Thoughts from a (girl) Gamer

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

Tag Archives: Bioshock

Where was I? Things I neglected to post from June through November

So, as always, a long time has passed and I haven’t posted anything. To be exact, I haven’t posted anything since June. Why haven’t I posted? Well first the standard reason – I’m horrible about posting, and then the second reason – crunch. (For those of you who don’t know what crunch is, it’s a game industry term for working stupid amounts of overtime. In my case, 12 hour days with occasional weekend work).

But what’s sad is that I’ve actually had some cool (and one not at all cool) things happen during those few months. So I decided to make 1 giant mass dump of everything I didn’t post. So here we go!!


  • I attend the Zelda – Symphony of the Goddess concert while taking a 3 day trip to Orlando. It was amazing, and I was so glad I got to see it. Even more awesome, I ran into the Jeron, producer and creative director, Eímear, conductor, and Chad Seiter, the composer at the hotel bar because they were staying at the same place Max and I were. To make things even cooler, Jeron asked for a photo with me because of my sweet Zelda tat, and we drank to the wee hours of the morning. I decided I had to see it again when it came to Boston, and then woke up with the worst hang over I had had in a long time. WORTH IT.
  • Sometime during July, I finished out the work on the outer portion of my Spirited Away half sleeve, leaving only my inner arm to be completed in the spring. As it turns out, I didn’t really take any good pictures of it. It came out awesome. But like I said, no good pictures. So here are a few mediocre ones. I’d say I’d post better ones later, but we all know I won’t. I also got my Zelda tattoo touched up.

Sprited Away TattooSpirited Away SleeveSpirited Away Tattoo

    Went from pink hair to blue hair.


  • I hit my one year at Irrational, and get my awesome logo hoodie.
  • My cousin is in a life threatening car wreck, in which her van collided with a semi truck. She is airlifted to a hospital where she receives 8 hours of emergency surgery. At the time it was really scary, but we know she is expected to make a full recovery, although she won’t be about to return to work for a full year.
  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark comes out in IMAZ and I got to see it. It was beautiful. Snagged a poster that’s now hanging at work.
  • A bunch of my coworkers surprise me with a pre-order of the Deluxe vault hunter’s edition of Borderlands 2. Once the game is released, I’m obsessed with the game, and fall in love with Tiny Tina.


  • A benefit auction is schedule for my cousin. Harmonix and Irrational both donate items. Harmonix sent games for both the auction and directly to my cousin, and Irrational donated a signed poster for Bioshock Infinite (see below). I had several of my coworkers reach out and ask if they could donate money. Everyone was so supportive, it was amazing.

Signed Bioshock Infinite Poster

  • I continue working tons of crunch on Bioshock Infinite. Mid October, we ramp up our marketing again and release this awesome trailer.
  • I go see Zelda – Symphony of the Goddess again, here in Boston. This time my friend Aaron tags along. We all dressed fancy. Afterwards I ran into the Jeron, Eímear,  and Chat (again!) although no drinking with them this time. The bar was crowded and we weren’t staying out long this time.
  • Saw the new movie in Silent Hill movie in 3D. It was terrible.
  • Irrational holds our annual Halloween party. I dress up as Tiny Tina, complete with mismatch shoes.

Tiny Tina costume


  • Dyed my hair red
  • In one of the more surreal moments of my life, I was introduced to Randy Pitchford by Ken Levine. Said I was a huge Borderlands fan, and tweeted my Tiny Tina costume at him.
  • Max and I decided that we are taking a trip to Japan next year.
  • Accidentally dyed my hair pink again.

And now here we are. I could have made larger post about most of these things, but I don’t have the time and I still wanted to share. Eventually I will ship this game, and have more time for things like… oh you know, life and blog posts again.


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.

How to Make an Adam Syringe (Bioshock Needle Gun)

Tara as a little Sister holding needle gunSo, this past Halloween I decided to make a little sister costume. And although I posted how to make this super quick costume, I never talked about how to make the most awesome piece of it – the Adam Syringe. After a couple emails and comments though, I thought it would be useful to have a how to on this… so here we go!

Now, you have quite a few things to gather together, so let’s start with a list of what you need, and were you’re going to get these items. The list is below, and then I have a picture showing what I’m talking about below so you get an idea what these parts end up being.

First you’re going to need to gather up everything you’re going to need for this project:

  • Antique gas pump – eBay
  • 1 large pipe cap  (same size as the gas pump bottom) – hardware store, mine came from Lowe’s
  • 1 small pipe cape (same size as pump nozzle) – hardware store
  • 1 tall, thin glass jar – grocery store
  • 2 baby bottle nipples that same size as the bottom of your class jar – grocery store, Walmart, etc
  • 1 wooden dowel rod – hardware store
  • 1 can silver spray paint – hardware store
  • 1 can pink spray paint (if needed, depends on your baby bottle nipple cover) -hardware store
  • epoxy – hardware store
  • drill – hardware store
  • 1 bottle Gatorade – grocery store
  • plastic sandwich bag – grocery store

So, let’s break down all of those items become this:

Adam syringe bioshcok needle

Well, like this:

Adam syringe with labeled parts

So let’s get started.


Now, a large portion of the needle gun is already done for you because of the gas pump. So let’s go on from there.

Gas pump body:

  1. Take the large pipe cap you bought and epoxy it onto the bottom of the gas pump, as seen in the picture above. Now that’s done. 🙂

The Needle Tip

  1. Take your dowel rod and sharpen one end. I think my husband used a drimmel tool and shaved it to sharpen it. Don’t go to crazy on the sharpening… Mine was actually a little to sharp and I blunted the end a little bit so it wasn’t a hazard since I was taking it out and about.
  2. Once you’ve sharpened it, spray paint it grey to match your gas pump.
  3. Take your small pipe cap, and drill a hole the size of your dowel rod in it.
  4. Stick the dowel rod through your newly drilled hole, and epoxy the dowel rod into place. I think we had to cut my dowel rod to make it a little shorter before doing this step.
  5. Take your pipe cap-dowel rod combo and epoxy that to the tip of your fuel pump.

It should now look like this:

needle, dowel rod in pipe cap

The Baby Bottle

  1. Take 1 of your bottle nipples, and cut off everything but literally the very bottom.
  2. Take that nipple and paint it grey.
  3. Take your second nipple and paint it pink (if it’s already, mine wasn’t)
  4. Once they are dry, push the pink nipple through the opening of the grey nipple.
  5. Epoxy the nipples to the BOTTOM of your glass jar.

It should now look like this, the larger image has the 2nd grey nipple circled so it’s easy to understand why you pushed the first one through the second one….

nipples on adam syringe

Attaching the bottle to the gas pump

This is where it can get a little tricky. Take the lid off of your bottle. Look at your gas pump top. For us, the gas pump top had a pattern in it.

Your lid has to be very securely fashioned to your pump because it has to 1) support the weight of your bottle 2) allow the bottle to be screwed and unscrewed.  So we did the following.

  1. Observed the pattern on the gas pump.gas pump top
  2. Cut that pattern into the top of the lid. No idea how my husband did this part… cut up bottle top
    Spray paint the lid.
  3. Epoxy the lid onto the gas pump. Be sure that the threads face out so that you can attach your bottle, just like you were putting the lid on the jar.

Now- a word of warning.

If you have a better idea than epoxy, or know how to weld… do that. Because we learned something very important.

Gatorade eats through water proof epoxy if it’s given enough time to do so.  It took like 12 hours.

If you don’t have an alternative solution, you can do what we did after we realized what was happening. We took a plastic sandwich bad and epoxied that to the lid to create a water tight seal to keep the Gatorade and epoxy apart. We also don’t leave it sitting around with Gatorade in it.

Final Steps

  1. Fill your jar with Gatorade.
  2. Screw your jar onto the top, which is now attached to the gas pump.
  3. Be Awesome.

Hope this was helpful!

My Easy-to-make Little Sister Costume

Hey guys,

So this past Halloween I went as a Little Sister from Bioshock while my fiance went as a splicer. I was a little crunched for time, so instead of going for an accurate Little Sister costume, I decided to just take the most recognizable elements of a little sister and put those together for my own version.

The 3 things I really wanted to make sure I had were-

1) A needle gun (Due to the overwhelming amount of people asking me how to make this a how to on this has now been listed here!)

2) Dirty Dress

3) Pony tail with ribbon

4) Yellow Eyes

For my dress, I actually bought an Alice in Wonderland costume. In retrospect, there were better Alice in Wonderland costumes I could have bought to alter- but then I wouldn’t of had this hilarious moment so I’m glad I went with the cheap one.

So how did I go from Alice to Little Sister?

The Dress:

After buying the dress, I preceded to rip off all of the ribbons. I then went through the “dirtyfcation” process where I used tea, coffee, and old make up to stain my dress. If you want to know more about how to do that, it’s the same thing I did for my Silent Hill Nurse costume. That made my dress look like this:

After that, I sewed 4 buttons onto the front of the dress and ripped the bottom of the skirt up and called it done.

Needle Gun

The needle gun was the most important part of my costume. I had no idea how to go about it. Luckily my fiance did. So I agreed to make his splicer costume if he made my needle gun. I’m not completely sure of the construction, but I do know the most important element was buying an antique gas pump handle via eBay.


gas pump handle + pipe cap + dowel rod + glass jar + bottle nipple + spray paint + Gatorade = needle gun.

If you have questions about this,  feel free to email me and I can get you the more specific info.

Make Up/Eyes:

So for this my make up was simple- use a foundation that is slightly too light, and cover my eyes in dark grey/black/purple eye shadow. The real finishing touch on this was my UV light yellow contacts. They were scary as hell.


So that was really all this costume was. I wore black flats, and pulled my hair in a pony tail. I also carried around a big daddy doll I had and that was it. Every one knew what I was supposed to be and while out at a local bar, several people asked for me and my fiance to pose for pictures with them. With more time I would have made my dress more purple by dying it and likely get a brown wig, but I still think it was great and this was fun to wear.

And  yes, that gun was very sharp. 🙂