Gaming – How I became a Dark Soul

I don’t have the mass quantities of free time I had in my teens. The thought of sinking 100 hours into a game is almost unthinkable. And even if I could, would any game hold my interest for that long? I haven’t touched a Final Fantasy since 10, I burned out of WoW after the Burning Crusade expansion, and you know what? I tried playing the latest Pokemon X and Y series, but I lost interest after the first few hours.  As far as I knew I was all RPGed out.

Recently I’ve been playing two different categories of games:

  • Indie games: Typically they are shorter and only try to do one thing really well (instead of half-assing 20 different gameplay features).
  • Co-op games: There’s something really satisfying about working together against obstacles.  There’s something even more satisfying about working together against obstacles while intoxicated.

Not that I’m exclusively locked in to those types, but I highly doubted anything else would be able to drag my attention away for so long.  I recall lazily checking the XBL free games last June and seeing Dark Souls up for offer.

“Oh, that’s that game Brian likes.  I guess I could give it a shot.  I think its supposed to be really hard.  Wonder if I’ll even make it through the first hour.”

And then I started playing: “Whoa, a combat system were you ACTUALLY have to block?”  “Nope, nope, fuck this, too annoying.”  “Actually I think I can make it through this one part now…” “NOPE NOPE FUCK THIS TOO ANNOYING.”  “Well actually now that I think about it if I can just…”

10 hours later: “THIS IS SUPER ANNOYING BUT I’M STILL HAVING FUN AND I DON’T KNOW WHY BECAUSE IF THIS WERE ANY OTHER GAME I’D BE MICROWAVING THE GAME DISC.”

Dark Souls - O&S

The cause of near disc microwaving.

And therein lies the secret.  The game is so well balanced that any amount of failure is countered by the extremely consistent and natural learning curve.  After every time I died I thought, “Well I got a little further that time.” (Though Ornstein and Smough gave me microwaving thoughts again).  So despite the fact that I’ve put 80 hours into the game so far, it (almost) doesn’t feel like it because nothing feels like a chore.  There is nothing in the category of what I would call “typical RPG quests”: collect X number of items (ok there are some of these but they are from beating bosses, and not always in a particular order), grind for X amount of time to make it to Y (there is ALWAYS strategy that doesn’t involve leveling), wander around the world-map for god knows how long (in fact there is no world map, just a series of semi-open unlockable areas each with a unique style).  There is also no forced 1st person persona.  You look how you want, you play how you want.  Want to kill all the NPCs?  Go for it, its not going to affect the ending.  Not to mention the level/costume/weapon designs are all super gorgeous, AND the interesting way in which other people playing the game can interact with you.

Alright, I’ve brown nosed the game enough.  I’ll just say that if you are sick of the squaresoft formula like I was, I highly recommend picking it up.  I still have a few hours left before I’m through, plus I’ve got the prequel and sequel to play.  So that’s like what…another 100-200 hours?  Sheesh.

SPimH – Myst

I meant to post this back in Autumn of 2013, but with the last stretch of the year which is always crazy around my house (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year – all while getting ready for MAGFest!) and then my utter laziness and the weird first half of 2014 I never got a chance to. Here’s the second installment of Special Place in my Heart.

Last year, on the 24th of September in 2013, it was the 20th anniversary of the first game that took me to another world. Or worlds, technically.

Twenty years ago on that day, Myst came out in stores. I didn’t get it right away and by “me” I mean my mother, who was getting into computer games at the time. I had a Nintendo and I would play Super Nintendo at my friend’s house. When my mom got Myst and started to play it, she’d call me in the room because she thought I would like it. I was eight years old and instantly pulled in by how pretty it was, not to mention the music and the sound effects. Everything just came together in a way that absolutely hypnotized me. I had started playing on my own and had to fall back on a strategy guide for some of the puzzles, but I didn’t care. I mostly just wanted to get to every single corner of this universe and explore. I would stop and listen to the birds on Myst Island or the sound of trickling water in the Channelwood Age.

My favorite was the Mechanical Age, followed closely by the Stoneship Age. The Stoneship Age never jumped to #1 because I was terrified of the compass and the lights going out when you were underwater if you hit the wrong button. I knew there was nothing in the water but I was always afraid there would be something there. I was a bit of a wuss, and I was a bit of a wuss with a phobia of being underwater. :\

The Mechanical Age

I couldn’t get enough of the characters either, and you rarely saw any. Sirrus and Achenar became staples of the geeky section of my brain and I thought it a little weird that I kind of had a crush on them as I continuously went back to the game in the years following its release. Their rooms were filled with all sorts of nasty (but nasty in such an amazingly creative way) and they obviously didn’t want to be your friend. But my first crushes were Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bart Simpson, so I didn’t think too much of it. There was something so intriguing about them, and about Atrus and his kidnapped wife. How did this family get this way? How did the brothers become so corrupt and so horrible that their father basically put them in prison? I wanted to know these things. I wanted more.

Besides the family, there was this whole idea and skill introduced in the game – certain people could write books that opened gateways to different places. Completely different worlds that you could reach by placing your hand on the moving panel in the book. How many worlds were out there that had books written to take you to them? Only the ones on Myst Island? Were there more? Hundreds? Thousands?

Everything about this game completely captivated me. I had played video games before, but nothing like this. Nothing that I wanted to be a part of, nothing that I wanted to visit. This was different.

They released three novels that went through different parts of this family tree – I read them all when they came out. There was a comic book about Sirrus & Achenar’s childhood (and eventual corruption) that was released and then cancelled after the first issue – I still have my copy safely on a shelf. There were subsequent games – Riven, Exile, Revelation, URU, End of Ages – all of them good (Riven was especially wonderful). I always come back to Myst though. Sometimes I’ll load up a new game, make my way to one of the Ages and just look around a bit. It’s kind of like visiting your childhood home, in a way. There aren’t many games that feel like that to me. (And you know how I feel about video games. <3)

Oh, Sirrus, stop frontin

I remember getting the From Myst to Riven book for Christmas in ’97 when it came out and I remember reading it all in one sitting. I remember sprawling out in an empty cubicle at my Dad’s office when I went into work with him on the weekends and working my way through The Book of Ti’ana. I was obsessed with Bush’s album Razorblade Suitcase and still to this day I can’t listen to the song “Cold Contagious” without thinking of Ti’ana & Aitrus. I always associate that album with that book since I was taking in both at the same time. There are all of these little things that remind me of how this game has trickled its way into my brain. Songs, sounds — even the weather. When it’s a cool Spring or Fall day and there’s a slight breeze it makes me think of the dock on Myst Island.

In the years following Myst’s release, I remember sitting and waiting for the dial-up to connect so I could sign on AOL and talk to all the friends I made in the Myst chatroom. We would talk about how awesome it was that these two brothers, Rand & Robyn Miller, got together and created an always expanding universe. We would talk about how awesome it was that they played Atrus (Rand), Sirrus (Robyn – who also did the music) & Achenar (Rand) themselves and quote the brothers and share puzzle ideas. I would sit in that chatroom for hours until it was bedtime (or well past it – whoops).

Out of all the video/computer/etc. games I’ve played, whenever people ask me for my favorites there’s usually a rotating list depending on what I’ve been in the mood for lately. But Myst is always in the list. And the older the game and I get, I still can’t see it leaving my top five. It drew me in, inspired me and it always calls me back.

I know it’s a little late, but Happy 20th Anniversary, Myst. <3

Can I live there plz.


Special Place in my Heart is a random feature here at Zhobot where, when the need strikes us, we write about something video game-related or otherwise that holds a geeky place in our weird little hearts.

Gaming – Our Top 5 Upcoming Games

Between E3, the upcoming PAX Prime and all the gaming announcements around/in between those dates (and at other cons!), there are definitely a lot of games we’re excited to play in the future! Here are our top 5 lists, as well as the release date — or supposed release date/year if it hasn’t been announced yet.

HEATHER’S TOP 5

Hotline Miami 2

5.) HOTLINE MIAMI 2: WRONG NUMBER – Q3 2014 – Now, I am totally admitting up front: technically I won’t be playing this. I was horrible at the first Hotline Miami but enjoyed the hell out of it while watching Nate play. I’ll definitely give HL2:WN a shot but when I die 289374892378947 times, give up and run screeching into the night, I will be come back right away to watch Nate play. I was so enthralled with the first one – the atmosphere, the colors, the music. Since I wasn’t playing it was like I was watching this action movie full of neon perfection. I am now having withdrawals of that.


Sunset Overdrive

4.) SUNSET OVERDRIVE – October 28, 2014 – We don’t have an Xbox One in our household yet but this game and an honorable mention of mine are both Xbox One games so I figure we might get one one day. Jet Grind Radio & Jet Set Radio Future have always held a special place in the video game pantheon of my heart and that was one of the first things I thought of when I first saw this game. Except you get to shoot humans-turned-mutants (because of an energy drink!), not spraypaint anything. And I’m all about creating a ridiculous character and shooting some mutants. ALL about it. There is also the adorable energy drink mascot, Fizzie.


Tales From The Borderlands

3.) TALES FROM THE BORDERLANDS – mid-2014 – Telltale Games knows exactly how to tell wonderful stories. They may not all be happy rainbows and sunshine stories, but they know what they’re doing. The fact that they’re going to be working their brand of magic in the world of Borderlands is something I never would’ve thought of myself and if I did, I never would’ve dreamed of it actually happening. Dreams you don’t even know you have DO come true, kids.


Obduction

2.) OBDUCTION – mid to late 2015 – It’s too bad I can’t just have a paragraph of gibberish and keyboard-smashing because that is how pumped I am for this game. When Cyan announced a Kickstarter for a new game, I basically did a SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY. You see, Cyan is the company behind the Myst series – which holds two of my very favorite games in the universe, Myst & Riven. And if they want to make a new game, I’m all for it. What’s been revealed so far has left me wanting more and I know that once it’s released, I will hate finishing it because I’ll never get to experience that game For The First Time again.


Persona 5

1.) PERSONA 5 – 2015 – We literally know next to nothing about Persona 5 and maybe that’s why I’m so excited about it. There are so many possibilities to what it could be about, what the characters could be like — everything. I loved Revelations: Persona (sorry, the first one I played was the horrible/amazing NA translated one and I still fell in love w/ it somehow) and both Persona 2 games. Persona 3 was alright, but Persona 4 took everything I didn’t really get into in 3 and fixed it. That makes me very positive about Persona 5. GRAB YOUR ASSES AND RUN!

Honorable mentions: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! (C-L-A-P-T-R-A-P!), Dance Central Spotlight (I will miss The Glitterati and Murder of Crows but at least Miss Aubrey is in), Persona 4: Dancing All Night (because I am gross AND I’M SO EXCITED), Armikrog (The Neverhood was a big part of my childhood so this makes me giddy), Fantasia: Music Evolved (Disney + Harmonix = <3), Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright (This reminds me of an OBJECTION)…

I know I’m missing some that I’m sure I’ll think of later and facepalm when I realize I forgot them. But these are the ones off the top of my head. With that said, here’s Nate with his five!

NATE’S TOP 5

Gauntlet

5.) GAUNTLET – Summer 2014 – I’m a huge fan of co-op games, especially local co-op. There’s nothing quite like 4 people gathered around a TV screaming at each other. Recently I’ve gotten caught up in Dungeon Defenders (which I highly recommend with a group of friends). In my recent Steam search for more co-op gems I discovered Gauntlet, the reboot of a series I enjoyed back in my Nintendo 64 days, will be coming out shortly. Because I need another excuse to continue TV screamathon 2014.


Bloodborne

4.) BLOODBORNE – 2015 – I haven’t been a huge RPG person as of late, and even less of a JRPG person. I’ve kind of gotten the feeling of “played one, played them all”. That all changed when I learned of Dark Souls. 60+ hours later and I’m still as addicted as the day I started playing. So even though I have DS1, DS2, and perhaps Demons Souls to get through, I’m still excited about the next in the franchise: Bloodborne. I’m less excited that I need to buy an entire new console just to play it though.


Below

3.) BELOW – ??? – Developer Capybara first landed into my sights at PAX East 2013. I’ll be honest, there’s nothing I recall that piqued my interest at the time. However after watching the trailer and developer commentary for Below, I’ll just say this: A Link to the Past and Dark Souls had a baby.


Ori and the Blind Forest

2.) ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST – Fall 2014 – I had to pick my jaw up from the floor after the E3 trailer. Absolutely stunning visuals, sound, and what will hopefully be a very compelling story. Plus you know CUTE THINGS! Anyone who enjoys deep platformers (Braid, Limbo, etc) should be on the lookout for this one.


The Witness

1.) THE WITNESS – ??? – Game mechanics are tricky to get right. Too simple and you will leave players bored without a lot of extra to make up for it. To complex, and you will make players frustrated. Braid is very close to my idea of perfect game mechanics. Complex enough that they aren’t immediately obvious, but simple enough that you can learn the pattern(s) and apply it to the puzzles at hand. So naturally I was excited when Braid creator Jonathan Blow announced his next project: The Witness. There doesn’t seem to be a release target, but hopefully it won’t reach Duke Nukem Forever levels of insanity.

Honorable mentions: Project Spark, Evolve, Half Life 3 (I believe)

Tutorial – Saints Row IV Flag

NOTE: This is a report from the original Zhobot blog. We figured since the Fourth of July was coming we would repost this here in case anyone wanted to make their own United Saints of America flag!


Saints Row IV - Flag

Back in June, with the help of usual Zhobot guest Bria (of White Hot Room), we made the front piece of the flag seen in some of the Saints Row IV promo images! We wanted to use it in some Saints Row cosplay photos like the one seen below!

Kinzie and Asha

Kinzie and Asha in Cabinet portrait gear

We were going to make both sides, but due to the time constraints when we made the one side, we only ended up putting a red backing on it. We thought maybe a tutorial would be helpful if there was anyone else out there who wanted to put one together, so it’s time to finally sew the other side of the flag (and add some fun things like a flagpole and so on).

What you will need:
– 3/4 a yard of dark red fabric
– 3/4 a yard of white fabric
– thread
– sewing machine
– dowel for flagpole (optional)
– piece for top of the flagpole (optional)
– spraypaint for flagpole (optional)
– epoxy sculpt or paperclay (optional)

This is what I had for my flag when I started this tutorial (after taking the red backing off). I will be going through making the opposite side of my flag. Follow the instructions for this side and then make the other side with the blue area where it’s supposed to be – you’ll see what I mean as we go along!

SR Flag

1.) There might be a different way you want to do this part, but I made a purple-ish blue fabric with the Fleur-de-lis/Saints symbol on Spoonflower. It’s up to order if anyone wants to just get the one I used. If you get a fat quarter (21″ by 18″), it’ll be enough to make the blue pieces on both sides of the flag (and there will be spaces between the sets of symbols where you need to cut).

Just cut the two full rectangles of symbols out on the left (leave about a 1/2 inch to an inch of extra so you can hem it) and hem them and you have your blue sections taken care of!

Hemming the blue section.

2.) Next you’re going to want to cut 7 strips of dark red fabric and 6 strips of white fabric. They should be about 32 inches long and 2.25 inches wide.

Cutting out stripes.

3.) Pin the stripes together and sew down each pair of stripes with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Pinning flag stripes.

Stripes!

4.) Pin the blue (purpleish blue XD) section in the upper corner of your flag – left or right, depending on what side you are currently working on. Since I was making the back of my flag, I pinned and sewed mine onto the upper left corner. Sew down the section on your flag.

Sewing the blue section.

5.) This is where you’d repeat everything for the other side! The only change will be where you place the blue section. The piece on the front of the flag needs to be on the upper left and the piece on the back of the flag needs to be on the upper right.

NOTE: If you wanted to do the optional steps for a flagpole, you would need to add the casing to the flag at this point (check below on how – you would need to check now since you would shut the opening of the flag differently with casing). If you don’t want a flagpole, then just keep going and move on to #6!

6.) Pin the two sides of the flag together – with the the right sides together (so that the blue pieces are touching).

7.) Sew all the way around the flag with a 1/2″ seam allowance leaving a small space for you to pull the right side of the flag through.

8.) Pull the flag through and make sure you poke all the corners out so it makes a nice rectangle. You’ll see below that my stripes don’t meet up with each other. I had to be creative with the backside of my flag since I was almost out of fabric – yours should be fine. ;D

All sewn together!

9.) Iron the flag so it’s not all bumpy!

10.) Sew the opening shut whatever way works best for you. I didn’t include a photo here because I was putting in a casing on the side so I could add a flagpole.

Now, the next couple steps are optional but we wanted to add a flagpole to our flag so it was easier to carry and pose with in photos. So if you want to add a flagpole, keep going with the steps below!

11.) Get a dowel – it’s up to you how long you want it to be. The thickness is up to you also, but remember you’ll have to fit the casing around it.

12.) We took some epoxy sculpt and a keychain of the Fleur-de-lis/Saints symbol, took the keychain part off and attached it to the top of the flagpole. We have more of these keychains in the supply section of our Etsy store if you’d like one to get one to use on your flag (you could use anything – it’s up to you!). Sculpt it to the top with something that air dries (epoxy sculpt, paperclay, etc.) and let it dry.

Keychain - check our etsy shop for these!

Sculpting the flagpole.

12.) Cover the symbol with painter’s tape and spraypaint the flagpole black. Or whatever color you want, really!

13.) Pin the right sides of your flag together so that the blue pieces are touching and sew the three sides of the flag together with a 1/2″ seam allowance, leaving the side where the casing/flagpole would go open.

14.) For the casing, take a piece of the white fabric and measure it so it’s a little longer than the open side of your flag and will fit snugly around the flagpole (with space to sew it into the flag). Hem the top and the bottom of the casing.

My casing for the flagpole.

15.) Fold the edges of the open side into the flag and fold the casing over. Pin the casing into the flag and sew it into the flag (this will shut the open side of the flag as well). It’s up to you what color thread you use for this part. I used white up until I hit the blue piece and then used the same blue thread I used to originally hem/sew the blue piece.

Sewing the casing in.

16.) There you have it!

Flag!

Now you can take lots of goofy photos like we enjoy doing!

The Saints will ALWAYS press the giant red button.

Never give the Saints a giant, shiny red button.

PLEASE feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the tutorial. I know it’s a little crazy and messy – but WE TRIED. XD

Gaming – My Ludum Dare (Compo) Faves

No, I’m not reviewing the “top” games.  I’m not going to go over some of my favorites from the compo!  Obviously there’s a lot of games I still haven’t played yet, and in fact I haven’t gotten to any of the jam games yet.  Some of these I discovered through dev blog posts, others through browsing random submission pages and clicking on something that looked interesting.  All of them had something that, in my opinion, set the apart from the others (aka endless mining games).

One hunk, two hunk  Ben Eath: The Surf Ace

One part awkwardly draw adventure game, two parts…wait, just the first part.  I’m aware that later in the compo more people started attacking the theme in a “punny” manner, but this was one of the first I saw and was instantly transported back to the Windows 98 adventure game days of yore.  Amusing dialog and an acapella sound track make for a short but entertaining little satire!

The Spyware Who Loved Me  TSWLM

Oozing with style, Spyware is a great nod to old school platformers while introducing some interesting mechanics.  I had a thoroughly good time playing.  Wish it was longer for sure.

Bornard  Bornard

As Liz Lemon would say, “What the…what?”  Dark, brooding, alien, pixelated.  All great words to describe Bornard.  This dark adventure game has you in the shoes of…um…and has you go…uh…  My failure to accurate describe what’s going on didn’t detract from my interest though.  I played through twice just to make sure there was only one ending.  Go enjoy the weird-ness now!

Generic Adventure Game  genericadventure

Another interesting little satire, Generic Adventure Game has you play as the enemy.  The catch?  You have to help the hero (or heros, as you’ll soon see) beat the level.  But don’t worry, you have a whole alternate universe to guide you.  I must confess I got stuck and didn’t play this one to completion, but I’m sure I’ll be back.

yumbugs  Yumbugs

Incredibly cute.  Slightly grotesque.  An award winning combo!  Yumbugs packs excellent graphics with a fun jump ‘n run style puzzle platformer.  There’s no story to speak of, but who needs one?  I’m could see this becoming an instant casual/mobile hit with a bit more polish and level design.

Bitxl’s Kool Place  Bizxl's Kool Place

You know me, I’m so meta I knew I would write about being meta in this paragraph.  Enjoy super meta game modding with Bitxl and his “simulation”.  This one is extremely short as well, but quite novel and amusing.

SPiMH – Capes for Your Butt

Sometimes there are things we feel the need to write about; things we love that don’t fit anywhere. Therefore, we have pulled this tag/category from our old Zhobot blog: Special Place in My Heart. Because some things video game related or otherwise just hold special places in our cold, unforgiving tiny hearts.

This was originally posted on the zhobot.net blog in July of 2013 and I thought I would repost it here to get the ball rolling on all the craziness that will no doubt end up in this category.


So welcome to the first post of the SPimH tag/category. I needed to talk about my love for waist capes – or buttcapes, asscapes, halfcapes – whatever you want to call them (I usually favor asscapes; IT JUST ROLLS OFF THE TONGUE) so here is the Special Place in my Heart tag and here are the asscapes.

I have always thought regular capes looked really slick, but wow okay, a half cape – a cape that hangs over your lower backside instead of upper where it can possibly restrict your shoulders. You still get the cool, flowing action just in a different place. I DON’T KNOW WHY I LOVE THESE SO MUCH.

Sydney Losstarot
 I’m not sure when my love for them began. I feel like it was in 2000 when Vagrant Story came out for the PSX and the main villain, Sydney Losstarot, sported a super-fab waist cape. That was the first time the word asscape came about in our house. I was looking at him in the game and saying, “What would you even call that thing?” My sister almost instantly went, “Asscape?” And we both chuckled like the mature adults we never will be and that word has lived on in my vocabulary since then.



Kuja Next up, and during that same year year of the asscape? was Kuja from Final Fantasy IX – SO STYLISH, SO EVIL, SO… FLOWY AND MAGICAL AND ATTACHED TO UNDERGARMENT BITS? I think the asscape with the super tall boots is rad though, so rock it, Kuja.

Riku Then I played the first Kingdom hearts game in 2002 and gasp– do I spy another asscape? Squaresoft/Square Enix (whatever they happened to be way back when, still Squaresoft? It’s been too long) just loved handing me asscapes. It’s like they knew. Riku (while in Heartless/Dark Mode) wore a pretty awesome asscape complete with some belt action. WHO DOESN’T LOVE BELTS not Tetsuya Nomura!

Nitro Galerians: ASH came along in 2003 and a favorite Galerian of mine, Nitro, happened to be sporting an asscape. Now, it started higher than some others, but still fit the criteria. As long as it didn’t start at the shoulders and covered the region of the backside I loved it. Still can’t pinpoint why. This is also when I noticed that most of these characters that I loved with these draped lower backsides were villains in some form or another. Perhaps having an asscape makes you evil, who knows. Is it the wonderful butt fabric’s fault that Riku went into Dark Mode maybe it is. Fabulous accessory for being evil though. It must be up there with a curly mustache to twirl and amazingly arched eyebrows.

Tenel Ka Djo - Legacy of the Force: Tempest Tenel Ka Djo - Katsucon 2012

I started subconsciously putting my love for asscapes into costuming. Miss Tenel Ka Chume Ta’ Djo (there’s a mouthful) of the Star Wars: Expanded Universe has been a favorite character of mine since I got into Star Wars (a long time ago in galaxy far– you get the drift) and she only has a few official images of her, most of which are from the shoulders up. So when making costumes and outfits of hers, I got to throw in some of my own ideas to round out the whole outfit. She’s not really a fancy-dress-up type (even while she’s the Queen Mother of a 63-planet consortium) so I brought asscapes in to make it somewhat fancy while still keeping it functional in case she needed to fight. Like a boss and all that. First was the Legacy of the Force: Tempest cover (which I’ve made a couple versions of a waist cape for). Then I ended up bringing a different butt cape – technically one that went on the side! SIDECAPE? – in to a costume I threw together for a younger (two-armed, pre-Lightsabers!) Tenel Ka in a week before Katsucon 2012 (you can see I reused the sleeves from the Tempest cover Tenel Ka – was not gonna sit and scale a whole new set of sleeves together NOPE).

Jasmine Jolene - Dragon*Con 2011 - thanks to Irrational Games for the photo! Also with a BioShock costume I made – Jasmine Jolene – I saw another opportunity for a fabric tail. There isn’t much official art of Jasmine so I ended up looking for inspiration from a few pieces of fanart of her and also realized I could buttcape the outfit up SO WHY NOT? I thought it worked with the setting she’s usually in and gave a new dimension to the outfit instead of just being the corset and shorts.

Jaryn - Dance Central 3 In October of last year, Dance Central 3 came out and it was like the heavens parted and light happened to shine all over my face and someone was singing something somewhere because my favorite Dance Central character, Jaryn, was… wait for it, wearing an A S S C A P E.

Jaryn - PAX East 2013 It was a sign! I mean, we knew we were going to costume as the Glitterati in their DC3 outfits (if they were in it, which they are, so YESSSS!) but after I saw the asscape, I knew it was meant to be. It was a pleated asscape too. Extra fabulous.

I’ve been fiddling with making some of my own waist capes (I’ll be proper and use the correct[?] term now, sorry) and have been getting a ton of different ideas for fabrics and patterns and so on, so you might see another post on these in the future! I just had to share this to start because these hold a special place on my backside in my heart.

What characters with butt capes have I missed? Let me know in the comments (because I know I’m missing some)!


Special Place in my Heart is a random feature here at Zhobot where, when the need strikes us, we write about something video game-related or otherwise that holds a geeky place in our weird little hearts.

Gaming – Ludum Dare and the Indie Game Revolution

Making games used to be hard.  Well, at least harder.  You’d have to know the platform: its limitations, constraints, and quirks.  How many colors could you display?  How many sound channels could you play?  What sort of optimizations would you need to get a steady framerate?  All of these specializations needed time and effort.  Time and effort that wasn’t spent on designing the actual game, but on wrestling with implementation.  Things took a big leap in the 90s with the rise of powerful, general purpose computing hardware.  Another 20 years later and we’ve warped into a time when you don’t even need to program a single line of code to develop a cross platform game!  Now more than ever, people who might have been put off by the challenges of game development (yours truly included) are learning with ease due to fabulous tools like Unity, GameMaker, Construct, RPG Maker… the list goes on.  Self distribution and publishing is also easier than ever thanks to cheap storage and bandwidth.  Anyone can make and publish game these days.  And during a special event called Ludum Dare, many do: in 48 hours!

What is Ludum Dare you might ask?  As you might have guessed, its a competition that requires participants to make a game in 48 hours by themselves.  There’s also a more relaxed “jam” event that runs alongside it with a 72 hour window and teams allowed.  This last event, there were almost 2500 submissions.  Even if you only played each game for 5 minutes, it would take you about 9 days to get through them all… without interruption!  Thankfully you don’t have to rate that many games, but the more you rate and comment on others’ games the more chance that your game will get rated back.

That’s just about the basics.  So what ACTUALLY happens during this entire event?  Insanity:

I like cake

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I’ll go into more detail about the specific games I played/am playing a little later, and have a full coverage of the finalists after all the reviews are in.  In fact you should head over to the Ludum Dare website now and start playing!

Con Report – AwesomeCon 2014

April 19th through the 21st was the second year of AwesomeCon in Washington D.C.! Nate and I couldn’t make it last year but we heard only good things so we wanted to make sure we went this year. We were very happy we did. Despite some growing pains here and there, the convention definitely had more good going for it than bad. I’ll point out some I saw of both categories.

The bad I experienced didn’t consist of much except for a couple big things, which were actually explained after the convention. When we arrived, the line was wrapped around the building for people who had already purchased tickets. The convention center is huge and Nate and I wandered to the back and got in line. Normally I wouldn’t be that excited to stand in line but this was actually pretty neat because it was here I noticed all of the families that had come out for the convention.

Later we learned that many of the attendees on Saturday heard about AwesomeCon because of the coverage they were getting in the local media thanks to their World Record Attempt on Friday. Those people bought their tickets Friday night and the attendance on I loved them!Saturday was much higher than they expected. This was a great thing for the convention – maybe not for all the people in line but we only waited in it for an hour. I’ve waited four hours in line for a badge at Dragon*Con (before they fixed the system) so I was okay. Also, like I mentioned previously, I had entertainment! Seeing all the people in line that were in costume or with their families made me smile. Especially when there were families in costumes like these two as Link & Zelda from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Their smiles were absolutely contagious!

The other thing that fell into the bad category also had to be because of the level of attendees the convention had on Saturday. The Dealer/Exhibitor area was packed. The aisles in there and the Artist Alley section were very wide, which was great, but there were still a ton of people everywhere. I hope to see them spread out and use more of the convention center space next year.

With all that out of the way though, I can get to the good. The diversity of the programming here was wonderful, the Artist Alley was amazing and everyone I ran into on the Brute Squad (aka AwesomeCon’s set of volunteers) was extremely helpful and nice. Saturday morning after we got into the convention we looked around the exhibit hall for a bit before heading to the Star Wars Discussion panel. It was moderated by our friend Bria of White Hot Room and besides supporting her, we wanted to see what the panel had to say about theThe Star Wars Panel new Star Wars movies. After milling around the exhibit hall some more – and eating expensive convention center lunch (which was actually delicious, albeit expensive) – we got in line to meet Melissa McBride, who plays Carol on AMC’s The Walking Dead. She was absolutely fabulous and very sweet and spent time talking to each group that went up to her instead of just signing something, smiling and moving on. I also found out she hates touching cash just as much as I do and she gave me some of the hand sanitizer from her table (MY HERO <3).

We were dressed as Rick O’Connell and Evelyn Carnahan from The Mummy that day and gushed anytime someone gushed about The Mummy to us. It was great seeing that people still love that movie – it’s definitely one of our favorites. Although, Nate also got a couple “Nathan Drake!”‘s and even better were the, “It’s Mal Reynolds!” We joked later about how we should’ve brought, “This is The Mummy & The Mummy Returns and This Is Why You Should Watch Them” pamphlets. (Naturally, with a tiny note on the bottom that reads. Third movie? What third movie?)

Sunday was a shorter day for us – we rode the Metro into the city and had no problem getting in the convention since we already had our 2 day passes. There was a lot of milling around in the exhibit hall again (so much to look at!) and also a trip or two around the video game room. We watched costumers as Anna, Elsa and Kristoff from Frozen play Just Dance 2014 and then we watched another group go up and start a song. More people sort of fell in behind them and we realized we were sitting down by a giant dance party. The game room was set up very well (this is a big deal for me because you know how I love video games). There was a lot of room for spectators and people to walk by around the tables and they left a huge space for the Kinect and Just Dance.

We went to a panel about 3D Printing and Cosplay and were pleasantly surprised to see the two people running it that we had seen showing a 3D printer at Eastern Shore Fan Con! The panel was very well run and I loved the fact that they went through the whole process from the beginning – the modeling whatever object you’re going to print – to the end – the actual printing. It was nice that they passed around some of the items they made as well so everyone could get a feel for what the 3D printer and a little elbow grease could produce. The panel was run by Sox Cosplay and Props and Bindi Smalls – both of whom were also very informative and friendly.

Overall, the convention was a lot of fun and with it being a short Metro ride away from us, we’ll definitely make it a point to be back. Working out the space issues and line issues should be no big deal so we hope to see AwesomeCon expand and grow into the giant comvention Washington D.C. needs!

Basically: Awesome job, AwesomeCon.

Costumes – Morning Glories

Last weekend at Eastern Shore Fan Con, myself, Nate and Denis were very excited to be joined by Bria of White Hot Room for a costume group of some of the students from the comic Morning Glories! If you’ve never heard of Morning Glories here is a good summary of what it’s about on Wikipedia – don’t read too far into the Story Arc section though because SPOILERS! (And here is an awesome tumblr powerpoint presentation about why you should be reading it.)

Also, check out Bria’s Morning Glories post with more photos over at WHR!

We were more than happy to recommend the comic to anyone who asked us what we were dressed as that day. This happened more than a few times as we bounded around the campus where Eastern Shore Fan Con was held snapping photos and acting generally fitting to each of our characters.

It’s Denis’ fault that Nate and I got into the comic. Bria had read the first few issues and Denis lent the rest to her to catch up. This is when the idea was born for a group costume! Of course, Denis’ wardrobe usually looks casually smashing and is full of slacks and button-up shirts and ties and stuff, so we figured he was just suggesting it since he already owned everything and dresses like this normally. (“But I had to buy the slacks and tie for this outfit!”, I can hear him saying right about now. ;D)

Heather as Jade
Bria as Zoe
Denis as Jun
Nate as Ike

Many, many thanks to Roger who took many of these photos and directed us into place. It was especially awesome when he was inside taking photos from the second floor of us outside and had to try to move us around with no words and just hand signals. He finally called Nate (who was the only one who had his phone outside with him):

Roger: “You’re all fine where you are except Denis.”
Nate: “He said we’re all good except Denis.”
Denis: “WHAT?!”

Overall, ESFC was a lot of fun and our costumes were actually pretty comfortable. I got to wear my well worn-in Converse and Nate found an awesome vest with a scarf already attached on Amazon for $10 that fit Ike pretty darn well. (And there might have been one purchased in black too for a future Saints Row/Glitterati crossover.) We’re planning on wearing these again, possibly to Baltimore Comic Con! By then I should hopefully have my hair more Jade-ified and maybe we’ll fill out some more of the group!