I Cosplayed at HeroesCon as a Character No One Knows or Cares About, AMA

I’m back from HeroesCon in sunny as hell downtown Charlotte, NC. Friends were met, comics were bought, fun was had, and norms were freaked, though not like in 2013 when the con shared space with the North Carolina GOP Convention.

I saw a bunch of my pals from Twitter and elsewhere, and met some of them in real life for the first time. I also saw some old pals and enjoyed catching up with them.

I bought comics! I have not really been in a comics place lately but once again the convention rekindled my interest. I bought the following, which have been fast-tracked for consumption:

(Not pictured here are Kyle Stark’s “Space Princess” mini, Catie Donnelly’s “Space Jar”, and Matthew Rosenberg’s “We Can Never Go Home” #1. The bagged issues at the bottom are the Wild Dog miniseries.)

The big news for me is, I did some cosplaying!

I finally lived the dream of walking in my hero’s boots. What I did not know was that his boots don’t fit right and jacked up my knee pretty hard. But we all suffer for art, and what’s more important, maintaining bipedal locomotion, or making a bunch of people wonder who the hell I was supposed to be?

The outfit was a hit with my friends, who all know the character of Space Cabby from my lack of shutting up about him. Not only will I talk about Space Cabby at the drop of a hat, I will also talk about my affection for Space Cabby. I got a thumbs up from my pals, and that was fun.

Apart from friends, only two other people recognized me (who said anything). One was Evan Dorkin, who did a sketch of same two years ago. The other was someone who was tabling and who’s name I didn’t think to catch, so blown away was I by being recognized. I had thought about bringing small prizes to give to people who recognized me; I would clearly not need many. One person at a booth asked me who I was and when I explained, he said, “Nope, never heard of him.” This is a tragedy, DC, but I still don’t want Keith Giffen writing the character any time soon. Maybe you need to consider this.

I didn’t get too many photos of myself, but someone kindly took this for me:

HeroesCon does a big cosplay group photo on Saturday, and I took part in that. They moved it outside, which was nice, since you had dozens of people in synthetic fabrics baking in 90-something degree weather while various Deadpools and Jokers did “wacky” stunts and some guy proposed to his sweety. Eventually the photos got taken and I have no idea what was done with them, but my friend Christine took this:

Can you find me in it? You can click on it to make it as large as it was hot.

I had an easy costume that no one cared about anyhow, but it gave me an appreciation for cosplayers who aren’t The Joker, Deadpool, or Harley Quinn. It’s hot, uncomfortable work, and even in the middle of a bunch of comics nerds you feel like a goofball, but it’s still a lot of fun.

Gosh, what all did I do? I was in on a live taping of War Rocket Ajax with Tom Scioli! I ate crepes! I talked to Kyle Starks about my Fallout Shelter (more on that in an upcoming post). I brainstormed KEEP CALM shirts with Curt Franklin and Matt Wilson! I tweeted a photo of an outstanding Eternity costume that Kelly Sue DeConnick and Gerard Way retweeted into the stratosphere. I had pizza in an incredible new dining experience with three of the Two Guys from The Comics Alternative! I actually did my Couch-to-5K session on Friday morning! I took this horrible photo with Ken Lowery (can you tell who’s drunk there? surprise, it’s both of us!)

Oh, and I got some Space Cabby sketches that you’ll see real soon!

Heroes was a lot of fun. And I crack on nerds a lot but it was very cool seeing fans of all races, genders, and ages all having a good time.

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I Played That! #16: Jumpman (C64)

I played a lot of games on the C64, but this one probably held the record. It was a perennial favorite, and I was actually not too bad at it.

The title, Jumpman, could not be a better descriptor. You’re a little guy and you’re going to do a lot of jumping. Also running and climbing as you try to gather all the little orbs on a level. You’ll have to avoid robots, UFOs, evil jumpmen, and bullets that just float around waiting to kill you. Also falls, so many falls. The genius of Jumpman was that, crude as it was, there was sometimes a little scramble when he barely made a jump. That little bit of animation was enough to make one look at gaps and say “I’m pretty sure he can make that” and go for it.

Jumpman had 30 levels, I think, which got progressively harder. You could start at each group of ten, or you could do the grand tour. I am pretty sure I at least once completed the whole thing, but I can’t remember for certain.

I do know that I would sometimes play on the C64 in the morning before school and on at least one occasion missed the bus because I got further in Jumpman than I had before and there was no save game.

There was also Jumpman Jr, a lite version of the game which I had and played some of, but it was the original that got the most attention. Also, in the early 90s, a game called Jetpack, which owed a fair amount to Jumpman, got some plays on my computer. Jumpman was still the first and best for me, though.

Posted in Videogames | Tagged ,

Heroes Con, Woo

Things have been quiet here lately because today I head off to sunny Charlotte, North Carolina, for Heroes Con. It’ll be a weekend of fun, frivolity, friends, and cosplay.

If you’re going and you see a dude dressed as some kind of cosmic taxi driver, buy him a beer or lemonade, he’s probably sweating bullets.

I’ll have pix and tales when I return!

Posted in Geek Stuff | Tagged

I Played That! #15: LineWars (PC)

I’ve never been much for games that you play on-line against an opponent, in real-time. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that I didn’t have much early exposure to them; this type of game simply didn’t exist during my most formative gaming years. Another is that these types of games are not usually the types of games I’m interested in. The third is that I’m not very good at a lot of games, and this is something we’ll explore in a later entry.

One of the first games of this type I did play — for about an afternoon, at least — was LineWars. I don’t remember if my opponent was Kurt or Gene. LineWars was a simple space combat game where you just fly around and try to shoot each other.

The conflict took place in 3D space, and the battlefield was large. In fact, this is what wrecked the game for us. After trading a few shots, we flew away from each other, and then got lost. Neither ship appeared on the other’s radar, and without any other landmarks, it was impossible to find the other. We tried several times to restart, but something like this always happened.

The next game of this type I played was one I can’t find any trace of on the Internet. It was probably shareware, and it was one where the players were battlemechs (one was a “Vulture” or a “Mad Dog”, I think) in a maze trying to shoot each other. (It wasn’t an official BattleTech game.) Kurt and I were roommates and the time, and we ran a null modem cable between our rooms.

I would periodically sneak over and look in Kurt’s room. His computer screen faced the door, and because of the cable we couldn’t close the doors when doing this. I’d see where he was in the maze and then go back and try to catch him there. It was some fun, but repetitive. We didn’t play it too much.

The only other game of this type I remember was a couple years later, when I was visiting Kurt and Anna in their new home in Mississippi. Kurt had hooked up a cable (possibly a LAN) between two computers in his house and we played a Duke Nukem game, both against each other and cooperatively. At some point during the co-op play Kurt died, so I was waiting for him at some checkpoint while he made his way to me. One command let me see what was happening on his screen while I waited, and after only a few seconds of watching someone else move quickly through a crude 3D landscape I was in migraineville.

Posted in Videogames | Tagged

My Tweek on Twitter

What I did this week on Twitter. Haven’t decided if this feature is keeper yet.

* BEST OF THE WEEK imo

* Me too, David Bowie. Me too.

* It had been, like, HOURS since I groused about Doctor Who

* Someone should write a series of alternate history novels about this

* I’m just saying, let’s give it a few days

* (RT) RT of the week

* Thankfully, no one replied with an “ELECTRIC BOOGALOO LOLOLOLO” joke

* GET OUT OF THERE, SERIAL KILLER! KARLA PACHECO’S IN THERE!

* this then turned into me ranting about nerds again

Posted in Twitter | Tagged

One Month Later, I Finished the First Week of C25K

Remember when I got it into my head that I was going to do Couch to 5K? Well, after only four weeks, I’ve completed the first one. How does my math there work out?

If you recall, day one of C25K ended with me sawing my own legs off so I wouldn’t have to do it again. I knew I was out of shape, but I didn’t realize how out of shape. So I decided that for the rest of the week, rather than do the official session of walk/jog I’d just walk for 30 minutes, in order to just get my stamina up. I figured if I couldn’t do just walking, adding jogging or running to the mix was pointless.

Speaking of mixes, to help me with this I selected 50 or so songs that were all five minutes in length (plus or minus five seconds) and put them in a playlist. Six songs and I’m done. Some of them I probably should have thought about before adding.

That first week, even just the 30 minutes of real walking was rough, and I didn’t finish at least one of them. So I kept doing that the second week.

Finally on week three I was ready to give the real program a try again. Wolfram Alpha, the world’s premier computational knowledge engine, please tell the good folks what the weather was like on June 1st.

It was FIFTY FOUR DEGREES. AND RAINING. And you know what? I got my butt out there anyway and tried. But it was more than I could deal with and I only did about 2/3 of a session.

On Wednesday and Friday I tried again and lo, I succeeded! I did the first two sessions completely! Didn’t skip any of the “let’s jog!”s and didn’t quit early. My playlist actually worked great because the way the first week is structured, five minute intervals are built in.

Oh, my legs weren’t happy about those two days, but I did them. However, to stay on track with the weekly program, I went ahead and started over this week. And completed it this morning.

Now, let’s not overstate the accomplishment here. Each day of week one is walking, interrupted by eight one-minute slices of jogging. That’s it. I was able to jog for a minute, 24 times, over five days. I still have a ways to go. The important thing for me is that I’ve stuck with it. I’m not quite enjoying it, but I can’t say I don’t look forward to it. There’s a nice sense of accomplishment afterwards, and for something I don’t normally do.

Week two is similar, but the jog bursts are a little longer. Pretty sure I can do it.

Posted in Misc | Tagged

The “PS” Stands for “Prodigal Son”

My first console (not counting a cheap Pong unit) was a Sony PlayStation I got somewhere in the mid-90s. I was tired of the endless upgrade cycle for PC games, and for that matter I was tired of PC games in general. At the time this was an easy decision to make, as my friend Chris had a PS so I’d be able to borrow games. When the PS2 debuted, it was also an easy decision, and I upgraded to that. I loved my PS2 and got a lot of play out of it.

However, when I finally decided to make a move for a next generation console, I zagged. The Xbox 360 was the superior choice. My friends were all on Xbox Live (I would only later discover that online play is not really my thing, even with friends), there were games I wanted, it was cheaper, and so forth. And, although I mostly use it to play Fallout and Borderlands, I’ve gotten a lot of play out of it. I never really regretted the switch, even though I lost on of my favorite series, the Ratchet and Clank games.

With Fallout 4 now imminent and only available on next-next-generation consoles, a decision had to be made. And I decided to return to the pastures of my youth.

Once again I fly the House Sony banner, for much the same reasons that I switched to the Xbox before. Nearly everyone I know who was on the Xbox 360 has migrated to the PS4. The consoles made it an easy decision, as the Xbox One made my 360 games useless anyhow. Way to encourage brand loyalty, Microsoft!

It arrived yesterday and I made myself do chores before I could set it up. It was tough getting started because I literally couldn’t find the “on” switch. I was also thrown off by the cable for the controller, not realizing it was only for charging it. Once those bumps were taken care of, I set it up and got on the PSN and subscribed to PSPlus.

It’s taken some getting used to. The menu system is weirdly obtuse and unintuitive. When I was choosing my PSN name it kept telling me that my choices were invalid without giving me any hints as to what constituted a valid one and why my choice was bad. I eventually had to go online to find a guideline for usernames and realized that, by “invalid”, it meant “already taken”. I settled on “davelartigue”.

The controller will also take some getting used to. It’s smaller and lighter than the 360 controllers, and I feel like I’m going to snap it in half. Also the left stick and d-pad have their places swapped from the 360, so I’ll have to re-train that thumb. There is, however, a neat little touchpad on them. I ordered a second controller which hasn’t arrived yet, and I kind of wish I’d held off, because if there are third-party controllers available I might have preferred one of those.

Once everything was in place, I fired up the game I bought with it: Borderlands Handsome Collection (BL2 and BL:TPS in one box). Holy cow the graphics looked AMAZING. I’ve always loved the look of Borderlands and the upgraded graphics really made it shine. I restarted the TPS game I’d been playing on the Xbox as Athena (I’m sorry to lose all my Badass Levels and such on the Xbox, but oh well, I guess I’ll just have to play it more, that’s a huge problem for me) and it helped me get used to the controller some.

I got the system bundled with The Last of Us, which I’ve heard great things about and to play. Someone told me that the bundle is about to change to Some Batman Thing so I jumped on it to get the game I actually wanted. I should probably play that instead of Again Borderlands but look, I just lost all my Badass Levels so cut me some slack. I also bought the enhanced Diablo 3, so as soon as the second controller arrives Becky and I can go crack skulls in there again.

I’m glad to be back where I started, and eager to check out the library of games available to me. What’s more, since our TV has multiple HDMI ports, I still have the 360 plugged into it as well! So it’s the best of both worlds!

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I Played That! #14: Fallout 1 and 2, Fallout Tactics (PC)

In light of this week’s news, let’s look at where it all began. (It actually began elsewhere, but that’s another story.)

The original Fallout was something of a godsend to me. By 1997 the style of RPG I enjoyed was passé. Doom and Warcraft had changed the landscape of PC games so that nearly everything was either a first-person shooter or a real-time strategy game, two genres I had no interest in. While I enjoyed Diablo, it was an action game, not really an RPG. I couldn’t seem to find the kinds of games I liked anymore.

Then Fallout appeared, and it was amazing. Not only was it exactly the sort of thing I liked, it was even in a setting that, at the time, was somewhat fresh and new. It was a post-apocalyptic setting, but even that had a new spin, as its world had a retro-futuristic angle to it. The world that bombs had been dropped onto was a 1950s-envisioned world of the future, and it was amazing. And it was for real roleplaying (it had started its life based around GURPS, but then had veered onto its own path). What’s more, Fallout can be completed without a final “boss battle”, which gave me (false) hope that maybe this type of ending would make a comeback.

Fallout was also innovative in other ways. Your intelligence stat could affect what your dialogue options were. It had traits and perks that allowed you to customize your character beyond the usual. The writing was superb and the world was well thought out and presented.

I absolutely adored Fallout. It was everything I wanted in a videogame. When Fallout 2 appeared the next year, I was thrilled. It changed little about the original game, being mostly more of the same, but that was fine with me, since I had no complaints about the original.

These two games spurred a renaissance in RPGs that favored the style of the American games I had cut my teeth on rather than the growing influence of the Japanese console model. It seemed like the drought was coming to an end, and it did, for a while. This development team would go on to do the Baldur’s Gate series, as well as a few other games I’ll be talking about.

Long time readers of my site may remember “Ground Zero”, a pencil-and-paper RPG I was supposedly creating that was based on the Fallout universe, despite someone already having done that. Such was my devotion to this world, though not sufficient enough to actually, like, complete the project.

My devotion also extended to the fact that when, in 2001, the third Fallout game wasn’t Fallout 3 but instead Fallout Tactics, a pure combat game, I rolled with it. It wasn’t generally my thing, but I played it and enjoyed it, assuming the third game was right around the corner. Despite not really being an RPG and not really giving me what I wanted, it was still a fun, well-polished game firmly set in that same world. Fallout 3 wouldn’t show up until seven years later, and even more than that for me.

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