I gave myself yesterday off from reading or writing, owing to having worked all weekend, and I finally started playing the Firewalker "free" downloadable content pack for Mass Effect 2.
I found myself getting bored within the very first mission. There was no additional dialogue recorded for Shepard or the two squadmates I selected for the mission, Garrus and Mordin. The actual gameplay wasn't terribly exciting, and it didn't add anything to the story.
Mass Effect 2 is all about the story and the characters for me. It has competent shooter mechanics, but if I want a shooter I'm going to play a FPS title. What makes Mass Effect so great is the universe, and the effects of your choices on the world around you and your relationships with the characters.
To be fair, I've only played the first Firewalker mission and it looks as though the three remaining missions are where the action is. I haven't read anything in the media, however, about a story component to this DLC. Therefore, my interest is waning having been "at the helm" of the hovertank gunship and having some idea as to what's in store for me: flying around and blowing shit up.
Gabe and Tycho held their second Q&A session this afternoon. I got in line to use the microphone, and I was going to first try to get a laugh about being able to use a microphone this time, make some comments about feeling like being at Disneyworld, and then work into my question about what Gabe and Tycho would do at PAX East if they could do nothing else.
I was hoping to get some laughs from the audience and maybe have one more story to tell for my blog. I got a story alright, just not the one I thought I'd be telling. What I got was actually much, much better.
Child's Play is a charity founded by Gabe and Tycho that provides toys and games to children in hospitals. I had seven operations on my ears when I was a kid, but only one of those was an overnight stay. Still, I remember the absolute terror the night before an operation, not being able to eat or drink anything, lying there awake staring at the ceiling and playing through the whole experience in my head, which I was able to do with a very vivid imagination...and memory.
My wife and I go to Disneyworld in Orlando, FL at least once a year. She grew up in South Florida and went there throughout her entire childhood, and has become adept at finding us the best prices and targeting the periods of lowest attendance for our trips. Our first trips were about working out the kinks in her system, however, and they were a little more expensive and certainly more crowded.
As much as I hate to draw another Disney allusion, PAX East, day two felt a lot like being at Disneyworld before my wife and I knew what we were doing. I felt that I hadn't done everything I ought to have done, but I also didn't feel I had missed anything I wanted to do. I was tired and didn't feel like waiting in lines, and decided that staying just because I'd spent a lot of money to get in wasn't reason enough if I didn't really want to hang out anymore.
Had I been in possession of more than three and a half hours' sleep I might have had more patience, but standing in line for up to an hour to get into the theaters for the panels was not acceptable by 4:30 p.m.. My feet hurt, I was exhausted, and the panel topics just weren't intriguing enough.
A panel on whether the death of print media means that gaming journalism has lost anything or not. No, I don't think so. Actually sounds like a debate past its time, as the future feels set in that regard. New media is better - it's faster, more diverse, and more democratic. No need to attend that panel. A panel on why MMO players behave the way they do. I think I know the answer to that one...megalomaniacism, maliciousness, the desire to roleplay, just wanting to escape into a fantasyland as a break from reality. Don't need to attend that, either.
Note: I have no intention of blogging every night this weekend after a full day of PAX East, but I have to get this story out of my head even though it is 12:44 a.m. and I am exhausted. I also have to wait until a load of laundry is done before I can pop it into the dryer and go to sleep, so I happen to have the time. Or the excuse, I guess.
Prior to this evening, I didn't really get Wil Wheaton.
When I first started blogging, my wife recommended that I read Wil Wheaton's blog, as an example of a blog which was honest and well-written. I knew who Wil Wheaton was the way most kids who liked sci-fi in the late '80's knew him: he was Wesley Crusher, and he was in Stand By Me before that. I hadn't known that he was a successful blogger and writer.
The first post of Wil's I ever read was about creating a Magic: The Gathering deck. My wife had told me that Wil was an ambassador of all things geek, or "geek prime;" and I really, really dislike Magic: The Gathering. It rubs me the wrong way on some deep level...and so I read this in Wil's blog and I thought "This doesn't sound like someone who represents me. I'm not nerdy like this."
Prior to this evening, I didn't really get conventions.
I had no idea what to expect from PAX East. I've never been to any kind of geek or nerd convention, or gaming convention. What I discovered was that being at PAX East for the first time was kind of like being at Disneyworld for the first time. There are lots of things to do and potential places to go, and always long lines to get into any of them, and you really have no idea which lines are worth standing in and which aren't and consequently you spend a lot of time stumbling around aimlessly and getting your bearings.
Prior to playing Hotel Dusk on my recent trip, the DS stylus was just a gimmick to me. For all I know it may continue to be a gimmick outside of Hotel Dusk, but all it took was one title which made excellent use of the stylus to inspire me to reconsider. I'm hoping that, with my interest in the DS rekindled, I find other games which, in my mind, justify the inclusion of the stylus with the DS.
This makes me think about the PlayStation Move and Project Natal motion controllers coming up for the PS3 and XBox 360 respectively. The Wii was designed around motion control, in keeping with its positioning as a "casual gamer" and "family friendly" system, to wean people off control pads which could be overwhelming for non-gamers. The Wii never really needed to "justify" motion control...it started convincing users of its worth straight from the outset.
The Wii serves as a primary console for one sort of gamer, and a complementary console for the others. Brilliant! My grandmother's retirement community has no less than three Wii systems in their games room, and apparently they recently had a "Wii Olympics" with other local retirement homes. The use of the Wii in physical therapy is widely known. I don't own one, but I have great respect for the system.
Natal and Move, however, both look like gimmicks to me.