terriko: Adorable icon care of John (bubble bobble)
2013-06-05 10:47 am
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Poor impulse control

The thing with steam sales is that while the game itself may be $5, my penchant for buying copies for everyone who I might want to play with adds up... to another $20.

Okay, I guess I can live with that. ;) It's awesome being an adult with disposable income to spare!

The game in question was, incidentally, a Dungeon Siege pack (It's on sale for another 15 mins or so). My sister and I enjoyed the first two games in part because if you set yourself to follow another player, it treated you as a minion and basically played the game for you. Many people thought this was a bad thing, but Susan and I thought it was awfully convenient for the purpose of getting a cookie. The 3rd game got such terrible reviews that we never bought it, but... $5! For all 3 plus an expansion! Even if it just saves me finding the discs for my copies of the 1st two games, I'm willing to pay that. And let's be honest, we even kind of thought the dubious Dungeon Siege movie was fun, so we'll get $5 worth of enjoyment out #3 of this one way or another.
terriko: Adorable icon care of John (bubble bobble)
2012-09-10 02:25 pm

Knitting cables!

And, to offset the griping in my private posts today, here's a pretty picture of something I'm working on:

Knitting big and small

I took this photo for the Active Assignment Weekly flickr group, which gives a weekly photo challenge. I haven't been participating much for a variety of reasons, but this week's challenge was "big and small" and the knitting was right there.

I have to say, though I love the final look of knitted cables, they are the most hand cramping awfulness at that size and my level of experience. The metal needles are new, purchased because I have horribly bent the wooden ones in that size that I was using. Glad I started on the wood, or I'd have given up in despair over dropped stitches on slippery needles, but I'm also glad I switched because it's so much easier now that I've got the hang of it. And I'm glad I didn't give up, 'cause gloves are a nice size to carry around and now that the first one's close to done I'm so darned pleased with myself for managing it! I have clearly leveled up in knitting between this and the chunky lace scarf I've been working on.

Next up: finishing my long-neglected pony for Katie (she has hair now, but I'm rubbish at embroidering cutie marks on crochet...) more crocheted angry birds for people to play with at the Albuquerque mini maker faire, and finishing my set of mane 6 teensy tiny felted crochet ponies. Plus a Top Secret present project that must be done before the end of September.

I am also trying very hard not to get drawn into making an arcade sona dress. I've been playing some more LoL specifically because she was free in the pax swag bag and not only do I like playing support (something I didn't have a char for in LoL) but I also enjoy the cute little video game touches they put on that skin. The DDR attack forces people to dance!

Unfortunately, I'm not interested in spending a day wearing nothing but a bra on top, so it's not likely cosplay for me. But I am obsessed with her skirt right now with the pixels and the rainbows. I have a problem, I know.

Edit: because the Arcade Sona costume idea is in my brain now -- wouldn't it be cool to build her console and have the buttons make the light effects, including the DDR attack? I could totally find a little set of projector lights that would let me do that... Darnit, I'm not talking myself out of this anytime soon, am I?
terriko: Evil Soup (evil soup)
2012-05-18 12:00 pm
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Diablo III: "You click things; they die."

My brother provided the best review I've seen of Diablo III when I asked him how he liked the beta: "You click things; they die." That sums up the Diablo experience in a lot of ways.

Other people may tell you that "Diablo III: Lords of Disconnection" sums things up too, but to be honest, that hasn't been my experience. Since launch day, I've rarely had to wait more than a few minutes, and I haven't played alone at all, so it's clear many of my friends are getting in too, including some who I haven't played games with in years since we stopped playing the same games. Even on launch day, sometimes the disconnections just gave us more chance to voice chat on another server.

So I've been spending a lot of my spare time over the past few days clicking things with friends, and it's been fun. The Diablo experience, for me, has always been about playing with other people. Back when Diablo II came out, my siblings and I learned networking and bought equipment just so we could hook up our machines and click things together! My first laptop, mostly a linux box, kept its windows partition just for playing Diablo. That game was probably also one of the experiences that really fermented my opinion that the players make games a lot more interesting: We still reminisce about sitting in my parents' basement, running around with broken armour, trying to punch Diablo in the nose. That wasn't part of the intended narrative of the game at the time, but that and the Diablo-killing polka became part of our personal narratives of the game.

Playing Diablo with my siblings in the early morning of launch day was all everything I wanted out of the new game right there, especially since we don't even live in the same country anymore. We had a laugh when my sister noticed that "punch Diablo" is an achievement in the new game.

I've actually spent so much time clicking things that sometimes I go to bed with a sore hand to match my sore ankle. (This week I ditched the cane; It's been good, but tiring and my ankle now has a dull ache from use.) Obviously, repetitive strain is a bad thing, but it does make a nice testament to having fun that I don't even notice 'till it's time for bed! My only real complaint is that I can't play with more than 3 other people at a time. Good games + good friends always equals good times.
terriko: (Default)
2011-04-08 04:44 pm
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A Capella super mario bros theme and the awesomeness of Jimmy Wong

I started writing this for the CU-WISE Wednesday fun feature, but it kills me that it won't be shared for a couple of weeks, so you get it now:

There are a lot of covers are the mario bros theme, but this one Jimmy Wong's version is especially cute and singable because it goes beyond the source to make something really fun:

And as if the song itself weren't amazing, the artist himself is a pretty neat guy. Check out the NPR story on him: Jimmy Wong Saves The Internet:

Jimmy Wong reminded me that the tools that can be deployed by the so-called cyberbullies are also freely available to those they harass.


The lyrics are funny and good-spirited, and effectively turn the tables on the original rant. And the song itself has a catchy hook, has been viewed about 800,000 times, and is now for sale on iTunes.

When I was a kid, here's one thing I never thought of saying to a bully who was about to pummel me:

"Hey, don't mess with me. I've got a quirky sense of humor, a great singing voice, and I know how to code!"

But Jimmy Wong and many others are proving those types of creative skills could be a decent way to put up a defense.

Jimmy's Mario song is available on iTunes along with a bunch of his other music, and proceeds are currently going to the Japanese relief efforts.

Other game fans might also love his legend of zelda medley, which is what I'm listening to right now.
terriko: (Default)
2011-02-23 03:19 pm
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Kinect Conductor

When we were playing Kinect games at Dan's on Saturday, a few of us got into a conversation about what other genres of Kinect game we thought would be cool, and we came up with this idea for Kinect Conductor, the symphony conducting game.

I was reminded of this idea when I saw this video promo involving paint, speakers, and a conductor. (More behind the scenes pictures and even a link to the 3d version here). And now I've spent a bit of time this afternoon contemplating what exactly the Kinect Conductor game would be like.

Brainstorming ideas from the weekend and from while I was making lunch today:

Basic Gameplay

  • You'd have to learn the basic conducting patterns: 4/4, cut time, 3/4, 6/8, etc. and keep them up/change when necessary
  • Gameplay could include giving cues to various sections (in real life musicians will often be fine without cues, but in game maybe we'd make them more reliant upon you? Or with a % chance to fail if the conducting isn't great?)
  • Will the game speed up/slow down the music with you, or will you have to keep up with a runaway orchestra? Both modes might be interesting for game play (and both happen sometimes if you conduct...)

Celebrity conducting gigs

  • Celebrity symphony orchestras? I'd love to conduct the Boston Pops, or my local NACO... (And, ok, I admit it, I'd love to have real symphony orchestras getting bonus income from video games!)
  • Mickey Mouse mode, where instead of seeing a symphony you get to do something like Mickey in Fantasia with stars and waves and awesomeness. Like those paint-covered speakers in the image above, maybe? Might be too trippy, but fun?
  • Speaking of cartoons... what about conducting to match other famous ones, like the Bugs Bunny/Barber of Seville one?
  • Or what about musicals? Famous movie-musicals?

Advanced Modes

  • Will you get a full score with actual sheet music on screen? Maybe a simplified one? Is real sheet music too hard to use or is it enough to get the shape of things even for those who can't read music? (I think it's doable, but I've got a lot of musical training, including conducting.) Would full sheet music be "expert" mode? Would full sheet music even be legible on a TV screen?
  • Will you have to turn the sheet music yourself? Again, could be a different game mode/advanced mode like racing games that sometimes force you to shift a manual transmission and sometimes go all auto.
  • Soloist game mode, where the conductor has to follow a soloist who may interpret the piece in a different way on different run-throughs? Hard for people who are only really good at pattern repetition and not improvisation and adaptation, but probably more reasonable.
  • Actually, I wonder if you could work improvisation into some sort of disaster recovery mode for the main game? Some conductors are amazing at skipping a beat and grabbing us again if necessary.
  • Stage musical game mode, where the conductor needs to learn when to cue music into a scene and needs to learn to repeat sections if something happens on stage and the scene goes too long?

I'm much too excited about this and kinda want to try some kinect hacking, since it seems doable if I set up a little midi orchestra to make some music... but I don't really have time, so I'm braindumping it for now and hoping that'll help me clear the fixation and get back to my day job.

But I kinda wish I could just put this in the xbox downstairs and play now!
terriko: (Default)
2011-02-17 01:24 am
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Jonathan Blow on why social games are evil

If you haven't read this interview with Jonathan Blow (creator of Braid), you really should.

Some choice quotes:
A game like World of Warcraft or Counter-Strike or whatever is way more social. Because you actually meet new people in clans or guilds. You go do activities together and help each other out, right?

[With certain social games] it’s about the game exploiting your friends list that you already made, so it’s not really about meeting people. And it’s not really about doing things with them because you’re never playing at the same time. It’s about using your friends as resources to progress in the game, which is the opposite of actual sociality or friendship.

I've always said the really addictive part of games, for me, was the people. Now I'm just disturbed by that interpretation of the use of people in fb games...

Designers know what they are doing. They know when they show up in the office – “My goal is to degrade the player’s quality of life”. They probably won’t think about that exact phrase. But [will think], “My goal is to get people to think about my game and to put more money into my game and get other friends to play my game to the exclusion of all other games and all other things that they might do with their free time.” That is the job description of those designers. And that’s evil. It’s not about giving people anything. It’s about taking from people.

Now go read the interview: Jonathan Blow interview: Do you believe social games are evil? “Yes. Absolutely.”
terriko: (Default)
2011-01-20 01:11 pm
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Geek Feminism: Women in modern games: Let’s hope for a trend towards more awesomeness!

Another post up at Geek Feminism: Women in modern games: WoW Cataclysm has some pretty cool women in it. Let’s hope for a trend!

We've filled a lot of linkspams with discussion of negative reviews of World of Warcraft from the feminist perspective. While I still think "I KILL THINGS WITH MY LADYBITS" may be the best description of fantasy art I've ever read, it does get tiresome hearing again and again how dubious the gaming industry's attitude towards women can be. (Not because that's the wrong impression, but because it's so bloody obvious at times that it hurts to be reminded.) So I was really happy to see Now that’s what I’m talking about: the women of Cataclysm (Alliance edition). It's nice to see Blizzard improving upon their often problematic depictions of women.

Read on for more about one of the WoW ladies and one female character who surprised me.
terriko: (Default)
2011-01-03 12:20 pm
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I'm doing science (and I'm still alive): Games and the scientific method

It's the time of year where people evaluate their lives and look back over the previous year, and with that in mind, I'm going to bring you a not-about-new-years post about gaming and science to mess up your reflective blog feeds. If it helps, it's a reflective post about gaming and science.

But they were pretty good at figuring out how to defeat the bosses. One day she found out why. A group of them were building Excel spreadsheets into which they'd dump all the information they'd gathered about how each boss behaved: What potions affected it, what attacks it would use, with what damage, and when. Then they'd develop a mathematical model to explain how the boss worked -- and to predict how to beat it.

Often, the first model wouldn't work very well, so the group would argue about how to strengthen it. Some would offer up new data they'd collected, and suggest tweaks to the model. "They'd be sitting around arguing about what model was the best, which was most predictive," Steinkuehler recalls.

That's when it hit her: The kids were practicing science.

You can read the rest here: "How Videogames Blind Us With Science"

My gut reaction to this article (which is actually several years old, but new to me) is "well, duh." When we neighbourhood kids got interested in a new game, we might have skipped the spreadsheets, but we definitely would resort to exploring in a structured manner if we got stuck. We'd compare notes, share ways to beat challenges, and sometimes try to improve upon the techniques (only sometimes because many games weren't really flexible enough to have multiple solutions).

I guess I'm missing some of that collaborative effort nowadays in that I can always just look up game faqs if I got stuck... but because I like people and because my brother and I grew up with a community of friends to ask for help rather than a community of internet FAQs and wikis, sometimes I ask people instead of the internet because it's more fun. And goodness knows, my sister and I have been comparing Super Scribblenauts solutions all week. ("You solved that with a mosquito? Why didn't I think of that? I made an undead blood-sucking harpy!")

I grew up in a household with two scientist parents, so not only was experimentation a daily fact of life, but the word "hypothesis" came into our lexicons fairly early on. I've grown up looking through life through a very scientific lens as a result (also a very biology-oriented filter, which accounts for my very ecologically-oriented view of computer security, but that's another story). My parents were constantly frustrated with my early science education, and I'll bet they'll find this next paragraph pretty familiar:

One of the reasons kids get bored by science is that too many teachers present it as a fusty collection of facts for memorization. This is precisely wrong. Science isn't about facts. It's about the quest for facts -- the scientific method, the process by which we hash through confusing thickets of ignorance. It's dynamic, argumentative, collaborative, competitive, filled with flashes of crazy excitement and hours of drudgework, and driven by ego: Our desire to be the one who figures it out, at least for now. It's dramatic and nutty and fun.

I actually didn't go into proper experimental science because I'm terrible at drudgework... easily bored, and not very good at the rigour required, and used to be prone to spending more time avoiding a boring task than doing it (at least until I learned perl and other automation tools). (My sister became the scientist, since as she likes to put it "I excel at boring tasks" -- but it's really that she's organized, precise, and takes a lot of joy in implementing a consistent system. I went into security because I like breaking things; she does regulatory work because she likes making things consistent. Sometimes, we have noticeable overlap in our skills and jobs, other times not so much.) I went into non-experimental computer science, though, because I love the collaboration and the competition and the ideas and the learning. But I hadn't really thought about my unsuitability for experimental science as being related to the reason I don't go into massively multiplayer online games hoping to be the first on the server to down some big raid boss.

But I do science with every new game I play, as do my friends. When we picked up Dominion (a card game which includes a variety of types of cards, and you chose some subset of them to use for any given ame), we'd play a few rounds and argue strategies and then try to implement them in different ways to see how they played against each other, or changed the groupings of cards to see how it changed the strategy. I guess maybe some people play these things closer to their chests and won't share with their friends, but we toss in a few new cards and suggest to play off each other because that's part of what makes it fun for us.

So now I'm thinking... what to games do to make sure they stay in that fun exploratory part of science and avoid the drudgework? And the answer of course is that they don't really avoid the drudgework. Earlier games had you wandering around "grinding" to get your character high enough level to take on the big boss... Let me tell you, playing final fantasy III on my DS was at times significantly less fun than "grinding" courses for my PhD has been. But they've done a lot to provide fun while you do that. One relatively modern invention has been letting players level their guild (I first saw this in Dungeons and Dragons online, but I expect the idea's been around longer... it's only recently gone into World of Warcraft) and we were shocked to discover that doing the same darned quest for the 4th time wasn't nearly as bad when there was a chance that we'd get to guild level 2 that night. Achievements, leaderboards, crafting, even ridiculous pets... there's a lot of stuff tangential to the end game that makes getting there more fun.

How do we put that joy back into science education? I'm not talking about gamification in the modern sense; I'm talking about those great teachers we managed to get. My chemistry teacher (and many others) did it through fun demo science: he'd do experiments we weren't ready to do on our own and had us all on the edge of our seats waiting for the final explosion... or sometimes the final terrible pun. Even his "you have to be careful in the science lab" talk at the beginning of the year included opening a book that promptly burst into flame. Each lecture was filled with discovery, even when it was tangential to the point. (The lecture on molar concentrations involved terrible puns involving moles and mole-asses.) And of course there's actually *doing* the hands-on experiments ourselves, which can be incredibly fun when they're well-chosen and interesting.

I guess in hindsight, we put the joy into science by enhancing the opportunities to learn and discover and accomplish... very similarly to the way we put the joy back into gaming.

Perhaps it's not really that surprising that there are a large number of scientist-types who also enjoy gaming, and that gamers will employ some science to tackle the challenges within a game.

And finally, I'll leave you with the last lines of the article, which made me smile:

At one point, Steinkuehler met up with one of the kids who'd built the Excel model to crack the boss. "Do you realize that what you're doing is the essence of science?" she asked.

He smiled at her. "Dude, I'm not doing science," he replied. "I'm just cheating the game!"
terriko: (Default)
2010-10-17 01:42 am
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Sometimes, I do not appreciate games.

But I *do* appreciate the folk with whom I game:

P: Wow, this quest is... questionable.
P: Seriously, they're asking me to torture some dude? I'm not undead, man.
P: Or, you know, American.
K: They're the new poop quest. there's a few of them.
P: poop isn't morally abhorrent in quite the same way as torture is.
K: True, I'm just saying they replaced the poop quests from bc with torture quests.
P: I'd rather poop.
P: also, this quest is teaching you that you should rely on information gained by torture: something we know in the real world to be rather false.
P: so it's morally questionable on extra levels!
K: yah, i was thinking that the guys should give false information at least once.
P: I think I should get some xp for just saying no and walking away from the rest of this quest line, personally.
K: but we're not americans. it works for them all the time apparently.
P: it works on 24, so it MUST be true!
K: That's the spirit!

This is a big game, and in the past I've just skipped quest lines I didn't like. But at this level, it seems like I can't easily just skip all the quests I find objectionable because there are too many of them and not enough else for me to do instead. And my buddy K there has confirmed that I'm going to be hitting this again and again. Seriously?

All I wanted was half an hour to relax and hide from the noise of my dishwasher using headphones and a game.

Instead, I got a horrific reminder of what people think is appropriate in games. It's the stuff like this, where it doesn't even seem like they meant to shock me, that hurt the most.
terriko: (Default)
2009-10-05 08:49 pm
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Girls, Computer Science, and Games / Computer Games to a Career in IT

This is the last of my posts about my assigned sessions at GHC09, but I'll probably write another one or two after I get some more photos uploaded. Stay tuned!

Gail CarmichaelGail Carmichael hit upon the idea of doing a 1 week course on games for girls when her university was soliciting proposals for "enrichment mini courses." These courses are largely attended by grade 8s (~13 year olds), typically the advanced students from the local schools. They're intended to give the students a one-week taste of the university environment. If you are interested in running such a program, Gail suggests that there are often similar programs in other cities, local summer camps, local WISE groups, the Girl Guides/Girl Scouts and many others who could help set something up.

The idea was to do a "head fake" -- get the girls excited about learning games, but manage to teach them computer science topics at the same time. The students seemed to crave the harder stuff, and really were excited about being told things like "they don't learn this until second year university!" once the girls had shown that they understood this difficult concept. Gail suggests that we shouldn't be afraid to give students complex concepts.

She notes that another thing the girls craved is Starbucks coffee... who knew?

When teaching younger students, variety seems to help a lot: Gail incorporates videos, lecture time, small groups, whole class discussions, lab time, and the activities from CS Unplugged.

It's interesting to note that Gail's advice for engaging younger students is very similar to the advice offered during the Best Practices for Introductory Computer Science session, which focused on university-aged students: get the students to work together, use interesting themes to motivate problems, and don't be afraid to give the students hard stuff.

The girls created games using the free tool GameMaker, chosen because it is relatively easy for the girls to make games from the drag-and-drop interface without learning programming. (As someone else who has taught students both with and without this interface, I'll add that for first year students, syntax errors can be a huge stumbling block. Tools like GameMaker allow them to create programs without typos making them frequently feel stupid and inadequate, which is a pretty huge advantage for beginners.) Some other (similar) game-creation tools that might be useful include Alice, Kodu, and Scratch.

So, how successful was it? Gail has run the course twice, and did informal surveys at the beginning and end of the course. Most of the girls thought computer science was a reasonable career for a woman, even before they took the course. This is perhaps not surprising, since they were at least interested enough to sign up for the course. But the real payoff was seeing that the girls really did like computer science more after having had a week to try it out.

Questions during Girls, Computer Science and Games

Gail ended up having the entire hour to herself, since the second speaker, Anne Marie Agnelli, was unable to attend. This gave an opportunity for Gail to showcase one of the games created by her students, as well as have a longer question/discussion section. In fact, the second half of the presentation became much more like a Birds of a Feather session where a variety of women talked about their questions and experiences.

For more notes, including those from the question session, and links to Gail's course materials and slides, see the excellent notes on the girls and games session on the Anita Borg Institute Wiki.
terriko: (Default)
2009-09-19 02:06 am
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Joystiq helps EA find the path to redemption

Originally posted on Geek Feminism

EA has been promoting one of their games with some pretty dubious deadly sin-themed marketing stunts. Their "lust" stunt left many of us unimpressed, but with their "greed" stunt, they gave Joystiq a chance to put them in their place...

However, the latest stunt is a little more creative. They've mailed this editor, and presumably the editors at several other media outlets, a check for $200. The packaging says that "by cashing this check you succumb to avarice by hoarding filthy lucre but by not cashing it, you waste it, and thereby surrender to prodigality." If your SAT dictionary isn't at arm's length, that last one means wastefulness. So, we either cash it and "succumb to avarice" or burn it and be wasteful. What's an ethical gaming blog to do ...

So what did they do? Well, after EA's not very female friendly booth babe harassment contest, Joystiq decided that EA could use some help on the road to redemption... And they'll be cashing their cheque and donating to a women's charity in EA's name.

Well done, Joystiq!

[full story on Joystiq here]
terriko: (Default)
2009-09-19 12:31 am
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As I tweeted:

Have I mentioned how much I love @telltalegames lately? Free game for #talklikeapirateday http://playlikeapirate.com #ARRR

My favourite game company just gets more awesome.
terriko: (Default)
2009-09-08 02:20 pm
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Home again, home again, jiggety jig (some PAX roundup)

I'm back from PAX. I'm taking today off for recovery and important errands like groceries so that I can eat for the week. Since finishing my library books is part of my travel recovery plan, I figured blogging could be part of it too.

As expected, the conference was good fun. My team of 4 raised over $300 for child's play, which makes me think that maybe I should consider doing a cookie fundraiser at the university or something. I doubt I'd raise as much since students are poor, but it might still be worthwhile to turn $20 worth of cookies into a larger donation for sick kids.

Anyhow speculation aside, it looks like the Cookie Brigade as a whole managed around $5000, so go us!

Cosplaying went incredibly well. It was a first time for both me and Susan, and we had a great experience. Somewhat surprisingly, it seemed that the majority of people figured out the Bubble Bobble costumes (which got a lot of attention. Yes, that's us on Kotaku. They also mentioned us for mad props on the first cosplay roundup post. Awesome!) and the people who counted got the Guybrush/Elaine ones (yes, that link is to Telltale Games' twitpic -- how cool is that?)

Here's a couple of pictures I had John take of us:

Bubble Bobble (in front of some glass baubles):
Bubble Bobble

And here's one of us with the voice actor for Guybrush, Dominic Amato (who is a totally awesome guy, and he even had lunch with us later that day!):
Elaine, Guybrush, and Guybrush

Looking forwards to telling my billion little stories of other awesomeness later, but that's all you get for now!
terriko: (Default)
2009-09-01 09:46 pm
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PAX cookie brigade cookies in progress

One of the neat things I learned about last year at PAX is the completely unofficial Cookie Brigade -- a group of people who make and distribute cookies at PAX in exchange for donations to Child's Play, the gamer charity that buys games for kids in hospitals. I didn't know in advance, but one of the friends I was traveling with had a huge pile of cookies for the cause.

Anyhow, I love baking, games and children, so this was clearly something I should get in on. Here's some of the cookies in progress:

Mushroom, Heart, Star, Coin, etc. cookiesInvincibility star cookies (in progress)Pacman and ghost cookies

If you're out at PAX, look for the people wearing cookie brigade badges and donate to receive a button or a cookie! Suggested donation is $1 (although it's up to you!), and I've got little quarter-sized cookies if you're watching your weight, your wallet, or just love tiny cookies.
terriko: Adorable icon care of John (bubble bobble)
2009-09-01 03:23 am
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Adorable icon care of John

I asked John to make this for me (and Susan, although she doesn't know it yet -- snag away, kiddo!) for PAX:

Isn't it adorable? We're doing totally girly versions of Bub and Bob (the dinosaurs from Bubble Bobble) as costumes for PAX, and I can't wait to see how we look in them together. :)
terriko: (Default)
2009-08-11 01:11 pm
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On why I'm going to PAX... and why I don't go anywhere else

My sister and I are currently working on our costumes for PAX 2009. I'm really looking forwards to going again this year because I had so much fun last year.

But PAX is the first fan event I've ever attended where I can say I unilaterally had fun. It's the first event where I've immediately said, "hey, I should bring my sister!" It's the first fan event where I've felt comfortable enough to dress up. I'll dress up in places where I feel safe (the university, the NAC) but I've never felt safe enough to do it at a con.

I don't even attend cons anymore. I used to go out to local events, and frankly, I was stared at, hassled, and generally made to feel uncomfortable. (Don't get me started on creepy otaku, the reason I don't use my middle name in public any more.) I think I even snuck out of one or two events, trying to keep someone from seeing me leave so they wouldn't follow me home. Think that's just me? Read the geekfeminism post on worst con experiences or take a look through other people's bad con experiences and you'll realise I've gotten off light. The local 501st joke about how many times someone grabs their butts when they're out doing their thing... they think it's funny, but most of them are wearing body armour, so it's hard to be really offended. Small wonder I wasn't jumping at the opportunity to put on a metal bikini and join them.

And let's just say that stories like "EA puts sexual bounty on the heads of its own booth babes" haven't inspired confidence that things are changing.

But I was trying to be positive here. So let's talk about PAX.

PAX is the Penny Arcade Expo. Now, I admit I'm not a huge fan of Penny Arcade, but some friends convinced me to go (with the aid of a time-travelling robot, but that's a longer story). So I did.

You most definitely don't have to be a Penny Arcade fan to enjoy PAX. It's a huge gaming convention -- tabletop rpgs, computer games, board games, card games, video games, rock paper scissors in the hallway... if you like playing games at all, you'd find something to enjoy here.

But that's not what surprised me. What surprised me is that PAX feels like a huge community of people who you'd actually like to have as friends. There were people about exchanging cookies for donations to child's play. People brought their families. You could turn to any stranger next to you in line and say, "Hey, want to play a game?" and you'd quickly find something to try out, and possibly a new friend. People didn't get that cranky in lines, because they found ways to have fun. There were so many women about that I never felt out of place. On the second day, I even dressed up in a low-cut tank top and skirt I usually wear for dancing, just to see what happened, and nothing did. I felt as safe and comfy as if I were hanging out with my local friends, even though I was on a show floor with thousands of other people. If someone had told me this before I went, I would have said they were crazy, that they just weren't noticing the bad stuff, but the fact is, I wasn't noticing it either. And I'm pretty attuned after years of bad experiences.

At PAX, I didn't even have to think about being a girl. I was just a gamer, a geek. And that was more than enough.
terriko: (Default)
2009-07-08 01:06 pm
Entry tags:

Done proposal draft, returning to Monkey Island.

Got the latest proposal draft sent off late last night. Not entirely pleased with it, since I was getting somewhat incoherent towards the end, but I'm pleased to see it go.

Promptly installed the new Monkey Island and played 'till I was ready to sleep. The first episode had been released earlier that day, so I wasn't even too late getting to it!

My brother and I played quest games before Monkey Island, but it was pretty groundbreaking for us. Monkey Island was the first game we played where not only were you not penalized for taking the funny conversation options, you were rewarded, and no stupid thing you tried got you killed. It was absolutely fantastic, suddenly having a game that really encouraged and rewarded exploration... and humour! We were hooked, and as my sister got a bit older, she was hooked too. So obviously, we've all been waiting for this game for a long time.

And I most definitely haven't been disappointed! I find the movement system a bit kludgey, but I'll get used to it, and the game has hilarious nods to the old games for those of us who played them, as well as plenty of modern references for people who are jumping into this pool for the first time. And oh, the voice acting! That sort of thing can add a lot to a game, done well, and it's most definitely done well here! My siblings and I still quote our favourite one-liners from previous games, and I'm sure we'll pick up more from the new ones.

One of the perks for fangirls like me who preordered the game was access to a special forum. I thought initially that this was a bit of a lame perk, until I saw that voice actor Dominic Armato was answering fan questions in there. And not just the standard "how do you like voice acting?" but also the hilarious questions one might expect from Monkey Island fans, answered with appropriate wit. And not just a few questions, but pages and pages of them! That's one dedicated and funny man, and I look forwards to hearing him to voices on the re-released monkey island 1, when it comes out too.

So... yeah. I'm taking a couple of days off from writing while my supervisor reads the Frankensteinian monster that is my latest thesis draft. And I'm guessing I'm going to spend a lot of that playing Monkey Island. Thanks Telltale Games, for such impeccable timing!