Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Newest paper sculpt project!

Sonic Screwdriver trio for my friend's birthday.

An interview with Adam Harum of Transolar Galactica.

They achieved their Kickstarter goal, and now the world gets more of their award winning sci-fi comedy!

Doctor Who themed lip balm!

Brought to you from Earthtastic! and A Bit of Geek.

Minecraft paper sculpt!

My submission to the Mojang community art contest. Watch the video!

A TARDIS desk lamp!

Instructions and babbling on how to make a TARDIS lamp from foam core!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Following a blog, never miss another post!

****Before you all dig into the post, I want to give you a heads up that something new and exciting will be coming to A Bit of Geek next Thursday! Be sure to read this entry to make sure you don't miss what's coming!****

Hiya everyone. This week's post will be unlike any that I've presented before. I'm taking a one-time (well, most likely it's a one-time) break from my normal posting to give a little tutorial on how to follow a blog! I figured this would be a handy guide for my own readers as well as anyone who happened to be stumbling through the internet trying to find this information. I've had a few people ask me how they can follow my blog posts to make sure they don't miss any updates, and I thought this was the best solution for everyone. Prepare yourselves for an illustrated guide!

There are a few different ways that one can follow a blog on the great wide internet. I'll cover them here and you can decide which is best for you!

First option is simply checking the blog website regularly. This option is OK in certain circumstances. For instance, I have a few websites that I visit with extreme regularity so I never forget to check them. I know which days they update and I've been reading for so long that it is now a habit. I don't suggest this option for most people. It's easy and common to forget to check a page, or forget a website URL, or go on vacation and slip away from the digital world surrounded by nature and a lack of electricity. Perhaps you ran off to Narnia for a bit and you ate some delicious candy and when you came back home you couldn't remember that you'd ever read a blog. Whatever the case may be, there are a lot of scenarios where one will forget to check a blog. Let's move onto some better ways.

Another OK option is to create a Blogger account. From there you can choose to 'follow' any Blogger/ blogs. You must simply click the 'Join this site' button present on almost all Blogger hosted blogs, and you will be taken to a confirmation page. From there, all updates from any blogs you choose to follow will appear in your Blogger login homepage. Pretty simple! The only issue here is that not all blogs are hosted on Blogger. There are many different host sites, and a lot of folks do their own hosting as well. If you're interested in following only me, then this option would work wonders for you since my blog is on Blogger! Keep reading for the best option.

After clicking "Join this site" you'll be taken to a confirmation
 page. Be sure to confirm! It's easy, I promise!

What your login will looks like once you fill it with
RSS feeds. So many blogs to read!

Best option? RSS readers! In case you're wondering, RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication", which I think is a hilarious name. RSS readers are used to publish frequently updated webpages, such as blogs, directly to you (the reader) through your RSS reader of choice. This may sound a little complicated, but bear with me because I promise it's "Really Simple" hahahaah-ahem. Sorry.

My personal favorite RSS reader is through google! Wonderful, integrated, friendly google. You will need a gmail account in order to use this service, but I don't see why you wouldn't already have a gmail account! Google has so many amazing and great services that if you don't have a gmail account and you make one because of this post then I just opened the door to many amazing internet things! You're welcome.

After taking these screen shots I realized my own google reader
was a jumbled mess, so I organized it. Feels good to be streamlined.

Anyway, more about google reader! Google reader is one of the many off-shoots from the main gmail account. You can access it from your gmail login page, there will be a link along the top menu bar, or you can go to From there, you click on "Add a Subscription" (upper left corner of the page under the "Google reader" logo) and enter the URL of the webpage whose updates you wish to follow. So, click that little button and enter "". Once you've entered the URL of the blog that you wish to follow, click the "Add" button. Your RSS reader will refresh itself, and the newly added blog will appear! Voila!

Once the page refreshes your newest addition will appear at the bottom.
Click on the tiny arrow on the right hand side of the blog name column
and you'll get this handy little pop-up menu.

You can do this for as many websites that you'd like to keep up on. Even if you are away from your computer for an extended amount of time, the blogs and webpages will simply queue up and wait patiently for your return. No more missing out on exciting posts! Another great feature is that you can access your RSS reader from any internet connected computer. It's the same as checking your e-mail! There's no need to remember names of blogs and web addresses, the RSS reader will do it for you. Isn't it wonderful when things run so smoothly?

And finally you could always follow me on Twitter, I update there when a new blog post goes up :]

Just for fun I'm going to throw in a little bit of extra information here.

Did you know that you can access google reader on the go? It's true! Android and iDevices have an application for google reader, making it easy to keep up with your favorite news and blog sites. Just a nice added bonus for those equipped with savvy smartphones.

And finally, here are a few suggestions I have for you to add to your budding RSS reader family! TheBloggess, you will not regret reading about her adventures. Wil Wheaton, entertaining man and Geek insight. Little Chief Honeybee, an inspirational blogger who makes things happen for herself!

Do you have any suggestions for me? I'd love some more blogs to follow!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Real life versus Fallout: What would I do?

Many thoughts go through my head as I traverse the Wasteland.

"Is that a yao guai?"

"Everyone is so rude."

"Raiders pick fights then run away. Why?"

"Oooh, another lunchbox!"

I am developing quite the collection. I have yet to master
getting them to sit nicely on the shelf though...

And so many more along those lines. However, the most consistent thought that runs through my head is, "What would I actually do?" I'm going to be optimistic here and say there's a very good chance that I'll never find out. That's good because, realistically, I'm thinking I wouldn't fare too well.

My repertoire of gaming doesn't hold a spot for violent shooters, or games with any semblance of realism. When things look too real I find myself getting freaked out. This is especially true for any first person perspective games. I don't know about you, but it feels like I'm right there getting shot at! My visceral response is quite strong and it makes for a difficult time staying alive in-game. I'm not sure how many times I've jumped, squealed and/or yelled out of legitimate fright while playing Fallout 3. It has even happened once while playing Minecraft, which was hilarious.

I believe I've mentioned it here before, but I'm going to go ahead and reiterate just in case; I love Fallout, I've been a fan of the series for ten years (which may not be long compared to others, but still). I played Fallout 2 and loved it, and I was so psyched when Fallout 3 was announced. I was working at GameStop at the time and was constantly surrounded by posters, previews and general hype. I wanted to get it so badly, but a few things were standing in my way. Firstly, the lack of a PS3, xbox360, or a PC capable of running it were a big issue. Secondly, all of the footage I had seen, and my extremely exciting hands-on playing experience at PAX 2008, provided enough evidence to let me know that the game was extremely realistic, graphic, and put a large emphasis on first person shooting. Le sigh.

Me with a Brotherhood member and the Pip-boy mascot himself
at PAX 2008. They had the best display I had ever seen.

The one silver lining here was that the guy I was dating at the time owned a PS3, and was most interested in the game. He ended up getting the fancy edition at my request (read: begging) because I desperately wanted the lunchbox. I still had plans and hopes of playing, but after watching him play through I sadly decided it was just too realistic and gross. Limbs flying off, heads exploding, "searching" an errant eyeball. Ew. But still I longed, and harbored dreams of someday sucking it up and playing through the game.

Fast forward to present day, and I'm here in California with Andrew. He has Fallout 3 for his PC, and I moaned and groaned to him about everything I just stated above. He urged me to give it a try, insisting that he'd sit with me and protect me and help me if things got difficult or too scary. I was hesitant, but it has been almost a full three years since the game was released so I thought it was about time I at least tried.

My gameplay started slow, just a few sessions here and there. But now we are playing for hours every night. I cannot get enough. The game still scares me, the graphics are too real and the flying limbs are absolutely disgusting, but it is so fun.

This has been round-about, but it brings me to my point. What would I do? Well, for the most part I try to do what I would do. I always pick the nicest option I can, and I opt to help everyone. I give purified water to the people that ask for it, and I give caps to those that ask. You see, I simply cannot be mean or reckless. It makes me feel horribly guilty. I know it's just a game and just AI, but that doesn't matter to me. Andrew gives me crap for donating caps, but it makes me feel good. Fake, electronic good feelings. They still count!

"Very Good Capitol Crusader", hell yes.

The moral stuff hasn't been too difficult to figure out so far, so keeping my karma at a medium-to-high level has been easy, but we're starting in on some higher level quests that pose very interesting choices.

For instance, my first run-in with a slaver was horrible. I was appalled at his presence and wondered aloud why on earth he wasn't listed as red/enemy on my radar. Every time I see them I want to kill them, even though since they're green it'll lose me karma. But how messed up is that? I will lose karma for ridding the Wasteland of slavers?! My in-game karma is very important to me, but they make me want to waiver. Andrew said there's something coming up later in the game that will have a boatload of slavers and I'll have some decisions to make. I've made my decision. I'll just have to hand out lots of purified water later xD

I recently came into a quest regarding an android that ran away from its maker. I had been tasked with returning it, and then suddenly during my searches to locate the android I was given the option to let the android be free and to report back to the maker that it was 'dead'. I'm not yet sure what I plan on doing. I really enjoy helping people with their quests, but an in-game character made a very impassioned plea on behalf of the android to let him be free. DECISIONS!

Quest information for the android.

To preface this next instance, I'm going to explain that I am absolutely, positively, obnoxiously freaked out by bugs of almost all kinds. I lose my mind and scream and my goodness is it annoying. It's automatic though, I can't help it. Being faced with enormous bugs in Fallout hasn't been fun, per se, but it also hasn't terrified me, which is a relief. I can handle fake bugs, but not fake spiders. Oh no. None of that nonsense.

After a few rousing sessions of gaming and an increased familiarity with the enemies (also the enemies getting larger and more difficult), I was on the hunt for raiders in one of the many dilapidated buildings. As I snuck down a hallway and watched the red dashes appear on my radar, I readied my shotgun for some close combat. I opened the door in front of me to reveal... radroaches.

"Oh" I said, "It's only radroaches!"

I had my in-game character stand up and switch to a lead pipe. Andrew laughs from behind me and says, "If you saw cockroaches that big, you would lose your mind." I laughed as well and agreed with him. I've only actually seen a cockroach twice in my life. Once when I was nine and in Hawaii (it was large) and again just last night! Andrew and I were coming home in the evening and as we approached the front steps of the house I saw something move and jumped back and yelped. He looked down and around and finally saw it.

"What is that?!" I asked horrified.

"It's a cockroach." He said.

It looked nothing like the cockroach I had seen when I was younger, and it also didn't look like the majority of the ones I see online or in books or TV shows.

"It's really small." I commented, bending down for a closer look.

"Seriously? That thing is big." He remarked.

I continued to stare at it, inching closer. At this point it decided to play possum and became very still. It had these crazy long antennae and a long narrow body. I thought it was some sort of grasshopper at first. Andrew then warned me that some kinds of cockroaches like to jump, and he wasn't sure if this kind would, so I promptly stood up straight and stepped away. I wish I had taken a picture of it! It made me think of the radroaches though, and how my in-game character beats the crap out of them with baseball bats, lead pipes and nail boards. Could I ever kill anything with a baseball bat, even a huge bug?

They are very, very big. Photo found here.

I don't think I'd ever survive in the Wasteland.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

The parabeetles and scorpions are trying to kill me.

Where do I even start?! Nintendo held a press conference the other day, which I missed because I forgot about it. However I was quickly filled in on the presentation and have done additional research on the parts that interest me most! Today's post will largely be about Nintendo titles, such as Paper Mario 3DS (good gracious I am so excited for it), an incident that Andrew and I encountered in NSMB Wii, as well as some thrilling new developments in my Fallout 3 file. Prepare yourself!

Two video games, one television.

Since I can't get enough of Fallout and I also can't play it alone because I get nervous, Andrew and I have been spending our evenings playing through it "together". I use quotes because he sits behind me while I play and advises me when I'm about to do something stupid. What a sweetheart. He, on the other hand, can't get enough of Mario for the Wii. He's a nice guy and doesn't want to stop me from playing Fallout, so we've been utilizing the double image feature on his TV. Fabulous! Genius! Endlessly satisfying! The picture above is a little difficult to make out, but that's Fallout 3 on the left and New Super Mario Bros. Wii on the right. The dynamic range of the camera on my phone isn't great (none of them are), so it had a really tough time balancing the dark screen on the left with the hyper bright and colorful screen on the right. My goal was to demonstrate what we've been up to though, and I think I succeeded. 

My adventures through the Wasteland have been fairly mellow. I've been exploring slowly and staying close to Megaton. I'm in the process of leveling up and becoming competent with the controls. Just the other day I killed a boatload of radroaches and one terrifying scorpion and then explored some sewers. Upon my exit of the infested building I was greeted with some mercenaries who were hellbent on killing me. I didn't let them.

See?! "Kill Miranda"! How rude.

In more palatable Fallout news, I have a house in Megaton now! My first task was to find something to collect and then begin decorating. I'm pleased with my decision.

 Click to enlarge and take a gander at my stuff! I have some beautiful lunchboxes on 
display, as well as some really awesome Nuka Cola toy trucks. They're not easy to set down.

I was unbelievably jazzed when I was given my apartment. Andrew mentioned that so long as I disarmed the bomb in Megaton that I'd have a home base where I could store extra items. I had no idea this meant I would get a house! I ran around excitedly exploring each room and talking to my robot house butler over and over again.

My bitchin' Nuka Cola machine that I saved up a bunch of bottle caps for.
PLUS, me admiring my one bobble-head while wearing a party hat that I stole
from a scary clown raider after I killed him. 

When Nintendo announced that the 3DS would have a new, portable Paper Mario I think I peed my pants a little bit. I absolutely adore the Paper Mario series. I know I've talked about this before, but humor me for a minute while I fawn. The gameplay is superb, the graphics are crisp and adorable, the items are fun and unique, the dialogue is witty and entertaining, the RPG style battle system is engaging and satisfying. If you haven't played any of the three currently available Paper Mario games, then please, do so as soon as possible. Here, I'll help you. Paper Mario 64, $18 used on Amazon or through the Wii's virtual console for $10 or $15. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (Gamecube), around $20 on Amazon. Super Paper Mario (Wii), around $10 on Amazon. 

Thousand Year Door is my personal favorite, but the original one is so amazing too. Super Paper Mario is my least favorite of the three. I found the method of progressing to new levels to be too convoluted, and I didn't like that they removed the RPG style turn-based battle system. Fortunately, they've brought it back for Paper Mario 3DS. Take a look!

 Beautiful, isn't it?

Sadly, Nintendo hasn't released any word of when this gem of a game will be released. I'm considering starting a new file on Thousand Year Door just to hold myself over!

And speaking along the lines of Mario, something most perplexing happened while Andrew was playing NSMB Wii other day. We're currently in the process of collecting all of the star coins from each of the worlds. It's proving to be quite the challenge, but one that Andrew is more than up for. I really can't stand playing the same part of a game over and over again, so I've had to sit out on the coin collecting for a while. Fortunately, with our double screen action as shown at the beginning of this post, I can still be a part of our Mario progress while ridding the Wasteland of all the evil I can find. 

But anywho, Andrew was on World 7, level 6 gleefully bouncing from Parabeetle to Parabeetle, when finally he collected all three star coins and completed the level. That wasn't unusual. But this was:

It's a little hard to tell, but he's not wearing his hat!

Upon completing and exiting the level, we both noted that for some reason Mario was not wearing his hat! We both sat, very confused, and Andrew asked me if that had happened before. I said that it had not. Of course, in Mario 64 in the desert level that giant bird can steal your hat, but I've never known it to happen otherwise! Andrew went on to beat the castle for kicks, and he still didn't have his hat. We're still extremely perplexed.

Did anyone enjoy or download the backgrounds that I posted last week? Would you like to see more? Let me know, I'm happy to provide content for your enjoyment! 


Thursday, September 8, 2011

It is fantasy journey time.

This last weekend I had the epic pleasure of playing through a Dungeons and Dragons session. It was a one off campaign DM'd by our housemate's girlfriend. She crafted us a fascinating world with a giant dead god named Azo. He had been taken down centuries ago by necromancers, and his decaying body became the site of civilization; cities, farms and homes. This great, dangerous god was beginning to whisper itself awake, gathering motes of restorative power and threatening to rage destruction across the entire world once again.

We are the grey pieces. The blue guy in the middle had a glowing
orb that we desperately needed. All of the white-ish figures are
skeletons that we happily slaughtered. 

We all spent a good chunk of time rolling up characters, and I'm feeling rather attached to mine. I went with my favored make of a half-orc barbarian. The first time that I ever played DnD I went with a slick elven ranger, and I did not play her well. I simply don't have the finesse or the brains to role play the build. It was a disappointment to me, but at least I was able to quickly learn my path. I believe someone else suggested a barbarian, but it was so long ago that I can't exactly recall.  Either way, ever since then I've rolled a barbarian that is either half-orc or human. The +2 to strength is appreciated, so I lean more toward half-orc. I like to just rush in and swing wildly. This proved to be a poor decision though when my stampeding knocked loose some precariously perched rocks and I lost almost half of my HP.

Sadly, all of that strength doesn't do too much against rocks. Also, I 
eventually named my character Tagli, in case you were wondering.

Oh well.

I'm going to be perfectly honest with you all here; I am experiencing some intense writer's block. I've been working on this blog for over three hours. I've typed sentences and almost paragraphs that I later erased. I've taken food breaks, wandering breaks, TV watching breaks. I've been bouncing ideas off of Andrew and even though I have so much to write about I can't seem to string thoughts together in a way that I am pleased with! It is insanely frustrating. Perhaps I should keep this knowledge to myself, but I like sharing and being honest! Stay with me here please.

The other night Andrew and I took a bunch of painting with light photos. We took a turn for the awesome and started doing wizard/wand shots. Things were starting to go very well and we're going to be having another wizard shoot soon. This is a little bit of a cross post from my photo blog, which I apologize for, but it is just so relevant to my geek blog! There are some really interesting potential Harry Potter things brewing in the mix. It has got me all aflutter because I love me some Harry Potter in a very fierce way. Have I shown you my dedicated shelf? I wish it were more impressive, maybe someday I'll have more things to add to my wand, time-turner and scarf collection :D

I enjoy nonchalantly casting spells.

His monstrous power impresses even himself.

I thought it would be fun to offer up some content that you can have! Would you be at all interested in a background featuring a fantasy dice set? What about a background full of dice in general? I'd love for you to have them! Just click on the image and do a good ol' fashioned right click -> save as! I went with the three most common resolutions (based on a little research), but if your screen size isn't here then I would be more than happy to provide one in your size! Just ask :D

                                            1024x768                                           1280x1024

                                            1680x1050                                       1680x1050

                                              1024x768                                        1280x1024

The fantasy dice set is also a print that is available for purchase here!

I'm hoping that next week's post won't present me with such difficulty (edit: I ended up working on this post for almost seven hours)! But everyone has off days :) Are there any kinds of geekery related backgrounds that you'd like to see? Let me know!

Oh! One last thing and one more story for you today:

It's beautiful.

In February of this year I ended my six year and four month employment stint at GameStop. A lot of interesting things happened over that time, and perhaps I'll have a nice long post about it someday. But for now I want to comment on the fact that the first day that "Zelda Wii" was available for pre-order (because at that point the name 'Skyward Sword' hadn't been released yet) I grabbed my wallet lightning fast and slapped five dollars down to reserve my copy. Whether or not it was a necessary move (it wasn't, the stores will get enough copies at launch), I had a bit of a 'street cred' line of thought going on PLUS I just love Zelda a lot and I was excited to have it that much closer to my hands. I forget exactly when it went on pre-order, but it was well over a year ago. Maybe even two? It has been a while.

Well, I have since left my job and moved out of state. That makes it a bit difficult to pick up the copy that I reserved. Before I moved I decided with a heavy heart that I should cancel my first place Skyward Sword reservation. It was a sad day. But then, E3 came along and Nintendo dropped the announcement of the gold wii motion plus controller. I clearly recall my jaw hitting the floor and saying out loud to no one in particular (because I was alone, you see), "I will have that controller". But how? I couldn't figure out if it would be sold separately or if it would be a pack-in. 

As it turns out, it is a bundle that costs only twenty dollars more. SOLD. Or rather, pre-ordered and now I wait for it to be released on November 20th. The few days of waiting for it to be shipped to me will be a little painful, but I'm certain I'll still be working on my Fallout 3 file at that time so I won't have a shortage of games to play.

Have you pre-ordered your copy of Skyward Sword yet? It also comes with a free 25th Zelda anniversary CD with orchestral tracks from the upcoming Zelda Symphony tour. I think you should be interested.


The backgrounds offered fall under the following:

Friday, September 2, 2011

PAX 2011: Best ever? part 2

--This is part two of a long post regarding my amazing time at PAX 2011! Be sure to read part one for full coverage!--

So I believe that yesterday I promised full coverage of my Wil Wheaton encounter plus Link cosplay photos. Prepare yourself!

Sunday is the day of the PAX that I remember most clearly. Perhaps it's because I was only at the center for about five hours and therefore there wasn't a lot of time for too much to happen. I decided after open to close visiting for Friday and Saturday that I simply had to sleep in on Sunday. PAX is amazing but also incredibly exhausting.

The inexhaustible Robert Khoo inspecting Dark Link's black contact lenses. 

So, Sunday. I decided that this would be photo taking day, so Jacki and I wandered into the hall around 1:30/2 feeling well fed, well rested, and ready to take some fun pictures. That morning I had seen an update from Felicia Day via Google+ indicating that she was at PAX. I think Felicia Day is awesome and incredibly inspiring. I love The Guild and her blog and it would be really amazing to meet her. So I told Jacki that I wanted to see if she was still hanging around. I had been told earlier in the weekend that Wil Wheaton's booth was near the skybridge, and usually she's near him at conventions. As we made our way toward his booth, we were almost immediately distracted by intensely awesome cosplay.

Their costumes were so good, and they were very nice.

One girl dressed as Link, another dressed as Dark Link. Both excellent costumes, neither knew each other. They came separately and ended up finding one another and then hung out for the rest of the day. We waited patiently to ask for some photos of them, and were rewarded with pleasant conversation and a lot of fun images.

That's when something amazing happened.

I stood between the two Links, feeling excited at their costumes and pleased to be participating in such a great experience. Jacki snapped the picture, then started laughing and pointing at a person behind us who had photobombed the shot. I went to look at the camera, which is when someone said, 'Photobombed by Wil Wheaton, that's the best kind!' I was absolutely floored. My first time photographing cosplayers, my first time BEING photographed with cosplayers, my first time being photobombed, and it is Wil Wheaton.

Having the time of my life sandwiched between two Links. The cherry
on top of the best day ever could only be Wil Wheaton.

We all have a good laugh about it, then get the names of the Links so I could send them pictures, then Jacki and I go on our own way. It is then that I go, 'I want to meet Wil Wheaton and get a REAL picture!' So we head back to where we started. The line to meet him was pretty long, but we had friendly people to chat with, and the two Links ended up getting in line behind us as well. I wasn't feeling nervous at all, just excited. I read Wil Wheaton's blog and I follow him on twitter and Google+. He's entertaining and interesting, and seems like a truly nice guy.

I've been feeling particularly happy toward him ever since he posted a video (shown below) of TheBloggess (if you don't read her blog, you really really should) giving a talk about preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Please watch it. You won't be disappointed.

Did you watch it? OK good. I am that third person. Sometimes I flat out don't feel like doing things, but other times I'm too lasjdflijaldjfljadf to do the things that I want to do. It's a thing that I've been working on lately, and I have had a lot of help and encouragement from Andrew (he's wonderful). This video was one of those moments that resonated with me. I wanted to thank Wil Wheaton for his interesting blog and also for posting this video and helping me to do the things I wanted to do.

When it was my turn to meet him and say hello, I was suddenly incredibly nervous. I approached his table and stared wide eyed, a smile on my face. He looked up at me politely, waiting for me to say something.

"Hello. ... It's really nice to meet you. ......................My name is Miranda."

I am so sorry for my derpy face.

From there Jacki took a photo of us together, and then a few more of us talking. I have to apologize for my face in the picture, apparently it forgot the memo that I was supposed to look happy. I can't control my face, it just does whatever the hell it wants. But anyway, I told him how much I enjoyed his blog and that him posing that video of TheBloggess really helped me, and that I probably wouldn't have even gotten in line to meet him otherwise. He was very gracious and kind. Among the books, posters and shirts he was selling, he also had prints that you could get signed. I decided that I needed to have the image of him collating paper that he sent to TheBloggess (hilarious).

This is getting framed and put above my bed.

He signed it for me, remembered my name (and spelled it correctly!) and then sent me on my way. The man next to him told me "$20" and I go, "Oh I thought signatures were free!" and he says, "They are, but the prints are twenty", and I go, "Oh. Oh oh oh! I'm sorry!" I was completely bewildered and star struck and overwhelmed and not paying attention, and then Wil Wheaton goes, "It's OK, you can have it" and smiles and I go, "Really? Are you sure? Thank you thank youthankyou!!" and then stumble away with Jacki asking if I was going to cry. I almost started to cry, so we left.

A photographer from the Seattle P.I. was taking their photos,
so I snuck a few of my own in while they posed.

Friday and Saturday are such a mis-mash in my head still, I can hardly pick out individual instances. I remember playing Skyward Sword at some point, and that was pretty cool. I don't currently own any wii motion plus games, so Zelda was my first experience. It's so much different from what I expected. The motions are incredibly specific, which I am not used to. At the end of my ten minute demo my arms were beginning to feel slightly fatigued from all of the slashing and punching motions. I fully anticipate developing Zelda arms once the game is released in November.

There were some really great new aspects of gameplay, a welcome change from how familiar Twilight Princess felt even as a new title. I was thankful for the long forgotten feeling of total confusion in a Zelda environment. I chose to play the dungeon demo and there was so much to get accustomed to. One of the first things I noted was the ability to shoot down the giant spiders. In previous titles you simply had to wait for them to turn their bellies toward you, then you could slash them. In Skyward Sword you can use the bow and arrow, or the new flying beetle item, to cut their strings. Once the spiders are on the ground they are completely invulnerable except for a gem spot on their undersides. Getting to their soft spot requires specific upward sword slashes, which I found difficult to perform. If you get them on their backs you can then pull off a rather awesome finishing move that involves jumping and stabbing. I was impressed.

Jacki holding our cotton candy from the Kirby room!
I think it really adds to the ambiance here.

My extremely long wait time to experience Skyward Sword and subsequent stumbling around in a level rewarded me with a Skyward Sword/25th Zelda Anniversary lanyard. I do so love good swag. I also had an opportunity to play Mario Kart 7 as well as Super Mario 3D Land. Mario Kart felt the same as the previous DS offering, except the addition of optional 3D. It was fun enough, but I'm not sure it'll be a title I feel the need to buy. Super Mario 3D Land was amazing though. A beautiful cross between Mario 64 and Super Mario 3, the environments were puzzle laden and challenging, comfortingly familiar at its core, but still very fresh. I played the demo level with the raccoon tail present, a power up that I have always loved and sorely miss from recent iterations of the series.

I found it peculiar that the power-up item is the brown leaf again, but it turns Mario into the whole suit, much like the Tanooki suit. But, you don't turn into a statue, or at least I couldn't figure out a way to do it. Sort of perplexing. If it were just the raccoon suit then it would only be ears and a tail, right? Oh Mario, you'll never stop making me think about you. Either way it is a definite buy once it is released.

Two of my three purchases from Sanshee. Jacki and I bought these both (we 
really enjoy matching one another <3 ). The right image is earrings, by the way.

As a closing thought, I'm going to mention Sanshee, a really excellent company that has been in business for about two years. They started on the east coast and now do conventions all over the US. Their products are incredibly awesome and clever, and their designer and (one of the) owner(s) are super nice and thankful! Jacki and I went back to this booth four times I believe. The first time we just wanted to look at the wares, but upon closer inspection we realized that we needed the itemsThis shirt in particular I fell in love with. Hard. And then my heart was ripped out when I was told that it was a preview and the shirt would be for sale on the website in about a month. My credit card is quivering with anticipation. 

Rockin' it. Although wearing it makes me
drink more soda. Hm.

Instead, I opted for this excellent Nuka Cola shirt. I love it I love it. Considering my long-standing affection for the series, and the fact that I finally started playing Fallout 3, I am beyond thrilled to have a garment to reflect my feelings. Jacki and I purchased multiple items from them and had a few very pleasant conversations with Arty, the designer and one of the owners. What a pleasant fellow! When asked if they would be returning to PAX next year, he said yes. We were very happy about that. I encourage people to check out their website, the shirts are really grade A. Also, any Pokemon fans will be thrilled to see these. I can't wait to see what new products they release!

Oh, one more thing. We all know that I love Minecraft, and Mojang (the company that does Minecraft) was present at PAX this year. What's more is that Notch (creator of Minecraft!!) was at PAX as well! I had a pipedream of getting to meet him and thank him for his game. I also wanted to tell him how Andrew and I used it as a way to 'hang out' while I was in Ireland for three months. It really helped the distance to feel less... huge. I checked at the Mojang booth multiple times each day, but no luck in finding him. On Sunday I ended up at the booth one last time before closing and happened to meet a guy that works for Mojang as a business something-or-other. I chatted with him for a few minutes expressing my appreciation for Minecraft and my woes at not finding Notch. He then ever so kindly directed me toward Jeb, a developer for the game! I happily bounded over to him and asked him to sign my badge, all the while telling him the same story that I would have told Notch if I had had the chance. 

Jeb, a developer for Minecraft.

I don't know what other people's experiences were for this year, but this was definitely my best PAX ever. Hopefully after reading my posts you'll share the same sentiments :)


Thursday, September 1, 2011

PAX 2011: Best ever? part 1

--This has been split into two parts for its ridiculously long length. Part 2 will go up tomorrow :)--

It's certainly a bold proclamation. I have attended seven of the eight PAX shows (not including PAX East, which has been going for two years), and each has contained something truly wonderful. For a week now, even before the PAX weekend began, I have wondered what this blog entry would contain. Would it be long, or short? Would I have had such an amazing time that simple words would not suffice? Would this be a dread year, lacking in personal interests and I would be short on stories? And if fantastic things did happen, how would I choose which ones to share with everyone?

I sit here, hands poised over the keyboard and a mostly white screen staring at me. The week's passing has not eased the writing process. The wonderful truth is that many amazing things happened. I had what was probably the most incredible PAX ever. But why? Seven out of eight shows, and this one was the best in my mind? I suppose I'll start by examining why I believe this is the case. Don't worry now, it's a very simple answer.

Jacki loves Wicket. A lot.

Participation. That's it. See? I told you it was simple. All those years of attending one of the greatest video game conventions in existence and I finally started to participate. Every year I go and sure, I have fun. I play the demo machines in the expo hall and I attend panels and laugh along with the crowd. I stand in lines among my fellow gamers and I relax in the handheld lounges. But this time I talked to people. I engaged those around me and I got over my intense fear of I-don't-even-know-what. Of course it helped that my absolute best friend was there with me. She makes everything better.

As a result, I had an extremely memorable PAX. I had the one-of-a-kind social experience that almost a hundred thousand gamers have. A new friend everywhere you turn. What could be better? The tall man in line for a free ICO shirt, the friendly cosplayer in line for a signing. The amazingly talented and sweet female Link and Dark Link cosplayers who not only posed for pictures, but found us later and chatted with us. The developers who are happy to meet rabid fans, and the new vendors who are overwhelmed by their product's popularity. The incredibly kind man that is Wil Wheaton, the total strangers who welcome newcomers with open arms to play fun and complex board games. This was my weekend.

Wil Wheaton, in all of his dick cape glory,
signing a photo of himself collating paper.
You'll get the full story tomorrow!

I considered doing a run-down of each day, but that would take far too long. Plus, so much happened on Friday and Saturday that it felt as though a whole week had gone by and honestly I just can't remember everything. You will be given the highlights and spared the exhaustion! I don't have any particular order in mind, so I'm going to start writing memories as they come to me. I hope that's alright.

On Friday night I did something that I have wanted to do every year that I've attended PAX: go to a board game room and play with some strangers. I didn't care which game or who I was playing it with. I desperately love board games of almost every kind, and there aren't nearly enough of them in my life. I am beyond thrilled that Andrew and one of his housemates love board games because now they are becoming so much more present in my life. I always knew that playing at PAX would be a good time. The convention provides a monstrous array of games for attendees to check out and play, and many PAXers bring their own from home as well. The game that Jacki and I had the pleasure of playing was Battlestar Galactica.

Our playing field for Battlestar Galactica. I lost my presidency, which made me angry.
It was in that moment that I chose to reveal that I was a Cylon. It may not have been the
most tactical choice, but it felt good to throw the presidency thief into the brig. Mwahaha.

She happens to love the show, I have never watched it before. It seems right up my alley though, I certainly love Farscape, so I'm sure I'll give it a watch before too long. We played with some friendly folk, two were from the Seattle area and the other two were a couple from Australia. They were traveling all over the U.S. hitting various conventions over the past month. I believe they left for home yesterday, and I hope that they had a pleasant journey back! The game was really fun, but also fairly complicated. Although in my recent exposure to a bunch of new board games, it would appear that they're all complicated. Moreso than something along the lines of Monopoly (which everyone is familiar with). So long as all players can be patient, things will eventually get going. We didn't have the chance to finish our game, but we enjoyed what we did play.

Something that has always been lacking in my PAX experiences (that was very prevalent in other people's) is good free swag. If you're unfamiliar with the term, swag is free stuff received at an event. There are always swag bags, and occasionally they have something fun, like a toy or a d20, but for the most part I feel pretty 'meh' about the bags. After the weekend is over I invariably read about people who won great items in raffles, or managed to snag some super awesome rare shirts. I usually leave empty handed aside from the merchandise that I paid for. I don't mind though, because that merchandise is most likely a fun shirt or one of the newer books. Happy faces all around!

This year, however.... this year, I walked away with three supremely great and limited edition free shirts. The first one was a total accident. I feel a little badly about this, but after seven attendances I think I deserved it. My friend James and I made a beeline for the Sony booth first thing on Friday morning. We heard from our friend Jake that Sony was giving out ICO shirts at 10:30. I may go so far as to say I'm a 'die-hard' fan of the Team ICO games, so I had to get in on that. While we stood in the monstrous expo hall attempting to piece out where we needed to go, vendors started excitedly urging us to play Resistance 3.

Is it just me, or does faded orange seem like a strange color for this?

If anyone knows me, they will know that I am not an FPS fan. I am terrible at them, and they're too violent for my tastes. But, I was at PAX, so what the hell? James and I shrugged and walked up to the rows of empty demo machines. I picked up a controller and thought, 'I don't even know which buttons do what.' The round started and I experimented with each button, figuring out scope, shooting, grenade and duck. Before I could finish all of the buttons I was killed by the opposing team. 'Oh well', I thought to myself. I hit respawn and continued mapping the rest of the controller. BAM, I was dead again. I laughed to myself and went, 'Well at least I know how to play now'. I respawned again and aimed at the first enemy I could find. I had already forgotten which button I needed, accidentally threw a grenade at a teammate, then was killed again. I shrugged and looked at James, who didn't appear to be having much more luck.

The round was then over and we were corralled to the other side of the display where we were told to line up for t-shirts. Again James and I looked at one another and shrugged, then got in line. We were given what turned out to be extremely rare (only 100 given out for each day) Resistance 3 t-shirts. They had a small option, which astounded me, and it's actually a very comfortable shirt. I like it.

More exciting though, and less serendipitous, were the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus shirts. I stood in line by myself for the ICO shirt, and chatted up a very tall man in line behind me. The announcer reminding people that they were giving out shirts at 10:30 kept pronouncing ICO as 'ee-ko', and I am fairly certain it is pronounced 'eye-ko'. I used this thought process to strike up the conversation, and we were well entertained during the wait. The ICO shirt ended up being bright orange, which was weird, and the smallest size available was medium. A bit of a bummer, but it appears to have shrunk a tiny bit in the wash. I will wear it either way.

The Colossus shirt is actually greenish in color, and the ICO is orange.
The colors are all out of whack from my phone! Apologies. Also, the font
on the ICO shirt reads, 'Never let go.'

Saturday had Jacki and me lining up at Sony for Shadow of the Colossus shirts. The line was positively astronomical. By the time we were up to the front they were out of mediums! I grabbed a larger size anyway, and one of the vendors said they'd be giving out shirts again at two. Jacki and I lined up again, and the second time around I managed to snag a medium for myself! This ended up working out very well because I was able to give the larger shirt to Andrew. I love happy endings.

For tomorrow: read all about our encounter with Link and Dark Link cosplayers, which lead to my insanely awesome opportunity to meet Wil Wheaton! PLUS, chatting with a Minecraft developer and the new online shop that Jacki and I are in love with. All that, and so much more.


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