Archive for the ‘General Nerdom’ Category

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Battle Bards 19: Dead MMOs

January 7, 2014

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

We’re starting off a brand new year of the show with the theme of…dead MMOs. Hey, I thought it was weird too, celebrating beginnings with endings, but this is what the overlords willed.

In any case, even as Syp, Syl and I journey back through sunsetted games, I can’t complain about the quality of the music. These MMOs may be no more…but their songs shall live on in all our hearts!

LISTEN NOW

SWG

Episode 19 show notes
  • Introduction (including “Karakorum” from Auto Assault and “World Map 2″ from The Sims Online)
  • “Freedom Theme” from City of Heroes
  • “Birth of a Player City” from Star Wars Galaxies
  • “Little Girl / Guild Hall” from Meridian 59
  • “LoadingH” from The Matrix Online
  • “Blue Turns to Grey” from Tabula Rasa
  • “Met With Honor” from Warhammer Online
  • “Griddle Forest” from Glitch
  • Which one was our favorite?
  • Outro (“Rattle Tooth Theme” from Dungeon Runners)
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Ambrov X: A Sime~Gen RPG Kickstarter

September 5, 2013

Ambrov X

Just wanted to share something cool I discovered recently — well, credit actually goes to my friend M.L. Brennan who first brought it to my attention. She’s an author and went to Worldcon last weekend where she got to chat with Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, two impressive women writers in the world of sci-fi and fantasy fiction, who are also now involved with the development of a video game based on their Sime~Gem Universe. By all accounts, they had a fascinating discussion into the representation and role of women in the business.

Anyway, an indie dev studio out of Cincinnati called Loreful is the company behind the game, and they now have a Kickstarter up for Ambrov X, a single-player, action-adventure space opera episodic RPG featuring story-driven gameplay and diverse characters:

Set in the award winning Sime~Gen Universe by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, Ambrov X casts players in a far distant future as leaders of an unlikely but elite crew tasked with planting space beacons which allow for faster than light space travel. The Ambrov X saga unfolds into an action-packed story of first contact. Complete with epic battles and emotional decision making, Ambrov X brings to life the single-player, story-driven RPG through a thrilling space opera adventure. Ambrov X is scheduled for a 2015 release on Windows, OS X and Linux. With alternate releases for XBOX, PS4, iOS and Android to be released at a later date. On Sept. 3rd, check us out on Kickstarter to JOIN IN THE ADVENTURE!

Ambrov X also made news earlier this week with the announcement to bring in Jennifer Hepler (video game writer extraordinaire who wrote for BioWare and did work for Dragon Age and also the story for one of the coolest classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic — the Smuggler, of course!) when the Kickstarter reaches it $750,000 stretch goal. In a recent update, Hepler says, “We are reaching out past the “straight white male” demographic and trying to create a game for anyone who loves a good sci-fi story. Players can play any gender and romance any gender they want. Because who am I to come into your living room and tell you how to play?”

So check it out! I’m really excited about supporting this nifty indie game, it’s pretty awesome looking. You can visit the Kickstarter page and look at the details here: Ambrov X

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I Tried My Hand At A New Hobby Over The Long Weekend…

September 4, 2013

Painting miniatures is something I’ve been drawn to for a while, but I’ve always held back, feeling awkward that I don’t actually play tabletop games. I thought I’d be committing some horrid faux pas by doing that.

Well, after having been assured by several kind folks that this is entirely not the case, I decided to go for it. My area of focus in art has run to working with pencils and graphite in recent years (because it’s a much, much, MUCH cheaper medium) so I figured this would also be a great way to maintain my painting skills, because boy, am I rusty. And though I’ve done traditional art painting in the past on canvas, models, sculptures, woodworking and even rocks, I don’t think I’ve ever confined myself to doing so much fine detail work; while the painting techniques will probably come back to me in time, working consistently on such a small scale will likely be the hardest thing to get used to.

mini

To experiment with painting minis (and to make sure I won’t actually end up hating it), I started off with the Games Workshop starter kit which comes with one generic brush, a paltry selection of paint colors (I actually caved in and just had to go out and buy a yellow…I cannot abide not having at least all my primaries) plus five elf soldiers. These are my first attempts (my first mini! I shall name him Kent!) A few more, and after eventually getting some actual decent frickin’ brushes, maybe I can move on to some undead.

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Defiance The Show: Some Quick (And Spoiler-Free) Thoughts

April 17, 2013

Defiance

I was finally able to watch the pilot episode of the TV show Defiance last night, and I have to say, I haven’t felt this excited about a program on SyFy in a long time. I mean, for a futuristic dystopian-type series on cable, it’s about as good as you can ask for.  And man is it refreshing to finally see something on this channel that I could really grow to like, because in recent years I’ve been this close to giving up on good old “Siffy”.

Right from the start, I was drawn into the story — and it helped that I already felt connected to the characters Josh Nolan and Irisa, since the three of us had some good fun shooting up mutants in game together last weekend. In a way, it was like seeing an old friend again, like, “Hey, wasn’t I was reviving your downed ass just last Saturday? Dammit, you were supposed to be covering me, Nolan! Why couldn’t you have been more like Irisa and stayed behind cover?”

But I digress. My point is, even though these two characters are no longer around in the game, they are the show’s main focus. And here I am, already a steadfast member of their fan club (and I have the outfits in-game to prove it).

Anyway, by all accounts, it seems the show’s premiere drew generally positive reviews and opinions. Well, here I am adding my vote to the YES pile. I gotta say I liked what I saw. Literally too, as in the show was an hour and a half of pure eye candy. The colorful sets, gorgeous costumes and make-up and the CGI were simply incredible, and they did a superb job of drawing you into that world.

Which kind of makes me worried, actually. So many of my favorite TV shows that aren’t around anymore have been done in by mounting costs, and I sure hope the team can keep up with the expenses of such high production values (I mean, from the looks of it, their custom contact lenses budget must have accounted for a hefty dent alone). But I’m sure in the end it was all worth it, because visually, Defiance was astounding! If you saw the final battle scene, you’d know exactly what I mean. I swear I just want to watch that part over and over and over.

The plot did take a while to ramp up, but given it was the pilot and that they had a two-hour slot to fill, in the end they did a good job of setting things up. The supporting characters were interesting and made for some good laughs. Even though the show just premiered and I know it’s still too early to tell where it’ll go, I can’t say I was disappointed. I definitely enjoyed the first episode, and I hope for the show’s continued success.

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Read Lately: SWTOR: Annihilation

January 4, 2013

SWTOR AnnihilationI have to say Annihilation is probably one of the better Star Wars books by Drew Karpyshyn, which is quite a relief after the train wreck that I thought was Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan. It’s amazing what a good writer he can be when he’s not being rushed. Now that he is no longer at BioWare, I’m glad he left us with this before moving on to his future endeavors.

For a while we’ve known that Satele Shan, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order during this time in the Old Republic, has a “secret son.” We met Theron Shan when he first appeared in The Lost Suns comic. Now he stars in his own novel, which further explores his activities as an undercover agent and operative for the Republic, but the book also reveals a lot more about his parents’ history and his own mysterious past.

I could tell Karpyshyn had a lot of fun writing Theron’s story. It is my experience that characters in books based on movies/TV shows/video games, etc. very often read like caricatures and hardly ever feel like real people. However, I thought Theron had a clear personality right away, and even found myself taken in by his confidence and dry wit. I also enjoyed acquainting myself the supporting characters like Teff’ith the Twi’lek, whose weak grasp of Galactic Basic was a nice humorous touch, as well as finding out more about Master Gnost-Dural, whom fans of SWTOR will no doubt recognize as the keeper of the Jedi archives.

The story is pretty much your run-of-the-mill fare, but very entertaining nonetheless. There were of course the obligatory space combat and lightsaber battle scenes, but I was surprised at how well done they were. Drew Karpyshyn is extremely adept at writing good action, but I was even more surprised to see how skillfully he tackled some of the emotional issues in this book without making them sound overly contrived or sappy. Like I said, he can be very good when given enough time to develop his characters.

One last thing I should note: I listened to the audiobook of this, courtesy of my library’s digital collection. Though I’m confident to claim Annihilation as a solid entry to the world of Star Wars novels, in the interest of full disclosure I must also mention the possibility that the quality of the audio version may have influenced my opinion. For one thing, it was my first experience with a Star Wars audiobook, so I’ve only just discovered the talent of Marc Thompson, who is probably one of the best audiobook narrators I’ve ever come across. His voices are simply phenomenal, and together with the sound effects and music I was just blown away.

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My Top 5 Gaming Highlights Of 2012

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! Here’s my first post of 2013, whose title I confess should really be “My Top 5 Gaming Highlights of 2012…And Then Some” because while 2012 was indeed a great year for games and gamers, admittedly I found myself struggling to come up with pure gaming-related entries for this list. It’s not that I haven’t been impressed with the industry’s offerings this year so much as I find myself with less gaming experiences to draw from, because the truth is I played less games these past twelve months than I have in recent years. Time has been so tight, there are so many games on my to-play list that I never even got a chance to go out and buy, let alone play. I can’t say that I’ve ever been so behind before.

Then again, so much has also changed in my life in 2012! Let’s take a look back at the memories:

5. Pet Battles and the Return of the Dynamic Duo

Pandaren

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria released on September 25th. I won’t go as far as to say it’s my favorite expansion so far, though I’m aware it is for many. Nevertheless, I’m still playing it more than three months later, which is already more than what I could say for its predecessor Cataclysm.

I will say that the new expansion has provided me more reasons to stick around, even after hitting the new level cap. For one, the companion pet battling and collecting system has me hooked — 431 pets to my name so far, and I’m still hunting, always hunting. Also, the mister and I have both taken a break from the endgame grind to work on a couple of Pandaren Monks. More than anything, I love playing MMOs with my husband. Leveling characters has always been our special way to bond, and nothing brings us closer than facerolling our enemies together with our Spinning Crane Kicks.

4. 122 Books

stats

I’ve always been one to go looking for challenges, which I have to say sometimes leads me to give myself some pretty random dumb goals.

As with most random dumb goals, I didn’t really have a reason for it, but a few years ago I just decided one day that I wanted to read 100 novels in a year.  I attempted several times, coming so close in 2011 at 83 books, and being pathetic I went and retroactively lowered my Goodreads challenge that year to 80 just so I could get the achievement badge. Well, no need to fudge the numbers for 2012; I kicked the challenge’s ass with a total of 122 novels and so you can even say I read enough to make up for last year.

Interestingly, the more I read the lower my average rating for books seem to get. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting more critical, or that more books under my belt just simply equals more mediocre ratings.

3. Mercy Gaming

Mercy Gaming

2012 was a rather turbulent year for Star Wars: The Old Republic to say the least, and neither has it really been smooth sailing for a lot of us who kept our subscriptions going until free-to-play. I think the most gut-wrenching part of it all the worrying I did about whether my Republic and Empire guilds will fall apart. After all, I got to meet and play with an amazing group of players, and I’ll always have SWTOR to thank for that.

I needn’t have stressed myself. The Republic Mercy Corps and Imperial Mercenary Corps may be shadows of what they once were in the game, but many of our members have kept in touch. Rebranded Mercy Gaming, the guild lives on, becoming a multi-gaming community that continues to adventure together in games like Guild Wars 2, Borderlands 2, The Secret World, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, PlanetSide 2, and many many more. It’s always a party with these folks, who have all become my very good friends.

2. The Secret World

TSW

Never have I ever played an MMO like TSW. The only other game that even came close to capturing my heart and blowing my mind this year was of course Guild Wars 2, but even that gets edged out, albeit just barely. For one thing, while my playtime in GW2 has tapered off until I can find more time in my schedule, I am still playing TSW regularly each week because I just can’t seem to get enough of this game! I suppose it does have a certain je ne sais quoi that made it stand out to me above the rest, and it’s not just the unique genre or playstyle.

For one, I like that it came out of nowhere and surprised me (in a good way). In fact, months after its release it’s still regularly doing that. While it’s far from perfect and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, it does sometimes feel like with every issue update and TSW Monday, I fall hopelessly in love with this game all over again.

1. “Baby Mogsy”

MMOGC Jr

Welcoming our first child in February 2012 definitely made me and my husband a lot busier. While taking care of a baby has left me not as free to do a lot of my hobbies anymore, I’m loving motherhood and I cherish every single moment I spend with my little girl, even though she’s probably the biggest reason why my time spent gaming has dropped so dramatically in 2012! But you know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Even from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I’d gladly give up anything for her.

Our daughter has changed our lives, bringing us such joy and making us feel blessed each and every day. At 10 months old now, every moment with her is like an adventure. She is just full of surprises, and I don’t want to miss a single one!

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Read Lately: A Bit Of Everything…

December 21, 2012

Looking for something to read this holiday season? Here are some of the better books (3 stars and up) I’ve read since September, the last time I wrote one of these posts. 2012 has been a great year for reading, that’s for sure. As always, feel free to give me a holler over on Goodreads if you have a profile; I love talking books with fellow avid readers. These days I’m mostly reading fantasy and sci-fi, but in general I’m always up for trying anything.

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Daemon This was an interesting gem, reminiscent of Michael Crichton with a unique action/thriller take on the world of MMORPGs and video gaming. A caveat, though — this duology (its sequel is Freedom(TM)) is pretty dark, violent and depressing, and hardly paints the most positive or flattering picture of gamers. But can you really expect otherwise from a story about a legendary game developer gone psychotic from a fatal illness, triggering a virus with his online obituary that sets off a chain of murderous events threatening the world’s economy and society? A fun read, nonetheless, if you don’t take it too seriously. That goes especially for folks with extensive knowledge of programming and computer network systems, I suspect.

King of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

King of ThornsIf you enjoyed the first book Prince of Thorns (which I highly recommend too, by the way) then you pretty much have to read this follow-up. The thing with this series is, if you’re familiar with fantasy, then many of the story elements and tropes will feel familiar…except just add a generous dollop of twisted and messed up.

Also, the main character is bit of an asshole. He’s older now, but that hasn’t really changed from the first book! But if you’re okay with that and are in general into the “dark and gritty” fantasy sub genre, then this is a great offering.

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

casual vacancyYeah, J.K. Rowling, as in the author of the Harry Potter books. Though I have to say there’s nothing fantasy or child-friendly about this, so it’s probably not a surprise that most of the disappointed reviews I’ve seen so far seem to be from readers comparing it to HP. In fact, I would probably stay far, far away if you’re expecting the same kind of magic, either literally or figuratively, because you won’t find it here.

Casual Vacancy is a contemporary drama, and Rowling’s first novel for adults — and it’s as “adult” as you can get. But one thing that hasn’t changed is her propensity and talent for writing incredible characters. If you think you can tolerate the thought of the author of one of your favorite childhood series writing about sex, drugs, violence, racism, abuse, poverty and all other manner of depressing stuff, then I’d say go ahead and check this out. I’m glad I did, after all. I was so hooked by this book.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

snow crashAn oldie but a goodie, as they say, and I know damn well I’m about twenty years late to this party. Still, despite enjoying the hell out of this book, at times it was difficult for me to become fully immersed and it wasn’t until I finished it that it occurred to me — perhaps cyberpunk just isn’t my thing. It’s unfortunate to say the least, though I’m glad I finally got to read what is considered by most to be Stephenson’s greatest classic. I wish I had a little more interest in some of the philosophies and concepts in this book, but on the whole I can recognize and appreciate their merits. Worth reading for the experience alone.

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

throne of the crescent moonMmm, good old delicious “Sword and Sorcery”, with a touch of Arabian Nights. Admittedly, this causes the plot line and all the characters to start to feel formulaic after a while, but the unique setting of the book went a long way in making up for this.

I also enjoyed the writing, though the formal and almost lyrical style of it had the unwanted effect of making the storytelling feel “flat” and seemingly uninspired at times. Regardless, I’m still impressed. Great fantasy debut from a new author.

Hard Magic by Larry Correia

hard magicThis book was fun. There’s really no other good way to put it. Granted, it may take a while for readers to get drawn in, but that’s because so much of the beginning was devoted to world building and character development. Still, patience pays off. This first book of the Grimnoir Chronicles takes place in probably one of the most awesome and unique fantasy worlds I’ve ever had the pleasure to come across in speculative fiction.

This story, about a secret magical society tasked to protect people, has a bit of everything — hard-boiled noir, alternate history, steampunk, science fiction, and urban fantasy. There’s magic and superpowers and sky pirates and gangsters and zeppelins and, oh hell, like I said, this book was fun.

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

cold daysLet’s face is, there are no bad Dresden Files books, just some that are better than others. Personally, I wouldn’t say Cold Days is one of the best, but it was still very good. If you like wizards and magic and action, then this series is definitely for you. At least in this latest installment, there’s so much of all that it’ll make your head spin. That said, I think there was a missed opportunity here for more meaningful and emotional moments.

Unfortunately, at this point, none of the Dresden books are standalone anymore, if they ever were. Part of me really misses Harry’s humble detective roots, when things in his life were less crazy and complicated (well, relatively) and didn’t involve as many end-of-the-world scenarios. Still, I loved the ending to this, and I’m looking forward to the next book more than ever.

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

red countryProbably the best book I’ve read all year. Too bad it came out so late in 2012, because in my view Red Country deserves way more attention and accolades than it has gotten so far. If you’re already a fan of Joe Abercrombie and haven’t read this yet, all I have to say is, do not wait. Especially if you enjoyed his First Law trilogy and especially if you love his characters and especially if you’re a fan of westerns.

Those familiar with the John Wayne Western film “The Searchers” will probably recognize the story immediately — our main character Shy South sets off on a journey with her adoptive father to find her little brother and sister who have been abducted by bandits. But Joe A adds his own brand of writing to the main conflict, his own dark style of gritty fantasy. Seems like I’ve been recommending a lot of dark fantasy lately, and maybe one day I’ll get back to reading more of the cheerier stuff, but still! I just loved this one — with all its shocks, twists, battles, humor, dialogue and characters — so, SO much.

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