rax: (Twilight finds this reading interesting!)
I spent this past weekend at a Magic tournament called "Cardmaggedon" which was... much smaller than expected, but that meant I won $150 despite not doing super well, so, hooray? I've gone to big tournaments a few times in the last couple of months (one in LA, one in Oakland, and this one in Las Vegas) and the LA trip I took with a group of friends and the other two I was supposed to end up with friends but ended up alone. Not totally alone --- a friend from outside Magic happened to be at the first day of the Oakland event and that was great, and people I know but don't consider (close?) friends from Tucson were in Vegas --- but pretty much "done playing cards, walk/transit back to place I am staying, order food, read more about magic" alone. This kind of sucks, as raxes are extroverts and really like having people around for that kind of recharge time. But I would do it again. (And, in fact, am doing it again in Denver in less than three weeks.)

I really enjoy games --- you know this if you've known me for any period of time. I particularly like this game, in its many formats and its different types of skilltesting and its pushing my collector/accumulator/sorter buttons. I have strong mixed feelings about travel. I would have expected that I would not be about all of the travel required to play in big Magic tournaments very often. I... think I actually am? It's tricky, because the people I have to travel with are mostly acquaintances who I may like rather a lot but have no idea how to interact with --- they have very different social norms and expectations from me, and while we're on a team together, they've all been friends for a long time and they're all guys and probably it's as hard for them to figure out how to interact with me as it is for me with them. We're not close enough at this point that I'm invited to share rides or hotel rooms (I've offered, but been declined) --- so I'm mostly on my own for that. [0]

Something else I've noticed about this is that when I go and play or judge card game tournaments for a while I drop everything else on the floor because it is just less important. I send some <3 texts or IMs or something to my partners and might have a lazy conversation in the evening or something, but unlike most of my travel, I'm not staring at work email, I'm not trying to get a bunch of other things done, I am engaged and deeply focused in a way that is really rewarding and makes me want to do more of it. So even with all of the downsides I described up there I'm kind of tempted to structure my life to involve more going to these tournaments and trying to get better at this game, in combination with the Pokemon judging I already do (which is also increasing in intensity both in terms of how much of it I am doing and how much I am enjoying it/engaged by it). How bad of an idea is this?

(ps this is posted on Christmas morning because I had all but a couple of sentences done and I am waiting for a server install to finish, not because this is _particularly_ on my mind today, but because I am starting to stretch out for my end-of-year-email --- it's going to be a long one this year, y'all.)

[0] I do have the friend I keep trying to go to these events with, but we're obviously cursed as this time she had to say "I can't come play Magic because my mother is in a coma" (her mother is out of the coma now hooray!); I also have some friends locally who are totally down to come to one or two events a year with me but uh. I would use up my one or two events a year in a month at the pace I want to be going. :P
rax: (Silver is deeply embarrassed.)
  • Reports of my getting a new cat have sadly been exaggerated. On the plus side, this means my aunt and uncle have found a way to keep their cat, which is very good, because no one wants to give up their cat. And I'm basically prepped for another cat... so... we'll see. If I'm timing it myself, I won't be getting another cat until I will be in town for a month straight, anyway. Or any other pet. Maybe I only need one pet? I don't know. Anyway.
  • School starts super soon! I'm really excited for this semester, and not sure what to expect, although I guess a little more sure than I was last semester. Probably we will read a lot of books, have discussions in class, and I will have to write two or three long papers and a number of shorter papers. There might be a small group project or two, and probably I'll go to a conference or two. There will be at least one book that bores me to tears and at least one that takes thirty hours of my time and I am thinking about for months after. At some point I will get ahead and be able to genuinely coast for a little while; at some point I will get behind and freak out for a little while. Yup, it's graduate school.
  • For some reason I made two loaves of bread today. The foccaccia turned out delicious if slightly misshapen; the loaf of half-wheat-half-white bread is delicious but I put too much yeast in and... well, here, let me show you a picture:
  • The bread machine is not supposed to be a pan.
  • I am not sure what I am going to do about this or how I will clean the top of the bread machine. I may have to disassemble it. :/ At least I have confirmed that the issue I was having earlier is "the zojirushi demands more water" not "the zojirushi demands more yeast." The zojirushi definitely does not demand more yeast. You can tell from the that.
  • Today has been an absurdly productive day for me. I have done almost all of the things I wanted to get done this weekend, and it is only Saturday evening. Expect tomorrow to be spent playing video games. Maybe I'll take a walk if it isn't hideous out. Ooh, or maybe I will try to find something social to do! I could take the bus into town and sit in a cafe maybe. That seemed to work pretty well for me in San Francisco. And the cafe I like has vegan cookies...
  • Speaking of video games, I started Final Fantasy: Four Heroes of Light. I agree with my brother that it's sort of hard to figure out what to do; miss one person in the town and don't talk to them and you can be completely lost for an hour wandering places you should not wander and being stomped. Oops. It's still fun overall, so far, though, and it does have that old-school flavor in a way other recent Final Fantasy games have not. Will it hold my attention strongly enough for me to finish it during a semester? ...With Pokemon White/Black coming out March 6th? ... I'm not counting on it.
  • I woke up this morning at 8:30 AM without an alarm. Given that a week ago I woke up at 2:30 PM local time, this is pretty incredible. I only need to get to 7:30 in order to have a reasonable sleep schedule for the semester. One more hour, three more days. I can do this.
  • I am still dealing with insurance fallout from the fire in November. This is an irritation. Hopefully it will be done soon.

Alive.

Dec. 5th, 2010 11:20 pm
rax: (Benten metal sign)
  • Spent the weekend with a houseguest, which was enjoyable and forced me to spend at least some time playing board games instead of working on final papers. (God do I miss having someone around who will just play game after game of two player advanced Race for the Galaxy with me.) We also made an apple pie! 
  • Finished a draft of my Concepts of Gender paper, and it's... well, it's either really awesome or completely insane. There's a lot in there and I think a lot of what is in there is good and I don't know if it all hangs together. Luckily a classmate and I are swapping papers and she will be honest with me about whether it works or not. ...whether I have the time to fix it if it doesn't work is another question, and depends on how quickly I progress with my other paper. But I can at least fix the most obvious things, and professors understand that we have finite time to produce these papers in. They're not meant to be first drafts, but they're also not meant to be journal-ready.
  • And that's about it. Although I'm working on another post and I might or might not friends-lock it, I haven't decided yet. Providing useful information to people is good! Providing deeply personal information to the world at large is bad! I guess I'll decide and you'll see.
  • Oh, and CATGIRL GOTH RAVE. Expect an invite under friendslock with location information within the next 24 hours; I am just waiting on my host to send me address/directions.

Week!

Nov. 27th, 2010 08:57 am
rax: (Horo apple)
  • We had a ten-person Thanksgiving dinner at my house! It was not entirely vegan, as one of the housemates made meaty stuffing and chicken pot pie, but the other, like, twelve courses were vegan. (There might have been a pie that was only vegetarian actually. But generally speaking.) I made pancakes for everyone to eat while we were cooking and then made four vegan pizzas with homemade fake meat. I had originally been planning a bunch of stuffed squash but the fire ruined all of my squash and then [personal profile] hao  mentioned vegan pizza and I was like WANT. Thank goodness I have a bread machine! After dinner we all played Rock Band and I even graded some more student papers and in general it was pretty awesome. The kitchen is... almost clean?
  • Incidentally, my fake meat recipe is really simple: Take dried TVP/TSP (textured vegetable/soy protein, you can probably get it in the bulk foods aisle of your hippie grocery) and soak it in a mixture of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and water for an hour or two. (You don't need to soak it that long probably but I like to get it nice and moist because I am going to cook so much moisture out of it.) Fry it in olive oil with a ton of basil and oregano for only a few minutes --- you want a few of the smaller pieces to get crisped but mostly you are searing the oily spices onto the outside of the TSP --- and then put that over pizza, or just pick at it while you are waiting for the oven to be free so that you can make the pizzas. Usually I use Field Roast sausages but they have a tiny amount of potato in them and lately that has been enough to set me off. :( But this is an awesome replacement, and cheaper.
  • It's not just me who is very particular and has My Plate and My Fork and My Glass For Drinking Water With and hates when they are not available. Apparently this is something my mom does too, except her coping mechanisms for this are so completely different from mine that neither of us noticed that the other one had this quirk. Unless she noticed that I had it and was just being coy, I'm not sure. :) This comes up a lot more than it used to for me in part because I am STRESSZILLA but also in part because previously I had eight of "my fork" and so on, but now I have a unique fork, plate, bowl-for-cereal, and water glass. :( It's on my long term tasklist to track down more of the fork and maybe buy more of the water glass; the bowl is a lost cause because it's a handmade gift someone made for me ten years ago, and the plate has a chip so even though I know where I could buy more there is no point, I could never duplicate the chip. I am very lucky that my housemates and local friends are very chill about this.
  • It's bad enough lately that I travel with my fork. It's a good thing I'm checking luggage to California this upcoming trip; I'm not sure what I'll do for Further Confusion. Hopefully "be less stressed so that I do not need to bring a fork from home." If it gets to the point where I want to bring it to restaurants (currently I do not have this desire) I may start seeing a shrink about it. Otherwise I am satisfied with my coping mechanisms.
  • Got to spend part of yesterday with my uncle and aunt and their five Siamese cats. *swoon* I shouldn't get like ten cats, right? ...Right? Especially since Selene actually came to bed with me last night and stayed there the whole time, even managing to adjust as I rolled around. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
  • The kitchen is usable again! The cabinets are repaired! This week they are repainting (because some of the smoke will not come out) and finishing up cleaning and maybe wallpapering the backsplash depending on how long it takes the new wallpaper to get in stock and then I will get a new range hood and then it will be DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE. I am very glad of this. Cooking is nice. Also I still need to fill out insurance paperwork. ;.; At least this didn't happen when I had no wiggle room on final papers, but it still hurts, a lot. Ow.
  • I have a small stack of Reward Games showing up in the next couple of weeks: "Finish your final papers and you too can play Pokemon Mystery Dungeon/Final Fantasy The Four Heroes Of Light/Pokemon White/Dragon Warrior IX!" If it weren't for JRPGs I would get so much more doneprobably I dunno watch television or something else that wasn't real work, it's not like I can actually be productive every hour I am not sleeping. Oh wait I know what I would do if I weren't playing JRPGs! Roguelike games. Right then. These are cuter.
  • For my mother's benefit (primarily, anyway) I was thinking about wishlist items and everything I came up with was a kitchen appliance or a power tool. Who am I and what have I done with the Rachel who always orders food and refuses to operate a screwdriver? And how do I make sure she doesn't escape because this is awesome?
  • Oh and just to be explicit, it is OK to call me again.

rax: (mijumaru plays the tuba all up in here)
Weekly post of not reading notes, I choose you! Use your bullet seedlist attack! (oh god I am such a dork)
  • I. Have. COUCHES. <3 This means that instead of sitting and doing my readings in bed (which is supposed to be psychologically bad or something and also the back support is not great), or sitting at the dining room table, I can sit and do readings in the library, which has matching couches and each couch has a little table in front of it for laptops and books and the one I'm using now even has a LAMP. <3 It's pretty awesome. Also, new couches smell kinda weird; this confuses the cats [0] as much as it confuses me. I'm sure after a while that fades. It's like new car smell, but for couches! Neither of which I seem to enjoy terribly.
  • Netiquette question: I basically don't use facebook, but I have an account, because otherwise I don't get invited to parties and my family uses facebook messaging instead of email. This isn't awesome, but I'd rather hear from them on facebook instead of not at all, you know? Generally when someone sends me a message it's either private or something for some sort of application I'm comfortable ignoring, but today I got like fifteen messages on my "Wall" saying happy birthday. Do the rules of Facebook etiquette require I respond to each one individually? All in one go, with an additional "wall" post? Not at all? I have posted to Facebook I think twice ever, once to say "I don't use this, contact me elsewhere" and once to say "I'm moving to Indiana." I want to do the correct thing but oh my god I think I got more facebook messages this morning than I had previously received total.
  • Some of y'all are furry pornographers! (Maybe some of y'all are regular pornographers too, but I don't keep track.) The Kinsey Institute, which I can see from the window of my office, is having a Juried Art Show. Y'all should represent, and if you need somebody to handle stuff on the ground, I'm happy to help.
  • I will be spending most of Saturday at the Queering the Countryside conference. I'll be taking notes, though I don't know if I'll transcribe them all (I will probably use paper because I am sure there will be competition for outlets and I don't mind paper). I may not go to the "fun" events because free food I can't eat and liquor is not really my idea of "fun" and sitting and listening to people talk is. I... have sort of turned into a square. ^^;; Except a square wearing pink and black striped armwarmers with stars on them? I dunno. Anyway, this conference should be awesome, and I will try to post some kind of writeup even if it is just "hey dwircleflist [1] here is the PDF I am handing in to my professor about this, read if you want to!"
  • Amazon is trying to sell me video games on sale. Kiiiiind of tempted to allow it to do so. I've seen good reviews for the new DS Final Fantasy and for Rock Band 3 (which I think my mom will kill me if I don't have when she gets here for Thanksgiving, although there is no way I am buying all the new peripherals I need that money to go visit people) --- if I get both of those I can get some other game for free. One person has said good things about DWIX; I could also get Pokemon Ranger instead. Sadly, they don't have Pokemon Mystery Dungeon as part of the list, as I hear that's basically Pokemon and Roguelikes, Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together!
  • I'm planning travel through, like, May. (Anyone know when Steer Roast is going to be with sufficient certainty that I could just buy tickets?) Right now it's looking like this:


    • Dec 15--Jan 2: San Francisco for Catgirl Goth Rave and general madness, with possibility of jaunt down to LA for a bit

    • Jan 13--Jan 16: Further Confusion in San Jose, although I am not 100% committed to this yet, I need to decide if I'm comfortable dealing with the hotel and con costs. But a lot of people I want to see will be there and one of my housemates might come with me.

    • Jan 28--Jan 31: I get to see Ruth!

    • Mar 11--Mar 16: Tentatively:Seattle! Highly influenced, of course, by the presence of certain coyotes.

    • Mar 16--Mar 21: Tentatively:New England! To see friends and family once the weather isn't that terrible.


  • Also I continue to work on my papers, even if just a little bit here and there, and it's awesome. I am especially psyched for my TST paper obviously but I am also happy about the Concepts of Gender paper, which will be working with some of the same ideas but in a very different theoretical framework, one that's more clearly related to current lived experience of people who aren't me. I think the balance is good.
  • Hope you all are doing well! It's back to work with me now...





[0] Yes, cats plural. Oolong is still here due to non-hilarious airline hijinks. Current plan is for Cassandra to take her when she gets the stuff that's still here; in the meantime I am blessed with another couple of weeks of her company.

[1] Totally stole "dwircleflist" from [personal profile] chagrined .

rax: (ADORAVUL[PIX])
Maybe I'll try to do one of these "things that aren't class notes or tasklists" posts a week.
  • So far, new housemate is awesome, and there's ample space in the house so I don't feel trod upon but there's someone else to talk to periodically. That's basically ideal. (Also, I think his alarm is going off at... 11 AM. Damn, crazy nightshifted people. (edited to add: I think he turned it off and went back to sleep. :P )) A mutual friend of ours is considering taking the remaining room --- I'm trying not to get too excited but it would basically be perfect. 
  • This weekend featured great conversations with people I hold dear, which is always excellent. It may even feature more, although I expect today to be mostly homework with a side of housework; I spent more time yesterday on social than I had initially budgeted.
  • I tried to run errands this morning, but stores aren't open at 9 AM on a Sunday. I guess everyone else is either hung over or at church. Well, I wanna buy some stuff! Come on, people! (In particular I am out of soy sauce and do not wish to pay Bloomingfoods prices when I could just go to the Asian grocery. I wil stop by on my way home from class in the next couple of days, I guess.)
  • My Pokédex is now at 441; if I have time this evening I will be making a list of everything I need, and how I can go about getting it. I'll probably post that here just in case any of you are curious. I guess when I hit 493, I... stop? Or I could do a Nuzlocke run (you can read the rules here since Nuzlocke.com is down right now) which for those of you unfamiliar with pokemon is basically like doing a NetHack conduct run, which as you may know I have some history with. I'm still proud of that NetHack game. Orrrrr... has anyone heard anything about whether the new Final Fantasy for the DS is any good? (Old-style RPGs seem to be really good for my sanity in small to middling doses. I don't ask questions, I do the things that make me not lose my shit.)
  • Spent last Thursday night and Friday in Ohio for work, and worked like 18 hours or something while I was there; have to do it again this week but with more hours (probably like 22-24). On the plus side that means anyone who calls me on Wednesday can kindly fuck off speak to another representative. And I should be able to get ahead on homework this week which will be awesome.
  • Leaves are starting to change, and I should probably buy a rake. Potentially dumb question: Do homeowners rake and dispose of all of their leaves, rather than letting them degrade into the soil, for appearance reasons? Or is there a good reason to make them go away? Also uh I should figure out how to go about being an adult who has a fireplace. This is not a skill I have ever learned. I can start a fire --- I did go to MIT after all --- but I'm not good at things like "keeping it contained in a fireplace" or "having it go out without the use of fire extinguishers. (I even managed "starting a charcoal grill without lighter fluid because furries are not prepared for things" a couple of months ago, although we didn't really get it to meat-cooking heat until someone brought lighter fluid. By that point I had eaten, go team vegan.)
  • I should also buy a snow shovel, so that I don't get caught without one when everyone else is trying to buy one. I do have an electric snowblower, but something that's not terribly effective.
  • I think for the time being "not drinking" has changed from "I don't seem to be doing this anymore" to a rule; I dunno if it will stick or not. I'm pretty sure this is the opposite of what one is supposed to do in grad school, but so is having a tech job, and so is owning a house, so whatever.
  • A coworker got me listening to Kate Miller-Heidke, who has less bass in her music than is usually my preference but an amazing voice and a great sense of timing. Here's a link to one of her songs I'm fond of --- sorry for the boring video but I couldn't find a non-live version. As a side benefit, having iTunes do the Genius thing with her is finding stuff I had forgotten about but really like (is "Little Boots" your fault, Rik?). I have no idea how said coworker can like Miller-Heidke so much and hate Kate Bush, though.
  • Speaking of music, have you all heard the new Of Montreal album? I found it much easier to get into than Skeletal Lamping (or even Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse) but a little more heavy-handed or less nuanced or something? The tracks with Janelle Monae are particularly enjoyable, and I should track down some of her stuff. I have not been listening to it non-stop to try to get it like I did with the two albums previously mentioned, but it was hardly a waste of $5.
rax: (Benten guitar case)
Doing this now because otherwise I never will, here are some thoughts about the small anime con I just attended:
  • Got asked early on by someone not in costume at all "Are you a furry?" I said "Uh, yeah" expecting a negative response and he said "Oh thank god I thought I was the only one, I keep seeing people in animal costumes who aren't furries." It sparked a conversation, which was pretty amusing. (I spent Friday and Sunday as a fox, and Saturday in full catgirl regalia including spots painted on my arms. [0])
  • Watched two anime that were new to me: Ouran High School Host Club (want to see the rest now; the first two episodes were better than I had expected from what I had heard about it, although still kinda eye-rolly in places) and Hetalia Axis Powers (I walked out in the middle, I do not understand why anyone watches this show. OK that's unnecessarily harsh it made me laugh a couple of times. I do not understand why it is the Next Big Thing).
  • Was encouraged to run a cat ear making workshop; am not sure I will be in town next year (it's moving to December 16-18, what the hell?) but apparently that would get me in for free which would be pretty cool, and I could teach people to make cat ears, which would also be pretty cool. So maybe? Definitely, while the cosplayers are amazing, this con had lower standards for animal ears than Anthrocon does. I would feel lame sauce bringing my homemade ears to Anthrocon, they would have been fine here.
  • The best part for me was the "Iron Lolita" event, where teams of three (I got teamed up with two strangers, who it turned out were award-winning cosplayers with way more costuming experience than me) had an hour to make an Elegant Gothic Lolita dress (google that if you don't know what I mean) out of duct tape, newspaper, garbage bags, and balloons... in an hour. We came in third on largely arbitrary judging, but everyone made awesome dresses and so the placing didn't really matter other than meaning I got a DVD and some stickers. When I get photos I will post them, our dress turned out amazing!
  • I got to play a bunch of go. Go go go go go go. I miss go. And chess. *nostalgia*
  • The pokemon event was fun but kinda disappointing --- rather than being a huge pile of people trading and battling, it was mostly "let's all talk about Black and White and ask questions that would have been answered if people had been reading the LJ pokemon community or serebii or really anything" [1] and a trivia contest (I came in second, I won some keychains, whee!). This was not unfun because dude we talked about pokemon for two hours even my friends who like Pokemon won't let me do that with them. But I only got one battle and only got a couple of trades; although my pokedex is now at, like, 435? 436? So that's pretty amazing. Getting there!!! If it had been on Saturday instead of the last event of the con, I could have found the other serious people and met up with them later in the con. I suggested that to them for next year and they agreed --- scheduling was tight this year I guess, and something has to be last, after all.
  • Found a remarkably good sushi place like a mile from the con; other than that, ate trail mix. SO MUCH TRAIL MIX. This time I brought trail mix without Goji berries and my life was not pain!
  • Various people were providing maid service (mostly of things I couldn't eat) in a little lounge area, and trying to get into service/character with it, and most people were not obliging them. I hope I made a couple of them happy by (a) being able to put on formal roles and request and thank them for things properly and (b) tipping them, visibly, in such a way as to encourage others to do so as well. Certainly the smile on one of their faces when I thanked her for rice crackers in an elaborate way made me happy.
  • For most people at the con who I got into major conversations with, anime seemed to be one of the main driving things in their lives, an organizing principle. I used to be more into it, but even when I was, it was never the top in my constellation of interests, and it shows in how many shows I just have not even heard of. This is neither good nor bad [2] it's just sort of a thing --- and of course, it may just seem that way because of course they want to talk mostly about anime at an anime convention, duh. Furry cons don't seem to work the same way though, I dunno.
  • I got a bunch of reading done, although this week is still gonna be a little painful homework-wise. Relatedly, I think I'm done here. :)


[0] This fits pretty well with how I've been feeling lately when I check my speciesometer: "mostly kinda foxy but in a half-assed way, sometimes I AM A CAT YOU WILL TREAT ME AS SUCH." In case you, for some reason, care.

[1] ...on the basis of knowing more about (some subsets of) pokemon than the people at the pokemon panel I declare myself a serious pokemon dork and am unsure how I feel about this. That was not what I meant at all when I bought that game.

[2]  Well, it's good for me because I don't care about anime that much and if I did treat it that way I would not be happy with how I organized my life. And it's bad, or at least inconvenient, for me when I watch cosplay skits and I'm like "I don't know who any of those people are except Vulpix. Wait, I think that clown is in one of Skuld's icons or something. That probably means he's from One Piece, since he's not Sherlock Holmes."

rax: (foxy snark)
I understand that Dominion is set in medieval Europe and as such is likely to depict limited numbers of women and people of color, especially in powerful roles. But... did they really have to pick the things they did?

Here are all of your women (unless I missed some):
  • Witch (hands out curse cards, is an attack card)
  • Sea Hag (hands out curse cards, is an attack card)
  • Harem (worth money! and victory!)
  • Herbalist (can't really complain about this one)
Here are your people of color (unless I missed some):
  • Harem (don't lean on me babe, 'cause I can't afford the ticket...)
  • Native Village (...back to stereotype city!)
  • Pearl Diver (actually the kid on the card looks sort of white to me, but I figure this is meant to pair with "Native Village")
  • Noble (one of the advisors, not the noble himself)
  • Navigator (this one's fine!)
This is arguably one of the more minor things in the history of minor things, but it makes me grumble, so. Only the Witch, of all eight of those cards, is in the base set. Assuming this universe has a Harem (ugh), there must be contact with non-Western-European communities, so some of the trader/market type cards could have had people of color on them, maybe? Or something? I dunno. Anyway, it's still an awesome game that I intend to play hundreds of times, and now that I have expansions we can have giant eight-person games, which is good, since I was really lacking in games that play well with more than four or five. It's just... irritating that it is not better in this regard.
rax: (eevee love hug smiling)
Sorry, readership; if you don't care about pokemon and don't care about gender theory, I'm probably gonna be pretty boring until December. :)


rax: (pokemon wireless friend code)
(I'm going to try to cut-tag segregate this into "things interesting to people who like hearing me ramble about games and social networks" and "no seriously only follow the cut if you really love you some pokemon," but I have to warn you, it's nerdery all the way down.)

So I picked up Pokemon SoulSilver. [0] In case you're totally unfamiliar with the core of the pokemon games, you're a ten-year-old who is sent out into the world of competitive animal exploitation --- weakening, catching, and training various wild creatures in order to pit them in battles against other trainers for money, with the eventual goal of being at the very top of a highly structured competitive ring of animal slavers. All of the animals are frickin' adorable. The core mechanics are half JRPG --- you've got your hit points and your fighting abilities and items and stats and leveling --- and half extended rock-paper-scissors, in the form of elemental affinities (every pokemon has one or two, every ability you can use has one), some of which are weak to or strong against each other in a mostly balanced way. With almost 500 individual pokemon, all with different stat balances and/or elemental combinations, there's actually a lot of strategy to get into if you are into that sort of thing. Don't believe me? Read the Introduction to Competitive Pokemon, which terrified me away from ever getting seriously into the combat mechanic.

I picked up SoulSilver and not HeartGold because Diane has HeartGold and there are some poor little critters you can only pick up in one game or the other and you have to trade with other people for them. Pokemon is one of the only games I've played that really does a good job at incentivizing both social things and things outside the game, and I like it. There are a number of different ways to trade or play against other people --- you can play with your actual friends, you can trade with strangers over their trading application, or you can meet people over the internet (I use livejournal communities like pokewifi and pokemon) to trade/battle with. It also comes with a pedometer that gives you more in-game items and pokemon for walking long distances in real life. The pedometer lets you level up one of your pokemon by exercising. HOW AWESOME IS THAT. [1]

The metagame goal that I care most about is catching them all, or "filling the Pokedex," basically the index of all Pokemon that you assemble over the course of the game when you meet or catch those Pokemon. If you've ever heard or seen the slogan "Gotta Catch 'Em All?" Yeah, that's this. It requires owning multiple games on multiple systems to do, spending hundreds of dollars... or trading with other people who have the games/systems you don't and assembling your collection that way. [2] This means that there's a lot of culture surrounding it, and first I joined the all-trading community, but then I joined the general community, and today I read Pokemon fan fiction and kinda liked it? I've been a fan of things before (anyone who's seen me interact with Read or Die knows this) but I've never participated in organized fandom, like, at all, and the fact that the natural path to  trying to win this video game caused me to interact with fandom is both really neat and bizarre.

Pokebabble. )

[0] It's SoulSilver, not just RegularSilver, because it's actually a re-release for the DS of Pokemon Silver for the... game boy color or something, and so most of the plot and characters and setting are all rehashes (although of games I've never played). It doesn't feel like a remake of an old game in ways that would annoy me, though, it just has that sort of pleasantly familiar feeling that I get out of replaying old Final Fantasy games at times. If I had played the original, apparently there's enough new stuff to make it worth it anyway probably?

[1] Sadly it doesn't make optimal player choices at level boundaries and so it's actually not as good a grinding tool as it could be otherwise. But I can still play pokemon on the treadmill and be GRINDING TWICE. Clearly I need to use my treadmill to power a coffee grinder. Or, you know, a millstone. "I will grind your levels to bake my bread!"

[2] Or various hackery including but not limited to tricking your DS into connecting to a Python web service hosted on your computer. <3 <3 <3 Although I'm being all anal about legit pokemon which may mean to get some of the really rare ones I have to do dumb things like play "My Pokemon Ranch" on the Wii. :/

[3] Same Type Attack Bonus --- I do care a little about winning, after all...

[4] Although part of the reason this has hooked me is that I keep having to spend time for real work in places like friggin' Dayton OH or air travel which involves mad sitting and waiting while being too groggy for real work but not too groggy to level up Pokemon.

rax: (Benten guitar case)
One of the big reasons I go to Anthrocon, though certainly not the only one, is to play games. I played fewer new games this year, but got in a lot of time with old favorites and with both old and new friends, so I'll still call it a win. Plus, not playing new games means I'm not tempted to buy new games. ;) I've tried to keep this entry to game-related content so that if you don't care you can wait for the next post.

I played a lot of Race for the Galaxy (you know, like you do!), including a few games with Diane that included the third expansion. The third expansion is confusing --- I think it will take me another ten plays or so just to get the mechanics right. While I feel morally obligated to put that amount of work in, and learn the mechanics and get good at it (and even if I don't have a moral obligation, I have a friendly obligation to be able to play with the Posts!), I tend to prefer just the first expansion for random pickup games --- it just doesn't take as long, it's easier to explain, and anyone who's been around for the game once or twice will know how to play it without having to ask "How do takeovers work?" or "What on earth is prestige?" That said, we'll see what I think after another ten or twenty games --- maybe I'll really like the new mechanics. Certainly anytime other people have complained that RftG was broken, my response was "Play another fifty games or so." At this point it's a question of whether I really want to put in the time if no one else around me is going to.

After winning a bunch of games of Race (I didn't lose while I was there at all, actually, which is sort of terrifying) I decided I wanted to play something where I would get crushed, so I jumped into a Magic draft. The way this works (and someday I will make someone sit down and try a Race for the Galaxy draft with me) is that eight people sit down at a table, open up a Magic booster pack, take a card, pass the stack to their left, and repeat three times such that everyone has 45 cards (actually more like 42 because of lands, which get pulled, but whatever). Then you make a deck out of some of those cards, and play a best out of 3 ladder bracket tournament, and winning games causes you to get more cards. I didn't win any games but I actually had a blast being confronted entirely with cards I'd never seen before and trying to make a coherent deck --- aside from one game last Anthrocon where I was heavily shouldersurfed by someone, I haven't played since Ice Age. Other than undervaluing one mechanic (leveling, if you care), I think I did a decent job --- and someone else gave me all their cards from the draft, so I actually ended up with more cards than I would have had if I'd won. Not that I have anything to do with them really. :P The real win here was social, but I'll cover that in more detail in another Anthrocon post.

I also jumped into a tournament-style poker game, which I haven't done most of before. My introduction to the table went like this:

RACHEL: "Oh, huh, this is neat. I haven't played that much with chips before?"
RANDOM FURRY DUDE CLEARLY THINKING OH GOD WHY DID WE LET THE GIRL COME TO THE TABLE: "And what have you played with, then?"
RACHEL: "Oh, money." *teehee!*

OK, maybe I hammed it up a little bit. ;) I feel I represented Danger Haus well --- came in second, only made one really dumb mistake (though it cost me being chip leader), played an entire hand blind and forced everyone else to fold with lots of money in the pot --- only to discover I'd been sitting on the nuts (straight to the ace!) the entire time. So I guess that was a good fold on their part after all? Thanks for the karma, Silvio. :) [0] This was hopefully a social win, although we'll see if I end up spending time with those people next year, but at least Ian was in the game and we got to talk a bunch, so it would have been worth it just for that.

Diane had a great tool for meeting people and sparking conversations: her Pokewalker. It's basically a little pedometer that you can put pokemon inside and get credit for walking around with them --- but it has the extra benefit that two people can trade at least items and maybe also pokemon through them. Of course, tons of furries are into Pokemon, and so there were hundreds of people walking around with these little pedometers on purse straps or badge lanyards or what have you, and it was an entry point for conversation with hundreds of people. Through a complicated series of events --- well, not that complicated, the random roommate we picked up on the anthrocon.org forums was running out of money and offered to pay for the room in part with his DS, since he didn't really use it and I had been waffling about picking one up --- I have Pokemon now. Unfortunately this happened at the very end of the con, but next time I go to a furry con, and it may be sooner than Anthrocon 2011, I'll be able to trade Pokemon with people. Yay! Expect me to blog more about Pokemon. ^^;;

I ran into and gave rides to a bunch of people playing that Furoticon game I wrote about last year. It's, uh, even more what it is than it was before, now that they've added another expansion. Opinions are mixed on whether it's balanced or not; I was on the borderline of trying it out again but ended up doing other things during the time they had their events, and am fine with that. I do not need a CCG in my life. Please, everyone, remind me of this. I wish this game were awesome, and hope it is becoming or becomes awesome, because there's totally room in the universe I want to live in for an excellent game that is also furry porn.

More stuff later --- maybe today, as I'm taking it easy after a really stressful weekend. But right now, I need to go make myself a pizza. =^.^=

[0] Danger Haus is where I used to play poker back in Boston --- no limit hold'em, 25/50cent blinds, slightly odd house rules: you can't buy in again once you've gone all in, but you can play with money in your wallet, and the last person to bet leads the next round of bidding. (Apparently this is because eight years ago or whenever their poker night started, they didn't understand the rules, and they just insisted everyone follow their rules, and it worked. I love Danger Haus.) Silvio is a regular player who is known for playing blind or doing ridiculous things like playing a card face up. He's not a very good poker player, but he gets his hands by convincing you he's much worse than he actually is. :)


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