Monday, November 23, 2009

Future Pinball with a 360 controller

In case you missed my review a while back about Future Pinball...definitely look into it. Future Pinball's one of those free on the internet gems that don't come along very often, and open up a world of creative possibilities when they do.

You can just play Future Pinball on a regular PC, but some people have used large LCD panels and the platform's dual-screen support to create pinball table emulators like the one shown below:

I just came across a post on Pinnacle Game Profiler by a user who has adapted the Future Pinball controls to work with an XBox 360 controller. He did an awesome job of illustrating the walk-through, so if you're interested, you should be able to follow the instructions.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Geekumentary: Second Skin Trailer

Second Skin Trailer from Pure West on Vimeo.

Just ordered this one, full review to come! :)

Geekumentary - Special When Lit A Pinball Documentary

Just came across an update on a geekumentary I started following some time ago. Special When Lit: A Pinball Documentary just got a writeup in the Australian site
Special When Lit is the definitive story of the rise and fall of pinball as told by the fans, collectors, designers and champion players from across the globe. Shot all over the world, though predominantly in America, by London-based Australian filmmakers Brett O'Sullivan, Clayton Jacobsen and Emily Rickard, and edited in the UK with the final sound mix completed in Australia, the film truly is an international production with worldwide appeal.
TILT: The Battle to Save Pinball set the bar pretty high, but I'm happy to see another contender, and look forward to watching this movie. That's the nice thing about documentaries; there can be 2, 3, 4 of them on the exact same topic, and all covering sufficiently different angles and with different approaches such that they don't exclude one another. That's why I don't mind when I hear rumblings that other people are working on designer board game documentaries, and in fact, welcome it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

zhu zhu - the ultimate ice-breaker

At lunchtime today, I decided to check Target downtown to see what was going on with their zhu zhu efforts (NOTE: My primary motive was that the new Appleseed in the food court there has bubble tea...not authentic bubble tea, but beggars can't be choosers).

I went through all the aisles and couldn't find anything, so I went up to a stock clerk and said, "If you DID have zhu zhu pets...where would they be?" She pointed me to the large section of empty space in the right aisle and I asked, "when do you usually get them?"

"We had some this morning."

"Oh really? Well, thanks."

I turned my attention to the empty wall, and the woman next to me said to her husband, "Was she asking about zhu zhu pets?" I told her I was, and all of a sudden every single parent in that aisle was chatting about the cyber rodents. They told me everywhere they go it's the same story. "We had some this morning." Even when they showed up at 5 minutes after store opening. Such an elusive quarry we stalk, but what an instant bond of common understanding we share.

I had an idea as I left the store. This toy stalking is fun for me, but I'm the exception to the rule I'm sure. All you frustrated parents of the world, unite! We don't have to be the victims of trend. We should take control and make Littlest Petshop the "it" toy this year! There were TONS of those on the shelves everywhere I've been. Or do we parents secretly embrace this challenge, and the competition it brings? Even after countless wasted hours checking stores and making phonecalls, there's a distinct feeling of triumph when one does score the goods.

All I know for sure is, here comes the weekend, and you can bet I'll be on the trail! The habitrail, that is...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

zhu zhu camping

Around 8:30 this morning, I went over to Toys R Us to see if they were getting anything in that shipment they'd mentioned on the door of the store a couple days ago. Sure enough, a small group of people were waiting outside. I walked up and asked, "Is this the hampster line?" Yes, yes it was. Some of them had been in this line multiple days before this.

I was not perturbed by the new signs on the door, I knew we had secret knowledge of the inner inventory workings and shipment schedules of this place.

There were 7 of us out there, and not long after I arrived, a sales associate came out to let everyone know that the shipment had come in, and there were 9 accessory packs for the zhu zhus on the truck, and nothing else. None of those elusive little battery eaters, just their cozy habitrail homes. But since we'd gotten the hampsters, and no accessories, I took my #5 ticket gladly, and continued to wait for the store to open.

It was a friendly group, and we chatted about the history of parental torture known as the "it" toy, from Furbies to Cabbage Patch kids, and now Zhu Zhu pets. Which, not surprisingly for an $8 toy, have a tendency to break. Which is fine. When it was an $8 toy. Now it's a $40 toy built like an $8 toy.

The 9 tickets were spoken for, and a few other people arrived and left empty-handed. The conventional wisdom of the group was that you just have to hit Walmart or Target at the right time. And then the doors opened, and we got our boxes, and proceeded through the maze of aisles to the checkout counter on the other side of the store. As we did so, I realized something. I turned to one of my new friends and exclaimed,

"WE are the hampsters!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

zhu zhu apocalypse - wth is up?

This is really my first year as a parent being focused enough on getting toys for Christmas to know/care what the "it" toy might be. But the kids, they seem to have had a spidey sense about what it was going to be. Like pigs sniffing out fine truffles, every time the commercial for zhu zhu pets would come on, they'd break out in a chorus of, "I WANT DAT!"

The zhu zhu pets are pretend hampsters, and they run around their own habitrail-type environments. They're supposedly smart about their environments. So I figured hey, that's kind of cool, let's get those for them, honey...

And then this week, hampster hell broke loose. It was the week we randomly decided to get the zhu zhus, and, it would seem, so did the rest of the human race. Last night, we ordered the set of 4 for about $80, including shipping. That seemed stupid expensive to me, but hey, we did it. I ran to the toy store at lunchtime to pick up a My Little Pony baby, and noticed this sign on the door:

Weird (bear with them, it seems they made this sign in a panic, in fear of their very lives). I guess I don't mind so much now that my husband snagged the set last night for the price he did. Then I get a text from him that the same set of 4 is now going for like $150...

WTH just happened? They're cute, but come on, they're not THAT amazing, are they? I'm hearing reports of people lining up for Toys R Us and Wal-Mart shipment trucks in the hopes of getting one. Word on this blog that Wal-Mart put a freeze on zhu zhu sales to ensure product in stock for their big weekend sale.

It's zhu zhu mania, the perfect storm of furry cuteness and engineered demand! Stay indoors, folks, this could get ugly like we haven't seen since the cabbage patch years.

The patron saint of geekumentaries needs your help

I don't think I've ever pushed a cause online. This cause deserves some pushing:

When he's not saving Geocities and computer history itself, he's making documentaries. And when he's not making documentaries, he's making videos for MC Frontalot. If we, the people, "hire" him, he will make us stuff that will be good to have.

To put it another way, before I'd ask you to fund MY project, I would ask you to contribute to Jason's work. Without his mentoring, advice, and generosity, I wouldn't even be DOING my movie.

And, I'd really like to watch Get Lamp, his second documentary about Infocom text adventures. His time is much better spent working on that then some silly day job.

Oh, and...if you don't help, @sockington will probably starve to death.


Monday, November 9, 2009

One handheld emulator to rule them all

I'm about to start whining like my kids were at Toys R Us yesterday. "I WANT DAT! IIIIII WANT DAAAAAAATTTT!"

Kid, I SO hate you right now. ;)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Garfield without Garfield

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-Garfield per se, but evidently, removing Garfield from Garfield comics makes them about a million times funnier:

The creator of this twist, Dan Walsh, describes the mission as:
"Garfield Minus Garfield is a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb." comes in book form. That just hit my Christmas list big-time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Great UK article about Essen and board games

Big game hunter: The search for the next Monopoly

(Now, while they had to go and use the Monopoly tie-in as usual, one thing we have to keep in mind is that as designer board game fans, it's hugely old and cliche at this point, but to a newbie, that's an important frame of reference to draw them in. Just saying. :)

This was a really good and lengthy read which captured some of the flavor of the Essen fair. This was one of my favorite parts:
By the third day of the fair, games lovers are sprawled across the floors and into the aisles, playing card games, war games, party games, puzzle games, family games; two-player games, four-player games, six-player games; games set in the Wild West, games set in the Far East, games set in the Caribbean; games set in the Industrial Revolution, games set in the Bronze Age, games set in the Middle Ages (games fans are especially fond of the Middle Ages); games about hospitals and police stations and factories; abstract games, about nothing but the game itself. There's a game that involves one player trying to build a Jenga-like structure from wooden blocks, while their opponent bashes them over the head with an inflatable club. It's called Argh!Tect.

They mentioned how all the local hotels, like the Jung, open up banquet and meeting-type areas during the convention, so that players can come back from a long day of gaming and buying new games and continue to play all night long. I experienced this, and it was one more thing that caused me to think, "This couldn't happen in America in a million years." I was hanging out unsupervised in the hotel's kitchen with Martin Wallace and his wife, Eric Martin, Anthony Gallela, and some other great people just chatting, fine German beers in hand. In the room next door, designers and gamers were playing their new games on into the night. So cool. If there were any strangers in the group, I'm sure they didn't feel like strangers for long.

The article also does a dynamite job of summing up the designer board gaming hobby itself, both the designer's side, and the collector/player's side. BOTH sides are wonderful worlds, and there's a lot of cross-over, not surprisingly, as game enthusiasts hatch ideas for games they haven't seen yet, and go on to be designers themselves. This industry is one of the few where, at least currently, such a dream can be realized.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trick or Treat!

I can't believe Halloween is already over. After months of planning, I chickened out of wearing the Harley Quinn outfit and made an 11th hour switch to Jadzia Dax, shown here with my husband, Harry Potter, and our friend the Mad Hatter: