Friday, May 1, 2015

Roleplaying

Our group weekly topic this week is Roleplaying!  I haven't really done much of it honestly, but I wish I had gotten into roleplaying more.  I haven't ever been worried about the stigma associated with it, I just haven't had a good opportunity to dig in.

I've only tried DnD a few times for probably less than 8 hours total.  My brother did some DMing for my family and we all seemed to like it.  The problem has always been scheduling.  It's hard to find time for a group of people to sit down and game on a regular basis.  It's only gotten more difficult afte having kids.

I'm hoping to try out more DnD and attempt some other role playing systems once my kids get a little bit older.  I think they'll have fun with it, and it gives me a great excuse to get into the hobby.

The main thing on my roleplaying radar at the moment is Thornwatch.  I'm really excited for the Thornwatch roleplaying game from the Penny Arcade guys!  I love their work, the world they've created for the game, and the things they're doing to streamline playing and DMing.  I think I'm going to try to DM Thornwatch for some people once the game is eventually released!

I'm actually going to PAX for the first time later this year and one of the main things I want to check out while there is Thornwatch!  I'll definitely report back when I do.

As always, it's time for the Friday link-up!  If you're reading in a RSS feed click through to see the majesty.  Drop in any link from the past week that you thought was exceptionally good!



Thursday, April 30, 2015

X-Wing Rogue Squadron


I'm continuing down the path of re-exploring some of my favorite childhood novels in the Star Wars universe.  I'm finally to the part of the New Republic Era of books where it starts to get really good.  I just finished reading X-Wing Rogue Squadron and I'm surprised to find that it's still as good as I remembered it.

I was afraid this series wouldn't hold up.  I haven't read these books since I was a teenager or earlier.  It's still fantastic.

Rogue Squadron is the famous squadron of X-Wing pilots that developed out of Red Squadron from the first Star Wars movie.  Most of the well known pilots have either died or moved on when this series picks up.  Only a few veteran rogues are left to rebuild the squadron with new members.

It's a good primer on a few of my favorite characters from the Star Wars universe, Wedge Antilles and Corran Horn.

Wedge was one of Luke's friends and he is the current leader of Rogue Squadron.  He's the most veteran fighter pilot and he's been a huge part of the rebellion's success.  He's one of the pilots that took out the second Death Star.

Corran Horn is a CorSec officer turned Rogue Squadron Pilot.  He has the background of being a police officer for the Corellian system and an amazing pilot.  As Rogue Squadron diversifies and has more ground engagements he really starts to show his skills.  He eventually goes on to become a Jedi.

This is also a great series because characters are introduced, developed, and killed throughout the series.  We are now far enough away from the movies' main cast that most characters don't have plot immunity.  Bad things can happen to them and they can actually be put in real danger.  It makes the series so much better.

This particular book in the X-Wing series shows the reformation of Rogue Squadron with new pilots and the way the Squadron starts spearheading the New Republic push toward Imperial Center.  The Emperor is dead but the Empire lives on.  The New Republic is gaining the upper hand, but they haven't freed the galaxy yet.

I had so much fun reading this one that I'm excited to immediately jump into the next book in this X-Wing series!



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Rithmatist


I love Brandon Sanderson.  Not the man... but his books.  They're so good.  With the exception of his very first novel, Elantris, I've loved every single book or novella of his that I've read.  I recommend them to people all the time.

I just finished listening to the audiobook version of The Rithmatist.  I've read the book a few times before, so the audiobook was a change of pace.  But, it was great!

The world of The Rithmatist is basically an alternative history version of the early 1900s in the U.S.  Some major event has shaken the world, changed the landscape, and created a new form of science/math called Rithmatics.  Those in the world who are Rithmatists can use chalk to do things that would be considered magic in other circumstance, but it conforms to a very precise set of laws and theories.  It's an interesting setting.

We learn throughout the book that wild creatures called chalklings may be on the loose.  They are animated chalk-like drawings that can interact with the world.

I don't know how much more to talk about the setting and the story, I'm afraid I could ruin it for anyone interested in reading the book.

If you're already a Brandon Sanderson fan you should definitely read this book.  If you haven't ever read a Sanderson book this is actually a great entry point into his work.  It's a quick read that will let you see his ability for amazing world building.  I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Marco Polo Impressions


Last week I wrote a little bit about my impressions of Daredevil after the first few episodes.  This week I checked out Marco Polo, another Netflix Original Series, and I'm reporting back after watching the same amount of episodes.

I like it so much more than Daredevil.

This is my kind of show.  There's intrigue and competing objectives.  It's epic in scope, yet based on real events of the past.  In some ways it reminds me of Game of Thrones.

Marco Polo is the son of a merchant who travels the world looking for new goods and trade routes.  He tags along while his father is visiting Kublai Khan and ends up unexpectedly getting placed as a servant in his court to save his father's merchant dealings.  It's the story of a westerner thrown into an eastern culture.

It's all set in the 1200s and based on historic facts.  I think that's so cool!

I love the characters and I'm already very invested in seeing what ends up happening.  This show immediately grabbed me in a way that Daredevil failed to.  This is why I keep giving Netflix Original Series a try.  Different shows appeal to different people and this one clicked with me.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Final Fantasy XIII-2


My first thoughts on started Final Fantasy XIII-2 were: I have no idea what's going on.

Lightning is in Valhalla fighting a new enemy.   There's an epic battle that feels like it belongs at the end of a game, not the beginning.  It is given no context.  Then a random new character is transported there through time and/or space and told to go on a mission to bring Serah to Lightning.

Then we cut to Serah who has memories of the events of at the end of Final Fantasy XIII.  Unfortunately for her, most people don't remember it the same way.  They all say that Lightning was never there at the end of Final Fantasy XIII.

After playing for the first few hours of the game it becomes apparent that timelines are mixed up and there are paradoxes everywhere.  The game is structured around unlocking new timelines, traveling through time, and solving paradoxes.

It's not a bad premise, even though it's explained very poorly, but the gameplay doesn't do enough to differentiate itself from Final Fantasy XIII.  In fact, the combat is identical to Final Fantasy XIII and that makes me very sad.  I've already spent enough time with this Paradigm shift battle system.  I never need to see it again.

That's not the only negative either.  The game engine doesn't seem as smooth as Final Fantasy XIII.  I'm playing on a very high-end PC and I saw a ton of slow down in the game.  The cutscenes may be gorgeous, but the game engine stutters along.

So after playing for awhile I realized that this game just isn't going to hook me.  I thought that maybe I would be able to complete the Lightning Trilogy if I just sat down and started on Final Fantasy XIII-2, but I feel like this game isn't worth my time.  In the end I read a plot summary so that if I choose to try out Lightning Returns I have a little more context.  Based on the plot summary, the story in this game seems all over the place.

I don't think I'm missing much by skipping it.

While I love Final Fantasy, and I'm willing to play through any mainline game, I won't slog through a spin-off game just because it has Final Fantasy in the title.  Since I wasn't having fun with Final Fantasy XIII-2 it is time to move on.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Star Wars!


I love Star Wars.  I was super excited to see this topic come up as our community post topic today.  But now I don't even know where to start.

Here's the truth: Star Wars is my weakpoint.

If I were a boss in a videogame, Star Wars would be my giant blinking red section.... or something.

I consume everything Star Wars.  The movies, novels, ebooks, audiobooks, videogames, toys, board games, trailers, fan theories, whatever I can get my hands on.  I just love Star Wars.

I'm so happy to see it coming into the hands of a generation of creators who grew up with the original trilogy.  The Star Wars trailer last week gives me a ton of hope for the direction of the series.  I think JJ Abrams is going to knock it out of the park.  It seems like he has immense respect for the original trilogy but he also understands what needs to be done to bring the films into a modern age.

And he's just the first creator at the reigns.  I honestly expect to see new Star Wars movies every year, much like we're seeing with Marvel.  Now that Disney is in charge of the IP we should see a huge expansion of all things Star Wars.  And it will be consistent!  That's something that was never very well controlled in the old expanded universe.  From this point forward, all Star Wars shows, games, movies, books, comics, and everything else will be canon.  And that's super exciting!

How do you guys feel about Star Wars these days?  Drop a comment below.

And since it's Friday, drop a link from your favorite content in the past week into the linkup!  Give a link, take a link, share the love, all that!


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ready Player One


Ready Player One is a gamerpunk book set in a dystopian future.  Everyone spends all their free time in The Oasis, a fantastic virtual reality world, because the real world sucks.

It's a look at the possible future of virtual reality, but Ready Player One is also a celebration of pop culture.

The creator of The Oasis has died and he has left an Easter Egg in the virtual world.  Whoever can solve the puzzle and find the egg will receive control of The Oasis and be able to do with it as they see fit.  Since the original creator grew up in the 70s and 80s... all of that pop culture has become relevant to a new generation.  It's awesome.

It's a book filled with movie, music, and videogame reference and they're amazingly well done.  It's obvious that the author knows his stuff when he's writing about it.

This is a book that I can easily recommend to every gamer out there.  It's fantastic!