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2:41 PM on 07.08.2010

Alternate Reality: My Love Life Evolves with Mass Effect

I've never been great at talking to girls when romance is added to the equation. In fact, I'm pretty terrible at it. It's not that I'm not a social creature. I have plenty of friends (some of them women!). I’m one of those rare people that enjoy giving speeches and presentations. In fact, I would rather give a speech in front of a hundred people than talk to the one girl eyeing me from across the bar. When I do gather up enough courage to talk to a girl I'm interested in, I become an awkward pile of gibberish.

The Mass Effect dialogue wheel would change all of that. What were to happen if the wheel were a tool I could use in my love life? I'd be an irresistible, suave gentleman. My demeanor would be charismatic, calm, cool and collected just like my Paragon Commander Shepard. Here’s why.

I'd have time to think

One of the problems I have when I talk to women is that I'm thinking about a lot of other things. Make eye contact. Don't look at her breasts. I hope my breath doesn't smell funny from that double cheeseburger I ate. I can't believe Angel left Buffy to go to LA. I feel like I'm staring at her. Blink! This means I can only dedicate about ten percent of my regular mental capacity towards carrying a conversation. I'm slower to respond when it's my turn to talk or I respond with something completely uninteresting. By the time I've processed what’s going on she’s already formed an image of me that falls into the “idiot” “inattentive” or “uninteresting” category. I panic and the conversation slips into an awkward silence as I scramble to think of something worthwhile to say.

In the Mass Effect series, when someone talks to me, they don't expect an immediate response. In fact, they'll pretty much wait the length of forever for me to select one of up to six responses. I could go get a cup of coffee or take a poop and ponder what I'm going to say and the in-game characters wouldn't care. Applying that to dating, I could take my time and think about my response to those pesky difficult questions like "tell me more about yourself" and "what do you do for a living?"

I'd have multiple chances

Let's assume I've had my cup of coffee with my bowl of Special K, the coffee hits my bowels and I've taken a dump, all the while pondering what I’m going to say. Once I've figured it out, it turns out "I fucking love magic shows" wasn't the most appropriate response to "tell me more about yourself" and the conversation ends abruptly in a classic crash and burn.

In the real world, my image would be irreparably damaged and I'd be forced to rewatch my Tivo'd episodes of Chris Angel's Mindfreak instead of going out. In a reality augmented by Mass Effect as soon as the conversation ends all I have to do is walk up to her with an expectant look on my face and the dialogue will start at the beginning. This gives me the opportunity to try other options or keep on repeating my love for magic shows, so I can keep on seeing the look on her face.

Getting women interested in me would be as easy.

After I've had my fun abusing the system, getting the girl to be intrigued by my charm would be a simple one step process. If there's one thing I learned from my time with Mass Effect, it's that in order to have a woman fall madly in love with me, all I’d have to do is select the top right option at every possible opportunity. I wouldn't even have to think about what I would say. I'd just keep on selecting the top-right option, and the next thing I know, whatever girl I'm talking to is batting their eyelashes at me. It's an auto-win. Sixty percent of the time, it works every time.

I'd never be rejected

Even if a girl is falling head over heels from my paragon charisma and charm, there's no guarantee that she'll respond positively to an invitation back to my place or a second date. When the time comes around when moves are made, the handy dandy Mass Effect wheel will automatically perform a check against my charm to see if my ability to persuade her to go on a second date with me will succeed. If my charm is high enough, the option will be blue and I know it's time to pull out my mojo. If there's no way she's seeing me and my charm score isn't high enough, the option will be gray and I won't even have the option to embarrass myself with a timid invitation. I'll know if I'm doomed to fail or destined to succeed before I even make a move.

It's easy to bail out of a terrible situation

Now that I know a second date isn't happening, it's time to get out of the situation. If the girl keeps on talking about how her friend Jessica copies her fashion style and how annoying it is, and all I can think about is how I'd rather be watching fat people exercise in The Biggest Loser, I'd have one of two options. The first approach would be to spam the X button to skip all her dialogue and repeatedly respond when prompted with a neutral response. An equally effective method would just be selecting the goodbye option and saying "I should go." The girl wouldn’t care and immediately drop what she was talking about without feeling hurt or angry, leaving me free to do whatever I want. As we established earlier, if I change my mind and want to talk to her again, I can just approach her yet again and the conversation will start over. At that point I can utilize the "X to skip" button again (but being careful so that I don't accidentally pick apathetic responses for my own dialogue) and quickly get back to the point where I left off.


It'd be easy to be romantic

It’s the classic scenario. A woman and I have really hit it off and I’ve offered to walk her to her door. Once we get to the door there’s the awkward good night “should we kiss?” atmosphere. It's a classic courage test to see if the guy has the guts to move in for the kiss. Utilizing Mass Effect’s dialogue system, it’d be easy to be romantic and spontaneous and shit. As she sits there, fumbling for her keys, looking for an excuse to give me more time to muster up the courage to kiss her, I'd see a Left Trigger (or was it Right trigger?) paragon option. Boom, all it takes is a pull of the controller trigger and I've given her a passionate, courageous and romantic kiss good night

I've applied this to my love life, because that's where I could use the most work. However, the possibilities aren't just for the dating scene. The Mass Effect dialogue wheel would take all the pressure off talking to any other human being. It could also be applied to meetings and classes (ever want to spam the X button through one?). Get ready to be an entity of pure awesome in high pressure situations like when the professor asks you a tough question that you weren’t paying attention to (just wait for the subtitles to pop up) or when in the elevator with the company CEO.

I should go.   read

2:51 PM on 06.29.2010

The Challenges The Old Republic Must Face

Editor's Note:
Hey readers,

I'm sorry. I haven't been fully dedicated to this relationship. Between finals, graduating from college, finding a full-time job and moving out to the west coast, I've had too much on my mind to blog. However, I've come to realize that I can't keep on letting life get in the way of blogging. So I'm back, and I'm going to try to write at least once a week, no matter how busy I am. We'll see how long this dedication lasts. Since it's been a while, I apologize if I no write good. Be niceplz. Oh, and I know the banner doesn't make any sense. It's temporary until I find the time to make a new one.

Now on to the main event.

I want Star Wars: The Old Republic to do well. Like many others, Star Wars has been one of my favorite IPs ever since I watched A New Hope. I also loved Knights of the Old Republic and classify myself as a BioWare fanboy. The day I heard there was a Star Wars MMO coming out from my favorite developer, I almost creamed my pants. As details slowly tricked out of BioWare, I realized that BioWare faces some very difficult, if not impossible challenges in making SWTOR a great game.

First, let's get this out of the way. SWTOR faces an obstacle in the universe itself. Star Wars appeals to a majority of people because they want to be a Jedi. People occasionaly have a fantasy that involves being Boba Fett or Han Solo, but for the majority of fans it's all about being a Jedi. This is treading old ground, so I won't speak much to it, but it's going to ruin some of the allure of the universe when you first log in and everyone has decided that the first class they're going to be is a Jedi Knight or a Sith Warrior. The need for different roles in group play will eventually help balance out the percentage of players playing each class, but it'll always skew heavily towards the force users of the universe. Be honest - no one will want to be a soldier as their first class (who fantasized about being a Stormtrooper when they were a kid?)

The second obstacle SWTOR faces is the ability to merge a story-driven single player experience with a gear-grinding multiplayer one. BioWare is known for creating cinematic, character-driven video games. They're trying to implement that in the MMO genre. I'm skeptical that anyone can pull off an MMO where players care about the plot. Players will inevitably have to repeat quests with friends and other group members. This means those who have already finished the quest will have to sit around and listen to the same dialog while other players experience it for the first time. This creates a hazard for a repetitive, boring experience. It also hurts the certain sense of immersion often required in a plot-driven game.

I remember when I first got my hands on Diablo II. I had started playing it a little later than my friends, and as I played online, I wanted to follow the plot of the game and the back stories of the quests given to me. Unfortunately I never got that chance. I always felt the pressure to just hit the accept button and start the quest, since people who had already played the game were waiting on me.

I can't stay a while and listen! I'm in a fucking hurry!

As time passed, I even eventually switched to the other side of the equation, becoming impatient when people wanted to watch the cut scenes in between the acts of Diablo. I was sitting in town for two minutes waiting for a friend of mine to finish watching what were admittedly awesome cut scenes. As I started to view Diablo as a more gear-driven game, I got annoyed with people who wanted to play the game for the same reason I initially wanted to play it: the story.

Now, with Diablo II there was a workaround. I could have just played single player and taken my time. SWTOR is an MMO, and that requires you to play online with other players. Those other players' motivation for playing may not necessarily be story driven, and BioWare has stated that some quests will need you to team up with other players. It'll be impossible to get the full story experience playing by yourself in SWTOR.

While the gear hunters get annoyed at the story players, the story players will get frustrated with each other. As the JRPG genre starts to falter, the RPG category has increasingly become all about player choice. In a multiplayer setting, not everyone will be able to make those choices. This means one person will have a blast making the moral and ethical choices while everyone else gets bored just standing there. Having a dialogue event in an MMO wouldn't work even if BioWare were to let people rotate making the choices. In fact, I believe players may even become more dissatisfied in that scenario, since the scene isn't really personal to the player. Eventually, someone will have to make the decision as to whether to kill the captain of the ship or let him live. Either way, somebody isn't going to be happy with the result.

Now, I know the above point of having choices should in theory, counteract my earlier point about people getting bored going through the dialogue multiple times. However, SWTOR is probably going to follow the dialogue tree format that every RPG uses. This means that 95 percent of conversation will be the same, and five percent will be different, severely hampering the ability to keep the story-driven player who has already experienced the quest multiple times constantly engaged with the dialogue. The player may be interested when characters say something different than the first time they played it, but will quickly fall back into boredom as it falls back to the same conversation that the player has already heard before. Anyone who has played a BioWare game through and then immediately replayed it again understands what I'm talking about. I abused the "X to skip" button in my second/third play through of Mass Effect - something that probably won't be possible in SWTOR.

Finally, I worry that BioWare may be overselling SWTOR with the quality of their trailers. Combat in an MMO has never been an exciting experience. Based off what I've seen in SWTOR, the animations are definitely much more fluid, dynamic and exciting than anything World of Warcraft has done, but there's something lost in combat when it falls to pressing 1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,2,1,1,1,1,1,4,5,1,1,1,1,1...I know it's a dumb thing to complain about (The trailer being too good? What a horrendous complaint), but I feel like players are going to go in expecting some level of experience at least slightly close to the trailer. Those players are going to walk away from the game in a couple of hours with a feeling of disappointment. Even some MMO players, who know the experience in the genre may end up feeling disappointed on a subconscious level since they went in with wishful thinking that they could at least minimally experience the epic Star Wars moments displayed in the two amazing trailers that BioWare has put out.


Not exactly the same level of epic, at least not to me.

To those of you who have read this all the way through and are about to rage at me in the comments section, I hope you're right. I hope I get comments on this post in about a year from now saying "Ha! You were completely off-base you naysayer douchebag." Nothing would make me happier than to be able to eat these words when the game releases.

I just don't see how BioWare can reconcile a great single player story-driven experience with a great MMO one.   read

5:27 PM on 12.28.2009

Geek is the New Chic

We normally talk about video games, but I think there's a new topic I'd like to blog about today.

I've had an interesting life. I think about who I've become, and who I'm going to be. A part of the answer to those two questions has always been the same. I'll be a stereotypical geek. It's part of who I am. I love technology, a good book, Battlestar Galactica, video games and many other parts of "geek" culture.

Four years ago, the previous two sentences would have been said with a sense of sadness, jealousy and regret. I wasn't the jock in high school. I wasn't Mr. Popular. In fact, you could say I was at the lower end of the high school food chain. I hung out with Marching Band "dorks" but wasn't even in the Marching Band. I went to High School football games to support my friends in their halftime marching more than our very successful high school football team.

Now, about to graduate college, I am a stereotypical geek and I'm proud of it. I wear Transformers t-shirt and proudly tell classmates I'm hoping to take a full-time job in the video game industry. Sometimes I get the stink eye response.

Most of the time though, I get a positive or neutral response. Now, I'm sure part of it has to do with my confidence. I've grown as a person over the years and I've become more comfortable with who I am. I no longer try to hide my dork factor like a disease. Admittedly, the geek infiltration into the mainstream has made it easier for me. The same people who made fun of people like me in high school are starting to be drawn into geekdom, whether they know it or not.

First of all, let's set up a basic definition.

Who is a Geek?

I hate to break it to you cheerleaders, house wives, athletes and frat boys. Chances are, you're a geek. While there is no agreed upon definition as a differentiation from a "nerd", many people have come to think of "geeks" as "a peculiar or otherwise odd person, especially one who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, etc." (

Can you tell me all the Horcruxes? Congratulations, you're a geek.
Can you tell me the home planet of the Wookies? Yup, you're a geek.
Do you own a Team Edward/Team Jacob shirt? Total Geek.
Do you own the Glee soundtrack volumes 1 and 2? "Gleek" is the term that has been coined for people like you.

Now there is a stereotype of geeks, and that deals more with electronics, technology, video games and other items you try your best to shy away from when you say "I'm not a geek!" However, the geek culture draws you in, everywhere you turn.

Excited for Iron Man 2? Spider Man 4? Batman 3?
Watched Transformers or Revenge of the Fallen and exclaimed "awesome bro!" the first time you saw the fight between Optimus Prime and Megatron?
Vent a little frustration by playing some Halo or Call of Duty with your fraternity guys while enjoying a case of Natural Light?
Use stumble to find hilarious YouTube videos? Yup, you laughed your ass off because of a fellow geek's digging through millions of video. Thank him by giving the thumbs up.

You can't help it. Geeks and technology are on their way up and into the mainstream. I went to Gap and bought a Megatron shirt. Read that: I bought a geek shirt at Gap. This is a good thing. I love that I can wear a Starscream shirt and not have to worry about what a girl will think (as much, still working on that).

Now I know that I need to discuss the image of the nerd. Nerds and geeks are not the same thing, but there is a lot of overlap. In my own personal definition, I see nerds as people who are extremely bright and intelligent in categories that fall under geek domain, but lack a specific set of skills. Social skills, to be exact. I would have fallen under this category years ago. Those that are nerds will eventually learn social skills out of necessity. Those that don't are few in number, and end up socializing with others like them. I think as the things nerds enjoy, like computers, Digg and video games, you will see them become more comfortable socializing and being brought into the folds of "regular" society.

So where am I going with this? To be honest, I'm not really sure. I think I just want everyone to recognize and appreciate their own geekiness. I want everyone to know that I take pride in my intelligence and my investment in "geeky" hobbies. I want others to be proud of and own their inner geek. Closet geeks, our time has come, don't be afraid anymore. Buy your computer and math joke shirts. Wear those plastic framed glasses. Don't be afraid to be social and spread the word about how Battlestar Galactica will blow your mind. Geek is chic.   read

6:59 PM on 12.22.2009

Yu’s Views: I Can’t Live Without You Boo! (My Top 5)

(Original can be found at

Girls are complicated. I should know. Being the pimp that I am, managing relationship with multiple girls is a pain. Sometimes it can get you in trouble.

Na, I’m kidding. Readers, you may not believe it, but I’m actually really shy when it comes to women. I am also a hopeless romantic, who watches too many RomComs (that’s romantic comedies to you less civilized men). Why watch romantic comedies? It appeals to an inner sense and desire of many to have a perfect relationship.

Maybe video games are the same way. Immersion and experience of a relationship that’s an escapism from the truth about them. I give to you now my top 5 romantic relationships in video games. How did I determine my top 5 relationships? I used the following two criteria: “How warm and fuzzy did it make me feel?” and “How close did it get to making me cry?” For reference, please refer to the following scales:

How Warm and Fuzzy Did it Make Me Feel?

1 - Aw, that's cute.

2: Man, why cant love always be like this?

3: Awwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!

How Close Did It Get to Making Me Cry?

1: Man, that sucks

2: That's. So. Sad!


Keep in mind that a good part of my gaming library are RPGs, so this list will also be heavily influenced by the genre. Danger! Spoilers ahoy! Skip over games that you intend to play, but haven’t yet.

5) Welkin and Alicia – Valkyria Chronicles

Nothing Can Stop Us. Our Love Will Demolish That Tank.

Yu’s Warm/Fuzzy Factor: 2

Yu’s Cry Factor: 1

In my opinion, Valkyria Chronicles is one of the most underplayed and underappreciated games of the past couple of years. If you own a PlayStation 3, you owe it to yourself to pick up this game. It has beautiful, gorgeous art direction and a creative blend of a Strategy RPG, Traditional JPRG and a First-Person Shooter.

Welkin and Alicia were made for each other. In the story, they meet under tough circumstances, as their country of Gallia is caught in a struggle between the two military powerhouses, the Imperial Alliance and the Atlantic Federation (based on, and loosely connected to World War II). They are drafted into the military and what transpires is your typical let’s-bond-and-fall-for-each-other. Then the shit gets crazy.

The reason I picked this couple is because of it demonstrates the “power of love.” Alicia is faced with a terrible burden in the game, as she learns that she is a Valkyria, part of a long forgotten race with tremendous and terrible powers. Reaching the climax of the game, she runs off to try to sacrifice herself and save those important to her and the one she loves. Welkin refuses to let that happen and uses the POWA OF LOVE to save her. He then proposes to her, with a ring made of her favorite flower. Stupid, cheesy and unrealistic, but hey, that’s what romances are supposed to be in these kind of stories right?

So what does this relationship say? Love conquers all. That’s a great “aw” message. The epilogue shows the two happily married and with a kid. It’s cute!

4) Garnet and Zidane – Final Fantasy IX

Don't ever leave me again!

Yu’s Warm/Fuzzy Factor: 2

Yu’s Cry Factor: 1

Alright, so it’s another stereotypical story. Thief-kidnaps-Princess, Thief-charms-Princess, Theif-saves-Princess. It was a satisfying relationship to see unfold from resistance, to friendship, to love.

There are two “aw” scenes in the game. At the beginning of the game, Zidane harasses Garnet, constantly teasing her and hitting on her. In the middle, traumatic events leave Garnet mute, and Zidane’s attitude changes completely. A knightly sense of duty to protect Garnet develops, and he does everything in his power to make sure Garnet talks and smiles again.

The second “aw” scene is the ending, where Zidane dives headfirst into a suicidal mission to save his brother. He leaves the rest of the group, including Garnet, in a safe place. The place he runs off to blows up (I think?) and Zidnae is presumed dead.

Garnet is heartbroken. She returns to rule as Queen, but just isn’t the same. As Queen, she is presented with a play, “I Want To Be Your Canary.” This only saddens her more, as she was kidnapped by Zidane over the course of the play in the beginning of the game (I know, these stories are messed up). It is then that the protagonist of the play reveals himself to be Zidane! She runs from the balcony and into Zidanes embrace. It’s a sweet scene, but the story does make Garnet seem completely dependent on Zidane. Sounds an awful lot like Twilight, without the glittery vampires. Instead it has monkey people (Zidane has a monkey tail). Monkeys Own Vampires.

Don't fuck with a monkey. A monkey will shank you.

3) Drake and Elena – Uncharted Series

Alright, alright! I'll come shopping with you!

Yu’s Warm/Fuzzy Factor: 2.5

Yu’s Cry Factor: 1.5

Elena and Drake are the only couple from a Western game that is on the list. Maybe the Japanese are a more sensitive people. Hm.

It’s tough for me to tell you why I love the relationship between Drake and Elena. I think a lot of it comes down to the design decisions that Naughty Dog took with the Uncharted series. For those that haven’t played an Uncharted game, it’s basically like playing a super epic Indiana Jones movie. There is a heavy emphasis on character development and story telling. When creating cut scenes, the game designers decided to have the voice actors interact with each other and play out the scene, instead of just letting them talk to each other through headphones in separate sound-proof booths.

From a plot standpoint, what makes Drake and Elena so great? Once again, it goes back to the need for that perfect relationship. They have a chemistry together, made clear through the playful banter executed beautifully by actors Nolan North and Emily Rose. It also has that “bad guy/good girl” dynamic. I’m not sure why we love this in story telling, but it’s used all the time (See: Han Solo/Leia).

If it weren’t for the story telling and great chemistry between the two actors, Elena and Drake would have been another run of the mill couple. However, the folks at Naughty Dog have figured out how to take video game storytelling to a new level, and that shows in Elena and Drake.

The greatest aw moment for the two lovebirds? The ending of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves when Elena asks Drake: SPOILERS FOR REALZ! “So on a scale of 1 to 10, how scared where you that I was going to die?” It was cute, funny and showed that the two were made for each other.

2) Yuna and Tidus – Final Fantasy X

So uh, we're drenched in water and you're wearing a white top...

Yu’s Warm/Fuzzy Factor: 3

Yu’s Cry Factor: OVER 9000!!!!!

Fine, I’ll admit it. I cried like a baby to the ending of Final Fantasy X. The whole game they develop a very strong and very powerful love for each other, only to end up losing everything to the call of duty.

Yuna and Tidus are forced to give up their love to save the world. Tidus is forced to give up his existence in the world as well. He doesn’t just die. He dissipates into NOTHINGNESS. It’s a tough decision, but one that has been explored before in countless other stories. What made this one so powerful?

The way the ending was presented was poetic and really brought home the feeling of sacrifice. They don’t get to hold each other one last time. They are denied even that right. As Yuna approaches the podium to address the millions of people she saved, she remembers everything about the one she lost. In the end, she knows that even though Tidus is gone, his legacy has changed her life, as well as the lives of everyone on the planet of Spira.


1) Fei and Elly – Xenogears

Sorry, this was the best I could find. Just pretend the tarot card crap isn't there.

Yu’s Warm/Fuzzy Factor: Over 9000!

Yu’s Cry Factor: 2

Based off the Warm/Fuzzy and Cry Factor criteria, you may be asking, “Why does the pairing of Fei and Elly take the top spot over Yuna and Tidus?” The answer is simple:

Because I’m a nostalgic fanboy.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve played Xenogears, so if I mess up the story I apologize. The story is so crazy and balls to the wall insane, if you call me out on a mistake, I can only assume you have either the IQ of a Mensa Member or way too much time on your hands.

The reason Fei and Elly are awesome is this: their love has lasted across multiple lifetimes. They are constantly reincarnated throughout time and they fall in love every time they’re born. However, in every single time period, Elly ends up sacrificing herself to save Fei. In Xenogears they finally break that cycle and get to spend their days getting old and having children. They’ve waited over at least three lifetimes for that to happen!

Overall, Xenogears also has a much more mature storyline than most of the other games on this list. There’s sex, blood, murder and all other kinds of juicy goodness. A more mature storyline allows Fei and Elly to be more realistic and realized as their characters develop throughout the course of the game.

What can I say? I love happy endings.

Also, don’t ask me why Rinoa and Squall aren’t on this list. I didn’t want Final Fantasy to dominate the entire list! I also hate Squall cause he’s an emo kid for 75 percent of the game.

Squall is an Emo Kid.   read

6:55 PM on 12.22.2009

Hello Destructoid!

Hey all,

I'm trying to get more serious about this whole "blogging" thing so I am joining the Destructoid community! I usually post my stuff at my personal blog, but I'll post my posts from there here as well! Please be nice to me...

-Yu   read

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