Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Final Fantasy XIII - Impressions at 4 hours

Oscars, Lost, other shit

So...yeah. The Oscars kind of blew. Suprisingly, I agreed more with this years choices than any of the previous years, but the presentation was horrible. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were PAINFUL to watch. The five people presenting the five big nominees took way too much time and was pointless. That said, I'm incredibly happy that stupid Avatar barely won anything. And that Up got the awards it got. Hurt Locker really was one of the best of the films nominated, and I would have been happy if that, Up in the Air, or Inglorious Basterds had won it all. Though a little more loving for District 9 would have been nice.

Also, fuck Sandra Bullock.

As for Lost, I'm liking the season, but the fact that it's progressing really slow has me worried. When Battlestar ended, they did the same thing, then tried to cram way too much into the ending. I think Jacob and the Man in Black arent clear cut good or evil, and anyone that does at this point is naive. I mean, a guy in white is a good guy, and the guy in black is the bad guy? Way too easy. Though this was a show I hated for a really long time, so my fears of meandering and stupid plot points may rear their ugly heads again.

I bought FFXIII, and I have a Youtube video forthcoming with my impressions at four hours in. As a preview: its very dissapointing so far.

In other news...not a whole lot. I watched Hachi: a Dog's Tale, a direct to DVD movie starring Richard Gere and directed by the director of Chocolat. It was actually quite a good movie. Based roughly on the true story of Hachiko, the dog so loyal to his master that, after the master dies, he returns to the train station where they would meet everyday for the next 10 years waiting for him to return. A tear jerker, and I cried. Man-card revoked. I also went to Ellicot City for the first time in about five or six years, and it was fun, if not marred down by my wife looking in EVERY antique store (of which there are many).

Coming up, I'm looking forward to God of War III, and this weekend is filled with birthday shennanigans for 20 somethings that should prove interesting to say the least. St Patty's day is fast approaching, which means booze. And...that's about it.

Fuck it, this was a lazy post anyways.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Quick Update + Things to Come

Dork Quest

In high school, my group of friends could have been described, with a large degree of accuracy, as social intermediaries. On one hand, we were far too socially inept and dorky to be seen with the popular kids, those of the sport-playing, partying, and getting-laid variety. On the other, we were far from the kind of kids with the Pokemon sketchbooks, Magic the Gathering cards, and vast array of anime knowledge. We were a group comprised of diplomats, with members sending emmisaries to all groups. We had connections with jocks. We had connections with nerds. We had connections with cheerleaders, academics, punks, goths. If one of us knew someone, they knew all of us by proxy.

In truth though, we were more closely pigeonholed as the experimental nerd. We would dabble in drinking, and dabble in sports, and do a bit more than dabble in videogames. But one summer put us squarely in the category, and it is both with hidden pride and hidden shame that I share this particular adventure.

I believe it was the summer before any of us had jobs, or cars. It was when our mothers would give us money, and we'd bike or walk to eachothers houses (though our central base of operations was at Foley's house) and literally spend a week there. We would do some stuff outside, sure. But it was mostly spent in basements, in air conditioning, doing nothing but eating pizza and playing videogames.

It was the summer that Eric, one such member of the group, had picked up an old NES at a flea market, along with a veritable shit ton of games. After hooking it up to a shitty old TV in Foley's basement, we'd spend an outrageous amount of time playing everything from Tecmo Bowl, to RBI Baseball, to the classic Marios and Metal Gears. It was fun, but grew a bit tiresome after a while.

One day, we ventured across the street to Nick's house. Now Nick was older than us, but not by much. He still didnt drive, and he was still just as much a transient youth as any of us. But Nick's house was a palatial estate compared to Foley's, so we took whatever opportunity we could get to change to a more favorable accomodation. But the boredom was the same, and we needed something to do. Rooting through Nick's brothers closet, we came across an old board game. "Hero Quest."

Now "Hero Quest" is exactly the kind of game you think of when you hear the name. It's essentially D&D lite. I can't recall why we thought it would be a good idea to try it out, but I think it had something to do with the boredom.

So there we were, four kids playing Hero Quest. The rules, as I recall them, were fairly simple. Basically, you create a character, of the pen and paper variety. Each character had certain attributes and strengths to aid in the quest. The object of the game was to recreate these scenarios outlined in the guide book, for which each scenario was a dungeon. The dungeon was mapped out on the same board every time. There were fake plastic doors, and racks of weapons, and desks and scrolls and all that jazz. Whenever you entered a room, the dungeon master, a character named Zoloft or Zoltan or something(Eric, who was also playing as a regular quester...a huge breach of protocol), would set up the room as the players looked on in wonder. Each dungeon had an objective, but there were also plenty of traps, loot, and enemies to encounter. There was lots of die-rolling, and leveling up, and things of that nature.

Get the idea? D&D lite. Just like I said.

My character was Floppy Stumps, the noble dwarf. Myself, along with Eric's Barbarian, were the powerhouses of the group, dealing pain wherever our fake people wandered in the fake dungeon. If I remember right, Foley was the Theif, or Rogue, or something like that, and Nick was a Wizard. I forget a lot of the details, but it really isnt the details that matter. What matters is just how far we were sucked in by this game.

There were 20 odd scenarios. Each one lasted anywhere between two and three hours. For a period of two weeks, we did NOTHING but play Hero Quest. We would wake up, around noon, order pizza, play Hero Quest until six, order more pizza, and play even more until about two in the morning. Then we would crash in Foley's basement (which was essentially a giant litterbox for his was fucking gross) only to repeat the process the next day. We BECAME these characters. We would make every decision like it was our last. When we got a new piece of loot, we would bicker over who would get it, and for who it would make the most sense. What I can remember is that I had some badass shit. Some mystical axe that added +2 to my attack rolls, a mystical shield that added +3 to my defense rolls, and an amulet of ressurection, which would revive me to full health once per dungeon (or something like that). Like I said, some badass shit. When we finished a dungeon, the screams of ecstacy that came from that basement were deafening. We were fucking dorks, and it was awesome.

But we were also dorks playing a D&D knockoff with a finite structure.

When the scenarios ended, we started going through withdrawl. It was nuts. We thought about replaying it, but we realized that our characters were too powerful at this point. It was agony. But Eric came to the rescue. He had been researching all things "Hero Quest" online and found that there had been TWO expansion sets, featuring new maps, new loot, and new class structures.

Now anyone reading this who has ever become obsessed with something dorky knows that when there is something that adds to something that you already love, you lust over it. You covet it. You need it, like geek heroin.

We had to fucking have it.

So Eric used his ebay account, and we pooled our parents money, and we waited.

And waited...and waited.

Then, it finally came. Complete with beat up 80's packaging, much to our shame and delight. The moment had finally come where we could continue the quest. The Hero Quest.

Except...something was different. Somewhere in that week or so that we waited for the mail to come, the allure had faded. Or perhaps it was the charm of it all. Either way, the expansions, of which we got through one, seemed lackluster. The peril wasnt there. The loot wasnt uber. It had failed to capture the magic crack in a bottle of the original title. In a way, it was kind of like a major catharsis for us as a group. A passing of the torch. In that small window of time, we went from the biggest of dorks to something more, or less, depending on how you look at it. But we felt the pang of regret, and longed for more.

But that's a tale for a later date.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I only signed up for this because I'm on a Google product kick

I hardly ever use my Livejournal anymore, but it has it's uses. Unfortunately, after seven or so years, it looks like I might be ditching it for the good old Blogger interface. The reasons are three fold: The Droid, iGoogle, and integration. Google has gotten so good at linking and syncing that it's almost impossible to find a better alternative to their web apps. The fact that, right now, I set up an iGoogle page with Facebook, Google Reader, Gmail, Youtube, Google Voice, Blogger, Google Maps, and a weather gadget within the span of five minutes, and it all WORKS is...astounding. What were links in my bookmarks bar yesterday are almost fully integrated into my start page today. Whereas I would visit a minimum of five webpages in my morning routine before, I just need to open my browser now.

What does this have to do with me creating a blogger account? Simple: I did it because I can, and because I know it will work and play nice with all my other Google crack apps that I covet so much now. I may never update it. I may update it all the time. Doesnt really matter either way. The fact that I can do this, and check all my other daily sites/emails with ONE login boggles my mind, in a good way. If I do update later, it will be in the same way and same fashion as my livejournal account. It is neither better nor worse. But it IS more integrated, and that makes me happy.