I'm currently looking for paid writing gigs, so if you might want anything written shoot me a message (craighats at hotmail dot com).
In case the contents of this blog don't make it obvious enough, I have something of an affinity for slightly "offbeat" titles, so if there's something out there that few others cover, there's a fair chance I'm at least somewhat up on it.
If there's any sort of (reasonable) inquiry you'd like me to address, please don't hesitate to be in touch.
Below are a handful of recaps and other links (oldest listed first by section), in case you're interested - asterisks mark promoted articles.
Can you believe that people still come to Destructoid, even though they’ve had to put up with the likes of me for a year now?
Yeah, it is kind of incredible, isn’t it – as of today I’ve been badgering the denizens of this site for twelve whole months, my intro blog having been uploaded one complete trip around the Sun ago. At least on this end, it’s been a pretty memorable year – as such, while I doubt anyone else much cares, I’m going to take this opportunity to look anew at my tenure here so far, as well as offer a handful of general thoughts related to it…in otherwords, ramble on awhile because, at least for today, I have something resembling an excuse (not like lacking one has ever stopped me, but…).
Anyway, here’s to a year of DToid, and all that it entails…for at least one particularly longwinded, dorky interloper.
I’d Like to Thank…
I’d best start off with a handful of acknowledgements for some of the personalities around here that have kept things interesting for me up to this point.
- First order of business – I know I’ve driven this sentiment into the ground by now, but I couldn’t write a blog like this without once again offering my thanks to Nintendoll for encouraging me to register here. I’m not sure whether or not it was the fickle hand of destiny that nudged me into that EBX when you just happened to be present and talking to some other people about video game writing, but needless to say I’m quite glad I ended up doing so (and that you didn’t tell me to take a hike when I walked up to you out of nowhere). Hopefully we’ll cross paths IRL again at some point, but even if we don’t, thanks once again for pointing me in this general direction.
- As of now, the only other DToider I’ve managed to meet in person is sickNasty, whose comedy show I went to see over the summer; thanks to you, sir, for letting me hang around afterwards and torture you and yours with my first (and so far, only) attempt at vocals on Rock Band. Hopefully you’d be willing to invite me back. Speaking of which, DToid New York crew, sorry for having to back out of the last meetup, I WILL make it to one of your shindigs one of these days…though you’ll probably ban me for life afterwards.
- Just for the heck of it, I also feel compelled to offer a shout-out to a handful of users who were very friendly to me from the beginning, but have seemingly vanished into the void since then – Gilder? Dogen? Vimes? Bueller? Where’d you guys go? Hopefully you’ll pop in here just to say hello before too much longer…I’ve missed chewing the fat about weird games with you lot! Of course, there are loads of continually-active people who continue to encourage me on a regular basis, but there are WAY too many of you to name individually, or even add to my Friends list…hopefully you all know who you are, as the saying goes, and will accept my heartfelt thanks for treating me so well, in the face of all my irritating quirks.
- Also in order is a word of gratitude to the sites that I’ve regularly used as sources for The Obscurer Tribune – other than our very own Destructoid, I also must acknowledge the shmups.com forum, Siliconera, Kotaku, Mognet Central, Joystiq, Gamer Limit, and Gamekyo. Hopefully I haven’t forgotten anyone major – in any event, thanks to all of those places for always giving me something interesting to recap.
- Finally, of course, I must offer thanks to Niero and his tireless staff for keeping things humming around here – a year in and I’m still utterly clueless about a lot of the site-specific things that go on in these parts (confession time – I still have no flippin’ idea how the whole “Also Cocks” thing got started, and the same goes for legion other in-jokes), but I’m still very glad to have the opportunity to peddle my wares in your territory. Keep posting, reporting, doodling, HAWPing, ‘casting, and all the other stuff you do, with my appreciation, for whatever it’s worth.
Why This Is What It Is
Formalities out of the way, if anyone’s up for it I’ll devote a few paragraphs to explaining why various parts of this blog, well, are the way they are. If you’ve ever been curious (if not downright confused) about the nature of something I’ve posted (and I doubt you haven’t at some point), hopefully an answer is someplace in here.
- Readers from near the beginning will recall that when I first joined up, I used a simple picture of the infamous Red Ring of Death, on an alternate-face-plated 360, as my top image – that photo was actually of my first Japanese import 360, originally taken to be used as evidence in the refund dispute that arose with the seller afterwards. When I later pondered what I should use as a header soon after joining DToid, I happened to dig it back up, and it seemed like a decent option for a newbie to display – to-the-point, slightly pretentious and more than a little ironic. Before long, though, as more of my writing appeared here, I decided that a change was in order – as a very vocal fan of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne I was tempted to use something related to that game, but as much as I adore its dark, stylish tone, it just didn’t fit me as an individual very well (feel free to envision Lloyd Bentsen remarking “I knew Hitoshura, and you’re no Hitoshura”).
In the end I instead opted for a simple montage of Igor from the offshoot Persona series, accompanied by one of his signature quotes. While I’m nowhere near the badass he is, I felt (and still do) that he’s a pretty good allegory for what I generally do on my blog – I like to think that both of us set up shop mostly in the background, just doing our thing, waiting for a handful of curious visitors to stop by (and if my case is anything else like Igor’s, normal people can’t even see my blog…I’d certainly believe it). Also like him, I probably come off as a somewhat intimidating oddball at first, but if you hang around a little you’ll find that I’m always there at my little table, willing to chat amicably, and maybe even teach you something new, whenever you decide a visit is in order. I truly hope that, whenever you return to this blog, you’re able to, in some small way, take its simple, straightforward greeting of “Welcome Back” to heart.
- Huh? The avatar? Believe it or not, he actually goes back, in his present form, to my early days at the shmups.com forum – since I’m a pretty unskilled shooter player despite my long-running genre fandom, I registered there as “BulletMagnet” (the first time I ever invoked that username, though it’s become kind of a standard for me since then). While he was preceded by several other portraits, as I gradually gained more knowledge and my oddball tastes became increasingly apparent, on a whim I decided to usher in the image you see above you, a spoof of the cover art for Konami’s Salamander, as implemented by goofball shooter series Parodius – soon after that, I got the idea to use my very limited Adobe ImageReady skills to give him a twitching eye. My fellow forumites thought it suited me well, and ever since then “Twitchin’ Sal” (as I’ve come to call him) has served as my face on the internet just about everywhere I go; indeed, as a metaphor for my “so pitifully grotesque it’s somehow funny” relationship with many games, he’s simply unrivaled.
- I guess I’d better start off with some justification (if you can call it that) for my most prolific recurring series, The Obscurer Tribune. As a fledgling DToider I’d occasionally post one or two oddball gaming news items at a time (long before I considered making a habit of it), but soon got the (accurate) sense that “news/recap” posts are somewhat discouraged on the c-blogs. I considered just stopping those sorts of writeups altogether, but still very much wanted to get the word out about the less-popular games I enjoy, not to mention have a way to keep track of it all for myself: thus the Tribune was born, as an effort to disseminate such info on a regular basis while offering a bit more to readers than the usual “oh, this thing was just announced, kthxbye” format. I don’t know how much of the series’ being allowed to continue is due to its intrinsic value versus the admins figuring that confronting me about it just isn’t worth the effort, but either way I’m glad to be able to do it, even if its niche appeal is reflected in the rather paltry amount of interest it tends to generate. In any event I’m eternally grateful to its regular readers; as always, feel free to drop me a line if you think there’s something about it that I could improve (aside from “stop doing it”).
If you’re interested in a few more miscellaneous Tribune tidbits, its name (which almost nobody spells correctly) is a play on a local paper around here, the Observer-Tribune. Also, if you’ve ever wondered how, when multiple source sites feature the same story, I decide which one to link, the process is not even remotely complicated – if one article isn’t notably more comprehensive than another, I just refer to whichever one I happen to see first. I do make an exception for DToid itself, however – if I have an item which is also covered here on the site someplace (c-blogs included), I’d feel weird linking to someone else’s coverage as if I’d found something completely new – as such, even if DT’s news is late compared to another source’s, I always make sure to include a quick link to the “DToid coverage” at the end of the paragraph. I can’t think of much else to highlight about the Tribune offhand…if something else rates a question with you, again, feel free to ask me directly.
- I suppose it also behooves me to say a few things in regards to my general style: it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve broached the subject, but hopefully I can refer to this as something of a “default” reference for anyone who wants an explanation in the future. To be blunt, my writing strikes a fair amount of people as overly verbose and cumbersome to take in; to a large extent I can’t argue with them, as I never intended to appeal to mass audiences here in the first place. As I’ve said before, if one prefers a quicker, lighter DToid read there are plenty of options out there, but relatively little exists that offers a slower-paced, more in-depth and comprehensive look at various aspects of gaming (though such content offered by fellow c-bloggers is frequently excellent, when it appears). Of course, I can’t pin every last vestigial word I type on a “mission statement” like that, but if you’ve ever thought “most people won’t make it all the way through this”, well, I thought of it too, long ago, and decided to live with the consequences regardless.
On the flipside, I readily confess my frequent surrenders to “windbag syndrome”, and am making efforts (honest!) to mold my wordplay into something a bit less overbaked and more concise, though I don’t know how much of it has made itself manifest to readers as of yet. That said, nobody should expect me to “bite size” my articles in any further capacity than this – to put it plainly, I want to give anyone willing to spend time reading my ramblings a decent return on their investment, something to think about instead of a one-sentence throwaway gag or follow-the-leader “meme” entry (seriously, is there any more worthy subject able to provoke a fraction of the community activity that those do?). To be clear, I’ve got no problem with those whose blogs are shorter, snappier, and more immediately entertaining, as I enjoy many of them myself, but for whatever it’s worth I just plain don’t have it in me to put up something like that here. Basically, if you read me back then, for the most part I’m still, for better or worse, what it says on the tin, and plan on keeping it that way.
Just for the sake of my own curiosity, I crunched a few numbers related to my c-blog, and decided to post a handful of the more interesting (to me, anyway) figures I came up with. All numbers reflect posts made before (and not including) this one; also, of course, there may be a stupid error or two in there, but hopefully most of the data is at least semi-accurate.
- Before today’s post, in total I’d made 67 blog entries over the course of the year, about one every 5 or 6 days - 38 of them (about 57%) were either Obscurer Tribune issues or otherwise related to offbeat news. My longest and shortest entries so far differ by nearly 9,000 words – average blog length overall is between 2,000 and 2,100 words. The total word count of my blog so far is around 140,000.
- 8 of my blogs (a little under 12% of the total) have been promoted. 6 of those (75%) have had at least one “tl;dr” comment or an equivalent left in response. 2 of them (25%) rated a “good God, just STOP, you’re KILLING me” from Hamza himself, in either comment or email form. The blog’s longest total gap between postings was 16 days, spanning the space across these two articles from way back in the pre-Tribune era.
- This blog is by far my most-read one so far, judging by the number of comments posted – the least-read are a pair of olderTribunes, which received zero apiece. On average, one of my posts gets about 11 comments - if you factor out my replies to others it’s actually about 9. If you limit the equation to non-promoted entries, the figure adjusts to around 7 total comments, 5.5 if you take out my replies. All told, my own answers constitute about a quarter, on average, of the comments attached to my posts. At this point, the most-read non-promoted piece on my blog, with my responses filtered out, remains my very first post, the intro.
- As of right now I’ve got about 25 to 30 half-finished blog articles (not counting future Tribunes) sitting on my flash drive – how many of them I’ll ever actually get to wrapping up and/or posting is anyone’s guess.
That’s about all the math I can think to highlight…or stand, for that matter. Let’s move on, shall we?
General DToid Thoughts (and Gripes)
Cranking the Pretentiousness-O-Meter to an unprecedented 11, here are some assorted ramblings on how I feel about the site, and its community, in general.
- One personal habit that I rarely see others display around here is my aforementioned tendency to directly reply, sometimes at length, to noteworthy comments made on my posts – for some reason, it’s always struck me as strange how few bloggers seem to respond to (or perhaps even read) what other people leave for them. By the same token, it appears that very few people expect their comments to be read, as many of the visitors I’ve answered, in hopes of keeping a conversation going, don’t ever seem to check up and realize that I’ve reached out for more. Perhaps my relatively meager readership makes me more eager to “connect” with the audience I have than most, but in any event I’m definitely in the minority on this front.
Of course, one could argue that I’m just too hesitant to move on to a new topic, but regardless I must admit that I’m a bit depressed that so few true discussions ever get the chance to take root on the blogs – I may be reaching here, but I wonder if this has something to do with the fact that the Comment of the Week segment appears to have rapidly fizzled out. As it stands, for the most part, the only items that are likely to get a real back-and-forth going are flamebait posts that tick certain people off and send them on dueling tirades. Otherwise, the best one can usually hope for is a string of “cool story, bro” posts – as nice as that can be to see, the rare occasions on which I’ve been part of a bona fide (and civilized) dialogue with a fellow DToider or two are the ones that truly make me feel as if I’ve written something worthwhile. It’s probably a pipe dream, but I do hope that I see more of this happening in the future – forgive me for attaching “serious business” to this sentiment, but I daresay that if we gamers want to be taken more seriously by humanity in general, we need to get better at sitting ourselves down and affixing our attention on a single thing (other than a flashing screen) for awhile.
- A frequent complaint around the c-blogs is the tendency of “one-sentence posts” or other “junk food” blogs to push more “worthy” entries off the front page and deny them well-deserved readership – while I don’t argue that seeing a bunch of silly brain farts prominently displayed can be irritating, if such paper-thin dreck is really robbing better blogs of their due attention, then We The Readers are just as big a part of the problem as They The Posters. Seriously, how long does it take to scroll past the garbage (honestly, most of the time you can detect the lowest-rung junk just by looking at the title) and check out whatever was posted more than ten long minutes ago? Or heck, just take a peek at the recaps? Even at the worst of times, there are never that many blogs to sort through to excuse missing a worthwhile article – at least that’s how I’ve always seen it. Frankly, I think this “issue” is directly related to another deep-seated community tendency, which is next on the chopping block…
- Many other have commented on it, but the “debate” rages on over how best to react to the next inevitable troll visit – the popular response, of course, is to flame, and “give him a taste of his own medicine”, so to speak. While arguments are regularly thrown around that this is “the best way to get someone’s attention” in hopes of “turning them away from the dark side”, to be perfectly blunt I think that most of this blather is little more than a thinly-veiled, steaming pile of exhibitionist self-stimulation. In my view, nobody looks for a “reason” to flame – they look for an excuse, an opportunity to vent and be a jerk while still acting self-righteous about it – nothing worth saying in the first place can’t be said better in non-flaming form, and anyone who claims otherwise is, frankly, full of it. Call me a prude or wet blanket or whatever you want, but in that particular conviction I stand firm – seriously, they’re nowhere near as fun or publically spectacular, but offering civilized constructive criticism to a misguided specimen or reporting a genuine douchebag to the admins is a far more productive use of your time if you’re in it for reasons other than your own personal satisfaction.
Moreover, for my money, nothing screams “GTFO” to any blogger, good or bad, like unbroken, deafening silence – trolls, after all, exist “for teh lulz”, and no matter how biting or clever your derogatory remarks (which are frequently, let’s be honest, counterproductive), the fact that you’ve bothered to respond at all means their mission is already accomplished. Moreover, going back to the previous point, if you’re spending your time on DT feeding the trolls, and then grumble that “I don’t have time to read the better blogs now”, guess what message your silence is sending to the genuinely earnest writers with something to say? On purpose or not, you’re telling them that the only way to get any attention at all is to appeal directly to the primal reptilian cortex of the readership at large; if we’ve truly reached this point (and I refuse to believe that we have), it’s certainly not an occasion to celebrate. In short, I can’t stop anyone from flaming any more than I can stop them from trolling, but please, if you’re going to do the former, at least 1) Think for a moment about the ramifications of your actions, and inactions, for both good bloggers and bad, and 2) Stop acting as if surrendering to your basest urges and mimicking the mindset of those you claim to loathe should earn you praise as the would-be Brave Defenders of the Community. Nobody with the least amount of self-control or genuine concern for the well-being of the c-blogs at large is buying it for a second.
- On a slightly more uplifting note, while I’m nowhere near the first to broach this topic, I’m definitely eager to see more non-Monthly Musing posts promoted to the front, so as to encourage readers not to devote the bulk of their energy to a particular arbitrary topic if they hope to get noticed. That said, at least compared to when I first got here, I have seen more of them making the trip, and the Powers That Be deserve a pat on the back for it – I understand that it’s very hard to pit one’s personal judgment against the entire community’s influx on a given day, and that it’s tempting to automatically overlook anything without a pre-determined theme attached to it, but I do perceive (hopefully accurately) that additional effort has been put forth of late to send a wider variety of “guest editorials” forward, and at least from my little corner it’s very much appreciated.
Whatever’s to Come
I guess it’s past time to wrap things up and get on with it…one thing I suppose I’d best get off my chest is the semi-required statement for posts like this that DToid has changed my life. Well, truth be told, in my case it really hasn’t (at least not yet, anyways). Granted, this is the first and only blog I’ve ever kept, so I suppose that counts for something, but considering how much time I have on my hands these days (much of it unwanted), if I wasn’t running my mouth here I’d almost assuredly be doing it someplace else, just to keep myself a little bit sane…either way, I have been doing it here, by some twist of fate or other, and plan to keep on doing it here for the foreseeable future. It’s not as grand a statement as the “changed my life” fare, but hopefully you can still take it as a compliment from me – to express a sentiment similar to what I mentioned in this piece, even if I can’t in good faith call DT a “personal sanctuary” or the “start of a new era for me” or anything grandiose like that, I hope it still means something to call it “a rather neat place I like to visit”. I’m certainly not a visitor worth getting very excited about by myself, but I still say that’s a pretty swell accomplishment on the part of both the staff and the community.
In any event, that’s about where I stand after a year here. Hopefully you guys won’t mind another one too much, heaven willing. Either way, hope to see you all there.