Posted in Netflix

Netflix Recommendation – The Roosevelts: An Intimate History

Not sure how many other history nerds out there can relate, but I love stumbling across a good history documentary on Netflix.  My wife and I found this little gem a few weeks back and have been watching it through an episode or so per week.  Ken Burns’ The Roosevelts: An Intimate History is an in-depth look at the lives of two of America’s most iconic presidents.  Can you guess who the stars are?

Each episode is fairly long, and if you tend to lean towards the conservative camp politically you’ll find plenty of bias in the historians’ opinions, but overall the series is really enjoyable.  There’s lots of insightful history to Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, and they set up a good narrative between the two, tying things neatly together with their mutual relation Eleanor Roosevelt.

Care to find out what drove Teddy to become a cowboy out west?  Not sure when Franklin lost the use of his legs?  Ever wondered how we got two presidents with the same last name?  Okay, so maybe that last one’s not so rare anymore.  Regardless, if you enjoy American history, give The Roosevelts: An Intimate History a chance some night when you’re browsing Netflix.

Posted in Gaming

Starbound Review

I’m not  a big fan of the early access category on Steam.  Its not that I have a problem with developers selling their product in alpha or beta form, its more that I like to play a product to completion in one stretch.  The same applies to DLC; if I know I’m going to enjoy a game and it will have DLC, I want to hold off playing through it until the DLC is available so I can enjoy it all at the same time.

I picked up Starbound on early access a long time ago and fell off it relatively quickly.  I don’t remember why exactly, but it probably felt aimless at that stage of development and there were already so many other things to play.  Fast forward a few years, and I see that Starbound has now been officially released.  Well, I happen to have a copy of this ‘new’ game sitting in my library, so I install it and jump in, having little idea what to expect.

What follows is several weeks of intense play as I see Earth destroyed and begin my quest to find a set of mysterious artifacts while simultaneously attempting to craft a comfortable summer cottage on a garden world.  Starbound, after many years of development, is great.  That’s my opinion.  Now I’m going to delve a little more into why.

Starbound is a crafting game, by which I mean it is one of those games where you collect resources and build progressively more complicated recipes.  The hook is that there’s an entire universe procedurally generated for you to explore with temples, ruins, and alien bases to discover everywhere you happen to beam down.  NPC’s can give you short little fetch quests for money (pixels) while random loot can be found in dungeons and chests throughout the galaxy.

This may all sound tried and true or even trite depending on your stance on the genre, but I personally found Starbound’s sense of scale to be its best feature.  Things begin almost intimately, aboard a broken spaceship on a relatively peaceful planet.  As you dig deeper (literally) you come across underground biomes and secrets, as well as rare resources and tougher enemies.  Eventually, you can dig quite literally to the planet’s core and find yourself dangling over an endless sea of lethal lava.  Heading off-world, I was satisfied again and again by this sense of depth.  The first ocean planet I visited, I began by traversing the surface, a truly dull experience as there were only a small handful of dry, deserted islands.  As soon as I took my finger off the up key though and began to sink, the screen started to darken as I descended into the abyss, and I dropped into the middle of a flooded city on the ocean floor.  I then proceeded to dig down to the core of that world too!

Starbound also has a story.  You’re a survivor of a disaster on earth trying to track down artifacts bequeathed to the mortal races by an ancient power.  Each chapter involves scanning a number of objects specific to each race and then completing an instanced mission and boss fight to acquire the artifacts themselves.  The missions themselves tend to be fairly straightforward, but they provided a sense of progression and challenge that many crafting games lack.  The order in which you tackle each races’ favored world happens to coincide with the sliding difficulty of each biome, starting you off hunting for forest worlds and ending on treacherous volcanic terrain.  The boss fights were both challenging and entertaining, incentivizing my time spent gathering rare resources to craft better weapons and armor.

Overall, Starbound was a great experience, and even as the end credits rolled I could think of a laundry list of things I hadn’t gotten to try.  I still haven’t built a colony and encouraged tenants to move in and start paying rent.  I still haven’t upgraded my ship to cruiser level by recruiting crew members.  I still haven’t baked a cake because the idea of raising livestock to get milk is downright daunting when you have to pick a planet to start doing so on.  I heartily recommend Starbound if you’re a fan of crafting games, endless universes, or like the idea starving to death at the center of the planet because you just ate your last banana.

Posted in Personal, Uncategorized

Hello World

A new site means a new inaugural post!  Hello, my name is Justin Sturm.  If you’ve ever met me in person, you probably have already formed an opinion one way or another as to whether I’m the sort you’d enjoy hearing more about or not.  For those that haven’t had the pleasure of my acquaintance, I’m a computer program who also happens to play a lot of video games, aspires to publish a book, and sleeps in the woods when the hot Florida weather permits it.

This isn’t the first incarnation of this website.  Honestly I’m not even sure if its the third or fourth by now.  Originally Exsturminator.com was a scheme to get a couple of college kids into E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo), a scheme which promptly failed when we realized the greatest limitation to travelling to California was not our credentials but our budgets.  The site lasted a few years beyond that however, and I found I enjoyed writing about video games and gaming related news.  Eventually a real job robbed me of the spare time that I’d considered my birthright as a student, and the site fell by the wayside.

Seeing as I still own the domain and have things to talk about, I thought I’d resurrect it now that I’m getting back into blogging.  This time though I won’t just be discussing video games.  Life is far too complex and nuanced to focus on just that single past time, and going forward, I’ll be treating this space as something of a pressure valve.  My head tends to fill up, and my wife and friends get sick of hearing about some subjects, so when the thoughts start to overflow, I’ll let them pour on the pages here.

If you stop by and find something you like, let me know.  I’m not the most social person by nature, but I’m friendly and polite and I like to hear new ideas.  Leave a comment, drop me a line, and thank you for taking the time to hear what I have to say.