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2:31 AM on 07.13.2010

Happy Birthday to Me

I'm not one to wait for others to give me what I can give myself, so I gave myself a birthday cake!


This was a triumph...

Not THAT cake! Another one.


You have gained Karma!

Better.

A little trivia: The main character in Fallout 3, the Lone Wanderer, shares my July 13th birthday. Link here.   read


1:02 AM on 07.11.2010

Alternate Reality: Your Character and You

When we play a videogame, how much time do we actually spend thinking about the character we're controlling?

This post will hopefully shed some light on the characters that act as our vessels in the gaming world of our choice.

One of the most profound choices are the ones that come at the very start of your game, in several popular RPGs. The Character Creation. You start by picking the character's gender, followed by a variety of options to make them look and sound the way you want them to. You follow by selecting a set of skills or traits the character will begin with, which will have a significant effect on the entirety of the game. You begin your game, probably as an idealized version of yourself, a twisted parody of a friend or, sometimes, some eye candy.

Your connection to your character is a vital one, because for the rest of the game you'll be inseparable. Who are you creating as a vessel or companion to your journey?



If you're like me, you enjoy experimenting with different skill sets. Most of them fall out of favor within a few hours of playing, until I figure the game out enough to follow the skill set path I'm comfortable with.

Through your journey in the gaming world, you need to establish a connection with your character. I know that a game really clicked with me when, by the final scene, I feel a sense of closure and loss. I'd be happy that my character, who I followed throughout the game, has accomplished something, and feel a little bittersweet that the time has come for our parting. In a sense, it feels like parting with a friend.

During the game, I try to understand my character's personality, and respect it. For example, in Mirror's Edge, I believed that Faith was a runner, not someone who would use a gun. So, I avoided picking up guns for the majority of the game, and opted to have Faith dodge bullets instead. It's what she did, and I wasn't willing to force her to change.


Faith also enjoyed smashing helmets, "Put that gun away!" she said.

I could list dozens of examples, but I'm sure you can think of many of your own, based on your own experiences. The question is, in the end, who do you want to travel with throughout the game? Who do you want to be?

In RPGs like Fallout 3, I'm usually experimenting between being good or evil (or maybe sadistic), but in games where characters have distinct personalities, I tend to honor that whenever I can, and take good care of my characters. They represent you in the world you're exploring, so you need to be in good terms with them.


Your journey starts here.   read


1:43 AM on 07.07.2010

A Proposal: A Personalized Rating System

I know that we all disagree when it comes to different games. Some of us like it more than others, and some hate it.

To make matters simpler I propose a new personalized rating system, which is pretty simple to calculate. Call it the Sama Rating System:

Game Score = (Fun - Pain) x (Story + Multiplayer)

Where:

Fun = Number of fun portions throughout your experience
Pain = Number of tedious (painful) portions you suffered in your experience.
Story = Rating you give the game's single player, using a one-to-ten scale where ten is total enjoyment.
Multiplayer = Rating you give the game's multiplayer aspect, using a one-to-ten scale where ten is total enjoyment.

NOTE: In case of games that include only a single player or multiplayer mode, you can rate it using a twenty-point scale. This ensures a more balanced rating system.   read


2:23 AM on 07.03.2010

Alternate Reality: Good or Evil, or just Sadistic?



I stood on the balcony of Tenpenny Tower, overlooking the Capital Wasteland. Megaton was barely visible on the horizon, and the detonator was in front of me.

Mr. Burke gave a quick speech about how glorious my decision was, or something. I wasn't suing much attention to it.

The detonator was already attached to the nuke at the center of Megaton, and there was no way it's denizens would expect the fate they were about to suffer.

It was 8:30 when the detonator was activated and the button triggered. A secod later the pillar of fire rose into the sky with a blinding flash, followed by a shockwave that could be felt throughout the Wasteland.

Megaton was gone, as was everybody who was in it.

I heard Alastair Tenpenny and Mr. Burke exclaim in utter wonder at the spectacle they had just wintessed, and I sat on silence, PS3 controller in my hand, reading the notification on screen that the quest had been completed and that I had lost karma.

I had just recently realized that I play for the chance to explore the deepest, darkest corners of my psyche. I tend to explore my options in games such as Fallout 3 and follow a consistent path, be it good or evil.

The first time I played, a year ago, I decided to spare Megaton, rat Mr. Burke out to the Sherrif, watch as te Sherrif got killed, and avenged him by killing Mr. Burke on the spot. After that, I raided Tenpenny Tower and killed Alastair Tenpenny.



I enjoy improving my speech skills more than guns. In the current Playthrough, in which my character is a female, I picked the perks Black Widow, Child at Heart and even Animal Friend, which made things far easier for me in the game. For those who don't know, Black Widow is basically a female only perk, matched by Ladykiller for males, which allows you to "seduce" members of the opposite sex into giving you more favorable options and rewards. Child at Heart let's you interact with children so they share information with you that they don't share with other adults, and Animal Friend makes most wild animals ten friendly to you, and even attack your enemies (as was the case when a radscorpion tried attacking me and was intercepted by two Yao Guay)



Maybe I am just a self centered guy when it comes to gaming, or maybe I just like to see others squirm. That hasn't been more obvious in strategy games, where I push the enemies to a corner and surround them without actually moving in for the kill until I see what last ditch effort they can strike back with.

In another example, I will mention one event in Valkyria Chronicles. Without going into too many spoilers, I'll describe the events of the final boss battle.

The shields were down, and the enemy commander was all alone with nobody left to defend. Alicia and Rosie moved in to the boss, who had his back turned to them. They fired with everything they got, and dodged his counterattacks. Jane Turner, the sadistic shocktrooper from Hell, approached his exposed flank, and he noticed her. He turned around and started firing his devastating attacks. "You think bullets will stop me!" she shouted, activating a perk that made her virtually impervious to all attacks, and opened fire. His health was below 15% now, so Jane decided to finish him. She ran her hands down her face, relishing the moment. "Mmm... Scre for me!" she said in a dreamy voice, and opened fire. He got double damage and went down instantly.



So in conclusion, I enjoy the alternate realities of gaming for all the times it gives me an option to actually make other characters, whether neutral or enemy, bend to my will.

I may be evil, or a sadist, but I rarely display any such qualities outside of my gaming. You have to admit: games are at their most fun when they allow you to make others squirm.   read


6:38 AM on 06.28.2010

The E3 2010 Awards

Disclaimer: The opinions stated in this post are strongly believed in by the individual who made them. Any attempts to dissuade said individual may turn ugly. It is advised to keep your frustration to yourself should your favorite game not make it in any category. If it does, add me as a friend.

I wrote this article as a response to all the "E3 2010 Videogame Awards" posted in dozens of websites, which I disagree with.

If you don't like anything written below, you might want to find someone who posted something more agreeable to your tastes. As it stands, some of my opinions can be considered unpopular. Read on at your own risk.

SAMA's Ultimate E3 2010 Video Game Awards
Brought to you from Couch Potato Gym Central

Let's get the most basic categories out of the way:

General Awards

Best Graphics:
Killzone 3

Runner Ups: Crysis 2, Gears of War 3, Star Wars: The Old Republic
Explanation: Go back and watch the trailers in action, then tell me that isn't some amazing water and snow design. Also, the destruction effects are jaw dropping.

Most Disappointing Absence:
Resistance 3

Runner Ups: The Last Guardian, Dragon Age 2
Explanation: Although the second game in the resistance franchise got some bad reviews, the fact remains that I enjoyed it. I am especially excited at what new online modes Resistance 3 will have. This spot would have had Twisted Metal if not for the surprise announcement.

Best Trailer:
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Runner Ups: Star Wars: The Old Republic, Portal 2, Metal Gear Solid: Rising
Explanation: Seeing the Apprentice actually turn off his lightsaber to confuse his enemies as he sneaks up to them sold me. Also, it's good to see him back in action.

Best (and Only) Motion Sensor Game: Sorcery
Explanation: I'm against motion controlled games in general, as you will see further down this article. This is the one game in which the stage demo ended with me wanting to know more of the game.

Genre Awards

Best Action Game:
inFamous 2
Runner Up: Dead Space 2
Explanation: As a fan of the first game, I'm interested in seeing where this one goes. To be honest, this one was a close tie, with my actually beating the story of inFamous being the factor that tipped the scale at last.

Best Puzzle Game:
Portal 2
Runner Up: Donkey Kong Country Returns
Explanation: Do I really need to justify having Portal win? The runner up is there for playing on nostalgia.

Best Racing Game:
Twisted Metal
Runner Up: MotorStorm: Apocalypse
Explanation: Racing games are not my type of game, and I know some may debate having Twisted Metal in this genre. To me, any game containing wheels and that takes place in streets is considered racing. I just enjoy my "racing" with a side dish of mayhem.

Best Role Playing Game:
Fallout: New Vegas
Runner Up: Valkyria Chronicles 2
Explanation: Again, a very close competition. I am excited about both in regards to having thoroughly enjoyed playing through their predecessors more than once, which is a rare thing for me. What tipped the scale is the fact that Fallout: New Vegas has an open world, whereas Valkyria Chronicles 2, with all that its story and gameplay has to offer, is linear.

Best Shooter Game:
Quantum Theory
Runner Ups: Killzone 3, Gears of War 3, Halo: Reach, Twisted Metal
Explanation: What at first seems another insignificant attempt at a shooter of Gears of War proportions takes on a life of its own and truly excites me above the rest of the games in the genre.

Best Strategy Game:
Valkyria Chronicles 2
Runner Up: Civilization V
Explanation: I loved the first Valkyria Chronicles game. So much, in fact, that I'd buy a PSP just to get the second one. No other game in recent memory actually excited me to purchase a new gaming device just to get it.

Console Awards
Best PC Game:
Fallout: New Vegas
Runner Ups: Civilization V, Portal 2, Crysis 2
Explanation: To be perfectly honest, Fallout: New Vegas excited me way more than any of the runner ups. It was a very easy win.

Best Playstation 3 Game:
Twisted Metal
Runner Ups: Fallout: New Vegas, Killzone 3, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, inFamous, Quantum Theory, Metal Gear Solid: Rising
Explanation: An action packed game that is a breath of fresh air to remind us what gaming is really about. As the trailer suggested: "The ultimate ass-kicking."

Best PSP Game:
Valkyria Chronicles 2
Explanation: I don't actually give a damn about hand held games, but I'm still getting this device for VC2.

Best Xbox 360 Game:
Halo: Reach
Runner Ups: Gears of War 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fable 3, Metal Gear Solid: Rising
Explanation: The ultimate offline multiplayer game for me and my friends returns promising a bigger, better and more intense multiplayer experience.

Best Wii Game:
Metroid: Other M
Runner Ups: Goldeneye 007, Epic Mickey, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Explanation: One of the less appreciated Nintendo franchises return with the magic touch of Team Ninja. I look forward to a more story-focused Metroid experience.

Best DS Game:
StarFox 64
Runner Up: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Explanation: It's about time Nintendo realizes it has great titles that are NOT Mario or Zelda. Too bad it brings nothing new to the story.

Game of the Show:
Fallout: New Vegas
Runner Ups: Twisted Metal, Killzone 3, Valkyria Chronicles 2, Halo: Reach, Quantum Theory
Explanation: An open world game of the year published by Bethesda, the studio that developed Fallout 3 and Oblivion, developed by Obsidian, the studio that developed Neverwinter Nights 2, Knights of the Old Republic 2 and Alpha Protocol. What's there not to like?

Crap Awards
Here is where I expect everybody to get pissed off and start calling me names, so I won't bother trying to sugar coat it and will tell it as I see it.

Worst Game of E3 2010:
Kinectimals
Runner Ups: Kirby's Epic Yarn, Dance Central, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Explanation: You know what? All those games sicken me. I lost my trust in Microsoft and Nintendo because of them. Call me a Sony fanboy. It's a badge I will proudly wear now. I'm a gamer, and Sony is where my gaming future rests.   read


4:03 PM on 06.15.2010

And the Winner is...

I would like to wholeheartedly thank Sony for not only giving a damn about their core audience, but actually giving them what they desire.

Microsoft's efforts were extremely painful to watch, and I have to hold myself back from bashing my Xbox 360 in before it runs out of good games to play...

Nintendo... well, it's Nintendo. Nothing to be said here.

Call me a fanboy. Go ahead. I'm past caring and honestly, if you think so then you need to take a better look at who is actually appealing to all gamers.

If you're going to hate, I'm going to redirect you to this link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaoieF53fyk   read


3:39 PM on 06.14.2010

Limerick

Once, long ago, there was a time
In what now seems a distant land
Each small console, was the be all end all
Cause every little game's carefully planned
Then there came a Revolution
The Nintendo Wii was its name
Now instead of one, there are many
And each worth just a penny
Cause every console had just the same
Now there's a
Sport title on every bloody console
Fitness game now every other week
Flail around like a crazy monkey
Yet everyone think that's neat

Now tell us how
It came to be
In two real painful E3s
That in the name
Of careless greed
The Nintendo Wii/Revolution
Was copied by all others in the business of games
And now each console is Wii



I'm done. Care to guess where I got the "tune" from?   read


2:57 PM on 06.14.2010

The End?

I may be overreacting, but I fear that the state of the pastime we all come together in loving is facing a massive shift, which comes with new wonderful technologies, used in underwhelming ways.

The Microsoft Press Conference has shown an interesting product called Kinect, which can detect movements and recognize voice commands. But instead of using it to provide their core audience with new controller free options to play some of the top fan favorite games, they're using it to appeal to soccer moms and young children.

In short, it wants a piece of the Nintendo pie, instead of working to their system's current strengths.

Sony had better avoid this pitfall, or a lot of dedicated gamers will end up throwing their controllers and peripherals aside, and retiring from a hobby gone sour.

I don't mind the Wii. It's good at what it does, but it's not a primary console to own, as far as I'm concerned.

I am genuinely concerned about where gaming will be two years from now, if the whole motion sensor gaming trend continue to degrade in the quality of games it supports.

If you feel as I do, know that you're not alone. If you disagree, you should still acknowledge that this is an issue that needs to be discussed by the gaming community as a whole, so as to avoid a collapse at a scale unseen since the 1980s.   read


1:27 PM on 06.14.2010

Kinect: The Most Painful Demo to Watch

I was watching the Microsoft Press Conference via Gametrailers.com just now, and it seems they want to force themselves to transform their products into another Wii. I couldn't watch it anymore...

First, Kinect Animals, or whatever it is. Bringing a child into the stage to play with her imaginary pet (and even pretend to be licked by it) was painfully awkward and annoying. I'm tuning in to Nintendo for that feeling tomorrow. I don't need a double dose. Also, why try to rip off cheaper products with already established fanbases (Wii Sports, Wii Fit...)

Kinect Adventures looks like another excuse to act like a complete idiot in front of friends and family. As if anyone wants another option for that...

I fear for Microsoft. As soon as Halo and Gears of War release their final installments, they will end up depending on their motion trinket entirely.

Also, what's with the Wii Fit ripoff?

To hell with it, I'm ending this and waiting for Sony's Conference tomorrow.   read


1:49 PM on 04.04.2010

A Shift in Taste

This article might work best with a soundtrack, so I took the liberty of picking one. Click here and read on.

Recently I have been going through a phase in which overly violent videogames stopped doing it for me. I believe it was at some point during God of War 3, which is when I stopped and asked myself what the hell I was doing. Why am I playing a game which has me beat up hordes of enemies with the occasional puzzle thrown in as a transition? I felt like gaming has become unsatisfying.


Above: The eyes of an unsatisfied customer.

As a lifelong gamer, I wondered about what that would mean. Would I willingly put games behind me? What will replace the void if I stop playing games?

And then, as I went through some old games buried under a pile of mess in the corner of the room, I gazed upon an old game (cue the soundtrack).

I installed the game on my PC, and before I knew it I was storming through the missions and couldn't wait for the next time I had an extra hour or two to put into the game.

I eventually ran out and picked up the expansion, Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance as well as Supreme Commander 2. A choice I don't regret.

I feel like I have returned to my roots, not as a foot soldier in games such as Call of Duty or other shooter games, but as a Commander of Men, in real-time strategy titles of epic scale and intensity.


Above: Intensity.

Ladies and gentlemen, I couldn't be more ecstatic right now. It feels as if I have met a very old friend. Has any of you been through such an experience? Please comment below.   read


11:30 PM on 03.14.2010

Fighting for Games

Recently I've had an encounter with what could be the worst nightmare for younger gamers everywhere: A relative, around 50 years old, who believes video games are the worst form of time wasters and that I should "grow up" and get rid of it.

Asking about the alternative, he mentioned being more social (I met plenty of good people through the medium of gaming, among other things), switching to more movies and books (both of which I enjoy from time to time) and focusing on my work (I work from 8 to 4:30, five days a week, and am focused enough to get just about anything I need to do done.)

Unconvinced, he took to the "health" angle, saying that games damage my eyesight, cause me to suffer from obesity among other problems, and stress me out. I countered by saying that both books and movies can also do harm to my eyesight, that I exercise on a regular schedule in the gym, and that games don't stress me out. In fact, they calm me down. What stresses me out is baseless attacks such as the one he was carrying.

He mentioned it was a waste of time, money and energy, which I simply laughed off without justifying it with an answer.

He reverted back to the whole "Age" and "Social" argument, this time with new prospects about "Future Growth," "Starting a Family" and "Professional Success." I firmly put my foot down and stated that games do not, and will not, have any effect on any of those elements.

As a final attack, he listed several "failures" in life, who the family knows have fallen into some hard times, who used to game. My answer? They're not the only ones, and there's plenty of others who never game who are just as miserable, if not more, while many older gamers lead happy, fulfilling, successful lives.

An hour later, I returned home with God of War III and pressed Start.

Has anyone faced such a situation, and if so, what do you do when you can't ignore it?   read


3:41 AM on 03.08.2010

Resonance of an Overlooked Classic: Follow-Up

This blog is a followup for a previous blog, found here.

I was checking Video Game Countdown on a regular basis looking forward to Final Fantasy XIII, Resonance of Fate and God of War III.

Through a series of events too complex to mention here (involving a simple favor being blown way out of proportion,) I ended up sitting in front of my PC, a small stack of PC game cases on the desk in front of me. Somehow, I ended up with The Sims 3.


The floating green things always freak me out.

I chose to take the opportunity to try it out, so I did. I created characters based on my friends and, yes, female celebrities for us to, um, have fun with.


Do the WooHoo!

A couple of days go by before I get the phone call that snapped me out of my Sims fixation: A friend in a game store offered to sell several copies of Final Fantasy XIII in advance. I was hesitant. Should I stick to The Sims 3, which was, surprisingly, getting better the more I played it and messed with the avatars of my real life friends, or do I snap out of it and play a real game?


Pictured: "Real" Game?

So I derailed all my plans to buy Resonance of Fate, coming approximately one week after FF13 did, and bought the first thing that became available to me.

I don't know as of yet whether my time will allow me to juggle Final Fantasy XIII and The Sims 3, and whether, like a cartoon, I will struggle when a cartoon furry bastard throws more stuff for me to juggle in the form of God of War III and Resonance of Fate.

The Sims 3 didn't just derail my well thought plans when it came out of the blue, it destroyed it.

I'll keep you posted on the epic conclusion, which you can expect sometime this month.   read


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