Friday, August 1, 2014

Spoiler Free Diet: Guardians of the Galaxy

Seriously? A walking tree and talking raccoon? -- Yes. And they're awesome.
When the movie was announced, I was immediately worried about Rocket and Groot coming off as stupid, Drax being boring, and the rest of the cast being a bunch of unknowns.

The commercials leading up to the movie still managed to get me hyped despite this, and I was, thankfully, not disappointed.

Guardians of the Galaxy is awesome.

Not only was Rocket done well, the little rodent was endearing and funny and had a fully fleshed out personality. Groot a bit less so, but he was surprisingly animated for being a walking, sort-of-talking plant. He easily got the biggest laugh out of me the whole film. Drax not only wasn't boring, they managed to make 'The Destroyer' funny.

I'm not a fan of Soldana, but overall didn't have any issues with the character of Gamora -- her motivations were underdeveloped, but she gets a personal antagonist to balance it out. 

Peter Quill, Starlord, was perfect. "Nuff Said.

More than just daddy issues, but it'll do.
The big bad, Ronan the Accuser, was done very well. His motivations could have used a bit more explanation behind them (there's a decent chunk of history that is only briefly touched upon), but the movie did enough for its purposes, and he seemed to be a real badass.

This movie definitely corners the "comedy" aspect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it totally worked. Even the few outrageous moments were well delivered and in context with the character (Quill will appeal to any child of the '80s or late '70s).

As for tie ins to the greater universe, there were a couple of plugs that weren't super obvious, which was nice. I'm a bit surprised they didn't do more or introduce more, considering the setting. I won't spoil anyone's hopes of seeing certain characters at this time, but I could have definitely seen one or two extra, minimal introductions or nods that would have been easy to sneak in there.

The action was strong, the humor better, and the story surprisingly reasonable. The greater universe is done in tantalizing brush strokes that make it feel acceptable that 99% of the movie is spent away from Earth. I was surprised that they were able to introduce us to so many worlds, so many characters, and so many protagonists without leaving us overwhelmed. I know very little about the Guardians comics, but that didn't hinder my enjoyment in any way.
Very happy with the CGI and the ship battles especially.
It took The Avengers several earlier movies to build up a group dynamic. I'm already happy with the Guardians as they're presented in this single film. I don't know where they'll go from here or what other large story arcs really take place in the outer limits of the Marvel Universe, but I'm more than willing to check it out when Guardians of the Galaxy 2 comes out -- this one really surpassed my expectations and I'm happy it did.

Arbitrary rating 9/10. It loses a point for a moment towards the very end that I found a bit too over the top, and the after the credits scene (which, in my opinion, wasn't worth the wait. It's a solid reference and on par with what you might expect from this film, but it doesn't add anything by way of connecting to future films or the greater Cinematic Universe, which is my preference.

Go see this movie. Now.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

New Chapter in The Nerd's Life

Turning a new page!
So, hey, yeah. I'm a dad! So I'll be a bit busy going forward. There are a couple of nerdy things coming up though, other than dressing my daughter up in Star Wars or Spider-Man print...

Instagraming my Comic Sets

I've been motivated lately to pull out my favorite comic sets and post them on Instagram. I don't use it that much, but I DO love going through my collection again. I'm "arbitrarynerd," and have posted some. But more coming soon (the boxes are damn heavy to get at from their current location.

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Hey! This is coming out in October! By then, I might actually have time and/or money to play it! For now, playing through Origins again, and I can't wait -- it looks phenomenal.

... I think there's more I wanted to write, but I'm having a hard time remembering. I AM almost done with the second draft of my book... But I was pretty close the last time I mentioned, and am just going really slow.

Well, more soon. I'm trying to sneak out to Guardians of the Galaxy on Thursday, so I'll gave a review of that up soon -- I've got high expectations, which is bit concerning, but screw it; the movie looks awesome.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Never Split the Party!

This is what happens when a non-artist attempts a logo.
One of my new projects is to record a game of Pathfinder (D&D 3.75, basically) that I'm playing over Google Hangouts and Roll20.

For now, you can find us streaming our games live every Monday night from 8:00pm (ish) to 10:00pm (ish) over at Twitch or see our previously recorded session on our YouTube channel! I'm planning on ripping the audio and converting them to audio-only podcasts eventually, but that's time consuming and I'm lazy.

We're also going to be posting out-of-session RP moments via the Never Split the Party! Podcast blog (say that ten times fast. Or even twice, kind of slowly). It's a vacant lot at the moment, but I'll have more going later this week.

Check us out, offer comments, suggestions, or insults, or just laugh at the stupid faces I make when I talk.

Seriously. It's just a big stupid head with stupid faces all over it.
^Made the parchment-looking area all by myself!
We're planning on spreading the NStP brand to other games we're playing and interested in recording, though for now we're just streaming the campaign titled: Pathfinder Society: Faerun Division. You can check out the blog (eventually) for more information on the world we're building.

Other projects include finishing Dragon Age: Origins and all of its DLC on PC (seriously going to happen this time) and eventually getting back into finishing the second draft of my book (which has decreased dramatically).

Oh, and if any artists out there want to throw a dog a bone and mock up a better banner for us, I'd be grateful! And maybe use less cliches. You never know, it could happen.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Must See Fall TV

Gotham's one honest cop, Robin Hood, Flash Fact, WWJConstantine smoke?

JC smokes silk cuts. NBCensorshit.

It’s a unique utopia we live in, when two pilots for new series can be viewed online months prior to their debut later this year. Of course what I’m writing about is DC Entertainment’s The Flash & Constantine. I’m not going to bother reviewing either as of now, but I want to comment on what I think is a step in the right direction for live action DC. While some fans fret over the fact that DC is running far behind  Marvel in developing a shared cinematic universe, it’s important to remember a clear difference in the development and strengths of both companies.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Nerd's Agenda

Howdy folks. Haven't had too much to write about, so haven't written!

My comic book backlog is fairly long right now. I've only bothered to keep current with Saga and Hawkeye, everything else is in a "to read" pile. I've been focusing more on my gaming than comics, however.

I have been reading The Erevis Cale Trilogy, which is a very decent Forgotten Realms set of novels about an interesting group of characters (the title character is interesting for the number of changes he goes through, which is reflective of how often players change their characters over the course of a campaign, by either adding templates or changing classes, etc..). I also picked up Guards! Guards!, by Terry Pratchett, and a collection of short stories known as Wild Cards, edited by George R. R. Martin. I'm pretty excited to start reading those, especially the Pratchett novel -- my experience with Discworld has been focused on Going Postal and Making Money, the former being on of my all-time favorite novels.

On the gaming front, I've still been trying to beat Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, but have gotten side tracked with Dragon Age: Origins, which I've played before but never on PC and never with all the DLC. I picked it up during the Steam Summer Sale, along with Mount and Blade: Warband (never played but am very excited to), Endless Space (a decent 4x, but I've not played enough to know how I'd rate it), and Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition (because I'm almost done with the first).
Just taking over the universe, don't mind me...

Beyond that, I've been working on a new project that will hopefully be unveiled soon. You can actually watch us streaming it Mondays at 8:00pm here, but I'm hoping to also eventually turn it into an edited podcast... More on that soon.

For movies and TV, I've been watching Bones with the wife and really enjoying it, and I'm rewatching Season 1 of Arrow, hoping season 2 will magically be on there when I'm done (it won't be, I've only got two episodes left). I'm eagerly anticipating Guardians of the Galaxy, but may have to put that on hold because I'm expected a daughter two days before it comes out! Gah!

Keep busy without getting much done, that's my motto!

Against the Death Penalty

Social Crusader and Sci-Fi Adventurer

How do you make Superman relatable? 

If you answered one of the following below than you may have gotten a closer representation of the American icon after viewing last year’s Man of Steel than the one I believe in.

            Chris Cornell background music brooder

            Budweiser beer drinker

            Getting called “dick spaz” as an adolescent

            Letting Dances with Wolves become Dances with Twister

            Jesus (Gotta hit the audience on the head with that one multiple times. Subtlety is lost on Snyder)

            Smile only once in costume

            Snap the villain’s neck (A little at odds with the whole “He’s really Jesus” thing, no?

            Snap the villain’s neck
            Snap the villain’s neck
                   Neck. Snap.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Steam Summer Sale: Tips and Tricks

Pretty accurate.
The Steam Summer Sale is, in this humble (bundle? Wait, no, stop that) gamer's opinion, the best holiday for gamers.

Sure, there are events and whatnot (the recent occurrence of E3 comes to mind), but they're not accessible to gamers everywhere. Steam, however, is.

We're in day two of the sale. Sorry if any of these tips I'm about to give would have been helpful yesterday. The way it works is that there are two time sensitive sets of deals:

Daily Deals

This is pretty self explanatory, but a selection of games are on sale for one day only. The sale prices range fairly wildly -- currently, there are games from 33% to 75% off.
6/20/14 Daily Deals

Flash Sales

These are titles that go on sale for only 8 hours, before giving way to the new set. Sale prices range again -- currently features sales from 50% to 80% off. These sales are generally better than if the same titles were to be offered as a Daily Deal. It also features games that don't always go on sale that often. The titles are unknown until released, so you need to check back every eight hours if your anticipating a specific game.

Beyond these two, there are two others kinds:

Community's Choice

These are selections of games that, similar to Flash Sales, change every eight hours. The difference here is that you can help determine what these games will be by voting before each selection becomes available. Usually there are two options to choose from, and each has a selection of games with a related theme or genre.

Summer Sale

Many titles on the Steam store go on sale, even when not featured on the three sales above. For example, Baldur's Gate 2: Extended Edition is 50% for the entirety of the Summer Sale (which will last until 6/30).

C'mon, Flash Sale!!
Alright, now for some tips:
1. Always wait for the Flash Sale. It is NOT guaranteed that the game you want will come on sale, so this is a gamble. If you see it on the Daily or Community, it's not a bad choice to grab it then, but Flash will have the best price.

2. Daily and Community are very good prices and no one will think less of you if you grab an item then. If you see an item on the Daily that already seems very heavily discounted, it's entirely possible this is the best deal you'll get.

My most valuable card... at 50 cents.
3. DON'T buy anything NOT on a Daily, Flash, or Community sale, even if it is on "Summer Sale." You have until the 30th to take advantage of standard sales, so wait until then! If, on the 30th, the game you want hasn't made its way a better sale, then go ahead and grab it (this is what I'll be doing with Baldur's Gate 2: Extended Edition).

4. If you want to be notified of a particular game going on sale, at it to your Wishlist and make sure your Steam account is set up to e-mail you notifications! Also, consider having your game-addict/Steam-addict friend watch the sales for you. Alas, I could avail myself of no minions, but you may have better luck!

5. Do you have trading cards but not use them, care about them, or appropriately understand them? Same here! Sell them now, and mark up the price! Steam will tell you what the current average is, but the hardcore Steam folks are trying to get as many cards as they can to make badges and whatnot. If you want to get in on that, go for it, or you could make a little (probably tiny) profit from it.

This sale is the absolute BEST chance to find the game you want at the cheapest it has ever been. Unless you are a pirate. Then you probably don't care that much. Don't be a pirate. Pirates are dicks.

That about sums it up! Hopefully you got what you wanted yesterday and will keep an eye out going forward.