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1:35 PM on 07.27.2010  

Epic Action Scene

Or, epic fail blog video



I couldn't help it. This is how NOT to make an action chase scene, taken from an old Indian movie.

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12:42 PM on 07.27.2010  

My Attempt to a Fail Blog


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12:41 AM on 07.27.2010  

Islam and Gaming

I just read a post by Jim Sterling regarding Islamic ideologies when it comes to gaming. As a Muslim myself, I felt it was necessary to set things straight.

Please take the time to go through a small lesson in Islam. If you wish, think of it as a clear introduction to extinguish the flame war before it begins:

First off, Islam is built on ease of practice, not difficulty or complexity. However, there are some who take our texts and interpret them in ways that fit their individual world views.

In its purest form, Islam is built upon five pillars:
1. The submission to the belief that there is no God but Allah, and that Mohammad is His prophet.
2. Praying five times a day.
3. Fulfilling Zakat (a fixed percentage, usually 2.5%, of your capital, given as annual charity to the poor and needy).
4. Fasting the month of Ramadan
5. Performing pilgrimage to Makkah if capable.

Now, with the pillars established, let's look at a couple of other practices that Muslims agree upon, which are relevant to our argument:

1. It is taboo to murder, commit adultery, steal, drink alcohol, eat pork, listen to music and talk about people behind their backs.
2. It is taboo to draw pictures representing living creatures, and if given an item with such a picture, you should not use it for decoration.
3. It is taboo to disrespect other religions, because its follows will disrespect Islam in return.
4. It is taboo to provide visual representations of Allah, the angels and the Prophets (including Mohammad, Jesus, Moses, Abraham, David, Isaac, etc.)

Some people take such unambiguous laws, along with texts in the Holy Quran and the Hadith (texts of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him)) and misinterpret them, or take the ambiguous parts as justification of their behavior and ignore the unambiguous. They do that although it is clearly stated in the Quran that some parts are clear and some are not, and that there will be those who neglect the clear and embrace the ambiguous to suit their needs.

You see, not everyone who claims to be a Muslim should be taken as a model on which to compare all the Muslims in the world.

Now, let's look at how Sharia law, otherwise known as Islamic law, is meant to be formed: It is built on four aspects, as follows:

1. Quran and Sunnah: Use the texts of the Holy Quran and Hadith for the fundamentals.
2. Ijma'a: If the majority of Islamic scholars in any point of time agree on the Islamic views regarding any newly introduced topic, invention, technology or scientific method, then the consensus is formed and their opinion is written into law.
3. Qiyas: If something new appears, without any historical precedent to return to and/or no consensus is reached, personal judgment should be made by comparing the subject in question with loosely related subjects in which a verdict was reached.

You can probably see where exactly personal efforts can lead some scholars, even those not in any formal position or sufficient knowledge regarding the topic in question, to be lead astray by their research efforts.

Lesson's over.

Let's talk about the subject of gaming now. I have heard that gaming, and all other forms of entertainment, are undesirable under the following conditions:

1. It causes you to delay or neglect your religious duties (ie, when prayer time comes, you don't pray because you're playing a game.)
2. It has content that is deemed offensive to Islam (such as the depiction of God.)
3. It results in your neglecting your worldly responsibilities, including family, work, school and maintaining your physical health.
4. It has sexual overtones (ie, Japanese dating sim games, etc.)

I know a lot of fellow Muslims who are ready not only to play most video games, but to excel in them.


Now, to address any hate in the comment section before it begins:
1. Don't hate on any religion. That includes any and all attempts to question their legitimacy and the existence of any unseen entities related to religion.
2. Don't turn this into a religious flame war. In the VERY long run, we'll all know who is right and who is wrong.
3. No name calling. Not at me, not at Jim Sterling and not at the inevitable offensive commenter above your post.

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2:04 AM on 07.20.2010  

Gaming in the Future

I read an article in another website about what video game questions could be answered by 2040. I thought of compiling my own collection of predictions, so here goes.

By the year 2040...

Advances in technology made it possible for gamers to have total immersion in a virtual simulation in which games can be played.

Annual gaming tournaments will be as televised as the Olympic Games, and will have a worldwide audience.

Game developers will double as movie producers and directors

The conventional means of social interactions will go the way of the newspaper, and the majority of people will prefer spending "quality" time with their peers pwning others in their game of choice. Face to face interactions will be viewed as a fancy alternative to the norm (similar to how most of us view the people who still read print newspapers every morning).

Game achievements will be considered by potential employers in your CV.

A new form of social segregation will be seen emerging in some circles, built around the pro/noob and/ or hardcore/casual gamers.

Game consoles will continue evolving, with each new generation providing more features until the inevitable cross-compatibility consoles can play each other's games, forced on the gaming industry by increasingly empowered studios to maximize their profits.

A massive gaming world will be built, almost to the scale of 1:1 of Earth, which has geographic locations for different game types, with gamers able to travel (although with some difficulty and item monitoring to ensure the balance issues of different locations are kept,a-la airports) through different genres and settings. Although, you will find some people trying to smuggle healing potions into the futuristic militarized dystopia area, or smuggle firearms into the fantasy realm to try taking over Hyrule. Read the little-known novel Epic by Conor Kostick for a little preview of a world run by a glorified MMO.

Future conflicts will be resolved through FPS or RTS battles.

As games become more mainstream, you can expect more games to have heavy-handed religious and political messages.

Reality TV shows will make place to Reality Gaming Show, where contestants are sent to an unfriendly virtual environment under varying degrees of disadvantage to compete for a prize.

In-game currencies will have an exchange rate with one another, as well as real currencies. Fifty Wasteland Bottlecap equal one Hylian Rupee, which equals 1.8 American Dollars.

That's all I have for now. If you have other ideas, please post them in the comments.

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1:11 AM on 07.19.2010  

Your Character and You, Beyond the Game

I recently posted a blog about the relation between the gamer and your character, and the single comment I received mentioned that I seemed to be building toward something, but didn't really reach my conclusion.

To be honest, I was writing from my train of thoughts, and didn't really know where I was going with it.



A possible conclusion came to me when I was playing Fallout 3. My current character is pretty much evil by now, and I have finished all add-ons except Broken Steel. The Enclave had just appeared, and it seems like my character needs the closure she deserves.

It came to me after a conversation with the character's father in the Project Purity lab, where my character was confronted about the destruction of Megaton. This was the first time I made the decision to destroy Megaton in all playthroughs, and the confrontation took me off-guard. The conversation was postponed in favor of more pressing matters, brought forth in the form of having to provide the lab with the resources it required. While I was going around doing my thing, the Enclave appeared, and not noticing me, stormed the lab.

The military force confronted my character's father, and he ended up sacrificing his life to take them down. Through heavily enforced glass, I could see him looking straight at me, and repeatedly telling me to get out of there.

So there it was: Closure. My character started off by escaping from Vault 101 to search for her father, who left without a trace. Here he was, shortly after being found and "saved" from the mess he got himself into, sacrificing himself so a terrible military organization wouldn't get their hands of a critical experiment. In a sense, he has redeemed himself.

So what is left for my character? After going to the Pitt, Point Lookout, the Anchorage simulation, and even Mothership Zeta, all that's left is to take the fight to the Enclave.

I figured out what my character needed: redemption. As much as I enjoy playing a villain in video games, I enjoy the story of a villain's redemption. It would be a nice, heartwarming conclusion for my character's story.

Today I have decided to take it one step further: After finishing the game, I would be parting with a character I spent a lot of time with. As much as I like to see closure, I find myself getting drawn to an interesting idea: Recreating the character in New Vegas. It takes place three years after Fallout 3, so it just feels like it fits.

The conclusion I have arrived at is this: We all find ourselves influenced in varying degrees by our in-game characters. After the game is over, and the controllers are put down, it's the characters with the greatest resonance, mentally and emotionally, that you will eventually revisit. It is just as much about the journey as it is about going out with a bang and leaving you, the player, craving for more.

A final question, for the commenters: Would you recreate the same characters, if you could, in different games that have a character creation feature? Would you focus more on recreating skills, personality traits or physical appearance?

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3:45 AM on 07.18.2010  

Who Do You Write Like?

I found this interesting website, which compares your writing with that of established authors. I tried it out with all my blog posts here, and got amusing results:

H.P Lovecraft
Kurt Vonnegut
James Joyce
Dan Brown
Margaret Atwood

But only one name appeared multiple times:

David Foster Wallace

So, whose writing is yours like?

http://iwl.me/

Click the link.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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