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My name is Liam, and I love explosions, history, people getting punched in the face, gas masks, leather gloves, broadswords, nice hips and legs, the internet, dogs, and rugged stubble in no particular order.
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SimonSaysDie
4:07 PM on 03.14.2010

Okay, Dtoid, check this shit out. This here's a metal slime.



First off, he was designed by Akira Toriyama, the guy who made Dragon Ball. Can you name the guy who designed Ekans? Did he create a wildly popular, meme-spouting anime series? Well, I guess he did, but it doesn't count when it's the same series that Ekans came from. Fuck it, point goes to metal slime.

Okay, here's where it gets real, dawgs. My boy metal slime here has, like, a shitton of health. He's just loaded in health. Swimming in it. He eats health for breakfast, lunch and dinner and shits health at night. He's like a health fountain. Health point goes to metal slime (not that he needs it).

Secondly, he runs from battle. Now, this would normally be a sign of cowardice, but the metal slime ain't no coward. No, he's a fucking pacifist, man, like Gandhi, or Buddha. He's too enlightened to fight you adventuring types. He's got better things to do while you're out there beating up helpless superpowered animals. In fact, he's better than Gandhi or Buddha because he's fucking shiny and the only time Gandhi or Buddha would ever be shiny is if you seriously waxed up their forehead or belly, respectively. Metal slime is shiny all the time. He's like a mobile piece of bling. A merciful, enlightened mobile piece of bling. Point goes to metal slime.

Third, he looks like a teardrop, and he can still kick your ass. You'll cry, and your tears will look like him. That's called IRONY, bitches.

I hope this was enlightening.

Metal slime, peace out.
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Or, Embracing the Metagame.

It may shock you all to learn that I am as much of a traditional gamer as I am a video gamer. Actually, that was presumptuous. It would shock you, if anyone gave a crap about some schmuck on the internet. Nevertheless, the fact is out there. So enjoy it, you lucky dog, you, for learning my deep and terrible secret, one which requires an exorbitant amount of my monthly budget to spend on dice.



(Before I continue: The TL;DR of this is that I think the Cerberus Daily News site is great, and more people should use it.)

For instance, in a recently-established Shadowrun campaign I play Joseph "Sloppy Joe" Crowe, a notoriously messy, alcoholic troll hitman who nevertheless has a soft spot for his buddies and his mother. Likewise, in a long-running game of Green Ronin's A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying Game, I play Edmund Gallows, an evil knight who puts on a brutish, dumb-muscle facade to conceal his role as the mastermind of a conspiracy to seize the throne of the noble house he serves.



For those'a youz who ain't familiar, we in the hardcore traditional roleplaying community tends to fall into sep'rate schools a' thought. There's the Real Men, the types who go up against Renraku corp like it was nothin', and expect to come out unscathed. There's the Munchkins, little twats who won't be satisfied till they get themselves a gun with more mods than a freaking Hollywood tartlet. And then there's me. I'm a Thespian. And in case youz can't guess from the sudden change in my tone, it gets us off to make like our characters, see?

One of my greatest displeasures when playing video games is that there truly is little room to actually roleplay, especially compared to pen-and-paper RPGS. Moreover, unless you're playing an MMO or something along the lines of Dragon Age: Origins (admittedly, it was basically a single-player MMO), you don't often have your choice of character. No matter how enticing a given game world may be, you're always going to be mister bland-and-mute (or alternatively, mister bland-and-you-choose-from-a-selection-of-dialogue). That's what attracts me to old-school dicerolling and even freeform, statless roleplay: I have complete freedom to create the character I want, and play them however I want. It's a medium that blends gaming and novels. Mind you, these are my two favorite visual media.

Also, don't take this as a complaint that games cannot be as interactive as the whole of freaking human imagination. I realize the limitations, but that doesn't mean I like them.

So, I look for opportunities, naturally, to roleplay in the worlds of my favorite video games and novels. I like the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, hence I play the (quite good) RPG. I will be running a D20 Modern (think DnD but with more guns and less elves) campaign set in the Zone of Alienation as my tribute to the novel Roadside Picnic and the game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.. And so on, and so forth. Unfortunately, a few worlds that I'd still like to explore with my own characters remain mostly unadapted, chief among them Half-Life and Mass Effect.

Which leads me to why I love the Cerberus Daily News, or more specifically their comments section.



Though we are aware that the Cerberus Daily News site admins are fans of Mass Effect and not Bioware employees, we believe the site to be a step in the right direction for hologames that are heavy on exposition, immersion, and lore. This platform, at the very least, enjoys the opportunity to leave Shepard-Commander's form temporarily to access the Extranet and provide for the organic races our own point of view on the goings-on in the Mass Effect universe. It satisfies our urges to act, while simultaneously immersing us deeper into the world.

Error. World is an incorrect term. It immerses us deeper into the galaxy.

We find it illogical that games producers do not often offer this sort of of outlet for their more theatrical fans. We lament that there is no way to become so involved in the universes of, say, The Elder Scrolls, or Deus Ex.

So, we ask the more roleplay-inclined of you organics to visit the site, and to comment in-character. To embrace the metagame is to appreciate the game universe on a greater level.

And, we hope for games producers to embrace the roleplayers in their fanbase, and to expand into more interactive settings for such fans, even merely in the form of a message board or comments field. These make worlds-error-galaxies of difference.

We will now take our leave and allow you to continue perusing the site with your outdated methods of ocular input. We have a consensus to reach.
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This was whipped up in about 30 minutes to for my Poetry professor. I figured people might enjoy it. It is an Italian-style Sonnet, for all the shit that entails.

THE HARDCORE GAMER’S SONNET

O’er hills of polygonal splendor
He brandishes arms of data and bytes
Newbies and campers he gleefully smites
He is a most disparaging mentor.
Demanding his role in the swift center
That is the field; imaginary fights
Waged between gamers, those latter-day knights
Wars fought for pleasure oft have no dissenter
His grammar degenerate, he crusades
For Rank, For Fun, For Joy and For Glory
Leaving his culture, his face and his name.
His realm now the rec room, sometimes arcades,
Weaving his twisted, screen-bound new story,
His world virtual, his drive is the same.







SimonSaysDie
7:01 PM on 01.30.2010

Thank you for Mass Effect 2.
Thank you for removing the Mako.
Thank you for making more than 3 interiors.
Thank you for vastly improving the gunplay.
Thank you for cutting down on unnecessary RPG elements.
Thank you for limiting the loot to a few customizable items as opposed to a clusterfuck of useless stuff.
Thank you for giving me some customization, even out of class powers.
Thank you for mapping melee to a separate key.
Thank you for making cover a key instead of an automatic function.
Thank you for making headshots mean something.
Thank you for letting me romance Tali.
Thank you for letting me romance Garrus.
(And thank you for making Liara a bitch now so that I didn't feel bad about cheating on her with Tali)
Thank you for creating Mordin and Legion, my two favorite new characters.
While we're at it, thank you for the other new characters.
Thank you for giving Joker a bigger role, and creating a comedic foil for him.
Thank you for making a more threatening last boss.
Thank you for killing off Dantius. She was a bitch.
Thank you for bringing back random people like Shiala, who I never expected to see again.
Thank you for letting me solve the Conrad Verner problem more directly this time.
Thank you for giving me more organics to shoot. Shredder ammo used to be kind of useless.
Thank you for the more dramatic, ambiguous choices.
Thank you for making Jack and Thane a lot less one-dimensional than I expected them to be.
Thank you for explaining the mystery of the Reapers, while leaving an appropriate tone of suspense.
Thank you for making me cry when I lost Thane and Legion during the finale.
While we're at that, thanks for the ridiculously awesome finale.
Thank you for letting me headbutt a krogan in the face.
Thank you for letting me give characters hugs. More of that, please.
I know I already said it, but seriously, THANK YOU for letting me romance Tali and Garrus, Tali especially.
Thank you for making Wrex a leader of his people. Badass.
Thank you for giving me greater insight into Geth psychology.
Thank you for making the bridge bunny actually good for something (psychology).
Thank you for the greater diversity in voice actors.
Thank you for Mordin's rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan. "I am the very model of a scientist Salarian..."
Thank you for the Heavy Immolate power.
Thank you for Heavy Cryo Ammo.
Thank you for revamping biotic powers.
Thank you for the Vanguard charge.
Thank you for making the Paragon options even nicer and the Renegade options even meaner.
Thank you for the Illusive Man, a cool and mysterious new sponsor/villain.
Thank you for making Jacob more interesting than Kaidan (I'd say Miranda is only about as interesting as Ash).
Thank you for making every character's loyalty mission a lot more in-depth than in the last game, giving me greater understanding of and camaraderie with the characters.
Thank you for not holding back when it came to horrific subject matter.
Thank you for giving me a sweet-ass Garrus visor to wear.
Thank you for letting me wear pimptastic golden armor.
Thank you for the squadmate-specific powers, all of which are hilariously badass. Miranda Slam FTW!
Thank you for letting me kill a Thresher Maw, ON FOOT.
Thank you for letting me spur a krogan into action by calling him a pussy.
Thank you for finally showing me Quarian society.
Thank you for introducing the Drell to make the hanar worth paying attention to again. I mean, the big stupid jellyfish worth paying attention to again.
Thank you for letting me get Tali off the hook with her people instead of deus-ex-machina'ing it.
Thank you for some plot twists that easily matched the last game.
Thank you for creating a city that I can unironically call "a wretched hive of scum and villainy."
Thank you for giving me a huge tactical-nuke-slug gun, and letting me use it on the last boss.
Thank you for letting me shoot flying collectors right outta the fucking sky.
Thank you for letting me continue after the end of the game.
Thank you for the whole game.

Now go make another!








...Or, Why I Think Interactivity is the Current Pinnacle of Media



My Father has a favorite story from my childhood. It has to do with me, at age four or five or so, the first time I saw an animated film. That film was Beauty and the Beast. He describes my face as my jaw went slack, my expression softened, and my eyes widened to an awed stare. My normally-jabbering mouth went silent, and my posture relaxed.

This was pure, childhood wonder. It was the utter immersion of myself into the world created by this medium, this animation, that I had never seen before. Or, as Dad would describe it, "he turned into a little zombie."

Today, I am considerably more responsive when viewing movies. Considerably more. As any of my girlfriends could tell you, I'm a sucker for an emotional movie, especially an animated one. I cried during Up. I shouted "No! when Wall-E was crushed. I wept outright when the Iron Giant sacrificed himself to save Hogarth and his town. This is coming from a guy in the middle of college.

However, though I allow myself to react emotionally to these films, I have never quite replicated how I responded to Beauty and the Beast as a small child. I do not stare, open-mouthed, utterly immersed, utterly fixated, part of the movie's world. Perhaps it has something to do with studying film, particularly animation. Perhaps I have merely become inured to the tropes of the medium. Or perhaps, and this is most likely, I merely grew up. Why I never became the "zombie" again does not particularly matter, so much as the mere fact that I did not react that way to another medium since.

Or, until recently.

Around the turn of the decade (oooh, it sounds so fancy when I put it that way!) my Father was bringing an old friend of his, Bill, to stay with the family for a while. Bill is an aging, gay classics professor with tenure at a well-known New York liberal arts college, and can be quite interesting to talk to, so I decided to meet up with him briefly on my way back to campus for the Winter quarter. After pleasantries, he explained to me that the current subject of his interest (though this changes often) was transhumanism, the movement and philosophy of "elevating" humanity above its current biological status through scientific and robotics advancements. Now, those of us familiar with a certain legendary series starring a certain crowbar-wielding theoretical physicist should be entirely familiar with this concept. So, naturally, I just had to boot up the "Welcome to City 17" chapter just to demonstrate to Bill how video games, a medium that he, and most other people of his age, deign to touch, could so wonderfully illustrate his concept (albeit in a rather sinister manner). He loved it. Moreover, I loved introducing him to it.

It was somewhere around the "You, Citizen, pick up that can," moment when Dad noted, "I haven't seen that look on you for a long time. Like a zombie."

Yes, I was again slack-jawed, open-eyed, and transfixed. Which, I have come to realize since then, is a common expression of mine when I happen to be playing especially excellent games.

Why is this? A critic could easily make the claim that "games/movies/animation/whatever it is kids do these days rot the brain," but obviously this is not a sentiment that I share so I won't mention it beyond the first half of this very sentence. Instead, I believe that it represents my level of immersion in games, as compared to movies, which I could almost describe as an inferior medium without irony if it weren't for the fact that most games still stick to the trite space-marines-and-tits format. To put things frankly, by letting us participate, games draw us into their world, instilling in us the same awe that we found when first introduced to the mere concept of an imaginative virtual medium (for the plebs and non-pretentious: animation) at a young age. Do I want to explore the ramifications of this? Not especially. One could argue, given my hypothesis that a game is by its very nature more immersive than a comparable movie, a child raised on video games would be inured to them, or that one might become more complacent with violence. I'm not here to predict or judge. I'm here to observe and to muse.

And, for now, I'm content to say that there simply is no medium as purely immersive and imaginative as video games. I know that this isn't an especially revolutionary or mind-blowing opinion here at Destructoid, and if you want to call me out on that, then you can blow me. I felt the urge to say it, so let me say it.

PS: I wrote this on about 3 hours of sleep, so forgive me if it's scattered.

PPS: Dtoid really needs a facebook-style status thing so that I can mention how psyched I am that Garrus is in Mass Effect 2 without writing a whole blog post about it.








I am not a member of the The Escapist Forums. On a scale of one to retarded they fall somewhere between Paris Hilton and Donald Trump (wheras Destructoid is merely between Steve Jobs and Peter Molyneux), which is a bit lower than most gamer forums dip. That said, when they ran a poll of the best post-2000 kids' cartoons, I was disturbed when Invader Zim overwhelmingly topped it.

What's worse is that this is not a phenomenon unique to the Escapist. Oh, no, go onto DeviantArt, Myspace, and any given site that markets to the subcultures of generation Y, and you will find an overwhelming amount of support for that brave little cartoon, canceled after only two seasons. "They just didn't understand Invader Zim," complains the pudgy goth girl with the superfluous nose piercing, "it was too edgy for kids so they canceled it." Meanwhile, the gamer guy in the headphones that I take the bus with notes that, "Jhonen Vasquez was a really subversive artist, and the corporation"-he emphasizes 'corporation' to establish how much he hates Nickelodeon-"put him down for expressing himself." The "Edgy" crowd leans toward referencing the "Dark Harvest" episode, wherein Zim harvests organs from the children in his class, whereas the "art and expression" crowd tends to draw comparisons between Zim and Vasquez's indie comics work, most notably Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.



Let me get this out of the way, first. I love Invader Zim. I own all of the DvDs. I've got some Zim merchandise hanging around somewhere. I can give you quotes from basically all of the episodes. However, somewhere along the line my generation got it into their heads that Invader Zim was the end-all, be-all of cartoons, and set Jhonen Vasquez up to be some kind of martyr figure, and this is both ignorant and a complete and total fallacy. This is not up for discussion.

And as someone who has spent his entire life studying animation, I take this very, very personally.

First and foremost, it was canceled because it was needlessly expensive and time-consuming. Was this the corporation's (hiss) fault? Hardly. Jhonen Vasquez, as an artist mostly experienced in the two-dimensional, comic image, was not properly trained in rendering his characters in a 3-D environment. Now, though Invader Zim is a two-dimensional cartoon in the strictest sense, every cartoon needs to be able to properly render its character in three dimensions to facilitate smooth actions. Very basic smooth actions. Like, you know, running, or turning around. Vasquez didn't have the proper experience in this sort of thing, so a lot of the character animation process was basically him dictating back and forth between designers and animators, unable to do enough of the work himself. This, in turn, made the series completely unnecessarily difficult to produce, because they couldn't go directly from the concept art to the show; they had to turn Vasquez's concept art into workable, usable art, and THEN work that into the show. Basically, Nick either had to cut out the creator or sacrifice the show, and they chose the latter. Even now the animations look jerky and crude in comparison to a lot of the other works of the time.



Secondly, it was canceled because if you take an indie artist and put him in a mainstream studio and force him to do mainstream things, he becomes a combative asshole. I have it from a good source (in this case, a former head animator from the show, who also taught me quite a lot more of what I know about the industry) that Vasquez regularly butted heads with his studio "superiors" because they were exercising too much control over what was, in essence, his brainchild. Now, I know that this is moving Vasquez closer to martyr territory again, but that's just the problem. In the animation industry-in TV in general-you have to deal with the studio keeping your show appealing to all. That involves editing it. That involves changing it. If you go into a studio setting, you have to be cooperative and accept the changes. That didn't happen with Invader Zim. Instead, Vasquez told off the people who were filling his paycheck, which is moronic. You may idolize the guy for being "anti-authority," but if you had to hire some too-cool for school douchebag to work under your management, you'd probably fire him after the umpteenth, "no, you may be my boss but I'm not doing things your way," too.

So please, people. Invader Zim was not the best cartoon ever. It was a decent cartoon with a troubled man heading it, that most of you have romanticized in retrospect because of its comparatively dark humor and quick cancellation. If you're looking for excellence in cartoons, here's what I'd much sooner turn you on to:



Samurai Jack, a stunning and utterly beautiful experiment in animation and its capacity to amaze, ran for four full seasons and an Emmy, and yet I never hear anyone mentioning it these days. This is a shame, because it was groundbreaking exactly where a show like Invader Zim was not.



Spongebob Squarepants, which is decidedly mainstream (hiss!) and still running today, is popular among children and adults for a very good reason. It's silly, it's entertaining, and it's honestly endearing. I would even go so far as to say that it's better than most of the cartoons that I grew up with in the 90s, such as Johnny Bravo or The Powerpuff Girls.



If you're going to complain about a cartoon canceled after two seasons, complain about Megas XLR, the stellar parody of the giant-robo genre. Though I wouldn't say that it has the lasting appeal of Spongebob or the artistic merit of Jack, it took everything we anime fans held dear and thrashed it a new one to a punk rock soundtrack. It made me grow hair on my chest with its fight scenes, and the subtle, referential humor (and big, bombastic humor) always kept me laughing.

So please, people. Stop humming the "doom song" as you browse Hot Topic. In Biblical terms, all you're doing is worshipping a golden calf.
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