Star Control 2: QuasiSpace


(This is part of my journey going checking out Star Control 2. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

On the advice of a long-range Spathi patrol, we head out into deep space to investigate a star that apparently blinks into existence three days every month. Turns out that this is a portal to a different type of hyperspace called QuasiSpace!


Ted, the studio intern, had to work ALL DAY to flip those color filters!

Other than being very, very, very green, QuasiSpace is remarkably empty compared to normal space. There is a small cluster of systems in the middle of a whole lot of nothingness as well as a larger system over to the side.


It’s here that I meet the mystical Arilou. They’re kind of insufferable mentors of humanity and a former part of the Alliance. Once earth got captured and — in the eyes of the Arilou — made “safe” behind the shield, the Arilou left to return to QuasiSpace instead of fighting the Ur’Quan. They mention that they’ve been tinkering with things on earth for thousands of years now, altering humanity and something about other species that we shouldn’t be allowed to see, or else it would be bad.


Space Guru there tells me that I could get my ship equipped with a generator that would allow for access anywhere in and out of QuasiSpace, but I’m going to need to go get a part for it first.


It’s not the easiest thing to do in the world, but I finally discover the Ur’Quan wreck and loot the part I need. Time to pimp my ride!

Getting back to QuasiSpace is tricky. The only regular portal opens up but a few days a month, so you have to wait around if you’re not in that window. I zip back to the Arilou and get my reward: a portal generator of my own.

This is actually great news. First of all, QuasiSpace doesn’t consume fuel once you’re there. Second, all of what I thought were other systems in QuasiSpace are actually portals going to different places across the starmap in regular space. This means that I can hop into QuasiSpace and take shortcuts around the galaxy for a relatively low fuel cost. Huzzah!

Star Control 2: Cuddly vs. cowardly


(This is part of my journey going checking out Star Control 2. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

In order to curry favor with the cowardly, neurotic Spathi, I am given the near-impossible task of going to their home planet and ridding it of all of the “Evil Ones” that forced the Spathi into an organized retreat hundreds of years ago. My crew, of which only about 50% remain in our current voyage, is totally psyched to have this task ahead of them. Never a pleasure planet, eh?


Heading over to the homeworld, I do a biological scan and pull up a few dozen life signs. Y’know, some in the water, some not, just scattered about. The terrain on planets doesn’t seem to matter for object placement or your lander, so I guess it’s just scenery.

Of course, the fact that the Evil Ones(tm) aren’t nearly at the technological level of the Spathi make me wonder why the Spathi couldn’t just nuke them from orbit. Or ask their Ur’Quan masters for some help. Or create robots to do their bidding. Why wait until I show up? It doesn’t make sense.




Seriously, these are the cutest, most cuddliest alien bad guys ever. I want to hug all of them! But instead, I zap them with my lander’s laser, which transforms them into containers for convenient pick-up. Sure. Why not.

It’s not a particularly hard task, just somewhat time-consuming. The Evil Ones, such as they are, won’t move or attack unless you make contact with them. If you do that, your lander gets one-shotted. So it’s kind of a little tricky to make sure you don’t accidentally run into one, which is actually a problem since you only get this teeny-tiny window showing a short radius around your lander. It’s one of the more annoying aspects of this game’s design and I can’t believe that the devs thought it was a good idea to banish all surface action to 1/15th of the screen.


We’re going to dump these Evil Ones into your rec room and see what happens, you dorks.


How cowardly are the Spathi? To repopulate the presumably cleansed planet (although they don’t 100% believe me on this), they’re going to send the babies and old people first. I can’t even make this up, folks.

The Spathi then start dragging their feet on joining my alliance as promised. They ask for me to wait “ten, fifteen years tops” to resettle their homeworld. NUH UH. No way. That’s the final straw. I threaten to unload all of the Evil Ones on the Spathi, and they finally capitulate and agree to head to Earth to join the alliance. Well, we got the cowards on our side, so that’s something. Not much, but something.


Heading back to Earth, I bump into another Spathi unit that talks about passing the time by playing this “entertainment device” that sounds identical to, well, Star Control 2. Meta humor, boys and girls!


With just three (!) units of fuel remaining, I limp back into the solar system and make my way to the space station. At least the Spathi have held to their agreement and made their ships and captains available for purchase. Not that I’m going to buy any, but good to know. I offload all of my cargo and reap in a ton of RUs, which I use for resupply.


My flagship is definitely coming along. I’m able to add a couple more fuel pods, doubling my range, and another crew pod, increasing my “health” to 100. Plus, more storage, turning jets, and fusion thrusters. I’m a legend.

Is Retro-Bit Generations a serious challenger to the NES Classic Edition?


About the time that the NES Classic Edition will launch (and, considering the pre-order situation already, completely sold out), there will be a lesser-known but similar product coming to the shelves. Retro-Bit Generations is, in many respects, a competitor to the NES Classic, boasting a bundle of old school games in a plug-and-play device.

But will it be a challenger? The obstacles are steep here. This console hasn’t been getting the press or has the instant name recognition that the NES Classic has. It’s also not going to feature any first-party NES games. Even so, it might have an edge on the Classic in a few ways that could make it worth picking up.

For starters, Generations has more games (90 versus 30) that span several consoles (NES, SNES, arcade, and Gameboy, mostly). It also has a stronger third-party focus, with Capcom, Data East, and Jaleco leading the pack. Many of the games are more obscure, but there are several classics in the list, including Bionic Commando (which was shamefully omitted from the NES Classic), 1942/43, Knights of the Round, Bases Loaded, Commando, Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts, Gun Smoke, two Kid Niki games, and R-Type 3.

It also has an SD slot to save/transfer games and possibly expand on this list, something the Classic lacks. I’m ambivalent about the controllers, which are modeled after the Genesis, but we’ll see. The price tag, $60, puts it right there against the NES Classic, and might be a hard sell without the nostalgia design or strong first-party titles.

This YouTuber actually seems more excited about the Generations console than the Classic, so check it out:

World of Warcraft: Deathlord Syp (and Burpface)


My kids absolutely love the abomination that fights alongside of my Death Knight, probably because one day I told them that his name was (as the name generator spawned) “Burpface.” Burpface and Syp, against the world. It’s the stuff of legends.

I’ve settled into a comfortable routine with World of Warcraft while keeping my focus mostly on my main (DK). If I don’t have a lot of time during a day, I do try to log in for 20-30 minutes to do my emissary world quests. I’m getting better about blasting through those, sorting out which ones might take too long or be in a more difficult spot. I know rep is important, but I’m always excited to open up the big treasure chest at the end of these and cross my finger for something good. No legendaries yet, of course, but I have gotten a lot of good purples. Syppy is now iLevel 836 and starting to get to the point where pushing up past that means that I’ll need to run raids or mythics.

Raids are doable with the raid finder, but mythics are more difficult to get a foot in the door. My guild, while wonderful and welcoming, is still mostly struggling to get leveled and geared up to the mythic level, so we haven’t run anything together yet (plus, we’re like one tank, 5,000 DPS, and no healers, so that’s an issue). And I guess WoW doesn’t use the LFG tool for mythics? That stinks, it really does. I don’t like games taking away useful grouping tools.

If I have more time, then I pour over the rewards for the other world quests to see if there are any huge gold bounties (I found one the other day that paid out 648 gold for running a dungeon, so yes please on that) or better gear.


Then I’ve been hacking away at my to-do list, AKA my quest log. I have quests scattered all over the place, remnants of old chains or this or that. I made it my focus to finish up the Death Knight campaign and my order hall campaign, both of which I was able to accomplish this past week. I got a particular kick out of (spoiler) how you end up taking on the role of Illidan in the raid boss fight. The NPC “party” names were funny and the comments more so, if a little meta and fourth-wall-breaking for what was supposed to be a serious story beat. Eh, I don’t mind a little silly.


The final fight through the Paladin class hall was, if not particularly hard, neat to do. Got me in the spirit of being a Death Knight, since we’re pretty much at odds with the Paladin worldview. Finally, I was crowned Deathlord and the story of the four horse…people of the apocalypse came to a conclusion.

I didn’t understand why my third artifact relic slot hadn’t opened up yet, which took some investigating. It’s not really clear, but you have to go back and talk to someone near where you level up your weapon, and that was obscured on my map.

With all of that, my iLevel is approaching 850 and I am starting to think of options for the future. Random raids? Look for mythic group runs? Or work on my Druid? I think our guild will start doing more coordinated activities once it settles down and grows more (it’s a fairly new guild but lots of great attitudes and friendships already).


I lightly amused myself with dabbling in some of the Halloween content. I fought the Headless Horseman for the first time since 2008, and boy was that a rush of nostalgia. Fight’s over within seconds, but at least the LFG tool makes it easy to pop in and out.

I think I’m getting to a point in the post-expansion period where I’m able to scale down my time/interest to a more normal level, which is great for all of the other MMOs that I’ve been neglecting. Patch 7.1 is coming next week, so there might be some more stuff to do. I also should clean up quests and look at other personal goals.

6 major MMORPG launch days revisited

wildstar plans

One of the neat things about having a long-running blog is that it inadvertently turns into a historical document chronicling major events. In this case, Bio Break has been around since 2008, and I’ve gone through several major MMO launches since then. I thought it might be fun to look up the day one (or day two) posts talking about those experiences to reshare them with you.

Guild Wars 2 (August 2012)

“Guild Wars 2.  Is incredible.

“Playing it live feels so much different than beta, and I’m so glad I have a character to actually invest in.  But even more than that, this is just a game that exists to wow you left and right.  I’m sure that there are those who have become immune to in-game beauty and details, and only see the numbers and min-maxing, but that’s missing the point here.  It’s a game where I felt fully justified to spend the first hour just gawking around like a tourist instead of killing things, and I’m forever going off the beaten track to explore.”

WildStar (June 2014)

“As you may have heard/experienced, it was anything but a smooth beginning.  Due to a purported DDoS attack and a kajillion people trying to cram through the login servers at the same time, we simply could not log into the game.  We got to know the little running hamster, the theme music, and our account passwords very well, however.  It was 4:15 before I could log in, and by then going back to sleep wasn’t much of an option.”

RIFT (February 2011)

“All in all, I’m pretty impressed with the game performance.  No crashes for me, and everything flowed just smoothly.  I did roll a Dwarf Bard, and I’m pretty pleased with the choice.  I’m a Medieval Guitar Hero and proud of it, baby!  I splashed in a bit of Riftstalker for the teleportation spell — being able to jump ahead 25 feet every so often is a ton of fun, as well as a helpful escape button if I got over my head.”

Star Wars: The Old Republic (December 2011)

“On a lark I tried to see if I could log in at 6:30, and lo and behold I could.  Servers were up about ten minutes after that, and I began the process of reserving the eight character names I picked out.  When I finally logged in, it was to a ghost town — not a single soul in the zone, not a single voice on the chat screen, nothing.  I’m not saying I was the first in game, but it almost felt like it.”

Champions Online (September 2009)

“Framerate issues notwithstanding, I had a great time last night.  It was fun to see a lot of friends in the game (and the @name system is growing on me, for sure).  I even spent a bit of time learning the ropes of the crafting system, which is pretty useful — you can make your own inventory bags, which is certainly useful.”

Neverwinter (April 2013)

“While the character creator is really skimpy and the Foundry reportedly in shambles, the core game itself looks fantastic and is pretty fun to play.  It’s more action/arcade-like than a traditional MMO, but for some reason it works here.”

Syp’s new tablet


With my original iPad mini starting to creak and groan from age (a shocking four years old!), I have increasingly given thought to upgrading to a newer tablet. The mini, which was a Christmas gift from my father-in-law back in 2012, has served me well in a variety of capacities — being a great distraction while I used my exercise bike, going on trips with me, entertaining my children, etc. But its 16 GB memory, fuzzy screen resolution (no retina here), and general slowness spoke to a limited future.

So I socked away some money and after doing some research, found out that Apple sells refurbished products for less cost than brand-new ones. I’m all on board with refurbished stuff, especially considering that Apple throws in a new battery, runs a bunch of tests, and gives a one-year warranty on it.

Thus I was able to snag the 2015 model iPad mini 4 (64 GB) for around $380. I am a fan of the smaller screen size on the mini; full-sized tablets feel too big to me, and the mini’s size (which is about 2.5 times as big as my iPhone’s screen) is a good fit. I also purchased a nice-looking cover that makes the tablet look like it’s a slim leather-bound book.

It’s definitely a nice upgrade, with a much sharper screen, less weight, better performance, and more memory. I’m hoping that with some more mobile MMOs coming out over the next year (including this week’s AdventureQuest 3D), I’ll be able to put it through its paces. But it does feel a tiny bit extravagant to get, because there’s always overlap with other devices (phone, computer, Kindle) and I don’t like upgrading if there’s still use I can get out of older machines.

I know I will get use out of it, especially to help out more with work. I’m hoping to get a keyboard and dock for Christmas so that I can use it to do more writing.

I am repurposing my original iPad mini to be for my kids. There’s a few apps, such as a nature exploration one, a Bible reading one, and a spelling one, that they greatly enjoy. And having Netflix on it makes for an option if I want to set up a TV session in some other room of the house.