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Swords, Dragons, and Dr. Pepper


Cedar Point

Posted by Watashi Wa , in Life Jul 11 2012 · 384 views
Michigan, Ohio, Top Thrill and 1 more...
Last week, June 30 through July 7, I went on a road trip with two of my friends to visit Michigan. We left at 12:40am on the 30th and I managed to stay up for 24 hours the day before, so needless to say I was quite tired on the drive up. However, this trips was thoroughly enjoyable, and I feel a sense of camaraderie with my friends that didn't exist before.

We watched the sun rise over the eastern horizon at a rest stop somewhere in Kentucky. Some dude was asleep on top of his jeep in a sleeping bag. We thought he was a dead body. We nicknamed him Bonnaroo.

On Monday, we drove to Grand Rapids to visit more friends and went out to a really rad local bar. I tried a few local Michigan micro-brews (Founder's Red Rye IPA) which were quite delicious. This bar was probably the most hipster place I had ever stepped into my entire life.

Tuesday we drove to Ann Arbor. We walked around downtown while waiting for even more friends to arrive. While walking down the streen, we visited the Vault of Midnight. Upon stepping inside, I was amazed at the amount of nerd/geek paraphernalia in the store. Finn the Human action figures, Minecraft axes. It was the embodiment of nerd culture. But wait! I went downstairs and THOUSANDS OF COMICS lined the walls and shelves. I was completely blown away. I could have dropped hundreds of dollars on board games, comics, action figures and graphic novels. Fortunately for my wallet, the only thing I left the store with was Zombie Dice. This game is incredibly fun, and I can't wait to play with Andrew and Nate and others at PAX East! It will be great for waiting in line.

The main reason I went on this trip, aside from getting away from Alabama for a week, was the chance to visit Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. We braved the lines on Thursday and Friday. Luckily, we missed the major July 4 crowds. The longest we waited in line for a ride was 1:45 mins for the Maverick, which was meh.

By far the biggest attractions at Cedar Point are the Millenium Force and the Top Thrill Dragster. Being the adrenaline junkie that I am, I forced myself and my friend Dustin (pictured soon) to sit in the front seat of both rides. The Millenium Force is probably my favorite of the two rides, simply because it is longer, and the climb up the hill gets your adrenaline pumping and builds excitement. The coaster lifts you 310 feet into the air and drops you 80 degrees, 300 feet down, at 93 mph. After we cleared the hill, for the briefest fraction of a second I actually felt a sense of danger. Regardless of that false sense of danger, I kept my hands raised the entire ride. My only regret is that I didn't get to ride the Millenium Force a second time.

Top Thrill Dragster, however, was the best experience at the park. You board your train, and wait until the lights reach green. You're launched 120 mph into a 90 degree vertical rise up 420 into the air and drop 400 feet 90 degrees down. I've already rambled long enough, so I'm going to let these pictures describe my feelings for this ride.

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I'm on the left. My friend's face is the epitome of pure terror. If only everyone could hear the horrid screams I have stuck in my head. My eyes are completely open in this picture, the force of the wind was shutting my eyelids.

So, that was my trip to Michigan and Ohio. I'm not stuck in a post-awesome-trip-with-great-friends funk. :P



Posted by Watashi Wa , in Life Jun 29 2012 · 271 views
road trip, Michigan, Ohio
In just a few short hours, two friends and I will be packing ourselves into a car on our long trek to Michigan. One of my friend's mother is paying for gas, and we will be staying at his sister's house in Michigan so expenses will be relatively minimal. We have plans to visit Ann Arbor as well as Grand Rapids while in the state. I've never been to Michigan (outside of Detroit Airport [airports don't count]) and I'm supremely excited to add another state to my list of States I've Visited. We initially planned to stop in Chicago, but it looks like I'll have to plan a trip to the Windy City another time. I've always wanted to visit Chicago, mostly because I was born in Illinois.

What I'm most excited about, however, is our trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. I haven't been to Cedar Point in over a decade. A few new coasters have been built since my last visit including the Millenium Force and the Top Thrill Dragster. I'm a huge roller coaster junkie, and saying that I've been on these rides will be a sizable personal victory for myself.

Road trips can become quite tiresome after awhile on the road. To help pass the time, I'm taking a few things with me:

My laptop: full season 2 of Game of Thrones as well as season 1 of the Legend of Korra
My cell phone: filled to the brim with my favorite podcast "My Brother, My Brother and Me" as well as a few other video game related casts
Book 3 of A Song of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords

I don't know how long I'll be gone for certain, I'm assuming one week tops, though. Don't you guys get too crazy with only 2/3 of the Best Globalz on the site. ;)

Also, if you get the reference in the blog entry title, *highfive*. Except you, Nate. I know you get it.



Posted by Watashi Wa , in BZPower Jun 15 2012 · 268 views
Stooges, or is it, Globals
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Whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop!

(totally watched The 3 Stooges all the time when I was younger)


One Last Beek

Posted by Watashi Wa , in BZPower Jun 10 2012 · 180 views

This is a shout out to my fellow globals: Becca and Nate. Are we the best globals or WHAT?!

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Best globals.



Posted by Watashi Wa , in BZPower Jun 06 2012 · 203 views

What the what, you guys. I just remembered...

Nine years on this website, as of May 29th.

I have been a staff member for seven of those years.

That's a long stinkin' time.


E3, Initial Thoughts

Posted by Watashi Wa , in Gaming Jun 05 2012 · 293 views
Games, Halo, E3
A few big name companies had pre-E3 press conferences today. I watched Microsoft's presentation and parts of Ubisoft's.

Halo 4 looks genuinely amazing. The new enemies, environments, weapons, gameplay and multiplayer videos I've seen have completely reassured me that 343 knows what they're doing with the franchise. That live-action trailer was pretty intense. The rest of Microsoft's presser was interesting up until they brought out Usher to announce Dance Central 3. His performance simply went on for too long. Other than that, we got glimpses of what Windows 8 and SmartGlass will bring to the table. Xbox Music is just a rebranding of Zune Marketplace. We're getting more Gears of War (good thing), Tomb Raider looked hot; Splinter Cell and, God forbid, Black Ops 2 looks mildly entertaining. Forza Horizon looks like a fun new take on the series. And we're getting some more exclusive arcade titles coming out next year. Anyone who says Microsoft didn't show off any games clearly isn't looking hard enough.

Assassin's Creed 3 sold me at PAX East and now they've released the naval gameplay videos and YESOHMYGOD.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted is basically a new Burnouth (good thing).

Rayman Legends looks great.

Star Wars 1313 caught my attention (mostly with those ridiculous graphics). I'm beginning to wonder if some of these games are being developed for 360 AND the next Xbox so that customers have more options.

Watch_Dogs, a brand new IP from Ubisoft, has piqued my interests. It seems to have an action-thriller edge too it, which is right up my alley.

The Last of Us, as expected, features stunning visuals from the Uncharted creators. The gameplay didn't blow me out of the water, but I'll probably keep an eye on it. Not that I even have a Playstation 3....

Not to mention, the Summer of Arcade titles for XBLA all look pretty excellent. Dust: An Elysian Tale is finally hitting the market after 3 years. Deadlight looks interesting. Wrecketeer could be fun to play with my nephew.

Nearly every comment I read about Microsoft's press conference is all "omg kinect everywhere!" What's interesting is how little Microsoft actually talked about Kinect other than the small enhancements from a few games and apps. You can whisper to hostiles in Splinter Cell. You can call plays in Madden. You can voice control the new NBA and NFL apps. Big deal? These integrations are unobtrusive. Everyone's got their undies up in a bunch because Microsoft hasn't announced any new AAA IPs. That will come next year, when we get to see the new Xbox.

It's going to be great come tomorrow when all the people that were accusing Microsoft of "more of the same games" get super stoked for a new Zelda, Mario, Metroid, Starfox. But hey, at least they'll be in HD now! :D

Now I'm just super excited for PAX East again...


Hey, Van Der Beek!

Posted by Watashi Wa , in BZPower May 24 2012 · 221 views

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Man, this is so much fun.

Van Der Beek's so dreamy.

You better be

Are You Down With Der Beek?

Posted by Watashi Wa , in BZPower May 24 2012 · 259 views
You better be, Finna party
Don't mess with Der Beek!

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Graduation, Celebration

Posted by Watashi Wa , in Life May 16 2012 · 190 views
School, Life, Work, Vacation
So here I am: sitting on my bed, actively avoiding lying on my back, sides or stomach because of how tender and burnt I am. I just returned home from a very short, yet exceedingly fun trip to Destin, Florida. This trip was, essentially, a graduation present to myself. I met and had some good hangs with pretty rad people. Beach volleyball was super fun and wore me out.

Last Saturday, May 12th, 2012, I graduated from Auburn University at Montgomery with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Systems Development. The ceremony itself was short and to-the-point since my school is relatively small, especially compared to main campus in Auburn. Afterwards, I headed back to my sister's house to enjoy a lovely meal with half of my family and my best friend.

I am extremely happy to say that I've graduated from college, but the anticipation of starting this brand new part of my life is both exhilarating and terrifying. I'm excited to start working and put my degree to use so I can make my way towards my goals and dreams. On the other hand, I'm at a point where I could be leaving everything I know behind me. I'm not afraid of making mistakes or trying new things; I'm scared of leaving everything and everyone I've known for the greater part of 22 years. Granted, we have amazing technology now - Skype, AIM, social networking, and even Xbox Live - that makes connection across vast distances much easier. Still, not being able to take my nephew to the park on a sunny afternoon or make my twin nieces laugh deeply saddens me.

I say all of that because there's a growing chance that I may be moving to North Carolina, should this job opportunity I've acted upon continue to flesh out. I replied to a call-back email tonight. If they like my answers, I can expect an interview soon. One of my sisters lived in NC for about a year or so and she's only had positive things to say about the place. Needless to say, I thoroughly believe I would enjoy living in North Carolina, specifically Durham. I've never done a professional interview, so even thinking about that is making my stomach crawl. Hah.

But I don't want to get ahead of myself. I'm taking this process one step at a time. I'm still sending my resume to other places, in the event that the NC position falls through.

Ever since I finished classes, I've found myself dwelling on a few worst-case scenarios that my imagination conjures from the realm of impossibilities. Dread and panic fills me for a good 5 minutes as I ponder about all of the responsibilities that are going to be shifted to my shoulders. It's completely futile, though. I never let myself dwell on these negative situations for too long. Otherwise, I waste too much time and I wouldn't be able to make the best possible decisions towards accomplishing my goals and ambitions.

College treated me well. I made a couple of really good friends that I'd like to stay in contact with. I may have realized I wasn't in the most appropriate degree too far into completion. I aim to take care of that with Graduate school, as I've said on my blog before. All in all, I had a pretty solid experience.

I'm actually going to miss college.



Posted by Watashi Wa , May 04 2012 · 102 views

Holy cow you guys. The Avengers was such a great movie!

Joss Whedon did an amazing job of giving every character screen time. I was worried Black Widow and Hawk Eye would only be shown in a scene here and there. Instead, every hero gets some rather amazing scenes. Having Banner and Stark play off each other was perfect, the two genius scientists working together and sharing their knowledge. The dichotomy between Iron Man and Captain America as well as between Thor and the Hulk are so remarkably well-written and shot you wonder how this group of heroes could ever come to terms with each other. Not to mention, the script of the movie pays great respect to comic books. Huge props to the writes for smart, comical dialog that isn't overly dramatic or cheesy.

Surprisingly, Robert Downey Jr. didn't "steal the show" as a few fans may have anticipated. I was very pleased with how well Mark Ruffalo protrayed Banner and am excited to see where he takes Banner/Hulk in future movies. Granted, RDJ did have some hilarious lines here and there. Honestly, no single actor got too much attention. The cast worked very well with each other.

And of course, Joss Whedon had to get one of his signature plot elements into the movie. I was quite surprised by that scene, but it plays an important part in the transition of the movie. For a moment towards the end, I thought Joss was going to pull another stunt and I nearly had a heart attack...

But seriously you guys, Marvel actually pulled off The Avengers movie! With so much room for error, Whedon executed the movie darn-near flawlessly!

Now excuse me, I'm going to go inundate myself with Iron Man comics...


Guild Wars 2

Posted by Watashi Wa , Apr 28 2012 · 119 views
PC, Gaming
If you didn't know, this weekend is a closed beta weekend for the upcoming MMO Guild Wars 2. I received 9 codes total while I was at PAX East this year and dispersed most of my codes to some friends of mine. Normally, my computer wouldn't be able to run such a new PC game. Fortunately for me, a friend of mine had an extra fairly powerful PC that he brought to our friends house so I could play the beta!

I'm playing as an Elementalist which is your standard spell-caster, if you couldn't deduce from the name. My character controls fire, water, air and stones with a mighty fury.

This is the first MMO I have ever played and I must say I quite enjoyed my time. You had to complete a few single-player quests to get into multiplayer, but I didn't mind because I was able to take my time and adapt to keyboard controls. Being used to a joystick, using WASD was particularly cumbersome to me and doesn't offer the precise movements you can get with a joystick. The game really got fun when we joined the world vs world server, where 3 factions wage numbers battles to control supply points on a giant map. I think I ended up playing for about 3 and a half hours. Hopefully I'll be able to clock in a few more in between finishing up papers and studying for some finals.

Shortly after I get a job I plan on building a fairly powerful PC to play on. I still love my Xbox, but we're at the point in this console generation where there's much to be desired graphically. The age of the consoles is really starting to show.


Two Weeks

Posted by Watashi Wa , Apr 17 2012 · 79 views
School, Life
You guys. I have exactly two weeks of classes left in my undergraduate career.

Every time I think about it, I get a little anxious and a butterflies-in-my-stomach type of feeling. I'm really excited, but at the same time I'm pretty scared. Not scared so much as... unsure, really. Unsure of what's going to happen over the next year or so.

I've applied for an iPhone development internship that would pay really well and would be an absolutely fantastic experience because I want to get into the application/game development side of programming. Unfortunately, you have to be enrolled in classes to be selected for the internship. From what I hear, not many people have applied. I sent the guy in charge my resume but have yet to hear back from him. Hopefully if they need someone desperately enough, they will allow an exception to the rule and hire a recently graduated student.

I'm fleshing out my resume to apply for an entry-level application development position at a business in Durham, North Carolina. I'm certainly not opposed to moving to a completely different state for a job. It'd be rough saying goodbye to my nephew and nieces, however. I've heard plenty of nice things about North Carolina and I'd be relatively close to parts of Virginia that I'm familiar with. Just about any city would be far more interesting than where I currently live. I do, after all, love exploring new cities...

I also have a few other job opportunities through people I know from school. Most of these positions are technical support rather than systems development (my major is Systems Development), but if I have to take a job doing that for a while, I'd be hard pressed to turn it down. Luckily I've still got a good amount of money saved up from my previous job that I can live off of until I do find a steady job. I'd also be working with people I know, so there's that.

Before then, however, I've still got plenty of assignments to keep me busy until graduation on May 12th. An 8-page paper, a 10-page research paper, a presentation, and at least 5 Android programs have to be done by May 1st. Woo!

Good luck to anyone else out there that is also graduating, high school or college. It's a fun time.


Pax East 2012 Wrap-Up (W/ Pics!)

Posted by Watashi Wa , Apr 17 2012 · 169 views
PAX, Boston
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Well, Andrew was able to get around to posting an entry about PAX East so I figured I should write something too.

Unlike Andrew, however, I have a few pictures that I magically resized into more post-friendly proportions! You better enjoy the pictures, because I totally spent like 20 minutes resizing them while listening to Gotye.

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This picture was taken shortly after take-off from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. I woke up at 2:30am Thursday morning to make my 7:31am flight to Newark. I live in the Central time zone, if you're wondering why I had to wake up so early. I took this picture for the sole purpose of having a neat shot to upload to Instagram, horrible filter and everything.

Unlike last year, I had no complications making it to Boston. I had a connecting flight in Newark, which is always neat because I get to see the New York City from an amazing vantage point. Flying in the Thursday before was the right decision to make.

I found my way from the airport to the hotel, which was less than half a mile away from the convention center. Convenient, huh? The hotel was really nice, too! Two beds are better than one after all. After Andrew and I met up at the hotel, we walked around south-side Boston for a while. We eventually ate lunch at this great little Italian place that was pretty delicious.

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I've always enjoyed walking around cities and simply observing as much as I can. Cities in the north are completely different than cities in the south. Everything down here is much more spread out and spacey and boring. Walking around Boston, we passed a dentist's office, a CVS, quite a few bars, a deli or two, and a few other odd shops all on the same road. It's a nice change of character from cities down here.

Later on Thursday night, we hopped on the T and went to the screening of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World/Rock Band Night at the Brattle Theater. If you bought a ticket to the Scott Pilgrim screening, you received the red Rock Band t-shirt Scott wears in the movie. Free swag! Dinner at Bertucci's was pretty delicious as well.

The convention started on Friday. Andrew gave a great overview of the panels we were patient enough to attend. So instead of describing those panels, I'm going to show you guys more pictures! Who doesn't love pictures?

Before the BioWare panel started, a group of cos-players formed to our direct right of where we were sitting. We had front-row seats to the costumes so of course I grabbed a few pictures! My phone was misbehaving, so these aren't the clearest pictures I've ever taken. I need to invest in a real camera for these conventions...

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The Samara to the right is the actual face model Bioware used for the in-game model of Samara!

Check out the Mordin costume! Tali costume was amazing as well. The girls that were Tali and the Samara on the left were directly behind us while waiting for the Mass Effect dev signing on Sunday.

In between panels on Friday, Andrew, AJ and I walked around the expo floor. These pictures don't express just how crazy the expo floor can get at times. Hundreds of nerds and geeks (myself included) all rushing around to see something new can get very claustrophobic at times.

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Saturday, we waited in even longer lines and saw more fascinating panels. I think my personal favorite panel was held by Irrational Games and feature Ken Levine and a few creative leads for Bioshock Infinite. Levine is a creative genius when it comes to telling stories in games. I was completely captivated by what he had to say. Essentially, Levine doesn't create characters to fill a void in his game. He creates characters when he has a story to tell. It seems cliche, but I listen to the man speak for hours on his creative process. You can even see him in this picture I took!

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One thing I -had- to do at PAX East this year was play Borderlands 2. I think in total I ended up waiting in line for right around 2 hours just to play this one game for 10+ minutes. Andrew and his friend weren't as set on playing the game as I was, so they went off and made me wait by myself. It was completely worth it, though! This game easily had the biggest display and longest line on the floor. The game already felt really polished. Dynamic missions, new enemies, bigger skill trees, redesigned weapons, wub wub, what else could we want in a game? Check out this pictures I took of the giant Vault Hunter statues Gearbox had at the Borderlands 2 area.

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The sweet shirt I got for playing the demo! The back says "MINION 01." Awesome.

Saturday night we saw Paul & Storm and JoCo again! Paul and Storm opened with a song about how George R. R. Martin needs to hurry up and finish writing the Song of Ice and Fire books before we all die. It was hilarious. After, JoCo played and soft-rocked us all. MC Frontalot was strange, but enjoyable as well.

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Jonathan Coulton!

Before the concert, however, we went to AK's for dinner one last time and saw an Enforcer (<3)...well, the picture will explain:

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I used to be an Enforcer like you...

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Yo dawg...

Sunday finally came around and we waited in line to see Assassin's Creed 3, which looks like it's going to be another solid game. Ubisoft had a pretty big AC3 presence at PAX, too.

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After Assassin's Creed, we started to wait in line for Aliens: Colonial Marines, but Gearbox had a pretty wack system going for that. We waited for too long and decided to bail to wait in line to get some Mass Effect stuff signed by some of the developers! Oh, and guess who was first in line? That's right: I was! Andrew was right behind me, too. We totally started the line. But check out this SWEET BRAG I got!

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So there you have it. Once again, I had an amazing time. Thanks to Andrew for coming along, it was great to hang with you again! I cannot wait for next year.

Lastly, I leave you all with my huge pile of swag I accumulated over the weekend.
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See you next year, Boston!


Ask A Mass Effect Dev

Posted by Watashi Wa , Mar 31 2012 · 148 views
Mass Effect 3, PAX
Hey guys.

Next weekend I'll be at PAX East in Boston with Andrew/Black Six!

Bioware is holding a panel on both Dragon Age AND Mass Effect. Usually the panels have a small Q&A for fans to ask questions of some of the developers.

Do any of you have any thoughtful questions you'd like me to ask? Plans for the universe, favorite species, etc? Let me know, please, and I'll do my best to ask them.

Also, it seems like Bioware is going to have a signing event so I'm bringing all 3 games and hopefully going to get them signed. :baaa:


The Hunger Games

Posted by Watashi Wa , Mar 24 2012 · 133 views
Movies, Books
Earlier today, I finished the audiobook of Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. This was my first time listening to a book and I must say I quite enjoyed it. If given the option, however, I feel like I would chose to read an actual book as opposed to listening to one being read to me. It simply comes down to the fact that I retain information better if I read it off of paper.

As far as the book, I was not particularly impressed. I don't know if I bought into the hype too much or if people were more praising of the series as a whole. I am curious to know where exactly the plot goes now that the Games are over. I do not regret listening to the book. The development between Katniss and Rue was interesting enough, even though the outcome was unfortunate and predictable, given the premise of the Games. As far as the romance subplot is concerned, it's still a better love story than Twilight. Joking aside, I thought it was cute enough for a young adults book.

I also saw the movie tonight. Honestly, I felt it was a genuine and sincere adaptation. It probably helps that Suzanne Collins worked on the screenplay. After all, J.K. Rowling was personally involved with the best of the Harry Potter movies. The pacing of the movie mimicked the book nearly perfectly; only half-way through the movies do the real Games begin. A few minor details are tweaked or all together left out to allow for a more naturally (and PG-13 friendly, in most cases) movie. For instance, Katniss never shoots anyone in the neck. Obviously, this would be too gruesome for some kids. And any significance the muts at the end of the games had is completely ignored. The romance between Katniss and Peeta felt less natural in the movie, primarily because you don't get the sense of time that stretches in the book. The costumes were downright amazing. Lady Gaga might find some inspiration from them. The biggest problem I had with the movie was the extremely shaky camera shots in most of the action sequences. The brawl at the cornucopia near the end is a blurry mess. It probably didn't help that I was on a lower level row of seats.

I enjoyed the movie and enjoyed the audiobook. The themes of the first book were well played in the movie, but are much more subtle and candid throughout the book. I have the second and third to listen to. I am hoping that they will be able to keep my interest and live up to the expectations many of my friends have established for the series.