Strange how you can blink and six months pass. A lot has happened but I wake up daily wondering how it became 2012 and where I was when 2011 decided to forever sleep.

Oh right: I was in Simcoe, in front of a fireplace, with a glass of champagne. The drive out there was brutal: a slush storm hit complete with fog, and the road felt more like one going through Twin Peaks than through rural Ontario. We made it in safely, however, and got some much-needed rest.

Also managed to finish Super Mario Bros. 3 on Holly’s old NES. I swear she has the only working original style machine around (not a top-loading NES 2), and the authenticity was not lost on me even though Mario was about five inches tall on the 42″ screen. There is video. I’m still considering sending it in to Nintendo power.

I’ve been reading a lot lately on the topic of game design, and playing through SMB3 with an eye towards learning was very instructive. I marvel at how much the true game trailblazers had figured out on their first few projects. If you read similar blogs to myself you may have seen the Iwata Asks on Zelda 1 [link] or the follow up here [link]. Highly entertaining. I can’t believe that the second quest only exists because the dungeon designer mistakenly used half the available RAM.

I find most modern games don’t have the same attention to gameplay detail that those old ones did. There are the odd gems, like Arkham City, which wrap tried-and-true mechanics in a fully-realized virtual landscape, but more often than not I find myself either annoyed by a mechanic that seems thrown in for marketing or was not considered in conjunction with other mechanics, or the lack of clear goals.

Anyway, I also bought a 3DS and I’m thinking to play through a cross-section of games I’ve never tried and games I loved from the old 8-bit platforms as a learning experience. (Side note: Super Mario 3D may be the best Mario game ever made, and is a shining example of old lessons and mechanics applied to new dimensions and technology.)

The bad news from the past little while is that I dropped my MacBook Pro so I am currently without a home machine. Apple can’t get it fixed with anything resembling a quick turnaround, which led me to two decisions: First, forget Applecare. It’s a waste of money in situations where you need repairs done quickly. The company has made it pretty clear where they sit with professional users. Remember ProCare? It’s not even offered any more. Second decision: buy a second laptop from a company that understands some customers need things to happen on their schedules. I have a Lenovo W-series machine on the way with way better specs than my MacBook and an anti-glare screen in the resolution I want plus three years of next business day support. Apple, I would rather not use a PC! But if you won’t even let me pay for the option of expedited repairs, and want to keep hundreds of spare iPods and iPhones on hand instead of a few monitors for laptop repair, I have no choice.

It may be a while before I post again– it’s moving time! And the new laptop is something like six weeks away.