I'm a nine year old Ogilvie Mountain Collared Lemming. My hobbies are skydiving and colour identification (I'm up to 2307!). My top 10 games are, 10. Batman (NES), 9. Reading Rabbit (CPU), 8. Bubble Bobble (PS3), 7. Leaving Las Vegas: The Official Video Game (N64), 6. Ms. Pac Man (Arcade), 5. Final Fantasy II (ROM Hack), 4. Pac Man Plus (Arcade), 3. Baby Pac Man (C64), 2. Gears of War (XBox360), 1. Pac Man (Wii).
Look. Geeks play video games. I suppose non-geeks do as well, but if there's one thing geeks are expected to do, it's play those video games. Also, people with too much spare time.
But what do you do while that load-screen is up? Between games? While you cool off between amazingly frustrating sessions of Game X?
I juggle. A lot. And professionally speaking, when I'm not doing other jobs, I teach juggling in the school system. I enjoy it.
What I decided to do this week (well, actually last week), was put up a nice, straightforward seires on learning to Juggle for YouTube.
Now I know, you might be thinking that there's plenty of Juggling lesson resources on YouTube, but frankly, most of them suck. The ones that don't suck don't expand the knowledge in the way I usually like to. This is therefore a unique video I've put together just for Destructoid. Hopefully, you'll be able to pick up my lesson in the next few weeks. Over the rest of December, I'm going to be running a 9 part series covering everything from the very basics to some quite advanced moves.
Now some of you are going to say "I can't Juggle." Well, that's bollocks. Bollocks and balls, of the non-juggling variety.
I was born with mild (very mild) cerebral palsy. I can't weave two bits of string together properly. I know jugglers with no depth perception, legal and total blindness, only one arm and those who juggle from a wheelchair. Furthermore, klutzy people make the best learners. They enter without preconceptions or attitude.
You can learn. Anybody with any working limbs or a mouth can learn juggling. You may take longer than others, or you may shock and amaze yourself. But you won't learn on your own without a lot of good advice. If you can do two and not three, trust me when I say, you're doing it wrong. Seriously. Abandon the way your cousin who can't juggle either's way and do it the way I tell you. It's the way that will work.
I'm putting all three first videos in the space below. Feel free to add your comments after that, either going, "Wow, thanks," or "I'm stuck." I will try to offer advice over the next week, and maybe add another tutorial with my next 3 parts.
Anyway, enjoy. My apologies in part because YouTube cuts off the top of the frame, which might make things a bit trickier, but I think if you can listen, you'll get ample help.
Learn, and report, and don't give up, even if you want to punch yourself in the eye after your first 15 minutes.
The universe, conventionally speaking, does not have corners. It has curves. Curves that spin and drop and coil into an infinite patchwork of blackness. And in the upper left-hand corner of this blackness there is a world. The one world. The final world of human habitation.
Sera is fat, poised on the cusp of realities like an especially large cake. A cake with brown and grey icing. It looms, burning bright with drifting sparkles of flame, and sinks eternally through fields of stars. Scientists are unsure what will happen if the light of Sera ever burns out, but the general consensus has been described as "not good."
This is the world on which grow the hopes of humanity, like bright blooms, or possibly marzipan roses. And there are always marzipan roses.
* * *
Dominic Santiago liked to see himself as chizzled. It was an apt adjective. In fact, if a survey had been done of the denizens of Jacinto who had ever laid eyes on him, chizzled would have come up right behind mustachioed. Chizzled, suave, grizzled and brawny were the kind of adjectives that clung to Space Marines like magnets, that stuck to them like mustache hairs stick to a suit.
It was, in fact, the heavy suits like steel ponchos that people probably noticed first, that, Dominic considered, or the enormous pointy gunsą. Everything they wore was a network of panels, a cavalcade of black buckles on black armour plates, with black designs at the centre of black pads. He had a blue light on his shoulder to draw attention to the black. His beard was black. His hair was black. Even the gloves that covered up the scar over his left knuckle were black.
The design on Dominic's chest was more or less identical to that on the others in his squad, and to all of COG, really. It consisted of a skull, locked inside a black gear. Dominic had never been sure who the skull was meant to intimidate, since the Locust hordes didn't seem to mind human skulls very much, but then, it was best not to think of such things. Maybe it was meant to remind Locusts of how bony humans could be, as a deterrent to eating them.
It didn't seem completely effective.
"Yo," Dominic heard. He made an effort to crease his muscled head toward the sound. Unit Commander Fenix (as in to rise from the ashes) had laid his enormous cerated saw-gun beside a vaguely intimidating spiral of rock and held up something speckled and rotund. "I think it's an egg," Fenix announced.
"Do they have eggs?" Dominic asked.
"Don't ask me." Fenix answered.
"Because I'm pretty sure they're not supposed to have eggs."
"I'm pretty sure they're not supposed to have that many teeth either," Fenix said, "That doesn't help matter too much, now does it?"
"No," Dominic answered. He scowled at his own reflection in a tall length of panelling. It was that kind of thinking that kept him from moving up. His mother was always saying that. "Still, it could be something else, er, Unit Commander."
"Gentlemen," interrupted a third voice. Both men turned. It was Cole. Cole was broader than Dominic and in his opinion had drifted too far from chisled toward "ripped" potentially even beefy. This made him nervous. Cole never had anything pleasant to say. "Might we cut back the argument for a moment?"
"Whyzzat?" Fenix answered.
"Well," Cole said, drawing a deep breath. He pointed with one muscled arm. Veins generally throbbed and otherwise made themselves known. "We might want to shoot the Locust standing directly behind you."
Now Dominic and Fenix turned, Dominic grimacing at the universe in general. And so far it had been such a nice birthday too.
ąThis is of course based on a study carried out by Grismal Bokeray, High Investigative Unit Manager and Professor of Sociological Studies at West Sera University in a study entitled "Shiny First Impressions: The Look and Logistics of the Space Marine" which among other things, posited that the entire concept of the Space Marine may be flawed, considering the relative lack of marine or sea-based uses for the COG suit. Unit Commander Fenix's official response to this report is said to be: "What?"
Hmm? Oh, I try to avoid the expression "back in the day," yeah.
Being all "back in the day" automatically ages me, which would be fine if I were made of cheese. As I'm not, it suggests that I'm no longer in the day. Many of us are really just entering our particular day. But then, games are like that. They operate on another sense of time. Between the 50's and the 90's, few things actually gained a dimension. Except games.
Back in the day is also a bit disingenuous. There wasn't really a "day" for anything. Things sucked just as much back then (whenever then was) as they do now, just in different ways. But looking back, we almost always iron over the proverbial wrinkles and fill in the blanks with delicious chocolate. Back in the day is a myth, a mirage, all maya, yeah yeah yeah, and my memories are as chocolatey as anybody's.
Back in "the day," then, there was a grey box called a Nintendo. The joy of playing Nintendo, the joy we started to lose in the late 90's was the joy of simplicity. Of variety. Games could be about nearly anything, and in almost any style. Graphics may have been more uneven than today, glitches more prevalent without patches (even flagship Nintendo products like Metroid were overrun with glitchy blocks).
All the great Nintendo franchises started in this era, and haven't changed a lot since. Other franchises on the PC, Sega and the Arcade came out at the same time, and many are still spitting out sequels. In the last 10 to 15 years though, all these titles have gone 3D.
Now, I've already done a post about the 3D action title, shooters, etc, but that's not what I'm on about here. I like a lot of great, innovative 3D titles, even a few unoriginal ones that are short and fun. But I think we can all agree that things were getting a little "samey." In some ways they still are. 3D action titles should have meant more diversity, more options, not less. But the expense of these giant flagship titles make risky idea-based games less desirable. You could Bizarroman's Quest for Ankle Warmers online, but not in any wide forum for the average gamer.
This has begun to change.
Over the last 5 years, I would argue that we've seen an explosion of new genre-bending games, new ideas, and new venues for creative concepts. We've seen the transition from blocky or grainy 3D to 3D as an expressive medium, with cartoony and hyper-realistic styles side-by-side with more innovative art direction. And we've seen each major console pick up an Online network for new, creatively risky content. From Katamari to Braid, Guitar Hero to Space Giraffe, alternate forms of gameplay are getting more and more attention.
Steam and other services have opened up the old Adventure genre, while download networks on each console have really provided a testing-ground for retro titles.
This is what still excites me about the Wii.
When the Revolution was announced, I was only mildly interested in the fiddly floaty mouse thing. I could have cared less about more Mario and Metroid (though Zelda titles are pretty much the only games my wife enjoys), and I was almost hostile to the idea of better graphics and sound. Who needs that fancy pants stuff, because you know, back in the day, our graphics were made of moose pelts, and we liked it!
All three download services have a lot to get excited over, even with their ownership problems I've already examined, but the Wii is the one that I originally became attracted to.
The Wii has both "normal" controls and "waggle" controls, opening up the opportunities for new gameplay. The Wii has the cheapest Dev kit, so cheap I almost considered purchasing it myself to work on. More cheap dev kits mean more ideas, more reason to accept the risk of new ideas, more people able to splash their ideas into the mix.
Now this has, in fact, led to a lot of crappy party-games for the Wii. I could care less. I just won't buy those games. But the opportunity to create new experiences, retro, new, or otherwise and for these to actually pay off is the most exciting part of owning a Wii.
Now, all three consoles, and the PC now have these kinds of opportunities, and I think it's all good. But the cost effectiveness of the Wii and commitment to this kind of content as part of the Wii's Online strategy could open up the opportunity for the range of gaming to grow. That's what I want to see on my Wii.
I think this is a good time to be excited about where games can go. Whether most of the new ideas out there work or not, more diversity means more strength. Now, the Wii does need to break out of a few ruts. Great RPGs would be a start, more concepts like the recent range of Adventure Games, more retro titles are all positive steps in all the major gaming platforming. But games like the new Homestar Runner series, Zach and Wiki, Mad World and even Boingz are why I bought a Wii, not because I cared that much about how many hands I needed to play golf. It's time to bring back the old riskiness, even if that means more terrible games in with the interesting.
To shorten a long story, new shiny graphics and immersive controls, whether they're six-axis or more, won't push the future of gaming. An openness to risky ideas will.
When Final Fantasy IV left the localization team as Final Fantasy II back in 1991, a few small things were changed. Like removing the Tentacle Porn sidequest and changing Gorecap Bloodbane's name to G. Rubybn. References to "Stabbing Kain in the Eye" replaced with "..." Stuff like that.
But one thing that didn't change much were the monsters. Original Japanese phonetic spelling aside, monsters tended to be shortened, but not drastically transformed from the original. To me, this makes an old mystery even more beguiling, verging ever-so-slightly towards befuddlement and possibly folderol.
This is lake Okanagan, a narrow strip of beachfront property stretching from the Cheesy town of Armstrong to the winey city of Penticton, cut through the lower portion of the Okanagan valley, in rural BC. That's British Columbia, a rather obliquely colonial name for a deeply colonized province. The Okanagan is a desert with blazing summers painted yellow by the dying reeds and languorous, snowy winters. Apparently the Governator has a house there on the lake for the Sunny bits, or the skiing, or because of free medical, something like that.
Both Vernon and Kelowna, along the edge of Lake Okanagan register in Canada's top 100 most populated cities, but that's like calling Shan Shi one of the world's best Vegetarian Stakehouses. There ain't a lot of them. We've got like Toronto, 5th largest in North America, and then it kind of goes downhill from there.
I grew up in Vernon. To give you an idea of the demographics, think Florida minus Jews. At the time I grew up there, it boasted the most churches per capita in North America and the most churches on one street. It was actually a local joke. How do you get to the church? Just take a left at the church.
All the more odd that we had our own popularized sea-monster, complete with horns and forked tongue.
In addition to being a palindrome, the Ogopogo is apparently the "most famous sea monster in Canada," which is like saying Shan Shi is the world's most famous--oh, forget it.
Ogopogo sightings, that is to say beavers and logs, are an important part of the Okanagan identity. It's like living near Nessie, or Pete Townsend. You can't come to Vernon without buying a highly flammable Ogopogo doll made in Korea.
Vernon is more or less the definition of a "sleepy" town. The octogenarian population pretty much guarantees that a drive downtown will end in hip surgery. This made it even odder when our local sea-snake became featured as the second-last boss of Final Fantasy IV.
I'll let this sink in with a dangling participle:
Playing FFIV as a kid, the Ogopogo was amazing. I still remember pausing the game to tell my mom. How the Hell did Ogopogo get into my game?
Now, it's true that the Final Fantasy series is known for drawing on myths and legends to populate its universe. Kain from Cain, as in the brother of Abel. Asura, the middle-eastern deities who seek power, Odin from the Norse pantheon, the Behemoth from the Bible. In fact, every other boss in Final Fantasy IV has roots in a well known and popular system of mythology, or just a really obvious name. The Mist Dragon and White Dragon are obviously exactly what they sound like. The four fiends are loose references out of Dante's Inferno.
Now, compare the popularity of Dante's Inferno to that of the native Okanagan myths that gave rise to the Ogopogo. We're talking a small First Nation's group, with a few water fountains and polystyrene displays in parks that the majority of Japan will never visit. Even the localization team, situated not too far from the Canadian border would have had little reason to include an obscure Canadian monster.
And yet, not only does the Ogopogo make it in as the second-last boss of the entire game (admittedly optional, but striking nonetheless), it also entitles a whole series of newsletters put out by Square in the 90's entitled the "Ogopogo Examiner."
How and why did Ogopogo end up in the international version of a Flagship RPG?
Well I have tried to find out. I researched and emailed the original director in his new studios, and I looked up every member of the translation and localization teams. I couldn't find enough contact information for many of them, but those I could, I emailed.
What did I get in answer? Nothing.
Nobody provided any information at all.
Of course, the answer is probably very simple. They were looking for another sea creature, Nessie wasn't right for the job, somebody said something about an Ogopogo, a name which fit easily on the screen, and boom, history. 4 or 5 remakes later, we're still dropping ninja magic on that Leviathan palette swap. Odin, and Zeromus, and Rubicant may hog all the glory, but killing Ogopogo, that's the stuff you don't forget.
I had a really cool project all scheduled for this Off-Topic Wednesday, but it's not finished, so it'll have to wait until next week. Until then, here's something of my own that's very much in progress and totally unrelated to next week's special development:
For now, we will call her The Overseer. The Overseer is a cluster of ideas, possibilities, an undulating mass of intersecting realities. She is watching something.
The universe is about to end.
That is to say, two uniververse.
For some reason, as the galaxies phase through one another, as the cold fingers of stars, the wisps of galaxies fold into each other and wink into nothing, she thinks of humans, one tiny race in one tiny star system in one tiny galaxy cascading through an infinity of dimensions. This is not at all unusual. After all, a being as old as herself, so perceptive, so practiced has had a lot of so-called-time to think and has thought of a lot of things. It as much raw chance as the fact of a cup of pens spilling to the floor. It as raw chance as triangles having three-sides. It, like all that she can see is a myriad of coincidences falling through their own frail order.
The being thinks of humans, then, and the vanity of the words they use. Humans have called it the dream, the world, the cosmos, the universe, the, the, uni, the. They study it, their everything, catalogue it, watch as they spin helplessly around their sun, helplessly through their star system, helplessly around the sparkling darkness, adrift in the universe that too will one day disappear. All is coincidence, all is hapinstance, and like all universes (the silly word) one day their lucky run will run out, and the multiverse will envelop them as the stars themselves dissolve together into an embrace of nothingness.
The Overseer watches intently as the stars phaze out of being. So many billions of beings, trillions of stars, frillions of worlds. It is not a slow exodus, no gentle fall, no thousand years process as some would guess, but instantaneous. In human time, maybe slightly less than the length of a moment, a second, a pause, the eyes clenched shut for the sneeze. But The Overseer sets her own hours. She watches, intent, as birds vanish into one another, as glorpeks become mountains become air become nothing, as neutrinos, shivering, bumping, dancing, crash and shatter, scatter and fall. Finally, the last iota of matter, the last speck of time, the last fluctuations of energy, movement, and mass cease and there is nothing. Less than nothing. The absence of even emptiness or space. The nadir.
In a moment
she scoops her arms down
and with a single breath
there is matter, and there is time and there is a tiny, irridescent spark.
This will be one more verse, one more turn, she thinks.
Grow, universe, sparkle, explode, bloom.
She plants this tiny bauble in between folds, warming it with the undulations of dimensions. She will wait to see it blossom, maybe to see this little collapsing thing burst with new lights, itself spawn rocks, and suns and systems, maybe just to be enveloped by other realities, incorporated into a cosmos that is so big you could not breathe there.