Panels and Colors

It’s been around two years that I’ve been reading comics (regularly), thanks to the New 52 and Brandon at Wizard’s comics. There’s been some ups, downs, and complete blindsides. But, one thing has really stood out to me – how does DC keep making such awful decisions?

I don’t want to make this post into a big ‘bash DC’ thing that people that are way more in tune with things are able to do in a much more intelligent way than I feel I can, but as a consumer, its becoming increasingly difficult to justify continuing to support the things DC does that I DO like a lot because of what has been happening to the other stuff that I like. It’s putting me in a position that I just don’t know what to do – do I continue to buy the stories that I like and supporting the titles I think have really interesting characters, or do I just walk away on principle?

I don’t know what the answer is. I guess I’ll have to talk with my trusted comic advice folk on that.

Changing gears a little – Marvel, on the other hand, has been engaging me big time lately and seem to be doing lots of things ‘right’ in the eyes of this consumer.

Last night, I read the first three issues of the current X-Men event, Battle of the Atom. HOLY HELL. It’s so good. The event isn’t like the  events I’ve read from Batman (Night of the Owls) where the other titles have tie-ins and aren’t really necessary to read. Each book is engaging the main story. Each book is necessary reading. Each book doesn’t seem ‘shoehorned’ in so that they can throw a special event banner on the cover. When I heard about the event, I was a little weary, given that I didn’t really know if I was buying into something worth my time (and money). In short – it has been so far.

(Edit: A reader asked what X-titles I was reading to get a sense of how much knowledge I have of what is going on with the mutants. I’m only reading X-men. Battle of the Atom #1 does an excellent job of summarizing the major plot points you need to know to get into this event.)

Feeling my way through the masses of books that are available (and of interest to me) has been a really eye-opening experience. I’m glad that I’ve picked up this hobby and I expect that I will keep buying comics for years to come.

Catching up

It’s been hard to set aside some time to write in the last little bit.  The kids have been getting up earlier in the morning, which cuts in to that time and once I get home from work, I just need some time to decompress.

So, let’s catch up.

Last week was a pretty big week for comics.The book I was perhaps most excited about this week was Mind the Gap.  The story sounded very intriguing and all the art previews I saw were top notch.  Mind the Gap did not disappoint! So far, it’s been great storytelling, lots of questions are already gnawing at me as to what is actually going on.

I was also looking forward to Higher Earth.  I saw the Previews ad (and, actually, the Project Wonderful campaign was run on my website) and thought it deserved a look.  What really got me was the tagline “You Are Illegal On This Earth”, which just piqued enough curiosity that really made me want to check it out, and on top of that Issue #1 was $1, so why not give it a whirl?  It was excellent and I look forward to learning more about the world and the characters.

The Night of the Owls books were, once again, extremely well done.  Excellent storytelling and each story is self contained enough that you get a sense of the chaos that has overtaken Gotham, but you don’t need to have read all the other books in the event (though, when you have read the other books, the chaos really comes to life).  I quite enjoyed the Batgirl story, which makes my decision about that book difficult, as I’ve been considering dropping it after this event.  I guess I’ll have to think about it some more.

Fatale and Ultimate Comics X-Men still need to be read.  I might get to them tonight, we shall see.  This Wednesday is going to be another relatively big week for me in comic books, so its possible that I’m going to fall further behind.  But, the last week of the month is only a one or maybe two issues, so I have time to catch up in reading before the next month begins.

War never changes…

For those of you expecting a post about Fallout, I apologize.  In fact, you might just want to stop reading now because this post is about Modern Warfare 3.

I’m super late to the MW3 party.  I was an early adopter of pretty much every Call of Duty game up to the original MW, which I skipped for a while, but eventually joined in on.  It should also be noted that I didn’t start playing multiplayer CoD until MW2, which is mostly because I didn’t have fun – but once I started playing with friends, it was a great experience (for the most part).  Once I had the MP bug, I played with fairly reasonable frequency on my own, just because.

Anyway, for one reason or another, I decided to forgo MW3, even though I had had a blast with Black Ops.  However, this weekend, I got the itch.  It’s been growing, but manageable (and ME3 was doing a fine job as a placebo), however, this weekend I cracked.  I had a 50% of a used game coupon at Best Buy, plus some Reward Zone certificates, so at a cost of $0, it was a great deal.

I started playing SP on Friday night.  I’ve always been an SP player for FPS games.  Sure, I could have dove in to MP (but, none of my friends were on, so, SP was an easy choice).  The story is decent, the environments fantastic.

Saturday, I played MP.  Man, how have I missed that.  I suck, but its still enjoyable.  I get frustrated, yet I want to play more.  I don’t know.  It makes me feel dirty.

So yea.  I’m back on the MW.  Goodbye, sleep.

The Wolfpack Grows

So, a long time ago, I started building a Space Wolf army for Warhammer 40k.  You can see my start at The Wolfpack Begins…

It’s been a while.  Life has been busy.  Whatever.

I got some time and put together a few more models.

The back row are Wolf Guard.  Second row is Grey Hunters and the front row are Wolf Scouts.

In total, this is about 270 points worth of models.  My major holes are transports and an HQ.  Since my friend wants to play this weekend, I need to get a few more models together.

But, he still stands no chance against the Sons of Russ.

Mass Effect 3 and Kinect – The Future?

I’d been contemplating a Kinect for some time, but the $149.99 Kinect and Mass Effect 3 bundle at Best Buy pushed me over the edge.  It was time to take the plunge.

I set up the Kinect last Thursday and played Kinect Adventures “with” my son.  He’s a little short for the sensor to reliably pick him up, but big enough to make it a wee bit frustrating if he’s standing in front of me.  In short, the kid laughed himself silly from the Kinect Adventures games.  He thought it was hilarious that my avatar bonked his head on obstacles or got splashed with water, and the like.

What did I think?  I thought it was great.  I was moving a bunch and it got the blood flowing.  Were the games in Kinect Adventures going to be things I wanted to play long-term?  Probably not, but with kid laughing, that makes it worth playing.

But, the real reason I picked up the Kinect was to make Mass Effect 3 better (at least, that’s what the box tells me).  Does it succeed?  I think so!

For ME3, Kinect utilizes the voice-recognition functionality to allow players to orally execute commands normally regulated to a button press (or several).  For example, if I want to open the door in front of me, I say “Open” and the door opens.  If I want Liara to utilize Singularity in combat, I say “Liara Singularity”, with my targeting reticule on the individual I want the Power used on.  This stuff is pretty cool.  I haven’t used the combat commands much yet, so I can’t comment on how much it speeds up the game, but, it’s a pretty great idea and adds to the immersion.

Now, that’s not all.  You can also recite the lines on the conversation wheel instead of selecting them with your controller.  This (to me) is an amazing step in game immersion.  The combat tactics is a great, but adding the conversation wheel just puts it over the top.  I can now feel like I’m directing my team in combat without bringing up the disruptive wheel, and in a conversation, I can carry it out with my own voice (to an extent).  That’s fantastic.

In my (limited) time using Kinect functionality in Mass Effect 3, I think BioWare has pushed the envelope on game immersion.  If this is the future of games, I like it.


Inked Up

Funny, this is the sort of thing I would have thought I would have posted here right after it happened.  I guess I didn’t.

My parents gave me a nice cash gift for the completion of my CMA at my convocation ceremony.  I wanted to get something that would remind me of that time, but I don’t really wear jewelry (save my wedding ring), I hate watches, and cufflinks just weren’t right.

So, I settled on getting a tattoo.  I’d always thought about it, but it just never happened.  Now, I had a good reason to get one.

I know Shane Turgeon at Shades of Grey Tattoo, as we worked together back in my days in Pay-TV.  I trusted him to have a good shop and great guys to work with for getting work done.  Plus, as I planned on getting something Star Wars related, I figured the shop run by the guy that wrote/compiled The Force in the Flesh was probably the right place.

So, here’s what I ended up with:

Star Destroyer Tattoo

I had originally thought I’d do just the Imperial Logo, since I’ve always been a fan of the Galactic Empire.  But, as I thought about it, I had the idea of using the emblem as a moon, and have a Star Destroyer passing in front of it.  I gave this idea to Wayde Dunn who concocted the final product.

I’m really happy with it.  Obviously, the folks at Shades of Grey like it too, because it’s their representative image for the Get Tattooed! event at the Edmonton Collectible Toy and Comic Show.

Reaper Invasion

Alright, so Mass Effect 3 is coming out tomorrow.  I’m very excited.  Lots of people who are way better at commentary have said a lot of things about the franchise, but I’m going to wade through my mind and give you some of my comments.

I’ve been looking forward to ME3 since I finished ME2.  As the launch has grown closer, I’m getting more and more excited.  On top of that, @Leask has recently just started playing ME2 and talking with him about the game has really made me realize the depth of the game.  He’s going to be writing an article on these discussions, and I’ll leave that to him.

But, today, something happened.

I began to follow @AllianceNewsNet.  It’s a twitter account that’s recounting the events leading up to the opening of ME3.  The account itself is well-written and engaging.  But something else has happened.  The hashtag #solcomms has exploded with people from around the world reporting what is going on in their hometowns.  My twitter feed is like there is an actual Reaper invasion taking place right now.

It’s mindblowing.  It’s engaging.  It’s taking the story into Social Media.  It’s something I’ve never seen before.

The invasion has started.  Sheppard is the only one that can save us.

Cross-platform gaming

In the increasingly digital world, there are more and more options for playing “traditional” games in a digital way.  Since the dawn of the computer network, individuals have been using their computers to play in a variety of RPGs, be it on MOOs, MUDs, MUSHs, or Forums.

Today, the MOOs, MUDs, and MUSHs have been mostly replaced with the ever popular MMO, with the likes of World of Warcraft and most recently, Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Play by forum still exists and is the only way some people are able to scratch their gaming ‘itch’.  There are also a number of new tools, known as Virtual Tabletops, which allow people to play their RPGs online with others, in a instantaneous manner.

It didn’t occur to me that there were users playing boardgames online in the play by forum format until a few years ago.  Then, I discovered virtual tabletops (ie, VASSAL) that I hadn’t even considered previously.  So, boardgames were roughly as accessible as RPGs online.

Now, with the rise of tablet computers, boardgames have yet another way to be played.  Tablets allow players to play some of their favorite games with zero setup time.  You launch the app and you start playing.  Many support online synchronous and asynchronous play.  This is an amazing opportunity for gamers to be able to play games more frequently (and conveniently) and with an interface that better matches the game’s true look.  On top of all this, these apps are fractions of the cost of a printed game.  Consider Ticket to Ride – the App is $7.99 and you can buy the USA 1910, Europe and Switzerland expansions for a total of $8.97, for a grand total of $16.96.  If you were to buy all of this in print versions, you’d be spending around $125.

Is playing an app version of a board game as satisfying/enjoyable/fun with a bunch of people at the same table?  I don’t know, I’ve not tried it myself.  But, now I can easily play with others online whenever is convenient.  If I’m not sure about a game, I can now try it for a very reasonable price and make a decision on if I want the physical game or not.

Some of the app titles are ‘stripped down’ versions.  For instance, Cyclades and Small World are only two player.  Elder Sign only features Azathoth as the Great Old One.  Is it disappointing?  In some respects, yes, it is.  But, you don’t have to make the purchase if that’s a deal breaker for you.

I think having the opportunity to play games in a wide variety of ways is great.  Being able to play how/where/when you want is great, and only helps publishers in the end.