Friday, April 17, 2020

Taking a VR Vacation From a Quarantined Reality

Something that's been rolling around in my head since I was "all-in" on Project Gorgon is that I really just want to play some games with quality graphics. It really does feel like I was living in graphical hell for several months, and now I think I'm naturally craving a bit more quality.

Last Christmas brought my kids the joys of the Playstation 4 and the Playstation 4 VR. For them the biggest hit, and all they really wanted to play, was Beat Saber. I couldn't even get in time on the PS4 because they were constantly on it or the wand controllers needed recharging when it was "my turn," and to be honest, all I was thinking about game-wise on my spare time was P:G.

Fast forward to today, we're all in quarantine from the Covid-19 pandemic, and I've been going a little crazy being cooped up inside the house all day. The kids lost interest in Beat Saber months ago, and so finally I was able to sneak on to the PS4 and play a bit myself.

It's so incredibly cool to play this game, and not only that . . . putting on the VR headset completely separates you from what you typically see with your eyes. You're in the videogame world at that point. You look around and all you see is space and the floating cubes that demand they be lightsaber-ed in half by the funky beats dropping in your ears.

After getting a pretty good workout from Beat Saber, I moved on to another VR game that my kids had hardly touched: AstroBot.

I love this little guy so much

I guess what I most wasn't prepared for was the absolute visual vacation I was about to undertake with this game. No longer was I trapped inside the quarantined walls of my home staring at screens. Now the frame of the world around me was gone, and I was living inside what felt like a Disneyland ride.

After playing one level of AstroBot, I ran downstairs to my family and was like, "Why didn't anyone tell me about how amazing this game is?" They looked at my like I was insane, and yes, I was kind of freaked out. Honestly . . . freaked . . . out.

My family loves Mario-eque platformer puzzle games as it is, but AstroBot feels and plays so incredibly well. I paused several times to just sit back and enjoy the world I was now vacationing in inside my own home. I think I actually started to tear up a bit from smiling so much while playing this game. AstroBot was exactly what I needed.

Dance little man, dance!

The spot pictured above was one of those points where I just laid back in my chair and watched the waves rolling, the sky scrolling, and the palm trees animating rhythmically in the distance.

This is now something I've been putting an hour toward every day this week, and so far I've been high up in the sky walking through canyon rock trails, inside the belly of a whale, and, yes, even down to a dark cave full of bats and traps. Last night I was trapped in a spike ceiling room where I had to throw ninja stars at buttons before the spikes impaled me. It felt awesome to finally experience that. HAHA!

That's another thing about this game, you really get to use the touch pad sensitivity of the PS4 controller.  At points during the game, your controller is used to throw ninja stars, squirt water, shoot out a grappling hook, and even launch your little astro-bot buddy into the sky.

This game just has so much going for it. It's so much fun that I actually can't wait to play it again and continue on my vacation from a quarantined reality. It really feels like the perfect time for this kind of game to enter my life.  What a treat.

Happy Dueling!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Not Six Fan Arts, but Six Fan Songs!

Last week I decided to do the #SixFanArts challenge on Twitter. At first, I was serious about trying to draw some fan art, but after spending about 20 minutes trying to draw a simple mander, I was like . . . yeah, I'm not an artist, but then it hit me, you know what . . . I AM an artist, just not that kind of artist.

So I decided to do #SixFanSongs instead!

My followers on Twitter had some interesting tastes! Being that most of my followers like Wizard101, about half of the characters were from Wizard101, but even those choices were a little esoteric. Officer McRuff? LOL!

At the end of the day, my line up of characters looked like this:

- Mander
- Bartleby
- Quirrel
- Yubel
- Officer McRuff
- Zenyatta

Whew . . . it took a few days of downtime to put them all together, but I hope you enjoy the results.

Happy Dueling!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Brawl Stars' Small Spars Gives Great Memoirs

I've been playing a ton of a great PvP-based mobile game by Supercell. You know Supercell, don't you? You should if you don't. They are the legendary mobile gaming company behind mega million making games like Hay Day, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale . . . and this particular game I've been playing, Brawl Stars!

It's certain death for Stingy.:(

Brawl Stars is epic! To sum it up, you collect heroes who have unique weapons and power moves, and you play with them in various PvP modes to earn coins, leveling tokens, and trophies.

The 30+ heroes in the game are cute and cartoonish, which immediately makes the gunfire, explosions, and chemical warfare seem much more fun and less in the realistic vein of Call of Duty.

Still feeling excited from pulling this epic brawler in a mega box last night.

The variety of modes keeps it interesting (I think there's about 9 different modes) and you'll be playing everything from a battle royale between 10 players to a co-operative boss hunt mode. You unlock these modes as you play the game and earn trophies.

That's another interesting thing about Brawl Stars, there's the regular currencies (including loot boxes), but there's also a nice "battle-pass" like progression system for earning rank that unlocks new characters, lootboxes, event tickets, and more. I'm calling it a currency, but really trophies are a progression system that tracks your rank and awards you goodies based on how far along you are in "trophy road."

At 2099 trophies, I'm only just starting my journey on Trophy Road.

The quick 3-5 minute matches keep you discovering how to play the game in new ways with new heroes. Honestly, I'll say for me it's the leader of the pack when it comes to this kind of pvp mobile game.  For me it's like Overwatch lite on my phone. I mean, they even had an e-sports broadcast over this past weekend.

That chat stream was too fast to read.

My recent goal in Brawl was to get all my characters to rank 10 . . . DONE! My next goal is to hit rank 15 (Diamond rating). Things apparently get a lot harder at higher ranks and eventually losses in Brawl Stars become more punishing.

If you haven't given it a shot, it's well worth the space on your phone.

Happy Dueling!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

I'm a Smack Talking Bear in Wizard101

So, about a year ago or so, my work buddy Mike Sears let me know that there was a spot in the new Sinbad and the Iron Sultan gauntlet that needed a touch of ambient voiceover. Granted most people are gonna just skip past this spot in Wizard101 as they hurry on their way through the dungeon, but if you're an explorer type of person, you might just take the time to slow down and wander just a bit to the left and over to this shady group of characters.

A Grizzleheim Pirate, an Aquilan Warrior, and a Valencian Rogue walk into a bar . . .

Mike wrote several funny lines and sent them over for me to take a look at . . . done.  About a week later, thee one and only Mr. TJ O'Leary had set up a meeting with me and Mike in his office where the door was closed and the mic was turned on, and the only internal monologue I could hear was, "OMG IT'S HAPPENING!"

Now ya' gotta understand. For seven years I had been bugging TJ, Mike, and anybody else in the creative and sound teams to find a way to put me in the game. I think I even begged for it to happen a couple times on KI Live. In fact, when the Avalon expansion was released, I actually tried my hand at auditioning for a vocal part, but I didn't make the cut. So, this was a pretty big deal for me. LOL!

When I was doing the voiceover, I kind of transformed my whole body to become "the braggadocios bear."

He's got jokes for days . . . or at least 15 minutes . . .

When I did my voiceover lines, I held my hands like they were big bear paws, I cocked my head back like a cocky piece of work, and I let the bullcrap talkin' bear loose from inside me. I had an absolute blast recording those lines.

When the gauntlet finally hit the streets, I logged in, redeemed my gauntlet, and recorded a couple of the voice over lines, grinning ear to ear.

I ain't one for braggin', see? ;)

The Entrance to the Sinbad Gauntlet beckons you!

So, if you happen to have this gauntlet or see this little spot in someone's player housing. Come meander over to the bear . . . I'm sure this Grizzleheim outlaw would love for you to overhear his conversation between an Aquilian and a Valencian.

Happy Dueling!