My Gaming Nostalgia

Ever really think about what it was in your life that really shaped you into the gamer that you are today? Can you remember the moment? I was recently asked these questions, and it really got me thinking.

I have to admit that it’s very difficult for me to remember one specific instance that really shaped me into the gamer that I am today. If I had to choose, there are two periods of my life that stand out.

First let me say that I’ve played video games since before I can remember, and before that I was an infant lying on the floor watching my older brother play them. (Trust me, there are home videos.) You might think that this makes it hard for me to pinpoint a time that changed me as a gamer, but it really isn’t. You see, I was always Player 2 early on. My parents decided video games were my brother’s thing. He received the systems and games as gifts, and since they were his I was only allowed to play when he wanted me to.

A big turning point for me as a gamer was when I received a Gameboy Color and Pokémon Blue for Christmas. I didn’t realize until much later that the Gameboy was my first game system, and that Pokémon was my first truly solo gaming experience. Of course, I didn’t know this at the time. I was too engrossed with actually playing Pokémon. There is even a picture of me at about seven years old curled in my dad’s old grey lounger with my head hung over my new Gameboy. I’m sure my family didn’t get to visit much with me during the time I spent adventuring through Pokémon.

Everyone might be surprised that the most influential moment of my early gaming life was a time that I wasn’t even playing the game 90% of the time. I was watching my brother play through a specific game, and he would let me play the mini-games or do miscellaneous things in the game but never the story. That game was Final Fantasy VII.  I’ll never forget the summer that he got that game. I don’t even think that we really knew how popular the game was, but we literally spent the entire summer playing it. I say we because I was so engrossed by it. The story, the graphics, the gameplay; I always wanted to play, but I settled for the mostly watching. I couldn’t get enough.

This was the summer that we snacked instead of really eating. My diet consisted of nachos, Pizza Rolls, Bagel Bites, and delicious popsicles. I can honestly say that this was when we starting choosing what we now call gamer food. That is, the food that is chosen for ease and convenience. I’m also pretty sure we never changed out of our pajama’s either.

I digress. Final Fantasy VII wasn’t the first in the Final Fantasy series that I had seen, but it was the first that I got to experience more. It was the game that got me hooked on the series, and since I’ve become quite an avid fan. That game, easy snacks, and comfy clothes made up a summer that shaped me the most as a gamer. I found my niche and my passion within the gaming world, and I haven’t turned back since.

It’s nice to look back on those moments, and it was even nicer to share them with everyone. It really makes you think about the things that make you feel nostalgic. I can’t take the credit though. A representative from a company called Man Crates sent me a request to see if I was interested in writing about those key ingredients that shaped me as a gamer.

For those of you that don’t know what Man Crates are, you should — Shame on you. Haha, I’m just kidding. They’re essentially crates that contain a bundle of quality goods for any man in your life. I’m not talking about cheap colognes, ties, socks, and boxers. They also have a new offering where they cover a gift card in concrete to be smashed open by your man — No, I’m not kidding. This company really represents Go Big or Go Home, in my opinion.

Did I mention that all the macho goods come in a wooden crate? Yes, you have to use a crowbar to get these bad boys open. I feel like that’s a manly gift in itself. Give him a wooden crate, a crow bar, and watch as he gets to show off his strength by opening it.

So if that sounds like something you would gift to someone, click their logo below!

 

Man Crates Store

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PC to Console: Pt. 2

It’s been about a month since I purchased my Playstation 4 in order to play a (MMORPG) game that I originally played on the PC. That game is FFXIV: A Realm Reborn.

Long-story-short for those who don’t know: My PC’s graphics card died on me last year, and so I decided to take the other route with gaming.

Let’s forward to the present where I’ve played on the PS4, controller, and FFXIV for a month, and talk about the pros and cons I’ve discovered. These are purely my opinions and are more in relation to FFXIV gameplay than general MMORPG gameplay.

thumbup  Pros   

  • You have the versatility to sit how/where you want. Couch, Bed, Chair? Sure! I personally game at a desk, but I’m almost always leaning back into my comfy computer chair unless I’m typing. This allows me to game for longer periods of time without getting that tell-tale ache in my neck and shoulders that I used to get from playing on my desktop PC. (My boyfriend might argue that this is a con, haha)
  • Great for hand-eye coordinated folks. This is an obvious one. If you are great at console games, you’ll likely prefer to play an MMORPG on a console. Why? You have 16 buttons on a controller and it’s quite easy to memorize where they are and what they do even when considering combinations. Not to mention, these buttons are all within easy reach without moving your hands/fingers into unnatural positions. The average keyboard has 104 keys alone, and for an MMO you tack on an additional 20+ combinations for Ctrl #1-0 and Alt #1-0. You may not use all 104 keys, but it can be cumbersome to press combinations. I always hated the Ctrl #1-0 and Alt #1-0 combination for actions as you often used your left hand to press these but also needed your lefty for character movement (WASD).
  • It hones your ability to prioritize actions and unclutters your screen. On the PS4, you have what’s called “Cross Bars”. You have 8 separate bars that hold 16 actions each, with an optional +16. That’s 128 actions (+16). However, you can’t see these all at once nor would you want to fill all your space. You have to press certain combinations of buttons (I.E.: L1 and Triangle) to access each bar. When you’re in a pinch, you want to be able to quickly access those actions most needed. That’s when you begin customizing your bars so that have to press less combinations (using less bars) to access those actions. Controller usage, in this way, forces you to become a quicker more efficient player. PC users have the option of putting nearly every action on screen, but that can become cluttered and inefficient. If you have to glance over extra icons that you rarely use, it may take longer to locate that one that you do!

thumbdown  Cons

  • You have to purchase and attach a separate USB keyboard to chat. It’s a minor con, but a con nonetheless. It’s an extra purchase first off, and can be an annoyance if you choose to game away from a flat surface. When I gamed at my couch in the living room it was a pain to balance it in my lap and type, and then move it off my lap when I wanted to sink into my couch; rinse and repeat. Some people don’t mind this, but if you ever gamed on a PC (desktop) it will drive you nuts.
  • You can’t see/access every action as easily on screen. On PC, you are able to set up bars to put practically every action on screen easily seen and accessed. Simply drag mouse pointer and click. On PS4, you can’t. This requires a bit of memorization on your part as a gamer to remember where you put that certain ability and what combination of buttons access it. It also requires some time put into customization and prioritizing to be as efficient as you can with the room given to you. You may find that you don’t truly know what needs to be where until you’re smack dab in the middle of a hectic battle and need it ASAP. If you’re a healer (*ahem* me) then that can be particularly problematic.
  • You are limited to voice chat with other PS4 users. MMORPG’s are a great way to socialize with other players, and nothing beats voice chatting away while you run amuck. Unfortunately, I think there are more PC users than PS4 users. That means that most players utilize programs like Ventrillo and TeamSpeak to voice chat and thus leave the PS4 users in silence. This isn’t too big of a deal if you’re near a table or desk as you can set up via a laptop or similar device, but if you’re a couch or bed gamer it can become pretty inconvenient.

  

Just to name a few! I honestly enjoyed gaming on PC as well, and I’m not one to take one side over the other. They both have their good and bad points, of course, and it all boils down to a matter of preference over facts. I’m still withholding my judgement until after I am drowning in end-game content.

When I get to that point, I will post a final decision!

I play as Ceren Alstrahl on the Sargatanas server for anyone that’s interested!

cho-g1

Classic Game Fest 2015 – Austin, TX

For those of you who don’t yet know what Classic Game Fest is, it is one of the largest retro gaming conventions in the country!  It’s a 2-day celebration featuring classic video games, retro game tournaments, costume contests, live video game music, and tons of video game/ merchandise vendors.

I’d like to start off by mentioning what happened as my boyfriend and I were walking to the convention hall. On our way to the front doors, we walked past a lot of people who were leaving for the day. One father with his little son was passing us when he stopped and asked if we had preordered our wristbands. We hadn’t, and so he pulled off his wrist band and gave it to us!

Now, these wristbands were only $20 for two days, but it made me super happy nonetheless! That meant we only had to pay for my boyfriend’s wristband and we were in.

Once inside, I had the attention span of a fly. Everywhere you looked there was something to grab your attention. I was pulled this way to look at t-shirts, and that way to look at handmade creations. All of these were video game related, of course! Oh, the money I could’ve spent at this place, haha.

I did purchase a couple of things from vendors inside.

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This adorable Navi!

Created by: The Gnarly Garden.

Chelsea Powers creates custom sculpture and ceramic art, so go buy something gnarly!

Here are other goodies of hers:

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This original art of Zelda!

Purchased from: Shark Robot.

They have original geek art on t-shirts, posters, bags, ect.

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My convention goodies!

PS: I purchased an 2XL in a woman’s t-shirt and it barely fits. Really, CGF, really?

You can find all sorts of geekery at this convention. Just take a look at these other Vendors!

Vendors weren’t the only great thing about CGF. They had several different Classic Video Games available to play, and they had a few tournaments going on. Super Smash Bro’s, Mortal Kombat, and Killer Instincts were among those tournaments, and they projected these up on the walls for everyone to watch.

Of course, there was a Costume Contest!

What was my favorite thing about CGF? The live Video Game Musicians that played on the stage!

Unfortunately, I only saw two. The first was when we first got there and was Descendents of Eldrick. They played rock versions of different video game songs, and they were awesome. We listened to a few songs at the stage and then jammed out as we walked around checking out all the vendors.

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The second artist was David Erick Ramos, a youtuber who plays ocarinas. We actually hung around and grabbed seats to hear him perform. I’m definitely glad I did! He is very talented, and plays everything from video game music to his own original pieces. It was really mesmerizing to listen to.

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Here is his YouTube channel: David Erick Ramos

I have to give major kudos to my boyfriend who isn’t into video games but went with me anyway. He survived 4 hours in an overcrowded convention where his girlfriend dragged him here and there due to her temporary overexcited ADD. He also didn’t make fun of me as I talked to him about things that sounded like they were in a different language. Gamer lingo, FTW!

Needless to say, Classic Game Fest was a blast! If you have a chance to go, then go. You won’t regret it!

cho-g1

PC to Console: Pt. 1

I mentioned in a previous post that I was sold on buying a Playstation 4.

Here’s that post: Has the Playstation 4 Finally Done it?

Well, I did just that. I purchased a bundled PS4 via QVC.com, believe it or not. I really wanted to get the console as soon as I could without paying the full price. Instead of making my wallet cry, I’ll be making 5 payments of $115.70 for the 5 months. Pretty affordable that way, if you ask me!

It took about a week to get to me, and it was worth the wait to unbox a brand new console.

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I was beyond giddy just to open it! It felt like Christmas to me. After all, It has been about 5 ½ years since I’ve bought a new console. If you’re a gamer, you know how tragic that is! Hence why I was like an overexcited child when opening my new PS4. It was awesome-sauce.

So after 5-6 years of mouse and keyboard gaming, I’m holding a controller again. It’s weird and a little awkward, but so far I love it. I didn’t realize how much I missed the feeling of holding a controller in my hands! I could easily compare this to going from reading a hard copy book to an e-reader. The feel of it just isn’t the same, especially if you started old school.

And can we just take a moment to revel in how much more comfortable the modern day controller is to the original?

  

Ok, let me get something straight. I have played on a PS4 sparingly; courtesy of having an older brother who can keep up with the times. The games we played were mostly multiplayers. We’re talking Mortal Kombat, Little Big Planet, and others that I can’t recall the names of.

I guess if you’ve gamed long enough, you never really lose the ability to pick up a controller and play decently with it. That was the case when I gamed with my brother. The big challenge now is acclimating myself with a console controller with more depth than just the occasional multiplayer game.

This acclimation is occurring now as I begin to play Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on the PS4. It’s sort of a sink or swim situation as you really have to utilize every button and combination of buttons on the controller to access everything there is in FFXIV. The idea of using those methods made this PC online gamer pretty nervous.

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My thought: How in world do you access it all via controller?

At first, I was gimped by the controller. I immediately wanted the security blanket that was my mouse and keyboard. I did give in to that a bit. I purchased a USB keyboard in order to chat on the game, but I found myself regularly setting down the controller and opting for the touch pad on the keyboard. Shame, shame, I know!

Everyone kept telling me that I can just hook up a USB mouse and play it like it was PC. But where is the fun in that? Where is the challenge in that? I wanted to give the controller a real chance at winning me over.

Within two hours of gameplay, I was intrigued. I was relieved at how easy it can be to access everything once you get the gist of how it’s all done.  It took me about an hour to learn how the Hotbar Sets work and then to set them up. After that, I jumped right in two dungeons to see how everything flowed. It went surprisingly well.

I think that the more time you spend acclimating yourself to the controller’s handling, the more comfortable and better off you’ll be. I’m even tempted to say that it could be quicker than PC, but I’ll hold off on concreting that until I get more game time under my belt.

My Verdict: I’m digging it!

I will continue to play FFXIV: ARR with the controller until I either love it or hate it! We shall see and I will update everyone on the results in a few weeks.

Do any of you play a PC game with a controller? How do you like it?

Has anyone gone from long-time PC to Console or vice versa? How was that?

cho-g1

Geeky Crafts: Perler Beads

All of you know by now that I’m a geek. What you may not be aware of is that I also love to make things!

Yay, crafting!

I do a lot of painting, some sketching, Perler Bead sprites, and I’m learning to crochet. If you followed me when I wrote on Geeky ‘n Girly, you may recall my post stating that I was going to be doing Perler Beads. I even went as far as to create an Etsy for it and try to sell them. Well, that didn’t go so well but that didn’t stop me from selling them locally and just making them for fun.

Most geeks/nerds are familiar with Perler Beads. If you aren’t, they’re basically beads that you put together into a pattern on a pegboard and then you melt them together to make images.

For geeks, perlers are the perfect recreation of the old school video game sprites that we love! In truth, it has become so popular that there are perler patterns for just about anything is available. Simply google perler bead patterns or hit up Pinterest. Trust me, my perler patterns have their very own board on Pinterest.

Perlers are a lot of fun and can be easy or highly complicated. I tend to prefer the simpler sprites that are nostagic for me, but I’ve also made some of the more cutesy types.

What to Buy:

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Most of these items can be found at Hobby Lobby/Michaels and you’re local Walmart.

Beads – These can be sorted or mixed. I recommend both since it gives you a variety. Then when you figure out which colors you really want to use, you can go back for the individual packs.

Peg Boards – Definitely buy the ones you can interlink in case you want to go big with your creations.

Wax Papers – This is a must. Don’t apply heat directly to the beads or you’ll have a mess.

Masking Tape – The thicker, the better! This is used to remove your completed sprite from the peg boards.

Clothes Iron– You’ll need one if you don’t have one to melt the beads.

Toothpicks – Or something similar to puncture holes in the masking tape to prevent air bubbles.*

How To – Steps:

  1. Look up a pattern or make it up! Again, you can find patterns online by googling or using Pinterest.
  2. Place beads on the pegboard in the pattern.
  3. Apply masking tape to the completed pattern so that it covers every bead.
  4. Take something flat like a credit card and press the tape against the beads to assure they stick.
  5. Use a toothpick or pen to puncture a few of the beads’ holes.
  6. Life the tape with beads stuck off of the peg boards.
  7. Set the pattern with the beads facing down.
  8. Take your peg board and line the pegs with the holes you’ve already made. Press down until the pegs puncture the rest of the beads’ holes.
  9. Flip the pattern over with beads facing up.
  10. Cover with wax paper.
  11. Apply iron in circular motions using an even amount of pressure until beads appear wet through the paper.
  12. When beads are melted, leave wax paper and set something flat and heavy on top so that the sprite doesn’t warp while cooling. A thick book or two will work.
  13. Wait 10-15 minutes before removing the heavy item, wax paper, and tape.
  14. Done!

Tips for Beginners:

  • Turn on your iron while you’re putting your pattern together. It helps to save time.
  • Don’t iron the beaded pattern while it sits on the plastic peg boards. The heat will warp the boards!
  • *Be sure to puncture holes through the tape to allow air to escape. If not, you’ll create air pockets that will cause the holes to enlarge when you melt the beads.
  • To get rid of all holes and create a flat sprite, use extra but even pressure when ironing until you see the beads melt together completely into tiny squares. Don’t iron for too long or you’ll seriously flatten them out!
  • Don’t use wax paper that’s been folded, or if you do, don’t put the creases on top of the beads. When you iron them, you’ll actually iron on the crease which will create an indentation on your sprite!
  • Have Patience! Perler Beads require a good amount of time and patience depending on what you’re trying to make. There will be times that you bump it, knock it, and otherwise mess it up. The good news is that it can be fixed!

If you’re a picture or video person as far as instructions go, there are many websites and videos to be found on how to make Perler Bead sprites.

The only thing I recommend is to pay attention to the tips above. They were hard learned lessons!

Now for the fun part! Below are some of the sprites that I’ve made so far.

Happy Perlering!

cho-g1

Has the Playstation 4 Finally Done It?

Before I get into what that cryptic title means, let me give everyone a little update.

I have been living Austin now for a month. I’ve landed a great job, found an amazing apartment, and the move will be complete next Friday, June 3rd. I really can’t put into words how excited and grateful I am that everything fell into place the way I wanted. It happened so neatly, in fact, that I worry that karma is going to balance it all out and my arm might just spontaneously fall off. Haha. Let’s hope not!

Next month is the Classic Game Fest here in Austin. I will be attending that, taking lots of pictures, and sharing my experiences there. If you’re unfamiliar with it, click HERE.

So now back to my cryptic title. I might disappoint in that I don’t have any dirt or scoop on Sony or the PS4. In fact, it has more to do with me than the console itself.

A bit of backstory: I haven’t owned a console since the PS2. <Pause for shock.> When it first released, money was my first issue. Consoles are getting hella’ expensive. However, after some time I really didn’t feel a strong desire to buy it.

You may or may not know, but I’m an RPG gal. I love me some RPG’s, and I really didn’t see all that many being released for the PS3 that I was interested in. (Also, X-Box fans.. Shush. I did check there too.) Sure, Final Fantasy made it’s move forward but other than that I didn’t feel the pull to follow. Truly, a very odd thing.

Then the PS4 released and this bugger is even more expensive than the PS3. Seriously, Sony, my wallet is screaming for mercy. I didn’t buy the PS4 either.

So here I am in 2015 PlayStation-less. I really didn’t have any intention of changing my opinion. The past couple of years, I have played PC. Specifically, I played Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

But something both shitty and magical happened recently. My graphics card started to fail, and just as I began considering how much it would cost to replace it, the Final Fantasy VII remake was revealed.

Well there you go, folks. Not only is FFXIV playable on the PS4, but now they are remaking one of my favorite games. SOLD.

I know that this remake might not meet my expectations. It might even be so bad that it’ll make me sick. But that, my dear friends, is how much sway the Final Fantasy series has over me. What can I say? I do love me a good RPG, and despite recent lackluster titles in the series, they’re rarely a bad one.

Anywho, that remake reveal sparked a tiny fire of curiosity in me. I’ve since taken the time to really explore the games released and to-be released for PS4. I’ve even touched into the PS3 realm some, and I was pleasantly surprised that I rediscovered that drive to play the newer games. It’s like I’ve been reborn!

So to answer my question above: Yes. The PS4 has re-sparked my interest in next generation gaming!

cho-g1

Out with the Old & In with the New

I’m very happy to announce that I will be moving to Austin, TX at the end of May!

To be honest, it’s really got me thinking about fresh starts and new beginnings. I think that moving to a new city can really help you redefine your lifestyle, especially if that city’s culture is different (in a good way) than your current one. Austin is just that.

  • Austin’s general population is younger. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people my age before!
  • It’s a very green city, and puts a lot of effort into environmental awareness, Lovely parks and lakes everywhere.
  • It has a no-kill policy which means a lot to me as an animal lover.
  • Austin is very health and fitness oriented. It is very rare to see an out of shape Austinite.
  • It’s culturally diverse and rich with people from all over the world living there and influencing it.
  • Live Music Capital of the United States. Need I say more? The arts are strong there!

The list could go on and on, but those are the main reasons I am attracted to it. I’m an animal, nature, and arts loving person who wants to bring more fitness into her life. Was this city made for me?

To be fair, I won’t actually be living IN Austin, but just north of it in the Pflugerville, TX or Round Rock, TX areas. My boyfriend likes to point out that they are their own cities, but I feel as though the three cities bleed right into each other. This is especially true when its comes to the general lifestyle. Not to mention they’re only like 20 minutes apart. I mean, I can drive the highway for 20 minutes in San Antonio and still be in San Antonio. C’mon now!

I digress.

On the more geeky spectrum of things, I am just itching to explore the geek culture in Austin. A lot of people will yell, “Hipsters!” when they talk about Austin, but I have this feeling that I will feel more at home among a bigger geek society there. I know for sure that it hosts more geek conventions than San Antonio. That’s always a positive sign, right?

Of course, as I explore and discover the geek culture in Austin, I will be letting you all know how it is! Although I’m sure I will be posting before July, there is a particular event I am so damn excited to go to.

That is..

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Did your eyes just bug out as big as mine did when I discovered this? Yeah, I’m sure they did.

Being that I haven’t bought into the current newer consoles of the last few years, I set my sights to the past. You just can’t go wrong with the classics. In fact, I miss them! Video games are evolving in a way that I’m not particularly fond of. Well, minus MMORPG’s which I almost always love. FFXIV: ARR specifically. ❤

I will be attending this amaze-balls Classic Game Fest, and I will be overloading my phone with tons of pictures to show everyone. Luckily it will be at the end of our first month in Austin and I’ll let it dangle in front of my eyes like a treat the next two months to help push me through what I’m sure will be a stressful transition.

So let me ask everyone something even though it’s not January and we didn’t just celebrate New Years. What changes are you bringing into your life for the positive? Anything big? Not so big? Hey, nothing’s better than baby-steps actually.

Let me know!

cho-g1