The Death of Spider-Man.

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When I was a kid, Television wasn’t the hypnotic baby sitter that it has become now a days. I spent a good bit of my days outside with my friends playing games. We only had one television when i was a kid which meant that sometimes you had to do something else. That is how i discovered comics, Spider-Man comics to be exact. Every Friday my mom would take me to the grocery store and i would get the latest edition of Spider-Man. that is where i found my love of comics. I had stacks of Spider-Man comics. My love for the comics became a love for the Spidey cartoon. I spent many a Saturday getting up early to catch Spider-Man and the Power Rangers.

It was only a matter of time before the webbed wonder would get his chance on the silver screen. Sony had the sole rights to the Spider-Man movie franchise. In 2002 Spider-Man made its debut with Tobey Maguire at the helm as Spidey. The Movie opened at $114m and grossed $403m in the US and received a Metascore of 73/100. While the movie was really solid there was some questions about the casting as some people didn’t find Tobey Maguire a very believable Spider-Man. Some also questioned Kirsten Dunst in the role of Mary Jane Watson. The movie was still a rather large success as it stuck fairly well to the comic also it focused on Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin.

Two years later Spider-Man 2 was out and while earning another respectable Metascore the second movie didn’t gross as much as the second. This i feel was the beginning of the collapse of the franchise. The movie seemed to move slow and again people Criticized the acting and story. The dominoes had begun falling and they were falling fast. Spider-man 3 released in 2007 and was all but what seemed like the Final nail in the coffin of Sony’s adventures with Spider-man with a Metascore of 59 it still managed to gross the same as 2. The story seemed to jam packed and rushed. They had too many villains and not enough time to really get the story with it in my opinion.

It seemed as if Sony had cut their losses with the Spider-Man franchise as it sat dormant for five years, but then it was rebooted as The Amazing Spider-Man, this time with Andrew Garfield in the suit and Emma Stone as his leading lady. The movie scored only a 66 and raked in just over $260m. This was not a good omen for Sony who had hoped to capitalize on the super hero storm that had been taking over the theaters with Iron Man and Captain America dominating the box office. It almost seemed as if spider man isn’t the box office favorite that Iron Man is. Spider-Man two released this year and has continued the downward trend that has begun a downward spiral.

There are numerous complaints about how they tried to stuff too many villains into the second Spider-Man movie and didn’t really focus on the story. I agree, i can’t really say that the story was very compelling, but action movies especially super hero movies sometimes try to rely on the action and suspense to keep you in your seat. I like Andrew Garfield as an actor but he is not Spider-Man. When i look At Andrew Garfield i see very charismatic man and not a shy geeky guy that has trouble fitting in. I feel like this reincarnation of Spider-Man has fallen further from where the comics where. In the first Amazing Spider-Man Andrew Garfield seemed more like a normal every day guy that just so happened to gain super powers instead of the shy outcast who tried to fit in but never could.

Even now as I sit here and read my old Amazing Spider-Man comics i feel like this reboot fell far from the comics. Spider-Man has always been a shy geek who gained powers but was tortured by gift because it put his loved ones in harms way. They could have really delved into the old comic series. They could have taken pages from issue 406 with a Female Doc Oc, or the fact that Peter Parker had a Clone named Ben Riley. For me as a fan of the comics, i can always sit here and say they should have followed the comics better, but for the casual consumer, they would never understand. I think that is where this new reboot fell off. If you ask people about Spider-Man villains they probably all know who Doc Oc and the Green Goblin are, but less will know about Rhino, Electro, Kingpin, Kraven the Hunter, and the list goes on and on. The second Spider-Man tried to introduce electro, and Rhino who seemed more like a tank than a huge Ram. This was on top of Doc Oc and the Green Goblin returning to the melee.

There has been word that Sony will attempt to create a Sinister 6 movie which would be based on the Spider-Man villians, but with the failure to produce part of me wonders if they should go head with the production. You can’t really blame Sony, as they aren’t the ones that wrote Spider-Man, but at the same time its not like they had some young unknown writer come in and spit the script out in a couple days. They had guys with some credibility come in and pen these things. I feel that they just haven’t found the right actor to play Spidey. Iron Man struck gold when they cast Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and i believe that there is a perfect Spider-Man out there, they just haven’t found him yet. I will always be a fan of Spider-Man and hope that he will one day get the movie block buster he deserves.

Ships with “Character”

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When we think of characters in our favorite video games, cartoons/anime, and shows they tend not to be inanimate objects. You know cause they can’t talk and don’t do anything for the plot. Luke Skywalker’s toaster isn’t going to get much by way of fan pages.
Yet the truth is, there are occasions when something that has no ‘personality’ per se becomes a character of its own. So much so that these characters can actually affect the story. That’s something most living characters don’t do very well.
One thing that most nerdy pursuits have in common is that they tend to cross two major genres; Fantasy and Sci Fi. The later lends itself to my current ramblings because a semi common occurrence in Sci Fi is that a ship of some kind breaks the barrier and goes from a hunk of metal getting the stars from point A to point B, and a character sharing the journey.
This is by NO means a complete list, it’s not even a sort of complete list, but I thought it would be fun to list off some space fairing vessels that might as well talking and make wise cracks because they are a part of the team. If you have some additions share them in the comments. (These are in no particular order)
ark
The Ark – Transformers
“That Jojo…is THE ARK!” – Black Arachnia
The vessel that brought the heroic Autobots crash landing onto earth millions of years ago and kept them and a the Decepticons that had boarded it (hence the crash) not only functional but then fixed them up and began the most epic war any 5 year old boy has ever seen. The ship not only was the last hope of the valiant heroes to try and find new energy for the war on their home world but once crashed on earth became their base of operations, conveniently sticking out of a volcano. Which was subtle. It became a character because so much happened there and they had to defend it so much. Plus one could argue that Teletran 1, the onboard computer that spoke, gave it a personality but I for one never thought T1 was The Ark’s brain. I always felt the ship had its own honor and courage like Prime himself and was part of the team.
serenity
Serenity- Firefly
“What was that?” – Captain Mal
Right like you didn’t know this would be on the list. The firefly class ship that houses a motley crew of scoundrels with a code is obviously a cast member. For one thing the way it always breaks down or loses a part is almost its way of bantering with Captain Mal. It is their home, their freedom and their ally. You get the feeling that when push comes to shove the ship will never let them down. It may virtually explode once it’s on the ground and they are safe but it will never stop fighting if its crew needs it. Which makes it Serenity fit right in with the rest of the gang and to me that makes a pretty awesome team mate.

 

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Normandy – Mass Effect
“No one steals my ship, not even me.” – Commander Shepard
As I play the Mass Effect games I find myself considering the Normandy as more than just a ship. Like some of the prior entries it is the crew’s home, it is their freedom and it is a pretty awesome weapon. When the Normandy is in jeopardy you almost get more concerned than the when the Reapers are attacking earth. Similar to The Ark, you could argue that EDI is the Normandy since she is an advanced AI that controls and is connected to the ship. But again it just doesn’t feel that way. EDI is awesome and kinda attractive in her robot body, but she is a crew member. The Normandy is something else. It has a stoic-ness about it, a military puffed out chest sort of speak that makes it command respect and admiration from those that see it. The crew would do (and have done) almost anything to protect it as they would for a beloved superior officer. Honor runs deep with brothers and sisters of war, The Normandy claims as much as any cohort.
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The Outlaw Star – Outlaw Star
“Gilliam I know what we are going to name the ship.” – Gene Starwind
Outlaw Star is one of my favorite anime’s and the drive of the whole series is the ship of the same name. The Outlaw Star is the most advanced ship in the system and has the only engine/navigation system that can find the powerful Galactic Laylines a lost hub of information and power. When the crew get the ship they are technically stealing it and have to change the colors/give it a name before heading out on the run from pretty much everyone. With its grappler arms that allow it to use a massive space gun for fighting or manipulation, the ship quickly becomes part of the team. Again the controlling AI, Gilliam, could be argued to be the ship but I just feel that once an AI starts to have a personality it changes how it is viewed. The Outlaw Star basically has its own mission to get to the Galactic Laylines, the crew are there to help.

 

As I’ve said these ships by way of just being there feel like part of the cast of these mediums and would drastically affect them if they were different. Obviously there are many more examples, I’m sure most would consider The Enterprise from Star Trek among these but I don’t know. There were so many Enterprise’s most getting blown up that I don’t really think the ship has a personality of its own. But hey that’s just me.
@brianbrickner33

The Headphone Monopoly

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I think it is pretty safe to say that everyone in the world loves music. Music has been around since man has been able to speak. From the electronic robot music that is dubstep to the soulful teary eyed crooning of country, everyone in the world loves music. For years music was played by a live orchestra and one day we were able to capture it and play it off of giant turntables through loud speakers but people wanted more portability. The ability to listen to music has gone from sitting in a theather listening to an orchestra to playing it off of our phones while sitting on the bus. In that time we have seen everybody and their mother attempt to come out with the next best headphone.

Up until a few years ago there was no real top dog at least amongst the regular consumer. Bose was called the king of the headphones but when you would be spending upwards of two hundred dollars to get your hands on a pair of them. It used to be that people wouldn’t spend more than fifty or sixty dollars on headphones at least when i was a kid no body i knew spent that much. Lets be honest headphones especially the in the ear headphones were the most evil things. The foam covers would slip off they would get dirty, and even if you wrapped them up, the second they came out of your pocket or bag you were spending the next thirty minutes trying to untangle those suckers.

tangled

Today however it is pretty clear that there is a top favorite amongst the dozens of headphones companies out there. If you ask the majority of people will most likely tell you that Beats are their headphone of choice while some will probably say that they don’t really care. Apple beats as we will call them since they were recently purchased by apple for an astounding $3billion. Beats originally started when rapper Dr. Dre worked with Monster to create new high end set of headphones and what they made was Dre Beats. When the headphones first came out they were met with skepticism.

I have spent a good bit of my life in the electronics and retail world and for a while Monster was notorious for selling over priced electronics accessories. Many people thought that this was just Monster’s way of over pricing mid range headphones. The difference this time around was monster had Dr. Dre as their spokesman. This was probably what helped keep the headphones from falling flat along with Monster getting their headphones around the necks of any celebrity or athlete that they could. Their marketing and PR departments must have been working weekends with the amount of celebrities that were endorsing the beats. After a few years of being on the market, the beats empire would begin to work its way up the ladder taking out every competitor game of thrones style.

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During their assent to headphones throne their was some discord in the kingdom. Dre and monster had a falling out and Dr. Dre had managed to negotiate his way into pretty much owning all of beats. There was a split and beats became Beats by Dre. Monster had attempted to stem the bleeding that was losing their cash cow by creating monster headphones but by this time Dr. Dre’s headphones had become to big to contend with. They were coming out in a wide range of colors, even having special edition colors for certain athletes or musicians.  (gizmodo.com/5981823/beat-by-dre-the-inside-story-of-how-monster-lost-the-world) A few years later Soul headphones would make a run for the throne with the help of famed Ludacris but they too would fall to the juggernaut that is Beats.

Beaternaut

Now that Apple is in firm control of the beats franchise and Dr. Dre is off somewhere buying several islands, i can only wonder what is next for famed beats logo. Apple has the money and the resources to create a next level headphone that could finally live to the performance we want but one can only wonder what they will do. People tend to complain that Apple doesn’t try to compete with some of the manufactures. Apple tends to make phones that are a year behind what other manufactures are producing. While their phones are still on top of sales charts people have begun to grow bored with their lack of ingenuity and creativity in their phones. They seem to pump out new phones without really making any drastic improvements. Time will only Tell if apple phones will come with beats audio built into the phone or if Beats headphones will have some sort of apple connectivity inside them.

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No Wrong Way to Game

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So in the beginning of my article about some of my favorite App Games, I briefly talked about the difference between Hardcore and Casual Gamers. I felt that deserved a bit more focus than just that small paragraph.

Over the last few years, basically with my purchase of the PS3, I have considered myself a “Hardcore Gamer.” Why? Well because I was getting platinum’s in some very tough games, I was playing games on their hardest settings and winning. (not without some swearing and a few broken controllers) I was also expanding my type of games far more than ever before. I was finally fairly good at shooters, and I started playing Guitar and Drums through Rock Band, Action games, horror, and even a few fighters.

So does that make me better than someone that only plays candy crush? Absolutely.

Ha, just kidding.

But this is a hard one to objectively answer or consider for a gamer like me. I have no problem with people only playing small, app based games like Bejeweled or Farmville or Candy Crush. I’ve played a few of them myself. Where this gets dicey is can we call them gamers?

Technically of course they are. Pong is still just as much a video game as the newly announced Uncharted game for PS4. Yet should they be considered equal? Many would say not, due to the fact that Uncharted has depth to it’s gameplay, amazing graphics and a rich story. However what if someone can break the game on Pong? There are people out there past and present that can go so high on games like Pac Man, or Donkey Kong that they reset the high score counter. Are you that good? Could you do that on such a “simple, old” game? I’m going to guess not. Yet someone that can beat Dark Souls is going to consider themselves more of a gamer than someone that can play Asteroids or Farmville.

So why is that? What is the difference? I think mentality is the answer. Hardcore gamers live video games the way Pittsburghers live the Steelers. They don’t just play the games, they research them. They use/make walkthroughs, they talk about the game on forums, they track the progress of an anticipated game from announcement to release day. Where a Casual gamer just plays their one or two little phone games for 20 mins a day and doesn’t think about it otherwise.
And therein lies the divide. I don’t think Hardcores care about what you play. I know I enjoy seeing “normal” people talking about how hard a level in candy crush or Plants vs Zombies is. I feel a certain justification. Like they are being very slowly assimilated. If you talk to them right, show them just the right game and you could get them over to our side. But again that explicitly implies there is a line. Them vs Us.

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I think we as “true/hardcore/real” gamers don’t like the lack of enthusiasm toward games. We love virtually all games, we respect virtually all games. I may not like fighters but I’m impressed when a friend talks about how well they did in Mortal Kombat. Causal’s don’t feel that way. They STILL think me playing Ratchet and Clank is childish, while they sit there and waste 30 mins on Minion Mayhem.

I’m willing to bet if the level of acceptance and respect from casuals increased, the hardcore community would welcome them more. That is not to say it’s all those “dirty casuals” fault. Hardcore gamers have a nasty habit of scoffing at anything that doesn’t have 1080p graphics and rocket launchers. We as a community need to realize and support that a game is a game is a game. If your mother loves spending some time matching chocolate to get to level 212 of Candy Crush, that is no less legitimate than you firing up the latest Halo. Even the most simplistic app game gets to a level of difficulty that only someone with real dedication can master. Just like our next gen games.

So the real point of all this is acceptance…and conversion. Since humans first started fighting the best way to defeat your enemy is to make them your ally. Nurture those girlfriends/boyfriends/parents/etc that play those simple games. Ask if you can help. Then introduce them to something easy on your favorite gaming system. Help them get past the idea of the controls. Another reason for casuals is that a few finger swipes or pokes is easier to learn than a PS4/Xbox one controller. Or a set of keypad controls.

Make it easy for them. Let them watch you play so they can get into the stories. Because once you do, you may just make a new Hardcore gamer. And someone sitting next to you playing, isn’t going to yell at you for playing that game for 4 hrs. It’s all about manipulation people. :)

Game On!

@brianbrickner33

Cosplay on a Budget

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Whether you’re just starting out in the cosplay world and looking for a cheap way to create your first costume, or you’re a seasoned cosplayer who may have spent a wee bit too much on a gold-adorned armor set for your last costume, you’ve come to the right place for learning some important tips on how to create costumes on a budget!

By the way, you could be suuuuper thrifty and go about making cosplays like THIS… but I don’t recommend it. :P

Anucha “Cha” Saengchart creates a budget (REALLY budget) cosplay of  the Evil Queen (Snow White) from household items.

It’s so bad it’s… actually really impressive.

1. Goodwill is your best friend.

You can find many hidden treasures at stores like Goodwill or other discounted clothing stores like Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Plato’s Closet. Of course, depending on what you’re looking for, these stores can be hit-or-miss. But if you’re looking for something like a plain white blouse, Goodwill is the perfect place to start your search. Besides clothing, these stores also carry a variety of accessories as well as household items. Goodwill is one of the best places to buy cheap shoes for cosplay (I’ve found pairs of boots for as low as $2 that have worked perfectly for cosplay!).

2. Coupons, coupons, coupons!

Joann’s frequently offers coupons and holds sale events. Sign up for their e-mail newsletters to get e-mailed coupons and get notified about sales. In addition, if you’re a college student, you can sign up for Joann’s student discount program, which saves you 10% on each purchase on top of coupon/sale discounts. Another thing you might want to do is go with friends and buy in bulk/group certain items together and use coupons. For example, certain coupons don’t work with on-sale items, so if you have a “40% off your total purchase” coupon, you can group all your non-on-sale items and use the coupon with that lot. The on-sale items can be bought separately.

3. Used is always an option.

In the cosplay world, there are many with older outfits they no longer wish to wear. Be on the lookout for cosplayers who are selling old wigs, clothing and accessories. You may even be able to haggle with them! If they’re good cosplayers, you can generally trust that they’ve taken good care of their wigs and costumes. On a similar note, if you’ve made a few cosplays of your own that you no longer want to wear, you can use some materials from your old costume to create your new one. Out with the old, in with the new! (Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can use your cosplay wigs for multiple cosplays!)

4. Get creative with household items.

Did you know you can find valuable cosplay materials right in your own home? Maybe you have some old clothes that you can grab some fabric scraps from. If you don’t have the right color, consider dyeing lighter-colored fabric to the color you want. You can use old cardboard boxes to prototype, create or reinforce props. Old pillow stuffing is perfect for creating your cosplay plushie companion. The list goes on!

To top it all off, here’s another reference of what you might NOT want to do when cosplaying on a budget… Enjoy. ;)

Zero, Iron Man, Thor, and Mega Man... before they were sponsored.

Zero, Iron Man, Thor, and Mega Man… before they were sponsored. [Original Source]

Borderlands 2 – A Game I Can’t Stop Playing

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BL2 Featured Image

From Left To Right: Gaige (DLC), Krieg (DLC), Axton, Maya, Zer0 & Salvador

Hi my name is Dave and I’m addicted to Borderlands 2.

So its 3am and I have had my XBOX 360 controller in my hand for the past 5 hours. The game that’s kept my up for 5 hours and, most importantly, kept my attention is Borderlands 2. Without a doubt Borderlands 2 has definitely proven to be one of my top 10 games and, I will admit, I’m addicted. With plenty of intense action and a compelling, comedy filled story this cartoon-like first person shooter (FPS) has matched, if not succeeded, what the first Borderlands had accomplished.

When you first start Borderlands 2 you wake up surrounded by debris from a recent train crash. Yes, you were on that train and yes, it was meant to kill you and your Vault Hunter allies. After awakening you come across a yellow and black robot whose intentions are to get off the glacier with the help of his new minion, which is now you. The main Borderlands 2 story all takes place on the planet of Pandora, a vast and rich landscape filled with psychopathic killers, war robots and plenty of monsters.

You take up the mantle of a “Vault Hunter” who is trying stop the most evil entity on, and ruler of Pandora, Handsome Jack. Side by side the rebel group know as The Crimson Raiders your desperate struggle to find the key to a mysterious Vault (and stop the annihilation of all life on Pandora from the sacred Warrior) takes you from the glacier to the tundra to the desert and many more areas.

BL2 Character

There are four main classes you can choose from when playing the game. To start there’s Zer0, The Assassin, who’s a coldblooded killer and master at the art of assassinating people; Maya, The Siren, who’s a skilled magic user able to gain control of the battlefield using otherworldly powers; Axton, The Commando, who’s a skilled soldier, great for suppressing enemies; And Salvador, The Gunzerker, the most bad-ass gun slinging, head bashing, monster the world could ask for, his only intent is to drop bandits, creatures and robots like flies. In downloadable content they released Gaige, The Mecromancer, and Krieg, The Psycho, both of which are awesome to play but this is about the main story. Maybe we’ll cover DLC one day…. maybe.

Each class gets its own set of skills and each one brings something to the table that makes the game play different. Each character has a unique skill tree set with special powers or weapons that makes each one worth playing and exploring while taking down the evil that plagues Pandora. As any game experience points will let you obtain new levels as you play. When you reach level 5, you receive your first skill point. From now on, each new level will give you an additional point. The first one will have to be spent on the Action Skill. It’s a special skill, unique for each character. In the brackets you will find the cool down time.

Salvador Gun Tree

The Gunzerker skills range from Brawn, which strengthens your attacks while offering up a better defense; Rampage, which helps you utilize your special power; Gunzerkering (which allows you to duel wield while also regenerating your health and ammo supply) and Gunlust, which just enforces your love for guns and ups your weapon stats.

Gunzerking – you can use two weapons at the same time. While it this state you regain 50% of your health, receive less damage and regenerate ammunition and health.

Maya Skill Tree

The Siren’s skills is that of Cataclysm which gives you bonuses to dealing fire and corrosive damage; Harmony, which lets you heal and revive you teammates; and Motion, which allows you to control the battlefield using shields and mind control.

Phaselock – locks an enemy inside a special sphere, which slows him down for some time. Some enemies are resistant to this skill and will only receive damage if you use it against them.

Zer0 Skill Tree

As the Assassin you can choose from Sniping, which enhances your ability to snipe enemies; Cunning, which helps you in overall combat; and Bloodshed, which greatly increases your ability to melee.

Decapiti0n - you create a hologram of Zer0 and become invisible. The longer you remain in that state, the more powerful your next attack will be. However if you decide to exit invisibility sooner, it will shorten the cool down time.

Axton Skill Tree

The last class is the Commando whose skills are Survival, which helps you be able to survive better and last longer; Gunpowder, which allows you to be a more successful killing machine; and Guerilla, which increases everything about your special power, the Sabre turret, an automated turret that kills everything in its path.

Sabre Turret – a stationary turret which automatically attacks nearby enemies for a given time or until it gets destroyed. When there are no enemies around it is worth retrieving. That way you will shorten the cool down time.

Character customization and “Badass Ranks” are great additions to this game. In return for completing given challenges, your badassrank will increase. The challenges are divided into categories, in which you advance onto further level (with a maximum of five). Generally there’s an easy rule: the higher the level, the harder it is to complete it.

After obtaining a proper badassrank you receive a token, which you can spend on one of five random improvements (RedeemToken). They permanently influence your statistics, for example by improving your health or damage.

Badass Ranks are personal ranks you acquire through doing challenges such as “Kill 25 Skags” or “Deal 100,000 electrocute damage”, while each challenge completed will move you closer towards achieving a Badass Rank, and a Badass Token. Badass Tokens can be redeemed for stat bonuses such as increased maximum health, or elemental damage. The amount of Badass ranks you can get is practically infinite.

Skins

Part of the games fun is that you can change the look of your character using different skins that you pick up or download. The skins will change the look of your helmet, head attire, outfit or shirt. You can easily change your look at any of the quick-change stations throughout the game. On top of changing your look you can also change the look of your vehicles, you just have to go to any of the “Catch-A-Ride” locations and choose your vehicle type and the look.

Borderlands 2 offers a huge selection of gear and equipment that come in different levels of rarity going from most common to rarest in the order of white, green, blue, purple and orange. As seen in one of the games quick tips, “just remember, When Grandma Burps, Patrick Obeys” which stands as a slogan to   remember the order of rarity.

Weapon Colors

Some of the equipment you can come across as you play Borderlands 2 are “Relics”, a special item that grants the user invaluable bonuses depending on your play style. Then there are class-mods, which increase stats and, sometimes, skills. Shields are one of the most important aspects of the game that keep you alive, adding extra protection on top of the health you already have. Some shields offer special bonuses like when your shield is depleted you become a living nova constantly exploding for a set amount of time killing anything near you. Just remember another priceless tip from Borderlands 2 “Shields are just like friends, the best ones come with additional benefits”.

Last but not least is the ever effect and great to have, grenade mod! Grenade mods enhance your average grenade to unimaginable heights. The grenade mods work similar to a shield, in which the better grenade mods offer additional benefits such as pulling any enemies in the area toward the grenade before a devastating explosion (which I prefer), causing corrosive, shock, fire or additional explosive damage are other ways you can wreck opponents with more then just a standard grenade boom.

Guns

Guns! Borderlands 2 offers a massive selection of weapons from several gun company’s ranging from “Milawan” to “Tediore” with each company making its own style of weapons. For example, Milawan weapons are always elemental, like corrosive, which are great against robots, or fire, which is great against flesh. Borderlands 2 has thousands if not millions of different guns, so don’t be afraid to take some time to run around a section for a while to level up and loot everything possible. After all, that’s part of the games attraction.

Black market

A new, and welcomed, addition not seen in the first Borderlands is the black market. This is a system of trading a rare mineral called Eridian, only obtainable by opening containers, quest rewards and killing enemies. In the black market you mainly buy storage upgrades such as how much ammo you can hold for each gun type, how many grenades you can carry and you can increase bag space. The black market can only be accessed from the city of Sanctuary near Moxxxi’s.
The feel of the game play and controls are essentially the same as Borderlands, which is a plus when playing the game. The ease of game play is extremely nice, with little glitches to find and everything fairly easy to understand the immense open world concept of Borderlands 2 allows players to explore as much as they wish giving a lot of opportunities in the game.

Borderlands 2 offers a normal mode or “Vault Hunter” mode. The normal mode is a play through of the game that takes you from level 1 to around 30 to 35. Vault Hunter mode is a second play through of the game allowing you reach level 50, the max level without DLC. Vault Hunter difficulty is much harder than normal of course requiring teammates to help you accomplish certain missions or objectives.

Group Attack

Multiplayer, the foundation of most popular games plays a big part in this game as well. As the beginning video shows there are a team of 4 Vault Hunters so a team of 4 can be in a game at one given time. Of course the more players in a game, the harder the enemies are, and the better the loot! Obviously with all the rare loot you can get with a team there is bound to be a bit of squabble to grab that rare orange or close to rare purple item. If someone takes that awesome weapon you fought so hardly to get, you can always challenge someone to a duel while wagering that particular item. This dueling system makes team play not only fun but is a cool way to challenge a friend.

Borderlands 2 has far exceeded my expectations as I generally don’t pick up a game once I’ve beaten it and I very rarely download all the DLC for the game. With my several hours and multiple levels of game play I can safely say that Borderlands 2 was masterfully done and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to have a extremely fun action packed adventure. Once you pick it up I do also suggest the DLC packages for the game as they are immensely fun, well thought out and add so much great loot, skins and new story to the main game.

BL2 DLC

This game gets a 9 out of 10 for the unique weapons, replay value, world/map sizes  and, most importantly, the time you get to spend with Tiny Tina. Go out and get this game if you haven’t since its release in 2012.

Borderlands 2 released September 18th 2012 on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. DLC (Downloadable Content) available for extending your game play.

Celebrate (Captain) America!

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So, for this month’s craft I took the easiest connection I could see. We are celebrating America with the Fourth of July and the most logical connection to a craft is something Captain America related.

While I was thinking about it there isn’t much that I could make that the Cap has, except the shield. My problem was that I didn’t want to make a plastic shield, or the ones you normally see made out of paper plates. I really struggled with this one for a few weeks and then it hit me, pillows! So, for this craft we will be making the iconic Captain America Shield in pillow form.

I was already excited to make the pillows for my couch with this, and then I talked to my fellow Nerburgians. Patrick came up with the idea of making them smaller and adding a wrist strap to the back. Well, of course that sounds fun as all heck, and my child like heart took over yelling “I want, I want!” So, for this month I am going to make the big pillows and some smaller ones that are perfect for playing with.

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What you will need for this project is

  • Paper (large enough to make the patterns on)
  • Pencil or Pen
  • Fabric Marking Pencil or Colored Pencil
  • String
  • A Push Pin
  • Fabric in Red, White and Blue
  • Fabric Pins
  • Thread in Red, White and Blue
  • Sewing Machine & Needle for hand sewing
  • Polyfill, Fiberfill

Optional Wrist Strap

  •  Fabric In whatever color you choose (I used more of the blue I already had)

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Step One: The Pattern

First attach the pen or pencil to one end of the string and the push pin to the other end. This step will need to be repeated for each circle that you need so there will be multiple lengths that you will need. The lengths between the pen and the push pin are:

8in, 61⁄2in, 5in, for the larger shield and 4in 5in, 4in, 3in & 2in for the smaller shield

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Place the push pin in the paper where you want the center of the circle to be. Keep the string tight and draw out the circle. The string and push pin are only there to help make a cleaner circle. I don’t know about you, but I am unable to draw a decent circle… okay, I can’t really draw at all so this helps me a lot.

I highly suggest not using yard like I stupidly did. It is far to stretchy and you will end up cursing it more that drawing circles

I highly suggest not using yarn like I stupidly did. It is far to stretchy and you will end up cursing it more than drawing circles

Repeat this step with the other lengths of string until you have four different sized circles.

Now draw out a star that has the points touching the edges of the smallest circle. If you want the wrist strap, a 5in x 2in rectangle will be needed.

Cut out all four circles and the star and possibly a wrist strap the patterns are done!

The Smaller Shield Patterns

The Smaller Shield Patterns

The Larger Shield Patterns

The Larger Shield Patterns

 

Step Two: Fabric Pieces

Using the patterns that you made in the previous step, trace the outline of each piece with either the fabric marking pencil or a colored pencil. I personally use a colored pencil because I am too cheap to purchase a marking pencil.

10in x 2 & 6in in red     8in and 4in star in white       4in in blue

16in x2 & 10in in red    13in and 8in star in white      8in in blue

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Cut each piece out of the fabric, dont forget if you are making the wrist strap to cut out the rectangle needed for that.

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Step Three: Shield front

Start by taking one of the largest red circles and placing the white one as close as possible to the center of the red one. Pin in place so the circle doesn’t slide around.

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Sew the white circle around the outer edge. I used a zig zag stitch on my machine and made it rather tight. I was hoping this would eliminate any fraying of the fabric and would allow it some stretch. I mean, kids of all ages will be playing with these, and I wanted them to have a bit of a give to them so they would fall apart on the first outing.

Repeat this step with the smaller red.

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Pin the star in place at the center of the blue circle. The points of the star should touch the edge of the blue circle. Sew around the star using the same zig zag stitch.

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Now, line up the blue circle with the star on it to the center of the red circle. Pin in place and zig zag stitch around the outer edge.

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The front of the shield is done!

 

Step Four: Wrist Strap (Skip this section if you are not adding the wrist strap)

Taking the rectangle that you cut out in step two, fold over the raw edges to create a 1/4in seam around the entire rectangle, pinning as you go.

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Sew around the edges using a straight stitch.

Pin the edges down where you want the wrist strap to lay on the circle that will become the back of the shield, and sew it in place with a straight stitch in a box shape.

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Step Five: Assemble (lol, get it?!)

To create the pillow form, take the front of the pillow and the larger other large circle, that is being used as the back, and place them right sides, (the side that will actually see when the pillow is done) together.

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Pin this in place and, with a 1/4in seam, sew using a straight stitch around most of the circle. Leave a small opening in one area of the circle, this will not only allow you to flip the pillow inside out, it will allow for the fiberfill to go in.

Turn the pillow inside out and fill it with the fiberfill to your likeness. Try not to over-stuff it to the point that the stitches are stretching from the fiberfill alone but don’t under-fill it so that it is floppy and wont keep it’s shape.

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Once the pillow is filled close the opening. This part needs to be hand sewn no matter what.

The pillow is completely done now.

 

Step Five: Enjoy!

Whether you choose to make the larger shield for your couch, or made the small ones to play with, have fun! I know we here, at Nerdburgh, did. Maybe a little too much fun: but who cares!?

Say hello to David!

Say hello to David!

This is my cat Kacee, I am dumbfounded that she sat so well for this picture

This is my cat Kacee, I am dumbfounded that she sat so well for this picture

 

Please share any photos and comments you may have with this craft.

Death to the Quick Time Events

QTE cover

I consider myself a hardcore gamer. I’ve beaten games on their toughest settings. I have the platinum for Demon Souls, not once but twice (I imported the European version). I enjoy many types of games and even genres I’m not thrilled with I still end up with one or two in my collection. So feel confident when I say I have experienced most of what gaming currently has to offer.

And I’m here to call out the developers, stop with the QTE’s! Quick Time Events, QTE’s are a horrid, relatively new addition to gaming and they must be stopped. For those not well versed, all it boils down to is a video game cut scene with button prompts splashed through it.

So for example, you are fighting a boss in Uncharted when the game takes over. You are clearly not moving Drake anymore you are watching him jump up on some crates to deliver a ‘superman’ punch to the enemy. Half way through his jump the X button shows up somewhere on the screen. If you don’t hit that button before it goes away something bad happens. Either he misses and you have to do everything you just did again to set up the QTE, or sometimes you straight up die.

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That is a very low level example and many of you may feel ‘what’s the big deal?’ Well I’ll tell you, and thanks for setting me up. The article would have really dragged if you hadn’t asked.

Most QTE’s are bigger than what I described, they are a series of semi-random button inputs, scattered around your screen. Even in the same game they are never in the same spot each time. Well sort of. Meaning if your first button is X, then it will most likely always appear in the same spot, but if the next button is L1 it will be somewhere else. So here you are, playing what is supposed to be an epic, comic book level fight, with beautiful choreography and effects. And guess what?

You can’t see a damn thing! You are too busy searching the screen waiting for the next prompt, praying you don’t hit it too late and have to do it all again. Let me give you another example. I recently played Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Carmelita Fox has a mission in the second half of the game where she belly dances to distract the guards. (The fact that this is insulting on a dozen levels is for another article) The dance is a QTE where, similar to a Rock Band game buttons scroll left to right along with the music and you have to hit them at the right time for her to dance ‘well’ and make the guards happy.

I have no idea what she did. She could have been dancing the chicken or doing an X rated lap dance, because I couldn’t see it. I had to watch the lower half of the screen and time everything perfectly. I’m not complaining because I “missed out” on her dancing I’m complaining because it was stupid to put something in there that the player will never see. You’d have to watch it on YouTube in order to know what went on.

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Developers think it helps with the immersion instead of showing a true cut scene. But they are wrong, it takes away. When you are fighting through Uncharted, after the first chapter or so the commands are second nature. Drake running and gunning, or jumping from platform to platform is fluid and you don’t think about it. The character on screen is you. That is connection. Not being able to see what the devs worked hard to animate and just playing a glorified simon says takes you out of the game.

Either give us normal gameplay that we have been learning the whole game or just show a really cool cutscene. By shoving in those QTE’s you not only hid the impressive work you did as a designer you pull us out of the game. Plus it’s just flat out annoying.

Game On!

“Everyone can cosplay!”–Privilege and Entitlement

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So, recently, I have seen this picture floating around:

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credit: Unkown

Those that think this way are…right, but wrong. Everyone has a right to dress how they’d like, cosplay who they want, and no one can stop them (bar public indecency, but that’s another article altogether). Everyone can cosplay, no matter size, race, gender, yada yada.

Now, having said that, I also think people need to realize that no one owes anyone anything. Photographers are not obligated to take everyone’s picture. You do not ‘deserve’ to be chosen for a cosplay music video. If you are a very large woman cosplaying a kawaii 12-year-old, or a very thin guy cosplaying Superman, or your entire Gundam cosplay is made out of cardboard, you may not look “amazing” by everyone else’s standards. But that is OKAY. You deserve common decency, but you do NOT deserve to demand the same treatment that the screen-accurate Iron Man or Chun Li is getting. It is not bullying if someone takes a picture of another Harley Quinn but does not want yours. You deserve respect but so does that photographer that may not like your costume as much. He or she is not a jerk for that, and if you think that they are, you are wrong.

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Thanks Brad Pitt

There will always be someone who gets more attention, who looks better in their cosplay, who people won’t stop talking about two weeks after the con. If that bothers you, step up your game or change your mindset! It’s awesome to get recognized, to hear someone call your character’s name and stop you for a picture. But the same people like the artist that made the comic at the beginning of this article also say that cosplay should be for the love of the hobby; let it be for fun, and if you can’t have fun without pats on the back, try and improve.

I know that it can sometimes be hard if you’re not a thin, pale-skinned female or a fit, tall pale-skinned male to find a cosplay you want to do. I’m fat, and while I am working on changing that, I still need to find cosplays that I can pull off at my size. But I am not restricted to Ursula from the Little Mermaid, black people are not restricted to Static Shock, and old men are not restricted to Dragon Ball’s Master Roshi. Crossplay is very common and one of the best Link cosplays I have ever seen was a female cosplayer. There are brilliant cosplayers out there that break the mold, and their craftsmanship and good costume choices make all the difference. For example, Ivy Doomkitty has a giant following, and she is not a traditional size 2. The best cosplayers, regardless of the canvas they have to work with, put in the work and they reap the benefits.

In short, yes, you can cosplay anything you want, but no, you should not expect to look amazing in every cosplay you want to do. But no one deserves special treatment, and you are not special. You get back from this hobby what you put in, and while you may have a physical setback, with hard work, you can overcome it.

Happy cosplaying!

Sci-Fi Valley Con 2014

Fans in the bleachers attempt to keep fans on the floor cool.

This is the third year for the Sci-Fi Valley Con in Altoona and I have been wanting to go to show my support for local conventions but other events scheduled of past years have interfered with my plans. Not this year, though. I threw on my vest and goggles, waxed my mustache and headed out.

Altoona is a little less than two hours from Pittsburgh and pretty much a straight shot out Route 22. This year’s venue, the Jaffa Shrine Center, is a big 1930s block of a Masonic building and the large Stargate out front made it clear that one had arrived at a con. There was also a large inflatable Laser Tag arena on the lawn.

Inside and first thing through the door was the replica Jurassic Park jeep that con organizers had built specifically for their con. The jeep was joined by Christine, the 1966 Batmobile, Ecto-1 and, a staple at Pittsburgh comic conventions, the “Back to the Future” Delorian time machine.

The Gearbox Union had a number of tables from which they were raffling off prizes donated by many of the merchants. They also had a game that encouraged con attendees to interact with the dealers, artists and guests. A fantastic idea. I didn’t get in on the action myself but it seemed to be propagating itself through the con fairly well. They also hosted the charity auction later in the day.

In addition to the artists and dealers there were gaming tables in addition to a video game tournament. At most cons I am used to seeing these things somewhat segregated, tucked out of sight where only the gamers can find them. Here they were right there out in the open. I don’t know how well doing it that way drew people in but I appreciate the intention. Or perhaps it was merely a necessity of the venue. I could also see where it could be an issue for the game players to have too many spectators crowding the space.

I had intended to spend more of my time watching the panels and presentations but, just as I do with other conventions, I was distracted by conversations and such and so missed out. Perhaps if I had joined in the Gearbox Union’s games I would have been prompted to interact more.

It took nearly two hours to work their way through the masquerade. Part of me wants to find some way to pair it down so that it isn’t so long for the spectators and participants. Two hours is a long time and one of the reasons I don’t participate. On the other hand, everyone who wanted to had a chance to be a part of it and, in so many ways, that’s what cosplay is all about.

The balance of the con is somewhat different for those used to things like Steel City Con and Pittsburgh Comicon. There are more artists, artisans and small press than there are more conventional dealers. And it seems to match well with the attendees. I had a conversation with Garrett Free, author and artist of “Arcadian Knights” and he said that at Sci-Fi Valley people stop to talk to him and actively look at his stuff. People who bought his first issue at the first con bought the next issues at the next con and have returned yet again to get his latest issues. When he goes back to other conventions, he will go as an attendee instead of as a dealer.

Several others described Sci-Fi Valley as their favorite con.

Normally, at this point I would feel compelled to go into the negatives of the convention, such as the inability of the venue to keep the temperature down, especially in the auditorium area, but the con has outgrown the Jaffa Shrine Center and will be at the Blair County Convention Center next year, rendering criticism of the current air conditioning situation somewhat moot.

The second year for the con had double the attendance of the first and the person I was talking to on Saturday had said that their Friday numbers for 2014 had been double their previous year. They are well on their way to becoming a strong regional convention.

Sci-Fi Valley Con is the little convention that did.

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