E3 Recap

E3 2018

E3 2018

I’m back from California, sun-kissed and head spinning with all the amazing things I took in. I’ll have a couple posts coming up about my trip, and as E3 was my main reason for heading to the West Coast, what better place to start?

First of all, I work in tech so I was able to nab a complimentary industry pass. I don’t recommend attending as a gamer. Glux had a rougher go of things with a gamer pass. Not only was the “gamer” community stereotypically smelly, rude and pushy-shovey, but once they were admitted they clogged up the lines and made everyone miserable. It was a much more enjoyable experience with Industry early access.

That said, E3 was like nothing I’ve experienced before. The booths, the swag, the calibur of other professionals buzzing around the show floor… It was so inspirational. I can’t even go into all of it, so here are my highlights.

Best of: Booths
Bethesda stole the show with an immersive Vault 76 walkthrough experience, complete with actors in each of the rooms to make it feel real. IGN got some amazing shots of the vault.

Vault boy at E3 2018

Well hello there, Vault Boy!

When entering the main hall of the convention center, Square Enix’s Mayan ruins-themed booth filled the immediate area. To celebrate Shadow of the Tomb Raider, they took us into Lara’s world, complete with a professional Lara Croft cosplayer stalking the grounds.

Of course, I spent a lot of time around the Jurassic World Evolution compound. Outside, there was a broken fence, presumably torn down by the velociraptor inside, as well as Denis Nedry’s Jeep. Through the looming gates, monitors showed the latest dinosaur creations and their specific DNA make up.

Finally, the Largest Booth Award goes to Fortnite for being the single game with the biggest E3 presence. The back third of South Hall was essentially an ode to Fortnite. The Battle Bus was there with props for a photo opp. Staff in forts handed out branded cups. There was even a mechanical llama pinata! Rows and rows of demos filled the rest of the area.

Demo time!
The first game I played was Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate. In the 15 minute demo, 4 of us teamed up to take on one of three quests. Overall, it seemed the same as MHG on 3DS… just on Switch this time. Online play will be cool and there are some new monsters – my team of four was decimated by the new Elder Dragon Valstrax – but it doesn’t feel different enough to buy again.

Inside the Jurassic World Evolution booth, we sat down in a small theater where an Ingen executive gave a presentation about our mission as new park employees (and the risks involved). She told us we could choose to release and transport one of 3 dinosaurs into their designated pens… and then create a spectacle for park guests by provoking a dinosaur fight! Then we were ushered into the Jurassic Park compound where the demo stations were set up on three platforms. I played the Playstation version and enjoyed it. The dinos are so realistic and well animated. I’m not usually a fan of sims, but this is one I’m going to pick up when the physical release drops on July 3rd.

Jurassic World Evolution Jeep at E3 2018

… I think this was Nedry’s yellow rain slicker…

Luckily, Glux and I secured the very first time slots to play Super Smash Bros Ultimate. The standby line was… deterring to say the least. We got three matches so to make the most of it, we picked the two new stages first – the Sheikah Tower from Breath of the Wild and Moray Towers from Splaton 2. We let our random match up pick the final stage – he chose Donkey Kong’s Rumble Falls, which looked spectacular on the Switch! As for characters, I went with Bayonetta first and then loved the Inkling’s moves so much i played her twice. She’ll very likely be a new main for me. Glux tested the Inkling, then new addition Ridley from Metroid, and ended with Bowser. It’s worth the hype. I can’t wait to play again. As a bonus, we got Smash pins for being among the first to play!

Spotlight on Swag
Bethesda gave away the most swag. You couldn’t walk a booth-length without seeing 50 vault boy masks. Mine is hanging eerily in my office, successfully creeping out all who pass. They also had one of those souvenir penny presser machines set up with four different Fallout 76 designs. For 76¢ (appropriately) I selected the tricentennial design and then immediately preordered the tricentennial edition. In celebration of “Reclamation Day” party hats and cups were doled out to potential Dwellers. All that was missing, was Rad-free cake!

Twitch gave out some of my favorite swag of E3. You can attribute it to my high affinity for the brand, but they gave out purple sunglasses that I’ll actually wear. The tote bags they gave out are compact and quality with the cute Glitch logo. I also really liked their simple, branded nametag stickers that said “My Twitch ID is” with a big blank for your handle. I grabbed a couple to stick on my laptop and bujo.

What Nintendo lacked in swag, it made up for in content and quality. The Smash Bros logo pin is simple and nice. I’ll treasure it. They presented a lot of great photo opps with classic relics from Nintendo games too. DK’s tie, the Master Sword, Pit’s bow, Cappy… Sandbag was my favorite forgotten hero. Glad to see him get some much deserved appreciation!

Overall, I had a great experience. The only real downside was the gamer-clogged lines and the location – LA was the dirtiest city I’ve ever seen and I didn’t feel safe there even in daylight. We Ubered exclusively after 7pm every day, not that LA was particularly walkable anyway. I’m hoping my company will have a presence next year so I can go back to the Expo, all expenses paid.

What were your favorite moments from E3 this year?

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Sunday Stats

Sunday Stats.jpg

*Since my family first got an NES, I’ve had a controller in my hands. Exploring new worlds, meeting new characters and experiencing stories… in some ways, I’ve just connected better with the world through games. However, it’s also very important to me to be present in my life, to improve myself, to go out and MEET the people I’ve connected with online and to expand my knowledge. I spend hours in games; how do I level myself up?

In this weekly series, I’ll chronicle how I’ve improved my “stats” with completely arbitrary scoring.*

+1 Intelligence – How did I make myself a little smarter? What did I learn?
I learned a new city! I don’t know if there’s a city in the country more sprawling and intimidating than LA. Thanks to Glux, we figured our way around and learned A LOT about where to stay and what to do if we ever come back.

Santa Monica Sidequest

-3 Charisma – How was I less awkward or more beautiful?
Fail. I got major sunburn on my face and arms just from walking around LA. I picked up some SPF 100 on Day 3, but it was too late.

Burning for Blue

-2 Strength – New workouts, breakthroughs, challenges.
I never work out on vacation. Packing extra shoes and a couple sets of workout clothes just seems ridiculous. I should really change this mentality though and keep up my momentum when I’m away.

+1 Defense – Where did I consciously avoid or deflect negative energy?
E3 was a major test of patience. Lines everywhere. Smelly gamer boys pushing and shoving through the crowds. Long days on my feet. But I rolled with it, stayed calm and had a great time.

Maybe this Deathclaw would have more luck with lines

+3 Luck – Something good that happened this week.
SO many good things happened! I got to play the new Smash Bros. Ultimate at E3. Dinosaur encounters peppered my week. My carney connections got me access to Universal Studios Hollywood with Express Pass so I could skip the 2 hour lines! We went early on Friday before the park got crowded and I finally got my Ravenclaw robes and a wand of Ivy, perfect for my magical outings!

Amazing real life Blue

-1 Wealth – How did I save towards my goals?
I spent about what I thought I would on this trip. I’m not worried about money right now, but focus needs to shift back toward paying off my debts. This trip allowed me to hit the spend threshold on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card so I get 50k bonus points. That will pay for my next trip!

How did YOU level up this week?

Tattoo Tarot Interview

This deck is very special to me. The Eight Coins Tattoo Tarot is my 8th deck, and I’m an 8 in numerology. It came signed and with an extra card drawn from the creator’s personal deck… well, when it came. The USPS took my initial order and lost it in spectacular fashion. Sometimes I still check the tracking number to visit that deck as it rests somewhere near Atlanta. Lana happened to find a leftover deck with one of her cards in it and she was kind enough to send it to me. As my newest deck, it’s my last in my tarot interview series.

What are you here to teach me?
V of Pentacles
I know I’m not the deck you expected. I’m a replacement for one lost in the mail. A leftover my creator didn’t sell. But I hope you will accept and treasure me anyway.

What are your strengths?
The Magician
I make shit happen. I get the gears turning. Look how I got off that dusty shelf and made my way to New York City! Let’s create a kick ass destiny.

What are your limitations?
The World
The journey of my creation was a long and arduous process filled with lots of hills and valleys. Then I traveled to you after lying forgotten on a shelf. I’m worried my trip has come to an end when I’m not meant to sit still.

What are you here to teach me? *Note: I pulled this card with my left hand while thinking about how the left hand is supposed to be closer to the heart. And this card bears the image of a heart!
VII of Wands
To stand up and fight for yourself (like I did) and your ideas. Stand in your power and magic. Know you are unstoppable!

How can we best collaborate? *Note: This is also the extra signed card in the deck!
X of Swords
You need to let go of the lost deck. It’s gone. Stop checking the tracking number. I’m here and I deserve your attention, not your disappointment. We both need to let go and move forward, together.

What’s the potential outcome of our relationship?
IV of Wands
We’ll celebrate many moments of success and achieve anything we want to. The universe is a party and we have an exclusive invitation to shine bright.

I immediately connected with this deck like no other. It called me out about the lost deck and blew me away with this interview. I’ve decided this is the deck I’ll always travel with so its journey never stops.

Want to know whats in your cards? I’ll read them for you starting at just $5!

5 Skeeball Tips from a (Practical) Pro

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Artwork by Glen Brogan

My parents propped me up in front of a skeeball machine at Mariner’s Arcade on the Wildwood Boardwalk as soon as I could stand. I racked up tickets quickly, savings hundreds of thousands over the years. The prize, for me, was in the game itself. Every summer I’d play. Alone. Sometimes dragging friends. Eventually taking dates. Always bringing my GAME.

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When I moved back to NYC, I wanted a way to meet new people and get out of my apartment, especially during my hibernation winter months. Because this city has EVERYTHING, I looked up skeeball right away and found a league through NY Social.

As captain, I’ve guided 4 teams to city finals. Made it to the final four twice. AND received 5 invitations to the Skeeball National Championship. That’s how I roll (also I’m the self-proclaimed mistress of skeeball puns. You’ve been warned)!

Guess who the #skeeball champions are? #carneylife #nyc #pinup #baller

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I just revived my Summer League, The Skeevil Dead and can’t wait to coach the new recruits! If you’re interested in getting involved in this incredible Ocho worthy sport, here are some basic practices to help you git gud.

1) You’d never think it, but skeeball is 80% lower body. Your stance is the most important part of your game. Everyone’s stance is unique so figure out where your feet need to be in order for you to be most comfortable and get the velocity you want. For my stance, I need my left foot firmly planted and lined up with the inner edge of the left bumper. My right leg crosses behind my left and my right foot is up on the tip of the toes, so I’m balancing a bit with my core and also pushing myself forward a bit.

This “personal best” is now my average!

Personal best. #NYC #skeeball #latergram

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2) Keep your wrist straight and roll with your whole arm, just like a bowling ball. I know this ball is much smaller and the lane is much shorter, but the technique is basically the same. Don’t twist or flick your wrist.

3) On every machine I’ve encountered, there is a shadow line that runs across the lane just before the point where the lane makes its sharp slope upwards. If you bank the ball off the point where that shadow meets the bumper, you’ll hit the 40 consistently. This is a good way to get a feel for the game.

4) It’s a drinking game anymore, but don’t go overboard. Find your buzzy sweet spot and it could improve your game! Balance is key.

5) Don’t go for 100 unless you have to. They’re super hard to hit and you could waste four balls worth 50 points trying to get that hundo. Hundos are for desperate situations and happy accidents.

Have you ever played Skeeball?

Sunday Stats

Sunday Stats.jpg

*Since my family first got an NES, I’ve had a controller in my hands. Exploring new worlds, meeting new characters and experiencing stories… in some ways, I’ve just connected better with the world through games. However, it’s also very important to me to be present in my life, to improve myself, to go out and MEET the people I’ve connected with online and to expand my knowledge. I spend hours in games; how do I level myself up?

In this weekly series, I’ll chronicle how I’ve improved my “stats” with completely arbitrary scoring.*

-2 Intelligence – How did I make myself a little smarter? What did I learn?
Never never never book your seat toward the back of the plane. That’s where parents with infants book their seats. Ugh. Hard lesson learned!

+1 Charisma – How was I less awkward or more beautiful?
I always feel confident going out alone and traveling solo. In the last 24 hours everyone I’ve encountered in California has been shocked that I’m alone, but I feel like a real New Yorker and an independent woman. Feels nice, man.

-2 Strength – New workouts, breakthroughs, challenges.
I was depressed and lazy all week. I could barely make it into work. News of two high profile suicides made me realize that depression isn’t a thing you ever “grow out of.” I’m going to have to fight this for the rest of my life. And I might lose. But I’m not going to let depression eat me alive without anyone knowing. I’m not hiding it. I’m not ashamed. I can’t help that my brain feeds itself lies about my amazing, creative, empathetic, curious, fierce self. I can see myself that way sometimes, but mostly I’m surprised when I hear how positively others view me. Almost can’t believe it. So I urge you- tell your friends and family you love them, but ALSO tell them how you see them. Are they brave? Inspirational? Funny? Witty? Creative? Powerful? Tell them. Because I don’t think ANY of us see ourselves the way the people who love us do. So it’s important to hear. Depression or not.

+1 Defense – Where did I consciously avoid or deflect negative energy?
I had a thought this week. So often when something small goes wrong, I hear people sarcastically say “story of my life.” But what if we flipped the script and said (or thought) “story of my life” every time something good or lucky or fabulous happened? Imagine how much more positive energy we could attract?

+3 Luck – Something good that happened this week.
I got invited to an advance screening of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on Tuesday. How amazing is that?!? Still can’t believe I got to be one of the first in NYC and maybe the world to see it. I’m not going to spoil anything… though I can’t wait to talk about it! I did write up some non-spoilery thoughts here.

+1 Wealth – How did I save towards my goals?
My mailbox surprised me with a check for $70 from some class action lawsuit! That’s the most I’ve ever gotten from one of those things, but it ALWAYS pays to throw your hat into the ring when you get those notices in your email. Just make sure it’s not spam first. They look spammy.

How did YOU level up this week?

Shantae Half Genie Hero – 100%

I rarely finish games I start. It’s my biggest blocker when I want to buy a new game – do I want to spend money on something I’m probably not going to finish? I don’t buy books I don’t intend to read cover to cover so why do I do it with games? Well NOT ANYMORE! I 100% completed Shantae Half Genie Hero!

This year, I’ve finished every game I’ve started. I started Shantae: Half-Genie Hero last year, but then got distracted by other games. Coming back to it after so much time felt weird so I just started a new save and went back to the beginning. The very first stage (before the main plot starts) plays a super fun, poppy theme song as you run through the town defeating tinkerbats.

While many might see Shantae’s character design as sexist with her impossible proportions and skimpy genie outfit, I think she’s one of the best female protagonists in gaming. Yes, she’s sexy… and a total badass who is loyal to her friends and works hard at her job as Guardian Genie of Scuttle Town. She’s sarcastic, witty and doesn’t take any shit from her enemies. Her femininity is part of her power – those hip-shaking genie dances transform her into creatures that allow her to solve puzzles and save the day!

Her strong cast of supporting characters add to the story too. So much so, that the developers created new game modes to feature them. The Friends til the End expansion allows players to play as Shantae’s friends -Sky, Bolo and Rotty Tops- to save Shantae’s corrupted mind. Pirate Queen’s Quest features Shantae’s nemesis – Risky Boots – on a mission to create the final boss of Shantae’s storyline.

Every stage is incredibly detailed and beautiful. While the story requires you to revisit all the worlds several times throughout the game, Shantae’s ever-growing list of transformation dances make you see each world in a new way, sometimes from an entirely different angle. So it feels new every time. In fact, where stage repetition gets tedious and frustrating in other games, I’ve grown to love each of the stages in HGH. There’s always something to discover, which probably motivated me to reach 100% completion.

The Mermaid Factory is one of the most creative and fucked up stories I’ve ever played and it LOVE it.

The Shantae series is one of my favorite stories for sure. The costume DLC packs bring 3 new game modes into play that seem perfectly designed for speedrunning. That’s my next goal! My hope is that we will see her in the new Smash Bros for Switch (and maybe an amiibo of that cute curvy figure too!).

What games have you completed this year?

Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom: Thoughts (No Spoilers)

Fallen Kingdom Movie Poster TRex

Thanks to Universal, I was invited to an advanced screening of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom yesterday. I’ve been excited about this release since the last movie rolled credits. At that time, I left the theater pumped up, riding high on thrills and nostalgia. After Fallen Kingdom, however, I left disappointed and confused.

Overall, it seemed like a bunch of recycled scenes taped together with disconnected stories and new characters too far down the timeline to care about. And the characters I know and love, fell flat. Ian Malcolm’s scenes seemed to be added as an afterthought just to include him in the film. Benjamin Lockwood is introduced as having an equal hand in the original park since day one as John Hammond’s partner. I racked my brain going over the last 4 movies for any mention of a Lockwood. There was none. So the plotline this movie hinges on feels forced and confusing.

As for the horror element, there were a couple of cool stylized shots. The dinosaurs are much more aggressive and threatening. Even some of the herbivores remind us they can be just as deadly. But the big, creepy mansion where most of the action takes place is a done to death horror staple that makes the trailers super misleading and the story further weird-feeling. I’d love to do a film over film comparison of deaths by dino. I’d bet that Fallen Kingdom was on the lower end of the carnage scale, but there were a lot more scenes full of suspenseful near-death moments that I really enjoyed.

The dinosaurs really lead this one. Owen’s backstory with Blue is really sweet and emotional. It was refreshing to see so many humanizing and relatable moments between them, a reminder that both of them are deeper than their appearances. One of the best scenes, which is somehow both funny and brutal, stars a new dinosaur to the series who will become an instant fan favorite – Stygimoloch.

Stygimoloch Funko Jurassic World Figure

Dr. Wu’s new prototype is the most horrifying creature yet. Made by combining velociraptor genes with DNA from the previous film’s main attraction – Indominus Rex – the Indoraptor was expertly crafted for killing.
New dinosaur in jurassic world fallen kingdom indoraptor

She gets a good amount of screen time to show off her speed, ferocity and terrifying intelligence. Her black and gold snake-like skin differentiate her from the classic predators as well as the new creations, making her stand out as nothing we’ve ever seen before. Fierce, beyond dangerous and utterly unstoppable.

I think we could have gotten a stronger story with existing characters instead of introducing so many new ones though. Dr. Henry Wu’s story for example – a genius geneticist who brought back an extinct ecosystem, exploited by various employers for their profit, caught in murky moral and ethical dilemmas. Is he a redeemable character? Could he be the ultimate villain?

Of course, I plan to see it several more times so we’ll see how my thoughts evolve after a couple screenings.

Do you plan to see the new Jurassic World?