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1:18 PM on 02.06.2009

Should Gamers Have An Expectation Of Semi-Realism?

As I was playing through the Resident Evil 5 Demo, something struck me. Games have for a long time been viewed as a way to immerse yourself in a fantasy world. By nature, that means “realism” can more or less be thrown out the window. But as we move up and forward with technology and time, do we have a rising expectation of realism in games?

Games didn’t always look and feel the way they do now. Remember when a gun consisted of essentially an off-colored “L” in a characters hands and the bullets were a white line going across the screen? We had no expectation of realism with games until they stopped being played on a two-dimensional environment. Playstation and Nintedo 64 were really the first systems that consistently brought what we would have called “realism” to the table. Even with that being said, they were still pixelated enough and “fake” enough to warrant out-of-the ordinary events or situations.

We’ve progressed since then.

Today, “ultra-realistic” is a term that can be used to describe the visuals in many current gen games. The reason for this? Immersion. Developers see high definition visuals as a way to help put the gamer directly into the antagonist’s shoes. Sure there are other ways of doing this, such as motion controls, force feedback peripherals, and 3D glasses (experimental for games), but the developers have complete control over how a game looks. They are hampered only by the vision of their designers, skill of their programmers, and capabilities of the machines they are creating for.

Resident Evil is no exception. Using RE5 as an almost exclusive example in this article, the characters and enemies are rendered to an almost unmatched level of detail. The weapons are perfect replicas, the characters look lifelike (beyond Chris’ too-huge biceps), and even the killer flying beetles, though non-existent in real life (I hope), look lifelike.

We are also seeing ultra-realistic physics in games. Enemies crawl, and pull themselves onto upper ledges, they also fall at what appears to be the normal speed of gravity. Everyday objects, such as helicopters, fly exactly as you would expect them to. When we see something that looks realistic on screen, and it feels like the world reacts the same way as it would in real life,should we have an expectation that the same holds true across all plains for that title?

Understanding that enemies infected with parasites capable of emerging from the necks of their walking, decapitated hosts, the expectation is set to the gamer that their bodies are somehow different than the normal human being. Hence their ability to take loads of damage without going down. But when you shoot them in a leg, they still fall. Shoot them in the arm, they drop what they are holding. They are still limited to the functions and weaknesses of the human structure which makes defeating them less a feat of raw power and more a feat of tactics and strategy.

That is, until you fight a “boss.” When fighting a boss, every expectation you had must be, for some reason, thrown out the window. Though the physics of the world are the same, the graphic realism is the same, and the boss may be nearly identical to the average baddies you’ve killed thousands of, something is inexplicably different. Again, still understanding that “boss” enemies have something more than the regular enemy, the limits are nevertheless gone.

“Larger than life” enemies, such as the axe-toting Executioner you meet in the RE5 demo, or El Gigante from RE4, are obvious exceptions to normal expectations. You would expect that they would be extremely difficult to take down because they are clearly not normal in any sense of the word. No-one expects that a bullet in the knee would take them down because they are well beyond human. They are bigger, more powerful, and less tactical than any normal baddie and defeating them is normally about evading and dishing out damage to their “sweet spots.” But what about a “normal” looking boss, such as the Chainsaw boss in RE5?

The chainsaw boss is normal in every way compared to the average infected, except he has a chainsaw and a creepy burlap sack over his head. Unfortunately, he is far from what you would expect. While playing through the demo, he was impervious to three of my grenades that exploded under his feet, two exploding barrels, several close range rifle shots as well as countless shots from a pistol, many in the head. He doesn’t falter when you shoot out a kneecap, nor does he react when you shoot his arms or even head. Only explosions or doling out certain amount if hit points would make him stumble. It becomes a battle of hit points and raw power, straying from the strategy and gameplay of nearly every other part of the game.

Not that war and action movies or even documentaries always demonstrate strict realism, but we know better. Hell, anyone who has ever watched the History Channel knows that one grenade under someone’s feet will surely cripple them if not chop them down a foot or two. Two grenades will chop them down a couple more feet, and if you get to three grenades you can assume that the target is basically liquefied. If the physics and graphics in a game hold ultra realistic vantage points, shouldn’t this hold at least somewhat true throughout the entire game? I mean, the boss characters don’t mutate into titanium or steel, nor are they diamond coated, are they?

At some point, in my honest opinion, games need to give. We are no longer in an age when enemies and games are looked at as pixels, they are full fledged immersive and lifelike experiences. With that should come a basic expectation of realism in our games. Make sense? What do you think?

[Note: This was originally posted at my blogz here.]   read

10:19 AM on 01.20.2009

Top 10 Things To Do When Your Xbox Dies

If you own an XBOX360, you know what I’m talking about. The freezing, the lagging, the infamous red ring of
death, etc, etc, etc. But what can we do when the inevitable happens? I can think of 10 possible solutions.

10. Throw your controller into the wall. What good is a broken system without a broken controller to match.

9. Cry. Just a little bit. It’s about time you let your feelings go after being belittled and virtually peed on by
overly aggressive, homophobic, antisemitic, and racist preteens on your favorite “M” rated games.

8. Put down the baseball bat and call Microsoft. Going all Office Space on it won’t actually solve anything.

7. Play a different console. Sure gamerscore and XBOX Live are addicting and well done, but surely there is
at least one current gen console (see: all current gen consoles) that are more reliable with a few decent
software titles.

6. Go outsi....errr.... nevermind.... Stay inside.

5. Catch up on your Battlestar Gallactica. You know you love that fracking show.

4. Dust off your retro stuff and play some nostalgic favorites. Remember how much you pwnd at Duck

3. Pretend that it didn’t happen. Sit in front of the TV with your controller and headset while screaming and
cursing at the difficulty level of the game for hours on end. No one will think you’re crazy… right?

2. Develop a normal sleeping schedule. Believe it or not, most people think 6am for a bed time is a bit
excessive unless you work 3rd shift.

1. Host a funeral for your long lost 360 complete with a wake and processional to the local FedEx drop off.

~sk33t sk33t~

Originally posted here.   read

12:31 AM on 02.01.2008

Workmeng <3 Kitties

Found randomly while enjoying lolcat videos. Check out about 1:27 to see what I mean. What would we do without you, Ron?

[embed]67978:7507[/embed]   read

1:43 AM on 12.23.2007

Velocity Micro Giveaway Contest: Wonder Woman Upskirt Edition

No idea where this came from? Follow the links to past entries.

Entry 1
Entry 2
Entry 3

Will there be more carnage?   read

12:45 AM on 12.22.2007

Velocity Micro Giveaway Contest: Bitch Edition

It only goes downhill from here folks. Enjoy.

hard drive references make me lul

they didn't make wonder man lul. my face hurts from trojan slap.

To Wonder Man-

Truth be told, I loved your beard, hairy chest, and pits. Your hard drive was just not enough this time. Sorry you didn't get the joke. I'll miss you wonder man...Maybe if we ever meet again we can play out page 47 in the book you are holding? Call me.

Love always,

P.S. Did you call me Jesus because I made miracles happen?   read

2:15 PM on 12.21.2007

Velocity Micro Giveaway Contest: No Sex for VG Edition #2

Seeing a trend yet? Keep waiting, another set will be posted tonight!

...also, cocks.   read

11:55 PM on 12.19.2007

Velocity Micro Giveaway Contest, etc: No Sex for Virtualgirl Edition

This may seem a tad bland now considering the competition, but please check back
daily, I neeeeeeed to win this contest and even you will never guess where this series is going
to go! More or less it delves into the love life of VG and her adorable hub, Dutch.

This photo is the first of the series of five.

Just wait...   read

5:55 PM on 11.28.2007

Velocity Micro Giveaway Contest, Etc: Dutch Royalty Edition

clue>>>>Please refer to Banj's pictures of his last trip for what I HATE the most.

Also, does I get bonus points now yes thank you please for my computer frying 2 months ago so I am forced to brave the storm on my work computer, at work, with my boss in the next room?????????



6:58 PM on 10.23.2007

DELAYED e for all update!!!!11! whoa...

Sorry for the delayed post. Was running EVERYWHERE while in LA and couldn't find time to get this posted with links and pics.

Now that the second and third day of the convention has passed, I’ll give you more highlights from the nerdgasm fest. The best times were spent with Nintendo where I made whoopee with Umbrella Chronicles, after which I headed over to THQ and messed with innovative and potentially dirty Drawn to Life.

Umbrella Chronicles is one of the stronger games of the show, as was expected. Unfortunately, Nintendo made the critical error of throwing the controllers into the new Wii Zapper when it was clearly meant to be played old skool, at least with that button setup, in your left and right hand. With that being said I don’t think I can give the best representation of how the game play felt since I didn’t get a chance to work with it outside of the Zapper. The Zapper made it awkward and nearly impossible at times to pick up objects, reload, and perform basic functions. Had they had these laid out the original way every button would have felt natural rather than strained and none of the problems that I was dealing with while playing through would have actually been a problem.

One trouble I found with Umbrella Chronicles that was not controller caused was in multiplayer. In the heat of things, it was almost too easy to get your reticule confused with the person next to you resulting in sometimes thinking that you are the best emm-effing shot with this game when in fact you are shooting the wall. It’s an odd ego booster, for a moment, that is followed by pure ego stompage. I’m sure if I had a little more time with the game this would not have been a problem. And I think it is fair to say that if this is it’s weakest point, we have a winner on our hands!

Overall, Umbrella Chronicles had solid gameplay (minus the wrong peripheral) the sound was instant, clear and vivid, and the graphics looked and felt like the Resident Evil games we know and love; dark, detailed, and sometimes a little too much going on at once between the freaky baddies and the wicked environments. Resident Evil fans will want to get their hands on this one. New to Resident Evil? You will still probably enjoy the storyline and solid gameplay.

Honorable Wii mention that made excellent usage of the Wii Zapper was Ghost Squad; a favorite arcade rails shooter being ported to the Wii. Hats off to Nintendo for saving me time and cash at the downtown arcade! If you are a time crisis or arcade rail shooter fan in general, this game kicks toosh…yeah I said it.

Across from Nintendo was the standoffish THQ displays that at first glance seemed unappealing since all I could see was Smackdown vs. Raw 2008. No offense to you wresting game fans out there, but I really wasn’t looking for a wrestling game to peak my interest at the event while surrounded by innovation and new ideas. I was able to push through the anticipation of same-old-same-old feel and get into the middle were a lone display stood of the low flying Drawn to Life. Instantly intrigued, having heard of this game before, I immediately made the mistake of starting a new game. Now before you go off thinking that this game is craptastic, let me explain in three words why starting from the beginning was a mistake. I got hooked. Though the actual gameplay itself reminded me of a mix between Sword of Mana, Mario Sunshine, and New Mario Bros, it was the ability to draw giant bewbs, long legs, and no arms (WTF!?) and a SW33T head only to watch each limb come to life as the playable main character in your quest for the game “god’s” restoration of their planet.

I only played for about fifteen minutes or so which left me a little worried to the average platforming the game presented. Luckily, I can’t remember a platformer that I haven’t been amused with through the end. And the ability to draw your well blessed hero makes the game even more appealing. If you subscribe to GameFly, put this on your list, other wise buy at your own risk. Cereal, when was the last time a decent 2D platformer combined with some RPG/Action Adventure elements and stylus controls went sour? I’m a sucker for platformers so I know I will be adding this to my X-mas list.

All in all, day two at the convention was pretty spectacular (given what they had) with exciting new games, but what topped the day was our visit to Video Games Live.

VGL was an experience unlike any other. Though I have to admit that I would have preferred it to be straight music with smooth transitions from piece to piece and game to game, from a broader perspective, the concert was completely big titties (that means good). The orchestra was well rehearsed, the video was timed well with the sound, the music itself was amazing, and the dick-toe-chat (see: pictochat) that ensued before, mid, and after the concert was hilarious. I think it goes without saying that if you even consider yourself a gamer, find out when they will be near you and GO!!!! I'm going to cut this a little short and talk about it a little more in the next blog.


Also, cocks.   read

1:26 AM on 10.19.2007

E for ALL!!: Day 1 Highlights from the Dutch!

So here I am. A couple k miles away from home ditching rain and crappy temps for the smoggy, enormous, and warm city that is currently fostering to one of the wet dreams of many core gamers: E For All. (sorry for the crappy video and pics, all camera phone, you’ll live I promise!)

As we all know, there has been a huge change since last year with E3 resulting in the birth of E4A and unfortunately, it cost the public’s game convention direct appearances by both Sony and Microsoft. Thankfully, we still had Nintendo and about 30 of their top choice girls with Wiimotes with short black skirts and lovely legs, dozens of developers, and some indie games that will rock your socks!

I’ll admit that after following E3 from afar for a few years, I was hoping for the same hype and non-stop action, but was somewhat let down. Though when you walk into that convention center you have your nerdgasm for a moment, you realize that only about half of the center is actually being used for the convention. WTF? The food court was nearly as big as the rest of the convention. And I’ve got to say, after being screwed out of a Double Dash tournament because the lame ass panda running the tournament forgets erases you when he was supposed to erase someone else, I have my fair share of gripes about the event thus far.

The disappointments are trivial at best, however, and the majority of the convention is actually pretty bad ass. The first highlight I wanted to mention was the gorgeous indie game Braid of which debuted in this year’s E3 and hasn’t been referred to lately as anything other than ”gorgeous indie game Braid”. Well, basically…it was awesome!

I had a chance to go hands on with Braid (sorry, my embedding skillz are phail), as did anyone who attended the convention, and to be very generic, I fell in love what I saw. The best description I have if you haven’t heard of this game, is that it is like an old school Mario platformer, crossed with the time reversing skillz of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, crossed with the arguably artistic beauty and puzzles of Okami. It is indeed gorgeous, and it is damn challenging and fun! The simple and intuitive controls, perfectly matched sound, and the humor and parody it brings to the table make this a must have. Cereal, if you can get access to ANY 360 with Live, you NEEEEEED it! Braid will be available in early 2008.

As you may have expected, Rockband was at E4A in force! They were hitting the crowd hard driving some of the longest lines at the show. Until today, I had only heard rumors, seen videos, and read articles about this game. If you are in the same boat as I was up until today, rest assured this game is un-effing-believable!

The perfection of this game is where other similar styled games have fallen short. The impeccable song lineup. Nearly every song is a recognizeable and widely accepted awesome song. From Bon Jovi to Weezer, and that was just the demo!!! I'm not sure if they are covers or not, but if they are, they did a phenomenal job. The music sounds awesome! The peripherals are definately something to write home about as well. The drums and mic are a must but if you were ever on the fence about picking up the guitar peripheral for this game or just using the good ol' GH controller, you may stop thinking. Though ultimately similar in design, the more realistic strumming required and the ability to take your mega fast fingers up to a second set of frets on the neck. The best part about it, is that you may suck terribly at this game. You may not know WTF you are doing, or are just so into it that you don't pick up onto your disapointing pitch problems, but you'll never know it. No matter who you are, you will start and stop playing Rock Band with the mentality that you are King Shmidt of the rock world. How can you resist this game especially after a healthy price cut? When this game hits in late november, I'll be on without a doubt. Will you?

Luckily, E4A was large enough that I didn’t get a chance to demo everything and see everything in one day. For now, these are the events that thrilled me the most and tomorrow I’m hoping to get a grip on a Wii remote and throw down some Mario Galaxy. Afterward I plan to move to the next booth and try MGS4, and in the evening I'll have the opportunity to take in Video Games Live!! I’ll keep you posted!   read

12:06 PM on 09.16.2007

Mobile Gaming: Is it Teh Suck?

You’re guilty too, you know you are! Just try to deny that out of boredom or curiosity you haven’t tapped away at the num pad of your phone as you tried to run that little snake into those ever-reappearing dots, or send a ball flying into a wall of bricks! But the question has to be asked in the world of gaming: will mobile gaming ever become a respectable gaming platform?

Let’s take a look at the current state of affairs. A huge percentage of games on phones are A). puzzle games B). retro arcade ports or C). necked down EA games like Madden or Nascar. So what’s wrong with that picture? As found in an incredibly scientific survey, most gamers who would qualify themselves as hardcore don’t play those games as a first choice. We see the vast majority favoring 1st and 3rd person shooters, RPGs, and action/adventure with all other genres trailing behind. That’s not to say that the gaming found on mobile phones isn’t somewhat amusing, but with the largest population of gamers (ie the people most likely to play mobile games) looking to get something more than amusing out of their gaming experience than connect the dots, you’d think the developers would cater a little more to their tastes.

So what does it take for mobile gaming to become respected as a viable gaming platform? Something for gamers to take the experience they love on the go. Square Enix seems to know what mobile gamers want. We can start with games like Before Crisis – Final Fantasy VII that is rumored to use your phone’s camera, GPS service, and sport a handy 1-4 player option. Though the hype for this game spans back more than three years and two US release dates have come and gone, this may be one step in the right direction for the struggling mobile gaming industry. In the meantime, those of you who have Verizon or Amp’d Mobile can whip out the not-so-fabulous-on-PS2-but-might-be-more-amusing-on-your-cell-phone Dirge of Cerberus!

Either way you look at it, it seems like the best ideas seem to come when you combine old(esque) skool gaming styles, with features you can only find on your cell phone to make it a completely new experience. Take Toyspring’s Arcade Reality, which I would consider to be THE most innovative game created for mobile phones to date. Is it one of the main genres? No, but the way that it utilizes specific phone features creates an experience you simply cannot find on any other gaming platform! The only drawback: unless they create a different version, it is only available on a Palm Treo.

So is mobile gaming dead? Having started only in 1997, it is far from dead, it’s still in its infancy, but the developers simply are not concentrating on this market yet. The wireless industry has almost 3 billion subscribers in the world and if one third of people who use a mobile phone want to download a game, ladies and gentlemen, we have the workings of an insanely profitable market. But the truth remains, without games, success will not come to that industry. And the secret to success will come when developers can combine popular games, genres, and ideas, with the features and functions of your phone that you can’t find anywhere else. I can’t wait until it is common for some of the most unique and original experiences to come from the palm of your hand in between calls!   read

10:23 PM on 09.02.2007

Identity Crisis - Game Exclusivity and Your Mother

As gaming enters a new capitalist era where money determines nearly everything, including loyalty, what does that mean for gaming as an industry and a medium? With the wars of game exclusivity well under way with the new gen consoles, many of our favorite exclusive and semi-exclusive titles are running to what used to be considered the enemy.

Would it change anything if Mario Galaxy was on the PS3 and 360? Would you think of Halo differently if it ran to the Wii? Personally, I was a little heart broken when I saw the news that Ace Combat was no longer going to be a PS exclusive, because of the vast history that series has had with me and those systems. Metal Gear had the same effect not because it wasn’t going to be exclusive, but because it wasn’t going to be released on the Playstation first as we have become used to since Metal Gear Solid. Maybe I’m just too old. Maybe with the newest generation of gamers throwing their mitts around a current gen controller that mom and pop just got them for their 7th birthday signals the right time to turn the old faces of gaming completely around and reimage them. Say it isn’t so!!!!

As much as I would love to say STFUAJPG and leave it at that, I can’t help but wonder if gaming will change because of this. Will systems rise and fall because of titles or will titles rise and fall because of systems? Perhaps both? Either way, for me, the loss of at least partial exclusivity makes me a bit tearful to see some of my favorite games cross over to the other systems. For gaming as a whole I have to remain optimistic that the platform games are played on isn’t the important part, it’s the games themselves. As long as the games retain the same quality and ultimately improve, gaming will still be moving in the right direction.

Thoughts?   read

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