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2:25 PM on 12.13.2013

My Body, Is Not Ready

Combo Breakers, Counter Breakers, spacing, timing, hit boxes, frame data, combos that actually work in practice.  These are all aspects of Killer Instinct and of fighting games in general that can be learned with enough practice.  Fundamentals that, once down, take you from some button mashing newbie to a competent player.  Indeed, in my own experience with Killer Instinct, I've found that when you stick to the basics and stop worrying about how high you can get that combo meter to go that you'll start winning matches.

But there's something else that determines how good you will or will not be.  Your own body.  Killer Instinct is the first fighting game I've ever really spent a lot of time with playing against other people.  I noticed how my body was reacting to the match, specifically toward the end.  Winning or losing, there were some strange things going on in here.  These are some of the things that happen to me:

1. Tightening in my chest.  Anxiety, probably.
2. Fast pulse.  Adrenaline.
3. Shaking hands.  Ditto.
4. Sloppy playing.  I'd screw up, even if I were winning.  I'd rush in without thought.
5. Flushing.  Adrenaline is to blame here too.

So, I learned that my brain decided I should be pumped about the situation being displayed on my screen.  I'm still being impacted by these things, but now that I know it's coming, I've begun trying to calm myself.  I take deep breaths, I focus on what I'm doing, but most of all I focus on what my opponent is doing.  I also know that there's probably a good chance that he's reacting the same way.

How one controls their own body is just as important to competent play.  It doesn't matter if you're a pro fighting game champion or just someone one that enjoys fighting games.  Keeping your nerves in check is a practice any gamer playing any competitive genre should work on.

Also, there's this little problem right now that has nothing to do with anyone but Double Helix (fix it!):

4:22 PM on 12.09.2013

In-Game Audio on a headset sans a digital-in port

The Xbox One doesn't have connections for analog sound.  While some of you have fancy headsets that make love to your ear-holes through the wonderful sound they produce, us lowly folk must make due with what we have.  I have an older headset from Turtle Beach.  It isn't great but it's not too bad either.  It has a distinct lack of digital-in.  So, until I can afford one of those sweet ear-hole fornicating headsets, I went on Newegg and got myself a digital to analog converter for less than $20.

I can't complain about it.  As much as I might like to.  It does what it's supposed to do.  Optical cable goes in one end, analog out on the other and viola.  I have in-game sound.  It's a cheap fix for those of us with other people in the house that may not want to be bothered by your noise.

TL,DR?  Here's a video.  (This is the first time I've ever talked on camera.  As you can tell, not very comfortable with it yet.  But, hey, that's a Dtoid shirt!)


8:24 AM on 12.07.2013

An evolving setup and more Killer Instinct

Well, I've been banished from my own television folks.  The wife has decided, in her majesty's flawless wisdom, that she can no longer share the television.  Snap is not good enough.  Days of our Lives takes priority over my X1.  So, I was forced to make my own little gaming corner.  It is still a work in progress but it works quite well.

A few issues I'm having: 

1. The Kinect refuses to sign me in even though I've adjusted it in the settings and when I go into the "I wasn't recognized" option, my happy face is in very plain view.  I'm guessing I'm a hair too close.  Voice commands work fine though.

2. Wire management.  Gonna have to fix that.

3. Surge protection.  Gotta fix that too.

4. Monitor.  That's a 22 inch, 1080p monitor.  It works great but the sound is awful and it has one dead pixel.  In the middle of the screen.  It hates me, I hate it.  It will be replaced with this beauty.

5. Sound.  I have an older model Turtle Beach X31 headset.  It doesn't have optical in so I have an adapter incoming from Newegg.

6. A comfortable seat.  I don't have a good chair.  I have a fold-out metal monster that hates my ass.  This must be corrected.

Other than that, it's become my own little gaming oasis and I'm quite pleased.

On a side note.  I achieved a personal milestone last night by causing my first rage quit on Killer Instinct.  I was quite proud.

8:42 AM on 12.05.2013

Confession: I am horrible at Killer Instinct

I am a terrible Killer Instinct player.  It's not the game that is at fault.  It's fairly simple to learn, not incredibly challenging to master.  It's responsive, fluid, and well designed.  No, it's just me.  While it isn't hard to learn, it does require some pretty complicated hand-eye twitch movements to pull off those awesome combos.  I'm getting better, and that's something the game encourages you to do as well.

I honestly don't know why I picked to main Thunder.  I guess there's just something about his move-set that I enjoy.  While he's the big slow character of the (currently) small roster, he's not sluggish and can unleash combos that drain half a health bar pretty easily.  My problem?  I drop combo all the time.  I'll be on a good roll and, opps, dropped the combo.  Plus, sometimes my brain just stops telling my fingers what to do.  Especially when being pressured.

It doesn't help that you can't do the amazingly thorough Dojo mode with your chosen character, only with Jago.  Why they did that, I have no idea.  I'm hoping it's something they plan on changing in the near future as it's the reason I haven't bothered with it even though it's brilliant.  So, for me, it all comes down to practice.  Against the AI in survival, in Practice mode to stop dropping combos, and in exhibition matches to get better against real people.  So, if you meet me online, know that I will try to beat you.  But, I make no promises.

PRO TIP: The Kinect is the default communication device, you have to go into settings and turn it off so that people cannot hear your entire household's conversations while playing online.  I'm sure your children are adorable, I don't want to hear them screaming though.   read

5:37 PM on 11.30.2013

Swiftly Reviews: Dead Rising 3


Prior to its release DR3 had a bit of controversy around it regarding framerate, its darker tone, and visual fidelity.  As it turned out, none of these things were actual problems but rather served to further add cars to the hype train.  Dead Rising 3 is funny, dark, gritty, violent, and fills your screen with massive amounts of zombies ripe for the slaughter.  Most importantly, DR3 is a hell of a lot of fun.

For as much discussion as there was about how good or bad the game looks, it comes down to saying that Dead Rising 3 is a good looking game.  There are moments when it looks great then there are moments where you can tell that it's a launch title.  Sometimes you might catch a few muddy textures but you'd have to be actively looking for it as you'll be too busy running for your life or fighting off a horde.  Speaking of which, the sheer amount of zombies on screen at one time is astounding.  While it's true that you'll often see quite a few that looks just alike, it doesn't stop the amount of joy you'll get by coming up with creative ways to carve your way through them.  DR3 isn't a graphical powerhouse but it isn't bad either.

Humor is something subjective by nature and doubly so for Dead Rising 3.  You'll not find humor here on purpose as its trying hard to be a more serious story but when you enter a cutscene wearing a S&M outfit, it becomes very funny.  I caught myself laughing often because here my character was being so dire about the situation while he looks like a disco dancer, or a sex slave, or dressed in any other assortment of whacky outfits.  The weapons add another level of comedy.  While some are serious instruments of death, others are just plain stupid.  A gun that fires pink dildos, a face hugging suicide bomb teddy bear, or a doll with an acid bomb sticking out of its ass.  They're all here along side more serious instruments of doom.

It is this wide variety of weaponry and costumes that keeps the gameplay of Dead Rising 3 from becoming boring.  Every zombie is taken out by beating on it, some more than others.  Psychos can largely just be beaten down by wailing on them with the help of your team of survivors and bosses all have patterns that are easily learned.  I never really felt challenged during my normal mode playthrough.  The game controls fine, no standard enemies require any sort of special effort, and only the final boss put me down to dangerously low health.  Even the side missions you can complete begin to repeat themselves in nature and only fall into a few types.  In this sense the wackiness is both DR3's greatest asset and its worst feature as you realize that without it, you'd be left with solid but mundane gameplay.  Even upgrading your character isn't much of a challenge.  You progressively gain more attribute points to spend as you raise in level and you continue to earn them after the max level of 50.

The issues that I have with DR3 are fairly minor.  Voice commands, while an interesting concept, aren't implemented very well.  You'll end up repeating "You're crazy" and other not so colorful commands quite a lot during your playthrough just to expose an enemy weakness.  Thrusting your controller forward to shake off a zombie that's grabbed you works well until it doesn't because at one point during my game the motion control stopped responding.  That lead to repeated deaths until I figured out I could turn it off in the options.  The biggest complaint I have is in regards to the AI of the survivors you can recruit.  They're, well, they're quite useless.  It doesn't matter what weapon you give them, they'll spend more time trying to run through a horde than fighting them off.  They also don't seem to know how to board a vehicle until you're swarmed with zombies.  I was having to throw zombies off my window before my "team" even bothered with opening a door.  You're almost better off not even bringing them along.

If it sounds like I was unhappy with my time spent playing Dead Rising 3, I'm not.  Just the opposite, in fact.  Despite any issues I may have with the game, it still manages to be a very good game.  A testament, perhaps, to how fun the developers made it to slaughter horde upon horde of mindless zombies.  Dead Rising 3 doesn't do anything spectacular, with the exception to how many zombies they managed to fit on the screen, but it does entertain and will do so for hours on end.  Exactly what you need for a launch title until bigger and better things come about.

[/center]   read

11:41 AM on 11.24.2013

A Weekend with the Xbox One - Early Impressions

By 12:30am, I will have had my Xbox One for 48 hours.  In that time, I've played quite a bit of Forza and far more Dead Rising 3.  I've also tooled around with the console itself.  Sampled it's voice controls, have fallen in love with Upload Studio, and downloaded a few apps.  This isn't exactly a review, but rather, my impressions of the hardware so far.

The UI of the X1, to me, feels truly next gen.  Oddly enough, I don't care for Windows 8 and it's tiled interface but here it feels great.  Being able to pin my favorite applications, downloaded content, and even individual websites is excellent.  It's fast, responsive, and intuitive once you spend a bit of time with it.  They made the right call.

Voice Control:
I, like everyone else, wasn't happy with the "forced" inclusion of the Kinect.  Now that I have it though, my mind is completely changed.  Some people are having a few issues getting the X1 to respond but here's what I did and to great effect:

1. Go into the Kinect setup and troubleshoot it.  Choose that the Kinect can't hear you.
2. This will launch the calibration function.  Turn your volume up to the point where the setup tells you that it's too loud.
3. Turn your volume down by one notch until the calibration works.

This calibrates the Kinect to hear you even in very loud environments.  I have a pretty pronounced southern accent but I'd say the X1 responds to voice commands a good 95% of the time.

Upload Studio:
I have been wanting to break into the YouTube scene for a while now.  Not because I expect to become a well-known and loved submitter of content, but because I've always thought it would be fun having a place to share my gaming exploits.  I've never been able to afford a traditional setup to do this and now I don't need it.  Upload Studio is easily one of the best things about the X1.  With a simple voice command, the system captures up to five minutes (you can link up to 5 clips together too) of gameplay in 720p at 30fps.  From there, it's a simple matter of editing the clip as needed and saving it to SkyDrive where you can then download it to your PC and share it however you'd like.  It's inspired me to create a new YouTube channel after so many years of wanting to jump on board.

The Console & Controller:
The X1 is large but no bigger than most DVRs.  It's also heavy and quite unassuming to look at.  It runs pretty much whisper quiet and I haven't noticed any particular heat problems.  The controller is fantastic.  It feels great in your hands, has a nice weight to it, and looks very slick.  Some people don't care for the bumpers but I haven't had any issues with them.  I use the broadside of my index fingers to activate them instead of my fingertips.  The analog sticks are slightly smaller than the 360 controller but have a much better feel to them.

It's important to note that I don't run my TV service through the X1.  That was never really something I wanted to do.  That said, snapping websites and especially Upload Studio is a very handy feature.  Stuck on a difficult part that you just can't get through?  Snap Internet Explorer and find a walkthrough.  I have seen people that love the ability to watch TV and game at the same time and it works very well.  It's not something I want to do but for them it's a great benefit.

Welcome to the new generation:
Overall, what Microsoft has created here is far more than a game console.  They've created a truly unique experience.  The X1 can do a whole range of useful and fun functions but, most importantly, the games that I've played so far have been a great time.  When you play DR3, you're not thinking "Gee, this would be great if only it were more than 720p".  No, you're thinking "Holy balls!  I just stuffed a hand grenade into a zombie's mouth and threw him into a horde and blew them all to shit!".  I can not wait to get my hands on future releases when developers have had more time to juice the hardware and figure out innovative ways to make use of the Kinect.  My friends, this is going to be an amazing generation for gamers.  Period.   read

11:33 AM on 11.20.2013

The Calm Before the One Storm

It's happening.  My pre-orders are done.  I'll have a shiny new console to play with and three games.  My new Xbox Live account is made, and ready to go (long story about why I decided to make a new one that I won't go into here).  As the gif so eloquently illustrates.  I am ready.

But, I still haven't decided about going to the midnight launch at the GameStop where I've pre-ordered.  True, it will be a fairly painless affair and I wouldn't be going to sit there all day.  I'm debating on going around 7 or 8pm if I go at all.  My problem?  I won't even play the thing when I get home because it'll be too late to get into it and I like to sleep.  It's a downfall of getting a bit older I'm afraid.  Plus, upon seeing the initial setup, I won't be able to do it since people will be sleeping and the noise will wake them up.  So, basically, if I go to the midnight launch then I'll be getting home and letting it sit until the next morning anyway.  My sensible side says "wait until Friday morning, GameStop is opening early anyway" but my excited gamer side is saying "Give it to us!  The precious!".  It's quite the mental stymie.

I suppose it may be a good idea to outline now how I will cover Xbox One and PS4 (when I get one) games.  I enjoy doing write-ups and critiquing titles for fun so you can expect me to do so here.  So these are the things you should know when reading a "review" by me:

1. I'm just like you, dear reader.  I'm not "in the business" so I don't get games any earlier than the average joe.  That said, I'm also by no means wealthy.  I rent far more than I buy.

2. I give it a fair go.  If I want to critique a title, I play it for a least a week.  I play it a lot.  I will probably finish it but if I don't, then rest assured that I've tried my best to do so and I'm more than familiar with it to give you my impressions.

3. I don't spoil.  I will always do my best to avoid spoilers.  If it can't be avoided than you will be warned.

4. Scores are a bore.  I realize that most people just skip to the end for that numerical value that someone else has placed on something you might think looks like fun.  I don't do that.  I will tell you what I liked and what I didn't during the article itself.  By the end, I will inform you if I think the title is a buy, rent, or pass and why I think that.

5. Video reviews are the future.  This is something I am struggling with.  I'm not a charismatic person.  Online interactions for me are no problem but facing a camera and talking about what I think is much more difficult for me.  I've always expressed my thoughts much better in writing.  I realize that the ability to do video reviews with these new consoles is an amazing tool.  If I should decide to try my hand, know that it will probably suck.  If it sucks so much that I feel like a total jackass than you'll all be back to reading.  I don't care if you don't like it.  If it stops becoming fun for me, than it isn't going to be fun for you either.

So, that's what you should know.  Don't you feel closer to me now?  I do hope you'll stick around, read what I write, and enjoy it.  You don't have to agree with me, I respect that.  Let's do this.

Edit: For those of you getting a Xbox One, there's a great list of voice commands in pdf format to be found on this reddit thread.   read

12:10 PM on 11.16.2013

Xbox One - Launch Games Review Predictions

It's happening.  The X1 is less than a week from hitting the shelves and gracing our homes.  Starting Monday the first reviews will trickle in from all the major websites for a handful of games with more being released as the week progresses.  I thought this to be a prime chance to give my opinion on how well (or poorly) the "big four" will do.

Forza 5

Forza 5 will bring in reviews in the 8-9 range.  Anything less and I would be completely surprised judging by everything we know about it so far.  Tried and true, if you're a car guy or gal than Forza is the launch title for you.  It may also be the best scoring launch title the X1 has to offer.

Dead Rising 3

Earlier last week, Digital Foundry put out this article stating that DR3 has serious frame-rate issues.  But, this has now been widely ignored due to a couple of factors.  A) They never once say their tests were done on a release build of the game.  They state "the build we saw".  B) Recent videos from websites like IGN show DR3 running without any issues even in online multiplayer.  Of course, all of this is just hearsay until official reviews come out and we have the chance to play it for ourselves.  I'm predicting 7-8s for DR3, assuming it runs as planned.

Killer Instinct

The new KI is going to be something of a wild card.  From looking at it, it appears to be a very well done fighter and the dojo mode looks incredibly in depth.  Probably the most detailed tutorial in a fighter that I've ever seen.  If the gameplay holds up, KI should enjoy scores in the 7-8 range.


The most unknown of all the X1 has to offer on launch day and the one that I think everyone is on the fence about.  I'm not even going to try to predict the score on Ryse.  It's far too up in the air.  I went ahead and pre-ordered it, I'm expecting a decent amount of fun with a relatively short single player game that is basically a fantastic looking tech demo.  That's how I'm going to treat it and if it turns out to be a great game, I'll be very happily surprised.  I expect "meh", except for the visuals.  Notice his facial expression in the gif?  If nothing else, Ryse is incredibly slick on the visual side.

What are your predictions on these and the other X1 games?

While I truly do feel very bad for all the PS4 owners that are having hardware troubles, I couldn't help but laugh at this.  Seriously though, when I get a PS4 I really hope it doesn't do this.  Hell, I'm praying to the gaming gods every night that the X1 doesn't have any trouble.

9:10 AM on 11.08.2013

Sigh, I should have known better.

Do you know what I had to eat this morning for breakfast?  Guess.  Go on, I'll wait.


Humble Pie with a side of Crow.  I don't care for it and I think I'll avoid its foul, disgusting taste from now on.  It was served to me upon looking through my comment history this morning.  My first blog here on the site after my return was one that informed everyone of my displeasure at how the community has devolved into this negative mass of comments when it comes to anything related to the Xbox One.  I scolded you, good people, for your hatefulness.  While I still stand by what I said and I stand by the "arguments" I've made in various threads, I feel that I've come off as hypocritical.  Something that I never want to feel and I certainly don't want to give that impression.  How can I express displeasure with our community (notice I say "our") for being negative then turn around and further feed that negativity?  I can't, in good conscious, do so.

What's worse is that I should know better.  I've been around for every console release and ever since gaming sites have popped up over the internet, people have argued tooth and nail about the differences between consoles.  Here's the lesson that I already knew but ignored; you can not change someone's opinion.  You can not make them agree with you and you can very seldom ever get them to agree to disagree.  Instead of arguing, the smartest course of action is to stay out of it.  If there's a comment section full of negativity, say your opinion on the topic and don't argue against everyone else.  It won't make you any friends and you're certainly not accomplishing anything.

So, to those people I have argued against, you have my apology.  It was nothing personal against you and I should have known better.

Now, that's enough of that.  Let's talk about the video that Xbox put out on Youtube today going over the Dashboard/UI of the X1.  I won't run through the features because we already know what they are.  It was nice to see it in action and it appears to run very smoothly.  The ability to record gameplay and upload it is an interesting feature, although it appears to only record seconds and not sessions of a longer duration.  I suppose that's probably a good idea if only from a storage standpoint.  But, how useful it will be remains to be seen.  You just know there's going to be a billion clips of just total crap.

They also didn't show what you can do to disable the features you don't want to use.  Skype, for example.  I have no interest at all in getting a video call while I'm playing a game, watching a movie, or even TV.  Now, I can see how this feature can be useful for those of you lucky enough to be in the gaming profession.  Working on a review and getting a call from your boss, something of that nature.  I can also see those of you that are very social and enjoy talking to your friends making good use of it.  But, me?  No.  Don't bother me while I'm busy.  I suppose the easiest way to get out of that little feature is to just not sign in to Skype.

Overall, the system offers a lot of interesting features that I'm sure plenty of people will enjoy.  It's going to take me some time, once I have the console in my home, to determine which of its offerings I wish to use.  They're there and ready, I just hope Microsoft has built in enough control over them.

I leave you with another Youtube clip.  I can not wait to get my hands on Dead Rising 3.

12:50 PM on 11.06.2013

Jim Sterling is now the reviews editor for The Escapist

Mr. Sterling just tweeted that he is the new reviews editor for The Escapist.  Congratulations Jim, you magnificent beast.   read

7:57 AM on 11.06.2013

Titanfall Worries

I don't play a lot of first person shooters.  I haven't played Call of Duty since the first one.  I haven't played Halo since the first one.  I haven't touched online multiplayer in either of them.  Yet I enjoyed the hell out of the Bioshock series.  My point is that my experience with multiplayer shooters is very limited.  I pre-ordered and paid off Titanfall.  Why would I do this, since it is an online focused shooter?  Because it looks like a hell of a lot of fun, it looks different.  I like anything unique, regardless of genre.

What's not to love about ripping someone out of their Titan?

But, with yesterday's revelations about the framerate problems that are plaguing CoD: Ghosts on even the PC version, now I'm worried that Infinity Ward is going to drop the ball.  Yes, I know Titanfall won all sorts of awards.  Yes, I know Microsoft has their hand directly in it.  I also know that they're going to really be on them to make the best game they can because they've paraded it about like a prized pig at a local fair.  I still can't help but worry.

Really, will you?

That said, I have a nice clean and new Xbox Gold account just ready to go.  I would love to game with my fellow Dtoiders so do please send me a friend invite on Live so long as you're not an annoying little bastard.  Don't be one of those.  Other than that everyone is welcome.  I don't care how old you are, I don't care about your conditions (you could have Tourette's, that's cool with me), I don't care about your skin color, nor your sexual preferences.  I just want to have fun with cool people and I know there are a lot of those around here.  Check my side-bar for an ever updating list of games I'll be willing to play online and let's have some fun because, hell, we deserve it.

EDIT: It appears I'm two cups of coffee short this morning and my worries about them screwing up are completely for naught as Titanfall is being handled by Respawn and not Infinity Ward.  Forgive my moment of stupid, but I still have concerns that they'll have issues.   read

10:07 AM on 11.05.2013

Unity Will Be Free For Indie Developers on Xbox One

Good news for indie developers today.  Article from IGN.   read

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