Four Short Days in the Emerald City

As we’ve mentioned a couple times on the podcast and the website, we’ll be hosting a live episode of our podcast at this year’s Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle (the link has our panel’s date and time. No pressure.) What did we do to get that illustrious Thursday evening slot on the podcasting stage? Here’s the story that been a year (kinda) in the making.

A Year Ago

Last April, Volcano Bakmeat’s hosts all went to Emerald City together. The podcast was still relatively new (we had two episodes and a few articles), but we were excited. Connor stayed up the night before making business cards that we could give out if the podcast came up. Two of us were cosplaying video game characters (Grant as FFVI’s Locke and Connor as Hotline Miami’s Jacket) and one of us was cleverly dressed as a podcast host (alternatively, you could say Jeff decided not to cosplay).

Podcasts weren’t as big at the con last year (the podcasting stage is new this year), but we were still impressed by 95% of the panels we went to and managed to hand out a few cards. After some discussions about a friend who had gotten a press badge for E3, we began to wonder how difficult it would be to get to do something and Emerald City was one of the names that came up. Jump to:

September(ish?)

Sometime (I can’t find the email) in the fall of 2016, exhibitor entries opened for people interested in Emerald City. We worked together to try to figure out an episode idea. Mass Effect was an early contender since we knew that Andromeda would be released sometime in the spring, but we realized it might not be the best episode to do on a tight hour deadline. Instead, we decided that community in the video game world would be a good topic for an event where people who loved games would be coming together. After drafting up a quick episode submission, we sent it in and waited.

January 5

I (Paige) got an email from ECCC panel with the subject line: “IMPORTANT INFORMATION REGARDING YOUR ECCC PANEL. READ EMAIL IN ENTIRETY.” Which should have been a tipoff that maybe we got a panel, but I still had to skim and reskim a little before I saw the part of the email that included the phrase “we are happy to inform you” which was good enough for me. After a little back and forth with the con organizers to figure out some contingencies and figure out how live recording actually works, our panel was figured out.

Like most of our episodes, we posted a doc on Google Drive to brainstorm questions.

Late January

Emerald Comic Con Panels go up. Paige gets irrationally happy about seeing our names on the site.

We also met up to talk about what we wanted to talk about in the episode. We took the doc and tried to figure out how to fit our episode structure into an hour without any of the editing we normally get.

February 15

The day after Valentine’s Day, we reconvened to try a dry run of the episode. After a weirdly long decision making process about who should moderate (d4’s were rolled), we got through introductions all four questions in a little under an hour (with time to spare for the game we want to play at the end).

We also bought stickers with our logo. Much more professional than business cards.

Feb 16-March 1

We’re getting ready for the con in other ways. Cosplays need to be made and hair needs to be dyed. Panels looked through and priorities made. We need to figure out how to actually record our audio to get it to you guys (the con told us the how, but I’ll need to make sure we have the right equipment).

But for the most part, we’re ready. And excited. We’ve got a great episode planned and  it’ll be good to see some of your smiling faces come March 2nd.

Side note: Keep an eye out for us every day of the Con. Current plans are Connor and Jessica will be dressing up as Edd and Marie from Ed, Edd n Eddy. Paige and Grant will be Dipper and Wendy from Gravity Falls Saturday (and Paige might pull out Kimmy Schmidt for Friday). Jeff will be affable every day. If you see any of us, say hi for a super special limited edition Volcano Bakemeat sticker. (Okay, so it’s just a sticker with our logo on it, but I’m pretty sure they’re the only ones in existance).

Dear Pokemon Sun And Moon

Grant and I finally hopped on the Pokemon Sun and Moon train on Christmas morning. After playing through six of the new Pokemon challenges, I feel like I’m ready to pronounce at least some judgement on what the game does right and wrong. (NOTE: These views do not necessarily reflect VB’s views as a whole. That being said, anyone who disagrees can meet me in the schoolyard, behind the gym at 3pm. Fight. Fight. Fight.)\

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What Should I Play If I Loved: Harry Potter

We’ve all been there. You loved a show (or a movie, or a book), and then you run out of it. It’s over, on indefinite hiatus, between sequels, or there just aren’t any more seasons on Netflix. All you want is something new to fill it’s place in your heart. And that’s where Volcano Bakemeat can help. Although most video game adaptations don’t always live up to their source material, that won’t stop us. Instead, we’ll attempt to try to find games that capture the spirit of what made the original so special (minor spoilers follow).

Harry Potter (Book 1997-2007)

Continue reading What Should I Play If I Loved: Harry Potter

Madness Watches Over Me: A Solo Scrub Tries to Get Good

I started playing Overwatch this week. This probably isn’t exciting news to anyone else, it’s one of the most popular games on the market so it’s kind of hard to escape.

For me, though, it’s something weird: It’s an FPS.

I haven’t played a first person shooter for years. Probably not since a sad short bout of Halo with my older cousins where I ran around like a 9-year-old spaz, before making some excuse about how my mom didn’t want me playing M-rated games and going home. And yes, that would have been the first Halo. The closest I’ve even gotten has been the 3rd person shooting of Mass Effect. (Before you unsubscribe from our podcast, please know that our other hosts are much more experienced FPS players and big fans of Master Chief).

I don’t know if it was mechanically and visually diverse characters, cool skins, or realizing I had no understanding of what my friends were talking about that made me decide to try to take on Overwatch, but this weekend, I took the leap.

I tried three modes of Overwatch: Quick play against random humans, AI matches and “Junkenstein’s Revenge” — the Halloween horde mode.

Each one was, um, interesting in its own way.

Continue reading Madness Watches Over Me: A Solo Scrub Tries to Get Good

What Should I Play if If I Loved: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

We’ve all been there. You loved a show (or a movie, or a book), and then you run out of it. It’s over, on indefinite hiatus, between sequels, or there just aren’t any more seasons on Netflix. All you want is something new to fill it’s place in your heart. And that’s where Volcano Bakemeat can help.
Although most video game adaptations don’t live up to their source material, that won’t stop us. Instead, we’ll attempt to try to find games that capture the spirit of what made the original so special (minor spoilers follow).

The thing you love: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV 1997-2003)

Continue reading What Should I Play if If I Loved: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

What Zelda Does Right (As Proven By The Wind Waker)

There’s been a lot of Zelda in our house recently. I got the nostalgic itch to play Minish Cap in July, then Nintendo Selects released a $20 version of The Wind Waker’s HD remaster which we’d been meaning to pick up since we got the Wii U in November, and then Grant got jealous and picked up Oracle of Seasons for the 3DS, and he’s planning to pick up Ages when he’s done. This–along with the Breath of the Wild hype that’s been going around since E3–reminded me how much I love Zelda.

Since Jessica rightly pointed out that sometimes there’s too much salt in modern gaming culture, I wanted to take a moment to remember all the cool stuff that makes the Legend of Zelda series what it is, and really, Wind Waker gives me more than enough reasons.

Continue reading What Zelda Does Right (As Proven By The Wind Waker)

Don’t Play Hungry: 6 Game Foods You’ll Wish Weren’t Made Out of Pixels

Game graphics have come a long way since Pac-Man first gobbled up a few cherries while running from ghosts. While Grant was playing through Odinsphere, I was amazed by its beautiful aesthetic, but even more shocked by how hungry I got while watching it. Which got me thinking: Why is videogame so delicious looking? And, more importantly, why won’t anyone let me eat it?

Because I care about all of our readers, I wanted you to share in my pain. So, here are 6 games that make me drool.

Continue reading Don’t Play Hungry: 6 Game Foods You’ll Wish Weren’t Made Out of Pixels

If I Ran the Power Rangers: The Wide World of Chromasquad

I’ll begin this article with an admission: I never watched Power Rangers as a child. I was a WB kid, so Pokemon, Animaniacs and The Jackie Chan Adventures were already rounding out my TV line up.

It was only when I was in college and my incredibly stressed out boyfriend chose arrested development as a coping mechanism that I was introduced to the sentai genre. Grant had a lot of teaching work, and when he was done all he had the brain for was sitting in his dorm room in his pajamas and a juice box and watching Power Rangers. I figured I’d give it a shot.

I shotgunned the entirety of Mighty Morphin.

So, when I heard there was a tile-based strategy game that paid homage to the Sentai genre (the Japanese costumed crime-fighting genre Power Rangers popularized in the US) I knew I’d need to play Chromasquad. Eventually. When it was on the Steam Summer Sale. Because I’m not made of money.

After playing the first two seasons of the game, I can honestly say I wish I’d bought it sooner. It’s a fun, interesting simulator/tile based strategy mix with innovative but intuitive graphics that would be a blast even if you’re weren’t devoted to cheap Japanese kids shows, but is even better if you are. Here’s why:

Continue reading If I Ran the Power Rangers: The Wide World of Chromasquad

What do voice actors owe us?

I was reading a thread on Reddit’s /r/masseffect recently. A fan had met Lance Henriksen at a horror con. They waved and said “Admiral Hackett.” Henriksen smiled and came over to shake his hand. As he was leaving, he said “Hackett out.” It made the fan’s day.

That lead to a discussion of how cool the series’ voice actors were in general. One commenter, though, mentioned an exception: Yvonne Strahovski (who plays the game’s resident ice queen, Miranda).

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This lady.

Her crime? Not caring about the games.

Continue reading What do voice actors owe us?

Why Crystal’s Pony Tale is an Absurdist Masterpiece

When I was very young, maybe five or six, I played Crystal’s Pony Tale on the Sega Genesis. It was at a friend’s house and, if I remember right, they had rented the game from Blockbuster. It was 1998 and Lisa Frank had a firm hold on the elementary girl market, and someone at Sega picked up on that. The game shouldn’t have stood out. I don’t even remember if I played it or someone else did, but it was only in my life for an hour or so. It wasn’t anything too special, just a side scrolling platformer where you played as a bright pink pony.

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According to Wikipedia, Game Developer critiqued this game for having too much pink in its graphics. I don’t know what they could be talking about.

Tonight, I replayed Crystal Pony’s Tale on an in-browser rom and I realized why I still remembered it. It was because it was a masterpiece. Not a masterpiece of game play, story lines, dialogue or character (all of which are fairly non existent), but as an absurdist statement on naivete and the frivolity of youth. I think.

Continue reading Why Crystal’s Pony Tale is an Absurdist Masterpiece

How to make a great casual game by not screwing it up

I’ll admit it: I’ve played a lot of casual games–specifically flash games. I’ve played my 2048, I’ve played my Burrito Bison AND my Burrito Bison: Revenge. I’ve played multiple versions of Fashion Solitaire despite the limit of my fashion knowledge being “clashing patterns is bad,” and I’ve spent more time playing a game called Wedding Salon than I did planning my actual wedding. And I enjoyed all of them.

There were way more, though, that were absolute garbage. We’ve devoted an article to knowing your full-length game is garbage, but flash games can have their own slew of sins. Since the internet is knee deep in dumb flash games (and their successor, dumb mobile games), I thought I’d go for the opposite tact: I’m a player whose brain is exhausted from thinking all day. I’m probably watching Family Feud while I play. How do you make a game for me?

Continue reading How to make a great casual game by not screwing it up

Bowser and the Banshees: What makes a final encounter matter?

Due to the nature of this article, spoilers for Metal Gear Solid 3, the first God of War, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and Mass Effect 3 follow.

So that’s it. You just finished the final boss. You’re sitting on the couch, fingers still a little tense. You put the controller down to watch the last cut scene, when you realize something is deeply wrong. You don’t care. Why? The battle was tough. You were challenged, but at the end of the day, it was just a battle that was slightly bigger and harder than the other ones before it. And that’s probably the problem.

Continue reading Bowser and the Banshees: What makes a final encounter matter?