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Review: The Red Star (iPhone)

Jul 08 // Sean Carey
The Red Star (iPhone) Developer: Acclaim Publisher: XS Games Released: June 22, 2010 MSRP: $4.99 The Red Star offers the ability to control movement from wherever you make contact with the screen, which is a design decision I’ve been delighted to see slowly becoming the standard in recent iPhone development. Espgaluda II is a great example of how this control scheme can improve bullet hell gameplay on the iPhone, and it could have greatly enhanced The Red Star if it weren’t for other poor decisions. The largest issue the game faces is that there’s simply no room on the screen to execute attacks properly. Between health/magic meters, cooldown meters, 4 action buttons, and more, the user interface is more crowded than Felicia Day at a LAN party. This basically gimps ranged attacks right out of the picture when the game is in side-scrolling mode, as by the time you can even see and lock onto an enemy they’re nearly in melee range. The choice to include UI elements on the bottom-left of the screen was mind-boggling to me, since this is where one’s thumb naturally goes to control movement. Combine this with the general lack of free on-screen real estate and you have an extremely awkward decision to make. You can leave your thumb where it rests comfortably, but then you will be obscuring the cooldown meter for your gun. When you are in the middle of a hectic boss battle in The Red Star you will be relying mainly on ranged combat, so not knowing when your gun is overheating is a serious issue. The alternative is to use the left or center of the screen for movement, which will force you to periodically obscure your character or enemies on the screen with your thumb. Either way, it is a ridiculous impediment to playing the game. The ranged combat takes another hit with the game’s lock-on mechanic. In order to lock on to an enemy, you must first be facing them. When bullets and enemies are filling your screen it can be very difficult to tell which way you’re oriented - you’ll frequently end up targeting the wrong thing as a result. You’ll also find yourself locking onto a target when you didn’t mean to because you were adjusting where your thumb was for movement. In addition, the lock-on is activated by inputting a double-tap-and-hold. If you want to change targets, you’ll have to release the screen, make contact again to reorient yourself to the new target, then release and double-tap-and-hold again to acquire the new lock-on. That is, of course, if you haven’t been thoroughly riddled with bullets or melee spammed in the interim. The screen layout issues make it hard to enjoy the excellent visuals, and the already steep skill requirement is made nearly intolerable by the unwieldy UI and control scheme. Movement is a bit sluggish in general, and while the quality of the graphics is high, the frame rate takes frequent hits both before and during boss battles. The lack of checkpoints in the game makes all these issues even worse; this version simply does not take into account how the iPhone control scheme impacts the challenge, which was perfectly balanced for hardcore players in the original. Even setting the difficulty concerns aside, having to replay an entire 20-30 minute level due to getting a phone call is a massive porting oversight. With no story to speak of, a shoehorned console experience, and a sizable price tag for the App Store, I am forced to assume that the end-goal of this communist propaganda is simply redistribution of wealth. As much as I wanted to rave about this one, I must begrudgingly admit that those who love freedom would probably be better served hunting down a copy of the PS2 version or downloading it for PSP. Score: 4 -- Below Average (4s have some high points, but they soon give way to glaring faults. Not the worst games, but are difficult to recommend.)
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Proof that Obama’s socialist agenda is progressing unchecked, a port of 2007’s under-exposed hardcore PS2 title The Red Star made its debut in the App Store this past month. Sourced from the graphic novel of th...

Pipe dreams: Real choice and consequences

Jul 06 // Sean Carey
We're barely a decade removed from when choice really became a staple concern of game design. In 2001, Peter Molyneux was building his post-Bullfrog reputation by championing games like Black and White at Lionhead Games. Despite a later turn of affection from critics, B&W was certainly the first fully realized game of its kind: a title where moral choice had a wide influence over multiple gameplay systems and ultimately the outcome of the game itself. From there, it became more common for choices in games to have fleshed-out consequences that manifested in both the game world and in-game mechanics. Meanwhile, as causality and morality were being explored in the god game genre, choice and consequence in both story and character interaction became the primary design concern of developers like Bioware. In 1998, Baldur's Gate provided choice and variance in character interaction in the form of an adapted D&D alignment system, while KOTOR in 2003 offered the classic Jedi/Sith polarities which form the basis of most moral choice systems in games today. inFamous, Overlord, Bioshock, Fable, and dozens of other modern titles cling to the same basic design methods of story and gameplay systems from these earlier examples, and subsequently they have reaped the benefits in terms of both monetary and critical success. The only problem is that we gamers are a fickle and restless bunch. What once was hailed as unique and a sign of a developer's mastery of craft is now a source of complaint. Now, I'm not saying that we should be complacent with cookie-cutter, bi-polar choices, because the medium should always be evolving and providing improved experiences to players. However, most of us probably don't realize what it is we're really asking for from our developers when we bitch about only being able to choose good or evil. Every time I hear another played out "rescue the kittens or make jelly out of the kittens" joke, my right index finger twitches as if it's trying to hit the Renegade trigger on its own. While my annoyance is an irrelevant matter in the scheme of things, I'm sure this development is exponentially more concerning to game makers. While we as players only evaluate choice in the context of our game experience, game studios are faced with a paralyzing conundrum - generating more choice means generating more content. That content might be writing, dialog, voice-over work, gameplay systems programmed to react to a wider array of variables, and much more. Implementing this expanded content has its cost on many levels. It takes time and money to put these additional branches in place, and while some elements of a game engine are re-usable for multiple story paths, every branch weighs heavily on the trunk of the tree. Most developers simply don't have the resources to put multiple branches in place, and even the ones with deep pockets and leeway for extended development cycles are making a sacrifice by taking this route. Every new choice means energy diverted from graphics, art direction, and most importantly, gameplay. Alpha Protocol is a perfect example of this devil's bargain in action. The game basically offers a triple branching choice in both dialogue and story -- do you go suave, professional, or aggressive? The game implements these elements in a truly effective and engaging way. Everyone I've spoken with has had both a different story and even gameplay experience based on the wide spectrum of well implemented choices available, and that is to be applauded. I was able to enjoy the game despite its litany of flaws for these elements alone. It was a ballsy but ultimately failed experiment that bore much fruit for further exploration. In true min/maxing RPG fashion, what Alpha Protocol gains in story and choice, it surrenders in grand fashion on the visual, gameplay, and level design fronts. Many facets of the game were simply broken. More choice will almost always enhance our enjoyment of a good game, but once this element begins to encroach on gameplay's turf, that's when bad things will always happen. I've always been one in the past to look down my nose at graphics whores. I did, and still do, believe that the time, money, and system resources that are allocated toward the pursuit of flashier and more realistic visuals would almost always be better spent improving gameplay or story. However, my experience with Alpha Protocol really got me contemplating my own hypocrisy. Any element taken to extremes will crowd out the core gameplay that makes a game worth playing, my beloved choice and story included. The truth of the matter is, we will achieve visual realism in games long before we achieve true fidelity of choice and character interaction in games. There are far fewer variables involved in recreating a perfect image than there are in recreating a human relationship or life path; our technology will likely catapult us over the uncanny valley many decades before we meet an NPC who can pass the Turing Test. There are hundreds of games out there illustrating the point that graphics don't have to be perfect to be effective. Okami, Shadow of the Colossus, Psychonauts... the list goes on forever. Art direction and stylized presentation can often have a much greater impact than photo-realism. Is it really any different for choice and story? Sure, the Alpha Protocol experiment shows us that three choices are for many players far better than two. Where does that line of reasoning end, though? Is the next logical step 4 choices? 5? 10? I personally don't feel that choice in games needs to follow the path of shaving technology; after three blades, the shave doesn't get that much smoother for the inclusion of additional blades on the razor. It just makes the razor look ridiculous and handle more awkwardly. Choice in games is no different; the enjoyment of the experience is not directly proportional to the number of options. We don't need developers trying to add more blades, although in the short term that is one way to keeping pushing storytelling forward. For example, SW: The Old Republic looks to have about 20 blades, but the MMO structure, longer development cycle, and story-branching expertise of Bioware is what makes that possible. In general, that game will probably be the exception that proves the rule. What we need are developers that are looking to make the 2 or 3 blades they can afford to manufacture as sharp and effective as possible. The Witcher was a sleeper RPG favorite from a few years ago that was widely praised for the use of choice and consequence in the game. The game, however, didn't rely on quantity of branches to drive player engagement. Every major choice in that game was 2 sided: either help one faction or the other, save this person or kill them, etc. What made The Witcher's story unique was two things -- 1. The results of your choices were never clearly bad or good; there was always a sacrifice or a compromise to be made, and everyone didn't always walk away happy (or alive, for that matter). 2. The results of your choices on later gameplay or story were NEVER telegraphed. As a result, players were forced to make choices based on how they actually felt about the situation and characters, rather than on what items or bonuses (or even ending) they might get. As gamers, I think we can get smarter about vocalizing what we want to see in our games while still being realistic about what limitations exist. Simply demanding more choices probably isn't going to get the job done, unless we're willing to pay a lot more for the branches that would need to be built for that kind of product. A much more reasonable request is to demand more impactful and surprising choice/consequence in our games; it's achievable, it's realistic, and it can happen easily within a standard development cycle if you have a little talent and forethought. I'll always have that one perfect game in the back of my head, where the possibilities fan out endlessly to the horizon in a glorious fractal of branching player destinies. It's a shame I'll never get to play it -- this fanciful digital cornucopia of roads less traveled by. No matter; it will always be my internal gaming happy place. And that's enough for me as I continue to watch games evolve and grow before my eyes.
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[Editor's Note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware that it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a w...

The HR Helper: How to fire a gamer

Jun 07 // Sean Carey
MEMORANDUM Re: Weeding out undesirable gamers from the workforce To: All_Management From: Human Resources In the current state of the economy, the talent acquisition arena continues to be an employer's market. This presents a golden opportunity for the company to upgrade human capital when positions open up due to attrition. Ideally, this attrition would be comprised of the employees who represent the greatest drag on daily productivity and morale -- gamers. The attitude and effort with which they approach their work is hardly representative of the caliber of employee we wish to cultivate at WWW, so we see a chance in the present conditions to manage as many of these individuals out of the business as possible. Every gamer removed from the rank and file is a space that we can fill with a more dedicated and qualified candidate, or (better still) another friend/family member of someone in upper management with even less experience. We would be remiss not to act on this in a timely fashion. However, due to their strange obsession with games such as Phoenix Wright, gamers are a highly litigious cultural group, and so we must be prepared to defend our hiring/firing decisions in court. To counter the inevitable objections, we must be prepared to produce documentation which demonstrates the negative impacts of the gamer's proclivities on the success of the business as a whole. Below, you will find a series of corrective action forms which were created during the termination process of our most recent gamer firing, S*** ****y. Let this documentation serve as a case study for managers and supervisors company-wide to use as a model when driving the culling of unproductive and disloyal gaming types from our workforce. Please contact your HR Generalist if further clarification or assistance is needed. Go get 'em! -- Human Resources This document is to certify that the employee, S*** ****y, has been presented with a Verbal Warning for behavioral issues and/or poor performance. Reciept of this document implies the employee's understanding that if these concerns are not resolved prior to the next evaluation period, additional corrective action may ensue, up to and including termination. This Verbal Warning is being issued for the following infraction(s): Jan. 5th: Absence without medical documentation, coinciding with the release date of Darksiders. Employee stated to supervisor that he felt like "Hell on Earth". Jan. 8th: Verbal altercation during team strategy meeting, where the employee became irate when others challenged his view that the current issues with growth logistics could only be resolved by "mining more vespene gas". Jan. 13th: After repeatedly being asked to complete his TPS report, the employee eventually produced a document titled "A Comparative Analysis of TPS Cover Mechanics from Gears of War 2 to Uncharted 2". Jan. 26th: Absence without medical documentation, coinciding with the release date of Mass Effect 2. Employee informed supervisor upon return to work that he was "back from the dead, and ready to shepherd his workload to completion". Jan. 27th: When confronted by his supervisor regarding his lack of commitment to meeting deadlines, the employee suggested that "perhaps you should have completed my loyalty mission". Jan. 29th: Employee attempted to manipulate company PTO Policy by claiming bereavement time due to the death of a home console. This document is to certify that the employee, S*** ****y, has been presented with a Written Warning for behavioral issues and/or poor performance. Reciept of this document implies the employee's understanding that if these concerns are not resolved prior to the next evaluation period, additional corrective action may ensue, up to and including termination. This Written Warning is being issued for the following infraction(s): Feb. 3rd: Among peers, was heard undermining managerial authority by referring to annual performance appraisals as "lame boss fights". Feb. 9th: Absence taken for "religious purposes", coinciding with the release date for Bioshock 2. Co-workers were confused when employee mentioned that he couldn't wait to "get swept up by the Rapture a second time". Feb. 15th: Employee was discovered by the facilities crew wandering around the warehouse after-hours destroying wooden crates and then cursing loudly about there being no gold or cooked chickens inside. Feb. 23rd: Absence without medical documentation, coinciding with the release date for Heavy Rain. Multiple calls were received by IT Manager Jason Whitlock and Marketing Director Adrienne Shaun from an unlisted number where a male voice screamed over and over. Feb. 25th: Employee was disruptive during the unveiling of the new company logo, complaining that "the graphics are totally last-gen". Feb. 26th: Employee engaged in direct insubordination; reported by supervisor as refusing to take on an important assignment on the grounds that his "quest log" was full. This document is to certify that the employee, S*** ****y, has been presented with a Final Written Warning for behavioral issues and/or poor performance. Reciept of this document implies the employee's understanding that if these concerns are not resolved prior to the next evaluation period, additional corrective action may ensue, up to and including termination. This Final Written Warning is being issued for the following infraction(s): Mar. 2nd: Employee incurred $279.00 in expenses when ruining a company-issued Blackberry by attempting to force UMDs into the charger slot. Mar 9th: Unannounced personal day coinciding with the release date for FFXIII; employee stated that the CEO's speech about WWW needing a paradigm shift inspired him to make some changes to his own plan of attack. Mar 16th: Absence without medical documentation coinciding with the release date for God of War 3. Employee stated that he was "staying home to play God of War 3". Mar. 24th: OSHA Inspector forced to audit the entire warehouse for safety compliance after employee reported hazardous conditions for loading dock staff. When pressed for specifics, employee screamed "ARE YOU BLIND? THERE ARE RED BARRELS EVERYWHERE!" Employee was only calmed after being shown that the red barrels were used to store completed widgets. Apr. 15th: Employee unsuccessfully attempted to assault a competitor's employee by climbing the sprinkler pipe in the parking garage and then dropping on them as they passed. Employee missed by a wide margin. Apr. 16th: Employee submitted a fraudulent worker's comp claim for injuries sustained after falling from sprinkler pipe in parking garage. Apr. 21st: Employee was admonished for continuously sending out interns on non-business related errands in order to "max out the Watts" on his Pokewalker. This document is to certify that the employee, S*** ****y, has been released from service to World Wide Widgets, Inc. for behavioral issues and/or poor performance. This Termination of Employment is being enacted for the following infraction(s): May 7th: Unauthorized Sephiroth cosplay on Casual Friday. May 7th: Unauthorized Sephiroth cosplay during company sponsored Happy Hour Morale Mixer. May 18th: Employee No Call, No Show, coinciding with the release of Red Dead Redemption. Upon returning to work, employee demonstrated remorse and promised to put his "checkered past behind him"; was later seen straddling the copier and throwing looped extension cords at interns. May 25th: Unauthorized Sephiroth cosplay when presenting fiscal Q3&Q4 outlook numbers to the public during the quarterly shareholder earnings meeting. May 27th: After being moved to Accounts Receivable, employee was seen repeatedly slapping and striking a client who was late in remitting payment. After being removed from the premises by security, the employee assured his supervisor that he was acting in the best interests of the company, and that he was merely choosing the Renegade option. The HR Archives -- Somebody's Got a Case of the Mondays
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[Editor's Note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware that it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as ...

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Competitive online gaming still hasn't crawled out of the MUD


May 19
// Sean Carey
Modern competitive online multiplayer gaming is in many significant ways unrecognizable, when compared to its ancestors. In the 30+ years since the pre-internet days of its infancy, it has changed so dramatically that it a...
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A little love for baby steps


May 03
// Sean Carey
Humans tend to perceive progression mostly in terms of notable milestones. As we age, we don't register the minute changes in our skin, our muscles, or our metabolism even though we see ourselves in great detail on a const...
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All the world's a bonus stage


Apr 14
// Sean Carey
[Editor's Note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware that it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a who...
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Don't fear the Farmville


Apr 07
// Sean Carey
[Editor's Note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware that it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole,...
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Something about sex: It's only obscene if you ain't got that green


Mar 21
// Sean Carey
[Editor's Note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware that it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole,...

Retronomics: Independent Store Survives Against The Big Boys

Mar 01 // Sean Carey
I was immediately possessed with questions. In a world that crushes the little guy, I just had to know exactly how this local retail rebellion was not only surviving but thriving in a cutthroat market during the worst economic downturn in recent history. I was lucky enough to convince the owner of Game Over, David Kaelin, to take some time away from fighting the good fight to sit down with me and shed some light on exactly what the secret of his success is. A transcription of excerpts from that interview follows below! David Kaelin in the videogame museum, rightfully proud of his signed Power Glove and copy of The Wizard. SC: David, I really appreciate you taking time to talk to me about your business, and let the folks who are reading know more about what you're doing and why you do it. DK: Thanks! We appreciate any exposure we can get. Running this kind of business is an uphill battle for any industry, any person. And we certainly appreciate that, and strive to overcome all those hurdles. And so far, we've been here five years, so we're doing pretty well. SC: So, I'd like to start by springboarding off of what you said. You mentioned hurdles. What are the hurdles that have gotten in the way of you growing your business? DK: I think more in general, just starting a business is really hard. You know, people are trained to go to the GameStops and Walmarts and a lot of times they think that's the only option. So, even if you don't find the old games you wanted at GameStop, you still go there first because that's pretty much the only game store there is. And, people need to take the time to research and find those little out of the way places in whatever town they live in. They're still out there; there still are some independent stores out there, and they need the support more than GameStop does. In this area, our stores have done really well because we not only have gone the independent route, obviously, but we specifically target everything GameStop doesn't have. You know, everything people hates about Gamestop, we do the opposite. We have tournaments on classic games. We have fun events, like concerts. We have a videogame museum in this store. We carry every single type of game and console ever made. You can sell every single game and console ever made here for cash or store credit. So, anything you're looking for, it's worth checking in this store. At a GameStop, if you're looking for something that's like an older title or more rare title, odds are, you're not gonna really find it there. And then t-shirts and keychains and all the collectible things that we sell -- the imported type items -- we have videogame sound tracks and DVDs. Just anything cool about videogames, we try to take part in that. We're just more about the culture and the fans of videogames than the people who just want to buy Madden 2010. I purchased the green Atari shirt from the bottom center, because I'm old. (also, see avatar) SC: Fair enough! So, you began in 2005 with one location, and now you've spread out to three locations. You've been able to capture those things that GameStop hasn't done. Is that a unique thing to Austin, this kind of retrolust? Or do you think this kind of business model would be transferable to another city, another place? DK: I think it's definitely transferable. I think every city out there needs, and can benefit from somebody selling retro games. I think there are places out there. The problem that a lot of people run into is, those places are pawn shops, or those places are independent game stores that are not run well, that are not merchandised well. Maybe they have some old games, but they don't run it like a business. They run it like a hobby shop, like, it's just an independent owner, and the same guy's in the store every time you go in, and it's just his little collection of games. Sometimes you get a deal, sometimes you don't, but normally the shopping experience and the selection is not worth the trouble of finding that independent store and going in there. We try to run ours like a GameStop in just one sense -- we run it like a chain. Each store has the personnel, the customer service; everything is always alphabetized, priced clearly, and merchandised well. We take pride in the fact that we're an independent, and that we're a small company, but when you come into our store, there's nothing unprofessional about the way you're treated or the way that the store looks, and the experience you have. So, it's not just some little shack of old games in a stack with no price tag, and you have to ask the guy "how much for this game?", "I don't know, I'll go check the book or check in the back and ask the manager". You know, everything's clearly marked and we run it like a business. SC: So you mentioned running it more professionally and more of a business as opposed to an enthusiast or hobby type shop. With that in mind, how do you go about setting pricing in terms of what you take in? Are you basing that on what your competitors are doing, and using that as a model for trying to bring in additional business? Or, is there a 'Blue Book' standard? What resources do you draw from to set that pricing? DK: Well, it's a lot of different things. We can't go into too much specific detail on that, obviously, but generally speaking we take trade-ins, so you can sell any game here. You get a cash or store credit value -- store credit's higher. The difference between what you get for it when you trade it in vs. what we sell it for, there's obviously a gap there that in some cases is significant. But, it just has to be that way. Our standard is, we try to be at or below our competitors for a similar item, which, when we carry everything, makes it kind of hard to use one standard. For current gen games, we use kinda the GameStop model. We try to pay a little more than they do for stuff, we sell it for at or below what they sell it for, so that way those customers that are into that generation of games -- there's no disadvantage for shopping here. You know, a lot of independent stores either by choice or by force end up selling new games for, say $5 more than everybody else, and then they wonder why their shop goes out of business. New games are not extremely profitable. So, if that's all you've got going in your store, that's probably just not a good idea to be in business. We have all the different systems and so, new games aside, looking at the older games, then you have to compare it against what people can get those games for. Plushies - you break 'em, you buy 'em. Harsh policy. We also use eBay and Amazon as a kind of benchmark. Say for example, an old PlayStation 1 game, you know, nobody else sells it anymore, so we can't price check a store in town. But we'll see what it's going for on eBay or Amazon, including the shipping, and we'll try and be at or below that. So if it's $40 on eBay, with $10 shipping, we might sell it for $50. It's not more expensive than it'd be if you bought it online, but it's not dirt cheap, necessarily. We try and do a fair trade price and a fair sale price, you know, I feel, for everything we have [smiling]. That being said, of course, nobody is really happy with the trade-in price. SC: EVER. DK: Whether you're at GameStop or with us at Game Over, or anywhere else in another town or a pawn shop or whatever, everybody has that mentality of "I paid $50 for it, I should get at least $49 back!" It's like, no, because now we're selling that game for $15, so, we can't give you even $14, we might only give you a couple of bucks for it. Then after a while, your stock builds up, and there may be certain games that we may have 20, 30, 40 of -- systems too. PlayStation 1s, N64s, some of that generation of systems we have ... tons. When you have a couple hundred of something, your desire to pay a lot of money for the 203rd is, you know, not very high. So, it's based on competitive markets; eBay and Amazon for the older stuff, GameStop for the newer stuff, and also based on, you know, how much we have. It's really the only fair way to do it. SC: So, you mentioned eBay and Amazon. Obviously that's a large percentage of your competition for the used consoles and older games and systems. I noticed that you're offering a lot of your stuff online now. How recent is that? How successful has that been for you, and what percentage of your business comes from the online store as opposed to the physical store? DK: Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, our competition is definitely more online than it is GameStop or anybody else because that's what we do -- the classic stuff. That being said, we have a Web site, but we haven't had a webstore before last December. That's when we first remodeled our Web site and got the webstore up. We still have not really aggressively promoted that yet, because we're still kind of tweaking the inventory on it. We're still adding pictures, so it's not what I would call a finished product yet. Right now, we're a drop in the bucket next to eBay. SC: What percentage of your business is serious collectors who are looking for specific items to complete a set as opposed to regular old retro enthusiasts who are looking to just experience the nostalgia of an older game or system? DK: I would say the majority is just the casual enthusiast, honestly. We do have, maybe 20% or less who are hardcore collectors. Those, we refer to as "the people with lists". They come in and they have a list, and they like "I'm looking for these 7 NES games." and the implication is that they have the other 600, 700. Depending on if they collect all the unlicensed ones or not, it could be 700 to 800 games, and yeah - there was someone in our Round Rock store last week, I was visiting up there, and while I was there a customer came in and they had literally 7 things on their list. And they're like "This is all I need for NES.", and we had like 2 of them! So that was nice. Wall to wall games in this place. Every system you can think of. I was wise to not come on payday. SC: You've stated that getting the word out is one of the difficult parts of running a successful independent store -- is community building how you do that? Does most of your advertising consist of word of mouth? DK: Yeah, that's probably the hardest thing for any small business. Getting the word out that you exist; what we do, this store, in fact, with the video game museum and the events that we put on are really exciting and people want to come participate in them. Letting them know that we have them is the hard thing. We do some print ads, we do some radio ads, we do TV commercials, but only on a small scale, because the expense is just astronomical. Yeah, social media, internet, email, and word of mouth is how we really get the word out. We just had a rash of donations that we've done lately, for school fundraisers, things like that. We have one going on this weekend with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That's a way we can double up with giving back to the community in a charitable way -- I want us to be a friend of the community and reach out in that way, but obviously it also gets our word out about our stores and who we are. Somebody may see the item up for auction at a fundraiser and say, "Oh, Game Over? What's that?" and go to the Web site and say "Oh, that looks pretty cool." and then they come in the store and say "Oh, that's REALLY cool!". You stand before the portal to retro heaven. What do you do? > OPEN DOOR SC: You've got a little bit of everything in here. Is there one system or era that generates the highest volume of trade-ins or purchases? DK: Yeah, it's really strange the way trade-ins work, and in this type of store, we can get everything from Virtual Boy games to Wii games in the same day. Just a total mismash of items. Our general bestsellers tend to be Nintendo and Super Nintendo. Those tend to be the most collected, the most played by the retro gamers, and even the casual collectors and enthusiasts just want to play an old game of Smash Bros. or Mario Kart on N64. SC: Mario Kart. Yeeeeeeeaaaah!!! DK: [laughing] But yeah, it's amazing how much of it is just Nintendo and Super Nintendo cartridges, I mean, they truly created some classic games and system back then, in the 80's and 90's. SC: Let's get to some more fun stuff. Out of all the stuff you have in here, what are your favorites? If you had to pick 3, what are your 3 favorite systems to play on? DK: [facepalming] I wish I had time to play! That's my own personal torture, being surrounded by games, working in a game store day in, day out. From morning to night, all I do is video games, and there's not enough time left to play them. It's the curse of my life. SC: "Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink."? DK: That's right, exactly. It's all salt water, kid! But, I would actually classify myself in the casual collector category, where my personal collection and my desire to play runs the full range. I don't have, probably, more than 20 games for most systems outside of Atari, NES, and Super NES. But, I like certain games on each system. Probably my fondest memories and my best experiences with games happened on the Atari 2600 and the NES, because those are the 2 I had as a kid. Mario Monopoly? I really hope one of the properties is Rainbow Railroad. SC: How has the recession impacted your business? Has it hurt your business, or have you actually seen more people walk in the door because they're looking for a gaming experience that they don't have to invest as much money into? DK: I think both, actually. We specialize in used games, and used games are cheaper than new, so there's definitely a benefit to being in this business in a bad economy. If you're just buying for your kids and they just want something to mess around with and they don't really care if it's the latest and greatest, you know you can get some older systems at a bargain. In that way, I think it helps, but as successful as we are, I know we'd be even more successful if the economy wasn't crappy. We're really looking forward to getting through this year, getting the economy back on its feet, and then we're looking to expand and we're looking to grow even more. SC: What does that mean? More locations, more cities, all of the above? DK: Both! I'd love to say that we'd be everywhere in the country, but it's definitely a slow process being an independent. We at this point, are wholly owned, so we're not doing franchising. Franchising would grow us a lot faster, but then you can't control as much. You don't want everybody who has a little bit of money or a few games to open up a game store. We're looking to open at least a store a year for the next couple of years, and then we've got our online store, and we're looking to develop that into a destination type website to buy games. It's admittedly a very small selection right now, but we are adding to it all the time to bulk that up so that we'll compete on both fronts. As I said, being an anti-GameStop ... nothing against GameStop ... just the opposite of a GameStop. I want to be really careful not to offend GameStop -- I love you GameStop! They do help us out, you know. I came from there, from that corporate culture of the games store on the EB side of it. I have no ill will towards them, but we just do a different thing, we go for a different customer. SC: You've mentioned several times how you differentiate yourself from GameStop, and specifically about the experience you create in your store being one of the things that keeps building your customer base. How do you drive the focus on customer service and ensure it's better than your competitors'? DK: I definitely think you've got to preach to it and make it a priority in your business. But I can't be in front of every customer, and I don't have time or want to watch every interaction, so getting the best employees is very important. All the employees first of all love games, and then they also love working at the stores, and I think that translates into how they treat the customers. We all have a stake in seeing Game Over succeed, and so I trust them to treat customers the right way. SC: How do you get the best employees, and why do the employees enjoy working here? DK: Well, on one end, we pay either at or above what GameStop pays their employees, and that means there's a lot of competition for our openings, and at the other end we're a much less 'corporate' environment. We still run it like it's a business, but it's about the love for games and I think we're more concerned with that then trying to drive profits up artificially. That makes people feel good about working here, and that's, you know, what drives them to treat the customers right because they believe in it and want it to succeed. When a spot opens up here we get flooded with, like, 60 applications immediately. Most of our people came to us from GameStop or Game Crazy originally, and their friends who still work there can't wait to jump over and be a part of what we're doing. That helps make a great experience for our customers when the employees feel fortunate to be there in our stores. Is it just me, or does the DK on the left have a different expression? OMG, they're becoming sentient! SC: Is there anything else you'd like to share, or get out there, or wish people knew about what you're doing right now? DK: Just being aware of us. If you're reading about this and you're in the Austin area, I think you'll find a better selection, better service, and better prices here than any other used game store. For the rest of the country, we're getting our website going, and if you live in a place where there's just no other option you can try and seek it out. Check out pawn shops, check out eBay; if you have an independent store there you should at least give them a try. If they don't do a good job, or don't have good selection or service or whatever then you don't have to go there again. But those independent game stores who are doing it right really need your support, or else they're not going to be there. It's the same way the music stores were 10 years ago. There was a used CD store on every street corner, and so they weren't that big of a deal. Then people stopped going there and they disappeared. You really need to support those local businesses, because they'll never get better and bigger unless people go there. SC: David, thanks so much for being so generous with your time, and talking to me about all of this. I hope you get some time to actually play some games sometime in the near future! DK: Thank you very much, I appreciate it!
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[Editor's Note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware that it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or ho...

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Love/Hate: The five stages of griefing


Dec 20
// Sean Carey
[Editor's Note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or how our...
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Nothing is sacred: Come with me if you want to live


Oct 28
// Sean Carey
[Editor's note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or how our...
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Enhanced Interrogation: Tales of an Omnipotent Public Servant, Part 5


Oct 25
// Sean Carey
[Editor's note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or how our...
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The one true gaming masterpiece of my generation


Oct 24
// Sean Carey
[Editor's note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or how our...
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A plea to the squeaky wheel, with science!


Oct 17
// Sean Carey
[Editor's note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or how our...
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The Forgotten: The Fantastic Voyage


Sep 21
// Sean Carey
[Editor's note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or how our...
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Fresh From The Oven: More Tales of an Omnipotent Public Servant


Aug 27
// Sean Carey
In the comments of the second edition of TOPS, many of you in the Dtoid community voiced their desire for a third installment of Ultima Online stories. With a few other write-ups in the rear-view mirror, I'm happy to obl...
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I suck at games: Artificial incompetence


Aug 25
// Sean Carey
[Editor's note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware it may not jive the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or how our moms...
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It's more complicated than just escapism


Aug 22
// Sean Carey
[Editor's note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware it may not jive the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or how our moms...

Keeping The Cabinet Alive: An Interview With The Owner Of One Of The Last Real American Arcades

Aug 04 // Sean Carey
The pulpit from which Ryan Harvey shepherds his cabinet-devoted flock. Ryan, thanks so much for making time to share your insight into the arcade world with myself and with others. No problem. Let's just jump right in, shall we? Your arcade recently hosted a U.S. Qualifying Tournament for the Super Battle Opera Tournament in Japan. You're even sponsoring 6 players to go over to the Tokyo Dome and compete this year. Now, why do you feel that Arcade UFO has been able to not only survive, but thrive in a declining U.S. arcade market? Well, that's a really good question. I feel like we're able to offer something that people aren't able to normally get in the entire United States. A place like Arcade UFO, humble as our size may be, is something that you would normally have to fly across the world to experience -- and the fact that we're bringing brand new import titles here within the first week of release is, I think, something that hasn't really been done before. So, in reading some of the other write-ups that have been done on Arcade UFO in the past, I noticed that the inspiration for the name came from a Japanese arcade called Game UFO that you frequented during your time in Tokyo. So, what do you see as the major differences between the way arcades are run in Amercia vs. Japan? Japan, first of all, has a lot more genres, more arcade games to choose from. One very popular genre that's missing from American arcades is the the virtual card games they have, for example. There's a whole genre of collectible card arcade games where you both collect cards, and then you bring your deck to the arcade, and the cards all scan in to the system -- it's all networked. That's just one really good example of what Japan has access to that we don't, because even if we were to import that, it's all in Japanese so nobody could understand the rules. And secondly, we don't have the network they do, which is limiting. So, what aspects of Japanese arcade culture do you think translate well to American arcades, and how do you in particular go about incorporating those aspects into your business? Well, I think the thing that Japan does right is, first of all, the head-to-head aspect. In Japanese arcades, you'll often find that your opponent in an arcade game will sit across from you, rather than right next to you. We call that head-to-head, and a lot of the games at Arcade UFO incorporate that. So a lot of our fighting games, like SF IV of course, we have hooked up like that. The Gundam VS. game, that we're having a tournament for tonight, is also set up like that, so, you sit next to your partner, but your opponent actually sits on the opposite side. This aspect plays really well in a Japanese culture because, you know, it's kind of cliched, but the Japanese are kind of shy, so this is the way that they can challenge strangers without having to directly face them. It translates well here for a separate reason. It does well in America because people like to have arm room, people like to have their own space. So, while the reasoning is really different, incidentally it does cross over pretty well here as a business aspect for us. It's head-to-head play. Pay no attention to the man behind the cabinet. That's fascinating. You've previously sited the American coinage system as one of the reasons for the decline of arcades in the United States. What are the other factors that you feel have contributed to that decline? While the coinage system is a major issue in the decline of American arcades, and I'm sure I've said this before, but I think the main reason for the decline of arcades in America is redemption games. The way I believe it to have happened is -- in the late 90's, a lot of men who owned arcades for decades or years learned through the industry, and through trade shows that redemption (or ticket games) were more of a money maker than video. And so, in the late 90's you had this transition of a lot of not only mom and pop arcades, but these big chains that we had everywhere, like Tilt for example. All of a sudden they started to look like, you know, kiddie joints. What happened was, a lot of industry vets were getting better returns on their investments from the redemption titles. What they should have realized, but didn't, was that it was temporary because you can only go in and enjoy random luck maybe once or twice a year, but a true skill video arcade game you can enjoy several times a week. It doesn't get old, because you're actually getting better the more you play. So, unlike redemption where it's like this fleeting, non-lasting fun, the video arcade games are a source of, you know ... you're getting more for your investment. You're actually gaining a skill. But to accommodate this need for redemption in America, you had a lot of the game developers catering to that. So, suddenly you have developers losing their focus on video arcades and shifting over to redemption. Namco U.S. decided not to release Tekken 6 in the U.S., and because of that, our machine is an import machine -- the other arcades in America that have it and have done very well with it have all imported the game. So, in conclusion, what we saw happening in the early 2000s, was the result of the shortsightedness of the old arcade industry veterans. Which is, they ended up with a bunch of ultimately unprofitable machines in their arcades and, at the same time, the U.S. game developers were no longer offering real video arcade games to the arcade people. The arcades were filled with a bunch of games that weren't making money and the distributors were filled with warehouses of arcade games that wouldn't make any money. Now, the industry has been surviving in Asia, because Japan is still focusing their arcades on skill-based fun -- every genre of Japanese arcade game falls into this category. So, a lot of people look at Arcade UFO, and they consider us an import arcade. But what it is, is an arcade with real videogames, and the unfortunate truth is that America gave up on developing real video arcade games a long time ago because of this 2 or 3 years of bad decision making and switching to redemption. You dirty rat, you killed our culture! You dirty rat. Do you also feel that the proliferation of console gaming has hurt the arcade culture or industry? Absolutely not. I think console gaming is a different genre of gaming. The example I like to give is -- console gaming has been taking a trend for the past decade or so. I mean, I was raised in the NES era. The NES was released in the U.S. in 85, I got an NES for my second birthday in '85 when it was brand new, it was an excuse for my parents to play it, I think, because they played it more than I did at first. *laughing* -- I was older, but it was the same at my house. You know, I was raised in this generation of games that were very challenging, you died a lot. They were rewarding because they were challenging. In the past decade or so, games haven't been so challenging. The focus has been more on interactivity and storyline, so I think what a lot of games have drifted towards for consoles is you know, games like Metal Gear. The Metal Gear series which I thoroughly enjoy myself. But it's not so much, the core gameplay isn't really hardcore. Metal Gear is a very forgiving and easy game. You can get through the game without dying a lot. These kind of games, I think of more as interactive storytelling than I do a true hardcore videogame. And that's not an insult to the Metal Gear series, it's simply a different direction that console gaming has been taking. It's the reason that it's been popularized and put into so many homes. Video arcades still offer what the original consoles offered, which is a true hardcore videogame experience. The truth is that hardcore videogaming isn't for everybody. There are some people who maybe don't have a competitive spirit or they don't understand the point of suffering so much to have fun. *laughing* It sounds, like kind of masochistic, right? But the truth is, this is human nature. You can't get a feeling of accomplishment from something that you don't have to try really hard for. Console gaming gives you this sort of fleeting and fake sense of accomplishment, because when you beat a Final Fantasy game you feel accomplished. But that's only because you saw the end of the story, and you saw that last cutscene that ties it all together. I bet that over half the people that played FF XII -- you could play through that entire game and just go through the story, and not do any of the side quests, and play through the whole game without dying very easily. So, you know, those games are fun and they provide you something. They provide you with entertainment, but I don't think they provide you with a hardcore videogame experience, which I classify by difficulty. Fighting games are good for that because you have real human competition. And of course, humans are the ultimate opponents, right? We devise strategies, we try to outsmart the other person, so the value is gained there when you have opponents. There are other hardcore games that are focused more on single-player aspects, like for example, we have Espgaluda II, which is a really challenging vertical shoot-em-up. That game is beatable in one credit but I've never seen anyone here do it. I've seen a few people get to level 4 out of 5 total levels on one credit, which is really good. But the truth is, it takes a really skilled player, and not just a player that goes in for the first time. You have to have some experience. You have to have a strategy for each level. This is a quality that so many old games had, like the Mega Man series, the original Ninja Gaiden -- the first one for NES, you know, even Punch Out to an extent. Battletoads. Yeah! In fact, Battletoads NES was renowned for being an incredibly difficult game. It's kind of funny, because I lived in Corsicana during middle school. Corsicana is where Trade West Entertainment was. The founder of Trade West was this guy Byron Cook, he had a mansion, he was the richest guy in the city. He was this farmer/rancher that learned Japanese and started Trade West and his company made Battletoads and they were really well known for that. The Battletoads arcade game came out in 1993, I think. That game was even harder than the NES version. The NES version was already insanely difficult, but the arcade game was even harder, which was, you know, ridiculous. Sorry, got off on a tangent there, what were we talking about? Battletoads NES is apparently for casual gamers. No worries! You were saying you feel that console gaming doesn't really compete with arcade gaming, but rather that they've just taken divergent courses. Right. In Japan, if you ask a lot of players in arcades what consoles they own, a lot of them will tell you that they don't own a console. All their gaming is done in the arcade. Of course, that's not always the case. You'll find a lot of people who are like "yeah, I have a PlayStation 2, or PlayStation 3", or even fewer will say <chuckle> an Xbox in Japan. But my point stands that an arcade game can never be replaced by console gaming because it is a completely different genre of playing for the most part. You know, when you watch a movie with 150 people at the Alamo Draft House, that's a lot different from watching the DVD at home with your one buddy or your girlfriend or what have you. Sometimes I say it's like the difference between bars and drinking at home. I mean, that's a more extreme example of course, but arcades provide a social element that not even XBL and other online services can recreate. That brings me to another question -- obviously you spend a lot of time with good players, you're hosting tournaments, etc. The elite tournament level players that come in, do they even utilize consoles when they're not at the arcade to hone their skills, or do they find that even with the fight sticks that are out there that they prefer to do even their practicing in the arcades? I absolutely think there's a divide there. I would say that at least half of our regulars probably also have at least a console and SFIV at home, since that's kind of the hottest game right now. I have a 360, I have a PS3 and a PS2, I have a Wii, so I've done the console gaming since I was a little kid, and that's a part of me as well. I don't have as much time to play console games anymore, but while recognizing that it's a different kind of gaming, it is still something that I enjoy immensely. My favorite joystick right now is the MadCatz tournament edition for arcade style games. So, I have SFIV at home, I have BlazBlue at home. I haven't picked up KOFXII yet. I have several of the shoot-em-up games at home. I enjoy playing at home, but I usually don't find myself playing those types of games there. It's almost like, self-defeating. I don't get as much satisfaction from playing a vertical shoot-em-up at home, for example, because part of the fun is playing at the arcade. You know, people are watching and I'm trying to get by on one credit, whereas on a console version I'm tempted to be lazy and credit-feed and keep continuing. Fighting game wise, the online has gotten a lot better in the recent generation. Especially in the last 2 years or so, there have been a ton of advancements in online play for fighting games. That's a lot in part thanks to the Cannon brothers, who created a unique piece of netcode called GGPO. It's great, you should check it out -- GGPO.net -- it's totally free for PCs. It utilizes a new emulator with old ROMs, so you can play games like Marvel vs. Capcom 1, Street Fighter Alpha series, Vampire Savior, you know, games of that sort. The netcode utilizes what's called rollback, which will basically rewind by a couple of frames if it needs to, but it's a lot more responsive than anything we had before. This is because before, netcode for fighting games was written by people who didn't understand fighting games. So the first fighting games that had online capabilities were just a mess. SFIV's netcode is okay, it's not great. BlazBlue's netcode is fantastic. KOFXII, I've heard could use some work in the netcode department. My point is, the netcode in general is great, and home play is legitimate. However, even BlazBlue, with the best connection on the best netcode is still not as responsive as playing a local match at home or the arcade. Quick side question -- who are your go to characters in SFIV and BlazBlue? In SFIV I use Akuma, that's who I qualified for SBO with this year. In BlazBlue, I'm using Carl Clover. For Ryan Harvey, "Akuma Metata" means no worries. So, when you look at your arcade's Web site, there's obviously a heavy emphasis on tournament play and bringing in the latest and greatest cabinets from overseas, which appears to cater to a more informed and hardcore crowd. Is that hardcore crowd your bread and butter, financially speaking? I would say for the most part, yes. Austin has had an arcade culture built into the city for many, many years, thanks to the arcades we had on The Drag before. They were there for so long. Einstein's, the last great arcade, lasted until 2007. So, between all the arcades that were in Austin, there's still a group of people here that when Einstein's closed were like, "Fuck. We need something else now." Of course, Arcade UFO was the natural transition for a lot of those regular customers, myself included, that were going to Einstein's daily until the very end. So with that culture built in, do you think the best strategy for keeping the arcade culture alive is really to "rally the faithful", so to speak, or do you feel that there's an opportunity to expand your business to those who might be less devoted or less in-the-know? We feel like it's half and half. Of course, our business thrives on regulars, but at the same time we want to have that supplemented by people who become newly interested, even as casual players who are just out to try something new or different. We need both groups' support. The arcade is a very delicate balance. We try to balance game lineup such that there are great games for both first time and for hardcore players. The best type of game would be a game that is both easy for new players to learn and quickly feel accomplished in, and the more they continue with it, the stronger they become, and the more rewarded they are for it. Several of our games satisfy both of those categories. SFIV is a great example of a game that a completely new person can go in and do bad-ass things with their character and beat up the computer really easily. At the same time, if they keep playing, and play against some the more hardcore players, they can start to see that "Oh, there's another level to this. I can learn the game more deeply." And some people will quit and say "No, I'm not interested in doing that." That's fine, but if just one out of 100 people who try it out decide to become more dedicated, then that's the most important thing for us. We want to continue to expand and grow the community of hardcore players and we also want to give the loyal Austinites who have appreciated the arcades for so many decades a place to go play some games on a Friday night. So, you mentioned a lot of the places that I frequented when I first moved to Austin, like Le Fun, Einstein's and the Power Play, all on The Drag. They all were closed. The Scientologists forced out Le Fun by outbidding them on their lease ... *chuckling* They're always up to no good. Why can't you understand, Oprah! BLAZBLUE IS FULL OF THETANS!!!!! I know!! But since those closures, only Arcade UFO has risen to take their place. Do you feel that the market for cabinet gaming in Austin is strong enough to support multiple arcades again, or do you feel that demand has contracted to the point that it really only supports one major location? Well, I think that an arcade like this -- probably only one location is necessary. I don't necessarily think that other video arcade cabinet locations would be bad. I don't think it would cause one location or the other to fail. But I do think that if another arcade were to open, whether it be us or a competitor, it would have to be in a very good and prominent location. If not on The Drag, then maybe South Congress, or someplace where a lot of people are outside and walking by at all times. That's how Einstein's and Le Fun survived before, there were just so many students and tourists walking by, you know, it doesn't matter if 1 in 10,000 people walk in. I'm sure there's much more than that walking by The Drag in a day. On a separate note, do you see any differences between people who play different types of cabinets? For example, the types of people who devote themselves to the fighting games versus the people who come in for DDR-type games. If so, is there any culture clash there? Do you find yourself having to make adjustments to account for that? (This question was posed to me by DToid community member Chooly, and Ryan was happy to answer.) Well, for the most part, and I'm very fortunate in this regard, the rhythm gamers and fighting gamers all get along very well here. You know, it's not like everyone is buddy-buddy, but for the most part there's no confilcts of interest. I've always tried to keep the volume of each game at an acceptable level, such that the DDR is loud enough for the rhythm gamers to enjoy, and that Street Fighter is loud enough for everyone to hear their moves and kind of hear the music a little bit. But yeah, I've found that -- and I think part of it I can attribute to Austin being such a laid-back city in the first place -- that pretty much everyone gets along here. I'm really thankful for that. One of your fears as a business owner is having to be rude to people, and kick people out, and stuff like that. But I've never had to do anything like that. You know, fingers crossed. We've covered a lot of things so far. What's next for Arcade UFO? Well, what's next for us is that we have a big media agreement coming up. I think I'm still under NDA about it, so I better not mention it just yet. We have a promotion happening very soon with a major media conglomerate so you'll probably hear about it in the next month or so. There will absolutely be links on our Web site about it. I encourage you to check that out. Also, we have a pretty small location here, but a lot of people ask, is the next step gonna be a new location, are you going to expand? For now, we're focused on what we have. It's pretty miraculous that we even pulled together the resources to get this place. So, our focus for at least the next year or two is to try and recover the investment from Arcade UFO on 31st and Speedway. Right now, we're focused on this. If I were to open another arcade themed venue in Austin, it wouldn't be exactly like this. I would try to catch a different audience or encourage a different type of crowd, maybe do alcohol sales or something like that. The other thing is that right now, I work a regular full-time job, so I'm not supporting myself with the arcade. We're trying to make our money back for it. I work 40 hrs a week for a regular company, so my plate is really really full right now. I have one partner in the business, Crissy Knape, she's my partner -- we do everything, and she and I work together. Even with that, my schedule is pretty much full all the time. So to do another location, or to even do a change of location or an expansion would be an incredible blow to my resources, resources mostly meaning time. All I'm saying is that, I'm really happy with what we have right now. I hope I can make it bigger and better -- that would be my ultimate goal. Right now, I'm trying to balance this and my regular life. We'll see what happens, I think the next 5 years are going to be super interesting. The doorway to the future of Austin arcade gaming. So, if I want to trick people into thinking I'm all bad-ass and such, what should I be playing here and name-dropping later in order to level up my nerd-cred? Good question! I would say for one, that SFIV is the game that you'll get the most respect for. If you reach a high level of play at SFIV, you'll definitely get respect from a lot of the regulars. Next up, I would say DJ Max Technica is a really good one. If you level yourself up in that game, you'll get noticed by all the rhythm gamers, because I want to say that all the top scores are divided between like 4 people right now. So, if you start taking away those high scores, they're gonna be like, "Who the hell is JEB?", or whatever. Daemon Bride is our newest title, we just got it in about 2 weeks ago, right after it came out in Japan. That's another one that, since it's new, a lot of people are playing right now. If you were to suddenly come in, and get really good at that game, you would throw a lot of people off-guard. Gundam is the other really hardcore game here, and we're having a tournament here tonight for it. If you were to enter the tournament and place first or second in it, you'd turn some heads for sure. Gundam, SFIV, DJ Max ... those are my recommendations. Is there anything else that you'd like to say? People who are regular console gamers, the players who were maybe born even 3 or 4 years after me, probably weren't raised in an arcade environment like I was. For those people, I really encourage you to, if you have the ability to, if you have an arcade in your area, to show your support and to try it out. Search on the Internet, you might not have anything local, but even if you have anything 2 to 3 hours away, why not make a road trip out there every 6 months or whatever? Arcades are not like console gaming, there's really a different kind of experience, and the more people that can appreciate that, the better. It's still thriving overseas, and it would thrive here if more people fully understood how rewarding it can be. Will you promise not to tell everyone how badly I got spanked while I was here? Oh! Ummmmmm ... what are you talking about? I don't remember you losing at all. That is the correct answer. Thanks for your time, Ryan. I wish you continued success, and keep fighting the good fight! Thanks, I hope to keep doing it for a long time. An Arcade UFO employee combines both fashion and hardware preferences. Also, that's what she said.
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[Editor's note: Community member walkyourpath did this great interview on his local arcade scene. -- CTZ] The rumors of arcade gaming's demise in America have been greatly exaggerated. If you know where to look, you can st...

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By demand : Further tales of an omnipotent public servant


Jul 21
// Sean Carey
I was both pleased and honored to have my last Monthly Musing article promoted to the front page at the behest of you, the Dtoid community. In the comments, there were many requests for more tales from my time as a UO Game Ma...
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I, The Author: Tales of an omnipotent public servant


Jul 13
// Sean Carey
[It's time for another Monthly Musing -- the monthly community blog theme that provides readers with a chance to get their articles and discussions printed on the frontpage. -- CTZ]    There is a time only spok...
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Untapped Potential: Protagonist Evolution (Not Taught In Kansas)


Jun 19
// Sean Carey
[It's time for another Monthly Musing -- the monthly community blog theme that provides readers with a chance to get their articles and discussions printed on the frontpage. Also, I don't think I've ever read a better introdu...

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