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YouTube – Dara O Briain Live at the Apollo – i love videogames ( 09/12/2010 )

YouTube – Dara O Briain Live at the Apollo – i love videogames ( 09/12/2010 )

The Supreme Court tries to figure out what Madison would have thought about Postal 2. – By Dahlia Li

Dahlia Lithwick writes one of the funniest recaps of a Supreme Court session ever. I’d pay good money to get a recording of this being read outloud by Nina Totenberg.

The Supreme Court tries to figure out what Madison would have thought about Postal 2. – By Dahlia Lithwick – Slate Magazine

The state of California is attempting this morning to defend a 2007 law banning the sale or rental of violent video games to anyone under 18. Offenders may be fined $1,000 for each game sold. The law was struck down on First Amendment grounds in both the district court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. So much for the legal angle. The more profound story playing out in court today goes something like this: Gamers: Meet the old people. Old people: Try to find the power-on button. Everyone else, search for James Madison’s avatar and ask what he thinks of Grand Theft Auto.

Game Review: Chess

I’ve seen an number of variations on this theme, but this is one of the better ones. What if Chess was a brand new game: how would it be received by the gamer press?

Chess casts you as king of a small country at war with a rival country of equivalent military power. There is little background story to speak of, and by and large the units in the game are utterly lacking any character whatsoever. The faceless, nondescript units are dubbed arbitrarily such labels as “Knight” and “Bishop while their appearance reveals nothing to suggest these roles. To make matters worse, the units on both playable sides are entirely identical aside from a simple color palette swap. The setting of the conflict is equally uninspiring and consists merely of a two-color grid so as to represent the two warring factions. Adding insult to injury, there is only one available map- and it’s pathetically small, an 8×8 matrix (Red Alert maps are up to 128×128 in size). The lack of more expansive battlefields makes Chess feel like little more than an over-glorified Minesweeper.

The entire article is well worth reading. Great pastiche!

WoW: Old Fashioned Instances

Among the many things that really sucked about bedlamhouse moving to Indiana was no longer being able to game with him every week. The D&D campaign soldiered on without him, but I really missed his presence at the table. I’m pretty sure he missed us too, because when the D&D group decided to shift from weekly to irregular status, he suggested that perhaps we could set up an MMO night so he could get in on some gaming fun.

Thoughts on Warhammer Online

As most of you following this journal know, I’ve been an avid MMORPG player for the last few years. Though I was late to the party, having completely bypassed EverQuest and Dark Ages of Camelot and their ilk, I jumped in wholeheartedly with City of Heroes in 2004 and later World of Warcraft in 2007. While I tend to focus on playing one game at a time, I do sometimes go to take a look at other stuff on the market. (kitanzi is currently having a ball with Spore, and I will have to eventually give that a whirl myself.)

It’s not unfair to say that Warhammer Online was one of the most eagerly anticipated game releases of the year, if only because it gave the gaming press many chances to breathlessly speculate on if it could be the “WoW killer”. (Age of Conan having failed miserably at even being remotely playable, let alone a juggernaut. ) And it’s not hard to see why some people were excited. The Warhammer miniatures game has a long history of fanatic devotees, and the heavy PvP focus of the new online version looked like it might be just the sort of thing for people who like that sort of thing. Since I’m really not a hardcore PVPer, I wasn’t terribly interested, but enough people in my Warcraft guild were rabidly excited that I figured I’d buy it and see what the fuss was about. At worst, I thought, it might be a diversion until Wrath of the Lich King is released in November.

Weekend Update: Video games and Drive through Sweeties!

I had a relatively relaxing weekend, which is good because that was just the sort of weekend I wanted.

Friday night, catalana and I met up for our usual night of WoW questing. We spent a good deal of time killing giants and water elementals in Feralas — the giants were dutifully dropping stuff for us, and the water elementals not so much, so we dropped that quest and went to collect Yeti hides instead. On the way to the yeti cave, catalana spotted a sprite darter and said “Those are so pretty! I wish you could get a non-combat pet version of one of those!” I whispered one of my friends who is a rabid non-combat pet collector and asked if there was one. It turns out, there is! It just involves doing a very long quest chain that starts with an NPC hidden in a spot that one would be fairly unlikely to notice. We dropped our plans for mega XP and decided to chase this chain down instead. It mostly involved razing a village of Tauren and freeing a bunch of the little dragons, then flying all the way to Darnassus to turn in the quest, then flying all the way back to Feralas to pick up the second part of the chain, then down to Shimmering Flats, and then The Hinterlands. Those of you familiar with the geography of Azeroth will note that we earned our frequent flyer miles on this one! It was late when we finally wrapped up for the night, but we were both the proud new parents of tiny little faerie dragons!

I split most of Saturday between WoW and Warhammer Online. WH Online is a new MMO that just came out, and a large number of my guildies are playing it, so I figured I’d at least see what the fuss was about. I’m really horribly underwhelmed by it, unfortunately. I’ll keep dabbling with it, but as soon as Wrath of the Lich King comes out, I expect it to start gathering dust. I’ll go on more about my impressions of the game in another post.

Currently exciting in WoW land is Brewfest! World of Warcraft has a number of little holiday festival events through the year, and Brewfest is essentially the dwarven (and Orcish) Okotberfest. There’s a fair, and kegs of beer, and ram races, and a cool boss mob to go and kill for shiny trinkets. We spent a good deal of time on Saturday and Sunday repeatedly running the special boss — hes’ not hard to kill, but you can only run the event once per person, so even swapping people in and out of the party, there’s a limit to how many times a day you can get his loot. But it’s fun to do stuff as a guild again.

Sunday night, my darling sweetmusic_27 and her old roommate Patty dropped in on their way down to Walt Disney World! This made me quite happy as I have not seen my darling Amy since January, and there was much cuddling to be had. We went out to Famous Dave's for a Giant Helping of Protein, then came home and watched a Jeff Dunham DVD. A good time having been had by all, we went to bed at a reasonable hour, as kitanzi and I had to be at work and Patty and Amy had a long drive to Orlando ahead of them. But it was fantastic to get to meet Patty, and of course I’m always happy to see Amy. (We’ll get to see them both again in a week or so, when they’re on their way back north. We made sure they’d have to stop…we loaned them graphic novels! *grin*)

DEFENSIVE PERIMETER: The end of the module

Well, last week our intrepid heroes managed to defeat the final big bad of the dungeon in one of the most anticlimactic encounters of my DMing career.  The ancient evil they’d found clues of throughout the adventure turned out to be a vampire who had been trapped in gaseous form inside an urn in a secret room on the lowest level of the mine.  Letting her out should have been a pitched battle that they may or may not have actually won.  While they had the right kind of weapons to at least make a good go of it, she was high enough in hit dice that the cleric would have needed a perfect roll to turn her, and her ability to dominate members of the party into her willing servants….well, let’s just say the odds were long for our heroes.

Luckily, the party had some very good initiative rolls and several of them got to go first.  The mage led off, as is her usual tactic, with Tasha’s Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter.  This spell will incapacitate (though not make completely helpless) a foe for 4 combat rounds.  It does, however, allow the opponent to make a WILL save, and the vampire’s WILL was +10.

She rolled a 4.

Now, it’s always the DMs prerogative to fudge die rolls, either for or against the party.  In this case, however, I let it ride, and, unable to put up more than the most token of resistance, they proceeded to dispatch her without much fuss.

Is she dead?  Well, that remains to be seen.  Vampires are very tricky to kill, and she did appear to collapse into mist on death.  So there may very well be a powerful undead roaming free with notions of vengeance.  Time will tell. 

The party went back to town to report on their success.  Unfortunately for them, Raffi got his elf on and made a very haughty speech to the townsfolk, blaming them (or more strictly their ancestors) for the curse of lycanthropy which was caused the lynching of Lawrence Gannu’s grandfather some hundred years prior, and how they had thus been directly responsible for the woes they had been suffering.  Since the sort of simple frontier folk who tend to live in mining towns don’t usually take kindly to this sort of moral proclamation being made against them, they thanked the heroes for their efforts and suggested that perhaps it was a good time for them to leave town.

Overall, this was a very successful module.  I’m absolutely in love with the Dungeon Crawl Classics line of d20 modules from Goodman Games. 

As always, here’s some quotes from the previous adventures, leading up to the dispatching of the were-rat Lawrence Gannu.  I’ll try to do more play-by-play in the next adventure.

Virko:  We’re all injured.  Let’s run away from the cleric.  That’s called “strategy”.

Sensei:  They’re disrespecting you, Virko.
Virko:  I don’t speak vermin!
Sensei:  I do!  They’re disrespecting you.

Raffi:  You’re the Elvis of the rat world.

(After I describe another 30′ dogleg)
Don:  We have this symbiosis.  We understand each other.
Dave:  The vermin whisperer.

Lawrence Gannu:  You are invading my home.  Leave now before it becomes your tomb!
Sensei: (pause) Ok.

Virko:  So, you think you can terrorize the people of Silverton?  I say thee nay!
Gaudi:  Who *talks* like that?


I apologize for getting so completely lax on the game transcripts, but I do want to keep noting the funny comments, because they’re part of what makes our group so much fun.

Virko after one-shotting a goblin wererat with a quad-damage critical):  Be careful.  There’s two of them now.

Virko (fighter):  We may need to change our tactics, now that we’re encountering lycanthropes instead of zombies.
Gaudi:(priest):  I’m a little amused that we keep running into them in a silver mine.

Finally, we cover sex and D&D

ericcoleman has a poll over his journal about chocolate preference, which reminded me of this amusing conversation I had during Tuesday night’s D&D session.

Someone was offering around some Hersey’s 70% Cocoa dark chocolate squares, and it led to this exchange.

D: I’m a chocolate snob. I’ll only eat dark chocolate.
Me: Not me. I’m a chocolate slut. I prefer dark chocolate, but honestly, milk is fine. With caramel is fine. or crispy rice. or fruits and nuts. It’s all good.
D: Oh no, not me.
Me: I figure chocolate is like sex. Even when it’s bad, iiiiiiit’s still pretty good.
D & J (almost in unison): Oh, that’s not true.
Me: I dunno, I think it is.
D: Besides, I got spoiled by living in Europe for 2 years.
Me: (deadpan) Oh? The sex was that much better in Europe?

It took the party about five minutes to regain enough composure to continue.

Quote of the Evening

We didn’t end up playing D&D last night, because 2 of our players didn’t make it, so it was a couple of hands of Munchkin and general revelry instead. Don won the first game, and I won the second. kitanzi made cookies.

Best exchange of the evening…I forget what I actually quipped to start this:

Don: Yeah, yeah. You’re very funny.
kitanzi: He thinks he is.
Me: *mock pout* Some people seem to like it.
kitanzi: They’re just humouring you, dear.
Me: Oh. (thoughtful pause) Humouring me certainly seems to involve a lot of nudity.

(At which point, kitanzi cracks up and Don gets the look of someone who has lost his place and is trying to figure out where the turn was….*grin*)

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