I’ll keep track of my game playing and movie watching for the year in this post:
Movies watched in 2011:
- Knight and Day
- Full Metal Jacket
- State of Play
- Despicable Me
- How to Train your Dragon
- The Losers
- The Recruit
- Easy A
- Nowhere Boy
- The Social Network
- The Switch
- Morning Glory
- How Do You Know
- The Tourist
- Book of Eli
- The King’s Speech
- Kick Ass
- Fifth Element
- Ip Man
- Tron: Legacy
- The Mechanic
- 12 Monkeys
- Super 8
- X-Men: First Class
- EVE Online: Incursion (PC)
- Torchlight (XBOX 360)
- Bangai-O HD (XBOX 360)
- Hunters: Episode One HD (iPad)
- Neuroshima Hex HD (iPad)
- Galaga Legions DX (XBOX 360)
I left work in the late afternoon on Thursday to board my flight to Seattle… it wasn’t a direct flight. Since I used frequent flier miles for travel on a holiday weekend, I had a couple of connections. I was off to Chicago, then Phoenix, and finally Seattle. As luck would have it, a storm rolled into the Chicago area right as my flight was to leave, so I was delayed a couple of hours. I missed the last flight from Phoenix to Seattle so had to spend the night and fly out the next morning. I also didn’t have a change of clothes because I checked a big suitcase in order to transport my 360 with me as well as bring swag back from PAX. I finally arrived at my hotel in Seattle at 11:30 on Friday. I ordered room service for a quick lunch so that it could arrive just as I had finished a quick shower and getting on a fresh set of clothes. I was able to get to the convention center just slightly after noon… not too bad considering the circumstances.
I had pre-loaded my desired schedule in a Google calendar and also download a couple different convention apps (Expo Junkie and later upon recommendation of a fellow gamer, theConventionist) and I didn’t have anything immediate to get to, so I checked out the show floor. One of the first folks I ran into was DTJaaaam playing Kinect Dance Central (don’t worry, I wont post the video of you… though you were killing it to Lady Gaga).
Lines were not bad on Friday, so I played several games. I was happy to play Bangai-O HD, I didn’t even know that game was coming out! I really loved the Dreamcast version and was slightly disappointed with the puzzle-like nature of the DS “spirits” version. The games I’m most excited about weren’t really surprises, but I enjoyed seeing them represented; Torchlight 2, Reach, and the next EVE Online expansion.
That reminds me, CCP unveiled a new trailer for EVE at PAX on Friday! The EVE players started gathering around the CCP booth at about 2:30 in anticipation of the 3:00 unveiling. As we huddled around, the small-talk from among pilots was really interesting,
“Where do you live?”
“Oh, me? I live in ‘The North’, in Deklin, how about yourself?”
“I live in a class 4 wormhole right now. But my corporation isn’t big enough to hold it so I’m sure I’ll be moving soon.”
Another player chimes in, “I live in Pure Blind, not far from Deklin. I’m part of the Northern Coalition”.
It was just really fun to see these like-minded EVE pilots discuss their happenings and whereabouts in context of the game without any prompting whatsoever 🙂
That night was the 1up party, and I had a place in line for ScrtAznMann (who was braving the convention with a hurt foot!). We both had a blast, it was fun to see a lot of the personalities and our fellow bloggers there.
I was keeping an eye out for Area 5 guys as well, and was happy when I ran into Cesar at the party that night. (Photo taken by Patrick Klepek)
A nice thing about PAX is that the official schedule doesn’t start until 10:00 AM. So even though I was out until nearly 2:00 AM each night, I was still able to have time for a nice sit-down breakfast. It was a little bit of a walk, but the Dahlia Lounge is my favorite breakfast spot in Seattle. I had the eggs, fried mashed potatoes, and bacon and they make an awesome latte there. It gave me the perfect start each day!
Wednesday night was the official Gamers with Jobs meet-up at Rock Bottom. That was a lot of fun meeting so many guys I had only known from “the internet”. After dinner, a group of us decided to go to the board game free-play area and we checked-out “Battlestar Galactica” (at PAX you can borrow board games to try them out with the exchange of your drivers license) and we played that until the place was closing down. It is a really fun game, I purchased my own copy the very next morning.
On Sunday I made my way through the show floor again, spent time in the console free-play area (a huge room with every console imaginable and just about every game you can think of, available to borrow and play), and made sure there wasn’t anything else I had missed. That night I re-joined the awesome Gamers with Jobs folks for an un-official meet-up at Jonman’s home. There were card & board games, Rock Band, and a live podcast from the kitchen table! Another late night but so worth figuring out the bus schedules and getting out to his place. I really respect the guys at GWJ and we had such a blast!
I have to say, I feel like I experienced PAX much better this year. Most of the fun really starts after the convention schedule, when the exhibit floor is closed down and there are so many parties, concerts, and open opportunities to play board games and “same couch” multi-player games in the free-play areas. I met a lot of great people, and was saddened when it had to come to an end. Although I do have to admit I’m exhausted! I’m not normally a “party ’til 2AM” type of guy!
This weekend was very full! My Nephew was married this Saturday, our rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and bachelor party were on Friday. Since I was his best man, I hosted the bachelor party. You should know we are a pretty conservative bunch, so instead of what might have popped to the top of your mind, we had an Xbox 360 LAN party!
I borrowed televisions, projectors, consoles, games and controllers, from other people until I had enough for 8 comfortably. Technically we could have supported the full 16 players locally by enabling more split-screens. As is, we had at most 2 people on a display, and a few had a display all to themselves.
Congratulations Ethan and Nicole!
We’ve been enjoying our extended weekend.
On Friday night Jantina and I joined Rob and Sarah and several friends for a cookout at their place. There was a good turnout, about 15 or so folks. We each brought a dish, and relaxed in the back yard enjoying the weather as we ate. We had a great time meeting new friends and visiting. We are looking forward to the next get-together!
Our air-conditioning at home has been out for a week now. We’ve been spending more time in our basement as the repair men keep guessing what the problem could be. The current theory is that the internal coil needs to be replaced. So, I moved the PS3 and TV from my office downstairs so now we’re able to stream Hulu, Netflix, and watch DVDs that way (and it gives me an excuse to play my oft-neglected PS3 games).
Sunday after church we had lunch at mom & dad’s with the family, then Jantina and I went to Bloomington for a date. We first stopped by World Gourmet to pick up a few things, and while we were there I picked up a dark chocolate bar with almonds and sea salt and Jantina bought an orange passion fruit drink. She didn’t care much for her drink, but the chocolate was awesome! I was surprised when I realized that I had finished the whole thing while watching the movie… we went to the Palace to see Prince of Persia. So many scenes were lifted straight from the video games, and it totally worked! It was fun, I’d recommend seeing it. After the movie we tried a new place for dinner, Baxter’s American Grille. The service was “meh”, but the food was pretty good, we’ll try it again for sure.
Now we are looking forward to having Monday off. I probably stay up late tonight playing games and tomorrow we are heading over to mom & dad’s for a cookout with the family!
Arguably the biggest thing in gaming this week was the iPad launch. No, I didn’t purchase one, I do think it would be wise to wait for the 2nd generation. Apple will probably add some feature (like a camera), but even in the worst case scenario where the next version includes some insignificant change, then the original will be cheaper! So either way, I’m waiting for now.
So I’ve been living vicariously through others as they get their gaming on with the new device. The first thing I noticed was the Twitter phenomenon. Maybe it is just the circle of people I follow, but this was the first time I’ve witnessed an entire product launch unfold from pre-launch lineup, un-boxing, new user experiences, impromptu peer user groups, troubleshooting, and recommendations all springing forth in real time as the product became available to the masses. It was incredible to see all sorts of people posting pics, describing which applications they like best, collaborating about charging and wi-fi problems, it was really incredible to witness the power of Twitter.
The latest CO-OP show brought new concerns to the table. As the hosts expounded on how wonderful the device is and demoed some very cool games (that I admit, made me a bit envious), I kept noticing how poorly ergonomic playing games on the device looked. Watching them play all hunched over gave me a sympathy neck-ache of my own. Maybe placing the device on a table would help a little, but I’m just not sure how much that would help. I would love to see a mock-up of those single-colored iPod ads with a silhouette of a guy hunched over playing on his iPad! If you have the talent, let’s see it! 🙂
The excitement only built as the details of the new iPhone OS 4.0 were announced. Now we’ll get a lot of overdue features (like multi-tasking) but also the equivalent of XBOX Live for the iPhone/iPod/iPad games! Achievements, Leaderboards, Friend Lists, Matchmaking, all will be a part of the platform, YAY! I think the combination of this, and the new iAd platform unveiled is really going to take marketshare from the Facebook gaming scene as well as make a pretty tough road for Nintendos 3DS… friend codes anyone?
If the rumors are true, and a new iPhone is to be launched this summer, I’m likely to upgrade to that and continue holding off on the iPad. But as I spend this evening playing through a $5 copy of ESPGALUDA II (normally an $80 import!) on my 3GS I can’t help but maintain my enthusiasm for the Apple platform!
I’m, totally, buying coffee stock in your next vacation!
We are back from vacation! My family went on a cruise to the Bahamas aboard the Disney Wonder. We’d been planning the trip for several years so that all of us could vacation together. Our group of 25 included parents, my sisters with their husbands and children, and even an aunt & uncle.
Saturday we flew out of Bloomington to Orlando and were met by Aby right as we finished collecting our baggage. She gave us a ride to our hotel to check in, and then we went on a quick shopping trip to the Premium Outlets to update my warm-weather wardrobe. Once I had added a few pairs of shorts and a new polo to my collection, we were off to Clermont, FL where we surprised Scott Hunter by joining him and a group of friends to celebrate his birthday! After dinner we drove to Scott’s house and had a great time visiting before heading to our hotel to get some sleep before casting off the next morning.
Sunday morning Aby provided us a private shuttle service to Cape Canaveral. It was really an excuse to smash in more visiting during the hour-long drive, but it also saved us a car rental. We arrived at the cruise check-in early, there were no lines, and we were able to relax until boarding. I ate a very light breakfast knowing that I’d be eating way too much excellent food once aboard the Wonder. We boarded just before noon, ate at a buffet provided in the Parrot Cay restaurant, and then began exploring the ship. I got a latte at the Cove Cafe, and re-grouped with Emilie, Ethan and Kallie. All three were too young on our last cruise to be in the adult-only section of the ship so that was fun for them too. Anna and Jack also joined us while we sat discussing our plans for the week and sipping our espresso beverages. That night Jantina, Emilie and I ate at Palo while the sun set. I enjoyed both the rack of lamb and the filet and for desert I had both the tiramisu and the chocolate soufflé! Because our family had the late-dinner slot at 8:15, we were able to join them after the 3 of us had finished our meal. I was telling my family that I had just experienced two entrees when their waiter finished the story for me by telling the crowd that I also had two desserts and he specifically knew which two! That was kind of strange in a stalker sort of way. I have no idea how or why he knew what I had just finished eating less than an hour ago! After visiting with the family for a while, we went on to the Diversions lounge to watch the Academy awards. There were actors and actresses there hosting movie trivia for small prizes during the commercial breaks adding to the atmosphere and creating a very festive event, it was a lot of fun!
Monday we docked at Nassau. Ethan, Kallie, Emilie, Jantina and I decided to get a few pictures with the ship as our backdrop while it was docked. Since we were already off the ship we walked around the island shops briefly and then re-boarded to eat lunch at Triton’s where we happened to meet up with more of the family by coincidence. Jantina, Kallie and I then watched The Blind Side and relaxed before getting ready for that evening’s stage show, the Toy Story Musical. That night we had dinner at Triton’s, where I was super-excited to get the Grand Marnier soufflé. I remembered it being my favorite item the last time we had cruised and I was so happy they still had it on the menu. I started by ordering one. Then my wife couldn’t finish hers, so I stepped up to help. Ethan decided he could eat a second soufflé, and when the waiter brought him his second, he also another for me. So I ate that too. At that point things started going down hill fast and before I knew it I had finished the equivalent of at least 5 soufflés! After dinner we changed out of our fancy clothes and went to the theatre on deck 4 to see When in Rome.
Tuesday we docked at Castaway Cay. Jantina, Amie, and Emilie were all excited to get a picture with Jack Sparrow in front of the ghostly pirate ship docked just off shore. We enjoyed the beach, ate lunch on the island, and then took a glass-bottom boat tour. We leaned about the reef, saw many fish, different types of coral, and crabs and other interesting sites. I did try finding a hat, knowing that there wouldn’t be enough sunscreen to protect my bald head all day long. As you can see, I didn’t really find anything appropriate. Jantina and I then headed over to the adult-only beach at Serenity Bay where we lay in a hammock and read our books and magazines for a couple of hours. That night they lowered a screen in the main theater and we watched Alice in Wonderland in 3D. Tim Burton’s take was a bit strange, but it’s worth seeing once. That night was the Pirate Party! We had a pirate-themed dinner and then went on deck for the festivities, fireworks, and even more food as the buffet opened up on deck including over 70 different desserts, turkey legs, fresh crepes, and other food I just didn’t have room for! We went to bed around 11:00 but my Dad, Uncle Jack and Aunt Anna stayed up and watched Pirates of the Caribbean on the jumbo outdoor display.
Wednesday was our day at sea. I woke up early at 5:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep so I decided to get ready for the day and to venture out to see the sunrise. By the time I was ready to leave, my wife decided she was up too and joined me. To our surprise, my sister Katie and Jeff had the same idea and found us so we were able to get some great pictures of each other. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and visiting. I had coffee with mom in the morning, then read a book on deck enjoying the sunshine, had coffee with dad in the afternoon, re-joined more family in the theatre to see The Princess and the Frog, and that evening was dinner at Animator’s Palate. Since this was our last night with our servers we gave them a big rowdy standing ovation, took pictures and exchanged Facebook information. They did a fabulous job serving us the entire cruise, bringing us every manner of extra over-the-top entrees many times over and anticipating our every want.
Thursday morning we woke already docked. We packed up last minute things and grabbed breakfast at Animator’s Palate before getting a group picture and disembarking. Again, “Aby Taxi” picked us up and we made our way back to Orlando. Jantina and I went to Artist Point with my parents to jointly celebrate our mutual wedding anniversaries. My favorite item there is the Smokey Portobello mushroom soup, which I enjoyed, however I was disappointed that my favorite dessert, Coffee Two-ways, had been discontinued. When we arrived back at the hotel that night, the Renaissance surprised us with chilled Champaign and chocolate-covered strawberries to wish us a happy anniversary also!
Friday it rained all day so we took that opportunity to go monorail hopping. We started at the Polynesian. Ethan and I ordered Kona blend coffees while the rest of our party started looking through the shops. Then we hopped on the monorail and went to the Grand Floridian. We especially enjoyed learning about bath bombs and salt & sugar exfoliating soaps. Once we were done making a mess at Basin, we were back on the monorail to the Contemporary. We decided to get lunch and we couldn’t break the habit of getting ice cream after our meal, only this time it cost us like five dollars each! We got used to that being included on the cruise… oh well, we are on vacation right? Then we left the family and drove to Clermont to visit with Jamie, Nate & Hannah for a few hours before our dinner at Season’s 52 with Emilie! It was wonderful, and afterward we met Aby for gelato, spent some time looking around Barnes & Noble, then we added Ethan to our group for more visiting and a spontaneous trip to Downtown Disney where we had yet another coffee from Ghirardelli.
Saturday Jantina went to meet Donna to visit, shop, and dine while I went to Epcot with Mom, Dad, Anna, Jack, Marilyn, and Jeff. We visited The Land attraction, the Coca-Cola exhibit, and ate lunch at the Rose & Crown before heading to Paris. Jantina joined me, as well as Ethan, Kallie, and Emilie and by this time our Fast Passes were ripe for Soarin’. Anna and Jack joined us for the Californian adventure and then we all went our separate ways again. Jantina and I went around the World Showcase, she picked out a dessert in Norway, I tried a canned coffee from Japan and Jantina tried red-bean-paste wheat buns that are frequently featured in many of the Japanese anime shows she watches. Then we drove again to Clermont to visit with Aby, Nate and Hannah before joining Jamie at church that night. After the service we had a great time visiting with Aby, Scott & Jamie and even iChatted Jenn into the conversation. We had some great pizza from a local place called Smashmouth and it was so yummy! With the time change springing us forward an hour and our early flight Sunday morning, we had to call it an early night.
We had a great vacation! It was very relaxing; we got to enjoy great company and way too much great food. I feel like I shouldn’t eat for days now!