Wednesday Poll

Here is this Wednesday’s Post.  Its about this show:

SHIELD-cast

Advertisements

PMG Presents: An Intro to Roguelikes and FTL

PC gaming is very unique in the type of games it cultivates.  The games are, for the most part, more casual than their console counterparts.  On the PC you see a lot more puzzle platformers, building sims, and Roguelikes.  Now this brings up an important question: what exactly is a Roguelike?

The name “Roguelike” comes from a game released in 1980 called RogueRogue was a relatively simple game about making your way to the bottom of a dungeon, retrieving treasure and returning to the surface.  It was much more interesting because it implemented procedural generation as well as a permadeath system.  The game had no graphics and was represented by numbers, letters, and symbols.  It stands as the grandfather of all Roguelikes.  A Roguelike is, by definition, a RPG which most often features level randomization and permanent death, and the combination of these features alter the RPG genre into something entirely different.  In most RPGs there is a deep focus on story and characterization.  Roguelikes take away from the well-thought out story and the characterization and insert a level of deep challenge and replayability while keeping the core mechanics of RPGs.  Most RPGs deal with character development through the player’s choice of equipment, letting them become a warrior, ranger, wizard, etc., but in Roguelikes this development is supplanted by picking up items which are randomly spawned in no particular order.  In a game like Binding of Isaac, a fine example of a Roguelike, your progression, and your potential strength is entirely determined by random chance and encounter.  Along with the permadeath feature, the characters lose all depth and one playthrough will often blur into another.  But on the other hand, when playthroughs last less than 30 minutes because you die and are sent back to the beginning, the game gains an enormous amount of replayability, which is a Roguelike’s strength.

Today I’d like to share with you a very unique and very fun Roguelike by the name of FTL: Faster Than Light.  The title refers to a type of stardrive called a Faster Than Light drive, which allows you to travel faster than light.  You play as the captain of a Federation ship delivering valuable information across several sectors of space to the Federation HQ, fighting your way there through pirates, rebels, and automated drones.

Before each session you are allowed to pick a ship, name it what you want, and then customize your crew.  Initially you start off with only one ship and one layout for the ship, but as you complete different achievements and events in game you can unlock others.

The game world is divided into multiple sectors.  Each sector is divided into various star systems where you stop along the way.  At each you are presented with a random event, though most can be categorized in one or two ways.  You either jump immediately into a fight, or you are given a choice as to whether or not to visit a distress beacon, which most of the time means a fight.  The fighting entails targeting a system of an enemy ship and launching an all-out assault on it until it breaks down.

This game is not a dog-fighting simulator, but a resource manager where you reroute power and your crew to aid the fight.  On your way towards your goal you will come across countless merchants and be given countless chances to upgrade your ship in its power capacity as well as weapons and subsystems.

Though FTL is fun, it definitely has its weak points.  For one the difficulty can be very frustrating, even on easy mode, I can honestly say that in the many times I’ve played through FTL I’ve only ever reached the final level once and I have never beaten the final boss.  Another frustrating point is how difficult it can be to unlock the other ships.  In FTL there is little to no sense of progress in between the many deaths besides the unlocking of new ships and new layouts.  Since it is difficult to unlock the other ships you often go on thinking that you’ve made no progress in the game and even when you do it’s such small progress that it often goes overlooked in the long run.

Despite this you will never find another game like FTL.  You will play it and you will have fun for countless hours as you roleplay as your favorite Star Wars/Trek/Gate/etc. captain/crew.  You will find yourself playing some rounds as the safe runner, avoiding conflicts, while other times you’ll be a fearless daredevil looking danger straight in the eye as you fight your way across the galaxy.  If you do plan on picking this up you can find it for $9.99 on Steam, though if you’re lucky you’ll catch it on the Humble Indie Bundle for $3 or $4.  Live Long and Prosper.

-PMG

My Saturday/Hall H Experience aka the Greatest Day of My Life (sorry Tracy)

Saturday was a true tale of the human condition.  A day that spoke much about what makes us different than the other life forms on this planet.  Day four was all about hope and perseverance.

I had two goals on my mind for Saturday.  I wanted to buy one of Blizzard SDCC exclusive toys (shadow illidan) and I wanted to go see the Marvel panel at 6:00pm.

9:45am Saturday July 20, 2013

I headed to the exhibit hall as soon as I could to get in line at the Blizzard booth.  I was delayed a good 15 minutes by the Hall H line crossing in front of our pathway to the convention center.  Upon arriving at their booth, I was told where the line formed and headed to see about 60 people already in line.  The wait for that was going to be a long time and based on what I heard about the Hall H lines, I figured I would cut my losses and just head to the line for the Marvel panel.

9:57am Saturday July 20, 2013

I got in line for Hall H.  I was in line with a few people who had been to the last few Marvel panels in Hall H and they were extremely optimistic about how short the line was this year.  So we began to play the waiting game.

11:13am Saturday July 20, 2013

We wait.  We hope.  We dream of marvelous announcements.  Thankfully, I found a chair that was discarded and I claim it as my own.  I will attend this panel.

1:34pm Saturday July 20, 2013

We continue to wait, hearing news of amazing announcement from other panels, we are all excited to hear what is to come from the Marvel team regarding the next slate of movies.

2:47pm Saturday July 20, 2013

I was starting to get a little nervous about getting in.  We don’t appear to be moving.

4:25pm Saturday July 20, 2013

The nerves are mounting as no one appears to be leaving the other panels in Hall H.  The more people leave, the more people are able to enter the hall.  Still, we have hope.

5:46pm Saturday July 20, 2013

A few people have left, but not nearly enough to make way for the people in front of us in the line.  We will persevere and make it into Hall H.  We have to.

6:02pm Saturday July 20, 2013

It is now clear that we are not going to get into Hall H.  8 hours.  I waited for 8 hours in line and didn’t get into the panel I wanted to.  I have experienced my first comic con fail.  I headed back to the hotel and checked out information online about the upcoming movies and I am extremely excited.

Even with all this being the case, this was easily still my favorite day of SDCC.  On the way to the exhibit hall at around 9:40am, it happened.  The one thing that had never fathomed actually occurring really happened.  I am honestly not the type of person to get star struck.  I met a few celebrities this year and it was always cool, but I was never at a loss for words with the interaction.

Then I met Joss Whedon.

I was transformed into the biggest fanboy in the world.  I wanted to play it cool and not ask for a picture or anything since he was just trying to leave the hotel, but I knew at the very least that I wanted to say something.

Should I just nod my head and say something like “sup” while we walk past each other?

Should I say something more sincere and heartfelt?

Play it cool Eugene, play it cool.

Oh crap, we are getting close to each other and he sees me staring at him.  It’s put up or throw up time.  Quick brain, do something.

“Hey Joss…sorry to interrupt you.”

“Hey, what’s up?”

“I just wanted to tell you that I am a huge fan and you have inspired me to tell more stories.”

“Oh, thanks.”

“Also, I love you.”

“Uhh, thanks man.”

Then I realized that we were both going to walk out of the same door before I stopped him, so, instead of following that interaction up with me trailing him outside, I pulled my phone out and started pretending like I was doing something while he left the hotel.

Playing it cool: mission accomplished.

Still though, I met Joss Whedon.

Joss. Freaking. Whedon.

It made standing in line for 8 hours with no pay off totally worth it.  I mean, I wish I had gotten into Hall H, but I can now honestly say that I have gotten to meet one of my role models.

Overall, my SDCC experience was really amazing.  I know I am going to do all that I can to make it out here next year too.  It is my hope to bring some more folks from Denton with me next year too so I can help them navigate the area, deal with feeling overwhelmed, and truly get their geek on at comic con.

The Missed Opportunity of the New Doctor

Spoiler Alert:

I am about to talk about who is the next person to play Who.  So do not be offended (for stating who it is) when I state his name and give my two cents.

 

Actor Peter Capaldi has been announced as the new star of BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who.  The 55-year-old Glasgow-born star will be the 12th actor to play the Doctor, replacing out-going lead Matt Smith.  Capaldi is best known for his role as foul-mouthed spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker in the BBC series The Thick of It.

Peter Capaldi is the oldest actor to fly the TARDIS since the first Doctor, William Hartnell, in 1963.  He will replace Matt Smith, the youngest ever Doctor at 26 when he was introduced in 2009.  You might think that age is where my main concern is coming from, but you would be mistaken.  I only have issue with the age of Capaldi because of how the modern Doctor has been painted with his companions.  Almost everyone has had either an all-out love feeling for the Doctor, thank you Ms. Rose Tyler, or at least a flirty relationship with his companions.   This might strike some as odd but when a near 60 year old guy hits on a 20 something most of the world doesn’t exactly find that cute.  But to be honest it’s not that big of a deal for me something else is.

doctors

The main issues I have with the decision of to place Peter Capaldi is about what he is not and that is either a woman or a person of a different race.  I feel like the creators of the show had an opportunity to make a statement, a bold statement at that, that a person with amazing powers doesn’t need to be a white dude.  There are so many amazing actors in England that could have had their names be called for the show that would do a stellar job.  One such name is Idris Elba, best known for his role on Luther.  I believe he would have made an amazing Doctor.  He is a super polished actor and already a well-known actor.  The show’s producers could have “shocked” the world when the Doctor regenerated and there sat a black man at the helm of the TARDIS.  An even bigger statement would have been stated if the doctor was played by a woman.  Two great choices that even fit into the same age bracket as Mr. Capalidi are Helen Mirren and Tilda Swinton, again two great actors that could have added a different dimension to the story of the Doctor.  Sadly though with Steven Moffat as one of the head writers of the show I don’t think we will ever have a truly strong consistent female character on the show regardless of if she is the Doctor or not.   River Song is the only strong female character that he has wrote and she ducks in and out of the show more than a prairie dog on a hot day.

Helen Mirren and Tilda Swinton

Do not mistake my ramblings as any ill feelings for the show or Mr. Peter Capaldi, I actually think that he is going to be a great Doctor.  He brings a certain element of danger to the show that we didn’t get with Matt Smith.  I just feel that the creators of the show had an opportunity to make a statement about race or gender and didn’t capitalize on it to their full capability.  So with all that said who can’t wait for the Christmas Episode and a kick off of another season of Dr. Who?

SDCC – The Flight and Preview Night

Day 1 – Wednesday July 17th (The Flight)

comic-con_logo

After waiting at my gate for a few minutes, I could tell something was going to be different about this flight.  I was surrounded by a lot of different people that were freely allowing their geek flag to fly.  I saw a variety of hats, shirts, bags, and shoes that were plastered with movie, comic, or video game properties.  My flight was going to get me to San Diego a few hours before preview night started.  Preview night is (explain preview night).  Our flight was overbooked, as is often the case, and when the airport staff made an announcement saying this, it was no surprise that the masses of SDCC fans who were hoping to attend preview night did not budge.

This feeling continued when we boarded the plan.  I heard one conversation in first class about Walt Simonson and another about GLaDOS and when I got to the regular seating, I hear even more conversation about Marvel movies in general, what autographs were most sought after and which “off-site” SDCC events people were looking forward to attending.  I was finally amongst my people.  Normally, I am not much of a “talker” on plane rides, but the woman I was sitting next to changed that on this flight.

Her name was Janna and she is a massage therapist from Dallas.  After I sat down, she asked if I was going to “the con.”  When I told her I was and that it was my first time, we talked for about an hour about SDCC and geekdom in general.  She told me she has been attending cons for the past ten years and this is going to be her 5th time attending SDCC.

It was a really cool conversation and laid out the first seeds of just how huge this was actually going to be.  I think she told me a few times, “it is alright to be overwhelmed.”  Although I believed her and everything, I did not know quite how true those words were going to right true before the day ended.

Day 1 – Wednesday July 17th (The hotel and Preview night)

Upon landing, I got my bags and headed to the hotel to meet up my friend Brian MacDonald who works up at Rutgers University in New Jersey.  He spearheads their amazing Geek Week (https://geekweek.rutgers.edu/) and does some really awesome stuff up there for their students.  This past year, they even had the Nerdist himself, Chris Hardwick as their keynote speaker.  Check out their site to get a sense of the amazing things happening up in New Jersey.  Once I got settled in our room and met his brother and soon to be sister in law, Brian took me to the convention center for registration and preview night.

imagesCAZSQKBE

One of the coolest moments of my entire life was seeing my nametag with one amazing word written below it.  PROFESSIONAL.  Well mom, I finally made it…I am a professional geek and I have the nametag to prove it.

After that, we headed to the exhibit hall.  With it being preview night, I walked in knowing that there were not going to be too many people with passes that could get them into the exhibit hall that night.

SWEET

MOTHER

OF

GOD

So, I was wrong.  The first thing that struck me was the size of the exhibit hall.  There were rows marked off by the hundred (100, 200, 300, etc.) going all the way to five thousand.  5-0-0-0. Sheesh there was a ton of stuff there.  I was legitimately overwhelmed (and I mean that in the best possible way).  I wanted to split myself into a thousand different people so I could go try everything.  I also wished each of those versions of me were rich so I could go buy everything.  Seeing booths of products/companies I had only ever seen online was amazing.  Seeing the intricate cosplay on display was breathtaking.  It was just…amazing.  I spent about 3 hours walking around looking at stuff.  I was experiencing such sensory overload that I do not think I took a single picture for the first hour or two.  The exhibit hall was pretty spectacular.

DSC_0036

From there, I headed up to the preview screenings (in Ballroom 20, the second largest room after the legendary Hall H) and caught the last half of Almost Human and the first ¾ of The 100Almost Human was pretty awesome.  A good mix of action and humor while still be extremely intriguing regarding where the story will go.  It is not too much of an original story (honest cop in the future who doesn’t trust machines), but it is a very interesting take on this story.  I will definitely be watching this in the fall. Check out IGN for a full review of the premiere (http://www.ign.com/videos/2013/07/18/almost-human-premiere-review-comic-con-2013).

That was followed up by a few short trailers for new shows and then the premiere of The 100.  This was a show that is very much a CW show.  If I end up watching this, it will be one of those “guilty pleasure” shows.  It wasn’t good.  There were a few parts that you could tell were not meant to be funny, but the whole Ballroom was laughing at together.  It was still fun and a little interesting.  We will see on this one I guess. Check out IGN for a full review of the premiere (http://www.ign.com/videos/2013/07/18/the-100-premiere-review-comic-con-2013).

After that, I was pretty much exhausted, so I headed back to the hotel and met up with my roommates.  Who knew that spending five hours being a professional geek would be so exhausting?