Sunday, November 24, 2013

Weekly Roundup - November 17th - 23rd

Actively watching: [a lot of Hakuouki AMVs on YouTube]
Actively playing: Assassin's Creed III (Xbox 360),  Knack (PS4), Contrast (PS4), Crazy Market (Vita)
Actively reading: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4)

I originally went with "currently playing," but ultimately that would make the list a lot longer, since I can jump around a lot. I just decided to go with whatever I was actively enjoying this past week.

I dabbled around with the PS4 this week after downloading the 1.51 update, and everything seems to be working a lot better than it did on day one. I played around with Contrast when I first got the PS4, and certainly enjoyed it. I decided I wanted to give one of the retail titles a try, so I popped in Knack.

I was quite pleasantly surprised by Knack. While I hadn't read any of the reviews myself, I had read in a few discussions that a lot of so-called "professional" reviewers had torn the game to shreds. Other than the fact that no one paid them to give it a high score, or they're pansies that thought the game was too hard, I can't see why anyone would actually trash the game. For being a launch title, and especially for being "kiddie game," it's actually a pretty solid title. It's challenging--albeit a bit unforgiving--it looks good, the controls are responsive, and it's certainly a higher quality than what I expect from most launch titles. All and all I'm happy with my purchase.

I did give the remote play with the Vita a try when I first got the console, and it was definitely sketchy at best, but haven't had a chance to really go back and try again after the 1.51 update. I personally use my Vita for messaging a lot though, as it's a lot easier than using the controller to type, and I'm already used to using the Smart Glass app on my phone to accomplish the same thing on my 360.

So far I'm not regretting my PS4 purchase, and I'm really excited to see what the 8th generation of gaming has in store!


Monday, November 4, 2013


A little fact about me, I am not a horror aficionado. The extent of horror titles in my movie collection would be the Evil Dead trilogy. Other than Anne Rice novels and Bram Stoker's Dracula, you won't see much that could be remotely considered horror on my bookshelf or my Kindle either. My video game collection on the other hand is peppered with horror titles. While certainly not the most plentiful genre in my collection, I certainly have more horror titles than I do sports, probably even fighting games as well.

The thing is, I have such a love/hate relationship with the horror genre. I don't particularly enjoy being scared, nor do I get a thrill out of it. Yet, for whatever reason or another, I continue to buy and play them. The most recent addition to my collection, although digital, is Corpse Party for the PSP. Corpse Party, and its sequel Corpse Party: Book of Shadows, were never released on UMD in the US, just digital distribution via PSN for both the PSP and PS Vita. Both games are currently on sale for $9.99 each, I rather enjoy visual novels, and I still had $10 left on my account. Why not?

On December 17th, 1992, a Japanese group called ASCII released a program titled RPG Tkool Dante 98 for the Japanese exclusive home system known as NEC PC-9801 which allowed people to develop their own role-playing games. They further promoted their tool by publishing a monthly magazine titled LOGIN Sofcom where amateur developers could submit their creations. On April 22nd, 1996, an adventure game called CORPSE-PARTY was published in the Spring 1996 edition of LOGIN Sofcom No.6. It was made by a 22-year-old college student by the name of Makoto Kedouin, who typically stylizes his surname as Kedwin. 

On February 26th, 1997, Kedwin won second place in the Second Annual ASCII ENTERTAINMENT competition, netting him 5 million yen [$61,675.00 USD]. It'd be nine years before the world saw CORPSE-PARTY again. On October 3rd, 2006, a retelling of the Corpse Party story was released for the mobile phone under the title Corpse Party NewChapter. This new version would later be ported to the PC as Corpse Party BloodCovered and once again to the PSP as Corpse Party BloodCovered ...Repeated Fear.

Here's a quick rundown of the game's plot;

Corpse Party revolves around a group of students from Kisaragi Academy and one of their teachers. They try a mystical charm called "Sachiko Ever After" as an attempt to cheer up one of their classmates who is going to transfer schools; but something goes wrong, and they end up trapped in Heavenly Host Elementary School. And what's even worse: they appear in completely different dimensions inside the school. 

While searching around the school, they find the corpses of the people who were trapped before them, along with the spirits of four children who are not willing to let them live. The students of Kisaragi Academy must unravel the mystery behind Heavenly Host and escape from there. 

Corpse Party is a visual novel title with top down adventure gameplay to move the game along. While done in a 16-bit era art style, it just proves that you don't need modern mind blowing graphics to scare the pants off someone. Though the old-school pixelated style adds its own element to the creep factor, CGs also do their part to give you the heebie jeebies and make you squirm uncomfortably in your seat. You know, because sometimes pixelated entrails and corpses just won't cut it. The game's soundtrack also does an amazing job at setting the tone. It's definitely a game that benefits from playing in the dark with a set of headphones.

The game is broken up into five chapters, each accessed independently from the title screen. Within each chapter, you have six save slots. You'll want to use them all, and use them often. Each chapter has a "true end," as well anywhere from two to six different "wrong ends". Several of the chapters also have an "extra end," while it isn't necessarily a bad ending, it isn't a happy ending either. Sometimes a single thing you do halfway through a chapter will change the whole outcome of the chapter, and starting over from the beginning each time you're trying for a new ending in this game could get old real quick. One of the biggest flaws of this game is the inability to fast forward through text you've already read. While this wasn't a huge deal for me because I used a spoiler-free walkthrough, this could definitely prove tedious for those determined to see the game through to the end without help.

Generally I'll run through a game like this at least once before I hit up a walkthough, but being unable to skip text played a big part in my decision to use one. Another reason was I wanted to be able to sleep again. Seriously, the first night I played I absolutely could not get to sleep. No amount of cute kitten and puppy pictures could get my mind out of Heavenly Host Elementary School, and that was rather terrifying. I had almost considered shelving the game, figuratively speaking of course. I really wanted to see how the story played out though, and I wasn't quite sure I could stomach playing it for an extended amount of time. So I decided just to look up a walkthrough and play with the lights on.

Yes, I am a wuss.

That said, I'm not like this with all horror titles. My tastes in horror tend to sway towards the gothic, supernatural/occult, soft, or psychological sub-genres. Corpse Party was a bit more visually graphic with the gore than what I was expecting from a visual novel. In this instance the problem lies with the user not the game.

Now one thing gamers have been taught since the dawn of time is CHECK ALL THE THINGS! However as the saying goes, "curiosity killed the cat," and in Corpse Party you may very well be the cat. When Corpse Party tells you not to do something, you may want to listen, even if all your gamer instincts tell you otherwise. Well, the first time the game tells you not to do something, disregard it. After that though, it's your funeral. Literally.

Lack of a fast forward feature and my personal tastes aside, this is actually a rather amazing game, and I'm glad I saw it through to the end, even if I did cheat. Despite Corpse Party doing a better job at keeping me awake than a pot of coffee, I'm certainly considering picking up Corpse Party: Book of Shadows. Though for my sanity, I may just wait until the next time it goes on sale, but at the same time I want to play it now. Everything I have read has said that playing the first Corpse Party title is a must before playing Book of Shadows because it stems from one of the Wrong Ends you encounter in the first one. The game also assumes you know the story of the first installment. Corpse Party is a game that makes it hard to put it down and walk away, no matter how scared you are.

There's also a four episode anime OVA called Corpse Party: Tortured Soul that you can find online. I had checked out the first episode after my first night of playing, and said episode covered the first chapter of the game. First impression of the anime is that it is going to be way more graphic than the game, but playing the game seems to be required to understand what's going on. The first episode was very quick-paced, and rushed, and I fear the rest of the episodes will be the same. Five chapters that could easily run you an hour or two of game time each, condensed into four 29 minute episodes? Yes, I think this is a viable assessment. Now that I have finished the game, I am very interested in going back and watching the anime and seeing how the story differs from the game though.

If you're a fan of Japanese horror and visual novels, I think Corpse Party is definitely worth picking up. However if violence against children is an automatic no-go in your book, you'll most certainly want to pass on anything in the Corpse Party universe.

If you're interested in more information about the world of Corpse Party you can check out the wiki here;

...or the fan run site called Memories of Fear here;

...or the official facebook page here;

"The school day is now over. Any students still in the building... ...may never go home..." 


Monday, September 2, 2013

ZAP - Weig-in #3

August 12th starting weight: 154.1 lbs

August 24th Saturday weigh-in: 152.6 lbs
August 31st Saturday weigh-in: 152.1 lbs

Weight change: -0.5 lbs
Total change: -2.0 lbs

 At least I lost that extra half a pound I had gained the previous week. I ended up only working out one day last week, it was a futile effort with how sporadic my husband's schedule had been. *le sigh* Oh well, he goes back to his normal schedule this week, which means I'll be able to go back to my normal schedule as well. Huzzah!


Monday, August 26, 2013

ZAP - Weigh-in #2

August 12th starting weight: 154.1 lbs

August 17th Saturday weigh-in: 152.1 lbs
August 24th Saturday weigh-in: 152.6 lbs

Weight change: +0.5 lbs
Total change: -1.5 lbs

Had a wedding to go to on Saturday, so I didn't get a chance to update then.

I didn't push myself as hard as I wanted to this week, and ended up having a stupid decision eating day late in the week. I have also only been engaging in half my planned workout because of my husband's day shift schedule this week. He'll only be on day shift for one more week, then I can get back to my regularly intended workout schedule. Honestly I can't wait until he goes back to his normal schedule and I can kick my workouts back into high gear.

That said, gaining only half a pound isn't a total travesty. It's a setback, but luckily it's a relatively minor one. I'm not going to let myself get down about it. It's the start of a new week.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

ZAP - Weigh-in #1

August 12th starting weight: 154.1 lbs
August 17th Saturday weigh-in: 152.1 lbs

Weight change: -2.0 lbs
Total change: -2.0 lbs

Not a terrible start.

I took tape measurements on August 12th as well, and will measure again on September 12th to see how things changed over the course of a month. Unfortunately I didn't take any before pictures when I took my measurements though. Oops!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My descent from the wagon, the realization as to why, and my vow to do something about it

As the title says, and is probably evident from my lack of updates on the subject, I fell off the wagon. That said, I didn't fall so far off the wagon that I was being dragged behind it by my ankles. I didn't exercise as regularly as intended, however I didn't completely throw my diet out the window in that I gained 10 lbs. My weight stayed about the same, but still fluctuated a few pounds in either direction. So while there was really no forward momentum, fortunately there was no backward momentum either.

I'm not going to make excuses as to why I fell off the wagon. I'm not going to blame anyone else but myself for it. I'm not going to say the winds were blowing the wrong direction, or the stars weren't aligned quite right. What I will say is I have a pretty good idea why it happened. My priorities weren't what they should be, and I believe I could just never find a suitable balance between mother, wife, homemaker, page admin, gamer, lover of far too many hobbies, and sleep with only 24 hours in a day. When we couple this with that fact that I can be a bit lazy sometimes, and as I said before "my 360 controller [could] win out over running laps around my neighborhood almost every time." Playing video games is an enjoyable way to pass the time, while working out just felt like a chore, so it wasn't hard to sweep my motivation under the rug. Not to mention I later found out the Zombies, Run app didn't even remotely work like it should have on my phone, and since the devs dropped all Windows Phone support, it was never going to either. So I lost the one thing that would have made running tolerable. My heart wasn't in it anymore, and I just didn't care.

Last month my husband and I traveled a few states over to visit my in-laws, and were gone about a week. While I wasn't entirely looking forward to the trip to begin with, and had considered simply staying home by myself, I decided to go because I needed a change of scenery. I had also hoped this would be enough of a break in the day-to-day monotony that we could come home to a fresh start. When we got home, I felt a little bit better, but was still uncertain that anything was truly going to change. A few days later my uncertainty was justified as it seemed we quickly settled back into our old routines. I became frustrated, and any motivation I had was completely thrown out the window.

A few weeks later I decided to dust off the Kinect, so to speak, and start playing around with Your Shape Fitness Evolved again. Maybe the Kinect could make this endeavor fun again. I played a few games, went meh, and sat down and started scrolling through my facebook feed. Then a post by Devious Cosplay caught my attention. It was a Friday, so it was one of their #fitnessfriday posts that they had shared from another page called Superhero Fitness Challenge.

This led me to check out the page and as I started scrolling through the feed, something clicked. We have all seen those Beachbody before and after pictures where the people go from flabby to fabulous, but at the same time I just didn't find myself relating to those people. Maybe because they were "normal," or because they became these totally fitness obsess gurus where all their facebook updates were motivational pictures, healthy recipes, and links to their Beachbody Coach pages in order to buy Beachbody products. That just wasn't me. Working out wasn't fun or enjoyable to me, and I hate the "buy this product from me" type of posts. However as I scrolled down the page, looking through previous posts, seeing these geeky inspirations, seeing others who were just like me gave me a renewed motivation. That same day the UPS man dropped off my order of Popchips (they're about 3 PointsPlus, give or take depending on flavor, for a single serving bag for you Weight Watchers peeps. They're also really tasty), as did my issue of Fitness magazine (I had a free subscription).

This was just the universe lighting a much needed fire under my ass. I hopped off the computer, got out my stationary bike (which Amazon got back in stock a few days after my last ZAP entry), turned on my PS3, and started up Jetpack Joyride. Jetpack Joyride is a simple, yet highly addicting, game with one-button gameplay, and each round will only last a few minutes. Let's not forget that it's the grand old price of FREE. I decided to make my own workout game from it, which I merely made up as I went along. I also intend on working on it later down the line, and hopefully posting it for others to enjoy as well. It wasn't on par with an INSANITY workout, but it still got me off my ass and I felt better about myself afterwards. That was it, I decided to jump back on the wagon full force. *cough*

...starting Monday.

I'd give myself the weekend to get pumped, heal up from the massive soreness induced by my impromptu workout, figure out a schedule, and then dive in head first.

Monday came around and I originally intended to start a workout routine on Your Shape Fitness Evolved, but after the first session I realized how much of a lousy program it was for that. There was just too much time elapsing between exercises, there was no cooldown/stretch included in the workout routines themselves, the game merely pointed me in the direction of the Zen classes which consisted of just Yoga. One pose in particular, which was done more than any other pose, left my knees popping in a way I wasn't entirely comfortable with. Overall YSFE just left me frustrated, and necessarily sore, but not in a good way, due to the lack of post-workout stretching. I decided to put it back on the shelf, and popped in EA Sports Active 2 instead. I put fresh batteries in the heart-rate monitor, updated my profile info, and started up the three week cardio headstart program again. While I knew EA Sports Active 2 wasn't necessarily going to be fun, I knew it was a decent enough program. You go through your warm-up, then your core routine, and then you cooldown with some stretches. Before you started your routine you could opt out of specific exercises if you wished/needed to, and you can skip individual exercises during the workout if you needed to as well. This was a set-up that YSFE severely lacked, or at least one I didn't feel like dedicating the time to finding. I finished my workout, and felt a little bit better.

My workout schedule is now Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday while throwing in extra workouts as I feel like it. Generally this will include going through a routine on EA Sports Active 2, then hopping on either my stationary bike or my Gazelle (which I got secondhand for $40), while watching an episode of [insert show here]. I did say "generally" though, as this week and next are going to work a little different with my husband being on dayshift. You see, I don't like working out in front of other people, not even my husband. This is partially why I opt for working out in my living room instead of going to a gym, and this is also why I didn't work out today. (Lame excuse, I know.) I had intended on working out while he was at work, but he came home ridiculously early. So early, I wasn't even out of bed yet. -_- I also didn't work out on Friday, however that was because I tweaked my back on Thursday (before my workout) in such a way that moving around was rather bothersome. I opted to give my body the extra day to heal up, rather than risk making it worse.

Anyway, as such I'm changing my schedule up a bit. I'm going to attempt to get up with him, or at least before he leaves for work, and then get my workout in before the pip-squeak wakes up. Then after he gets home later in the afternoon, the pip-squeak will go in her room for "quiet time," then we'll do the bike/Gazelle portion of my workout together. This is great because I read in this month's issue of SELF magazine, I'll need to find the specific article to cite the source, but around 4pm your metabolism drops, so a late afternoon workout will help keep it going into the evening.

As for my workout shows; currently I'm finishing up season two of Game of Thrones, but haven't decided which show in my backlog I'm going to move onto next. Perhaps I'll restart Spartacus (all those hot bodies, talk about motivation!), or check out Mad Men since I haven't watched it yet. Though during the two weeks my husband is on dayshift and we're watching together, we've decided on season two of The Walking Dead. The season is short enough that we should be able to watch the whole thing, or at least the majority of it, before he goes back to his normal swing shift schedule.

Ugh... There was so much more I wanted to put into this entry, however it's already after midnight and I should already be in bed if I'm going to get up early with my husband. It doesn't help that this chick is not a morning person in the least, but rather more of a night owl.

In my next ZAP entry I'll try to go over some tips and ideas to try and help out if you feel like you're falling off the wagon yourself.

TL;DR - I fell off the wagon, figured out why, and hopped back on the wagon full tilt. No more excuses.

I got this. Now it's time for me to crawl into bed. Stay geeky my friends!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

More Bang for Your Buck - Steam Sales

At the time of this post the 2013 Summer Steam Sale is already in full swing, and if the "heavy load" errors are any indication, a lot of wallets are already feeling the sting.

" if millions of wallets suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."

All those shiny discounts ranging anywhere from 10% - 90% off... They lure gamers in like a Siren's song of savings, but after the dust settles and the purchases are tallied, bank accounts the world over are singing a different song of lament and regret. Wallets find themselves battered and broken, and gamers are resorting to three square meals of ramen a day for a month afterwards. While crying into their top ramen they take solace in knowing they have enough of a backlog to hold them over until the next Steam sale, when the cycle begins anew. However the aftermath doesn't need to be so bleak. While I may still be a relative n00b to Steam, thrifty gaming is nothing new to this gal, so I want to help.

One of the worst things a gamer can do is dive in blindly. You need to approach Steam sales with a plan of attack, and the tactics I'll outline are rather simple and painless. Well, mostly.

  • Don't blow your full load on day one.
For some of you gents, this may be a new concept, but bear with me. Steam sales last about two weeks with a rotation of Daily Deals, Flash Sales, and Community Choice deals in addition to the standard discounts that span the duration of the sale. Going full tilt from the starting line is one of the stupidest mistakes you can make, much like in other aspects of your life. Not only do you spread your finances thin for the rest of the sale, you may miss out on some great deals later. Which brings me to my next point;

  • Patience is a virtue.
We live in a society that thrives on instant gratification, but if you're able to slow your roll for just a day or two, you may be handsomely rewarded for your efforts, and your wallet may breathe a sigh of relief. As stated earlier there are discounts that span the entirety of the sale, however these are not necessarily the bottom line for those particular titles. While 25%, 50%, or even 66% may be tempting, don't pull the trigger just yet. There's still a chance that 50% discount you have your eye on may become 75% or even higher for a limited amount of time. Also don't worry if you miss it the first time around, because it is not unheard of for the same titles to become further discounted several times over before the end of the sale. Not to mention most of the best selling titles on any given day will see their discounts extended to the following day as well.

Honestly though, if you wait until the end of the sale to pick up the standard sale titles, what are you really missing out on?

  • Adhere to a budget.
Now this one may be one of the more difficult ones for gamers to follow. Drastically discounted titles are like crack to most gamers, yours truly not withstanding, however "all things in moderation." Give yourself a budget, and stick to it. Whatever that budget may be is up to you, but make sure it's something you can live with. You need to remember all those $2.49, $3.39, and $4.99 purchases add up, especially when coupled with the $10 or $20+ purchases as well. Since the deals are ever-changing, and you're making numerous separate transactions over the course of the sale, it can be rather easy to lose track of how much you're actually spending.

There are a few ways to go about it;
  1. Keep a list/spreadsheet of all the games you've purchased and what you paid for each. This will give you a visual representation that you can refer back to.
  2. Buy Steam gift cards in the amount of your budget. If your budget is $50, buy a $50 gift card, and then apply it to your account. I'll also elaborate on this a bit more later.
  3. Remove any saved card info from your account. Doing this in conjunction with the above is a pretty foolproof way to keep within your budget. You can't spend money that isn't there, and it's all too easy to go "well... just this once..." and checkout using your saved card.

  • Utilize your wishlist.
If you're one of those people that just buys any and every cheap game that looks interesting, you may want to start using your wishlist as a way to keep yourself in check. This can serve two purposes--first you can stick to only buying games that are on your wishlist that you have shown a prior interest in, and second some of your Steam friends may actually buy games for you. While I wouldn't bank on the latter too much, it is a nice surprise when someone sends you a Steam gift.

  • Split multi-packs with friends
Some games offer the option to buy multiple copies at a discounted bulk rate, which further discounts the title. I'll use Defiance as an example. The regular price for Defiance is $39.99, but a 66% discount brings that price down to $13.59. The regular price for a Defiance four-pack is $117.97, but that same 66% discount then brings that price down to $40.09. Consulting your handy-dandy calculator, you can divide 40.09 four ways amongst yourself and three friends, and it will give you an answer of 10.0225. For the sake of simplicity, just round it to an even $10 and call it good. Congratulations, you just saved yourself about $3.50, which you can easily use towards another game, and you have a game you can play with your buddies. It's a win-win situation all around, assuming you have some friends that want to go in on the purchase with you. If not, just stick the extra copies in your inventory, which brings me to my next point...

  • Don't add every purchase to your library right away.
The great thing about Steam is you're given the option to buy a game for yourself and add it directly to your library, buy a game for a friend and send it directly to them, or buy a game and save it in your inventory for later which you can then either add it to your library or send it someone else. This is a great feature if you don't plan on going the route where you only purchase games from your wishlist. If you find a cheap game that you find yourself going "well it looks interesting, but I'm not too sure about it or if I'll even play it, though it's only $2.49 so why the hell not?" Stick it in your inventory. If you later decide you want to give it a spin, great, you can add it to your library and go from there. The opposite also applies, if you decide you're just never going to play it, you can keep it as an emergency birthday, Christmas, Winter-een-mas, or I-totally-screwed-up-please-forgive-me present. It's also great for facebook page admins to stock up on goodies to give away on their pages. *cough*

  • Shop around
Yes, I am actually suggesting you look somewhere other than Steam. Sometimes those deals look pretty good, but you may be able to find something better with only a few clicks. A lot of online retailers have seen how popular the Steam sales are, so they've jumped on the digital summer/holiday sales bandwagon as well. During the 2012 Steam Holiday sale, the Bioshock bundle of the first two games was $9.99 at its cheapest, though at the same time Amazon actually had that same bundle, but for only $4.99 instead. When it comes to Steam sales, $5 is a pretty significant amount. and are two of my other go-to sites for digital content. Hell, Amazon is my go-to for just about anything, but that's a post for another time.

  • "A penny saved is a penny earned."
"What the hell does that even mean?!" To put it plainly, it means the best way to save money is to simply not spend it. Look at your library, how many games do you have? Now how many of those games have you actually played? If the answer to the first question is over 200 and the answer to the second is less than 10% of those, you can probably afford to sit out this Steam sale. Not only will your wallet thank you, but your backlog will as well.


Though the Summer Sale has already started, it doesn't mean you can't start planning ahead for the holiday sale. The easiest and least painful way to prepare yourself for the next Steam sale is to merely put aside a little bit of money at a time. Let's say you get paid every other week, and you put aside a paltry $5 a paycheck, by the time December and the Holiday Sale rolls around five months from now,  you could have about $50 put aside. If you put aside $10, you could have about $100. If you're like me and don't shop on Steam much outside of major sales (remember, I'm a mainly a console gamer), you can just add the funds directly to your Steam wallet. If you're mostly a PC gamer and the majority of your games come from Steam, then you might want to invest in some physical cards instead and keep them in a place where you won't lose them, then just add them to your account all at once when the sale hits.

Also, in the name of all things fluffy, work on your backlog a bit. What good is buying a bunch of new games if you're not even going to play them?

When all is said and done, how you handle a Steam sale is entirely up to you. I can't tell you what to do, and you don't even have to take my advice to heart, but I hope that I could at least help ease a bit of the burden on your wallet. Now a lot of these suggestions may seem like total no-brainers, and they are, but sometimes people just happen to overlook the most obvious of solutions, and I can guarantee there are other ideas and solutions that I missed as well.

If any of these suggestions helped, or you even have some of your own, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you.


P.S. As I forgot to mention it when I initially wrote out this post. If you seem to be having problems completing your purchase on one platform, try another. For example if you're having issues checking out via the desktop client, try the mobile app instead. I have heard of others, as well as personally experiencing success myself, when using a different platforms.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's-a me, Kelly!

You know what is really hard to do?  Detach myself from video games long enough to do an introduction of myself on this blog.  I am the other admin of the Geek and Gamer Girl page, Kelly.  Most of the time I am posting about League of Legends, Deadpool, or Pokemon (LOVE!).  Dawn was kind enough to invite me to admin the page when I really needed a good distraction and I have been there ever since.

More about me?  I am an old-enough Mechanical Engineering student.  I spend the majority of my time studying, playing video games, and attempting to sleep in between.  I have been more of a PC gamer, but I love my consoles all the same.  Whenever I have friends over I force them to play some NBA JAM (SNES) and Mario Kart 64 because I love retro games.

What else?:
  • I am a Nintendo addict
    If there is a Mario game out there, I have played it.  I panic every time I hear about another Mario game, especially when I don't have the system yet! 
  • I loved PS2 more than original Xbox
    I really enjoy the game selection that was available for the PS2 and some of my favorite (non-Nintendo games) were only available for the PS2.  Shadow Hearts games, if you have not played them, GET THEM!
  • I am now an Xbox 360 fan
    I bought my Xbox 360 when the original Bioshock came out (I didn't have a need because a roommate had one) and it was love at first achievement.  Everything about it, the layout, internet, etc, is better than the PS3... imo. 
  • I am dying for the Steam Summer Sale
    I have blown off every system I have because Steam makes gaming so convenient and affordable.  As a student, that has to have a computer, I find that Steam is really the best thing for me.  Also, Steam has really made me love Indie games!  I play Don't Starve more than anything else atm.
  • I am a "Team PS4" advocate
    I am going to make t-shirts.
  • I am currently a Silver III League of Legends player (Neony)
    On a scale from 1 to addict, I am at least borderline obsessed.
  • I used to work at Blizzard Entertainment for 5ish years
    At one point of time I swear I bled blue because I was so obsessed with Blizzard and I'd say that's probably barely changed.
  • Borderlands 2 favorite game of 2012!
    No explanation needed...
  • I love DDR
    So much that I have a huge DDR tattoo. :)

Video games is my number one geekdom, but I dabble in everything; I watch a little anime, read some manga, comics, books, and occasionally watch nerdy movies/shows, but I am way to busy gaming to keep up with anything else.

Outside of my geekdoms, I am slowly working on becoming a beer snob, I love trying new local brews.  I like going out with friends, doing anything crafty, as well as dying hair and doing makeup like a pro.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Zombie Apoc Prep is Off to Slow Start

Saying I was going to jump head first into my Zombie Apocolypse Prep routine the week before this year's E3 Expo was probably a stupid idea, as I spent most of my days in front of the computer watching streams. *le sigh* That said, I at least was good and not parked in front of my computer with a bag of potato chips and a two liter of Coke.

my starting weigh in should have been June 8th, but I just ended up eating way too much food too late at night for that to be an accurate starting point, not to mention the whole E3 thing would leave me pretty sedentary. BTW, for those interested, the scale rewarded my idiotic behavior with a lovely 157 lbs. Derp. However my weight this past Saturday, June 15th was 153 lbs, which would be a more accurate starting weight. Unfortunately my body tape is MIA, so measurements may have to wait. *le sigh*

I ordered an armband for my phone, so I can start taking advantage of my Zombies, Run app. (Still bitter about the dropped Windows Phone support though.) I had found a stationary bike for free in one of the local base sales groups, however it was a bit big and just impractical to keep in our living room. I scoured Amazon a bit and found a folding stationary bike that would better suits my needs and space. It also isn't nearly as expensive as I expected it to be, so I'll probably look into picking that up in a week or so. (Basically so it would be delivered after ACE, and not during.) I'll be able to kill two birds with one stone, as I'll be able to get a workout in, and start to tackle my show backlog. I figured trying to stay active during a full 40 minute show or two 20 minute shows would be a feasible goal. With Amazon Instant Video on my 360, I can easily use the Kinect to merely yell at the TV to change episodes if need be, thus cutting down on needing to stop and fiddle with a controller.

Another advantage of the local base sales groups is I managed to snag some bags of ViSalus shake mix for less than retail, so I have added two shakes a day to my daily routine to give myself a bit of a kick start. All things considered, they actually taste rather good. My only complaints are there's still that minor powered health shake consistency going on, but certainly not as bad as some others I have tried. The other complaint is I find myself having to use a hand blender to actually mix it, otherwise the mix will just clump together, and that's just not appetizing at all. It's also pretty versatile, and you're not limited to just the mix. You're encouraged to mix in things like cocoa powder or fruit. I just added a banana and a little bit of Ovaltine to the one I just made, and it was really good. I also don't find myself absolutely starving two hours later like when I used to drink SlimFast if I was running late and didn't have time for an actual meal.

tl;dr: Zombie Apoc Prep is off to a bit of a slow start, but it's a start

ETA: so apparently in the time since I originally had this written out, the stationary bike I was planning on getting is no longer available. *le sigh*

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Zombie Apocolypse Prep - [Dawn]

This isn't an overly geeky sort of post, but something a bit more personal, and even more so it's something to hold myself accountable. I also figure it's something that more than a few people can relate to, even if it's not something they actively admit to.

I, like many people, am not happy with my weight. (As I said, if you were looking for an attempted witty and/or funny entry about games and geekery, this isn't really going to be one.) I was a chunky kid late elementary school through middle school, and then the summer before my starting my freshman year of high school I started down the road to a decade long battle anorexia, or rather EDNOS as I was never underweight enough to be considered an anorexic by definition.

When I became pregnant a few years ago, I decided I just couldn't live like that anymore. For one I wasn't so selfish that I would risk the health of my unborn geekling by starving myself. Secondly my anorexic tendencies left me exhausted and feeling like crap all of the time. This was just something I couldn't afford to deal with on top of taking care of an infant. As a result, I ballooned up to about 200 lbs by the time I had given birth to our daughter in January 2010, most of the weigh being packed on in the second half of my pregnancy. After my pregnancy, I opted against stepping on a scale for a long while, and also opted against playing the starvation game.

September 2010 rolled around. We had been at our new base for a few months, I was fat and unhappy, and at a bit of a loss. A neighbor of mine came over with some birthday cake left over from her husband's birthday, and told me she had overheard me talking to a mutual friend about how I had wanted to lose weight and so on. She decided she wanted to start going to Weight Watchers that Saturday, and asked if I wanted to join her as she felt silly going by herself. I was a bit apprehensive, because when I imagined a WW meeting, all I could think of was Kathy Bates and her character in Fried Green Tomatoes. However, asking me while presenting me with leftover chocolate cake was underhanded, but it was effective. I agreed.

That Saturday we went to our first WW meeting. I hadn't been on a scale in months, but figured I was probably in the 160s, 170s at most. You can imagine my surprise when I hopped up on the scale and it told me I was 185 lbs. (I'm only 5'3", so 185 was NOT a flattering weight for me.) It was definitely a real eye-opener, but I was determined to make it work. This left me wanting to lose about 60 lbs to reach my goal. I stuck with the program for a little over a year, but I eventually stopped using eTools and hadn't been going to meetings. It was better for me to cancel my membership, rather than continue to spend $40 for a program I wasn't actively using like I should have been. By the time I had canceled my WW membership though, I had gotten down to 145 lbs, and lost another five pounds after that. All this loss was all with no/minimal exercise. While 140 didn't put me at goal, it did put me at a healthy weight, and one I was definitely happier with than 185. Fast forward about a year and a half, and I'm now back up to about 155 lbs. Which 15 lbs in 19 months isn't a huge gain, it is definitely more of a setback than I would have liked to experience.

tl;dr weight loss roller coasters suck

Now onto the reason for this particular entry. I have decided I want to jump back on the wagon, so to speak. The problem is I loathe exercising and running. Oh yes, I'm one of those geeks. Though where my 360 controller would win out over running laps around my neighborhood almost every time, I'm not so bad that cool ranch Doritos trump granola, and soda doesn't trump green tea. So at least I have that going for me, right?

Some people are quite comfortable in their own skin, regardless of their body shape, and that's absolutely amazing. I'm very sincere when I say that I'm truly jealous of those people. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those individuals. That said, I'm not doing this for anyone else but myself. I want to be comfortable enough with myself and my body to be able to cosplay a character other than Moira Brown and wear something a bit more flattering than a Vault jumpsuit. I want to wear all the awesome shirts I've gotten from TeeFury, Ript Apparel, and the like without feeling like it was a mistake to get the fitted shirts instead of the unisex sizes. Though one of the best reasons I can think of to get in better shape;

I don't want to be zombie food, ergo the title choice. Frankly I don't think anyone wants to be zombie food, but I'd at least like to stand a decent chance. Going to the gym really isn't all that feasible for me, and DVD workouts just aren't my cup of tea since they offer no actual feedback. It doesn't seem like there's much out there fitness wise that caters to gamers and geeks, although that's not totally true. Here are some of the things/titles I currently have at my disposal in my house;

  • Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix series (Xbox) - I only own the original Xbox installments of the series. DDR is great cardio, as jumping around on a plastic dance pad for 30 minutes is still a better workout than spending those 30 minutes sitting on the couch. You may look like a total idiot doing it, but you look like an idiot in the comfort of your own living room. You don't have to be super coordinated, or even super good at the game to enjoy it and get the benefit of a workout.
  • My Weight Loss Coach w/pedometer (DS) - I recently picked this up from Hastings for a whole $0.99, and it was a new copy to boot. Though because I just picked it up last week, I haven't actually put it in my DS yet to poke around with it. The main drawback of this one is that the original DS/DS Lite is required to use the pedometer, as it plugs into the GBA slot. Luckily I still have my original DS that I can use specifically for this purpose. If nothing else, I got a pedometer for $0.99.
  •  EA Sports Active 2 (Xbox 360 w/Kinect) - I used this title before. It's not perfect, but it's not the worst thing ever either. The heart-rate monitor is a nice addition, when it actually works as intended, but the same can be said about the Kinect itself so... Yeah... In my opinion the biggest downside of EA Sports Active 2 was it isn't fun at all. It is strictly a workout program devoid of mini-games and other things like that. However as far as a fitness title goes, it does its job. (NOTE: Apparently EA took the online services for EA Sports Active 2 for all systems offline in April 2012. I don't know how this will impact the playability of the software. -
  • Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (Xbox 360 w/Kinect) - This one I bought because EA Sports Active 2 lacks yoga, however I wasn't too impressed with what little yoga I did try in Your Shape. I also wanted something that would provide more amusement than watching paint dry in the middle of an Alaskan winter. I haven't dabbled in Your Shape nearly as much as I have with EA Sports Active though. The lower calorie burned count can be a bit depressing after using EA Sports Active 2 due to the absence of the heart monitor, but the mini games make it a bit more fun and it feels less like a chore.
  • UFC Personal Trainer (Xbox 360 w/Kinect) - I actually don't have any personal experience with this one. I had snagged it because my husband had shown interest, and it was part of a B2G1 deal on Amazon, so I got it for free anyway. However it is still at my disposal, so best to include it anyway.
  • Dance Central (Xbox 360 w/Kinect) - While not a fitness title, like DDR it's great cardio, but unlike DDR it's more than just jumping around. Since you're actually dancing, or at least attempting to do so, you're working more than just your legs. Unfortunately I never picked up any of the later installments in the series, but I may have to look into remedying that.
  • Kinect Adventures (Xbox 360 w/Kinect) - Again, not technically a fitness, but it does the trick, especially if you're trying to reach platinum on all of the activities. Anyone who has a Kinect, unless they bought it secondhand, should have have this game. If not, it can be found for relatively cheap.
  • Zombies, Run (Windows Phone, also available for Android and iOS) - I know some of you may be thinking "buwha-?" but let me explain. Zombies, Run makes running a lot less of a chore, even for someone who absolutely loathes running. I loathe running more than I loathe the yearly announcement of yet another Madden title. However Zombies, Run is a really unique and clever app. Personally I'm more than a little bitter than they dropped support for the Windows Phone, especially since they did so quietly and didn't bother to make a real announcement about it, but I'm getting away from the point. Zombies, Run puts in the shoes of Runner 5, quite literally. It's a running app scrambled with a radio drama, however you're actually part of the scenario that's playing out.
I'll elaborate a bit more in-depth about Zombies, Run and the other tools as my disposal in later entries.

When I was using EA Sports Active 2 before, I would typically do a workout and then pop in either Dance Central or Kinect Adventures and play those until I was just too tired to play anymore. I'll probably try to get into that habit again some nights, I just may need to expand my non-fitness Kinect selection a bit, as the only other two titles I didn't mention were Rise of Nightmares and Once Upon A Monster.

more tl;dr blah blah blah, fitness games and stuff

I only plan on making entries about my "zombie apocalypse prep" progress once a week, maybe twice if I feel there's just something that can't wait until the weekly update. Don't want to turn this into a fitness blog or anything like that, I just know some other geeks can relate to this sort of thing. Finding time, motivation, those sorts of problems. I can also probably guarantee they won't be nearly as long as this one.

I'm going to dive head first into this on Monday, June 10th. This gives me a chance to work out my schedule, get things set up, find my measuring tape, and also gives me a chance to break in my new shoes. I'm currently getting my My Weight Loss Coach profile set up, so I'll probably start keeping track on that this week to start getting into the habit of it. I do plan on taking before and after pictures, as well as measurements, however these items may not be posted right away. Depending on how active this blog gets with other stuff, I may give this project its own separate blog entirely.

If anyone else wants to jump on the wagon with me, THE MORE THE MERRIER! I'd love to hear about other experiences with this as well.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Xbox One [Dawn]

The Xbox One reveal was this past Tuesday, May 21st. It wasn't the greatest of reveals, but at the same time there's only so much you can cram into a 60-minute presentation, so I think they did well enough for the time they had. Feedback on the presentation has already been hashed and rehashed enough, I don't really need to add to it. Not to mention I'm not one of those going "OHEMGEE MICROSCRAP, YOUR SO STOOPID". Actually reading a lot of the complaining about the Xbox One has only gone to show the direction that gamers as a whole are going, and it's not very pretty.

Honest Tim Buckley, of Ctrl+Alt+Del fame pretty much summed up my exact feelings in his latest strip blurb. The whole entry is huge, so I'll just stick to some of the more relevant points I agree with.

"Where were all the games?!
Eh. Sony had a lot more eyecandy at their PS4 presentation, but half of it was tech demos. It was nice to look at, but at the same time they didn't show us any hardware. Or any UI/feature functionality. They promised a lot of really neat stuff, but couldn't show any of it working. People are acting like because Microsoft didn't show a ton of game trailers yesterday, the X1 won't have any games. Seriously?

E3 is in what, two weeks? It makes no sense for Microsoft to blow their load today, when they can get the press for the console reveal now, and then get all of the press next month when they unveil a ton of new games.

They promised 15 exclusive titles coming to the console, more than half of which are brand new IPs. Plus all of the games that developers are making for any system that can run them. Are people really freaking out because they didn't see them all today?

Used Games
Ugh. This where things get really messy. And the information about how exactly this works is even more convoluted. For real, take nothing about this as fact right now.

All games will be installed to your X1 console. The game you buy will come with a code that connects that game to your profile. If you give/sell your disc to someone else, all that gives them is the raw data to install the game. To play it, they'll need to purchase their own access code at full MSRP. This is an attempt to curb the used games industry, and it's a sore spot with a lot of gamers.
This topic is fodder for an entire article of its own (and has been), and I really don't want to rehash it here. I'm just going to address a couple of arguments.

"I'm allowed to sell the car I own. I should be able to sell the video game I own. It's my property."
When you sell a car, you get less money for it because its used. Its overall lifespan and value has decreased. The person buying your car is getting a less valuable product than you got when you bought the car brand new. It's got miles on it, maybe some dents and dings. There are unknown mechanical problems lurking under the hood that the new buyer may have to address.
There is a tangible value disparity between a brand new car, and a used car that accompanies the differences in price. However a video game that is used is exactly the same product as it was when it was new. The programming does not deteriorate. Bugs and crashes aren't going to suddenly pop up due to age. No matter how many times the game is resold, the used product remains identical to the new product.

If you walked into a car dealership and there was a brand new car sitting there for the same price as a used, beat up model of the same car, anyone in their right mind is going to take the new car for the used car price. And it's the same with used video games. Why would someone pay $60 for a game when they can get the exact same game for $40?

Except now your money is going to GameStop, not the people that made the game. 

Now you can say "But they already got their money from the original sale! Car companies don't get a cut every time someone sells a used car!" That's true. But somebody shopping for a used car is not in the market for a new car. A used car buyer is not "stealing" a potential new car sale. However a used game buyer is stealing a potential new game sale. So whereas the developer might have sold two games, they have now sold one, and GameStop has sold one. It's not about ownership or "its my property", it's about used games presenting a threat to new game sales.

And you can also say "But people who buy a used game will then go on to buy other games from that developer." Sure they will. I'm sure it happens. But mostly it doesn't. That's like the people who justify their pirating of games by saying "It's only to try it! I totally go and buy the game afterwards!" Right. Again, I'm certain that happens, but more often it doesn't.

People who buy used games buy used games. When faced with the same product for cheaper, they aren't going to buy new just to support a developer. They're going to buy in favor of their wallet.
Now, you can argue the morality of used games all you want, but the bottom line is that developers feel it takes money away from their business, and so they have every right to try and combat it. The most definitive thing you can do is simply not buy the console if it's a big deal to you, but let's be honest... you were clearly going to buy the games used if that's the case, so the developers won't know the difference. They weren't getting your money either way.

But again, this whole issue needs a lot of clarification from Microsoft. I don't really care which way they go with it, but the misinformation floating around is making the situation far worse. When this came out, people were upset that you apparently couldn't take a game to a friend's house due to the restrictions. Now it turns out that you absolutely can play a game at a friend's house, you just have to sign into your profile. No big deal. But people spent a few hours going batshit crazy about this.
This needs to be addressed before E3 in my opinion. Tomorrow would be nice. Letting cloudy facts run rampant is doing Microsoft no favors. Even if they just come out and say "Yeah, fuck your used games" so that people can just decide not to buy the console and get on with their lives."

 Honestly though, I think the last little bit summed up everything perfectly.

"Or who knows, maybe Microsoft will cave and backpeddle on the bigger sticking points. There's still roughly half a year before these consoles hit store shelves, and a lot can change. I don't think it's worth so much anger until things are cast in concrete."

I think it is far too early for everyone to get their panties in a twist. There is still so much that has actually been confirmed one way or the other. I reserve judgment on either system until after E3, and I really wish others would do the same.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

[press start] - Dawn

More than likely if you're reading this, you found our blog via the Geek and Gamer Girls fanpage on facebook. If so, THANKS! If you happened to just wander here, that's fantastic as well.

I'm Dawn, half of the admin duo of the aforementioned Geek and Gamer Girls page. This blog was started because sometimes we just want to make big TL;DR posts, go off on tangents, or just jot down something outside of the usual GX3 norm. This won't replace the page by any means, but just be a side project to go along with it.


Hi, I'm Dawn. Twenty-something mother of a toddler, wife to a fellow geek, and housemate to two Alaskan Huskies. I enjoy video games, reading, anime, cross-stitching, napping, coming up with so many brilliant projects and then realizing there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish them all, and cursing my ADHD. (Seriously, a 30 minute entry for normal people can take me like two hours. It sucks.)

I have had a controller in my hand almost as long as I can remember, since about age three or four, and I don't foresee that changing anytime in the near future. I think it's a bit crazy to see how video games have evolved in my lifetime, and how much they'll evolve during my daughter's lifetime as well. Whereas I first got my taste in the 8-bit NES era, her first experience is Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster for the Xbox 360.

Video games are my main geek passion, and I believe you're never too old to play video games. Video games, especially today's video games, are basically the love child of books and movies. There are these great stories to be told with such brilliant visuals like movies, but you're able to immerse yourself and become apart of the story much like reading a book. Video games have also gained an even greater social element than just grabbing a friend and a second controller. Now you can game with friends all around the world, without the awkward social etiquette requirements like pants, or even a bra.

Stay geeky my friends!