He’s Just Getting Started …

Halo Blood Gulch map

Unto the Breach

My oldest son’s first experience with Halo was walking around on Blood Gulch; he loved driving the Warthog around!

Here’s to many more good times in the MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor.

He played his this first game of Halo on August 2, 2017.

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October Gaming Weekend ’14

The weekends come and go – we look forward to them all week, and they’re gone too soon.

Yet truly great weekends find a way to last longer, a way to stay with us more than the two and a half days they officially take up.

I point to Exhibit A – a recent weekend (10/10-11/14) – as my latest example of Continue reading →

HBOhio – small group shots

A rumba of rattlesnakes. A congress of salamanders. A gaze of raccoons.

I’m not sure what you call a group of HBOers, but here are my favorite group shots of HBOhio – enjoy!

 Once again, it is our job to finish what the flyboys started.

We are leaving this ship, platoon, and engaging the Covenant on solid ground.

When we meet the enemy, we will rip their skulls from their spines, and toss ’em away, laughin’! Am I right, Marines?

– Sergeant Major Avery Junior Johnson, from Halo:Combat Evolved

(Looking for context? Check out the full write-up here!)

>>>>>>>>>[4721640.720.408]

>>>>>>>[Post tenebras lux]

HBOhio – the write-up

I’ll start with thank yous, as is only right.

Rev and Jackie, for putting this on and making it incredible.

Everyone at HBOhio, Grim and Louis Wu for making it possible.

CurrerBell, for being okay with me being me … even encouraging it!

Our tale begins on a dark and stormy night, with a long kept secret that could tear a family apart …

HBOhio logo

Getting there

Actually our tale doesn’t begin there at all. It begins on a Friday afternoon (5/19/13) as myself, my better half, and our youngest all make the trip down to Columbus for HBOhio.

Considering I already live in the Buckeye State, my three-hour trip was relatively short compared to those who came from the far off lands of North Carolina and Michigan.

I had originally planned on this being a one-man trip, with Currer staying home while I was gallivanting off in our state’s capital. That changed when she expressed an interest in going, and when it was pointed out that the LAN was dangerously close to our wedding anniversary 🙂

So with both sets of parents watching the rest of our crew, the three of us headed down for good times.

They’re all going to laugh at you

After checking in at the hotel (and being told that several break-ins had occurred by guys using crowbars to steal TVs out of the rooms, followed with a “enjoy your stay!”) we drove over to HBOhio’s HQ, Rev’s place.

Driving over I was nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve met a completely new group of people, and a few of the old high school insecurities came back. For example – how do I act cool without desperately trying to act cool? do they know how cool I think they are? is saying “cool” even cool anymore? Questions like that.

Per usual, I was being an idiot – whatever they thought of me the group couldn’t have been nicer and I truly appreciated it. To be among a collection of colleagues who dropped more video game references than I get to hear in a year, love Halo across the board and actually knew who Trogdor is? Nice.

Hang on to you butts

We arrived around 5:00pm, about the middle of the pack with some of the group already there and more to come.

HBOhio - Jurrasic 1

After frightening away the other movie goers with deadly-accurate Raptor impressions, the entire theater was ours

Once assembled, we did what anyone in our position would do – go see a twenty-year-old movie in 3D! What film you ask? Super Mario Bros.Mrs. Doubtfire? Close but not quite – Jurassic Park, and it’s held up much better than many of the films that came out that year.

Pale Riders

Now comes the MAW run of the weekend – an entire Saturday (4/20/13) of Halo filled with prizes, food and gameplay that reached (dare I say, started at?) a level of epicness that only happens face-to-face.

Revenant brought something to the LAN that all great commanders must – a plan. There’s nothing worse than getting psyched out of your mind for an event and then it devolves into something like this:

“This is awesome!”

“I know!”

“What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know.”

But this party faux pas was avoided by the man with the clipboard. Rev had it all worked out, from the order of gaming to the prizes to be won by stupendous deeds of daring do (or marks of shame, but more on that later).

Rev's clipboard

The clipboard of destiny!

Much honor to you my friend, for keeping the awesome on track!

I wanted to note that watching the Halo 2 menu loop over and over during setup would made HBOhio a success in my book, no matter what else we did – it’s been a while since I’ve played the game and it brought back great memories.

HBOhio - During the game 5

Blue Man Group

I was fortunate to have (what I thought) the best seat in the house, right next to Bluerunner in the garage with an entire half-sheet of game space all to myself. It could be argued that team “Danger Zone” in the rooms upstairs had the sweeter spot as everyone had their own screen, but the ability to stretch and the lack of heated man-smell gives our garage-group the advantage I think.

HBOhio - During the game 2

Most pose after, others during

(While the garage wins on comfort, Danger Zone emerged victorious on the win/lose ratio. Next time Gadget … )

HBOhio - During the game 4

The back …

So with projectors humming and heads held high we played through a plethora of Halo 2 and Halo 3 maps and modes. Containment, Bomb, Territories, Avalanche, Capture the Flag, Sand Trap, Lava Lake – the list goes on.

HBOhio - During the game 3

… and the front

Without a montage there’s no way to convey the good times so I’m not even going to try, but it was fantastic to have that Halo: Combat Evolved LAN feeling where the guy that just took you out (or vice versa) was right next to you.

Stories with a side of BBQ

After the morning carnage it was time to fuel up at City Barbeque for lunch. There was a lot of local color on the walls, with the barbeque sauce labeled “Blazing Rectums” as the standout. (Kids, I wouldn’t Google that one if I were you.)

HBOhio - BBQ 1

Burning orifices aside, the food was fantastic. In addition to stuffing our faces Rev had us go around the table and give a brief history of how everyone got there, history with Halo, etc. It was great to hear everyone’s story and be reminded that while many of us enjoy the franchise for different reasons, at the end of the day that translates into getting together with friends and having a blast.

Schwag Bag

Something important was just left out of the preceding paragraph; yes, our love of Halo translates into having a blast with friends – but at HBOhio it also translates into getting awesome stuff!

Shortly after lunch Revenant handed out the goodie bags and talk about a freakin’ amazing bonus – not only do we get to hang out and play Halo all day, but we get schwag?!? I feel bad for the holidays left in the year – they just became the wannabe highlights of 2013.

HBOhio - Prizes 2

Schwag included:

  • 6 Halo decals – not for the face!
  • 3 Xbox 360 codes provided by BS Angel (a Halo 4 Campaign background, Watcher avatar prop and Halo 4 picture pack) – you can haz!
  • HBO button – pin sharpened to a diamond’s edge!
  • ONI Patch – they don’t officially exist!
  • Blamite –just like Mom used to make!
  • Mystery Megablok Halo figure – tiny and mysterious!
  • German candy – Danke!
  • Personalized Legendary Patch – read those words again, and weep you don’t have one!

Clearly a lot of thought and effort went into this treasure chest of goodness – a HUGE thank you to all who made it possible!

But these items weren’t the only thing we could take home – there were prizes to be won throughout the LAN. The pictures below don’t do the amount of stuff there was justice (or the feeling I had of wanting to grab everything and make a run for it), but I can tell you there was a great haul to be had with bits and pieces sent from all over.

HBOhio Prizes 1

Warning: staring at the magical table of schwag may cause temporary blindness

I was fortunate to “win” the first prize – a set of CQC Kontrol Freaks (the mark of shame I mentioned earlier). I came in last place in a Halo 2 game of Swords ‘n’ Shotguns.

But the joke’s on you my friends – I was already using a pair when I tanked the match! Your effort to improve my game is futile! (maniacal laughter)

Covies won’t know what hit’em

Right … where was I? Maniacal laughter. No, after that. Yes! We rounded out Saturday (4/20/13) with some more unusual Halo 3 game types (Rocket Race, Dragon Slayer, etc.) and what for me was the highlight of the trip gameplay wise – an ODST Firefight throw down!

Three teams of four competed for pride, glory, and a set of MegaBlok ODST drop pods. I go into a more detail in this post, but this mini-tournament sums up all the best parts of what a LAN can be – intense team-based action where having the players in the same room really makes a difference.

Our team (SIX min WHISTLE, Kermit7, BlueRunner and myself) came in second place and the Covenant will think twice before attacking Crater again. Hoo-rah!

Walking Away

And that’s the high note HBOhio ended on for me – after wolfing down some excellent pizza and taking one last grab from the M&Ms bowl (which they kept filling from a feedbag somewhere – seriously, how can you keep it full with over fifteen people grabbing from it all day? It was nothing short of a miracle) Currer and I headed out.

HBOhio - Leaving group shots 1

Defiant to the end

I feel like this write-up didn’t capture half of the awesome that went on (not to mention Sunday and Monday), but I hope it conveys what an incredible time I had and how grateful I am to Rev and Jackie for hosting.

Until the next one!

>>>>>>>>>[4721640.720.504]

>>>>>>>[Post tenebras lux]

Modcast Bulletin (Ep. 3)

This Modcast originally broadcast on 11.3.11

With the fourth Modcast already out, this post can be put squarely in the belated category, with one addition … belatedly awesome!

Thank you to the CL’s for putting this together – as I soak in more and more of the community and all that is out there for people like me who enjoy Halo, I’ve come to Continue reading →

The guts of a Lizard King and other stories

Originally posted at GameSpot on October 22, 2010

I don’t remember where she got the idea, but after breezing through the latest Professor Layton and Puzzle Quest my wife mentioned she might like Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story.

Come to think of it, maybe she got the idea from me – I had heard good things, great reviews, and I’m sure I would have mentioned it at least once. What ever the case, I bought it for her (and me, in the future) on March 26, 2010.

Since that time, she’s played the game it a bit – but it hasn’t grabbed her like the others I mentioned above. This is the next step – as I see it – for her in the world of RPGs, so we’ll see what happens. And hey, I’m planning on playing it as well!

This ended up being a bigger day for games then I would have thought – that night was at a friend’s house and several things of comment happened:

  • Finally saw Burnout Paradise in action. I’ve wanted this one for a while; Burnout 3 may have been my favorite racing/destruction/I-can’t-believe-the-sense-of-speed-I’m-feeling games of all time
  • Final Fantasy XIII – graphics were nice, but I’ve just never gotten into the series. That’s my excuse for not really being impressed. Still, I’m sure if I had played through the series – even a few of them – I would be more qualified to actually say how the game looked I think
  • My wife and I remembered the good times of Capture the Flag on Halo: Combat Evolved – she the sniper, I the rocket
  • My friend’s wife watched him play through Lost Odyssey – I thought this one looked good, and that’s solid proof in my book

Post tenebras lux

Be nice and play with your friends: DS multi and the big jump

Originally posted at GameSpot on July 15, 2008

Playing a bit of catch up on the gaming front; my brother-in-law had some time before he stated his new job, so he can over last week on Monday (June 7) and Thursday (June 10). He and his girlfriend just bought a DS – one for each of them. How sweet is that?

Monday it was just him and I, and we played The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. This was the first time I had ever seen the game in action, and I was impressed; I hope to get this someday for my DS as well.

I was able to see some of the single-player action; from drawing the path of your boomerang to blowing out candles through the mic. The game play looked engaging, and I think it would be great intro for me into the Zelda universe.

Watching him play was fine, but the multiplayer was outstanding. Playing as either Link or the soldiers, each of you had to stop the other from reaching your respective goals. If Link, the goal was gathering jewels – if a soldier, your goal was stopping him from doing so. The warp doors, wind barriers, and vision tricks the game made each map have its own special craziness.

I especially liked the power-ups – cloning yourself, speed or strength, and then being able to run over and deny them from your opponent was great.

We closed the night with a little “Boarding Action” from Halo: Combat Evolved. He won, naturally – but I will say I enjoy that map a lot more than I used to. Some good moments.

Thursday had even more going on with four DS’s in my living room. My wife was able to try Cooking Mama 2: Dinner with Friends, and she liked it. I was finally able to play some multiplayer for the first time on Star Fox Command, and it didn’t disappoint. Power-ups spread throughout the map were well-balanced, from bombs to various laser options, and barrel rolls while trying to get behind the enemy.

I won more of these battles; but to be fair he had never played the game before.

Other DS multiplayer action involved the New Super Mario Brothers. This is one of the best games for the DS, not just because of the tremendous single-player campaign, but for the fantastic multiplayer. We played some very intense ten star matches, each of us jumping or shooting fireballs like mad trying to crush each other.

Besides the “level” multiplayer, we played some of the mini-games as well. Card games, rolling snowballs, and bouncing Mario’s all made an appearance here – including my former best, the hidden faces! He dominated in a way I didn’t expect – I need some training. Perhaps a refresher course with some Where’s Waldo books?

You can’t play any new Mario without thinking of the old, and I showed him the GBA version of theSuper Mario World. I am currently stuck on a level, but I booted it up just to give him a little nostalgia.

I entered a world just to show him where I was at, and after commenting on how I found the game a little tough I promptly fell off the edge into nothingness. We lost it, laughing so hard at the perfect illustration of my current game progress. Oh course, funnier if you were there, but it was the best set-up I could’ve had.

He fell off once as well for good measure, and we figured it was time to put that baby down before wereally hurt our pride.

Even with all the DS goodness, we managed to get some Xbox in. After trying (and failing) to figure out the multiplayer of Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory, we ended up with Need for Speed Most Wanted.

I finally beat the “Get through 6 police roadblocks” on the challenges, but the real jewel of the evening came when my brother-in-law was trying to beat the same challenge. I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the best features of the game is at certain points of the city, the camera will snap back into a cinematic third-person view while everything moves in slow motion. It mixes up the racing very nice at key points, and I find myself trying to hit those “slow-mo points” with as many cops behind me as I can, just to make it a cooler shot.

Anyway, he had just come up to a road block and smashed through; happens all the time right? What was special about this time was the fact that his car was thrown in the air lop-sided, and it was just over a hill at a slow-mo part. So when he flew in the air, car twisting around, it was like watching our own action movie. The car flew up and we both could hardly speak due to all the awesomeness, and then he jumped up with an “Oh yeah!” that I was more then happy to second.

As the car landed he went back into first-person perspective, and we actually saw the landing through the windshield – the car flopping back into place. Simply put, it was a fantastic gaming moment that made us stand up and cheer. When we rushed upstairs to tell the ladies what had happened you could see the light in our eyes, describing how sweet a moment we had just witnessed.

They might not have shared our enthusiasm, but that didn’t matter. It was a great jump, and a great night.

Post tenebras lux

Wednesdays are for Rocket Launchers

Originally posted at GameSpot on June 13, 2008

Over the past two Wednesdays (June 4th & 11th) my wife and I have had the privilege of playing someHalo: Combat Evolved with some friends and the multiplayer experience continues to deliver.

Each Wednesday was unique; the 4th had a little Need for Speed: Most Wanted mixed in, and this most recent middle day of the week saw everyone’s “team-ees” improved. Hey, practice makes perfect, right?

We even mixed in some new maps, with Chiron TL-34 making an appearance. I still don’t think this is one of the best maps, but it was a nice change. And honestly, as long as a map layout includes a rocket launcher I’ll always be game for it.

Post tenebras lux

From Crisis Cores to Lockout scores

Originally posted at GameSpot June 2, 2008

Mondays are always a bit of a downer. But to ease the pain of the work week ahead, I like to think back on the weekend, especially if it was a particularly good one – and this past weekend was.

A lot of good things happened, but for this blog we’ll stick with the gaming highlights. In chronological order:

Friday, May 30, 2008, 11:00-2:40 a.m. – My in-laws had a cookout for some friends who came in out-of-town, and as the party died down my brother-in-law and I tried to get in some Battlefield 2125. I saytried, because he needed to download a rather large patch for the game, and it just took too long.

But we made the best of the situation, watching the pilot for “Arrested Development” and playing someHalo: Combat Evolved. He slaughtered me on two games of Slayer on Hang’em High, but I was able to leave with a bit of pride with a 25-23 victory in Damnation.

Something I almost forgot to mention: My brother-in-law just bought Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII for his PSP. Like him, I have never played a Final Fantasy game (gasp!), but the title was nothing short of impressive. The graphics and music were first rate, and even from the short game play and boss fight he showed me the game looked like it had a lot of depth. And the cut scenes! Wow.

This may be a series I could get into in the future – I could tell this game points to a rich tradition, and I know it’s one many people cherish.

Sunday, June 1, 2008, 10:45-1:30 a.m. – My brother-in-law came over with his girlfriend and while she and my wife did their thing, we played some tennis and then headed to the basement for someNeed for Speed Most Wanted and Halo 2.

I had been talking up Most Wanted for a while, so I was glad to be able to finally show him the game – and things worked out better then I had planned. Nothing is worse then wanting to show off a game but having it somehow fall flat on its face. NFSMW delivered, however, and we had some of the greatest police chases I’ve seen in the game.

One in particular had a cruiser we just smashed through in a roadblock and rolled over and over, upwards of at least five times. It was nothing short of awesome, seeing in roll in front and them hitting the back view only to see it keep going. How can you not love it?

Next was Halo 2, and we had three of the greatest matches I’ve had in a long time. Did I win either any of them? No – but they were epic none the less. Rifles for the first and third, rockets for the second; 25 kill count on Lockout all three times – it was fantastic.

They were just what multiplayer FPS should be about – great confrontations, amazing (or not) shots, close calls, intense grenade battles, logic-defying comebacks (by me), and loud shouts of “Yes!” and “Noooooo!”

An excellent night, capping of a great weekend. Let’s hope it pulls me through the week!

Post tenebras lux