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Arkhon's blog

5:55 PM on 08.26.2009

I Suck at Games: MMORPGs

Massively multiplayer online games have, to me, always been repulsive in almost every way. My best friend is obsessed with one called FlyFF, and I just don't understand why. All he ever seems to do in that game is level grind relentlessly and then run around killing monsters for no reason. He is not alone in his love of these games, as millions of people continue to play World of Warcraft and the like. I have tried playing a couple MMOs but could never get into it, and I have never truly enjoyed any of them. Though my friend would say it's because I suck at them, it all really comes down to four general reasons, I think.

First of all, all the MMOs I've tried have focused heavily on level grinding. Level grinding is not something I enjoy, especially not when battles consist of simply clicking on an enemy and occasionally healing yourself. I have no problems with level grinding in games like Golden Sun, whose strategic turn-based combat and amazing graphics and beautiful sprites made it interesting, but when a game basically requires you to spend a ridiculous amount of time clicking enemies with little to no action, I start to get bored and annoyed. I don't need work in my video games.

I'm generally a shy person. If I say something, it's because that something has passed through various censors in my mind to be deemed important or interesting enough to be spoken aloud. I'm not saying I don't like talking to random strangers online, but I don't like that concept to be a central mechanism of a game.

Playing games with other people almost always breaks immersion, but in MMOs this effect is ridiculous. Everybody talks to each other in shorthand. People stand around spamming inane messages. I find it impossible to get drawn into a game when I notice how people are acting in-game. Nobody's actually role-playing, they're just questing to get a high-level character so they can show everybody else how much better they are because of how much more time they spend playing a boring game.

RPGs should always have strong plots, but the MMORPGs I've played tend to lack any seriously compelling narrative. Most of them, from what I've seen and been told, are simply random quests to go kill X number of A monsters, for seemingly no reason. I guess what I'm saying is that I don't see the point of these games. In shooters you defeat your enemies, in puzzle games you solve puzzles, in real RPGs you complete the story, but the only thing I can come up with for MMORPGs is get to a very high level and act superior to everyone else.

Every time I try to play a MMO like World of Warcraft, I just can't help but think how much work it is, and think of playing another game. And when that happens, I just give up and go play something more fun.   read

8:51 AM on 08.26.2009

How Video Games Changed My Life

I have never, ever been a particularly good student, at least not as far as grades go. In my freshman year of high school, I failed my trigonometry/precalculus course and had to retake it the next year. Mind you, in my school trigonometry/precalculus is generally taken by sophomores or juniors, so I didn't really feel too bad about that. Later, in my senior year, I struggled with my English class. My teacher was obsessed with assigning us long-term projects, which I've never been good at. I actually flunked last year because of that class, and this Monday I'm starting my second senior year via cyber school. The day I found out that I would not be graduating with all the people I had come to know over the past four years was easily the worst day of my life so far. It was definitely worse than when I found out my parents were separating, or when I found out my mom was a lesbian, or when my beloved great-grandfather died.

Let me get one thing straight: I'm no idiot, by any means. I was taking a math course two years ahead of the rest of my classmates. I took extra science courses, practically acing my AP Physics class, despite the fact I was the youngest person in that class. I have always been in the gifted classes. When I was in seventh grade, I took the SAT (before they added the stupid writing portion) and got a combined score of 1160. I got ninth place in the Patriot News regional Spelling Bee in eighth grade. In the summer between seventh and eighth grade I took a college level course on ancient Greek language via Johns Hopkins University's CTY program. The last time I got an IQ test, my score was 146. When I was in elementary school, I wanted to grow up to become a nuclear physicist. I was always the guy everybody asked to help them with their homework and whose test scores nobody was interested in knowing. My most recent SAT score was 2180: 780 math, 700 reading, 700 writing.

But I have ADHD, and have always had problems with remembering to do homework and focusing on long-term projects. I also have problems writing essays because they tend to lose logical structure about halfway through. I quickly forget what I set out to prove or say. My thoughts flow rapidly between random ideas with no logical pattern. I have taken medication for it for years, but it never seems to help with my main problems. I still don't have my driver's license because for over a year I was afraid that I would not be able to focus well enough to drive.

There are precious few things that allow me to think coherently. The first of these that I discovered was reading books. I loved to read because it was really the only time the cacophony inside my head would stop and let me focus on something. I actually got so involved with books that I would completely forget the world around me. When I got older, I noticed video games had the same effect, and just last year I found that computer programming does the same thing. Television and movies never quite cut it with me. They never seemed to be able to challenge my brain the way reading or playing video games did.

My brother, Ross, is about a year and a half my junior and has also been diagnosed with ADHD. However, he seems to exhibit none of the same symptoms as me. He's loud, obnoxious, hyperactive, and an idiot. He's never had quite as much trouble in school as I have. My thoughts need to pass through some heavy filters before they leave my mouth; he blurts out whatever he is thinking, and often says stupid, inane things simply to hear the sound of his voice. He tends to giggle uncontrollably and annoyingly at things that are only slightly funny. In short, I was much more mature than him at his age. He sucks at video games, but still demands to play them all the time, and when I tell him that I want to play a single player game he hangs around and tries to intentionally aggravate me into letting him play. The worst part about when he is around is that I can never focus on the game I'm playing very well because he's trying to be silly by walking weird and making irritating clicking noises with his mouth.

I have always been a bit of a loner, an outcast. I never really minded that I didn't have many friends in school because, to be honest, I didn't like many people at my school. Everybody was always telling me how smart I was when I would solve a problem for them, and I'd think in my head that they were idiots for not being able to see the solution. I know that they aren't actually idiots, they're just average, but humans tend to gauge others by comparing them to themselves, and I still have trouble breaking that habit. I always felt that my life was empty, though, until I got my Xbox 360 and discovered the wonders of console gaming. Now I have some goals in life. They're not good ones, but at least they exist.

Finally, I come to both the best and worst effect that video games has had on me: causing me to hyperfocus on them. I love video games because I can forget the world around me when I play them, and can think rationally and in an organized manner. I have something to think about when I'm at school. Last year, my parents told me they were getting a divorce, and I kind of retreated into my games. The problem was that, between gaming and my parents' divorce, I really couldn't focus on school projects or homework, and so my grades kept going down and down until I got the phone call that said I wouldn't be graduating.

This year I really fucking hope I do better with cyber school.   read

12:48 AM on 08.25.2009

Another Example of Why I Love Destructoid

I just got kicked twice in a row from IRC for saying that I prefer Skittles to M&Ms.

My reaction both times was to actually laugh. I was kicked for stupid stuff, and yet I'm not angry. Something about Destructoid takes away my angry thoughts.   read

9:27 PM on 08.24.2009

Why I Love Destructoid: Cool Kids Redux


5:49 PM on 08.24.2009

Why I Love Destructoid

Quite simply, Destructoid is the best gaming-related site I've ever been on, for several reasons.

First off, the community is awesome, largely because it seems so small. The same names seem to keep popping up in comments on the main blogs, the community blogs, and the forums. I always love seeing SuitcoatAvenger's latest artwork, or reading the Cblog Recaps. When you compare DToid to other more popular sites like IGN or Gametrailers, the users/members are generally much smarter.

I haven't really seen a single troll on the site, except for the occasional avatarless user who signs up just to post an inane comment on something or post a pretty crappy blog where they rant in broken grammar about something or other.

I do feel a little out of place among all of you veteran gamers, because I only recently got into gaming (and by "recently" I mean in 2007). But I have never felt unwelcome.

I also love how I often see really offbeat stories on the main page.

Most of you probably have been on the site for a while, so you all know what I'm talking about already. Nevertheless, I felt I should profess my love for this website.

Update: I'm sorry, recappers.   read

1:43 AM on 08.16.2009

Rock Band Problems

Okay, so I recently learned that you can have a 6" figurine made of one of your Rock Band 2 characters. It looks really cool for me because I love my Scary Spikes character. He looks awesome, especially with his Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird guitar.

For some reason, Xbox LIVE blocks out the name "Scary Spikes". It also blocks out the name of my band, "Scary Spikes and the Llamas". I cannot commission a figurine to commemorate Scary Spikes's awesomeness because the Rock Band website does not acknowledge that I have ever created such a character, because his name is blocked. I really don't want to create another character and make him look exactly the same as Scary Spikes in order to get a figurine of him.

I also cannot seem to contact Xbox LIVE about this particular issue, as their support is entirely geared toward hardware malfunctions and the like.

I still want to know what is wrong with the name Scary Spikes.

On another note, my guitar controller keeps dropping blue notes. My drum controller has lost its red pad because my brother, who usually plays drums, hits the thing way too hard. We used to have two kick pedals to make fast bass notes easier to hit. My friend broke his kick pedal (Gen 1 controller) so I loaned him one of mine. After all, I don't really need two. I then broke the pedal that I kept. My friend broke the pedal that I loaned him. I'm going to have to get the full version of The Beatles: Rock Band if I'm going to be able to do anything with it.   read

2:24 AM on 08.14.2009

An Arbitrarily Chosen List of My Favorite Video Game Characters

This is a list of ten of my favorite video game characters, in no particular order and with very little reasoning behind them.

Game: Portal

Easily my favorite enemy in any game, GLaDOS is the only character with any lines in Portal, promising cake but never delivering.

Favorite Quote:
"I'd just like to point out that you were given every opportunity to succeed. There was even going to be a party for you. A big party that all your friends were invited to. I invited your best friend the Companion Cube. Of course, he couldn't come because you murdered him. All your other friends couldn't come either because you don't have any other friends. Because of how unlikeable you are. It says so here in your personnel file: Unlikeable. Liked by no one. A bitter, unlikeable loner whose passing shall not be mourned. 'Shall not be mourned.' That's exactly what it says. Very formal. Very official. It also says you were adopted. So that's funny, too."

Renegade Commander Shepard
Game: Mass Effect

So many good lines from Commander Shepard if you choose to be an asshole Renegade.

Favorite Quote:
"Why does this hanar refuse to listen to reason?"
"Because it's a big, stupid jellyfish!"

Game: Half Life series

This guy seriously creeps me the fuck out every time he appears. The weird way he talks, the way I never know what the hell is going on when he just shows up for no readily apparent reason.

Creepiest Quote:
"Time, Dr. Freeman? Is it really that time again? It seems as if you only just arrived. You've done a great deal in a small time...span. You've done so well, in fact, that I've received some interesting offers for your services. Ordinarily I wouldn't contemplate them, but these are extraordinary times. Rather than offer you the illusion of free choice, I will take the liberty of choosing for you... if and when your time comes round again. I do apologize for what must seem to you an arbitrary imposition, Dr. Freeman. I trust it will all make sense to you in the course of... well, I'm really not at liberty to say. In the meantime... this is where I get off."

Alyx Vance
Game: Half Life series

One of the few characters I've ever had actual feelings for in a video game. I don't know why, but I was actually sad when the creature thingy (whose name I've forgotten) basically almost kills her.

Favorite Quote:
"I think we just broke about 50 Combine regulations! No eye contact with Combine soldiers; don't damage Combine property; don't kill the Combine representatives; have your papers out and available; no loud noises after 6 o'clock;..."

Game: Half Life series

Half Life 2: Episode 2. Dog beats the shit out of a Strider that generally takes six or seven rockets to take down. It was so awesome seeing t kick a Strider's ass after I had had so much trouble taking them out towards the end of Half Life 2. Dog is adorable despite its monstrous size and metallic composition. There's more personality in that non-speaking robot than in many other video game characters (Gordon Freeman from the same game comes to mind).

Favorite Action:
Kicking the shit out of a Strider

Game: Fable II

I killed off my families in Fable II multiple times without caring. I would roam the streets of Bowerstone, killing literally every person I saw. But when my dog was even hurt, I would immediately stop fighting any battle I was in and heal him. I played fetch with him for no reason. When he died, my reaction was very much like when I was six and watched Bambi and his mother got shot. I literally cared more about my dog than my own character.

Favorite Name:

Game: The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles

In Oblivion, I usually skip through dialog if I've heard it before. Not with Sheogorath. He has some of my favorite dialog in any game.

Favorite Quote:
"Wonderful! Time for a celebration...Cheese for everyone! Wait, scratch that, cheese for no one. That can be just as much of a celebration if you don't like cheese, true?"

Game: The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles

Sheogorath's chamberlain's dry detachment and tired sarcasm make him one of my favorite characters. Always able to help you by offering advice in as condescending a tone as possible. I love messing with him.

Favorite Quote:
"Oh silly me, the book has no pictures. I can't really expect you to read that, now can I?"

Game: Left 4 Dead

He hates vans, tunnels, sewers, hospitals, doctors, lawyers, cops, subways, airports, small towns, churches, graveyards, trains, the army, airplanes, stairs, elevators, hotels, malls, walking, turnpikes, trainyards, water, camping, and woods, but not vests

Favorite Quote:
"You know what I don't hate? I don't hate vests."

Niko Bellic
Game: Grand Theft Auto IV

Niko Bellic is one of the most fully fleshed-out characters I can think of, and, together with the amazing plot, brings legitimacy to what would otherwise be nothing more than a controversial sandbox game. I had never played a GTA game before IV, and I was surprised by how good it was. I had only thought that it was the sort of game that really shouldn't be gotten for anyone under the age of eightteen. I was of course right, because the gameplay is far too adult and the story is far too adult.

Favorite Quote:
"War is where the young and stupid are tricked by the old and bitter into killing each other."

Well, that post was a lot of work and took me over an hour and a half to complete, but hey, what the hell, I was bored.   read

10:26 PM on 08.13.2009

Songs I Think Should be DLC for Rock Band

"Hammered" by Motley Crue
"Renegade" by Styx
"When the Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin
"Symphony of Destruction" by Megadeth
"Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne
"Mr. Crowley" by Ozzy Osbourne
"All Nightmare Long" by Metallica
"Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes
"Frankenstein" by Edgar Winter Group
"Hocus Pocus" by Focus (I just want to see what they would come up with for vocals)
"Life's Been Good" by Joe Walsh
"Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey
"Godzilla" by Blue Oyster Cult

Yes I have weird taste for someone my age.

I was going to add a few Pink Floyd songs, but I would rather have an entire game devoted to my favoritest band evar.

I maintain that it would be funny to see what the vocals track for "Hocus Pocus" would be.   read

1:36 AM on 08.13.2009

Why Do People Hate Halo?

Okay, I've noticed a tendency, especially, for some reason, among British people, to hate Halo and the Halo franchise, often irrationally so. I simply do not understand, nor do I understand why I've observed more British people spewing hateful remarks about it than anyone else.

Halo: Combat Evolved was an excellent game. I still play it occassionally. The music was good, the gameplay was good, the story was interesting, the game was well-polished, and the controls were excellent. The level design was repetitive, but I never really cared. I never got tired of the levels because they were good, and backtracking just seems like something that makes sense. I loved going back through my favorite levels to fight more bad guys.

Halo 2 was a very good continuation. It expanded a lot of what you could do in the game, with new vehicles, weapons, and abilities, but the gameplay seemed less polished and balanced. The graphics were great for the time and hardware, especially compared to the first Halo. The art was good. The music was fantastic.

Halo 3 was an extremely good game that didn't quite live up to the hype, but let's face it, if you believed the hype you were a dumbass. In fact, if you believe the hype for anything and are disappointed when you get the game, you are a dumbass. Halo 3's gameplay was extremely well-polished. The story wasn't as strong, but the level design was excellent and the art was fantastic. The music was as usual great. Halo 3's multiplayer is the best FPS multiplayer I've ever played. It is certainly the most balanced. (Yeah, you can go on and on about Call of Duty's ranking system but I must be the only one who finds that pitting a newb with basic weaponry against veteran players with the best abilities and weaponry is unfair and incredibly unbalanced.)

So why do people hate Halo and its franchise? All three games have been very good. Halo 3's Forge option is incredibly fun, and it's always interesting to see what people come up with. The community is good. The only annoyances are the people who play multiplayer are usually either dumbfuck twelve-year-olds or assholes who have played hundreds and hundreds of hours and take the game way too seriously, but that's not too big of a problem for me. Halo 3 is not my favorite game, and it never will be, but it's still a very good game.

Also, why is it mostly British people who appear to vocalize their hatred the loudest? Am I just imagining it? I don't have anything against Britain (except for the terrible weather and ridiculous taxes) or its people, I'm just wondering.   read

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