Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nerds Rule TV: 5 Killer Incoming Shows

Woohoo! Nerds are taking over TV! Comicbook shows are finally taking off and Star Wars is coming back to TV!

And this isn't even including the long running shows, such as Supernatural! It's a good time to be a Nerd. And/or a couch potato. Possibly an awful time to be married to a nerd (sorry Wife).

Here are the dates for the upcoming releases:

GOTHAM

We'll see, Gotham, we'll see.
Airing on FOX, the premiere is on Monday, September 22nd at 8:00pm.

I'm not sure just how excited I am for this show. DC isn't creating a large, connected universe, so this will be to the Batman series kind of what Smallville was to Superman. Kind of. It looks much darker and grittier, and the cast looks fantastic, just not sure how interested I am in a Batman setting sans Batman.

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D (Season 2)

Airing on ABC, the premiere is on Tuesday, September 23rd at 9:00pm.

The first season of this was pretty decent. It will be interesting to see where the show plans on going from here, and who they'll be able to rope in from the comics. So far, there have been some interesting mentions of Mockingbird and the Absorbing Man, both of which could have an interesting impact on the great Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or not. Marvel plays it safe with their connected universe. Either way, it will be interesting to see how they tie into any upcoming feature films...
Well, nailed the look at least.

STAR WARS: REBELS

This one is a bit interesting. First, it will be airing a special, 1 hour film, "Spark of Rebllion" on Friday, October 3rd at 9:00pm. It will be on the Disney Channel.
Meh on adding Sith...

Then the show itself will air on Disney XD on Monday, October 13th at 9:00pm.

I wasn't a huge fan of the Clone Wars cartoon, and chose not to watch it. Partially the animation didn't interest me, but mostly I didn't care for what they were doing with the characters or any they introduced. Towards the end I got interested, but still haven't made the jump to watching it (though I do have a "watching order" list on hand for when I eventually do...). THIS show takes place during a time I'm more interested in, and is introducing new characters. I'm totally down.

THE FLASH

Airing on the CW, the premiere is on Tuesday, October 7th at 8:00pm.

I don't care for the Flash (I'm not a DC fan), but I'm looking forward to this show, especially if it is the same quality as Arrow. So far, it looks very interesting, and I'm excited that the show takes place in the same universe as Arrow!

ARROW (Season 3)

Airing on the CW, the premiere is on Wednesday, October 8th at 8:00pm.

I loved season one. I enjoyed season two. My body is ready for season three.

Yay for crossovers!

This is all great, but what am I supposed to watch on Thursday and Friday!? ... Coming from the guy who hasn't caught an on-air TV show in ages...

What TV show has you the most excited? Or is there something I didn't list that you can't wait for?


Monday, August 25, 2014

Nerd-Dad: One Month Later

I have been a father for a whole month now. It really, really doesn’t feel like it, but the calendar doesn’t lie. Or so I’ve been told.

Before I go on a tangent about not trusting calendars, I wanted to talk about some things I’ve learned in this first month that I either didn’t know or didn’t appreciate before.

1.       Not sleeping is a super power.

I don’t have it, but The Wife does. She’s pretty impressive. I… mostly turn into the Hulk when I’ve not slept.

2.       Babies CAN be cuter than cats.

I didn’t think this would ever be true for me, but at the very least I find my baby adorable. And I’m much more likely to grab baby-variant covers than cat-variant covers of comics…

3.       It doesn’t require x-ray vision to tell when a diaper change is needed.

Seriously. If you didn’t hear it happen, you’ll definitely smell it by a month in. The first few weeks were mostly odor-free, but this current plot twist stinks.

4.       Babies have more outfits than Spider-Man has costumes (that’s saying something).

Strangely, I’ve noticed a bigger selection of boy clothing than girl clothing, but I may be prejudiced/shopping in the wrong area. Either way, Lorelai has more clothes than the Wife or me, and that includes a super hero (Batgirl) costume!
So. Many. Cloths.

5.       Hand-me-downs are AWESOME.

I used to think getting folks' old, used comics was pretty awesome. Now I’m all about the baby clothes and accessories – new old stuff is freaking awesome!
Babies smell!

6.       At this point, babies are like Oscar the Grouch.

They’re loud, they don’t like anything, and they smell. Doctor Grant was right…

7.       Getting pooped on isn’t all that bad.

Don’t have anything witty here, just as surprised as you to find this is true. Just know it’ll happen.

8.       Baby crying > Kryptonite.

Woof. At one month you can’t really tell if the baby is crying because she’s hungry, hurt, or just uncomfortable. And the volume is really picking up. You’ll try everything, from burping to bouncing to 4:00am walks in the Ergo, but there is no easy or surefire fix. And, just like Kryptonite in the comics, there’s going to be a ton of it…

9.       Super Soldier Serum is really coffee, energy drinks, and straight caffeine.

On those nights when I barely make three hours of sleep, I’ve found that an Amp or a large coffee can keep me feeling like Captain America. Otherwise, I kind of feel like Swamp Thing.
We're out of coffee!?

10.   Having a good partner is the most important thing there is.

I’m extremely lucky to be married to such a wonderful mom. I certainly couldn't have done any of this without her – I’m really more of a sidekick at this point than anything. Hopefully, when Lorelai is older and able to, I don’t know, hold a conversation, I can get promoted from Robin to Nightwing. Hopefully.
For now...

I imagine this will be the first post of many. We’re one month down and… forever to go?

Now, about those calendars…

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Game Time: Bravely Default, Mount and Blade: Warband, and more...

Howdy folks! It's your favorite sleepless nerd!

Unless your fans of Wil Wheaton, I hear he doesn't sleep much. And he's much better at the whole nerd thing.

But anyways! In between raising a baby, I've managed to sneak in a little bit of time playing some titles that are either new-ish or new to me, and I wanted to give a quick report. Later on I might try for a longer piece on Guardians of the Galaxy (or maybe not, that's kind of old news now), and I've also been reading a slew of comics that I haven't posted about yet.

Bravely Default

The Party
I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm a huge fan of RPGs. I especially love turn-based ones, possibly because I like to take my time doing just about anything. Bravely Default's titular feature is the Brave/Default system, which is a relatively interesting twist on the turn based mechanic. Every action costs a certain amount of Brave Points. By using "Default," characters defend on their turn and earn an extra BP, which can be done up to three times (I'm uncertain if this ever changes, I'm not super far). Using the "Brave" option, you can spend extra BP on a single turn to take more or bigger actions. The interesting component here is that you can spend BP you don't have, allowing your character to go to -4 BP. The trick is that you only regenerate 1 BP per turn, and that character is useless until their back to 0. Enemies are also able to use the same system.

This makes random encounters generally pretty easy -- spam Brave on every character, they get four attacks in a row and can generally wipe anything out in one turn. For bosses, however, it becomes a gambit -- when you're low on health and not sure if you should try an all out attack and hopefully kill the big bad, or play it safe so you can defend and heal and keep whittling away... I believe there are more combos as you get later in the game, but up to chapter three, it has stayed fairly mundane.

Character classes are run on a job system, similar to a Final Fantasy Tactics -- any of your four characters can learn a different class on a whim, as long as you've unlocked it. There seems to be a decent amount of jobs, which is good. There are a couple of points where Bravely Default has twisted this system as well. Each character can use skills from their current job and the skills from one other job they've learned. And they can use support abilities from any jobs that they've learned them in. This helps to create diverse characters and promotes switching jobs often. There is a feature, called "Abilink," that allows you to pair up your character with one of your 3DS friends accounts, which gives them access to any skills that player has learned in the chosen job. At first I thought this was pretty interesting, but it almost makes developing classes pointless if you've got friends (as I do) that have all abilities unlocked for all jobs...

Speaking of friends helping you in game, you're also able to "summon" them if they've uploaded an attack to the internet. To upload an attack, you choose the "Send" option and then make an attack -- it's stored on your profile until you record another one, and players can use it as a one-off until they record another (and you download it again). This is another thing that can trivialize the game -- I tested it on an early boss and defeated them in the single attack...
Orcs must die, amirite?

The game has gone a long way to be more accessible to new players and to promote connecting to others. And these features are completely optional. So I don't have any reason to complain, but I do wish there was a different method of player interaction that didn't feel game-breaking. But I appreciate what they've done with it.

As far as I am, the story has been typical JRPG fare, with four magical crystals you must save/restore and everything. The player cast, which you meet all four very early, are actually pretty interesting. And cutscenes are voiced... though I can't stand several of the characters' voices. I believe the story changes things up midway through the game, but I can't speak to that just yet. The art style is basic and a bit spartan in places (character models and faces, there are no anime-quality scenes, and you don't actually enter shops, just open the front door...), but it works and doesn't detract in any way from the overall game.

I'm definitely enjoying the game and very happy to see someone attempting to revitalize turn-based combat, instead of settling for the same old story. If I'm blown away by the story, I'll come back and post an update, but for now I'm confidant in giving this an 8/10 as is.



Well... That went on longer than I thought! I'll only just mention my other games, because I honestly haven't been playing them as much.

Mount and Blade: Warband

I've never played an M&B title, but I'm glad I picked this up during the Steam Summer Sale. You control a character in a medieval-style world. There's no plot, there's no real story, you're just in this world to do what you will. Generally, the idea is to recruit soldiers to help you fight battles. You can fight for yourself, you can hire yourself out to one of the several warring kingdoms, you can become a vassal to one of these Kings, or you can try and take over a piece of the world for yourself. You could also go for a low-combat route and become a merchant, taking supplies from one side of the continent to the other. But that's not why I play medieval style games...

Travel is done on a top-down world map, where you can travel from towns to villages to castles, passing other armies, groups, or even bandits. You can be a bandit yourself and attack villages, you can be the hero and crush bandits and uncover their secret bases, or you can be a soldier and fight in the many wars that will start up over time. Your character levels up and you can choose how to grow your stats and abilities. There are hero companions that do the same, and there are basic soldiers that "evolve" as they gain more experience, going from peasant to mounted knight (or other, there are many diverse units).
It's about to get real...

Combat can be first or third person, where your army meets another's on the battlefield. This portion of the game kind of reminds me of Chivalry, while the rest of the game is a bit more like a Crusader Kings or Total War title. It's fairly visceral, though standard gameplay definitely benefits from mods that allow for more strategic formations. You can also enter tournaments and the like for some different styled combat, which is a good way to earn money... Of which you'll need a lot.

I'm not super far in the game, but if any of the above in a truly open world setting appeal to you, I strongly suggest this game. Also, it has many wonderful mods (I myself am playing the Floris mod, which is a compilation of other, smaller mods), including one that turns it into a Game of Thrones setting...


Coop Deckbuilding!
My other gaming news brings me to the land of Legendary, Marvel's deckbuilding game. It just came in yesterday, so I haven't played with it too much, but the mechanics are fairly basic and the setting seems a bit more fleshed out than the DC version (that I've only played once). I'll have more on this when I actually get a group together to test it out.

Alright, that's all folks. Go away. Oh, and keep it nerdy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Current Events with Spider-Man

The "Spider-verse" prelude began last Wednesday, in Superior Spider-Man 32.

Wait. Wasn't Superior Spider-Man finished, and Amazing Spider-Man (with the real Peter Parker returned) already started?

Yes, yes it was.

Superior Spider-Man takes place while Doc Ock (as Peter Parker and Spider-Man) was displaced in time at the Horizon Labs explosion (in Superior Spider-Man #19, I believe). Apparently it wasn't just a quick jaunt through time -- he wound up in the year 2099, and we're finally seeing what happened.

When he attempted to make his way back home, he kept encountering alternate universe... all of which featured recently murdered Spider-Men, all of which were killed by the same dual-forked weapon. It's not clear if these are all Spider-Men we've met in different dimensions (we see the Armored Spider-Man, which was an alternate costume to 616 Peter and ALSO an alternate dimension where Peter was wealthy instead of poor. It could have been another altogether, however...)

You know, this guy.
In this rather expansive issue, Doc Ock decides that the menace must be faced and that the best way to do so would be to recruit as big an army of Spider-Men as possible, from across all the dimensions. Not, you know, an army of Hulks or something. But whatever. The end of the issues shows him having already begun his army, which will prove to be interesting...

I'm excited for this event, though this one issues seems to have covered a ton of ground, and it's only a prelude! It was a good read, though, and I like the idea that Superior Spider-Man may meet the revived 616 Amazing Spider-Man due to this time/dimension hopping. It may even give more insight as to why Ock makes the sacrifice in the "last" issue of Superior.

Also, as a side note on why I love the issue, I've recently been getting into the Skottie Young Variant covers, which depict marvel characters as babies. I have a few already, though mostly by accident, but now that I have a little girl, it's a great way to bring nerd-dom into her room. I grabbed two copies of this variant, which is only half of the Skottie Young Spider-verse spread, the second of which will come with Amazing Spider-Man #9. I want one set for my daughter's wall and one for my basement!
Love this!



Now, back in the current Amazing Spider-Man issues, I'm not liking the story much at all. I dislike that Black Cat will be a villain (I've said this before), and I really don't enjoy the backstory they're giving Silk, the new female spider-character (this one having been bit at the same spider that bit Peter). It was a bit too easy and includes her actively being locked away for years and years, the secret of her location only being found due to a story element from the Original Sin event.

... Also, the... relationship between Silk and Spider-Man doesn't really have any background for where they immediately go with it, but I suppose this isn't the first time Spidey's run on instinct. The issue itself seemed poorly written, however, where elements were repeated so much that I pictured the writer speaking to a two year old when actually planning this issue. Meh. I've really not been impressed with the return of Amazing Spider-Man, yet managed to love the most recent issue of Superior. Wonder if they're purposefully trying to tank the main title and character.

Oh well.

Still looking forward to seeing "every Spider-Man ever" during the Spider-verse event! It's yet another opportunity where they could, possibly, bring back Ben Reilly! ...I've said this before, haven't I?
Bring Ben Back!

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.

Hah.