Marketing Asshole Ahoy

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
If you haven't been following this "Just Wow" on Penny Arcade or Reddit I would recommend taking a peek. The gaming community is quite riled up over the abominable treatment of a customer trying to get their hands on an Avenger Controller after several delays and emails to the company's PR firm Ocean Marketing. After a series of vague/blatantly insulting responses the customer, Dave, CC'd his complaints to several gaming media outlets. This included Penny Arcade's Mike Krahulik, who Ocean Marketting's (his spelling not mine) Paul Christoforo alternately insulted and complimented while boasting of his impressive connections in the gaming community. This fellow Mr. Christoforo, in a move that is surely career suicide, ended the exchange by threatening a smear campaign against Penny Arcade. It is quite a spectacle to behold.

Read the email conversation as posted by Mike Krahulik, here.

It also appears that this isn't the first time Paul has pulled this kind of behavior on a customer.

While the internet's wrath has been directed towards the offending person and marketing firm it is unclear what this will mean for the the manufacturer of the Avenger Controller, Kotkin Enterprises. This product is one that is much needed on the market, giving greater accessibility to the disabled gamer community. It would be a true shame if this company, their product, and the customers long awaiting it were casualties of this internet mob.

I was rather curious, given how vocal he has been, what Mr. Christoforo's opinion was on his behavior and the subsequent backlash. Unfortunately Mr. Christoforo could not be reached by Somnambulant Gamer for comment.

Update 1: Investigations by thegauntlet on Reddit have discovered that this, *ahem* douche,  has plagiarized almost all of his website content from other sites, including Quoted:

Following the recent event's over Paul at Ocean Marketing being a customer service nightmare, I decided to look into him a bit more. I am not a big gamer, but this was a a great read and killed some time. I checked out his official website and headed to the blog. I was shocked to see many of his grammar and spelling errors weren't present. But that's what MS Word is for. I started looking a bit deeper and found that he lifted every single blog post posted May 30, 2011 taken from May 13, 2011
This one stolen from Forbes magazine: all of them were stolen. Then there is the SERVICES tab: Everything was stolen here from the ABOUT US section was lifted. Here is Ocean Marketing's version: from the 4th - 6th paragraphs were taken from the last paragraph here: Some integrity huh?
I can go on too. I also checked with the wayback machine to see who had first and it wasn't Ocean Marketing. Not really the company i'd want to be giving my money too.
UPDATE 1: And yes, before anyone corrects me, i know i misspelled PLAGIARIZED...grammar nazis please be kind.
UPDATE 2: Unless he did night classes for Microsoft Certifications, these are not real. It is possible, but need help on this. Not sure why a guy who has always done marketing and sales would be be MS Certified Systems Engineer then go back into marketing. He also doesn't list it for education anywhere like linkedIn. Does anyone have a way to look this up besides asking him for his Transcript ID and Access code?
UPDATE 3: OMG, his domain is registered through GoDaddy.
UPDATE 4: Just got off phone with Paul. Figured I'd call Paul for his Transcript ID and Access Code to verify his MS Certs and get a statement, see if he's on suicide watch yet. To my surprise, he answered his phone. Seemed pleasant. He was unsure what I was talking about when I asked for his Transcript ID and access code for the MS Cert program. I confronted him on the plagiarized site and he hung up. I also planned on asking him his education level and if he graduated Newbury College but was unable to.
UPDATE 5: While looking into Paul, found out he worked with someone in Boston while at a real estate firm. He is now married or engaged. Wasn't going to post anything about her, but just found out she runs the day-to-day at Ocean Marketing. Here is her LinkedIn: . Turns out they met while employed at her dad's real estate company. This one should be a new meme

Update 2: It appears that the manufacturer of the Avenger, Kotkin Enterprises, has fired Ocean Marketing as their PR firm due to the feedback the have received from the gaming community. via Reddit

Update 3: Paul Christoforo has offered a full apology to Mike Krahulik. Read the email here.

To All First-Time Computer Builders

Thursday, November 10, 2011
"It's alive!  IT'S ALIIIIIIVE!! MUAHAHAHAAAA!!"  As the fans lit up and began to whir, this was my exclamation.  To what had a given life to?  My first home built computer, I have aptly named him Berserker, if you ask me why, my reason will simply be, "because it's cooool."  I learned several things while working on this project.

 The first lesson, is actually a question:  Why don't more women build computers?
The biggest part of building a computer is shopping.  You must compare prices, brands, socialize about the quality and others' experiences with the products, and you have an excuse to spend a lot of money!
Secondly, once the parts arrive, we women-folk have a tendency towards smaller finger size, fiddling with all of those small cables, pins, and pieces, doesn't it just make sense that smaller fingers would be advantageous?
And lastly, if something doesn't work no matter what you've tried (including reading the directions) and a part is bad, you get to (excuse my language) bitch about it.
Seems like a fantastic deal on all counts of women building computers.

Second lesson is just a few nuggets of information for first-time, paranoid builders like myself that I wish someone had just told me beforehand.

1.  The processor, when being locked into place, is supposed to make that terrifying crunching sound and provide some resistance.

2. Stand posts behind the motherboard are important, I didn't make this mistake thankfully, but it's a good reminder regardless, like remembering to ground yourself often.

3.  SATA data connectors are the short ones, SATA power are the long ones.

4.  Check the polarity when connecting the chassis's button pins into the motherboard, for some models it makes all the difference.

5.  Remember to plug in the power cords to your GPU.

6.  If the computer simply won't budge, check the power, if it's not that, reseat the RAM, it will solve a considerable amount of frustration.

7.  Understand the beep code or hex code your motherboard gives you, oftentimes if something is wrong, it will let you know exactly what it is!

8.  Case fans oftentimes come with screws, but the holes they go into are smooth, don't worry, just screw them in and it will work magically (spent an hour on this one querying the great Google oracle).

9.  Keep a log of problems you encountered and solved, it typically will come in handy in the future!

10.  When transferring your data from your old hard drive to your new drive, as long as you have booted from the new drive, you can dock the old one (even if it has an OS installed) with no problem as an external.

 11.  When buying dual or triple channel RAM, always buy the kit, they are guaranteed to work together.

12.  This is a worthwhile challenge and experience!

PAX 2011 - Acquisitions Inc. Live Game

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It has finally been released! We here at Somnam were lucky enough to have seen this year's Acquisitions Inc. game while attending PAX Prime. Featuring players Wil Wheaton, Jerry Holkins, Mike Krahulik, Scott Kurtz, (famed DM to the stars) Chris Perkins, and troubadoured (the verbage is questionable) by duo Paul & Storm.

Acquisitions Inc. live games are engaging for experienced players, as well as an excellent introduction for that one hold out geek you have been trying to convince to join your D&D party.

Clear a couple hours in your agenda and watch here at, you will be glad you did.

Of Kotaku, Bag Cams, and Ethics

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
While browsing Kotaku a few weeks back, I came across an article regarding Borderlands 2. Hungry for more details about the game, I was disappointed to see that it was a cam-shot leaked video from the floor demo shown at PAX and Gamescon.

Kotaku posted the leaked video, saying " and so of course we thought we'd share it with all of you." What they seem to have forgotten was the neatly printed and highly visible "no pictures or video, please" sign plastered all over the Borderlands 2 booth.

I enjoy Kotaku, but I think there is something to be said for journalistic integrity. I believe at least that we should respect the developers wishes to keep the game under wraps. I'm not saying that the person who shot the video is a bad person. I'm not saying that he/she shouldn't be allowed to post it to Youtube if they wish. I am saying that Kotaku should have exercised a little more restraint instead of posting the video on their megadrazillion-hits-per-day site.

I should add that this is in fact the second leaked Borderlands 2 footage to show up on Kotaku. And not only was it featured on the site, the video was hosted through their proprietary video codec.

You will not find leaked videos on our site without us first obtaining the permission of the developers to use them.You will not find us lifting stories from Reddit, and you most certainly will not see incredulous "see what offerings the mortals have brought" posts.

We feel that the developers of the games we play deserve a certain level of respect. We also feel that the community we serve deserves the same respect. That is all.

I'll Buy That...And One of That...And One of That...

Monday, September 12, 2011
Getting ahead of myself and sounding way too optimistic; I believe that PAX has become the new World's Fair of gaming. While in the past E3 has taken this title, this year, at the very least, more unveiling seems to have taken place at PAX according to attendees of both. I'll get back to the unveiling in a moment, but allow me to take a second to comment of my (clever) World's Fair analogy. Ever since the 1800s, the World's Fair has been the place where companies, their innovators, and successful inventors show exactly how they will change the future. Even if PAX's scope is gaming (and we like it that way!), this is the place where many gaming enthusiasts can showcase their ideas and allow people to give them a try. This is the place where producer and consumer alike can interact in the creation and evolution of gaming advances.

Amongst the showcases for Star Wars the Old Republic, Rage, Borderlands 2, Mass Effect 3, and various graphic development schools, there were two items that stood out to me. The OnLive system, and Razer's new gaming laptop, Blade (specs).

At first glance, the OnLive has that hipster underground feel. It is still a fairly new system that not many people have heard of yet, and hosts a (currently) humble selection of mainstream games. At a closer glance, it will not be long until this is either the largest gaming platform out there, or the way that other platforms will follow. OnLive has many incredible features, it allows you to "rent" a package of games for a set fee every month, buy a game for $50 or less that would be $60-$70 on console, interact with other gamers and cheer them on in real time, share "brag clips" or exciting clips from your gameplay, and my favorite feature: portability. While the actual OnLive system is extremely portable with its small size (small purseworthy, even), you can save your game while hooked up to your television, leave the system behind, and pick up your game on either your computer or, I believe soon to come, tablet! This is due to 100% of your gaming activity taking place in the cloud on your account. Your games, where you saved, everything is stored and played from a server. The second factor that makes this system incredibly portable is that it treats every controller, including its included one and the touch-screen interface of a tablet, as a virtual controller which they have preprogrammed for the game. As long as you have an Internet connection (which I assume you do, you're reading this right now, right?), OnLive is quite possibly the snazziest way to play video games without an optical drive!

There are many mourners of the death of the optical drive (*tear*) sometimes it is needed to increase portability by decreasing "unnecessary" weight. The cost and lack of optical drive would be my only two complaints about Razer's new baby. Blade is a fascinating specimen of a gaming laptop. For one, that is its sole purpose in life, to be a heavyweight gaming rig, that is as skinny as Twiggy (the European model) and with a similar impact on its audience. Blade is possibly the most dramatic innovation to PC gaming in years. Not only does it flaunt a deliciously sleek design, but the weight (7lbs!) to match! Not only that, but it contains absolute top of the line laptop gaming hardware (for 2011) within that thin chassis. Sure, any gaming laptop can be outfitted like this adding a little weight, however, what really makes the blade unique is its user interface. With a touchpad that becomes a second screen to look at a guide, watch email, or what-have-you while in-game if you so desire, and boasts 10 programmable buttons for use in and out of game. WANT!! There is no good way to describe the experience of using the Blade than to try it for yourself. It's unique, like bacon-flavored ice cream that is somehow amazingly delicious!

Innovations abounded at this year's PAX and I'm excited to see what improvements are going to come next year. Maybe they will serve bacon-flavored ice cream? Who knows, it's a mysterious world with many fascinating combinations!

Take my money!

Thursday, July 28, 2011
The last few weeks have seen a number of more than notable game popping up on the Xbox Live arcade. It's no secret that Xbox Live is home to some truly stand out titles, but the recent releases of Ms. Splosion Man, Bastion and From Dust rack up a truly cruel trifecta for any gamer.

Ms. Splosion Man, the latest from the bearded billiants at Twisted Pixel revisits the labs of Big Science. This is a maddening platformer at it's heart and as such games are wont, it will frustrate. That, as far as we can tell, is the solemn duty of a platformer. Ms splosion Man distinguishes itself with it's humor and simplicity. As frustrating as any one checkpoint or boss may be to overcome, the over the top humor will keep it fun, creating a kind of barrier between the happy and stabby gamer.

Bastion is a game easily misjudged. Most hype machines tout the "innovative narrative" of their games, and after playing games for so long it's easy to tune such claims out as just so much noise. Bastion's narrative framework delivers, however, creating a spectacular atmosphere reminiscent of campfire stories.

We've spoken before about the power of good voice work, and the voice actor for Bastion is a shining example. The depth, tone and drifter-esqe twang in that voice is a thing of beauty.

Bastion has more to offer than great voice work. On the surface it may seem all formulaic Zelda type play, but the ticking gears of the game hide some surprisingly complete character customization and play options.

Most recently is Ubisoft's From Dust. A game that should feel familiar to players of Populous and Black and White, From Dust combines the godly powers and village building with environment based puzzle solving. As the protector of a dying tribe, you are tasked with conquering the elements to help your people flourish.

Optional puzzles like spreading vegetation across the entire map and coaxing migrating beasts to your lands help round out the gameplay. The best thing about From Dust comes from playing with the way the elements interact. Water boils away into steam when a lava flow crosses it, sand shifts and washes away in heavy water flow. Much like playing with the forests, fields and villagers in Black and White, From Dust brings a sense of wonder and discovery to it's already lush and beautiful world.

The ridiculous density of compelling arcade games in this and the coming month are staggering. The best advice we can give you is to play the trials of each. Ms Splosion Man is the least expensive of the three and has a ton of extras (as well as the only one with a co-operative mode). Bastion has steady replayability and From Dust is one of those beautiful games that you come back to again and again to tinker with. If you can afford all of these games, well, we envy your pocketbook.

Citizen 8-bit

Saturday, June 11, 2011
Earlier this year my DS, complete with case and games, was stolen. Until recently I held out some small hope in the back of my mind that I might recover it and that all the hours invested wouldn't have been in vain. Now I know I will never see it again.

The DS itself being stolen wasn't the loss that I grieved most. Among the games stolen were both of my Pokemon cartridges. More hours than I care to openly admit were invested and reflected in an impressive collection of Pokemon. I'm afraid that when I made the theft report I must have sounded like a kook to the officer. "I just can't lose all that time!", I said trying to impress upon him the importance of my DS's recovery.

Realizing now that my DS is gone forever has left me lost. I have no idea how to begin again with my Pokemon (Gotta Replace 'em All!) I feel haunted by the ghosts of these virtual creatures in who's company I spent so much time.

This most recent loss made me think back on my history with Nintendo's handheld devices. I got my first GameBoy in 1991. It was second hand, a techno-toy that my uncle had gotten for himself. It was gifted to my sister and I, and became the center of many an argument about "sharing". Her interest eventually dwindled and the GameBoy became mine entirely.

My game cartridge collection started with a few hand-me-down games that friends had lost interest in. I enjoyed them all. I spent hours of my childhood with this tiny gray box. Darkwing Duck, Alien3, Tetris, Home Alone, GB Basketball, Link's Awakening, these were only a few of the cartridge companions during my formative years.

I built an impressive collection of games and I had a slick black case in which to keep all of my GameBoy paraphernalia. I had the GameBoy Battery Pack, Screen Magnifier (with night light!), and GameGenie. I could game anytime and anyplace. I was devastated when I lost this collection on a bus in southern Georgia in '97. By some luck I carried my GameBoy separately along with it's battery and a few choice games. Grieving for my lost collection I dove headfirst into the Pokemon craze.

Unfortunately my Poke-progress would be stalled on Christmas Day of 1999. My GameBoy had seen very heavy use over the years and it was the worse for wear. The battery pack's cord was shorted in many places and I had it tied in knots further secured with duct tape to ensure the power's flow. At one point near the end of it's life I could only get it working if I held it at a 60 degree angle. On Christmas when I got my long awaited Pokemon Yellow cartridge I fired up my GameBoy immediately. The screen flickered, it let out a pitiful whine, and died.

I desperately missed my GameBoy. Though the new GameBoy Color was all the rage among my peers I had held fast to my gray brick. It was a badge of honor that I had nursed my poor GameBoy for so long. I felt as if a beloved family pet had died.

While I did receive a GB Color as a birthday gift later it seemed like a shadow of the one I had before. I knew every nook and cranny of my old one and this new device's weight felt wrong in my hands. For all it's "color" it seemed devoid of personality and to play it felt almost like a betrayal.

I withdrew a bit from gaming culture shortly after that. I tried for years to conform more to the non-gaming community's norms, looking for some kind of acceptance. I spent most of my young adult years treating gaming as some thing that I used to do (though I secretly missed it desperately).

When my husband and I were dating (he introduced me to gaming again) he got me a Nintendo DS. I dared to love, I mean game, a second time and my DS became another dear companion.

Now I have to cope with this loss again. I am sure a psychologist would have a field day with my obvious attachment to these items but I do miss my pocket friends. I will get over this loss as I have in the past and move on. I will get another handheld and play again, but next time I will chain the damn thing to my wrist.

New Ghost Recon to Feature Kinect support

Saturday, May 28, 2011

That's right ladies and gents, Ubisoft has pushed Future Soldier back again. Developers now say we'll be waiting until the first quarter of 2012 Future Soldier will include Kinect support. What exactly Kinect users can expect from Ubi's long awaited shooter remains a mystery.

Judging by the box art they've released, we imagine it will have some use with squad commands and map/uav control. Personally, I hope it includes those ridiculous hand signals we're so used to seeing in every shooter since Rainbow Six. Just in case it does, here's a primer for all of you at home.

Credit to for the image!

A Toast to Video Game Modders Everywhere

Friday, May 20, 2011
Activision has become known for its hit and miss proclivities, and for the love-hate relationship it has with its consumers. In 2001, Activision commissioned Troika Games to bring to life White Wolf's pen and paper World of Darkness in video game form. Despite many challenges in the development, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines was officially brought forth (though still with several problems) into the public world November 16, 2004. While plagued with several scripting errors which caused a horribly unstable program, Bloodlines, for its diversity in game-play strategy, in-depth story line, excellent soundtrack, and interesting characters was still playable and fun even if it was a near impossible task just to get the game to run for over an hour at a time before crashing.

Since Bloodlines still had several glitches, Troika Games was able to release 2 official patches at the behest of Activision prior to disbanding in 2005. While this fixed several issues, even more remained. Enter, the mysterious Wesp who stuck around and attempted to fix the base game through patches where Troika Games left off to patch 7.4a and solving several annoying problems before calling the modding game quits.

Others had the same dream of making this "flawed gem" of a game more fun and less tedious to play. On top of what Wesp left behind, more fixes and added mechanics (to bring Bloodlines closer to it's pen & paper feel) were added in a neat little bundle released in 2009 by a talented tinkerer Zer0Morph (Brad Bolenbaugh) titled Camarilla Edition 1.0. Until the end of 2009 Zer0Morph released several versions of Camarilla Edition (up to 1.2) and decided to take a break from modding Bloodlines. Having been alongside Zer0Morph since the beginning, Childe of Malkav took over the Camarilla Edition project.

A few months later in March 2010, Zer0Morph decided to return to the Camarilla Edition modding scene; however, he also came to the conclusion that he was tired of modding the base character models and types. Realizing this would be a large task and outside of a lone modder's ability, a super team of VTMB fans/modders was formed. Activate superhero team style introductions! Zer0Morph: team founder from America, Childe of Malkav: expert Python scripter from Germany, The Philosopher: .lip puppet master from Brazil, Scarecrow: voice actor from Bulgaria, and theRaven: touch ups from California. With their powers combined they formed Team Camarilla International!

Wanting a new game play experience, this Team began a year long project of creating new NPCs,
adding quests, changing item placements, making vendors sell you things you actually want to buy, skinning and retooling all playable characters, and improving the entire game play experience whether it be little changes for ambience, or major changes for effect. Vampire the Masquerade: The Final Nights was the end product of this undertaking. All the little changes in this new version have come together beautifully and have drastically redefined its Bloodlines roots.

In fact, playing through The Final Nights was so different from Bloodlines I hardly recognized it!
Bloodlines was an ugly duckling of sorts and has finally grown up into a beautiful, badass swan of a game like it was always intended to be. Thank you, Team Camarilla International, this is a masterpiece!

It takes a great commitment of time and patience to take a game with potential and to make that game fulfill its potential. People who possess this dedication to improvement are a rare commodity and extremely valuable to the gaming community. Without people like those at Team Camarilla International we would be stuck with games with infinite potential and no one to bring out what these games were meant to be. In a world where DLC and regular updates are becoming more and more common, it's important to remember the unaffiliated individuals who have been providing similar services to the gaming community for no better reason than the love of the game. It's people who connect to the medium and struggle to grow it solely for its own benefit who have created the community that we have today, who formed the atmosphere that allows us to see games realize their potential instead of dying stillborn on the shelf.

When child meets game...

Sunday, May 15, 2011
Games fill my house. They are very hard to avoid with two consoles, three computers, and so many board games that I have lost count of them all. Not to mention the various role playing books, dice, minis, and random accoutrements scattered through out the place.

Surrounded by all of this I don't know why I was surprised when my eldest daughter (5 years old) brought me a controller and asked me to teach her a game. She has played Rock Band with my husband and I before but she has never shown an interest in playing any of the other games in the house by herself. She knows that the 360 plays Dora and Sponge Bob whenever she likes, and I taught her how to use the Kinect voice commands (I caught her talking to the Kinect that day and I swear to God I heard her whisper "Xbox, I love you" at one point) but her interest seemed limited to those functions. Most games the hubby and I play are done 'after hours' when the kids are asleep so as to shield them from the blood and gore popular in most modern games.

Having just put the baby down for a nap I was caught a little off guard. I didn't know what to say, I tried to think of a child friendly game to set her up with. I settled on Flower and quickly set her up on the PS3. Of all the times I had thought about playing games with my children I had never thought about that first introductory moment and what I should give them to play. I will admit to a little bit of parental anxiety about letting my daughter play a game alone for the first time. This introduction opens up that wonderful parental hairy ol' can of worms that is virtual entertainment. I now have to work out how much to let her play and what games to let her play. I shouldn't worry too much. Being a gaming parent I think I have a good grasp of what is kid appropriate and I will certainly try my best to teach her proper game moderation, something I think a lot of parents unfamiliar with virtual entertainments know don't know how to do.

I am comforted by the knowledge that games are not new to her. We play together all the time and video games are just a new addition into her wide and varied collection of games, one of her current favorites being "Faye Wray and King Kong" inspired by her curiosity about the poster that hangs in our home. Children and adults alike are hard wired from the beginning to learn through games, play comes naturally to us all. Right now she is enjoying 'running' through the grass and 'catching' flowers. I think once she has a better handle on the controls I will set her up with What is Bothering Carl? a computer based story book that was part of the PAX 10 in 2009.

In the mean time I will do my best to not listen to the talking heads and their fanatical fear mongering bull that video games are corrupting our youth much in the same way they decried the use of pinball machines and comic books.

If you feel any trepidation yourself about introducing you children to video games think about the nay sayers while you watch this:

Portal Cake!

Friday, April 22, 2011
I have a little too much fun with gaming confection :)

You can check out the instructable here.

They Dare

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ubisoft has never been shy about it’s shovel-ware games. Some years ago, a designer on the Prince of Persia reboot said “they pay the bills so we can make games like Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia.” It’s difficult to fault Ubisoft for that. It’s true of almost every major publisher out there. The only one’s that really manage to avoid the shovel-ware titles are those akin to Valve; privately owned, and funded.

Games like the eighteenth Rayman: Rabbids game are easy to turn a blind eye to when Ubi releases consistently good major titles and franchises. This title is a little much, even for them. We Dare is a game built apparently as an entry level swinger’s party.

Adult games have always been around. From Golgo 13 on the good old Nintendo to the numerous thinly veiled porn games that fleshed out (if you’ll excuse the pun) the back pages of mid to late ninties PC game mags.

Today, adult games occupy a small niche. Most developers of adult titles don’t make generic games; they specialize in adult games, much in the way that Playboy doesn’t produce straightforward dramas. With that perspective in mind, the announcement of We Dare from Ubisoft comes as quite the shock.

Is it anything to balk at? Surely, no. To tread out the film analogy even further, even major motion picture studios have produced and released films that are more about sex and nudity than character and story (see any of the direct-to-video National Lampoon’s films of the past 6 years).

Ubisoft wants to fill the coffers for their major titles. In doing so, they are attempting to branch out and explore newer revenue options. If adult games like We Dare are among those, it should not be seen as a new company-wide direction.

Now, why the PS3 version of the We Dare has a more puritanical 2 player limit, is a question none of us are qualified to answer.

Star Wars Yoga

Friday, March 25, 2011

In the 30th century BC, the Babylonians learned to predict eclipses, camels were domesticated by the Arabs, Mesopotamians created the plow, and the art of yoga was founded in India. According to Merriam-Webster the shortest definition of yoga is “a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being”. Yoga is not about being able to get into and hold impossible positions, but the journey and discipline in attaining unity with the self and the world around the self to hold those scary positions. Yoga allows for any skill level; to participate and benefit, however, the mind must be involved as well, in order to hone the chi, or energy.
T0 those for whom “prana” is not an inspiring base of a healthy lifestyle, there is the Force. For these people Matthew Iatkiewicz has found a way to channel the Star Wars universe and “get those midi-chlorians flowing!” Channeling an AT-AT, R2-D2 or even an enraged Wookiee is a great way to “become one with the Force”.

In this video (for those who are at work or class or somewhere else where you aren't supposed to be goofing off) Iatkiewicz demonstrates some of the poses found in Star Wars Yoga. These poses, at least those he demonstrates are simple and/or modified positions found in traditional yoga. For example, Darth Vader breathing resembles the deep breathing meditative pattern by forcing you to breathe correctly (in the stomach, not the chest) by making the Hooooo-Krrrrr sound. Also, the collapsed AT-AT is somewhat like the child's pose, or resting position where the trunk of the body is stretched out and resting on the ground. And not to mention the saber one pose resembles a twisted "hero" pose, the "hero" or saber sets seem like they would be a lot more inspiring with a prop lightsaber, or cardboard tube, on hand.

For those who lack the motivation to "feel the energy flow", the "allowing the Force to flow through you" is always be an option. In fact, if you already do yoga, I highly suggest (if it doesn't corrupt your view of the subject) replacing some of the traditional names with the Star Wars renditions, it's a great source of humor in that regard. Through humor, there is relaxation, through relaxation there is peace, through peace, well, you get the idea. What that mantra (not "om mani padme hum" in this case, the humor one) was leading up to was:
"Through (blank) I become one with the Force."

“The Force” in the Star Wars universe is the energy created by all living things which binds the universe together. This is the belief of Star Wars yogis and those who belong to the Jedi religion. Yes, you read correctly, J-E-D-I Religion! The beliefs of both are that the Force is what binds all living things in the universe together, and to not cause suffering, and to only practice the light side of the Force. As a side note, could you imagine having people coming to your door in robes asking if they can test you for midi-chlorians? Neither can I, that would be awkward.

Regardless, the Force, like many other interests, is what binds several communities together; whether they are for moral values, entertainment, or even exercise. So, while channeling the core power of a Tie Fighter, or even the Reclining Jabba, remember, the Force will be with you, always.

Introductions and Salutations

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
We have some fresh blood here at Somnam, in the form of a poor soul we managed to kidnap at last-years PAX and shanghai into working here in our basemen- *ahem* I mean "offices".

Introducing ...... Morgan W (aka "MoreGun89")!

She is a fiery gal with a plus 5 Charisma who's favorite gaming snack is Passionfruit Hi-chew and Sunchips. Her favorite games are Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, Metroid Prime, and Dance Dance Revolution. Her superpower choice (given the option between flight and invisibility) is invisibility (she be a sneaky devil).

Please be gentle with her, you guys managed to scare off one of our writers (I'm lookin' at you Hiro, you expat you!) to the UK.

Red Dead Retrospective

Monday, February 7, 2011
By now, Red Dead Redemption is old hat. We've wandered the wilderness, hunted bears, been killed by a thousand pumas, even finished the campaign. It's been done, it's forgotten, the last stick of homing dynamite has been thrown.

Not just yet. Rockstar created something special with RDR. Something that I'm sure would make Molyneux cry if anyone realized what they accomplished.

Let me explain: Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios has consistently made games about choice. Rockstar has made games that are more about freedom. What Rockstar has in Red Dead Redemption is the first game that really gives you freedom of choice.

Player actions in Red Dead affect your fame and honor. You have many opportunities for choice within the world of Red Dead but it is rarely forced and never changes the greater outcome of the story. The player is free to make their own moral choices without having those choices forced on them.

The wandering ranchers who've had their horse stolen, the "damsel in distress" luring you into a trap. All of these things are easily bypassed or ignored. Even if the player decides to help, the degree to which that help is rendered is almost entirely up to the player. Sure, the ranchers horse was stolen, but it sure is a nice horse. Yes, the girl says the bandits made her lure you in close, but she could be lying again. And yes, I've been challenged to a duel by a complete shit head, but is it really worth killing him? These little moments make the character of John Marston and his motivations clear.

Most of these moral choices happen in between the major story missions. That's what sets Red Dead apart and makes it a truly remarkable game. The player creates John Marston independently of the story missions. Each player fills out the character and the reasons for what John is doing at any given point in the game through these tiny moments. In this sense, John Marston is potentially more a part of the player than any character before him.

Moral compasses in games are nothing new. They've been used in games like Fable and Knights of the old Republic for years. These games really hit players over that head with the good/bad, naughty/nice mechanic, making their decisions visible on the characters and in the world around them. Anyone can look at a character in Fable and immediately see good or evil.

What I think many developers fail to realize is that pushing moral choices on the player or even centering the whole game on good/bad decisions can cripple gameplay. The stark duality of choice feels unnatural and in some cases, the player would rather not choose either the good or bad road. If these games are to feel more realistic, someone needs to realize that the answer isn't forkier roads, but no roads at all. And in that, Rockstar seems to lead the way.

Have A Very Nerdy New Year

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
With Redshirt Gingerbreadmen,

Inspired by Bill Amend's Foxtrot comic

Make your own on