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Enter Pyrrhus [Aug. 26th, 2010|02:09 pm]
[Current Mood |optimisticoptimistic]

This is Brendan. Changed my username.

Why? Well, the other one was a goofy and ill-considered name that I just picked because it was available. Also, I use the name Pyrrhus for everything else, so why not LJ?
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Building Big Daddy: GenCon 2010 [Aug. 8th, 2010|10:42 pm]
[Tags|, , ]

It's finally complete. Ready for your enjoyment: BIG DADDY!

Here he is at GenCon posing with Bunny as Little Sister.

After the cut, I'll go through the process step-by-step.

How we did it . . .Collapse )

The participants, from left to right, are: Matt D., Casey, Erin (in the suit), Sean (behind Big Daddy), Bunny, Matt J. and myself.

We won second place in the Games and Media category in the GenCon costume contest, so we're all very happy with the results.
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Settling for functional [May. 12th, 2010|09:23 am]
I'm consistently surprised by how lax most video game reviewers are in their criticism. It's a good thing we have Zero Punctuation to even the scales. If you look at IGN or Playstation: The Official Magazine, you'll see the reviewers throwing around words like "exceptional," "groundbreaking," and yes, even "art," for damn near every big new release. The fact of the matter is, by definition, most of these games are average. Few of them genuinely strive for art. I find it disheartening that big budget flagship releases seem to be rated on a scale of 4 stars to 5 stars.

I think the problem is that, after a rocky childhood in the '80s and '90s, the video game industry is ready to pat itself on the back just for releasing a game that's functional. We're far past the time where it should be acceptable for a game to crash or be unfun. The industry isn't a babe mewling in the wilderness, trying to take its first steps. Now that video games gross more money than movies, I think we need to treat gaming like what it is: the dominant art form in our country.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear about the amazing acting in a video game. Yes, there are some great voice actors out there, but most video game acting is abysmal. Even first-rate cutscenes can't compare to an average movie or TV drama--yes, even in Metal Gear Solid IV. It's time to stop lying to ourselves and admit that most video game acting is crap slathered on a crappy plot.

This lack of genuine insightful criticism is a sign of the medium's immaturity. If I were to write an essay with beautifully-constructed sentences and typeset them with a nice font, would I automatically get at least a B? If a filmmaker releases a movie with decent special effects and a coherent plot on crisp, 35MM film, is that enough for a passing grade?

I think it's time we set out some basic assumptions about what to expect in a video game:
  • The game shall be playable. Bugs shall be kept to a minimum and no crashes or data corruption shall be tolerated.
  • The game shall be fun. Tedium and irritation are not acceptable substitutes for "fun."
  • The game shall make good use of both visual and aural elements. It is not "revolutionary" to include the latest and greatest visual effects or to record a live orchestra in a studio. Those pieces form the baseline level of competence that we should expect from a big release.
  • If the game includes voice acting, the quality shall be on par with acting in any other medium. (I don't actually expect this to happen, but it would be nice.)

What do you think? Did I miss any important commandments?
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Egypt [May. 3rd, 2010|08:55 am]
In case you haven't taken a look at them already, I urge you to check out my pictures from Egypt:

Part 1 - Cairo, Aswan, Luxor

Part 2 - Luxor, Alexandria, Istanbul

Erin and I spent 8 days touring around the country at a whirlwind pace. I feel like we hit almost every major landmark in the country.

We even got a chance to visit the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque during our 6-hour layover in Istanbul.
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Egypt ho! [Apr. 14th, 2010|09:35 pm]
For those of you who don't already know, Erin and I are flying to Egypt tomorrow on Turkish Airlines. We'll be back on the 25th. So, that's two days of traveling, and 8 days in Egypt. We plan to visit the pyramids, the valley of the kings, Abu Simbel, Aswan, and all sorts of other places. I'll be sure to post plenty of pictures when we get back.

It probably goes without saying, but we won't have e-mail or phone access while we're gone. See you in ten!
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Adventures in elaborate food preparation [Mar. 27th, 2010|12:35 am]
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Mood |accomplished]

Exhibit 1: Rainbow Cake!

From this:

To this!

Made from a box of cake mix and a ton of food coloring with the help of my lovely assistant/co-conspirator, mind0vermatter. :)

Exhibit 2: Sushiland!

Once again, I couldn't have done it without mind0vermatter. We used a combination of carrots, zucchini, avocado, shrimp, and imitation crab meat for the filling. What better way to spend a Friday night?
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Happy Valentine's Day! [Feb. 12th, 2010|09:19 am]
The inimitable HK-47 on love:
Definition: "Love" is making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope. Statement: This definition, I am told, is subject to interpretation. Obviously, love is a matter of odds. Not many meatbags could make such a shot, and fewer would derive love from it. Yet for me, love is knowing your target, putting them in your targeting reticle, and together achieving a singular purpose, against statistically long odds.

God I love HK-47. God I love Knights of the Old Republic! The best entry in the Star Wars franchise since The Empire Strikes Back? Wait, is that even up for debate?
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Filibuster this! [Jan. 27th, 2010|09:09 pm]
Obama referring to Democratic pussyfooting and the current Republican tactic of filibustering every single Democratic initiative:

"To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills. And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that sixty votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership."

BAM!  It feels so good to finally hear him say that out loud.  :D

All in all Obama's speech was a lot funnier and a lot more candid than I was expecting. Rather than expressing his frustrations through angry rhetoric, he just made fun of how silly and ineffectual Washington can be.
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Cloudy with a Chance of Awesome [Jan. 9th, 2010|10:09 am]
Last night I watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, an animated film that seemed to get buried under higher-profile titles last year. click here for my impressions of the movie.Collapse )
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And I looked, and beheld a pale car: and his name that sat in it was Death . . . [Jan. 7th, 2010|04:51 pm]
On the way to work this morning, I was driving a timid 30 miles per hour down Verona Road (speed limit: 65), trying to be especially mindful of the snow. Slow and steady, I told myself. So what if I'm a few minutes late to my 9:00 meeting? Better to be safe. The last thing I need is to get into an--

Suddenly, I'm spinning. I can't say for sure, but I'm fairly certain I did a 540. All I know is that, after several seconds of abject swerving, my car was facing directly backward as it slid onto the shoulder. The lights flashed; the engine groaned and stalled. Looking out the rear window, I could see that I was rapidly approaching a car that was already stuck in the ditch. Looking ahead--that is, towards oncoming traffic, now that I was all turned around--I saw the silver car that had been following me. It began fish-tailing as the driver struggled to avoid me. With a swerve to the left, he missed my little Honda and skidded sideways into the ditch.

Less than 20 seconds after I lost control, I found myself standing on the shoulder between two cars that were uncomfortably close to my own. Remarkably, nobody had collided with anyone. In fact, my car wasn't even stuck in the ditch; the other two guys--coworkers, as it transpired--weren't so lucky.

I offered to push them out of the ditch but, after a few minutes of fruitless struggle, they decided to call AAA. I left them there and drove the last few blocks to work, chastened but unhurt.

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