San Diego Comic-Con 2011

July 27th, 2011

Comic-Con is a silly place.

I’ve noticed a few reports saying how it’s “ruined” etc. I only attended one day this year but still had a lot of fun. Was it the same from when I first started attending? No, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth it.

Also, as I was asking a guy if I could take his picture, he then recognized me… it was one of my fencing teammates from college! He was in a Battlestar Galactica outfit so I had been focused on his suit rather than his face, haha.

ComicCon to me is still about meeting other geeks, whether those geeks happen to be creators of geeky content, or just attendees. As the show has grown over the years it’s certainly experienced growing pains, but a geek can still find one’s own small community within the larger one.

Here are my photos from Sunday. They include a range from Cos-play participants to Felicia Day, to an independent artist who was making his first appearance at ComicCon, to Yo Gabba Gabba.

SOE FanFaire 2011 Photos – Las Vegas

July 15th, 2011

The Sony Online Entertainment FanFaire, was held at Bally’s in Las Vegas, Nevada from July 7-9th.

Going on close to 10 years, you’d think most every one attending must surely be on at least their 2nd time attending yet I met a bunch of folks who had never gone before, as well as recognized faces from past FanFaires (who also ended up being repeat customers!).

I didn’t take that many pics this time as I was just too busy for anything else!

If you attended, I hope you had a blast and if you’re featured in one of the pics, feel free to email me for a higher res copy!

Full set of SOE FanFaire photos.

DC Universe Online – Beta Pre-Review

December 14th, 2010

DC Universe Online Screenshot - Hanging in Gotham City
I’m in. So far I’ve made my character and have climbed some walls and kicked some butt but I haven’t done much yet in terms of quests and leveling (been sick and away from the keyboard).

However here’s a few comments:

Flirty? There weren’t many choices of attitude for your character, I chose Flirty but wish that I could change it up during the game. You know, a woman’s prerogative, I get to change my mind? ;)

Climbing! Heck yeah, I’m going to climb! I like playing a rogue type character (and I rock climb in real life) so of course I chose this super power. Now I’m sort of like a Spider Woman rogue (Hmm do I get negative points for naming a hero from that Other Comic Universe?).

Kicking butt. In the tutorial part of the game I didn’t find it necessary to throw objects at any bad guys. This may be because I’m quick on the trigger button (mouse buttons trigger attacks) but since one of the big draws of this game is being able to throw things I’m going to assume I need to practice my throwing skills.

UI. Rather odd UI. I’m still getting used to it. It’s definitely not like the usual MMOs. I’d say it’s less intuitive but maybe that’s because I’ve had too many years of training with other games?

By the way, I’m playing on the PvP server if anyone else is in the Beta. Look for a flirty raven haired rogue like character hanging on a wall.

~ Fricka

Back to School Sale Through Thursday 8/26

August 23rd, 2010

Sale!

Stock up on t-shirts for the school year!

Back to School Sale: Save 20% on all tees, thru 8/26. Use coupon code STYLINB2S. Coupon not valid with other offers or on OffLineTshirts.com Special Orders purchases.

SOE FanFaire Costume Contest – People’s Choice and a Surprise

August 11th, 2010

“Snickers” who is well known to regular SOE FanFaire goers for his hand made Froglok costume, got a special call out at the end of the People’s Choice portion of the costume contest.

Emceeing the show is Jace Hall (Producer of “V” and a gamer and game producer) and Brassee (the bearded dwarf alter ego of Linda Carlsson, SOE Senior Community Manager).

I captured it on this video which shows the end of the People’s Choice portion of the contest as well:

I have the entire introduction of the costume contest (where they first get introduced and go on the stage) on video too. I’ll post it in parts.

EverQuest II Extended – SOE Announces Free to Play Option for EverQuest II

July 27th, 2010

EverQuest II ExtendedHere’s another MMORPG with a no subscription model. EverQuest II is going to keep their subscription model and add on EverQuest II Extended.

Beta for EQII Extended is scheduled for launch on or around August 17, 2010.

Some of the differences with the free plan and the top level subscription plan include a level cap (limited to 80 for the free, Bronze level, option), customer support options (free plan only has access to the Knowledge Base for support), race and class restrictions (free option is limited to 4 and 8 respectively), and chat options.

You can see a chart with the full matrix of of differences here.

Quotes from their press release:

Extended players will finally experience the vast depth of content only available in EverQuest II without a subscription, credit card or software purchase. Extended will include free access to all EverQuest II game zones through The Shadow OdysseyTM. Players will be able to purchase power-up potions, armor, classes, races, weapons, mounts and more through the marketplace.

Both EverQuest II and Extended players will enjoy a plethora of recent user-interface improvements designed to improve functionality and game navigation. Players will experience a new and improved character progression through the Golden Path while creating their own legend with the Storyteller adventure journal that visually displays quest exploration. Additionally, both titles received a graphics quality update that gives a more realistic immersive experience to fully enjoy the beauty of Norrrath.

The Extended adventure includes the recently added New Halas, the ultimate starting zone with premium designed content for players levels 1-20. Extended also gives players quick and convenient game access through the web-based streaming download application that lets players get into the game quicker than ever before. Extended will also feature multiple tiers of service upgrade options that allow players to customize their gaming experience to fit their needs.

Lord of the Rings Online Going Free to Play

June 7th, 2010

Lotro
Looks like Lord of the Rings Online is the latest MMO to offer a Free to Play option. They’re taking Beta signups now. I liked my run with their game, mainly because it was in the Lord of the Rings universe but also because it was just light fun. You can see my Lord of the Rings Online Launch Day Review here. While I didn’t keep up my play from launch (I never got a group of regulars going in it). I plan on starting it up again with the free play option with a small group to play very causally.

Here’s a chart explaining the planned differences between LotRO’s VIP, Premium and Free accounts: LOTRO Free to Play Plan Comparison Chart.

Free Shipping Code – Valid Until March 29th

March 26th, 2010

Coupon Code: SPRINGSHIP
Free Shipping on orders over $50
Hurry, expires 11:59 PM (PST) 3/29/2010*

Check out the new offerings in the Misc / TV section, stuff for LOST, Legend of the Seeker and School House Rock. I’ve also got new things in the Computer Culture/Geek section!

*Free Economy or Standard shipping for orders of $50 or more on OffLineTShirts on products from atshirtnexus shop (CafePress fulfillment for offlinetshirts.com), excluding shipping charges, gift wrap charges and applicable sales tax. All orders must be from CafePress.com/atshirtnexus (i.e., all products fulfilled by CafePress available from the following URL offlinetshirts.com. This code will not work on Special Orders). Excludes CafePress Marketplace and CafePress Groups orders. Delivery address must be within the United States and cannot be a PO Box. All orders will be Economy shipping unless the order is not eligible for Economy shipping (e.g., order exceeds Economy weight restrictions). Coupon code SPRINGSHIP must be entered at check out. Promotion starts on March 25, 2009 at 12:00 a.m. (PST) and ends on March 29, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. (PST). Cannot be combined with any other CafePress.com coupons or promotions and this offer may change, be modified or cancelled at anytime without notice.

Wii Exercise Games – 3 Fitness Games Reviewed and Compared

February 17th, 2010

I’m a video game fitness nut I guess. I own “Wii Fit”, “My Fitness Coach” and most recently got “EA Sports Active” (it was on sale) about two months ago.

I thought I’d do a comparison review of the games as I’ve experienced them so far. I’ve owned “Wii Fit” the longest and you can see my preliminary review of “Wii Fit” here.

First off the games are quite different from each other. “Wii Fit” is the game which comes with the Balance Board and started the whole “fitness game” craze. It separates exercises into a few categories, Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobics and Balance Games. The Balance Board is used for most of these but sometimes you just use the Wiimote and nunchuk.

“My Fitness Coach” on the other hand does not use the Balance Board at all, it is structured as an exercise program, no “sports game” element is included and it flows more like a regular workout with an instructor. It does however adjust exercises to what external equipment you might have (or want to do) on a given workout. For example, you can tell it you have one, all or none of the following: hand weights, an exercise ball and a step platform. Workouts are not separated except that you can choose a Yoga workout or a “regular workout” for a regular workout you can choose an emphasis such as aerobics, core strength, upper body strength, etc or you can let the game choose it for you based on your overall goals you set up in your profile which guides all of your workouts. The game also has you do a challenge test every so often in which you need to weigh yourself, take measurements and do exercises to failure. I found this game to be the closest to a workout DVD in the sense that everything just flows so I feel it was the best for aerobic workouts. It also seems to have the biggest variety of exercises. However, whenever a new exercise is introduced you have the option of hitting a button and the trainer will show you how to do the moves before continuing on with the program. Another big plus is that after certain sections your trainer will ask you how that section felt and adjust it accordingly for next time. For example if you answer that it was a piece of cake she’ll make it harder, or conversely if you could barely keep up she might step it down. I really like this aspect of the game.

“EA Sports Active” is the newest game I’ve tried but I’ve had it for over a month now. It is the most ambitious in terms of integrating your movements into the Wii. A balance board is an option and it will ask each workout if you have one (or verify that you still do) but inside the “EA Sports Active” box a resistance band and a strap to hold the nunchuk are included. “EA Sports Active” also incorporates different sports such as boxing and an inline skate simulation (which is not like real skating at all but makes for a fun game). I find the resistance band to add nicely to exercises though depending on your height and existing strength you may want to buy your own. The straps that are intended to be used with the resistance band will work with other bands. One thing I noticed about the game though is that you must hold the wiimote and nunchuk exactly as pictured. I had trouble getting the game to recognize that I had lowered my arms on the second half of a bicep curl/shoulder raise drill and then realized it was because I didn’t quite have my nunchuk held the way the digital trainer had hers. I’ve also found that the nunchuk cord occasionally gets in the way but I can just hold the extra length. Another option folks seem to use is to buy a wireless nunchuk.

My Opinion
I think each of these games has its place. I’d go with “Wii Fit” to get the Balance Board and as an introduction to video game fitness. I liked learning Yoga poses with the “Wii Fit” as one is able to choose a front or back view of the instructor so it makes it easier to compare your pose to his/hers, also I liked that you got additional feedback when you used the balance board, for example, in standing tree pose you stand on the balance board and it shows you a dot for your center of balance and a larger pale yellow target area. The downside of “Wii Fit” is that after each exercise or game you must hit the A button to continue, which really breaks up a workout. Also if you just want to play games, for example you and a friend want to do the ski slalom game and compare scores, there isn’t a fast way to switch Miis. You have to exit back to the start screen to load up your Mii then go back to the slalom game. Of course you could just use the same Mii, but then the top scores wouldn’t reflect who had won what and you won’t get a workout credit for the appropriate Mii.

After getting “Wii Fit” you’ll want more of a challenge if you really want to get in shape. Your next choice is either “My Fitness Coach” or maybe “EA Sports Active”. To me the basic difference between the workout portion of these two games is in the level of micromanaging it does. “My Fitness Coach” tells you to do things and it’s up to you to make sure you have proper form and that you actually do them, not unlike a DVD. “EA Sports Active” counts reps you do since it uses the Wii accessory sensors and to some extent can tell if you are not using proper form. But then that can get frustrating as evidenced in my example above. Also it seems to break the flow of a workout even on the “Hard” workout option.

One feature in “EA Sports Active” is that you can review what exercises will be coming up in a given workout and check or uncheck them accordingly (for example you see that squats will be included but your knee is bugging you so you uncheck them). That’s a nice option that “My Fitness Coach” doesn’t have (except generally, for example you can choose to do a mainly upper body workout vs a lower body one). However if you do uncheck squats in “EA Sports Active” I noticed it doesn’t replace it with something else and your overall workout results in fewer calories burned.

Both games, “My Fitness Coach” and “EA Sports Active” incorporate a workout journal of sorts, with “EA Sports Active” having the more detailed one as well as a “trophy” section for achieving certain goals.

Buddy or Family Workout
“Wii Fit” as I explained is not set up for simultaneous workouts of different people, though you can have a profile for each member of your family. This applies even if you were have two balance boards, the Wii itself just doesn’t handle two boards at once. “My Fitness Coach” is also set up for one person at a time, though since it is not measuring actual input from you, if you have enough room you and a friend or friends can all follow along with each workout. “EA Sports Active” allows you workout with another person though you will need to buy another set of equipment to do that. I’ve not tried this option so I’m not sure if all of the workouts will work for this or perhaps just some of the sports games.

Conclusion
My opinion of the games is shaped from a background of already being a reasonably active geek girl. I used to regularly go to a gym as well go rockclimbing at least once a week. I’ve since quit the regular gym and have replaced that with my workout games (I still climb and occasionally add more sports/exercise). Because of this I am looking at these games with an eye towards getting stronger and as a means to keep my weight down, but also doing so without potential overuse injury. I also like to fit in a workout when I want. Because this is my goal I find a use for all three of the games – though “Wii Fit” admittedly gets the least amount of use. I mainly use it to weigh myself, take its age test and, very rarely, play the balance games (been doing the ski and snowboard game because of the Winter Olympics lately). I like “My Fitness Coach” and “EA Sports Active” about equally for now, I think I get a better, more rounded workout, with “My Fitness Coach” but sometimes find that “EA Sports Active” has some individually harder exercises. Sometimes I worry that it’s too hard, for example, in some of the games you do a fair amount of high jumping. Also, I haven’t used “My Fitness Coach” with a step platform or balance ball so I’m sure its individual exercises can get harder. I also really enjoy that “My Fitness Coach” seems to pull exercises from a variety of disciplines, like pilates for example. The difficulty of the individual exercises aside, I’ve found that I feel more “worked out” after a “My Fitness Coach” workout of 20 minutes or more than an equivalent length one from “EA Sports Active”.

If you’re coming to these games from a background of not having done exercises since PE class I’d suggest getting “Wii Fit” and just doing that until you get bored. If you’d like to move on from that, or if you feel confident you can do exercises with good form I’d suggest “My Fitness Coach” next. The reason I’d choose that over “EA Sports Active”? I feel that the way that “EA Sports Active” forces you to use the Wiimote and nunchuk can lead to bad form, I think it’s better to do the exercises in good form first before trying to adapt to the game’s limitations.

Finally, if it’s only the games you’re after and not the exercise, I’d go with “Wii Fit” and “EA Sports Active” though for “EA Sports Active” keep in mind that you will need to get through the exercises to unlock more sports. In fact, maybe just skip “EA Sports Active” and go for “Wii Sports Resort” instead. I had a lot of fun with that over Christmas playing my brother’s game.

Whatever you choose, have fun and burn those calories!

EverQuest II to get Battlegrounds

February 9th, 2010

EQ2 Battlegrounds - Ganak
EQII will have Battlegrounds starting February 16, 2010 – so you can fight even if you’re not on a PvP server — you pansy! ;)

Quick Details

It’s free for current subscribers with characters level 80-90, Battlegrounds will hold up to 48 players total, loot to be gained are the all new Chaos armor sets and if you log in between 2/16 and 2/18 you’ll get a Warrior of Chaos statue.

Battleground Breakdown

At launch 3 Battlegrounds will be available:

Battlefield of Ganak

* Game Type: Capture the Flag
* Players: 6 Person Group
* Environment: Outdoor arena with two large oppositional bases with intersecting interiors
* Objective: Capture the enemy’s flag located within their base and return it to your base with your flag still in place
* Win Condition: First team to successfully capture and return three flags wins

Smuggler’s Den

* Game Type: Hold Territory
* Players: 24 Person Group
* Environment: Five spires on top of two pinnacles jutting out of a raging ocean
* Objective: Gain control and hold towers longer than the opposition to earn Tower Tickets
* Win Condition: First team to reach the displayed Tower Ticket goal wins

Gears of Klak’Anon

* Game Type: Hold the Relic
* Players: 6 Person Group
* Environment: Industrious clockwork foundry containing scientific equipment in motion
* Objective: Acquire and hold the relic to accrue points faster than the opposition
* Win Condition: First team to reach the set score wins

Let the pixel slaughter begin!