Cat Context 74: Valve’s Mod Debacle, SWTOR, Heavensward
May06

Cat Context 74: Valve’s Mod Debacle, SWTOR, Heavensward

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Usually Cat Context records on Sunday evening, but this week Liore, Ellyndrial, and Arolaide met up on a Monday morning to talk about MMOs and mods. We probably could have used some more coffee.

Elly considers getting back into Star Wars: The Old Republic and he gets the inside scoop from Arolaide. Do you need to subscribe? Is it worth buying the expansion? Are the space battle quests terrible? Whatever the answers, both Elly and Aro seem pleased at having a co-op Bioware RPG in their lives again.

Hey, it could be worse — you could be the person in charge of selling mods on the Marketplace at Valve. The gang talks about Skyrim mods, what “transformative work” really means, and GabeN’s disastrous “ask me anything” on Reddit. There is also a lot of arguing about copyrights and whether developers deserve any of the profit from mod sales. (Hint: Elly has the Wrong Opinion.)

Also now Liore is playing a weird Japanese mobile game about cats! Elly might have seen a famous person in Las Vegas! Aro is excited for flying fat chocobos in Heavensward!

Like to watch? This podcast has a livestreamed video version:

If you enjoyed this podcast, please “Like” or “Favorite” it in your media consumption method of choice! It makes us feel nice.

* A cool blog post on how to play Neko Atsume
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

TV Credits That I Never Skip

Nope, still not a video game post… also when you’re short on time and energy, Newbie Bloggers, consider a post that is nothing but awesome YouTube videos. Ahem.

One of the casualties of our modern binge-watching television habits (thanks, Netflix) is the opening credits. Sure, they might seem interesting at first but after the first three episodes or so they’re usually just 30 to 60 seconds of time where I’m not watching the show. Yes, House of Cards, your trumpet is so somber. Yes, yes, DC at night, yes. Get on with the politics!!

There are rare cases though where I will always watch the credits, even during a marathon. Behold:

Dexter

I only watched the first four seasons of Dexter and from what I hear the opening credits may be the best part of some of the later seasons. And they are indeed really good — ostensibly they just show just getting ready for his day but there is blood and violence inherent in every supposedly innocent motion.

The Simpsons

Including The Simpsons on this list is a bit of a cop out, I know, but the fact is that they have a unique opening for almost every episode and occasionally they are works of pure art. Speaking of which, a recent standout was this version by cheeky artist Don Hertzfeldt. It pushes the boundaries of what viewers will accept from a show opener, and I really really like it.

Freaks and Geeks

Not only is the song amazing (I dare you to listen without getting the urge to start pogoing) but the cast is just so damn good even in the opener. You can pick up little nuances about each character just from how they sit in front of the camera, and it’s a nice reminder that Martin Starr was always a national treasure of acting.

American Horror Story (season 1)

I only watched the first season of American Horror Story, and while it was ridiculous, over-the-top fun it was the opening credits where the real scares could be found. Creepy dolls, weird patterns, and that “music”… the opening does an excellent job of setting the tone.

Sealab 2021

The visuals aren’t terrible interesting after a few repetitions, but the theme song is 22 seconds of pure catchy pop. I will always, always sing along to this.

DIY Wallpaper with Gift Wrap
May04

DIY Wallpaper with Gift Wrap

Okay yes, I know this post isn’t about video games and I haven’t written much here lately. I just recently became fully employed and I have a bunch of freelance gigs, which means long hours while I get organized. Given limited time, I’d rather be playing games than writing about them.

I will be back to writing thrice weekly very soon, and you can still check out Cat Context or catch up on the blogosphere over on my column at MMORPG.com.

In the meantime… here is a post on home decorating. Look, just roll with it.

Plain white walls are the bane of any decor-minded renter. You usually can’t paint them, and wallpaper is expensive and difficult to remove. The only real option is to hang up enough art and photos that it makes the walls look more interesting. Or is it?

I mean really, isn’t wallpaper just paper on a wall? Yes, traditionally it’s a certain type of paper that is attached with glue, but let’s not quibble about the facts. There are some other very lovely types of paper out there, such as gift wrap. And staples can stick paper to a wall, but they’re also easy to remove and the holes can be puttied over in minutes before moving.

Clearly I would be stupid for NOT gift-wrapping a wall!

BEFORE

This is the kitchen cutout wall in my apartment. As you can see it is very white and boring, but doesn’t lend itself to art. You may also notice a slightly confused man in the kitchen thinking, “Why is she taking a picture of the wall oh god what is she up to now,” but that is not important to this project.

DURING

To gift wrap a wall, you will need:

A staple gun
A sharp xacto knife
Lovely gift wrap in a quantity large enough to cover your wall
Scissors
Ruler

Let’s talk about the gift wrap. For the best effect, you probably want to splurge on nice paper. Try a store like Luxe Paperie. Some things you want to keep in mind when choosing your gift wrap are:

  • Paper thickness: You won’t always have a choice, but thicker is more durable.
  • Pattern matching: You’ll probably want to make the pattern seamless between pieces, so pick something that won’t be too hard to align.
  • Reflectiveness: A pattern with shiny pieces will reflect the light in your room differently. That’s fine, but keep it in mind.
  • Pattern size: Don’t pick a pattern with tiny elements — remember that most people will be viewing your wall from a few feet away.

You also want to chose a wall that doesn’t get a lot of rough traffic or wet splashes. Order one extra sheet of paper to keep on-hand in case you need to repair a tear.

The actual procedure for papering is exactly what you’d expect:

  1. Staple a piece of gift wrap to your wall.
  2. Use the xacto knife to trim around the edges or around outlets and vents.
  3. Smooth out your paper constantly as you staple to keep ripples to a minimum.
  4. Match the pattern for the next sheet, and keep going until you have no more uncovered wall.
  5. Success!

AFTER
after

Ta-da! The kitchen wall is now an accent wall, and looks much better. The staples and any mis-matched pattern seams are not very visible unless you go looking for them. There is a little rippling, but generally it’s not bad.

Overall wallpaper is probably the better choice if you own your walls or you are expecting to host the Queen for dinner, but if you are on a tight budget and a renter I would totally recommend this technique and I will definitely do it again in the future.

Project cost: $75 (paper and staple gun)
Time needed: About 4 hours

Cat Context 73: Star Wars, Batman v Superman, Superhero Movies, Dragon Age
Apr22

Cat Context 73: Star Wars, Batman v Superman, Superhero Movies, Dragon Age

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There was a technical problem while recording so the audio is not as high quality as usual. Thanks for bearing with us!

This week Liore, Ellyndrial, and Arolaide are joined by friend to the show Corranhorn to talk about superheroes, mobile games, and a trailer for a little movie that takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

That’s right: the trailer for the newest Star Wars movie was released this week and despite the fact that Aro refuses to watch it just yet we still manage to dissect every frame along with superfan Corr. Even the most resistant of the crew (Liore, obvs) admits that it’s a pretty awe-inspiring trailer and definitely an improvement over the previous sneak peek. And that opening set! And the cameo at the end! And the music and the cinematography and okay let’s face it, we’re nerds for space.

What we’re not nerds for, on the other hand, is superheroes. Elly, Aro, and Corr defend the genre in general, but everyone agrees that the new Batman v. Superman trailer is underwhelming at best and not much of an improvement on any recent Superman movie. Meanwhile Liore is bored of superheroes — so bored, you guys — and defends her position via the medium of ranting. Are superhero tropes boring now? Is the whole Marvel content calendar of movies a bad idea? Does Liore just hate fun? (No!)

Also Aro and Cullen are sittin’ in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G in Dragon Age: Inquisition! Elly is playing a weird Japanese mobile game about cats! Liore is hooked on Puzzle & Dragons!

Like to watch? This podcast has a livestreamed video version:

If you enjoyed this podcast, please “Like” or “Favorite” it in your media consumption method of choice! It makes us feel nice.

* The Star Wars trailer
* The Batman v Superman trailer
* Aro’s screenshot Tumblr
* A cool blog post on how to play Neko Atsume
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

Cash Shop Accountability, a.k.a public shaming
Apr20

Cash Shop Accountability, a.k.a public shaming

I was lying in bed at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning playing Puzzle & Dragons on my phone when I noticed that there was a limited-time event going on that greatly boosted the chances of getting a Super Rare god monster from an egg lockbox. Having just started playing the game I knew that adding a SR god to my arsenal would be an enormous boon, but there was a little problem: egg lockboxes cost 5 magic stones, and I only had 3.

Actually, it wasn’t much of a problem. I just went to the in-game store, tapped a couple of buttons, and suddenly I owned $5 worth of magic stones. I never even had to move my head off of the pillow.

Divine Flowers, Da Qiao & Xiao Qiao

In my defense Divine Flowers, Da Qiao & Xiao Qiao is a very good monster.

In fact, it was so easy that the next morning I didn’t remember making the purchase until I saw the Google Wallet receipt in my email. It made me wonder how much I really spend on cash shops in a year. $3 here, $10 there, often late at night when I’m feeling impulsive.. well, it all had to add up.

My plan now is to share a public reckoning of my cash shop purchases a few times a year. It will keep me honest and possibly shame me away from my more ridiculous purchases, but more importantly I think the data will be interesting. Let’s see the 2015 numbers so far:

Cash Shop Reckoning, 2015 Part One

Hearthstone: Gnomes vs. Goblins cards: $9.99
Hearthstone: Arena Ticket: $1.99
Hearthstone: Blackrock Depths wing: $6.99

Final Fantasy XIV: A hat that looks like an egg: $3.00

Puzzle & Dragons: Magic Stones: $4.99
Puzzle & Dragons: Magic Stones: $4.99

Total Spent: $31.95

$32 isn’t a terrible number, but it’s definitely more than I would have guessed. Hearthstone is my cash shop weakness but to my credit I’ve been good about grinding daily quests for gold to buy the other Blackrock wings. Spending $10 on Puzzle & Dragons is just silly. I can possibly sort of justify it by saying that I’ve gotten $10 of enjoyment out of the game, but I hereby declare that it will not get another penny from me. (Uh huh.) As for the FFXIV hat…

FFXIV egg hat

I regret nothing.

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