Illogicon schedule Jan 12-14, 2018

ILLOGICON is a community based convention dedicated to Science Fiction & Fantasy in TV, movies, animation, comics, visual arts, pod casts, and video games. This year, I’ll be a participant in the following panels:

The Art and Music in Science Fiction – FRIDAY – 3PM – Spaceships are cool, but so are costumes that reflect a culture, in-universe cantina music, and sprawling space-murals that tell the story of a people. But in space. Join out panel talk about those human details that make a world a home, even when it’s alien. Moderator: Michael G. Williams. Panelists: Darin Kennedy, Andrew Greeson, J.L. Hilton.

Sex in Other Worlds (18+) – FRIDAY – 11PM – How do aliens… do it? Moderator: J.L. Hilton. Panelists: Julie Steinbacher, Natania Barron, James Maxey, Jim McDonald.

Fanfiction: Fun and Fundamentals – SATURDAY – 5PM – Fanfic! What it is, why we love it, where to find it, how to do it. Moderator: J.L. Hilton. Panelists: Stacey Lantagne (GoH), Alyssa Wong (GoH), Tracy Walker, Gerty McHenry.

Living the Dream and Getting Paid – SUNDAY – 2PM – So you’re ready to turn that hobby into a career (or a least a decent side hustle)? We gotta talk shop on financial planning and the business side of creativity. Moderator: Ian Malone. Panelists: Jim McDonald, Ada Milenkovic Brown, Fraser Sherman, J.L. Hilton.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: NIER:AUTOMATA

I played NIER:AUTOMATA for three reasons:

1) There’s a free demo for PS4

2) Viewers requested it

3) Jim Sterling included the game in his “Game of the Year Awards 2017” video

The music and gameplay gave me a warm fuzzy flashback to Kingdom Hearts on PS2. And while I enjoyed Kingdom Hearts many years ago, third-person button-combo games aren’t really my thing any more.

NIER:AUTOMATA constantly shifted between over-the-shoulder, side-scroller and top-down camera angles, which might be really cool for someone who liked those sorts of games, but it’s not for me.

I’m not into anime, and I’m not a fan of the anime tropes such as teenage characters (or characters that look like teens, even if they’re old and/or androids), soft-spoken emo dudes who have to discuss their feels in the first three minutes you meet them, and fighting giant machines while wearing stiletto hip boots and flashing your panties at everyone.

But that’s what Try-It Tuesday is all about — having new experiences and trying games I wouldn’t usually play.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: EVENTIDE Slavic Fable

After playing Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink, I wanted to do another Artifex Mundi demo so this week I tried EVENTIDE: SLAVIC FABLE.

Clockwork Tales was inspired by steampunk, and EVENTIDE by Slavic myth. In EVENTIDE, you are a botanist, Dr. Mary Gilbert, whose grandmother is the caretaker of a heritage park. After her grandma Baba is captured by a gargoyle (called a “moth” in the game), Mary sets out to rescue her. On her adventure, she makes an herbal poultice to heal a magical boy, solves puzzles, and meets some mythical creatures.

Like other games by Artifex Mundi, a Polish game development company, EVENTIDE is a point-and-click puzzle-solving adventure story.

I enjoyed it so much, I bought the full game and streamed it all, including the bonus “Midsummer Night” adventure, unlocked after completing the main story.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: 7 DAYS TO DIE

7 DAYS TO DIE is a survival horror sandbox game developed by The Fun Pimps. Alpha 1.0 released on PC in December 2013. The most recent version, Alpha 16, released in June 2017. The game became available for PS4 and Xbox One in June 2016.

With a post-apocalyptic theme, combat, scavenging, crafting and building, 7 DAYS TO DIE is a bit like Minecraft, Don’t Starve, and Fallout 4. You can fight monsters, farm, hunt, mine, dig, and build anywhere. You start the game with nothing but underwear, a can of chili and a bottle of water. The main challenge is that every seven days, you’re attacked by a zombie hoard.

My husband’s loved this game for a few years. I’ve watched him play, and watched him watch other people play, but I never played until now.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: OVERCOOKED The Festive Seasoning DLC

Trying to find a Christmas-themed video game is not easy! Halloween offers a variety of spooky, monster and madness games like Amnesia, Murdered: Soul Suspect, The Deadly Tower of Monsters, The Town of Light, and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood. All I could find for December was “The Festive Seasoning,” an expansion of the game OVERCOOKED.

OVERCOOKED is a chaotic cooperative cooking game for 1-4 players, developed by Ghost Town Games and released for PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2016. It won the Best New IP, Best Debut Game, Best British Game and Best Family Game awards, among others.

Our entire family — mom, dad and two teens — loves OVERCOOKED. But it is challenging. While rated “E” for “everyone,” younger players may find it too difficult and should be teamed with older players.

“The Festive Seasoning” adds eight new levels, a turkey dinner recipe, and two new chefs — reindeer and snowman — all free on PS4 if you already have the main game. Or look for the OVERCOOKED “holiday bundle,” currently on sale for $6.79 for PS+ members, which includes the main game and both Lost Morsel and Festive Seasoning expansions. Absolutely worth every penny of the full $19.99 price if you’re not a member, for hours of family fun.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: SOUTH PARK The Fractured But Whole

SOUTH PARK: THE FRACTURED BUT WHOLE just came out in October and there’s a free demo on Playstation 4. I didn’t play Stick of Truth, but I’ve been watching South Park since I saw Mr. Hanky in 1997, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

Similar to a previous Try-It Tuesday title, Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations, SOUTH PARK: THE FRACTURED BUT WHOLE is “2.5D,” which means a 3rd person side-scroller — left and right — with limited depth of movement — forward and back. I explored the world by watching for icons and pushing the corresponding controller buttons to interact with people and objects.

But, unlike Adventure Time, this game is absolutely NOT for children and probably not for a lot of adults, either. Finn never found a butt plug and personal lubricant next to Jake’s bed, or had to flip through a notebook of pornographic drawings to find the secret password “Fuck You Mom.”

There are toilet-based mini-games, a turn-based combat system with powerful fart attacks, and in-game social media “Coonstagram” for taking selfies with other characters and boosting popularity. Based on the items I found in the game, there appears to be a crafting component, but I didn’t get to make anything before my one hour of demo time ended.

Visually, SOUTH PARK: THE FRACTURED BUT WHOLE looks just like the TV show, so playing the game feels a lot like being right in the middle of a new episode. I can handle South Park’s irreverent, rude, crude and offensive humor in 22-minute chunks, but I don’t know if I can handle hours and hours of a video game. I’ll stick with BioShock and Fallout 4 for now.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: THIEF

I typically try out games I’ve never played before, but this week was a “Try-It AGAIN Tuesday” with THIEF, the reboot developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix.

I played this game on Playstation 3 and wrote about it back in March 2014. Since then, I’ve played Dishonored, Dishonored 2, Death of the Outsider, Fallout 4 and many more games. I wanted to revisit THIEF with the free demo available on PS4, to see if it was as good — and as bad — as I thought it was three years ago.

The graphics were as beautiful and Garrett just as sexy as I remembered. The demo does not delve into the story of THIEF but does give a good sampling of gameplay, the majority of which is spent sneaking, stealing and avoiding the city watch in narrow alleys of a Victorian-style city.

I managed to fight two jewelry store guards at the same time, without dying, but this game is really about observation, stealth, agility, and patience, not brute force.

The audio is still problematic, with voices that seem to be in the same room when they’re actually outside, and repetitive prattle from the guards. The world still feels cramped and restrictive, and the game mechanics clunky, though perhaps not as bad as before, as I’m a more experienced gamer now. I would have preferred something more akin to Assassin’s Creed or inFAMOUS, and less searching for bird poo to indicate a rare climbable ledge.

As one of my viewers said during the livestream, there’s something endearing about THIEF, in spite of its faults, and I enjoyed playing it again.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: FORTNITE BATTLE ROYALE

I don’t usually play games like FORTNITE BATTLE ROYALE, a third-person shooter PvP MMOG (that’s “Player vs Player Massively Multiplayer Online Game” for the uninitiated). But getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things is what Try-It Tuesday is all about. Plus, the fact that the game is free doesn’t hurt!

In FORTNITE BATTLE ROYALE, you’re dropped onto an island with 100 other players and nothing but your wits and a pickaxe. You can search for weapons, ammo, bandages, first aid kits, shield potions and other useful items to help you survive. You can also use your pickaxe to collect wood, stone and metal, to craft stairs, bridges, walls, towers, or entire bases. The last one standing wins.

To make things even more interesting, there’s a strange storm surrounding the island. Every few minutes, it shrinks, forcing the players into closer and closer combat quarters. If you’re caught in the storm, you die.

Play alone in solo mode, or team up with others in a duo or squad. Available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Mac. Rated T for teens, but be aware there is the ability to chat with other players via a headset, and you never know what complete strangers are going to say.

The game does have a code of conduct, which prohibits discriminatory language, hate speech, threats, spam, and other forms of harassment or illegal behavior, cheating, griefing, exploiting bugs and glitches, impersonating others, or sharing account information. There is the in-game option to report other players, or you can submit a report to Epic Games.

Matches tend to be short and sweet, especially if you suck at it, like me. To watch a winner, check out Starfish_central.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: CLOCKWORK TALES Of Glass and Ink

This week I tried a game called CLOCKWORK TALES: Of Glass and Ink, a throwback to my days of playing point-and-click puzzle adventures on the PC. A decade or so ago, when my kids were little and I didn’t have a lot of time or energy for longer, more challenging games, I would entertain myself with the likes of Azada, Mystery Case Files, and Dream Chronicles.

In CLOCKWORK TALES, you are Evangeline Glass and must save your mentor Dr. Ink, who disappears while investigating the cause of powerful earthquakes in the small snowy town of Hochwald. Developed by Artifex Mundi and published in 2013, the game has hand-drawn scenes inspired by the steampunk genre, and includes a clockwork crow companion, “steambugs” (clockwork insects), a Victorian dollhouse and an airship.

As far as game mechanics, it isn’t much different from the game I played last week, Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations, just a little more complex because it’s meant for teens and adults, not children. You move through a level, interact with people and objects, and figure out how to use those assets to progress through the story. But this one also includes brain teasers and hidden object games.

If you like steampunk and you’re looking for a casual game with an interesting story, check out the video from my livestream where I played the free PS4 demo of CLOCKWORK TALES.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Poem: Still Waiting

Image source: All4desktops.com

He’ll come and he’ll say, “Lady?”
And I’ll answer him, “My lord?”
And it will be
Beneath this tree,
Twisted in its wood.

“Why leaves here?” he’ll ask me,
And he’ll touch a strand of hair,
Then he’ll brush
The earth and moss
From the gown I wear.

I’ll play for him some music,
And he’ll choose from flute or harp,
A melody
Of stone and ley,
Playing in the dark.

“Why so long here, lady?”
And he’s answered with a breeze,
The moon will rise
Upon the wise
Who dance between the trees.

He’ll come and he’ll say, “Lady,”
And I’ll answer him, “My love,”
Eternally
With longing need
Burns the faerie blood.

~ J.L. Hilton (c) 1992

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