Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And a year ends...

...and I'm a bit older. My wonderfully beautiful girlfriend is here with me, and I am now 23 years old. It's been a good year, I'd say. Hopefully this keeps on, and I keep posting here to the (I assume) very small volume of people that may or may not actually read this "blog" (I hate that term).

I've been playing Left 4 Dead on a massive scale thus far (over 35 hours since I got it on Xmas). And will be discussing it at length in the future. So, for now, Happy New Year, and may gaming keep flowing through your veins and hearts for years to come.


Monday, December 22, 2008


Last night, at around 2 AM, the ending cutscene of Twilight Princess concluded, and the words "The End" boldly, yet still somehow subtly, displayed on the left side of my screen. I dropped the Wiimote and nunchuck, satisfied.

It took me, as I've said several times, about 2 years to finish that game, and I finally did it. Total play time (which does count game pauses, sadly, so this is somewhat inflated) was over 41 hours. God damn. I mean, you have to figure about 2 hours for every dungeon, and there are, what, 12? 14? of them. Plus all the shit in between them -- all the running around, talking to people, cutscenes, minigames, and general being fucking lost, which comes with most games. I didn't get all the pieces of heart. Nor did I get the third armor type, which, from what I understand, allows Rupees to be subtracted instead of hearts when Link takes damage. So there's easily another 5 hours to be played if one were going for perfection, but, ya know, fuck that. I think I died less than 10 times the whole game, though I'm not sure. Maybe less than 5.

Is the game hard? Well, that depends on what you would consider "hard." The game challenges you to think differently, but none of the puzzles are painfully over your head (coughOcarana'sWaterTemplecough). The game does a great job of consistently allowing the player to feel like they're accomplishing something. Progress is always made. It's really an excellent feeling, and one that doesn't occur all that often in gaming experiences. Though Nintendo is, I'd say, one of the best developers that can pull it off. But if you're one of those gamers that can't really grasp lateral thinking or any form thereof, Twilight Princess might make your brain cry a little. Just a little, though.

Comparing it to Ocarina of Time's something I wouldn't really feel comfortable doing. But what the hell, I'll do it anyway. This game does some things better, and some things worse. The places this story goes are definitely more interesting. The items are more diverse. And the size of everything is monumental compared to Ocarina. But Ocarina has all the elements of classic Zelda games perfectly in place, whereas Twilight Princess simply does not. Towns and people from the earlier games are here, but it's all so very new that the nostalgia that Ocarina's same towns and people had is either lost or overlooked.

Also, you don't have to turn into a fucking dog in Ocarina. I don't think there's a single person that really liked those parts. Sure, they were fascinating and had some nifty puzzle elements in them (dominated primarily with the "sense" ability), but I never really looked forward to the next part of the game where I might have to be a dog. Or wolf. Wait, no, "Sacred Beast" is the term the game uses. Whatever.

It's a great game though, and if you own a Wii and actually use it to play games (something I'm not sure people know it's designed to do -- there are better dust-gathering paperweights out there) you should have this game. It's easily one of the best games on the system, which, considering it was a launch title, is pretty fucking awesome.

Now where's my beer; I earned it. Also, I need to do more of these bets because they force me to finish games.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This takes me back.

Last week a strange but beautiful coincidence took place in my life. I found myself, late Saturday night, sifting through various "Let's Play" videos, which for the uninformed are full videos (some with audio commentary) of members from the Something Awful forums playing through entire games. One game that I actually watched all videos of, back-to-back, was a play-through of I Wanna Be The Guy, an impossibly, hair-tearingly, controller-smashingly, screaming curse words...ily...difficult PC game that pays homage to all the old NES games that were just as hard. You can download it here, if you dare (I think I played it for about 25 minutes before deciding there were better things to do).

Anywho, watching such a stupidly hard game got me thinking about those games I used to play a long time ago. See, I never had an NES...or an SNES, Genesis, etc. My parents' logic was "You have a computer, so, just play games on that. Computer > than NES, et al. anyways." So, though my Commodore 64 did kick ass, I missed out on a good chunk of super-hard games. But, I when I was 5 years old, I was given a Game-Boy. And eventually, I got Megaman for it.

The hours I poured into that small, small game cannot be measured. I mean, the game was hard enough for a full-grown teenager at the time, and I was maybe 6 or 7 when I played through it. I remember writing down the password grids after each finished boss. I remember dread washing over me every time I lightly brushed into the evil, evil spikes and Megaman burst into a bunch of pulsing circles.

So, the next morning, I said told my girlfriend about the I Wanna Be The Guy game, and then my recollection of ye olde Megaman on the Game-Boy. I even fired up an NES emulator to show her what I was talking about. Her first response was "Wow, that's really hard to see," even with full-screen on my 19-inch LCD monitor. Oh Game-Boy, the youth today do not know how easy they have it.

I never did beat Megaman. I got all the way to the final level -- the Wily level -- and died at the final boss battle. I gave up after that, knowing I'd never be able to get that far again.

The day after I talked to my girlfriend, she presented me with a hoodie with Megaman's extra life sprite blown up on the front and words "The Man" below it. All I could do was laugh and say, about a dozen times, "this is awesome." I then declared, "I need to finish Megaman, goddamnit!"

But I wanted more of a challenge. I wanted such a blisteringly hard game that an hour's time would only amount to one level completed. I wanted to feel, every time a boss was beaten, that I accomplished something inhuman. Long ago, this is the feeling that older games were able to bestow into the hearts of every gamer. Games today really don't have this same feeling, and if they do, people complain of the difficulty. Seriously, grow some balls -- we had it a lot worse off 20 years ago.

So, I got Megaman 9 from the PSN. And holy shit, this game is hard. But in a very, very good way. Every mistake you make (usually resulting in death) forces you to learn and adapt yourself to perfection. After 20 or so run-throughs of Magma-Man's level, you'll know what I mean. After I beat the first boss, my yells of jubilation were clearly those of decades past. And yeah, it took me an over an hour just to finish one level. My thumbs kinda hurt, and my hands were clammy with concentration. It felt wonderful.

Bionic Commando: Rearmed projects a similar feeling, too. But Megaman 9's NES-look and completely old-skool atmosphere completes the experience. I Wanna Be The Guy pushes the feeling so far above both of these games that even finishing a part of one level brings great joy, but IWBTG isn't Megaman, so, pfft.

I have less than two weeks to finish another game. I'll do it, no problem. I've decided to finish Twilight Princess. My fancy-shmancy new Wii HD cables will allow this to happen smoothly (yay 480p! ::sigh::). But if I finish Megaman 9 somehow, that'll count, too.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Well this makes two games finished towards beer. That's right, I got Crysis back last xmas and I just finished it now. You got a problem with that?

I didn't think so.

Why did it take so damned long? Well, there's several reasons. For one, I formatted my computer shortly after I started playing it and, for some reason, wasn't able to transfer my saved games over. So! I had to start it all over again. That took effort, considering I was several hours into the game.

For two, the story is pretty lame/generic. Very generic. Super war-hungry general that wants to use nukes despite overwhelming scientific reasoning as to why that would be him an asswipe failure? Check. Hot scientist chick? Check. Guy that "dies" early on but "magically" comes back later, complete with line, "You think I'd be killed that easy" (or something like that)? Check. Crazy aliens that look like the Sentinels from The Matrix? You betcha! If only there were Nazis instead of North Koreans (today's "modern Nazi"), it'd be the focal point of awesome. But what can ya do.

For three, the graphics are irritatingly pretty. I wanted to play this game at high settings -- I really did -- but despite 4 gigs of RAM and a Geforce 9800GX2, it would choke at points, and I demand smoothness, goddamnit. So every time I'd think about playing, I'd know that it just wouldn't look as good as it could, and I'd feel gypped (and somewhat lonely).

But I overcame these hurdles, and finished it. Man, that ending boss fight is fucking stupidly difficult. Though, for what its worth, ending boss battles should be difficult, and some games have really lost their way with that concept (I'm looking at you, Doom 3). Of course, the game was set up with a sequel in mind, a la Assassin's Creed, but that didn't bother me, because the sequel is already out. Or the expansion pack. Or whatever it is. Warhead. I might get that someday, but not anytime soon.

I probably had about 6 hours or so left from when I last touched this game, summer? Something? I'd say total play time was something around the 10-14 hour mark. Considering I played it mostly on hard (and died a fucking much so that it stopped being fun and I switched to normal near the end. Seriously, it took more bullets to kill the Korean assholes without super-fantastic armor -- see above picture -- than for them to kill me) I'd say that isn't too shabby.

So what's next? Dunno. Something totally awesome, I'm sure. Maybe I'll finish Zelda. Wouldn't that be cool...only two years overdue, right? That's not too bad, is it? Guys? ..guys?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Comparison Game

MTV sent me a Rock Band 2 bundle (!!!), but not before I had already purchased Guitar Hero World Tour -- don't worry, I only grabbed the game with guitars to replace a broken one, not the full package (I have enough plastic instruments, thank you very much). And now that I've spent way too much time playing RB2, I think it's time to compare them in my own words.

Both games do a lot of things right, and I will say right now that if the world were perfect, the two development studios would combine themselves into a mass of dense, pure awesome and all music games would be absolutely perfect. So, let's start with GHWT.

GHWT is still a Guitar Hero game, hands down. Yes, they have drums and singing and the obligatory bass, but really the only instrument that holds all the fun and fame is the guitar. The songs clearly focus on this because, let's be real here, Hendrix was not known for his drummer. Nor is Ozzy. Nor is...Sting? So, with that said, the guitar is done well, as usual, but that was to be expected, right? So let me explain why the drums suck ass in this game. Bear with me.

Apparently the people at Neversoft just aren't on the same (read: logical) page as the guys at Harmonix. It was nice of them to make the game rearrange the drum track and condense it down to 4 lanes instead of the game's standard 5, but even still, the drums are just mapped poorly. For one thing, you will hardly hit the green pad. I don't really know why, but that pad isn't a crash cymbal, ever. The condensing method they seem to have implemented goes as such: all yellow, raised cymbals of the GHWT kit are pushed into the yellow pad of the RB2 kit, and all the raised, orange cymbals are pushed into the blue pad. Okay, that's fine. But it makes certain songs unplayable on any kit (on expert).

"Everlong," by the Foo Fighters, has a very fast, constant high hat beat with an off-note hitting the snare every so often. The song is in both games. On RB2, the beat's mapped with the red pad (the left) getting the high hat, and the yellow (on the right) getting the snare -- this makes logical sense, because on a normal, right-handed kit the high hat is to the left of the snare. But in GHWT they have stuck to their guns with those raised cymbal things and reversed logic itself, making, for a right-handed drummer, the song impossible to play because the mappings are reversed. I understand their urge to be "different" with those raised cymbals, but when you're so gung-ho to your own design that you lose fun-ness... that's just, well, stupid. Case in point: I was able to finish the song in GHWT with lefty flip turned on, but not on the standard mapping. Hm.

The song list in GHWT isn't quite as good, either. Sure, they have the Doors and Hendrix and Tool (one of my favorite bands ever, and essentially the reason I grabbed this game), but aside from those few bright spots, I really have no desire to play the other songs. RB2 has me constantly wanting to play almost every song on there, with only a few falling (very) short of awesome (The Go-Go's? Ew.). And the virtually recreated GH artists and kind of cool and all, I guess, but I kind of question why they are there outside of being some kind of marketing stunt. Or, maybe to make up for GH3's kinda "meh" offering.

They have Billy Corgan song, which is also in RB2. Ozzy is there as a singer (naturally), but any song outside of an Ozzy song puts him in a very, very weird place (he sings Dream Theater at the end...huh?). Travis Barker is there, again song (which is downloadable in RB2). The chick from Paramore is there for some reason (again, one song). Sting plays bass for his single song offering (fun fact: I didn't know he played bass before playing this game), and no one cares. And Hendrix is awkwardly brought back from the dead for this game.

There are things GHWT does improve on, though. The sustained notes are a blast to come across, allowing you to hold one note down but still play other, single notes at the same time. And the open bass notes (where you only hit the strum bar, sans buttons) is really quite cool. RB2 has its new things, too -- drum solos and hammer-on chords. Both are welcome, but if all of these features were in both games, it'd be the best.

Now, the little, little things:

-GHWT loads between songs faster than RB2, but you can only make a 6 song setlist.
-The singer in GHWT's stage performance does a lot more than RB2's, but their drummer looks like a lost and scared child at a kit for the first time (still!)... ..or some kind of mentally challenged robot, if such a thing could exist (something that makes Travis Barker appear hilarious when he's on the kit).
's drummer animations are fucking amazing (still), and I will never understand how they got them to be so fluid (and I'm guessing Neversoft won't, either).
offers much more song-breakdown stats between songs than RB2 -- WHY...WHY can't I at least know my note streak between songs, RB2? WHY!? You do it for individual songs, but not setlists? The hell? Ugh.
-The tour mode in RB2 still shits all over GHWT's, which is essentially a bunch of quick setlists. RB2 offers challange tours and "battle of the bands," too, which are pretty great, though I question their longevity.
- GHWT's "new" guitar has a slider bar thing, that (supposedly) lets you slide up and down notes to play them in certain parts of songs. This mechanic is broken and stupid. Not only is it awkward as shit to try and quickly use, it doesn't work nearly as well as you would think, with lag and inaccuracies making super-hard solos impossible to use it with. RB2's mini-button thing is still kinda weird, too, but at least it's usable.
- GHWT's menus aren't nearly as pleasant as RB2's. Song selection is bulky to say the least, and just doesn't feel...clean. RB2 has album art, a clean interface, and plenty of breathing room.
-And then, finally, there's RB2's content...all songs from RB1 can be transferred, and there's something like 350-400 songs available to download online. GHWT can. Not. Touch that. They never will, either. Oh, you have that shitty new Metallica album? Go fuck yourselves, I have motherfucking RUSH. And Foo Fighters. And The Red Hot Chili Peppers. They have nothing on the Rock Band guys. Their weekly song additions are the best, most awesome thing to ever happen to videogames. There, I said it.

What it breaks down to is this: GHWT is, like I said before, a Guitar Hero game, where you pretty much only want to play the guitar. It does some cool things, but really those things only make you wish RB2 had them, because that's the game you're going to be playing more. Everything about RB2 is better than what was offered in RB1, too. Everything. If something bothered you about RB1, it was probably fixed in 2. So, just go buy RB2, it will make you happier. It will make you enjoy life. It will make you smile. I promise.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

One Down.

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine and I placed a bet that I couldn't finish 3 games by X-mas. The victor would receive a 6-pack of excellent beer (though what that beer will be remains a mystery). So, I have started this journey by completing Fallout 3.

Let me start talking about this game at the same place that a lot of people seem to start: is it Oblivion with guns? Well, if you strip the story away, the atmosphere, the physical environment, and the characters, pretty much yes, it is. You have the same kind of enemies, who act essentially the same way, the same "I'M GOING TO TALK TO YOU SO ZOOM INTO YOUR FACE" speech system, and the same feeling when walking around in the D.C. wasteland as you did in Oblivion's Cyrodiil. Of course, whether or not this is a bad thing depends on whether or not such things annoyed you about Oblivion. They didn't annoy me, so, I was fine.

But adding back on all of the attributes I previously mentioned places this game in an entirely different realm that is not only brilliantly crafted, but a blast to sift through. I simply love the 1950's-future future that's in the game. Now, I didn't play the other installments of Fallout, but I did read on them extensively so to completely understand the universe I was getting myself into. Everything about this game is fascinating. You will find yourself saying "that's cool" pretty much constantly, which, aside from being a great way to pull you into the game's offered experience, really shows how much thought was put into this installment.

And even though I beat the game, I still know that there were probably several hours of other side quests I could have gone through. And if I wanted to explore everything, whew, that'd take me forever. This is, after all, a life-sucking RPG at its core.

The notable addition to the game's FPS nature is the inclusion of the "V.A.T.S." (Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System). This was something I thought would get annoying very fast. Essentially, you hit a button and time stops. Then, your view will zoom in on an enemy in front of you, and you will be presented with the option of firing at any of its various body parts (torso, arms, legs, head). Your decision will most likely be based on which part you have the best chance of hitting, which the game aids you with by telling you what percent chance you have to hit each area. Each attack launched on that area uses up "action points" which then need to be recharged before you can use the V.A.T.S. again. Oh, and the attacks are done in super slo-mo for maximum awesome. See how that can get annoying if you use it over and over and over?

Well, it didn't. Not for me, at least. There's something extremely satisfying about blasting a creature's face off in slow-motion that never seems to get old.

The real prize of this game are the options given to the player. You can be pretty much whoever you want to -- from Jesus to Satan. Want to kill everyone and wreak havoc everywhere? Go for it! Want to help everyone out? You can! Want to help most people but every once in a while shoot a shop owner? Kinda weird, but, sure! The options are yours and the story you can create has a ton of possibilities. This play through I found myself being nice to everyone and by the end of the game I was a "Wasteland Savior" -- like I said, Jesus. Maybe next time, if I go through it again, I'll be a total asshole.

Simply put, this game is great. Though I wouldn't recommend getting it if you don't like the color gray. There's a shitload of that here. Like, it's everywhere. I understand that the post-apocalyptic world is supposed to be dreary, but damn. Any other shortcomings can be overlooked. There were several times that the game sucked me in and I didn't want to stop playing not because the gun play was excellent, but because the particular story I was following at the time was so damn intriguing.

So, what's next? It's 12:40 on a I don't know. Someone leave a comment with what to play next: Metroid Prime 3, Wipeout HD, or Crysis. Eh, I'll probably just end up coming to a decision on my own.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

To quote a reddit comment

Dear Rest of the World,

We didn't fuck it up.



Thursday, October 30, 2008

On The Rain-Slick Precipice of AWESOME.

When the announcement that Penny Arcade's RPG was going to be released for the PSN I knew my patience had paid off. And last Thursday, that saved time was rewarded. Not only did I buy the monumental first episode, but I finished it in two sittings. How's that for never finishing my games?! BOOYAH!

I rather like this particular iteration of episodic content. Getting an extension of an excellent game every couple of months provides a somewhat consistent, warm feeling to the recipient. This is how you do episodic games. Half Life 2 has it all ass backwards, which has been addressed several times (the best, I'd say, by Yahtzee) -- releasing a game that only extends the story by a few hours every year or so doesn't make any sense at all. It's like a long-distance relationship with a whore -- you hardly see her, and sure, there's sex when you do, but it just doesn't make you feel good when you pay for it.

I like analogies.

Episodic gaming is something that's desperately trying to find its place in the gaming community, and I think there's a right and a wrong way to do it. The wrong way would be Valve's way of doing it. They release an episode without having the next completed. That's just lazy. If a TV show recorded and released and episode each week, the show would feel rushed and production would be crappy. Shit, I think I just described soap operas. Hm, well, the point remains. So, to combat the high probability of crappiness, Valve "takes its time" between episodes in order to release quality instead of, well, quantity. But isn't the point of episodic games the quantity (coupled with established quality)? Instead of releasing just one long, solid game, you release several short, solid games in the same universe? I understand that Valve may really, really like its HL2 plot and so want to keep it rolling for as long as possible, but releasing episodes of games in the same time that whole other games could be made is more of a gimmick. They might as well just call their episodes what they should be called -- expansion packs.

Then again, expansion packs tend to have additional weapons, characters, and environments, and while HL2's episodes have new characters, it's mostly lacking with the other two. Whatever.

Penny Arcade has done more than just properly release content, though. Their genre is much more adaptive to episodic releases. RPG's generally take large amounts of time to finish, so with an episode of an RPG, you're probably going to get something like 6-8 hours of solid gameplay out of it. FPS's are quick and action packed. A run-through of full FPS games can take only 6 hours if you know what you're doing.

The game itself is brilliantly funny, which is it's biggest strength. As an RPG, it has that real-time-combat style that I've actually never played before (but I think was in Final Fantasy X or something -- I don't know, I hate the FF games), so the combat is surprisingly not-boring (like other RPG's can be). The game just made me want to finish it. The humor alone was a major factor there. I mean c'mon, one of the enemy types -- clowns -- bleed rainbow-colored blood when you hurt them. That's fucking great.

When episodic gaming is done correctly, it really is a great idea. You get the feeling of a new game with each addition, you don't have to devote a week of your life just to finishing a game, and the injection of pleasure arrives at fair and consistent intervals. Good shit.

I also got a new TV. A 42" LCD TV. It has 4 HDMI ports. 1080p. It's a Philips. I love my Playstation 3 right now. I also got Dead Space. And Fallout 3. And Wipeout HD. I think it's time to make a video gaming schedule, because I have quite a catalog to finish before X-mas. And goddamnit, I'm gonna finish them all.

Impressions/discussion of Dead Space and Fallout 3 next time (maybe tomorrow? probably not).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Someone Cares...

A long time ago -- and I mean long time ago -- I would often, while spending time with a friend of mine who has long moved on to I-don't-know-what, dream of creating a video game. We had ideas, or what would appear to be the illusion of ideas, and with these we would paint on the canvas of imagination. At the time our obsession was a game called Total Annihilation. Some of you might know it as that game the guy that did Supreme Commander made first (Total Annihilation is still better than Supreme Commander, eye-em-aach-oh). But we were, in our 12-year-old selves, sold on the idea of somehow utilizing that game to create our own story, world, and universe. We even wrote down some unit stats.

Of course, nothing happened. We liked the idea of making the game much more than the work required to actually create it.

Last weekend I played through a good chunk of Timeshift, a game that I believe emulates my youthful ambitions rather nicely. The game is, at times, broken. And at one point in play, it froze -- sound loop and all. I have heard of console games freezing, but honestly, I never experienced it myself without a 5+ hour play session being a major factor. At another point in my time with the game, I got stuck in some corner that, physically speaking, no living thing could possibly have managed in to within the confines of reality.

And the story...the story yearns to be taken seriously. You can feel it. But its holes are so wide, and its delivery so muddled that, while playing, you wonder if the game might just be better without it. At one point a loading screen was used to explain to me who I was and what my character's role in the story was. I'm sorry, but complete characterization for an interactive experience such as a video game cannot be achieved with two sentences.

But the game itself is relatively fun. This is why I look at it the same way as I did that imaginary game concept I had so many years ago. Someone inside Timeshift's development team wanted this game to be something. Someone had an idea for something. But the effort clearly could not soar across the chasm of production. Put bluntly, this game fell short, massively.

There is a consistent feeling of satisfaction when you stop time, run through a landscape of suspended raindrops, blast three enemies in the face with a shotgun, and resume normal time to watch them all fall down together. Or, after an enemy throws a grenade your way, reversing time to dodge its destruction altogether.

A game like this makes me wonder if my assumptions are correct -- if there is honest passion buried someone in the development team, but it just isn't enough to make a full artistic construction. What does such a person feel after their dream is released and sold unfinished? Like publishing a book with chapters 4-8 lacking vowels? I know I would feel an overwhelming sense of disappointment in myself. Yes, maybe my bills will still be paid at the end of the month, but the money used to do so would feel dirty. Or, in a way, counterfeit.

I understand that companies have deadlines, and the longer a project is development, the more money that company loses until said project is released. I get that. But where is that line drawn for the passionate within the company? I think Blizzard is the best at handling said line's metaphorical existence -- remember their games are always done when they are done. And you know what? They make the best games (or, at the least consistently kick-ass games). I guess that at least seeing your dream realized in even a partial form is better than nothing, but that shouldn't be the accepted way of thinking. If Timeshift were done, and done right -- the way whatever mystery development person really wanted it to be -- I'm sure it would have been awesome.

Artistic ability is always better when given liberal amount of space to work in. The more confined the creator feels, the more rushed, unfinished, and unpolished the end product is going to appear. So I will use my little corner of the internet here to implore video game developers to cater to that guy that wants it done right instead of done fast. It's a fairly well-known demand, but still. Crappy games are still made despite such a phrase's understanding (Haze?). At least Timeshift is good enough to make me want to finish it.

Oh! All this talk just made me think of a game that should be made....okay, hear me out........

Friday, September 19, 2008

I got nothing.

I've finally taught myself photoshop. My first actual effort is's a fictional box art for a fictional game that was for an actual contest on Kotaku. I know I won't win because mine is "serious" or whatever. And Kotaku's elite editors will surely go for the totally retarded for the sake of getting attention. That and I have no confidence in my noobishness. Whatever.

Not much to talk about this week, as I haven't really been playing many games. Rock Band 2 is out and happily being enjoyed by what I hope is millions of faux rockers across the nation. Do I have it? Nah, still waiting on MTV to ship me one pro-bono. Money is extremely tight for me, so I'm planning on finishing the games I still have sitting untouched in my game-rack (Mass Effect, Metroid Prime). And I still haven't finished Twilight Princess, and it's been, what, almost two years? Three? I should be ashamed.

Actually, if I really think about it, there's a good chunk of games I haven't finished. And I probably never will. Which is a shame because most of them I've invested many, many hours into already. This is a problem for me, I guess. Others have talked about this-- I'll call it "syndrome"-- before. Maybe it's because of the amount of games I have. Maybe I just lose interest in trying to complete a 20+ hour game (Usually the unfinished ones are RPGs). Who knows.

I seem to go through gaming phases. For bursts of time I'm zeroed in on one particular game, or, in some cases, genre. Two months ago I played Warcraft III constantly. Now I can't remember the last time I touched it. Nine months ago it was Diablo II. Seven months ago, CoD4. These are games I hardly even think about now. But then, after much time has passed, I find myself back in these games' doorways, broken umbrella in my hand and soaked with rain, begging for another chance. Of course, they always accept me, and hold be tight for another stint.

I still to this day wish I had beaten Dragon Quest VIII. That would have been the first real, solid RPG I have ever beaten. I've blasted through countless shooters...but RPGs require real attention. You dedicate a section of your life to those games. Just once, I want to know what it's like to lose that section for something so Hrm.

I don't know. I'll try to play something new this weekend, so that, ya know, I can actually talk about something here next week.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

On MMO Fun.

I've been playing around in the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning beta and I must say...bit disappointed. Is it like WoW? Well, sure, pretty much any MMORPG from now on will be in some way. And it is interesting...the new skills, the new game mechanics, the new all goes to proclaim that though it is like WoW, it's still its own beast. I personally love the atmosphere. There are no gay-looking elves dancing around giant cow-creatures here. Things are always on fire, screams can constantly be heard bellowing across the seared landscape, and the bad guys really like to watch blood flow like ravenous rivers. One thing this game doesn't lack is tone.

But is it fun? Well, it's still an MMORPG, so, whether you think those are fun will heavily bias your opinion. The quests are all still massive grind fests, albeit with a little more flare. But one thing I noticed in my 5+ hours with the game so far is the extreme lack of human interaction. Now, later in the game I'm sure this will be more rampant, but even at the lower levels I expected to see
some kind of otherly human presence. The chat airwaves are virtually vacant, and even in towns no one is asking for groups, help, directions -- nothing. No one is selling low-level gear. No one sees that you're doing the same quest as they are and offers help. Once, one time, during a public quest someone decided to make an open group for it. And it was cool and all, but everyone was still stark silent -- like an 8th grade dance where everybody is too awkward to talk to each other.

Will this change with the game's official release? Hopefully, yes. I found it a little disheartening that the public quests -- the new MMORPG additions meant to
bring people together -- had little to no effect on doing such a thing outside of slaughtering monsters and waiting for loot. Yes, instances in WoW in can be the same way, but people will at least talk to each other throughout the endeavor. I view MMO's as a different tier of human interaction -- after all, that's essentially what you're paying for with that monthly fee. Sure, the game is kinda fun and all, but really there are other ones out there that offer you more, better, faster, and better-looking rewards for less money. The human interaction is what makes the MMO. Now, this may be somewhat of an "O RLY?!" kind of thing, so just bear with me for a second. Take that same tier, and apply it to other, non-MMO games, and think about which ones are more fun.

Team Fortress 2
, with it's team-based gameplay and diverse array of characters (each with a fantastically developed personality) offers one of the best social-rich planes to interact in. Counterstrike is the same way because death is more than a stat penalty -- it (though temporarily) ends the game. Games that offer the slightest bit of originality to the player will often receive the benefit of being the most fun. Which is almost a shame, because games that, mechanic-wise, are really fun can spiral into nothingness because of this lack of diversity and interaction. Warhawk, for the PS3, suffers with this. I think the game is extremely fun. But, again, you're playing with a whole mess of people with no actual interaction there, and, aside from the paint-job of your Warhawk or clothes, everyone really seems the same. Unless everyone has microphones, of course, but that is rarely the case.

I guess, then, if you're going to make a game based around thousands of people being in the same gamespace at the same time, only to have the people not talk to each other, it's going to be somewhat of a problem. But going a step beyond that bit of obviousness, something that makes this interaction even more important is the MMO's lack of player-importance. Let me clarify what that means. In WAR (or WoW, or any number of games like those), you accept a quest to destroy an enemy camp, and rid a friendly city/town of constant murders, rapes, and desecration. You do this, get some XP (maybe an item) and move along. But, if you were to stick around for 4 more minutes, you would watch all of the enemies you just slain respawn and gear up for the next "hero" to come, save the day, and gain the same rewards. Kinda stupid (and exasperating), isn't it?

Now, many would argue that there is no way to overcome this stupidity because so many people play that same game, and, well, how else are they supposed to level up? How else is the story of the game world supposed to unfurl? Okay, those are valid points. But! If you, the player, are forced to accomplish the same extraordinary tasks that thousands before you have just completed, despite the (misleading) veil of worth being placed on such tasks, what, exactly, makes any of this worth the time? Other people. Doing such monotonous crap over and over by yourself borders the realm self-defamation, because ultimately you're unimportant. But with people, it's having a good time. It's socializing. It's accomplishing something as a team. And again, it's this interaction that you pay that monthly fee for.

I think WAR is trying some new ways to push this sense of worth further. The constant sense of war and forever good/evil changing battlefields certainly makes things feel important. And the public quests, in theory, are a great way to bring people together in order to achieve a common goal. But until people step away from that 8th grade awkwardness, help each other, and talk to strangers, these mechanics aren't going to do much. I remember back when I first played WoW (I don't play it anymore), even at a low level people were offering to help me, extending group invites and pointing me it the right directions. These feelings of interaction, although virtual, speak worlds for these games. It's no surprise that games like TF2 manage to tap into this sense of personal teamwork and succeed so well.

People in these respective gamespaces know each other even if they don't, and that's the kind of stuff that games should be known for. Years from now, most people will remember Warhawk for it being a good time, but not so much as being a social bridge. WoW, despite its soul-capturing abilities, will be mostly known as a social continent. I think so, anyway. Hopefully WAR is fun enough to do the same. We'll see.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Sorry about that. I was distracted by a very, very, shiny object. Considering I don't have ADD, ADHD, or any hallucinogenics to speak of, I hope this helps you understand the substantial glare of this famed object that would cause me to neglect what I can only assume now is next to zero readers. What was this object? I cannot say. For this, I apologize.

Did a lot happen in the past almost-two-months? Sure! Will I be re-capping it all here? Nah, other places did that just fine.

I did go up to New York City back in August to MTV Game's, we'll call it, "headquarters" (one of them, anyway) and got a chance to play Rock Band 2 as well as check out all of its very, very spiffy features. A lot of it has already, of course, been talked about in other places. With their official website proclaiming a ship date of September 14th, this is a soon-to-be-here-no-brainer. I can safely say that this game improves upon the original in every possible way. Suck at drums? Well you can practice now without embarrassing yourself in even the easiest of songs. Want that impeccable re-creation of Trent Reznor you made to play drums instead of guitar? You can do that, too. Online "World Tour Mode"? Yup!

One of the best additions I found was the "no fail" option. While going into practice mode offers the same essential ability, this option extends that same graciousness to a party setting. Let's face it, the chances of getting 4 people that are halfway decent at every component in the game is almost impossible (I'm looking at you Vocals). This ensures, nay, demands, that fun can be had in any party setting, regardless of any amount of delicious, barley-infused beverage that may be consumed.

But enough about Rock Band 2. You know it'll be great, I know it'll be great, now we must simply wait.

I also snagged and and am building my resolve to finish the last level of Bionic Commando: Rearmed. Much has been said on the subject already, but more praise cannot hurt such an achievement as this game, no? The visual style is fucking wondrous compared to other "remakes" that have spiraled out of various woodworkings. This is a game that actually makes you feel cool while playing it -- something many games strive for, but few achieve. Some have complained about the difficulty, and to them I say "grow up." Guess what? Games used to be really fucking hard. Considering this is a remake of a hard game, one would also expect this to be hard, yes? That said, it's still fun as hell. There is an unmistakable moment of sheer clarity towards life that is experienced after beating some of the levels held within this game. Brilliant.

The sountrack is fantastic, too. Find and download it by any means if you can. Hell it's worth it even if you don't own the game -- again, something most other games can't claim.

Because I have returned to my happy place here, expect new postings more frequently. As in, I'll have another one up later this week, and then more in weeks to follow. Rejoice Next-to-Zeroers!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Good For Nothing

So, apparently E3 blows. Not that I had any doubt of such a revelation upon reading the (too many) articles revving up to this year's not-so-neon-lighted event. There's something magical about unveiling a new game, or a new concept, that somehow was whisked away to some other, alternate fairyland instead of being at this year's, as it is so painfully called, "conference." Remember when it used to be an "expo?" Remember when people wanted to be there?

Not that I was ever a huge fan of the thing in the first place. I thought it was interesting, and would passively read through the numerous previews, screenshots, and announcements each year, thinking to myself, "My, how nice that someday I will see these games made. Isn't that kind of cool." The affair would always offer, even at the printed level, a sense of an exclusive, somewhat-high-brow party atmosphere that I had always wanted to experience just once. To stand at the kiosks and play games no where near completion. To bask in crowds of PR people being nice to me because they have to. And the always fleeting chance I might meet someone who helped make one of my favorite games. Stuff like that would make my heart flutter. But still, I'd only want to try it once.

This year had some, as the youngsters out there would call them, "hip" moments. As each company vied to be more "rad" than the next. And no reporter/blogger/opinionated douchebag there could walk away without claiming to have whitnessed at least one "tubular" moment (alright it's out of hand now, sorry). But their audience was lacking. Like I said, this wasn't so much an "expo" as it was a "conference." And the latter term stinks of the musk of cubicles and humming fluorescent lights. There were obviously less attendees there, as most were well aware of. And Nintendo seemed to have no fucking clue what, exactly, they should do there. Pretty much everything can be summed up by this extensive, and well-written article here. I find it a shame to have an announcement party only to then announce that which is already known.

I don't know. E3, something that was kinda cool every year is now, well, lame. Companies will have to show off their stuff privately now, I'd imagine. But is that such a bad thing? Blizzard seems to be able to get along with that just fine. Publishers like EA, Activisition, et al have enough under each of their belts to display a smorgasbord of content. Maybe not for a week straight, but who cares?

The bottom line is that E3 existed for the sake of previews, really. Announcements and previews. It'd essentially be the same as going to the movies and, instead of seeing the next best thing starring Ed Norton, you watch two and a half hours of previews. Upon exiting, you're left feeling both anxious and incomplete. I think this system is somewhat flawed. Previews will always be displayed. That's fine, I guess. I just find it pathetic that, in some cases, their existence is so....expected...that they can manifest into sheer pointlessness. And then, too, companies will present them eons before said game will ever be completed. I'm all for being on the edge of my seat, but for eight months? Two years? My legs start to burn and I lose all feeling in my midsection.

But gaming is a business, and hype is a key part of its structure. I wish it weren't so irritating. And I'm sure that after this year's E3, lots of people wish it could be executed correctly. But that rarely, if ever, happens. I remember the days when games were announced with a demo. A playable demo. Not screenshots and months of subtle changes to an official website. Companies, in my mind, should say, "Look at what we're working on, and here, see where we are," to the world, not a few "lucky" journalists. Hmph. In a perfect world... in a perfect world.

In other news, Rock Band 2 has all but been released, with the song list, peripherals, and even a concert pushing the hype meter into the stratosphere. It all looks great. Can't wait. That rhymed.

Till next time (rhymed again, sorta).

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Well it Un-Happened

Fixed it!

Xbox 360 works fine now, thanks to that handy-dandy repair kit I got from that website. Good stuff. Still not a fan of Microsoft anymore (is anyone these days?), but at least I can continue to enjoy Rock Band.

I did get myself a Playstation 3, though. Yes, the MGS4 Bundle. Yes, that game is far surpassing my expectations. Yes, the Ps3 is a better system compared to both the Xbox 360 and the Wii.

People have been complaining here and there that the cutscenes in the game are too long. And while a conventional, or perhaps new IP game would warrant such a criticism, MGS4 is neither of those things. It's legacy is categorized primarily by its epic storytelling and immensive world. I played all the previous installments, so going into 4 I knew exactly to expect. Are the cutscenes long? Yup! But weren't they always long? And if they're well done, does it matter?

The game's presentation is phenominal. The level of polish that went into this game is astronomical. I would even go so far as to say this game is worth buying a Ps3 for. Hell, people said the original Halo was worth buying an Xbox over. And this game is leagues better than the Halo franchise. So, wrap your brain around that one for a few minutes if you're on the edge.

At any rate, I also purchased GTA IV (for the Ps3), and I'm planning on having oodles of fun with that. Oh the hookers I will kill. And the drugs...the drugs! I can even practice driving drunk now! I can't wait. And maybe, just maybe, if I play the game enough, I'll come to the international conclusion that killing people at random is perfectly okay. Fingers crossed!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Well, it happened.

It was a Sunday night. The dense summer humidity outside streaked the windows with an eerie dew, and the setting sun drifted into the living room of my apartment with an unnatural sparkle. My roommate and I, fresh beers in our mitts, sat on the cool, black leather couch. We were prepared to watch House -- a TV show we'd been slowly making our way through since the beginning of summer. Being oh-so-tech-savvy, my Xbox 360 game console was setup to stream from my computer, located upstairs, so our only effort in completing our endeavor was pushing the well-known Xbox logo on the wireless controller to get the relaxation party started. And push we did.

But our efforts were immediately squandered. Three lights, all blinking an evil red -- a red darker than the most vile of blood -- emanated from the power button of the console. And thus, my Xbox became victim to a Red Ring of Death. We gaped in horror.

I sprang from my spot on the couch, leaping over the footrests and nearly dropping my precious, precious beer. Maybe it was the A/V cable, I thought. Maybe I just need to reset it. But no. Nothing would ressurect my dead console. I stood there, staring at my collection of Xbox games, my heavily modified Rock Band equipment, my investments. Was all to be lost?

"Maybe it's under warranty!" I exclamed, and ran -- just as vigorous as before -- to my computer and found the infamous Xbox warranty page. They demand a recipt, and this is an item I did not have. My only option would be to face hours upon hours on the phone with Microsoft Technical Support -- also known as "Satan's Earthly Playground." I was doomed.

But I did find a nice website, in between my overwhelming bouts of misery, that offered Red Ring of Death Repair Kits.

And so, I now wait for an Xbox repair kit to arrive at my house, thus making a last-ditch, $29.99 effort to repair my console. Will it work? Only the Gods know.


Well, maybe it wasn't that dramatic. But close. Very close.


*WARNING* Small, angry rant:
Fuck you Microsoft. Fuck you and your inability to create a simple piece of functioning hardware. Fuck you for not being able to create a simple piece of functioning hardware after 3 years. You just lost a fan.

Anyway, fuck it. I'll be heading to my local Best Buy this Thursday to snag a MGS4 PS3 bundle. Then I won't have to worry about RRoD's for a while. And from now on, any games that come out on both consoles, I'll be getting for the PS3. Gamerscores are meaningless anyway.

Oh, and my roommate and I did get to watch House, after all. I simply burned a DVD and put it in my PS2. My 9 year-old PS2. That still works. After 9 years. Yup.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Calm down, calm down

I'm still here. Been taking a break, kinda sorta. I'll be posting something somewhat substantial sometime soon (tongue-twister!). In the meantime, I got a new set of Rock Band drum pads annnnd...they work! Wowzers! Now I can get the 900+ note streaks and constant 99% completions I so much knew I could get before but without really knowing because the god damned pads missed for no reason what so ever. *cough* In the meantime, enjoy this Penny-Arcade comic (click to enlarge):

Haha. Fantastic.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another Thing Crossed Off

Well, I'm done college. Did the whole graduation thing and all that. So! Anyone need someone with a BA in Literature? Anyone? Hello?

FINE! I'll go to graduate school...

Anyway, now that it's summer and I have virtually nothing to do except make money and drink beer (awesome!), I have free time up the wahzoo. I'm currently blasting my way through House, the TV show. Good, good shit. Procured all of the seasons in a magical, complicated process involving stuff that rhymes with "florrents." I don't really know how it all works. Something about tubes.

I also grew a beard because of my inability-to-shave inspired hospitalization. Looks kinda cool. I figured it's playoff season, so, why not roll with it for a while.

In other "interesting to mainly me" news, Nine Inch Nails did something wonderful and released their newest album for free via their website. My overwhelming support for such a valiant presentation of artful work drove me to buy tickets to their August 29th concert at the Wachovia Center in Philly. I'll be going with my dad (jealous? should be.). I can't wait.

In the world of videogames it seems there's been a nice trend going on in the musical world of stuff: Rock Band Fever, it should be called. Guitar Hero IV is supposed to have a drum kit, and Konami has announced its own Rock Band knock-off entitled Rock Revolution, thus titling their game something the entire country of Japan will be unable to pronounce. Will it succeed? Time will tell, but I doubt it.

Rock Band has managed to net a huuuuuge fan base already, and its weekly release of usually decent content is more than enough to keep people loyal. Yeah, Guitar Hero was first, but they've been trumped. They have. Face it. As of now I can play Rock Band for over six hours and not repeat a single song. Can Guitar Hero claim that? Well, with combined games, sure...but who counts that?

Rock Band 2 will be nifty. I know details because I work with some little company called "MTV," but I sure as shit can't spill any of my beans. Which is fine because I get to know stuff you don't (this is where I stick my tounge out).

The point is, Rock Band did something cool, and so now everyone wants to be cool. So, copycat games are going to start flooding the gamespace. Does this surprise anyone? It shouldn't. The problem here, though, is that these companies aren't copying some simple game mechanic (like, say, timed button-pressing boss fights a la God of War), but an entire game experience. If you have Rock Band, 60 downloaded tracks, and the whole instrument setup, are you going to re-buy that for a Guitar Hero game? For a Konami game (which has a chunk of the same songs, by the way)? Unless you're rich as hell, I'd imagine not. These new iterations can try to appeal to gamers by offering additional "cymbals" or "drum pads," but beyond super-duper hardcore music fans, this stuff will easily fly over everyone's heads. Shame, too, because if all this had come out at the same time, it would have been quite a showdown. Oh well.

I applaud the attempt at competition, though. Maybe, maybe if these new games are amazing in their own new and exciting ways, I'll grab them, but the addition of two more drum pads (Konami) isn't going to be enough to force over my cash.

In the meantime, I'll just keep enjoying what I already have...even if I know I'll have to exchange my drum kit for a forth time. Damnit.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Alright. Okay.

..okay. So... Alright.

Echochrome is incredible. I must say it has definitely set itself apart of the rest of the puzzle games out there, and proves that just because a game lacks glamor doesn't mean it can't still woo you in the best of ways.

If you've never seen any Escher drawing or concept, then, well, you have some catching up to do. Go look him up. But if you have, then you know where the foundations of this game lay. Echochrome is a game that relies heavily on perspective in order to solve is mind-numbing puzzles. Each level is...well, they're kinda like that picture at the top there -- minimalist wire-frame-ish black and white in an open, free floating 3d world.

The game is part Lemmings, part Super Paper Mario, and part Snake (the once popular Nokia cell phone game). So how does it work? Well I'm glad you asked. You play the role of a little mannequin-looking guy who has to walk around aimlessly in these strange, blocky levels. His goal is to collect all of the "echoes" in each level--those are the fuzzy, black shadowy-looking things standing around the level up above. Think of them as the pixels/mushrooms/apples in Snake (depending on the version you're playing), each one collected bringing you closer to the end of the level.

Your little guy moves around on his own -- the only control you posses over him is the ability to make him stop and "think," allowing you to examine you next possible approach in the puzzle. In this respect, the game is like Lemmings...he just keeps walking around until he either bumps into a wall and turns around, or falls to his death. Thankfully, you don't have a set number of lives, so every time he "dies," he gets warped back up to where he was (complete with the female computer's voice saying, "oops!") for you to give whatever you were doing another shot. So, on top of the puzzle aspect of the game, there's a small level of strategy needed, as timing when your little guy stops and starts is key to completing certain puzzles. Very cool.

The perspective stuff is the where this game really shines (a la Super Paper Mario...sort of). I have the game for the PSP (there's also a PS3 version with the same number of puzzles, though all of the puzzles are different), so for this system you either use the joystick or the D pad to rotate your perspective of the level. Depending on how you look at everything depends on where your mannequin can walk. For example, if there is a path that is broken up by a space, but there is a vertical pillar also in the level, turning the camera view to make the pillar block that space in the path from a certain perspective (making it appear as if there is no space) will magically connect the path -- essentially, if it something appears to be something...then it is. Confusing, isn't it? Here's a video:

Much like the Escher drawing of the never-ending stairs, this game begs you to bend your mind and accept/solve puzzles based solely on appearance rather than real-world physics. This, in a world where we always crave realism, makes this game all the more superb. If there is a path that ends, shifting the perspective to a different angle might bridge it with another path, moving the puzzle forward. If there is a hole, your mannequin will fall through and land on whatever is directly underneath, even if physics tell you otherwise. Suspension of reality is, again, key.

The few problems I encountered were almost not worth mentioning. But I'll mention them anyway. Sometimes -- especially when you first set out to play -- its hard to tell where your little guy will go if there's a fork in his path choice. After playing about the first dozen levels or so, you'll figure it out, though (he prefers left). Or, if you're very thorough (I wasn't), this factoid is embedded in the second page of the "tips" that are accessed from the main menu when you start the game. Perhaps they should explain that outright, but...whatever.

Sometimes the perspective-matching can be a little wonky, too. There was one level in particular I was certain I matched up a path, but no matter what I did, the guy wouldn't take it. Granted, with a game like this it's almost impossible to make every puzzle perfect and every perspective-created path work. Also, by pushing the square button, the perspective will "snap" to what seems the most appropriate place -- though I avoided using it as it sometimes put the perspective somewhere I didn't want it to -- it's still helpful sometimes. So this issue is minimal at best and only happened maybe three times the whole time I played (of over two hours). I'm just saying don't expect every single path you see to work...there has to be some boundaries in a puzzle game for it to really function as a puzzle game.

The music is wonderful, with a classical, violin soundtrack lulling your brain a la Mozart so that even in your most frustrated of moments, you really aren't that pissed off (well, maybe you are...not everyone likes classical music). The presentation is simply wonderful. The included tutorial gets you up to speed quickly, proving that what might appear very simple at first can get difficult very quickly. But the pacing is fine, so by the time you start to hit the painful puzzles (there are 56 total on either system, with the PS3 getting downloadable content later), you've probably been expecting them, instead of them suddenly blowing up in your face.

Simply put, this game is original, awesome, and extremely fun. Tack on the fact that it's only a 10 dollar download, there's an included level creator (allowing you to come up with puzzles to hurt other people's brains or show off your creative muscle), and it only takes up 44 megs on the PSP's memory stick, and you have no reason not to get this game if you have a PS3 or PSP. This here is a perfect example of how Sony can outshine Nintendo or Microsoft. If only they could do this all the time, they'd have it made.

I definitely give this game a 9.5/10, and suggest you get it. Right now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fundraiser Bump

It's been quite a while since I got any comments here (::stares intently at the internet::), so I figured it's a good time to bump it and hope for some more. Please leave a comment so that I can do this whole thing -- I really want to. Hell, I was in the hospital for a week, so I know how much those places totally blow ass...don't you think the kids of the world should get some games while they're there? Comment.

Original post picks up here:

So, here's my proposal to the very few people that read this blog:

If I get 250 unique comments total asking for this (that means not just this post, but it'd help if this was the post. I'll bump it every so often for reminder's sake.) I will play through every single Guitar Hero game IN A ROW in order to raise money for charity. I would be donating to Child's Play because they are fantastic. And... If I raised (somehow) more than 500 bucks before Guitar Hero III is finished, I'd go through Rock Band on drums, including all the downloadable content I currently have (with the exception of "Blackened." I just can't do it. I've tried many times, though I'll do it on practice mode). Otherwise, Rock Band will be excluded. All games would be played on EXPERT, regardless of how badly my hand(s) start(s) to hurt. And! The only time I'm allowed to take a break is after I complete a game. Or I have to go to the bathroom. I think that's acceptable.

I'd lower the number of comments required to do this, but it'd be stupid to do this for a charity, and then get no donations. That's not the point of a "fundraiser," now is it? I need to have support for possibly permanently damaging my hands. I'm not personally going to send this to any news websites (Digg, Kotaku, Joystiq, 1up, etc.). If you want this to happen, it'll happen, I can't force it. But if you send it, I won't stop you, certainly.

Why 250? Well, I figure if each person donates, say, 5 bucks...well, that's 1250 bucks! That's really good! Even 4 bucks a person is decent. Considering the sheer number of people on the internet, 250 isn't asking for much. The fine details would be ironed out after I get all the comments...if I get them. I certainly hope I do. Oh, and how about I'll throw the name of every person who donates in an entry, too (if they want to). Sound good? Cool.

More rules:

- The comment has to say the words "Do the fundraiser." Just any ol' comment won't work.
- No "anonymous" comments. Please leave SOME kind of name.
- For every failed song, I will donate 1 dollar (might not sound like much, but after many hours of playing, GH3 will take its toll, I'm sure).
- For every 100%'ed song, I will donate 5 dollars (and I'll try, I promise).
- The date of all this will, obviously, happen as soon as the 250 comment mark is reached. It'll be a weekend, though.
- Minimum donation of 1 dollar. Makes sense.
- That's all I can think of for now.

If you think about each game, and its length in the music...this would take a while. Probably 3 hours for Guitar Hero, 4 or 5 for Guitar Hero 2, and another 5 for GH3. Then Rock Band is easily 8 hours with all the content I've downloaded. Energy drinks away! I'd be playing the Xbox 360 versions of GH2, GH3, and Rock Band, too. Remember, I'm just one person, not several like the Zelda thing, so I can't really play SUPER long games.

So, charge those PayPal accounts and start commenting! C'mon "internet's ability to do stuff!" Do stuff!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Senior Seminar

Well, this is going to be a good deviation from any normal post that I'd put here. This one is dedicated to my Senior Seminar, and thus will be used purely for my "presentation" occurring Tuesday. What is this all about, then?


Well, for me, just one monster...or monster type, I should say. This semester's Senior Seminar deals with monsters, monstrosities, and everything demon-ish in between. Now, I've been in the hospital for the past week, as some of you may recall, so while my paper isn't even close to finishing itself, at least I can briefly discuss what my monster is here.

My monster is, well, there isn't really a name for it. It's The Thing. Literally the monster from John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing, I've chosen to examine the creature in-depth and, hopefully, with a bucket or two of intelligence.

What is The Thing?

Well, it's a monster. Duh. But more importantly it's a monster that deviates from the normal things (ha ha!) you tend to see in scary films and literature. This monster is one who appears to be exactly like either you or someone you know. Meaning that until it is exposed (or kills you), there is no way of knowing what is and isn't a Thing.

Why is this monster awesome?

Good question. There is an exorbitant amount really interesting stuff surrounding this monster. From the psychological point of being a possible victim, to the philosophical point of its ability to redefine who you consider yourself to be as a human or a person, this monster absorbs you, literally, and infects everyone surrounding it with total, absolute fear.

Where did it come from?

In the movie, (and the 1938 novella Who Goes There? that the movie is based on) outer space. Yes, that means it's an alien. But before all of the "modern" adaptations of this monster, there had to be something "old" that it came from. Enter the medieval period. Back then, they had a monster known as the Donestre (pictured), which was essentially the building block for The Thing creature. Only the Donestre was clearly monstrous (a unclothed creature with the head of a lion) and thus did not appear to be like a human in any way. So then how is really it a monster? The Donestre would approach travelers and immediately start to speak their language. This calmed the travelers into putting their guard down, at which time the Donestre would attack, devouring all of its victim save for the head. Then, and here's the really odd thing, it would weep and feel sorry for the act it just committed, crying over the lonesome head of its victim.

In my paper, I explore the psychology of this monster, coming to some nifty points about what it is to be a human, and how this monster's remorseful weeping is able to actually thrust it back into the realm of humanity, thus preparing it for whatever victim might come along next -- after all, if it killed someone and kept crying, how would it kill again? How would it re-dignify its humanity? Very interesting stuff.

Back to The Thing.

The Thing, after a nice examination of The Donestre and other monsters slowly spawned from it (friendly werewolves in Bisclavert and friendly giants in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight), I can say with complete certainly that The Thing is completely lacking in all humanity, but yet its very survival depends on the ability to be human.

This means that it is a reflection of our selves in respect to the monsters we consider each other to be. Essentially, The Thing is a physical representation of our fear of ourselves. Rapists, murderers, and people who betray us are perhaps the most feared and hated people in existence. The Thing is all of those things wrapped up in a nice, horrific package. It rapes you by absorbing everything about you and psychically entering your body against your will. It murders you by, well, murdering you. And then it betrays you by turning on every friend and other person around by -- and this is the kicker -- looking like you. Rinse and repeat. Until, of course, it's exposed. Then it looks something like this:

Pretty scary stuff, isn't it? It either looks like you, or...something undefinable. Truly a high form of terror.

Anyway, that's what my paper is on, this is what I'm exploring, etc. So, let me end with two nifty clips that deal with The Thing.

First, a clip from the movie. The clip explains itself nicely, but I'll add some minor comments. At this point in the film, everyone has turned against each other, no one really trusts one another, and MacReady (the leader, played by Kurt Russel) has figured out a primitive test to weed out who is and isn't The Thing. The tension in the air is thick enough to cut with a knife, and the paranoia is very, very rampant. Enjoy:

Second, a clip from Aliens vs Predator 2, the PC game. In this game, you can play as either an Alien, Predator, or human Marine. This can be tied to The Thing because you are placed into the role of the monster. You enter someone as the alien and for the rest of the game are killing humans -- biting their heads off and ripping them to pieces. Yet at the same time, you can switch to the same humans you are drawn to kill and fight off the monsters. It's a very cool game if you've never played it, but here's the opening sequence as the Alien (fast forward to 1:45):

So, there you have it. I'm still doing the paper, but this is what I've been looking at. Pretty cool, isn't it? Especially for a 30-page research paper, anyway.