My name is Scott. I've been playing video games since my hands were big enough to hold a joystick. I started with the Atari 2600, and graduated to the Atari 800 computer where I taught myself how to program in BASIC. I eventually got a NES, and later a Game Boy. The first summer I ever worked, I was a CIT at the day camp I attended. I worked all summer long to save up enough money to buy the SNES the very day it came out.
I attended college at the University of Pennsylvania. I was introduced to the internet my freshman year in 1993, and I fast became a console pirate, purchasing a copier and downloading ROMs off of IRC channels. Good times. In my senior year, I purchased the N64 as soon as the street date was broken, and skipped classes for the next three days to play Mario 64. I also bought a used PSX the same year.
After I graduated with a degree in Computer Science and a degree in Psychology, I was accepted to Digipen. I was part of the very last class that attended the school in Vancouver, before they moved the campus to Nintendo of America's HQ in Redmond Washington (across the street from Microsoft). After completing the program, I got my very first job as a programmer at Ubisoft.
I lucked out with Ubisoft because they were actually opening a studio near my hometown in NYC, so I actually landed my dream job and got to live on the east coast near my family. I worked on Batman: Vengence. I met a number of cool people, but the only one I still keep in touch with happens to be a buddy of mine who was the lead designer on "Army of Two." He is without a doubt, the greatest game designer I have ever had the privilege of working with.
The studio in NYC didn't pan out for Ubisoft, and they decided to fold the team up to Montreal. After living in Vancouver for a year and a half, I decided I had enough of Canada, so I stayed in the NYC office, which transformed into GameLoft. I stayed there until me and the buddy I mentioned landed a job at 3DO. We both moved out to Redwood City and started working there.
3DO wasn't a great company, but it wasn't terrible, and I met a crew of people who became some of the greatest friends that I have ever had. I worked on Dragon Rage, which was being led by Kudo Tsunoda. He told the execs that it was going to be an Army Men game with an art asset swap, and it would take 6 months to complete. The truth was we were building a new engine from scratch, and it would really take a year to get it done right. When the six months were up, the execs asked for the game, and we weren't even close to finished, so we had to do 12 hours days, 6 days a week until the game was finished. 3 months later, nobody cared about it anymore, and it went straight to the budget bin.
3DO closed down very shortly after. While I was at 3DO, I got to know two people who amazed me: Howard Scott Warshaw and Tod Frye, two of the original Atari 2600 programmers. Getting to meet them and talk with them about "the good old days" at Atari was an amazing thing to me. (I totally recommend visiting Howard's site, Once Upon Atari and ordering his DVD about what those days were like.) I still run in to Howard infrequently at retrogaming conventions and it's always a delight.
After 3DO, I worked for a THQ studio that used to be called (oddly enough) Pacific Coast Power & Light. It's known as Locomotive games today. I was put on the WWE Crush Hour game, the game that was designed to mix the WWE up with Twisted Metal. I created the game's shell and character selection screen. It was actually a pretty cool game, but THQ's love for WWE had cooled down when the game was close to finishing (right after WWF became WWE, the ratings started to tank), so they rushed it and laid off the whole team.
Wishing to return to the east coast, I applied for jobs that I could find there, and actually lucked out with a job opening at Firaxis Games in Hunt Valley, Maryland, home to Sid Meier. When I got there, they were toying with the idea of remaking Pirates, and were prototyping a lot. The results were mixed, and Sid decided to get involved with the development personally. They knew they wanted to make a console version, and they put me on the small team responsible for porting the game to the Xbox. I had doubts about the game, and I wasn't enjoying the tasks I was being given (such as working on the in-game glossary), and things didn't work out. I made a lot of good friends there who I miss working with.
By this time, I had been with four companies in six years, and my girlfriend at the time was in the middle of going to school to get her degree, so I did something drastic: I grew up. I ended up looking for any available programming job, and accepted a position with a UPS owned software company as an algorithm designer. I've been there since 2005, I get paid more money, and work fewer hours than I ever did as a game programmer. But I really miss the creative environment and working with people that I have a lot in common with, i.e. a love and passion for video games.
I am currently own and operate StrategyWiki, which strives to become the best online source of video game guides and walkthroughs anywhere in the world. I am now living in northern Maryland. Welcome to my blog.
Three days to go, and the preparation is well underway. I figured today I'd talk about what I will definitely be setting up around the house as far as game stations go. For those of you who checked out my [url=http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/Procyon/my-game-room-89717.phtml]game room post[url], that is but a sample of what to expect (although the ferrets have sadly passed away and the cage has since been removed from the room, so... no more stinky ferret pee smell.)
In the living room, the Xbox 360 and BlindsideDork's PS3 will be set up on the 46" flat screen.
In the office, I will connect the Dreamcast to a 22" widescreen VGA monitor.
Somewhere in the kitchen, probably on the dining table, I will set up a GameCube on a 27" TV for the proposed Zelda: Four Swords play through and other GameCube/GBA friendly games like Vs. Pac-Man.
On the opposite side of the kitchen on one of the counters somewhere, I will set up an Atari computer on a 13" TV, just for nostalgia's sake.
Downstairs in the basement (by the pool table), we will have a Saturn and a PS2 available to be played on another 27" TV.
Also in the basement, the Wii will be set up connected to the 34" HDTV tube.
Basically, if you can't find something to play on, I can't help you. Again, people are also welcome to bring their laptops and use the wi-fi.
So I'm pretty psyched to be hosting the next BaltimoreDC NARP. I figured I'd "vent" my excitement by blogging about it in some fashion each day until the NARP arrives. The topic of today's post will be: Why did I want to host a NARP?
Let's face it; for those of you who have attended a NARP, it's a pretty big undertaking, right? You got tons of people coming, some of which you know well, and some of which you don't. You need a fairly ample supply of food around for some quick grill meal making, let alone a seemingly infinite supply of snacks on hand nearly all the time. You need a space big enough to comfortably house people who will be crashing and staying over. And you need a fairly good number of systems set up for play. So the decision to be a NARP host can be a little daunting.
In considering whether I had the stones to step up to the task, and whether I could even come close to doing as good a job as my predecessor Hitogoroshi, I thought about where I live, which is basically bumblefuck northern Baltimore county. To many of the local Baltimorians, this is a bit of a hike in an out of the way area. But when I thought about all the people who would be driving from DC and VA, I realized the distance for them to my place wouldn't really be that much farther than it was to get to Hito's place.
2009 was a rough year for me personally, and in anticipation of 2010 being much better, I wanted some way to celebrate, and with a group of people who would appreciate the style I like to celebrate in as much as me. I have been to few parties that have been more fun for me to attend than the previous NARPs, so this seemed like a good decision. When talk sprang up about having a NARP at the beach in Ocean City, I wanted to provide people with an opportunity to attend a "traditional" NARP that wouldn't come with a lot of financial obligation. So I made the choice to volunteer my place and host the next NARP.
I hope to see as many of you there as possible. There was some confusion about the date, and I'm sorry that Agent Moo got kind of screwed out of coming as a result (although there's still a chance he can make it.) I'm excited and the preparations are well underway. At the moment there are at least six planned TVs/monitors to be set up, with more possible.
For those who will be coming: What are you most looking forward to?
There, that was me blowing off the dust on this blog that I haven't used in like... forever.
So I saw some kids playing the New Super Mario Bros. game on a Wii at a Best Buy, and I overheard some older kids who were passingg by scoff and remark, "who cares, it's just another Mario game," and the young punks shuffled off to go smoke crack or something, I dunno... but it got me thinking.
Do we live in a day and age where it's no longer possible for new cartoon-ish mascots to appear and shoulder an entire franchise on their own the way that Mario, Sonic, and a slew of impersonators once did in the later 80s and early 90s? The youngest ones that I can think of today are Ratchet and Clank, and to a lesser degree, Jak and Daxter, and they're both pushing 7 years old now. Blinx the Time Cat certainly didn't make it that long.
It seems like long ago, franchises were developed around personalities, whereas now they are developed around concepts. We are in an age where the majority of video games aspire to achieve a hyper-realism, looking realer than real, and the characters that occupy those spaces aren't really characters, they are purely avatars for the player to project themselves on to.
When we were young, it was fun to pretend we were Mario, or Link, or Sonic. These days, it seems like the only chance kids get to do that when it comes to video games is through TV license games like Spongebob or Naruto. There doesn't seem to be a market anymore for developers who want to establish their own creations. I'm not suggesting that the following examples were the best that video games ever had to offer, but that means no more Kirbys, no more Crash Bandicoots, no more Earthworm Jims, no more Bonks, no more Ryus and Kens, no more Spyros, no more Sly Coopers, and no more Bubsy the Bobcats (although I can live without him...)
Has that era of gaming completely vanished? Is it poised to make a come back? Ever?
The challenge of putting a game guide together on a wiki is how to present information in a concise enough way to give players all the information that they want or need, without overwhelming them. At StrategyWiki, we have also been dealing with the challenge of presenting information about a series of games such a Street Fighter II in a way that cuts down on the amount of redundant information that gets presented. To deal with that, we've incorporated nearly every version of SF2 into one Table of Contents. Each game has their own move lists, but each character page references the moves from each version of the game, so there's a lot of cross population of information.
With the release of SSF2THDR, it seemed only natural to bump the number of SF2 games covered by one, and treat it like any other version created, rather than start anew with a brand new guide. But the question remains: is this in fact the best way to present this information? A lot of people will have a variety of opinions about this, and no one way can truly be considered the "right" way, but I wonder if we've come as close as we can. I know that some people are going to like it, and some people are going to hate it, but the most important question is can everyone understand it.
I'd like to solicit opinions from the Destructoid community on the choice of layout that we have built the SSF2THDR guide upon. I'd really like to know what your opinions are concerning the ease of ability to understand and navigate around the guide for both hardcore players, and potential novices. You can go directly to the guide and start browsing around, or have a look at the snapshots that I provided. How would you improve upon it? What, if anything, really needs to change? Of course, if you see a mistake, by all means, feel free to fix it. It is a wiki after all. Thanks in advance, and feel free to ask me questions if you have any.
Well, I've been away for a while, wallowing in my own sorrows (see my previous post) but I think I'm ready to come back and focus on what's most important in life: video games and talking about them with other video game lovers. Cuz let's face it, my social life has always taken a back seat to my love of games. Why should one measly failed marriage change that? (Don't worry, I'm not bitter... much.)
Today my thoughts are focused on one thing: the GP2X Wiz. Historically speaking, it's extremely rare for me to buy the same product twice unless it a "junior" model of an existing console. I bought the Atari 2600 jr., the top-loading NES, the SNES jr., the PSOne, and the PS2 Slim. And I bought a handful of GBA models, but they were limited editions. If I end up purchasing this GP2X Wiz, it will literally be my fourth GP2X purchase. So what the hell am I talking about? Feast your eyes on:
Now, the only thing that's really attracting me to this model is the 533MHz clock rating on the ARM processor. That's over double the original speed, which means that the stuttering SNES emulation on my white F200 model should be a thing of the past. Can't say I'm fond of turning the right hand buttons into a second d-pad, but I don't think it will matter too much in the long run. As long as I can Shoryuken with ease on the left side, I'll make due. The built in rechargeable battery is a nice touch as well.
I know there are a couple of Pandora fans out there, but despite all of the supposed "progress" being made to that system, it's still vaporware as far as I'm concerned, and I am highly unconvinced that it will live up to all of it's supposed promises. It easy to claim that the device will have everything under the sun and the kitchen sink, and that the battery will last a bajillion hours, but somehow, I just don't think so.
So I will probably break down and invest in one of these and replace the two I already have at home (and really need to sell... any takers?) I will try to jump back on my usual style of blog, posting about my continuous chronological adventures with Famicom games that I write strategy guides for on StrategyWiki. That is of course, if people are still interested in hearing about them. I know some of my write ups have been hit or miss. But it's fun to share some of the uncovered gems that I come across on occasion with all of you.
Update: Irony of ironies, I did end up taking a leak right after I wrote this post ^_^;
Before I start writing this post, I just want to say up front that there's no need to call the Waahmbulance. I'm not writing for sympathy, or a whole bunch of "cheer up, it'll get better, you're better off" comments because I know that's not what this community specializes in. What it does specialize in is humor, and I really need to laugh right now.
So my wife is leaving me. No it's not another guy (or another girl), no I wasn't an asshole, no it wasn't any of the usual dumb shit that a wife leaves a husband for. After being married for a little over 2 years, and being together for over 7, my wife decided that being married simply isn't for her. She didn't want to be responsible to anyone else in the world but herself, and she realized that her continuous denial of the fact that I actually worry about her when I don't hear from her hurt me quite a bit. She doesn't want to hurt me anymore, but she doesn't want to change either, so she decided it was time to leave, even though we still love each other very much.
The thing is, I had this beautiful half black, half Japanese gamer chick for a wife, and at the moment, I don't see how I'm possibly going to replace her with someone else. Early on when we were going out, I wasn't sure if she was exactly the right girl for me. I used to think it was because of the race difference (I'm just boring vanilla) but now I'm starting to wonder if I didn't know something was up way back then. All of my friends, mostly game developers, thought I had found the holy grail: a hot chick who likes games. And I felt that way as well, so I made it work. And to this day, I would have continued to make it work because of my "never say die" attitude towards marriage. She finally decided we could never be happy if we kept going the way we had.
When we first got married, she said she wanted the same things out of life that I did. She's finishing up her degree in Japanese language, and she had an opportunity, just a few months after our wedding, to go to Japan on an exchange program. It was 3.5 months, and I knew it would be hard as hell to live without her, but I thought what the heck, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I figured when she got back, the ball would roll back in my favor, and she would dedicate herself to the marriage. Instead, she was so inspired by living in Japan, that the ball actually rolled further in the opposite direction. She wants to spend a year there, and I just don't want the same thing. I want to plant some roots and build a family.
So now I find myself in the unenviable position (or is it?) of being single again at 32. I was never good at the bar game, and I think I come across way too much like a gamer geek when I write profiles on on-line dating sites, even though I'm just trying to be honest. I have more dimension than just my interest in games, but that's hard to communicate. Anyway, I'm slowly coming to grips with the fact that it's over, even though a very small part of me holds out hope that she will change her mind. I guess I'm just a Pac-Man who has lost his Mrs. Pac-Man, a Link without a Zelda, a Mario missing his Peach.