Cosplay Advice for Nervous Beginners

I used to create elaborate Halloween costumes as a high schooler, but I didn’t learn to properly “cosplay” until I was over 30. That seems weird perhaps, but I think I was born a little too early to properly get into the “cosplay” scene, and it also took me a little time to carve out the time and money to make it happen. I’ve always been an extrovert that didn’t mind standing out from the crowd, and that’s helped me a lot in getting into this hobby. But I know there are people who are more introverted who still would like to try but aren’t sure how.

I’ve been doing cosplay at cons now for around 4 years. At MAGFest I did a Mai Shiranui cosplay that seemed to be pretty well-received! Based on how much I’ve learned over the last few years I’m just going to share some beginner’s tips that I’ve learned from 4 years of screwing up. I hope this will help you on your quest!

Here’s nine pieces of advice… and then, four things I’m still learning and would love advice about!

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On Leaving Microsoft

I left my role at Microsoft quietly in October this year.

At the time I thought I was going to write a longer post about it then and there, but then an entire month went by, and I didn’t do that! In fact, I didn’t write much of anything for a while.

Part of me wishes I could say that I left the job for some ethical reason, because there are people out there right now with some valid ethical concerns about MS business practices. I support those people. But that’s not really the reason the job stopped being right for me.

In general, I am really proud to have worked at Microsoft. I enjoyed most of my time there. I loved the people I met there with whom I collaborated and still consider many friends. I’d consider going back to Microsoft in fact, after taking some time and if I was welcome, but the role itself would have to be right.

About a year-and-change ago I made the post that my title had changed from Evangelist to Engineer and with that came some changes to the job. At first those changes happened slowly. I was sanguine about it because the job had always changed. Basically every July there was a re-org, big or small, and with that came some updates to my responsibilities. For a time, the Evangelist job was the exact right job for me. But after a while it started to shift from a job with a regional focus, to a job that involved a lot of additional travel. This was also great at first, but the amount of time I spent on airplanes made my health suffer a bit, which is something I’m still rebounding from.

Still, I stuck with the role a bit more. Gradually, all the things I liked about the job, or that I excelled at, were no longer part of the job. I went from focusing on the success of students and startups (areas for which I have passion) to focusing on the success of other large corporations. The role had some games and VR component, which are areas in which I have expertise, but I had to keep fighting to get work like that and less and less of it was crossing my lap. At first, as per my post, I was working on Games and AI, and then slowly I was not really working on those things. Finally, there came a point where I was actively discouraged from taking any more speaking engagements at conferences.

I was looking to shift to a role internally that would align to my passions and be more suitable. But all the roles that were coming across my line of sight were other B2B roles in areas where I would have to learn from the ground up. I think the people that started as Evangelists, but had a background in what I’d call traditional enterprise development, had a smooth transition to the engineering role. But I’m a largely self-taught developer with a heavy focus on game design, 3D modeling, and UX. There was no place here for me that really felt right.

Many people asked “what’s next?” and the honest answer is that I needed this time to recover from a little burnout and find my creative passions again. I am very grateful to my spouse for giving me the time and space!

It’s hard for me to say what I could’ve done differently, or what other opportunities I had, that might have kept me at Microsoft longer or found me a better position there. Rather than dwell on the past I would like to be pleased with what I accomplished and move toward the future.

I am actively interviewing and I am officially on the market! I also have a lot of fun small creative projects in the works that I am going to be releasing in small doses as the year ends. If you would like to work with a creative person who loves video games, loves accessible design, who has spoken internationally and been published in some thoughtful books… please check out my Linked-In or reach out to me directly on Twitter.


I’ll be Dante

As I mentioned recently this is a pretty quiet blog lately. Often I try to write here with a relentlessly positive, comedic, or detached academic tone. This is going to be one of those rare times I write something vulnerable and personal instead. Partially, I’m hoping that nobody reads it except the people who really care, but sometimes I need to collect my feelings on things.

This is kind of about Devil May Cry.

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Very Quiet Blog

Hi blog, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t posted much here in almost a year. Well, I’m still engineering at Microsoft, but this blog is going to be quiet for a while because I’m focusing a lot of energy on my Twitch content instead! Please follow me there or on Twitter if you want to hear from me! I still post as well at from time to time.  I’m not dead, it’s just a quiet blog! Thank you!

Job Update

Some quick news on the job front –

I have moved to a new team at Microsoft! I am starting a role as a Software Engineer in the Tech-Aligned Americas team. I am going to be focusing on Conversational AI, as well as Mixed Reality and Games/Gamification opportunities as they arise. I am really excited to begin this new journey at Microsoft!

I’m also going on vacation for a couple of weeks, but later I will be around on my Twitch: I’ve started doing some game development streams which I will continue in August, time and schedule permitting. We are on a short break from Dungeons & Dragons while we remodel our “studio” for the show.

See you soon!

Post Mortem – Running The Tomb of Annihilation

This is a post mortem about my experience running the 5th edition D&D module Tomb of Annihilation.

If you’re a player who may experience this as a campaign, don’t read this post, since it will contain spoilers for the module.

If you are a DM who is considering running the module, you might find this post useful. If you have no interest in running or playing the module, you might still find it interesting, though not entirely comprehensible. If you’re one of my players, this is safe to read as this doesn’t contain any spoilers for anything you haven’t seen yet. It may also shed some light on things that might have been confusing during play. If you’ve already played or ran the module, this is (probably) also safe to read, and I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about how you did things differently or whether you think my critiques are off base or not.

First, some background: I ran the ToA with an advance copy provided by Wizards of the Coast. I had a slight head start on some players in running and prepping this, though it was officially released a few months after our campaign started live streaming it. My players are mixed: some very experienced, some only somewhat experienced. A couple have been playing D&D for a very long time. I have one player who playing in his first campaign, and another who is playing 5e for the first time but has previously played 3.5.

Fifth Edition has proven to be a great D&D edition for me and my group. Let me preface that by saying I was quite fond of 4th ed and did not like 3.5 very much. That puts me in a minority. A minority of very smart people with excellent taste, mind you, but a minority nonetheless, so when you read this, you might want to keep my tastes in mind.

Spoilers below the jump.

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A Cockail for Braid

Have a Super Mar 10!  For Mario March I am creating Mario-inspired food and drink.

I’m going to be playing Braid today. In the spirit of The Drunken Moogle, I thought it would be nice to create a cocktail to celebrate this game, and drink while I play.

Some game and geek cocktails only mimic the aesthetics of the thing they are trying to tribute. But I am determined that my Braid cocktail should capture not only some of the game’s painterly look, but also the spirit of Braid, pun intended. Obviously, the first alcoholic beverage that comes to mind is a bottle of wine, spilled on your dinner date.

But what aside from that? Braid is a meditation on the concept of regret. Once you consider that, the choice of spirit is clear: there is no spirit that you regret more than tequila. Specifically, I regret the tequila sunrises that I had in Cancun, but that may be on a more personal note.

I don’t want to just recreate a Tequila Sunrise, so let me instead present my Braid inspired version, which I call Tequila Sunset Over Tim’s House.

  • 2 oz tequila (I used Hornitos Reposado), divided
  • 1/2 oz Creme de Cassis
  • Blackberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 oz Orange Juice

Take 1/2 oz of your tequila, the sugar, and 3 or 4 blackberries. Muddle all together, until the liquid is dark, then add the Creme De Cassis (berry liquor)

Mix this dark and foreboding liquid gently, then pour it into your chosen cocktail glass.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the orange juice and the rest of the tequila. Shake.

Using the back of a spoon if you need it, layer the orange juice mixture over top of the berry mixture. Create an ominous fiery sunset over a dark city, like the starting screen of Braid. Add a few more blackberries to float on top to symbolize dark clouds looming on the horizon.



Celebrating Mario March

Hi Everyone!

Have you been watching my Twitch stream?

No? Well, it’s at

This is a really good place to find me lately, since I’m trying to get into a habit of streaming more often. I’ve gotten involved with an awesome group of streamers all locally in Philadelphia, and it’s a blast playing games and hanging out.

This month there’s a vibe going on that Elliface started, and that’s Mario March, where many of us in the community are playing Mario games all month.

However, because I’m an Indie Hipster, I’m not going to play many actual Mario games. Instead, I’m going to also play Mario-like games that are made by independent developers.

Sure, I’ll play Braid. I feel that I’ve been challenged to 100 percent it, so we’re going to sit around and stare at clouds. But I’ll also play Omegaland, so get ready for that. If I manage to get the right equipment, I’m also interested in trying Galaxy or Odyssey, because I actually haven’t played either of them…

I’m also going to stop by the Cooking with Heat stream to cook some Mario-inspired food. Woot!

I might even wear my Princess Peach cosplay…. which I wore to PAX and MAGfest. I met a swell bunch of Princesses there.

Look our community up for the fun!

PH16 on Twitch!

The Unintentional Tech Wisdom of Scott Shaw

There’s a B movie I’m really fond of called Guns of El Chupacabra. If you’ve hung out with me and my husband for long enough, you’re probably familiar with the movie. We discovered it through the Smithee Awards ceremony at Origins Gaming Convention, and have been sharing it with people for years. The hero of the film is played by Scott Shaw, who is also the director of the film. The heavy in the film is the late and great Robert Z’dar. As far as I am aware, we own the only DVD copy of the film signed personally by Robert Z’Dar, and I treasure it.

I’d explain the plot, but it’s not very coherent. It has the elements that you’d expect: guns, El Chupacabra. There’s a scene near the front of the film where our hero, Jack B. Quick, is buying the titular guns. He visits a gunsmith that operates out of the back of a truck. The gunsmith explains the variety of different weapon he offers, doing demonstrations that explains the merits of each individual piece. This is a standard scene in an action film, the hero gearing up sequence. But because it’s a movie filmed without a real script the smith just rambles and it goes on for way too long.

After it’s all done, Jack looks at the smith and asks: “So all these guns do the same thing? Kill people?”

This is an accidentally brilliant line and I think about it a lot.

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Writing Roundup

This blog hasn’t been too busy lately, I know. But if you’re interested, I’ve been posting a lot of articles that I was sitting on for a while on the games blog I write for,

I Play Fighting Games for the Story – about the story mode in Street Fighter V and why it doesn’t quite work for me, and about my relationship to fighting game stories in general

Too Many Games and the Philadelphia Game Scene – a hopefully humorous personal look at a local games event and the activities there!

Heart Quest Books: D&D Adventures for Girls – some cool books that I read this summer that were written in the 80s!

Also, I wrote a chapter in a book!

100 Greatest Video Game Characters (available on Amazon)

This book lists 100 great video game characters, and opens up the debate as to whether you think those characters deserve to be called the greatest. I can actually think of a few characters I believe are missing from this list, so it’s bound to start conversations. Of course, I wrote about an inarguably correct choice – SHODAN. It’s an honor of course to be part of the project and I hope you check it out!





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