Press Start – Call of Duty: WWII

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Call of Duty: World War II opens against the backdrop of the D-Day invasion.

As the Higgins boat ramp drops into the water, your fellow soldiers are mowed down where they stand. Blood and bullets are flying everywhere! We’ve all seen this moment in history play out in such movies as Saving Private Ryan and even video games such as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. For some reason though, Call of Duty: WWII makes this moment in time different. There is a human angle present, in a Call of Duty game, that I haven’t felt in a long time.

Advancing up the beach, I died over and over again. Somewhere between 10-20 times, I was killed by German bullets. The game kept telling me to crouch, which I did, but I failed to realize that the game wanted me on my belly to avoid enemy fire. Once I figured out that I could run and then hit the deck, I was good to go. But in all of my dying, I got thinking about the soldiers who didn’t make it that day.

By the end of my part in the D-Day assault, my character is told that he did a good job. He survived. And then the camera pans down to the blood on his hands.

My only complaint with Call of Duty: WWII so far is that I am finding it hard to tell my squad mates a part. Underneath helmets, characters unintentionally become “Random White Dude #1”, “Random White Dude #2 with Glasses”, and so on. I am hoping that as I continue to play, that I’ll be able to tell the guys a part. Onward and forward!

Press Start – Celeste

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Hidden in the mists of gamer hobbyist culture, the Temple of Git Gud was known as a place of brutal honesty. If a new convert could not make the cut, they were immediately told to, “Git good and try again.”

Over and over, a new convert would be beaten into submission with those words.

Life by life.

Death by death.

Level by level.

Until one day one progressed further than before, only to die again. In failure, those dreaded words would be uttered once more, “Git good and try again.”

There seems to be a genre of difficult games. Games built upon dexterity and perfection; games built upon imprinting moves into muscle memory. Ori and the Blind Forest was one of those games for me. Celeste, developed by Matt Makes Games, is another game of this genre. A genre built upon not just seeing the solution to the platforming puzzle but being able to execute that solution with perfection.

Git Gooder

The developers of Celeste try to frame death as a learning device, not a penalty. A subtle shift in thinking for games of this genre.

And yet, everytime you load up the game, there is your total player death count staring at you. (Ignore the photo below, I have far exceeded 386 deaths by now.)

I struggle over my lack of progression in Celeste. I can spend 10-15 minutes on a single screen. Where I can see the solution to the platforming puzzle but lack the dexterity to pull off the required moves.

Is challenging myself with continual punishment fun?

Is fun even a part of the equation anymore?

I press on in Celeste, pushing myself to git good but questioning why.

Waiting for the Bomb to Go Off

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Life for me, in this pandemic, hasn’t changed much. I still get up in the morning and drive to work. I spend my day at the office, filled with bosses and coworkers, where we push forward on projects. At home, my wife continues to homeschool our son. His home education hasn’t stopped even due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19. Life hasn’t changed much for the Texas Halls.

And yet life has changed all around us. From the local grocery store being out of such things as rice, yeast, and other baking supplies. To hearing stories about people around us dying, oftentimes alone/separated from their spouses, due to hospital quarantines.

Spring, in the South, is filled with severe weather days. Days where we:

  • See the skies darken
  • Hear the thunder, off in the distance
  • Watch for for rotation in the clouds
  • Find ourselves praying over the weather

Tornadoes are a real threat in the violence of Spring. A time of pollen and a time for death from above. There are days where we feel like we are waiting for the bomb to go off, for the hammer to drop. That feeling of anticipation we experience every Spring is the same feeling I feel, right now, in the midst of this pandemic. Even though my life hasn’t changed one bit, I feel as if I am on edge.

Photo by Siim Lukka on Unsplash

To all my friends and family, who live in places where the weather doesn’t try to kill you, welcome to feeling like you are living in the South. A place founded on sweet tea, sweet people, and the subtle feeling of dread. From experience though, I can tell you, Summer is coming. Threats of rain-soaked death will cease. This pandemic is only for a season, as is the pollen. Soon the sun will come and bake it all away… or try and kill us too.

Press Start – Destiny 2: Forsaken

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While on a mission with Cayde-6, you experience a mission gone sideways. Things happen. Serious stuff guys! Friends mourn the loss of their friend… and the universe moves on. But not you. Revenge is a dish best served cold. Thankfully, you are geared up against the cold blackness of space. It’s time to lock-and-load, my friends. Vengeance is the players, says Destiny 2: Forsaken.

Death of Cayde-6
Death of Cayde-6
Death of Cayde-6
Deal with the Devil
Deal with the Devil
Our Heroes
The Journey Begins

After reading so many good reviews, I finally picked up Destiny 2: Forsaken. I’ve sunk a few hours into the game already. Forsaken reminds me of why I like Bungie games:

  • Solid Controls
  • Cinematics
  • Huge Set Pieces

I am enjoying what I’ve played so far. More thoughts to come; more thoughts on the topic of revenge and the Christian.

How about you? Have you played through the Destiny 2: Forsaken campaign? What did you think?

From Across the Net – “The Deadliest Disaster at Sea Killed Thousands, Yet Its Story Is Little-Known. Why?”

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I can’t imagine having to flee for my life, away from Soviet forces. Frantically boarding a ship, thinking I was saved. Only to have a submarine destroy what had been my salvation… and bury me in the cold sea. This is a good piece, via the Smithsonian, on the sinking of the “Wilhelm Gustloff”.

In context, the Gustloff was another tragedy in a war full of losses. By then, “there was a stigma about discussing any sort of German suffering during the war after everything the Nazis did to the rest of Europe,” Edward Petruskevich, curator of the online Wilhelm Gustloff Museum, writes in an e-mail. “The Gustloff was just another casualty of war along with the countless other large ships sunk on the German side.”

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “It is well…”

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I did not know this… sometimes we want people and even history to be “real” up until a point.

His own ship, breached by disaster, was sinking. Rather than confess his failures and start repaying his debts, Spafford abandoned his faithful church and embraced the fervent millenarianism and spiritualism of his day. Jesus must be coming soon, and His sinful, broken, yet obedient servant must be on hand to meet Him. With Anna beside him, Spafford gathered a band of followers in their Chicago home, preached a message of purity and self-sacrifice, and launched a pilgrimage to Palestine, where they would celebrate the Lord’s return. No one else would die.

You can read more here

When Security Masks a Spirit of Fear

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in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can man do to me? – Psalm 56:11 (ESV)

Another week goes by, we hear another story of a gunman invading a space and taking innocent lives. Calls for gun control quickly ring out in the media. Feelings of justice, fueled by anger and pain, trigger that deep down knowing that the world should not be this way. That we were not meant to deal with nor experience death, separation, brought on by a single choice made back in the beginning.

The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 56:11 that we should put our trust in God. There is no reason to fear when we put our trust in the Creator. Right? And yet fear percolates and permeates the atmosphere we breathe. Even in our churches, where Safety Teams equal Security Squads, fear rages. Played out with armed church members, unofficially, watching over the flock while services take place. A new defensive cultural norm.

NOTE: Please, do not misconstrue my words here, I’m all for keeping the Church safe. But I’m not okay when the spirit of fear drives a weekly version of security theater.

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

Keeping silent. Toeing the party line. Those seem like the obvious responses. But I believe God calls us, as Christians, to more: Power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

What do you do when a spirit of fear infects a church?