Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Growing up, September 30 was an incredibly exciting day, because that was the deadline my mother set for my sister and I to decide what we wanted to be for Halloween.

Ohboyohboyohboy! We could change our minds all through September as much as we wanted, but by that final day, decisions had to be made.

Because then the costumes had to be made. Mom was and is an amazing seamstress, and we abused this unmercifully without meaning to.

Sure, we hit the staples like fairies, princesses, and fairy princesses. Those were easy. But we also wanted to be Greek goddesses, cardboard lyre courtesy of Dad. Pre-Disney mermaids. And what nutcase little girl of eight wants to be a can-can dancer for Halloween? Erm.

One standout year I was a tiny Wonder Woman, my outfit a rockin' bathing suit that got used the following summer. Holy cats. That is a lotta love, Mom.

I still enjoy dressing up for Halloween, but haven't had a whole lot of opportunity recently.

Well, not in person, anyway. Tonight, I was dressed as a Paragon in the land of Elona. Translated from the geek, The Boyfriend and I celebrated Halloween virtually. Guild Wars, like most MMOs, had a Halloween event complete with sound effects and decorations both scary, such as images of skulls and apocalyptic steeds in a fevered sky, and silly, like a big ol' TP'd tree.

The highlight was a visit from the pumpkin-headed Mad King, who had the crowd doing tricks -- playing rock-paper-scissors, laughing at bad jokes -- in exchange for goofy spells and effects. If you didn't comply, you were slain (to rez a moment later). Trick or treat!

Last weekend we checked out City of Heroes/Villains' Halloween event. Like last year, players could "knock" on doors all around town and you'd either get a powerup treat of some kind, or a trick. Meaning, various undead beasties like vampires and zombies would spill out and try to kill you. The devs also handed out free costume tokens, so you could take your hero to the tailor for a new festive look. I tried out a pirate (of course) and a slutty devil girl, and The Boyfriend made a very respectable Star Trek Vulcan before settling on firebolt-wielding Amish Guy.

In other words, my only partying this All Hallow's Eve was in a computer game.

Oh yeah.

Because that's how I roll.

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Monday, October 23, 2006


Saw it this weekend. Good movie. Not perfect, but really good. I can tell I liked it because I find myself still thinking about it, hearing in my head the searing Irish-punk song that plays throughout. I'm toying with going to see the movie again, which is unheard of for me these days.

Sure, it's got the head-splorching gunfight action you'd expect to see from a Scorsese movie (his best since GOODFELLAS, hands down), but it's also funny, moving, and yes, deep. It's about fathers, sons, brothers, where we find family, how family shapes us.

Like MYSTIC RIVER, THE DEPARTED evokes Shakespeare, and the bloodier Jacobean playwrights. Unlike MYSTIC RIVER, the references play. MYSTIC RIVER wishes it was this movie.

I saw it with a pretty full house, and there was one moment that elicited an audible gasp from the crowd. Don't remember the last time I experienced that.

Other moments caused laughter, not because they were funny -- desperately not, in most cases -- but because there was so much tension that when it was dispelled, we made that little involuntary laugh of relief or shock.

The cast is fantastic. Smooth deceiver Matt Damon, noble Martin Sheen, fury-powered Mark Wahlberg, hilarious Alec Baldwin, Jack being Jack, whip-smart but vulnerable Vera Farmiga holding her own.

And while I've never drunk the kool-aid about Leonardo diCaprio before, he is outstanding in this. Performance of his life, to date.

Plus, he spends most of the movie looking like Eric Dane, McSteamy from GREY'S ANATOMY.

This is not a bad thing.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Warner Brothers? I Don't Even Know Her Brothers

Just found out today that I've been accepted into the Warner Bros. Television Writing Workshop.

Color me excited with a big ol' excited-colored crayon!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The First Taste is Free

Casual game devs and distributors are learning (happily) that their market will in fact buy richer games than the typical match 3 and I Spy clones if given the opportunity. Aveyond and Fate, well-crafted and deep "lite" RPGs, are selling well for the big casual game portals.

Positioned correctly, could games like these -- and simpler ones yet -- be the gateway drug to draw players into World of Warcraft or other non-casual games? Runescape is a massive hit on Miniclip, after all. NCSoft packaged the character creator tool for City of Heroes as a separate app for the game's Korean release, before legal issues led to their pulling it down.

Here are a few "gateway games":

  • Warthog Launch - Okay, so Halo isn't really about launching warthogs inyo the air with well-placed explosives. But this casual minigame is good practice.

  • DevastationZone Troopers - Doesn't require a video card for pretty solid 3D graphics and shoot 'em up sci fi gameplay. Destructible earthworks, weapon upgrades, spinning alien robot saws. Whee!

  • WoW Connect - Matching game using the skill icon graphics for World of Warcraft. Doesn't do much to introduce players to WoW proper, but it is enticing to see all the nifty button art for the various classes.

  • Murloc RPG - This, I love. The gamemaker cleverly (and, erm, illegally?) took assets from World of Warcraft to make a super-lightweight RPG. You go on quests, slay beasts, level up, shop for equipment, and specialize in skills. Looks and sounds great (of course). And best of all, you play as a murloc! Raaagggfflpfhh!

    Any other such games you particularly like? Casual games that could be considered feeders into deeper game experiences?
  • Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    World of Parkcraft

    Okay, so that doesn't work.

    Still... TiVo alert!

    SOUTH PARK's 10th season debuts tonight, and 'tis all about World of Warcraft.

    Oh my god, they ganked Kenny!

    UPDATE: So, that was weird. Fun for me, but I speak gamer, MMOG dialect in particular.

    Waaaaayyyy more insidery than I was expecting, not to mention pretty much a big ol' ad for the game, the jellied and pimpled physiques of the boys not withstanding.

    For people who don't play WoW, was the episode at all entertaining, I wonder, never mind comprehensible?

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    What, No Arlecchino?

    Last night's ep of STUDIO 60 reminded me of this oldie-but-goodie statshot from The Onion.