Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I wear jewelry now!

hey everybody,

been out for a while as there have been significant goings-on..uhm, going on. to recap it all (marriage, honeymoon) may take a while so i think i'll be breaking the whole story up into pieces or otherwise i won't have a new post ready until sometime next month.

Grace and I were married on the one-year anniversary of Houston's visit by Hurricane Rita, September 24th 2006! thankfully, no hurricanes attended the nuptials.

i guess i should start from the beginning, which i'll designate as the night of the Thursday beforehand, when our good friends Dave (one of my groomsmen) and his lovely wife Melissa drove into town to stay with us overnight.

dave and i are friends and hockey buddies from way back (way back meaning our college days at UT, circa my sophomore/junior year 1997); we used to play inline hockey up in austin but since my move to houston i'd made the switch over to goaltending on ice. he and i used the wedding as a good excuse for him to be able to come to town to see me play the sport in its true original form.

unfortunately our opponents that night didn't put up too much of a fight so it wasn't as entertaining as it could have been (neither did it do much to substantiate my repeated claims to him that the league has a lot of good players and that team defense is more of an afterthought). no flurries of shots, no demands on me to make a highlight-reel save, nothing.

during the various points of downtime during the marriage weekend, though, he and i did enjoy a good number of games of Winning Eleven 8, a fine soccer videogame for the original Xbox.

yes, i know, "soccer?" well up until recently i'd been captivated by online games of (unsurprisingly) NHL 2k6. over time, however, i'd gotten increasingly frustrated with playing opponents around North America who were less inclined to try and play a fair, honest game and more than happy to abuse those AI shortcomings that the game programmers failed to remove. instead of a somewhat realistic game flow of effective defensive coverage and opportunistic offensive zone passing to set up shots from prime scoring areas, a lot of the games i played quickly turned into me trying hard to prevent my opponent from getting to the one or two locations where a shot would guarantee a goal.

a good example is from the side of the net; any goalie worth his mask hugs the goal post when a puckcarrier is almost parallel to the goal line, however in NHL 2k6 the goalie tends to freeze up well off the post and allows players to score from basically an unguarded angle. the only real defense to this is to get the defender i control in between the puckcarrier and the open gap. i could do this most of the time but not always, so goals scored were inevitable. since i declined to stoop to such cheap tactics in return i found myself frustrated and losing more often than was deserved.

so one day i finished a frustrating game and said "that's it, i've had it" and traded NHL 2k6 in to the local Gamestop, picking up Winning Eleven instead and have since found it to be a much more enjoyable experience. Although there's no online play in this version, i've found the computer to be pretty challenging. also, the more wide field structure of soccer and greater number of players per team really makes demands on you to play a strategic game (looking for passing lanes, setting up runs on goal) and cuts down on the possibility of cheap 'exploits' in the game AI.

since dave is a soccer fan as well he and i had a great time playing on the same team against the computer; we'd boo the ref in unison when one of our players was tripped without penalty, groan in disappointment when a wide-open player kicked a shot too high or wide, and celebrated heartily on those rare occasions when we successfully navigated through the other team's defense to put the ball into the back of the net. the matches really felt like true soccer games: all about momentum and player position, low scoring, etc. every shot was as critical as it was rare; one good opportunity wasted could mean the entire game.

(Well, that's enough posting for this entry. i suppose since this story is really about the marriage et al i should probably start talking about all those proceedings. next time!)

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