My name is Tim Urlacher and I live in Montana somewhere. I am a musician and artist at heart but I work for Charter as a Voice Coordinator III during the day. Whenever I'm not at work I am pouring my heart and soul into music and animations.
This is a screenshot from FoxyApartment Episode 3 which features a crackhead promoting randomness.
Hello respectful Dtoiders I hope you are all doing well! I think that anyone would agree that we all deserve a fair chance in life. We deserve to live free and be who we want. We are not only entitled but encouraged to be ourselves, especially in this digital era that our generation is entwined with. A penny saved is a penny earned... Well I'm not here to talk about money, I'd like to talk about the roadblocks between what we do and what we love to do. Unfortunately one roadblock is money. In the grand scale of things I think that most of us would prefer to have a different career, job, lifestyle, etc. Normally our living conditions, monthly expenses, luxuries, addictions, and guilty pleasures require us to make a sacrifice.
The main sacrifice that we make in order to maintain our perfect place in society is time. Without time what do you have, really? I understand that time can bend and some consider it an illusion, but in this cookie cutter world we are governed by time. Every hour that you spend is another hour that you can't get back. You make a decision and tell yourself "My time here on earth is worth THIS amount of money. I may be worth more but this is the best offer I've got." and then you settle.
Humans are designed to adapt and we are designed to survive. Our conscious minds try to make rational decisions that will guarantee us our next meal or our personal security. This is why so many people admire others who stand up and take a leap of faith. The person who leaps lands in unknown territory and befuddled situations. They live by instincts and their incredible will to adapt will either make them stronger or cause them to succumb to their environment. The one's who observe this incredible act of faith often absorb inspiration and hope that some day they will be able to make the same leap and come out OK.
This is a trippy music video and original song that we made.
At this point you're probably asking yourself a question.
"What does this have to do with videogames."
My answer to you is "everything." Most videogames allow you to play as a hero. You are that person who takes the leap of faith. You step outside of boundaries, you learn how to survive and thrive. Games can be very powerful and tell stories that literally speak volumes to what each and every one of us humans might aspire to be. Sometimes you might play as the "bad guy" but it is just a different perspective of the same situation. You might pull different emotions out of the bag but you'll go through the same process of adaptation and growing.
When you put the controller down do you ever feel inspired to become that person you've always wanted to be? Do you ever want to take a leap of faith that will change your life? I think videogames are there to teach us lessons just as movies and books have in the past. The difference is that you get to learn your own lessons on your own time. It allows us to have these experiences that fulfill our primal instincts and our desires to explore.
We all want to push limits, see the unseen, and live in ways that have never been lived before. Videogames are a powerful window into this part of humanity because it allows us to experiment before we really leap. It prepares us.
Next time you put the controller down don't just step away, try taking a leap.
You might be asking yourself another question...
"WTF is Foxy Apartment?"
Foxy Apartment is my leap of faith. It's a project that I work on with my girlfriend Nikki. This is what I've decided to do with my time when my time isn't spent making sure that the proverbial food makes it onto the proverbial table. This is what we love to do and it's what our lives have been about for the last 2 months. After taking many different leaps in the last year, sometimes falling extremely hard, I think we've taken one that will help us thrive.
Ever since I was 10 years old I've been addicted to this game. It first came out under the name "Tetris Attack" with Yoshi's face on the box, over the years the name has changed but the wonderful gameplay that this experience encompasses has remained the same. I remember the week that Tetris Attack first came out and I would play it all of the time against my friends and siblings. Nothing felt better than burying your opponent in garbage.
My local BlockBuster (RIP) held a Tetris Attack competition a few weeks after the games release and I felt confident in my skill so I entered. I remember being the youngest person there and to be honest the opponents I faced weren't that good. It took about 2 hours to go through the competition but I eventually ended up beating them all and taking home a Tetris Attack backpack and a free copy of the game. I would later go on to use the backpack until both straps broke and it became too damaged to fix, now it's in a box somewhere.
I remember going to school when I was about 6th grade tired as hell because I was up all night playing Tetris Attack. I would always play on Hard or the unlockable Super Hard mode. I probably beat this game three times a night for over a year. Sometimes I would get stuck on a computer opponent, usually the Raven, and I wouldn't give up until he was gone.
When I turned 17 my obsession with this game hadn't gone away. I was organizing competitions of my own in Billings Montana where I grew up. If I had a friend I made damn sure they would play this game. I had all of my siblings (1 brother and 2 sisters) and all of my friends in to this game like it was the only thing to play. We all played it and we all got quite good.
When I would visit my brother in Texas with my sisters we would all play and lose tons of sleep over this game. Even my brother's wife got involved in the fun. I started developing theories about the garbage blocks and strategies to use while playing. When I would watch my loved one's play Tetris Attack I would oftentimes coach them stating to "Lay your sheep down in clean pastures." Basically what that translates to is that I would remind them to keep their top layer of blocks as level as possible so it's easier to dispose of the garbage blocks.
There were days when my younger sister would come over to my house and play this game. While waiting for her I would play the Endless mode until she arrived. One time she never came over when she said she would and I played endless until the time and score read all 9's and couldn't go any higher. My best friend Allen and I grew up playing this game together and normally he would help with setting up our town tournaments. Sometimes Allen and I would do team tournaments and join forces to dominate everyone else. He and I have had VS rounds in Pokemon Puzzle League's 3D mode that have lasted over 30 minutes (3 round wins are required to gain a point) so sometimes we would get together only to play one game since it would take 1 1/2 hours to finish.
I still stay in touch and play vs mode online in private matches with my siblings who have a Nintendo DS. I still play my N64 version of Pokemon Puzzle League and I still have a Supernintendo with Tetris Attack that I also play. I used to beat Tetris Attack on Super Hard mode without dying just to pass the afternoon. I even wiped through Pokemon Puzzle League's hardest difficulty and defeated mewtwo without any problems.
The above video is a game I played this week on a 2 minute score attack, I normally play vs but there was no way to get a recording of that... something I'll have to work on I suppose. I'll end on this note, I know I'm not the best at this game but I spent all summer in 2007 playing online against very skilled people who live in Japan and other parts of the world and my wins were 448 out of 576 total random matches. I wish players still went online for birthday battle and whatnot but nobody ever does; there are days where you'll find me searching for a match that will never be found. If any of you own this game we can do some friend code exchanging and play a few private matches.
I downloaded Crash Course this morning before going to work. I completed the entire campaign in about 22 minutes but I must admit I was rushing myself. Overall I think that it seems to be more of the same. There were no spectacular moments in this campaign, no brilliantly scripted events aside from a pretty witty line spouted by Zoey while walking past a steaming pipe. The environments had some nice variety and it looked like there were some places to branch off and possibly take different routes, but I was in a hurry to get to work so I plowed through without exploring too much.
Versus mode should be pretty fun on these levels because of all the different buildings and dark corners you come across. I did notice the item placement system got updated. You'll see quite a few extra handguns and various items tucked away in the not-too-familiar levels. What I'm trying to say is items seem to appear more frequently now.
The other day my friend stated that he doesn't like how long it takes to finish a campaign of Left 4 Dead and he said he's usually sick of it by the second or third level. Crash Course should be good news for people like this since it is a very short campaign. The 2 levels featured in the new DLC both seemed bigger than most L4D levels and it didn't necessary feel like it was lacking anything. I didn't walk away feeling unsatisfied, I actually want to play it again right now. Still I wish there was more to this. I'll try versus and survivor mode on these maps tonight when I really start to sink my teeth in.
What about you, what do you guys think of this new little adventure for Bill, Louis, Zoey, and Francis?
Here is a list of achievements that come included with Crash Course, should extend re-playability a bit.
Survive the Crash Course Campaign.
Quick Power 25
Restart the generator within 30 seconds of it shutting off in the Crash Course campaign.
The Littlest Genocide 25
Kill 5,359 Infected in the Crash Course campaign.
Smash Hit 25
Win a Versus campaign of Crash Course.
Truck Stop 35
Your team wipes all Survivors after the escape vehicle has opened in Crash Course.
20 Car Pile-up 20
As a Tank hit 20 Survivors with a car in the Crash Course campaign.
Jumpin' Jack Smash 25
Pounce a Survivor for 25 points of damage in the Crash Course campaign.
Slippery Pull 25
Smoker pull a bile-covered Survivor until you hold him during Crash Course.
Tank Stumble 20
Stun a Tank with an explosion in the Crash Course campaign.
Your team incapacitates three Survivors within five seconds in the Crash Course campaign.
Hello there Destructoid! You may have seen me around before but I tend to stay near the background of things. I'm thinking about making an introduction post since it's been so long since I've blogged but right now I'm here to talk about what makes online communities great based off of my personal experience. The other day I was playing 360 with a friend and we were talking about the good ol' days when MMO's were more a part of our gaming, but not for gaming's sake, for a social outlet.
Back in the day I used to play this game called Graal, at the young age of 9 years old I downloaded it in 1995 when it was listed under the name "Zelda Online." Legal issues between the game creators and Nintendo caused them to change the name but the game was very blatantly inspired by the 16-bit Zelda: A Link to the past. Graal was like nothing I had ever seen before, as a young and impressionable gamer I fell in love with its online community and Zeldaesque atmosphere. I began playing the game on the Classic Graal server where my inner Graalian eventually died, I could never get engrossed in the other servers so I naturally stuck to Classic. I used to be a really huge PKer (Playerkiller for all you n00bs out there) and on my 4th account I was up to around 46,100 kills before fading out. I made friends in this game that I could never make anywhere else. Zozma, Layzie, Nicholas KILL and KIO were some of the first friends I ever made in the game and they have probably changed my life in more than one way to this day. I still talk to them but only every once in a while (KILL where are you?). We started guilds together, formed alliances, built our guildhouses, custom skins, and everything in between. This game was cool because it was built around the community and all players had equal rights to become LAT's (Level designers and Scripting), GPs (Graal Police), GCs (Game Coordinator), and FAQs (Your one-stop-shop for questions and assistance). The community was the reason this game was so great much like the community here at Destructoid being the reason for this sites amazing accessibility.
From the summer of 1995 to around January 2007 I had worked on the Classic Server with two different accounts. I would plug in my weekly required 200 minutes of Hosting events as a GC and on one of my other accounts I was the Classic Server Levels Admin. I had designed locations and quests in the game working with wonderful people from all around the world to make it all happen. I did this for free, out of pure passion for the community that I grew up with.
This used to be one of my social outlets.
By the end of my Classic Levels Admin career I had designed numerous quests, shields, swords, events, player houses, guild houses, overworld maps, and anything else that you can think of. This wasn't just a game to me; it was my hobby and my main creative outlet.
I used to fear that I would never find an online community as amazing and diverse as the one I knew and loved from Classic Graal... but Destructoid has proven that there are other tightly-knit online communities out there.
My old GC bosses hosting an event of Connect Four for the players. *Interesting note* DC got Sammy pregnant in real life after he rode a bus 12 hours to take her to her senior prom, they had never met in real life before that.
Where I am going with all of this...
I don't know what EXACTLY makes a wonderful online community but I'm pretty sure it roots from the base of where the community started. Neiro is our founder and therefore he is our foundation. He's got a wonderful group of people working under him and I don't doubt that a lot of his business decisions brought this site to where it is today. Part of the reason this community is so great is because its leader is actively involved with the community on a daily basis. The fact that I see his comments and open opinions under all sorts of blog posts shows me one very important thing, he does not put himself above the community. Leaders' that are actively involved within the community, to me, is the most important part of having an online community that does not suck.
The second most important part of having a strong online community is the community involvement. The fact that Nick, Jim, Colette, Reverend Anthony, Ashley Davis, and especially Hamza, respond and acknowledge our existence through comments and community events shows me that these are more than just editors and journalists; they are also our friends and just like us on multiple levels. The fact that my blog can be featured on the same front page, that these nice folks make a living off of, shows me that none of them are above their community. I can be as involved as I want to with this site; I'm actually ashamed that I haven't been more involved up to this point because of how rewarding a relationship with a strong online community can be.
When I was the Classic Levels Admin I did it for the community, if someone asked I would create and upload whatever I could for them, knowing it would better the community. Community feedback often helped me refine levels and make them better and more appealing to the players. A lot of players ideas got turned into events and a lot of "normal" players were even given the chance to work as Graal Staff. I see the same kind of activity here on Destructoid every day. Sometimes Jim will write a cblog and sometimes a cblog will be promoted to front page.
We are all different but the same and this is what the only two online communities I've ever sunk my teeth into have had in common.
Ok so I've been going through Call of Duty: WaW on Veteran since I got it. I think I am on the last mission now but fuck this game straight to hell. You know the mission where you have to take the castle or whatever? Second to last... possibly. Anyway I did that mission but I got to a checkpoint and had to quit one day (Because I have a life I can't just sit through every mission on Vet, it takes time.) and when I came back to continue (approx 2 checkpoints away from the end of the level) the game gave me a weird error. It said that I couldn't continue from my last checkpoint because save game information is incompatible with the current version of the game. Alright so I started from the beginning and went through the whole damn mission swearing the entire time. I get to the next mission and I went through most of it I think. I was at some part where you're in a big theater up on some balcony shooting Nazi's. Then you go down to the main floor and push through. Well I hit a checkpoint and had to go to the store so I paused, went to SAVE AND QUIT, and then turned off my xbox when it was done saving. Well I go to play again and I'm getting the same FUCKING error. Which means AGAIN all the shit I did in that mission I have to do over again. What the hell is the point of a save feature if the bitch doesn't work? I'm sorry, this really irritates me because if I want to beat this game on Veteran then I have to do it mission-by-mission straight through. Have any of you had a problem with this? It fucking pisses me off so bad!!!
So I tried to Google this error message but I'm not seeing it anywhere. Since I'm so fucking familiar with this error and every damn time I try to play my mission I get it I'll go ahead and write exactly what it says...
This morning I was sort of reminiscing about the good old days when I was a kid and would make extremely simple games with a program called Klik & Play. I was around 7 years old when I would play with this software and I used it up until about the age of 13 when I ended up moving on to Flash. My memories of K&P and time spent with that program are extremely fond though. I made a lot of really fun things and got a lot of good self expression out. I remember this one game I made where you went around killing all the Power Rangers and everyone's favorite purple dinosaur Barney. You were some kind of makeshift army man and the characters would bounce around the screen with various obstacles and holes you could fall into. When you shot them their bodies would explode and their heads would fall into a pool of blood.
I am terribly sorry to anyone who loved Power Rangers or Barney back in the day. No harm done, right?
I was scanning the internet today for this game and came upon the developers website thanks to good old Wikipedia. I read about some newer software that Clickteam had been working on. One thing that caught my eye was The Games Factory 2. The program appears to be as user friendly as K&P and most likely offers the same level of creativity. One thing about K&P that I liked was modifying objects in the game and just re-drawing everything without having to worry about "programming" or "scripting." It's unclear if you can do this with The Games Factory 2 also but I am assuming it's possible.
I also came across a link where you can download the original Klik & Play for free... presumably. I am at work right now and don't feel like actually downloading this and trying it out but I'll know right when I get home tonight.
I like to get creative with programs like these quite frequently. I was wondering if any of you have ever used anything like this? Also if you're into 3D modeling the program I like to use is Milkshape but I doubt I could incorporate those models into something as simple as The Games Factory 2. I also do Flash animation and mess around with scripting and whatnot in that. I mostly do music videos but I haven't submitted anything for a long time to Newgrounds where I put my flash up. You can view my work here just look for the name Tim Urlacher. I love me some Radiohead.
So anybody here every try any of these game development programs? If so, what did you think. They seem like a simple and fast way to express oneself as far as I can tell.