Preparation for Tarts & Vicars : Denver

So in preparation for this year’s New Year’s Party (lovingly called “Tarts & Vicars: Denver) I am putting together some things from my life as a party host from Vegas, including –

  • Kharma (The card game from College)
  • Drinking Jenga (I was asked to post the rules, which is the reason from this post)
  • Jingle Juice (my usual foray into colorful booze recipes)
  • Jello Shots
  • Assorted décor items
  • A photobooth (an idea borrowed from Krux)

The story of the original Tarts & Vicars in Las Vegas is one worth telling – it originally started out as a charity party for some friends, and was not my brainchild by any stretch.  The brilliance of my friend Nathan was the power behind the “altar” as it were.  The party grew over 10 years, and this past August had its last hurrah and was a fun time (I’ll leave the tales of that evening to an in person story).

So as requested, here’s a brief blog post about the rules of Jenga –

I used sharpies to put the name of the tile on one side and the rule on the other.  Some of the tiles include –

  • Categories – Choose a category, go around in a circle and name things in that category, the person to fail first drinks. (examples – RPG games, deodorant, red wines, Soul Calibur characters…)
  • Social – everyone drinks!
  • “I never” – Play one round of I never, stating something you’ve never done, and anyone who has drinks
  • Color Guard – Name a color, for every piece of that color the players are wearing they must drink
  • Curse – You are cursed! The first time you pull this, drink 2.  For every other time a curse is pulled drink 6.
  • Give 2
  • Give 5
  • Left Drinks
  • Right Drinks
  • Drink 2
  • Girls Drink
  • Guys Drink
  • Beer Slut – If you pull this you are now the beer slut and have to refill people’s drinks when they empty
  • Rewind – Reverse direction
  • Irish Toast – Give a toast about all the players and then everyone drinks
  • Drunk text – text someone a pic of the game.

There are some other I used, but I’ve forgotten.  My inspiration for this game came from “Beer slut” a flash game on liquidgeneration.com we used to play at parties in college as well as this list – http://www.scribd.com/doc/96856152/Jenga-Drinking-Game-DIY

 

Here’s some pictures (I ended up painting the edges to give them more pizzazz.)

 

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This is the first proper party I’ve thrown in Denver, and I’m anxious to see how it’s received!

Guild Wars 2 Review

Miragelle… Because someone took Miragel. Bastards.

I think it’s only fair to begin this post saying – I originally had no intention of playing Guild Wars 2.  I played the original (at launch) and while it was fun for the first 15 levels or so, the end game content just seemed sort of “meh.”  Fortunately there was no recurring subscription – so I thought little of it. (I may at one point been playing $70/month for mine and my boyfriend at the time’s various MMO habits.)

So I hadn’t really been watching the GW2 coverage, I knew little about it but was looking for a new MMO, after downloading several and not really feeling terribly interested, I popped over to MMOhut.com’s youtube feed and discovered that Guild Wars 2 was in it’s “opening” weekend (for pre-orders and digital downloads at least.)  I purchased two copies and set out into the land of Tyria!

I have to say that if I’d been paying attention to the information about the game I might have taken today off to really get to know the game.  Guild Wars 2 is probably the best surprise I’ve seen all year from the MMO community!  I was shocked to find how polished the product was (even on my older computer), and how well it ran even on launch weekend.  The transitions were smooth, the graphics were well done, and for once I didn’t look like some kind of burlap sack wearing n00b in the starter area.  Added bonus – I could choose a variety of colors for my outfit.  My inner girl rejoiced.  Apparently so did my boyfriend (who is really into character customization).

This is just the clothing customization, the actual starting panels are really interesting, including personality and story points.

I rolled a Human Engineer (I have a soft spot leftover from DOTA for engineers) and was really pleasantly surprised with the flow of the game.  There is no questing system in the sense of say WoW, instead your current “quest” is geo-based.  In other words wherever you are, there’s stuff to kill but there’s a bar that tracks your progress.  You’re still killing X of Y, but you don’t have to store all those pesky quests, they just appear when you’re in the right spot.  Also I don’t have to go tell Timmy’s Mom that I killed 40 basket weaver spiders.  I get the XP when I’m done with the last mob and Timmy’s Mom sends me a nice mote in the mail (a la SWTOR) and tells me how awesome I am, complete with some of her hard earned coin. Wham Bam – Thanks Mam!

Combat is based on the weapon you have equipped in terms of maneuvers, but allows for a fair amount of customization for your preferred gameplay style.  Every class has diversity and can heal itself and others.  I was happy to find that engineers did in fact have turrets, and by the time I hit 11th lvl I had 3 turrets to micromanage to my hearts content.

That tree had it coming.

Speaking of micromanaging, I’m really happy with the professions and gathering skills in this game.  ANYONE can gather.  Period.  Auction House Whore your heart out! Not enough room in your inventory because you’ve picked up too many dingleberries?  No problem!  Just ship it off to your “collectibles” tab and make more room for loot.  The collectibles tab is like Steve Job’s iCloud on crack.  Store everything in this handy pocket dimension window and craft till your you hit level 80. Yes.  Crafting gives XP in this game.  In fact the first person in GW2 was a crafter in France.  I love crafting, and I’m so happy they included crafting as a viable method of XP gain.  However I sense a nerf to be honest…. So get in there now and pound away.  I know I am.

So you’re asking – what’s the downside?

Well for one the Auction House seems to give me the #failwhale picture all the time. (Yeah, it’s some cute animal asleep but I just keep thinking of the whale).  While this isn’t a drawback persay, I’m concerned what it will do to the player based economy when it opens and the market floods.

This is my other favorite thing – the Google style maps that contain useful fluid information like quest level, completion (open hearts are uncompleted), and where the damn vendors are. Just really w ll done. You can also see events (good xp) that are nearby a la Warhammer Online

The second thing I’d point out is that once you’re on a server – that’s it.  It costs you a fee to move, but on the other hand eventually you’ll be able to guest on other servers for things, and frankly they have the D3 style chat interface that allows you to talk to friends by account, not my character (yes there’s also an invis mode for those nights you don’t want to be hassled).  I’m even in a Guild where no one is on my server.

Overall I have been really impressed with GW2, the polish and care taken to ensure this game’s longevity has been pretty impressive.  They’ve really solved a lot of the annoying MMO quirks we’ve seen so much of in the last 8 years or so.  However I’m not sure what PVP or endgame looks like just yet.  However I’m less inclined to PVP when I can craft my way to the top.  All in all the cut scenes, voice acting, overall system, and extreme customization really swept me off my feet.  Hopefully this is a new chapter of MMO before we inevitably are drawn into the cute and cuddly world of Pandas.

If you don’t know why this is important you haven’t played enough MMOs

I really recommend this game to friends on the basis that they don’t have to pay for a subscription, the replay value is pretty high and because it’s really pretty damn fun. There’s elements of Assasin’s Creed, Diablo 3, WoW, SWTOR, WHO and a few others in there is you’re willing to look. The devs took their time and I really think it shows.

 

 

 

 

 

And just in case you were curious – here’s the whole UI -

The full UI

Gummy Bear Success!

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This is my collection of booze infused gummy creatures! After significant taste testing from my coworkers the winner is the bear batch of Fruit flavored Vodka! Ill be making a new batch to take to Las Vegas for a party in my red ridding hood costume. They will also be rolled in powdered or regular sugar prior to serving (otherwise they’ll be a bit slimey).

Photos of the final version will be forthcoming.

The life and times of mixed drinks.

As many of you know i occasionally enjoy libations of the booze filled variety. As such i often find myself experimenting with various mixes and such. My most recent conquest has been booze soaked gummy bears.

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I’ve done a lot with jello shots over the years and wastes to have something special for this years tarts and vicors (an annual las Vegas party). I scoured the net for something a little more portable and cheeky. I came across the mummy bear recipe and decided to give it a go. It will go perfectly with my vision of handing out tre)ats from a picnic basket for the party. (the costume has not yet been acquired but it will be somewhere in between little red riding hood and strawberry short cake.)

So I’ve gone ahead and put gummy worms and bears in flavored vodka and another batch in 99 berries (love the 99 berries series for the high liquor content). I also did a mixed batch with extra sugar (i read somewhere that the booze soaking can cause issues with taste). Now we wait for a few days and see how potent these little guys are.

Hopefully ill have pictures and reviews in a few days time!

Denver Comic Con Review

Not Pictures – Heels.

So yesterday I ventured out to Denver Comic Con in downtownDenver.  I’d never actually been to the convention center so parking was… delightful.  You’d think since I work downtown I would have had an easier time, but no $20 for parking as I was in heels and a corset (see picture).  However my own personal discomfort aside I was there to help out the Crusade of Legends crew, as well as go to my first (gasp) comic con.  I wasn’t terribly sure what to expect, and was concerned I was perhaps a little overdressed.  Thankfully I was far from it!  The costumes were fantastic! I was really impressed to see Denver’s geek community out in force and in full regalia!

This was Denver’s first year with the convention and it looked like it was incredibly successful!  Guessing from the initial numbers I heard, the con will probably have seen 30k in attendance, however as I was attending as a volunteer my perspective may have been admittedly skewed.  I was hanging out watching the immensely long lines to get into the convention; however this did give me a front row seat to some amazing costumes (pictured).

I think these are My Little Ponies?

I’ve found that as media, volunteer, or presenter as opposed to an attendee it seriously skews your vision, experience, and understanding of these events.  Honestly I can’t remember the last convention I just… went to as opposed to running something or helping organize.  As an attendee it’s like a deranged holiday – you run around you see the shiny things and it’s like recess for a day for gamers.  However I’ve been on the other side of the fence so long that I think I tend to see things differently.

That said I did meet some awesome folks, and hopefully helped recruit a few people to my favorite local boffer larp group.  While I was walking around between the Mind’s Eye Society table and the aforementioned boffer group I happened upon a few folks worth mentioning :

Reel Nerds

So I love podcasts to begin with, and this group was recording while I was wandering around and their PR gal was very chatty and sweet to talk to.  They’re actually a local group here to Denverand are worth checking out. They have a fun team, and it looks like they do a lot of nice reviews on their blog as well as in iTunes.  http://www.reelnerds.com/

The Dark Empire

This picture inspires me to go back to the gym… and learn to make scale mail.

So I’m a big fan of the 501st however it’s really pricy to get involved with them. I bumped into a local gal who works with The Dark Empire a group that does custom Sith costuming and are approved by LucasArts.  I’d check this out but I think I have enough hobbies.  If I stop being a LARPer soon I may have to try this group out. http://www.thedarkempire.org/

The other thing about DCC that’s worth mentioning was that the entire VIP Celebrity area seemed really well – open.  At other conventions I’ve been to the Celebrities were usually recessed back behind a lot of fencing or stanchion or the like. At DCC they were pretty close to the rest of the convention which I was sort of surprised by.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to talk to any of them (I really want to get into voice acting more professionally so a chance to talk to some of the folks there was very enticing but commitments come first), but perhaps next year.  DCC did a really nice job of getting some amazing Celebrities, Exhibitors and Artists this year and I was really surprised by the size and scope of the entire event.

Overall – an awesome time!  And next year, maybe I’ll just go as a visitor.  Maybe.

 

Additional pics below :

MES Video – Retention

 

Booyah.  Finally got this one out.

What has been seen…

Script for the upcoming MES Video on “Retention”

My Invictus (I did NOT make that dress, it was however a gift from an awesome girlfriend in NorCal)

These scripts go through a number of revisions, but in general I have to try not to be wordy and use run-on sentences with these things, as I’m writing to read these aloud, on camera, and in as little takes as I can manage.  This often proves a challenge.  One of these days I’ll post production photos to show people what it’s like to shoot them.

Each video I do is around 20-30 hours of work, but it’s a labor of love.  If I can touch just ONE person with each video it’s a win.  If I can make a difference in ONE domain, that makes it all worth while.  As for this piece, it’s really pretty close to my heart as my own home domain is undergoing some of these symptoms.  As I was writing this script I actually realized that I’m not doing enough personally to help my own domain retain members.  Talk about a revelation!

Fortunately I think my domain is going to be okay and the people who need some time away from game will get that.  It just really made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough for my own domain while writing this.  I’m dedicating this video to those storytellers and coordinators out there who work the thankless jobs and day in and day out give their domains love, support, and time/energy.

Thank you.  You are loved.

 

Below is the script.  As I’m filming in a few hours here, the script is of course subject to change

Read the rest of this entry

Videos, Vegas, and Vampires

Pointy Things

As most folks who read this know, I’m from Las Vegas and was out there last week to see friends and family.  I managed to get to do a little bit of photography while I was out there, including the shot to the right out at Red Rock National Park.  It’s an area worth seeing  if you enjoy desert landscapes and hiking.  I do however recommend going either in the morning during the summer or in the non “OMG why is this city on the surface of the sun” months.  Also bring water.

The trip was a much needed break from work, and I managed to have a few adventures while I was out there as well as sit back and give some thought to my most recent upcomig video for the MES/Cam – Retention.  I chatted with several friends here in Denver as well as in Vegas (and abroad) about retaining people to a gaming organization.  Recruiting is arguably the easier part.  Things are sexy, flashy, and there’s a lot of burying the dirty laundry of the group.  I’m not talking about genuine skeletons, but more about the problems that all gaming organisations face :

  • Apathy
  • Location Problems
  • Burn Out (which leads to Apathy)

This list isn’t exhaustive but I think it’s a good start for me.  Bringing in a wet behind the ears newbie at a gaming convention isn’t too hard – they’re excited, they’re already engaged and really they bring a lot of energy.  The problem comes when you’ve got a veteran of 10 years who has given their time, love and money to an organization and they’ve seen and done everything.  How do you keep that person from staggering out into the proverbial sunset?

Pointy things and Rocks

If you’re looking for the silver bullet – I don’t have it. (Trust me if I did I’d be running a national LARP).

But that’s just it – it isn’t any ONE answer, it’s many answers.  Some of us have this weird undying sense of commitment to the organizations we belong to because well – this is our family.  The orgs (NERO, the Cam, RoC for me) have been there for us when we needed them.  So I feel a sense of responsibility to be there for the org when it needs me.

Retention takes patience, commitment, and a willingness to try and turn the tide.  So what did people say when I asked them “How do you retain players?”  I got a lot of interesting responses, but here were the top things I and those I asked believed could make a difference :

  • Making an old character new with new ties into the game
  •  Hanging out OCly once a month (these people ARE our friends)
  • Learning better conflict resolution
  • Knowing when to give help and when to get it
  • Finding new locations
  • Saying “Thank You” to those who have to manage the insanity

A lot of these may sound obvious, but I think we get so ingrained in the rut of our own habits and behaviors that we forget about things like this. I know I had a revelation recently in my on gaming life that there was something very wrong, and I believe that my lack of action may have inadvertently adversely affected my own local game.  Inaction is often more dangerous in the long term then action.  However that’s an entirely different blog post.

So where does one start to change things.  As with all my commentary on these communities – change can start with just one person.  While recruitment is about smoke and mirrors and glam, retention is about trust, friendship, and investment.  Sometimes saying thank you to your storytellers, hosts, and the people who actually produce your gaming environment goes a long way.  Most gamers are long past the honeymoon period with their hobby so a little romance there can go a  long way.

I’m not saying buy them flowers, but giving them a smile and a hand here and there makes a big difference.  Is one of them moving? Lend a hand.  Love people? Host a BBQ with plenty of advanced notice.  Want to spice up the RP? Offer to help decorate the space you play in.  Get creative, but most of all remember this hobby takes all kinds – not just hot chicks in leather.

Vegas from a distance, home of hot chicks in leather.

I’ll be posting the script from this upcoming video when it’s done, which should be shortly.  Remember, you can always see all of the videos I’ve produced for my gaming communities by checking them out on YouTube.  This video should be done in the next week or so, just in time for the MES/Cam Q2 newsletter.

Central City Photo Shoot with the Usual Suspects

Leora looking gothy

 

Most of you know I have a photography addiction that started when I met Regina Lafay in las vegas.  She continues to inspire me and I’m determined to take what she taught me as a fledgling model to other people so that they too can know the great gift that is photography.  Therapy, Art, and Mementos that will last you a lifetime, I think this is the sort of thing everyone should do once (both in fron and behind the camera).  I believe I have successfully addicted several friends to this past time.

 

The nice thing is that the site we tend to go out to is a beautifully preserved old west town and their open cemetery (graves from the late 1800s).  Driving up there is going up to about 9000+ feet of altitude, but the town is so beautiful that it’s always worth it to me. Like walking back in time.

 

My full gallery of fun stuff (like 70 pics) can be found on Deviant Art in my Gallery.  However here’s a few more for you if you’re just stopping by looking for my latest gaming rant.

 

Andrea and the Tree

 

A Ghost, A Vampire, and a Werewolf walk into a bar...

 

Only he knows...

 

The models for this are a variety of my friends from around Denver and are always amazing sports about me dragging them out for these things.  Credit goes to Leora for the theme and organizing this one!  I only wish I could show more people how genuinely beautiful they are.  I love seeing people’s faces light up when they have the “is that really me?” look.  It’s really special and I remember the first time it happened to me.

 

My photography is dedicated as always, to Regina, who helped me see things I never saw before.

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