guard who has just conversed with his stomach about dinner coming soon?

The musical style does not diverge from the original’s and, while there’s nothing particularly memorable, it complements the atmosphere, and there are several ambient noise effects that took me back to moments playing the Thief games. I did experience some technical flaws with the audio in the last few levels, though. A few scenes of people dancing and singing would seem mute until I passed a specific threshold close by, at which the noise would sound clear. Once I stepped back across this metaphorical threshold, the scene went back to being mute. Sometimes just turning towards and away from such a scene produced the same effect. I also experienced this same phenomenon with NPCs walking and chatting in the last couple of missions. At one point I received a mission note informing me I had overheard a conversation detailing where a certain key was—when I had heard no such conversation at all. These minor hiccups don’t make the game unplayable, and were the exception to the rule of solid sound design, but I did encounter them.

Part of a ruined home you will explore at one point.
             These occasional glitches with visual and sound design don’t ruin the otherwise very enjoyable and satisfying experience of playing Dishonored 2. The game is a successful effort from Arkane. Its level design and gameplay options make it a great game for anyone, and played as a stealth game it is a very special gift for old-time Thief fans. If you want to be immersed in an atmospheric game that rewards ingenuity and exploration, purchase and play Dishonored 2.

~My score: 4/5

+Excellent level design.

+Good visuals.

+Fun, multifaceted gameplay that allows for experimentation.

-Some technical issues with framerate and audio.