Category Archives: Gaming

Megacon: 2014

Legend tells of a magical place, a land of wonder, that appears once a year…only for three days….in the tiny hamlet known as Ore-lahn-doe.

The local bards calls it “Mega Con”.

The rest of the world calls it……well, they call it “Mega Con”, too.


Since we started going to Mega Con, about three or four years ago, we’ve always just drove up for a day, walked around, then drove home. It’s really hard to get the “whole experience” that way so, this year, we decided to do it “right”.

We ordered advanced tickets and booked a room for the entire con that was, according to the description, only a block away. The Hyatt Regency has to be one of the nicest, swankiest, places I’ve ever stayed. Seriously. Our bathroom mirror had a t.v. in it, for pete’s sake!

There was also four restaurants, two convenience stores, two bars, two pools (a huge one on the ground floor and a terrace one on the third), a tennis court, and a coffee shop. The one restaurant was open twenty-four hours and you could also get room service pizza.

I didn’t take near enough pictures to do it justice, but it was a very nice looking place.

Chalk it up to my not getting out enough, but I was thoroughly impressed by this place. Now, as with things like this, nothing is for free and you really need to watch the budget or things can get out of hand and quickly. We did o.k, though, and still came in at a reasonable rate after it was all said and done.

Oh, I didn’t mention the best part.  We were just a skywalk’s jaunt away from the convention building. That right there made it worth the price to stay.

We came up a day early to hang out and scope out where we needed to go the next day. My wife wound up zonking out for a few hours, so I walked up the road and did a little site seeing at the Pointe Orlando. It’s a little triangle section of about a city block where they had an IMAX theater, a bunch of restaurants and some overpriced “specialty” stores. For anyone from the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati Ohio area, it reminded me a lot of Newport On The Levee.

As for the convention itself, there were a few snags starting out (which I let the world know via my Twitter account, just as any self-respecting geek would do), mainly with the organization for the ticket lines. We had bought advanced tickets which meant we were supposed to just walk up to the window and then walk into the dealer area. Well, it wasn’t quite that easy.

We stood in line for an hour and a half, actually wrapping around in a circle, before we could even get down to the place where you picked your tickets up.  We asked a few of the volunteers if we were in the advanced tickets line (because it was a huge jumble…no kidding) yet no one could seem to tell us ‘yes’ or ‘no’. About an hour into it someone who actually knew something started directing us to the entrance….where we took the escalators down to another line to actually pick up the tickets. That line, thankfully, moved a lot quicker than the upstairs “hurry up and wait” line and was still quicker than the V.I.P. line….which I would have been hacked off had I paid all that money and they only had one window dedicated to servicing said ticket holders. Anyway, we get up there and they give us, for three days, an armband. Most other conventions I’ve been to give you a badge (then graciously sell you a lanyard to go with it) to wear, but Megacon give you a piece of thick paper to put around your wrist. Of course I started asking if they were o.k. to get wet…I mean, discouraging people to bathe is last thing you want to do at a sci-fi convention.

Trust me…there are stereotypes for a reason, when it comes to this one.

After the ordeal of collecting our tickets, the rest of the convention was pretty enjoyable. We saw some of the stars from the original Battlestar Galactica, my wife went to see James (Spike from Buffy) Marsters while I went to an…….interesting……panel revolving around the Nintendo 3DS game, Animal Crossing: A New Leaf. While I did feel just a tad out-of-place due to my lack of anime cat ears, it was still fun.  We tried to make it to a World Building for Your Novel panel, but it was clear from the huge amount of people in line in the hall that we weren’t all going to fit in the extremely small room they had set aside for the event…..things were getting a bit cramped as it was, so I didn’t want to add to the claustrophobia. Instead, I went down and got a quick sketch by one of my all time favorite artists, George Perez. He was, as he had been last year, collecting money for The Hero Initiative which is a great cause. Last year we got a Wonder Woman for my wife. This year, we got a Batman for me. After that I checked to see if Darwyn Cooke was over at his table and he was. He was also engulfed in a mass of con goer flesh and had almost as long a line as George Perez. I figured I’d come back to get him to sign my copy of New Frontier. I should have just waited as we wouldn’t see him for the remainder of the convention. I’m not sure if something came up or he was just late, but on Saturday and Sunday we went by his table, at least, a dozen times and he was nowhere to be found. Oh well, maybe next year.

After tooling around the vendor area a bit more in search of the card game, Love Letter (the limited edition version…which we found), we went back to the room and prepared to meet my wife’s nephew and his new girlfriend for dinner. This was one of the big highlights of the weekend for my wife and I. Christopher is someone we don’t get to see as much as we’d like. He’s a very bright young man with a level head and an eye for the future. His girlfriend is, truly, a gem and I can see that they really have something special between them. A good time was had by all.

On Sunday, we checked out and headed back over to the convention for one last pass. There were fewer people in the vendor area then on Saturday, so we were able to check out more of the booths that we had skipped on Saturday due to the throng of people pushing and shoving. We picked up a few games we had been eyeing, including another version of Love Letter and some tee shirts before heading back home.

Going up and staying a few days, in my opinion, is definitely the way to go to a con if at all possible. We had a great time and will probably being doing the same next year, if we’re able.

With that, we watch this mystical place fade into the distance once again. The magic, the wonder, and a good chunk of our funds fading with it.

Until next year, Megacon, until next year…..






Come on in and grab a keg...

Come on in and grab a keg…

I did a post a while back about Bizzard’s foray into the CCG (collectible card game) market…..called Hearthstone.  I said it looked pretty cool and, now, I know for sure that it does.

How do I know that, you ask?

Because I finally got into the beta! Woohooo!!!! [horns toot as fireworks go off]

Now, I won’t gripe and complain about how long it took for my beta invite ahem ….no…instead, I’ll just focus on just how cool this game is.

If you’ve ever played Magic:The Gathering, you’ll find quite a few of the same game mechanics in Hearthstone. For example, creatures have ‘summoning sickness’ when played (meaning they cannot attack until the turn after you lay them down) unless they have an ability called “Charge”. This lets them attack right away and comes in handy quite often.

Some of the other card abilities are:

  • Taunt: If the other side attacks you, with a minion (their name for a ‘creature’) or if the Hero wants to attack, they must attack this minion.
  • Windfury: This minion can attack twice in one round.
  • Deathrattle: When this minion dies, it causes another effect (damage, etc.) to go off.
  • Battlecry: When a minion is played, a special effect goes off.
  • Divine Shield: A minion ignores the next damaging attack.
  • Enrage: The minion gets attack bonuses if it is damaged.

These are just a few of the minion abilities, there are more and each adds to the overall strategy of gameplay.

Another variation from M:TG is that the player or, in this case, the Hero can attack as well….equipping weapons, doing damage, etc.

This brings up the Hearthstone Heroes……or the role you take on, depending on which deck you decide to battle with.  You can play any of the nine classes, each represented with an iconic World of Warcraft character.

Pick an icon...any icon....

Pick an icon…any icon….

You have:

  • Warrior: Garrosh Hellscream
  • Shaman: Thrall
  • Rogue: Valeera Sanguinar
  • Paladin: Uther the Lightbringer
  • Hunter: Rexxar
  • Druid: Malfurion Stormrage
  • Warlock: Gul’dan
  • Mage: Jaina Proudmore
  • Priest: Anduin Wrynn

If you’re a WoW player, you probably notice the conspicuous absence of the Monk and Death Knight class as well as the Pandaren race. I’m guessing these may show up in future expansions.

Each hero has a different “hero power” corresponding to how their class works. For example, Gul’dan can draw a card, at the cost of two life…such is the price of being a Warlock, Anduin can heal two points, Thrall can drop a random totem every round (provided you have two mana to spare), each with different abilities.

The fuel for powering these abilities, as well as casting spells, dropping minions, things like that is something else that should be familiar to Magic:TG fans. It’s called mana. though it doesn’t quite work the same way as it does in M:TG.  You start off with just one mana point (don’t worry, there are some decent cards that only cost this amount) and gain one each round, up to ten. After you spend your mana, it refreshes at the beginning of each new round.

Gameplay is pretty simple. On your turn you lay down minions, cast spells, use effects, or whatever else you can do that costs mana. You also get a chance to attack either the opposing hero or their minions, depending on your strategy. Even if you’ve never played a collectible card game before, the tool tips, in-game, pretty much spell everything out for you. After just a couple of games you’ll start coming up with some strategies of your own, depending on which Hero you’re going with.

Around the board....

Stormcrow’s eye view….

As you play, your character ‘levels up’ and you get access to more powerful cards. You also earn gold by doing quests, such as “do 100 points of damage to enemy minions” or “win two games against another player with a Rogue deck”. You can use this gold or real world money,if you’re behind on your questing, to purchase more cards. Now, since everything is digital, I’m not sure how/if you’ll be able to trade/sell cards or things like that.

Of course, this post is only scratching the surface of the ‘simple complexity’ this game offers and we have to remember that, since this is still a ‘beta test’, some things can (and probably will) change.

I will say, though, that this is probably one of the most polished beta games that I’ve yet to see. So far, I’ve only seen one ‘bug’ (involving missing letters in tooltips) that was gone the next day.

All in all, this is a very fun game…..easy to learn, but with enough facets and dimensions to keep it challenging. I’m really looking forward to the final product and know what I may be doing with some of my free time when it comes out.

Until next time….

The Case of the Hearthstone Heroes…

From the House the Warcraft Built...Blizzard.

From the House the Warcraft Built…Blizzard.


Way back before I started playing MMOs (Massive Multi-player Online) games, such as World of Warcraft, I was pretty big into playing CCGs…or, collectible card games, such as Magic The Gathering. For a couple of years, now, MTG has had an online version which I’ve played and had some fun with, but it just didn’t grab my attention all that much.

Yesterday, as I brought up my World of Warcraft client, they had an advertisement for something new they’re working on called, Hearthstone.

It looks to be, a bit, like Magic, but features the World of Warcraft characters, places, spells, etc.

Right now, it’s only in the Beta test stage so if you head over to the site and think it looks interesting…sign up for a beta key.

I did 🙂


From what I’ve seen, it looks pretty cool. Something quick and easy to learn, but with enough strategy to keep you interested for a good while.


Give it a look and see what you think.



Until next time…

The Case of the Mega Con….

"Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter!"

“Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter!”

My wife and I got an…odd…Christmas present last year from her sister.

Tickets to the comic book/anime/game/pop culture fest known as MegaCon.

The interesting thing was that there was just the two of us….and she gave us four tickets.  As we both figured, though, it was a sort of ‘back door’ set up so we’d take her son and a friend of his to the convention. It’s up in Orlando, only about an hour and a half away, so not too bad and our nephew was pretty stoked to get to go.

His first question to us was….”Who are you guys dressing up as?”

Yeah…spandex and me, we’ll we’re not on speaking terms…especially at this point in my life. I’ve been to dozens of conventions, from GenCon to BotCon to Origins to ToddCon (a friend ran his own gaming convention one year in his basement…don’t ask) and I’ve yet to dress up for any of them. This time was to be no different.

He was excited, though, and that was cool. His original idea was to go as the Fourth (Tom Baker) Doctor, but he had issues getting the long scarf so he shelved that idea. I didn’t know who he was going as until he and his friend showed up at the house this morning, dressed as Castiel from Supernatural. I also learned that the character of Castiel’s tie is always turned around and messed up…something I’d never noticed before. The things you can learn from cosplaying.

The worst part about going was getting there. I guess we picked the wrong time to head up because the traffic by the Orange County Convention Center was terrible. I took us about forty-five minutes to get from the exit to the parking lot. It should have taken us only about five…..ugh! Once we got there, though, things picked up a bit. There were a ton of cosplayers….you know…people who dress up as their favorite comic book or anime character and stroll around. I’m not big on asking people to pose so I mainly just snapped some pics on the fly of some of the ones I thought looked cool.

My only regret was not asking the group dressed as The Thundercats if they’d stop for a pic as we were leaving. They looked pretty darn cool.

A few of the cosplayers….

Usually, when I go to a Con, I tend to look at it as just that….a con. At least when it comes to some of the prices. As per usual with events like this, everything seems like it’s overpriced. We bought a half  of a roast beef sandwich and a bottle of water for $13.00. Well, when they got ya…they got ya. Had we been more prepared we would have smuggled some snacks or sandwiches in with us….like when we go to the movies… *ahem*

One thing I did think was worth the price was one of my all time favorite comic book artists, George Perez, doing headshot sketches for $40.00 to help The Hero Initiative. We thought it was a great cause and asked Mr. Perez to do up a Wonder Woman for us. As I mentioned in my post about the last time I went to MegaCon, Mr. Perez is great and a real prince when it comes to the fans. He looked as busy as all get out, but still posed for pictures, shook hands and chatted, even as he worked.

Mr. George Perez

Mr. George Perez

He did this up in about five minutes. The man is fast and amazing.

Wonder Woman!

Wonder Woman!

Well worth the price and for a great cause. We also watched him draw a Zatanna for a guy and signed his name backwards. If you know anything about the character, you’ll get it 🙂

We also picked up a few other nifty things….

A couple of Doctor Who posters….





And a few nerd shirts…..

All set for a night on the town...

All set for a night on the town…


While I wasn’t too thrilled about them, my wife just had to have these magnets, so…..





All in all we had a pretty good time, though the place was packed. I will say that the crowd was pretty polite. I had quite a few people bump in to me and the vast majority of them, at least, offered a “sorry”, if not an “excuse me”. After years of going to conventions, you start to notice these small details.  Another small detail I tend to notice are the smells. Way back when, body odor was the most prevalent scent wafting through the air, but I guess the crowds have matured and evolved as I think I might have smelled it just once. I know….strange…but still, it’s a part of the experience.

Unlike the last time I attended MegaCon, this year they had all the celebrities and faux-lebrities (yeah Wil Wheaton, I’m looking at you) behind curtains so you couldn’t even get a look at them unless you paid for the privilege. This, at least to me, wasn’t worth the price.

To be totally honest, this really turns me off about the convention experience. I mean, honestly, do they think some guy, taking a pic with his phone camera, at fifty feet, is going to cut into their “Have A Picture Taken With Harry Potter’s The Weasley Brothers for $60.00” business? I have no doubt that people will still pay for the up close and personal experience, but I guess the convention organizers weren’t as confident.

Oh well, those kind of things are to be expected when there’s the potential for money-making and, as I said, we still had a great time and the ride home was so much nicer than the ride up.

Maybe we’ll go again next year, so check back then and I’ll let you know.

Until next time…

The Case of the Mish-Mash Blog Post….

Well, as the title hints, I don’t have a lot to talk about today so I’ll probably just make this post short and sweet, with a few updates.

Car Troubles

A small follow up to my last post, about my automotive woes, no progress has been made. I went down for my appointment…at 9 a.m, no less, and the place was already packed. At least fifteen people were standing in line, waiting on the three clerks to check them in. I didn’t have all day to hang around, so I just left. I”ll call and reschedule for a better time. Being less patient than I should be, I really don’t like waiting. Especially when I’m paying to do so.


Made, of course, of plastic.

In the Garden

Our tomato plants are at an….odd…stage, I have to say. So far, we’ve gotten a few pretty good blooms off of them. They tasted good, but weren’t huge though, honestly, I’m not sure just how big they’re supposed to get, anyway. The one plant, that wasn’t doing much in the beginning  is now blooming like crazy.

Come on, turn red already...

Come on, turn red already…

We probably have about twenty, small, green tomatoes on it, but they’re not turning red. The leaves started getting these white spots on them…most likely powdery mildew..which can be caused by quite a few things.  The interwebz tells me some sulfur dust is in my plant’s future.

That doesn't look right...

That doesn’t look right…

The other tomato plant looks like there’s a totally new sprout coming up. I’ll have to keep an eye on that one and see how it develops.

A new sprout...or weed?

A new sprout…or weed?

How exciting is my life when some of  my best material involves tomatoes that I’m trying to grow in a bucket??

World of Warcraft

Wow! It’s a panda in a hat!

A topic I really don’t talk about as much as I should, even though it’s something I play quite often. My characters are still chugging along through the new (relatively speaking) expansion, Mists of Pandaria. I have two max level characters and am working on about three more (they’re close). Heirloom gear, and the x.p. boost they give, really help a lot with this. A new patch dropped yesterday and that meant new content which I started on, then decided to wait for the ‘newness fervor’ to die down. Way too crowded, which made it not fun at all. I’m in no rush.


A real mishmash

A real mishmash

As strange as it is to say, I’m kind of proud of myself in that I’ve been able to keep my blogging schedule that I set up in January. Between this and my writing blog, I’ve been putting something up six days a week. That will change during April and the A to Z Challenge. More on that later. I find blogging terribly interesting. In some cases it’s like an online diary and, in others, it’s like a soapbox or a ‘how to’ manual for…whatever. In my case, it’s for the exercise of writing which I need quite a bit of. Which leads me to….


No, my arms aren't that skinny..nor do I have that much hair...

No, my arms aren’t that skinny..nor do I have that much hair…

O.k, let’s not talk about this topic….next!!

Oh, there aren’t any more topics?

Just as well, I said I wanted to keep it short so….

Until next time….

The Case of the “Neo” Pulps…

Back when I had a steady RPG (role-playing game) group, a friend and I were talking about a concept he was thinking about called “Neo Pulp”. Basically using the template of the old pulp characters, such as Doc Savage and The Shadow, in a more modern setting.  The background would be modern-day, or close to it, where it was almost “street level”, but things like bionics and light magic/’weird’ science also existed.

Most of the characters would be men and women of action…using their wits and whatever gadgets they might have to combat the threat of evil, lurking in the background.

Some of the names bandied about were :


The A-Team


If you can find them…


Bringing the duct tape

Bringing the duct tape


The M.A.N.T.I.S team  

Team M.A.N.T.I.S

Team M.A.N.T.I.S


Lara Croft, Tomb Raider




Remo Williams

The Destoryer

The Destoryer


Briscoe County Jr.

The best of the old West

The best of the old West

Steve Austin

Six Million Dollars worth

Six Million Dollars worth

Jamie Sommers

The Bionic Woman

The Bionic Woman


Jonathan Chase: The Manimal




There were a few other names thrown in there, like Charlie’s Angels, Michael Knight, The Misfits of Science, Remington Steele, characters along those lines. Obviously, a lot of it was based on old 70s and 80s television shows and that was all right because our gaming group, besides me and the friend discussing it, never really “got” just what pulp was. At least they could never seem to come up with concepts to fit the genre any other time we attempted. T.v. shows, they did get though.

Unfortunately, the game never happened as other things came up, but it’s always something that has stuck in the back of my mind as a fun, little campaign.

I think my ‘dream’ neo-pulp group would consists of:

  • Steve Austin: “The Six Million Dollar Man”–With his bionic advantages as well as ties to the government (the O.S.I)
  • Angus MacGuyver:  “Mac”–Improvisational in the field skills as well as resource contacts (the Phoenix Foundation)
  • Emma Peel:  “The Original Avenger”–Cool under fire, martial arts prowess, British government contacts.
  • Lara Croft:  “The Tomb Raider”–Archaeology expert, wealthy, familiar with field work.
  • Remo Williams: “The Destroyer”– Willing to ‘get his hands dirty’ if needed, master if Sinanju, resource contacts.

Like I said, I think the Neo-Pulp concept would be great fun for a ‘street level’ campaign as well as a blast from the past in getting to play one of your favorite characters from an old t.v. show.

How about you? Who would your ‘dream team’ consist of in the Neo-Pulp genre?


The Case of the Missing Mist.

The only other person in line at our local Wal Mart for the midnight launch.


About a month and a half ago, I headed over to our local GameStop and plunked down $25.00 to preorder the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria. I was really jazzed and looking forward to every aspect of the game. From the midnight launch, which this same GS location hosted during the last expansion, to giving the silly pet battles a shot, I was looking forward to the whole experience. After seeing a couple of things online about which local GameStops were hosting a midnight launch (the nearest to Vero Beach was over 50 miles away), I noticed our local store was not listed so I gave them a call. My fears were realized when, on the day of the launch, I found out that they weren’t holding a midnight opening, but I could pick up my game at 10:00am on Tuesday morning.

10:00 am??!!?? Tuesday morning??!!??


The reason I preordered the dern thing was so that I could pick it up at midnight and be ready to play when the servers went live…..duh!! The gears began to turn and I started to form a plan. I’d go to GameStop, get my deposit back, and we’d go to the local Wal-Mart and pick up my collector’s edition when the clock struck midnight. Say what you want about Wal-Mart but, at least, they’re reliable in getting product out. So, that’s what I did.

On a side note and to their credit, I have to say that GameStop didn’t give me a hassle about getting my pre-order deposit back, at all. The girl even seemed a bit sad that they weren’t having a midnight launch….or that could have been because the store just lost a sale, I’m not sure.

Anyway, we headed over to the local Wal Mart at about 11:00pm and shot straight back to the electronics department… find it roped off for floor waxing. Not another soul was there, save for the guy who wanted to buy a cell phone….at 11:00pm. I figured that was a bit odd, but was glad that we’d be the first in line, should anyone else show up. We confirmed that, yes, they were indeed still putting the game out at midnight and the guy in charge (I’m assuming he was in charge due to his walking around while the other guys were waxing the floor) even offered to show us what he was putting out. He kept describing it as a ‘small box’ and a book….which had me suspicious. The collector’s editions are always a larger, heavier, box and, from what he was describing, it sounded as if he only had the standard version. Sure enough, he went back and brought out a standard box version and a strategy guide (the book), telling us that was all that had shipped.

They had no collector’s editions.

After a few sighs, we decided to just come home and I’d get the “deluxe” digital download. It came with a mount, an in-game pet, a banner for Diablo 3 and something for Starcraft, which I don’t remember since I don’t play it anyway. I’d be missing out on the mousepad, the book of game art, the behind the scenes of the making of the game DVD, and the game soundtrack.

On a positive note, it was $20.00 cheaper.

I guess that I could have just waited for the next morning and went to Best Buy (they looked to have plenty of CEs, but no midnight opening) but we were excited to log in, as the game went “live”, and get to playing. So, impulse buying at it’s finest, I opted for the deluxe edition….the best thing being, there was nothing to download (it was all in the previous patch) and I was still ready for launch.

The moral of the story being, always double check to make sure your preorder store is going to have a midnight launch…..or, skip the physical copy and go the digital route….or, something else….take your pick.

Having played a day in Pandaria, here are a few initial thoughts:

  • This was the smoothest expansion launch I’ve ever experienced for World of Warcraft. Not a server crash in sight and no lag to speak of.  In fact, you didn’t even have to log off when the game went live (as was required in the past), I guess they just flipped and switch, or something, because at 3:am EST (the game went ‘live’ at midnight PST) a quest popped up for all the 85s to get the ball rolling.
  • I still love the ‘cartoony’ grapics and would be a bit disappointed if they ever decided on a more ‘realistic’ style.
  • On the topic of graphics, the Pandarian style gear looks way cooler than the Cataclysm style mess.
  • There is a lot to do, but not to the point that it makes you feel overwhelmed. A recurring theme in the land of Pandaria is “take your time”. A lot of the NPCs say this and I’m not sure if it’s meant for the character or the players looking to rush through content to be “first” (and, then, cry for the next year that they’re ‘bored’).
  • One the big ‘things’ in this expansion is the (literal) farming sub game. I’m hearing a lot of positive things about this and can’t wait to get to that point. Very “Harvest Moon”, from what I’m being told….not “Farmville”…thank God.
  • Pet Battles. Are. Addicting. That is all. Also, you can do them on any character….the quests for them carry over to all your toons.

I’m only a day into the new expansion and I can, honestly, say that my expectations weren’t just met….but exceeded…..even if I didn’t get my mousepad =)

Diabolic thoughts….

I’m sure, no matter where you may roam on the Interwebz, you’ve probably seen something about a little game called Diablo 3. 

Yes, after about 12 years, Blizzard has finally come out with another chapter in the Diablo series and, from checking out the buzz for it, one that’s been highly anticipated.

I’m also pretty confident that you’re getting a little sick of seeing “D3” posts on whatever social networking site you choose to frequent. Well…..bad news….you’ve stumbled upon another. 😛 The good news is, though, I promise to make it brief!

Blizzard was pretty smart (as they usually are) in giving this game away provided you chose to enter into a ‘contract’, of sorts, with them where you promised to continue to play, or at least pay for, World of Warcraft for a year. This was pretty much a ‘no brainer’ for me so I went ahead and signed on the dotted line.

The other day I pre-downloaded the game (whatever that means) and waited for 12:01 on May 15th (last night, as of this writing). At the stroke of 12:01, I hit the setup button…..and the game started to download….again? I guess it was adding files that weren’t included in the ‘pre-download’? I don’t know….

Checking the D3 forums didn’t get me a straight answer right away as the whine-fest had begun.

I finally get the download finished and try to activate the game.

I’m then told servers aren’t online. Another trip to the forums gets me an official answer that the game won’t go live until Midnight…..Pacific Time. Ugh! I had to wait three more hours.

So, I took a little nap then tried logging on. The, now infamous, error 37 (servers are busy) reared it’s ugly head and a faster internet meme you have never seen.

After a bit…I think it was about 4:30am…I was finally able to log on and start making a character.

“You talkin’ to me??”

My very first character was a Wizard, but I never got past the name so I deleted him and made a Barbarian (which I had tried during the open beta and liked) and took off.  I’ll probably, eventually, make another Wizard and then a Witch Doctor as these both look like pretty cool classes.

Some of my random thoughts on the game itself:

  • If you play World of Warcraft, a lot of the game will be pretty intuitive. Things like clicking to equip things, resource management, buying, selling, buying back, auction housing….things like that will be pretty much second nature. I like that consistency.
  • A neat feature in D3 that’s not in WoW is ‘the stash’. A trunk (basically, a bank) that all your characters can add to and take from. The stash isn’t just exclusive per each character. So, if your Barbarian finds a nifty crossbow, you can throw it in your stash and save it for when you make that Demon Hunter you’ve been eyeing.  The only catch is that you only start off with so many slots to work with. More slots equals more gold…10,000 for 14 more slots. Just as a sort of indicator of how quick you can make gold (just doing quests and selling to vendors) I’m level 8 and have about 6K gold. So…there’s that.
  • The controls are a tad different from WoW in that you use your mouse to move as well as to execute your main attacks. You, eventually, get more attacks and such and will be using the number keys but you’re not pounding near as many keys as when you’re playing WoW.
  • I haven’t gotten high enough yet, but you’ll eventually get Artisans to ‘craft’ for you instead of your character doing the work on their own.
  • Your character will also get Followers to help them along, giving them access to certain abilities they wouldn’t otherwise have.
  • The graphics are pretty crisp though I know some  people (my wife, chief among them) think the three-quarters view makes them look like ‘stick figures’. I did find, though, that hitting your “Z” button will zoom you in so you can get a better look at your character. I wouldn’t recommend questing that way as you don’t get near the view you get in three-quarters.
  • I’ve heard a few complaints about the font. It’s a little funky in some areas and too small in most. It would be nice if Blizzard would patch that so you could adjust the font size for us (ahem) older folks.
  • If you have “Real I.D.” friends on any Blizzard game, you can still keep in contact with them even while playing D3. I was chatting to my wife while she was on WoW.
  • I haven’t done any grouping, yet, but it seems like it’s pretty easy to group up with friends or even random people by making your game ‘public’ or joining someone else’s public game.

I’ve read where someone has already finished on normal difficulty….I, obviously, have not and still have a lot of exploring and killin’ to do.

Maybe, I’ll post a follow-up when I get further along…..

Until then, have fun and….if anyone knows what the “Black Mushroom” is for…let me know 🙂

A little explanation here…

Ok, I guess I probably should clarify my previous post on Final Fantasy and why I chose to blog about it…..if anyone cares. You care, right? *ahem* Well, here goes….

During the summer, work can get sort of…..slow.  Like, crawling slow. Like a slug crawling across a turtle’s back while the turtle walks through glue, slow. In those instances, I’m allowed to break out my trusty Nintendo DS which I have recently upgraded to it’s XL brother. It’s small, compact, and also has…..ta da!!!  Final Fantasy III!

Having all but finished Lego Batman (93% done), I figured it was time I delved into something with a little more meat on it’s bones. Don’t get me wrong, Batman gave me quite a few months worth of entertainment and I’m still not done….just on hiatus. Oh, and by the way, if you’re into this sort of thing, I found a pretty good walkthrough here.

While on a “Bat-hiatus”, I’ve been playing the heck out of FFIII.  I’ve been at it for over 40 hours now (no, not consecutively) and am about at the two-thirds mark.  A very fun game, like most of the other Final Fantasy offerings.  The big deal about this version, when it came out way back in the day, was the Job system. Unemployment has no foothold in the FF universe, trust me. Jobs are sort of like ‘classes’ back in the original FF.  Though, here, you level up as normal the entire game but are able to switch out your abilities via different Jobs.

Just a few of the jobs, from top, left to right: Black Belt, Warrior, Red Mage, White Mage, Bard, Viking, Monk, Black Mage

I won’t go into detail on FFIII but, suffice it to say, it’s a very FUN game with lots to do and lots to explore.  If you own a DS and enjoy RPGs, pick this one up….you won’t be sorry.

“It’s been one week…”

The title being from that……song…by…*ahem*…Bare Naked Ladies….you know….*cough*…the song….

Anywho, it has been about a week since I’ve posted anything to ye olde blog, so I guess I should put something up here.

How about some….Final Fantasy??!!??

Final Fantasy was, originally, released for the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1987. It’s a fantasy RPG (role playing game, duh!) where you create your character, talk to townspeople for clues, fight monsters, gain experience, and gain levels. As you gain levels, the monsters get tougher but the rewards get better and the story continues. The game is pretty linear, meaning you have to complete task A before you can proceed to task B, etc. If your party of merry adventurers isn’t quite up to snuff, you’ll all be vanquished…..and then you’ll have to start all over. Well not “all over”, but from your last save point which can only be done at an Inn.

Ok, so you start off by being able to pick four characters from six ‘classes’…Fighter, Thief, Black Belt, Black Mage, White Mage and Red Mage. Each class had their special ‘thing’….the Fighter could use any weapon and was tough, the Thief made it easier to run from a fight if needed, the Black Belt didn’t need weapons and his damage went up each level, the Black Mage used harmful magic to damage, the White mage used helpful magic to heal, and the Red Mage combined the Black and White mage (shouldn’t that have made him a Gray mage? hmmm), with a little of the Fighter thrown in….sort of a jack of all trades type.

After you formed your party, you would set out into the world and the plot would unfold. Apparently you were the “Light Warriors” who were foretold to bring “light” back to the world and vanquish the darkness….or something like that. I never really got that involved in the plot of the game, I just loved playing it. There was a ‘world map’ where, if you walked around, you would be attacked by random monsters. There were also dungeons where the random monster lurked at every turn. Defeating these random monsters would net you gold, items (such as potions) and, more importantly….experience points. Now, any nerd worth his salt has heard of experience points (or “XP”). It’s the stuff that makes you stronger, tougher, and gives you the ability to laugh at monsters who had you shaking in your chainmail at earlier levels.

Why are the ponies so mad??

Eight byte style throwdown!

You progress in this fashion, fighting monsters and getting xp until the end….where you’re ready to take on the final, big baddie….Garland!

I'd be mad too if I were named for a Christmas decoration.

Now, the thing I loved (and still do) about this game was that you could re-play it, using different party make-ups for different results. Sure, the plot was still the same but it was interesting to see how you could do things differently with different classes.

The most important thing about Final Fantasy (in video game terms) was that it launched a huge franchise with multiple sequels and even an MMO.  I could go on and on about the sequels and how much I loved the original game, but I’ll save you the ramblings and just put up a handy Wiki-pedia link here.  I still own the original game, by the way, maps and all and it was the main reason I still keep my original Nintendo game system around.

Sometimes, the old school is still cool….