A 27 year old student, Katrina enjoys her writing, yet acknowledges it could be better. She spends most of her time looking for something to write about. She misses the Destructoid crew, but admits her other writing obligations keep her quite occupied. She'll keep an eye on the Monthly Musings, since those are always worth her time.
For those who enjoy her writing, it's now archived under that hypertext. Catch her Twittering in the third person on a somewhat regular basis.
MAGfest. Known by some as the Music and Games Festival, but celebrated by many as the New Year NARP. I have celebrated the New Year with three MAGfest's to date, but none nearly so memorable or enjoyable as 2013. I'm here to highlight some of my experiences on the return to the mountain timezone before the convention grade S.A.R.S takes me out of the game for a few days.
The Planning Phase:
This year I was not expecting to attend MAGfest. The hotel they chose to host the event at is expensive and I just hadn't really thought about it after a fairly “meh” MAGfest 2012. Last-minute I heard about an indie games showcase booth, which I may or may not be able to volunteer for at for a hotel room. Some ups, downs and risk involved, I purchased a plane ticket to leave January 3rd, 2013 on December 28, 2012. This type of spontaneous travel has advantages and disadvantages:
Advantage: The excitement of going on a trip doesn't have time to subside, so from moment of purchase to departure I was pumped.
Disadvantage: It's a tad bit expensive to wait that long. December 27th would have been ideal, I think.
The Packing Phase:
This is what I packed for January 3rd-January 6th
-Clothing enough for each day plus a spare in case of party foul/beer spillage/other incident.
-Chargers for phone and iPad, USB charger adapter
-Toothpaste, deodorant, hand lotion, face wash and benadryl
This left enough space in the backpack for one key item: a fleece travel blanket, for sleeping on flights.
Advantage: I didn't have to carry a heavy bag between the airport and hotel, around the hotel, between hotel rooms, or anything else.
Advantage: I didn't have to pay to check a bag, or worry about messing with overhead bins on the plane. Everything fit nicely under the seat in front of me.
Disadvantage: Nothing. Part of me, for about fifteen minutes during the weekend, wished I'd had brought my 3DS to participate in Street Pass. That feeling was ultimately fleeting, since I was one of the few that wasn't walking-and-playing in the halls, or curled up on the floor staring deep into the eyes of my 3DS instead of socializing.
The Arrival Phase:
Once I arrived at the hotel, there were some room mix-ups with the volunteers. I was supposed to be comped a room for the weekend with Dtoid NY's very own Tino, but the room they put me in was full, and Tino was dropped from the volunteer list entirely. About 5 plus years ago, piling up on the floor of a hotel room would be like a camping adventure that I'd brush off after a nice shower. As my elders often say “these old bones certainly aren't what they once were,” and I was much less willing to sleep on a hard floor.
This is where Jonathan Ross came in. I was generously offered a place to stay after some of his roommates dropped out. It was not a party room, so getting to sleep worked out wonderfully, sharing a queen sized bed with also-homeless Tino.
The final night, I wanted to change things up since I felt super guilty for taking up space in Jonathan's room, so Tino and I transferred over to Dyganth's special space. The space was greatly appreciated.
The Indie Phase:
As I mentioned earlier, I spent time at the indie games booth. Though they stiffed me a room, I was still present to help at the booth basically the entire weekend, save for a nap through the Destructoid panel (what a jerk, right?) The Indie Games Booth of MAGfest was a lovely thing. The convention sponsored several tables for indie game developers to set up at basically free. All they had to do was pay for admission.
Notable Indie Games According to Kat:
High Strangeness – an adventure game created by our very own Agent Moo. The visual style was reminiscent of both NES and SNES era games, with a wonderful chiptunes soundtrack to go with it. Clever game mechanics and quirky characters had a lot of attention over the weekend.
Camp Keepalive – My personal favorite, also created by former Dtoiders (who are named Joel and Chris in the regular world, but I have no idea what their handles here are). It's a turn-based strategy game where you play as one of four camp counselors, each with a different ability, and collect campers that have wandered off. The danger here comes in the form of 80's horror movie staples, viewed at the show were Swamp monsters, slasher villains a-la Jason Vorhees and wolfmen. They had plans to add more beasties later on. Your goal was to collect campers and bring them to safety before a monster got to them. Some time after the show, they plan on releasing a public beta – which I highly recommend.
Electronic Super Joy – A beautifully designed action platformer set to a beat. The complex and challenging level design, visual design, sound and high polish really made this one stand out.
Kinship – A side-scrolling shooter in the vein of Gradius with a heavy story focus, also featuring a great soundtrack (what? Games with high sound quality at a (italics)music and games festival? Outrageous). It was early in development, but showed high potential.
Saturday Morning RPG – A kickstarter success story, Saturday Morning RPG is an RPG that features a whole lot of nostalgia. The game features a kid in high school during the 80's (with some 90's references) that wants to fight the forces of evil to save a girl at school. He gains powers from a wizard in the form of a trapper keeper that holds spells, and scratch-and-sniff sticker powerups. The game has several episodes out on iOS and has several more planned, I played Episode 1 in the hotel room because I just couldn't wait to get home for more.
Tone-Def – a tower defense game set to a beat. You use instruments that attack on rhythm to defeat robots descending on you. The design on this is ultimately unique and surprisingly catchy. The developer also made a game called Wiggity Wings, which – okay, picture in your head that paper airplane game in school, where you had to avoid obstacles and gain altitude by hitting air vents. It's like that, only you're powered by wigs. Quirky and awesome, for sure.
Holy crap – okay, I'm getting carried away with this. Those are SOME of the great titles that were on the showcase. Here, the list with websites.
The Party Phase:
Last years MAGfest 2012 had one specific hitch in it that really bummed me out. At the time, I was unable to drink alcohol due to a body malfunction that has since mostly-corrected itself. This year, I was very happy to enjoy my favorite American lager in the form of Yeungling (not available in the glorious state of Colorado) this weekend on multiple occasions. My only hardcore “party night” was Saturday, where I spent most of the time with Dtoiders in groups of varying size, before crashing a party with many notable types, including the *Epic Panel Guy, and nearly all dtoiders in attendance at the show.
During this party, I had mentioned that one of my goals for the weekend was to start a **Colossus power-up that was echoed back to me. Since the weekend was winding down, it was suggested by Keener that I start the power-up yell in the room – and it was glorious.
Alcoholic beverages consumed:
Yeungling (sometimes alternately Yeungling light)
National Bohemian, better known as Natty-Bo (Which I'd never had, so I decided to try it)
Dragon's Milk, an amazing Stout provided by Jess and Dyganth.
The Reminiscent Phase:
By Sunday, much fun was had but it was definitely time to go home. Most people had left by the time I even got myself out of bed, so I really just lounged around with Dyganth and others until it was time to take the shuttle back home. This basically brings me up-to-date where I realize my Dtoid life has changed. In 2009, I knew nothing but peoples online handle. Now I don't remember those handles and only know them by their real names. I have seen people I know from around the world face-to-face more often than I'd have been able to without these events.
It has been quite some time since I've posted with the C-Blogs here. I am aware that most of the people I see on a regular basis were Dtoid, but are about as active as I am – but there is no better place to share this.
As many of geek culture tend to do, I did make it home with a single souvenir. See, I have made it a habit to collect money from various cultures. Small monetary value, often coinage. This trip offered me a new coin to collect. One which makes me very happy and makes a wonderful addition to my current collection.
I am so glad I saw the people I saw. I miss people that couldn't make it, but I was overjoyed with how things went overall. I'd have tagged more people in this post, but I honestly don't remember handles here. I am more familiar with real names at this point - I guess that means the Destructoid community has evolved to fit real life.
*During the Destructoid panel at MAGfest, there was a guy that took a fair amount of time awkwardly grilling Neiro and Dale (and whoever else was on the panel) about integrity on the site. I missed this panel, as my sissy self fell asleep, but I heard glorious things about it. Later in the evening, it was decided that Destructoid should invite this Epic Panel Guy to their epic room party, where he proceeded to behave much like one would have expected. Epic Panel Guy/Tom: If you're reading this, make an account.
**The X-Men arcade cabinet has been present at MAGfest for quite some time. When the event was held at a smaller hotel, the sound of Colossus using his mutant power could be heard basically everywhere. Since then, MAGgoers have been yelling “Ooooaaaaauuuugh!” in the hallways and had it happily echoed back to them. I had never participated in this tradition, until this year.
It goes something like this:
and came from this (It's nine-minutes on repeat, you only need to see about 15 seconds of it):
After some unfortunate tornado business a few months ago, I've finally managed to get settled in a special place. I remodeled this place just for me. I am no longer above ground, so tornadoes can't reach me, and I have all my gaming stuff set up once again.
Here's my new entertainment center, with new High Def TV. Xbox 360 replaced (yep, it didn't survive for more than a week as originally thought,) PS3 checked out, and Nintendo Wii is invincible.
Speaking of the Wii:
Decals! Yea, my Wii got a retro makeover. It's less glaringly WII on my shelf now, the grey toned it down enough.
This is my up-close set-up, yes, I do have all 3 systems...and a DVD player.
And my collection, per request:
Since myself, and at least one other was concerned about the condition of my gaming chair:
It's a bit tattered, but it survived the storm over-all. So far, no splintered glass in places where glass doesn't belong due to sitting in my golden throne, including my kitties.
Oh, and I have a desk now.
And I even have a view from my desk/office area:
I can play video games while I surf the net (which will be more important when I have a desktop PC,) or watch movies while doing homework.
Next up on the Shadokat agenda; I will be posting the PAX paper I wrote for my English class, just have to add some profanity or something first. Cheers!
Image compliments of BAPengin at Co-optimus.com - it makes me laugh, a lot.
Recently I've noticed a disturbing trend in the gaming market. It is the addition of game-altering exclusives with nearly every pre-order on the market, primarily at Gamestop. Yes, this is a bit of self-whoring, but I am pretty sure this subject effects the community here, as much as where I originally posted it (sorry, can't copy paste from there, it's against the rules.)
Over at www.co-optimus.com I delved into this trend a bit to spark some debate; does game-altering exclusive content available by pre-order only effect the way you feel about games, developers, or publishers - or are we just overreacting when we say we don't get the "full experience" if a piece of the game is cut out for everyone else?
How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily - how calmly I can tell you the whole story." - Edgar Allen Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart.
I gently slide the lantern hatch open until a sliver of light cuts the thick black of the room. The light arouses the old man from his sleep - his dreaded eye is open, peering into my very soul! The pounding of his heart fills my ears, I must put a stop to it. I hastily take his life, and carefully dismember the body to be hidden far from prying eyes. "There was nothing to wash out - no stain of any kind - no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all - Ha! Ha!" I proclaim to myself after carefully bagging the pieces. I swiftly carry the limb-filled bags to the old mans own room. I pry the floor boards free and carefully deposit the bags. It's done! It isn't until that sound - the throbbing heart fills my head, and I expose my crime to the officers who came loudly rapping at my door. "It is the beating of his hideous heart!"
Some time ago, my parents were keen on giving gifts with educational value. They indulged me with many educational video games over the years - games that were often left ignored or rarely used. Much to their surprise and delight, the gift of The Dark Eye, pushing the literature of Edgar Allen Poe at me through video game form, was one of the most appreciated gifts of 1995. By leaving out the words "educational" when handing over my present, I was none the wiser in my endeavor to fully explore the many twisted tales held within the Edgar Allen Poe PC game. I was Montressor, I was Fortunato - I was murdered, I was a murderer. Creepy claymation characters unfolded the stories for my young mind. I played with the lights off, I explored the many rooms of this game to uncover the tales within the tale - The Tell-Tale Heart hidden in a fish head, The Cask of Amontillado in my reflection from a wine glass.
Much of the game allowed me to explore the tales held within as either the victim, or the murderer - other tales were read to me with stunning visuals and an eerie narrator. Anabell Lee was given a whole new meaning when the characters were composed of wire hangers and paper mache. The Masque of the Red Death made a wonderful Halloween project for a literature class to watch on my antiquated laptop. Then there was the integration; time to figure out how to trigger the next part of well known stories. "Did I check the pot on the stove?" I'd ask, "What about the drawings in the study? Perhaps it's there." I glide my cursor over every inch of the room until another dialog of Poe's famous stories starts up once more.
Halloween comes around, and I dust off the old box, reinstall The Dark Eye and sit down to have my nerves rattled once more - it's been 14 years of this. I personally attribute my favoritism toward Survival Horror to that first fateful encounter, at the impressionable age of 10, playing The Dark Eye. Now I savor the unusual, covet the bizarre, and play any survival horror game time permits.
Sadly for this game,
the action was obscure,
no grenades to lob away,
no gold to gather here.
Though, The Dark Eye did have me,
many gamers've never seen,
The erudite side of fear
that was inSCAPES twisted dream.
Leaving The Dark Eye here,
a forgotten dream within a dream.
Oh - and the Bells, bells, bells....bells.
The Dark Eye had received a Premature Burial, never getting the chance to claw its way into the hearts and homes of many literary gamers. You can quoth this raven, "Nevermore."
Gamestop has always been a bit questionable to gamers in their retail tactics. First, they give you crummy trade-in value for your games at a fraction of what you originally paid. Then, they have exclusive deals that say "buy with us, or miss out on something great that will make your game sub-par." Now, they've crossed the line by lying to a gamer that just wanted to play as Sgt. Johnson and be a part of the Halo Reach Beta.
Here's the situation. First, I have been covering Halo 3: ODST's release on a website called Co-optimus.com. We focus on co-op gaming, so the Sgt. Johnson release for the Firefight mode was a big deal to us. However, as a bit of a book-nerd, I was more looking forward to playing the Halo: Reach beta, which requires the ODST game disc to play.
When I went to Gamestop inquiring about Halo 3:ODST's in-game exclusives, the guy behind the counter told me something that I knew wasn't true - but I took his word for it, since he worked at the company and I didn't. He told me that Halo 3: ODST was going to have Reach beta codes with it, but only with a very limited supply. This was absolutely not true - all you need is the Halo 3: ODST disc in approximately a year when the Halo: Reach beta goes live.
This blatant lie was a violation of my personal being for a number of reasons.
1. He made me question myself ...and I fell for it.
2. He made me feel taken advantage of when I double checked what I already knew, and found out he flat-out lied.
I actually feel can blame the corporation on this one, not just the skeeze that got a (canceled) pre-order out of me. While that guy was still at fault for lying in the first place, Gamestop puts so much pressure on their staff to make pre-order quotas that they'll do almost anything to keep their jobs. Apparently that means lying, though hopefully when I speak with the manager of that store, it's less condoned (and I get a Sgt. Johnson code anyway.) Gamestop is one of my biggest pet peeves in the gaming industry right now.
I used to shop with them for their relatively cheap used-game selection simply because I am poor - Now, I won't even be doing that any longer. Their exclusive pre-order incentives that are rarely (if ever) made available to gamers that don't pre-order with them was the first straw, but when they lie about those incentives I'm not going to make another attempt to pre-order again.
Many people who follow me on twitter, or have any idea about my Facebook may have noticed a series of strange blurbs about a tornado that rampaged through parts of Colorado recently - most specifically, my apartment complex. Convincing myself I'm a writer, I thought I'd put down the ordeal in a written account. (Also, a few pictures to curb boredom.)
It all started on a rather quiet evening. I was finishing up an evening of playing one of the most interesting arcade games I've played in quite some time with the developers of said game. I gave them my impressions, and went on my way to writing the review at about 10:15pm. Not two minutes after signing off of Xbox LIVE did the power begin to flicker. No rain, no wind, just flickering power for about a minute.
"That's weird," I thought, praising myself for the pretend forethought to turn off my (7th) Xbox 360 before surges ruined it. I proceeded to unplug my Mac for the same reason, and was half-way through a second review sentence when the thunder started cracking close to the apartments accompanied by hail and rain in a flash. It was the wind that did it, really - drive me to the bathroom, that is. Don't worry, no britches were soiled. I didn't have time for that.
Hail the size of golf balls came at a sideways angle toward the North side of the building, shredding glass, trees, cars, and some homes in the process. My pathetic single-paned glass was no match, and it didn't take long for the hail to rip through my apartment. The noise was unbelievable! I was shouting for the cats at the top of my lungs, and I could not hear anything aside from thunder and breaking glass. The best way to describe it would be gunfire at a slow, powerful rate.
As I wrangled the cats to the bathroom, expensive laptop in hand - the young kitty became far too spooked for sensible judgement. Silly Dax ran toward the breaking glass, and bullet-like hail. Since common sense in a situation like that is rare, I went into the shredding livingroom after the frightened cat! Somehow, my tank-top and jeans provided enough protection to avoid any serious injury - though, I could've sworn I was hit repeatedly with glass in the shoulders and back.
After wrangling the second kitty, we 3 huddled in the bathroom (the only room without windows) for about 10-20 minutes before things calmed enough to venture out. Two cats who normally barely get along, were huddled together in the safety of a bathtub, while I was taking a mental inventory of things that needed to be dried off immediately. Ah, family.
"What the Hell was that?" I repeated, while fumbling in my toolbox for a flashlight (after I'd picked up my Xbox for drying - priorities.) I flicked on the dim emergency bulb to survey the damage, and this is what I saw:
(Not the gaming chair!)
It took maybe 5 minutes to actually realize: I've been hit by a tornado, and made very poor decisions in the process.
While trying to figure out what to do next, I sent a few shocked text messages and called my mom warning her that it might be headed that way. I also spoke with my neighbor and multiple other friends who all had a similar "did that just happen?" reaction. I paced on the phone with my boyfriend for a while, mildly freaked out, when I realized I wouldn't be able to sleep in my own bed until the ice and shards of glass were removed. I was already dealing with slivers of glass in my shoes, pants, and shirt - just brushing my skin enough to irritate and itch like razor splinters.
It was time to decide what to do next. I packed up a few overnight things, and called my sister for a camera to document (partially for insurance, partially for my own recollection) the damage. Since things occur to a shocked mind in stages, it was also time to worry about my material posessions after all creatures were accounted for. Three wide-open windows, a nice new PS3 or Xbox 360, some movies, and loads of pawnable video games prompted me to grab boxes and start packing up.
At about Midnight, my sister showed up with the camera, and we wandered around taking pictures of anything and everything. I convinced her to hold on to a few boxes of irreplacible/out of print comic books, and the aforementioned material goods at her apartment - since my car would be full of kitties, and things like clean clothes.
While we were putting things in her car, my neighbor called to warn me that the gas main near our apartment was leaking - it was time to go. I picked up the following items and prepared to drive my illegal car (spider-webbed windshields are not street legal to drive):
1 litter box
1 kitty food container (with kitty food, and cat-nip inside)
1 laundry basket full of clean clothes, shredded blinds, and glass
1 Xbox 360
I settled into my mothers house at 2am, in time to get about 3 hours of sleep before my first final of the semester. What? Did I forget to mention that? Yes, this is finals week. I did a paw-check for broken glass, and crawled into bed with my head in a bizarre state of unrest in spite of being completely exhausted.
The next morning, I drove back to my apartment to pick up a few more things, and get daylight photos of the whole mess before class. Trees were down in the streets and on top of cars, power line poles were cracked like toothpicks, street lights were bent, many of the 50,000 homes without power were still without power. I've now got a new windshield on the way, boarded windows, a functional Xbox 360, and a warm bed to sleep in with my fuzzy monsters.
The more I think back on it, the worse that whole thing should have turned out.
Reasons this was weird:
It was a TORNADO! Actually, to be more precise, it was a flash tornado - with no siren, or even weather warnings whatsoever. I know I'm not in a high-class area, but I don't even have wheels on my home! (And now, I don't have windows, either!)
My 55 gallon fish tank on the wall opposite the largest window in the apartment was hit repeatedly with ice and/or glass. There are nicks in the glass throughout the front - yet, somehow, it was still standing, full of it's own water and fish.
My xbox, which was all but on the floor in front of the broken window, has turned on and connected to Xbox live without trouble. After practically dancing through 6 other xboxes before it, I was sure this one was a goner.
I have met all of my neighbors, most of whom I didn't even exchange greetings with on a regular basis.
My car suffered extreme hail damage which looked like I parked at a golf driving range and a severely cracked windshield. Yet my motorcycle that was parked on the north side of my car, suffered no damage whatsoever.
I really, honestly, should have been shredded by that hair brained cat-rescue. Actually - the cat should've been shredded as well, but I'm more than grateful we weren't.
I am still going to PAX. No Tornado could ever stop that!
Also, apologies for not being around much! I miss D-toid!