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brandyinindiana Blog

Full Gen Con Coverage

Haven't really been in a GS mood lately - don't get me wrong, I like the new design well enough - I just hate the fact that I'm not torn between two sites (this and Giant Bomb) in order to keep up with all of my friends...But anyway, here's what I've been up to:

For all intents and purposes, my Gen Con coverage is complete, so make sure to check out those articles - new articles (other than the ones I posted about before, I mean) include coverage about the new World of Warcraft board game, a couple of trading card games (Blue Dragon and Universal Fighting System) and more!

As if I wasn't busy enough this week with finishing coverage and house-sitting once again for my uncle (meaning that I'm taking care of a bunch of dogs), I also found time to do a review for the new game in the Bangai-O franchise - Bangai-O Spirits for the DS. A huge bowl of mixed reactions with this one - while I found the game fun, I can easily see how many others wouldn't, but if you want to know why, you'll just have to read the review (See how I did that? Shameless self-promotion ftw!)

Until next time all!

Reviews, Previews, & Gen Con Coverage

Prepare for a blog of links all! And yes, the links really ARE there - for some reason, the new GS doesn't want to highlight everything - but it's not like THAT's really a surprise...

First, GrrlGamer updated while I was busy with Gen Con, but you can find my review for Wall-E on the PS2 here (GS Version). While at GrrlGamer, be sure to check out my preview of the new Pipe Mania game set to be released on multiple platforms this September.

Next, I'm slowly but surely getting through my coverage of Gen Con, and already have two articles for your reading pleasure. Granted, neither have pictures yet (long story involving Flickr), but the links are live to the public, so take a look:

Gen Con Wrap-up

Pirates of the Burning Sea MMORPG

I've also posted my four videos from the event on Youtube, so be sure to check those out if you want to see:

A functioning R2-D2

The destruction of a massive city made of trading cards

Dealer's hall hysteria

Gary Gygax charity auction

Until next time all!

Gen Con Schedule

As promised, here is my schedule for Gen Con Indy 2008 (August 13th - 17th), for all those that are interested enough in gaming to want to know what I'm doing, or what coverage you can eventually expect (btw, any time not covered in the schedule between 10 AM and 6 PM every day is to be assumed that I am in the dealer's hall working on meetings, demos, etc):

Thursday -

-- 9-10 AM - Special hour in the dealer's hall, reserved for members of the press and VIG's (very important gamers - a bit complicated to explain here) - Quick stops by the Beyond Protocol MMORTS booth for a free t-shirt, the Winning Moves booth for a free board game, Fat Dragon Games booth for (hopefully) free dice and t-shirt, the Chainmaille Wench / Gamers for Humanity booth to meet some friends and donate to the cause, earning more free stuff
-- 10-11AM - More dealer's hall goodness - continuing on booths listed in first hour
-- 11-12PM - Pokemon Diamond / Pearl Meet-up in eGame arena (mainly to do a bunch of trading of the game specific Pokemon, and the ones that need to be traded to evolve)
-- 12:30-1:30 PM - Meeting with Fantasy Flight Games over World of Warcraft, Starcraft, UFS, and perhaps Battlestar Gallactica board games (if there's time)
-- 2-2:30 PM - Meeting with Seven Lights over the Continuum, an online collectible wargame
-- 3-4 PM - Meeting with Sony Online Entertainment over Legends of Norrath and the new Star Wars Galaxies TCG
-- 6-? PM - Dinner, Cardhalla, Consignment Store, etc.

Friday -

-- 10-11:15 AM - Dealer's hall goodness
-- 11:30-1 PM - Gamer Wenches lunch (a gaming group of which I am a member)
-- 1(ish)-2:30 PM - Gaia Online Meet-up for free goodies
-- 3-5 PM - Women in Gaming Seminar (run by the Gamer Wenches)
-- 6-? PM - Dinner, Cardhalla, Consignment Store, etc.

Saturday -

-- 10-12 PM - Dealer's hall goodness
-- 12-1 PM - Animal Crossing meet-up in eGame arena (mainly to track down the fruit that my town lacks)
-- 1-2:30 PM - Gaia Online Panel discussing new MMO entitled "zOMG!" Plus, more free goodies
-- 4-6 PM - Costume Contest (audience member only - no cosplay for this girl)
-- 6-10 PM - Dinner, Cardhalla, Consignment Store, etc.
-- 10:30 PM - Cardhalla deconstruction
-- 11-1 AM - Hentai Dubbing (simply because a few other Gamer Wenches are going, and watching something hilarious like this couldn't be passed up on)

Sunday -

-- 10-11 AM - Freaky Creatures meeting - PC game involved in the Dell / Intel Extreme Gaming Tour
-- 11-12 PM - Pirates of the Burning Sea meeting - One of the highest rated MMO's to come out in recent time
-- 12-4 PM - Lots of time spent in the dealer's hall, meeting up with friends for one last lunch, game, etc. and seeing the end of the con proper
-- -5(ish) PM - Packing and beginning the drive home from Indianapolis

Apart from this set schedule, as I've noted above, I have quite a bit of free time for exploration throughout the hundreds of booths in the exhibit hall, and in that time, I will have "meetings" with the following companies, or will at least stop by the booth in the hopes of receiving press kits, swag, etc.:

-- Cryptic Studios - Star Trek Online and Champions Online
-- Games - PC games, mostly of the war and strategy genres
-- Atari
-- Bioware's Dragon Age - Demo/Trailer from E3 will apparently be available
-- World of Warcraft Darkmoon Faire - think of a simple 10 x 10 booth with a couple of posters for a game, and then blow that up to fit into tens of thousands of square feet of meeting and exhibit space; that essentially is the Darkmoon Faire
-- 4kids - Perhaps have coverage of TMNT's 25th anniversary, along with the Chaotic TCG
-- Cloud Kingdom Games - riddle books for free swag!
-- Tiny Mantis - Thugs! online game
-- Gozer Games - Collateral Damage, anime themed board game
-- Upper Deck - anything and everything gaming
-- Wizkids - same as Upper Deck
-- Ape Games - duck, duck, GO! board game
-- X360 / Fable 2 booth - self-explanatory, no?
-- EA Mythic - Warhammer Online
-- Darkened Sky Studios - Chron X, an online TCG that is free to play
-- Shard Studios - RPG's
-- Konami Digital Entertainment - Blue Dragon RPTCG (role playing trading card game)
-- Bandai America - lots of variety in gaming
-- North Star Games - party games with the possibility of LOTS of swag!

There are actually a few more booths that I plan on hitting by the time the con is over, but that gives you a basic rundown of what I'll be doing once Thursday hits. I leave my house tomorrow, in order to spend the night with a friend who lives closer to Indy, and to be able to assure that I get into town on Weds to take care of press related matters before the place becomes a zoo on Thursday (over 40,000 attendees throughout the four days - I'd say that's pretty zoo-like, wouldn't you?). At any rate, I've got tons of stuff to get done between now and then, so I'll simply say: until next time all!

Countdown to Gen Con - 19 days out...

So, we're less than three weeks away from my most anticipated trip of the year, that being my yearly trip to the Gen Con gaming convention held in Indianapolis, August 14th-17th.

Where my last two trips were one or two day affairs, this year I am doing it up right, coming into town on the 13th to not only get acclimated but also to take part in a few unofficial events (like The Stink, the Weds night gathering of the Gen Con Community forum members), and perhaps meet a few friends for lunch or a quick pickup game on the DS.

While I will post more specific info about my schedule in the days immediately before the Con, I wanted to give everyone a quick (or maybe not) update as to where everything stands as of today.

I am currently about 1/3 of the way through emailing the companies on the (still very unfinished) Gen Con exhibitors list, asking them what sorts of things to expect at their booths at the Con, and whether or not they are scheduling meetings.

So far, I have had people approach me from SimplyFun Games, Fantasy Flight, and Wizards of the Coast (among others), and am looking forward to hearing from companies like Upper Deck, Wizkids, Sony Online Entertainment, EA Mythic, and even Atari (among MANY others).

Apart from setting up actual meetings, I will probably spend the majority of my time in the exhibitor's hall as I did last year – walking around collecting swag, talking to fellow gamers, and trying demos of random games along the way.

Then there's the (as of now unannounced – give it a week or so) yearly press conference that is held on opening day to look forward to, plus the fact that all members of the press get into the exhibitor's hall an hour before the general public. The latter of which is especially exciting seeing as how this hour has been pushed up from last year, from 10:00 AM to 9:00 AM meaning that I get yet ANOTHER hour to play around.

And none of this includes the literally thousands of side events that I could take part in, with some that I have actually chosen being a "Women in Gaming" interactive seminar, two Gaia Online meetups, and multiple gatherings for DS games. Of course there are more, but why spill all of the details now? ;)

And of course, as usual, you can expect all of my coverage on the event [including loads of previews, some general convention coverage and possibly some interviews – along with (what I hope is) hundreds of pictures] to be posted on GrrlGamer in the update immediately following the event. With so many articles from my two-day trip last year, I can only imagine how my workload will grow with four (official) days of gaming goodness this year!

Look forward to more details in the coming days!

Until next time all!

What's this about a bomb?

Alright, sure...I give.

I have joined the masses over at Giant Bomb. Think of it more as a reserved profile rather than anything too serious. I'm not leaving GS by any stretch of the imagination, but as my intro blog on 'da Bomb states, I'd rather reserve my username now instead of waiting only to find later that another Brandy thinks she deserves it more (which would be ridiculous - I mean really :P).

So yeah...follow the link and add me if you know you want to.

Tons of E3 goodness and new reviews on GrrlGamer!

A strictly GrrlGamer themed post this time around.

Didi is back from her trip to LA for E3 2008, and has been typing her poor fingers to the bone, all to bring to you guys coverage of the offerings available this year. Check out her many articles already available for your reading pleasure, and be sure to stop back often, as the list is sure to grow!

And as if E3 coverage wasn't good enough, we also have a nice grouping of new reviews as well, including my two reviews for Cake Mania 2 for the DS (GS Version) and Code Lyoko: Fall of X.A.N.A. also for the DS (GS). Add to that reviews of games like Soldier of Fortune: Payback and The Bourne Conspiracy, among others, and you've got plenty of gaming goodness to keep you busy!

Only one more update before Gen Con - I can't wait!

Until next time all!

E3 08 - Big Three Impressions

In what I'm sure will be one of dozens of E3 press conference impressions blogs, I am going to share some of my thoughts after watching the "Big Three:" Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony strut their stuff on stage over the past two days.

Granted, I may not have the consoles for most of the games I will be talking about, but that doesn't mean I can't be just as excited about them as other people, so bear with me here…

Microsoft –

--I was thrilled to see even the smallest of teaser trailers for the South Park XBLA game. I literally squealed when it appeared.

--Need for Speed continues with Undercover – I look forward to learning more about this one, as NfS is one of my favorite franchises, no matter how overdone some people may think it has become.

--Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise – After watching the TV show a few times, I have developed a fond appreciation for these little guys. The original game is one I definitely want to play, and this is no different. My attention was especially caught by the piñata card feature that seems to resemble Eye of Judgment, in that you hold a piñata card up to a camera, and voila – instant in-game version.

--Midnight Club: Los Angeles – This is one I am mildly interested in. I had fun with the first game back on the PS2, but even though the racing there was fun, my main source of entertainment instead came from slamming into pedestrians and watching the ragdoll physics send them 20 feet into the air. Well that, along with the female pedestrian in the London section of the game that would scream all sorts of gibberish when you got close to her, gibberish that would send me into giggling fits that would last for long stretches of time. Seriously, there would be times that my mother and I would be crying from laughter after listening to this particular stretch of sound effects, but that's just my being easily amused, I guess.

--Fable 2 – While I heard a lot of positives about the original Fable, I also heard just as many (if not more) negatives, with most of those negatives concerning unfulfilled promises on the part of Peter Molyneux. However, this is one that (barring any unforeseen circumstances) will be appearing at Gen Con next month, so I was really excited to see that the demo of the game appeared to be a lot of fun. I definitely look forward to getting my hands on this one come August.

Nintendo –

--Pokémon Ranger sequel mentioned – I think the five year old inside of me just jumped for joy. ;)

--Animal Crossing: City Folk – Now the adult me just jumped for joy. After spending countless hours tending to my towns on both the GC and DS versions of the game, this is literally the game that could make me open my wallet for a Wii.

--Spore Creatures – Since I know I will probably never be able to play the PC version of the game, seeing as how my PC is a steaming pile of crap, I am happy to say that this seems like a viable alternative.

--Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars – Ok, Brandy, try to stay calm; you know how bad the GBA GTA was…Must. Stay. Calm… But it's GTA!!! *insert fangirl squeal here* I am going to try my hardest not to get my hopes up for this one, as I definitely fear being let down, but either way, I will be trying my hardest to get a review copy of this or something, even if that something means buying the game at retail.

Sony –

Alright, yes, we get it…2008 is apparently the year of the PS3. You didn't have to tell us that many times for it to sink in. And was it just me, or did anyone else find the majority of Sony's conference downright, dare I say it, boring? I seriously almost fell asleep once they got to the section of trailers for the PS2 showing the same Madden and Tiger Woods crap that we've seen for years (sorry sports fans, but apart from the very short bits on Mercenaries 2 and Yakuza 2, I couldn't have been more apathetic).

Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Sony as an overall company. Hell, I own more games for the PS2 (100+) than I do for any other console, so please don't start any elitist or fangirl crap on me here; I'm just trying to say that the conference really wasn't what I was expecting, as apart from the Resistance 2 footage (which was cool), everything else was pretty dull.

Granted, I'm no real businesswoman, so I can't say what I would have done to make it better, but at least the hinting of a price drop would have been nice (and no, the 80GB deal doesn't count, as I'm still not paying $400). I know Sony said "no price drop," but that's a crock of **** in my very humble opinion, unless Sony wants to continue eating even more than the 3.3 billion dollars that they've already lost with their newest endeavor. As Denis said, talk about shooting yourself in the foot…

However, there is one bit of praise I can shoot Sony's way, and that's the addition of Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) into the major Sony family as a whole. SOE is a current staple at Gen Con (I had the privilege of meeting quite a few of the gang last year), and I am looking forward to seeing them again this year. That being said, DC Universe Online looks to be shaping up pretty nicely, so I'm definitely looking forward to seeing this one in real life as well.


So, that's that! I look forward to reading all of your reactions on the conferences as well!

Until next time all!

Fun Fireworks on the Fourth!

A quick blog today, wishing all of my American friends a (late) Happy 4th of July! As usual, my mom and I went downtown to watch the fireworks show, and I wanted to take a second to show you some of my pictures from the event, including a 30 image collage I made this afternoon:

Told ya it would be a fast one - Until next time all!

Edit: GrrlGamer updated today - I've got two new reviews for ya'll: Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop 3 (GS Version) & Virtual Villagers 2: The Lost Children (GS).

Brandy's Bargain Bonanza Part 5: Patience is a Virtue

*Sorry for the wall of text*

After a long hiatus, I am back today with another edition of Brandy's Bargain Bonanza. It's been, let's see, around 7 months (yikes!) since I did my last edition (a couple of days after Black Friday in Nov. 07), but I guess this is just one of those times to say better late than never and move on.

While I've found many bargains in those seven months, I usually found them using tips I had already shared with you, and therefore didn't really see the point of making a Bonanza after them. However, yesterday, I found a copy of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team for the GBA for $7.48 after implementing a technique I've used from the very beginning, that being "showing extreme patience."

This tip comes with multiple parts, and will get pretty complicated from here on in (one of the other reasons I've never discussed it before). I'll try my best to explain things in as great of detail as possible, but before we get into it, we need to discuss a couple of reasons why games (or other items) go on clearance in the first place. That is, when items go on clearance at most retail outlets, it's usually because they either A) are outdated and are going to be replaced with other merchandise or B) didn't sell well, and the stores want to make whatever profit they can from them.

When it comes to Target, my most frequent stop, case A is normally the reason. And being that I am a Pokémon fan from way back, it should be easy to understand my excitement when, after heading to the back corner of the store a few weeks ago, I saw Red Rescue Team boxes lined up by the dozens… literally. This in itself brings me to the first part of my tip. I should say now, however, that these next few paragraphs are pretty specific to the Target franchise itself, since my experience with other stores' "behind the scenes" practices isn't as high.

Your initial reaction to a clearance sale should be to count how many of the item is on clearance, and to try to determine how long the item has been on the shelves at its regular price. For video games and movies this is pretty simple, as you can either look on the back of the box for a copyright date, or use your memories from years past as a reference. If the game is newer (say, released in 2007), obviously demand will be higher (in most cases) than if the game was released in say 2003. It's all about supply and demand here.

After determining these two factors, you then look more carefully at the price. Normally, the initial clearance prices on games are 30% off. Then, it jumps to 50%, then 75%, and finally 90%, if any copies remain. By determining what percentage level you are currently looking at, you can make a rough estimate as to how long the game has been on clearance already, which can help greatly in your decision making process.

For Target, there is normally a stock worker who comes in one or two nights a week specifically to mark down clearance throughout the store. This means that at any given time, if I am looking at a game that is on clearance for 50% off, then that means that it's most likely in its second week on the clearance rack, since stock remained after a week at 30% off. Likewise, if a game is 75% off, it's most likely in its third week on the shelf, since it would have passed through a week at 30%, and a week at 50%. I hope you all are still with me here, because I'm about to combine everything into one.

After counting the number of copies on the shelf, and making a guesstimate as to the current demand for the product, and after deciding how long the game has been on clearance to begin with, you can add all of these steps together to determine if you should buy the item or not. Of course personal desire will play a role in this, but I'll go on from here as if you have a "general" desire for the game. That is, it's probably on your wishlist, but somewhere near the bottom.

Obviously, the more copies available at any one price point, the less likely I would be to suggest that you buy the game. That is, if the object is only 30% off, and there are over 24 on the shelf (as there were in my case about Red Rescue Team), you should probably wait to make a purchase. However, if there are only one or two copies of the game, even at 30%, you probably shouldn't wait. It all comes down to you asking yourself one simple question – "Are there enough copies on the shelf that I believe there will be at least one left next week when it flips to 50%?" In my case with Red Rescue Team, the answer was yes.

Move a week forward and we get to 50% off. With an original price of $29.99, Red Rescue Team is now $14.98, and there are still at least 20 copies on the shelf. Looks like my guesstimate about demand was pretty good. By waiting a week, I've already saved myself $6, since the game is now $6 cheaper at 50% off (still with me?). However, the game is still in large supply on the shelf, so we go back to my question. Do I think that at least one copy will remain a week from now? My answer was still yes.

Jump to yesterday, three full days after the game had moved to 75% (I had forgotten about the game until then – yikes). Four copies still sitting on the shelf, this time at $7.48. By waiting this long, I saved myself over $22, with this savings requiring nothing more than a little patience.

Of course, waiting the third week, or even the second week, in a clearance sale is going to be a bit of a gamble, with the risk being larger in some cases (depending on demand), but as I said before, it all comes back to your own individual desire for a game. If someone was desperate for that same title, I would never tell them not to buy the game at $21 (30% off) if they felt there was a chance the game would sell out by the second week.

While all of this may seem really complicated at first, let me reassure you. The good thing about this tip is the fact that you are only going to get better at it in time. After looking at your local clearance racks more closely, obvious trends will undoubtedly develop in terms of when items change in price, allowing you to better develop your purchase strategy. Heck, you could even look at random items in other departments and play a mental guessing game to hone your skills. This way, you're not actually losing out on an item that you wanted, if you happen to be wrong (which I have been in a few situations, but just a few ;)).

So, there you have it. With a little patience and some detailed observation, you can learn to save yourself a lot of money simply by waiting to pull out the cash. In the end, you're still most likely going to end up with the item you desire, but will have spent less cash to do so, and who can argue with that?

In closing, I'll add that yesterday I also picked up the first season of CSI for $17.99 on a temporary price cut. Another bit of patience stopped me from buying the game at $25 when it was on sale a couple of months ago, and I saved $7 in doing so. Yay!

Thanks to all those who actually take the time to read this, and if you need me to clarify anything, I'll be more than happen to do so!

Until next time all!

Did someone say free?

Yay for more bullet formatting! We'll get to my blog title reference (see: Pokémon) in a minute, hehe.

-- As I mentioned in my last blog, I wanted to find a way to take a picture of my PS2 games (since their current circular configuration doesn't port well to photography), and eventually just gave into the most conventional idea, that being to lay them all out. Here is the result (I highly suggest clicking on the photo itself, as its Flickr page has details on all of the games):

-- GrrlGamer updates again for you – Check out my reviews for Virtual Villagers 3: The Secret City (GS Version), and The Last Wish (the book that inspired the PC game The Witcher).

-- Finally received my letter from the Dean of Ball State today commemorating my addition to the Dean's List for the Spring Semester. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I knew from the beginning that I would be on the list, but the official letter is appreciated.

-- Received Tamagotchi Connection: Corner Shop 3 in the mail from Namco the other day. After playing for a couple of hours, my first impressions sum up as such: Really annoying sound effects played through the various very repetitive mini-games that constitute the majority of gameplay. There are two pretty fun mini-games, however, that remain fun, that is, even after accounting for their repetitive nature. One is the ice cream shop, which has you decorating sundaes with sprinkles, etc. a la Cold Stone Creamery, while the second is the Piano Lessons activity which lets you play c!assical tunes like the Turkish Waltz and the Minuet, among others. Makes all of my time playing around on the keyboard seem a bit more worth it now.

-- Got a review code to play the full version of Virtual Villagers 2 from LDW. My review for the third game will go up in a few days, and since Didi reviewed the first game some time ago, we decided to fill in the hole. So, that gives me something else to look forward to.

-- Forced myself into going into GameStop today, as I received a notice in their newsletter saying that this weekend (and next) they would be giving away free Deoxys in Pokémon Pearl or Diamond. Apparently, I missed out on getting some special Pokémon at Toys R Us a few weeks back, so I wasn't going to let it happen this time. It probably looked pretty funny – a grown woman walking in with her DS asking for a Deoxys, but the guys were nice about it anyway. Oh, I also picked up a set of Donkey Konga bongos for $4, since my niece and nephew always want to play with me, but I never let them touch my original bongos for fear of them being damaged.

-- Whelp, that's about it for now – hopefully it won't take as long for me to post another blog as it did this time: 18 days! Yikes!! Just goes to show how mundane life can get over the summer, hehe. But I'm enjoying it anyway!

Until next time all!