Saturday, July 30, 2011

If it doesn't work - change it

You might get the idea from this blog that all we do in our house is play video games. Not true. We also play board games. We pulled out an old favourite that my husband and played when the kids were very young - Risk God Storm. My daughter expressed interest in playing herself because she's into mythology and liked the idea of using Ares and Zeus in a game. When she was little, she used to toddle around holding Hecate because she was the "girl god". One of the reasons we hadn't played Risk God Storm in a while was because we struggled with the use of the Underworld. It was important enough in the game that the power of the god of Death was to prevent fallen armies from traveling to the Underworld, but we always found that it dragged the game's pace down. When we got together to play (my daughter, my husband, my husband's friend and I), we decided to create "house rules" for dealing with the underworld. The men were very comfortable with this procedure, as they've done it while playing D&D, but it was new to me. I was used to altering the rules to games (like putting fines under Free Parking in Monopoly) but not as part of a planned plotting and deliberate effort. I wrote down the new procedure (because I'm both anal and forgetful) and we found it was an improvement. There are still kinks to work out but we were satisfied. (I'll type up the rule here later, because when my husband searched the Net for house rules for Risk God Storm, he found none.)

This reminded me a bit of how the new Lego board games are meant to be played. You are actually meant to "build" the game in whatever direction you want. For instance, in Magikus (a Lego game we got on sale for a remarkable $2!), players have to collect all four ingredients for their spell (red, blue, yellow, and green) before everyone else. Your playing piece stands in front of a row to choose from and the dice roll determines what you get (white means you can take what you want in that row regardless of color, black means you can steal an item from another player). Then, the instructions give some suggestions for ways to alter the game to make it easier or harder, like using one of the decorations (one black bat) as a fifth, required element in the potion. I like how the game gives suggestions but encourages the players to change the game in whatever ways they want. If the game is too slow - change it! Too random - change it! Too easy - change it! Too hard - change it! You can do this a bit in video games, but not as easily.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Another Terraria POV

My daughter was inspired by my son's Terraria comic enough to create one of her own. Here it is.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Story of Terraria

Here is my son's retelling of the events of Terraria in wordless comic form.

The comic isn't finished yet, but I was too eager to share. Panel 8 (second row) shows the tragedy of a bunny dying - his head popped off. Panel 9 (second row) shows the main character getting revenge by stabbing the green slime responsible for the murder "in his heart". Panels 11-12 (third row) show the appearance of the pink slime and it getting smashed ("but it had 150 health points! It's like crazy!"). As I type, the comic artist is adding to his creation by mentioning the yellow slime.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

United in Terraria

Right now, as I type, my daughter is reading the discussion forums on Monster High and the boys in the family are huddled around Terraria. Terraria is a new game that my husband acquired at the prompting of a friend of his. The game company that makes it had a sale and he got it for a low price. I've heard him compare it to Minecraft, though he's never played that game before.

My husband has not found Terraria to be easy. He's shouted at the computer a couple of times and he phoned his friend to ask for advice and assistance. My son has enjoyed watching his dad tackle this new game, new game exploration being a favourite past-time for the youngest member of the family. He did not like how bunnies got hurt by slime and monsters, so it seems like he's doing something about it.

First step: watch his dad play and give him tips from the safety of his seat. I just heard him caution him about some red eyes he saw on screen. "Want to try and get more water?"He also cheers his dad on - "Good job Dad. You stabbed the green slime right in his heart".

Second step: take control of the plot and action by drawing / writing a Terraria-based comic. Naturally, I'll post a scan of it if/when he finishes it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Final Moshi Fanzine

Some searching near the art portfolios uncovered the missing Moshi Fandom magazines, so I'm able to post a couple of articles from this issue.
Yoohoo minna! (Minna is friend in Japanese.) Luna Luvli here! I can't believe we're already on our 3rd issue in just 3 days! I'd like to thank you all for following us for so long! Anyway, most of this issue will be about our good friend Nelly, the newest six-month Moshi member in Monstro City. WE will have lots of interviews, lots of member-related games, and lots of rox! (Oh wait. Only Nelly can do that. Tee hee, oh I'm so jealous!) Anyway, please enjoy the newest edition of Moshi Fandom.
Luna Luvli

[marked as an ad at the top of the page]
Nelly's 101 Reasons to be a Moshi Member!
1. It's fun!
2. You can get more moshlings.
3. You can get more rox.
4. You can visit the underground disco.
5. You can buy rare items.
6. You can send gifts to friends.
7. You can get over 1000 friends and 11 best friends.
8. You can colour your monster at colourama!
9. You can become a super moshi.
The other 92 reasons couldn't fit on this paper. But still, please become a member!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Moshi Fanzines Continued

My desktop computer was out of commission for a while, so I was unable to share the other covers of the Moshi Fandom magazine. The editor-in-chief has misplaced all the issues and has no clue where she last had them, so I'm unable to share any of the articles from this edition of the publication.

The kids have enjoyed collecting the Moshi cards and observing the different vocabulary quirks - Moshi Monsters is a British creation and they don't "Americanize" their content.
Here are two examples they were able to list off the top of their heads:
spanner = wrench
dustbin = garbage can
We'll continue sharing the Moshi love later on, especially when we can find the hard copies of those magazines!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The "Dumbing Down" of Video Games?

My husband and I are fans of the humour website Cracked ( and one of today's articles talked about 5 Crucial Lessons Learned By Watching Kids Play Video Games. Be forewarned, there's a lot of profanity in the article.

The two of us chatted after reading the essay together. (We read articles out loud to each other, which can either be geeky or charming, depending on your point of view.) The writer made some good points about infinite lives and skipping the reading (two negatives) as well as changing the universe (a positive). I know we've had to ask or remind our son to not bypass the text, partly because he's missing some important information that will save him frustration later in the game, and partly because as we watch him play the game, we'd like to know what on earth is going on in the "plot" of the game. I'll let you read the composition for yourself and make your own conclusions.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Paper Mario - The "newest" craze

It's summer vacation and my son likes having "new" video games to obsess over and work on. After doing some research via YouTube and the Wii Channel, the boy purchased Paper Mario, a game that came out in 2001, a year before he was born. Despite being a decade old, Paper Mario still has great game play value. I interviewed him for today's blog entry about his Paper Mario playing experience.

Mom: Thank you for joining me today and consenting to this interview. Tell me why you like Paper Mario.

Son: Well, because I've seen it on YouTube and it looks like a good game. I've been playing it for eight hours and 23 minutes so far. I'm on Chapter 3.

Mom: How is the game similar to other Mario games? How is it different?

Son: Well, mostly it's kind of like Mario and Luigi Bowser's Inside Story because you can use two turns in special attacks. How they are similar? Mario is alone with his members, such as Goombario, Kooper, Bombette, Pakarry, and Bow, aka Lady Booheleena.

Mom: Who is your favourite helper?

Son: I'm gonna say Boohelina. Besides, she laughs so funny. Also, I like Boos. I think they're cute and I think she's the only girl Boo in the game.

Mom: Who is the hardest boss you've faced so far?

Son: So far, Junior Koopa. He keeps coming. When I looked on YouTube, he comes five times!

Mom: Tell me about Toad Town.

Son: When you go to this one place, a toad will appear and tell you about a place in Toad Town called Little Oinks. You can make little creatures that look like pigs. But when the 11th one pops up, the first one runs away and leaves an item. Mysterious, huh?

Mom: What was the hardest item to get? How did you get it?

Son: It was the Boo Portrait. This one Boo was in a frame. He needed a Boo Portrait back. Later on, you find a few Boos. They have some sort of boots with them. You have to play a little game to tell which one has the boots. And now, you can ground pound, so you can break wooden objects that are above you; well, technically, the ones you are on.

Mom: What is the hardest part of the game besides boss battles?

Son: It was hard getting to Booheleena's mansion because it was a big maze that you have to go through. Boos were sending you a letter, 'cause Booheleena wanted you to come.

Mom: I saw you pull the chandelier to get to a secret door. How did you know how to do that?

Son: Easy. I needed to go onto an orange couch, which was like a ghost couch, then the ghost couch flinged [sic] me. I jumped on the couch so I'd be flinged. I remembered that once there was an exclamation mark on a brown-like holder thing and when I pressed A, it squished me. That's how I knew anything that's brown or orange should be ghostified.

Mom: What kind of gamer would like playing this game?

Son: Probably people who like Mario. And people who like playing old games from the past. Also, there's this one creature in a desert - if you whack him with your hammer or bonk him with Kooper's shell, he'll leave behind a Whacka's Bump. It heals you 25 flower power and health points.

Mom: Thank you for talking with me and sharing your knowledge.

Son: It's my pleasure to be here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Moshi Recognition

Moshi Monsters seems to have replaced Club Penguin as *the* children's MMO (and when I saw that Club Penguin had increased their monthly membership to $7.95 a month - a $2 increase - it increased my suspicions that they are losing members to the quirky British monster site). My daughter and son are playing it. They both have accounts.

There are many different activities on to do. My girl entered a "create a collection" contest. The object was to make a group of collectibles that your online character could have in their room. She wrote about what she thought the newest collection could be and she got a "favourite commenter" prize, which gave her a free slushie for her monster to drink. She also received honourable mention in another contest in which people had to create a backstory for two characters called Dr. StrangeGlove and ElderFurry.

This was what she wrote for the collection contest:

My collection idea is Battie. I'd be ust like the famous famous fashion doll Barbie exept [sic] she would have wings and fangs. Each Battie would wear a different outfit so you could make a whole bunch!

Both of my kids like the idea of winning in-game merchandice by entering contests. I hear they want my help to tape themselves doing Moshi impersonations. Guess I know what I'll be up to in the next few days!