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12:52 PM on 07.07.2010

Why I like motion controls

Once again, I have to invoke the notion of the arrogance of the “hardcore gamer.” Many of them seem to hold either ambivalence or hatred towards motion controls as used in gaming. Not without cause or reason, the Wii had just a midget’s handful of good games until very, very recently. The combination of the Wii being the champion of motion controlled gaming and the lack of any good games for the gamer crowd meant that the Wii was shunned by most traditional gamers, and as a consequence motion controlled gaming was written off as a “casual fad.” And maybe it is, we have so far only had the Wii and Sixaxis to demonstrate this. However I believe motion controls if done correctly can be equally as fun as the standard controller.

Kinect, regardless of its demonstrations, has the potential to supplement the already existing gamer experience. Not in all situations, nor in just casual ones, but assuming that it can track your motions effectively, how would this not make, for example, Fight Night a more interesting game. While I understand that part of the allure is playing with established names in the boxing franchise, imagine a boxing game where you work your way up from a created character, and get to face all the greats of boxing. Actually, here’s a more succinct question: How many of you really hate Mo-Cap Boxing, from the arcade? Silent Scope? Burnout Paradise? The applications aren’t endless, but I don’t expect this to be “the future of gaming,” I expect it to be an addition to gaming. Nothing more than an alternate option.

Yahtzee, in his most recent “extra punctuation” article (On Kinect and Playstation Move) discusses why he thinks motion controls are essentially a parlor trick, states that the zenith of gaming would one day be where you’re plugged in and your thoughts immediately turn into your actions, and that the least possible transition from thought to action is what gaming should be moving towards, and therefore large actions from motion gaming detract from that. While I agree with the statement that “thoughts turned into action” are where gaming should eventually go, I disagree that motion controls detract tremendously from getting to that stage. For the sake of argument, lets say that the motion controls are 1:1 and that every move you make can be replicated instantly in the game. When you lean around a corner, your character leans around the corner in an FPS, following everything that you do, down to when you sneeze and wipe your nose. How would this not be a more immersive experience than simply moving the left stick to turn around a corner? The actions would be grander yes, but should your motion determine your action, I think that the control set could be equally as fun and immersive, if given the correct parameters.

Take Time Crisis for example. Everyone loves Time Crisis, everyone played and loved Time Crisis both in the arcades and at home. How could a dedicated control set for Time Crisis, an already established franchise be a bad thing? It’s like Organic Food. Converting completely over to the system would be an absolutely horrendous idea, but having the option and the ability to experience both types isn’t a detraction, just a supplementary experience, for those that choose to enjoy it.

I personally think that the Playstation Move is more adaptable to gaming in its current state than the Kinect. While I hate to agree in any way with the monolithic cereberus-style behemoth that is Sony PR, it is because of the buttons, and having a physical controller in hand. Not only is it that much easier to track, but with something in each hand you can essentially track the upper half of the body, making the “peeking around a corner in an FPS” reality that much easier, but now only with the added effect of pushing a button (in the same way you would on a standard controller) to kill that particular enemy. Assuming the experience isn’t infused with enough lag to make it seem as if the character has Parkinson’s, it could be a really immersive experience, if you allow yourself to be immersed within it.

Sports Games, RPG’s and all manner of swordplay are obvious choices for motion gaming, and FPS’s and RTS’s could be fashioned to fit without too much degradation of the way we do traditional gaming. That to me is a large enough market to create it and allow developers to create ideas to fit with the system. At the end of the day though, these are nothing more than expensive accessories, at the most slightly more relevant than Rock Band and Guitar Hero. To all those that have cried foul on these new motion controls, ask yourself how many of you wanted a Wii HD. This is your opportunity to have just that.

When the terms casual and motion control are bonded so closely as they are on the Wii, and as they have been in demonstrations of both Kinect and Move, then it can be said that they are detracting from traditional gaming. However relax and keep an open mind guys, they’re not taking away your controller, just giving you the option to not only try games a new way, but try different games in a new way.   read

2:25 PM on 06.22.2010

That Game Sucks!

95% of “hardcore gamers” can be summed up in one category. We all want to see the new games, play the new cool games coming off the shelves. It is the basis of our whole relationship with new games. I’ve been doing something recently in direct contrast to that. I’ve been playing bad games. Games I knew were bad when I bought them, and I still bought them. I’m not attempting to make any kind of point with this article, just to pose to myself the same question all of my friends have consistently asked me since I did it. Why?

One quick tidbit before I start: I will admit I haven’t been consistently buying bad games. I bought one and was given another one for free, but still play it. I am actually determined to finish them both. However it obviously goes contrary to all thought. There are very few movie lovers who watch bad movies because there bad, and i’m pretty sure nobody reads bad books anymore. So why am I doing this?

First, lets name the games in question: I was in the store and saw that Play N Trade had a buy one get one half off on some games, so I looked through it to see what I could find. It had always been a running joke with me that should I ever find Sonic the Hedgehog (the PS3/360 version) for around five dollars I would buy it, to show my friends how bad it was. I was given the game as a gift while at college, and found it to be hilariously bad, but still sold it before I returned. I found Sonic: Ultimate Genesis collection for fifteen dollars. I figured that was a cheap enough price to ride the nostalgia train, so now I had to choose my half off game. I came upon Sonic the Hedgehog, and proudly proclaimed to my friend next to me: “I have to do this. It has to be done.” After getting over the initial embarrassment of walking to the counter with of all things Sonic the Hedgehog in hand, (this included getting stopped by someone who thought I was a Sonic fan, to which I responded no, but this game is so awful I have to buy it. This brought a look of such confusion that it was probably the basis for the article you are currently reading.) I managed to make it out of the store, laughing with my friend on how terrible we both knew the game was. Honestly, what is there left to say about Sonic Team, “I admire they’re tenacity”?

So after the nostalgia had run out on the Ultimate Genesis collection, we then turned to Sonic the Hedgehog. Since we were obviously in the mood for bad things after marathoning “The Tester”, we turned to Sonic the Hedgehog with an almost glee-like anticipation of how hilarious this game would be. And I think that is the first reason. Certain games are so terrible that they are honestly hilarious. Sonic team has more loading screens than the PSP trying to load Tekken 6, and they come so frequently that they might as well be high school freshmen. It just isn’t in any way good. The dialogue is so bad it might as well be on This aspect provides an endless amount of hilarity for me, (like F.K in the coffee) and at least in short bursts, I can actually say that I want to put myself through that.

A normal phrase that is used when people don’t know how to react is, “What were they thinking!?!?” This is especially prevalent in Sonic games. But the tone is different: I legitimately want to know what they were thinking. You have to know the game your putting out is terrible, it couldn’t have gone through any testing, and how did anyone sign off on the final product? There should have been more red flags than a slalom course on this game, especially because it was supposed to be “the rebirth of Sonic”. Someone was making this game, with all its furry undertones, and thought it was just going to be like the original Sonic game. For those of you who don’t know, Sonic and this princess have this weird relationship that I haven’t figured out yet. Why they felt the need to add a relationship (especially a human one, I’m sure Amy is pissed) to Sonic I still have no idea. The day I see Pikachu and a human in a relationship is the day I declare war on Pokemon.

I think the only concrete reasoning I have for why I want to play bad games is as simple as this: I want to analyze them. Everyday I spend buying and playing the absolute cream of the crop when it comes to games, and I have to spend time researching and evaluating them. But in all honesty, evaluation of a known terrible game opens so many doors on how to evaluate good ones. To a certain extent, you know what your looking for in every game you buy, and you know what is good and bad about it, but after playing such a terrible game, you start to notice things in games that you would have never noticed without them. It isn’t a real tangible effect, either. I’ve even started appreciating my good games more when I play them. If you’ve ever seen “The Oblongs” then you know that Pickles will take a “cigarette break, where she’d smoke a different pack than her regular brand, in order to take a break. The same thing applies to bad and good games.

I recently traded my iPhone 3GS for a PSP, because I’ll be purchasing the iPhone 4. So I was given a used PSP, and about 3 games with it. The games were Sonic Rivals and Crisis Core FFVII. Given the two options, I chose Work Time Fun. (I had it from the last time I owned a PSP) But after a while I popped in Sonic Rivals, because the DS Sonic game was good, why couldn’t the PSP one be? Granted I had not seen or read a review of the game beforehand. Now to be completely honest, Sonic Rivals only has two problems. The story sucks, and the camera is in a 2D position. Since it’s a PSP game (and since it’s Sonic) I don’t really care about the story too much. But every single problem with Sonic Rivals stems from the fact that the camera puts you at the center of the screen on a 2D plane. I can’t see enemies, I can’t see traps, I can’t see holes, I can’t see where I’m going. These things are important when you’re racing. Imagine a Burnout game where the car is in the middle of the screen in a side profile. and there were bombs and angry robots everywhere. It would be kind of difficult. While these games are both undoubtably bad, they still happen to be fun, even in the most basic sense.

Then there is Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks. If this game is anywhere near your current location, you should stop reading this and go get it. It is without a doubt one of the most fun games ever created. It is also a terrible game when compared. The voice acting is bad, the characters do nothing but scream, it’s easy to get lost, so many problems with this game. None of them matter. It is literally what would happen if you put Mortal Kombat in a Streets of Rage setting, and it is just as fun. It’s one of the best things about the game industry in my opinion, that fun is the spade set. It’s the one thing that trumps all other aspects. No matter what else is happening, you have to be having fun.

I am still determined to finish Sonic the Hedgehog someday, and it has led me to believe that it’s important, every once in a while, to play a bad game. A fun bad game is better than just a terrible one, but somehow, playing a couple of bad games every once in a while is relaxing. I still look upon bad games with disdain (at the ending of Assassins Creed, I took the disk out, put it back in the case, and stomped on it for at least 20 minutes) but some manage to be charming in their own way.

(Sorry about the large picture, it's the only one I could find)   read

10:48 AM on 06.09.2010

“Gamer” is dead.

Nas stated in this album, “Hip Hop is Dead”. It was used to describe the current state of what people know as "Hip Hop." Likewise, I say that the term “Gamer” is dead. Should you truly enjoy video games and care about them, at a certain point you’ll have to distinguish yourself, just like Nas does, from the rest of the people who claim to reside in your medium.

For those that have played the game Resistance, allow me to present an analogy. Gamers seem as if they are the embodiment of the Chimeran Swarm. They have become this amorphous blob of ignorance which leaves nothing but destruction in its wake. Whether they are unified in attacking a specific target or fighting amongst themselves, the people that are “gamers” are not the same people who care about the world of games.

Lets take the example of Cooper Lawrence. To refresh your memory, Cooper Lawrence was on Fox news and saying that Mass Effect has “Full Graphic Nudity and Sex.” Anyone that played Mass Effect knew that it wasn’t true, and this story was sensationalized beyond Bioware’s wildest dreams. I am in no way condoning her actions, I think they were not only idiotic, but deplorable. So it was understandable that apart of me understood and enjoyed the reaction through Amazon that fell upon Ms Lawrence’s book. However like the Chimeran Swarm, they did not stop attacking her or threatening her. Amazon has done their best to delete the reviews of her book in some way relating to Mass Effect, but they are still there. That’s right. Still there. Three years later, people are still writing reviews on that book and what she said about Mass Effect. I agree that she should have actually played the game before going on T.V and making up lies, but she has essentially been tormented for three years for that act, like a prison sentence. Her other books on Amazon (that have come out since the interview) also have reviews relating to Mass Effect. Plainly put: is there any legitimate reason for this still to be occurring?

Gamers don’t even like to help each other. How many times have you heard people in the defense of publishers or Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo say the following phrase: “You people seem to forget that gaming is a business, and they can do whatever the hell they want to make money.” Yes. Gaming is a business. And as consumers, we have to be treated fairly as long as we are giving money to the business. Yes I know. “You” aren’t the problem, and I shouldn’t judge everyone in the context of what some people continue to do. But like it or not, gamers are representative of the gaming community as a whole, and how gamers are seen is how the gaming community is defined. At this point, there needs to be a distinction between the people who are actually gamers and people who spread ignorance with a stamp of “gamer”.

It’s not just that ignorance has perforated the gaming community. It’s that ignorance has opened a whole, and sucked gamers directly into it, to the point where gamers live inside ignorance like it was a Poke-Ball. Remember the Jade Raymond controversy? The producer of Assassins Creed was undoubtedly the face of the game, but was that any excuse for the comic or the response? I’ve heard both the “right to free speech” and the “defamation” arguments, the former being an argument about as deep as a sheet of paper. Yes, you can in fact make a comic about Jade Raymond. Yes, it does make you look like you have the intelligence of a perverted seal who huffs flammable paint in the process. It’s not even just Jade Raymond. Girls in gaming are rare because it is to a certain extent (despite my hatred of this phrase) a boys club. Girls are either heralded for their attractiveness, or treated like crap. Some of my friends don’t even bother going on Xbox live multiplayer anymore, just because no matter their skill set, they’ll be ridiculed for being a girl. Obviously the only exception to this is Elsa, as she is awesome.

This is the paragraph where I talk about the “Humble Indie Bundle”. Cooper Lawrence at least, was an idiot. We all know she was an idiot, she knows she was an idiot too. The people who believed that Resident Evil 5 was somehow racist were idiots, (or caught up in “White Guilt"( ) Even the that girl from Shakey’s who thought that the development team from Fat Princess were misogynists was an idiot. To a certain extent, those people deserved some of the reception they got. The Humble Indie Bundle was for Charity. But it’s not just that. Even when Kotaku called gamers out on the stealing that they were doing, while there were a lot of people who joined, saying that the stealing of games whose revenue was designed for charity is in fact, wrong, there were people who defended the pirates. There were a lot of people who defended the pirates. “Some people didn’t have a credit card” doesn’t mean that they are justified in stealing them. Everyone torrents, but at least agree that using the company’s own resources to take something whose sole purpose was for charity is nowhere near morally justifiable.

When you see the title of this article, and the title of Nas’s album, it comes off as a bit alarmist. “Gamer/Hip Hop is dead? do we all have to switch to something else now?” It also sounds like I am saying all gamers are pirates and degenerates (something i’ve tried hard to distinguish during the writing of this article, but will undoubtedly come up in the comments.) First off, this is in no way an alarmist article. There are wonderful people who play games, and the stereotype is in fact just a stereotype and is in no way representative of all of the gaming community. But at a certain point, it just seems like the people who actually buy their games, the people who are civil on Xbox Live/PSN, the people who don’t go around flaming everything in relation to gaming in articles or on Amazon reviews should be distinguished from the people who actually do those things. Other media undoubtedly have their own version of fanboys and pirates, but are they really as bad as gamers? More to the point, are these people really something that “gamers” want to be connected to?

I don’t necessarily want gaming to “be taken seriously.” Something where fun is such a crucial factor being taken seriously is ridiculous. However I would like to look at gamers as a whole and think that overall, they weren’t mostly group of idiots attached to something great. In criticizing, the people who have managed to come above the massive wall of ignorance should be commended. The people that actually enjoy games, enjoy discussing them and aren’t just fanboys. The people that have to mute everyone else on Xbox Live when they play a Halo match. Gaming at its core is something that instantly gathers everyone around no matter whether your in an arcade, your house, or on the road. With that attraction brings new gamers. At least give them something to look forward to.   read

11:14 AM on 05.16.2010

Welcome to Steam, (Please wait, Updating)

Up until very recently, I’ve always had some sort of Dell laptop. The first made playing Unreal Tournament 2003 (practically Lan party style in high school during lunch) extremely fun. However that was the extent of my knowledge of PC gaming, aside from You Don’t Know Jack. I just never got into it, the lack of a controller made it seem like I wasn’t playing a real game, just a computer one, in the way people play Bejeweled or Peggle. Even in my college years, I stuck exclusively with console gaming, and I had heard of Steam, I just didn’t care about it. Remember how you first felt when you heard about Arrested Development before you watched it? I felt like that about Steam, it was probably good, I just had no motivation to try it.

Last September I bought a Mac, and really nothing changed for me. (Other than the hate I get for owning one, in which no good argument still has been given to me to make me think I shouldn’t) I still did the same things I did with my Dell, just on a Mac. Console gaming was still my life, and life moved on with or without Steam. So with Steam’s release on the Mac, my initial reaction was “Yeah...that’s nice don’t care.” However when they said “Free Portal!” I downloaded it immediately. (I was slightly beaten out by one of my friends who when told about this, flew like Lugia with A.D.D down the stairs to her computer to download it.)

The paragraph that everyone is expecting now is something that should essentially say “Steam opened up a whole new world of gaming for me!” Well, it did and it didn’t. Direct2Drive was always there and always had games, but those same games I could have bought on a console and had more fun with. Through a set of funny coincidences I ended up buying the Steam Indie Bundle with “World of Goo”, “And Yet it Moves”, “Machinarium”, “Osmos”, and “Galcon Fusion” (the last of which still hasn’t worked) for $20. At least this means that I don’t feel like an incompetent Madden-loving idiot for not buying World of Goo, something the gaming media has constantly told me I was some sort of anti-game Leeland Yee type character for not purchasing. (if they find out I don’t have Psychonauts, Yahtzee will personally come to my house and break my fingers with an army of pencils) And thats wonderful, I love what Steam is doing with Indie game development, which I should extend to the PC gaming (am I still allowed to call it PC gaming?) in general. While I love supporting the “Indie” developer, I don’t ever see myself buying a game I could buy on a console on my Mac through Steam, assuming their the same price, for several reasons:

In all honestly, my circle of gamer friends have done the exact opposite of the norms. Almost all of them own PS3’s, and most of them use the PS3 as their primary console. In every case within multiple console ownership, the 360 was purchased second, at a much later date, if at all. I know about four or five people with a Wii, and only one of them currently uses it. (Okay I guess that’s normal, but he has no other next gen console) Why is it that nobody I know has Steam? Most of my aforementioned friends despise Macs with the Passion of Joan of Arc and Kyle Broflovski combined so it isn’t that they have Macs and couldn’t use Steam, they all have consoles & PC’s, and none of them use Steam. I am curious to see if Steam is an equal counterpart to Xbox Live however, though it doesn’t seem like it. I am always looking for Steam friends though!

I can’t stand not having a controller. It’s like sleeping without a blanket. it just doesn’t feel right. Keyboards are great for MMO’s i’d imagine because you need all the buttons, but going both by feeling and ease of use i’ll stick with my controller. I am however quite aware that PC gamers can plug in their controllers and use them on PC games. To me, thats similar to bootcamp being used to run Steam. It is in no way more advantageous for me to play on a smaller screen when I have a TV almost double its size in front of me, which I could be using with the consoles and controllers to play the game.

Do you remember awhile back when the PS3 had this reputation of having too many updates? While I was fine with their amount of updates, Steam just has way too many updates for me. At least 75% of the time I run Steam, it’s updating something, I have no idea what. But it’s updating. This could be an issue with just Mac’s however, and not necessarily reflective of all of Steam. But if it is something that happens throughout Steam, is this not an annoyance to anyone else? The constant updating every time I open Steam just angers me before I even get to the game I want to play. There is also a downloading problem I had with that indie pack, where only four out of the five games I bought actually downloaded, however thats only a minor issue.

My last problem on my initial impressions of Steam is with Steam’s need of an internet connection. To my knowledge, if I don’t have an internet connection, I can’t play my games on Steam. I had heard of this with Ubisoft’s DRM, but I was unaware that this was the case with Steam as well. (For reference, I didn’t have an internet connection and opened Steam in an offline mode to play Portal, in which it promptly said that it could not complete this action in offline mode) As a console gamer, I’m used to buying games and them working, internet connection or not. Both XBLA and PSN’s games work fine without an internet connection, why is this a problem with Steam? And if there is a reason for it, is it really a necessary one?

Now lets turn to things that I think make Steam a wonderful program. First, there is the obvious portability. My Mac's height when closed is about the width of my thumb. Neither my PS3 or my TV or all the cords necessary to make them work are the width of my thumb. Portability of the computer is awesome, however usually I don’t mind bringing my TV and console places, the console, games and cords fit in my bag quite easily and don’t get damaged.

More importantly are the Steam sales. Steam has the best sales and package deals I’ve ever seen. They would probably be the driving force behind all of my purchases on Steam. These five (four) games for $20 were worth it even after only knowing World of Goo. In retrospect I wanted to spend it on Deadly Premonition, but this was faster. Still, Steam’s sales are amazing and are absolutely one of the better points of the service.

Overall, Unless the sales drag me kicking and screaming to it, I probably wont use Steam very much. Though that does not mean that it is not a great service, just one that I don’t ever see myself using. I think i’d be writing this even if I still had my old Dell when they said “free portal” i’d come running. Either way, Steam will be a great way for me to give good indie developers money, but I don’t see it ever getting in the way of my consoles. Now I’ll return to wishing I could play Audiosurf.

Is there anything I’m missing that I should know about Steam?   read

12:20 AM on 04.16.2010

Not addressing the n-word in Def Jam Rapstar

“In this day and age, you can’t NOT offend somebody, somewhere, and I think people need to come to terms with that.” - Jim Sterling

Frankly, I wasn’t sure how to start this article, or how I could condense such frustration at an article into meaningful words. This debate over whether or not certain people are allowed to say “The N-Word” has to stop. Immediately. And as always before writing something about race, I have to do the old “I have black friends” or “I have a 360 so i’m not a fanboy” excuse of explaining who I am before I am allowed to write anything. So without further adieu, here goes:

I am Sebastian, 21, Black, Born in NY, and a gamer.

Being a black man from Brooklyn, there are a lot of differences between me, and, lets say, a white man from Mont Alto, Pennsylvania. We probably have different tastes in music, different taste in food, clothing, or even speech. But the argument that I am somehow entitled to say a word that the man from Mont Alto is not, simply based on his skin color is asinine. Let me be clear: That is racism. It is denying any human being the right to say any word because of the color of his skin. If you want equality, if you want to be treated fairly, then anyone of any race has the right to say the n-word.

I have absolutely no concept of what it must have been like to be a slave. It must have been absolutely torturous. It was wrong, disgusting, and an ugly part of humanity. When the Civil Rights movement started, black people demanded to be treated fairly, and even they had to go through extreme hardships just to be given the same treatment as white people. We all know this. Anyone who’s been to high school has studied this. In this time, “The N-Word” was derogatory, it was disgusting, it was wrong to use. Today, you could argue that it is still wrong to use, I am not here to make that claim. However, when a generation of us, as black people, use this word every day in various places ranging from TV, Movies, Music, and everyday life (I can tell you that I have said it, and I am not ashamed of it) then it is improper, immoral and illogical to say that other people, other human beings, cannot use this word.

In my high school, the n-word was once used in a derogatory manner by a white person. This person used it with intention to harm, and to make the people that it was directed toward feel like less of a human being. It was completely unnecessary and an absolutely terrible thing to say, regardless of the circumstances. However it was not a terrible thing for him to say “the N-Word” because he was a white man, on the contrary, it was because he used it in a hateful, derogatory manner that made the term unacceptable. Especially with “the N-Word” used in music so blatantly, it’s absolutely ridiculous to think that people, regardless of their race should have to shy away from it, or feel uncomfortable by its use in those terms.

“the n-word caught me completely off-guard. What would I do? What should I do?”

This is in no way an acceptable reaction. How could it be? Putting people in a situation where there is no clear cut response is a terrible idea. But you cannot blame the man for his reaction, it is basically what was ingrained in him, to “not say it” and to avoid any sort of reaction or discussion about it. Why? because he’s not black. Because his race is not my race, somehow he should not be able to say words that we are allowed to say, even use as terms of endearment, no less. Once again. This is racism.

I’ll admit, I was pretty angry at the fact that this article needed to exist. However since it is a pretty normal reaction, I wasn’t too angry. That is, until the quote from Mr Jamie King:

“ We don't have ownership, as [white people], of that word. I think that word does come up, and that is perhaps a word where, with the radio edits, there is an opportunity to not say it. We certainly don't make it a central part of the story or the career mode. That is a very personal decision in that point and time, regardless of race, creed and color as for how you use that word in the context of the song. Obviously, these artists are using it; they've empowered it and own it. To just shy away and be frightened doesn't mean we should abuse it, and hopefully I think we've treated it in a respectful manner the way all these artists and their content in their work would expect us to.”

“We don’t have ownership, as [white people], of that word.”

Are you kidding me? Do people, regardless of race, think that “they do not have ownership of a word?” We’ll, I’ll admit he is right. Why? Because it is a word! You couldn’t own a word more than you could own the vaccine for Polio. Nobody has ownership of words. Nobody. And nobody has any right, no matter who they are to tell you that there are words you cannot say. That is the very definition of discrimination.

“Obviously, these artists are using it; they’ve empowered it and own it.”

There’s that word again. “Own.” What he means by this statement is: “black people use it, and they own the word, and have empowered it.” Now everyone has heard this “we took the word and made it cool” argument before. Thats fine. If you took it and made it cool, I absolutely support that. But if that is true, then you cannot say to someone else that they are not allowed to use it. Black people are not a club. They are not the Boy Scouts of America, and therefore cannot discriminate against people and tell them what they can and cannot do. If you took the word and made it acceptable, than it is acceptable for every single person to say, no matter who they are. If it is not acceptable to say, you yourself cannot use the word. If you use the n word, you are entitling everyone of every race, age and background to use the n word. It’s that simple.

“To just shy away and be frightened doesn’t mean we should abuse it, and hopefully I think we’ve treated it in a respectful manner the way all these artists and their content in their work would expect us to.”

This actually makes the most sense out of everything that he’s said. If it is acceptable to say (as it has obviously become) than no one should “shy away and be frightened” from it. The rest of that statement is basically justifying that they put “the N-Word” in there and are not going to take it out. Which I support. In fact I wish that they would have used the actual songs, and not the radio edits, because if we are purchasing that product, we should be allowed to sing the song as it was made, and not a version acceptable for parents and the FCC.

Among my friends, every person I know knows it is completely acceptable to say “the n word” around me, use it in jokes, statements or whatever way they want to use it, as long as it is not used with intent to harm. Why? because I use it in jokes, statements and other ways, but I do not use it with intent to demean. I don’t of course use it in all social circles, in the same way that I do not curse in all social circles. So to black people: know that if you use “the N-Word”, you must be willing to invite everyone you know to use the word with you. If it is acceptable for you to use, it is acceptable for everyone to use. To everyone else: at some point in your life, you’ll come across “the N-Word”. It happens, especially in today’s society. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t be writing this post now. Hopefully the people using it are enlightened enough to realize that it is, in all aspects, just a word. The only meaning it has is the meaning that you give it, and the intent in which you have to use it.   read

9:17 AM on 02.14.2010

Oh XMB, when will you ever grow up?

There was a time, long ago, when the XMB was much better than the dashboard. It was easier to use, everything was displayed right in front of you, and you didn't have to go hunting for what you wanted like the blades system. With the arrival of the new dashboard however, The XMB became increasingly obsolete and frustrating to use. When they finally added in game XMB to the functionality of it, PS3 fans were so overwhelmed with joy that not many people bothered to complain about how frustratingly slow it was. As Sterling said, the object was to preferably check on your trophies at a loading screen during a game, but by the time the XMB is finished loading everything your game has already finished loading.

I feel like talking about party support and cross game chat has been beaten to death and will probably only happen if people start catapulting themselves into Sony's offices worldwide, so I wont even bother to address that glaring issue. But things that I take for granted when I play my 360 are such a hassle on my PS3. I tried to play Borderlands with my friend, who had his own save file on his PS3, so I had the brilliant idea of "Oh just bring it over and we'll copy it onto my PS3" Which I had to do because XMB only supports having one person be logged in at a time. Did that work? Of course not. It thought I was trying to use that save to play over my own account, and disabled trophies and everything else. Yes I know it said that, but I thought it was for the file that was copied over. I'm not even sure when the log in feature was implemented into the 360, because I didn't even have one whenever it was put in. If it was since launch, then holy hell this is worse than I thought. When you turn on a second controller, there are no prompts to sign in (unless your playing Little Big Planet, and if they can have it in that game...) and it makes me question what the people are doing. The last update was to add facebook. Now I love publishing my stuff to facebook on PS3 much more so than the silly 360 application, but was that really what they needed to be working on at the moment?

That's not even bothering to talk about custom soundtracks. In an earlier article I talked about how being given the option was necessary whether or not it was being used, and even though its not used often, I still feel that getting some time in Borderlands with some good music can lead to a great time when you have to do the single player mode. Sony has begrudgingly applied the feature to the PS3, but they count on developers to support it. This has lead to almost no games actually using the blasted thing. Granted I have a separate problem with the 360 not being able to copy music from a USB stick, but at least they give me the option to play it during games.

Even the most basic things for the 360 are unheard of concepts on the PS3. When i'm downloading something on my 360, and I say to myself, "Gee its 3:30 am and i'm tired of this absurd chain fight of Big Daddy-Big Daddy-Big Sister another friggin Big Daddy, I want to go to go to sleep..." I turn off my system and guess what happens? The System turns off. Oh wait! No it doesn't! It's still downloading... in the background. I guess people aren't clamoring for this, but thats because we are so apathetic to getting cross game chat and a party system that nobody has time to worry about these things. The PS3 uses a lot of electricity when its on. I'd like it to use less electricity when all i'm doing is downloading something, or charging the controller. Why is this so difficult? It's 2010 now, they've had plenty of time to do this, but they've been working on things like "dynamic avatars" which have caught on like the N-Gage.

Yes, there are several things I'd like from my 360 as well. Bluetooth would be nice, and the rechargeable batteries are worse than using AA's on the Wii, and just like everyone i'd like to pay much less or none for live, but as odd as it is to say this, I feel like with the 360 my money is actually going somewhere. Yeah the console still sounds like a lawnmower when you turn it on, and sounds like a lawnmower going through a blender when you turn it on, but at least the interface functions and responds like any normal machine made within the past 10 years should. I love my PS3 and use it much more than my 360 because thats where my favorite games are, but I hope that sometime soon the XMB gets the makeover that it sorely needed 2 years ago.   read

7:56 AM on 02.02.2010

Dammit the 'Toid is always right!

Been on d'toid for quite a while now, and its been really awesome. The community based atmosphere makes it a lot more entertaining to see what everyone's talking about, instead of just reading comment after comment. What's really interesting however, is that when it comes to games you should be playing, it seems like they are always right. Yes I know it's their job to tell us what good things are out to play, but still they do a great effort to actually highlight the games that are absolutely worth it.

Take Valkyria Chronicles for example. This game was so far off my radar it would have had to send smoke signals to get my attention. I don't play any sort of strategy game, I haven't been into a JRPG since FFX, and in general it seemed a lot like the generic game that would have anything called "Valkyria" or "Chronicles" in it. When I came across the article "How Valkyria Chronicles made me a sobbing emotional wreck" I stopped and thought to myself what sort of game would make anyone do that? I could think of MGS4 which made me do that, but that was a high profile release, and plus its Metal Gear Solid, by the fourth installment evoking emotions as well as turning your brain into mush designed for consumption by tiny babies is par for the series.

I couldn't (obviously) read the entire article, because of spoiler avoidance, but it lead me to the review which reinforced the notion that I wanted this game, despite everything I know that I don't normally play. So I decided to take a chance and buy it, and while I haven't finished it yet, it is a truly excellent game. The only real faults on it are a couple of silly problems with the menu system that can easily be worked around, like the lack of autosave. I'm around 60% done with it, and already I have to buy a PSP for the second one. I have also bought two copies of the game for two of my friends who seem to like it as well. It's because dammit the 'toid is ALWAYS RIGHT.

Another good example is 'splosion man. Once again I had heard about this game, but it in no way seemed special to me. There's no real reason, it just fell into the inevitable swirling black hole of doom that a lot of videogames that don't really distinguish themselves do. Though the articles here are rather convincing, kind of like Sessler Soapbox in article form. Unfortunately, I can't find the one that convinced me to play it, but this game is awesome! So far it's been like Crash Bandicoot in the Portal universe, with 'SPLOSIONS! HOW DOES THAT NOT SOUND AWESOME??? I'm anticipating the difficulty to drop down on me like a ton of giant angry pregnant three-headed fire breathing dragons, but it's still worth it. Especially now that it's half price.

I didn't mention the reviews here not because they aren't good (they are usually rather in-depth, actually) but because everyone and their illegitimate stepchild have reviews. But I have had great outcomes just getting the games that didn't seem interesting originally, but they were given the spotlight on Destructoid, and now I have to run around and tell everyone I know to play the damn games because they are just that good. And because dammit the 'toid is ALWAYS RIGHT.   read

12:25 PM on 12.08.2009

Why Custom Soundtracks are necessary.

There are times when a games soundtrack fits wonderfully with the game, and adds to the incredible setting within the environment of the game you are playing. Fable and Dead Space both provide great examples about how the soundtrack in a game can be used to enhance the overall experience. However sometimes, the soundtrack used for the game just isn’t sufficient to the experience that the player may want for the game, despite its quality. For these times, the players need to have access to their own music in game.

Lets get this out of the way quickly, this isn’t a plea to Sony to ask for more custom soundtrack support on the PS3, nor is it praise for the 360 for having it standard, although I do feel it’s necessary. It is much more of a look into why we as gamers need custom soundtracks, and what the benefits are for having them.

Halo 3 is a perfect example of how necessary it is for gamers to have custom soundtracks when they are playing a game. While the overall score that was designed was excellent, it does not take into account the emotion of the player. How could it? It is not possible for soundtracks to cater to every single person, they are designed to provide the best and most suitable music for everyone. Because the player designs custom soundtracks, they cater to that specific player’s tastes, and what they like to hear when they are playing a certain game, or the music that they listen to throughout their day. When I have access to my custom soundtracks in Halo 3, my adrenaline rises, my aim becomes sharper despite the extra brain power needed to play and sing the song at the same time, and the music seems to fuel the game and make that headshot all the more meaningful, making custom soundtracks very similar to the runner vision in Mirror’s Edge.

Single player experiences are greatly enhanced by the presence of custom soundtracks, depending on how they are implemented. Any campaign that you have already completed, but are replaying for whatever reason (trophies/achievements, entertainment, sheer boredom) can be a bit easier thanks to the presence of your own music. This is especially true for RPG’s, which may require long walks treks without vehicles to destinations or several monotonous tasks that you need to complete in order to continue. Soundtracks can even be implemented in a specific way to enhance the experience. In the Xbox version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, you were allowed to play your custom soundtracks through the radio, but only when you were in a vehicle. That provided an even deeper sense of realism (I like to listen to my music when I get into my car, after all) I even “missed” my music after I exited the vehicle I was in in the game.

Multiplayer is especially made more entertaining when you have access to your own music. In the middle of a heavy match in Gears 2 or Killzone 2, the music providing you with the rush is extremely satisfying. Think about how many times you were listening to your own music in Burnout Paradise and how many times you were were “in the zone” and it helped you avoid crashing, or helped you get that last takedown before the cars destroyed you because you crashed too many times.

If you can find a good balance between being able to hear the other people in the game and where they are coming from, and being able to listen to your music at a good volume, you will find that it will help you a lot in game. It’s a very small detail that may not matter to most people until you actually try it, then, like me, you and your music will become inseparable.   read

6:48 PM on 10.24.2009

Immersion and Realism: Games and movies

Amazing karate movies starring Jet Li and Jackie Chan, Insightful movies made by Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg, Action packed movies starring Jason Statham and Bruce WIllis. Whenever you walk out of any of these types of movies, you're coming out feeling some raw emotion invoked by the film. Walking out of a Jet Li movie (even "The One") makes you feel like you can beat up anyone that just happens to walk by. Crank, while not a very good movie, is still a movie completely dependent on the instant “rush” that we feel from seeing action. The best movie could not hold a candle to a game that is “action packed”, like Uncharted 2: Among Thieves however, for the simple reason of immersion.

Games can be more engrossing than movies in several different ways. Take the example of Bethesda’s Fallout 3. Once you become immersed in the world of “Post Apocalyptia” (as three-dawg calls it) you’d be hard pressed to find something else more interesting to do then to take another quest and try to build up your character, or even just to see how that quest now effects the world around you. People have forgotten about their day to day lives, relationships, and sometimes even children (scary i know) over Fallout 3. This level of attachment that comes with building you character from nothingness, and then taking it out into the open world to see if you can fend for yourself amongst all the world has to offer is a feeling that cannot be rivaled by any other form of media, let alone entertainment. (Although I believe the closest they got might have been the Tamagotchi) This idea is something that many games do on a daily basis. Not only Role Playing games such as Fallout 3, Sports games like NBA 2K10 have a “Create-A-Player” option, and even have the option to take your created player into a league or franchise and see if he can compete with the established greats of the sport.

Where movies can still excel beyond games is that few games take the opportunity to provide a look at real life situations. Much like healthcare in the 90’s, gamers and media alike pretend like Six Days In Fallujah doesn’t exist anymore, and we have moved on to other games without acknowledging that what was lost by the cancellation of the Six Days in Fallujah game was the chance to have a game portray a real life, currently ongoing war with real names, real soldiers stories and a real historical background. Filmmakers will continuously be making things that will not ever happen in a game, because either publishers are too afraid, or gamers are to ignorant to handle "Non-Fiction Gaming". Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (and its fast approaching sequel I expect) do a good job of providing a message that any war becomes extremely pointless and self-perpetuating quicker than America’s dependance on oil, but they have not gone the extra step and provided that level of realism that would make an okay war game a deep and heart-pounding look at the state of war in our lifetime. I love a good fiction story as much as the next person, but can we continuously stay idle and be fed spoonful after spoonful of fiction, or generalized wars that barely have any basis in real life. We must look to the already established and branched out cinema medium in order to fully take advantage of one of the biggest disappointment games have so far, is that "realism" doesn't consist of anything but a dreary brownish grey backdrop and some historically accurate guns. I would much rather see in a "realistic" modern war game raw emotion and character development that is based on actual personalities instead of some focused-grouped side show comedy relief.

So while games have a much deeper level of immersion and ultimately engrossing satisfaction that movies ever will, we need to present alternatives to our current state of affairs of lost treasure romps and “kill everything in the room, then proceed to the next room to repeat for absolutely no reason” style of gameplay and focus more heavily on bringing in real life current situations into games, just as movies have attempted constantly to bring in our stories, and have failed at almost every turn. The medium of the game will flourish I believe, once publishers are not scared, and gamers are prepared to take the next step and bring in the billions of interesting stories that happen each day, without the use of the imagination.

*Update* At the time of writing, the new article saying that Six Days had not been canceled was not written, however the point still stands.   read

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