Thursday, August 30, 2012

What does Dad play now?

This is a "family gaming" blog and I know the focus tends to fall on the kids, but today I thought I'd redirect to hubby for today's post. Now that World of Warcraft is no longer a major part of his life (although he has a cool commissioned illustration of his main character, Jherith, to commemorate the five years he spent in-game), he has time to play other things.

In terms of video games, he spent three hours today playing the latest episode of The Walking Dead. He says the game is very engaging and that there have been moments where he literally quaked based on what occured on-screen.  His other big video game time-sucker right now is Tetris on the iPad. He's got some crazy high score that I'll never beat (today I earned about 60 000 points and he has over ten times that amount) but he says when he needs to take a break from writing or cleaning, he likes just picking up the iPad and playing a round. He scoffed at the one-touch option until he realized he could gain a much higher score and abandoned the traditional method of play, which granted is a lot harder on the iPad - it's easy to accidentally turn a piece when you just mean to move it over. He used to play the Star Wars MMO with his buddy but they stopped. James says he is looking forward to Borderlands 2 coming out and playing that with his pal.

Google Plus is a much-beloved venue for him to play his RPGs. He plays in a Traveller game on Thursday nights and runs his Dwimmermount campaign alternate weeks with an Empire of the Petal Throne adventure via webcam on Fridays or Saturdays, depending on player availability.

We still play board games. Recently, our family friend brought over Fortress America. The family friend played the U.S., since he claims that the Maliszewskis always gang up on him in any competitive game. We ran out of time to finish the game but it looks promising and is actually more balanced than it first appears.

It's a bit like Risk except you have to declare your strikes in advance and the damage is much more structured (based on your air, land, and foot military units). I was the red menace, hubby was the yellow plague, and our daughter was the blue invaders. I think I had the most challenging task of the outside threats because I had a lot of cities to try and attack and I didn't have direct contact with many of them. Hubby did very well and took over L.A., Seattle and many other main cities on the west coast. I had bad dice mojo so I lost many troops. Our family friend also gets a laser every round which is pretty deadly but thankfully can only attack one target per laser per round. The benefits of the lasers are countered by the inability to place troops where he wants in America - cards he selects tells him how many units he gets and where he must place them. We'll see how it goes when we play a complete game; when we prematurely ended this session, the "bad guys" had taken ten out of the required 18 cities.

This brief overview shows that hubby, despite leaving WoW, still has a very active gaming life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"Minute Pikmin" Movie Blog Debut!

Thank goodness, it's done! The kids and I have been working on and off with this project almost the entire summer, but we finally completed our Pikmin claymation video. If you didn't see my gleeful Twitter post, here's your chance to see our work for the first time.

This really was a labour of love! You've already heard about our trips to Michaels (the craft store) to find the right shade of clay for Olimar's skin ... we also spent a great deal of time searching for something to use as a helmet (and a candy jar from Bulk Barn did the trick). This also involved a lot of manual labour making dozens of little Pikmin. The filming stage was a challenge because the children chose to film it outside so they could get the nature feel of the game. I even used a lawnmower all by myself to tame the grass and make it a length suitable for seeing our little figures. The lawnmower didn't help with uneven ground and toppling characters. It also meant we were limited to filming when the weather conditions were ideal (i.e. no rain and shaded on a certain side of the house). Our difficulties didn't end with filming. During post-production, it took a while to figure out how to gather and import audio. We used StoMo for the video and iMovie to edit it together. I downloaded AudioMemos for the sound. Originally we added the sound to the clips directly on iMovie but when we uploaded it to YouTube, it arrived without sound. AudioMemos created a .wav file I was able to add without issue.

Despite all the challenges (and the boy's reluctance to follow through, despite the fact that this was all his idea), we are all extremely proud of our accomplishment.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Minecraft Music and A Creeper Like You

I am happy to report that my boy is not a sociopath.
I've known this for a while, but this was proven quite poignantly after we received this video recommendation from Technascribe, one of the players on our Minecraft server. She highly recommended it, so we watched it. I've embedded it below.

My son watched this and then wept as if his heart would break.My poor empathetic boy! We had to spend a good long time comforting him and reassuring him that the creeper had other creatures to hang around with so he wasn't that lonely.

Since then, my kids have discovered the wonders of Minecraft songs. Here are some of their favourites.

P says he likes it because he likes the original song and knows the tune.
M agrees.

M says she's annoyed by this one but P listens to it so she sometimes hears it. P says he loves it because it's funny and it repeats over and over again so you can learn the lyrics quickly.

When I put this on the blog, both kids began to sing and dance.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fan Expo Canada - A Gaming Celebration

My kids and I went to Fan Expo Canada yesterday. We love it. One of our favourite aspects (other than the cool things you can buy, which is my son's #1 priority) is the amazing cosplayers. If you've read this blog before, you know that I made my Minecraft Creeper costume myself (except for the head, which disqualified me from competing in the Masquerade). People not only knew who I was, they complimented me on my costume and asked to take photos. I saw plenty of people, of varying ages, walking around with Steve heads and pixelated pick axes and swords. It was fun because we shared the same enjoyment of the same game. We saw the big booths (like Ubisoft showcasing Just Dance 4 with volunteers busting moves for the crowds). but we equally enjoyed the individuals taking the popular gaming products and putting their own spin on them. Anyone who can create a  Ku-Bone Pokemon like this one has untapped talents.


(My son adores his Minecraft Slime plushie and we collected the seller's business card so we might order more in the future.)

This applies to comics, manga, sci-fi, and fantasy too. My girl went as Sailor Saturn and posed with a Sailor Moon cosplayer for a photo.

I love this kind of thing, even though my husband bemoans hipsters and Bromies. We don't get to indulge in this kind of thing often - other than Fan Expo, the only time I'd get to wear my creeper costume would be Halloween - and even though it can be costly to attend (thank you Hasbro for sharing the "kids get in free" coupon!), I'm glad I have an outlet for my game-y interests and exhibitionist tendencies.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review of Super Mario Bros 2 for 3DS

Today, my son received an early birthday present: Super Mario Brothers 2 for his Nintendo 3DS. I asked if he could dictate a short review for this blog. Since I'm the one doing the typing, he agreed. Here is his opinion.

This is an anniversary of Mario and it's all about Mario collecting golden coins. There's a new way of collecting coins in this game. There's way more ways to collect coins in this. Play Coin Rush and share your records with friends on wireless. Also, get the new Golden Mario flower by collecting the golden flower. Play with a friend on co-op play - you can be Mario or Luigi. Reminder, to let you know, if Luigi gets a gold flower, he will become silver, since Mario is already gold.

The thing about this game that I like is that it introduces a new power. Tenuki Mario returns and he can fly if he runs very fast. What I dislike about the game is that sometimes there are too much enemies. There's a lot of worlds which makes the game tough, plus some secret worlds. It is probably based on Super Mario Brothers for DS.  

Don't forget Mario's trustworthy power-ups that will help him on his adventure. There's teh good old mushroom that makes him big and lets him stay alive longer. Then we all know the fire flower, which allows Mario to shoot fireballs by pressing a Y. There's the mini-mushroom, which turns Mario tiny. It allows him to make big jumps but one hit, and you're a goner. Then there's the mega-mushroom which turns Mario big and can destroy almost anything in sight.  There's also the golden flower that allows Mario to turn almost anything into coins. Then there's the invincible leaf. What this does is transform Mario into the same Raccoon Mario but he's invincible and he can fly and run real fast.

Dad told me if you get 1 000 000 coins, you get a golden screen and Mario is on it, like a golden Mario statue. I think it's worth it because it shows you really love gold and what you do with the gold - it shows like you care. 

There's also new enemies to overcome - big Boos, dead piranha plants, dried Goombas and more to come. Right now I am on World 5 Level 3. 

Me myself, I've heard people were hoping that the million coin mark would bring something that would encourage you to play the game more, like a new character, rather than a title screen. I could take a socialist slant and ask why Mario needs all these coins, when he's already one of the richest video game characters around, but that's not the point, is it. 

Paper Mario Helpers - drawn as if they were humans

Paper Mario Partners - original form by MM

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Assorted Pictures and C&C

I have a ton of scanned drawings that don't have any great stories to attach to them in this blog, so I thought today I'd share some illustrations by the kids that have nothing to do with each other. I won't leave it barren of text, however, because I'll mention something I'd prefer my husband to discuss. (He'd do it better.)

Epic Kirby - by PM

Kirby Comic - by PM

Ice Type Magic - by MM

Team Chaotix Comic by MM

New Kirby Types by PM

Super Mario Ch1 Heroes of Light by MM

Pet Scarfy by PM

Petor Puffball by MM

Pixls by MM

Tokyo Mew Mew Parody by MM

Kirby Tale Ch1 by PM

Kirby Traps in Time by PM

Kirby Winter Disaster by PM

Moon Elf & Friend by MM

Kirby in Action by PM

Manga Paper Mario by MM

Pet Slime by MM

Kirby Powers by PM

Maple Story by MM

So, here's my lame-o retelling of the C&C reference. It's no typo, just another cultural reference used by the clever people who write and animate the new Scooby Doo, Mystery Incorporated cartoon. My family loves Mystery Incorporated. My husband will go on at length about how he dislikes the Shaggy-Velma romance that occurred in the first season, this is a well-made show that parodies many 2012 pop culture icons in addition to throwbacks to the 1960s and 1970s.

We just watched an episode (called Web of the Dreamweaver) that featured Dungeons and Dragons prominently. - the game was C&C, Crypts and Creatures. Sherriff Bronson Stone, impeccably voice-acted by the magnificent Patrick Warburton, played this RPG with his friends and the Nightmare on Elm Street like monster that he unintentionally unleashes curses all the players from his game. I won't spoil the ending for you by revealing who is behind the chaos, but at one point, Shaggy admits that he, too, used to be a C&C geek. Shaggy says he stopped playing when he thought his teacher was a monster from the game. Neither my husband nor the many players he's gamed with have ever lost themselves in the fantasy realm to the detriment of their sanity, but it was amusing to see all the funny stereotypes about socially awkward teens in a basement getting carried away. (Hubby, please blog on this! As a gamer, were you touched by the attention - "magic missile, magic missile!!" - or disappointed by the portrayal? I know you liked the second Diary of a Wimpy Kid and its D&D RPG moment. Tell, tell!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Minecraft Creeper Costume

What did YOU do over your summer vacation? I spent several days sticking 1.5" green squares onto a vacuum cleaner box to prepare for Fan Expo Canada 2012.

Every year, my daughter and I attend Fan Expo Canada. Her favourite thing about Fan Expo was competing in the Masquerade, a gala event where individuals share their elaborate home-made costumes on stage. Unfortunately, Mary is now too old to compete in the youth division. (You must be under 12, but your costume must still be hand-made by a family member.) I usually dress up as some sort of accessory.

Year 1 (2009) - she was Mei from Pokemon and I was Jessie from Team Rocket.

Year 2 (2010) - she was Princess Peach from the Mario video games and I was Yoshi. She rode me on stage.

Year 3 (2011) - she was Frankie Stein from Monster High and I dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein. This was the first year I didn't go on stage with her.

This year, she is planning to appear (not in the Masquerade but at Fan Expo in general) as Sailor Saturn from the Sailor Moon anime/manga. Since I have neither the body type nor the inclination to be a Sailor Scout, and because I like dressing up just as much as she does, I decided to be a creeper from my favourite game, Minecraft.

I myself cannot enter the Masquerade because I did not make my creeper head - my husband bought it for me from Jinx. Costumes can't be bought, even if it's only part of the costume. Plus, having listened to the feedback the costume judges give the Masquerade participants, I don't think my craftsmanship is up to snuff. Just in case you were wondering how I did this, here are the steps I took.

I learned a lot on how to make my costume from Screen Team Show's video on how to make the creeper head and applied some of their techniques to the body. My squares are 1.5" and I made them with a combination of a Creative Memories square puncher and a ruler/scissors. It was tricky to find five different shades of green in a size big enough to cover a body-sized box, but I purchased bristol board, painting paper, and a few sheets of scrapbook paper from Michaels, a craft store. I used a glue gun to stick each individual square on the box in a random fashion. I didn't draw a grid on the box and I didn't paint the box green underneath. My husband helped with a dilemma I faced about arms. Creepers don't have arms but I couldn't imagine walking around the Metro Convention Centre unable to use my upper limbs. I didn't want to put holes in the sides because it would detract from the overall effect. James recommended flaps that I could push my arms out if needed and pull them in for photos. Brilliant idea hubby! In this photo, I'm wearing capris but today I bought green knee socks so my legs wouldn't be an eye sore. I also have to glue a hat on the inside of the box so the head doesn't wobble as much.

I don't know how many squares are on my costume. When I did the first side, it was 200, but that didn't include the flap near the bottom. I suspect I have about 1000 squares on the costume. I really hope it doesn't rain when I wait in line to get into Fan Expo. I'm bringing a garbage bag to cover me just in case. I have to say there was something oddly soothing about spending days sticking squares onto cardboard. I'll re-use this outfit for Halloween but after that, I'm not sure how or where to safely store it. If you see a creeper wandering downtown in the next few weeks, that'll be me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Making the Pikmin Movie - the odyssey continues

It's been weeks since I first posted the clay models of the Pikmin video game characters that my kids and I worked on with the intent of creating a Pikmin movie. We are still at it and our goal is to try and film the darn thing before school starts. That leaves us three weeks.

We were stuck on how to get Olimar's helmet just right and we finally solved it.

Captain Olimar in clay form!
The solution was found at Bulk Barn - a tiny glass candy jar. My girl worked pretty hard on the challenge of getting Olimar's head to fit into the jar and still retain the features of Olimar.

My son preferred to take a more administrative role, as in "Mom, you make X. Mary, you make Y. I'm going to play video games." However, with encouragement (i.e. "I'm not doing this unless you are around."), he stayed involved.

Here's our Bulborb
I hope that we'll be able to finish this video and post it here. My son has grandiose plans of a 15 minute epic tale but my daughter (who has done stop motion claymation before in her gifted class) is trying to lend an air of realism to the plans. Keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Last Night On Earth Heroes & Tetris Obsession

Thank you search option in Blogger! (I narrowly averted another duplicate photo post.)

As I flipped through the oodles of illustrations I've scanned to select one to post today, I found this drawing. I didn't think my daughter enjoyed Last Night On Earth so much that she'd draw them - in manga form. Shows what I know about what she likes!

And in another example of me misreading my family's gaming preferences, I bought Tetris (R) for the iPad because I liked it. While I was in labour with my first child, playing Tetris on a Nintendo Game Boy helped me get through some of the pain. (Some, not all - I am still grateful to the anesthesiologist for the part he played in my child's birth.) I didn't realize that my husband is an uber-Tetris player. I was proud of my 2000+ points until he beat it by double. Now? His high score is over 80 000 points. Good thing I wasn't in competition with him, or I'd never have a chance. At it is, there's a new person interested in using the iPad now. Oh what monster have I created!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Watchers

Last fall, my kids were involved in an amazing project linked to the EDGE Lab at Ryerson University to help create a video game. The result was a hybrid board game / iPad game called The Watchers . The neat thing about this project was that the children involved were inspired to create media related to their characters and the game during and after the project. I searched but I can't find the video that my girl's friend made highlighting all the characters they made. Naturally, my kids were inspired too, so here are three drawings they created based on The Watchers.

Watchers - Union City
The Watchers is set in a place called Union City, so this is the girl's stylized city map.

Watchers Promotional Poster
It wasn't just the girl that got involved - the boy made a poster. The words, in case you have trouble reading them, say "when evil and chaos trikes, it's time with all the gear they need there [sic] called The Watchers Come."

Watchers Character Profiles
Can you tell that the characters are really important to the kids? Each participant created a unique person or creature to do things in the world. I heard through the grapevine that my son wasn't always the most cooperative member of the group (sorry Kate, Jamie, and everyone else!) but somehow they helped him come up with a character concept that he was pretty proud to be associated with.

Now that we own an iPad, we'll be able to play the game ourselves. It'll be interesting to play it with two individuals that helped create it! I'll let you know the results after we play.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Savor the Victory, Perry!

 Games have a lot of elements that are intended to keep you playing long after you finish the main story. There's a lot there to keep you occupied (just like there are a lot of different Kirbys for you to use for your battles, as these illustrations by the boy show - that's my tie-in for today's drawings and even though it's weak, it's the one I'm using today).

When my husband and I were on our honeymoon, we went to a casino to see what it was like. We earmarked $20 for the excursion and played the slot machines. Every attempt had a lead-up, the moment, and the aftermath. I chanted my good luck mantras, pulled the handle, watched the spinning dials eagerly, and made the appropriate groans and gasps whether I won or lost. I saw other people, mostly seniors, who took a decidedly different approach. I vividly recall one elderly lady, who was tethered to an oxygen tank with one string and had her pre-paid gambling card tied to her with another lanyard. Rather than pull the arm, she pushed a button, and rarely paused in between pushes. She won - she pushed. She lost - she pushed. Her reaction didn't differ in the slightest. This is supposed to be fun? What happened to enjoying each moment as it goes? What happened to taking your time?

My son reminds me a bit of that old lady in the casino. We uploaded "Where's My Perry", a puzzle game, to the iPad last night. The full game has 80 levels - and he's done them all, in less than a day. He's still tinkering with the game to ensure he has earned full points on each stage. He raced through them at a dizzying pace. The same goes with Angry Birds. He had Angry Birds Space and Angry Birds Seasons and we just bought the original. I finally tried it out myself, with my hubby watching. We talked about the trajectories, admired the handiwork after launching a bird, discussed strategy for the next assault, and so on. That was with one encounter - I think it took me at least 5-10 minutes. I watched my son play a round that he was having trouble with and he'd speed through them. He had three red birds at his disposal to accomplish his goal and he kept missing one of the pigs on the edge. The minute he realized he didn't succeed, he wouldn't even wait to see if the buildings fell; he'd hit buttons to go back and try again. Finally, he was able to destroy all the pigs, with just two pigs instead of the allotted three. Instead of watching his victory, he clicked and moved on.

Now, I have to give the boy his due - he does enjoy watching his wins on things like Mario Kart and explaining his successes to a camera. I'm not sure why this tendency to "stop and smell the virtual roses" isn't consistent throughout all his game play experiences. I thought the Perry game was interesting - it deals with water in its various stages of matter, from steam to liquid to ice, and you had to manipulate the elements to achieve your goal. Maybe if he's willing to share, I'll get a chance to play on the iPad. I'm signed up for a class next Thursday to learn how to use the iPad and some of the games I can get on there a little better.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Kirby Master of Illusion comics

The boy loves Kirby. This isn't news. I gave up on scanning all the pages of his comics and stuck to just the covers. Some of these actually just have covers and nothing inside - the boy sometimes runs out of energy after sketching his covers.

Volume 1 and Volume 2

Volume 3 and Volume 4

Volume 5 and Volume 6

Volume 7 and Volume 8

Volume 9 and Volume 10

Season 2: Back on Track (the boy switches from print to TV terms)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mario Kart Victory Explained

Today, I caught up with uploading to YouTube several videos we made.

On wii Cup, Bowser Castle 3 Leaf Cup, the boy won his race and then we watched the footage and he explained the challenges. Here's the video.