Archive for September, 2011

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Asura: Cute But Definitely Not Stupid

September 12, 2011

Like many others keeping up with news on the AAA MMOs currently in development, I’ve had my eye on Guild Wars 2, and I’m so excited that it’s finally Asura week!

While I follow all the gaming news websites and relevant Twitter accounts, I also rely heavily on Hunter’s Insight blog to make sure I won’t miss a single thing on GW2. In fact, for as long as he’s used it, it was actually his blog banner that first sparked my interest in this peculiar race of floppy-eared, diminutive geniuses:

I can’t help it; I have a weakness for anything that adorable. And yes, I do realize I shouldn’t say that too loud, lest I want my throat crushed by a golem.

That’s why I really enjoyed reading today’s dev post by Matt Barrett on Asura design, though admittedly I find any commentary to do with concept art and design fascinating in general. It did remind me of a time when the Asura weren’t so cute, and instead looked like something you wouldn’t hesitate to roundhouse kick through the window if you woke up face-to-face with one in the middle of the night. I liked seeing the evolution of a design for an original race, because while tiny tinkering creatures like gnomes and goblins abound in the lore of other intellectual properties, it was really cool to witness a soup of ideas and concepts like “ambition”, “complexity”, and “underestimated” on paper gradually take shape and come to life in the form of an actual creature on a canvas.

I very much love developer posts like this, especially on subjects dealing with the “art” side of things (need more artist commentary videos!) and also because in my heart I’ve already chosen the Asura to be my race of choice. Like I’ve mentioned before, I don’t usually find myself attracted to the small, punt-able races, but there’s just something about these little guys and I have to make an exception. And not just because they’re cute as hell. Though they really are.

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3DS Adventures: Take It To The Streets

September 9, 2011

Today I want to talk about a new addiction of mine. And I warn, the euphoric hit I get from it is going to sound completely ridiculous unless you have had the pleasure of experiencing something like it for yourself.

My new drug is the Nintendo 3DS’s Streetpass system. This little handheld has proven its worth to me a thousand times over, especially during last week’s power outage, and thanks to my car charger I was able to keep it juiced up everywhere I went.

But I guess what started the obsession actually happened a while before this. One day, I was at the mall shopping for a pair of yoga pants, and when I looked down into my purse and — BAM! — there was that little green light on my 3DS telling me I’d gotten a tag. Someone in the last few minutes had passed by me with their own 3DS, and in that split second our two systems had traded information. I opened up my 3DS, checked out my Mii Plaza and saw to my surprise I had actually tagged not one but two people during my short time at the store.

It was that moment I became hooked. When I had first heard about Streetpass, it sounded like a pretty cool feature BUT OH GOD YOU WON’T HAVE ANY IDEA HOW AWESOME IT FEELS UNTIL IT HAPPENS TO YOU!!!

With wireless communication turned on and your 3DS in sleep mode, it will automatically send data about your Mii and the games you’ve played to people you meet on your travels (who also have their Streetpass enabled), and vice versa. I’ve since developed a habit of taking the 3DS with me whenever I go out. Every time I see that green light, I get all giddy. Unreasonably, excessively so.

It still doesn’t happen as often as I like, but I’m hoping news like August’s 260% increase in 3DS sales and today’s launch of the new “flame red” 3DS will mean more Streetpass opportunities in the future. These days, I seem to have the most luck at the mall, where I get at least one tag every time I go, even if it is just “Mike the Gamestop guy”.

Game and electronic stores are almost guaranteed to give you a hit, and I’m sure if I went to a gaming or comic convention in the city I’d be in heaven picking up random people left and right (wait…that didn’t really sound right…) but to me, that’s a little like bamboozling the system. I much prefer the random Streetpasses that I get by simply going about my daily life, the encounters that some people in the community have taken to calling “wild Miis”. Leave it to Nintendo fans to make everything a Pokemon reference.

Ever since my husband traded in my old DS Lite for a 3DS of his own, things have also gotten a lot more interesting. Our systems tag each other every morning without fail as he makes his way to work, and the thing is, once you encounter someone more than once you can choose to leave custom personal messages to each other. And yes, in case you’re wondering, we do leave each other intimate notes — turns out there’s just enough space for “Buy more milk!” but not enough for “It’s recycling day!”

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The Catch-Up

September 6, 2011

Well, earlier last month I expressed hopes that August would be a little less “turbulent”, and what happened? We had an earthquake and a hurricane came hurtling up the east coast. Such as it was, we lost electricity for five days last week in the wake of Irene. Still, trees and branches toppling onto power lines every time we even get a slight breeze happens to be a very common occurrence in my area, so no harm done. I know things could have been a lot worse.

Losing power, however, did mean putting a damper on one’s gaming and blogging lifestyle. Even after power was restored it took a while to get the house back in a state fit for habitation (hey, after almost a week in the dark, you’d be surprised to find how much you just don’t give a damn anymore). I was able to play a little catch up this weekend and read up on things I missed last week, but other than that I haven’t really had the chance to do much in terms of gaming.

I missed the bulk of information coming out of PAX Prime this year, only getting bits and pieces from random tweets in my Twitter feed during the power outage, and from catching up on reading blog articles from last weekend. Granted, I know PAX is a fan convention and I was mostly paying attention to MMO-related news especially with regards to upcoming titles, but for better or worse I guess nothing really big happened.

Though if my computer had been connected to the internet last week, I think most of my time would have been spent refreshing The Secret World site, even though after the countdown clock reached 00:00 a whole lot of nothing happened. OMG, it could have been part of “the plan”, after all! Of course, I found out afterward that I was already registered for their beta for doing their “personality test” way back when oh who knows how long ago.

Here’s the thing: I would be thrilled if I got into TSW beta, but I do draw the line at anything that involves the words “requires Facebook”. While participating in the full experience apparently ups my chances, I have a strict no-whoring-myself-on-Facebook policy, call me an old softie but that’s just how I feel.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a game I’ve had on my radar screen for a while, and after it got good reviews from critics and the people I know I decided to pick it up. Ended up buying the Xbox360 version because every once in a while I want to remedy the fact I’m neglecting the poor console. Unfortunately, I was literally in the middle of playing this game when the power went down last weekend, so I haven’t had the chance to get very far. What I’m really liking so far is the story, which is something I knew I could count on, though sadly I have to say the voice acting is rather atrocious.

Perfect World Entertainment has plans to make Star Trek Online free-to-play later this year.

You don’t say.

I didn’t think the news of STO going where many others MMOs have gone before was going to be that surprising, considering how almost everyone including myself has been expecting an announcement like this ever since Champions Online went F2P. I admit I’ve sort of wanted this to happen for a while now, ever since I realized the F2P model probably better suits the pattern with which I play STO.

When the hurricane arrived last Saturday, Rift’s half-birthday celebration was like the last thing on my mind. I assumed it was over when we managed to get back online again late last week, but to my surprise the perks notification was still popping up and sure enough our alts were still benefiting from the extra experience gain. I didn’t even realize Trion had decided to keep the event going on for another week until just now, citing the east coast weather problems as the reason for the extension.

Honestly, I don’t think anyone was beating themselves up over not being able to take advantage of the half-birthday bonuses, not when there are so many other things that take priority in a storm, but I have to say I am seriously impressed by Trion’s consideration.

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