Blog Name Blog subtitle http://blog.url.com/ 2016-11-06T05:00:00+00:00 Blog Author Losing Weight&#58; An Update http://blog.url.com/2016/11/06/losing-weight.html 2016-11-06T05:00:00+00:00 2016-11-28T21:52:19+00:00 Article Author <h2 id="weight-loss-so-far">Weight Loss So Far</h2> <p>It's been 67 days since I've started tracking weight loss seriously. In that time I've only had two days where I fell like I failed myself, and even then I've only failed by a factor of maybe 300-400 calories extra intake, which in the long run really isn't too much.</p> <p>I started my journey after stepping on the scale and realizing that it was going well over the 300-pound mark and I stepped off before it landed on its final number. I told myself, "Meh, it's not seriously that bad. I'm sure my scale needs calibration. I mean, I <em>am</em> running on the treadmill often and going to the gym to lift weights every once in a while when I feel like it."</p> <p>It wasn't until I had a series of health scares that I finally realized that I was living a dangerous life. I was eating myself to death and I was finally starting to see concrete consequences of my behavior.</p> <p>"Enough is enough," I thought, and decided to make some serious life changes. I downloaded <a href="http://www.myfitnesspal.com/">My Fitness Pal</a> and started tracking calories religiously.</p> <h2 id="separation-of-duties">Separation of Duties</h2> <p>This simple fact was difficult for me to grasp for some reason. It seems obvious to a lot of you out there, but to me it never really clicked until recently: You adjust your diet for weight loss, and exercise for health.</p> <p>Exercise alone will not let you lose weight. If you jog for 30 minutes and maybe burn 300 calories, it's not going to offset the 1200 calorie burger from your favorite fast food joint. It just won't work. You <em>have</em> to make dietary changes if you want to seriously lose weight.</p> <h2 id="tricking-the-brain">Tricking the Brain</h2> <p>Another problem I had was the fact that in the past, when I was on a diet, I felt like a prisoner. I was restricting myself to eating certain foods, and usually restricting my calories way too much. A 300+ pound fat man is going to be grumpy on a 1200 calorie per day diet, and won't likely be able to stick with it.</p> <p>So yes, it is a good idea to "track your macros" and control the intake of major numbers like sodium, carbohydrates, fats, etc. But really weight loss at the most basic level boils down to "Calories In &lt; Calories Out".</p> <p>So for now, while I'm still a Fatty McFatterson Fat Face, I'm only tracking calories. Screw the rest of the numbers (within reason, of course). All I'm doing is sticking to the calorie goal that MFP calculates for me. I treat my daily calorie allowance like an ATM balance, and each thing I eat is a debit on my calorie account.</p> <p>Treating it like a balance really, really helps. It works for me like no other method has.</p> <h2 id="side-effect-of-the-calorie-debit-account">Side Effect of the Calorie Debit Account</h2> <p>I could pig out and eat a single meal that's around 2000 calories and not eat the rest of the day. But that isn't fun. I could have two meals around 1000 calories each, and that works some days. But not all days. The point is that this method is fairly flexible.</p> <p>The side effect I've noticed is that I tend to gravitate to healthier, less calorie-dense foods <em>without restricting the kinds of food I can eat</em>. The reason? I want to get full so if I can have a large plate of something healthier versus a tiny portion of something super calorie dense, I'm starting to make the better decision. So yeah, I'm eating more vegetables and less sugar, which is what you'd do on a normal "diet", but it doesn't feel like one.</p> <p>It feels great.</p> <h2 id="current-progress">Current progress</h2> <p>After 67 days, I've lost 36 pounds. I've gone from wearing XXXL shirts to having XXL shirts fit and be a bit baggy. I've tightened my belt by 4 notches. My shoes even fit better. They aren't tight on the tops. I even had to tighten my Apple Watch by a notch.</p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td><img src="/2016/11/06/losing-weight/before.jpg" alt="Before" /></td> <td><img src="/2016/11/06/losing-weight/current.jpg" alt="Current" /></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <h2 id="rewards">Rewards</h2> <p>I told myself when I hit 30 pounds lost, I'd make a change to my facial hair. So yeah, I've shaved my head and I'm starting to grow a goatee.</p> <p>When I hit 50 pounds lost, I'm going to buy some new clothes.</p> <p>At 75 pounds lost, I plan on letting myself get a piercing or some ink.</p> <p>At 100 pounds lost I'm thinking about getting a suit tailored. I might wait until 120 pounds for that though, since its my end goal and suits can be pretty expensive. But it's a thought.</p> <h2 id="sticking-with-it">Sticking With It</h2> <p>Hopefully by giving myself rewards I'll be more inclined to stick with this new lifestyle. All I know is that right now it doesn't feel difficult and I don't feel like stopping. I don't miss the fact that I'm not eating the biggest chicken strip combo from Zaxby's Chicken or that I'm not binging on pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream all the time.</p> <p>I'm pretty content. And I feel healthier. My doctor is weaning me off my blood pressure medicine, because it has decreased fairly dramatically. It's a good feeling and I hope that my current progress has inspired you to consider setting some goals for yourself.</p> <p><em>Header image: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/phalinn/2641377793/">Phalinn Ool</a> - <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC-BY-2</a></em></p> Why I Play Pokémon http://blog.url.com/2015/09/15/why-i-play-pokemon.html 2015-09-15T05:00:00+00:00 2016-11-28T21:52:19+00:00 Article Author <p>I'm a mid-thirties, married guy with a kid in kindergarten. And yes, I play Pokémon. I have a mortgage, obligations, responsibilities, and still have a desire to play games and watch cartoons that are geared toward a younger age group. So what's the deal?</p> <p>I'm not ashamed of it, either. I'm proud of the fact that I play Pokémon–both the video game and the collectible card game–when others say I should be cheering on the local football team or working on cars or some other acceptable behavior for a grown up man.</p> <p>Meh. I'll define myself, than you very much.</p> <p></p> <h2 id="pokmon-yellow">Pokémon Yellow</h2> <figure class="pull-right"> <p><img src="http://i.imgur.com/GQGLkAs.png" alt="Pokémon Yellow Boxart" /></p> </figure> <p>About the time the cartoon started airing in the US, the Game Boy versions of Pokémon Red and Blue were released. I didn't play them at all, since I didn't have a Game Boy at the time.</p> <p>But then Pokémon Yellow was released and I got a Game Boy Color just to try out this phenomenal game everyone was talking about.</p> <p>I played it and liked it, but didn't give it much thought and proceeded to forget about Pokémon for a few years.</p> <h2 id="pokmon-tcg-and-rubysapphire">Pokémon TCG and Ruby/Sapphire</h2> <p>Fast-forward to 2003 and the release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire–the third generation of Pokémon games. My wife and I had just purchased the Game Boy Advance a little while before that and when the new Pokémon games came out we decided to give them a whirl. Instantly we were impressed with the changes in the game and got into it.</p> <p>We even started playing the card game, but our addiction didn't last long because we didn't really know anyone else who played. After a while we again forgot about Pokémon.</p> <h2 id="the-new-obsession">The New Obsession</h2> <figure class="pull-right"> <p><img src="http://i.imgur.com/9Bc0vH5.jpg" alt="Pokémon Alpha Sapphire Boxart" /></p> </figure> <p>After my son was born in 2010 I've always been on the lookout for games we can play together. Pokémon X and Y came out, this time on the Nintendo 3DS, and we again decided to give the game a shot. Something clicked in me and I was instantly obsessed. I beat the game fairly quickly, and got into a lot of the post-game content. I then moved onto the remakes of Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire. After that my wife and I went out and bought nearly every one of the Pokémon games we missed in the years we didn't play. Since then I've played and beat a game from every generation.</p> <h2 id="so-whats-the-appeal">So what's the appeal?</h2> <p>I've put a lot of thought into the "why" of things and I think there's several parts that have made me really like and respect this franchise.</p> <ol> <li><strong>It fosters a sense of good sportsmanship.</strong> The anime and games are all about competition, but the main characters are always exhibiting a sense of grace when both winning and losing that most people can learn from. It's refreshing to see someone determined to do their best but handle defeat just as well as handling victory. It's a great lesson to teach.</li> <li><strong>Friendship is a value.</strong> The key things taught in the anime and the game are: friendship, loyalty, and kindness. The world can always use a bit of that.</li> <li><strong>It taps into the collector mentality.</strong> I've got the bug for collecting things. I have a huge G1/G2/Beast Wars Transformers collection, an insane library of books and anime, and hard drives full of music. Collecting Pokémon fits right into that.</li> <li><strong>It's something I can do to connect with my son.</strong> We both enjoy the games and the cartoon, so we can do it together and both genuinely have fun. I'm not pretending to like it like I do with Peppa Pig or the Fresh Beat Band of Spies (bleh.).</li> <li><strong>There's a deeper level of technical challenge below the surface.</strong> Sure, you need to know your type match-ups when going into battle, but there's more: optimal move sets, breeding for the right nature, abilities, stats, and egg moves, learning to balance a team-makeup for various competition formats, playing the competitive metagame, and so on.</li> </ol> <p>I tend to enjoy min-maxing my gaming quite a bit. I had spreadsheets to manage my World of Warcraft character back in the day, and sure enough I have spreadsheets now for managing breeding competitive Pokémon. It's great.</p> <p>The card game is pretty similar, but the reason I got into that is simple: I wanted to play a collectible card game, and Magic: The Gathering can be pretty overwhelming with its numerous rules. Pokémon makes more sense for the way I view those card games. And even with its simpler ruleset the metagame is still pretty intense and can take some serious work to become good on a competitive level.</p> <p>If you haven't given a serious (or even a semi-serious) look at Pokémon at all, I suggest giving it a try. Sure, the anime is campy and predicable with Team Rocket always trying to do their thing to ruin everyone's day (They'd get along swimmingly with Dora's enemy Swiper the Fox). But there's an innocence to it and heart to make it enjoyable, with mechanics and subtle nuances that make things really fun. It's really more than just an intellectual property for kids. There's something there for everyone. So do it! You know you want to!</p> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/lOqy8cC72wA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> Pathfinder Recap for August 23, 2015 http://blog.url.com/2015/08/23/pathfinder-recap-for-august-23-2015.html 2015-08-23T05:00:00+00:00 2016-11-28T21:52:19+00:00 Article Author <p>It's been a while since progress has been updated, but the story continues on. Here's a rushed, abridged summary of events that gets us current on the story:</p> <p></p> <h2 id="maeris">Maeris</h2> <p>The group stumbled across an NPC named Aidan Thommys Dalinara, known as the "Fireblade" due to the magical blade he uses that sends him into a berserker frenzy. He just dispatched a small group of vampires and agrees to help track down Maeris, considering she was likely taken by the same group he was hunting.</p> <p>Together they stumble across a house and slaughter the family of vampires within, finding Maeris within. It seemed too late for her, as she had been partially turned. With Anise's blessing, the group decides to take a rash course of action, killing the girl and purchasing a scroll of resurrection to return her to life. The gambit actually works and the sisters are reunited.</p> <h2 id="niccadia-the-border-outpost">Niccadia: The Border Outpost</h2> <p>After the touching reunion, the group decides to turn its attention back to the original goal of hunting down the remnants of Marcus Soulstrider's army and discover the true evil plan.</p> <p>As the group flies overhead on their trusty Roc, it is shot down at the border by an unseen foe. They recover from their fall, manage to save the life of the Roc, and are promptly captured by a group of vicious half-orcs led by a mysterious figure in a robe with a device that prevents all magic from being used within a certain radius.</p> <p>The group is thrown in jail, with the exception of the druid Thoth, who had the foresight to go into bird form and fly away before being captured. He finds where the group is imprisoned and manages to work out a plan to help the group escape by setting the prison on fire.</p> <p>Yes, he set the prison on fire with his friends inside. They manage to escape their bonds without the use of magic and use the distraction of fire to escape, but they nearly burned up in the process. They fight their captors until a voice yells out "stop!"</p> <p>The voice belongs to Gorebyss Maulhammer, the leader of the orc outpost. He had no knowledge of the group being captured and instead decides to let them free. He says that they've been on edge due to some mysterious attacks and murders of the clergy by a winged demon, so the guards have had itchy trigger fingers.</p> <p>The group, convinced that the orc is being truthful, decides to help in exchange for help in locating Marcus's Drow. They track down the source of the murder to that of a vicious succubus that nearly kills Thoth before they take it down.</p> <p>Gorebyss, pleased with the groups efforts, handsomely rewards his new friends and points them to the outpost near where the Drow would descend to their Darklands.</p> <p>The outpost is found, and Adotlin finally is able to procure the gun he had been searching for. Information is then gathered from the locals through various methods of persuasion (what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, my friends). Finally the entrance to the Drow Darklands is found in a cave near the trail.</p> <p>Before entering the cave, a large Niccadian army is spotted marching East, presumably toward the Angeni lands. The information gathered from the locals indicate that there is a crazy priest leading the charge and they have gone rogue from the larger Niccadian forces.</p> <p>Acting on this information, the group decides to head down into the Drow Darklands to seek more information on this crazy priest, and perhaps find a way to defeat the new threat.</p> <h2 id="drow-darklands">Drow Darklands</h2> <p>The entrance to the Darklands is a cavern tunnel ending in a trapped door. The group manages to collapse the tunnel leading to the door by softening the rocks around it. A few hours later they hear some rumblings and soon see a giant mole burst out of the tunnel followed by some Drow handlers. It appeared as if they could quickly re-open collapsed tunnels by using giant beasts.</p> <p>After the cleanup crew leaves, the group finds the door now guarded. They manage to get past it and descend the tunnel into the depths below the earth.</p> <p>The dark tunnels eventually give way to a large underground forested area covered in rocky trees covered with bio-luminescent leaves. They fight their way through this beautiful underground park and discover a tunnel leading further down.</p> <p>In this new tunnel they find Drow elite forces that provide some significant resistance, but they manage to find their way to an alter where several Drow priests are chanting.</p> <p>The Drow express their fear of the craziness of the priest and their desire to stop him. They give a special dagger to the group and lead them to a secret exit that would put them at the head of the army.</p> <h2 id="dark-times">Dark Times</h2> <p>They emerge to find that the enemy forces razed Maulhammer's outpost, killing everyone and burning the buildings to the ground. Two Rocs were severely beaten and tied down, and a large cage in the center of the camp held a few prisoners.</p> <p>The priest addresses the army and Thoth, flying high in bird form, recognizes him as Marcus Soulstrider, who has had an arm, leg, and part of his face patched over with mechanical replacements.</p> <p>He says an incantation and row by row, the army falls dead and their life force flows directly to Soulstrider. He laughs, acknowledges Thoth's presence, and flies off.</p> <p>The group heals the Rocs, frees the prisoners, and finds that Fenria Vix and the dwarf Bratta Marala had come back to provide assistance but were ambushed by the army. Besides those two, Gorebyss Maulhammer was the only other surviver from the enemy onslaught.</p> <p>After spending some time discussing what to do next, it is decided that war is looming and must be prevented. Gorebyss and the dwarf decide to take one of the Rocs and fly to the Niccadian capital to let them know about Soulstrider. Fenria and the group would take the other to the city of Fomoria, the capital of Angen, to rely information to the Queen.</p> <h2 id="fomoria">Fomoria</h2> <p>On the way to Fomoria, the Roc has to land, and the group camps out near the shores of a vast lake (which protects the island known only as The Haven). As they camp they are attacked by a giant guardian feyward tree. They defeat it and harvest its metallic body, recognizing the potential payday from such a haul.</p> <p>The next day they finish their trip to Fomoria, and Fenria tells them to spend the day in the city and she would return when the Queen wishes to see them. So the group spends its time selling their metal tree bits and doing a bit of shopping.</p> <p>Malavison talks the group's way into a very posh Inn called the Rose and the Bramble, where they try to talk to the locals for information. They want to see if anyone has heard anything about the whereabouts of Soulstrider.</p> <p>One of the locals mentions a nearby pirate with ties to Soulstrider. This pirate has been terrorizing the town, kidnapping people, and building a crew for some nefarious purpose.</p> <p>After visiting the inn, the group heads to the Queen's Library where they meet the eccentric wizard Johnny Porter. He seems odd and speaks using weird words, phrases, and references, but he does have information about the location of the pirate. He mentions that he has been seen holed up just north of Fomoria in an abandoned mine whose entrance is in a small hamlet.</p> <p>Later that night, the group is walking back to the inn. They are ambushed by a Greater Shadow, sent by an unknown assailant. They defeat the shadow and follow the assailant, but discover they were walking into a trap. They trigger the trap remotely, which caused an explosion that collapsed the nearby buildings and blocking their path.</p> <p>Rubble is not enough to stop a group that can either fly over or burrow through earth, so soon the assailants were found and dispatched in a single fury of hellfire from Malavison.</p> <p>The next day the Queen finally summons the group to their war council to present their case. Arguments for war are spearheaded by the Queen's advisor Barnum Septus, but the group presents a good case for holding off and focusing on Marcus Soulstrider.</p> <p>The queen is about to make her decision when an assassin strikes and fires a deft crossbow bolt at the queen. Chaos erupts. Septus sends guards after the assassin, and Valaina jumps on healing the queen.</p> <p>After the queen is stabilized, she commands Septus to continue pursuing the assassin and group is tasked to focus on Soulstrider, using the pirate as their best current lead.</p> <p>Johnny Porter, present and now helping with the queen, says he finally remembered the name of the pirate: Eddard Vancle.</p> <p>Now the group prepares to head north to a new grand adventure. Will they find the pirate and will it lead to Soulstrider?</p> Pathfinder Recap for January 10, 2015 http://blog.url.com/2015/01/10/pathfinder-recap-for-january-10-2015.html 2015-01-10T06:00:00+00:00 2016-11-28T21:52:19+00:00 Article Author <h3 id="the-story-continues">The Story Continues…</h3> <p>The group landed half a mile outside the walled town of Stonewood, discovering that the town's name comes from the pair of petrified trees that flank either side of each of the town's three gates.</p> <p>Anise Larkspur (aka. Adotlin the Paladin's stalker) leads the group into the bustling city where they are promptly stopped at the gates by the guards. The guards recognize Anise as "Lady Larkspur" and let then pass.</p> <p>She explains that Stonewood is a weird place with a matriarchal governing guild council ruling things. She got the "lady" title by being the daughter of the Commerce Guild leader, Anna Larkspur.</p> <p>The group goes to Anise's childhood home to talk with her mother about the disppearance of her sister Maeris. The mother is revealed to be self-absorbed and doesn't really care about her twin daughters at all to the point she didn't even really notice she was missing.</p> <p>Prying for information, the group discovers that Maeris had left for the Taiga up north of the city to pick some rare flowers that are used medicinally as a pain reliever and a aphrodisiac. She went with three of her friends, Piotr, Liza, and Jass.</p> <p>The group found out that Piotr actually returned home several days prior, so they located him at Heavy's gym where he apparently was participating in cock fighting. Through some intimidation Piotr told the group that they were attacked by something "fierce" that was "everywhere all at once" and that he and Liza escaped but left Maeris and Jass behind.</p> <p>Liza's story matched Piotr's, plus after talking with various townfolk they uncovered rumors of vampires living in the Taiga. Could the rumors be true? Is Maeris alive, dead, or even *gasp* undead?</p> <p>Find out next time!</p> Pathfinder Recap for December 28, 2014 http://blog.url.com/2014/12/28/pathfinder-recap-for-december-28-2015.html 2014-12-28T06:00:00+00:00 2016-11-28T21:52:19+00:00 Article Author <h3 id="the-story-thus-far">The Story Thus Far</h3> <p>Considering this is the first entry in recapping the events of the Pathfinder tabletop RPG game I run, let's start with the characters and what has happened in the last 8 or so months of the game. We have the following player characters in the group:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Malavison the Vile</strong> – (Gnome sorcerer/bard, the "sorcebard") He's a mean, tooth-collecting, arrogant SOB with a song in his heart.</li> <li><strong>Valaina</strong> – (Half-elf cleric) She provides the heals and often-times is the level-headed member of the group, keeping people out of danger.</li> <li><strong>Samspa</strong> – (Human cleric) Answering a job for "clerical work" wasn't exactly what she wanted, but adventuring, manipulating the weather, and burning down cities are some of her favorite hobbies.</li> <li><strong>Thoth</strong> – (Two-halves of an elf druid) He's a staff-wielding tree-hugger who is not afraid to take the front line and lead the group into battle. He tries to tank even with a Paladin and a Barbarian in the group.</li> <li><strong>Sokar</strong> – (Deinonychus) This mean bugger is the faithful companion to Thoth.</li> <li><strong>Adotlin</strong> – (Dwarven paladin) He also goes by "Dot". He's a stonelord paladin with a severe drinking problem and a mistrust of orcs. He also has a stalker in the form of an assassin named Anise.</li> <li><strong>Badu Henna</strong> - (Half-orc barbarian) She's a new member of the group, seeking revenge for the death of her brother, who stole an enchanted dagger for the BBEG Marcus Soulstrider.</li> </ul> <p>The group emerged from the crypts underneath the city, after leaving the BBEG Marcus Soulstrider to die by the hands of a young copper dragon, who was pissed at Marcus for keeping him captive.</p> <p>An angry half-orc, <strong>Badu Henna</strong>, found her way to the group and demanded answers and vengence for her brother, who was killed by Marcus Soulstrider after the boy delivered a stolen dagger. She decided to join the group in order to seek her revenge and destroy all of Marcus's plans.</p> <p>Soon they were invited to Levinson Manor, where Lord Giles Levinson gave them some rewards for their efforts in getting rid of Marcus.</p> <p>When they returned to the inn, they found that their kitsune guide, <strong>Fenria Vix</strong>, was commanded to return to the capital city of Fomoria to report to the queen herself concerning Marcus's defeat. His drow army was seen fleeing in the opposite direction, to the western country of Niccadia.</p> <p>It was nearly decided to head west when <strong>Anise Larkspur</strong> showed up, saying she would be leaving for Stonewood in the north to find her sister <strong>Maeris</strong>. Maeris, the sane Larkspur sister, had gone missing and Anise was worried. She asked Adotlin for his help, because she has heard rumors of vampires up north in the Taiga.</p> <p>The group decided tenatively to help Anise by swinging up north, providing quick support, then heading west to not lose the drow army by too much.</p> <p>Fenria's ride appeared, with two passenger rocs ready to take the entire group to the capital. The group talked the pilot to lend them one to take north to Stonewood, and they parted ways with Fenria.</p> <p>In the air, the group was attacked by three axe beaks, but they took care of them swiftly from the back of the roc, and managed to land in the city before any serious harm was done.</p> <p>Next session the group will get to explore Stonewood and find out what fate befell Anise's sister Maeris.</p> Doc Bratta's Five Favorite Games of 2014 http://blog.url.com/2014/12/14/doc-brattas-five-favorite-games-of-2014.html 2014-12-14T06:00:00+00:00 2016-11-28T21:52:19+00:00 Article Author <p>It's that time of year again where blogs give countdowns of the best everything of the year. There's no exception here on night.coffee, so here is a list of my favorite games that were released in 2014. They're not necessarily the <em>best</em> games of 2014, but they were games I enjoyed the most.</p> <p></p> <h5 id="towerfall-ascension">5. Towerfall Ascension</h5> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/dG_vhHWwFSk" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <p>Towerfall Ascension, coming to the PS4 (and Steam) from it's humble beginnings on the Ouya platform (as plain old Towerfall) marks a return to local cooperative gameplay in a big way. I can't tell you how much fun it has been to play Towerfall with my co-workers after the day is done.</p> <p>The gameplay is fast-paced, casual-friendly, and just plain fun. If you're familiar with other platform fighters like Super Smash Brothers, you'll understand how this game works: A number of players get together on the same screen and use their weapons, various power-ups, and debuffs to slay everyone else. It's just great.</p> <h5 id="hearthstone-heroes-of-warcraft">4. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft</h5> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/QdXl3QtutQI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <p>Blizzard struck gold (again) with this game. It's a digital collectible card game with mechanics easy to understand and follow (unlike the aging and arguably bloated Magic: The Gathering). The graphics, sound, and music are engaging, and playing with other people online is not intimidating at all the way the matchmaking is set up.</p> <p>There's a ton of strategy and an ever-shifting metagame to learn, but it's more accessible than a lot of the competition.</p> <h5 id="skylanders-trap-team">3. Skylanders: Trap Team</h5> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/E8T78t9iRjs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <p>Being a parent gamer with a child gamer, inevitably a kid's game is going to catch your interest. Skylanders is one of them for me. It's the fourth iteration of the Skylanders series, and in my opinion, it is the best.</p> <p>It works with all previous Skylanders figures, including the newest "trap masters" with the ability to trap the bad guys in the game into traps to be used by the player throughout the game. Sure, it's a bit gimmicky, but that's the entire appeal. This is a game of gimmicks. But they work.</p> <p>The game itself is a platformer, and it is deceptively easy. You can burn through it quick but it is pretty replayable in order to get all the items, acheivements, unlockables, and whatnot.</p> <p>My only complaint with this game is that by now we have a collection of figures that pretty much requires its own curio cabinet.</p> <h5 id="bioshock-infinite-burial-at-sea-episode-2">2. Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 2</h5> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/hUQsbEO0bGw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <p>The Bioshock series has captivated me from the beginning. It's all about the story, too. There's something about the air of mystery, subtext, ideas of multiple universes and infinite possibilities, etc. Like the TV series Fringe, Bioshock Infinite has pretty much blown my mind.</p> <p>Burial at Sea Episode 2, while not the strongest of the series, gets the #2 spot since we get more time to play in Rapture and finally get to see the conclusion to this epic tale. Whether or not you like the ending, you have to admit it is quite a ride to get there.</p> <h5 id="pokmon-omega-ruby-and-alpha-sapphire">1. Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire</h5> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/8FJEyj6ctTQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <p>Pokémon ORAS is a remake of the Generation 3 titles Ruby and Sapphire, which I also played. You'd think a remake couldn't possibly be that exciting, but these are not just remakes. It's more of a re-imaging of the story in ways it would be a spoiler to talk more about.</p> <p>I've spent nearly 200 hours on Alpha Sahppire alone, finishing the main story in about 10 and spending the rest of my time hunting legendaries and shinies, breeding up battle-ready pokémon, trading with others, and battling other trainers. Besides World of Warcraft and Minecraft, the Gen 6 titles of Pokémon are the only games to suck me and in keep me consistently coming back every day to play it.</p> <p>So there's my top five of the year. What's on your list?</p>