Jumping the Sharks with Maneater

It figures. The first next generation console game that would spark my interest and capture an hour or so of my precious free time would be a gore-filled fish-based role playing game about a killer shark.

Yesterday morning a large brown cardboard box landed on my doorstep. When I slit the tape and pulled the slightly smaller white box from inside, extracted the even slightly smaller and whiter box from inside that … then unpacked the contents of four or five significantly smaller white-ish boxes from inside of that … the tangle of cables and electronics left behind on my media shelf perfectly resembled the Sony PlayStation 5 gaming console that I’d seen online.

This was ideal… because a PS5 is exactly what I had paid a lot of money for just late last week.

Rewind. The story of my finally deciding to buy a PS4 about eighteen months ago (then not actually buying one when I saw the release announcement for the PS5) and the long-wait, ultimately leading to me receiving a box with the hard-to-find console on my doorstep yesterday is a long, boring, and whatever story. In fact, that was pretty much the whole thing. Yet, there a PS5 now sits. Having skipped an entire generation of console game systems, I find myself with a vast collection of new-to-me titles at my fingertips, and expectations more closely aligned with older systems.

Also, I opted to pick up a Plus subscription because (a) they were still on sale, (b) I think I’d like to try some multiplayer online, and (c) it comes with a boatload of free, eclectic and/or older games (that, again, are all new-to-me).

…including this one (first) game that I downloaded last night called Maneater.

The game cinematic starts off as if you are about to be thrown into the deep end of a video game version of Deadliest Catch with flashy introductions of the harpoon-lugging guys driving a shark-hunting boat as they trek out towards open water to take on a villainous aquatic predator…

…you will explore a large and varied open world encountering diverse enemies – both human and wildlife.

store.playstation.com

But wait!

You are the shark. You kick off your adventure by breaking through some basic control orientation, and then out into an open harbour. That’s when the fight begins. One of your first challenges is to brutally attack a happy little beach full of swimmers then defend against the angry shark hunters that (surprise!) want to hunt you down for doing just that and…

Maneater is a single player, open world action RPG (ShaRkPG) where YOU are the shark.

store.playstation.com

But wait!

Boom: you’re actually dead. Channelling some serious Moby Dick vibes, the angry Deadliest Catch captain cuts a baby shark from your limp belly, maims it for spite, then curses its name as it bites off his arm and swims away and…

But wait!

You are now the baby shark, and role playing game adventure ensues as you navigate through a swamp on a quest of…

Starting as a small shark pup you are tasked with surviving the harsh world while eating your way up the ecosystem.

store.playstation.com

So. I haven’t played much further than that.

I just downloaded this last night, remember?

As much as I have sudden access to a small library of new games, clever and quirky titles often entice me the most. See, I’ve played as many zombie shooters as I ever need to in my life. Platformers are stuffed with nostalgia, but I’ll always compare back to my childhood full of Mario games. And I’ve already queued up a snowboarding classic called Steep for some zen, downhill action, and I’m looking forward to spending some time with it on the PS5, but those kind of games just make me look longingly out the window at the real snow.

Call me a sucker for novelty, but I’m looking forward to some more shark adventures later tonight.

Pup/date of a Four Month Old

We marked our two month #adoptaversary this past weekend, and made some general observations that despite her continued small stature, the pup has actually grown quite a bit since she came to live with us. I went looking for an app or a website or even a blog plugin to document all this stuff, and then I figured that routine updates here on significant milestones is probably just as good, maybe even better, than any of those things. So, on the four month birthday date, here is another pup/date… even tho it’s only been about ten days since my last.

wize wee wak so fur?

The weather has been generously warm, at least for a January. By warm, I mean it has been hovering around freezing for the last two weeks or so. This is warmer than the expected average temperatures of this time of year, which generally hover around holy-shit-it’s-cold-out degrees. The benefit of this relative warmth has been that we’ve worked our way up to walks as long as three kilometers with the pup. In fact on Saturday we ventured out further than we’d ever taken her, putzed through the neighbourhood for over an hour, and explored some of the local trails. She was in a state of well-earned tired by the time we got back home, though that tail never stopped wagging.

ridin in dat big squarry weel box

Since I last wrote we’ve been on a couple casual car rides. The odd thing about having a new puppy during a pandemic is that (a) if it wasn’t for the pandemic we likely wouldn’t have had a chance to have a puppy and (b) we don’t go anywhere (literally… like nowhere) ourselves so we don’t have a reason to get in the car and train her to be a good passenger. Still, we had a trip to the vet about ten days ago for some of those final puppy shots, and then on the weekend we thought it would be nice to enjoy the warm weather (see previous blurb) and go for ice cream. The pup rode nicely in the backseat without too much fuss or getting carsick again… tho still didn’t get of her own any ice cream.

gud mornin hooman

In the last two months we have established a respectably rigid sleep schedule. I’m imagining this will relax a bit as the pup grows older. We all go to bed at the same time. A routine has been set up of taking her outside, leading her into her crate, removing her collar, settling her with a small treat, and turning down all the house lights. Then in the morning, I have my alarm set for about 6am, and I let her outside, fill her dishes, make a cup of tea, and we play for 30 minutes to an hour until everyone else wakes up. (As the weather warms and the sun rises earlier, I’m hoping this becomes a dawn walk.) All in all though it makes for a fairly settled pup who hasn’t been awake in the middle of the night in six weeks.

Pup/date of a Sixteen Week Old

She’s been with us for going on nearly two months, and life is anything but routine. That said, our work/life routine has started to settle back into the pandemic-lockdown-normal once again, which is to say that over are our two weeks of unstructured slothing around the house with literally nothing to do but eat and ponder life. The pup has continued to grow bit-by-bit and tackle new skills brought on by more challenging requests.

c’mere a minitt

We have this fun game we’ve been playing. I ask the pup to come see me so I can pick her up or lead her somewhere we need to go. She runs around like crazy avoiding me and hiding, bum in the air and tail wagging, so that I can’t. I’ve introduced a brand new game to her over the last couple weeks called “Co’mere!” It’s simple. I say come here (which comes out more like “co’mere”) and if she walks up to me and let’s me take her by the collar she gets a treat. I admit, it’s less fun than the old version, but we’ve had a great time actually going to other rooms in the house.

wuk wuk wuk treeeet!

Walking has not come naturally to the pup. The pup’s pal (we’ll call her S) who lives a couple blocks away is only about a week older than she and S has been tackling walks of three or four kilometers for a month now. We on the other hand enjoy sitting on the asphalt and contemplating a walk rather than … y’know … actually taking one. I did some research and discovered a loose-leash training strategy to encourage heeling and walking. We’ve been testing it out on short strolls for the last week (and luckily the weather is cooperating!) She gets a lot of (tiny) treats, but we’ve had some solid 8/10 quality walks this past week.

ring-a-ling hooman

A couple weeks ago we hung a bell at the back door. The idea is that the pup learns to ring it when she wants to go outside. Training hasn’t been as tough as we thought it would be, but it has taken the full of those two weeks to get her into the habit of understanding that ring-a-ling means that the door opens and she can go out. It’s only been in the last two days or so that we’ve hit a milestone of deliberately pawing the bells (followed by a sly glance back to us) to show that she gets the signal. Trouble is, as we train this we want her to ring to go out to do her business… but she’s figured out that we’ll let her out no matter whenever she rings. In a word: playtime!

Reading | Prelude to Foundation (Asimov)

Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1988)

I’m sticking with a strong science fiction motif for this year’s reading list.

So far, at least.

When Prelude to Foundation was first published I was in the seventh grade and was about to have my mind blown by the writings of Isaac Asimov. I went through a personal friendship renaissance in junior high and ditched the kids I’d been hanging out with for a few years to find a whole new friend clique that would define the remainder of my time in education all the way through University and beyond. One of my new junior high pals (who is still the guy of think of whenever someone mentions “child genius”) remembered my November birthday and tho we’d only been friends for a couple months gave me a crisp new paperback copy of The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov and said “read this, you won’t be disappointed.”

(…or however teens in the 80s spoke. I assume all my memories of this time period have been overwritten by binge-watching episodes of Stranger Things.)

Thus, I was introduced to the worlds of author Isaac Asimov, whose books became the de facto science fiction yardstick by which I measure all robot-based or space-based literature.

It’s also very likely about the same timeframe in which I came into possession of the first edition hard cover of the novel Prelude to Foundation which I found on my bookshelf as I was thinking about what to read next.

As it was, I had just in the past hour plucked my way through the concluding chapters of Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem. Over the week I’d been reading that particular tome, I had ordered and received the third and final book of the trilogy and was pondering the trio of books on my shelf as I united the first with its companions. The Three-Body Problem had gripped my attention as the pandemic holidays of the 20/21 season wrapped, but reading about the impending doom of the human race (at the hands of a nearby alien culture slightly out-competing with us for our precious resources) demanded a break between instalments.

The word “Foundation” caught my attention.

Talk about a worthwhile re-read. Why? In parallel to all this reading, I’ve just binge-listened the whole of the 1973 BBC radio adaptation of the Foundation trilogy for what is likely the tenth time through. The eight episodes are a mix of “someone just invented synth sound effects” paired with solid British acting, but if you can tune your ears past the cacophonic clash the underlying story is still the genius work of Asimov brought to life in one of the few dramatized versions of his work worth its salt.

And then there it was, the prequel (or specifically the Prelude) sitting on my bookshelf as a first edition hardback novel I’d bought when I was younger than my daughter is right now. I’d certainly read it then, but unlikely have I touched it since.

I have however steeped myself in the breadth of Foundation stories frequently since.

Plucking through the official introduction and backstory of Hari Seldon, the character-who-is-barely-a-player in the main series, but who is also the man whose action set the course of the whole tale in motion, that instantly seemed like a fantastically interesting prospect for my second read, NOVEL.2021.02, of this year.