Roager 's blog
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I'm a 21 year old guy in Idaho. I've been playing video games as long as I can remember, starting with an old dusty NES, some Mario, and Battletoads. Now, I'm just another gamer, it seems. And while it's a little uncomfortable being associated with video games simply by virtue of being young and male, I can't argue with the accuracy of the stereotype. That said, I'm a gamer, not a guy who plays games. It's a large part of my life and who I am. I'm not here on DTOID because I have a pastime or a hobby. I'm here because I have, for lack of a better word, a passion.

But I can't seem to think of anything useful to say about myself, so I'll hope my posts give some insight.
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I've been a gamer all my life. I could play a Mario game before I could say his name. I stuck with the NES and SNES far past their prime, which eventually became standard practice for me. I'm not an early adopter. I was rocking N64 Smash Bros. when all the cool kids were playing Jak and Daxter. I've still never played Jak and Daxter.

So it took me until late 2011 to actually dig into the PS3. I'd played the big black Blu-ray box before, but when my girlfriend upgraded, I got to reap the benefits. Now, she was a fan of the PS2 God of War games, and bought the remastered “Origins” collection to both introduce me to the series, and play the side games she missed.

Now, this wasn't quite my first time with Kratos. I'd tried the PSP Chains of Olympus before, but the controls felt clunky and wrong. I didn't know at the time that this was because of the lost analog stick, all I knew was that I wasn't having fun. But beyond the clumsy dodging implementation, Kratos himself seemed lacking. The chained blades felt too basic, too shallow. So I shrugged it off as just another game that tried to impress simpletons with tits and blood. Not for me.

No, I don't have any titles in mind, Ubisoft. Why do you ask?

But at milady's behest, I kept going. And by the end of Chains of Olympus, I was actually having fun. The game that turned me off the series in the first place showed me all the ways I was wrong. Kratos's simplicity, I realized, is complemented by enemy complexity. The character's predictable strikes let the player focus on the action around them instead of wrestling with themselves. Even Kratos's simplicity hid a layer of depth inside its cancelable animations, emphasis on positioning, and invincible executions.

So I kept going, finishing Chains, Ghost, GoW I, II, and III over the next year and a half. It's a formulaic series, to be sure, but a consistently good one.

But what stood out to me the most in all this was that in the face of all the blood, mythology, and yelling, God of War was a videogame that loved videogames. I mean, intimately understood and bonded with them.

It was a strange revelation, but the proof was there. The gods and titans my questgivers, I ventured into the temples of the Olympians to crawl the (surprisingly polished and clever) dungeons, level up, get the loot, and save the [s]princess[/s] brother. Anita would be proud.

Oh, wait.

It probably sounds obvious. OF COURSE a videogame feels like a videogame. What shocked me was how I'd missed it. The fixed camera, gleeful violence, and QTEs just seemed stupid. A game that does those things isn't trying to be a game. It's trying to be bloody violence porn.

And, okay, it's that too. But under that mask is a quality series. One that introduced me to several new game design concepts and tools I wouldn't have given a second thought to. On a somewhat tangential note, it started me on the beauty of HD collections. God of War gave rise to ICO/SotC, Ratchet and Clank, Prince of Persia, and next up, hopefully, is Devil May Cry.

I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes it's worth going back to games you hated. I would have missed out on both God of War and Prince of Persia, and they're both among my favorites now. I'm even learning to be okay with Final Fantasy. Mostly.

I love videogames. They've been with me all my life, and I've got lots to say about them. I wanted to get some good, high-quality pictures for this entry, but a camera and a TV are no substitute for a good screencap. Maybe it'd be easier to illustrate my points with a snazzy new capture card. If I am chosen, I'll start off with either 3d action games, like God of War, or fighters, like UMvC3 or SSF4. I've also got a friend who's been talking about making Let's Plays, so that's not an impossibility. Thanks for your consideration anyway, and I hope you enjoyed the read.
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The previous title, "I brainbarfed about modding Brawl. Read my Barf" was nixed due to using "barf" twice.

Amongst all this Sony stuff on the frontpage, I decided to finally let out all this nonsense that's been in my head for the past week or so. See, I used to be a pretty active community member for Brawl, back in 08 when it came out, and probably a bit into 09. I dunno anymore.

ANYWHAY. Part of why I stopped caring was because, as a fighting game community, much of the discussion focused on tournament-level play. That itself isn't a problem, but it did really open my eyes to how many things Brawl did wrong. One in particular stands out among all others, partly because it's a huge problem, and partly because it's much easier to identify and explain than others.

What has two thumbs, makes me think of Amish people, and totally makes Brawl less fun?

This guy:

The Amish joke is a relatively obscure pun. "Mennonite" was the operative word.

Now, I understand that fighting games will have their top tier, not all characters will be equally viable, all that jazz. But this is something else. Metaknight is beyond being good, or even the best. He outclasses everyone else by a pretty large margin. Tier lists all rank him top, and most (if not all) separate him into his own S-rank tier. Followed by Snake, in his own A-tier. Followed by B, the highest rank with more than one member.

Put simply: This is bullshit, and I won't have it. I was also frustrated because I chose Captain Falcon and Link as my mains, both pretty low-tiered. By which I mean both have been ranked at the bottom of the list. That spot is now held by Ganondorf.

And I'm rambling again.

Pretend there's a reasonable segue here; I can't come up with one.

Hey, remember things like GameShark, Game Genie, Action Replay, Codebreaker, etc.? Then you may be surprised to hear this: Variable-modifying codes, which were once-upon-a-time used for infinite lives and noclip and stuff, were used to make Brawl suck less. By editing the statistics of the fighters and their attacks, the community moved towards balance. A lot of people gathered around the idea of what was eventually dubbed “Brawl+.”

Without going into too much more history, let’s just cover the big important bits of knowledge.

--Brawl+ took off from what started as “Remove random tripping” and “Record replays longer than 3 minutes” kinds of codes. Just fixing things that are objectively stupid and shouldn't be there.
--It moved into making combos part of play again, as they were far less important to Brawl than Melee, and we wanted them back.
--Technical advancements (The name Phantom Wings shows up over and over again. The man is like unto a god. Creation where there was nothing, and all that.) led to more advanced and refined modifications.
--Brawl+ was a big, ongoing effort to make the game the community wanted. But the community has no one goal. Brawl+ is done, both for being polished and at a reasonably complete level, and for some changes in leadership and loss of interest that I don’t know a whole lot about.
--Brawl+ is done, but hackers/modders aren’t. Many offshoot projects have been started, most of which have been abandoned. There are now a few big projects to pay attention to.

And this is where it gets fun. Let’s look at the big “codesets” and what they’ve done/plan to do.

Google spat this out when I searched "let's do this"

Brawl+ (Brawl Plus)
This is the first real cohesive effort to improve Brawl. Like I said, it’s done now. No new developments. That said, this is a spectacularly polished modification, with new character select layouts, stage select layouts, title screen, buffer modification (that’s a long explanation, I don’t wanna write that out right now) and, of course, character tweaks.

It’s a faster, fairer Brawl. And that’s about all it is. Brawl+ doesn’t make use of much of the new technical breakthroughs, and so it’s less ambitious than some later entries. That said, its age means there’s nothing really “rough around the edges” to be seen, and its completeness alone is something to be proud of.

Brawl- (Brawl Minus)
Obviously, the name references the previous one. As a rule, Brawl- is more over-the-top and flashy than B+. That’s not to say it’s unfair. It ascribes to a school of thought that basically gets summed up in The Incredibles: “When everyone’s super, no-one will be.” By making all the characters really good, it stays fair while emphasizing fun. Also, it emphasizes craziness.

My personal favorite, B- takes its slogan quite seriously: If it’s broken, break it until it’s fixed. Every character is broken in their own oddly not-gamebreaking way, and this mod represents a lot more advancement to me than refinement.

bBrawl (Balanced Brawl)
This one’s real easy to sum up. This is what Brawl+ would be if they liked Brawl, but just wanted it fairer. It preserves the flow, feel, and physics of Brawl, but makes minimal tweaks to make a more balanced game out of it.

It’s minimal, but it works. This is the easiest to transition to, since it’s such a small change. In fact, many people might not even see the difference. But it’s there, and it’s important.

uBrawl (UnstoppaBrawl)
This one gets a mention for being almost, if not entirely, a one-man job. It also deserves more attention than it gets. And it fits somewhere between bBrawl and Brawl+ on the spectrum of modifications. It preserves the physics of Brawl, and makes fewer changes than Brawl+, but the character changes are more obvious than in bBrawl, and have more impact. This one also focuses on aggressive play, and makes shielding more punishable than in other codesets.

I haven’t played a whole lot of this one, but it too is pretty small. Worth a look, regardless. If he gets some more attention, Final Smashes might be added in, after he figures out how to make them fair.

Project: M
This is the big one. This is where the buzz is. This one gets some of the credit for killing interest in B+, I hear. This one’s also not publicly available. Spoilers: The M is for Melee. And that’s what this is: A remade Melee inside Brawl. Why not play Melee, you ask? Because Melee is old; we’ve played it to death. Also, this way Melee can be made to the community’s standard. It also gets to have Brawl characters.

I haven’t played this. It’s new. The team working on it is set to release a beta/demo thing pretty soon. Hyped to hell and back, this is what many people wanted Brawl to be to begin with.

The crazy thing is that this is just the nitty-gritty. Dtoid has frontpaged a couple character re-skins here and there. And they’ve barely touched on everything there is to see.

I get that this sounds like Little Big Planet, where it’s like “There’s SO MANY LEVELS but you’ve only seen a few you’ve gotta play this” but then half of them are awful and the other half are Mario 1-1.

Yes, I'm exaggerating. There is a lot to love in LBP. There's also a lot to hate. So sue me.

But for every Cloud Strife over Ike or "Enhanced Breasts Peach", and there are a lot of them, there are 5 not-shit custom costumes. Super Meat Boy over Kirby and Mr. Destructoid over Shiek were frontpaged, but Ronald McDonald over Captain Falcon and Rash (Battletoads) over DK are at least as cool and never got that attention. Add in the costumes that aren’t just other characters, and you get some really cool-looking new stuff.

But even that’s been around forever. Substitute textures are cool, and substitute textures with modified model data are also really cool, but there are model replacement options too. Not “move these vertexes around” for a different look. A completely new model.

So what’s the reasonable next step when we have the ability to retool and modify characters movesets without limitations, and we also have the ability to create an entirely new body for that character to inhabit?

Man, what an asshole little kid, jumping into my blog post uninvi-OH OKAY FINE I COULDN'T THINK OF ANYTHING BETTER, OKAY?

Totally new characters.

And it’s been done.

Not real well, mind you, but it’s possible. And that’s really cool. Game mods are nothing new, I know, but they’ve been a PC staple, not a console thing. Brawl mods are big. Not just in their own right. Yeah, they’re really neat in that they’re changing Brawl, but the important part is that they’re doing it ON THE WII. Romhacking for emulators is nothing new, but current-gen console mods… that’s really goddamn cool. Especially if more games start getting modified. There was even a Dtoid newspost about custom levels for New Super Mario Bros. Wii a while back.

For anyone interested in doing any of this themselves, here’s some links. And no, it doesn’t require a hacked Wii. There’s a vulnerability in Brawl itself that means any Wii, with any system software, can run these.

For the record, here’s a quick, mostly accurate representation of how far removed the mods are from Brawl, relative to each other.

Brawl bBrawl uBrawl Brawl+ Brawl- ProjectM

Oh, right, I said links:

SmashMods --has B+, B-, bB, and P:M sections, including downloads, instructions, and other information
Brawl Vault --Biggest source of cosmetic modifications you'll find. Also has the new characters, for those interested.
UnstoppaBrawl --Forum thread for uBrawl. Downloads and instructions there.
THIS TOO. --Forum thread with links to texture/vertex hacking sites, and instructions on applying those modifications. Forgot this could be useful.

Also, in addition to tacking on that last link, be careful downloading things called PSA. Those are "Project Smash Attack" mods, and change the mechanics of the characters. Often stupidly powerful, these suffer from "MUGEN syndrome" in which people go "lulz let's make something rigged". PSAs have been best used by B- and P:M.

In short: PSA downloads will modify the characters actions, not just their looks. If you want the costume only, keep looking.

NEW EDIT: PSA is one of the technical advancements we've seen, and is used to modify animations, effects, and statistics. It's the biggest reason we have as much freedom in character modding as we do, but in general, only the main codeset development teams can be trusted to use that freedom responsibly. (read: in a way that makes the game better) PSA is also used every time a character is make into someone completely different, like turning Link into Zero (yes, from Megaman X)
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For those of you who were eagerly anticipating the next installment of this here blog series (all one of you. Thanks, dude!) I regret to inform you that due to life happening, I'm gonna have to focus on dealing with my own stuff. I'll get back to it when I can. For now, I leave you with this. Enjoy.

So, a little over a week ago, I posted this, more or less on a whim. I felt like blogging something, Street Fighter and Smash Bros came to mind, and then as I wrote it, I realized the damn thing was too long, and I'd not yet touched on two of the four things I wanted to. So, instead of dropping it, I chose to make it even LONGER, but release it episodically (see what I did thar?) and devote one post to each of the four. But instead of actually talking about one of them, I just said “LOOK I'M DOING SOMETHING” and people went “yay.”

Then I started writing this son hof a beetch (Bison?) and ran into some troubles. Between Thanksgiving madness, losing my work, rewriting it, and realizing I actually still had it all along, and other non-writing-related mishaps, I'm late on my self-imposed one-week deadline. I apologize to myself, and to you.

So here I am, in the first real post, and dammit if it isn't harder than I thought it'd be. Not only because of life, but because suddenly I realized that I know more about Smash than I do about Street Fighter. That's unfortunate. So I had to do a little looking. (WIKIPEDIA HO!)

We'll need some history. For perspective. Capcom released Street Fighter in 1987 to arcades, in which the player, as Ryu (or the functionally identical Ken, on the 2p side) fights up the ranks of the tournament, ending in a match against Sagat. Don't ask him about it. His scar still burns occasionally.

Like Harry Potter's spider sense.

Anyhow, the main draw for a lot of people was the two-player ryu-vs-ken fight. Street Fighter 2 was redesigned to focus more on the multiplayer aspect, offering multiple playable characters, each unique in moveset and control.

From then on, it was all about making that competitive fight better. Making sure no character was unbeatable, making sure no tactic was unbeatable. While each new Street Fighter sub-series throws in new game mechanics, each revision/update/semi-sequel/whatever you wanna call it puts balance and competitive value at top priority. In theory, anyway. There have been some missteps, but the point stands.

Super Smash... well, it was kind of an accident.

"We don't make mistakes here, we just have happy little accidents."

See, basically, Nintendo wanted to put something out there to fill space. So, this guy, Masahiro Sakurai, around 1998 or so, decided he wanted to make a 4-player fighting game, but realized he needed something unique. So he built himself a prototype and presented it to Nintendo, who put a small budget towards this little dick-around multiplayer fighting game in which Nintendo's flagship characters beat the hell out of each other. It was never meant to be anything more than that. It was never even meant for a stateside release.

But then people liked it. A lot. So they realized “OH HEY we actually got something here” and brought it to us dumb westerners, marketed with the one thing we love most: Violence.

Because it's a game with competitive value that doesn't totally suck, we looked into what we could do. And that led to the discovery of Z-cancel combos, the OP nature of “spikes” (think volleyball if you're unfamiliar), and how important items were to the game, since they could easily sway the entire tide of the fight.

Smash Bros has always held one thing above all else: fun. The kind of fun you experience when you can just let loose and have a ball. And when that's the attitude from the devs, it makes sense that it would pervade the minds of the consumers, and color how we see the game. I think this is the biggest reason so many people see the game as a more casual game. That's what it was designed to be.

I think it's really disappointing that so many people write off the game so quickly thanks to the marketing. Because the reality is that even without trying to build a rival to Street Fighter, Sakurai started a series that survives as the premier alternative to traditional fighting games. And damn, does it do a good job of it.
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It's no secret to the people who know me, but since I'm not as active around here as I should be, I figure I might as well lay it out for everyone to see: I like fighting games. A lot.

And it's not just the casual "it's fun to mash and watch dudes on screen punch each other" kind of way, either. I'm actually capable.

Anyhoozit, the idea came to mind to put some attention on this and see what I could say about it. At this point, I had this memory of reading some old Cblog (Wry Guy, as I recall, but I could be wrong) discussing the "revival" of 2d fighters, with BlazBlue, Street Fighter 4, and King of Fighters 12 releasing in quick succession.

It may or may not have been on THAT Cblog, but on SOME Cblog, which is why I thought of it, I remember reading some comments discussing Super Smash Brothers, at which point somebody (Wry Guy? I think so. I dunno.) pointed out that Smash Bros is a very different game, and that many of the fundamentals don't really apply. Apples and Oranges, to put it succinctly.

To this I call foul. Not out of some butthurt nerdrage because I like Super Smash and goddammit if anyone badmouths it. No, I agree that they're different games, but "Apples and Oranges" is a little too far.

This isn't the reasoning for them being similar, but it should be.

Fighting games follow the basic cycle outlined in this title. Devs come up with the general idea of what they're gonna try and do. Then they build the system and characters to do it. They release it, and we as gamers pick it apart and push the limits. Then they modify their ideas for subsequent games, and it starts over again. Philosophy, Design, Execution, Community. Repeat.

So it is at this juncture (Fancy talk, mmmyess) that I've taken it upon myself to put my opinions out on the matter. In each installment I'll say what I can about one of these four things, what it means for traditional fighters and Smash, and how that relates to you and I.

Philosophy: Final goal, what they wanna make and why.
Design: Strictly Mechanics/what they made
Execution: Metagame, player habits, etc. AKA how it's played
Community: all of us peoples and how we react to things.

Bottom line: I hope to bring some honest, detailed, and unbiased comparison and contrast. ("hope" is a pretty operative word here.) What the games do and don't do similarly. Why we should care. I'm going to look at the Street Fighter series and the Smash Bros series, since Street Fighter is A) the de facto standard of fighting games for the mainstream and B) the one I'm most familiar with. Smash Bros because, well, that's the point. Looking at how the 'serious' fighter relates to the 'dick around with your friends' fighter.

Yes, Street Fighter is also occasionally fond of dicking around.

So here I ask for input from you, the readers. Anything you want to make sure I cover. Anything you want me to consider. Any questions you have. If you think what I'm doing is stupid and pointless, well, okay. That sucks to read, but I wanna know what you guys think, so go. Let's hear what there is to say.

That means you, and that means now.
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*I first wrote this as a comment on a post about DOTA2, but I figured it'd get more views, and thus be of more use, as a blog post. No images cuz I can't be arsed to get them. To make up for my laziness, here's a song relevant to the post. Listen to it on repeat while reading. Or dont.

All-RIGHTY then. If you've never heard of DotA, I'm gonna say you've probably never played much, and almost surely never owned, Warcraft 3. You may or may not know about WC3's "World Editor" that was packaged in it, but people used it to make all sorts of mods and maps and stuff, like Footman Frenzy, Sheep Tag, and DotA.

Defense of the Ancients is pretty much THE WC3 game everybody knew, because it absolutely dominated the "custom games" list on Probably still does, but I haven't played in years, so I can't be sure.

Regardless, the basic structure is that 2 armies, positioned at opposite corners, have to push toward each other's base and destroy it. Each team has respawning grunts/"creeps", and each player is a Hero character for their te
*I first wrote this as a comment on a post about DOTA2, but I figured it'd get more views, and thus be of more use, as a blog post. No images cuz I can't be arsed to get them. To make up for my laziness, here's a song relevant to the post. Listen to it on repeat while reading. Or dont.*

All-RIGHTY then. If you've never heard of DotA, I'm gonna say you've probably never played much, and almost surely never owned, Warcraft 3. You may or may not know about WC3's "World Editor" that was packaged in it, but people used it to make all sorts of mods and maps and stuff, like Footman Frenzy, Sheep Tag, and DotA.

Defense of the Ancients is pretty much THE WC3 game everybody knew, because it absolutely dominated the "custom games" list on Probably still does, but I haven't played in years, so I can't be sure.

Regardless, the basic structure is that 2 armies, positioned at opposite corners, have to push toward each other's base and destroy it. Each team has respawning grunts/"creeps", and each player is a Hero character for their team. The heroes and creeps fight to push through 3 lanes, which have defense towers, creeps, and (usually) other heroes in them.

To win, the heroes need to work together to fight through the towers and out-play any opposing heroes that show up. That's where the fun happens: the intense and often manic clicking of your abilities, and knowing when to throw out each move.

The whole thing plays something like a competitive action-rpg, complete with level-ups and item purchases. So knowing your character means not only knowing what abilities are available to you and when you need to use them, but also what item purchases will benefit you most, either through stat boosts, new abilities, or to synthesize something better down the line.

Since everyone is gonna be doing this at the same time, you have to make sure you can keep up. Killing an enemy hero nets you a nice gold bonus, giving you, and therefore your team, a leg up. People like DOTA because it blends action, RPG character building, strategic territory control and teamwork, and since each game has you with a new character, it doesn't require grinding or leveling to do well in PVP, as can be the case with MMOs.

Your time investment is more like a fighting game: the longer you play, the better you'll be, but even first-timers will have all the same tools and options.

I've never been a big fan, but it's crazy popular. League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth have already recreated the gameplay in standalone packages. League of Legends is free to play, with optional real-money purchases, and Heroes of Newerth must be bought. DotA 2 is Valve doing much the same thing. We'll see where they go with it.