Extra Life

Extra Life 2015

Posted By on Nov 03, 2015 | 1 comment

 Wesley EL small
It’s hard to believe it has been a year since the last time I’ve written about my participation in the Extra Life gaming marathon. This year will be my fourth in a row, and this one is extra special.

Extra Life is a 24-hour gaming marathon, in which participants from all over the world come together to raise money for their local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. This year, I am fundraising for the UCSF Children’s Hospitals in Oakland and San Francisco. As you probably know, Amanda and I have had the (un)fortunate opportunity to become acquainted with these hospitals on a personal basis – our son Wesley was born almost three months prematurely and spent his first two-plus months in the NICU. While that NICU was run by Kaiser, he also needed to have a procedure to correct a heart-related issue, which was performed by the great team at UCSF Children’s.

Due to their caring and expertise, Wesley is coming up on his first birthday, and he is doing amazingly well, especially given his rocky start. We are so thankful for all of the medical teams that we have interacted with, and want to make sure that they – and the families that they need to work with – are well-supported and cared for. I’ve always thought that Extra Life was a great cause, but now it is personal.

This Saturday (11/7), I will once again don my headphone, stock up on caffeine, and play for the cause. If any of you are able to help, I would be incredibly grateful. Any amount would be meaningful, and if you aren’t able to donate money, just checking in and lending support would be fantastic. That said, even as little as $5 will help. The money flows straight through to the hospitals, and is entirely used on patient care and quality of life.

If you’d like to make a donation, please head over to my donation page.

Thank you so much, and feel free to pass this along to anyone that you think might be interested!
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Extra Life 2014 is Tomorrow!

Posted By on Oct 24, 2014 |

Extra Life 2014It’s almost here! Extra Life 2014 game day is tomorrow (Oct 25), and I’m almost ready! There are always a bunch of last-minute things to do – try to build a list of games to play (and some semblance of a schedule), install them, make sure I have some non-potato chip snacks around, get plenty of rest – and this year is no different.

First things first, though. I’ve had a great response this year, and together we’ve already smashed my fundraising goal! This is super awesome, and I wanted to thank every one of you that has contributed so far. I also wanted to reach out one final time to anyone that is on the fence. Please do consider donating – even $1 or $5 can make a difference.

Click here to donate!

So what am I playing? I’m honestly not entirely sure yet! This year is a little tricky because I’m not playing any MMOs, which are always a good way to sink 4+ hours into a single thing. What I do know is that I am going to be playing at least one horror-ish game, because apparently the fact that I don’t really like them is a thing now. These are the things I do for the entertainment of my gracious donors!

The games that I know that I’m playing:

  • Alien: Isolation – This sounds pretty awesome in terms of atmosphere and scary factor. A bunch of people agreed that this is something I should play on camera, and therefore I will. I’ve heard varying reports on how deep in you have to get before it’s interesting and/or extra scary, but I’ll push through it for the kids.
  • Dragon Age 2 – So I made it through Act 2 on my initial playthrough before WoW and other things took me away from it. And Telaan swears that the entire point of the game is to watch how little things change within the same world over time. So I’ve started over. I’m a few hours in, and playing a mage this time, so Extra Life seemed like as good a time as any to try to hook myself back on it. Plus, Dragon Age: Inquisition is coming out soon, and I want to be able to play it, but I really need to have finished this one first!
  • Gunpoint – This is an indie game made by Tom Francis who I discovered through The Crate & Crowbar podcast. I really like the podcast, and I finally picked it up as part of a Humble Bundle. I played the first 15 minutes or so, realized I liked it, and decided to save it for Extra Life. Indie games for everyone!
  • Telltale something-or-other – I’m not sure if it will be The Walking Dead or The Wolf Among Us, but I love playing these things during Extra Life. They take up an hour or two per episode, and are just super fun. Plus, people can get to see the agonizing choices I make.
  • Batman: Arkham Origins – Good mindless beat ’em up that I’m ~10 hours into. Figure I might as well finish it up, and this is as good a time as any! Plus, I’m watching the new Arkham show and random Batman things are always fun.
  • Euro Truck Simulator 2 – Yeah, I bought this one at some point. I will try not to pass out from sleepiness while driving across Europe. Much like a real trucker!

I’m sure there will also be various other multiplayer games, probably a Magic draft, and whatever else I need to keep me going. I usually pick some sort of upbeat platformer because apparently zoned out at 4am is a time when my reflexes get a lot better. Who knew?

Anyway, come stop by the Twitch stream and say hi! Pick a game off my Steam list that you want me to play! And wish Liore and me luck!


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Extra Life 2014

Posted By on Oct 14, 2014 |

Extra Life 2014

Extra Life 2014 is nearly here! On October 25, I will be participating in a 24-hour gaming marathon, benefiting Children’s Hospital Oakland. For the third year in a row, I will be joining Liore on the Totally Legit Publishing team to celebrate the positive spirit of gaming to raise money for an excellent cause. There are so many sick kids, and the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals do a ton of good work throughout the year. I look forward to being able to participate in this event all year.

Over the past two years, Liore and I have raised over $2000, and the fundraiser as a whole has collected over $6 million in donations! That’s incredible! But it’s never enough to treat every kid that needs it, and this year we are looking to do even more. I’ve worked with the local Bay Area branch of Extra Life to expand participation, and we are looking to smash last year’s participation numbers. I think we’ll do it! But I need your help.

Please, if you are able, consider donating even $5 at my page. Every bit will help, it’s all tax deductible, and it the funds go directly to the hospital to help provide services for patients. If you feel like participating on the day of the event, I’ll be streaming my progress through Twitch.tv. I’m taking suggestions on what to play, and I even have a number of game codes to give away throughout the day! Pop in to say hello or join in a game –  or send in something that you’d like me to play. If you donate, I might even listen. Thanks so much!

Click Here to Donate!

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Extra Life 2013 Is Upon Us!

Posted By on Nov 01, 2013 | 1 comment

Tomorrow is the day! Starting at 9am, I will be joining Liore – and other gamers around the world – as we game for 25 straight hours (thanks, Daylight Savings Time!) to raise money for our local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. I’ll be streaming the whole thing (or, at least, whatever I can) over on my Twitch.tv channel. Thanks so much to everyone for your generous donations! Team Totally Legit Publishing has now raised over $1000! That’s really amazing! Of course, every bit helps, so if you haven’t donated but still would like to, please click on the link below.

Click Here to Donate!

Now, if you’re wondering what you can expect on my stream, then I have to say – that is a very good question! I’ve been collecting some requests and making some promises to donors, and so far I have the following lined up:

  • Fallout: New Vegas – I think I’ve bitched enough about how hard it is to get into some of the modern open-world games, Vajra convinced me on the last podcast that this is something I should really give another shot. He’s hooked me up with a number of mods and I am going to stumble across the post-apocalyptic wasteland for a few hours on his behalf.
  • Magic: The Gathering Online – Mangle has requested Theros drafting, and who am I to argue? I expect that I will do at least one Swiss draft, and possibly more, depending on how tired I get. Thinking about Magic is a lot of work! Plus, this is a good way to block out a couple of hours.
  • The Stanley Parable – This game just looks like something excellent to do when my brain is already tired. I was totally sold after seeing the Let’s Play-style trailer, so I immediately purchased it and saved it for Extra Life.
  • Electronic Super Joy – Thumping techno beats, and hardcore platforming? YES, PLEASE! This seems like the perfect 4am pick-me-up.
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – I have been noodling around with a replay of the original Legend of Zelda, but Telaan convinced me that I should play this one, instead. She’s a donor, and it’s a good suggestion, so I’ll find a way to work it in.
  • A Special Rant About Internet Kittens – Okay, so this isn’t a game. Or maybe it is! In either case, Aurelia has both complimented and baffled me by suggesting that I could righteously rant about nearly any subject, and her donation came with a request to discuss this very subject. I will do my best! I cannot say when this will happen, since one needs to be in the proper mindset for these sorts of things.

And that’s just a sampling. I have a ton of games on my Steam list, many of which I haven’t even started. This is always a good opportunity to give some of those games a shot. Please, stop by and say hi! I’ll have a trip report on the other side. After some sleep, of course.

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Extra Life 2013

Posted By on Oct 02, 2013 | 2 comments

Quick note: October is the Newbie Blogger Initiative month, and while I am not technically new, I still very much learning. I’ve given myself a goal of “post 2+ times per week”, and I intend to hit it over the next few months. Please yell at/encourage me if I am falling behind.

Extra Life 2013

For the second year in a row, I will be participating in the Extra Life gaming marathon, benefiting the Children’s Hospital & Research Center of Oakland. This is a 25-hour gaming marathon that accentuates the great things about the spirit of the gaming community, by raising money for an excellent cause. I will be streaming as much of the event as possible via Twitch.tv, either on my stream or the Machiavelli’s Cat one.

I will make no promises about my ability to be coherent at the end of this, only that I will do my absolute best to make it through all 24 25 hours with only minimal breaks and no sleeping. Liore will be joining me once again, and we have even set up a fundraising team for Totally Legit Publishing.

Also the same as last year, I am looking for suggestions on how to spend my time. I am certain that there will be a wide variety of games played – my Steam backlog is pretty impressive, I have any number of MMOs installed, and Theros will be draftable on MTGO! Plus, I have a number of console games to knock off before I can reasonably justify going NEXT GEN. But some of my favorite games from last year were suggestions from the audience – looking at you, I Wanna Be The Guy – so, please don’t be shy. Same thing goes if there is some particular challenge you’d like me to undertake within one of those games.

Of course, I’m going to be far more receptive if you help out with a donation! Anything will do, really, because every little bit helps. So please, stop on by my donations page if you are so inclined. Thanks so much!

Click Here to Donate!

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Extra-Life Post-Mortem

Posted By on Oct 22, 2012 |

Well, that was fun! And, on the whole, the Extra-Life community raised nearly $1.9 million! That’s incredible! Thanks to everyone that was involved – either by participating, donating, or simply showing up and keeping us company while we made it through. Special thanks to Liore for a) talking me in to doing this and b) providing someone to talk to at various hours of the night.

I actually was surprised at how easy it was to stay up for 24 hours straight. I did take several breaks, to rest my eyes/stretch my legs/etc, and I think that helped a lot. I had originally planned for no caffeine, but that plan sort of went to hell at around 2am. Whatever, it ended up okay. I think the worst hours were the last two, and part of that was probably just due to the fact that I came back to Rift to do some fairly generic quests for reputation-building purposes. Maybe the quests weren’t generic, but they certainly weren’t as engaging as some of the games I’d been playing up until that point. So that, combined with the fact that I ran out of coffee – or decided I wasn’t going to have anymore – probably just lined up to cause some issues. Regardless, after only a couple near-deaths from sleep-walking off of cliffs, I finished out the night with a bit of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. And I did surprisingly well! At least in the Arms Race games I was playing in.

Details, man, details!

So what did I play, in the end? Surprisingly few games, actually. I’ve been trying to piece the hours together, but it’s not going to happen. I did a bunch of streaming, through the Machiavelli’s Cat Twitch.tv channel, and the videos can be seen here. That, plus my Steam game history has filled in most of the blanks. Here’s a rundown of what I got into (in semi-chronological order):

  • Rift
    • Rift ended up filling in a lot of the in-between times. Whether I was just running around doing some quests, doing a little crafting, or feeding inter-dimesional corgis treats to improve their “help sick kids” stamina, I kept coming back and finding something to do. I completely missed getting on to the Storm Legion beta, but I’m not convinced I need to. I’ve already pre-purchased it, really enjoyed what I saw last time, and want to maintain some level of “this is new!” feeling for when I start playing it for real. I do want to help out with bugs and the like, but I still have things that I’m interested in doing on Live, and I just didn’t get to it. Trion was an awesome supporter of Extra-Life, contributing things like special titles for folks that stayed logged in to their servers for 24 hours over the weekend, and special events like the aforementioned Corgi rifts (which rewarded the title “Of House Fluffington”!).
  • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
    • I’ve been meaning to return to Ezio Auditore and his exploits for a while, now, and I finally did on Saturday morning. I’m not that deep in, but the game looks great, and I’m really excited to get some more AC in my life. After this one, I have AC: Revelations, and AC3 is out at the end of the month, and should be great fun. It was actually Liore’s streaming of the start of AC2 that made me decide to break this out, so thanks!
  • Borderlands 2
    • A couple friends came over to hang out and keep me company in the afternoon, and that was awesome. I’d originally sort of planned to break out a board game or some Magic: The Gathering, but instead we dropped back in to Pandora for some more shooting and looting action. The game is always fun in co-op, and while there are some issues with visibility when playing split-screen, it holds up pretty well. Shout-out to xoanon, here!
  • Dungeon Defenders
    • Liore, Mangle, Kinch and I played some Dungeon Defenders, and it was great! This was only my second session of the game, and it was a ton of fun (again). I’ve waited so long between playing it primarily because it seems awesome to play with 4 players, and I feel like it would be a pretty different game when played solo. Either way, my monk was dropping down auras of electrical doom and confusion, while smashing goblins and ogres with his axe and magic hand-shooty things. And our Squire dropped spinning blades of doom all over the place, which were amazing. I totally look forward to playing this again – definitely glad I picked this up during the last Steam sale.
  • Smite
    • I keep playing Smite whenever I want just a 30-minute game without too much overhead. The same thing happened over the weekend, except that I played terribly (as Ymir, who I’ve seen be a truck, but apparently not under my control), my team was terrible (one person predictably DC’d 3 minutes in), and the other team was pretty solid (at least relative to us). So, whatever. It’s still fun to actually play, even in crushing defeat. I just wish I could have access to more characters than I do without dropping in real money just yet – especially since it remains in beta. But I should probably get over that, since I clearly enjoy the game.
  • Far Cry
    • I wanted a change of pace, so I broke out one of my old Far Cry save points. Turns out that a) I didn’t remember where I was or why I was there, b) it’s pretty unforgiving, and c) I should have picked it up when I had more patience for being stealthy and deliberate. All in all, I spent 30 minutes or so dying over and over again to mutant gorillas and militia dudes who were more intent on shooting me from across the jungle than the donkey kongs that were eating their faces. So, rather than get frustrated, I gave up and moved on to something else.
  • The Walking Dead: Episode 1
    • This was one of the highlights of the night. I’d heard a ton of good things about these games (which are being released as episodic content within the larger game – they are up to 4/5 having been released), but missed the boat on the last sale. Instead, I decided to buy it at full price, and I’m totally okay with having done so. It is an incredibly narrative-focused adventure game, that sort of thows back to some of the point-and-click adventure games that I used to love. Except with great writing, cool characters, and zombies. And also a tonof tension and hard choices. I don’t want to say too much about it, lest I spoil it, but it was really, really good. Episode 1 took about 90 minutes to get through, and made my dark-house coffee runs a lot more interesting later in the night. You should totally play these at some point, even if you wait for all 5 to be released and get the all-in-one version.If you want to see more of what I’m talking about, you can watch my entire playthrough (which I streamed live at the time) here on Twitch.tv.
  • I Wanna Be The Guy: Gaiden Edition
    • This is a follow-up/sequel/something version of I Wanna Be The Guy, which is just a really brutal platformer. Turns out it is also a ton of fun, and there is basically no coddling at all. In fact, I died 4 times before I even got to level 1-1. Awesome. I don’t want to say too much about it, other than that a) Liore suggested it as part of the Extra Life campaign, b) I started playing about about 5am, c) I finished level 1-1 with just under 400 deaths, and d) it was really, really fun.I guess I am a sucker for the “do this incredibly precise thing and if you mess up at all, you have to start over” genre. The Trials games and Super Meat Boy seem to scratch that itch for me, too. Even if I can only take them in small chunks. I totally recommend it. Here is a screenshot of me dying before the “Get Ready!” message has even faded out – a not-uncommon occurence.
      I streamed this one, too.
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
    • I used to play a ton of Counter-Strike in college. And then I kept playing occasionally afterwards, migrating to CS:Source at some point. CS:GO is the newest installment, and they’ve done a bunch of things to update it, but it’s still CS, at heart. I am still incredibly streaky, and can be anywhere from 25-2 to 0-20 on back-to-back maps. So that’s fun. But they’ve also added the Arms Race mode, which is basically a built-in version of something like Gun Game, and you just get a new weapon every kill. It’s ostensibly a team-based game, but you mostly ignore your teammates and shoot the enemies. So, I guess, a lot like typical casual CS. Either way, it is fun to play, and was a good way to round out my night.

So that’s it, really. The run-down on what I played and my thoughts on each of the games. I had a blast, and I definitely intend to participate again next year! Thanks again to everyone that participated in any way, and special thanks to the folks at Extra-Life.org for making this all happen.

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