Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

Tara Voelker's thoughts. A lot about video games, a little about life

The World in Low Res Night Vision

After joining RTS Paranormal and giving ghosts tours on the USS Salem, I bought myself a toy. What was the toy you ask?

A pair of low res, picture and video taking, night vision goggles. Since buying them, I’ve decided to start a picture journal of the experience. Here are the first batch of pictures- enjoy! And yes, these pictures were taken in complete darkness! Pictures down below individually in case you hate slide shows.

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Protected: The Pink Haired Ghost Hunter

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Oh, hey blog. Sup?

So, it’s the same story that happens all the time. I go, make some blog posts… promise I will be back soon… then disappear for a couple months.

But really, if you’re actually subscribed to my blog, you’re not really surprised.

So, I plan on making a couple short catch up posts on various topics, starting with this one.

Alright, so last I left everyone I had decided to move across the country to start my new job as Senior QA at Irrational Games. So, how is that going? Well, awesomely. I love my job. I love working on Bioshock Infinite. The studio is awesome, and we just released this awesome trailer (click the link and it will go full screen. The player isn’t WordPress friendly)-

Additionally, my desk is next to the audio room, and every once in a while I can hear what they are working on, and the emails I’m typing suddenly seem much more epic.

Also, we have our holiday part this Saturday, and I am super pumped about it. Oh! And my desk is decorated with Christmas lights, too.

Jeff pointing to Tara's pink hair in excitementI’ve also dyed my hair pink. It wasn’t really on purpose. I sort of messed up and just covered it with pink dye… And it was a hit. So, I’ve kept it.

I also like Boston, and since moving here I’ve done lot’s of cool things, included getting stranded of the attic of King’s Chapel with the lights out.

Oh, and I joined a paranormal research group on the USS Salem, but that’s a different story.

And yes, the marriage is going well, too. 🙂

 

Oh! And yes, I’m madly in love with Skyward Sword and would play it all the time if my husband didn’t insist I do things like “shower” and “work.”

A short update and announcement.

So, this is rather short.

I’ve been busy with my new job at Irrational Games (which is awesome), adjusting to my new home, celebrating my birthday, and then doing some game accessibility work. There will be a more proper update later, as well as Hello Kitty car updates coming.

But for now, I just wanted to make this announcement.

As the IGDA GA SIG Chair, I got to do some awesome work with Film Victoria, and helped them incorportate game accessibility into their guidelines for funding.

 

Here’s the announcement, spread the word!

 

[Edited]

 

This is just a nice email I got from Brad over at Film Victoria I wanted to share!

Hey All,

I just wanted to thank Tara and everybody else who contributed to the IGDA GA SIG content (top 10, etc) that we’re making reference to.

We’ve had a brilliant response so far, developers completely understand and are more than happy to include accessibility measures in games of all sizes.

Very pleased to be able to say we have IGDA backing the initiative! Can’t wait to let you know how the first round of investments go…

Cheers,

Brad
Brad Giblin
Digital Media Manager
Film Victoria

I’m broadcasting my move to Boston.

So, I’m broadcasting my move to Boston. Well, part of it anyway. It’s a fun experiment. We’ll see how it goes.

http://www.justin.tv/widgets/live_embed_player.swf?channel=ladieaupairWatch live video from Ladie Au Pair on www.justin.tv

Irrational Games, Here I Come.

The lifesized Big Daddy at the Irrational Games LobbySo a couple week ago, there was nothing more I wanted to do than post this picture on Facebook or Twitter.

It’s the first you see when you walk into Irrational. It’s life sized and awesome.

But I couldn’t. My trip to Boston was a secret, and only a handful of close friends and family even knew I was out of town.

I had applied to the Irrational Job on a whim. “Oh, how bad ass would it be to work there?” I thought. I quickly updated my resume and put together a short cover letter and sent it off. I mentioned it to my husband, and then just sort of left it drift out of my mind. “It’s Irrational,” I thought. “They could have who ever they wanted.”

You then, of course, could imagine my surprise when I got an email requesting a phone interview. I agree and it was scheduled. And to be honest, I didn’t think I had done very well after it was over. At some point I couldn’t remember what perforce was called. I was blanking on things I knew and got super anxious. The group interviewing me was on speaker phone and I kept having to ask them to repeat themselves because they were sort of muffed and hard to hear. I felt like I must have seemed bland and barely qualified.

You then, of course, could image my super surprise when I got a call asking for an onsite interview.

I was still in awe. And honestly, I panicked a little. I started trying to talk myself out of the job, kept saying to my husband I didn’t even know if I would take it offered. In fact, I barely told anyone I applied. Most people had no idea. And I didn’t want to have to talk about the interview if it didn’t go well. I was so scared I wasn’t going to get the job I started acting like I didn’t even want it.

And then the onsite came. I flew out the day before, and barely slept. I don’t know if it was because it’s the first night I’d been away from my husband since before moving in with him or because I had an onsite with one of my fav AAA studios. Either way, I was super tired.

Bioshock Halloween CostumeThen I arrived at the studio. It was so hard not to be a fan boy. I mean, flash back to last Halloween. I’m a huge fan. I got to see their awards and posters and that awesome statue. I was in the studio that made Bioshock.

In the end, I think I ended up being so tired once I got there and stopped trying to act like a fan boy that there really wasn’t a way for me to stay nervous in my interviews. I was just too tired. I was so barely awake, that I didn’t have a filter between my brain and mouth anymore. In part of my interview, I think I was chastising them for their lack of accessibility features. (Flash back to some of my first AbleGamer Reviews for Bioshock 1 and 2.) But to be honest, that whole day was such a blur I can barely remember. Probably not the normal thing that happens when they are looking for Senior QA.

After I finally left Boston (on a flight that was delayed by like 4 hours) I really had no idea what was going to happen. I wasn’t really sure how I had done, but I felt that everyone at least liked me. But getting liked isn’t enough to get a job.

So, I just waited. Then, just over a week later, I got the offer. Then 2 days after that, I officially took it.

So here I am. I’m finishing up my project here at Firebrand (we’re literally approaching our last milestone) then moving up the coast with the hubby and  starting a Irrational on September 6th.

This will be a great adventure.

The Things People Search – August 2011

So, one of the things that I can do on the admin side of this blog is see the things that people have entered into search engines that have brought my blog up or that people have clicked to get here.

And honestly, some are hysterical. Some are weird as fuck. So, I have compiled a list of the most amusing things I have seen searched this month. and if people continue searching odd things, I might make this like a monthly posting. We’ll see.

So for this month:

  1. “i am afraid of the zombie apocalypse”
  2. “how to tell video game girls are real”
  3. “hoochie teen”
  4. “why you don’t you like wedding slideshow”
  5. “online sexy game”
  6. “i have a zelda tattoo but i havent played all the games”
  7. “hello kitty tattoos”
  8. “banned for dancing in playstation home”
  9. “more scared of zombie apocalypse than death”
  10. ” “raychul moore” cleavage””
  11. “is dantes inferno the game for christians”

I honestly don’t know which is my favorite. I think it might be #6. They’re clearly worried people are going to think they’re a poser.  Lol

Needs More Chainsaw Bayonet

Facebook for my family. Below is a picture of my brother, a Marine, with his gun. Click on the image for a larger view.

Photo of my brother with a rifle, to which the first comment is "needs more chainsaw bayonet"

Hello Kitty Car – Update 3 + Video Tour

So, I recently took a video tour of my car.  Here it is for your amusement.

My Wedding Slide Show

So, here is a slide show from my wedding, with music from the ceremony (Halo 3, Zelda, Jurassic Park) and a transcript of the service below.

Ceremony by Matt Fear.
First off I would like to start off with a little something I have always wanted to do…

“Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam.”

Ok…thanks for letting me get that out of my system. I can now mark that off my bucket list.

But in all seriousness I would like to welcome everyone to this amazing event. The marriage of Mr. Max Voelker and Ms. Tara Tefertiller.

I have to admit…it was a pretty cool feeling to be asked to actually marry two people…especially when it is one of my dearest friends and the woman that he has decided to spend the rest of his life with. It is also kind of stressful…I mean…what do you say at time like this? So for inspiration I turned to renowned mathematician and chaos theorist, Ian Malcom

For those of you that don’t know who Ian Malcom is, he was one of the first people to step foot in a little place called Jurassic Park. He said…

“If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, expands to new territory, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously”

I know that Dr. Malcom is referring to the creation of the DNA engineered dinosaurs that inhabited the a fore mentioned amusement park…but his words actually do hold a special meaning for a day like today. Simply replace the word “life” with the word “love” and it goes something like this…

“If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that love will not be contained. Love breaks free, expands to new territory, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously”

How true is that? Love will not be contained. Love breaks free…crashes through barriers…

Love is so powerful, it inspires people to write, sing, paint, fight, and it is such a beautiful thing to see two wonderful people stand in the presence of their friends and family and declare their love for each other and their desire to grow old together. I hope that each and everyone of us appreciate the significance of this day.

Carl Sagan once said “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” Standing here in the Orlando Science Museum it is easy to see that in the cosmic scale of things we are small, but it is good to know that even though you may be a tiny part of the universe…you are a tiny part that has found another tiny part and have decided that being tiny together makes everything ok.

I was recently made aware of a slam poet by the name of Anis Mojgani in his poem “Shake the Dust” he offers some amazing words of wisdom…and I would like to share them with Max and Tara.

“So grab this world by its clothespins and shake it out again and again
and jump on top and take it for a spin and when you hop off shake it again for this is yours.

Make my words worth it, make this not just another poem that I write, not just another poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all.

Walk into it, breathe it in, let is crash through the halls of your arms at the millions of years of millions of poets coursing like blood pumping and pushing making you live, shaking the dust.

So when the world knocks at your front door, clutch the knob and open on up, running forward into its widespread greeting arms with your hands before you, fingertips trembling though they may be.”

You two are starting a whole new life with each other and I commend you both for that. You are, in fact, already doing what Anis has said to do…you are grabbing life by the clothespins…and you should do that every day of your marriage. Do not let a day go by that you are not thankful to wake up next to someone you love. Do not let a day go by that you don’t look at one another and say “I love you”…

Because lets face it…you never know when another giant meteor is going to crash into the earth and cause another Ice Age.

Then we exchanged our vows. 🙂

Wedding Pictures

Hi Everyone!

I just got the format for my wedding album back and I wanted to share it with everyone. I love it so much! You can check it out here:

Tara and Max’s Wedding Album

I do plan on making a video with a ton more pictures and the music from the wedding as well, but who knows when I will actually get around to doing it.

Cars 2 for the DS <3

So my first title as an employee of Firebrand Games has been released.

Cars 2 for the DS! And, the best ad for it ever was released in Japan, and I wanted to share that with you.

And no, I do not review titles I work on. I just show awesome Japanese videos from them.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Review

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Box artI had waited for this title. I really, really wanted it. And of course, I got it on launch day.

Legend of  Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D is a remastered version of the classic title that original appeared on the N64, which is possible the best Zelda game of all time. And of course, one of my personal favorites.  So, it’s time to talk about it

Note: This is an article for fans of the original. If you haven’t played the original, or aren’t a Zelda fan, I don’t give you much back story.

How does it compare to the original version?

The over all game play is pretty much the exact same. Levels, bosses, difficulty, items, etc are almost the same as they were in the original.  All the audio is identical to the audio in the original. Everything that we’ve loved about Ocarina of Time (and Navi) are all there,  very true to how they were on the N64.  And it’s completely splendid.

Of course, there have been some changes and new additions. Master quest is now available when you beat the game, and you can now go and battle any bosses you’ve beaten. I didn’t ever play master quest before, so I’m excited about it. I haven’t tried the new boss battle system, and honestly likely won’t try it, so I don’t have much comments there.

Now the most notable changes are the new controls with the 3DS, the HUD rearrangement, the gyroscope-view feature, and of course the 3D and graphic overhaul. So let’s break this down.

The New Controls:

So, the first challenge Nintendo had was taking controls from this:

n64 controller

And putting it on this:

Zelda Ocarina of Time 3DS

How did it end up working out? Awesomely. Assigning items to different buttons is a breeze with the touch screen and the controls feel completely natural on the new console. The ocarina now has it’s own static button on the touch screen, which means you essentially have an additional item slot.

Additionally- they have made probably the greatest change in the history of  Zelda.The iron boots, which were clothing and had to be equipped and unequipped by pausing the game and going to the clothing screen, are now (along with the hoover boots)  items that can be assigned to a button- no pause screen needed! The water temple is way less of a frustration that it was in the original.

The HUD Rearrangement:

So, on the N64 and your single TV, Nintedo had a lot of things to put on screen. Your hearts, items, buttons, maps… a lot. The 3DS, however, has the benefit of having 2 screens. This means that a lot of space is cleared and you have a much better view of Hyrule. Here are two pictures for comparison.

Ocarina of Time N64Ocarina of Time 3DS

The Gyroscope Aiming: 

In Ocarina of Time 3D, you have 2 choices. You can either use the analog stick or the gyroscope feature, which I feel is one of the best additions they made to the game. With the gyscrope feature, you actually move the 3DS to aim, just like you do on games like Face Raiders or the AR Games.  . Now picture this- you pull out your sling shot, and have all intentions of aiming up to shoot the Skullata above you. But rather than using the joystick, you simply adjust how you’re holding the DS! HOW AMAZING!  Okay, maybe that isn’t very exciting to read. I swear though, I loved this addition. I used the gyroscope aiming over the analog stick aiming 95% of the time. It’s quick and easy to use. It’s smooth. I loved it.

Ocarina of time Comparison of the N64 vs 3DSGraphic Overhaul:

So, Nintendo really did a number on the graphics. Nothing went untouched. It’s amazing. Everything is beautiful. Hyrule is brighter, crisper and with more detail. I was going to say the only way you can truly appreciate it is to see a side by side comcaparison. Lucky enough for me, NOA tweeted the picture to the right just this week. Click it to enlarge.

3D Visuals:

Of course, being on the 3DS, this title has 3D visuals. I want to go on the record and say:

I like the 3D visuals.

I really do. I think it looks great and although its not some game altering experience, and isn’t revolutionizing the title or anything, I enjoy having it on. I also want to go on record and say:

I always end up turning the 3D off.

The problem with the 3D is you have to hold the system at a certain angle. When I first start playing, it’s fine. I always start playing with the 3D on. The 3D becomes an issue when I’ve been playing for a while, or want to lounge in bed while playing. I just can’t hold the 3DS and be comfortable. I start seeing like a second version of Link just off to the right… then I turn the 3D off. If I could lounge and see the 3D fine, I’d keep it on. But I can’t. And my want of being comfy is greater than my want of playing in 3D. So, off it does.

 

Final Call:

This is a great title that I love. It appeals to the old school fans like myself while offering it a way the new players can become involved in an amazing series. A+

HALO: ODST Review

So, I know ODST has been out for a long time… to be exact, it was released in September of 2009… but I just got around to playing it. And to be honest, I was a little underwhelmed with this title. Wanna know why? Here are my reasons.

 

  • I think I was spoiled by HALO: Reach.

I first just want to say I know playing Reach before ODST couldn’t have been helping ODST out at all. Let’s be honest, Reach was amazing. The graphics,  story, balancing… It was sheer awesomeness. It sets the bar really high for future HALO titles. The problem is ODST isn’t a future title, it’s a past title. But, unfortunately for ODST, the HALO title I played most recently was Reach, so that’s the HALO title I keep wanting to compare it to, and it just doesn’t hold up. I know that might not be fair, and it’s likely making not appreciate ODST or some sort of nonsense like that… but oh well.

  • I felt like I spent a lot of time just wandering around, semi-lost.

I really felt like there was a lot of time when I l literally wandering around. I’d be looking for my objective, literally walking in circles.  It got especially bad when I was near my objective, and I was close enough it wasn’t showing up on radar any more… and it would tell me to search the area.  For me, this really took a lot out of the game. It made the pacing feel all wrong. Action. Get lost. Action. Walk around. Action. Walk around. Get lost. Realize you’ve already been here. Find your objective.

I’m also not sure that it helped that pretty much all of the city looked the same. I would have liked to see some variance in the terrain I think. I understand that the whole story took place in the city, but maybe having neighborhoods look different or something? The game got better closer to the end, when I was fighting with the NPCS, but the times when I was the loan soldier walking through the city was horrible.

  • The story was pretty meh. Except for the love story, which was completely horrible.

I’m going to let you know right now, I don’t remember any of the characters names. When what’s-his-face got shot in the chest, I totally didn’t even care.  I didn’t feel a connection to the characters. The story didn’t wow me. And the love story they tried to mash in there was atrocious. Firstly, it really seemed forced. The characters didn’t seem to have an attachment to each other at all. I felt physically uncomfortable at the end when the kissed. Also, I’m not sure when they were evening spending time together to get to know each other. During the fire fights? That’s just awkward. Or did I miss something? Either way… This story lacked the wow moments. Like I said, maybe it’s because I had played Reach before and I was attached to those characters… and I knew their names and was upset when bad things happened.

 

And that’s really about it. The story didn’t wow me, and I felt like I walked around a lot. Pretty simple. Like I said, maybe if  I had played them in the reverse order it wouldn’t have been so bad… but I’m sticking with ODST deserves what I said.

Grade: Meh

 

Will You Wii U? Depends on the Price.

So yesterday was the Nintendo press release at E3 where they finally unveiled their new HD console, the Wii U. Now, I’m not going to go into how stupid I think the name is. I’m not going to go into the hard core gamer title line up it’s going to have. I’m not going to go all fan boy about an HD Zelda title on that platform.

I am however, going to talk about something else… the price. This is what interests me the most.

How much is Nintendo going to be selling this for? This thing is going to have to be crazy expensive unless they have some secret magic happening…. Let’s break down why.

1. The console.

Okay, so this is an HD Console. And I guess the first place to start would be by looking at the other HD consoles. When the 360 launched, you got the premium 360 for $399. When the PS3 launched the 20G memory version was $499.  As Sony and Microsoft both improved their systems and the demand lowered, the price has dropped over time. Now you can get  a 360 for $299 and a PS3 for the same. In addition to taking into consideration that the Wii shipped for $250… the Wii U is going to have to ship for more than $300. The current HD systems are selling for that much, this one supposedly has better specs… and it’s newer. It will have to be more expensive that the 360 and PS3 currently are. It just has to be.

2. That God Damn Controller.

Now, this is the part that really makes me feel like this thing is going to have a high price tag. Have you seen this controller?!

Wii U Controller

 

The controller is like some cross between a handheld system and a tablet computer! The controller includes a 6.2 inch touch screen, four triggers , microphone, gyroscope, inward facing camera, a Home button, and an accelerometer. In addition, it transfers content between the console and the controller, can be used for video chat, web browsing, can be used as a game device with out the TV… It’s insane.

So if you consider that… The 3DS prices at $250. And this has more functionality that that… Low end tablets (non-iPad) run at $150-@200… So the controller alone has to be like $200 worth of technology…

And what about multiplayer games? Do you need two of these things?

If you had the price of the controller to the price of the console… You’re looking at a minimum of  $500. $300 console + one $200 controller. That can’t be right?!?!? That’s before games or multiple controllers or anything? Are they really try to sell something that expensive? I’m just dumb founded.

 

HOW  MUCH IS THIS THING GOING TO BE SOLD FOR!?!?!

Guess we will just have to wait and see.