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Gen Con 2018 games wrap-up part 2 August 8, 2018

Posted by thejinx in conventions, life.
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Friday – 7:00-11:00 p.m. – Mistborn: House War

cover-cfg-13001-mistborn-house-war-retail-500x750I’ve been eyeing this game for a few years, because Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson is one of my all-time favourite book series. In this game based on said series, players take the role of the noble houses, gaining resources and solving problems in the Final Empire and trying to curry the most favour with the Lord Ruler – or, based on how the game progresses, the most disgrace.

I went into this game open-minded and very curious, but I wasn’t crazy about the theme of the game, since I was, essentially, playing as the villains from the books. The game play, however, turned out to be extremely compelling. This is particularly interesting in my case, because I don’t generally care for games in which one has to stab one’s friends in the back. However, the way Mistborn played, with equal parts working together with and against the other players, made it very interesting. The game wasn’t super complicated and there was almost no luck involved (no dice to curse me, huzzah!) which I also thoroughly enjoyed. Plus, the fact that maxing out the Unrest slider on the board means the player with the least favour wins adds a very interesting element to the game. Overall, this was a very fun game and I ended up picking up a copy.

Saturday – 7:00-10:00 – CATaclysm the Board Game

Shiraz Sheikh and Brent Logan Kickstarted CATaclysm the RPG last year, a game in which humans are gone and cats have evolved into the adventurous heroes, with oversized rats being their primary opponents. What my husband and I played was a prototype of an RPG-in-a-box version of CATaclysm, which the game creators plan to Kickstart later this year. I didn’t know this much going into it; we saw a listing for a cooperative miniatures game starring cats and decided to go for it.

Simply put, this was easily our favourite game of Gen Con. The game play was fantastic, the theme was just the right balance between silly and actually quite sensible (the heroes, being cats, take damage if they stay in water, except the Maine Coon, of course), and the 3D printed minis and prototype board, cards, and pieces were of excellent quality, not to mention adorable. Shiraz also did a fantastic job explaining the rules clearly and concisely, giving us just enough detail to get the gist of the game without bogging us down with unnecessary information, simplifying game play for the sake of the demo, and letting us mostly work it out ourselves while still being on hand to answer questions, clarify rules, and occasionally make suggestions. I also really like the fact that the enemies are all AI-controlled, so no one has to play against everyone else in the group.

I absolutely loved this game and am seriously looking forward to October, when they plan to Kickstart the game. I highly, highly recommend this game for fans of the RPG-in-a-box style.

And that’s a wrap! It doesn’t sound like much compared to last year, but I got in just the right amount of games for me, more actual board/table top games than I took in last year, and really enjoyed what I did play. It was a great weekend.

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Music Monday: Happy Adventure, Delightful Adventure January 23, 2017

Posted by thejinx in music.
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A couple months ago, I made a post sharing some music on my ‘feel better’ playlist, closing out with the soundtrack of Secret of Mana. While Secret of Mana is a very effective stress reliever for me, that wasn’t the point of the post, and it wasn’t the soundtrack I meant to mention as part of it. The soundtrack I actually meant to include with that post was for Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.

 

The original Super Mario RPG was an adorable, hilarious, and incredibly fun game, and it had a soundtrack to match. The tunes are catchy and cute while still having good depth and suiting the game perfectly, and something about them always makes me smile when I come across a track, especially when listening to music on shuffle.

Even the track titles make me smile when I see them, with names such as “The Road is Full of Dangers”, “The Road is Still Full of Dangers”, “Hard Working Moles Are Good Moles”, and “Fight Against Smithie, Who Likes Transforming”.

It was not easy to find the soundtrack back in the early 2000s, and in fact I sold my Nintendo 64 to get the money for it when I did. I have never regretted that decision.

It’s an odd choice to be one of my favourite soundtracks, to be sure, but I couldn’t love this soundtrack more, and it never does fail to make me smile.

Music Monday: Myth: The Xenogears Orchestral Album April 4, 2016

Posted by thejinx in music.
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Xenogears was an RPG for the original Playstation, with soundtrack composed by Yasunori Mitsuda, famous for his Chrono Trigger soundtrack, arguably one of the best video game soundtracks of all time (at least in my decidedly limited opinion).

I never played Xenogears. It wasn’t for lack of interest, rather money. However, I’m all about video game music, so when a friend ordered a copy of the soundtrack and received two, I was happy to take the extra. It was different from Chrono Trigger, with a more focused style and distinct Celtic influences in a more orchestral soundtrack, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it. I don’t know anything about the story that happens when this music takes place, but there are a lot of great and some amazing tracks, and I enjoyed it enough to pick up Creid, a Xenogears arrangement album produced by the original composer that I also love.

51sfd32uc2blYet somehow, a second arrangement album also produced by Yasunori Mitsuda managed to slip under my radar. Myth: The Xenogears Orchestral Album was released in 2011 and contains fourteen tracks, mostly performed by the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra with a couple of piano solos and one vocal track performed by Joanne Hogg (who sounds like the original vocalist for the game’s theme song).

It definitely lives up to its name: the arrangements are very orchestral, using a sizeable symphony along with a choir in some tracks. The arrangements all have quite a bit of depth and are generally fairly dynamic/bombastic. Some tracks I actually wish had some heavier elements truer to the original tracks, but that’s because most of the renditions are pretty close to the source material. There is a little variation in styles at times, but there’s not much alteration of the melodies themselves and many of the songs are straight orchestrations of the original tracks.

Not that that is in any way disappointing; the depth and life of these orchestrations are fantastic, really highlighting the quality of the original compositions. One unfortunate exception is “The Beginning and the End”, a choral track that sounds lovely done with real voices but lacks all of the vocal modulations of the original.

Aside from that, I have no complaints about this album. There’s a lot of emotion, great big sound, and the quality of the arrangements and their performances are both excellent. And the piano solos are just as wonderful. I am also extremely happy with the performance of “Flight”, my favourite song from the original soundtrack.

I highly recommend this album to fans of the Xenogears soundtrack. It is available on iTunes, and really, that’s the only way I would purchase it (unless you really want to pay 4x the price for an imported CD).

An abrupt attack of inspiration August 10, 2009

Posted by thejinx in art.
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I had every intention yesterday to veg on the couch and play Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.  Instead, this happened.

fe-ss

Eirika, at front and center, was sketched late Saturday night, and Innes, at top right, was just sketched now, but all the other work was done yesterday afternoon.  I guess all the art I didn’t do last week was saving itself up for this.  From front to back, left to right, the characters are Eirika, Ephraim, Seth, Tana, and Innes, with Joshua to be drawn at back center.

Hurricane Ridge September 25, 2008

Posted by thejinx in eyes of a dragon, photography, writing.
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The final photo from Washington has been posted:

Yeah, there’s really no way to grasp this image except at full size, so do feel free to click the thumbnail and view close-up.  This photo was pieced together by hand in Photoshop out of five 16:9 pictures I took at the top of Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.  There’s really no other way to grasp the immensity of the views there.

A burst of inspiration yesterday brought together some disconnected ideas for a story long in the works – really, my third developed novel idea, after Eyes of a Dragon and The Fire Within – which means that I have another story that’s pretty much ready to write.  Need to outline the story arc so I at least have a vague idea of where it’s meant to go, and world-build.  It’s a shame that all my different fantasy novels have different methods when it comes to magic, so I can’t reuse worlds I’ve already spent the time to develop.

So, that story, working title Dreams to Tears, is ready to write, and after the development I did for TFW recently, I think that one’s about ready to rework/rewrite as well.  These are in addition to the still untitled, failed epic comic turned novel, the opening of which I have already written, and Halcyon, my NaNoWriMo project for this year, which has been pretty much ready to write for some time.  I may lament about not having enough time to write, but I hope I never run out of ideas.

I did finally finish up the last scene I began writing in Eyes about a month and a half ago, I just need to sit down and force myself to start writing and continue with it.  I’m currently in a lull as the main characters have split up, with one group having a lot going on and the other with hardly more than character development to fill the time and pages.  There’s certainly enough of that, what with recent story events, to be interesting, it’s just the starting that I stall on.  Once I get past this part, I should be fairly good through ’til the end of the story, though given that I still don’t have a clear world built, I’ll still have a bit more cleaning up to do.  Still, I’m optimistic.

No time to work on the story this weekend, sad to say, as we’ll be out yet again.  Jans and I are attending Phantasm, a small gaming convention in Peterborough, Ontario.  While it seems unlikely anyone reading this would be able or interested to go, if you happen in on the con, stop by the Classic Battletech table.  Jans and I will be the only ones running it.