You have traversed the depths of the C-Blogs and found your way here; a shabby cabin at the piss-end of nowehere, littered with discarded wine bottles and cigarette ends. You peer through the darkness to see five faint outlines in front of you. One sits composed and dignified in a desk chair by a badly damaged table, reading a textbook on human anatomy. He pays no attention to your arrival, and continues to read through unknown means in the darkness. To your left, in the corner, a shockingly handsome man in a plaid shirt sits behind a desk, smiles at you warmly, and refuses to break eye contact. To your right, on a stool, a surly woman in a nurses outfit cradles a cigarette in her outstrecthed claw, glaring at you with scorn that even the dark cannot disguise. The fourth figure sits on the floor, smiling dimly and fiddling with the laces of his white trainers and the dangly bits of his brown hoodie whilst puzzling over a particularly tricky section in his colouring book.
Finally, at the back of the room, you finally spot a familiar face, framed by scruffy hair and uneven sideburns. The man you recognise as jebussaves88 stands before you, nursing a half empty glass of Rioja, and yet this is not the man you once knew...
Welcome to the blog of the Astonishingly Badass clan, a group who met in the distant past of 2009 in the Versus mode of Left 4 Dead 2. Whilst our numbers were once strong, we five still stand united with two objectives; save humanity from not having enough of us in their lives, and to make silly gaming related videos. We feel Destructoid would be a good home for our upcoming video series "The Astonishingly Badass Show", as well as any future blogging content we may conjure up.
Good day once again Destructoid. I am Astonishingly BAdass, and I'm here to ask you a question; Is a man not entitled to the sweat from his br... no wait, sorry, wrong script. This is the one for my underwater kingdom of nutbags and think-wrongs.
No, instead, I come to you with a proposition. I have been toying with the idea for some time, and I believe the Destructoid community would make a good home for it. A new game related podcast!
Yes, another one.
But wait, there's more! This would not be a podcast which would talk about games. This would be a podcast where you enter the game, come face to face with the fiercest adversarys, explore the most dangerous lands, and probably end up dead.
What I propose is an audio version of a Dungeons and Dragons-esque role playing game, recorded for an audience, where three or so players and myself as dungeon master embark on an epic quest filled with the protaganists, antagonists and NPC's of video games. The world will be a mish-mash of many different game worlds; Vice City crossed with Morrowind, Olympus, the Halo, Racoon City and City 17 for example.
Any confident and mic-owning community members who would like to get involved, please comment below, because I reckon this could be fun!
Due to popular (and fictional) demand, I have once again been called away from my luxury two bedroom apartment in de_dust2 to further guide the uninitiated in the ways of the online shooter enthusiast. In part one, we discussed how you can preen your feathers and enact the mating call of the average Counter-Strike enthusiast to help you blend in with your new adopted family of cursing adolescents. Exclusive to Destructoid, I can now reveal an excerpt from my upcoming memoirs, detailing my integration into a fledgling clan.
See part one of my travel log to find out how to get on with fellow players like one of these!
The one they called Spooky laughed as I crouched over the fallen counter terrorist, miming the traditional and homo-erotic dance of victory practiced by online gamers for many years. His thick north England accented voice bellowed with laughter as I turned and shot his pal Barber in the face, as Barber let out another sigh of disbelief at his all too sudden failure. “HAX!” Barber responded from beyond the grave (as is tradition). The smallest and youngest of this group, Jake, who happened to be a fellow terrorist, cried out in elation as he felled Freedom, whom I suspect to be the mate of Spooky. She quietly sighed before calling Jake a bastard, which only spurred Jake’s near climactic glee beyond safe boundaries.
My success in integrating myself within this small, possibly vulnerable pack was down to two things alone; one, being good at the game. Two, the “well pervy” voice I am forced to put on, as I still live at home and am forced to speak quietly when playing late at night, a voice which comes across more Christopher Walken than soft spoken Jude Law. The latter served to amuse this quartet of players, whilst the former confirmed by belonging with them.
The next day, a server was rented, a clan web page formed, a badge concocted, and a name was born, a name which to this day, I neither care for nor understand. For we are “Hunters of Gunmen”, which I’m told by Freedom is good because the initials will be H.O.G, which is also the name of some sort of real life military group. As an extra surprise, despite having no knowledge of what was to happen, I had also been made an admin of this server. I was ecstatic. Had it really worked? Was I truly integrated to the point where the primitive inhabitants of this world were happy to grant me power over the very existence of their mortal plane? Did they really trust me with the power to release the Sword of Damoclese upon any foolish enough to abuse the customs and traditions of their people, along with all the Team Fortress 2 noises which can be played by admins for no good reason? To warp time and space if the map we were playing on displeased me? It seemed, finally, after two months in the jungle, the office and the dusty Middle-Eastern village, the stabilisers were off, and I was hurtling through the park on a shiny red metaphorical BMX.
This is pretty much my new job
At the time of writing, I have only wielded the power to play TF2 noises at the inhabitants of my new realm. This has received a mixed reaction. Aside from my new God-like powers, a much greater benefit has been realised; security. I know now that there is always a server where I am in control, where I can guide the locals who visit our territory/server away from their homophobic and racist slurs by killing or banning them. A place where I can no longer be banned from for simply killing the guy who owns the server more than he would like. A place where everybody knows my name, whether they like it or not. And a place where the fools I have duped into being Steam friends regularly procrastinate, ready for the plucking. Online gaming to the new adventurer is a dark, dangerous, hormonal and sweaty place on the surface. Penetrate the perspiring outer shell of this loud and outspoken species of online FPS enthusiasts, and you can find inner harmony, a second home, and power over life and death.
We all love having friends. Who doesn’t? Whether it be consuming toxic liquids together to decrease intelligence, skipping stones by the lake, or a good old fashioned friendly mugging, we as humans have constantly found ways to enhance our time on this Earth through shared experiences with those we care for and admire. As the twenty-first century dawned, a new way to meet and befriend people quickly took shape; online competitive gaming.
To an outsider, this brave new world may look vast, ugly and intimidating. Well fear no longer, because just for you, Professor Astonishingly Badass is here to gently coax you in to a world of gunfire, laughter and smiles. You lucky people.
In my studies, I have traversed the deep chasms of online multiplayer, hitchhiked through Steam, taken a seaplane to Xbox Live, and spelunked my way even to the scary underworld of Playstation branded fun. I have collected the notes in my journal and formed an easy to read “Handbook for the Online Gaming Curious”; a volume devoted to ensure you fare well amongst the apparent savages of these lands, and don’t end up tied to a plank and spit roasted. Please note: these several pointers have been written for newcomers to online gaming (or “n00b” as it is known in the local tongue), to ensure that you blend right in to this colourful, occasionally greyish brown world.
Don’t the natives colourful matching attire intimidate you. You’re the boss here!
1. Complain frequently of Team Imbalance If Team Deathmatch is your poison, then this first step is a must. When first starting out in your adventure, it is worth bearing in mind that you are ill equipped for the road ahead. No matter how many times you’ve completed the single player version of your chosen game, you will not have the skills required to survive for long in this cutthroat land. To blend in straight away, you must immediately question the fairness of the teams when your team is losing and the other is winning. It is obviously not your fault that the group you have been assigned to could be considered to be less skilled than the other eight random folks who happen to have also stumbled upon your chosen server. You can tackle this injustice easily.
1. Continuously write comments to the effect of “IMBALANCE,” “TEAM SHUFFLE VOTE GUYS” and “WHY YOU FUCKING VOTE NO? IMBALANCE! LOL”. Whether your efforts are successful or not, it is important to voice your concern to the natives, as they value your feedback.
2. Repeat Step 1 constantly. Don’t give up.
3. Also, make sure to attempt to call a Team Shuffle Vote as much as your chosen game will allow you to, assuming the game has this option.
Follow these steps, and results are guaranteed. These results may vary however.
2. Compliment a skilled opponent on his use of alternative software within the game Sometimes, life defeats you. Other times, it’s a guy on the Counter-Terrorist side with an AWP who is quite proficient with his chosen sniper rifle. Lord knows he may have worked hard during the opening few rounds to obtain his chosen weapon, so now you have to play the cards you have been dealt. Why should you be adjusting your tactics just to appease the laws of the universe and the aforementioned Counter-Terrorist sniper with the username “L33TSniper420”. Luckily, God has given you a voice, and you must use your voice to air your concerns about the legitimacy of your dominant opponent’s apparent skill with his chosen weapon. In my time with the natives, I discovered a popular chant which you may use to your advantage:
HAX(plural of hack): The collective term for alternative software used to artificially enhance the aiming capabilities of a player in a competitive online shooter. Derived from the Native Indian hackora, a term used to describe the invention of the musket.
This utterance should be shouted through the microphone, or typed in the chatbox, to alert your fellow players that you suspect foul play is at hand. Very often, this may not be the case, but when you’re out in the jungle, you can never be cautious enough.
3. The “RAGEQUIT (LOL)” A term which gained momentum with the 2008 video game “Left 4 Dead,” used to describe the actions of someone who foresees imminent defeat, and rather than face the music, will take flight away from the fight before allowing their opponents the satisfaction of triumphing over them. This is a move which should only be used when all your tools have been expended. The opposing team refuses to acknowledge your potential, disputes your accusations of aim-assisting software, and wants to continue stamping your face into the metaphorical dirt, so why hang around? There are other fights to join, potential victories to be had, so cut your losses, tuck your tail firmly between your legs, and hit that Quit Game button with your head held high. You can be the bigger man here, don’t let L33TSnipers have his way with you!
4. Use alternative software within the game to enhance your own abilities. In any walk of life, people love a winner. Don’t fall for that old cliché of “people love an underdog”. That’s bollocks. People want to bask in the glow of someone who has inexplicably killed twelve opponents in one round with a (normally) highly inaccurate machine gun, cutting through them like a knife through butter, despite the obvious handicap of them being on the other side of the level, a wall or any other bullet-penetrable barrier you can conceive. Aim assisting software is a God-send for the weary traveller who does not have time to master the different routes through levels, likely choke points, or the benefits of certain weapons over others. The modern man or woman demands results fast, and hacking the game to pieces will deliver those results faster than you can reload a sidearm. There may be those who accuse you weakly of somehow cheating, but you can rest easily in the knowledge they are merely jealous of your initiative, and are probably cheating anyway.
Use of “Hax” will also make your game appear more colourful, Like that movie Tron!
5. Spend extra attention on female players In my time in the jungle, in rare instances, myself and my teammates would be confronted with a rare opportunity; meeting a female in this barren wasteland. I myself mistakenly kept myself to myself and carried on playing. Much to my dismay, I found I had committed a faux par. My comrades, as well as my opponents, immediately sprang into action, as if they had been training for this moment all their lives. The mating call of the male online gamer may confuse and alienate those from the outside world, but I can only assume that the female player did indeed send pictures of her breasts to “UberGamer95” and “UKCS: JokerACMilanRfags” as requested. You may not see this opportunity arise in all your travels, but as soon as a female emerges from the vegetation, follow the suit of your fellow players, unless, like AC Milan Football Club, you wish to be branded a “fag”. Which leads me on to my next advice…
6. Question the sexuality of your fellow players and discriminate against your chosen sexuality for them. We as civilised human beings have long thrown away the shackles of an oppressive regime of abuse against those outside of a mixed gender relationship. We treat each other as equals, no matter what their choice of night time companion is. The natives of the gaming world, as a whole, have not reached this stage of development yet. In fact, it does not even matter if their chosen target of criticism is of the gay persuasion. This “insult” can be levelled at near enough anyone, be they stronger or weaker on the battlefield, straight or gay, male or female (see section 5), or black or white. As soon as you successfully release your torrent of accusations, a new pecking order will be established, and you, as the hetrosexual male gamer you may or may not be, will sit comfortably at the top! (Or at least above the poor sod you just called a “bummer”)
7. When all else fails, crouch crouch crouch The online gamer is a varied species. They may not all speak the same language, but one tool of communication is universal; the “Teabagging”. A movement long thought to be well overdue of dying out which persists to this very day, the act of teabagging (miming dipping parts of your possibly male genitalia into the face of a fallen opponent) is a language spoken by everyone. By standing over your fallen prey and continuously pressing Ctrl or the left thumbstick button, you’re planting your flag, sounding the trumpet of victory over the opponent stupid enough to get in the way of your bullets. Stand tall reader (and then squat, and then stand tall, and then squat), you are now inducted into the tribe!
We hope you have enjoyed this Astonishingly Badass publication. For more like this, why not read Why Japanese Games Suck and DmC: WtF?
The night was suddenly too quiet. After the last of the horde had fallen to the ground in a pile of blood and intestines, the four survivors had plenty of time to collect their thoughts. Chris used the time to scout the ground around the hundreds of fresh bodies that now littered the swamp, finding a pipe bomb and some pills. Aidan reloaded, took out his axe (a trusty side weapon he was never without) and switched back to his hunting rifle, before switching back to the axe, and then back to the rifle again. Mark took to jumping between two small earthy mounds that stuck out of the stagnant water, back and forth and back and forth, waiting for the others, while Lara stood by and insulted him ferociously. After twenty seconds, it started to dawn on them each in turn that nothing had attacked them for at least a minute, and that they should probably press on.
It was nearly three years ago that Left 4 Dead 2 was released. I was a twenty-one year old student of English Literature living 150 miles from home in a shabby student house in the arse end of Canterbury. My studies were suffering hugely, due to sheer volume of incoming work and projects, as well as a growing indifference towards the subject matter on my part. Late every night, when my housemates had long gone to bed, I would stay up and try to catch up, not working too much during the day so as to keep the impression amongst them that I was doing pretty well. I wasn’t. Every time I received an assignment back, a disappointing sub-fifty percent score would glare at me in big red letters from the page. I was mere weeks away from giving up.
It didn’t help that my best friend of the two previous years, a law student by the name of Mark, had decided to drop his course and proceed with a medical career instead. He was back in Surrey, retaking A-Levels in order to get into his preferred university, only to return to Canterbury twice more for mere social visits. I will always admire him for his decision. It takes balls to discard two years of your life for a new direction, but he did it and is reaping the rewards.
And thus, I found myself in a new house, far from the university, living with three students who appeared to be having a whale of a time with student life in general. These were the only three people I had any regular contact with for the final year, aside from the two guys who worked in the X-Electrical store near the cathedral, who would be subjected to my daily visits. I barely spoke to them, but we eventually were on first name basis.
Was I lonely? Initially, very much so. Housemate number one was a vibrant, passionate man from Birmingham who, like me, loved video games, and was someone with whom I could spend time with whenever he was kicking about. But, unlike me, he had places to be and people to see, and was usually too busy to indulge me in yet more Gears of War 2 horde mode. I didn’t begrudge him his additional life, merely envied him.
Housemate number two was a highly popular girl who spent most of her time out of the house. We got on fine, and had many a chat in the kitchen over coffee, but our friendship didn’t extend much beyond this.
And finally, Housemate three was a man with whom I shared a begrudged friendship. We tolerated each other merely for the convenience of our friends in common, but make no mistake; we hated each other. Not for any malicious reason. It was mere incompatibility. He lives in Canada now and has a moustache.
Finally, the silence was broken. The shrill cry of the hunter, followed very quickly by the crack as he landed with full force on Mark, made the other three jump in their seats. Under the flailing claws and sprays of blood, Mark laughed briefly. “Fuck, haha, get it off!” Aidan was nearest and was drawing his axe when the cow-like whail of the Charger sounded. In a blur, Aidan disappeared, the horrific monstrosity carrying him a good hundred metres away before ploughing him into a tree. “Oh crap!” Lara shouted into her microphone, as the high pitched maniacal laugh of the Jockey filled hers and Chris’s headsets. The jockey had snuck up from behind and jumped Lara, leaving only Chris to repel this highly co-ordinated attack from their four opponents.
The summer of 2009 was largely uneventful. E3 rolled round, with Left 4 Dead 2 being showcased. My interest was briefly caught, but dissipated as scepticism of such a quick sequel to a game released less than a year ago grew. I did buy my first gaming PC, and was interested in delving into online multiplayer after having my appetite whetted by Gears of War’s Team Deathmatch. Initially, I bought Crysis and The Orange Box, and had a good time with both of those. Team Fortress 2 was fun, but in its early incarnation, held little appeal for too many return visits. By the time November had come, I had nothing left to play on PC, and very little on my sole console of the time, the Xbox 360, was calling to me.
And so it was with few other gaming options that I resorted to Valve’s sequel to a game I had only watched over Marks shoulder the previous year (It had been he who had encouraged me to either replace or upgrade my clunky old Windows XP PC with 2.4ghz processing power and 1gb of RAM.) I handed over £34.99, and made my way home. It was the third time I had registered a product on Steam, proceeded only by The Orange Box and Audiosurf. After a short wait, I booted the game up, having contacted Mark to see if he wished to join me. He did.
Chris had to act fast. First, he dealt with the boomer that had rounded a tree not too far from him. One shot of his auto shotgun and it was gone in a mist of red. Next, he punted the jockey from Lara’s head before the little bastard could ride her further away. The two then both right clicked the midget-infected into oblivion. Unfortunately, this meant that Aidan and Mark were now incapacitated, and their life bars at the bottom of the screen told the two standing survivors that their chances of survival were slim.
Four hours after first booting up the game, and I finally exited my room. I was dehydrated, slightly hungry, and needed a cigarette. But it was totally worth it. In a way, I also felt slightly bad. Only that morning, I had shelled out as much money as I would normally spend in two weeks on a game that I had now completed but for one final campaign. As someone of limited finances, it was a rare occasion I would buy a game brand new and at launch, and now that policy seemed justified. Sure, myself and Mark would play the campaigns again on the harder difficulties, but how long could that last?
Instinctively, they split up. Lara went to help Mark, who was shouting into his mic that the hunter victim should always be prioritised, whilst Aidan remained silent. Chris shot the Charger four times in the back, and revived his fallen teammate. “Ta very much” he said. “Lara, do you still have that Molotov?” Lara was still helping Mark up off the floor. “Yep. Why? Oh!” The horribly familiar music of a tank attack had crept in, with the four survivors too distracted to notice. Not far away, a human-controlled tank would be running full pelt at the survivors. Judging by the further incidental music, he would not be alone. With Mark and Aidan in bad shape, it didn’t look too promising. “Well, I’m pretty sure one of them is defintley hacking, but other than that, they won’t get too far when they’re survivors” “Mark stated with confidence. “Yeah, those two idiots keep running off and leaving the other two. Just pick the back ones off first and we’ll be fine” Aidan stated with authority he may or may not have possessed. But suddenly, both his and Mark’s HUD’s showed a very welcome sight; their two teammates were using their medkits on their injured comrades. With time to spare before the tank was upon them, Lara pulled out the Molotov, Chris the pipe bomb he had found earlier, and they all opened fire. Two minutes later, they had made it to the saferoom.
It was nearly a year and a half later once I had stopped playing Left 4 Dead 2. In that time, I had formed a Steam group with membership in the triple figures for those myself and my clan mates deemed to be a good teammate/opponent for the versus mode which we most commonly frequented. But most importantly, I had picked up some good friends along the way. I became good friends with Chris, a childhood friend of Mark’s, with whom I’d likely have had no interaction with but for this game. There was Andy/Apache, a young and handsome Yorkshireman who I would frequently tease about being handsome and from Yorkshire, and of course, the ever impatient and hilarious Lara, whom myself and Mark discovered to be female a great length of time after she had become a regular on our team, much to our surprise. She would later become a partner of mine in several overly ambitious projects which, in all honesty, never reached fruition, but which we had great fun doing.
Our eventual clan logo
And so, whilst 2009/10 seemed to be an endless sea of lectures, seminars and casual acquaintances mixed in with disappointment, indifference and shame, it eventually was rescued by a game with a simple concept; “Live together; or die alone”. A game that brought me closer to four awesome people, a game which ensured myself and Mark, my good friend of the two years previous, stayed in contact. A game which helped me cope with a depressing situation, right up the point where I finally passed my degree (just) despite a lot of warning signs to the contrary. A game that not only entertained me and allowed a feeling of escapism, but made me feel needed by my new found friends. I can say with some confidence that Left 4 Dead 2 saved my degree, saved my year, and even had a hand in shaping me into the person I am today. Roll on Left 4 Dead 3!
L. Writes: I would like to say hello and thank you to all who have taken the time to click their way into this blog. My name is Aidan O’Dwyer, known as L. on Steam and Left 4 Dead 2 and as jebussaves88 on my previous account here. In my previous incarnation, I wrote posts relating to a backlog I was working my way through, which were viewed by few probably due to the somewhat uninteresting nature of a blog written by some guy about some games he’s played with little insight into the person himself. But not to worry, I have taken jebussaves88 round the back of the shed and shot him. He won’t be bothering you anymore.
I write to you from this new account, a new start for not just myself, but four others. Yes, we are legion, for we are many. First off is myself; I’m a 24 year old Registration Officer (someone who facilitates civil marriages) from the south of England. I enjoy competitive online FPS’s, racing games and co-op games, but generally have a soft spot for all games other than real time strategy.
I am joined by StrYdA (real name Mark). A 23 year old Surrey based student of medicine, his main enthuse is for real time strategy, but like me, he is highly partial to a spot of first person shooting and co-operative gameplay, as well as fantasy games in general.
Third amongst us is an old school friend of Marks and another student of medicine, Chris (AKA Killerkris) whose tastes largely are similar to Mark’s although he at times finds himself happier with a single player experience.
Our resident girl is Rhyn (AKA Lara) a care assistant from Suffolk, whom myself and StrYdA met online through Left 4 Dead 2’s online multiplayer. We have no idea what she looks like, but we do know she has a scooter named Trevor, loves Doctor Who (for the most part) and is also an avid fiction writer.
Finally, Apache (real name Andrew), an admin for some sort of green hippy company whose name I should probably ask. We haven’t been in contact with Andrew too much lately, as we have all drifted away from Left 4 Dead 2. This is something I’m hoping this blog will fix.
The first episode can be found above. Much of the content is centred around myself, Rhyn and later StrYdA playing Borderlands 2. I have also included a short section in the middle which is myself quickly reviewing some video games whilst drinking wine. I hope to be joined by the others for this section, which hopefully will extend to more than just product reviews.
Finally, I would like to extend my invitation to you, the Destructoid community, to help make this video series better. What could we do more of? What could we do better? What should we completely abandon? How much gaffer tape should we put over StrYdA’s mouth to stop us from killing him? All questions I hope you will answer for us.
Additionally, if you would like to take part, then I throw open the doors to anyone amongst you to join our Steam group (The Astonishingly Badass) and get in touch with us. Heck, maybe we could make a video together!
Finally, I would like to draw your attention to a shameless ploy I concocted to get some more attention. I am giving away RAGE on PC. All you have to do is leave a comment below, either giving us some feedback, or perhaps suggesting your own idea for an advertisement campaign modified with heavy swearing. UK entrants will receive the full packaged game as shown in the video, whereas viewers from abroad will simply receive a message from this account with the Steam code from within. Best suggestion/ fucking advertisement wins!
Thank you watching/reading, and good mental health!