July 31, 2009

Geek Affection and Nerd Inspiration

You know how in old high school flicks it was a big deal when the guy gave his girlfriend his football ring?

The geek equivalent is lending your gaming laptop to your girlfriend.

Like what the Boyfriend did last night.  I was touched.  And because of it, I'll be posting more about the Sims 3.  

Writing has been backtracked by the fact that I came home to my previous work on my story strewn across my room.  I was extremely frustrated and it will take hours to sort it all out again.  Delays, they suck.  I'll let you know when it starts up again and maybe give you a sneak peek of what I am working on!

July 30, 2009

Colbert gets it right.

I know this blog is less political and social issues oriented, and we care more about gaming than campaigning, but last night's Colbert Report had a great speech about racism.  Specifically, how racism and farts are very similar.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - He Who Smelt It, Dealt It
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTasers

I invite you all to think of great analogies that go along with this.  That's right, I d20 Sapphire encourage you to share your juvenile humor!

July 26, 2009

The Beauty of Garage Sales.

The Boyfriend and are enjoying a nice weekend stay in central IL again, and yesterday morning he and a friend went out t the garage sales that seem to pop up everywhere down here during this time of the year.  And boy did he get a deal.

Get this: for 5 bucks the Boyfriend was able to purchase...

*an NES
* three NES games: Super Mario Bros/Duckhunt, Tecmo Bowl and Punch Out
*two NES controllers
*Duckhunt controller
*Sega Genesis
*two Genesis controllers 
*two Genesis games: NBA Jam and Urban Hunt

... all stuffed into one book bag.

As soon as he came back and showed, I proclaimed it was Christmas!  

Is he going to keep everything?  Probably not.  I do know I demand to play Punch Out at least once before it gets sent away if it does.

July 22, 2009

I've played the Sims 3!

I've finally obtained the holy grail of my sims addictions:  The Sims 3!

To be honest I haven't obtained it.  The Boyfriend got the game and let me play it on his laptop.  I'm still a mac owner and I don't even thing my laptop would be able to run the game if I wanted it to.  I only played it for a short time but I have to say that I like a lot of the improvements made upon the game.  However, when I finally get a job and get the gaming computer of my dreams, I will definitely be playing the Sims 2 as well as the Sims 3 it seems.  Let me explain in my somewhat short review.

I started out the sims 3 where any other sims fanatic would start-- Creating sims.  I decided to make a little interracial family.  I'll post some pictures of my own later but right now we'll just have to make do with what google search has provided me with.  Continuing, making sims is, of course, higher detail than it was in previous games, and has a lot more choices.  There's still a sims look.  A lot of the sims look rather similar, and I think it's because when the developers made the NPC sims, they didn't work a lot with face depth and cheekbones, so those all start looking the same amongst those sims.  I think the mother in my family fell for that trap, but it's okay.  You still have a lot of options, and coloring of eyes and skin makes a lot of sense.  You can also choose the colors and patterns of the clothing!  This is really fun to tinker with, and made easy to change.

Although I was able to get a lot of variety with everything other physical trait, I'm really disappointed by the lack of haircut variety.  It is kind of appalling.  I'm not one of those people who can fancy up a hair cut for a sims in a jiffy, or anything that involves designing things outside of game.  I'm kind of stuck with what they give me.  And especially for the guys, I think they could've thought the selection of hairdos through a bit more.  Knowing Maxis, there will be expansion packs, and I think this is why they are holding back.

One more complaint: mixing genetics to make a kid between two sims in the version I got seemed rather unimpressive the one time I used it... but then again that was just once.  I have a pregnant sims so we'll see how it goes.

One of the changes I like the most is how they got rid of the previous personality system entirely.  Zodiacs are gone, and everything is replaced with a traits system.  An adult gets up to 5 traits.  Children have 3 traits, and toddlers have even less.  The idea is that sims growing up in the game gain certain traits as time goes on.  If your sims has a reall awesome life, they can choose these traits as they grow up.  If not, they'll just be given whatever trait seems fit.  Not every trait is a positive, and not every trait is a mere personality choice.  Some examples include clumsy, lucky, perfectionist, heavy sleeper, neat, loves outdoors, and technophobe.  After choosing these traits for an adult sims, you can then choose what that sims dreams to be or do.  They may want to be surrounded by family, grow a fantastic garden, succeed at the top of a certain career path, and a lot of other goals.  You get to choose from 5 when your sims has all his traits in place in the creation phase.  These traits are important later on for wishes, which I'll speak on a little later.

After you create your sims, you can figure out the family relationships and then choose a house for them to settle in.  What's fantastic is that you can choose to have the house furnished when you move in, and if you hate shopping for hours like I do, it's a blessing.  However, if you love shopping than you can shop 'til you drop in an unfurnished house.  I like that furniture can be placed diagonally and I like the look of the interior of a house.

The majority of the gameplay is really familiar and easy to adjust to when you first play.  Jobs are all in the same town, you don't drive off to some mysterious place.  You can also choose your attitude/goals at work.  For example, I had all my sims focus on meeting people at their job or at school so it would be easier for them to make friends.  Skills work about the same, you just have to discover them however, you don't know which ones exist right off the bat.  Fulfilling needs such as hunger and fun is easier because the don't deteriorate as quickly as they have in games before.  I'm so excited for this feature since it'll make managing pregnant sims a heck of a lot easier.  

The newest gameplay feature is the map.  Sims can venture around town at the drop of a hat, and while one sim is at the park, and you're asking them to talk to the old lady playing chess, you can still keep tabs on your other sim who's watching the baby at home.  Everything is in real time and completely manageable without wasting game hours repeating chunks of the day.  Thank you for noticing this Maxis!

There is one drawback to everything being in real time.  Because of this, you can only control one family in an entire neighborhood.  Let me repeat that:  You can only control ONE ENTIRE FAMILY in ONE ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOOD.  This is a big difference than in the Sims 2, where you could technically control an entire neighborhood of people, along with it's downtown area and it's college and it's shopping district.  You could control everyone!  Of course, that wasn't in real time, but if you love managing people (like I do) this was great fun. There is no way you could control a whole group of people in real time.  This is a catch 22.  Either you can control one whole family in real time all the time, and deal with a town full of NPCs, or you control as many people as you like but not in real time.  

And this is why I will play the Sims 2 and the Sims 3 when I get a gaming PC.  Because I like both types of game play.  I like being able to control a whole town of stories, but at the same time investing in one family in real time is really fun.  I'm not so blind that I can't appreciate the new.  At the same time, I'm not so blind that I can't appreciate the old either.  So I guess that is my compromise.  

I'll have pictures soon.  In the meantime, I think I'll make that family in my sims 2 games too.  I'll do that AFTER I apply for some jobs today.

July 20, 2009

How much detail?

I'm writing again, specifically the trilogy that helped spark the campaign that I'm trying to make into an RPG.  But I'm running into a problem--how much should I describe of the world?

With a fantasy setting, everything is new.  I'm throwing the reader into a new world that has a different feel and look than anything her or she is used to.  Therefore I should describe some things in high enough detail.

However, I don't feel the need to right now in the first chapter, because those details aren't extremely important to the story.  I feel that most readers will be able to fill in all the gaps they want if need be.  Give someone a few context clues and that give him or her enough to figure out a general idea of what things look like.  Why should I go into superb detail?

I know for a lot of things I will when I start writing the RPG setting, but I feel that's because a setting is a world for other GMs to borrow.  If the GM wanted to fill all the gaps she would create her own world.  Therefore the details are necessary.  But in a story the flow can easily be bogged down by too much description.  I've seen it happen before and I would rather avoid it.

I guess I'll just have to write now and see what cracks need to be filled in, if any.

July 17, 2009

Nerd Inspiration Update

I have some help with the RPG, which I am going to write while working on the book series at the same time.  I'm thinking of doing some fun things like character interviews and such here and there.  

First thing I'm researching is feudalism, after finally getting a library card locally.  I just want to make sure that a kingdom works the way I think it does.  I don't like the idea of being ignorant, and research is probably the best way to prevent it with this RPG.

That's all for now.  Later readers!

July 15, 2009

Sapphire's can tweet now

I have a twitter.  I'm going to use it to update on my progress with my RPG and the accompanying story.  I have a partner in development with the RPG now--I make the setting while he works on the system.  It's a great excuse to "research".  In fact I'm going to the library this afternoon to work on multiple things.  But I'm doing it after some lunch.

Still looking for a job, but I think this will be a good project, which I will finish and publish one way or another.

July 14, 2009

Jackass for Gamers

The Boyfriend showed me the first episode of Life and Level, and I have to say, I'm merely hooked because of the sheer stupidity involved.

Let me explain.  Life and Level is a show where roommates Johnny and Josh compete against each other in video games.  But it's not just "who can kill the most zombies in RE5".  They are much more creative than that, and that creativity then results in a lot of bodily harm.  I think the safest example to show is the first episode.  Here the challenge is to play Call of Duty: World at War Multiplayer with no time, unlimited ammo, and unlimited lives.  The twist is that every time one of them dies, that player gets shocked by a dog shock collar.  If you want a sneak peek watch it below.

This kind of entertainment can only be fueled by pure stupidity and boredom.  I personally have no problem being entertained by other people's poor decisions.  This is how I'm able to watch as much reality television as I do in a given week.  I know a lot of people who cannot be entertained by this though, including The Boyfriend.  So if you're willing to lower your standards like I am, please feel free to partake!

The show gets grosser as time goes on.  There are now 9 episodes in the series, and I believe almost every easily obtained bodily fluid has been involved in each show.  It also gets increasingly violent.  There is one point where Johnny breaks his pinky finger, but he doesn't notice until he sees that it's pointing in the wrong direction.  You have to be tolerate of some sheer stupidity.

The dynamic between Josh and Johnny is really what makes this work.  Johnny is your stereotypical nerd, in the sense that he's got the look with the scrawny build, the glasses, and the lingo down.  He's just your average gamer guy who probably didn't have the best luck with chicks in high school.  Which is funny because he would be my type when I was in high school.  Moving on, Josh is best described as a lovable brute.  Stocky, big guy who is in it for the glory and the fun.  He's loud, in your face, and not afraid to dress the part for a competition.  He also plays stupid a lot while Johnny is there being (somewhat) reasonable.

This makes the duels interesting.  Whenever it's a physical bout, you kind of feel sorry for scrawny Johnny going up against the beast that is Josh.  But as the episodes continue Johnny's slow and steady strategy pays off, especially when he's going through a room of mouse traps trying to find a controller.  This also makes the conversations between them funnier.  Good character contrast.

At the end of each duel, the loser has to spin the N00b wheel to choose his fate.  For the episode linked here, it was snorting a line of yellow mustard.  Yuck.  I have to say, it gets much worse.  This is where a lot of the bodily fluids are released.  I usually just watch for the competition, and turn my head away from the screen when the punishment is dealt out.  

Sometimes you may feel sorry for one of them during an episode, you have to realize that they were both willing to do this in the first place.  They signed up to make themselves look ridiculous on the internet.  You don't feel so guilty watching after that.   

In the end, this show is hilarious if you don't mind seeing people make a fool of themselves on the internet, put themselves in bodily harm, and have it tangentially related to video games.  I suggest this view to people who enjoy shows where a guy embarrasses himself with injury and thus guarantees himself no sex for about a month. 

July 13, 2009

Homeless in the Sims 3

It's been a while since Game Politics had an interesting story, at least to me, but this is a great use of the Sims as almost a social experiment.

This article lead me to this awesome blog of Alice and Kev, a daughter-father duo who are homeless in the Sims 3.  A lot of the things they suffer through are really interesting, and would make for a great novel.

Homeless sims in the Sims 2 were not as versatile as in the Sims 3.  This is really intriguing and I know I'm going to be keeping up with this from now on.  Makes me want to play the sims, although I should be writing.  

My life is SOOO hard.  /whine

So much nerd inspiration

Since I am unemployed right now (and looking, if any of you in the Chicago area find something that could suit me) I've been trying to think of a side project to do, and I keep coming back to one thing:

My previous campaign.

I loved my campaign, especially the characters.  Some of those characters I have been working on for years now that I think about it... almost seven years.  And I find I can't let go of them, or their world.  So what do I do?

There are two obvious answers to this.

1) write a book

It would probably be something targeted to a younger audience, girls in junior high or high school.  The characters I created were made in that vain, around the same time I really got into Tamora Pierce.  She's a fantastic writer who has a lot of strong, young female characters in her stories.  From her I was inspired to make one of the protagonists.  With that in mind, the story I will be writing will be for that age group.  And I would have fun with it too, since I have technically written some of this before.  In high school this was supposed to be a trilogy, and I wrote 2/3 of it.  I have a lot I want to change at this point, so it would be a huge rewrite, with a lot of background written before I would start the actual story.  The background idea leads to the next idea...

2) create a campaign setting for an RPG

I've ran a campaign in this world, why not use all the characters that made this world the way it is?  There is a question if to use a pre or post PC world.  Both have a lot of potential, but I think I would rather go pre with some twists.  Certain PC-NPC connections became pretty important, and a lot of my PCs are worth immortalizing.  The question is with what system?  Considering how important politics are in this game, I don't think it would work with the current D&D system.  Too much focus on combat.  I could also just write my own system but I rather just work with the characters and the setting, and use a good system created by someone else.

And then there's the idea of 

3) write both.

This could potentially suck out all my energy from finding a "real" job.  I doubt this will even be slightly profitable.  But I might just do the crazy thing and actually do both.  It's a risk, I know, and I do need a real source of income soon.  But if I could help make one person's RPG experience awesome, or give one person a fantastic story... why not?

Over the last month I realized how hard it is to get these stories away.  I can't run away from them.  I have to write them down.  Why not share the story?

Also, if I did the RPG idea, I would definitely keep you all updated here, with sneak peeks and such.  I just have to figure out everything.

Someone told me I seemed like a person that needs big projects.  And he was right.  So now, since I'm out on my own, I need my own big project.  This will be it.

Vikings are protecting my bedroom!

A while ago I got a present for being in my alma mater's Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I was Eddie all four years there.  I know, dedication.  Anyway this was the present for singing Hot Patootie for all that time:


I love Playmobil.  And I find Vikings awesome.  Best combo ever.  I received this onstage and I began jumping up and down.  The great thing is the people shopping for this had no idea what to get me, so they figured this was cool enough.  They had good instincts.  Look at that fort!  Look at how cool that fort is in that picture!

This is the main soldier.  I gave him the big ol' axe.  Suits him well.

The box wants me to give this guy the big axe, but he is so obviously a shaman so I gave him the staff.  He's praying to protect the fort.

And if worse comes to worse...
they are prepared to defend!  

These dudes are near my bedside.  I can fall asleep easier these days.

July 9, 2009

Things I overheard that make me cry for humanity

A friend visiting me and I went Lincoln Park Zoo to see all the pretty animals.  We were looking at the bats and ignoring the families near us.  There are some cone-shaped pieces that hide the water bottles for the bats.  It's not obvious at first but after a while you see a bat partake in a swig and your curiosity is fed.  

Of course you speculate at first, and this one mother with a couple of small kids had this theory:

"Maybe that's where they lay their eggs."


Quick Biology review: Bats are mammals.  Mammals have live births.  There are no eggs involved.  

Obviously, some people need to go back to junior high science class. 

July 5, 2009

Return from Strasbourg, France!

Hello everyone.

I'm back in the states and I have to say I am glad to be home.  I can't wait to get back into blogging and figuring out what's ahead of me, especially since I'm unemployed.  

My schedule in France was pretty packed so I didn't get a chance to see if there was a lot to do nerd wise.  However, while getting acclimated to the area I did see some things that were nerdy.

The first thing was at a museum that had art works from the 12th to 16th century.  A lot of it was statutes, reliefs from cathedrals, and things of that nature.  However, there was also this!
Doesn't that look like dice on a rope?  I didn't take note of what it's purpose was, but I did kind of want to take it home.  Didn't happen though.

And then I stumbled upon this place on the way to the museum.
Didn't realize miniatures were big in France.

I'll soon be back on schedule with regular blogging.  Thanks for checking in everyone!