Friday, December 20, 2013

Angry Birds Go!

This post was originally written by "the boy" on December 12, 2013. All writing and editing credits go to him. 

Today I’ll be talking about an update to the original angry birds

So the pigs are at it again, and they stole the eggs again but this is a science one so they have new things like bomb birds shocking new power, yeah as from what I said it makes it kind of obvious he drank all the purple enzyme as I will call it and a broken wire makes get a new power which is the shockwave!                         So now he will create a new small circle of electricity and pushing things, and electrocuting pigs there are also three other potions the orange one is like orange bird if it splashes on a pig it will blow up in air and kill itself in the process, the blue potion makes the pigs become three smaller separate parts if multiple potions are poured on a pig it’ll create that many pigs example: three potions make nine tinier pigs and finally the pink potion turns pigs into bubbles lifting things up in the pig and then popping and dropping the structures. This is one of my favorite chapters because I thought about a science one including potions turning the birds different colors and maybe it will get a new power, this is also similar to red’s mighty feathers where red bird gains a new power so maybe yellow bird’ orange bird’ and other birds might get a power-up as well? We cannot predict the future sometimes I wish I could I really do, also does anyone remember the king pig toy where he does a random thing to your game? Well soon enough I will see the shock wave piggy so yeah tomorrow I will make a post about angry birds go! So stay tuned next time, and I will make it as best as I can because I do not have the app so it’s going to be a lot harder than you think, sometimes it looks like you did not press space because it’s such a small space, So I hoped you enjoyed this post about angry birds update stay tuned for my next one coming next day and it is also fourteen days until Christmas can’t you guys wait? It’s hard not getting excited so have a good day and a happy early Christmas yeah I know its fourteen days till Christmas this is all in total 399 words! 

The boy's Angry Birds clay art.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Clumsy Ninja

(The boy has ditched his secretary - the next few blog posts are composed and written by him exclusively.)

                Today I’ll be talking to you about a new game called Clumsy Ninja

So you’re going to a temple to train a new ninja there’s a problem though he’s quite clumsy as the title says so your going have to train him as much and long as you want  as a way of getting xp faster you’ll have to do quests you will gain money use money and do very different things. Heck even throwing him around and tickling him will give you xp and one of my favorite things in this game is the potions as you go on the ninja will ask you to do things too every so often he’ll ask you to buy some potions here are all of them: Tornado, Dizzy, Freeze, Rage, Jelly, And finally Anti-Gravity each with their own special properties I only unlocked three of them but I’ll tell you the effects of them the Tornado makes your go spinning wildly!, The Dizzy potion makes the ninja have silly eyes and getting up for him won’t be very easy, and the Freeze potion whatever pose he is in he stays like that for about 30 seconds or so. I really don’t know for myself but you’ll unlock eventually a chicken who lays eggs for you and you get fifty coins for each egg also another currency besides coins is Gems which can repair items instantly get certain special items and gives you more balloons, potions or boxes/barrels it is fun when you like games that let you interact with the area around you and you will also unlock different places also this ninja had a sister named Kira he wants to save her from being kidnapped. This is an app for IPad I know for sure and maybe iPod I don’t know I got it last Friday so I don’t know a lot about it but also make sure to get the Ice rink because You could open presents and build snowmen I would not be surprised if the presents could have gems or coins in them so make sure you get it it’s really fun and It’s free so you can download it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Terraria Updated News

(Today's post was created by the boy and typed by the mom.)

Terraria released a new update containing tons of stuff - a new biome that is the crimson, a couple of new bosses, new weapons, and a special Halloween event update as well. 

The event is already over but you can trick your Steam account to think it's still October. That way, you can still have Halloween, even when it's May. It had lots of spooktastic items, such as the pet cursed sapling, a jack-o-lantern pet, and a whole bunch of spooky guns, like the jack-o-lantern launcher. I like to call it "the jack-o-launcher". (You get it, don't you? It sounds like jack-o-lantern and it shoots jack-o-lanterns. You gotta get it.)

Here are some of the new bosses. 
Planterra = a giant plant from below the jungle. Beating hard mode boss will cause little tiny plants to spawn in the jungle. If you happen to come across one, if you break it, he'll come to get you. He is very powerful so be prepared.
Queen Bee = inside the underground jungle, you'll find a new world - bee hives, filled with honey. If you look around carefully, you will find a cocoon with a baby bee inside. Simply use any type of weapon and kill it. She'll get angry at you and charge into battle. 
The Golem = when you've defeated Planterra, he will drop a temple key. Simply use it to open the entrance. You'll find lizards, flying snakes, traps, and goodies. To spawn the Golem, you must have a lizard power cell, which can either be a 1% drop from lizards, or can be found in chests inside the temple. Simply right click the machinery with a floating light above its head. Right click it with the lizard power cell and it will be awoken.
Mourningwood = a boss in the Pumpkin Moon event in Halloween. He will shoot flaming wood at you. He's also, to describe him, a big, black, tree. He's also quite smart. He will eventually kill you at least once, but if you have the right gear and weapons, you are in luck of killing him. He drops a lot of cool items - the cursed sapling I was talking about earlier, a spooky twig combined with 20 souls of flight, which are dropped by the Wyvern, you will get spooky wings, the best wings so far in the game. 
PumpKing = another joke on this name, sounds like pumpkin and he's also a king. It's too obvious, actually. He is somewhat like Skeletron. Shoot his head to actually bring him down. Don't bother with his hands. They're invincible. He drops pretty much every single good item in the event, such as the candy corn rifle, the pumpkin pet I was talking about earlier, the jack-o-lantern launcher, the horseman's blade, and other cool things. I recommend doing the Pumpkin Moon event, especially if you like being scary.  

There are also new NPCs - the party girl, (my favourite). She's not really used for anything but she's especially good for celebrations. The painter is a new NPC. You can paint things by getting tools from him. He will also at certain times draw paintings for you that you can buy and hang on walls. The pirate is a new NPC. After defeating a pirate invasion, he will come to your house eventually. He will sell cannonballs, cannons, and if the party girl is around when he is around, he will sell the bunny cannon. More powerful than a normal cannon, the bunny cannon shoots explosive bunnies that sit on the ground for a couple of seconds before blowing up. If they hit an enemy during flight, they will explode immediately. This is especially useful for goblin army and the pirate invasion, because they will eventually strike back again. To get the pirate invasion, you will need to find a treasure map, dropped by enemies in the ocean and then use it to spawn the pirate invasion. A new NPC is the cyborg. He is collected after beating Planterra. He sells stuff related to technology, such as ammunition for grenade launchers, rocket launchers, and his suit. Another NPC is the truffle. To get him, you need a room made out of mushrooms. You'll need mushroom doors, chair, and table. He also sells the mysterious mushroom. Buy it from him and use it to spawn the baby truffle. The witch doctor is a new NPC from defeating Queen Bee. She sells weird things. I don't have her in our world so I don't know what she really sells, making it kind of hard to explain her. The steam punker is a NPC that is related to mechanics and cleansing the world. Once you enter hard mode, the crimson, or the corruption, it will start to grow on the normal world. You'll need to stop it by using holy water to spread hallowed. The corruption cannot corrupt the hallowed,neither can the crimson. Like the corruption, the hallowed will spread on the normal biome. Using the clentamatior, with solution which can be bought from the steam punker, you can use the clentamatior and spray it onto any biome and it will turned hallowed if it is blue solution you are using. Green solution makes it normal. Purple solution makes it corrupted. Red solution makes it the crimson. Those are all the new NPCs, bosses, and new stuff that I think you might like. Thank you for reading this. I hope you found it useful. There will be more description later. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cory Doctorow plays D&D with his toddler

Cory Doctorow just tweeted via Boing Boing a link to this article he wrote that was printed in Gygax Magazine about playing Dungeons and Dragons with his 4-year-old. Check out the link. This resonates with me because my son (who just played his first official D&D campaign a few weeks ago) first became interested because of the dice, the miniatures, and the little sets. I took a picture of the dungeon he made and wrote about it on this blog. Modifying and adapting the rules and ideas are part of the play experience. I'm glad his daughter seemed to enjoy their joint game. I hope to hear more about parents and children playing together - especially since my colleagues and I just went to the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario conference in Niagara Falls yesterday to promote the Minecraft "Professional Play" server. Fingers crossed!

Monday, October 21, 2013

League of Legends

I'm interviewing the Girl today about League of Legends, while she is playing the game in question.

Mom: How did you find out about League of Legends?

Girl: I found out about it via my gifted friends. It was something that they had been talking about since the beginning of the school year. I didn't know about it so I asked them and they said I would like it, so I checked it out.

Mom: If you had to describe it in ten words or less, what would you say?

Girl: I'd describe it as -  complicated, strategic, but really fun. The game is a real-time strategy game. It's really heavily oriented around making decisions quickly and making the right decisions. There are a lot of moving parts to the game because there's a lot vocabulary you need to get used to, and the game play in general, but once you get used to it, it's really, really fun.

Mom: How does this game differ from others that you play?

Girl: It differs from others in that, even though it's a MMO, it's focused on just the battle arena aspect. There's no story mode; it's just player versus player. As I describe it, it's like a virtual capture the flag. Everything just is, no story ... just fight.

Mom: Tell me about your characters.

Girl: The two characters that I currently play are Ashe and Annie. Ashe is a ranged type character. She has a bow and arrow and she shoots things. She is not that strong but she is powerful in her attacks. She's good with giving debuffs and buffs to her teammates and enemies. If she shoots enemies with her arrows, she can freeze them in place, giving stronger teammates the chance to pounce on the enemy in question. Annie is a mage character. She casts spells, especially fire oriented spells. Her main feature is the giant bear named Tibbers that she can summon to fight for her. He is more durable and can do more damage. Your strategy is to hide behind Annie while Tibbers smashes things. I am a lot more comfortable with Ashe than Annie but Annie is more powerful in health and damage dealing.

Mom: I've been hearing you talk a lot about Jinx. What's up with that?

Girl: Jinx is my big goal that I am trying to get to. Over time, you can unlock more powerful characters. She just came out last week and I think she would be suitable for me because her play style is more like Ashe's - she is also a ranged character; she uses guns and grenades but her attacks are a lot more powerful than Ashe's. In addition, I just like some of the aesthetic of the character herself because, even though I am not at all like this, I like that she is a trouble maker and likes to have fun, even though her actions have dire consequences. 

Mom: Any other characters interest you?

Girl: I'm working towards two other characters: Miss Fortune and Vayne. Much like most of the characters I've been mentioning, they are range classes and in between Ashe and Jinx in terms of their powers. They were recommended to me by my gifted friends so I thought it would be a good idea to get them as well.

Mom: League of Legends is a free-to-play game but players can buy cards. What's the advantage to buying cards? Is there a class system between those that are free-players and those that pay?

Girl: From what I can tell, there is no hierarchy in terms of players. Free-to-play and cards are about the same - what matters is how well you play the game. The benefit to buying the cards is that you are able to get points which you only usually get by winning games. 

Mom: I hear you give compliments at the end of your matches, Why is that?

Girl: One of the reasons I give compliments to other players is that there is this thing in the game called the honour system. It happens when you compliment a player. It gives them extra points in the end of the game. My rule, even though others don't abide by it, is that if I give compliments to others, that they will give compliments to me. 

Mom: Why doesn't your brother play?

Girl: The reason he doesn't play is because the game is rated T and I thought that since it's T, it might be too complicated or too mature for him.

Mom: Are there any final words about the game you want to share?

Girl: Not really. (She's too busy playing right now.)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Minecraft Story in Screenshots Part 2

Here's the rest of the horror story acted out in Minecraft and captured with screen shots.

The creeper can transform people ... and FLY!

He levitates over you, ready to strike!

The zoo sign provides an ironic reminder - too late for us!

The hapless zookeeper's metamorphosis is complete.

The monsters plan to spread their chaos - beware!

These were taken September 27, 2013. The follow-up plans aren't to create a mini-movie. They are for all of us to go "virtual trick or treating" by dressing up in costumes like these and traveling around our server world.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Minecraft Story in Still Shots

Lots of other games, such as Terraria and Cube World, are competing for my kids' attention, but we still occasionally go back to play Minecraft. While my son and I were playing on the server, another young player joined us. We were working in the zoo, making it more humane for the creatures that live there by improving the environment, when we, almost by accident, co-created a little story. Here it is, in pictures.

We slowly approach the creeper cave, which appears to be inhabited.

On closer inspection, the cage is ... empty?

Something is wrong - really wrong! The creeper is back and ...

The creeper is out of his cage!!
The creeper is coming to get YOU!
The creeper turns the hapless observer into a skeleton!
I can't upload any more photos, so part two of the saga will continue - next time!

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Boy's 1st D&D Adventure

We love to play games together in our house - that's no surprise if you read this blog. Like any group of individuals, however, there are some games specific people prefer. Up until very recently, our boy has not taken any interest in participating in role playing games (RPGs). On Thanksgiving Monday (October 14, 2013), our family friend DM and his young son were over playing the ongoing campaign. (I wrote about this particular campaign in this post on this very blog.). For some reason, my son decided to join the fun. He created a character, called Talrock, who was an alchemist. The drawing below illustrates episode four and episode five, in which Talrock entered the fray.

In Episode 5, the group of adventurers were given a large, egg-shaped object by a fearful kobold. As they rode back to town, carrying an unconscious and severely injured Brother Egon, they met up with a band of leather-clad forest dwellers who insisted on a "protection fee" for passing through. Brother Egon recuperated and was told by his contact in town that they were being sent on a fool's errand. Talrock met the other player characters in the pub, who were examining the odd relic they acquired.

My son has never played an RPG before, so it was very entertaining to see how he (and DM's son, who is about 8 years old) chose to play. Our GM told our son to roll a six-side dice and since he rolled high, he told my son that his character (Talrock) recognized the relic for what it truly was - a dragon's egg. Talrock decided not to share the information (that all of us, out of character at the table, has just heard) and instead, offered to give the other characters the data we desired in exchange for some valuable minerals he needed for a potion he was brewing, located in the caves we were just at prior to our meeting. He offered to share a random mixture he was creating to my character, Inga. My character drank the brew and fell down dead. (I rolled badly.) Thankfully, Drake and Talrock revived Inga with a combination of healing antidote and magic spells. Despite this minor set-back, the party decided to head back out to the caves after Inga took time to recover (and restore her hit point pool).

It was utter chaos, and hilarious! Drake (played by DM's son) wanted to go with his pal Grimaldi (played by DM in addition to his GM role) to the goblin caves because by raiding them, we could get some gold. Talrock wanted us to get the minerals from the kobold cave, which he said was possible to get by extracting it from under the dead body of a kobold guard infested with toxic rot grubs. We didn't want to get too close to the body, because there was a deep pit right in front of it and the grubs caused a lot of damage. We decided to light some oil on fire, throw it on the body to roast the grubs, and then scrape up the mineral (which the GM ret-con'd to explain was rot grub poo). Grimaldi lit the oil, but rolled dice poorly and accidentally set the floor on fire. While the rest of us ran away, Grimaldi rolled poorly again, caught himself on fire and fell in the pit. He was severely hurt (taking eight points of damage), but the player characters managed to fish him out of the pit in time.

"I thought you were the Game Master! I thought you had the power!" my son shouted. We had to explain that part of the drama unfolds based on how the dice rolls go. I loved how my boy hijacked the story, shaping it to his interests.

"I don't think I ever played like those two [young boys] when I was a kid", observed my husband after the game. It's true that this is a very different game, but I had to laugh and go along for the ride. We'll see how future adventures unravel!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

RPGing in the west end

It's great when we get the opportunity to game with other groups of friends, beyond our immediate family, and this summer we gathered at a friend's house to play Marvel Saga, a superhero role playing game. My daughter and I are relatively new to this particular gaming circle, which consists of my husband, two of his friends he met when he moved to our city, and his friend's wife. The husband and wife team have even written and published gaming materials and supplements for games, so we were playing in a world that was very familiar to them. If you zoom in on the photo to the right (which my daughter allowed me to include), you can see a bit of her character sheet. She plays Lucky Cat. My player character is called Plague, and I've already written on this blog about her super powers. The adventure we played that day involved alien ghouls, spiteful pixies in an alternate universe, and some very unusual fighting techniques. Unfortunately, we do not assemble together as often as we would like, so that makes the moments we do convene extra special. In 2005 my husband and I presented a workshop at the Ontario Library Association Superconference about the history of RPGs and how they can be used in schools. Between the creative storytelling, problem solving, and mental math skills (as well as historical research for player character back stories), it's an educationally rich past time!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

King of Tokyo - finally!

In the summer, we finally got around to playing King of Tokyo, the board game our son received for Christmas. Once we understood the game mechanics, it was a lot of fun - but surprisingly intense for our younger players!

The game consists of monster figures used on the game board, special dice, and the accompanying score card that keeps track of your hit points and victory points. Your goal is to eliminate the other monsters by reducing their hit points to zero or by increasing your victory points to twenty, whichever comes first. The game has a very "us vs. them" vibe, similar to Fortress America, because the monster who controls Tokyo fights all other monsters. Staying in Tokyo is the only way for your monster to rack up victory points, but it also makes you the target of other monster attacks. This made both the Boy and the Girl very hesitant about spending any time at all in the creature capital of the world. (You can choose to withdraw if someone else launches an assault.) We've played several times since our first forays into the game and different people have won using different strategies. It's not the most popular game in our closet, but at least we finally got around to playing it!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Terraria and entering Hard Mode

My family has recently become re-interested in playing Terraria because of the updates. On Monday, October 7, 2013, the team of Bridget, Mr. Bunny, and Jhaerith defeated the Wall of Flesh to enter the Hard Mode version of the game. Here's the Girl to recount their adventure and epic battle.

The Wall of Flesh was a boss that took a lot of preparation. Mr. Bunny and Jhaerith fought it twice before, without me, and both times they lost.
But that was because, even though they had the best armor (Mr. Bunny had Meteorite and Jhaerith had molten, respectively the second and first best armor in Easy Mode.) and weapons, the battlefield was not to their advantage.
To spawn the Wall of Flesh, you have to drop a Guide Voodoo Doll into the lava in Hell. Hell isn't a very nice area, as it's name would suggest. There's a lot of lava on the ground and not many blocks to stand on stay away from said lava. There are only a few small platforms, scattered around, that you can stand on. But even if you did manage not to get burned to a crisp, there are still demons to avoid. They shoot magic at you, which does a lot of damage.
Most videos on Youtube suggest that you build a long road that goes through most of Hell and helps you to avoid the lava. 
So, the three of us went into the Underworld to build this road. We used a number of materials, such as dirt, ash, stone and other things. It took a while, and we died several times, but finally, we completely our pathway.
But before Jhaerith spawned the monster, I accidentally teleported myself back to my house. Then I had to go all the way back to Hell, much to my dismay. And then, once I got there, Dad had some difficulty get the doll to fall in the lava. 
Finally, the monster made its appearance. The Wall of Flesh has a simple attack pattern: it flies towards us, while trying to bite us with it's many mouths. To counter this, we have to run backwards while shooting at it. I used my Aqua Scepter, Mr. Bunny used the Space Gun and Jhaerith used his Fiery Great Sword. Eventually, it was whittled down to half health, when it began shooting its little mouths at us. But we were able to fend them off, to hit the beast where it hurt and kill it.
We did surprisingly well, after all our various errors early on. Still, this was a good surprise for us, as Peter got a Pwnhammer (a very cool hammer) out of it, as well as a Ranger Emblem (a thing that increases your ranged attack strength) for me.
Now we had officially entered Hard Mode. Hard Mode is very cool. It adds a lot more challenging features into the game, like new enemies and new bosses. 
It also expands the Corruption (an area where everything is very dark and especially evil) and adds its counterpart, the Hallowed (an area full of rainbows and flowers and magical things). 
You can also get new ores to craft armor and weapons out of.
With this, as well as the new patch to the game (which introduced new non player characters and lots of cool stuff), we're not so tough anymore. There's a whole world out there to explore and I can't wait to continue our Terraria adventures!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Family Blogging Lesson #1: If the kids are not themselves regular bloggers, don't just leave it up to them to write the posts!

Having learned this lesson the hard way (since the last blog post was in July 2013), I've decided to take the proverbial bull by the horns and interview the kids about their latest forays and newest game acquisitions. Today's topic: Animal Crossing - New Leaf, by the Boy.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf starts off on a train. This cat person named Rover will talk to you during your ride. Then, eventually, when you get to the town you were supposed to go to, these anthropomorphic animals greet you and think that you are the mayor. Now, you must work as the mayor. Basically, this is a never-ending game. There is no final boss, there is no giant thing you have to do. This is a do-whatever-you-want game. You can decorate your house, decorate your character, have friends come over to your village, buy things, sell things, reforge things ... this game is very fun, especially when you don't have a lot of things to do and you can only buy one game. 

I bought this game because it's never-ending, I could do whatever I want, and also it's multi-player, which is one of my favorite types of games. 

I usually find myself catching bugs, fishing, or selling. I wander around. Sometimes I encounter fish shadows, so I pull out my fishing rods to try to catch the fish. I just started this game a couple of days ago so I do not have a lot of inhabitants in my village but I do have a favorite inhabitant. His name is Static. He is a purple squirrel, has a lightening bolt on his head, and sometimes calls me Bro. I really like him because I like squirrels, I like the colour purple and I think lightening is cool.

If I could make this better, there is a blue alpaca and his name is Cyrus. He always sleeps until a certain thing happens, which is one of the following: 
  • 50 pieces of furniture
  • 10 inhabitants live in your village
  • 100,000 bells
It would be really nice if you could use him from the beginning and not have a certain event pop up to awaken him. Right now, I am trying to get Cyrus to wake up and it's giving me a hard time. If anyone has an easy way of waking him up, please tell me - it would really help me. 

If you like one of the following things:  building your own village, wanting to give controls, and building houses, - then this game would be perfect for you. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It's summertime and the gamin' is plenty

July 2013. Summer relaxing is in earnest at our house. Naturally, this involves a lot of goofing around and playing video games. In the next few days, I'll encourage the boy and the girl to write about their latest favourites. I notice that certain people at our place get up earlier than they do during the regular school year, now that they have more control of the way their time is spent. It hasn't been all screen time. There's swimming and a new interest in badminton to balance things out. Still, you'll hear more from us in a short while. (If nothing else, I have to write about finally playing "King of Tokyo", two years since it first arrived on our doorstep!)

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Minecraft Backlash has begun

Usually I ignore tweets that I have a philosophical difference with - engaging in dialogue with a 140 character limit, in public, is not the best way to deal with sensitive issues. However, I couldn't help but respond. As I said to my husband, it's not like I support the NRA, who gave a lifetime membership to a boy who bit his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun - but neither am I in support of the school that suspended the child for biting his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.

Maybe I'll just invite him to the upcoming Academy of the Impossible session about Minecraft on June 20.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon

 The boy has a lengthy report to share on one of his (current) favourite DS game: Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon.

This game is a sort of a strategy game. You need to find out how to defeat the ghosts. Also, it's a bit of a puzzle game mixed in. Some things you will need to use your noggin to find out. 

The story of the game is that King Boo (a king of the boos from the first Luigi's Mansion game) is back and over Ever Shade Valley, (which seems to be a new place in the Mushroom Kingdom) is the Dark Moon. Any ghost who comes there is good  and they like anyone. But, King Boo broke the Dark Moon and all the good ghosts became bad. They started to tear up everything they saw. Then, we go to Luigi's house. We see him laying on his chair. The TV starts going on. Then, a guy comes up on the screen - he's called Professor Egad. He says "Luigi!" Luigi runs back to his chair and bumps his head. Then, Professor Egad says "Luigi, all the good ghosts became hostile. Why are you on the floor? We'll need to defeat these evil ghosts if we want to save Ever Shade Valley. Stay still, I'm preparing the Pixelator." That's the beginning of your game.

 These three pictures I have here are three of the most common ghosts. The green ghost is called Greenie. It says in their research that they like to tinker with things. The red grumpy ghost is called Slammer. He's stronger than Greenie. His research says "They may look like ruthless brutes but they have a tender heart of gold - just don't let them give you a round of applause." (This means they'll slam you with their hands and create a loud bang that will hurt you.) The blue skinny ghost is called Hider. They're weaker than Slammers but more powerful than Greenies. They like to hide a lot, as their name indicates. There's also a bunch more ghosts that you encounter later on in the game. I may post the ghosts later. 

When you beat the fourth level, you will unlock a mode called Scare Scraper. This will allow you to team up with friends online and go into Scare Scrapers finding ghosts. There are three different modes in it. The first mode is called Hunter. In order to reach the next floor, you'll need to kill every ghost on the map. The second one is called Rush. Find the exit quickly before time runs out. Collect time pieces (which look like stop watches) to increase your time. The third mode, which I like the most, is called Polterpup. Use your dark light device to find the paw prints of the polterpups and find every one and kill them. Every five floors will give you a boss battle, which is basically the main thing that is keeping me playing this game. It will give you a chance to find a new type of ghost but it's completely random who will come. 

Here's a tip about Scare Scraper: do twenty five floors of any mode and you get the mode "Endless" of the mode that you did. It creates an Endless Scare Scraper that won't stop until you fail. 

This tip is about capturing ghosts: if you are trying to dodge any ghost attacking you, press the B button to do a dodge to dodge all attacks and take no damage. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

New Game Review: Mario Kart 7

Here's the second game interview provided by our house's video game guru, aka the boy.

This game is called Mario Kart 7. You can play as the same characters as in other Mario Kart games, like Toad, Mario, Luigi, Peach, and even more. Now the basic boom about this game is that it introduces hang gliders that will allow you to go around in the air. The glider has a bit of a complicated control. If you want to go up, you've got to hold down on the control pad. If you want to go down, you hold up on the control pad. 

You can go into water and swim down it. Also, if you press up, you go faster diving. 

There are also three new powerups: the Tenuki leaf, the Fire flower, and the Lucky seven. The lucky seven gives you seven items, only if you are lucky (obviously). The items that you get from the lucky seven are a blooper, a mushroom, a banana, a shell, a red shell, a star, and a bombomb. 

You can also customize your vehicle. You can change its wheels, its car, and its glider. The only way you can get more customizations is to collect coins which are scattered around the course. They appear when you are racing. Any level has coins somewhere.  

The last thing that you can do is race against the programmers in time trials, where it shows a ghost and their previous records. At the end, when you finish, it shows what the programmer used to do this good run-through. 

I'd probably say this is also a B; it's pretty fun but I wish they added more than just a glider and swimming underwater. 

Player's tip: Don't forget, mix and match your car, wheels, glider and character, because even switching your character can switch your car's stats. Try your best to find your best vehicle. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

New Game Review: Ben 10 Omniverse

Here is the first of three interviews given by the boy and transcribed by his mother to describe some of the newest games he's played and his opinions. First up - Ben 10 Omniverse.

This is mostly a platformer game. The story is - I don't really understand it myself but from what I've gathered slowly but surely, it seems like this alien called Malware is trying to suck some sort of morphic generator, as its called. This one guy is traveling through time (the guy's name is Rook) so he's switching between the future and the past, so this is why there are two Bens. The second basic premise is that it's all about the aliens. As you might know from the normal Ben 10 show, Ben has this thing on his wrist that allows him to change into aliens. Now, the thing about both of the Bens is that they can usually transform into the same aliens. I will name a few for you:

  • Cannonbolt
  • Diamondhead
  • Fourarms
  • Wildmutt
  • Heatblast
  • Upchuck
  • Arcticguana
The thing about both Bens that's interesting is that they both have their own aliens that are unique only to them. For teenage Ben, he has Shocksquatch, Crashopper, and Gravattack. For younger Ben, he has Eyeguy, Feedback (a new alien), and XLR8. Also in this game, you can get upgrades that let you do certain things in the game that would let you do what you couldn't do before. One of the last upgrades allow you to change into all the aliens, letting teenage Ben have Eyeguy, Feedback, and XLR8 and younger Ben can also have Shocksquatch, Crashopper, and Gravattack. I recommend getting the upgrades as soon as possible because it can really be fun to use all the aliens with one Ben. 

I would give this game a B because it's not the best game but it's pretty fun at first. It seems like it was easy to beat in no time at all. 

Here's a tip for the final boss: Malware will do an attack. You should dodge it and then his shield will go down and then you attack. Eventually you'll have to fight two Malwares at once. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

RPGing Returns

For the last day of March Break, we drove out to some friends in the west end of the city to visit and to do some good old fashioned role playing. The game in question was Marvel Superheroes. There were five of us playing, not counting the game master. My daughter and I created characters with the help of our friend MP (the GM). The others had played together previously so they used their campaign characters. I was tempted to return to a previous character I had played in another superhero RPG, but instead I chose to go with a new concept.

The character I'm playing (yes, you can run away screaming at this point if you hate hearing people talk about their game characters) is a 14 year old with the powers of immortality and affliction. She has the ability of removing diseases from one person and transferring them to another. Her primary motivation is vengeance. Her back story is that she was an apprentice to a healer in medieval Europe with unique skills she could apply via touch. She was prevented by applying these skills to her dying mother by the main authority of the town/village where she lived. Her mother died and in her grief, she transferred the pox (or unspecified disease) to the leader. He in turn cursed her to outlive all those that she cared about. I can't recall all her stats (as MP kept my character sheet). She's a bit dark with a hint of villainy but it gives me a chance to explore my own hangups about death as well as play a very interesting character.

Our first adventure as a group of five involved a fairy bounty hunter trying to seize a garage owner (who happens to be an ogre in disguise). It was a lot of fun, especially for my daughter. This game uses cards instead of dice and it made combat quick and unpredictable. We hope to play again, although it is tricky to organize everyone's schedules. Wish us luck (or at least a favourable dice roll / card draw).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Minecraft March Break LAN Party & "Rare Penguins"

The marvelous leader of our Minecraft server organized an online gathering today so many people could time their play and be on simultaneously. We must have had about a dozen people on together. Here are some of the screen shots I took today.

Phisa, Terra, and Emily at the Magma Cafe

Jason and Jack check out the nether's hottest restaurant
It's fun to have new players on. We had massive PvP battles involving multiple people. Other people showed some of the things they were building. Still others made colossal explosions. Everyone could do their own thing, choose their own adventure. The server was busy and it was great.
Some more spectacular builds

The funny thing is that there are times when some of the Grims yearn to return to a time before our server was so developed and there were so many players. Terragrim describes it as the desire to be a "Rare Penguin". This Club Penguin allusion delights in being one of a select few at the very beginning of something new and different. It might not feel as special when it's shared.

Hubby has seen this phenomenon in other games. He says he can relate to game nostalgia - fondly recalling how difficult it was to do certain things and the sense of awe and wonder when certain areas were discovered. It's hard to recapture that feeling later on.

This is not to say we don't enjoy having new members - we encourage it; it makes game play fresh and new - but I know I look back on how tough it was for me to make my first house and I miss it a bit. Maybe these are two separate desires. I'm not sure. I don't think I'm articulating all the nuances that the "Rare Penguin" wish can suggest, but it's late as I write this, and there's always another blog post to try and clarify.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Having Mom on your Mario Kart team

It's March Break so there has been much gaming going on in the house. We decided a couple of days ago to play 4-person Mario Kart. We wanted to start off with playing in 2 vs 2 teams, but there was a slight problem - who would take Mom on their team? Dad, daughter and son are pretty solid players; they almost always win the top three spots when they play together. Mom, on the other hand, and to put it mildly, stinks. I never finish the Rainbow Road track and I often bang into walls while driving, leaving me near the bottom in the rankings. Dad took pity on Mom and so we had our groups. I was a bit worried that I'd mess things up for my team because my reputation as a poor player is well-earned. Well, guess what? We won! I actually came in 4th for one of the tracks and avoided coming in 12th for another round and the parents beat the kids by 10 points. It must have been a happy fluke because we played 2 more games together (everyone for themselves and everyone on the same team) and I came in last both times, failing to earn a single point for the final group team.

Other popular games this March Break among the kids have been Skylanders, Paper Mario, Minecraft, and Adventure Time. I bought Just Dance Kids 2 - more my speed - but I'll savour my unusual victory in Mario Kart for the rest of the vacation.

Monday, March 11, 2013

3 Generations Play

My parents came over for a belated birthday visit for me and after some monkeying around between my son and my father, the boy brought down his Nerf swords for one of our battle games.

Way back in 2011, I wrote a blog post that you can see here about our Nerf sword game rules.
Now that we had a new player in our midst, we had to explain how the game was to proceed.
It was kind of neat to have three generations playing our invented game together.
I noticed a few interesting things.

1) My dad cheated.
One of the key rules is that if you are hit in the torso, you automatically die. I hit my father with the sword in the side and he refused to die. He claimed that it was just a flesh wound and that he would be able to carry on. Yeah, right Pop Pop!

2) My dad needed a refresher on action movie classic fight lines.
When we told my dad that he needed to utter a catch phrase before we entered into battle, his sentence was "I will cut off your legs and throw you straight into hell." I don't remember that being in any of the movies I've seen.

3) Sometimes it's cool to change the rules depending on the players.
We learned pretty quickly that my dad was not going to play by the "house rules" so we had to adapt, and adapt quickly. Grabbing the sword blade and pretending to give body shots were now allowable maneuvers. My husband got into the fray by bringing down the Nerf guns and acting as a sniper, attacking anyone in his path. This was no longer the medieval version of battle with its decorum and pomp; this was guerrilla warfare - messy and wild and unpredictable. And fun.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

iPad Gaming Art

I was deleting unneeded files from the iPad when I found some illustrations that the kids made using one of the drawing apps. Here are some of the game-themed pictures.

Ninjini from Skylanders

Q-Bert - my kids discovered him from the movie "Wreck It Ralph"

A gelatinous cube from D&D is about to jump on a hapless foe


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Family Day Weekend Play & New RPG campaign

This weekend, we had a great time playing games with our family and friends. This time around, to the surprise of my fellow players, I didn't rush around taking photos with my camera to post on here. Here's a quick summary of the games we played:

  1. Labyrinth - DH, my daughter and I played the fancy tin version we received as a gift from an aunt. (Contrary to some people's beliefs, we don't spend all money in our possession on games; they are gifts or games owned by friends that we use.) We tend to play the "younger children" version of the game, where we can look at all our cards at the same time and it is not required to return to your home base colour at the end. We didn't realize that there was another, special edition version of Labyrinth that was part of the tin set. It has a variation on game play using twelve maze cards that gives players certain advantages like switching places with another player, moving through a wall, or having a second turn immediately after your first one. We didn't try these cards out because we wanted to play the quickest way possible. I won this game.
  2. Forbidden Island - Once again, three of us played. This was a new game for DH but she caught on quickly. We were lucky in that many of the cards at the top of the flood deck weren't crucial to our mission. I was the explorer, so I could move diagonally. DH was the pilot, so she could fly to any spot on the board as one of her moves. My girl was the messenger, so she could give cards to people even when they weren't on the same tile. This is a cooperative game and we were delighted when we succeeded in obtaining all four treasures and escaping the island. Yeah us!
  3. Lords of Waterdeep - Lords is fast becoming one of our family's favourite games. Game time is short - only eight turns, which takes about an hour. DH, DM, James, my girl and I played. DM used a very different strategy from his usual modus operandi, as did James. The eventual winner was the youngest player. She had a really unique secret Lord and earned victory points by the number of buildings she built, instead of the number of quests of a certain type that she completed. For the first time ever, final scores went beyond 100; in fact, three of the five players broke the 100 point mark.
We hope to get together again soon, not just for the fun board game action, but because after a long hiatus, we are playing another role playing game! This is a D&D campaign, set in the Forgotten Realms world. Each player has two characters. I will write more about this game as it progresses. In the meantime, here is a sketch of all the player characters, illustrated by our talented daughter.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Maplestory Update

Welcome the girl as today's guest blogger, to give an update on the family's recent obsession with Maplestory.

Maplestory is an MMORPG (massive multiplayer online roleplaying game) that takes place in the fantasy realm of Mapleworld. Though, it's a bit different than normal fantasy games, where everything is still very medieval. Maplestory is a bit like a cross between the modern day world mixed in with that Middle Earth type setting. So, you can have a shopping mall right next to a huge castle.
Anyway, in the game, you play a normal (if not slightly chibi-fied) person who is on a quest to stop the Black Mage, an evil magician and the main antagonist. But to do this you need to become an adventurer. This means that you need to level your character up to tenth level and learn new attacks by choosing a job path.
There are many types of jobs to choose from. There are the normal ones, which are Warrior, Wizard, Archer, Thief and Pirate. But our prefered types of classes are the special variations. These are only available during certain events and are a bit more powerful than normal occupations are.
For example, my favourite class is called Mercedes. For this character, you play an elf princess who wields two magical crossbows. Still, when it comes down to it, she's really only an upgraded archer.
One thing these classes have that the others don't is a more in-depth storyline, where who you are matters more than what you can do. This is why I have a vast number of characters who I'm still working on leveling.
To date, my cast of characters includes my Angelic Buster (a type of pirate, exclusive to female players), Mercedes, Thief, Wild Hunter (an archer who rides a giant cat), Dual Blade (a thief with two swords), Jett (a pirate from outer space), Blaze Wizard (a wizard specializing in fire) and Aran (a warrior with an axe).
As for Peter, his prefered class is called the Demon Slayer, who uses blunt weapons like maces and dark spells to attack. He also enjoys playing the Kaiser job, where you fight with a flaming sword.
All the characters are quirky and unique and really fun to play!
One skill required to play this game is strategy. As you level up, your character gets "Skill Points" to spend on different stats. There are five stats that you can increase: your Strength, Intellegence, Dexterity, Luck and Health. There are skills that are more important to some classes than others. But you need to keep this in mind when you distribute the points, otherwise you may end up with a weak character.
Another important thing for the player to have is determination. A lot of the enemies in Maplestory, though odd looking, are difficult to beat. So, you need to be able to perservere and continue to try if you want to suceed.
Lastly, you also need to be fairly quick at pressing buttons if you don't want to get killed. Maybe this is why Peter's characters are higher level than mine...
Overall, Maplestory is a really enjoyable game and we're having a blast with it.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Scribblenauts Unlimited

I'd like to welcome the boy as today's guest blogger. He'll be talking about a new game for Wii U: Scribblenauts Unlimited.

This game is a little bit of a puzzle game. As much as I don't like puzzle games, it's probably an imagination game. You can think of anything you want and add adjectives to make it cool, exciting, anything you want. As much as that sounds cool it has a bigger power to make your own items and in the original scribblenauts you only had a limit to what you could have on the map but no, its unlimited and you used to always write again, etc. Now, you have a backpack, which you can put anything you want in it and you just can bring it back whenever you want. There's also some references from Nintendo. You can have Mario characters and Link characters. It's pretty amazing to what you can do. I've never seen a game just like this. Besides imagination, all you need is to learn how to write stuff. I have one word that describes this whole entire game, and that is: epic.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Winter Holiday Fun-Fest

As I was updating the family blog - the private one for the grandparents and aunts living far away - I stumbled across some photos of games we played but I didn't share. Here's a quick recap of the fun we had playing some old and new board games over the Christmas break.

December 27, 2012 - Forbidden Island

 This cooperative game can get pretty tense! We got very close to achieving our goal but the cards conspired against us. Usually I don't put photos of children on the blog, but the girl's face says it all.

December 27, 2012 - Blokus

Do you really need to see another Blokus photo? Probably not, but I'm super-proud about the results of this game. Yes, it's true that I won this match, but the super-cool reason for this photo is that I nearly used all my pieces! I just had the four-square square left. Since I've only ever used all my pieces once in all the times I've been playing, having just one remaining is a big deal for me.

December 29, 2012 - Lords of Waterdeep

This is one of DM's games, based on Dungeons and Dragons - specifically, the Forgotten Realms setting. I don't think I've written about this game on this blog before. I really like it, and so does hubby, despite the fact that it has many Euro-game elements, like resource acquisition. The great thing is that it also has lots of player interaction. At the start of the game, every player chooses a colour for their two agents (which turns to three agents in the fifth of eight rounds) and a secret Lord that they follow and that influences the best type of quests to take. Players take turns placing their agents on different spaces which can earn money, minions (I call them by the colour of the squares but they have identities like fighters, thieves, priests and wizards), quests or intrigue cards. You accumulate victory points based on quests you complete and actions you take.

This is a view of my cards and equipment. The square things with round holes are coins. I have four orange men (fighters) and two black men (rogues) at my disposal, and you can see a few of my quests that I was trying to complete. In this particular game, my daughter was the winner. (The scoreboard is the grey box border - you can see the green and red counters in the upper right corner.)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Minecraft during school hours

Usually, I try my best to limit this blog to the games my son and daughter play (ergo Family Gaming). However, this anecdote bears repeating in several venues and it fits here.

Last year, my school was one of three that participated in the TDSB Multi-School Minecraft server, with server space provided by Ryerson University's EDGE Lab. Along with Liam O'Donnell and Denise Colby's respective schools, we ran after-school Minecraft Clubs that targeted (but were not limited to) students under-performing in literacy, numeracy, and social skills. This year, because of various factors surrounding the provincial government, Bill 115, and contract negotiations, it was not feasible to use Minecraft in a club setting. Instead we lobbied for (and after many months, finally received) permission to open the ports during the instructional day for use during school hours.

I chose to use Minecraft with a Grade 3-4 class as part of their media time. Prior to yesterday, small groups had the chance to play the game on one of my student accounts in single player mode. Friday, February 8, 2013 was the first day that all the students could interact together in the same virtual world. It was wonderful to see how thrilled they were to work together and there were several things worth recording.

The students were the ones to decide to use Minecraft. In the fall, we intended to make "What Is Media?" instructional videos to post on YouTube. Each class could decide what format this video would take. One class used claymation, another used stop motion animation with Lego, and a third used traditional actors and costumes. This class voted that they would use Minecraft. Because we didn't have access to the multi-player server, we postponed this project. They were able to pick skins (of recognizable mass media characters from different media texts) and become familiar with how to move in the game. On February 8, four groups logged in. It took a while to find each other (the portals were malfunctioning) but by using the warp command, we found each other and posed for a group picture.

The students said their first task was to begin building the sets they needed for the movie. I scouted out an area that were far from other schools and their construction sites and we flew to our location. Together the students cleared the land.

What I loved was all the problem-solving going on, and how they turned to each other for answers. The "go-to" group was comprised of two ELL/ESL boys sharing a character. The fascinating thing was that the other students didn't yell out their names when they needed them - instead, they used either the avatar's name or the skin:

"Mario, can you show us how to place a block?"

"Hey Pondergrim, this isn't working - can you help me?"

I'm amazed by how quickly they adopted the character and identified with them. I guess I shouldn't be that surprised; my own children reacted strongly when I first suggested I "give away" their Minecraft characters. In fact, one of the other groups asked if they could use one of the "female avatars" next time instead of the one they used - the Incredible Hulk.

The students were having so much fun and working so hard that (with their regular class teacher's permission), I let them stay an extra period (during my own prep time) to let them continue. I tried to stay quiet and out of the way - I filmed them as they played. When I asked why there were so many torches placed on the ground, they explained that they needed the light so they could continue to work through the night. All the students were in creative mode so they could access all the block types they needed for building the movie sets. This was very different from last year, when we stayed in survival mode until near the end. This turned out to be useful for another reason: one player hit another player (on purpose or by accident, it's unclear) and because they were all on creative mode, no one got hurt.

When lunch time came, there were many groans when I announced that we had to go. "Team Mario" ran up to speak to me after the class.

"Miss Molly, when I finish my lunch, can I come to the library and go back on Minecraft?"
(Unfortunately, the answer to that was no.)

"Miss Molly, thank you! Thank you for that class!"

These boys were the experts, the ones the others turned to for assistance. They aren't often in such a position because they are still learning English. Minecraft leveled the playing field and it's a field they want to return to play on as soon as possible. (I'll try to upload some of the short video clips I took. Apologies if it doesn't work - I'll do it through YouTube in a separate post if it fails.)

Friday, January 4, 2013


The kids received an unexpected Christmas gift from some friends - Quirkle. They rave about this game and so we were eager to try it out.

Quirkle is easy to learn but hard to master. I messed up when I first read the rules by leaving out a key point: lines cannot have the same shape twice (if it's a colour line) or the same colour twice (if it's a shape line). We had to re-start. My son agreed to play (to our delight and surprise). He wasn't pleased that he had to keep track of his score on paper - too much math, I guess.

Here are some photos and a description of the game play.

The top picture is one of the first photos taken of the game. The object is to score the most points. If you get six squares in a row, it's a Quirkle and the player that achieves it gets six bonus points. We started to get the hang of the practice and you can see five Quirkles here already.

In this second shot, you can see my daughter writing her score down. There are three shapes with the same colour (e.g. three green circles) so near the end of the game players must place their items strategically.

 These last two shots show the final display and my daughter's calculations. I won with a score of 116 and my girl came in second place. It was a fun game. I doubt we'll convince my boy to play again (not his style) but we can try with other groups.