November 30, 2009

WolfCon Report!

What an awesome weekend! I am so glad I went to WolfCon, and I definitely told people that I am planning to go next year.

To be honest, the idea of having a Con after Thanksgiving, when most people will have friday off work, is a fantastic idea.  You start the day early with a board game, card game, or RPG and you don't start there.

It's a small, local con but it's a good one.  First of all, it's run with a ton of enthusiasm.  Everyone wants to have a good time and wants to make sure everyone else has a good time.  Second of all there are a lot of good teachers when it comes to board games.  For example, the Battlestar Galactica board game could easily get confusing and unenjoyable fast considering how complicated the rules could be.  However, it was actually really fun and easy to pick up because I was playing with someone who knew exactly how to explain the rules, and when not to explain too much.  Third, the people who attended were all extremely friendly.

I played a couple of RPGs, a few board games, and even some soccer on Saturday!  Dull moments did not last for long periods of time.  I would suggest coming with a couple of friends so you know you can find a game to try out and play pretty quickly.  It was nice, since the Con was small, to have a mike available to announce events and pick up games.  I got a couple of people to play Settlers of Catan that way, and I found out about a CyberPunk game that way.

I am hoping to help in some way with WolfCon next year, so if you see me post about it a lot in the next year, don't think they're paying me to post.  I'm just helping out people promote an awesome con.

November 25, 2009

My Geek Thanksgiving Family

That's right, this is what my family would be like at Thanksgiving if fandom ruled the universe. This is no way based on how my family is set up, just how I think this would make sense.

My father: Jean-Luc Picard.

Really, who didn't see that coming? Through most of TNG Picard never really wants a family, you have to admit he is good father material. He'd be supportive, he'd always have a story, and maybe I'm biased because Patrick Stewart is bald like my father but that part doesn't hurt either. All that aside, I would love to see Picard carve the turkey as the family gathered around.

My mother: Wynne from Dragon Age

I'm going to be honest guys, this one is hard. I didn't want to get too obvious, which would've been another Star Trek character (or several). After playing more of Dragon Age last night the protective instincts of Wynne made her a strong choice. Also I'm hoping her studies of herbalism make the seasoning on the sweet potatos that much better!

My older brother: Riddick from Pitch Black

Riddick is a great choice because he's the older cooler brother that you know you'll never be as cool as, so either you try to fit in with him or your stop trying. Of course, I don't think I'd try too hard to be as cool as a murderer, but you never know.

My younger sister: Kaylee from Firefly

Cute, spunky and smart, Kaylee is the perfect choice as a younger sister. If you've seen the show you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you don't, imagine if car mechanics were mostly my little pony fans. Yeah, weird mix of cute and mechanically smart.

My cousin I would go on hijinks with: Vyse from Skies of Arcadia

Vyse would be the best cousin to have because he would always find something fun to do. Also, wouldn't it be great to be an air pirate on thanksgiving? At least in pretend when I'm 8 years old in a cardboard box as a boat sense.

My crazy Uncle: Solid Snake

Who doesn't have a crazy uncle talking about conspiracy theories to some degree or another? At least Uncle Snake could confirm these theories with his "to-do" list. I'm sure he'd be the best to carve the turkey too... with an assault rifle.

My Grandpa: Hari Seldon from The Foundation Series.

I know this one is probably coming from left field for some of you. If it is, go read Foundation by Asimov right now. Hari Seldon ends up inventing a science to predict the future of the masses. It's a combination of psychology and statistics called Psychohistory. The wisdom needed to make something like that has to be HUGE. I would listen to him talk while I was eating delicious turkey.

My Grandma: Princess Peach

I understand she is a lot younger than a grandmother is thought to be, but she has a lot of the same qualities of a grandmother. She's sickeningly sweet, ultra feminine, has huge hair and is pretty good with a frying pan from what I see in Super Smash Bros.

And that's my geek family. :D

November 20, 2009

Disturbing scene in CoD:MW2 makes story line sense.

Some of you may remember eons ago (at least it feels like it) when I talked about Activision lying about skipping scenes in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

The Boyfriend got a copy of the game and wanted to show me the first few missions, which include the controversial scene in question. I decided to watch it to see how it plays out.

I'm not going to spoil anything here, but I will say that the reason is exists in the game story-wise is a good one. It not only makes you hate the villain, but it also makes you not underestimate him at the very end. There is a twist that makes that whole scene vital, and also develops the antagonist, both of which are necessary for the plot. I can appreciate the scene for what it's trying to do. Still, not going to buy the game at this point.

There is an option to skip disturbing scenes if you want, and they ask you twice. However, this is at the very beginning of starting your game, so if you don't know that this scene exists you may not know exactly is meant as disturbing. So Activision was right in some sense.

Personally, if I wanted to shoot people, I'd play Gears of War. However I suck at aim and I find it a lot more exhilarating to slash through enemies with a sword. What can I say? It must be my DnD roots.

November 13, 2009

Test and Webcomic update

I got a recording device for my other blog when I conduct more interviews, but I used it as an opportunity to talk about the webcomic I'm working on. Let me know how this works...

zSHARE - webcomic update1.mp3

If anyone knows of a way to upload an audio file without having you all download it, let me know.  I'll be tinkering with this post for a while I think.

UPDATE: I hope this will work!

November 12, 2009

Dragon Age: A theme of betrayal


Well, for a very small portion of the game.

Blame the Boyfriend.  He is an enabler.  I mention I'm really intrigued by Dragon age and BAM his laptop is in my house and I can't stop playing it.  Well, I do for work but dammit, I would play this all day if I had the chance and the right set up.

Like always, I'm drawn into the story. You choose what back story you start with by choosing your race, class, and status in society.  I was a dwarf warrior noble, and I really like the back story that they give you.  I want to play the game again to see how it would be different as a mage (you can't be a dwarf and a mage) and see if I can start out with a fuller group.

Anyway, talking to the Boyfriend about his character's back stories, and then looking at what I've seen of my story so far, betrayal is HUGE.  And this is where the spoiler marking matters so look away those who haven't played and plan to.

No matter what your back story is, you help out at a battle against the Blight (wretched creatures created by the sins of man infecting the lands like a plague) in an abandoned fort called Ostagar.  You're there with your people, the Grey Wardens, to help King Calin's troops.  The Grey Wardens are trained specifically to cast out the Blight.  Your job, along with another Grey Warden Alistar, is to light a beacon for Calin's war aid Loghain to bring troops after Calin and the other Grey Wardens start out killing some darkspawn (creatures of the blight).  So you finally battle a ton of darkspawn that shouldn't have been there in the first place, you light the beacon and you are excited to do your part when...

Loghain pulls his troops back and lets King Calin die.

First of all, you feel stupid for not realizing it would happen.  When I first met Loghain I thought "he's so going to betray me" but then I took it back.  I had already dealt with something similar earlier on in the story (and almost every back story has its own betrayal issues) so I figured it wouldn't happen again.  I was so wrong.  It was like a hard slap to the face.

Second, it prepares you for similar acts on a smaller scale to happen again and again and again.  You have to do actions that you are suspicious of from the get go for the story to move.  And then your suspicions are confirmed!  It's like an abusive relationship!

As the game continues I'm going to see if this theme continues, and how important it is.  Is it also a weapon against the bad guys?

If you know how it ends, don't answer that question!

November 6, 2009

WolfCon and AD&D Character Creation

Some of you readers who also read The 20 Sided Women Project know that I'm going to be involved in Chicago's WolfCon this year, partly for that blog but also because I haven't been to a good con outside of the one at my college in a long time.  I am so ready to roll some dice with some homies.

If you want a taste test for the awesome RPGs that will be there, there will be an AD&D Character Creation Session this Wenesday, Nov. 11th at 6pm at the Great American Bagel at 1248 W. Belmont in Chicago, IL.

I'm usually not guilty of cross posting since my two blogs are for two very different things, but I'm doing it because I love supporting cons that are bound to be awesome and I really want to help out these guys since they're helping out the 20 Sided Women Project.  If you go to the link above you'll see info and such and a way to contact them, and they are always open to suggestions about games, especially if you know a lot of people will come to play.

And on that note, I'm posting the flyer here since it's got all the info you need.  I hope to see some of you there!

November 2, 2009

Magic in a Story: A Balancing Act

I have just finished the first "chapter" of the web comic my friend Proptart and I are going to be doing, and I'm told I can still write.  As long as I can write better than I did in high school, I'm all good with that.  But soon after the next chapter, magic is going to be a big item in the story, and if you want magic to be good, you need to make it logical.

This is hard to do.  First of all, nothing in known physics supports anything that human lore refers to as magic.  Therefore, it is inherently illogical in our world.

However, you can't just put in a fancy spell any time you feel like it's cool and awesome.  I find when that happens in fantasy stories, the reader just stops believing.  It's hard to get immersed when the protagonist can essentially solve every problem with a spell the reader has never heard of before but conveniently works exactly the way the protagonist needs it to.  It's also hard to believe a random collection of handy spells with no clear ties can be learned.  This is the one thing that annoyed me about Dungeons and Dragons: the magic has no real theme to tie it all together.  Sure, there were schools of magic but there was no clear theme of manipulation of something that made the magic really cohesive.  Now that didn't stop me from loving D&D as much as I do.  It was just annoying.

I like magic when there's a main theme to it.  A good game that I know of that works like this is Unknown Armies.  Your character would have a world-view so skewed that you see things most people don't, and hence you manipulate parts of the world with that magic.  There are conditions to keeping that magic but with one's world view so skewed, it's usually easy to keep to those restrictions.  Another game that has a good sense of themes or worlds of magic is World of Darkness' Mage.  Each mage is awakened to the secret ways of bending the world.  They can only affect certain aspects of the world around them, but over time master it very well and make friends that have different specialties.

I feel like this helps a world make more sense.  There has to be some system that works in the world that allows physics bending magic to happen.  Whether you're an Urbanomancer in tune to the city so well you can occasionally have hobos do your bidding, or you have figured out how to talk to the dead while you work at the morgue, a system of bending the rules is easy to get lost into when it comes to story.  So that kind of system I'm hoping to use.

Right now my idea is to use nature as a system.  Of course this would mean using the four elements: earth, wind, fire, air.  But I want to intersperse that with other parts of nature too.  Plant growth is something I think would be good to manipulate, and I have to think of some other natural forces that can be manipulated.  But all of this will be rather limited as well.  On with intense clarity and concentration can one move a substantial amount of earth.  Air is the easiest to manipulate, but it takes years of practice before someone can actually knock someone over with wind, let alone several people.  Fire is so dangerous that usually mages specialize in it and can't make much use of it until a decade of honing their skill.

One thing I think is dangerous to dabble with is the manipulation of things that have free will.  People controlling animals will probably not exist in my world at all.  Any kind of mind magic, or psionics (a dirty word to many D&D lovers) will be of very limited power.  I will say it will exist in my world, but not as a way to manipulate characters with hypnosis or mind control.

I'm hoping I've got the perfect balance of logic and fantasy going on in my magic scheme.  You won't know until I've got the web comic up and running how it's going to take shape, but I hope you readers will think my story is full of epic win.

p.s I got the picture for this blog post here.