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8:14 AM on 05.19.2011

360 Friday Night Fights: Larp Edition

Lets take a journey into the world of larp (live action role-play). The first time I ever heard of larping is when my friend in high school kept yelling “lighting bolt”. In my confused state he explained that people dress up and act as if they were actually playing D&D.

I thought that was the last I would hear from it, but awhile back Jonathan Holmes posted someone larping Super Meat Boy. This was a joke of course, but it brought my attention back to the world of larping. Why do people larp? Where do you larp? Who would want to see you larp? I thought of all of ideas and then stated “larping is lame.”

I follow the grand old rules of baseball, so this is the third and last time i’ll even be thinking about larping. What if FNF had it’s own larp?. Instead of people acting as if they were in the Monday Night Combat, people would be acting like themselves in a Monday Night Combat setting. Here’s a script of Halo Reach FNF featuring some of the FNF regulars.

Setting: Actors will be playing the role of Halo Reach online players on the map countdown. This is a rumble pit match so everyone is fighting for themselves (Dtoid members love killing other Dtoid members). This will be acted out in a mall.

Gaming in Public: I proceed to run around the mall finding the weaker players to pray on. Seeing Char Aznable come by, I duck into the Levi store. Waiting for a surprise attack I wait patiently. Then all of sudden I hear a loud battle cry.

mrandydixon: Boner!!!! Gaming in Public is murdered from behind, leaving a fake blood all over the jeans. mrandydixon then proceeds to start tea bagging my carcass when all of sudden.

Lenigod: Cock!!! mrandydixon is now victim to another to back stab, as Lenigod begins to rifle butt mrandydixon in the asshole.

mrandydixon: Your mom use to love it when I rifle butted her every night.

Lenigod: Well your mom just called me about having some of this tonight. Another loud battle cry is heard.

Caiters: “Stop using your mama jokes!” Lenigod falls to the ground with the rest of us. Now the levi’s store is covered in fake blood. “Both your moms told me that you should stop using your mama jokes, because I was rifle butting them both last night.”

Referee: Round Over! Official referee blows whistle and tells everyone to come back to the Burger King for the full tally of kills. “Char Aznable takes first!” It seemed that while other players were telling dick and your mama jokes, Char Aznable was killing all the other players on the field.

The script is still in the works. Enough of that, what games do we have to play tonight?

6:00 p.m. Eastern: Monday Night Combat

I think ScottyG is more in love with this game then I will ever be. Without a doubt if anyone is on Monday Night Combat every FNF it is ScottyG. If you happen to have the day off from work(or just call in sick) join in on the action early.
Host: ScottyG (ScottyGrayskull)

8:00 p.m. Central: Section 8 Prejudice

Epic Kx is hosting again this week for some good FPS action. He is forming a clan just for us Dtioder's!
Host:Epic KxDtoid (Epic Kx-Live)

9:00 p.m. Eastern: Monday Night Combat

If you love a game that is team based, then Monday Night Combat is something you'll love. Is there such thing as to much MNC in one day. I think not!
Host: Gaming in Public (GoodPostureClub)

9:00 p.m. Eastern: Halo Reach

Last week I got to play some custom maps and it was a lot of fun. This week needs some grifball!
Host: XOatmealNinjaxX (XOatmealNinjaxX)

9:00 p.m. Eastern:Call of Duty Black Ops/Modern Warfare 2

Who is better at making Call of Duty, Treyarch or Infinity Ward? Zombies beat spec ops but MW2 multiplayer beats Black Ops multiplayer.
Host: garethxxgod (garethxxgod)

Now for some videos related to larping.

[embed]201508:38587[/embed]   read

8:40 AM on 05.12.2011

360 Friday Night Fights:What The Hell Is Going On? Edition

Now you might be wondering who the fuck am I, and where is Sephiroth? Well to start I’m one of the newer members of Friday Night Fights, and to Destructoid. I occasionally bring you my grammatically wrong blog, and also leaving my two cents on the C-Blogs. I am here today because Sephrioth is missing in action(I hope he is okay), but the show must go on!

Friday Night Fights has become apart of my life, like brushing my teeth, and my after work beer. It’s a place where you can suck ass, and still come out feeling like your on top of the world! Char Aznadale is that guy who is kicking my ass, and then picking me right back up. A few weeks back we had a blast playing Castle Crashers, and yes he won the hearts of all the princesses. It didn’t matter that he was winning, just the simple fact that I was playing with a fellow gamer.

I have become a big fan of Monday Night Combat as well because of my interactions with Caiters. Every single FNF she is always there with her Trader Joe’s wine, and her thirst for blood. Caiters and I usually have our weekly talk about Northern Virginia. Don’t get it confused with the rest of Virginia! The folks in Northern Virginia pay the majority of taxes, and still we have the worst traffic ever!

I am actually excited to see Elsa come over to the dark side, and actually owns a Xbox 360 now! Some of you call this the end of the world, but just wait till next year. I see it now, Xbox Live down for three months. At that point I would have to buy a PS3 in order to get my FNF on!

Enough talking, lets get to the games.

5:00pm Central- Monday Night Combat

Monday Night Combat never seems to miss a beat. I'll have to join in on the MNC fun before Halo Reach gets started! I call Support.
Host:ScottyG (GT:scottygrayskull)

5:00pm Central- Section 8:Prejudice, Borderlands, and Halo 3

The host with the most is doing it again! Section 8:Prejudice, Borderlands, and Halo 3. Thats a crap load of shooting!
Note:If your joining in on Borderlands make sure you have the DLC,(Knoxx,Claptrap,and Zombie) Moxie not needed.
Host: Epic-KxDtoid (GT:Epic KxLIVE)

8:00pm Pacific-Gears of War 3 Beta

I still have not gotten a chance to play the beta. I blame it on the fact that I still have the classic 20GB 360, and have finally just run out of room. Need a bigger hard drive!
Host: mrandydixon (GT:Mr Andy Dixon)

8:30pm Central- Call of Duty: Black Ops

I am letting a good friend of mine borrow my copy of Black Ops, but I miss it so much. Zombie mode is a crap load of fun. I find that playing gun game with your friends can lead to some memorable moments.
Host: XGlakex (GT:W3X Glake)

9:00pm Eastern- Halo Reach

This game seems like it will be popular tonight, so I knocked out my usual Monday Night Combat game for some Halo Reach. Elsa will be joining in for her first 360 FNF, so be gentle. If you see anyone getting stabbed in the back, thats probably me getting killed.
Host:Gaming in Public (GT:GoodPostureClub)

P.S. If you have any problems feel free to yell at me in the comments. The problem is I work from 6-2 Eastern time so I won't be able to edit the blog till around 3, so make sure to leave your comments!

Now a random video:
They had to leave the best character out of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Hopefully MVC3 will have DLC with him.
[embed]200984:38418[/embed]   read

6:03 PM on 05.04.2011

The Forgotten

One of my newest rituals in life is to go thrift store shopping searching, for furniture and other relics. I really have my wife to thank for getting me into thrift store shopping, because at one point in my life I found it to be boring. I never usually take the time to search for video game treasures but recently I have been striking gold. Two weeks ago I got a perfectly working Rock Band wired guitar for ten dollars for my Xbox 360, which was a rare find. I thought I would tell you of my latest journey to Unique, the Mecca of all thrift stores.

Unique is huge! If you have ever been to a Wal-Mart, thats how big Unique is. A large clothing section, fabrics, books, old electronics, furniture, you name it. I have been here many of times, but this weeks adventure was better than usual. The trick with thrift store shopping, is that half the time you’ll find the a system missing cords, or the system itself damaged in some way. I don’t blame Unique though, they go through hundreds of donations a day.

The first thing I came across was a black gamecube for about ten dollars. No cords, no controller, but the case was in good condition. Most people would never buy this, because you couldn’t even play it without a controller, or cords. For me it would be complete waste of ten dollars, since I already have a Wii that plays any gamecube games.

The second thing I come across is a Playstation 2 with the same problem. Fifteen dollars with no cords or controllers means this item will stay on the shelves for a very long time. The case was in good condition just like the GameCube, but still nothing any regular customer would buy.

As you can see, it is mainly me searching through incomplete or damaged video game goods. A Rock Band drum set without the peddle for forty dollars, a driving wheel with the cord cut off for twenty dollars, and a Nintendo controller missing a button are just a few of things, that are just trash.

Then I found it, the diamond in the rough! It took me about a half an hour to find a beauty like this but it was worth every penny I spent on it. A TI-99 Texas Instrument home computer for fifteen dollars. It come complete with two joy sticks, ac adapter, and classic TV connector. Thankfully, I still have my old TV that uses the old antennas because without it, I would not be able to use it. The best part is the system came with one game, and that one game is Donkey Kong.

99% of what you’ll find in thrift stores is video game junk, but if you have the time you’ll be able to find video game gold. I also suggest combing the whole store for stuff, half the time you’ll find people will pick things up, and not put them back in the proper place. The Rock Band guitar I actually found by accident in the furniture section. Most of these electronics are forgotten because they are damaged, but if you have the time you can find the good ones to add to your collection.

P.S: Here are some more photos, so enjoy!

On second thought I don't want to be in movie. I found fifteen copies of this that were not even opened.

A Playstation with a controller, but still no cords!

Chess obviously gets better when you throw the word "battle" in the front.   read

4:13 PM on 04.29.2011

Aaamaazing!: Rock Band is Just Simply Fun!

Rock Band is one of those games that is fun to play no matter what. It is one of the few games in my library where it is as fun to play sober, as it is drunk. Most of the time when I get drunk, my gaming skills plummet faster than Charlie Sheen’s career. Rock Band is unique because you can change the games difficulty depending on how you want to play the game. In party settings this is great because each individual has control over the difficulty whether they are a newbie, or a seasoned plastic guitar player.

Think about games before RockBand. There was Guitar Hero, which was me just playing a plastic guitar game in my underwear. There was Taiko Drum Master, which was my horrible attempt at flailing two sticks at a drum. Karaoke was also at my local bar on Tuesday night, but didn’t want to look like like a complete idiot singing “American Pie”. RockBand came along and put everything in one neat package. Now I had a full band behind me, so that my horrible singing was followed by the out of place players behind me.

Now for the longest time in music gaming, I had been subjected to what I call “Japanese Full Force Music Gaming.” Beatmania even on easy, felt like being a rocket scientist. The easiest setting for Beatmania still kicked my ass. It was so many buttons, and even in practicing a song over and over had no affect on my skills. The game made me feel like a failure, even before I could get a hang of the game. RockBand came around and made me fall in love with music gaming once more. They invited me back saying it’s okay if you suck, we got an easy mode until you get better. Even if you don’t want to progress, RockBand is still enjoyable on an easier setting.

The best part of RockBand, is that people of all backgrounds love it. All my friends who have never picked up a controller, seem to pick up a plastic guitar in order to join the band. I guess doesn’t hurt to have a song like “Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi to lure the non avid gamers. Now Guitar Hero 2 has a good song list but RockBand had the list that had something for everyone. “Enter Sandman”, “Foreplay/Long Time”, “Main Offender”, “Welcome Home”, and “When You Were Young”, are just a few or the great songs that you can play.

Talk about party games, till this day there is no game that starts a party off. Drunk or Sober (I prefer drunk) this game seems to get the party started. I seem to always grab the microphone after six PBRs, and belt the classic tune “Wave of Mutilation” by the Pixies. Even if I don’t know a song, I just get so pumped to try and sing. Good thing I can turn up the track vocals, so my guests don’t blow their ears out to my horrible singing.

I know a lot of people hate on this game, because it is not really playing an instrument. Yes, I look like a complete idiot strapping on a plastic guitar, banging on the drums, or singing into a microphone to a fake crowd but it is just plain fun. The game becomes more than just what you see on the screen, but more about the experience you have outside of it.

My fondest memory of this was my senior year of college. My classmates and I had graduated and one of my good friends was going to have a RockBand party. That only meant beer, beer, liquor, wine, beer, beer, and also beer to the wee hours of the night. I invited my good friend from work to join in that night, who was a notorious partier. Lets just say he got a full taste of the party and got so trashed, and gave us a show. It was hit after hit, of his drunken sweet melody’s. This meant hearing “When You Were Young” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” over and over again. At this point it would make anyone go insane but at the moment in the party it was no longer about the game, but about his passion singing each song.

Rock Band is simply a game of fun. Rock Band does not push graphical limits, or deliver a great story but it delivers the most fun I have ever had. Cheers to Harmonix for bringing fun back to video games!   read

11:31 PM on 04.19.2011

Jonathan Holmes Zombie Marathon Results!

To start off I would like to thank Saphodravingo and Kauz for posting fundraising for Jonathan Holmes. If they had never posted on their blog’s about the robbery, I would have never thought to do a Zombie Marathon in the first place! A great thanks as well to everyone who has already donated before the marathon, you have already been a great help to Jonathan.

The marathon started off with some nutritional Yuengling, and bacon cheeseburger from Five Guys. The first few rounds were filled with random players who did not have a mic, or were below the age of 8. This went on for about an hour, and I lost hope of ever finding a good group.Then a miracle, a group of people who all had mics and over 8.

It took us awhile to warm up, because in the first three rounds never got past the 20th round. The fourth and final round that was played was best round of the night.We started working as a team, which lead us to 24 rounds of zombies. Not my best, but I had a lot of fun killing the zombie hordes for a good cause!

If you still have not donated for the marathon or for the robbery fund, you still can! Just go to your PayPal account and donate to [email protected] Make sure in the comments you put down Johnathan Holmes, so that way they know it is for the fund. Again, thanks to every past, present, and future donation that is given. It's not the amount, but the fact that you donate. Thanks   read

9:51 AM on 04.11.2011

Zombies Marathon For Jonathan Holmes

Jonathan Holmes is a person I have always trusted when it comes to game reviews. Jonathan always seems to point me in the right direction, when it comes to his reviews. I got Bit.Trip Flux and Pokemon Black because of his outstanding written reviews he did. WIth his guidance my library of games is getting better. When I finally heard the news that he was robbed, I knew that I needed to do something to help him out. It’s time to get off my ass off the computer chair, and start a marathon. Not just any marathon, Black Ops: Zombies marathon.

If you don’t already know, I usually host a game once a week on Friday Night Fights 360. This week i’ll be hosting one amazing game of Black Ops: Zombies at 9 P.M. Eastern Time. I will need a few good men (and women) to play in this amazing marathon for Jonathan Holmes. If you can’t join the game on Friday, don’t worry you can still participate by making a pledge.

The marathon will last until we get to drunk to play, or pass out on the sofa. What makes this fun for everyone is that your pledge is based off the best round we have. Lets say we make it to round 40 and you pledge $0.50 that means you donate $20($0.50*40=$20). Now, I am not asking people to put down their pledges. This is because I want this marathon to be about how many people donated, and not how much money was donated. Really, you can donate as much as you would like, but the pledge aspect makes it more fun for the people at home. Just to be warned I have made it to round 38 so choose your pledge wisely.

I will be posting a follow up post to this as well. After the marathon, i’ll post a new forum thread with the highest round. Now you do not have to do this, but I would like people who actually donate after the marathon to just post on the forum just saying that they did. In the post recap i’ll list the names of the people who participated in the marathon plus all the people who donated. As I said before, this is about how many people donate, not about how much money is given. Please, do not be an ass and post that you did donate when you actually did not, because then i’ll look like an ass for posting misleading donations.

Above all I want everyone to have fun at the next Black:Ops Zombies marathon for Jonathan Holmes!   read

3:14 PM on 04.03.2011

Being Poor Sucks, but Here are Some Tips

Lets face it, I have very little money, and a list of video games that never ends. Each month the backlog of games gets bigger and bigger and my cash flow gets tighter. I am trying to become a social gamer, so anytime my gamer friends want to hang out at the bar I always jump on the opportunity. The problem is at the end of the night I realize that either I am going to have to cut back on my social life at bars, or cut back on the amount of games I get. Recently, I have come to terms that you need to be smart when it comes to choosing when to buy, where to buy, and if it even deserves to be bought. I thought it would be great to share my knowledge on how to save money on games and still have enough to get drunk at the bar.

This is probably the hardest part of the process since there are always multiple games I want to get. First set a budget of how much you are willing to spend each month. My budget for games a month is at about $80 which includes my GameFly account. The trick is never going over your budget even for new hardware releases as well. I really want a 3DS myself but holding back on one since I have already spent my budget on games for the month.

If I don’t buy a game one month I add that to the pool of money I have to spend on video games. April is really a dead month in terms of gaming for me, so I will use the money I saved in April in order to buy my 3DS in the future. Trust me, speaking from experience you want to stick to your budget. I have gone on spending sprees many of times (usually in winter) where I’ll spend so much money on games ill have eat ramen until the following pay check.

For the month of march I got Pokemon Black, Monday Night Combat (XBLA), and with my GameFly account comes to about $70. That means I have $10 left over in my budget that will go towards next months video games. Now I could waste my $10 on a bunch of one dollar indie games on XBLA, but there can also be a downside to that as well.

If anything before you buy a game you should sit down and see if that game is really what you want. Looking at the reviews is only the first step in understanding if the game is really worth your time and effort. How much will the game cost? Is the game worth the money I am going to spend on it? Will I play the game after I beat it once? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself before you drop $60 on a video game.

Pokemon Black took me about two weeks of research. I pretty much talked to everyone, and anyone who had touched the game or heard about the game. It is great to have friends close to you, because your friends will give you a honest reviews.

3.Play the Waiting Game
I was really surprised how many games have dropped in price since there release. With hype comes a hefty price. When a game doesn’t live up to the hype it usually drops in price in order to sell more units that are sitting in a warehouse. I usually don’t buy games on release date for this simple fact. I am a patient guy, and I can usually wait it out until the price comes to something more reasonable like forty or thirty dollars. Check multiple sites because you never know what site will have the best deal.

I am big steam user and I know that if there is a game, most likely it will go on sale at some point. The big times to look out for is summer, and winter in which they feature the best sales that will make your mouth drop. Last year I purchased Left 4 Dead 2 on steam for the price of $4.99. Steam also does you a favor by also having publisher packs where you can get a lot of games well under original price. Steam is not the only place to find a good deal but it does take a great deal of patience in order to capitalize.

Who knew great sales would come on April Fool's? Xbox Live had some amazing deals and I was happy that I had waited to buy these games. I got Comic Jumper for 400 points, X-Men Arcade for 300, and Deadliest Warrior for 300! Crazy Larry always seems to come around when you least suspect it!

4.Get GameFly Already
As much as you think you will need this game in your library, you really don’t know until you have already spent $60 on the title. If I am on the fence on a certain title I usually put it into my renters list. Case and point Epic Mickey. When I first saw the game last year I told myself this is a must own! Then more and more I started to question whether I would be playing the game after I had beaten it. It was then I decided to put it into my GameFly account and just be patient. Luckily, I made the right choice in waiting since after I beat the game, I really had no reason to replay the game again. This saved me $50 in the long run.

5.Start Sharing With Your Friends
Most likely you have a bunch of friends who have the same system as you, why not trade games with one another? This worked out great when I wanted to play Modern Warfare 2, and my friend wanted to try my copy of Monster Hunter Tri. I got as much Modern Warfare 2 as I could, then gladly returned it back for my copy of Monster Hunter Tri (which I am still playing the hell out of)! This was even before I had gotten my own GameFly account. If your network of friends are not gamers then obviously this will fail.

These are just a few helpful tips that you should keep in mind every month. You might have more money to spend each month than I do, so adjust accordingly. Make sure when you set a goal stick to it so you are getting the most gaming out of your hard earned money.   read

2:17 PM on 03.26.2011

Technical Difficulties: Super Meat Boy is the Perfect Difficulty

Super Meat Boy is the game that I have become so addicted to it is ridiculous. I play this game at least five days week. The game continues to make me say “how the hell am I going to beat this” with it’s newly added expert remix levels. Right now I find myself stuck on the dark world version of rapture and still working my way through it. I might find it impossible to beat these levels now, but I have come to understand that nothing is impossible in Super Meat Boy.

When I first got the game back in December, the game seemed impossible to start. I had already struggled through the demo the first time I tried it and I felt reluctant to buy. My friend insisted that it was pure gaming pleasure through and through. For Christmas my friend got me a Microsoft points card for 1600 points and then I had no more excuses not to buy the game. It took me two weeks into the game to realize that the difficulty was in the mind of the beholder.

First couple of weeks I struggled to make it through the first three chapters. The hospital had kicked my butt, and the salt factory made me want pee my pants in fear. Past the first three levels in the Forest the game doesn’t give you hints. The game had already seemed impossible to me at the point, how could I even continue on if I already wanted to throw in the towel? Then I looked no further than Meat Boy himself for my inspiration to playing the game. While I found my deaths to be annoying Meat Boy just kept coming back to life. Death is not the enemy but the lesson I needed to learn in order conquer the game.

The game makes you think there is no way out (hence the millions of saws that cut you to death). To any gamer millions of saws, and usually only one little area to fit through means sudden death. I died repeatedly and still feared the saws. The saws had yet again conquered me. Then it hit me like a brick, I had to overcome my fear of death! To long had other games been telling me that death was wrong by adding lives to increase difficulty. Super Meat Boy is the complete opposite that death is okay, and you need to harness the power of death to conquer each level.

The best way I can describe harnessing the power of dying is describing the hardest level I have beaten. The Cotton Alley is not something to laugh at as I have only beaten it through the light world. I have taken a swing at the dark world and have been crushed many of times. The only one I have beaten is a little level called Flipside. The idea simple the execution complex. The level features two narrow runways that shoot saws in opposite direction that you are running. The solution is complex in which you have to leap forward then move back to avoid the deadly saws. I call this trick “two steps forward, one step back.” In my attempts it took me about twenty minutes to beat the level which done perfectly is only a twenty-second level.

The second way that I can also describe harnessing the power of death is in the fated Kid’s level. The first time I had ever played this level I almost fainted at the sight of the level. The crazy part about this level is that you see all your challagnes in front of you, but that does not take away from its difficulty. To earn the character ‘The Kid’ you must use his double jump skills in order to avoid the deadly spikes. The very first jump you take off the platform you must preform a double jump through spikes above and below you which is no easy task to accomplish. It took me three PBRs and one hour later to finally beat the first part of this level. Everything seemed impossible at first but once you buckle down and learn the mechanics of the double jump this level is something that you can accomplish in your lifetime.

Now some of you might find this game to be needlessly hard but most of the games that we have come to love are hard without warning. Super Meat Boy for the most part shows you all the obstacles you will face and some levels are even on one screen (and the hardest ones usually are on one screen). You usually get caught off guard the first couple of runs, but since death is okay your not afraid just to die to learn the level. Mega Man probably my favorite series of all time is never a fair game because it never warns you. Most of the time I'll be minding your own business and then ‘bam’ random robotic bird drops a rock on my head and I plummet to my death. Jump a gap, and I get shot from across the screen which leads to another cheap death. Mega Man 9 and 10 pushed my patients and frustrated me to the point of no return. I beat both of these games and never returned to play them again just because I found myself dying because of the games extreme difficulty. The problem is death is something to be avoided at all costs because once your lose all your lives its back to the beginning. I felt proud to beat Mega Man 9 and 10, but still fear the games difficulty to ever play them again.

Super Meat Boy has changed the way I view difficulty in games. It has taught me to never assume what I see is as difficult. It has shown me that all along I have had to skill to overcome any saw that comes in my way. I say thanks Team Meat for showing me a lesson in the school of hard knocks. Yes, It took me a good two hours to beat The Kid’s level but never once did I feel like throwing my control full force at the screen.   read

6:46 PM on 03.16.2011

Post PAX!

After a nine-hour bus trip back to DC from Boston at 10:00PM I was so happy to see my wife passed out in bed. The calls from her every night around eleven made me miss what was going on back in DC, and yes, I got teary-eyed at one point. Even with my wife’s persuading words, urging me to just come back home, she understood that I just plainly had to geek out with other nerds. It was an amazing three-day convention that I hope to enjoy again next year with my fellow gaming brothers and sisters. Though next year I will come a little more prepared.

Fatal Error 1: Not bringing my Nintendo DS to party when everybody in the known universe had brought theirs. There were plenty of moments when I slapped myself in the face upon noticing that someone in line with me for a panel had their DS. Nowhere in the convention itself was safe from the DS. DS in the bathroom, DS in the cafeteria, DS in the portable lounge, DS on the bus. It was a missed opportunity to meet a new friend at every corner, all because I did not bring my DS. It was my biggest blunder for the convention, but it didn’t bring down the experience of my first PAX Eastl.

Fatal Error 2: Not going to enough of the small meet ups at bars and at the convention center. I spent most of my time in panels and at the classic arcade, which were lots of fun, but not great for meeting new people. Most of my socializing was in line for panels or just goofing around at the arcade. Next year, I will come with a clear game plan for smaller meet-ups at bars or just host my own around the convention center. I am a big Super Meat Boy fan and I wish I had set up my own Super Meat Boy meet-up to talk to some fellow meatheads.

Fatal Error 3: Not bringing enough snack food to the convention. The convention food burned through my wallet even faster than buying video games. $3 sodas, $7 salads, and $7 ice cream just made me a poorer man than I already was. Next time I go to the convention I am just going to bring a case of Lara Bars to tide me over as much as possible. Another key item to tote is a water bottle, since filling up water from the water fountains is three dollars cheaper than buying bottled water each day.

Enough of the bad things; let’s get going with the good. First of all, the majority of people I met at PAX were great fun to talk to. If you are an introvert, like me, PAX really is not the time to hide inside your shell. How often are you going to meet people at a bar talking about video games? Even Thursday night, before the convention, I was sitting at the bar with my friend David talking about a variety of video game topics. We began by talking about Pong machines with the bartender, then moved quickly over to the person on my left to chat about Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. This is probably the first time in my life that I could start a conversation about Mega Man at a bar and have everyone know what I was talking about. If I didn’t take a chance and open my mouth I would not have had the great experience of meeting the guys from Press Pause Radio, who do some fantastic work over at their podcast.

The very first panel I went to was amazing. It was an informative talk by the guys from Meta Game Theory. Basically, the panel went over the ins and outs of PAX East and how to get the most out of your PAX experience. They had everything from how long you should wait in line for panels to the best bar spots and how to find your favorite celebrities at PAX. It was especially helpful since David and I had no idea what we were doing. At the end of the panel I got to talk to Joe from Meta Game Theory and thank him for teaching me the details of the expo. They run a Podcast that everyone should follow if they want to hear an intellectual conversation about gaming, rather than the usual review or preview of a game.

Waiting in lines for panels was a pain but got a lot easier when you talked to the people in line. It’s easy: just open your mouth and ask the person next to you, “Did you play anything good on the show floor?” People love talking about what they did or what they want to do next at the convention. Once you break the ice, the conversations can last for half an hour, while it feels as though only minutes have passed. Those who say gamers are antisocial are wrong, because gamers just love sharing their knowledge and passion for games with other people. Even at the end of the convention on Sunday, when everyone should have been passed out on the floor, people were still socializing and talking amongst themselves about the great times they had. I had the honor of talking to Jon at the convention within the last half an hour, and it just showed me that being a member of the gaming community is great. We spent a good ten minutes just talking about the passion we had for Earth Defense Forces 2017. Always be willing to chat at the convention, because making new relationships is something that all gamers need.

The show floor was a mad house, but many of the smaller developers just loved the fact that you were playing their new game. One game that I was so excited for before I even got there was Earth Defense Forces Insect Armageddon. This game is the highly anticipated sequel to the cult classic Earth Defense Forces 2017. Only at PAX would you ever hear the masses chanting, “EDF, EDF!” I got to talk with Michael Cerven, Publicity Manager for D3 Publisher. He loved that we were asking him questions about the game. Any question we had he was happy to answer and even gave us his business card if we thought up any more. The smaller developers and publishers have a great sense of community and love the fact that people are playing and enjoying their games. My plea to anyone who is reading this post: please reserve your copy of Earth Defense Forces Insect Armageddon right now, because if company and any game truly deserves your money, it is D3 Publisher.

What I have learned from PAX is that gamers all come to PAX for a variety of reasons, but at the end of the day we are all gamers. Even with the massive crowds of people you would expect people to be rude, but realistically everyone is happy to see other gamers. I hope that gamers don’t stop being social when PAX is over, but continue to reach out to other gamers in their area. It has inspired me to start up my gaming group in the DC area again, because drinking with gamers is an amazing experience. Will you continue to spirit of PAX, or will you let it die? The choice is in our hands and hopefully other gamers will take up the challenge.   read

3:13 PM on 03.05.2011

PAX Prep

Just as Christians and Jews have Jerusalem and Muslims have Mecca, gamers have PAX. This will be my first trip to the holy land of gaming conventions, where gamers can just be gamers. My journey will start next week on Thursday morning at 10 AM as I embark on a nine hour long bus ride from Washington DC to Boston, Mass. I will come prepared with my 600 page book on video game history, my Wii for hotel pleasure, and my DS to relive my addiction to Mega Man Battle Network 5 Double Team.

My wife has decided to sit this one out because, bluntly, she is not much of a gamer. My best friend David is coming up from VCU for the festivities. I can’t think of anyone else who I would want to bring on this trip with me. We have shared so much of our lives gaming: past, present, and hopefully future games we will find at PAX. Most importantly, the convention is just not about bringing old friends but meeting some new ones as well. I have plans to meet a fellow blogger Allison of Live to Play. It brings me great joy that I will be amongst like-minded gamers and people share my passion for gaming. What I look forward to even more are the new people I will encounter on my journey. Too often I find myself inside the house playing games or meeting new people at bars only to figure out that they only play two games (usually Madden and Call of Duty). If there is anywhere in the world where a gamer can meet people who share their interests, it is PAX.

The other pastime I hope to enjoy is bar-hopping. Drinking beer is something I usually enjoy after a hard day at work. I am a bulk buyer for a major grocery store so most of my day involves lifting heavy bags to fill bins. I do some minor desk work which takes about a hour of my day, but mostly it’s lifting, lifting, and more lifting. A nice cold beer always calms my nerves after a long day; my favorite beer to imbibe with dinner is Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Lager. I also greatly enjoy weird beers. Last week I tried 21st Amendment Brewery’s Hell High Watermelon beer which I can only be described as PBR with a watermelon-y aftertaste. A great aspect of hanging out in bars is meeting people in their natural state, relaxed and not in a rush to get from point A to point B. The best aspect is, since PAX is in town, the bars will be crawling with gamers who just want to let loose. To be honest, the beer can, at times, also break the ice sometimes when you’re at a loss for words.

PAX is great for meeting new people, and bar-hopping, but it also has a lot more than that. The other reason why every gamer should go to PAX is the amount of useful information you’ll be getting. David is about to graduate with a degree in computer programming and would really like to break into the video game industry. What better place to learn than PAX? Just look at the list of all the panels of interest to aspiring game designers.

Personally, I am excited for all the panels about the good that video games are doing. I am especially excited to hear from Jane McGonigal, the keynote speaker, largely because of her book, Reality Book, which examines both the pros and cons of video games. She has actually posted a few rules to live by which any gamer should follow. Most of them are common sense, but it is helpful to have these rules in written form for the masses to see. Too many times I have seen a younger generation of gamers playing 24/7 online and not playing games enough in a social environment.

What I hope to learn from my short, four day vacation to PAX is that gamers can be just as social as any other group of people. Gamers come from all walks of life. Gamers range from the poor to rich, black to white, female to male, married to single, introverted to extroverted, etc. PAX is a place where game companies are not lurking to burn your wallets, and the people are not there to laugh at your horrible performance at Black Ops. PAX is simply a forum where every gamer has a place, from the casual to the hardcore. I hope to see you in the promised land.   read

8:01 AM on 03.03.2011

Call of Duty:Black Ops has a Community?

Josh Olin is Treyarch’s community manager the man who’s job it is to do what the fans want and get the good name of Black Ops out there. He is usually blasting away at Twitter or telling you all the hard work they do just for the fans. Then I thought to myself does Call of Duty:Black Ops really have a community? Since the release of the First Strike DLC I have been playing non stop Black Ops for about two weeks. Playing the game over and over reminded me that the community of Black Ops is not much of one. Yes, this is the number one played game on Xbox 360 but that doesn’t mean these people are here to form a lasting community.

When I think of community the definition that comes to mind is the feeling of fellowship with your common gamer. This is a result of sharing the same interests, attitudes, and goals of playing Black Ops. I have never put my foot into a free for all match and not once found the sense of community Josh Olin proclaims there is. Josh Olin really just looks over a group of people who like the same game not a group of people with the same goal.

The simple objective of any match is to win with most kills for your team or most points but, team members usually value their scores over the rest. Most of the matches I played were team death match which is just straight up killing. Playing the new maps was a great experience but could have been even better if people actually liked playing with one another. The only reason most people don’t play with bots is because there are no bragging rights beating a bot (obviously no in game bots). Even though I always had five players on my team they all had completely different goals then me.

Here is the “community” in a run down on most of the maps that I was playing for the past two weeks. Kowloon features some great scenery, water effects are great and the attention to detail is what Treyarch is good at. My favorite part is running into the room that has sacks of potatoes lined up on the wall. Most of the time you will find the lone gunner making his way towards the tops of the roofs to take shots from the top. Another gamer is camping in a building by the door way using ghost keeping the other team from advancing upwards towards the roof tops. Then you have a couple of other gamers running around like mad men shooting anything that comes in their path. At first I thought hey this is great strategy but the simple fact is most players could care less who is near them or around them it is all about themselves and their scores. Usually when the team losses the guy in first place blames the other team mates rather than be a team player and trying to help them out. When I play with friends I usually stick close by avenging the death of my fallen friends and telling them enemy positions before they get shot. The lone gunner at the top never usually calls anything out on his mike because he is concerned with raising his kill streaks then and overall team win. If the gunner choose to call out positions that would lead to less killing for him/her.

It always takes a good team to kill lots of zombies but even there it comes down to their own gain. Ascension is the new zombie maps which puts you into Russian space station filled with evil zombies and of course evil space monkeys. Playing with random people usually leads to the following two scenarios. The first is that your team has no idea what to do. Instead of sticking together as a team they run to opposite ends of the map making survival impossible for the whole team. Instead of my team mates asking me “hey where do we go next?” I found myself left behind as they opened both the under passage door and the upper passage door. At the speed of light I run to try and revive them but a lass it is to late as the horde of zombies maul me to death. The other scenario I ran into a lot was the team that knew to much but never wanted to explain. One guy would be on the mic bossing most of the other team members around calling people “fags” and “idiots” when they had no idea what they were doing. The map pack was not even I started playing and he expected other gamers to have the same knowledge of the maps as he did. Really what needs to happen is that gamers have to come together to find a happy medium. The gamers who have no idea should stay close and ask questions in order to increase their knowledge on the maps while the experienced players need to explain things and stop shouting offensive things through the mic.

I wanted to enjoy the new maps even though it is a complete rip off at the price of 1200 MS points. The attention to detail put into each map by Treyarch just shows excellence of their studio. The problem is the community itself kept me from enjoying a decent set of maps. The truth is the majority of Black Ops players don’t care about anyone else. I am not trying to put down anyone who loves Black Ops or the players who actually are nice but something has to be done. Black Ops has become the number one online game for Xbox Live and it is our duty to preserve civility in online gaming. I am not jealous of Josh Olin’s position because his job seems like a sham. Not to say that Josh Olin is not a hard worker but at the end of the day he is not in charge of a community but in charge of selfish players.

If Black Ops were to become a place of community it should take the model of Team Fortress 2. Valve highlights the community as whole rather than the player. Valve usually in their updates highlights players having fun together rather than a single players domination of the game. My friend Steven is what I would call a good example of a community man. He helps post videos to help less experienced players get better such as guides to playing demoman, heavy, and medic. There are a few self help Black Ops videos out their but hard to find. The community is more concerned with a single players perfect round at the moment rather then a teams perfect round.

We can take back Black Ops and claim it back for the community but it will take time. Educating new players is the first step to bringing the community back into Black Ops. If you teach the new players a new trick they did not know or how to act like a team then they will appreciate the team. Second don’t let experienced players put down the team lose. People can take this game way to seriously and have to realize there is more to life then being in first place. Calling people derogatory names serves no purpose but their own. Let them know that their remarks not only hurt themselves but proves to other people that video games are a hurtful place. Third post videos that show the team win not just yourself. Someone out their has to have that one domination video where there team wins some ridiculous odd like 100-10. If you have some knowledge that other players might not have post some tip videos on how to play the game.

Treyarch has to do their part as well. They can’t put an end to hurtful language but they could at least come out and say “calling other gamers a fag is wrong.” Treyarch won’t crack down on this because they make money off these people. The only thing that would make Treyarch respond to this is if Activision lost money because of these gamers. Bobby Kotick already has what he wants from us we have to show him that we mean business or we will leave for good.

Call of Duty: Black Ops is a great game. The new First Strike DLC is actually decent and shows off the talent of Treyarch. When I actually got to have fun playing online it was amazing and wish the fun wouldn’t stop. Lets just hope that the enjoyment every Black Ops player has can be transferred into a lasting community.   read

9:14 AM on 02.24.2011

Casual? Who are you calling Casual!

I was inspired by my friends blog from Klei Entertainment that games are simply more than just "fun". The word casual makes most gamers cringe but I am here to say why the word casual does no justice to casual games.

Casual is a term used to describe games that are easy to play and require little time and knowledge to play. Though with most gamers the term casual usually brings up pictures of half hearted games that would most likely not want to play. Casual games are not new but have been around in video game history as far back as Tetris. Recently though with copies upon copies of the same casual games it is hard to not be scared by the term casual. Even though these games require very little time to learn and play usually developing good casual games takes a lot of skill. There is nothing casual about the time it takes to make a great game that can be played with a short amount of time.

Traditional games usually takes more time to become engaged, casual games have to gain your attention fast. Usually these games are played on the go but can also be played at home. To make a game that someone likes to play in less than a thirty minute time frame is no easy task. To many times a game can be made to easy and one finds themselves getting bored. The trick with casual games is a gradual progression. One learns the mechanics in the first couple of levels then the game gets slightly harder and harder after each one. Peggle is a great example of the great design of a casual game. The first few levels are easy letting you get a hold of mechanics but gets progressively gets harder after each level. Peggle though never feels so easy that you can just breeze through it in a thirty minute time frame. Towards the end one will find themselves retrying a level three to four times before they actually pass it.

What one person is to say that these gaming experiences are not valid? These games are just not what gamers usually play. Gamers are looking for experiences that usually have a high learning curve and a high time commitment. These games exist on the other end of the spectrum that one is not use to seeing. Casual games have helped bring more people into the video gaming world that would have never had the time to play. With full time jobs, marriage, and children some games have to evolve to fit into a persons life. Most of these people were being ignored for the most part up until the big boom of casual PC play with companies like PopCap, and Big Fish games.

These games can also can unite players who might not see eye to eye on games. RockBand is a major stand out in the modern hybrid of casual titles. While one person can play on Easy no fail mode and play just to make it through another player can play on expert and go for the glory of perfect score. Each person is happy since everyone has a choice in how hard or easy the game might be for them. Some people might find this to be a dumbing down of video games but video games should not be an exclusive club for the few. This is not to say that more challenging video games should go away but that casual video games are just as much apart of the video game world as hardcore games are. Socialization though is an important part of anyones life which is what casual games bring to the table. Hardcore games can be a social activity for avid gamers but casual games can be played by both the avid and non avid gamers.

Can anyone just make a casual game? Yes there are developers who are in the video game business to cash in on the casual game craze. The sea of casual games are filled with mainly variations of match three puzzles, time management, and your mystery solving games. Though the market has been getting better with stand out titles like Eets, Braid, Poker Night at the Inventory, Peggle, and Plants vs. Zombies. These games show that games can be made that appeal to everyone and not just a few.

Casual games are here to stay and a new breed of casual players has been born. Hopefully with great casual games new gamers might be more moved to play more traditional video games that they never thought they would pick up. Anyone can just push out a copy of diner dash, but to make one that is loved by everyone is a true challenge. The word casual itself undermines the time and effort that is put into a game by developers. These games are just more than casual they engage players of all ages and bring us enjoyment in our busy lives.   read

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