Saturday, May 31, 2014

Gobbledeguk Session #2

Having survived the first attack on Gobblette Cave, the goblins redoubled their support of the leaders of the effort: Ootkast, Shmoo, and Indiana. In the two and a half weeks following the initial invasion, the craftsmen and apprentices worked diligently to create a few new layers of defenses and forging new weapons.

And then another group of humans appeared--twice as many as last time.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Movie Review #18: The Usual Suspects

Another Netflix find, I decided to watch The Usual Suspects because... I dunno. I heard it was good. I kinda had the ending spoiled for me a while back, which is bound to happen for a 20 year old movie.

That said, if you already know the ending, the movie is definitely still worth watching; the ending means nothing without the buildup, and it's the buildup that makes this movie great.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Understanding Feminism

For the past couple of years the concept of feminism has really caught my attention for one reason or another. PAX's booth babe policy, the "fake geek girls" discussion, and Anita Sarkeesian's Feminist Frequency all got me thinking about the problem of gender inequality.

And then the tragedy this past weekend brought it all to a climax. Or, at least, I hope so. While there are certainly men out there who are getting very defensive in the wake of the murders or, worse, people who are blaming women for it, I'm hopeful that more men than ever have been shocked into self-reflection on how they've contributed to this culture. If so, great! It's just sad that it took a tragedy like this to bring about such reflection.

Not that I'm any better.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Earthbound Cult

Within Fangamer, there's a common thread with many of the workers: we are Earthbound fans, and have been for a long time. To an outside observer, I'm sure that the Mr. Saturns and Starmen all over the place must look strange.

If you've never played Earthbound, very likely we'll recommend that you do. It was a game that was very important to us, affecting our lives so deeply that I'm sometimes afraid it might frighten people, as if we're part of a cult or something. I'm sure it confuses a few people, so I'll try to explain it as best I can.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Movie Review #17: Blade Runner

I think I've been wanting to watch Blade Runner for a while now, but I never have. Maybe it's because I was intimidated by the various versions, and I could never remember what versions to avoid.

But hey, I've figured it out, if you happen to be in the same boat: watch either the Director's Cut or the Final Cut. They're both good, and neither one has what was apparently an awful narration. Final Cut has a few added scenes and some continuity/color corrections, too, so it's considered the superior version by many, but not all.

That said, I watched the Final Cut version. Short review: Woah, what a world. There's a reason it's considered an important moment in science fiction. Well worth watching.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Game Review: Luftrausers

Luftrausers is a 2D shooting game in which you fly a plane with some pretty interesting controls and... you know what? You can play the free flash version, Luftrauser, right now to get the gist of it.

Go ahead and play that for a few minutes. It's well worth your time. If it strikes your fancy, come on back and I'll talk about the full version which came out recently.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Valve New Employee Handbook

Have you guys ever read this thing? It's one of the most inspiring things I've ever read.

If you've never read the Valve New Employee Handbook, check it out here. I have many thoughts about it that I'd like to share.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Gobbledeguk Session #1

With both Jeff and Reid out of state, I decided to start running that Gobbledeguk campaign with the players remaining in town" Laura, Jack, and Jenna. Having given it a session, I think it'll work out, but there are definitely a few parts I need to streamline.

As it turns out, micromanaging 1,000 goblins can be a bit tedious.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Japan Trip XXIII: The Hobonichi Office

After our interview with Shigesato Itoi, we ended up in another meeting while waiting for the rest of the group to return. Then, with everyone there, we were given a tour of the office.

Lindsay would often remark about how similar the Fangamer office felt to the Hobonichi office. After walking around the place, I could see what she meant.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Kid with the Games

When I was a boy attending middle school
I lacked any friends for, as you know, kids are cruel.
Until one fateful day on the bus heading home,
My backpack beside me, heavy with tomes,
Despite my demeanor which seems misanthropic,
A boy sat beside me and brought up a topic
Which I wasn't used to discussing with others:
We talked about games; from then, we were brothers.

Movie Review #16: Dazed and Confused

Dazed ad Confused is one of those movies that Jeff has been trying to get me to watch pretty much ever since we met. It's clear that he has a lot of emotional ties to the movie and, as with any movie he's so attached to, he really just wants someone else to watch it so he can talk about it with them.

So, I finally watched it. Short review: it was a fun movie with lots of moving parts. With so many different, well-rounded characters you'll no doubt form a connection with at least a few of them and enjoy the journey they take.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

American Exceptionalism

After watching Rocky IV, I imagine most people feel like working out and getting pumped. Or if you're Russian, I suppose you might feel a bit put-upon first, then kinda want to go work out and get pumped.

For me, though, the movie kicked off some latent, potentially unpatriotic thoughts.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Movie Review #15: Rocky IV

About ten years ago someone sat me down and made me watch through the first three Rocky movies. (At least, I think I watched Rocky III. I don't really remember the fight itself.) We didn't make it to the fourth movie, though, so that was the extent of my Rocky experience until now. Having watched The Running Man, though, I needed balance my Arnold with some Sly. Rocky IV came up on my Netflix account, so here we go.

Short review: the Rocky formula is used to tell a story that addresses the Cold War in classic 80s fashion. Its substance is a bit thin, but if you want to be inspired to get back into a workout routine this movie will do the trick.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Dark Ages, Book 1: Chapter 4, Part 2

(Continued from Chapter 4, Part 1.)

He stared out the window for a time, barely noticing the grey clouds of the oncoming winter. The banner of his family--a silver, upturned sword on a blood red field--flapped gently in the breeze on a nearby wall. Reace was watching it absentmindedly, waiting to see the brat run from the keep toward his home or, perhaps, the town, when a commanding voice from behind shook his from his reverie.
“Who is this northern child? And what is he doing running about the keep?”
He turned and saw his uncle standing in the doorway, holding the miller’s son by the arm roughly, preventing his escape.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Movie Review #15: The Running Man

I'm a little behind on my scheduled weekly movies, so I've been browsing Netflix a bit to see if anything would catch my eye as a mid-week movie. Sure enough, two movies caught my interest: The Running Man starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (whose name I can almost spell correctly without looking it up, it turns out) or Grease, the musical everybody else my age has seen already.

I opted for The Running Man, since I was slightly more in the mood for a dopey action flick. And, hey, "dopey action flick" is exactly what I got!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Logs of Captain Oni of the Kestrel Ship Eidolon: Day 8

Day 8: After arriving at the today's beacon our sensors picked up what I assumed to be a refugee ship. despite the fact that their ship looked to be in bad shape, they seemed to be avoiding us. I decided to hail them to see if they needed assistance.

Right as I opened communications a Zoltan ship jumped into the system, its weapons hot, moving to engage us.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Regarding Sex Appeal and the Depictions of Men and Women

I'll admit up front that I might very well not know what I'm talking about here. If that's the case, I encourage any reasons with opinions on the matter to enlighten me, or at least to state an opinion.

I want to talk about the overly sexualized depiction of women and men in popular culture.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Movie Review #14: For a Few Dollars More

Whew! It feels like it's been forever since I've done a movie review. Let's get right back into it with the second movie in Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy: For a Few Dollars More.

Short review: it's at times slow-paced, but generally more fast-paced than A Fistful of Dollars was. The characters are also generally more developed, giving the action sequences more meaning. Still, it's a long movie that's a bit slow at times, so I kinda drifted off a few times.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Campaign Idea: Gobbledeguk

Considering that we've already lost one member of our party (fate unknown) and another one is played by a father who sometimes wishes to spend time with his child (/raspberry), we've been getting into a groove in which we play D&D about once every other week. Rather than keep going and penalize Reid for having a family or skip D&D every other week and penalize the other players, I've concocted a new campaign to play during the "off" weeks.

This campaign is entitled Gobbledeguk. It's about goblins.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Logs of Captain Oni of the Kestrel Ship Eidolon: Days 5-7

Day 5: It seems as though every day we jump we find some new challenge. After the horrors of the nebula, though, today's events were almost humdrum.

We have verified that the rebels are, indeed, after us. Judging from our long-range scanners, their search is massive, and will encompass the entire sector in a week or so. They are legion, but thorough: if they maintain their current pace, we should have no trouble staying ahead of them.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

D&D Session #39: We Climbed Aboard Their Starship and Headed for the Sky

The party managed to cross the river safely, though no doubt many hundreds of others died at the ferry crossing. And that's to say nothing of the untold thousands in the human kingdoms beyond.

The part rested a while with the city of the elves in sight. Akito stood watch as the others passed out, exhausted, on the road, which was crowded with refugees.

Naturally, though, they were not able to rest long. As it turned out, the river did not seem to slow the titans at all.

The Logs of Captain Oni of the Kestrel Ship Eidolon: Day 4

Day 4: Today's jump landed us in an ion storm, which knocked out our engines. We rerouted power, but a jump will still take time.

In the meantime, we used our sublight drives  to head toward a couple of derelict ships nearby to search for salvage. Unfortunately, my assumption that the ships were abandoned proved incorrect: apparently there was a functioning teleporter on one of the ships.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Logs of Captain Oni, of the Kestrel Ship Eidolon: Days 1-3

I am Captain Oni of the Eidolon, a Kestrel-class cruiser in service to the Federation.

I am now departing on a vital mission to relay important information regarding the Rebel fleet to the Federation fleet, eight sectors away. I am unsure if the Rebels know of my mission.

With luck, this log will be an account of our first successful strike at the rebellion, the mission that turned the tide of the war.

Otherwise, may this log serve as a record of our struggle against the savagery of the rebellion. Know that we fought to the very last.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Japan Trip XXII: Shigesato Itoi

Our last day in Japan was primarily spent at the office of Hobonichi, the company owned by Shigesato Itoi and the namesake of this blog. (Hobonichi means "Almost Daily.")

As the creator of Earthbound, he's definitely a hero of mine, so it was an amazing experience to meet him in person and see where he works.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Game Review: Papers, Please

A while back we got contacted by a guy named Lucas Pope, who created a game called Papers, Please. He was interested in having merchandise made for his game.

I told him we were busy at the time, which is true: we get a lot of people asking for merchandise from us, and I often have to turn them down due to our bandwidth.

Lucas was persistent, though. He didn't see any other merchandising companies out there that he felt would work for his game. Luckily, a few of us played the game by that point, so we decided to move forward with the partnership.

I played the game as well, and I just finished it over the weekend. Naturally, it deserves a review. Short version: play it. It's unlike anything you've played before, and that alone makes it something you should experience.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Japan Trip XXI: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

After a day walking around Nakano Broadway, our legs were quite sore. However, we had a mission: Steve needed to find a toilet seat, and for all the wonders available at Nakano Broadway, toilet seats were simply nowhere to be found. Which is odd, since pretty much every bathroom in the country seemed to have these things.

So, we went to a central government-type area of Tokyo where we might find a toilet seat for Steve, as well as doing just a little bit more sightseeing.

Game Review: Bravely Default

Day before yesterday I finally beat my first new Square-Enix RPG since...

Um. Oh geez, if you don't count remakes or replays, the last Square-Enix RPG I beat was Kingdom Hearts 2. I think I beat Star Ocean: First Departure for the first time after that, but as a remake of an SNES game I'm not going to count it. I've certainly played other Squeenix RPGs since then, but none to completion.

That said, Bravely Default was a fun new RPG that did lots of things right to pull me back in and keep me playing until the end. It also fell short in a number of ways, though. I'll try to write a spoiler-free review this time.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Japan Trip XX: Nakano Broadway

The day after karaoke night, Lindsay had a meeting at the Hobonichi office. Rather than having us wander around aimlessly, she took us to a place where we could wander around safely while she was gone.

So, we spent a few hours wandering around a multi-story indoor mall called Nakano Broadway, which turned out to be an otaku's wonderland.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Game Review: Rogue Legacy

About a month ago Heidi bought me a copy of Rogue Legacy on Steam. I've been playing it regularly ever since, and finally beat it just a few minutes ago.

Unlike movies, which I often feel I should ponder for a while upon completion before reviewing it, I think I should write up video game reviews right away unless the ending really leaves me with a lot to think about. In most cases, the core of a game is the journey, not the destination, and in most cases I've had plenty of time along the journey to develop a clear opinion of the game.

So, short review: Rogue Legacy is a very fun platformer/action/RPG with plenty of variation to keep you from getting bored. Just make sure you have a controller you can plug into your PC, because the game is incredibly rough without one.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Creative Time

Fangamer is a different company now than it was a few years ago. I've been trying to understand the difference between now and then ever since I noticed a bit of stagnation in our offerings. Perhaps it's all the Kickstarter fulfillment we've been involved in, filling up whole months with managing and shipping other people's packages. Or perhaps it's the months we spend preparing for conventions, or the time we spend developing and shipping out merchandise for our partners rather than our own stuff. I suspect it's a bit of everything.

So, a while back I had an idea to combat some of the less fulfilling parts of the business of fulfillment. I called it Creative Time.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Japan Trip XIX: Karaoke

Of course, we couldn't go a week in Japan without having a karaoke night. While sing-alongs have existed as long as lyrical music, karaoke in its current form was popularized in Japan, and today they still lead the way in karaoke technology.

So that night, after eating at the railgun sushi place and saying farewell to Xan and Steven, we returned to Tama Plaza near our house and visited a nearby karaoke establishment.

Sword Art Online

Not too long ago while browsing Netflix I noticed an anime I'd never heard of before: Sword Art Online. I'm not generally one to start watching anime randomly since, honestly, I find most of it to be inane, formulaic, and/or filled with "fan service."

However, for whatever reason I went ahead and watched Sword Art Online all the way through. Short review: it's not a great anime, and it's certainly very shallow. Except when it suddenly isn't. For a more in-depth review, read on.