As blehman has already blogged before, there's a 360 L4D tourney going on in the forums. It's not new news, but I wanted to take a bit of time to expand on how effing fun this tourney is, despite having only played one game.
Everyone's raising glasses/bottles/whatever in honor of the three year anniversary of Destructoid. As a community, this place is pretty fucking badass. And the community is the reason that the L4D tourney is so awesome. I've only gotten to play with a handful of people thus far from here, but everyone's having fun and treating it as a chance to get in some non-annoying L4D games in with people who don't suck.
We spent almost an hour in the lobby waiting on various people to show last night, and the conversations were just as awesome as the gaming was. The word is still out on whether seigfreid had to goto Blockbuster to get a copy of the game just so he could play with us, and apparently some of us missed Dok Industrial's ability to impersonate Hank Hill very well, but it's this stuff that makes community gaming pretty fucking fun.
Thanks Team 6 for putting up a good fight against us for one match, and here is the sacred Canadian Quarter that MaxPower asked me to frame. It is framed with nickel rolls, because it's IRONIC.
And yes, I understand now that it's a moose and not a deer. I <3 Canadia, Max.
If any of you lurkers who read the blogs and forums but haven't actually signed up yet because you're not sure about fitting in, let me tell you. Destructoid rocks, its users rock, and if you like L4D, this is as good a reason to sign up as any. Form a team, post in the forums, come for the cocks, stay for dinner and a movie.
So this time, somebody help me out. I'm actively playing Left 4 Dead and Rock Band 2, but I want something more consistently single player to work on in the meantime when I'm not messing with these two games.
So here's what I've got:
PS2 -- Castle Shikigami 2
PS2 -- Front Mission 4
PS2 -- Makai Kingdom
PS2 -- Prince Of Persia - Sands Of Time
PS2 -- La Pucelle Tactics
PS2 -- Arcana Heart
360 -- Dead Rising
360 -- Enchanted Arms
360 -- Alone In The Dark
360 -- Perfect Dark Zero
360 -- Mass Effect
Hell, if you want to give me an order, I certainly wouldn't mind that either.
For reference, I've played a bit of Arcana Heart (just to feel out some characters), one quick run of Dead Rising, and the prologue chapter of PDZ.
It inhabits my gaming life and my work as well. Whether it's trying to be the best teammate possible or best worker or best player in a game, it's a part of how I am. If I give my best and I get outshined, I can live with it, as long as it is indeed the best I have to offer. You've got to start somewhere though, and in the case of gaming, that's singleplayer for me.
Some people have an innate ability to lock onto a new scenario (game, task, etc) and fall right into it and do really well. Jacks-of-all-trades, if you will. I've never been one of those people and due to some awkward situations in my childhood growing up, I've become a rather unorthodox person in my approaches to everything I have to deal with in everyday life. When I find a game that draws me in that is also competitive, I will more often than not isolate myself completely and begin pushing myself to get better at it. I don't want to be the weak link that lets people down in a team game, that can't hang with all the other Expert players in rhythm games. I also don't want to be the jerk that only revels in doing the one thing he's good at, and that pushes me moreso.
It started with Contra.
When I got it back when I was 8, my younger brother and I played it through in one sitting using the 30-lives code. It was awesome, intense, and we needed those lives. I loved the game to death though and couldn't sit with having to rely on a code as a crutch to play something so fun. So I kept at it until I could handle the game in one life confidently. It may not impress a lot of people nowadays when I play two player games with them, but it's what set the stage for me moving forward in other games to get better and better.
F-Zero GX and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 had me spending hundreds of hours learning every intimate aspect of the game on my own time, be it in training or in single player practice.
This game and I got VERY intimate back in the day.
I memorized stats from FAQs about tiers for MVC2 players, strategies utilized by various players for character combinations, and studied patterns while learning what I could do to switch things up with my own favored characters that not necessarily everyone would be expecting. Great MVC2 players are used to seeing Sentinel in action and often probably play him as well, but are usually quite surprised to see Hulk and Juggernaut show up in the mix as well. If you ever get to play me in MVC2 under standard settings, you'll learn why as many others have. But before I got to this point, I lost many games in the local arcade. Everytime I lost, I took the game to heart and went home and worked the grindstone some more, figuring out how I could push myself to the next level and not just get beaten by the competition, but rather become the competition. I haven't played in over a year now, but I would jump in a heartbeat at the chance to go up against anybody who thinks they're worth their salt at one of the greatest fighting games ever made.
I won't even get started on F-Zero GX, let's just say that outside of Final Fantasy IV, no game has ever gotten as much singleplayer time out of me, all so I could master one silly car that very few skilled players would ever regard with any seriousness.
Why do you mock me so, Deep Claw?!
Five years ago or so, I picked up on DDR. I really liked the J-Pop that showed up on there, and that was really my only base motivation to play the game. Then I found there was a niche of people who were amazing at games in the series and I had to try and get better as well. I bought DDR Extreme with a homepad and played in isolation for quite a few hours over several days. I didn't want to show my face at the mall arcade on the machine until I was confident I could do Heavy songs. I felt like I didn't deserve to be there if I couldn't hang with anyone who wanted to do 6-footers and up. A week later and from then on, I pushed through 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, finding accuracy and stamina...and then I found In The Groove, and it blew my mind.
If you've never seen people who can handle 13-footers in ITG2, youtube it. It takes a level of physical intensity that most people cannot readily achieve...myself included. My girlfriend got some Cobalt Flux pads so we could dance together. I helped coach her up to doing harder and harder songs, but before that, I spent my time alone pushing my own stamina more and more. I got through 10s and found that my stamina fell apart at 11s. Recently as well, I found that physical welfare was a reason to quit competing (with myself in this case) at the rhythm-based dance games series. Despite having so much fun in Stepmania and with ITG songs, I found that my right knee was suffering major impact damage from the jumps in so many songs that I was playing through.
So what to do then? I love rhythm-based games, but being out of commission like that certainly isn't the kind of thing that I can easily settle for. Well, after getting a taste of Rock Band, I found my answer. I've always loved vocals, but I couldn't get behind guitars, hence my reluctance to touch the Guitar Hero series. In Rock Band's case, I enjoyed vocals so much and knew I could be part of a group and function quite well there...until my throat gets tired. What if we don't have a drummer? A bassist? A guitarist? There are positions to fill, and damnit, I'm going to fill them! After unlocking every song in RB2 on solo, I proceeded to Quickplay and played every song on Easy on drums. Then on Medium. Then on Hard. I took every lesson to heart and replayed until I could absolutely get onto Expert and stand (or sit in this case) with anyone else who wanted to play Expert with their own respective instruments as well. Two down, two to go...and I will at some point soon push beyond Hard on Bass and then move to Guitar as well. If there's a party, if there's a band, I want to be in it, and I want to shine.
Then this thing came along.
I'm not big on FPS games, mostly because my stint/fling/whatever with a few multiplayer online games included a lot of jerks and bastards who would fall into a number of bias categories that people don't like playing with -- 32-player MOH:AA games with 30 snipers, poor CS teammates, general arseheads who talk trash for the sake of talking trash -- and I only found fun in a community game of Unreal Tournament with some friends on IRC (who would typically own me, and I'd love every moment of it in spite of that).
I love horror (movies and games both), and the prospect of a team-oriented game based on surviving sounded thrilling. And it has been. Of course, my team has thus far been myself and three bots, save for a couple games where I ran my girlfriend through the motions as well. But I play with those bots so I can learn more about myself, more about how I handle the situation in spite of those around me, more about how I deal with the enemy, more about how those levels are laid out. I have to get better...because if I end up playing with you guys, I don't want to let you down. I want to bring Louis to the party and I want you all to be glad that Louis has someone controlling him who isn't a self-centered jerk that is looking for solo glory over the good of the team. I'll have your back, and I'll hope you'll have mine as well, because I want to show how good of a team player I can be, and I want to do this on a team full of people who work as well as a tightly-knit group can work, so I will be pushed to my limits to do things right.
You find your niche and you fit in. Then you keep moving forward. And when you get knocked down, you get back up and learn from the experience, get better...smarter, faster, stronger, whatever suits the situation. Even if it is just spending time alone gaming, I feel that there is much skill within oneself to foster and grow, and having the chance to show it off to the masses and garner the approval that you are good at what you've been toiling at is definitely worth it.
After L4D, I'm sure another game will come along that will draw on that same basic competitive nature in me and I will nurture it completely and show what I can do once more.
After seeing a Discountoid awhile back in which they were selling 13 month gold subscriptions on Amazon for 20 bucks less, I figured it'd be as good a time then to get one as any...what with everyone who is not me talking about how great Left 4 Dead is, and with me wanting to get in on the action. Lacking both at the time, I was a sad panda.
Despite some nasty ailing sickness recently, I was able to acquire Left 4 Dead and setup my Gold membership (with awesome discount)...but I decided to go a different route for Live and work my way into dealing with the online masses. So I settled for playing some non-Left 4 Dead games instead to see how the other online players (or lack thereof) operate, and to gauge whether every other person is really a dick/12 year old, or if this only seems to happen in FPS games. Yes, I'm sure this has been done before. No, I do not care. I found that my research has taught me many important things, all of which I will share with you now.
1. Project Gotham Racing 3
First things first. I suck at PGR3. This is because I can't drive Rear Wheel Drive cars (in games or real-life), as Gran Turismo 3 originally taught me. I beat the game on Easy and that was enough for me. But I figured I'd see how good the average person was at PGR3 online. Answer: Way better than me. Except at the Cone Collecting game, where I apparently destroy other players ruthlessly.
It seems that nobody really talks in the lobbies of this game. They just kinda idle there and wait on a game to fill up or get started...or they simply just leave after thirty seconds of not getting something going. I only played one street race, where I got utterly annihilated, although it was fun having two cars both P.I.T. manuever me from opposite sides, allowing me to pop up and ride a wall for about ten seconds and glitch the game into saying I was 38 seconds behind the next car. I only found one Cat & Mouse game the entire time, and I either got disconnected from the game or booted out, I'm not sure which. I kinda had my headset for Live around my neck because of the stories I've heard about kids screaming into the mic incessantly and was afraid for my eardrums. Someone was saying something and that's when I learned the art of WEARING the headset to hear people. I also learned the art of VOLUME. The lattermost of the two aforementioned abilities comes into play shortly, so I'm glad to have learned this now.
Having earned a couple of achivements and found that only about 40 collective people on Earth still play PGR3, I decided to swing on over to what I figured to be the safest game in terms of Live activity...
2. Virtua Tennis 3
I visited the VTTV channel to watch a game for about thirty seconds so I could grab a free achievement, then I headed off to the match areas and tried to setup and casual match. And tried. And tried. No luck. I wasn't sure how ranked matches worked, thinking maybe players have an associated score based on the number of online games played, like TruSkill on PGR3. Shortly after choosing Ranked Match, I was beset upon by this man:
...only he was French. Very, very French.
I don't know much French, but I have enough common sense to not try and have a conversation with someone in a language I'm unfamiliar with, so I decided to hang back and just listen while I tried to take this guy down with my fancy moves.
So, apparently I suck at Virtua Tennis 3 a lot. I didn't think I was too bad, until this guy destroyed me in every match 40-0. He made lots of random grunting sounds, said some things in a most condescending manner, and then started humming the National Anthem (American, not French!) as loudly as he could while I volleyed lots of fail at him. Then he went from humming to singing operatic-style, and I leapt for the volume control and yea and verily, it was my savior.
Fearing for my life and wanting nothing more of proving my lack of skill in VT3, I moved on to more familiar ground...
3. Rock Band 2
I thought about doing drums, but I already felt crappy playing two games and looking like a complete idiot, so I needed some genuine owning to make myself feel better. So I grabbed a microphone and headed for the Tug Of War/Score Duels. Score Dueling apparently does not exist in the land of vocalists, because there were no Quick Matches or Ranked Matches even after ten minutes of waiting.
So I jumped to Tug Of War mode and tried a Ranked Match first. Found one on Hard fairly quickly. I was fine with that, because there's some songs I'm not confident on...or simply hate to death. My viking-hat-wearing-warrior-of-the-world Zain faced off against some generic looking guy named josh (lowercase)...we were given Bodhisattva from Steely Dan. I hate the song on vocals, but apparently josh (lowercase) hated it more. About two minutes in, he jumps ship while I'm dragging the bar all the way to my end, so I get an easy walk on that. Tried some more Ranked Matches, but no one seemed to be showing up. So I jumped to Quick Matches and got two fairly easily.
First was a girl named Madison. She picked My Own Worst Enemy from Lit. She also picked Hard, so I jumped on Hard as well. It was a close match, but I 100ed versus her 98. She said something, but I couldn't understand it very well. Then I picked Spoonman from Soundgarden, and I heard her make a loud groaning sound. She jumped to Easy, so I stuck it out on Hard and took the match easily. Then she apparently decided that she had to show me up hardcore, because she jumped to Expert and chose That's What You Get from Paramore. Not one to shy away from a match (and eager to fail), I jumped to Expert and struggled through a song I absolutely hate as she 98ed it. I couldn't find a female song to exact revenge with, so I just jumped to Creep and Experted that (she went to Easy). I 100ed it without a problem and she took off, no words or animosity to be found.
Tried one more Quick Match and got another girl (maybe girls dig vocals more in general?) who I can't remember the name off the top of my head...some awkward combination of X's and KrisCross. She apparently liked semi-emoish stuff and didn't have a very large library unlocked. We went all over the board, doing Carry On My Wayward Son, Girl's Not Grey, Man In The Box, Down With The Sickness, Our Truth, and some other stuff. I brought the domination most of the time, save for when my bronchitis finally started getting the better of me and she picked Tangled Up In Blue...which is my most hated song in the RB2 groupings. She seemed fairly nice and I talked a bit with her, and she never got overly upset when I would nuke songs on Hard or Expert.
So I jumped ship and decided to report my findings here.
SUMMARY / TL;DR RESULTS
1. I suck at driving and tennis, and if you were to combine both, global warming would climb 120000000%.
2. French people are really good at being Virtual Tennis players, and really good at being Virtual Dicks.
3. Girls like vocals. I like vocals. I like girls. YES!
4. Live players who don't frequent popular games aren't usually dicks. Unless you suck at Tennis. Maybe I deserved that bad rendition of the National Anthem.
5. Now that I have Left 4 Dead and Live, I will be getting some gaming on (and probably get owned in the process) with some Destructoiders! This makes me a happy panda!
...minus the panda sex. I don't get any of that today. Maybe tomorrow.
Inspired by silverdragon's blog post and the sheer insanity in terms of number of get-to-know-me-better blogs popping up today...I will post my own post-Superbowl list of random factoids about the biggest Cardinals fan to ever knowingly call both the spread against his team and exactly how much they'd lose by, still holding a shred of hope that they'd win anyway, because he forgot he's a Cardinals fan. Sorry, had to get my moping out of the way.
First, the less relevant...10 NVGR things you probably don't know about me.
1. Semi-VGR: I was born left-handed, but taught to do everything right-handed, because my grandmother believed that left-handed people are tools of the devil. This is kind of a bitch, because other than having terrible handwriting and not really having a best way to masturbate, I handle all types of controls that require two hands in an unorthodox way, resulting in an inability to play some games (or instruments in the case of Rock Band) properly.
2. Twice, I nearly made it to the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. Yes, I was almost one of those headcases you see on TV with neurotic parents who demand perfection and nothing less. I brought a dictionary to school in seventh grade. Clearly it didn't help...the two words I lost out on were "ignominious" and...SAXOPHONE. To this date, jazz makes me flinch.
3. I've seen more horror movies than people will see total movies overall in their lifetime...around 1500. I probably have actually enjoyed less than 200 of those. The Lost Boys is still my favorite.
4. My favorite number is 17. This number haunts me everywhere I go, so I can only assume that it must be my favorite number, and not some sort of harbinger of doom. I'm really not cool with doom.
5. Despite being afraid of heights and hating hot temperatures in general, my two professions I always dreamed of being when I was a kid were an astronaut and a firefighter. I really need to get my priorities straight.
6. I fear spiders more than you do. No, really. You cannot fear spiders more than I do. I will more than likely have my girlfriend preview all comments that appear on this blog to see if there are spider pictures on it (even video game ones!) before I make any attempt to read what's been said here...and if there have been, I'll probably make her reply for me as well. Damn you all ahead of time.
7. Bad Religion is my favorite band of all time. I think Greg Graffin is a god among men, a lyrical genius, and a master of stage presence. The best compliment I ever received was that I looked like him (at a Bad Religion show, no less!).
8. I probably look like somebody you know, or you've seen before. I have been told at some point in my life that I look like the following: Steve Buscemi, Johnny Depp, "a young James Dean", "a young Jack Nicholson", the crazy guy from The Green Mile, "my brother" (that's what she said), Greg Graffin...and I know there's more, but I can't think of them off the top of my head right now.
9. I can't be happy when other people are miserable around me. I have to go out of my way to try and make them laugh, cheer them up, something...or else get away from the misery. I have a tendency to get really depressed when other people are down, so I try and stem that as quickly as possible.
10. I always want a bunch of friends, but I never know how to go about making them, because I generally don't share common field of interest with people my age. Hell, my girlfriend is about eight years younger than me. She's my best friend. I can't seem to relate to anyone near age 30. I'm also shy as hell at first when trying to interact with new people, which doesn't help my cause. Part of the reason I lurked here for about six months before even joining. :P
And now for something completely different...WITH PICTURES!
Ten (or more) VGR things you probably don't know about me.
1a. I won second place in Nintendo Power's Final Fantasy contest they had back in the day. Three different contests, were held over three months...I won second place in the second contest, which netted me a sassy pink Final Fantasy Fanny Pack. It was...magical. It did come with three chocolate candies though!
1b. I share the same birthday as Nester from Nintendo Power's Howard & Nester comic strip. May 23rd. It's in the 1987 Nintendo Power calendar if you're ever curious.
1c. To continue the Nintendo Power run, I still have the Counselor's Corner phone number memorized...along with the code to Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!. 12068857529 is the old phone number...the area code changed, but I know some seven years ago when a friend in Washington tried calling the proper area code, the number still worked then. :P As for Mike Tyson...007 373 5963, bitches.
1d. I can't beat Mike Tyson. I'm sorry, world. I was not meant for boxing.
2. I can destroy hardcore MVC2 players using unorthodox lower-tier characters. Yeah, I'll still use Sentinel. But while everyone's playing pixies or pulling another Hyper Viper from their dimensional asspocket, I've got The Hulk and The Juggernaut backing me up. This really throws people off, as they're less commonly used characters by conventional standards of tournament play.
3. My best games are Contra, Lifeforce, F-Zero GX, and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. I live for these games.
4. I love creating things in games. Level-builders, editors, stuff like that...it all makes my day. I've made over 150 stepcharts for Stepmania, 55 levels for Smash Brothers Brawl, 20 or so levels for Trackmania. I live for this stuff.
5. Final Fantasy IV isn't just my favorite RPG/game ever. It was all I knew for awhile in my high school years. One summer, I took a notebook and scanned every single enemy possible, while doing load/reloads to calculate boss enemy HP as close to the point as possible. I also took four VHS tapes and used the six-hour recording method to record an entire playthrough of the game so I could watch the game when I wasn't playing it and memorize the main dialogue. I don't remember it perfectly anymore, but that probably just means I need to go play the game again.
6. I have a short attention span when it comes to new games. Unless they can capture my attention and hold it steadfast, I will give up on them after a few hours to pursue some other fling with gaming.
7. Survival Horror is my favorite genre, but the only games I've beaten from it are AITD1 and 2, SH1, 2, and 3, Resident Evil 1 remake for the GameCube, Carrier for the Dreamcast, and Hellnight for the PSX. Not a very big selection, despite my enjoyment of the genre. I guess I always hope to be scared, or on the edge of my seat in a state of intensity, but none of these games really do the trick. They usually frustrate, rather than entertain. But I still keep hoping for the next one to keep me glued to it straight through.
8. I prefer multiplayer over singleplayer any day of the week, even if multiplayer means having someone watch me, or me watching someone play through a game. It always seems more enjoyable with more people present.
9. I loved Xenosaga's story through the entire trilogy. This wouldn't normally be a big deal, but most everyone I've heard seems to think of the games as crap. And I think most everyone is wrong. So nyah.
10. In an ultimate move of dickery, I made my girlfriend play through FF7, with her having never been spoiled by hearing about Aeris's death. I felt there was no need to tell her, despite the fact that she loved Aeris so much, that she leveled her moreso than anyone else. Needless to say, after the cutscene of her death, my girlfriend about raged over her wasted time leveling Aeris. And I laughed a lot. In fact, I still find it funny.
And now you know a little about me. If you cared. Which you probably didn't. But if you did read through here and you did find something interesting amidst this, I'm glad. This community rules and it's nice to be able to see us come together to learn from/about one another.
Me from a year ago. Full of rage and metal, clearly.
So, if there's any question of the potential shoddiness of the bass pedal on the Rock Band 1 drum kit, I answered it this morning with a beautiful split in the pedal that happened right behind the spring in the middle of a Challenging song on Hard difficulty. I kept having a feeling it was going to go out sooner or later, but I was kinda expecting the orange plastic piece that regulates pedal movement in conjunction with the spring to snap.
The middle of the pedal literally split in half, and it was quite an awesome crack. I wish I had gotten a picture of it, but I didn't think I'd be posting this until my girlfriend suddenly decided that she was determined to salvage this thing, rather than spend money on a new pedal altogether.
Taking pieces of plastic from a mini-anatomical skeleton construction set, she cut up some pieces and made rods to act as splints on the top and bottom of the crack and duct taped the whole thing, before adding a layer or duct tape (rolled up) as padding on either side of the top splint. Images below. You might be able to see the plastic in the bottom view sticking out of the center.
The result? Well, I'm still practicing hard on drums, but I didn't miss a beat with the bass pedal on the next few songs I tried. Moreover, the pedal feels a little more loose (the spring doesn't pop it up as far due to the underside splint) and it's actually EASIER to hit 1/16th bass pedal notes, it seems.