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26... someone called me decrepit the other day.

Seriously though, we have to be the greatest gaming generation. Growing up with it, watching it scare the shit out of the public so many times. And finally over take all forms of other entertainment. My thirst for games and its culture never fades, only my time to consume it.

Mainly I pay attention to anything dealing with the growth of the gaming industry. It's about respect as an art and entertainment form at this point. I think I have a "violence in gaming" debate at least once every other day at this point. When I'm not on a soapbox, I'm pretty much staring at the next shiny and ridiculous object that I can find, pointing and laughing at it, looking around to see if anyone else sees what I see.

Right now, Rock Band is about the only game I play consistently. That and random XBLA games.

Legacy of Kain
God of War

Fav Features
intuitive, fun, memorable gameplay
storyline or characters with some teeth to it
scares the shit out of me
addictive multiplayer that's light on the douchebags
watching someone Wii the first time
XBLA demos

Burnout Paradise
Assassin's Creed

Rock Band
Super Mario Galaxy
Picross DS

No Shame in It
Viva Pinata
Animal Crossing
Puzzle Quest

Dennis Dyack


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2:07 PM on 09.17.2007

Say what you will about casual games and party games. God knows I have. The fact is, now more than ever, games and technology have the means to bring people together, who wouldn't normally have a reason to cross paths.

Recently, I became hooked on a local social network (as seen by my lack of activity around here lately), due to the fact that I know the crazy mo'fo that runs the thing. It took quite a bit of coaxing as I figured local social networks had no point since they could easily form their own corners within the larger networks that I frequently whore myself out to. Nevertheless, the challenge of helping an online social network grow within my city, intrigued me, as well as the fact that the initial core group of people knows how to have a good time.

I offered up my services just to see how I could help out. He was in the beginning stages of trying to plan out the weekly event centered around Monday Night Football. He happened to mention a local bar that had just recently opened it's doors. It's your typical sports bar - spacious, plenty of TV's, pool tables, good drink specials. This bar also happens to have two isolated TV viewing areas, one of which has a NES and an SNES hooked up to two of the TVs. Before I could think, my inner-geek spoke up and said, "We should play Guitar Hero at half time." For whatever reason, he gave me the benefit of the doubt and said, "What the hell let's do it."

We had about a week before the first Monday night game, and honestly, I was doubting my idea. Here's a new group of people I'd just been introduced to, most of which just enjoyed drinking and dancing with people they already knew. None of them struck me as gamers, casual or otherwise. These were social people much more interested in interacting with people in real life, rather than through a TV screen. Apparently, I'm a self-defeatist gamer, who assumes most normal people wouldn't enjoy my favorite ways of passing the time.

I was quite wrong.

Even before the Heroing commenced, I noticed that the main man running the event may have a bit more in common with me and my fellow techies than I originally thought. Here we are during Monday Night Football, 30 or so people in the bar, playing pool and this party animal/social moth/extroverted opposite of myself, is at his table on his laptop on IM and multiple forums chatting with people, while drinking with his friends. Not exactly the common occurrence when enjoying the nightlife in the Midwest. I laughed to myself since earlier I had felt like a nerd by having my laptop in my car, you know, in case I needed it. Then, here he is "keeping it real" on and offline at the same time. I stepped outside to get the Heroing gear.

We took over the party room and set up the 360 with two guitars, hooked to the LCD TV on the wall, and readied the rock. I demoed Guitar Hero 2 with a girl that had played before and the buzz began to start around us. By the time the first song was over we had about 12 participants ready to try, 10 of which had never played the game, and more than half of those had never even heard of the game before that night. The consensus among them was that they didn't like video games at all, but this looked fun.

I just sat back and enjoyed the show. Filmed a bit with my "bar camera." Needless to say, no one watched the second half of the football game. Later, I hastily put together a quick compilation of said lead mo'fo as we started to promote Week 2 to get some actual competitions going. Based on the reactions, we will be taking over the main room in a few weeks and will probably have to bring a few more 360's before I introduce them to Rock Band.

I'm sure this isn't an unfamiliar story given the success and reach of Guitar Hero. It was still pretty cool to watch it all come together first hand, and I'm always humbled when my initial predictions about non-gamers and people that I don't know end up being way off.

5:18 AM on 09.04.2007

Just watched Morgan's latest episode, which I quite like having on first thing in the morning as I go through morning feeds in my Google Reader. If you hang on to the very end she plugs Destructoid and Leigh's Bioshock Pac-Man easter egg.

EDIT: The link is on her site FYI

I will also be promoting the site in my own ways today since I gotta say I'm pumped that my schwag finally came in this weekend, gonna be sporting the new t-shirt today -

Now, if I can only figure out the most stylish place on my body to put the stickers...

6:10 PM on 08.31.2007

My first jump into the Xbox LIVE Call of Duty community left me a bit put off. After finally being able to sit down to a few hours of the multiplayer beta yesterday, I was a bit surprised by meatheads I seemed to be surrounded by. Sadly, it has dulled my anticipation for the game a bit. So I'm hoping this was an isolated incident, but it begs the question, is this what the COD community is all about?

I've played my share of shooters online, mostly free-for-all based on the PC. Voice chat with anonymity has always annoyed me to an extent, but Halo and Gears have numbed me recently. I know what to expect in each of those games. However, I had never played COD online before. I was big into the first title in the series on my PC. Played the hell out of the single player and did some private matches with my friends. I skipped the rest of the PC titles due to what I'd call WW2 genre fatigue.

When I bought my 360 back in October, I still had some residual PC elitism when it came to playing shooters on the console. Especially the military shooters where precision shooting tied more into the gameplay, than say, Halo with its futuristic weapons and explosions. About the time, COD 3 came out I had laxed my opinion a bit and strongly considered buying the game. Then, I started reading up on COD 4 and decided to save my money for a more promising experience.

Now back to the meatheads - I think what annoyed me the most was that the non-stop colorful commentary I was hearing during every session was of the traditional 12 year-old Halo style, but it was coming from all older players. In my two hours of play, I only heard one pre-pubescent voice try and talk smack. Of course, he was immediately put down by the guy who insisted on describing every bullet he was shooting while making up an excuse for every miss. I should have just taken my headset off and enjoyed the game for what it is (it's as fantastic as I expected by the way), but it was one of those carwreck-like experiences where I couldn't stop listening.

I'll be playing this weekend a lot more, hopefully I run into some different crowds. Are my hopes too high? Is COD becoming the other game the frat boys play when they are bored with Madden and Halo?

2:48 PM on 08.29.2007

The recent influx of quality games from unsuspecting places has started me thinking about the games the didn't quite live up to the hype. Even still, the games that not only didn't live up to the hype but the hype was so strong it took even took me a while after playing the game to see through it. I so wanted the game to succeed, that I ignored the obvious and played up the rare hints of creativity that I could find.

The game that most vividly stands out to me is DOOM 3, which may go down in history as the best selling generic gaming experience ever, next to Halo.

It took me until two weeks after I first played the game that I first took a step back to take an unbiased opinion of the game and see it for what it was. Until that point, I was touting the game as the reason that everyone I knew should upgrade their PC.

Let me recount the vivid story of my first night with the game. I had picked it up at midnight, pretty much blocked out as much light as possible within my den, strapped on my headphones, and loaded the game up. I was ready to be absorbed. I was enthralled with the boring tutorial intro. Just happy to see the DOOM franchise have any characters and voice acting at all. I started blasting my way through corridor after corridor, trying to convince myself that every shadow was creepier than the next. Slightly before 2 am, it happened, the first Imp jumped out at me. I jumped in response. Unfortunately, I had been leaning way back in my chair with my keyboard in my lap at the time. When I jumped, I slammed my knees on the underside of my desk causing me to lose my balance in fall to the ground. I thought it was awesome.

I feverishly retold the experience to all of my friends trying to get some of them together online to try multiplayer with me. One of my friends came over to see for himself, and wasn't impressed at all. I told him, frankly, that he wasn't getting the full experience because it was still light out and he wasn't wearing headphones.

In retrospect, I just didn't realize that I had drank the DOOM flavored Kool-Aid (that didn't exist but I would have bought it if it had) ever since I saw the first tech demo. I was absorbed in the game by my own actions, not by anything presented to me. As a player, you shouldn't be forced to make yourself in the mood for the game. That's what DOOM was missing, and it took until Half-Life 2 finally showed up, for me to realize my follies.

Unfortunately, by that time I had talked about the game to the point that the memory of falling out of my chair is burned into my brain forever. It stands out as one of my most vivid gaming memories, right up there with Lakitu taking his camera around the castle in Mario 64 for the first time. I regret that I mention the two in the same breath.

It's in this vein that I am cautious about some upcoming games this season. I have zero interest in GTA IV. I look at Rockstar's track record and just see the game as a soulless next-gen experience. Where the minds that created GTA have had their glory with the perfectly timed release of GTA 3. Yet, they are incapable of building upon the initial experience and taking it to another level.

The game I am most wary of that I will purchase without hesitation, has to be Devil May Cry 4. I want it to recapture the experience of the original so much, that I will take anything I am given.

Are there any vivid game memories you regret having? What's the game you are looking forward to the most, that you are the most wary of?

1:49 AM on 08.28.2007

Over the years, I've developed into a very methodical gamer when it comes to any game that has aspects of exploration. Games take me much longer than they should, but I get my money's worth. I try to get to know the boundaries of the game world in front of me and if it's engaging enough, I try to find every place I'm not supposed to be able to get to.

However, just once I'd like to play a game that punishes me for testing its boundaries. Not by glitches or crashing, but by actually catching me in the act and ending the game or making it impossible to complete a goal. I call it the Dumbass Law.

(Image edited from lifemetercomics.com)

I'll use a simple example from that game no one is talking about:

If I am dumb enough to repeatedly shoot the glass protecting Rapture from the ocean with frag grenades, the glass should give way and I should die a horrible and moist death.

I'd just like this unexpected easter egg in games that have obvious actions you shouldn't take.

Refuse to save the princess? You fail.
Intentionally blow up your radio link to HQ for the 17th time? You fail.
Shoot your squad leader in the face? You fail.
Forget the words to Wanted Dead or Alive? You fail and the game disc melts.

The only game that has come close to fighting back against me would be Eternal Darkness with its insanity tricks. I would intentionally get my sanity bar as high as it could go just to see what would happen, and the first time I thought it deleted my game, I was seconds away from throwing my controller through the screen.

Honestly, if a game was smart enough to react to moronic actions of the user without affecting the difficulty of the game, I'd find it endlessly entertaining. The developers could use it to set boundaries for the gamer to keep them focused on the experience, or they could do it just to be cruel and funny. It would become a Darwin security system for sophisticated games. Only the true dumbasses would become frustrated and stop playing, which is never a bad thing.

I was going to start with some bad pun about this post drowning in a sea of Bioshock posts, but I'd prefer to start by referencing a bad pun that only partially exists.

Last week, I posted on how a demo of a certain, Big Daddy gave my hopes for Metroid Prime 3 a reality check. This was before the near-perfect reviews of BioShock began driving us all into a plasmid frenzy. The buzz alone is enhancing my dream of a Retro Studios and Irrational Games collaboration to make the ultimate Metroid game.

My real dream though isn't of a Nintendo being aided by the great developers outside of their walls. It's of a Nintendo opening their doors to be able to collaborate with other game developers. Nintendo's true skill is thinking outside and off the walls of the proverbial box. Being that I've accepted their fortune lies elsewhere and that we are no longer their primary gaming audience, I know that there is a distinct lack of Nintendo quality game experiences ahead of me.

The idea hit me while describing Overlord to a friend of mine. I described it as "Evil Pikmin." At its core Overlord takes some key Nintendo-perfected gameplay elements and transports them into a game more targeted for my interests - it's evil, it has innuendo, it has drunk minions that piss themselves. While Overlord is blast to play and possesses that key factor of keeping redundant tasks entertaining after many hours of gameplay (I still laugh any time a minion says, "Sheepie"), it has major flaws. Most reviews of the game described it as being fun to play despite its shortcomings.

This got me thinking, what if games like Overlord were able to get that level of polish that we get out of games like first-party Nintendo titles? Now, I know a lot of this wouldn't work with existing budgets or timelines, but suspend reality for a few moments. What if established, historical, proven game developers made themselves more readily available to current developers producing games for different audiences? Mario-like innovation in more mature gaming experiences.

It's obvious from the soulless Twilight Princess that Nintendo has missed the boat to be able to engage us without "keeping it kiddy." They aren't the only ones that are out of touch either. Look at id - "Hay guyz, we have vehicles in our new game." Flagship - "Diablo with gunz!" or Sega - "Have we ruined all our franchises yet?"

Let's retire some of the old guard and move them into director and producer roles for an industry that's ready for it's next level. The younger companies can stay in touch with their audiences and keep creative control over their IPs. Then, have this new think tank of super developers consult their titles, so their influence can be felt across more titles and genres.

You can come up with some crazy combinations that would come up with entirely new genres of games and technology:

1) Square works on new storyline elements while Nintendo tries out some crazy new ideas for MMO gameplay under the creative control of Blizzard.

2) Epic locks away John Carmack to work with their team on the new Unreal 4 engine, while Cliffy B and Valve challenge Infinity Ward to step away from traditional soldiers for a while.

As an audience, we've accepted the fact that we will be deluged with sub-average games in between 3-5 truly great games a year. Yet, we are always looking forward to the next title from proven developers whose games are becoming more and more infrequent and more and more out of touch with us. It's just a shame to see great minds of the gaming industry still playing in their separate corners, when they could impact so much more.