October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween or NanoWriMo Eve!

Readers, I've been having a serious case of writer's block, but it is actually a good time to do it--I'm going to try National Novel Writing Month again.

I need to.  Certain habits of mine have died down, and I think if I force myself to write more, they;ll come back, and I'll be a happier person and better writer for it.

Please feel free to read my twitter, @d20sapphire, as I update.  I'm trying to do the 1667/day goal, or possibly more when I have more time.  The thing is this will force me to make more time, and if I get into that habit, I'll finally be able to chuck out some of these stories that have been floating in my head for years, over a decade for some.

Wish me luck!  And those of you joining me, all the luck to you as well!

P.S. no Halloween Costume, but tonight I'll be joining nerdy friends for a game of either Microscope, Final Girl or Zombie Cinema.  I'll let you know how it goes!

October 17, 2012

Finally watched season 2 of The Walking Dead

In fact I finished the season a little over a week ago but I just didn't get a moment to sit down and compose my thoughts.  I wanted to do it before Season 3 premiered.  Oops!

Season two of The Walking Dead did not kick nearly as much ass as the first season did.  In fact, a recent photoplasty from Cracked.com explains a good half of the problem.

I was so excited to see crazy situations that would push survivors to brink.  I was excited to see who was going to bite the dust, and who was not.  I was excited to see what fucked up situation would involve creativity and strength and endurance.

Less than half the season was about that.

The first two and the last two episodes had a lot of the same things I loved in the first season.  Starting with the scene of people hiding under the cars, and ending with Rick announcing to everyone that this whole group was no longer a democracy, that was the kind of drama in an apocalyptic setting.  But instead what we got was a lot of people yelling at each other.  Or even worse, just nagging back and fourth.


I don't get how many times the writers thought they should talk about life questions: "opting out" of the harsh existence, continuing the human race despite this horrible setting, the treatment of those who have wronged and been wronged.  But in this type of drama, you really only need to devote 30 minutes of conversation to it before you have to put some serious action in.  You don't need 3 suicide moments, you don't need a love triangle that lasts almost the ENTIRE FUCKING SEASON and seems to be one sided.  You can only have the character you hate be right so many times until the audience says "Hey you stupid characters!  He's crazy but he's going to save you're life!  Shut up this time!"

It seems like the writers were forced to think about character development and hit a brick wall.  And another one.  And then another one with a piano falling on their heads.  Shane was a great example.  He could've been there to show us that survival was harsh and cruel in this new zombie world, that you can be complexly conflicted with what you have to do to live and who you want to be.  Instead, Shane was just vilified left and right.  Every chance they had to redeem him got swept away by him being a huge asshole, and most of the time for no damn reason.  We see the main characters make horrible survival choices, romantic endeavors prioritized in the story over other interesting lines, characters good points written poorly and bad points overemphasized.  I still watched all of it because I loved the characters from the last season, but Angie's angst, Daryl's whining, and the disgraceful inconsistencies in Lori's every action in every episode had me pulling my hair out.  And to top it off, the women were poorly written for this season, except Maggie, who wasn't great but just okay.

The setting being stuck on Herschel's farm also slowed everything down, which must have been intentional on the writer's part to use it as a place to station half the season as monologue central.  And that was a huge contribution to it dragging.  Notice how the episodes that were best for the season consistently mostly either off the farm or getting off the farm.  The magic, idyllic famrhouse was not the best place to really progress the story or the characters, they stagnated.  The zombie drama does best with the idea that NOWHERE is safe for even a significant amount of time.  You must keep alert and keep struggling if you want to live.  We lost that appeal early on.

The end of the last episode really did save it for me.  We see Rick struggle over doing the right thing (and almost fuck up royally every single time) and never get any gratitude .  It is about time for him to tell everyone to either put up or shut up.  So I'm excited to see where season 3 takes us (and again, not waiting as long as I did for Season 2) but they better learn from their mistakes from season 2.  If they don't, I will not be watching this next season through.

October 8, 2012

Fantastic nerdy birthday haul!

I would've posted on Friday if it wasn't for me having a joint my birthday slash my mother's CPA party.  Oh yeah, by the way my mother is a CPA!  She passed every test!

Since Friday was the party I didn't get some  of my awesome nerdy swag until later.  It includes:

-A poster of The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Super-Heroes! comic, when they first fought Loki, God of Evil.  I need to frame it.

-A couple of puny That's What She Said beer glasses.  If you know me in person you know it's one of my favorite jokes to pull.  Granted not every five seconds like a teenager.

-A bottle of Stark Raving Red, which looks like it has a picture of a mad steampunk scientist on it.  I love me some red wine.

-A Twilight card from friends who were amused to annoy me.

-Dice from Mystic, because he knows that d20s are a girl's best friend.

A very decent nerdy hall this year.

October 3, 2012

Once Upon A Time: Something I should've written about months ago

Around the same time I was giving Grimm a chance was the same time that Once Upon a Time came out on the scene.  I was more excited about Grimm just because of how one friend had described the premises of both shows.  I was also afraid that it would be too close to Fable, the comic book series that I read a bit of when a friend lent it to me in college.  By the way, what I read was also pretty good if you're into non-superhero based comic series.

But then you may remember when I decided not to go back to Grimm, and at that point a different friend was telling me about how amazing Once Upon a Time is.  I went on hulu and I decided to catch up.

The first season is probably one of the best written dramas on television I have ever seen.  I sincerely mean that, as someone who appreciates a lot of great shows from the past and present.  Recently comedies have been getting a lot of the writing talent, with a few dramas surviving the test of time.  Lost and a couple others have been able to survive, but very few have been able to.  Oh my god, I don't  remember if I ever told you about the time I tried to keep up with The Event, but that was painful.  Very painful!

Once Upon a Time's first season revolves around the strange happenings in Storybrooke, which happen around the time Emma, our hero who is unaware of her fate, turns 28.  Henry, her son she gave up for adoption ten years before, finds her and lures her back.  He is convinced that the people of Storybrooke are fairy-tale characters that have been cursed to this little town, and that his adoptive mother, Regina, is the evil queen that sent them there.  Emma writes this off as a child who's very attached to this book he just read.

But Henry is right.  And as the child of Snow White and Prince Charming, Emma is the only way to break the curse.

Through season one you don't only see the fairy-tale characters coping with these new lives they don't realize they've been stuck in for the last 28 years, you see who they were before and the kinds of characters they were.  And because ABC is able to play with the Disney universe, you see references to  your favorite interpretations to the lore you grew up with.  Each episode shows the background of a character and their present situation.  I was so impressed that almost every episode had a twist that I did not see coming.  You get totally invested in the characters you love and the characters you hate.  Both are written with great depth and thought.  Hearkening back to Grimm, there was not a "Hitler is a Werewolf" moment. The cast is also fantastic.  They are definitely great at portraying their characters consistently through the show, which is vital.  My personal favorite is Rumpelstiltskin as played by Robert Carlyle.  He gets down the mischief concealing his power plays pretty well.   All around it was a great package.

Here is my suggestion to you if you haven't done so already: watch all of Season One.  Netflix has it now, and if you have hulu plus you may be able to get it there too.  Watch it IN ORDER because the season is soooo well written that you have to watch it in order to appreciate the universe in it's entirety.

I just saw the first episode of season two, and it has taken the show into some dark places pretty fast.  I am sure they've got an idea on how they want to do this, it's just not where I expected it to go.  After you're caught up on season one, watch season two.  Please feel free to let me know what you think of it.  Seriously, shoot me an email about it!  It's the kind of show that's great watching it on your own, but even better if you have someone to chat about.

October 1, 2012

Guild Wars 2: Yes you should play it.

My asura had a tree climbing phase. 
It's really hard to write anything when you have a game as well made as Guild Wars 2 waiting for you to play.  I didn't get a chance to play it's predecessor, but Mystic liked it so he convinced me to try Guild Wars 2.  I never did the MMO thing before (other than a brief foray into Star Trek: Online that didn't impress me) so I promised Mystic I would give Guild Wars 2 a try.  I have to say, I'm glad I've waited until this game to get into them.

Let me go over the basics.

Of course you start with character creation, which has some fantastic options.  The face and hair choices for each race are a little limited right now, but that's something I'm sure they'll expand upon later.  It's pretty easy to get a character you think looks awesome and that you'd like to play.  You choose a race (human, norn, sylvari, charr, and asura) and a profession (necromancer, mesmer, elementalist, ranger, engineer, thief  guardian and warrior) and the get to customizing.  Again, not the best range in choices for some things but you are able to make a choice in every facet of your character's look.  Your first set of armor is selected for you and you have a base set of colors, but over time you are able to collect dyes that will help you personalize the colors of your armor even more.

After you know your character looks great, a quick introduction story gets you a easy to follow tutorial where you start already playing with people.  From there you're dropped off at a starting place for your race and free reign to explore!

The tasks that you can pick to gain experience are scattered all throughout the map, indicated with gold hearts.  As you get close it'll let you know what you can do to help with the task, which is usually one of several things.  Yes you can get significant XP without having to kill everything in site, and you don't get punished severely if you do just want to kill everything you can.  You also get rewarded for reviving other players and NPCs, and for crafting.

Oh man crafting.  You can cook, sew, build, smith, and smelt a ton of items that you'll find around the Guild Wars 2 world.  Cooking is popular for helping you level up fast, and jewelry is a craft people like to take to they can make some serious coin.  I personally like being able to make my own armor.  It's also super easy to pick up and learn how to make new things.  You'll be given some basic recipes but soon you'll be able to discover a ton more.  Not sure what to do with that new shimmering dust you got?  See what ingredients you can mix with it!  You can only practice two crafts at a time but if you leave one for a while and pick it back up, you'll start where you left off.

The best thing is that this is an MMO where you don't need to go out of your way to play with people you know.  Your story line is a well written plot where your choices matter, sometimes more than other popular games that used to advertise how much your choices matter.  No one story will be exactly the same unless you go out of your way to imitates someone's preferences.  It also makes it more interesting to go back and play as a different character, you know you're not repeating a lot of the same stuff.   Along with a well written story to keep you playing when your friends are not, you also have loot that is individualized and incentives for working with people.  Again, revives give you XP, so why not help your fellow gamer?  And if a stranger helps you with a kill, you both get XP for trying to kill the same thing.  It's like the looked at all the annoying things in MMOs that frustrate people and improved upon them. A gaming company that listens?  The world's ending!

And if none of that convinced you, I will leave you with a video of all the different dances of Tyria.  There is no shame in buying a video game merely to have your character dance.  No shame I tell you!