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Luigi takes over's blog

11:04 AM on 08.26.2010

Dream job you think you want: Game Store Clerk.

If you're like me and most gamers, at some in your point you've wanted to work in your local Game store. What could be better thank working with your hobby? Getting paid to talk to people about video games seems like a dream job. Well, I'm here to tell you that the dream turns into a horrible nightmare.

Now, for the record, I don't work at a Gamestop, so all those people who complain about the corporations they work for forcing them to sell useless junk and beg for preorders doesn't apply. Even if it did, I promise you, that is the LEAST of your worries.

Don't get me wrong, working in a retail environment where you're surrounded by something you love is pretty cool. You're an instant book of product knowledge and selling things to people becomes pretty easy if you have a pinch of charisma. However, selling games to people will probably end up being less than 1/4th of your job. The other 3 portions are a gauntlet of trials that would drive the most patient person insane.

The First Trial: Babysitting

Welcome to your store

Did you know as a store clerk, you are a certified childcare official? Wait, you aren't? Well that won't stop people from abandoning their hellspawn and fleeing the country immediately. This might be okay if the kids were well behaved, but they are ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS terrible. They will get in the way of actual customers, knock things over, and bog you down with hundreds of pointless questions. They will never buy anything and you will have to deal with them for no less than half of your shift.

But these will seem like a breath of fresh air when you come across...

The Second Trial: Filthy, Disgusting Junk
Every game store deals in used product. Its our biggest money maker, so taking trades is a pretty important responsibility. Unfortunately, as it stands, not everyone has the same standards of quality, cleanliness, or dignity as the rest of us, and they will bring their disgusting garbage to trade in. You will have to waste a boatload of time to sift through this often roach infested, broken garbage to find what two items you can actually take in. These people will get terribly upset that they are only getting $0.10 for their nearly destroyed copies of Madden 2005 and NCAA 2005 and will storm out with their stuff resulting in a giant waste of time.

There are three cases in which I have literally almost had to vomit whilst working at my local game store.

1) A man literally brought in trashbags of dust and dirt covered systems. They were all broken and were littered with dead roaches. I nearly vomited when I opened the gamecube tray and saw there had been a roach cut in half by the disc tray closing. After telling him we couldn't take any of it, he demanded to speak to a manager and asked him why we couldn't take it if "Ya'll are gone refurbish em anyway"

2) A man was trading in several ps2 games that looked like they had been aged 100 years. I opened his Eragon case and saw something tragic. It was the entire life cycle of some kind of bug. There was an egg casing, a couple shed skins, and a dead bug. That bug lived its whole life in that case. The only feeling more intense than my disgust was my overwhelming pity for the creature.

Yeah, something like that
3) Remember those translucent nintendo 64s that came in all sorts of colors? A filthy man tried to trade one in and it was a veritable roach HIVE. I damn near vomited on the spot.

The bottom line is, the only thing that's as bad as the filthy junk is the

The Third Trial: Terribly awkward, stupid, and sometimes disgusting people.

Where else in your life will you deal with every smug fat neckbeard, ignorant jerk, and psychotic crazy person ever. To give you a glimpse of your time as a clerk, here's one of my favorite customers
Its a man who cross dresses. He comes in as a man and talks about his wife. Then he comes in as a woman with a very disgusting man. Then he comes in as a man again and asks if we've seen his wife. So, if you're following, he thinks he is married to himself, and is cheating on himself. These psychos are not the norm, but they will show up repeatedly.

More irritating than the crazies are smug neckbeards. They hold some kind of contempt for you because you work in a video game store, and will challenge your video game knowledge at every turn. The most irritating of them will engage other customers. If a Mom asks for a Wii, I do not need some fat neckbeard asshole talking to her about shovelware(A term she for sure does not understand) and how she should consider getting a PS3.

The most irritating people are those who feel entitled to anything and everything. These people feel like they're entitled to some kind of royal service where I must pamper them regardless of how busy it is. They will be generally nice and ask a lot of questions, but will get incredibly surly with you once they try to do something outside of policy.

She shops at your store

This most often happens with returns. People will buy a brand new game, decide it sucks and try to bring it back for a full refund. You can't do that. They might feel justified if we didn't ask them to try it out 3 or 4 times (You can try things out where I work). They will bitch a moan and cry until they get their way, or they will leave vowing your ultimate destruction. Either way, its a very stressful endeavor that will leave you raging for hours.

Truth betold, working here isn't so bad. Its a great job with awesome benefits, and most of the people you meet are easygoing and fun. My co-workers are some of my best friends and we've had some pretty epic moments. I just wanted people to understand that its not all peaches and cream, and that it can be just as stressful and infuriating as any other job :D   read

2:38 PM on 04.07.2010

E For Effort: World of Warcraft.

Haters indeed, are gonna hate

Let's start this article off right by saying that I really respect and thank blizzard for what they've done for the MMO genre (and online games in general). World of Warcraft is now the literal bar by which all MMOs are compared. It pulled MMO's out of what I call the age of grinding, where it was totally okay for games that popularized the genre like Ultima Online, Everquest, and their followers to be completely pointless grindfests. WoW really was the first MMO to make leveling fun by creatively using their objective based quest system. They were the first to really make balanced, fun Player vs Player content. They made grouping non-mandatory but totally worth doing with instanced dungeons and a loot system that smelled distinctly of Diablo 2. To top it all off, they pumped out free updates bigger than most Everquest expansions and supported players at max level with a constant stream of content. In 2004, Blizzard created arguably the best MMORPG the world has ever seen, and I freaking hate it.

I know what you're thinking. Did I lose my entire social life and blame it on Blizzard like this guy? The answer is no. I hate Blizzard's Magnum Opus for a number of reason which are unrelated to the massive controversy of addiction. I didn't lose anyone to/because of WoW. I just can't stand it for these 3 major reasons.

1. They've created a monster.

You knew this image was coming.

World of warcraft has created one of the most annoying fanboy groups the world has ever known since the onset of sony fanboyism in the early days of the PS3. I'm talking of course, about FACTION fanboys. You can find these guys in just about every corner of the internet clogging up message boards with the irritating notion that their imaginary group of races is somehow inherently better than the other group of imaginary races simply by virtue of them choosing it.

but thats not the best part. The best part is the freakin ELITISM that comes with such a fanbase. WoW not only has spawned the worst fanboys, but some of the most elitist neckbeard pricks I have met in my entire life. Many of you know one or more of these guys. They know everything about raiding. They know everything about dueling. They know everything about your class and theirs and every way to beat you in every pseudo-scientific analysis of a scenario you can imagine. They go on and on and on about their gear and their skills and the notion that one class takes more skill to play than the others(usually theirs). NEWSFLASH: Wow is not a difficult game to play. Its actually one of the easiest games I've ever played, and playing a class doesn't take more than paying attention and hitting a few buttons. They're all pretty easy to play.

And by god, when these elitists organize and form guilds it can be a freaking nightmare. I remember when a guild in an MMO was a group of people who played together to have fun and watch each others back. Well, those days for the most part are dead and gone, and now endgame guilds are synonymous with "Job" in the fact that the endgame guilds all require an application, interview, and required hours of commitment. Is it any wonder people frown upon the mere mention of "I play WoW" with neckbeard elitists being the most vocal representation of a WoW player?

The most irritating thing (to me) about them is that they often times speak in theory like a small child. If you discuss pvp with a neckbeard in person, I guarantee you he will say the equivalent of "nuh uh, I'd do this then" to every point you make to nullify it. Which brings me to my 2nd major gripe.

2. Blizzard, you've killed PvP for me

Back in my day, we had to walk fifteeeeeeeeeeen miles back to town to get rezzed.

Being an Ultima Online veteran, I've had my fair share of open world PvP. In the times before WoW, PvP was a scandalous subject. In Ultima, the only reward for murdering someone was the savage pleasure of it, and the loot the victim dropped. PKing was HEAVILY penalized in UO. By killing someone you risked everything. You could no longer enter towns without being auto killed by guards on sight. If you died you were fully lootable and had no access to NPC healers, so unless you had a healer friend you were done for. And finally, after PKing had gotten out of control, they institute a policy of "stat-loss" upon resurrecting as a murderer. You lost stats, which is the functional equivalent of de-leveling.

Despite this, player killing was hugely popular in Ultima, and absolutely thrilling. I can't count the number of times I narrowly escaped a band of players hunting the bounty on my head, or the times I've ambushed unsuspecting players with a group of friends and slaughtered them. In most cases the only reward for my evils was the pleasure of defeating another player and watching his ghost run back to town.

In WoW, PvP has been tamed entirely. With a majority of servers offering completely optional world PvP and battlegrounds. Battlegrounds to me feel like the cheap tacked on multiplayer mode that accompanies most of today's shooters. It's completely isolated (for the most part) from the main game, and most people play them to grind for gear, removing the whole "soul" of old PvP and replacing it with the same old gear grind as PvE. Not to mention that games are populated largely with geared up grindmongers who can defeat a fresh max level easily. Which brings me to my 3rd major gripe

3. The gear system is depressing.

I don't know what this guy is wearing, but I guarantee you won't beat him unless you're wearing functionally the same thing

I love loot. From Borderlands to Diablo 2 I love killing stuff and getting the next gun or axe or gun-axe but loot in WoW is just out of control. Blizzard produces tier sets of armor for each class at endgame. The tier sets are what I like to call invisible levels. A freshly geared level 60 could never, ever, dream to beat a well geared 60 and that was the law. As of the last time I played, this law holds true. With good reason I suppose. There's no way to keep the end game players without adding more and more loot for them to grab. If the loot isn't significantly better than previously loot I imagine people would lose interest.

What it boils down to is that your character worth is the functional equivalent of how much time you spend grinding gear. Progressively, the more time you spend the less you get out of playing, yet endgame players are the most intense grinders we've come to see.

So to recap, in a nutshell, Blizzard's created one of the worst fanboy conflicts in history and spawned what is probably the worst elitism anybody has experienced this side of indie games. Finally, they fixed, improved, and simultaneously killed for me two very important aspects of MMOs...PvP and Loot. So for this, I can't not forgive them. However, they have moved the genre forward by what appears to be lightyears, so I can't fault them for that. I give them my E for Effort.   read

3:14 AM on 03.14.2010

A dying breed: Boss Fights.

First blog. I'm not usually vocal enough to voice my concerns about the industry in blog format, but a reoccurring trend in video games has been worrying me. It feels to me as if boss fights are slowly but surely being eliminated from the "standard protocol" of video games.

In the early beginnings of action/adventure/platforming/beat-em-ups/rpgs, a boss fight is what predictably loomed at the end of a level. These were usually a larger enemy that flickered red on some part of their body when struck, or required some sort of unique pattern of movement or strategy to defeat. The fun of those early boss fights was figuring out the pattern, weaving in and out of it and ultimately, defeating the boss. From this early model rose what seemed to be boundless innovation in the way of bosses. Psycho Mantis, Dark Force from PSO, Ganon, 7 Force from gun star heroes, various incarnations of sigma, The colossi of Shadow of the Colossus, The Sorrow, are all examples of great bosses.

However, it feels like in this generation, developers have kind of slacked off.

There's a reason why he's go the blade arm on the cover

Exhibit A: Prototype, a game where the developers throw a myriad of crazy super powers at you, falls short due to the fact that it struggles to keep the player feeling powerful. The boss fights in this game feel lazy and rushed, as they consist of A) Several helicopters B) A super powerful version of a generic enemy C)A unique giant glob made of invincibility D) a unique bounty hunter dude and E) That same powered up generic enemy from earlier with more health. If you haven't played prototype, over-the-top doesn't begin to describe it. You can throw anything from innocent people to airplanes at enemies, run up the sides of buildings and elbow drop old ladies from 500ft in the air. However, the boss fights, and even the generic enemies suffer from what I call artificial difficulty. "Tougher" enemies just have bullshit "I don't get stunned while doing this" attack-back animations that do massive damage causing the player to opt ALWAYS for the instant kill blade arm attack. With all the flashy attacks you get, none of them really mean anything because there's no incentive to use them over the blade arm. In any event, I think the game could've been made a lot more interesting with some decent boss battles. Maybe a giant creature that shapeshifts but is only vulnerable to a certain 2-3 powers in different forms, or has a hard to hit/discover weakspot. Or one that'd grab you, take you for a ride and slam you through some buildings

Hope you like these guys because you're going to see a lot of them.

Exhibit B : Infamous. To me, Infamous had a few fun boss fights with interesting mechanics. The problem is that there were literally only three of them. You can only slaughter so many homeless-man-turned-sharpshooter generic enemies before the fun of being a lightning powered superhero kind of dies down.

Exhibit C: Bioshock. One of my favorite games this generation for its awesome story and great gameplay, suffers from one of the biggest let downs of a final boss. Keeping the spoilers light, the final boss is this giant ADAM infused juggernaut with what appears to be the powers of a GOD. What he actually turns out to be, is a bigger push over than most of the generic enemies in the game. Its kind of a let down to be led through this wonderful setting, experience one of the most shocking twists video games have ever seen, and then promptly beat the final boss like he's a little girl. Another thing, after a while the Big Daddies got a teensy bit stale. Maybe adding a couple of different archtypes for the sake of variety wouldn't have hurt.


Exhibit D: Fable 2. This is a huge huge HUGE example of an ending ruined by the lack of a real final confrontation. The last "boss" (There's not really anything that resembles a boss in the game, besides the trolls who are just the 3d equivalent of pallet swaps of each other) is this crystal tower thing that floats around and is easily destroyed. After its destruction you approach Lucien, the man who killed your sister, who predictably starts monologuing. I let him talk just because I was so eager for him to transform, shoot lightning at me, force push me into a wall, or do something dramatic to trigger the final showdown. Sadly, no such showdown occurred, as he was promptly shot and killed by the most annoying character in the game, bringing us to the ending and robbing me of my vengeance. This is a prime example of a game that desperately needed an epic final boss to wrap up, but left early instead.

Don't get me wrong, not every game needs a good boss fight to stay entertaining. Most first person shooters these days manage to keep the pace intense without ever using a single climactic enemy (Although, that "The helicopter is late or about to run out of fuel" excuse is getting old, Modern warfare.) And to their credit(which I don't feel like I give enough credit to), a lot of action games still have really exciting boss battles. I just feel like a lot of games that could have benefited greatly from the inclusion of an interesting, climactic fight here and there deliberately chose to omit them for the same of meeting a deadline or out of sheer laziness.   read

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