SDCC Day One Wrap Up – Rose Marie Fox

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Woke up late and then went immediately to the Game of Thrones experience across the street from the Omni hotel. I arrived around 10:45, not knowing it would be a full 4+ hours until I actually got into the exhibit proper. The exhibit is very fun, but less impressive at first glance due to the green screens and simple decoration at the entrance. Luckily the folks I was near to in line were friendly and I even handed out a few business cards – truly I could not have done the wait without my new friends and line buddies. Continue reading

Sea of Thieves Looks like the Pirate Game You’ve Always Wanted

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Today at Microsoft’s E3 conference, Craig Duncan from Rare came out to debut their new game. It’s a pirate themed, shared world adventure game, which sees you and other players taking on the role of a ship crew. Each player has their own position on the ship, and at one point they showed the crew making another player walk the plank. There’s land and see exploration to be had, and lots of creepy things lurking in the dark. Ship to ship combat, and there’s likely to be a kracken. This one looked really exciting. It’s called Sea of Thieves, and it’s an Xbox One Exclusive.

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Costume Designer Michele Clapton to Leave Game of Thrones

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The end of an era (literally)! Michele Clapton is leaving Game of Thrones!

Clapton is the costume designer for the series who has been instrumental in creating the look of the show through costuming. After five seasons with the show, she’s decided th
at it is time to move on. She cited that she has essentially created a solid enough look for them to go off on their own from here on without her. That makes a lot of sense, especially when you consider that there is no way to mess up any character’s look. You take the exact same pattern they’ve been using for seasons now, and just make it with some new fabric in a similar palette and TA-DA!

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KublaCon Tournaments you have never heard of, Part 1

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KublaCon is a gaming convention in Burlingame, CA, and an easy stop for me when it comes to looking for gaming events.  It doesn’t focus on any one genre, which means that you will find something for everyone in the massive atrium of the Hyatt Hotel near SFO.  This year I dragged two new people who both had a blast, learning new games and playing old games with new people.  If you have ever dreamt of shouting “KUBLA!” at the top of your lungs to hear a chorus of voices reply, “CON!” then this might be the con for you. Continue reading

Star Wars X-wing Bay Area Store Championship

Do you ever have that feeling that you just came up with a great idea, only to find out that someone else thought of it first?  That must be how Mike felt when he told me that there was an X-Wing store championship for the Bay Area going on.

In case you hadn’t heard of what seems to be the fastest growing miniature game around, Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Games is a fast paced, fighter focused, miniature dogfighting game produced by Fantasy Flight Games.  Its starter set comes with almost everything that you need to play the game, from dice, to measuring sticks, to asteroid and space debris, making it one of the most accessible games available.  It has a large collection of pre-painted, medium detail plastic miniatures that come with their own stands, bases with information, and order dials, so the amount of time that you spend preparing for a game is quite minimal.  This might not attract those who are interested in the hobbying aspect of a miniatures game, but with the relatively low buy in cost, you will have plenty of time and money left over to buy, assemble, customize, paint and play that 10 man infantry squad from that grim dark space combat game you love so much.  Or you could just buy the Imperial line of X-Wing miniatures.
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Geekly Roundup, April 19th: All the Movies Edition

On this week’s Geekly Roundup, Mark, Lauren, and Jim tackle the possibility of a Sailor Moon video game, round up some of the latest news in movies including Wonder Woman and Star Wars, and discuss the animated insanity that is Ethan Nicolle’s masterful Axe Copcheck it out for yourself and pair it with the lovely selection of links below!

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Baby’s First GDC

I’ve wanted to attend the Game Developers Conference for years. I used to watch every demo, every panel, tried to grab every bit of second-hand information I could. I saw it as this magical gathering with exclusive, mind-blowing gaming tantalizations abound and hoards of free swag to be got. This year, I happened to have a pass given to me by a stranger that was flying out of town the next day to attend PAX. Suffice to say I was ecstatic, if not a little apprehensive about walking into the Moscone Center effectively pretending to be someone else… but hey, the worst they could do is throw me out – right?

Being entirely unaware of where to go in an environment so large comes with a strange kind of vertigo. I walked into the Moscone Center, and suddenly felt like a lost kid in an airport. I found myself eyeballing other people’s badges as they passed (I had flipped mine backwards after passing security), and I’m seeing titles like Lead Sound Engineer, Creative Director, CEO – from companies I recognize: Electronic Arts, DICE, Blizzard Entertainment. I only had a couple of hours to spend at the convention, so I tried to maintain an air of detached curiosity as I wandered the main show floor, pausing at displays for a moment before moving on. Keeping that charade going, however, became pretty damn difficult when I stopped at the first of what would be the overarching theme of this trip: Oculus Rift demonstrations.

My first stop was the STEM system, using Sixense hardware. It utilizes an array of motion trackers: one in each controller, one on the Oculus headgear itself, and (optionally) one of each foot. The lightsaber demo they had running, however, only used trackers on the head and in the hands. After a few minutes of watching another guy wildly whip his arms around, I found myself putting the headgear on, then awkwardly groping around in front of me for the controllers. Once my eyes adjusted to the display, I was standing on what looked like the catwalk on the bottom floors of Cloud City. There was a rack of six lightsabers in front of me, organized by color. The controls were eerily simple. I just reached my hands forward and my hands in the demo reached out accordingly. The lightsabers popped into my hands and with the press of a button they both sprang to life with a satisfying “PZZZZSSH”. From there I gave a flourish or two of my own and the lightsabers swung around in perfect time, mimicking my movements. A moment later a humming little drone moved into view and started shooting lasers at me, which I deflected by turning my hands to tilt either blade. Whenever the drone moved out of sight, I just turned my head and body and the scenery rotated to match. It wasn’t just a matter of blocking, however; With the right timing, I could actually knock the lasers back toward the drone. It was just a demonstration of motion tracking, but the applications for that level of precision made me giddy.

The next two demos I wound up at were by Haptech and Samsung. Haptech had developed what looked like a partially deconstructed rifle that was built with a small piston that would fire backward into the body of the gun when fired in game, giving it a very real recoil. The playable software placed the player on a rocky plateau where (again) there we drones flying around that you could shoot out of the air or juggle with repeat shots. The gun itself was surprisingly heavy, and when I asked one of the exhibitors he explained the weight was intentional; The idea was for players to actually get fatigued if playing for long periods of time. Samsung’s Gear VR was unique in that while it utilized Oculus technology, the display was actually a cell phone mounted to the front of the headgear. I was able to navigate menus by just looking at the app I wanted to open and pressing a button on a small controller. There was one game – Viral Lite – in which the player moves through a progression of corridors in stages, knocking small red and green block men off of platforms with blue projectiles. Each stage was repeatable to maximize score, and I found myself stubbornly going through stages over and over again, discovering new ways to get extra points (namely, bouncing my shots off of the walls and pegging the little suckers in the back of the head.)

There were a few other demos that I saw but wasn’t willing to wait in line for, like Crytek’s “Return to Dinosaur Island” which placed players in a dinosaur nest to be pestered by a large dragonfly before coming face to face with what looked like a T-Rex, or the Virtuix Omni – by far the most hardware driven, using a harness to hold a player in a ring surrounded by a concave floor, with specially designed shoes to allow users to walk around in the game space by actually walking.

To say that what I experienced was not what I expected would be wholly accurate. I immediately found myself feeling like I was in way over my head. Here I was, some schmuck that just kinda managed to get his eager little paws on a pass, surrounded by people that make games for a living. I was an ant walking amongst giants. That’s not to say that I was disappointed; Not in the least. While there were a lot of very fun games and demonstrations to try, there were just as many booths showing off advertisement solutions, front and back-end development software, texture mapping workshops, monetization strategies, and independent developers simply looking to gain some visibility in the professional forum. I had considered, but never witnessed the immense amount of work and manpower that is required to create what amounts to a few dozen hours of my entertainment. Throughout the short time I had available that day, I found myself reeling with an unmistakable sense of awe. I walked in expecting to see a lot of gamers; I suppose in my ignorance I neglected to remember this is the Game Developers Conference. It was an experience that made me less interested in being a gamer, and more interested in being a game developer.

Check out the full gallery of my experience:

Taylor Sutherland is a roleplayer, bartender, and general hell raiser that lives in San Francisco.

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