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Stephanie K's blog

11:45 PM on 08.11.2012

Revenge of Cybershark Week

Dun dun.

Dun dun.

Dun dun dun dun dun dun duuuun!

It's back. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare for the second annual CBlog week dedicated to our fantastic Director of Communications, Hamza Aziz. It's time for the Revenge of Cybershark Week: This time it's personal!

In correspondence to the Discovery Channel's dull Shark Week, we will do something each day in dedication to our very own cybershark. This year things will be a tad different because now we have prizes. Monday through Friday I will be giving away two codes for the Shark Attack Pack for Saints Row: The Third on Steam. These will be given out with warning on my Twitter so be sure to follow @zomg_its_steph.

The way it will work is that I will post the following phase: "It's a shark attack!"

The first two people to respond with, "Suck my dick. I'm a shark!" and include their Steam ID will get a code.

On top of that, we have daily activities. Below you will you find our schedule for the daily contests and rules (located at the bottom).

Sunday: Change all your profile pictures to something shark related. Facebook profiles, Steam avatars, Twitter profiles, etc... Show your support and wear it with pride.

Monday: Using the tune from the Jaws theme song, write a little jingle in honor of Hamza. You can write it out but will get bonus points if you record yourself! (But that will not automatically make you a winner.)

Tuesday: Write an origin story for the cyberhark. It needs to be less than 500 words and build up to the glorious creation of the cybernetic beast. It can be sad, comical, a horror story...Whatever you'd like.

Wednesday: Find a shark-based video game and review it. Make sure to include how awesome it is because it features a shark.

You do not need to program the game, of course, but include a nice detailed summary of the plot, explain the gameplay, come up with a title, include an ending.

Thursday: Artists! And non-artists...Show us your skills! Make a piece of art with anything you have and submit it. It can be a drawing, macaroni picture, sculpture, or anything you want to use.

Friday: Come up with a concept for a video game. Hamza needs to be the protagonist but here is the kicker... Jim Sterling needs to be the villain and Jonathan Holmes is the damsel in distress.

Saturday: Community pick. We have till Saturday to think of something badass.

Rules: All entries for the daily contests need to be submitted before 12pm PST the day of. (Meaning Monday's entries will need to be posted here in the blog before noon on Monday.) Voting will then take place between noon until 11:59pm. The top three will get e-fame and a custom made gold, silver, or bronze badge that can be displayed in their CBlog profile to show off. Whoever manages to gain the most badges by the end of the week will get something special...Something that if I told you would not make it a surprise.

All winners will be announced in the blog but will also be notified via a message.   read

11:43 PM on 07.25.2012

Next-Gen: The Hardware Developer Guide to Not F'ing Up

Aging slowly, the current generation of consoles is finding itself wandering crippled through the hallways of its home. A Life Alert pager dangles from its neck and is clenched within its trembling hand; soon the poor thing will need to be shipped off to a retirement home where we will forget to call it and only visit at Christmas. While it drifts off to sleep in its rocker, the rumors of the next generation begin to bustle among the community. The current generation still has some life to it but the temptation of a younger, sexier system is too much to ignore.

However, just like any generation, the new can learn a thing or two from the passing one. The game industry might be one of the most profitable entertainment industries of our time but many of us have admitted that the satisfaction from it has decreased over time. Many of us have grown frustrated with the bullshit we are forced to endure regarding hardware purchases like facing the Red Rings of Death; or have grown bitter at game developers incompetent decisions like cancelling Megaman Legends or refusing to localize beloved franchises. Interest is deteriorating. Doubts are filling us.

So even as we throw our money at companies, most of us do not feel very fulfilled at the end of the day with repercussions of our mistreatment starting to show. Earlier in the year Sony reported a net loss of $1.09 billion last quarter from their PlayStation department due to a decline in handheld sales, thus effecting the whole division. (IGN). Microsoft saw a loss of $229 million entering 2012 after XBox360 sales decreased by nearly 50% (Edge). Wii and 3DS price cuts on top of a slow-selling holiday left Nintendo with a $461.2 million profit loss (Joystiq). With such a decrease in sales, it is reasonable to assume that the first wave of the next-generation will be crucial to all three companies' foundation for the future. Though rumors like blocking the ability to not play used games are beginning to make consumers turn their backs.

What can be done to save the next generation? How can hardware developers regain our bruised trust and get back into our wallets? I mean...Our hearts.

1. Simple Design
XBox360, XBox360 Elite, XBox360 Slim 4Gig model, XBox360 Slim 250Gig model, PS3 20-80Gig models with backwards compatibility, PS3 20-80Gig models without backwards compatibility, PS3 Slim, Wii, Wii with Motion Plus, Wii with Motion Plus but without backwards compatibility, DSi, DSi XL, 3DS...

There are a lot of different models and it does not stop there. The 3DS XL is just around the corner. Rumors from Comic-con have sprouted up regarding yet another PS3 model that is now "officially" the slim model. While having options are great, it confuses the hell out of people and clutters store shelves. It is understandable with this passing generation that we have a few different models. Microsoft desperately needed to clean up the Red Ring of Death epidemic, Sony needed to drop production prices of the PlayStation 3 to drop it to more reasonable price range, and Nintendo realized more needed to be included with their system.

Redesigns of systems might be necessary to fix flaws, but there is also an underline business scheme of making profit off of people rebuying a system in order to get an improved model. I support the need to fix a system if it truly needs an improvement. Though I am not sold on the mechanic of changing a look or adding a few bells and whistles to make me want to spend money on a product I already purchased. With the coming generation, each company has had plenty of time to test the water. Nintendo maybe the grandfather of the three, but each have a minimum of ten years experience with consoles. Therefore, we should only see a new model if it truly is necessary to prevent failure of the system. This generation alone has given each developer a chance to see what consumers want; they should know by now:

* Built-in wifi: there should be no reason as to why this is not included in every system from where on in
* Option to expand memory with the addition of larger harddrives: (I am looking at you PS3 where if people wanted more space, they had to pretty much buy a new system.) While Cloud saving is nice, you cannot store a whole installed game onto it. Sure, you can always delete it and redownload or reinstall it later, but in the perfect world this would not be an option.
* Include everything: Like Nintendo eventually did with the Wii by including the Motion Plus with a new system, there is no real reason as to why consumers cannot have everything right out of the box. I understand the premise of gaining a few dollars from us needing to buy an accessory when we pick up our new system. While something like a Play-and-Charge kit might not be a true necessity, the gesture would easily win points in the systems favors in the eyes of the buyer.
* Please no cosmetic redesigns: We would like a sleek looking system that takes up as minimal space as possible to set on our modern, cluttered entertainment centers. The current design for the XBox360, PS3, and Wii work fantastically; so do not stray far from that.

2. Keep Backwards Compatibility
When it came to cutting back costs on production, all the systems sacrificed the ability to play games from yesteryear. Microsoft did not include full backwards compatibility and eventually abandoned it in order to maintain the XBox360's $200-$300 price range. Sony dropped it not long after the PlayStation 3 was first released in order to dip down from a $600 price tag to a more competitive price. Within the last year, Nintendo removed the Wii's ability to play GameCube games in order to lower the production cost to make up from their profit loss. Luckily, they are already making the right moves with the WiiU by allowing the system to support both Wii games and accessories. This is a trend that both Sony and Microsoft need to follow.

The importance of backwards compatibility is something that I do not believe has fully been realized; or at least, the benefits of it have been ignored. By allowing gamers access to their older games on a new system, it makes them feel like they are getting more of their money compared to purchasing a new system that will only play newer games. Instead of only being limited to a single library of games, they are opened to two or more libraries. This also helps encourage consumers to purchase systems earlier in their lifespan because regardless of the launch titles, they will always have something to play.

On top of that...High definition remakes of older games are starting to get a tad out of hand. It is fantastic to go back and relive through a great moments in a higher resolution but I foresee it as being unneeded going into the new generation. The games of the current generation would not gain much of a noticeable difference if redone for the next. Some polishing maybe and new content but there would not be as big of a leap as going from standard to high definition.

3. Support Preowned
Online passes appeared within the pass two or so years. Much like serial numbers for PC games, online passes are a form of registration for a new products. However, unlike serial numbers, these passes limit the features of a game in order to sway the public opinion to favor the purchase of new games over used games. Despite the similarities, the gaming community has grown more tolerant of PC serial numbers for a few reasons. Most PC games keep their price tags below the $60 price tag when compared to their console counterparts butt importantly, PC titles try to not set limitations regarding personal distribution at home.

Digital rights management (DRM) was introduced to PC gaming within the last four years, not too long before online passes. DRM's purpose was limit the number of times a single game could be installed either one the same computer or other computers at once in attempts to combat piracy. This meant that owners with more than one computer or laptop were restricted to a single device. Protests quickly followed from the unethical concept behind being limited on the usage of a product they purchased. As a result, having DRM can make or break sales for PC developers and have caused most to avoid its usage, ultimately relying on their consumers to purchase their games over pirating them.

However, console developers still set on winning the war against used sales. Mike West of Lionhead Studios seems to feel that used sales cause more harm to developers than piracy (url=]Eurogamer[/url]) since studios see no profit from the sale while the retailer gains 100%. As a result, some studios like EA, Activision, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Ubisoft have begun forcing the use of online passes for their games. A code is included when purchasing a new copy and those who do buy used can pay for a pass with the average cost being around $10. Without this code, users are prevented from using certain game features like the multiplayer or chunks of the single player. Though would what happen if more than just a handful of studios turned their backs to used games? What if the rumors end up being true?

We can expect the industry to collapse. Regardless of your stance on purchasing new over used, the limitation would not sit well with consumers. With no support of used games, game rentals would no longer be available since the game would be unusable after the first rental. This also means that people would not be able to share games with their friends or family. We would no longer be able to let others borrow games from us and vice versa due to the game being tied specifically to a single system. Then what happens if someone has to purchase another system due to their first breaking? Or what if families want more than one system in their home? Does this mean they would need to purchase another copy of the same game or pay an additional fee to get the right to play a game they had already purchased?

It is a ridiculous idea that spells suicide. People want to feel like they own what they buy and want to be able to do what they please. No one likes having their property controlled by other sources than themselves. The community has already shown their disapproval by stating they would not purchase the system. Without sales, the industry would start to crumble. Companies would see extremely decreases in profit which could ultimately lead closures.

4. Creativity and Customization
What do people do when they first buy a new phone? Or a new computer? Or a tablet? They customize it. They make it fit their needs while adding a personal touch to their device.
At the moment, customization is limited for our current systems. We can chance individual idea pictures for our profiles and purchase themes that change the background of our systems. Though we can do nothing else. So what if we had more freedom with our systems?

Dashboards could be treated like cell phones, tablets, or the PlayStation Vita. People could pick and choose what applications they want available on their main menus (Netflix, music programs, installed games, etc...). Then drag and drop them to where they want them on the dashboard, thus adding a personal touch to their property. It also lets users clean up the clutter from their screens by removing features they may not use. While it would be a small addition to a system's feature, for a new generation that seems to be focusing on personalized experiences there is almost no reason to not include some ability to customization.

5. Break Free
Regional locks has been the bane of gamers' existence for years. Constantly taunting players as they have a system that a game is designed for but cannot play it due to its coding being locked out from their part of the world. Even with some Japanese only games being recorded with full English voice acting or games being released in Europe, we still see some games never get approved for U.S release - including some series that have abandon in other countries. If region locks were lifted, it would allow players to follow their beloved series no matter where they live.

There are currently three pillars that support the use of region lock. The first is to allow developers to maintain a set price for their games. Daily irregularities in currencies balances prove to make it difficult to keep a single price around the world. However, with the internet, people could order directly from the developer or select retailers where I universal price decided before the game's release.

Next is the desire to have staged launches or specific street dates for countries. By allowing restrictions on playability in each country, developers have some control over the game's release. The idea behind this is to prevent huge waves of demand from around the world on the title's release. It is easy to say that a developer just needs to produce enough copies to meet the demand and by having an online ordering system, they should hypothetically be able to track the demand before the game's release. Or even offer the game up as an available downloadable title to system owners in other parts of the world - an option that should greatly be considered, especially as the idea of digital distribution continues to be exploded.

Finally is the issue regarding the content of the game. Each culture has a very different views when it comes to controversial content such as violence, gore levels, and sexual content. Some countries may be a bit more sensitive than another particular how America tends to shy away from sexual tones but exploits violence while Germany shares an opposing view. Out of the three reasons, this will be the hardest to overcome mainly due to legal reasons. Even if a game developer was to refuse shipping to a country due to its rating, having it be more easily available would make it easier for people to possibly import illegal media to their country. The only solution that I can think of would be for developers to somehow release a patch that prevents a specific title from being playable on a system registered to a country that it is banned in instead of restricting all games. Even if people found a way around it, the effort would discourage the average consumer; those who would try to cheat the system probably do it already and probably would not stop either way.   read

2:19 PM on 06.27.2012

Blossoming into Womanhood

(Blossoming into Womanhood)

In 1996, the original Tomb Raider was released. I first went on an expedition with Ms. Croft shortly after the game's initial release while at my uncle's house. Like any young girl, I was captivated by Lara's bravery and strength. I may not have had oppressed thoughts at the age of seven but I had already sadly grown to accept a lack of female leads. Lara was not only first character to give my younger self a chance to feel like an independent woman who didn't need no man, but she planted the seeds of inspiration. As a young aristocrat, she held a sense of enchanting elegance that blended fantastically well with her inquisitive mind and strength. She was beautiful, acrobatic, intelligent, British, and desirable. While men wanted to be with her, I wanted to be her. (The fact that she happened to also be a brown-eyed brunette only fueled that aspiration to become a extraordinary woman such as her.) I use to get in trouble for jumping on furniture in the living room when I tried to practice rock climbing; when I visited Mayan ruins in middle school, I made sure to wear khaki shorts and a light blue tank top.

Then I grew up and I realized something: She is kind of a bitch.

Lara Croft might have been an autonomous woman but her character was rather bland when you truthfully analyze her. In essence, she was nothing more than a cold-blooded gold digger. She was an archeologist who did not hesitate to slaughter any who stood between her and the treasure she so desperately wanted. Not because if these artifacts fell into the wrong hands the world would be put into peril, but because she wanted money. Suddenly our beloved heroine does not seem so admirable, now does she?

Her origin story morphed over time from game to game before recently settling on her wishes to discover the truth behind her mother's disappearance. (Defined in Tomb Raider: Legends and in [/i]Tomb Raider: Underworld[/i]) Recent Lara has somewhat broken away from just a girl who wants a lot of money into a woman searching for answers. However, the new reboot is out to set her early past straight and personally, I think it is for the better.

The new reboot is taking Lara Croft back to her roots. Players will get to experience the early years of her life as she endures the hardships of her first adventure. The development team wanted to focus on turning her more human. Not only has she physically been toned down to more realistic proportions, but she has also lost her confident heroism personality - which is causing an outcry from the gaming community.

In the trailer shown at the passing E3, we are given a glimpse at the life threatening obstructions the young Lara must endure physically and emotionally. We idly watch as she is bruised and bloodied before our very eyes as she stumbles and struggles to survive. Quietly, she pleads for help as she stares vacantly into the flames and growing darkness that surrounds her. Then whispers a soft "sorry" before butchering a deer for food. She is lost, confused, and shows little signs of her strength that we had grown to know. Many took offense to the less harsher Lara but I feel it is a necessary step into defining her as a character.

We cannot forget that this is a re-imaging of the very beginning. Her hesitance to want to kill is reasonable. For the most part, she has lived a sheltered life; or at least we can assume based on the collection of personal information the game manuals have offered over the years. According to her array of childhood tales, she spent most of her youthful years in private boarding schools including a Swiss finishing school. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a finishing school is a private institute that does not expand upon knowledge but instead, focuses on defining etiquette and social education. Their purpose to is to mold young women into proper ladies for marriage. In other words, Lara Croft was suppose to be a delicate flower meant to sit quietly and raise a family. Then the plane crash occurred, and our story begins.

Her skills are far from defined because she is inexperienced. Having grown in an upper-class environment, she would have had no need for the skills she would acquire later in life. Therefore is it perfectly within reason that she is struggling as hard as she is. No one seemed to have complained about the flustered way Nathan Drake leaped from ledge to ledge with his arms flailing. Yet, it seems that it is unacceptable to have Ms. Croft follow a similar suit. It is understandable the gaming community has grown to admire the graceful way she soars as it adds onto her estimable image, but her latent abilities deepens her overall. She now goes from being a tyro to a connoisseur while both her development and the series progress making her seem more realistic and interesting than instantly being a badass. After all, this is how she was.

(Tomb Raider manual, page 5)

According to the first game's manual, she had to "learn to depend on her wits to stay alive in hostile conditions away from her sheltered upbringing". This is exactly what the reboot is letting us witness. Not only is she being pushed to her limit but everything she knew is crashing down around her.

The gaming community has begun to throw a fit over a weaker Lara but Crystal Dynamics is truly capturing the image of a young girl who has lost everything. Her reactions and feelings make her feel human; she feels defeated because she is which is what I would believe anyone would feel in such a situation. However, do not go giving up on Ms. Croft just yet. She may come off as softer than we like but in reality, she still is as strong and as brave. Even after the crash and losing her friends, Lara does not just curl up on a cave and cry herself to sleep every night. She pulls herself together and begins evolving.

When analyzing the trailer, we can see moments that start to define her trademark personality. At a minute and fifty seconds when Sam is captured, Lara does not immediately fall to her knees to beg for her friend to be freed. She threatens the man with her bow only to fail by her own stupidity. The trailer shifts to her being captured along with the rest of her crew. Even with her hands tied behind her back, Lara continues onward before finally becoming more of her "older self". She has a brief moment of doubt before realizing that she has the power to survive. The rest of the trailer is full of adrenaline filled action. Her hesitance depletes as she fights back hard and strong, progressing her to badass self eight years later. She emotionally and physical grows the way any human being would.

(Don't f*ck with her friends.)

"After crafting the biography, our goal was to make her as believable and relatable as possible," Brian Horton, senior art director of Crystal Dynamics, told GameInformer last January. "We wanted to make a girl that felt familiar, but still has a special quality about her. Something about the way her eyes look and the expression on her face makes you want to care for her. That was our number one goal. We wanted to have empathy for Lara, and at the same time show the inner strength that made clear she was going to become a hero."

Crystal Dynamics has done a phenomenal at creating a believable, likable heroine. Having felt a connection to a character before, I admire their desire to want to make us feel something for Lara. It recalls my days of playing through Indigo Prophecy and feeling a heavy sense of sympathy for Lucas as he struggled with his torment to the point of purposely throwing Tyler and Carla off his trail to protect him. (Of course my decisions did not matter. Thank, David Cage!) You know a character is well developed when you have an emotional attachment to him or her but their work has been overshadowed by wrongful accusations both from the community and even their own executive director.

In an interview with Kotaku, Ron Rosenberg ruined Lara's new image by wrongfully describing her and their motives. Rather than supporting their beautifully crafted new vision for Lara, he gives off the impression that the reason why we should care for Lara has nothing to do with legitimate compassion but simply because she is a woman. "When you see her have to face these challenges, you start to root for her in a way that you might not root for a male character," he states. He then slips up and mentions an attempted rape scene:

Rosenberg: "And then what happens is her best friend gets kidnapped, she gets taken prisoner by scavengers on the island. They try to rape her, and-"
Kotaku: "They try to rape her?"
Rosenberg: "She's literally turned into a cornered animal. And that's a huge step in her evolution: she's either forced to fight back or die and that's what we're showing today." (Kotaku)

("Attempted" rape scene)

Darrell Gallagher, the game's lead designer, quickly denies the attempted rape scene (which can be viewed at two minutes and nine seconds) by explaining that its intention was not to highlight or glorify sexual assault but to deepen the dramatic tone of the game. "This is where Lara is forced to kill another human being for the first time," Gallagher explains. "In this particular section, while there is a threatening undertone in the sequence and surrounding drama, it never goes any further than the scenes that we have already shown publicly. Sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game."

The scene goes no farther than a scavenger rolling his hand down Lara's side before aggressively shoving her against a wall, upon which she bites his ear off, kicks him to the ground, and breaks free. All of which flow in a way that feels natural for the situation and setting. It is not like Lara was sleeping soundly in her bedroom when a man burst through her door and violently pounded her in a safe setting.

I am no supporter of using sexual assaults or rape in media for the sake of painting a grimmer picture, but we have to admit that every once in awhile someone is going to attempt it. The content is rather risky to use but w I feel that despite accusations, Crystal Dynamics has remained tasteful with addressing a serious theme which, they promise, we never see again in the game.

Regardless of the dark image that has spawned from this thirty second of video, I hope people realize that it's an incredibly small part of the game that does little to hold Lara back. So why should we let it holds us back from welcoming this more realistic woman into our hearts and our systems?

(Think Lara is still weak and helpless? Just wait till she burns down your house and jungle, then walks away.)   read

8:47 PM on 06.18.2012

Help Wanted

I come to you today not just as a blogger, but as a friend searching for guidance. Earlier in the year, I replied to a previous Blogger's Wanted regarding resolutions for the year. June is almost to its end and I have realized that I am nowhere near where I wanted to be by the middle of the year. Living on my own and working a full-time job has proven to make it extremely difficult to pursue my desire to become a professional journalist. It has proven to become harder to break into the gaming industry than I expected. While I was aware it would be a difficult, but the struggle is beginning to discourage my ambition. The passion remains but the flame has begun to dim; the desire to be dedicated exists but I have found myself in an endless loop of fallbacks.

I wanted to be consecutive with my work. I wanted to have an established series by now and had plans to finish a book regarding some life experiences by the year's end. However, my memoirs have consistently been ignored in favor of other things. PAX East was a disaster on my part. I was completely unprepared for the workload that came along with it. I failed miserable to actively engaging with public relations representatives when I had opportunities. Meetings were not scheduled; a majority of my time was wasted mindless wandering the show floor captivated by the intoxicating sensation of being there, but I did not live up to the expectations I promised and I did no E3 coverage due to personal engagements. A part of me feels I do not deserve the title of "journalist" or even be allowed to continue to have the opportunities I do.

Balancing time has become the hardest part of the job. Five days of the week are almost solely dedicated to work. Regardless of the time my shift begins and ends, nearly ten hours of the day are taken up with work and driving time. This does not include time that is chipped away to do daily necessities such as cooking, housework, and needed shopping. Even on my days off, I find my time being split between my social life and housework with little time to indulge in recreational pastimes.

Gaming normally takes a backseat as it falls on my list of priorities. I have fallen victim to laziness so to say. While gaming consists of nothing more than sitting on a couch and pressing buttons on a controller or keyboard/mouse, my mind wanders to the long list of other activities I could be doing instead. Almost as if playing a game has become a waste as I could be doing something more productive, like writing. Thus this is where the burdening cycle begins...As a gaming journalist, I need to game in order to have material to write about. Gaming is still a hobby I greatly enjoy but I feel as if I do not have the time to engross myself into a quest or epic adventure. The want to spend hours in front of a screen are there. These hours need to happen in order to continue my career. I cannot write a review without completing or at least putting a significant amount of time into them. It is hard to start detailed editorials without much experience or exposure to fresh subjects.

One of my biggest problems, however, is just trying to figure out the right engaging topic to write about to begin with. Anyone can put their opinions on paper but only original thoughts get noticed. Even with the bi-weekly Blogger's Wanted posts, I have a very hard time making myself stand out. I have plenty to say, but the issue that arises is keeping myself focused enough to complete a piece of work. Between juggling household duties, work, social life, and the need to play games to even have something to write about has become a challenge.

More times than none, my drive to write spikes at times when I am unable to sit down and actual put a few thoughts onto paper. Ideas for articles will come to me either late at night when in bed or while I am stuck in the middle of my day job's shift. By the time I get home or have fulfilled my responsibilities, the motivation has faded away. I find myself staring at a blank Word document for awhile before either A) giving up or B) getting distracted with other things before forgetting my train of thought. I have tried using voice recognition software to record thoughts while I worked on other things around the house, and have tried investing in a voice recorder to mention a few notes. Yet, even with a nice outline, it becomes ridiculously challenging to translate my thoughts into a structured works.

I try to remain elaborate and ardent regarding my thoughts but I feel like my work has never really taken off. Throughout the years, I have seen Anthony Burch leave Destructoid to follow a career with Gear Box. I have seen Jim Sterling's podcasts, articles, and videos explode in popularity. I watched as Yahtzee become a household name. So other than not being either a declamatory orator or an angry man with a British heritage, I cannot help but question what I am doing wrong.

What does it take to get noticed in the exhausted field of online gaming journalism?

Adam Sessler had told me at this past PAX East that videos were the best way to get your face out to the public but where does one begin? Youtube is saturated with plenty of video blogs of people doing video game reviews or complaining about the industry. Naturally, I do not want my voice to be drowned out by the internet blather that plagues our browsers. So what can I do to get my career started?

I have briefly spoken to Spencer about Streamtoid. For those who do not know its history, it was another unproductive project of mine from last summer that remained unsuccessful under my management. I am honored that he picked it up. It is thrilling to see the idea thriving. Although, I cannot help but feel disappointed in myself for I should have filled its lifeless corpse with life. Naturally, he has offered to let me have a spot on its programming but what in the world do I do? And when I already feel like I am drowning due to lack of time, how do I keep up with a regular schedule?

So now I come to you. My fellow gamers, my readers, and writers alike to ask for help on freeing the blockage that seems to have formed. I am searching for help in tapping into the well of inspiration in order to get creativity flowing again. How can I overcome these obstacles and prevent myself from being a failure before I even get my feet off the ground?   read

12:50 AM on 03.16.2012

Big Bang Bust

The Big Bang Theory has been a tolerate/hate relationship with me. Like eating Taco Bell at two in the morning, it is something that is best avoided but for one reason or another I give into its delicious, crusty siren calls. I originally started watching it sometime after season two started after being told to give it a try. I am one of those people that I do not feel like I can build a proper opinion regarding something unless I've experienced it. So I gave it a shot. The first two seasons were nauseating to sit through. Overwhelming stereotypes were forced down viewers' throats tainting any possibility of it being enjoyable. However, going into season three the characters started to develop slightly better personalities; acting more like actual people with conflicting complexities instead of just being the "awkward, nerdy" guy or the "super smart but stupid" guy. Even though the geeky jokes are very forced and mainstreamed, the science humor added a slight bit of charm that started to appear which led me to watch through it the fourth season until it went downhill again. Nonetheless, I had invested enough time into it to keep going. It soon became the thing I watched when bored and sleep deprived.

Normally it takes quite a bit to offend me, but the latest episode of Big Bang Theory rubbed me the wrong way. In "The Weekend Vortex", Raj suggests that the men partake in an forty-eight hour gaming marathon playing The Old Republic. The idea of an 'all guys' weekend mixed with Star Wars instantly catches everyone's attention but drama develops when everyone's relationships begin to clash with their plans. The weekend is turned into a girls vs guy battle after Sheldon bails on his commitment to Amy to accompany her to her aunt's birthday party. She spreads her hurt feelings to Penny who helps her crash the guys' weekend as revenge and to set Sheldon straight.

On top of that, Bernadette invades the guys game by tagging along with Howard. She comes over with him with a bright pink laptop and begins to fill the "cute but clueless girl gamer" role. (Clip) While playing the game, we see her making gun shapes with her hands and going pewpewpew before being corrected to use your mouse and keyboard. She banters Howard into dressing like her character so they match to display that they're together in the game and refuses to heal the other members of the party except for him. Ultimately she begins to frustrate the guys by disturbing their questing due to failure. Tension rises as neither Raj, Sheldon, or Leonard want to speak up against her lovey-dovey attitude towards her fiancé nor want to risk hurting her feelings but the irritation is clearly seen on their faces and in their silence.

"The Weekend Vortex" was an eye opener. It made me realize that a demographic being overlooked - the average nerdy girl. Let's take a closer look at the three main female characters in the show, shall we?

Penny is the "hot chick"; this is something that cannot be denied. She's your average person scrapping by to make a living. Not really intelligent or into nerdy hobbies like the rest of the cast, her role is add a bit of sexy spice to the mix and make up for everyone else's lack of social skills. Bernadette is the "attractive, smart chick" whose character pushes borderline-feminist ideals without being overly bold about them. Throughout the series, she obtains her doctrine in microbiology yet has a healthy sex life as well as being pretty. Her career becomes very successful, leading to the development of the strong, modern day woman archetype. She expresses a disliking for children and fears losing her career to becoming a house wife before proposing that Howard takes care of the children as she works; after all, she already makes more money than he does. Her character becomes an example of how a woman can be both smart and beautiful while also keeping a sense of independence. Then we have Amy who is the "bland, smart chick". With a doctrine in neurobiology, she is the least attractive of the three main female characters and is portrayed to be the most pathetic of the bunch. Having very little physical relationships in her life and bullied while growing up, she's the quiet shy girl that no one really talked to who becomes overly clinging and sensitive towards those around her. Personality wise, she's just as socially awkward and strange as Sheldon, thus balancing out the attractive factor that the other two already established in the show.

I appreciate that Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady have managed to steer away from just having eye candy on the show, but I cannot shake the feeling that both are horrible at writing and developing female characters. The scene of Bernadette playing Old Republic with the guys left a distasteful flavor in my mouth. It fed into the negative stereotypes that women who do play games either start to play to bond with their boyfriends or are impractical players. The floral, pink laptop was cringe worth enough but her actions throughout the scene only made it worse. As a woman who has faced some harassment for liking nerdy things, having a show promote stereotypes like this isn't helping to improve the female community's image while empowering the male half.

I understand that the premise of the episode was to display the consequences that can follow contradictions that rise when trying to balance a romantic life with a social life. However, like the promo for the episode says, "There's just one problem...The girlfriend." Again, while this is the episodes theme, there have been quite a few occasions throughout the series where "the girlfriend" has come between the man and what he wants. Such as how Bernadette opposed against Howard working on the space station despite it being his life long dream to go to space or constant interferences from Penny with Leonard's other relationships. The show may focus mainly on the main four guys and Penny, but the other two female leads have grown to take bigger parts in the plot. However, the is little to no individuality to them.

It also does not help that none of the women hold any interest in geek-like hobbies. They three always get together to partake in drinking, gossip, and shopping despite having some knowledge about video games, comic books, and science fiction media. In fact, they all seem pretty disgusted by it.

For awhile in the earlier season, we saw Penny become addicted to Age of Conan and beat one of the guys in a game of Halo 3, but her accepting/liking of video games quickly vanishes from the series. She tries to learn a bit about the things Leonard enjoys to be appealing and interested to him, and at times, will make a nerdy reference but she still shows plenty of confusion regarding it. Neither Bernadette or Amy really express interest either, often getting things like Star Trek and Star Wars mixed up or being displeased with their boyfriends' "childish" hobbies and behaviors. For a show that tries to glorify science and make nerds look cool, I find it incredibly hard to believe that that is no female character that likes video games, comics, and science fiction. A few minor characters have popped up here and there but none have been well written or reoccurring.

I do not understand why some geeky traits have not been sprinkled on any of the main female cast. Especially with Penny already having a small background in technological entertainment, they could easily write it in that she picks up gaming as a side hobby even if she played alone. She is a bit of a tomboy so the concept would be rather fitting for her without risking taking her out of character. Plus, with her already displaying some level of skill in earlier episodes, we could see a positive, female geek over the shameful character they have created with Bernadette. Now, it could be argued that maybe they will eventually include a girl who is more like "one of the guys" later in the series. One that Raj could eventually grow comfortable enough around to speak to due to her nerdy habits but at this point, I do not have faith in Lorre or Prady to be that clever and write her all.

Because have you noticed the other reoccurring pattern regarding the female characters...?

All of them are "girlfriends". Each and every lead character that has been a woman was introduced to the show for the sole purpose of being matched up to another character, even if their relationship spanned over a few episodes. I do not mean to write the show off as being sexist because I do not exactly see it in such a way. Relationships always add more to the plot and naturally do occur when people who share similar interests, life styles, and ideals mix. It adds a sense of realism to the storyline but the way The Big Bang Theory has done it has been poor character development. In the very first episode, Leonard had already established a hollow infatuation with Penny to the point of offering to help her retrieve some properly from her ex just based on speaking to her for a few minutes. Bernadette was introduced to the show by being a selected friend of Penny's to go on a date with Howard due to the girlfriend pact: an agreement Penny would set him up with one of his friends. This eventually blooms into their relationship leading up to their engagement. Finally, Amy is introduced by flat out being matched up to Sheldon after Raj and Howard make a fake profile for him on a dating site.

Though of course the train does not stop there. A few other reoccurring women in the series were also implemented into the plot for little reason other than to complicate relationships and add sexual tension. Leslie Winkle (a rival of Sheldon's at the university) only appeared in a total of eight episodes and grew notorious for casual sex between Leonard and Howard before being written off from the show. Priya Koothrappali (Raj's sister) is yet another character whose traits center around an active relationship with another. Filling the shoes as the "uppity, rich bitch", she seems to hold little value to her relationship with Leonard as she hides it from her family and cheats on him after relocating back to India. Finally, there was Dr. Stephanie Barnette; a surgical doctor that Leonard had a brief, semi-serious relationship with. She was written as a date Howard was trying to impress but felt a stronger connection to his friend instead. In an interview, Prady admits that she was "a chance for Leonard to learn that just because someone loves you, doesn't mean you'll love them back" but nothing more.

I cannot help but feel somewhat insulted by all of this. Not only does my niche in the community not seem to be noticeable, but apparently woman are only good for making our male counterparts not lonely. While I do not feel that show is intentionally sexist, I do feel that there is plenty of room for the women of The Big Bang Theory to grow, especially in the geeky department. Poor writing choices have led to rather disappointing evolution of the characters. I do understand that not all scientists or doctors enjoy technology and science fiction hobbies, but this is a sitcom about scientists who do enjoy those things. Why can't we have a woman be like that, too?   read

7:03 PM on 02.27.2012

Endings: Happiness is Boring.

Disclaimer: (Yeah, late again as usual but oh well...)The first part of this article may start off non-game related, but I promise it is relevant to the topic. Just bear with me for this the best example I could provide for my point.

Also, I am going to be doing like I did when I wrote about the Chzo Mythos series by providing a link to an image that farther describes what I have to say without risking unintentionally spoiling anything. So please, do not read the links if you have any intention of playing or watching what I am speaking of.

Thank you, and you may now continue with your reading. Anyway...

Have you ever seen To the Ends of the Earth? No? Well, I am not surprised so allow me to tell you a tad about it, and spoil it. It was a mini-series consisting of only three episodes that aired in 2005 and is based on the book trilogy of the same title. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, it tells the tale of a young aristocrat's voyage from England to Australia in 1812. We can assume that as an aristocrat, Edmund lived a fairly sheltered life but was exposed to a more colorful scene as he is socially forced to interact with his fellow shipmates. His ignorance slowly fades away as we witness a young man grow mentally and emotionally through hardships and others' perspectives.
Half way through the series, the ship ends up encountering a second ship upon which the two spend a night mingling in celebration of the end of the war. During the party, our fine young gentleman meets a lovely young girl who he almost instantly falls in love with. He tries to convince her to travel to Australia with him but she refuses as she cannot go against the wills of her elders. The two are separated when the ships part, leaving Edmund heartbroken but learning to accept that life moves on despite his brooding over faith in love.

After surviving all the struggles of the journey, he begins to settle in Australia which opens a new chapter to his ever growing life. Edmund is forced to face new challenges as friendships are severed from social statuses, leaving him alone with what could have potentially led to him realizing he needs to let go of his dependency and become a real man. However...

Just as Mindy from the network said: I am not happy with happy.

To the Ends of the Earth was a bit of an eye opener for me. My realization of how upset I was over a sweet, romantic closure to such a bleak set up, I took some time to think about my favorite games upon which I discovered a rather interesting (perhaps disturbing) pattern about them. In Resident Evil... Amatersu cleansed the world once again but... Persona 3 ended with you.... Then in Trilby's Notes...And do I even need to speak about Metal Gear Solid 3?!

In other words...I discovered that the games that stuck with me the most were ones involving bittersweet endings where the protagonist was put into dreadful peril upon which they only overcame by great sacrifice or ultimately resulted in their own death. Turning a character into a justifiable martyr is a delicate, difficult process. If the character is placed into danger with the sole reason only to add a tad bit of dread to the plot, the worrisome connection the player has towards the character can be lost.

For example, let's take a brief look at L.A Noire...Throughout the whole game we see Cole Phelps work to create a solid career for himself- working his way up from a standard cop to being an successful detective on Vice. Half way through the game...

Being filled with dread while watching a character you like struggle is far more thrilling than seeing them in a peaceful environment. Conflict gets adrenaline pumping, putting the player on edge and keeping attention locked on the situation occurring before them. The battle does not just involve the character, but it also involves the player as well, making the two work together to overcome the crisis together. You feel the character's pain and suffer together thus strengthening the invisible bond between the two but what happens when the fight ends?

With happy endings, the story just stops dead in its tracks. All loose ends are tied together and little is left to the imagination regarding how the character lives out the rest of his or her life. Though it feels almost too much like cliché; a forced moment of unrealistic harmony just to make the player feel good as a reward for their hard work but I feel satisfaction can come from more than just serenity. Part of the joy that can be felt after a hardship comes from knowing you survived it. Battle scars become your trophies and a greater sense of respect rises from a character who shows the effects of their suffering.

Darker themes have a stronger impact on you than lighter themes. Melancholic endings carry on within you after the credit rolls because it makes you think a bit by leaving some aspects of the story open for interruption. They keep the connection between yourself and the character active because you both share the same pain; or you suffer the loose of a close friend when the protagonist dies on you. With a happy ending, there is fairly solid closure to the plot. It leaves you with wiping your hands clean and saying, "That is the end of that!". Then you move with no reason to look back because the game gave you no reason to.

Mario can save Princess Peach a hundred times but he will never become as an iconic symbol of heroism as a character like Big Boss... As Mario lives peacefully until the next kidnapping upon which he cheerfully rescues the princess again, Big Boss had to carry the weight of his mission like a real man.

Now you are probably thinking, "But, Steph, the tones and themes are so different between the two. How can you possibly compare them?" Well, my dear reader...That is my point. Joyful tones soon fall into the same reoccurring, predictable pattern. You always know the hero is going to win and that is just boring.   read

12:11 AM on 01.02.2012

Resolutions: Productively Active

As I glance at the clock on my desktop, I realize that within the next hour the weekly topic for Blogger's Wanted will not matter. However, the fact that I am sitting here preparing to write this is an eye opener. A personal note to myself as proof as to why these resolutions need to be put into effect. Over the years, I have become a tad lazy without actual being lazy - if that statement makes sense. I have shifted into the typical '9 to 5' life style. Forty hours of my week are dedicated to nothing more than working for a living; last year, I broke away from my family to set out on my own and since then, my perspective of priorities has changed. Free time has become a precious treasure as I rarely seem to have it between my shifts, daily routine, and necessary responsibilities that come with being your sole provider. Even tonight, I was home for about an hour or more before I could settle down to do something I wanted to do after coming home from a typical eight hour shift.

I am twenty-two and at the risk of hinting at a mid-mid-life crisis, one fourth of my life is over. (Of course that is based on the assumption I will live till at least eighty.) I am still struggling against the battle of entering college in order to obtain my degree; despite the hardships I am facing regarding finances, I have come to the realization that I can still have promising opportunities that I can focus on as I continue to save up to pay for classes. Some opportunities that could potentially help fund my education. While my mind is cluttered with ideas and things I want to do, I know time is against me but I am making it my goal to try to discover a way to balance everything in my life. Regarding my social life, my relationship, my job, and my schooling as well as my free time...It would appear that video games may need to take a back seat yet, they are still a main driver regarding my hopes for my future career.

1. Journalism

Nearly eight years ago (Holy shit...It's been eight years...), we got our first computer and the internet. Eight years ago, I began to build upon my dream of being a video game journalist. My writing was absolutely notorious back then. Full of grammatical errors, poor spelling, vague descriptions, and horrid word choices, though would could be expected from a young teenager. I had started off very unprofessionally by posting reviews on internet forums. Somewhat building a reputation as a reliable, truthful source while my writing technique improved and I slowly began to develop my own style. I avoided scores when I could, going for more of an informative style of review over an opinionated one. To simply put it, I spoke the facts while sprinkling my own views here and there before recommending the game or not based on the reader's taste.

Some of my reviews eventually were published on some very small, lesser known web sites. Not long afterwards, I found myself helping a friend with his web site, while also building my own. Our need for worthwhile content led to me branching away from just reviewing to writing articles. Then almost two years ago, it was suggested to me by a friend that I write on Destructoid's Community Blogs. Needless to say, I was surprised, flattered, and greatly encouraged to continue writing - to continue to improve myself and my work while providing interesting things to say. The two years I have spent here have had a tremendous affect on my desire to follow my dream because I believe I might have a chance. You guys - All of you! - have helped to keep that flame alive.

As a result, a friend of mine referred me to a magazine searching for journalists for their gaming section of their web site. As you can see from the provided image, I was accepted for the job. It is nothing extremely big at the moment. The whole writing staff is still working on developing the gaming aspect of Royal Flush Magazine, but we have ambitions and dreams, with hopes of covering PAX East in April. (Perhaps I will see some of you there.)

So my first resolution of the year is to continue to see this through, to take chances and risks with trying to make a name for myself in the endless seas of internet personalities. This will require me to be stricter with myself when it comes to meeting a deadline. Not only will I need to play a game by a certain date, but I will also need to provide a reasonably informative review along with it. On top of that, I will need to put effort into going to conventions and staying active within the media. I have started my own [url=""]gaming blog[/url] as a way for me (and those interested) to track my progress, while also keeping myself on track.

2. Steamtoid

Last summer, some of you might remember the short running of Steamtoid - the community ran stream. It started off positively. We had a few good games to play with a solid response from the community users. However, it crashed and burned quickly for a few reasons. The first being that the program I used to host the live streams began to conflict with my laptop. (That has since then been fixed.) The second was just purely bad timing. I was in the process of moving again. As I prepare to begin school again, I know time will be difficult to manage, but I plan on working everything out to where we end up having more than one streamer, like originally planned.

Streamtoid seemed like a fantastic idea on paper. People seemed to enjoy it, and I even received a few candidates for streamers though I selfishly never took the time to put the pieces together. For my second resolution, I plan on making it a reality. Making Streamtoid official is my second resolution for the year. At a later date, we will try it again but make all the needed preparations to make it active and place it on a set schedule.

(The same can be said regarding Project Gforum, the place where my streaming roots are planted. I have turned my back on the first community that pushed me this far. So I am adding it to my list to be more active with them again.)

3. Embracing creativity

Writing has always been a passion of mine, ever since I was young. It was my dream to one day become a published author, to make my mark on the literary world even if it was just a single pen stroke on the ceiling of the Sistin Chapel of fiction. However, situations and incidents throughout life somewhat smothered the burning passion I use to have. The flame died as I grew overly critical of my work; constantly comparing it to the legends and growing discouraged by the overwhelming fear of never being noticed, but hey, if Stephanie Meyer's wet dreams can become best selling works... Then maybe my twisted reality can, too. (Yeah, it will not but oh well.)

This is going to be a challenge for me mainly because I will need to break away from video games in order to chase after this dream. I need to take some time to actual read more in order to better grasp the concepts behind writing fiction. I need to learn to better portray and develop my characters, properly progress the plot, and learn better writing techniques on top of improving my vocabulary while also defining my genre.

For this resolution, I am going to begin by picking up a few self-help writing books and start doing small writing exercises to start practicing my techniques. Even with just writing this I can see many flaws with my wording. I start far too many sentences off with prepositional phrases, there are too many simple sentences, and in the few fictional writings I have done recently, I have noticed a great emptiness with descriptions. I tend to use the same metaphors and similes too often while also falling victim to repeating words. These are all habits I need to break before anything else. Characters and the plot will follow. I have some ideas already in my head including a character I have been working on for the pass six or so months. (I think I am going to use him as my protagonist.) Slowly but surely, I will begin writing again to chase my goal of releasing a collection of short stories that could become a novelette or a novella.

Personally, I would love to be like Ken Levine, coming up with the concepts and being in control of the creative direction of a game or television show or film. In a way, I would prefer that over a published author. The way today is, I feel as I could do more with visuals than I could with words for I am a very visual person. I can paint you a picture with letterings but to see it come to life would be a whole different experience...A whole new dream and one that is certainly up for grabs.

4. Cello

It has been a year since I have had my cello in my hands. Unfortunately when I moved the first time, my instrument could not fit into the two small vehicles that were my transportation for all my belongings. I had to sacrifice it in order to make room for furniture, cooking utensils, and clothing. I still get the urge to play it, especially when listening to string instrument pieces. I have found myself browsing through classified ads searching for a cheap cello to just pick up in order to rebuild fading muscle memory. Today I decided to finally push to get my cello sent to me. I need it...I have to have it.

While my desires for advancing my technical career and improving my writing are going to swallow most of the little free time I have, I miss my cello. I miss the bliss it brought me as I played though after teaching myself the lullaby from Pan's Labyrinth, I have compiled a list of songs I want to somewhat master by the year's end including: Doctor Who theme, the ending credits to Trilby's Notes, and maybe the Ballad of Serenity since I stumbled upon two cellists playing it the other day on the internet.   read

11:47 PM on 11.09.2011

Acquisition: The Blood Pact

Ten years ago, Nintendo released a little purple box into the gaming market. The charming playfulness was more than alluring to twelve-year old me. For over a year, Nintendo tempted and teased me with whimsical commercials. Each sixty-second video was a glimpse into a magical gateway that the GameCube seemed to offer- promising me a peaceful town full of sweet animals to live with, helping me conquer fear to save Mario, cleaning up a paradise, investigating a zombie-filled mansion... So many games I desperately wanted to play, but they were always out of reach. Always locked away behind glasses cases staring back at me; I am sure I heard Reggie and Miyamoto laugh at me every time I walked passed a GameCube demo kiosk. Their taunts driving spikes into my young gaming heart.

Like many, I grew up in a middle-class family that just "got by". My parents made enough to make a living and support my younger sister and I. We always had a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, and went to a fairly decent school but a disposable income was foreign concept to us despite what our minds wanted to believe. In the innocent eyes of a child, mom and dad always had money. After all, they always paid the bills and bought the groceries, so surely that had money to spend on a toy for their daughter then. They just needed to swipe a card, write a check, or pull out cash from their bottomless wallets though that was never the case. As I learned when I got older, money was a limited source and living expenses were incredibly expensive. Back then, however, I did not understand that. It tore at my little heartstrings knowing that the GameCube I wanted so badly was unobtainable and my chances to get one were up to when my parents had left over money. Like most kids, patience was an quality I had not yet developed. I knew what I wanted it and I did not want to wait with hollow hopes of getting one for my birthday or Christmas that left me with one choice: Buy it myself.

But what could a twelve-year old do...?

My parents did not support the idea of an allowance, leaving me with needing to find an income from an outside source. I tried doing odd ended jobs at my family's local business for money, but the pay was very low. I only spent one day a week doing a few janitorial jobs which gave me about $15. At that rate, it was going to take me about four or five months before I could afford it. A far too slow of a rate for me. I had to find another option...Another way...Then, one day, my opportunity came and all I had to do was sacrifice some of my blood.

I believe it was during my physical for high school when my pediatrician introduced me to a new medical study that was being conducted. Nine years later, I cannot recall all the details, but I remember it had something to do with a new vaccine for the flu for asthmatic 10-14 year olds. The medication had not been released in hospitals year and needed to be tested in the field to observe its effectiveness against competing medications. My parents were informed that it would be harmless and the worst case scenario would be that my body would just react negatively to the drug - meaning I would just get sick and be pulled from the study. For each month I participated in the study, I would be given $100 with a maximum participation time of three months. The gears turned quickly in my head as I realized that if I did this, I could purchase a GameCube. Needless to say, I willing accepted without much hesitation.

The study was not overwhelming. Basically all I had to do was report to the doctor's office once a month for an injection and a follow-up medical exam. It sounded easy enough, especially when a brand new GameCube would be the prize. The first injection hurt; it felt like a wasp sting and was very itchy, but I dealt with it. The welt died down after a few days with the help of a bit of ice. I never really felt ill or got a fever and for three months, I returned to my doctor's office. The physical examination was pretty standard. I had to answer a few short questions for a survey, be looked over physically, and the finally, have my blood drawn.

At the end of each session, I had have a pint of blood drawn to be sent back to the laboratory for farther examination on how the drug was effecting me. That was the hardest part of it all for me. I am one of those weird people who is squeamish but yet, not. I have no problems with gore in movies or video games, but if it's my blood that is being spilt, things change. If I can help it, I do not want to see my own blood outside of my body because it does not belong outside of my veins. (Even now while writing this, I am getting some shivers at the thought. I have no idea why, but it greatly disturbs me. Anyway...) On top of that, I have always been a small girl. I am only 5'1" and barely weight 115lbs, losing a pint of blood had a nauseating effect on me. I grew dizzy and faint which forced me to need to drink a lot of water and lay down before I was allowed to leave the office.

Three months passed and I was handed a check with my name on it. I instantly turned to my mother with a smile on my face. I had done it. I had endured physical pain and sickness for a goddamn GameCube with no regrets. Lucky for me, Toys 'R' Us was running a Christmas special. (This was in November 2002, by the way.) For $200, I was able to get my GameCube bundled with Super Mario Sunshine and I was suppose to get Bomberman Generations. However, they were sold out of the Bomberman copies that they were suppose to ring up with the system. They told me I could pick out a game of equal value in its place, upon which I picked up StarFox Adventures, which was the game I really wanted. (Despite the criticism Adventures received and while it might not be a "true" StarFox game, I still enjoyed it. I thought it was a fun action-adventure game.)

A great sense of satisfaction rushed over me because that was my GameCube. It was not a gift or one just handed to me, it was one I worked for. I gave up my blood for it. For three months, I underwent experimentation risking being injected with nanomachines or the T-Virus...Possibly saved a few lives (though probably, honestly did not) in order to earn the money for a GameCube. One risk that I do not regret...

4 / / Itchy. Tasty.   read

1:56 AM on 10.12.2011

Obscurity: Thinking Indie

A few years ago, I was blessed with a chance to speak to one of the script writers and design artists from Space Channel 5 and Seaman. Sadly, I cannot recall her name but she is my grandparents' high school friend's/Japanese wife's daughter. She had worked with the development during the late 90s before selling out to SEGA, causing her to lose faith in freedom of creativity; she left the team after production and began working as a graphic design artist in San Francisco. Our meeting soon turned into an unofficial interview as we began to discuss the difficulty of entering the industry.

For many of our generation, a career within the game industry is a dream come true. Many of us have grown up playing video games in our free time so it should be no surprise to see such passion for game creation rising from today's community. As the lovely lady I spoke to said, getting noticed within the industry is more difficult nowadays than in the past. Nintendo had revived gaming and there were already plenty of development studios that had become staples to the industry, but many of the studios that we know now were still spawning from basement-dweller dreams. Requirements for many jobs consisted of nothing more than just talent, having the ability to use your skills to create a solid, final product. Nowadays, getting a job with a developers is a tab more complicated. Today some companies require some form of college degree, a certain number of years of experience, and some jobs even require having published works.

Yet despite the challenges, many are still willing to build their foundations on passion and unique ideas. Independent developers have worked their way into a fine, small niche within gaming. Indie games have become our escape from the normal by offering us alternatives from the over saturated gaming market. They are willing to take risks with gameplay schemes, art styles, and concepts in general; adding a flavorful touch to our main gaming dish. Personally, I have always admired indie developers. (In case my love for the Chzo Mythos games had not pointed to that.) When it comes to the amount of work and dedication they hold, it simply fascinates me. I highly respect anyone - regardless if it is one person or a handful - who is willing to gather up the courage to chase after their dreams. (It is part of the reason I admire David Tennant as the 10th Doctor; it was his dream to be the Doctor as a kid and he became an actor for the part. )

Among the many taking risks for their games, is Andrew Rabon, a young indie developer who has been working on a game on his own. 4kg is a retro, 2D platformer that sends the player into an undetermined future. A machine-induced apocalypse has occurred, leaving humanity in ruins and left to pathetically attempt to survive. You play as a re-activated robot whose mission is to survey the landscape in such of remaining human survivors and exterminate them so machines can claim earth as their own. (What's up, Daleks? I'm kidding.) Over time, you begin to discover the lifestyle of the robot before the war broke out by unlocking hidden cutscenes.

It originally began its development in December 2009 as an Android software game for tablets and smart phones, but a year into its production things changed. His curiosity in web browser based games soon caused 4kg's development to shift into HTML 5. Tools like Canvas and the Audio tag allowed for easier development, but of course, no dream can be easily achieved. Not long after the format switch, the game's artist dropped out of the project - taking away the game's potential use of vector, Flash art. Rabon was left with no choose but to attempt the art himself in order to keep up with his personal production schedule, eventually settling on an old, pixel art style.

Despite his busy schedule, Rabon took some to do an interview with me:

What inspired you to want to be a game developer?
Rabon: I've always wanted to make a game. I think it began with an issue of GamePro. I think when I was 10 or 11; it had an article on freeware game making programs, and I became fascinated with it. So I've tried over the years to make a game, but didn't have enough drive or concentration to finish any of them. 4kg is where I said, "enough is enough!" and buckled down. I fleshed out its design document to completion, and designed almost all the levels before even moving on to coding. I think that by having those done, they act as a road map, and I know how complete the game is and specifically what still has to be done.

What exactly fascinated you about developing a game independently?
Rabon: Creating something unique and presenting it to others, I think. Getting reactions, positive and negative. Just trying to let someone else have fun; and I guess also making a computer - this massive complex system - do exactly what you want it to.

Would you say it was your desire to want to be creative or your desire to want to offer something to a community that was the fuel?
Rabon: Both really. They complement each other. If I wanted to be creative, I could choose to write a book, or make a song, but I grew up on games and I know there's nothing like playing a fun game, the interaction is unparalleled. So I knew if I wanted to do something with my creativity, it would mostly be for games.

From what you said before, it sounded like there were past failed projects. Can you elaborate a bit on what eventually lead to the creation of 4kg? Care to show us a bit of insight into how you came up with its concept?
Rabon: A lot of the concepts were about the digital realm. I guess I'm just attracted to that sort of theme. 4kg is completely unrelated to any of my previous game ideas. I came up with the name and basic concept (a platformer where you play as a robot after an apocalypse) when I was half asleep one night, and jotted it down in a sketch pad. I then developed the game's structure a bit, 15 total levels and their themes. I let it cool for a few months, and when I came back to it I finished up the design work and came up with the full story.

From what I read, story is told through unlocked cutscenes. Is there a reason you choose to go with a less forceful approach to your story telling?
Rabon: 4kg is a retro game and I really wanted a NES feel (with modern advancements.) NES games usually don't have a very big emphasis on story, and even today neither do most platform games, but I did have a story to tell with 4kg, so I struggled for a way to reconcile these two desires. Eventually, I realized that 4kg lacked a kind of extra reward system, so I made the cutscenes the "prize" for exploring and mastering the controls of the game.

Do you feel satisfied with that decision? Or do you feel like you had to sacrifice the plot in order to maintain the 'retro' feeling?
Rabon: A part of me is kind of sad that not everybody will experience the full story. Even still, the story is simple enough that you don't have to experience it to enjoy the game. I think it's a happy balance. I also think it's good game design that players are rewarded with something that actually "matters" -- as opposed to so-called collect-athons where you just keep collecting more and more useless stuff. If 4kg had a lives system I could reward players with extra lives, or I could have unlockable bonus levels. But the cutscenes fit like a glove when I needed a reward system.

I guess in a way you could consider this a risk - hiding the story from the average player. Do you feel confident with taking such a risk?
Rabon: Yeah. I feel like it's a good idea. I'd rather people complain about not enough story than too much.

Are there any other elements of the game you feel you are taking risks with?
Rabon: Not really, I tried to limit myself with 4kg so I could complete it easier. Even though a lot of the game design is borrowed, I tried to keep it inventive and fresh, and try to introduce new mechanics often. I'm also trying to polish the experience as much as possible. I hope the end result is a very fun platformer with a bit of story that sticks with you, that might be a bit on the short side but never drags. That's my end goal.

Tell us a bit about the gameplay then. Did you create the engine or did you use a program? [b]Rabon: 4kg's code is based on the "Leave Me Alone" demo game for the Akihabara engine. It's straight up text, no special program here. I find they're a bit too limiting for my style. I really like to change stuff up on the fly and having the code right there lets me do that really quickly. That's also why I chose Akihabara; it's written in JavaScript. Instead of waiting for my game to compile I just have to press the browser reload button. It's immensely freeing.

Do you ever see yourself branching off into the use of other programs for future projects? Or are the talks of future games too off into the future to think about?
Rabon: I do think about it a lot. Particularly for HTML5 game development, stuff is happening all the time so I have to constantly re-evaluate the tools I use. I've been looking into GameMaker: HTML5, and Impact.js. but Akihabara suits my needs, and I can do anything I want with the source code which is great. As for future games, since 4kg has had its design complete for over a year, I've had lots of time to think about the future. I tried not to at first of course, and just concentrate on 4kg, but my imagination never rests. So I'm designing my next game now.

Do you plan on continuing to develop your games independently like now? Or do you see yourself trying to reach out to other's to help produce the project a bit quicker? Such as maybe starting an "unofficial" development studio?
Rabon: My next game will be like 4kg has been, but hopefully much quicker. Teaming up with others would let me develop bigger and more involved games, but there's a certain amount of expectations from those people you get involved in. It's a tough nut to crack but I think I will find an answer.

Is starting your own development studio a goal at some point? Is it something you'd like to do?
Rabon: Yeah, of course. I don't know if it'd make any money though *chuckle* and I probably wouldn't handle the business side, so I'd need to find someone for that. If I could be a dedicated game designer, at my own studio or someone else's, I'd be content, but I have this feeling I can't shrug off that game design is the "easy way out," and that you have to be a coder or an artist first, then progress to a design role. That may or may not be the case, but I'm hoping that making my own games will be a "third" option, and that they'll show the other studios I'm a good game designer.

How has it been trying to handle a project by yourself?
Rabon: It's really tough to stay motivated. It's easy to say, "Well I had a busy day, so I'll work on it tomorrow instead." If I had worked on 4kg every day it would be out by now, maybe even a year ago. Designing the game was a blast, and even coding and putting the sprites together. But just pushing through is a trial by fire. That's why having a complete design doc is so important, it lets you basically check things off a list and have a sense of completion and achievement.

Is there anything you wish you did differently?
Rabon: Besides not having it released already, I would probably say I wish I had chosen HTML5 to start with. In the beginning, 4kg was for Android, but I switched after my artists dropped out of the project. I could have gotten a good bit of work done if I had stayed on one platform, although who knows, maybe not.

Speaking of artists, where did the music come from?
Rabon: 8bitcollective hosts a bevy of fantastic chiptune music all available under a Creative Commons license. Even still, I specifically sought out each musician to ask for their approval for putting their music in 4kg. They have all agreed and 4kg has an absolutely fantastic nine-piece soundtrack because of them. I will be releasing this soundtrack for free on the game's blog following 4kg's release.

When can we expect to see 4kg's release? And is there anything else you would like to add?
Rabon: After nearly two whole years, 4kg will be released for free this November. Users of any modern browser should be able to play it, although the game is being specifically optimized for Google Chrome. I am thinking of making other versions, like for Facebook, Android, or iPhone, but I don't know how long those could take, so I can't commit to that right now. I hope you look forward to 4kg's release, I know I am. I am actually a bit into designing my next game, which could be like something nobody's ever seen before, so I'm excited to be able to finally move fully into developing that.

You can head over to 4kg's website to continue to follow is development. A demo is also available on the site for anyone interested in giving it a shot, and contributing motivation to one man's dream.   read

11:58 PM on 07.30.2011

Cybershark Week

You know him. You love him. He's a shark.

In correspondence to the Discovery Channel's lame Shark Week, we are going to have a badass Cybershark Week dedicated to our amazing Director of Communications - Hamza Aziz. (If for some reason you don't know who he is, then you've been living under a rock as blogger here, but you can still educate yourself. Check out his C Blog Interview when you get a chance.)

Each day we will try to something cool in honor of Hamza as a thanks for all the work he does for us and bullshit he (I'm guessing) puts up with. Because I do not know about you guys, but I would not have been here or kept writing C Blogs if I had not received some encouragement from Hamza himself. At the time, I had been so use to people with any sense of fame to them being a bit uppity, that I was surprised to discover how laid back he is and how active he is with the community.

Cybershark Week runs from July 31st to August 6th. So check back here each day to see what the new activity is.

Sunday - Today I ask all of you to change your profile pictures on everything to something related to a shark. Twitter, Facebook, here on DToid, Steam IDS, etc... Anything you can. Now, keep those as your profile pictures until Cybershark Week is up.

This is a lame "activity" but I promise they will get better later on.

Monday - Ok, today I ask you all to give Hamza a gift. I know many of us are poor and many of us don't want to send stuff to a random guy, but the gift I am asking is the gift a child gives to a father. A gift made from the heart.

Draw a picture of a shark.

Put all your heart and soul into it! Do it! Do it now!

Tuesday- How many times do you use the word "shark" in a day? Probably almost never. Well guess what? Today I ask you to use it as much as you humanly... eh sharkly... can.

Keep track and return later tonight with your results!

Wednesday - Play this game and show us your high score!

Thursday - Bad ass shark videos... Go!

Friday - *Internet was out!*

Saturday - Let's end the week with something big...

I want you to dress up like a shark and share a picture with the world!   read

5:55 PM on 07.10.2011

Freedom: Breaking Reality's Chains

- noun

1. The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint[/i]"

Reality can be a frightening, horrible place. In-between the brief blissful moments lies dark, tortuous truths that no one truly wants to face. At some point in our lives, we all feel the torment of living. Perhaps it comes in the form of loneliness, or maybe it is the weight of bills and debts on our minds that keeps us awake, or maybe it comes in the form of the heart wrenching decisions we are forced to make. Whatever pain we might endure in life, we all need some way to release the frustration that comes with it. We all need a moment where organization can exist in the chaotic life we live. For many of us, the key to our realistic chains is handed to us by video games. The fantasy worlds and fictional characters we are privileged to experience and play as give us opportunities to ease our stressed minds by replacing troublesome thoughts with peaceful distractions.

Naturally, I could turn this blog into a discussion about how video games are good stress relievers; or discuss the dangers of game addicting; or talk about other's stories about how games somehow in some way improved their lives. Though that would not be my story regarding my gaming freedoms. So, instead, I will share with you the games throughout my life that have helped me through hardships. There are many I could name, but I will only focus on the ones that stand out or hard the largest impact on me. So here are a few games that opened my realism cell door and allowed me to venture out into a world where I could feel invincible even when I was emotionally the most vulnerable throughout my life. Chronologically.

Monster Rancher 1 & 2
1997 - 8 years old
1999 - 9/10 years old

My uncle was the one responsible for my love of gaming. When growing up, he use to babysit me while my parents went out and like any early-20 year old, he spent his free time playing video games. I was exposed to them young. He is the one who was responsible for helping me develop a love for some of my favorite series, among them was the Monster Rancher games on the original PlayStation. During my grade and middle school years, I use to be babysat by my aunt who ran an in-home daycare. Most of the kids she watched were a few years younger than me, minus the one girl who lived across the street. With lack of other children to play with, my uncle would let me go downstairs to where he had his gaming set up at. He trusted me enough to let me have access to pretty much anything I wanted to play. After all, we had been gaming together since before I could talk.

This digital cavern became my safe haven at the end of the day. I had very low self esteem growing up. I always felt that I was never good enough by other people's standards. I was not pretty enough, not smart enough, not likable enough, etc... and we all know how cruel kids can be. I had been made fun of a lot in grade school for many reasons. Boys did not want to be friends with me because I had toxic cooties. (Scientists have proven that 8.8% of males under the age of eleven die from cootie infections every year!) Girls did not want to be friends with me because I liked "boy" toys. I was a laughingstock for others entertainment, but when I played Monster Rancher, I was an admired bad ass.

The games were simple enough that I could read and understand what I needed to do, but yet advanced enough that when I look back at them I question how well I did when I was eight. The combat system was easy enough. All I had to do was match the monster's location on the field to the specific attack I wanted to us. It is the fact that I figured out how the stat system and how to properly raise my monster. I guess with a little bit of guidance, I began to understand and match the stat logs, and figured I needed the numbers to be higher.

Besides training your monster for battle, you actual need to take care of them giving me a sense of responsibility. Their performance is partly based on their relationship with you as a breeder. As the weeks go by, they can become stressed if training and battles are too intense and depressed if you are too strict, but also lazy if you are too lenient. I found myself in a mortal dilemma as I was asked to pick punishment or praise for my monster's actions. I remember one time I was too tough resulting in my monster running away from the farm. It not only delayed my progress through the FIMBA and IMA (the two organizations that host the battles and monitor monster breeding), but it also put my ranch at a finance decline since my only source of income was prize money.

However, I did learn a life lesson from playing the first Monster Rancher. At the time, I did not know that monster's had a life span. One of my first monsters began to age. She grew tired quicker, her stats bonuses grew smaller, and she soon began to lose battles more often. I thought perhaps I was pushing her too much when the game cut to a scene showing my ranch at night. A shooting star shot across the sky as the ghost of my monster stepped out from the barn and floated towards the moon. The next morning my ranch's assistant told me that she had died the night before. I was confused... I must have had been to hard with training. So I reloaded my old save and this time, I had her rest and never had her do any of the training session but she still died. That is when I realized that death was something that was unavoidable. There were no "reloads" and no way to prevent it from happening. There at the age of eight I learned that death was permanent.

At least until I learned that I could freeze a monster in the lab, making them immortal as they forever stayed cased in ice.

Animal Crossing
2002 - 13/14 years old

During this time, I was going through the dreaded "change". (Aka puberty for those who did not take health class.) Hormones were rushing through me as I began to physically mature. On top of that, life likes to be ironically cruel by also forcing more emotional stress on us during this part in our lives. Not only was I confused by new feelings from it, but I was also making the jump from a small, private middle school to a large, public high school. I, probably like some of you, was never the out-going type.

I was the shy, withdrawn girl who sat in the back of the class to avoid being seen. The one who quietly and quickly gathered my things before dashing out into the hall the moment the bell rang. Freshmen year really sucked because I found it almost impossible to befriend anyone due to my sheltered background. It also did not help that I lived in a neighborhood with very few- to almost none - kids within my age. That and my best friend had moved away a month before school started. (I never saw him again.) And my dog, who was my only true non-judgmental friend, had to put down shortly afterward.

Needless to say, that first year was among the loneliest of my life. I had very low self esteem and we all know how cruel kids can be. I spent most of my time cooped up in my room somewhat fearing companionship because I did not want to be hurt again from losing someone I let near to me. I use to write stories and played video games to pass time and help cope with the seclusion; I had always been a child with an active imagination, so I was naturally drawn to the open-endediness that Animal Crossing advertised itself with. The bright environment it had and joyful music always calmed me, and I found enough things to do that distracted my mind from my real life troubles.

To me, the little town with animals in it soon became a gateway to a new world. A world where I was more than just "that girl". Everyone knew my name. Everyone was happy to see me. Everyone liked me. It was like being popular without the unnecessary teen drama because the animals never caused an trouble. They all lived their own separate, simple lives that I played a huge role in. Even though the in-game friendship never went past just casual conversation or errands, and lacked the complex relationship building mechanics we see into today's game, I still felt a connection to the animals I befriend in my town. There were some I liked and some I did not. Just like in real life, I favored the ones I liked the most by talking with them the most and offering to do most of their chores. I use to send them shirts or gifts for no reason just to receive a letter the next day in order to feel some sort of spark of happiness from thinking someone would go out of their way to talk to me. In a way, it replaced the loneliness I felt during my normal day. While the animals could never replace a true friend, they were a good enough substitute to satisfy my longing for some form of companionship.

I cannot begin to count the hours wasted just doing stupid things in the game. For example, I set up a pet shop in my house's basement. I would catch fish or bugs, then set up rows of tables to display them on. I even had a cash register. It honestly did not matter in the game since, at the time, there was no online features. So I had no one else to "sell" my pets to, but occasionally the animals would ask for a certain fish or bug. I would check if I had it in my back stock to avoid having to go out and specifically catch the fish or insect. I also use to rearrange my house in a way to give myself individual rooms. The main floor would have a living room, a kitchen, and even a bathroom with a screen blocking the toilet so no one could see you using it. The top floor was turned into a bedroom and office. Again, this made no difference to the game, but I liked the feeling of viewing it like a real house. I liked shaping the town into a world that catered to my emotional needs, making it a bit of a secret hideaway when the loneliness did kick in.

World of WarCraft
Mid 2007 to early 2011 - 18 to 21

World of WarCraft had been out for quite some time before I joined the Alliance. I use to play a lot of WarCraft II when I was younger; so I was easily drawn to WoW due to my love of the WarCraft universe. I had picked up vanilla WoW and Burning Crusade in a bundle shortly after starting my Senior year of high school. During this time, I was on the edge. I was not stressed about graduating since I had not failed any classes. I knew for a fact that I had more than enough credits for my high school, but I was stressed over trying to keep up my GPA since I had been on the Honor Roll on top of the fearful fact that my life was changing dramatically. I was breaking away from the scheduled lifestyle that I was use to and facing adulthood. I was now fully responsible for my actions and I needed to focus on how I was going to handle my life. I was receiving pressure from my family to rush into college. While I know I wanted to progress through my academic career, I was still unsure of what career I wanted.

At this point in my life, there was much I had to face. Besides the pressure of adulthood there were issues with abandoning friends, hardships in my past relationship, and stress from work. I found myself being almost completely engulfed by WoW, to the point of it becoming a borderline addiction. At first, WoW was just a time waster. It gave me something to do between shifts or after homework, but it soon became more than that. I soon found it to be a distraction from my life. Instead of mauling over troubles in my head, I choose to focus on a mental check "to do" check list. I would focus on the best approaches to finishing my quest chains efficiently and set level goals. I would think about the professions I needed to improve and how I wanted to go about improving them, even to the point of making a new character that specialized in a profession I needed for another character.

In a way, WoW was my emotional crutch, or my "depressed" game as I now have dubbed it. It was during my continuous urge and addiction to WoW that opened my eyes to the idea that I used games as a way of coping with hardships. While I enjoyed playing WoW, the true reason I played it was because I wanted to focus my mind on something other than the dilemmas that were developing around me. I would shut my brain down causing it to trudge along enough to follow through my WoW plans while the grinding quests helped numb my mind. Looking back on it, using WoW as a virtual way to clog my ears was a childish thing to do, but I was desperate to feel something else other than fear and sadness. Leveling up in WoW gave me a sense of accomplishment when I generally felt like a failure in the real world. The fun I had with my guild mates replaced the hollow feelings I felt when I began to lost friends or got into late night arguments with my ex.

Eventually, I had to take control of my life. Upon which I did. I have now since then settled on a career path and moved across country to begin a new life. I am in the process of attending college while also having a successful enough business career to fully support myself, thus turning WoW back into a time waster over an anti-depressant. At least until Blizzard took away a lot of what made WoW enjoyable.

Now I play Rift.

Windows Phone 7/XBox360 Live Arcade
2011 - 21 years old

I have written about Ilomilo already. I wrote about it back in January, but if you had read that blog, then you already know why I must include it on this list.

Back on January 12th, on that Wednesday night, would be the last time I would speak to my father. The following Friday, not even two days later, I received an urgent phone call from my mother demanding that call her immediately. I had been at work all morning and was about to go to my first week of classes, thus causing me to ignore the phone calls and question why her text messages were nothing more than "call right now". When I did get a chance to return the call, my grandmother picked up and I could hear weird noises in the background... Noises of machines and a doctor being called over the intercom... She was blunt with me because, frankly, that is just how I am. I hate it when information is withdrawn and never delivered directly but at the same time, I wish she would have soften the blow. My heart stopped as she told me my father had passed away. A generally healthy man below 50 had woken up to the day being normal, only to have suddenly just collapsed to the floor in our living room, dying almost instantly. (Autopsy reports later would reveal the cause to be an uncaught, untreated blood clot.)

That morning and every morning for days... Weeks... to come were among the worst in my life. I had not seen my dad since I moved to Charleston, SC last September. We had parted on somewhat bad terms with frustrations and disappoints lingering even in our distant phone calls. I quickly began to regret the stupidity of my youthful arrogance and grudges on top of the grieve stricken confusion of trying to figure out why such a thing had to happen to my family and to me. Not only did I lost my father before ever properly making up for our disagreements, I also had to set back college due to new financial troubles. I felt like I had failed him in some way since the reason I moved was to attend school and begin my own life.

Depressed, confused, bitter, angry... I hated the goddamn world that day, but I could not just simply sit on the couch in completely silence sulking the minutes away. I had to do something to occupy my mind or I was going to go mad, but I lacked the energy or desire to do anything. I even felt too drained to get off the couch to put a game into my XBox360, which then resulted in me just browsing through Arcade games. Ilomilo strangely stood out as it lured me to download the demo. Its bright, soft colors and bloom effects gave the game a heavenly look that calmed me. The chipper music soothed me. I could begin to feel myself easily relax as I began to play the game in its angelic atmosphere.

Being a puzzle game was a big advantage to it helping to distract my mind. The puzzles started off fairly easily, but grew more complex as the game progressed. Trying to bring Ilo and Milo together became hard, which is expected in a puzzle game, but the thought process that was required kept my mind focused on something other than the feelings that swelled inside. The story of how hard Ilo and Milo had to work to meet up again soon became a comforting concept to me. As I mentioned in my blog back then, I mentally replaced Ilo and Milo with my dad and myself; the opposite ends of the park became metaphors for heaven and earth with the pathways standing for obstacles I would face in life. While I might face those troubles alone, it meant I was not completely alone. My dad is still watching over me and waiting for me.

I must have played for only an hour or so before reality reclaimed me, but the truth was that for that hour, I was "okay".   read

12:56 PM on 06.26.2011

Streamtoid - 1213

Game: 1213 Episodes 1 - 3
Date: Sunday, June 26
Time: 9:00pm (Eastern)

Pain and darkness is all a man knows. He has no memories regarding how he came to be a prisoner or even who he is. All that he knows is that he is referred to by a number - 1213 - and is a tool used to another's sick amusement. Day in and day out he is released onto a hazardous obstacle course where his captor watches the torture from the safety of his surveillance room. A new day breaks dawn but this morning starts unlike any other. The "training" schedule seems to be messed up as 1213's cell door opens without notice. A gun lies at his feet. Perhaps curiosity - or desperation to escape - is what leads 1213 to venture out into the unknown world, but maybe... Maybe he would have been safer to stay inside.

1213 is yet another free to play psychological adventure game created by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw. I felt that after completing the Chzo Mythos games with everyone, it would be fitting to continue with another game within the same genre. I have also noticed that episodic, short games such as these are fantastic for streaming. It allows for breaks and gives me easy points to pick back up at if we need to stop for a night.

1213 is rather entertaining. It is an action based game compared to the Chzo Mythos games that were point-and-click adventure games. There are three episodes for the series but do not worry. The series in a whole is about as long as one Chzo Mythos game. Even after watching all the dialogue, we should be able to finish the whole series within two or so hours. That is not all though... A special guest will also be broadcasting with me and giving extra commentary on the game. Yet another test for possible, future Streamtoids.

As always, if you miss the stream (I got your message, Scotty), we always have the recording up and available on the stream's channel. You can also go back and rewatch older streams as well but please do report any issues that you might encounter.


On a site note, I'd really like to get the official name decided here soon. I'd love to finally join Dtoid's JTV but I feel as if we need to polish this up a bit more before putting it out there. Especially when it comes to the content. I feel as if we would be trotting into Conrad's territory if we show older games. So, what type of games would you like to see us focus on?

Clearly the show would be on a weekly (perhaps twice a week) showing. If that matters any.   read

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