Sunday, October 27, 2013

WoW Fun and Hearthstone Failures

My sixth week of playing WoW, and my second (I think) week of playing Hearthstone - It's kind of hard to believe after all of the resistance I had to MMORPG gaming in the past that I am so enchanted by it now.

Last Sunday, after I posted the blog, I played more Hearthstone. I was in play mode, and it kept taking so long to actually get into a game. I have heard that this is one of the problems though that they are working on, so hopefully it improves in the future. I learned that I seem to make my moves, in general much faster than my opponents. However, another downside I have noticed when it comes to Hearthstone is you can't pause the game. This, in combination with your turns being timed, makes it very difficult to play while cooking. Some of the cards are very interesting in what they say and do. For instance, the Shieldbearer card says "You shall not pass" when it is played. I very much enjoyed this little ode to LOTR. Also, the Novice Engineer card - half the time when you play the card, she says "if you're sure" and every single time it makes me doubt if I made the right decision. Overall, I won three times, and lost four. I also made a custom deck and that seemed to make things a bit better.

On Monday, I created a new event for myself that I like to call Hot Tea and Hearthstone Happiness because much of last week I was sick with a bad cough and a sore throat, so I was drinking a lot of tea and playing a lot of Hearthstone. I won twice and lost once in play mode then won once in practice mode. I also decided on Monday that I want to be able to get to a point where I am able to play Hearthstone and WoW equally throughout the week. Since I got the Hearthstone beta, I have spent far less time actually playing WoW than I would like.

Tuesday night, I played Hearthstone for about forty minutes before the new episode of Agents of SHIELD. (If you want to know my thoughts on the first four episodes, check out my post entitled: Agents of SHIELD 1/6 ). In this time, I was in practice mode trying to unlock all of the other classes. I managed to win once, and lose four times.

Wednesday I didn't play at all, and on Thursday, I lost, A LOT. I played for an hour, in practice mode, and wanted to unlock all of the classes. I only had one class left. Paladin. And I lost nine times. I didn't win at all. It sucked. Also, I learned that if you have a card that increases your spell power by 1, you might want to make sure you have a spell card to play with it. Otherwise it's just a waste.
Thursday night, I finally played WoW again after too long. I said hi to people in the guild and nobody responded which kinda sucked, but oh well - you win some you lose some. I was terribly amused by the little Halloween things sitting around. Like bobbing for apples, and jack-o-lanterns full of candy that give out, through a quest, a Handful of Treats. While I was playing, I accepted 8 quests at once when I arrived to Dustwallow Marsh. This was the most quests I've accepted at once, and I still haven't finished them all. Damn spiders keep killing me.

On Friday, I played WoW a bit more while waiting for my homemade jambalaya to finish cooking (it was amazing!) and decided to give Hearthstone a break for the day. I hit level 37 while fighting off Theramore Sentrys, and wrote down the note for that while I was still fighting them off.

Saturday I played more Hearthstone. I still needed to beat Paladin to be able to unlock the arena. I learned while playing that the corners of the game boards are interactive. You can splash the waterfalls, cut vines and plants, start fires in the campsite, etc. I tried playing a Warlock against paladin in the hopes of beating that character, and I lost, three times. Then I tried the warrior. I lost, twice. I also learned that when a card says "Deal three damage to ALL characters" it includes your own. Play that card wisely. After losing a total of seven times, I went to work on a personal project which will hopefully be unveiled in a few months!

Overall, I am a failure when it comes to beating Paladin in Hearthstone, and that's okay. If you have advice, please share because I NEED to beat Paladin!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Agents of SHIELD 1/6

There is so much that can be said about Marvel’s new show Agents of SHIELD. And so here I am to say all I can. This will be a series of blogs that spans six posts, assuming Wikipedia is correct in that there will be a total of 22 episodes. The format will simply be a synopses and review of four episodes at a time, so this will end up being posted about once a month (unless they keep making us wait two weeks between episodes like they are right now).  

Episode One (9.24.13): The pilot. Or, as I like to call it “Coulson Lives!” Yes, that is correct, Coulson survived his fight in The Avengers and lived to die another day. And now we get to sit back and watch as he develops… and scratch our heads and wonder how the hell he survived. The most cohesive explanation (thanks internet) seems to be that he faked his death as a form of motivation for The Avengers to get their shit done, and then was put into hiding (sent on a long vacation) until his next assignment – which he is currently fulfilling with SHIELD. In this first episode, we learn about the hacktivist group Rising Tide, and a key player in the group, Skye, who lives in her van. We also learn of Project Centipede, which takes humans with special abilities (like Mike Peterson in this episode who seemed to have incredible, hulk like strength – though he doesn’t turn green) and enhances those abilities to make them super human. We later learn that these human experiments being done by Project Centipede are exploding (literally, in a ball of fire) due to a glitch in their planning. The SHIELD team essentially abducts Skye for questioning after she tries to talk to Mike, and unsuccessfully tries to convince him to let her help him. Then, Mike abducts her. There’s a crazy scene where everybody is yelling and has guns, and everyone could die if just one thing goes wrong. Then the bad guys go down, Skye gets invited to join SHIELD and everyone lives happily ever after. WAIT! This isn’t Disney. That happily ever after shit doesn’t exist here. Nope, they get a call for an 0-8-4 and head on to their next task, while most disagree with Coulson about bringing Skye on board (literally, cuz they have a big ass plane that gets them around everywhere). And Lola, oh don’t get me started about Lola. She is beautiful. She’s Coulson’s car, but damn is she pretty.
**for more information on how I concluded Coulson’s ‘death’ check out:

Episode Two (10.1.13): 0-8-4. In this episode, the SHIELD team is sent to Peru to investigate an 0-8-4 (an object of unknown origin). Once they arrive, they find that it is actually a piece of Hydra technology that is powered by Tesseract energy. While in the area, they have to constantly be concerned by rebels. They eventually run into Coulson’s old ally Camilla Reyes, and her crew. They team together to obtain the Hydra technology, and fight off the rebels while rushing to seek refuge on the SHIELD plane. Once on board, and in the air, Reyes and her crew betray Coulson and try to take over, and take the Hydra technology for themselves to fight of the rebels in Peru. There is a big fight on board, the plane is brutally damaged, but the SHIELD team finally learns how to work together and utilize all of their individual skills. They win, of course. And then, scene swap: Skye gets a text from someone within Rising Tide, and she confirms her alliance to them! Jerk. And then, scene swap: Coulson is being yelled at for the damage to their plane, by none other than Nick Fury! Yes, at this moment I did, in fact, jump up out of my chair screaming (my neighbors on the third floor probably heard me) “Holy shit he’s back!!!!” Then I sat back down just in time to hear him tell Coulson that having Skye with them poses a great threat.

Episode Three (10.8.13): The Asset. Open on a truck driving down the road. All is normal. Or so it seems… until cars drive past and get blown into the air. Then the truck goes up, and comes back down, seemingly by magic. It comes to be that this truck is transporting Dr. Franklin Hall, and asset of SHIELD, who gets kidnapped by Hall’s former research partner Ian Quinn, and others with him. They are the ones that caused the cars and truck to float in the air, by a gravity device they invented. They use Dr. Hall to help them create a gravity device, called a gravitonium generator, which they plan to use to take over the world’s gravity. The SHIELD team needs to try to get into Quinn’s mansion to try to rescue Hall. Skye volunteers, and all of them are hesitant about this, until she hacks her way through getting an invitation to one of his parties. They set her up with some gadgets and gear that will allow her to help the others get onto the highly secured property. Skye ends up going into the mansion, and near Quinn’s office when she gets caught. She then tricks Hall into believing that she is really working for Rising Tide, even though SHIELD is talking in her ear. Once she gains his trust, she destroys the ear piece, and SHIELD is no longer connected to Skye. It seems that she really has betrayed them. Then, she does the right thing, manages to reset the system to allow Coulson and Ward onto the property to try to rescue Hall. And then in an interesting turn of events, Quinn turns on Skye, and tries to attack him. She finally, finally uses her physical training that she’s been getting from Ward and manages to disarm him. Then she jumps out of a window because she doesn’t have what it takes to pull the trigger. Downstairs, Hall and Coulson are in the midst of a battle, while the gravitonium generator is going all out of whack and causing the gravity in the area to go berserk. As usual, big fight ensues, and SHIELD wins … or so it seems. It turns out Dr Hall is working for the bad guys, and wasn’t truly kidnapped, because he didn’t have a problem with it. Coulson manages to get him sucked into the generator, which seems to shut it down and return the gravity situation back to normal. In the final scene however, the generator is being locked up, in a vault in SHIELD security. And then, a hand reaches out from the generator, but in the same silvery color (honestly, it reminded me of the Silver Surfer). And then the screen goes dark. We may never understand the gravity of this situation. Only time will tell which way things will be pulled. (yeah, that was a terrible pair of puns, forgive me?)

Episode Four (10.15.13): Eye Spy. Yeah, I’m just gonna put this out there… this episode was creepy as hell, but so freaking awesome. Imagine hundreds of men walking in suits, carrying a briefcase which is handcuffed to his hand, and wearing the same mask. Nobody knows who they are, where they’re going, or what the briefcase holds. Some of them board the subway, and then shit goes bad. The lights are knocked out by a girl on the train, and then when they come back on, all of the men are dead, one of them had his hand cut off, and his briefcase is missing. This is just one of numerous thefts that seem to be happening unplanned, and almost impossible to pull off, so SHIELD is brought in to investigate. They learn it is one of Coulson’s protégé Akela Amadour from long ago, seemingly turned to the dark side, all the while she had been presumed dead. Coulson doesn’t think she could turn on SHIELD but May thinks she is just being used as a weapon. May goes to investigate without telling anyone, and finds out she is being controlled by a device in her eye and if she doesn’t follow every command, she is killed. It is so bad, she even has to ask permission just to be able to go to sleep. There is a fight scene between Amadour and May, and Amadour ends up in SHIELD control while her feed is hijacked. Ward and Skye take over control of the feed, and Ward, wearing a pair of glasses that transmits all of the commands that Amadour would normally be receiving, runs through the tasks sent to Amadour. While this is happening, Fitz and Simmons are trying to do surgery to remove the eye from Amadour’s head so she will no longer have to be under their control. The highlight comedy moment of this episode was when Ward walks up to a guard office, and the resulting command is simply “Seduce Him”, proceeded by a commercial break. I absolutely lost it, finding it quite hilarious the idea of Ward seducing another man. Well, he beat the shit out of him instead. At one point during these missions, Ward makes the mistake of letting his reflection be shown in a piece of glass. It is at this point that Fitz and Simmons have to quickly cut the eye out of Amadour’s head and throw it in a bin where it promptly explodes, leaving her with one, robot-free eye. While all of this is going on Coulson is trying to find the individual transmitting the messages. When he finds the man, and reveals himself as SHIELD, the man dies at the hands of a device installed in his eye, with a fail-safe, just like the one in Amadour’s eye. Coulson promises Amadour a fair trial, and she is sent on her way. After this, the team has a little fun. Ward and Fitz are playing poker and Skye is in the other room, planning to use the glasses to help Fitz cheat. She then tells him in order to do this, she would also be seeing him naked. He gives up, and leaves the room. Skye of course uses the glasses anyway, to see Ward without clothes on. And so, they all live to see another day.

I know there is a lot of details left out of this, but I mean come on. It’s an hour long show. If I put in every single detail, I might as well just give you a link and tell you to watch the show yourself. As these episodes are aired almost every week, the next post related to Agents of SHIELD will be near the end of November. Overall, this show goes above and beyond being impressive and I cannot wait to see what is in store, and to see where Skye truly holds her alliance! (I might already know the answer to that, but I’m pretending I haven’t yet seen the fifth episode since that will be included in the second post in a few weeks).

Sunday, October 20, 2013

WoW week Five/Hearthstone

This past week, I played World of Warcraft a total of one time, and that was on Tuesday. After realizing my game time had run out and I needed to buy more time, I hit level 36. And that's all that happened that was at all noteworthy.

However, I have been attempting to get a Hearthstone beta key since the beta release. On Wednesday, I finally won one thanks to Twitter. I didn't get the key until Thursday night, and wasn't able to actually play until Friday afternoon. The opening cinematography is overall great. I did have trouble though with the images and sound skipping. The voice work of NPCs is fantastic. The tutorial is a little slow at first but it is very descriptive, makes it easy to pick up the functions of the game and how to play. The first step of the tutorial just gives you one card at a time walks you through it. With this, there is only one move per turn. The second stage teaches you to use mana and lets you pick the card you want to play out of your hand. In the third step, it gets more difficult, and in the forth 'taunt' cards are introduced. These cards basically target the attacks from the opposing player. Additionally, I did not like that the only card I could start with was the murlock (after playing more though, I got over it). The fifth step of the tutorial, the verbal taunting from the opposing NPC was actually incredibly frustrating for me. Thank goodness there's a mute button! Finally, the sixth stage. It always starts (no matter if it's tutorial, practice, or play mode) with one mana crystal. I found it odd that all of my cards required two crystals or more (again, after playing more I got over it).

**And turning the page in my notes I'm following to type this, I find that my two year old sister scribbled all over them, while I was visiting, making them nearly illegible. So I'll do my best from here on out**

During the sixth stage of the tutorial, I kept getting kicked out of the game and back to the desktop screen. I couldn't figure out why for the longest time. Then I found the solution: I was using a stupid function of Windows 8 on the track pad of my laptop that takes you back to the desktop. Overall, the sixth stage was the hardest of them all. It was in this stage that I first lost. When I lost, a message popped up on the screen that said "This game is totally not fair. Blame the designers." I found this to be amusing. Through my second attempt, I did win even though I had a rough start.

After I finished the tutorial stages, I played against other players. In four attempts, I lost four times. One of them, I was very close to winning, but didn't quite make it. And to quote a movie "It doesn't matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning." Basically, yeah, I lost. Big deal.

Finally, the most wonderful aspect of this past week:
I was visiting family this past weekend as Friday was my little sister's second birthday. I decided on Sunday, after a ridiculous finger painting fiasco, to teach my six year old brother how to play Hearthstone. I figured he would just pick cards at random, or ask me which card to play. He did surprisingly well. He managed to figure the game out pretty quickly, and though I had to explain it to him in terms of points instead of health, and in terms of winning and losing instead of killing, he managed to get the hang of it pretty well. I sort of coached him through it, and though he didn't like losing, he was incredibly excited when he won and was very proud of himself. I can say I was surprised by the fact that he was actually thinking it through, and he took the time to analyze different aspects of each card. He thought about which cards he could use with the amount of mana crystals he had, and about which minions should be killed of the opposing player, etc. I have a feeling once the game is released and my parents get a better computer for their house, my brother will be playing this game more often than the once a month that I go visit and play with him. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

NYCC Day Two (Sunday)

Day two of New York Comic Con began bright and early at 6:30am. After getting ready and packing up, I was checked out of a hotel at 7:20 and on the bus back to NYCC at 8:00am. I met with a group of people at the bus station and they became great company on the bus and knew a lot about NYCC and about other comic conventions. When I got to the show on Sunday, I immediately went and got in line for the “Magic of Storytelling” panel with Lemony Snicket, David Lubar, Matthew Cody, Shannon Hale, George O’Conner, Scott Campbell, and MD Payne. I was the last person they let in, with standing room only and got incredibly lucky to get in when I did. I stayed for about 45 mintues, then went and got in line for their autographing session. I must say though, their panel was hilarious and they brought up a number of good points about Children’s Literature. My favorite aspect of their panel (aside from the jokes they made teasing each other) was their discussion on how writing about just about anything will always apply to somebody. I could go more into detail about this, and may do so in the future, so I won’t here. Their autographing line was already fairly long when I got there. After the panel ended, the line grew immensely. I felt very bad for the other authors at the signing because most people were just skipping over them to meet with Lemony Snicket. I spent time talking with the other authors and greatly enjoyed the conversations. I got all of their autographs. When I finally got to meeting Lemony Snicket, I was very excited. While another author was signing my book, he was being very goofy, and sticking his tongue near the other author’s ear. This author then said that he heard Snicket’s ear, which led to a conversation about Lemony Snicket having a highly audible tongue. It was hilarious. Then I spent some time talking with Snicket and when I thought my time with him was through, I had my picture taken with him. I moved on to Shannon Hale who was sitting at the very end of the table. During the panel, Snicket called her an empty vessel. I told her she wasn’t and somehow Snicket got involved in this conversation and asked then what she was full of. This is the conversation that followed:
Me: She’s full of beautiful! *pause* unlike you!
*Snicket and Hale both have incredibly shocked faces.* Then…
Snicket: *pulls mini notebook out of jacket pocket* I think I have something in here I can use as a comeback *flips through notebook* “Oh yeah?!”
Me: Yeah!
Yes, I verbally assaulted Lemony Snicket. And I couldn’t be more proud. It was hilarious and they all thought so too. This was a fantastic start to my day.

After this, I went and met with John Morton who played Besbin Boba in Star Wars. When I told him that we share the same last name, he was very excited. He said we could be family and started referring to me as “Cousin Jenn”. He spent a lot of time talking to me about his experiences, and our family backgrounds, then took a few pictures with me as well.
After this, I jumped over into the line to meet Jason David Frank. I stood in his line for about an hour and only moved a few steps. I was seriously considering giving up because I very badly wanted to meet R.L. Stine (and had something for him to sign for my brother). Right when I was about to give up, JDF walked the length of the line apologizing for the delay and saying he would make sure to get to everybody. The line started moving much more quickly after that. When I got closer to him, I was able to get some pictures of Sir Patrick Stewart during his signings, as well as pictures of Hulk Hogan. When I finally got to the table, I gave them my notebook, and JDF signed it, while I waited for him to be done so I could take a picture. After he signed it, he said “Hey Jenn, wanna come around the table for the picture?” So I got to stand beside him, and he addressed me by name which was pretty cool. This is also exciting for others because I’ve noticed he takes the time to be personal with his fans. It was very exciting to be able to meet people who care so much for their fans and aren’t just doing these events for the money.
Finally, I could go get in line for R.L. Stine. And then, they tell me they had to cut off the line. I was devastated, but understood as it was necessary. However, I did take the opportunity to run up near his table, through a nearly empty autographing line nearby, so I could take some pictures of him. My brother was disappointed, but he was understanding as well.
After all of this was over, I finally made my way to artist alley. I spent a great deal of time walking through and looking at different works of art. I bought three pieces that I got deals on thanks to being respectful with one of them, and bargaining for two others. Additionally, I was able to meet the tattoo artist that did an awesome tattoo of William Shatner for my aunt several months ago. I definitely wish I could have spent more time in artist alley, and wish I had more money to spend there as well. There are some very talented people, and they were very inspiring. After this, I spent some time rushing through the show floor trying to see more of it, and see what I had missed on Saturday. I still missed a lot, and some of the things I missed I very much wish I had seen. After I left the Javitz Center, I was able to take some very cool pictures of the sunset behind the center, and the moon. Then I sat in the train station very grumpy, and sick of people from being over stimulated. When I finally got to my destination, I spent 15 mintues waiting in line for a cab, then finally got home, just in time for a new episode of Tauren Think Tank.

After another long day, I finally made it to bed after 11:00pm. I took an unplanned day off Monday (most of you had off for Columbus Day but I was supposed to still have classes, which I skipped) and spent the day resting and trying to recover. Overall, New York Comic Con was an absolute blast and I cannot wait for next year!!!