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

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*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?

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?

Tale of Ragnar Redtail

Alaria wasn’t always the skilled archer she is today. In fact, she didn’t learn the art of long range weaponry until just a couple of years ago.

Thieving is an up close and personal business. Daggers and deception proved the most useful tools on accomplishing her objectives. After all, a long-range thief is nothing but a murderer. It wasn’t until her Uncle Biro established the Assassin’s Guild that Alaria even picked up a crossbow. Uncle Biro warned her that versatility was a more valuable weapon than any she would loot in her travels and encouraged her to become adept in more than blades.

At first she was clumsy with the bow. Her small frame couldn’t seem to fit the clunky device. It felt jarring and unnatural to carry ammo separately. In a dangerous scenario, she worried she’d fumble the bolts and fall to her foe before she could load and aim.

Her perceived inadequacy drove her to practice several times a week. One foggy morning, she ventured into the woods to practice. She brought some breakfast scraps- orange peels, bread crusts and the odd apple core- for targets. The fog made practice more difficult than she’d anticipated. The moisture in the air dampened the bread crusts until they were too soggy to shoot. Alaria tossed an apple core into the air, aimed and missed. She was getting frustrated and tired of retrieving bolts.

“One more shot. Just one more and I’ll call it a day,” she said as she pulled the bolt out of a tree.

She reconfigured herself. Took a deep breath. Then in one swift movement she threw a curl of orange peel into the sky, swung her crossbow into position, eyed the peel as it hit the peak of its flight and squeezed the trigger.

She could almost feel the bolt pierce the flesh. A sense of pride and satisfaction washed over her… until she heard the squealing high note of pain.

A curious hawk made a dive for the peel at exactly the wrong moment and Alaria’s bolt tore through his left wing, rendering the poor creature flightless mid-flight.

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Alaria gasped. Surprise. Shock. Horror. The hawk seemed to tumble out of the sky in slow motion. Alaria darted towards him. She caught him, gently cradling his frozen body. He stared at her, eyes wide, his chest fluttering in which shallow breaths.

“I know it hurts, but it doesn’t look so bad,” Alaria said soothingly. “Let’s get you fixed up.”

She returned to the Guild as quickly as she could without jostling the bird and found the medic. He took one look at Alaria holding the pitiful creature and rolled his eyes.

“Do I LOOK like a vet to you?” He grumbled.

“Please! A life is a life. Besides, you owe me.”

“…fine. I’ll take a look. But no promises. I’m no avian specialist.”

He laid the bird on the table, wings outstretched, and carefully touched the bolt. The hawk flinched, but seemed calm. Understanding, even.

“Looks like the bolt missed doing some major damage by a thumbnail or two.” He looked up at Alaria. “Bird’ll fly again. But your aim could use some work.”

“I wasn’t TRYING to shoot him! Dummy went after the orange peel I was sporting.”

“Probably looked like a worm to ‘im.” He slid the bolt out of the wing in one smooth, steady motion. The hawk tried immediately to fold his wing, but jerked it back half open and lying at his side.

“Not so fast, pal.” The medic dressed the wound with cotton and gauze. “It’s gonna be a mite before you’re sky worthy again.”

“How long do you think?” Alaria asked.

“Couple weeks maybe. You gon’ look after him?”

Alaria gave this some thought. She knew nothing about caring for creatures. She had only ever looked after herself. But she felt indebted to the hawk for causing his pain and plight.

She nodded.

When he mended up, she took him to her quarters and gave him some bread.

“I’m really sorry. I never meant to… you know.” She sat on her bed and kicked her feet out. The hawk looked at the pitiful tiefling and cocked his head to the side, seemingly sizing her up.

“Can you forgive me?” She held out a small cube of cheese. The hawk fanned out his red tail and squawked before taking the cheese from her hand. Alaria giggled.

“I suppose you’ll need a name if you’re staying here. How’s Ragnar? Ragnar Redtail!”

Ragnar cocked his head again and blinked twice, seeming to try the name on. Then he squawked his approval.

Ragnar and Alaria grew close. When Ragnar healed, he didn’t fly off as Alaria expected. He returned time and time again. Often, he brought her berries or trinkets he found on his flights.

“Your vantage point sure makes finding shiny a cinche!” Alaria kept her collection displayed in her quarters so Ragnar could admire his treasures.

Eventually, Alaria began sketching coins and gems and keys. She showed these things to Ragnar and sent him off. Sometimes he was gone for stretches at a time and Alaria worries. But he always found her and returned with a treasure resembling her doodle. Alaria always rewarded his good worth with a cube of cheese.

Presently, Ragnar is off looking for items while Alaria journeys with Dany. She’s a bit worried he won’t be able to find her since she ran off from the Guild… but she’s hopeful.

Follow Dany and Alaria’s journeys over on Gluxbox’s blog.

Visiting Alternate Dimensions

Yesterday after work, my friend Maria and I were in need of an escape. From ourselves. From this planet. So we checked out VR World in midtown- a virtual reality arcade. It’s the largest on the planet, in their words.

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Checking into a Pixar-like animation about an old man who fixes broken dreams.

I’ve only slipped into VR a handful of times because I find it dangerously addictive and a little nauseating if I stay too long. This is definitely the future of gaming, entertainment and probably human living.

We walked in and were presented with three options, a 2 hour, all day and moveo access. A 2 hour pass was $40 so we went with that. Our wristbands allowed us to scan into the queue for games with our gamer tags. But we could only be in one queue at a time so if we scanned into one game and then went to another while we were waiting, it canceled out the first game. So it took some strategic planning on our part. Luckily, none of the lines were very long. Mostly we were able to scan right in and play.

VR World hosts over 50 experiences ranging from games to 360 movies and music videos. The “museum” on the mezzanine had several different experiences that allowed us to explore the planet or disappear into different stories from the comfort of swivel chairs so we didn’t risk wandering off down a flight a stairs.

We warmed up with a plank walking experience. It was freaky. We walked out onto a beam high above the city and then stepped off and fell to the sidewalk. My heart rate shot up to 84bpm from 60. Maria was also not a fan.

From there, we teamed up to take on some robots in a shooting game. It felt crazy. I screamed out loud when a robot snuck up behind me and I could SWEAR I felt one crawl over and grab my leg. I’m terrified of robots so that didn’t help, but I was astonishingly good at the game.

They also had Job Simulator, Rick and Morty Virtual Rickality, Zombie games, an archery game and so much more to explore. I’ll definitely go back next week to try out more experiences. It’s a great little escape in the middle of the realest city in the world.

 

 

Splat Fashion 3.0.0

Splat Fashion

With the release of 3.0.0 last week came over 100 new pieces of gear. I’ve always been a fan of throwing on a bit of military flare so mixing the new gear with some of my favorite pieces and weapons has me losing hours creating new looks and planning my ability builds.

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This is my standard gear look for ranked. Special Forces Beret with a mix of power chunks that suit my particularly strategic, versatile and insightful play-style, black inky rider stocked with sub up and speed up, and blue Moto boots with pure ink resistance.

Splatoon Deco Brush InklingSplatoon inkling hero shot replica

For these two, my coat changes sometimes based on what role my team needs me to play. My custom painted F-3 gives me an offensive advantage with pure special ups. When I need a defensive edge, I suit up in my Forge Inkling Parka with ninja squid and swim speed ups so I can make quick sprints or getaways to regroup.

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I’m still building out a lot of the newer gear – my White leather F-3, gas mask, pilot goggles (not new, but look hot af with the F-3s) and shark moccasins – but they’ve all been upgraded for max slots. I love the way they can change up my look while sticking to the theme I like.

Of course the military look couldn’t be complete with head to toe camouflage, right down to the weapon. The Moist Ghillie Suit paired with the Bamboozler creates an all-natural look well suited for an ambush! Also this set up cracks me up.

The options are becoming a bit overwhelming. Aside from saving certain gear to different amiibo, I wish there was a better way to organize my inventory. I don’t like any of the org options currently available. Honestly, I’d rather organize my own “closet” according to my priorities.

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While I’m a little confused about the TMNT theme of the upcoming Splatfest, I AM relishing the fact that I’ll essentially have three weeks to farm my Splatfest T to build out all this new gear.

What are your favorite pieces? Do you adhere to a certain type of aesthetic?

Alaria, Tiefling Rogue

Looking for new ways to reengage my imagination and creativity has attracted me to DnD. Being new to the game though, I’ve found it difficult to find players willing to take me into their groups. Until very recently when one of my friends decided to try his hand at being a DM. Last weekend, he and Glux game over for cookies and character building. Glux introduced Danaeryzard the Dragonborne who you can read about there.

Alaria Full equip

I created Alaria (pronounced like malaria without the M)

As a child growing up in the vast city of Eklatar, her tiefling parents were scarce, but doting. Her mother tended bar at a tavern frequented by wealthy travelers. Using her wit and charm, she made them feel at home on the road, while stealthily relieving them of any valuables they were unwise enough to keep at their hips to help pay back (and unintentionally enable) her husband’s gambling debts. Her father was a fletcher who crafted highly sought arrows. No arrow shot further nor more absolutely than his. His struggle with gambling kept the family from the life they worked hard enough to deserve and seeded deep paranoia in his mind. He passed his superstitions on to his daughter, who keeps one of his finest (and final) arrows in her quiver for perfect aim and direct guidance on her life journey.

At 9 years old, Alaria wanted to help her parents in a particular time of financial stress. She had been practicing her pick-pocketing skills by stealing corks and small coins from her mother’s tavern frock. However, one day, she fetched an ornate key from her mother’s pocket – two tones of gold, yellow and rose, twisted around the body gleaming like flames before meeting at the base in an explosion of pave rubies and diamonds. She was sure this would save her family from the streets! As soon as her parents kissed her goodbye for the day, she stole off to pawn the key. She never saw her parents again.

Alaria Hawk unhooded

You see, her parents were to deliver that key to the head of the Shadow Thieves – Birolesh – as a last resort payment. When they failed to deliver it that evening, Birolesh assassinated them both. Of course, Alaria doesn’t know any of this. So when a mysterious uncle appeared at her door with tragic news and an offer to take her into the Shadow Thieves, she agreed.

Under Uncle Biro’s mentorship, Alaria became a highly skilled thief. She’s proficient in the arts of manipulation, pick-pocketing, deception, and lock-picking. She knows every corner, shadow and sewer of Eklatar. Despite her horns and startlingly gold eyes, she’s a master of disguise But for all she has and all she knows, she will forever be indebted to Biro.

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Thieving business was good. Uncle Biro used his wealth to set up an underground training complex for an Assassin’s Guild so he could further develop his thieves and cultivate a profit-driving fear. As her first training mission, Alaria was to track and assassinate a dragonborn menace who had been setting forest fires just a day’s journey away. She’d never killed before, but hearing the reports, she justified this mission as a heroic deed to prevent a deadly threat from reaching her beloved city.

On the night before her planned departure, she overheard Biro assigning a job to a seasoned assassin: There exists an ancient key, crafted by a dragonborn demigod to lock the soul and fortune of Raethae. Legend tells of a two-toned gold key with a ruby hilt. Find it and bring it to me. Fail, and suffer the fate of the wretched tiefling stonescrubbers who lost it last.

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At that moment, Alaria understood three things:
1) She must leave that night and never return to Eklatar.
2) She had to somehow atone for the crimes she committed for him.
3) She would not be killing this dragonborn, or anyone, if she could help it.

Alaria formal

She left that night, anger so intense she had no plan other than to stick to the original idea: track the dragonborne. Her rage carried her pace and cut a daylong journey in half. By morning, she found her target napping in a forest clearing and talking in her sleep. Alaria silently perched herself on a branch above and listened. She learned of the traveler’s troubles and that she, too, was running from her own. Alaria empathized, and the emotional trauma of her childhood caught up with her in that tree. She let out pained gasp as it all came crashing down, startling the dragonborn awake and triggering an accidental torrent of flame.

Alaria leapt from the tree and rolled on the ground, turning just in time to see the blackened bark crumble to ashes. She drew her shortsword in defense.

“I’m not here to hurt you!” Alaria said. “Well, not anymore. It seems we’re both running from our own demons… I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“Dany,” the dragonborne introduced herself. “I’m really sorry about the flames. It’s embarrassing, but I can’t quite control my magic and -”

“I know. I heard you talking in your sleep,” Alaria interrupted.

“Well it hardly seems fair that you allegedly know all you need to about me and I know nothing about this tiny tiefling standing with her sword drawn before me.”

“Sorry.” Alaria sheathed her blade. “Reflex, I guess.”

Dany laughed and nodded her reptilian head toward the tree. “Yes. I know the feeling. Looks like I managed to cook a couple birds from that tree. Why don’t we have some breakfast and you tell me why it is you’re here?”

“I am famished…”

Do you play DnD? Tell me about your character.