Saturday, August 30, 2008

PAX Day 1 and LOTRO: Mines of Moria

(This a copy of a post I made on the Lord of the Rings Online forums. I'd rewrite it for a better blog format if I weren't so damn tired.) 


The banner in the main entry, first thing I noticed when I lined up to register. It was huge.

The line to enter the exhibit hall. I stood here for two hours for MoM. My feet hate me, but it was worth it.(Addition: I said this, and then found out what a useless fiasco the line was with thousands of people waiting 2+ hours to get in while people who just registered were walking right in because they didn't know there was a line and no one bothered to stop them)

The standing ads I mentioned. There's a key to decifer the runes in the main PAX program, and if you translate it and bring it to the Turbine booth they enter you in a contest for some awesome stuff.

MoM central! I thought I'd taken more pictures, but apparently I didn't.

I'm no game reviewer, Moria is indeed huge. One portion that really impressed me is the caverns where the Balrog was found. It looked at first pretty typical of a huge dungeon space. But then Jeff started leaping off ledges and I realized that every single area of what I'd assumed from experience to be backgroun was explorable. He dropped down probably five or six ledges, each quite a long drop and still had more above. Every corner of the zone is actual zone, meaning no flat texture on a sky dome or any such. The scale was really amazing. Also, apparently they actually did make the Endless Stair, though we didn't see it. I saw stable markers on the map, but my curiousity about what we'll be riding wasn't satisfied.

Warden looked really fun, there were probably two dozen or more combos. Basically warden has an added UI bit, a set of squares (five I think). You can build combos by using abilites, which each have a color. (Think fellowship manuver - yellow, red, blue, green.) You can choose either to say, do two yellow colored moves and then perform the combo, or follow that by two red and a blue and build up to a bigger combo. It seemed hella complicated and I joked to my boyfriend that I'll need a cheat sheet of combos on my desk to remember what does was. There were a LOT of them.

I mentioned to a few people I sat with at the party that I was kicking myself for not asking what races were limited to what class. I believe both the warden and runekeeper demo characters were Elves though. The armor was also flipping gorgeous, especially the robe the RK was wearing. I was happy to see some new things, rather the same three or four basic robe shapes with different textures.

The legendary weapon system, as I said, really floored me. It was very in deapth and complicated, and I can say there are going to be some really godly weapons coming out of it.

Now, must feint. Have to be back at 11:00 am tomorrow

Edit: Bah! Forgot to elaborate on trait sets. I was really confused by the concept, and they've been so vague about what it is that I feel having seen it I should explain. They revamped the trait ui big time, and gave us a ton more slots. Each type of trait now has it's own tab in the UI. The new traits are in sets, like armor. So say, you collect this set of specific exploration traits. You set two of the traits from the set and earn a bonus, four and earn the first bonus plus the new one etc. I didn't get a chance to ask about how the old traits will fit in (or think too really. Info overload!) but just from the look at the UI I got I saw a whole heck of a lot more slots, including at least five or six legendary."

I arrived at the Turbine booth just after the exbit hall opened, it was the first place I headed. Seeing two men in Turbine shirts, obviously dev types playing Moria I scampered over ended up one of a dozen or so standing around watching them demo all the different details and ask questions. It wasn't until afterward that I realized the man I watched play and who answered all my questions was Jeff Steefel... the freaking excecutive producer of LOTRO. So, I not only was one of the very first to see Mines of Moria as this is it's first public showing, but I got a rather personal run through and Q and A with a big wig. How fracking awesome is that?

Later in the evening Brit and I head across Pike to Gameworks for the Turbine party. It was a lot of fun, free food, free drinks and tshirts (woo, swag). Two things impresssed me about the shirts. 1) They had seperate shirts for creeps and freeps (the "factions" in LoTRO. Though they're really less factions than ... eh. Google "monster play". It's an awesome system.) Freeps got a shirt that said "Watcher of Roads", which I of course got. And creeps got "Servant of Angmar". Fippy (my warg) would knaw my leg off for not getting the creep one but he can deal with it. 2) They had women's cut! Any gamer girl prone to getting swag tshirts knows how insanely rare it is to find that. I'm wearing the hell out of my shirt. 

I think my favorite non-LoTRO related moment of the day was the keynote speech. It really touched a cord with a lot of the growd I think, and was very nerd-empowering. I'm glad I decided to go. The other was getting to see Wil Wheaton, who I use to have a mad crush on as a little girl. I could have stood in line to meet him as well but I had an unusual attack of shyness in the large crowd. It's been years and years since I felt uncomfortable in a crowd. I guess like, eight thousand is just my limit. 

One a personal note, my feet are killing me and how in the hell does a convention center get away with charging almost $4 for a bottle of Vitamin Water? Saddest part of PAX weekend? I have so little time to play LoTRO. And I just finally finshed Tomb of Elendil which has a boss that tends to kick your butt and take hours to kill. Plus, roleplaying wise I'm finally at a point where I can advance some personal RP that I've waiting to do for a month. But PAX, Gah! 

Edit: Will resize the imagine to fit better tomorrow. Having done my duty as a gamer to share new info with my brethren, I am finally going to pass out. Early day tomorrow. 

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yakitate!! Japan and PAX prep

For some very odd reason, I can't stop watching an anime about bread.

I picked this one up while looking for blog themes, I found one based on this anime and thought "Alright. It's about food... sure". After one episode I told Brit that it seemed too over the top and shonen like for me, but that he'd probably get a kick out of it's satire and comedy. He watched the first episode and didn't really like it. Yet now for some reason I keep watching it...

The central storyline is about a boy with magical "Solar Hands" who has a dream of creating the perfect japanese bread. The title is a pun, and puns are everywhere in the show. Pan means bread in Japanese. So calling his dream bread Ja-pan ... well, you get it.

It pokes fun at the over the top, action oriented shonen genre but does it in such a way that I'm pretty sure that somewhere there's a group of ten year old boys who take the show very seriously. If I didn't realize that it was a satire I'd likely have thought it very, very stupid. But as someone who admitedly loved Naruto but rolled her eyes as it's fights that lasted half a dozen episodes and entire episodes where nothing really happened other than to up the stress level of whatever seven part fight was happening at the moment, I can get that Yakitate!! Japan makes fun of itself while succeding pretty well at being a shonen anime itself. It includes overly frequent references to the lead characters warmer the normal magical Solar Hands, campy cut scenes of the wonderlands that good bread apparently gives you when eaten, a character who's sword doubles a rolling pin etc. 

The only question that remains is ... why am I still watching it?! I don't know. Maybe I have a soft spot for Japanese insanity or maybe I'm just nuts enough about food to actually enjoy the educational rambles about bread making. Scratch both those maybes. It's like ... Iron Chef meets anime.

Silly bread-anime aside, I'm gearing up for PAX starting tomorrow. I'm excited and feel really spoiled that such a big gaming con takes place ten minutes away from me. Friday is opening day which means waiting in line since we didn't get to pre-pay. That should be fun. Turbine, the developers of the MMO we currently play, is throwing a party at Gameworks after the exhibit hall closes which I am hella looking forward to.  Free food, free drinks, games and lovely lovely swaaaaag. I'm also looking forward to meeting Critters from NC Soft/Tabula Rasa who I worked with back when I ran a roleplaying fansite for that game after beta. Pictures will follow, if I can find the usb cord for my poor old camera.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The path goes ever and on.

If I spent half as much time updating this blog as I have fusing over it's hosting and template it'll be the third longest blog in history. I've still got to finish my blogroll/links and come up with a discription if I decide to do so as well as provide a location for tags, my current media and thumbnails of bento pics. Blah. My prior personal blog was kept for six years, in the interst of promoting sanity on the internet I will attempt to make this one a bit -less- personal than the last. I will provide a bit of background in that my name is Melissa, I live in Seattle but grew up in small town Missouri and I'm a Japanese language student and gamer girl. 

Centered around my hobbies: Gaming (and roleplaying), bento (my new craze, yum yum) and my ever prescent Japanophilia. 

A bit about the name - I started my first online journal when I was sixteen, eight years ago. Yes, I said "online journal" because when I began the term blog hadn't been coined. In emo teenager style it was named after a Tori Amos song that was in my head the night I set it up. Keeping the tradition this blog is named after the title song of Azumanga Daioh which happened to be stuck firmly in my head when I was pondering a name.  It's literal translation is "earless cake" or "deaf cake" but the meaning is closer to "imaginary cake" or "dream cake". I chose to spell cake as it is pronounced in Japanese "keki" becaues I think it's cute.