Archive for July, 2010

Blockland: How to create a character (playertype)

We’ve had a couple requests on how to create a Blockland character, so I’ve asked our kid pro Blockland scripter to write a quick guide, which follows:

How to create a Blockland Playertype (Character):

Note:  for PC users only.

First you have to create a ZIP folder.  To do this, first download WinRar (Search it on Google).  After you have that, copy another ZIP folder from your Blockland Add-Ons folder and rename it to what you want.  (Most playertype’s use “Player_YourPlayerNameHere”).

Once you have that done, open it with WinRar.  Inside you will see a “server.cs” file and a “description.txt” file.  All the other files you won’t need, so you can just delete them.

Now, open the “description.txt” file, and replace its contents with your own.  Then open the “server.cs” file.  To open a .cs file, you can use notepad, Torque IDE, C++ Express edition, Torsion, and more.  I don’t recommend Microsoft Word, and Word Pad.  To set it so that whenever you want to open a .cs file, it opens with your text editor / code editor, you do this:

1. Rightclick the file.

2. Go to Properties.

3. Find “Opens With:”

4. Click “Change”

5. Find your program.

Ok, now that you have the server.cs file opened, let’s look at the code.  It should look something like this:

//no jets at all

datablock PlayerData(PlayerNoJet : PlayerStandardArmor)

{

 minJetEnergy = 0;  //how much energy you need to jet

 jetEnergyDrain = 0;  //how much energy it drains for jetting

 canJet = 0;  //The player can’t jet

 uiName = “No-Jet Player”;  //The name of the playertype

 showEnergyBar = false;  //Does not show the energy bar

};

That is the code for a No-Jet Player, a player type is normal, but can’t use jets.

Now if you want to change how fast the player can go, this is some code that you can use:

datablock PlayerData(PlayerQuakeArmor : PlayerStandardArmor)

{

   runForce = 100 * 90;

   runEnergyDrain = 0;

   minRunEnergy = 0;

   maxForwardSpeed = 15;

   maxBackwardSpeed = 15;

   maxSideSpeed = 15;

   maxForwardCrouchSpeed = 7;

   maxBackwardCrouchSpeed = 7;

   maxSideCrouchSpeed = 7;

   jumpForce = 9 * 90; //8.3 * 90;

   jumpEnergyDrain = 0;

   minJumpEnergy = 0;

   jumpDelay = 0;

 minJetEnergy = 0;

 jetEnergyDrain = 0;

 canJet = 0;

 uiName = “Quake-Like Player”;

 showEnergyBar = false;

   runSurfaceAngle  = 55;

   jumpSurfaceAngle = 55;

};

This is the code for the “Quake-like Player”.  This one runs faster, but jumps lower.  You can take bits of this code and put it in your own to see what it does.  Enjoy!

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Top E rated video games for kids

Our video game loving family has a large number of birthdays in July, so I’ve been doing a bit of research into what are the top selling and top rated video games, especially games that are appropriate for kids – all with an ESRB rating of E or E 10+.

Top selling E rated video games:

  1. Super Mario Galaxy 2, wii
  2. New Super Mario Bros, wii
  3. Just Dance, wii
  4. Lego Harry Potter:  Years 1-4, wii
  5. Madden NFL 11, Xbox 360/PS3
  6. Mario Kart wii, with wii wheel
  7. WipeOut wii
  8. Dragon Quest IX:  Sentinel of the Starry Skies, DS
  9. Mario Kart DS
  10. Wii Sports Resort

Top selling video game consoles and accessories:

  1. Xbox 360 1600 points
  2. Microsoft’s Kinect Sensor with Kinect Adventures, for Xbox 360 (scheduled for release on 11/4/10, price $150; also Kinect Sports and Kinectimals are due for release on 11/4)
  3. Xbox 360, 250 GB
  4. Playstation 3, 120 GB
  5. Wii, with Sports Resort, black
  6. Wii Fit Plus, with balance board

Top rated games:

  1. Super Mario Galaxy 2, wii (released 5/23/10) – rated a 10!
  2. Dragon Quest IX:  Sentinel of the Starry Skies, DS (released 7/11/10) – rated 8.5
  3. Tales of Monkey Island, PS3 (released 6/15/10) – rated 8.5
  4. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, wii/Xbox 360/PS3 (released 6/8/10) – rated 8.5
  5. Bit. Trip Runner, wii Ware (released  5/17/10) – rated 8.5
  6. Picross 3D, DS (released 5/3/10) – rated 8.5
  7. 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, Xbox 360/PS3 (released 4/27/10) – rated 8.5
  8. Alice in Wonderland, DS (released 3/2/10) – rated 8.5
  9. Puzzle Quest 2, DS (released 6/30/10) – rated 8.0
  10. LEGO Harry Potter:   Years 1-4, PS3/PSP/Xbox 360/DS/wii (released 6/29/10) – rated 8.0

If you’re looking to purchase a videogame for your child, I’m hoping these lists will give you a place to start.  A couple of things to keep in mind when you’re buying videogames for kids:

  • What game systems/consoles do they have?
  • Does the game require reading?  Does the level of reading required to play the game match your child’s ability level?
  • What type of game does your child typically enjoy?
  • Are there particular characters your child likes to play?  (For example, we are mainly a Nintendo family, and love Link/Zelda, Mario, and Sonic.)

Also, the ESRB rating system is not perfect – it would be a good idea for you to initially check out the game with your child.  For example, Super Smash Bros Melee is rated T, but is perfectly appropriate for ages 4 and up.  And we had to return a Spiderman game rated E, due to inappropriate language.  Seriously!

If your child is stuck in a game, and doesn’t know what to do to get to the next level, or complete a quest, check out the FAQs at one of my favorite sites – www.gamefaqs.com.  GameFAQs was purchased a while ago by www.gamespot.com, which is a great place to get information on video games for any platform, including:  ratings, reviews, previews, and release dates.  (Note:  My lists are based on topselling stats from Amazon.com, and top rated stats from gamespot.com.)

3 of our kids are now playing Dragon Quest IX:  Sentinel of the Starry Skies, and if I can get them to stop playing for a minute, we’ll get a review written and posted.  They’ve been playing for 4 days straight (within their allocated “electronics time”), so it must be good!

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Review: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice movie

Once upon a time, the great sorcerer Merlin had 3 apprentices, Balthazar, Veronica, and Horvath.  Together they kept the evil sorceress Morgana at bay, and good prevailed over evil.  One day, when Morgana attacks Merlin, Horvath betrays Balthazar.  In an effort to stop Morgana, Balthazar traps her, along with his true love Veronica, inside a small wooden nesting doll – the Grimwald.  The dying Merlin tells Balthazar that only the Prime Merlinian will be able to defeat Morgana, and gives Balthazar his dragon ring – the key to finding the new, powerful sorcerer.  For a thousand years, Balthazar battles evil alone – protecting the Grimwald, waiting and searching for the Prime Merlinian, the hope for the future.  Until one day, by pure coincidence, he meets Dave.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is directed by Jon Turtletaub (of the National Treasure movies – which I loved!), and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

***warning:  spoilers***

Nicolas Cage as Balthazar is amazing.  He inhabits the role of Balthazar, and dares you to believe his world is not real.  Weary, but determined, Balthazar searches for the Prime Merlinian, and upon finding him, patiently and doggedly tries to teach Dave enough magic to keep him alive.  Balthazar will fulfill his duty at any cost, all the while hoping to free his lost love, Veronica.  Jay Baruchel as Dave, portrays a total nerd – introverted, and with a love of physics.  Dave is lacking in self confidence, and has no desire to interact with the outside world after an incident that occurs when he is 10 years old.  Alfred Molina as Horvath so reminded me of Doc Oct – he’s always a good villain.  (Yes, that is an oxymoron…)  I enjoyed watching Toby Kebbell as current Morganian magician/entertainer Drake Stone – a tall David Bowie type, more interested in fame than power.  When Horvath tells him his fans will soon be dead, Drake is actually sad.   And I would have liked to have seen more of Becky Barnes (Teresa Palmer); she seemed so capable of adding more to the story, and in the end probably does just as much as Dave to save the world.

Special effects were amazing – believable, thrilling, beautiful, adrenalin-rushing perfect – especially the flying metal eagle, the Wall Street metal bull, the magic scenes, the dragon ring, the Chinatown scene, and the car chases.  (I have a soft spot for a good car chase – like in the old James Bond movies.  Especially the Bond reverse 180, which an early boyfriend taught me, in a huge parking lot – get up to about 30 miles an hour in reverse, then snap up the parking brake, spin a 180, pop it into 2nd, and end up driving forward at 40 miles an hour+.  But, I digress…)

The music was very well done – set the mood perfectly, although it was loud!  Wardrobe was flawless; I especially loved Balthazar’s time-defying trench coat, Horvath’s impeccably tailored gentleman’s outfit, and Veronica’s medieval dress.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is definitely entertaining, but there were a few issues I had with this movie. 

I would have liked to have seen MORE magic.  If I were Dave, and told I was a sorcerer, I’d want to be trying out things, all the time – wouldn’t you?  Although, I did enjoy the nod to Fantasia, with the mops and brooms – a perfect, magical Disney moment.

The movie sets the stage for the plot action from the beginning, and then follows it through.  It’s entertaining, and there are small surprises here and there.  But mostly you just watch as fate plays out the plot that’s already been discussed.  One of the things I liked about National Treasure was the mystery – never really knowing where it was going to take you next.  Was there a treasure map?  Would it lead to treasure?  In Sorcerer’s Apprentice right in the beginning they talk about The Rising, about releasing Morgana, and the battle between the Prime Merlinian and Morgana.  It’s fun, but a little too predictable.  I thought the ending was perfect.  And expected.

Oh, and Nic Cage never does say the line “but it’s fun, right?” that you see in the trailers.

The movie might possibly be a bit scary for younger kids.  It was visually darker than I expected – a lot happened at night.  There were some bugs-morphing-into-people scenes, and some skeleton scenes; nothing too over the top, though.  All my kids (ages 8+) loved it.

Overall, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is an entertaining story of good versus evil, and the interrelatedness of magic and science.  Of how sometimes it takes someone else believing in you, before you can believe in yourself.  And the importance of actively participating in your own fate.  And lastly, of the power of love, and the understanding of the actions we take because we are in love.

We paid matinee price, and it was worth it.

The funny thing was, when the movie was over, we all turned to each other and said “What happened to Horvath?  Where did he go?”  Going to have to see it again, when it comes out on PayPerView.

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Review: Paperoni

My daughter received the Spin Master Paperoni 3D Pig Kit as a birthday gift.  She was excited to try it, and it seemed like a fun, easy craft she could do on her own.  She carefully opened it, we looked at the instructions, and she even got a little bowl for all the little rolled up paper pieces.  The 3D kits come with a hard plastic form covered with a self adhesive coating, and a pack of 350 tiny colorful paper rolls.  In theory all you need to do is place the Paperoni pieces on, and voila!  You have a cute critter!

She worked at it patiently, giving up on the tweezers fairly quickly, and placing each tiny roll by hand.  And they started falling off.  And she put them back on.  And more would fall off.  She’d get a bunch on, try to place the ears and eyes, and again, pieces would fall off.

I haven’t been this disappointed in a toy since we tried Pixos.  You know, the tiny plastic balls you build with, spray with water and they stay stuck together?  Except they don’t.  Stay stuck together, that is.  They fall apart.  (They used to be called AquaDots, but that’s another story.)

The Spinmaster Paperoni 3D Pig Kit retails for $7.99, and there are several other 3D kits available including elephant, monkey, cat, poodle, tropical bird, and tiger.  Paperoni’s also come in 2D kits, using flat templates instead of the 3D forms, and those might stick together better.

Recommended for ages 3 and up.  But, don’t waste your money.  Unless Spinmaster can improve the adhesive, Paperoni 3D is no fun at all.

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Review: My Pillow Pets

My daughter wanted a Nintendo DSi for her 8th birthday.  I bought her a My Pillow Pets Panda instead, and crossed my fingers.  She’d seen the TV commercials and was smitten.  But I was worried.  Would she be happy?  Would she be disappointed?  Would it live up to the hype? 

She tore open the wrapping paper, and she loved it – with a big hug and a smile.

Made of super soft and cuddly chenille, Pillow Pets are adorable.  Fasten the strap closed, and it looks like a regular stuffed animal pet, standing on 4 legs.  Undo the Velcro strap, and it flattens out like a pillow.  The strap also includes a little fabric flap that covers the Velcro hook strip, so it won’t tangle in your hair – a nice touch.

Pillow Pets come in 2 sizes:  18 inch for $24.99 and up, and 11 inch for $16.99 and up.  (Although prices on Amazon range from under retail price to much higher.)  A menagerie of animals are available, including:  penguin, lavender unicorn, monkey, cow, panda, dog, dolphin, lady bug, bumble bee, frog, lamb, turtle, bunny (purple, pink, or cream), horse, bear, duck, moose, pig, cat, dalmation, elephant, alligator, zebra, giraffe, tiger, whale, lion, hippo, polar bear, and puppy.  Machine washable on gentle, fluff dry (although says not recommended for the dryer); conforms to ASTN and EN71 regulations.  I ordered from Amazon, for $24.99, and as I was ordering another item, I qualified for free SuperSaver shipping.  They warned it would ship late, but it actually arrived surprisingly quickly.

Perfectly sized for the car, or trips to grandma’s house, chenille plush Pillow Pets are a fun toy, even if they are a little pricey.  With times being tight, I’m determined to stick to our budget – which is hard for my kids, and even harder for me.  Still, I’d rather pay $25 for a Pillow Pet, than for a Zhu Zhu Pet!  And I’m keeping the DSi on her wishlist.  Maybe for Christmas.

Recommended for ages 3 and up.  It also seems appropriate for younger ages; the only thing that might be an issue – the hard plastic eyes.

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Cooking With Kids: Bean dip

beandip

A tasty and super easy to make Mexican taco bean dip.  Fast and kid friendly recipe.

Bean dip

Ingredients:

Can of refried beans
2-3 avocados – peel, pit, and smoosh
Jar of medium salsa (or mild, if you prefer)
½ container sour cream
1 packet taco seasoning
Colby jack or cheddar cheese – grated
Scallions – thinly sliced
Tortilla chips

Instructions:

Grab a large dish with sides
1st layer is refried beans
2nd layer is avocados
3rd layer is a thin layer of salsa
4th layer is sour cream and taco seasoning – mixed together
5th layer is grated cheese

 Sprinkle scallions on top

And chopped up tomatoes, if you like.

Pour tortilla chips into a bowl, and enjoy your dip!

(Note:  you can substitute guacamole for avocados and salsa.)

Photo: by imelda.

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Reviews By Kids, For Kids: Munchkin, The Awesome Role Playing Card Game

First of all, Munchkin is a hilarious card game that allows from 2-30 players play the game. My favorite part of Munchkin is what the cards say. For example:

Anyway, there are many different kinds of cards in Munchkin. 

There are two levels of cards in Munchkin. There is the first level, which is door cards and treasure cards, and there are class cards, race cards, in special editions they have loyalty cards, event cards, curse cards, power cards, equipment cards, monster cards, and trap cards. A door card can be a monster cards, curse cards, trap cards, class cards, loyalty cards, and power cards. A treasure card can be an equipment card, or an event card.

Equipment cards give you a boost for your attack level called bonus. Your attack level starts out at level 1, but the more bonuses you get, the higher your attack level is. You use your attack level to fight monsters. If the monster level is 10 and your attack level is 9, you cannot defeat the monster. But, if the monsters level is 10, and your attack level is 11, you can defeat the monster. If the monsters level is 10, and your level is 10, you also cannot defeat the monster unless your class card says you win ties in battle.

If you get Munchkin, read the rules and figure them out. It should be pretty straight forward, but if it’s hard, just try to figure it out.

Reviewed by Peter, age 10

A little more information about Munchkin

Go down in the dungeon. Kill everything you meet. Backstab your friends and steal their stuff. Grab the treasure and run.

Munchkin is a dungeon adventure card game written by Steve Jackson, and illustrated by John Kovalic.  A role playing game, like Dungeons and Dragons – only quicker, easier, and wackier.

Base sets come with 168 cards, a dice, and instructions, and retail for around $25; expansion sets come with 112 cards, and cost as little as $10.  Both types of sets come with a mix of door cards and treasure cards.  (We’ve gotten our sets from Amazon, and at Borders.)

Wild, silly, and fun, the more people that play, the crazier it gets!  A fast-paced game, players take turns knocking down the doors to the dungeons and battling monsters.  Steal items, curse, or sic monsters on other players; build alliances and share treasures.  You can cheat, as long as nobody catches you.  Everyone starts at level 1, and the first person to level 10 wins – simple!  It’s all about the luck of the draw, and strategy.  An excellent family game, it’s also a fun group game for teens and preteens – one of our local D & D groups has completely switched over to Munchkin.

Recommended for ages 10 and up.
Younger players can play with assistance – on a team with an older sibling or parent.  You have to be able to read and understand the instructions on each card, and the rules can be confusing for players under 8.

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