Tuesday, March 27, 2012

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee - Humans Vs Zombies!

RANDOM FUN EVENTS MILWAUKEE held a one-day, three-round Humans Vs. Zombies game based off the rule set for Humans Vs Zombies.  It was fan-tastic.  Even better, Razor's Vapor Blaster folks were nice enough to let us take some giveaways with us!  Yes, we usually have Nerf with us but we needed to test these out under heavy fire conditions.  And man, it was good.  The Vapor line lends itself well at quick reloading, great capacity(50-100 shots per reload), and good ranges out of the box.  Naturally a number of the attendees were from WI or university students, but including myself there was a good showing of people from MANO and TTAGS.

 For more photos, check here:

In any event, thanks to Random Fun Events for putting it on and opening up the campus to play like this once more, and to the university population for not batting an eyelash as we rolled around.  Life is full of serious business, a day like this helps break up the routine.  Choose survivors or zombies, so long as you choose Play.

Mind you, these are just photos!  I got lots of video, so expect to see that relatively soon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stay Tuned - Humans Vs. Zombies in WI!

So, Random Fun Events Milwaukee (http://randomfunevents.blogspot.com/) has another HvZ today!  Stay tuned, I'll be on-site and posting!  Also making an appearance is the Vapor Delta 500!  Word has it there will be more updates on Twitter, so make sure to check the hashtag    #UWMHVZ!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Feature duo: disney Buzz Lightyear toy story 3 blaster and a disney Woody blaster

THIS is co-op mode :)

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

A treatise on: Melee weapons - Nerf N-Force (mostly)

Nerf Klaw Hatchet and Thor mini-Hammer

Alright, so over the past few years Nerf has tried to reintroduce an element of roleplay with their N-Force line.  Swords (Thunder/Fury, Marauder, Dagger), an axe, a mace, hatchets, hammers, etc.  Now these pieces tell you to not use on people or animals, but partially it's probably with a wink and a nod.  Some of my earliest memories of sweeping the floor involve stabbing and swinging the broom like a lance or a staff.

Integrating these into Nerf games and events has always been a tricky proposition.  I've been known to go with a "Snake Eyes" loadout (____Splat pistol + Nerf sword) or just run around like a Distraction with two melee weapons.  At the time, the most you were going up against was a speedloader, and if you got your weapon positioned just right and dodged the first shot, you were good to charge.  With nowadays tech, that just wouldn't work.  Even with stock ammo, chances are you're running into an N-strike or clipped something else that will get you on the 4th or 5th shot. 

But even past that, I was almost always in the minority at wars choosing to be "That Guy" running headfirst with swords into a phalanx of plusbows firing homemade ammo.  Smartest idea?  No, not at all.  But it bought my team a few extra seconds to get into position because everyone sighted on me, or it was a dart for me and not in the core.  I got stung and welted, sure, but I knew what I was getting into and willing to take the hits I did.

However, now and again I'd run into other people who liked melee, and that's when the issue got really sticky.  I've taken martial arts, sparred, and the key phrase was always "control, control, control."

On more than one occasion, someone didn't get this speech.  I'd run into guys pretty much looking to chalk up their next mark in gladiatorial combat, and they'd swing for the fences at people.  I'd see them rear back and treat their N-Force weapons (or in some cases homemade boffers) like baseball bats more than anything.  When I'd go all-melee I might try to position the sword to function as a shield but I always tried to "tag" more than swing at somebody.  Once in awhile, I swung a bit too hard, and therein was the crux of the matter.  If I was doing it, then I noticed everyone else moreso.

The other thing besides the control issue, is it started to feel like it was taking away from the foam shooting aspect I showed up for and felt more "LARP" than anything.  Guys would run at me with swords and shields, I'd shoot them.  Large ammo.  Whatever.  I put the swords down finally and haven't really picked them up on a regular basis, maybe once in good long while when I find a war that allows melee.  And even then, I bring it along just to make sure if that person swings, I'm not trying to block with my blaster. 

The main point I'm trying to say here is, you never drew a sword unless you intended to use it.  If you're going to use melee at a game, make sure you're familiar with what you're using, and be aware of the safety of others.  Just because you think you're a ninja doesn't mean you attack everyone else like they are too.

Safety first!

Monday, March 05, 2012

OP/ED: Hey, marketing/PR/design toy people, just a thought -

After another Toy Fair, it got me thinking.  I've listened/read to many a pitch about this or that product, and it always boils down to a few target markets in the toy business, parents and kids.  Either the advertising/initiatives/campaigns are geared to the fantasy roleplay of a child's imagination that gets them to bug their parents for a toy, or the parent thinks their child might be interested in said toy.

Well, what about us?  For years I've heard that the NIC and other communities just do not make up enough of a population to necessitate any marketing.

 I wonder just how true that is.  Worldwide, I'd like to say that interest in blaster-based games has increased exponentially.  Sure, there are mainstays like airsoft and paintball (where applicable) but the fact that Nerf/related product blogs has grown exponentially in years says a lot.  There's interest, there's people paying attention, and I think it's time some of the quoted talking heads I've seen doing news pieces or whatever on toy blasters need to be on notice.

Like some cartoons, not all toys are "Just For Kids." 

I saw this piece a months ago (thanks to the Aussie Canberra crew for linking this on their FB) - http://www.timetoplaymag.com/toys/2814/the-maya-group/xploderz-xranger-2000/ - and while I respect the Time to Play team (seen them, never had a chance to actually speak with them) for their work, this little quote regarding Xploderz made my eyebrow raise a little,

Xground Pounder

"Who It’s For
The Xploderz XRanger 2000 is for ages 8 and up. We think that this will have a special appeal to older boys, even college-age kids."

I'm sorry, what?  College age?  I tried the Xranger (and the Xploderz stuff in general), and... well, if I got this in school chances are it would have been donated to some needy family or theater kid for costuming.  In fact, the blasters look like space ships more than anything designed with ergonomics in mind so it could probably fill in for a student sci-fi film.  Between the 4 hour wait-time (Sea Monkeys, anyone) for extra ammo and the overall unreliability of the blaster (it shoots when it wants to, even moreso with the Xground Pounder) and the lack of accuracy (due to the pull-release mechanism) to simple issues like BLOCKING YOUR SIGHTS WITH A HIGH-CAPACITY MAGAZINE (again, Xground Pounder)... I wasn't a fan.  My mother taught me, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" but in a case like this, it's buyer misinformation. 

And I don't think this was in bad form.  For almost $40 the Xranger and Xground Pounder are not worth the experience, and on a college kid's non-budget there's a lot better stuff out there.  The Time to Play team (or many other bloggers out there) play with blasters like I do, such as with the Tacticool Tag and Gaming Society of Chicagoland (http://ttagschicago.blogspot.com).

I exchanged some emails with a company about samples they sent, and told them that the blaster they sent me was not functioning well, and the company wanted to go over what was happening.  One thing they mentioned was feedback like mine was good because they get an idea of how users actually deal with their blasters outside of shooting targets in their room

So... what do they imagine kids are even doing once they take these out?  Sure, shooting targets is fun but we all know the first thing we did when we got the new toy home was aim it at a sibling or our buddy (NOT RECOMMENDED winkwinknudgenudge).

Which brings me to the point.  Between all these communities like Mall Wars, HvZ, and the already existent aftermarket community, it's not worth a company's time to market to us a little bit?  Nerf's done a pretty decent job of outreach to bloggers, Zing Toys, and Vapor, but they're the only ones.  At places like Toy Fair, people ask about my readership.  When I mention all the places that show up on my analytics (and that one hit from Uzbekistan) their eyes grow huge.  We're out there.  We want to spend money.  LET US BUY YOUR BLASTERS.  TELL US ABOUT THEM.  MAKE THEM AWESOME.  If there's one thing I've learned these past few months is that the Internet becomes a fantastic bargaining chip.  Think of all the recent internet events where with one keystroke, items go viral, facebook and twitter blow up, and then a company either admits fault or disappears.  Oh, hey Ocean Marketing and Papa John's.  Rush Limbaugh, how's that apology for the Fluke going?  Miss your sponsors, right?

Our words have power.  Our web presence has power.  We want to have toys for all ages, that play awesomely, and keep us coming back for more.  We're not just a niche market anymore.  We are a viable share of the market.

And I'm currently working on a way to prove it quantitatively.  Stay tuned.