June 27, 2009

Leaving yet agin

Hey readers!

I'm going on a trip to France and Germany for the next week, so if blogging it sparse that is the reason.  As much as I am hoping to find some nerdy things around Europe I'm mostly doing it for a class which I'll talk about later.  My plane is boarding!  I'll talk to you all soon!

June 24, 2009

Let's play bingo!

Hello everyone!  Did you hear the news?  Another government official cheated on his wife.

Of course this isn't the blog about politicians' extramarital affairs.  This a blog about nerd stuff.  And Randy Milhound of Something Positive has figured it out.  It's now a game.  Every time you watch a senator give a speech about banging someone on the side, you can now play bingo!

Get the bingo sheet here.  I don't want to post the image because I hate stealing original work from web comic artists who use it as their main source of income.  But I will say I have met Randy Milhound a couple times, and he runs a mean Bunnies and Burrows game occasionally.  Cool guy.  Read his comic.

June 22, 2009

Linguists and Maps with SNES

Check it out here.  Basically it's mapping out the different pronunciations of the Nintendo Entertainment system and it's super descendent.  I have a soft spot for linguistics when it comes to regional terms and accents.  

Two posts in one day?  It happens.

Buffy vs. Edward

Check out this link here if you want to get my opinion on Twilight.  

June 20, 2009

Wondering about lady gamers

I was interested to see if there was a site devoted to female RPG fans like myself, and I'm afraid I'm missing something, because there isn't a lot out there.  There was one horribly managed site that was too bright pink and impossible to navigate.  There were promises of other sites who's domains don't exist anymore.   

Where are my ladies in fictional arms?

I'm worried that my assumptions are true: even on the internet, tabletop RPG female players are  under represented.  Hmmm.

When I did my story telling explanation post I realized that because character and story are so important to tabletop RPGs, that more women should be into them.  But I don't think that's true.  I know I'm not the only woman out there who loves rolling dice.  But I think more nerd girls are into fantasy books/anime/video games, not tabletop RPGs.

This must be remedied.  I will find a way!

Caption Contest

My good friend who runs the Uncharted blog I linked in an earlier post is running a caption contest for a beta key to play the multiplayer mode of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.  You all seem witty, so I suggest that you all submit something!  I don't have a PS3 to benefit from the key so hope some of you out there do.

What are you waiting for?  Submit your comments!

June 19, 2009

Explaining RPGs to the lay people

The other day I was at the dentist getting the umpteenth filling I need.  I'm in the process of reading Hush Hush, a book for the Unknown Armies setting.  One of the nice dental assistants asked what I was reading, and at that point I have to explain what the book is... and I think I did a good job.

It's hard explaining to someone that doesn't know what a tabletop RPG is not only the basic premise of how to play that kind of game, but then the setting you are reading.  And then do it in 3 minutes before you dentist drills a hole in your tooth.  At the same time, I don't want it to sound too weird.  "My friends and I circle around and one of us it the Master and he tells us when to roll dice!" So how do I explain it?

The key is to focus on storytelling.

Everyone loves a good story, and understand the magic in a good story.  Knowing this, the way I explained it was that there was one person who sets the story and a group of people who play characters in the story.  We use dice to follow the rules.  I think the assistant got the general idea pretty well before I had way too much Novocaine to talk without drooling.

I'm always afraid to mention my geeky hobbies merely because people have a tendency to associate with them with the people who obsess about their hobbies.  We all know who I'm talking about.  That guy (or gal) who spends all day taking meticulous notes about their favorite show/movie/game and waste a big amount of their money of collectors items.  It's also not rare for them to not have good social skills and for them to not shower regularly.  I try not to associate with people like that because they're usually not fun.  They're the rule lawyer at the game table, the guy who has to pwn you on your favorite MMO, and the gal whose one true pairing in her manga fandom cannot be wrong even if it's not cannon.

If you relate what makes your fandom fun in the first place, it becomes a lot more universal.  Storytelling is universal. 

I guess what I'm suggesting is if there is someone out there who doesn't get why you like rolling dice with your friends once a week, ask them "When was the last time you participated in a good story?"  It's hard to argue with that, and even harder to not understand why that's fun.

June 15, 2009

Trips to central Illinois brings nerd stories

So this weekend I was able to visit some hilarious friends who live south of me in IL for a great weekend full of games, and this weekend was SLA Industries.

I suggest looking at the wikipedia entry but I am not putting a link up here for fear of revealing anything to myself that I shouldn't know.  The game revolves around the PCs being operatives for SLA Industries (the name makes sense now right?) and them solving bizarre problems.  Bizarre because the city (Mort City) is company owned and operated, and is stacked up to the stratosphere with buildings.  The closer you are to the surface, the lower you are on the social totem pole.  And if you're below the surface, your probably a freak of nature, a menace to society or both.  It also constantly rains, and as the rain travels down... lets just say it becomes oil slicks when you get to the lower parts.

So in this setting I am a Wraith Raider trained with the Scout package in the hopes of being the best sniper that Mort will ever see.  Wraith Raiders are best described look wise as feline, with lavender fur and blue hair, but in some ways they're kind of like a stereotypical russian.  Love cold environments, pride drives them forward, and always looking to get the job done.  So I have a Wraith Raider who loves to snipe people.

The mission this weekend was to investigate the skin trade industry, which entails underage prostitution.  Yuck.  We got some leads to follow before getting some help from two SLA operatives with higher security clearance who specialized skin trade raids.  

First raid I basically gave the signal to rush in, unfortunately we didn't plan the rush in well.  I shot the tire of the van that was dropping off a bunch of drugged up minors.  It still skid away so one of the more experienced operatives followed that van while the rest of us kicked ass and took names later.  I shot another guy dead while my compatriots killed everyone else but one guy.  From the driver we found out about a clutch point (a place to capture minors) for another skin trade group, which was the one we were more interested in.

This was better planned.  We had to set up a lookout ASAP.  After a while I set up a snipe point, and was setting up my aim the entire time.  Other than me and an operative from the other team, everyone else was in a van waiting to kick ass.  On my shot everyone else was supposed to go in and save the kids who were about to get picked up.  

As soon as the van opened its door I shot the driver and the rest of my team (and the other two operatives) went in with two concussion rounds in the van, knocking out the other two guys left alive.  Apprehended some criminals, saved some kids, job well done.  And that was enough investigating to get a pretty good pay out.  Also we sold our video footage of the incident to our media contact, getting us some fame and also extra cash.  WOOT!

SLA is a great system for people who like games that require some investigation.  Also great for a sci-fi capitalist setting.  And logical ways of coming back from the dead!  This weekend my character shined simply because I rolled relatively well.  

Our GM has a SLA blog here if you are interested in some back missions and some of his hilarious restaurant ideas for the setting.  If you want an RPG that's more Farscape than LOTR, I think it's definitely worth a look.

June 13, 2009

Quick Update

I've been busy catching up with nerd friends but I can suggest something to do until I'm able to do a real update.  I suggest you buy a copy of Unknown Armies.  And read it.  And play it.  

I should be able to update with something awesome after my second job interview for this job search on Monday.

June 7, 2009

Blogs I don't get: Hot Chicks with Stormtroopers.

Just recently added to the Blogspot family, I don't see why this blog needs to exist.  But then again, what blogs actually do have a concrete purpose that is useful to a significant proportion of society?


I find it at least cute and humorous, though I am not interested in the babes.

Where's the site for girls like me looking for hot stormtroppers?

June 6, 2009

My thoughts on J.J. Abrams' Star Trek.

Let me explain the delay in actually going to see this movie.  First of all, like I mentioned many times before, I was graduating from college.  Second, the Boyfriend decided that he wanted to wait and see it with me.  It was very sweet of him but I kept on hearing about the movie everywhere, and I've been avoiding websites like io9 for accidental spoilers (which were revealed more than once for me).  All my other friends had seen it and told me their opinions, but as much as I can trust my friends' opinions, I wanted to make my own.

I have mentioned in earlier posts that I am very protective about my Trek.  It's a family heirloom almost.  On my father's side we have war relics and fine china to pass down through the generations.  On my mother's side we have an appreciation for Star Trek.  Being part of a black family the U.S., you realize that you don't get a lot of heirlooms to pass down.  I'm taking wait I can get, and it is Trek.  I was hoping Abrams wouldn't "break" Trek so I cold possibly pass it down to my kids.

What are my thoughts?  Well first...


Now with that necessary warning out of the way we can continue, can't we?

Let me start out by saying that everything that I love about Star Trek was not destroyed by this movie.  Everything that I loved about Star Trek was still there, to varying degrees.  Now was this the most intellectual Star Trek movie?  No, it absolutely was not.  But with the fresh start that Abrams is trying to give the franchise, I can concede one movie taking a break from questions of philosophy to introduce a fantastic group of characters.  And that's what Abrams swapped out philosophy for: fantastic character building.

Let's be honest: although there was a good amount of character development throughout the entire series, the original series was not focused on the characters as much.  In the movies that followed there's actually more development, and if you're like me you'll take all this development except for the fifth movie.  Why not?  Because it's filth, that's why.  End of discussion.

Moving on, the character depth in this movie was INTENSE.  You couldn't help but to know these characters.  I definitely wept several times in this movie because my investment with these characters was so  intense.  I don't expect people new to the franchise to be as invested as I was, but considering that I have never felt that deeply attached to a movie before, I know it enticed new viewers in.  And although I knew these characters from before, it was great to see them younger, fresher, and less professional for a few scenes here and there.

The story line itself actually worked.  The only person who's timeline is completely screwed up from the get go is Kirk's.  His father is killed by the mysterious Romulan vessel (although meaning Balance of Terror could never work the way it did before, I'm sure those racial hostilities could be explored again if desired) screwing up the first 20-something years of Kirk's life.  Kirk, although still the same in many ways, it now a rebellious dick because of his father's death, not inspired by his father's accomplishments.  And Spock is still suffering from the ever-present identity crisis.  Though I have to say, when he essentially refuses to study on Vulcan because they insult his mother, I was excited.  The biracial characters in Star Trek always seemed to suffer from "Who am I" crises way too much, and for Spock to acknowledge who he was made me extremely happy.

From boarding the Enterprise on was a great ride.  There was action for those of us who appreciate explosion, theoretical time travel stuff that I'm sure people are still debating on forums, and great character moments.  Meeting a younger, more boorish Scotty was hilarious.  Uhura's sass was very present.  McCoy is still my favorite, just because I have a soft spot for cynical bastard.  It was a little weird to see him fumbling around when he injected that flu into Kirk, but then again he was just a cadet.  Sulu was awesome, and I'm glad they kept his love of fencing for that fight scene.  Chekov was hilarious!  "Oh oh! I can do this!" with the transporting scene helped cut through the buckets of tension getting poured on the audience.  Spock was still very much Spock, although he seemed too human at some points but ragging on that would make me nit-picky.  And Kirk was the 100% jerk that we always knew he was deep down inside.  The characters were consistent with the original series but at the same time accessible to an audience of this decade.

I keep on talking about the characters, but the flow of the story was great too.  You didn't get too comfortable in one feeling, you were waiting for the next surprise.  And for a movie like this, it's great storytelling.  A movie is not like a book or a tv series, you can't wait forever for stuff to happen.  And I never did.

I do have one complaint though.  The relationship between Uhura and Spock.  It's not that I think it shouldn't have happened.  No, I'm willing to concede that it could happen to some extent.  I felt that since it was so abruptly introduced, the relationship was there merely to justify all the screen time given to Uhura.  Which it shouldn't be there to do.  Uhura is awesome with or without a man.  She deserves screen time because she was a great snarky force initially opposed to Kirk's command style.  Putting her with Spock also seemed to force Spock to appear more human to the audience.  Why is that necessary?  The whole point is that Spock is an alien.  Even if he is human, he's still obviously different.  That's why Roddenberry added him to the crew of the original series.

Also, one other minor complaint.  Some of the new alien designs seemed too similar to me.  Let's give you a weird head with a dino-crest in the back and some weird coloring and big eyes, and you'll be an aliens.  I liked the old races they brought back, but they could've been a bit more creative with the ones they decided to introduce.  I did like the one that they had when Kirk was being born, where they only real difference was a bigger eyes in a weird skull.  

Costumes: great.  Set Design: beautiful and made more sense the the original designs from the 60s.  Music score: sounded great, but I would like to hear it again.  Make up: pretty darn good, but didn't blow my socks off.  Lighting: good, but I could've have less lense flare.  who do I blame for that?  Editing: pretty solid, but I am very intrigued to see the deleted scenes. Directing: It's Abrams, it can't be bad unless he lost his brain or something.  Acting: Exciting interpretations and of very high quality.  Obviously this was a well cast movie. 

All in all, I loved it.  Not your typical Star Trek movie, but definitely a good one.  If I had to give this a score, I'd give it a 4.75 out of 5.  It ain't perfect, but it definitely achieved some greatness!

And now to anticipate the next one! 

June 3, 2009

Some Thoughts on E3

Alright, this thing called E3 is happening, and if you don't know what it is, you must've been living under a rock for about 15 years.  The big three console companies had their presentations, so for those of you that care, these are my thoughts.

 Microsoft started out with a huge bang this year that there was no way Sony or Nintendo could follow.  They are staying faithful to their market, especially with the announcement of Halo Reach.  Also, Metal Gear Solid: Rising was a great surprise, and I'm glad that the franchise can continue without sucking the life out of Snake.  Yeah geezer stealth!

However, the biggest thing to come out of Microsoft's E3 conference is the announcement of Project Natal.  Basically its a peripheral camera that is used as the controller input.  So instead of pressing A to kick, you actually kick, in the direction.  If you look at the intro video I linked to there's a lot of dorky miming involved, but it's fun dorky miming!  Its also a way to do video chat with friends, and apparently pick out pretty dresses for the party.  You know what I'm using to use that for? Across the country wine parties!

I think the big change that this could bring to video games is the need of literal skill to be good at some games.  You will have to physically kick better and turn faster in real terms rather than just having dexterous fingers.  It will be interesting to see how many traditional gamers will cross over. 

The scariest thing that has come out of this is the Milo Project.  This is a character that can read your voice and face and tell how are you feeling, and then you can befriend him.  Can someone say replacement for actual human contact?  Like there aren't enough of us who have at one point or another had relationships on the internet replace real ones.  There are already men out there that are in love with their real dolls, do we need people to marry people made out of pixels?

Despite my fears for the future, Microsoft definitely blew everyone away with Project Natal.  Some say that this is Microsoft's answer to the Wii, but I just think this is the natural evolution that would happen in response to the Wii.  If we find that immersive play is what the public wants, this is the next step.

Speaking of the Wii, I saw most of the Nintendo Conference through a live stream.  Like the last couple of years, it was NOT exciting to watch, even though some exciting things were mentioned.  But even the exciting thing were few and far between.  Most of it involved new mario games, like Super Mario Bros. on the Wii with four player action, and a new 3D Super Mario game.  The new Final Fantasty Crystal Chronicles game doesn't catch my attention too much but it is good that Nintendo isn't forgetting about some of its hardcore audience.  Oh!  New Metroid game!  Can't forget about that!  The Wii is going to have some good selection.

The Nintendo DS games were very "meh" to me.  A lot of them are already out in Japan, so porting them for the U.S. market isn't big news.  Also, the Golden Sun announcement may be big to RPG fans, but I'm not that into it.  

The vital scan thing for your finger on the Wii?  Really guys?  Not innovative at all.  I don't see how that's going to be exciting.  Nor do I see how the additions to WiiFit are going to be exciting either, but at least I know that already sells.

I don't care about Sony, but I'll discuss it a little bit here.  Essentially there are a lot of exciting games coming out for the PS3 that I would play if I could drop the bones for a PS3.  But I don't have the money so I am just going to wait until half those games will be on my future gaming PC that the Boyfriend will build.  Final Fantasy is continued to be sucked dry for big bucks, but I'm all cynical about the series in general.  Also more Metal Gear Solid with the original Snake, taking place in 1970.  

The PSP Go looks kind of spiffy, but also kind of pricey.  I don't know if i would pay that much for a portable system, since I already have a multimedia machine to watch movies on an airplane.  It's called a laptop.  And the new motion sensor?  Dude, now that you're the copy cat, that is not going to help your sales.  Do what you do well or do what everyone is doing but better.  Don't just do what the cool kids are doing because they're getting sales, because people can smell a wannabe from a mile away.

And that's all for now.