Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

PAX Riparia

Scooter enjoying the view (of her phone)
Having gotten up very early to drive to San Antonio, then walked around PAX for something like seven hours, Scooter and I were ready to head to our hotel. Thanks to my job, I have accumulated a lot of points with the International Hotel Group (which includes Holiday Inn), enabling me to book free rooms every so often. For PAX weekend, I splurged and got us a reservation at the Hotel Indigo Riverwalk, an excellent "boutique" hotel north of the main downtown area. I did see a few other folks that had PAX badges, which was cool.
Dusk on the Riverfront
The hotel overlooks the San Antonio River from the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts (the building on the left in the pictures). After checking in, we relaxed on the balcony and enjoyed the early evening (relative) quiet. Having eaten a heavy lunch, we decided to keep dinner simple and went to a local market to get sandwich stuff and fruit for dinner.
Morning Coffee (bad compositing)
Had I realized Bel was leaving on Sunday morning instead of going back to the convention center, I would have made a bigger effort to hang out with him and the others on Saturday. But, finding out fairly early that he wouldn't be there, I was in no hurry to get back myself. Scooter and I enjoyed a leisurely morning and checked out of the hotel before walking along the river to find lunch and then check out the PAX tabletop games hall. Scooter introduced me to her favorite place on the Riverwalk, Casa Rio, located right under the Commerce Street bridge. It was delicious.
Lunch on the Riverwalk
After lunch, we made our way over to the convention center and headed into PAX. I convinced Scooter to see if we could get more time on the Intel PCs. We got in at just the right time, with only a 10 minute wait and almost the full 45 minutes of promised playtime. When we left, the wait was back up to about 40 minutes. We went through the DOTA2 tutorial. I decided that I don't like the isomorphic view and click-to-move mechanics of DOTA. If all MOBAs are like this, I'd avoid them even if they didn't have a reputation for toxic communities. I got in a little more time playing Rocket League as well, deciding that I would need to get a controller if I want to buy it and play regularly.

Leaving the PC Room, we wanted to explore the PAX tabletop gaming hall, which we had skipped the previous day. Much to our surprise, the hall was actually mostly tables with folks playing various games. The exhibit booths were only a couple rows deep, and we could have explored them the evening before. That's not to say they weren't interesting. There were quite a few developer reps explaining/demonstrating their games to convention guests, and others had tabletop accessories on display. Scooter has a history of playing tabletop RPGs that I missed out on as a teenager. But it's been decades since she played, and I have been interested in trying it out. At one booth, we were looking seriously at the Pathfinder Beginner Box because it supports 2-player games, but we couldn't make a decision right then.

All in all, I had a great time at PAX. If we get the chance to go again, I think we will try to head down Friday night, and attend just the one day on Saturday before spending Sunday relaxing in San Antonio. At least this time around, neither of us was really interested in any of the scheduled panels, leaving only the exhibits and chance to try out some games. Still, a ton of stuff to see and do. I'd like to meet and hang out with people more, as well, and not being exhausted by 5 p.m.—13 hours after waking up—would help.

Thanks again to the anonymous person who gave us tickets, and to Belghast for arranging such a wonderful gift. We need to find a way to get together again soon, without thousands of people milling about. LOL
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Thursday, February 4, 2016

PAX Populi

Continued . . .
Beware the ghostly gamers!

The Aggronaut navigated his way through a maze of electronics and humanity with Scooter and me in tow. The apparent star of the exhibition floor was literally a Dreadnought. Meatbags were willing to wait for hours for the chance to sit down and play the latest blockbuster before it is released. Our companion was more focused on the smaller independent developers and their wares. Meeting up with several others in Bel's orbit, I joined in a game of Ultimate Chicken Horse—a fun little game of cooperative competition played on the XBox. Unfortunately, that was the last time we would see and recognize any of the Candy Van Crüe except another quick visit with Bel.
PAX Pox Incubator
Scooter and I spent hours weaving through the milling sea of humanity in the PAX exhibition hall, checking out everything from fancy anti-glare glasses and fancy leather hats to luxury gaming tables. There was plenty of merchandise to drool over from folks like WeLoveFine (the booth under the floating unicorn, above), and also demos from big-name and indy game developers. There were even charities like a "Gamers for Jesus" group and a veteran's organization. Despite packing well for our excursion, I completely forgot I was toting victuals and found myself famished by about 1 o'clock. We were headed out to find some grub when Bel caught up with us again for just a minute before heading off in a different direction.
And then all the Formics were wiped out.
After a delicious lunch on the nearby Riverwalk, the highlight of our afternoon was an opportunity to play some games in the PC Room (brought to you by Intel!). After our fifteen minute wait stretched into thirty, we were ushered to the computers, told we had thirty-five minutes to play (instead of forty-five), and left to our own devices. After a warm-up on Peggle Nights, I played several rounds of Rocket League against bots with names like Iceman and Goose. The game is hella fun. In case you don't know, it's a soccer-like game played with cars and trucks. All too soon, our twenty-seven minutes was over, and we were unceremoniously frogmarched from the venue (not really).

After wandering about for a bit, I checked the Candy Van group texts and discovered that Belghast, who had worn himself out, had headed off to meet his wife and her friend for dinner. We decided we would check out the tabletop side of the exhibition hall the next morning and left the convention center for our hotel.

To be concluded . . .
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to this blog.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

PAX Belana

(I have more to say about the show. But things are really busy right now, and I wanted to get this out, mostly to express my gratitude to Belghast and the person who gave his tickets to PAX South. So, THANK YOU!)

A couple weeks ago, as I came to the realization that Belghast was planning to go to San Antonio for PAX South 2016, I suggested that we could meet up, either for a meal on his way down (he and his wife and friend passed within about fifteen minutes of our house), or for a meal down in S.A. (well within driving distance for Scooter and me). Given the late date, we had no plans to actually attend the gaming conference. As it happened, Bel knew someone who had purchased two passes but would be unable to attend. Because I met certain specified criteria, he gave the badges to Bel to pass along to Scooter and me.

And so on Saturday morning, with many thanks to Belghast and and our Anonymous Benefactor, we found ourselves traveling to San Antonio not merely to meet with Bel and Co., but to actually attend the gaming convention. After navigating the parking headache (during which I managed to hurt Scooter's feelings when she was only trying to help) and trekking to the Convention Center, we met up with Bel and headed into the show.
We're going on an adventure!
To be continued . . .
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to this blog.

If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Loose Canons

Get it? Because I called our new characters loose cannons! lol

"Play it again, Sam." "Elementary, my dear Watson." "Luke, I am your father." Like famous movie misquotes, how often do we remember things that aren't really true?

I've been eating up analysis of The Force Awakens ever since watching it in the theaters. Right now, I am in middle of Screen Rant Underground's TFA-dedicated show [SPOILERS]. Screen Junkies has a few shows about it, especially the review with the now infamous Max Landis [more SPOILERS]. I listened to a fun episode of Cat Context last week—no wait, almost two weeks ago—where they discussed the movie [of course there are SPOILERS] without Liore. [yet another EDIT: I was seriously remiss in not including Dana Buckler's excellent two parter: The Phantom Mistakes and The Force Awakens Review.]

One thing that has come up several times—and I even went so far as to comment on it on the Cat Context episode page—is the question of canonicity regarding concepts and plot points in the Legends (formerly known as the Extended Universe).

[EDIT: For those confused what I am talking about, "Canon" (originally a religious term) refers to works (books, movies, etc.) that are considered official sources of information about a story or fictional universe. The current term used by Star Wars fans and Disney officials for works outside of SW canon is "Legends" (formerly the Extended Universe, EU for short).]

So many of the theories floating around on the Internet—about Rey's parentage, Finn's background, what will happen next—depend on a body of knowledge that is no longer canon:
As of April 25, 2014, the only previously published materials that are considered canon are the six Star Wars films and the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series and film, while the Expanded Universe is no longer considered canon and was re-termed as the "Legends" brand. Most Star Wars material released after April 25, 2014—with some exceptions—is composed in collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group, making it part of the "new canon."
~~Wookiepedia, "Canon"
That's not to say that concepts or characters from the EU might not make their way into the films or other new canon works.
However, that doesn't mean a character drawn from a Legendary work necessarily makes the work itself canon. Arolaide is really excited that Revan is mentioned in the TFA Visual Dictionary. And I agree that it is cool. But that does not mean that any book or game that includes the character of Revan (KOTOR, SWTOR) is canon, too. After all, it's a safe bet that Luke Skywalker (or Anakin/Vader) features in the vast majority of EU books. But that doesn't make any of them canon.

Even when people acknowledge that the EU is now legend, they end up making assumptions about what they "know" versus what is actually canon information. So is it significant that Rey has a British accent, while Finn has an American one? After all, John Boyega and Daisy Ridley grew up mere miles from each other (though in wildly different circumstances). So that has to mean something, like she's Obi-wan's grandkid because he had an accent, or she's Luke's and Mara Jade's kid because Mara was Imperial and all Imperials have British accents.

Leaving aside the fact that the character Mara Jade is no longer canon—a fact highlighted by the Cat Context folks—nothing in the original movies states that invariably Imperials have British accents. (This is a plot point in SWTOR, but not supported by the films, which take place some 4000 years later.) All the stormtroopers in the OT and several Naval officers (notably, the admiral Force-choked by Vader in the war council scene of A New Hope) are Americans. Meanwhile, rebels like Mon Mothma and Obi-wan Kenobi (OK, he was never actually part of the Rebellion) have distinct accents.

Of course, we can chalk up at least some of these discrepancies to casting expediencies. But what about when actors use an accent that we know is not their native one? Surely that's significant, no? According to Mr. Boyega himself, his American accent was a decision made on set, rather than something planned out by the writers. So it was not meant to convey information to the audience. Now, is it possible a future canon writer (like Rian Johnson) may make something of Finn's accent? It's possible. But we have no reason to hang a theory on it; or Rey's accent, either.

Another question for debate was whether Finn is Force sensitive, based on his ability to wield a lightsaber.  There is no basis for that in the current canon. However, as pointed out by Arolaide, the kyber crystals critical to a functioning lightsaber must be attuned to the Force before they can be used. And guess who is capable of that? As a side note, the use of synthetic red crystals by Sith Lords is a "Legend." Canon kyber crystals are colorless, and any color they pick up is a reflection of the user (it's still a bit hazy when the color becomes fixed). So the crystals given to Jedi players in SWTOR may be pre-attuned, colored, and fully in line with canon. Or they may be the legendary colored crystals seen elsewhere. Sith players acquire lightsabers rather than constructing their own.

I much prefer the approach taken by the folks in charge of Star Trek. Paramount established over 30 years ago that the only canon is what you see onscreen. Anything you might read about Captain Kirk or Lieutenant Worf may be contradicted at any time by a new episode or movie. Of course, Star Trek has many, many more hours of screen footage than Star Wars. Even then, there are elements of characterization, plot, technology etc., that are contradicted by later shows. Even within current Disney Star Wars canon there are contradictions, some of them very aggravating.

So this rant got a little nitpicky. All I am saying is that we may need to unlearn what we have learned, and go with the flow of the actual canon, rather than try to force the stuff of Legends into our pet theories.
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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Couple Swag

Often, it's nice to have a rich relative willing to share a little wealth to help send a young couple off in style.
Thanks to a nest egg saved up by Heliantha, I was able to buy a few nice things for Baldrvar(me) and Vireena(Scooter), including some hawt lightsaber crystals and a couple cute Meirm Dart Frogs. Much like we often do in real life, we outfitted this pair in matching shirts: Republic Practice Jerseys.
I didn't want Baldrvar's saber to give away his dark affinity so blatantly, so I picked the white-purple-blue crystal which happens to match the blue and white jerseys they are wearing. That color was also relatively inexpensive on the GTN when I was shopping. Scooter preferred the magenta outline crystals, though, and I am beginning to wish I'd followed suit.
I picked up these beauties a few weeks ago when they were also a bargain on the GTN. Scooter and I have really fallen in love with the pug-nosed design of the Meirm speeders, having picked up some Skinks for Achillea and Harllie ages ago, and getting some Agamas for Lulara and Heliantha during our recently completed character run. One cool thing that sets these Dart Frogs apart from our previous Meirms is the fun little beep-beep they do just after mounting up.
One cool thing about the new companion system is that, since gear stats no longer matter for them, they can be outfitted however you please. And because I can use the Jersey as a costume stamp on Baldrvar, I decided to put Qyzen Fess in the "Team Uniform," which I will transfer to future companions as needed. I'm hoping Scooter does the same with Kira Carsen and Vireena's other companions.
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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you repost part or all of the work (for non-commercial purposes), please cite me as the author and include a link back to this blog.

If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.