Archive for February, 2013

tabletopMost of us have played Monopoly, only to flip the table in a fit of rage because your bleeding money left and right.  There is always that one player, who you land on their property – you don’t have the money then you end up making some twisted deal with the devil so that you can get out of paying.  But within 3 turns you go bankrupt anyway.  I don’t know about you – but I hated board games growing up. They were either way too simplistic, winning completely by chance, or Monopoly.  After one particular family game night turned into “The Night of Horror” which ended in everybody expect oldest my sister crying – I swore off board games and stuck to video games.

Fast forward 12 or so years and my oldest sister invites me to a game night with her and her husband and a few of her close friends along with my girlfriend.  I was so nervous… I hadn’t played a game since “The Night of Horror”.  But the game we played was unlike anything I had ever seen.  I’d never seen the game in Walmart, Target, Toys R Us.  It was called “Betrayal at House on the Hill”.  Great… But as the rules were explained and we started playing… I actually was having fun.  It was unlike anything I had ever played before.  From that day forward I began to play more board games.

Turns out there is more to life than Monopoly, Life, and Sorry.

Let me break down for you the different type of board games you can play.

Games of Chance
These are, as the title suggests, games they require a HIGH amount of luck for you to win.  Games like Sorry, Life, Pirates Cove, Uno, Go Fish, etc.  These are great games for gamers and people who just want something casual.  These are the games available at most retailers for whatever reason.

Games of Cooperationshadows
You won’t find these games in your local store.  You’ll need to go to your local hobby store or comic book store – even Barns and Nobles are starting to carry these types of games.  Games like Shadows over Camelot, Betrayal at House on the Hill – These are games where you are (mostly) playing against the board game.  You are collaborating with your team mates to overcome some great challenge.  You all win together or you all lose together

Games of Back Stabing
These games are a ton of fun for people who enjoy deception as a gaming element.  The most basic form of this would be poker.  However the board game forms are the two games mentioned above.  Shadows over Camelot for example is a game where all the players are trying to save Camelot together. However there is the possibility of a TRADER among you.  This introduces amazing new game play elements are you are now trying to determine if the actions of a player are helping the team or hurting the team.   The closer to Victory and Failure progress so closely to one another it is hard to tell until it might be too late IF there is a trader among you – its also possible there isn’t.

risk-board-game-strategies-21294771Games of Strategy Against other Players
The most common example is the classic game RISK.  You have an army and your goal is to take over the world.  This game is great fun for competitive people.  You can have the perfect strategy, overwhelming armies, but if the dice don’t fall in your favor you will be at the mercy of your friends – hence the name “RISK.”  Other games are Munchkin, Magic the Gathering, Axis vs Alies, etc.

 


TicketToRide-closeup1Games of Strategy NOT against other players.
This is an important category.  Many people actually enjoy strategy – but don’t like going head to head with several other friends.  Ticket to Ride (which is probably my fav game right now – which I have convinced dozens of my friends to also buy) is a great game where you are trying to connect train routes across the U.S. However as the game progresses your route and other players routes might get in the way of one another.  There is never any hard feelings though because no one no’s where anyone else is going – so it’s not your fault if you cut someone off.  Great game because it never gets old.

So Why Do I NEED to Buy a Board Game? Because not all games are like LIFE or Monopoly.  There are TONS of games out there that are a TON of fun.  Over the next few weeks I will be reviewing all the board games my wife and I have in the hope that you will decide to buy one of them as well.  If you have any games you recommend I buy and review – please leave the name in the comments below!

487320_671407048033_2131453871_nMy wife and I normally a sucker for anything seasonal.  But we’ve been trying not to be impulsive with our money just because we see something pretty on Hulu (via their commercials since we don’t have cable – please see my article on why we will never need to buy cable again!).  So when my wife, Malia, informed me that McDonald’s Shamrock Shake was back in season I knew I had to try to help her not make an impulsive buy.  Apparently she has submission issues…

We went ahead to McDonald’s after she picked me up from Church to wet our pallets with some minty ice cream goodness.  The commercials were so appealing after all.  The promise of a light green minty ice cream shake.  Who ain’t have time for that?

Even as we pull up into the drive through we are bombarded by pictures of this delightful shake which apparently is going to solve all our problems and make us smile ridiculously hard – according to the ads. Six bucks later we get our shakes and on our way.

Then we notice the horror that rests in our cup holders.

shamrockshake2-thumb-250x396Now that they are putting the shakes in the clear plastic cups – you can see exactly what your drinking.  Which isn’t the evenly smooth light green color with some streaks of white running along the sides of the cup to give a “I’ve been mixed via a blender look” What we got were very dark patches green of syrup in an other wise slimy looking drink.

We thought, “Maybe it still tastes good…” WRONG.  Both of us got a MASSIVE hit of green mint syrup at the bottom of the drink that made me go temporarily blind.  (I sure hope it was the shake or I probably need to go see a doctor immediately.)  We took these disgusting drinks back and ask for fresher ones.  They try to pour me more but the “mint syrup” was almost gone so I watch them pour more syrup into this filthy container on the floor that was connected to a hose that mixed it with the “shake”  Then I watched as he poured us new drinks that looked and tasted even worst than the previous ones.

Conclusion
Don’t buy this death in a cup.  I’ll be the first to admit I need to do a better job about what I consume.  But this is a true waste of money and honestly is probably a determent to the health of anyone who stares at it for longer than 5 seconds.

Not many people review demo’s.  But this Demo had such an impact on me I felt it was worthy of a review.  Just so that you understand the weight behind my words you’ll need to know a few things:

  1. Monster Hunter 3 has been my most anticipated game on the Wii U
  2. I’ve never played a Monster Hunter game before and was excited to jump in during the HD versions.
  3. I was excited about these worlds to explore and hunt monsters.
  4. I have been convincing my fellow Confident Gamers to pick up the game as well so we can get some 4 player Co-Ops going!

So when Chris told me that the DEMO was available on Wii U, I couldn’t wait to get home and download it.  2 FULLY playable quests?!  Count me in!  Once it was downloaded and installed I ventured into this unknown land.  I’ve spent about 2 hours with the demo now and I can sum up my experience in about two words: Utter Disappointment.

The purpose of the Demo is to give players a tease, a taste of the cake, give them just enough to get them to go out and pre-order that bad boy.  Show off the possibilities!  Demo’s are meant to please fan boys until release and convince the rest that they need to buy this game.  Demo’s are suppose to make you feel confident, teach you some basic’s about the world and draw you into the folk lore.  Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Demo fails to do this on all counts.

Presentation
It’s no secret that the graphics are stellar.  Details and textures are pretty low, but I knew that going into the game.  I wasn’t playing this for the graphics, I was playing it for the challenge and fun of hunting and killing monsters.  The menu system is very CAPCOM.  Very arcade style.  Player and monster animations are great.  You really get the sense that you are fighting some wild creatures.

Game Play
Ready… GO!  That’s what happens in the demo.  You are dropped in the middle of a camp and told you have 20 minutes to kill everything that dares to cross your path.  20 minutes?  Well… okay.  I poke around my came for about a minute trying to figure out what to do.  I accidentally drink about 3 potions while trying to determine the button scheme.  Finally I decide to just head off into a direction to explore…. Then it happens. “Loading” 3 seconds later I appear in another area… I wrote it off as leaving camp to go into the main hunting grounds.  So I walk around and head off to a mountain I see in the distance “Loading”  WHAT?!  Then it hits me.  This map is divided into 7 sections.  None of which connect very well.

This was especially troublesome as I fight the bosses.  More often than not The bosses like to fight right at the entrance to another area.  I accidentally leave the fight several times while trying to dodge an attack.  The monster will not follow you so you have to go back to the area you were fighting in… “LOADING” – BAM – you get hit as you re-enter the first area.  But don’t get too comfortable in any particular area.  After a few hits the monsters will run away and you have to track it from area to area.  The demo explains nothing to you.  I had to figure out that I needed to sharpen my sword after every fight.

The classes were decent.  I only played three.  The bow was not fun to play at all.  I tried a long sword class but he was slower than I had time for.  I ran out of time twice trying to kill this guy due to the speed of my guy.  Finally I tried the sword and shield guy and he managed to get the job done.  Upon beating him the game simply said I completed the quest and thanks for playing.  Over.  That was the easy quest.  I have not managed to beat the “hard” quest because I repeatedly keep running out of time.

Swimming and fighting under water is not fun.

SoundMusic is forgettable at best.  The two little creatures who tag along make the most annoying sounds over and over if you stand still for too long.  Monster sounds are okay.


Conclusion
This is one of the few demos I have ever played that have convinced me not to buy this game.  To me it is fairly arrogant to not take the time to craft a demo for people who might not know anything about the game.  The map is split up into 7 – 18 different area’s which requires load time for each is absurd.  Not allowing you to customize your character AT ALL in the demo is another missed opportunity.    The only enjoyable thing in this demo that I found was going up to my little helpers after a monster ran away and kicking them repeatedly.  If this demo is an acurate reflection of this game – I would highly recommend not buying it on day on – if at all.  Very disappointed Capcom.  For a demo to turn an eager first time fan into a cynical critic is a unique skill that you shouldn’t be proud of.

I give this demo a 4 out of 10.

light

When you don’t live directly in the city it can be hard to find a good vantage point.  BUT there out there!  Take this shot for example.  My foreground is 2/3’s of the shot, sky is 1/3 so composition there.  I’m actually taking this photo from the 5th floor of an apartment complex that I don’t live in.  Eek!  My goal was to capture some of the light trails from cars.  But I really didn’t want to just take a street perspective.
The way this apartment was set up was that the hallways were exposed to the elements with doors to the apartments on either side of the hallway.  My biggest fear was someone coming out of their apartment and being super startled by me taking pictures at like midnight outside their door.  Sure enough… some old man came out to take his trash out – saw me – and slowly went back into his apartment.  I heard several chains locking after he shut the door lol.  This was a good indicator that it was time to move on – but not before I capture a few good shots of light trails.  Photography is fun!

IMG_0786Here is a Perler Beading I did of the chickens in the Zelda 2D games by Nintendo.  In case you didn’t know, if you hit the chickens repeatedly they go crazy – turn red – and all of them start attacking you and are more than capable of killing you unless you find shelter!

If you want to make this yourself, simply follow the pattern you see here!  You’ll need at least the colors black, red, grey, white, yellow, and orange.  Have fun – took me about 15 minutes to make.

We all know both the new xbox & PlayStation are going to be annouced very soon.  In fact Sony is set to announce PlayStation 4 this week!  This is a very exciting time for the gaming industry, however, there is an equal amount of uncertainty.  I’m a HUGE 360 fan.  I had a PlayStation 3 but ended up selling it about 2 months later because I simply did not play it.  If a game came out for both consoles I always got it for 360 vs PS3.  All that to say, this current gen I have been a HUGE Microsoft fan.  However… as more and more rumors are starting to be revealed as very possible truths, I think it may be time for me to jump ship to the PS4.  Here are my reasons:

The New XBOX May REQUIRE Constant “Kinect” Signel to Operate The Console.
This may not seem like a big deal at first.  It won’t actually cost you any money because apparently the new Kinect will be bundled with the system.  Many 360 users are use to having a Kinect now sitting on top of their TV…. even though most never actually use it.  So at first glance it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but consider this horror:

A constant connection means Microsoft can monitor you not only while playing games, but listening to music, watching next flicks, surfing youtube, anything you do on their console could not be monitored for THEIR benefit.  Microsoft had also apparently submitted a patent request so that they could charge families based on how many people are consuming the media.  Think of it like a movie theater – the theater makes money based on how many people they sell tickets to.  But at home they have to just sell the content to the home for a flat rate.  This new patent could allow Microsoft to charge you based on how many people this “new” kinect sensor can see.
If you unplug it, or try to put a blanket over it, its very possible the console might pause until you’ve “fixed” the problem with your kinect not being able to see you.  It is very unsettling and I don’t want Microsoft staring at me in my living room.  As I mentioned before yes I have a Kinect, but it is always unplugged until I’m using it for a game (which has been well over a year at this point…)

XBOX LIVE is still going to be around.
Now, back when Xbox live first came out, there was no stable way to play multilayer games.  Live was primarily a paid way to ensure you could have a stable server to play halo, call of duty, etc.  Over the years they have vastly expanded the service to include many other things.  But 50 bucks a year for something that PlayStation has been offering for Free since the beginning seems like a bit much.  If they try to charge for LIVE with this new generation of consoles I def will not be buying it.

THEO letters

So, my name is Theo.  As you may have realized, out of all my hobbies, photography is what I’m into right now.  Something I learned from a GREAT photographer named Bryan Peterson (who has amazing books you should check out) is that while you are out and about with your camera, try taking pictures of letters so you can make the whole alphabet.  Once you have the whole alphabet you can put them together to create words.  He often makes pictures of peoples names and gives them as gives.  Above is my name without the fancy cropping and photo shopping them together (don’t have photoshop yet.)  Here is the origin of each letter

  • T – is the t from “STOP” printed on a road.  very LARGE letter
  • H – is the hunt in the Hunt Club sign of our apartment complex at night
  • E – is from the Lowe’s Cineplex sign that I took straight on from the top of a parking garage
  • O is from the Rio Granda Cafe. at dusk.

Makes for great pictures and you can keep adding to your collection!  Hope this was helpful in your own photography!

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IMG_0791

Some more Perler Beading!  Super Mario this time.  Feel free to use this patter to make your own!

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IMG_0002Here is a photo I took while in Pacasmayo Peru as the sun was beginning to set.  Beautiful Country.  Love the area.  Love taking pictures.

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IMG_0007While sitting at a beach hotel in Peru I noticed what a nice photographic shot lay before me.  Bunching all the food and coffee together – and sprinkling a little brown sugar on the table for some more texture, I was pretty please with how this shot turned out.  Everything you need for a balanced breakfast… sort of… lol.

Little can you tell but if I were to raise my camera up and take another picture you would see the Pacific Ocean about 30 yards away.  Love the hobby of photography!

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