Saturday, November 22, 2008

Only a Matter of Time

For some time now, my brothers have been my pathway to true geekiness. For example:
  • It was my desire to understand their ways that introduced me to Magic: The Gathering, with long-lasting results.
  • Pete gave me his copy of Record of Lodoss War, which was a first for me in many respects -- first time owning a full TV series, first anime in my collection and the first with subtitles.
  • It was at Morgan's apartment that I played my first round of 8-man Halo, prompting me to buy the Xbox and leading to a few of the geekiest things I've ever done, including holding a video game tourney as fund-raiser, manning Halo at a bachelor party, and participating in a game-inspired improv show.
It should come as no surprise, then, that when I learned that Pete is currently playing World of Warcraft, I decided to try out the demo. We're not really letter-writers, but we are certainly gamers -- perhaps this will give us a chance to hang out, right?

Well, let me tell you this. PA has it right once again. From what I can tell so far, the game is mainly a steady stream of tasks involving killing X number of Y monsters. Snooze.

Now, I assume that once the tedium of grinding is done and you actually team up with people, some coolness can occur. Except that people are a pain in the ass. So, we'll see.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


It should come as no surprise to B A Starters that I am and always have been a fan of illustration made during the fifty years encircling the change of the prior millenium. I submit for your halloweeny enjoyment, this pic by Kay Nielsen.

I don't know what tale this is from, but damn if it doesn't look like Castlevania. And it's got the Nielsen big-canvas-small-subject thing going, which I always enjoy.

A bigger version here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lost in his own museum

Not all that long ago I was hooked by a game that allowed me to play as a character who liked books. Now I find myself deep into LEGO Indy, in which archaeologist characters can get by certain puzzles by decrypting hieroglyphs. They carry books around. I... I just can't stop.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cosplay Revisit

I know I just posted about cosplay the other day, but here's another note on the topic. Why stop at clothing when you can change your physical appearance? This post describes contact lenses made ot make the iris unusually large, as in anime large.

Also, fuck yeah.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Apologeia Cosplaea

Revising the play, and this has given me cause to reflect on that most geeky of pastimes -- cosplay.

While I do enjoy Halloween more than most, I recognize that dressing up in character for a movie premiere or other geek event crosses the line of normalcy. Too bad, really. People went crazy trying to dress up like newly Jetted Brett Favre, and no one seems to mind.

Sure, more often than not cosplay, as evidenced by these pics from comic-con, ends up with scrawny guys trying to look like super-soldiers ...

fat men dressed as super-soldiers....

and women dressed in utter teenage-geek-fantasy skantitude...

but sometimes the hobby/obsession can yield some impressive recreations.

The trouble is that comics and video-games, being visual media, are of course going to depict impossibly good-looking people in physically improbable clothing. You can dress your average person up like Green Lantern all you want, but it's going to look strange unless he's body-builder with plastic sprayed on his skin. And even then.

Friday, June 13, 2008


When I heard Penny Arcade was going to step out of the critic's bubble and release an actual game, I expected a goofy title containing a surfeit of dick jokes, oblique Lovecraft references, and general oddity. Upon downloading On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness: Episode One, I was pleased to find that not only were the aforementioned qualities to be found in abundance, but that the game happens to be one of the most enjoyable I have ever played. Buy it right away.

The real key is the battle system. Rainslick uses a combo turn-based and real-time approach (like FFX-2 or FFXII) and features limit breaks, summons, and a quick-twitch block ability which cuts down on the unavoidable finger-drumming time. Much, much better than I expected from a $20 game.

Naturally, the art is going to be a major part of a title based on a webcomic. I would almost compare the experience to Okami, in that the sense of playing the comic comes through very well.

In addition, Rainslick seems tailor-made to avoid my pet peeves and tickle my pet fancies. For example, you can save anywhere. Screw that 'save-point' bullshit. There's stuff to unlock, stuff to find, stuff to upgrade. All kinds of stuff.

One note: many reviews describe the game as steampunk. This is not true. Zero steampunk. #1 - It's set in the 20's. #2 - None of the playable characters are scientists. #3 - No brass. #4 - Too many mimes.

And how does one not love a game that features the Fruit Fucker 2000?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hey! Listen!

Allow me to geek out for a moment. I share with a life-long obsession: familiars.

I don't know what else to call them really. Pet-like little guys that fly around your shoulders and help you with stuff. These are, of course, completely fictional to date.

I believe it started with Tron. That little Bit guy (in Spanish below) flitting about left a serious imprint on my young geek sensibilities.

Years went by, and as a college graduate I played The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time. Widely considered the best game ever created, many people criticize Navi, Link's constant counterpart. Yes, perhaps her persistent wheedling can get a little annoying, but she certainly fits the bill as a familiar, and thus I love her.

Not geeky enough? OK, fine. Once I got an Xbox, the mysteries of Halo became my playthings, including 343 Guilty Spark. A lunatic librarian made by an long-dead alien race. How could I not go for that?

Still not satisfied? My favorite of all time is Bao-dur's remote from KOTOR2. It's a Jedi training remote familiar. FEEL THE AWESOMITUDE!

Now, what's a boy to do? Essentially, what I'm dreaming of here is a flying, voice-activated iPhone with a great AI system and a personality.

Well, seeing how this would require a level of tinkering far beyond my own, obviously the only option is to build my own steampunk familiar in Second Life. And yes, Sparky the etherworks pet is coming along just fine, thank you for asking.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mean, mean pride

Has anyone else noticed how many songs from Rockband are on the radio?

Sure, it might be an increased awareness thing, but following Gimme Shelter with Tom Sawyer just smacks of a bit more than coincidence.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

One-and-a-half Life

Second Life intrigues me. Millions of people gadding about, creating whatever they want and doing as they please in a completely user-maintained environment. No shooting, no competition, just wandering around.

Maybe it's the similarities with the Metaverse from Snow Crash (a fave). Maybe it's my HR-geek sensibilities, since companies all over use it. Whatever it is, I want to know more.

Now that I am the proud owner of the star-blessed lappy-so-happy, I am actually able to run Second Life (albeit with limited graphics). I set myself up a character, skimmed the orientation stuff, played dress-up, and got to it.

But, got to what? What the heck do people do on this thing? My initial wanderings produced nothing to maintain my interest. One of the sites I reference from time to time in my steamjournalism is The Heliograph and this guy talks a lot about a steampunk locale in Second Life. I figured I'd swing by.

Okay, so Victorian-style buildings, Victorian-style clothes... by this point I still haven't figured out the draw. By happenstance I come across a library. Someone has built a library, making public domain Vic Lit available to read in-game. I pull up a chair and start on some Jules Verne.

In other words, I end up doing EXACTLY WHAT I DO IN REAL LIFE.

Alex in real life:

Alex in Second Life:

Apparently, the way I live my Primary Life is pretty well-suited to me. Even in a fantasy world, I end up holed up somewhere with my nose in a century-old book.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Without End

Chi-Mark has posted another salvo on the videogames-as-art debate, so get over there and read it.

Also, I just realized I never linked to his blog. Dick! Problem to be resolved shortly.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Blog Post of Obfuscation

Anybody else find it strange that the next Bond movie is apparently a sci-fi Castlevania game?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Two Great Tastes

Sarah Michelle Gellar owns the movie rights to American McGee's Alice. Today, scifi wire posted a lil' interview with her in which she describes some of the issues she has run into getting the thing airborne.

Calling the movie "the frustration of my life," Gellar joked: "I'll do it if I have to get down and write it myself one of these days. I may have to."

Dear Ms. Gellar -- call me. I live to serve.