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Primarily a lurker here on DToid. In real life I'm a software engineer at a startup in San Francisco. I try to keep up with my games and anime, but I'm out of the house so much any more that it's pretty difficult. I love getting out and meeting new people, hanging out, and party games like Rock Band, BlazBlue and Borderlands (which is pretty much the ultimate party game).

Hope we hang out soon!
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agius
12:47 PM on 04.05.2010

Like many other Bay Area-ers, I attended WonderCon 2010 this weekend. I couldn't make it out on Friday, since I had work, but made it out relatively early for Saturday at around noon. We wandered the expo floor for a bit, and I got my first bit of play on Dante's Inferno and Dead Rising 2 - both looked and played fantastically.

Then I saw this.



It was super cool to run into the crew before the official meetup - I tried to get an impromptu group photo off as well.



I followed the crew around for a bit - it was great getting a chance to chat with Chris, Scion and everyone, and watching Niero's antics as Mr. Destructoid. It seemed like a 50/50 split between "Whoa, hey, it's Mr. Destructoid!" and "Who's that? I wanna picture!" Either way, it was pretty awesome.



Unfortunately, I had a small conflicting meetup at 3 with some of my friends (under the moniker of Con Crashers), so I had to ditch out right after running into Husky for 15min or so. I did, however, catch the end of the meetup, and got the opportunity to do a quick group photo. Yay for Escalade camera mounts!



After that, Hamza et al headed off for burgers, and the rest of the group went their separate ways. Alas, I'm on a strict-as-hell diet at the moment, so restaurants are a no-go. Also had some other friends to run into at Christopher Nolan's preview panel. I was hoping I'd run into some DToiders again at some point, but it didn't really happen.

Regardless, WonderCon was a blast, and it was great seeing everyone there! Hope y'all had as much fun as I did!

See the rest of the photos and download full-size versions from my Picasa gallery!
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agius
3:49 AM on 03.28.2010

Following a tradition I picked up here, I'll post the 5 most relevant photos, and the rest in my Flickr Gallery.



The night started with some simple fighting games and Rock Band.



But ended up going nuts, since we had a chiropractor-in-training giving out free back massages!



We gave out some GDC T-shirts as free swag -- did you get yours?!



Even the amazing Niero was in attendance, and more fun than a barrel of monkeys! ON FIRE!



And of course, much boozing and fun was had by all! (NOT PICTURED: 12yo single malt scotch - with all the sweetness of jailbait)

I think I made improvements in all three areas I wanted to improve on from last time. This time, instead of 3 CPK pizzas, we had 12 Chicago-style deep dish pizzas for anyone who forgot dinner. For anyone else, there were nachos. Like, lots of nachos. I still have nachos. Anyone want some nachos? Oh god, nachos.

The gaming setup was much improved thanks to ErbilT's 360 and Michael's Wii - next time hopefully the PS3 can get in on the action, too (gotta get more controllers!). Much thanks to y'all and everyone that brought games & equipment! Much more fun when everyone chips in.

I like to think I was also much more entertaining. With the occasionally room-silencing bad-taste joke and a helluva lot more energy than last time, hopefully I was a better host than fever-induced hallucinogenic me.

Also, a clarification - yes, the cops were called. That's because we were ROCKING TOO HARD. If anyone thought there was anything illegal, wrong or scary, that is not the case - just a simple noise complaint. I've had one before, and it's no big deal. We had one of our windows open, and I really should know better - the soundproofing in my apartment complex is generally excellent, but with the windows open, everyone else in the neighborhood gets to hear what we're up to. Once we closed the windows, we saw no more of the dreaded lawmen (who were actually quite agreeable and very nice - not dicks at all). So next time, I'll remember that and shut the windows earlier, and there shouldn't be any problems, even if we are ROCKING TOO HARD.

So, hyper mad ups to everyone that came out! Thank you all so much - this party was a blast for me, I hope it was all to you guys as well, and it's all because of the great people that came out. To everyone who was sick, booked, and out of town - I hope to see you at the next one! I want to keep making these better and better, and there will be more this year.

A reminder link for the rest of the pictures that came out well.

Much respect and love to the whole DToid crew, and until next time, ciao!







agius
6:18 PM on 03.16.2010

You know what they say, "Old enough to pee is old enough for me!"

I would love to say I've been here since the beginning, and oh my how you've grown and all that, but sadly I wasn't there. I can't recall exactly when DToid made it into my Google Reader, but I think it was '07 or '08. I still wasn't part of the community in any appreciable way - just a casual reader & fan.

That changed last year, though. I read about a NARP happening in Berkeley, not too far from where I've ended up. I won't get too into it, but I'd just had a bad breakup, hadn't seen my friends in a while, and really needed a pick-me-up. I was hoping I'd get out, play some games, maybe meet some cool people.

Well, holy shit, nothing could have prepared me for the awesomeness that is the DToid crew. It was the best night I'd had in months, and putting faces to the names I had seen in my little blog reader changed my perspective of DToid from a collection of funny articles into a community.

Since then I've had the pleasure of joining the crew for several more events around San Francisco and even hosting a NARP of my own, and every time it's been a blast. You guys have built one of the best communities on the internet.



This year, I want to get more involved, and contribute in any way I can. Granted, so far that's mostly been with booze (anyone enjoy the 40's of Corona at the GDC party?), but I'm hoping to find more cool stuff I can do for y'all in the future.

Catch ya around, and happy birthday, DToid and Niero!
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agius
11:23 PM on 01.18.2010

I am posting this as a supplement to the general wrap-up, which is available here. Mostly posting to upload photos, and talk a bit about my position and future plans.

First -- LAWL PHOTO DUMP

The crew, rakin' it in on BlazBlue.



Tactix, showing us his new look -- "Blue Steel"



Tactix and Ryan! Aren't they the ultimate bros?



Mr. Erbil T and -- oh, I can't make it out since YOU LOOKED AWAY FROM THE CAMERA! >:( *rage*



Secondarily, my thoughts:

I had an awesome time, and enjoyed the hell out of playing host. Major thanks to everyone who showed up! It was great seeing the DToiders again, and getting to meet some awesome new people, too! Hope to see more of y'all. :)

Provided everyone had fun (and the reviews so far seem positive), I would love to do this again. I'll send something 'round the mailer, find the next quiet weekend, and liven it up a bit.

There were a couple areas where things could be improved, which I will strive to do better on for the next thing I host.

One area was the entrees - 3 California pizza kitchen pizzas was not enough. Next time I will allocate a bit more for all that.

Another area was the game setup -- clearly, one modern system at a time is not enough. Next time, I will hopefully have additional PS3 controllers, and a few PS3 games suitable for NARPage (MAG? LBP?), which I can then hook up to the HD monitor that didn't get any use this time. :) Also, I may contact other group members to bring in additional 360's and whatnot.

Finally, there's me... to be honest, I had been pretty darned sick, and stayed home from work the two days before the 16th. I was really wondering if I'd have to call the whole thing off. Fortunately, I was feeling significantly better on Saturday, so I rolled with it. But I was too tired to be any good at games, didn't want to touch the drinks, and generally spent half the NARP half awake. So, my apologies if I seemed really out of it -- I definitely was. Next time, I'll throw down the gauntlet for y'all, and we'll see who gets r0xoR3d in CoD, Rock Band, MvC2, or any other game we can name. :)

Anyway, major thanks again for coming - hope you come back for the next one! And for those of you that didn't make it, don't worry -- the wait won't be long. :D
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agius
9:27 PM on 01.13.2010

So, I was informed on Monday about the PlayFFXIII twitter account by a friend of mine from Indiana (God bless you, Ryan!). I started following immediately and thought, "Maybe I'll be able to check it out."

Well, today they posted arrival in San Francisco about the same time I got in for work. After going through a few things and wondering if I could afford the break (startups are a busy life) I decided I could either check it out, or be distracted by what I was missing all afternoon. So off I went, down 4 or 5 blocks to where the party van was parked.



I got in line, which was significantly shorter than I expected at only 10 or 11 people.



We talked to one of the Square folks (Square-Enix-Eidos is too much to write, forgive my shortness), who said the presentation was about 20 minutes, and he could take 8 people at a time, starting at 11:00. We were given tickets, and everyone in line signed up for a chance to be at the launch event in March here in San Francisco.



The first 8 people went in, and we in line chatted excitedly about the new game, FFXIV, and all sorts of topics with one of the promoters.

After a little more than ten minutes, the previous group came out with good reports. A few minutes of resetting later, and we were invited in. The promoters said no photography was allowed inside the van, much to my disappointment.

The van was a highly pimp affair, with pleather couches lining both sides and 42" plasma screens lining above the couch on one side. As we entered, the people running the event took our tickets. In the middle of the van was a cabinet hosting a computer, two devkit Xbox 360's and two PS3's (presumably also developer models). There were 5 TVs total - two hooked up to the PS3's, two for the 360's, and one for the 'puter.

We were informed that the 8 of us would be split into two groups - four people playing the game, and four people watching the new English language trailer (available at http://www.finalfantasyxiii.com/ ) - when the trailer finished, we would switch. The trailer, as you can see, is gorgeous (if a little overtly emo at the beginning) and makes a bit more sense than the TGS Japanese trailer. The characters and animation are beautiful, and the interspersed gameplay footage there looks excellent.

When it came time to play the game, I was given a 360 controller. Watching the 360 and PS3 gameplay during the trailer, I did not notice any overt differences in texture quality, speed, brightness or color depth between the two. Apart from the rumors of 5 DVD's on the 360, the two appear equal to me.

I started in the middle of a battle as one of the staff helpfully explained the Paradigm Shift mechanic, which I'll get to in a minute. The basics of it are close to a traditional active time battle system - you select a series of moves, and a time bar fills up. When the time bar fills to the point of the last move, the combo activates and the moves occur against the selected target. Alternatively, you can cancel in the middle of the bar and activate any moves charged up to that point.

Paradigm Shift is a variant on the gambits system. It controls the actions of your party. You can change paradigms at any time during a battle, even in the middle of a combo. It also changes the abilities of Lightning, the character I played during the battles (the main character of the game). So, for example, any time I wanted to heal another party member, I switched from the "Aggressive" to "Combat Clinic" paradigm, whereon the party members (Hope and Fang, I believe) started healing each other, and the "Cure" and "Esuna" abilities appeared on Lightning's action menu. Items are available in any paradigm.

So, those are the basics - what that doesn't capture is how blindingly fast this all happens. I lost party members twice before I started figuring it out, and the helpful Square staff had to show me how to use a Phoenix Down. I switched paradigms every couple seconds to account for shifts in the battle - "Aggressive," "Delta Attack," and "Combat Clinic" were my primary modes.

Enemies attack quickly, and you have to use shortcuts to attack back in kind - selecting each element of a combo is prohibitively slow. Fortunately, Square built in some pre-defined combos (which I imagine can be defined out of battle) that makes running off combos very quick and easy. The speed was similar to FFX-II, and the difficulty was up there as well - though I suspect the difficulty was due to my unfamiliarity with the combat system, and a slower learning curve would ease that out greatly.

I won, after learning a lot about how to work the system, and we were permitted a little more time to play while the trailer finished up. I walked around the map a little bit - enemies appear on the map, and you can get pre-emptive strikes on them by sneaking up.

The map was beautiful, of course. We were meandering about an aerial platform, watching around a sunset. I have no idea what the context was for this grouping and location, but it seemed like a great balance between the classic style of invisible random battles and FFXII's MMO-style always-on battles. Reminds me of the good ole' days of Chrono Trigger.

Once I met the next group of enemies, the trailer and explanation was over, so our time was up. We were thanked for our participation, and we stepped out for the next group. I was left completely excited for the game - this might be the first FF game since X that I can really get into. The characters, the drama, the designs, the setting, the music and the gameplay all look fantastic. I can't wait to get into this.

Oh, one other thing -- when I said 10 or 11 people in front of me, it was actually 12. I was person #13 in line, which means I got a pink ticket instead of a black one. After the show was over, I was asked to stay and give some contact information for being "lucky number 13." I have no idea what this entails, but I could not be more stoked! :D

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UPDATE: The media's starting to roll in.

GamePro Video

GamePro Writeup

YouTube of Ironheads performance

Another YT for Ironheads

EDIT: Didn't quite realize this would appear on the general message boards. Sorry, it's my first day blogging here. :) The pictures came from the Umloud! event listed here. Basically, people make a donation to Child's Play and get to go up on stage at San Francisco's amazing DNA Lounge and play Rock Band for a crowd of adoring fans. There was also absinthe, giveaways in exchange for donations (I got R-type Final) and door prizes (didn't win any raffles).

I showed up unannounced and at the last minute, but managed to get a few pictures. This post is mostly to make those pictures available to tactix so he can do a full-blown recap whenever he has time.

ORIGINAL:

As soon as my friend Gabe posts the video I took of his band Ironhead (yes, they were all cosplaying Brutal Legend), I'll post a link to that, too. Epic was the only way to describe how awesome this was.



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