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3:45 PM on 10.02.2011  

Blog schedule changes...Also KITTENS!

Hey readers. After doing this blog thing every day over the last week or so...I've come to realize that it takes a significant portion of my time every day that I sometimes don't have. College can be demanding sometimes, and when I come home after a long day, sometimes I'd really rather not sit down at a computer and spend a few hours typing.

So, while I'm going to try as hard as I can to keep this a regular thing...There will be times that I miss blogs...Like today: We got KITTENS yesterday and they've needed a lot of attention to keep them out of trouble. We've needed to watch them almost all the time and I've barely had time to do much else.

I might switch the blogging to every other day, considering I have a bit of an every other day schedule.

I set the bar awfully high for myself, and I feel accomplished for only missing one day so far. Thank you all for your support thus far, and we'll see about a blog tomorrow. These kittens are quite the handful when they're awake!

Later guys!

Oh, and say hello to Sunsest and Storm!

  read


3:41 PM on 10.01.2011  

Mobile Gaming: What Works Best for You?

My recent purchase of another netbook (previous one got smash'd), prompted me to start thinking about just how much gaming I do on the go, and how having multiple platforms of gaming available to me is actually quite important. But where do I put my money? Where do I invest? More after the jump.....



When I recently realized that I desperately needed some kind of PC-esque device with me on my very long college days, I began my search for a suitable laptop. Since I was especially short on cash (even shorter now), my only real option was a netbook. They're cheap, reasonably well built, and the batteries last FOREVER. It seemed like a perfect fit.

But I couldn't help wondering that maybe if I'd spent the extra cash, I could have also had a good PC gaming experience on the go as well as something portable where I could work and surf. "But," I said to myself, "You've got a 3DS. If you want to game, game on that!". I thought about this, but the kinds of games you play on PC are so different than those on something like the 3DS, I saw the PC as a totally new avenue of gaming rather than a duplicate of what I already had.

This whole conundrum ended in me buying a netbook, but it did present an interesting blog topic: What are the pros and cons of each kind of mobile gaming?



I feel it only appropriate to start with the devices that are specialized for mobile gaming: Handhelds. While some consider them a dying breed, I prefer to think of them as an underdog waiting to get their revenge. You can't really compare them to a PC, and their main rivals are Smartphones anyway. Gaming handhelds are becoming more and more powerful, and easily exceed Smartphones in their graphical capabilities. Because they're dedicated, they can have a gamer interface, with joysticks and buttons as opposed to adapting a Smartphone into a controller.

Games for handhelds are pretty different than the stuff we see on cell phones. Most of cell phone games are quick-entertainers like Angry Birds, Doodle Jump, or Paper Toss. However, handheld games can produce everything from high-impact fighter like Street Fighter to a huge RPG like Pokemon. The game selection is much more varied, pulling from pre-existing franchises and big gaming names for their purchasing power. The handheld market is looking to re-create some of the typical console experience as well, with both the Vita and 3DS having two thumbsticks available to them. They're almost becoming consoles in their own right!

But handhelds are not perfect. For starters, they're dedicated for a reason. You aren't going to be making calls or texting on your 3DS, and you certainly aren't going to be checking your e-mail or surfing the web. While the Vita may have 3G capability, it's going to come very limited, and unfortunately, it doesn't look like Sony is investing heavily in the 3G capabilities of the Vita for much more than basic web browsing or Twitter updates. Handhelds are great at gaming...But not so great at much else. I didn't even get into the battery life, which is dismal compared to any smartphone out there.



Smartphones have recently emerged as a huge powerhouse in the mobile gaming market...So much so that dedicated gaming handhelds are being hailed as "archaic" and "old-thinking". Smartphones have the unique capability of being able to nab any game on its marketplace at any time as long as there is cell service. This makes it very appealing to someone who is always on the go. Games are usually bite-sized, making them very good "Oop! I gotta go!" experiences. Games are also typically very cheap, ranging from $1-5. If you have a smartphone...Mobile gaming is easily available, cheap, and good fun for the road.

Ironically, many of the smartphone's pros are also its cons. The fact that they aren't dedicated gaming platforms means that the games are typically rather simple in nature, and if they aren't, present unique control hurdles that the developer must overcome. The fact that games are cheap also means that they must be cheap to produce, meaning that most mobile games are pretty short. While there have been steps taken to bridge the game platform vs phone gap (XPeria Play), they have not been very successful. You aren't going to see your typical gaming experience on a phone for quite a while yet.



The last on our list is the almighty laptop: Capable of just about every kind of game imaginable. With a Steam-enabled PC, you can get just about any game you want...Be it an RTS, FPS, RPG, or any other three-letter acronym you can think of. Purchasing a cheap USB mouse will practically make it a mobile Desktop gaming machine. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that it's a COMPUTER. Yes, you can do everything that a home PC can do on a laptop (DERP), which is a lot more than you can say for a handheld or smartphone. Bigger screens, huge range of games, and all the power of a PC? I don't think I need to say much more than that.

The bigger they come, the harder they fall, right? Unfortunately, a good gaming PC will probably run you about $800-900. After tax, you're looking at a thousand-dollar investment. They're hardly portable unless you already have a backpack to tote around, and they're heavy to boot. If you want to do any kind of long-term gaming on it, you'll also have to have a power outlet nearby, because the battery life of a laptop that's playing a game is about 2 hours, if you're lucky. There's no way to cheat the system, either. Getting a netbook might be cheap, and grant you more battery life and more portability, but at a severe cost of processing power. This little internet-box that I purchased can barely handle Minecraft and Runescape, let alone something like WoW or any kind of FPS that was made post-1990. Gaming Laptops might pack the most mobile punch...But at a severe cost of being really MOBILE at all...



As much as I did want to swing for an expensive gaming laptop, I had to save my money and get this netbook. You know what I did first? Cleaned the fucker out to get as much raw computing power as possible, and try to play Minecraft on it. I enjoy struggling with limitations, and with a bit of research and good old fashioned elbow grease, I managed to get Minecraft running at a whopping 12 Frames per Second! Anyway, my inner-techie aside, I decided that having a 3DS (and eventually a Vita), would be just fine as mobile gaming platforms. And who knows, maybe I can even swing a Smartphone when I move.

But the big question is...What's your mobile platform of choice?

Thanks for reading!   read


2:42 PM on 09.30.2011  

Totally Worth It: Battlefield 3 So Far.

Today's blog is a quick one, folks, because I bet there will be about a million of these up today, and I wouldn't want to waste your time. (I lied...I played a lot today and I only have a little bit of time to write!). If you don't end up reading past the header, it is SO WORTH IT.

...When it works. You see, since this is the first day of a BETA that we're talking about here, the game has a myriad of problems to go along with it. This is by no means a demo, or a preview, or anything except what it's stating that it is: A Beta. I don't know exactly HOW you can have a comprehensive Beta only a month or so before release...But that's just me. I just want anyone who hasn't taken the plunge to know exactly what they're getting themselves into.



Anyways, lets talk game! The first thing I noticed about the game is that it FEELS gritty. I didn't play it on PC (Xbox, to be precise), so I didn't get to experience the drool-enducing graphics experience that PC users did. However, I don't think it really detracted from the experience, because the real "feel" of this game is not in how detailed the textures are...It's all in the animations and sound.



Every little thing has been animated to what seems like perfection. The sway of your gun feels like you're aiming a 20 lb object, not a piece of paper. The way you run and vault over things feels very organic. Even when you switch firing modes and hear a "click", the gun sways slightly. The sound of the guns is very intense, even better than Modern Warfare 2, which I thought excelled in sound design. Grenades are not huge atom bombs, but have just enough oomph to them for you to recognize. The sound is not "In your face", but it has presence and depth...And that's something I'm blown away by.



Battlefield 3s gun-play is simply unparalleled. When I play Call of Duty, I feel like I'm playing an acrade cabinet: The guns have no weight, your character is gliding around, and everything is very flashy, quick, and that can be fun. But Battlefield 3? You are poking your head out of cover, and shooting a gun that feels GOOD to shoot. I don't have vibration on...But I can feel the shots. I can feel WHEN I get shot. Every gun feels powerful, and DICE has captured something that I feel no other FPS has done to date. The closest I felt to this weighty, powerful ADS gameplay was in Killzone 2. Battlefield takes what was great about that sci-fi universe, and applies it to something far more familiar and close to home.

While Battlefield's second-to-second action is some of the best I've ever played, the game is not without its flaws.



The most notable problem I have with the game probably lies in my platform choice. The fact that the Xbox version is limited to 24 players in a single match puts a real downer on the "Battlefield" part of battlefield. Even on maps that are supposedly downscaled for consoles...It just doesn't feel like Battlefield games should. This could be due to a severe lack of vehicles, but I'm noticing that there is just far too much downtime in what is supposed to be a huge, massive-scale warfare game. If I wanted to, I could completely avoid the action, and probably never notice it. I never felt like I was a part of an invading army, pushing tooth and nail to advance on another HUGE army. I just felt like I was sneaking around with my 4 friends...Which was fun and all...But definitely not "Battlefield".

The other problems I experienced were largely Beta-based...But I feel that they're worth mentioning. Why? Because if this is how EA handles the actual launch of BF3...We're going to see a lot of angry customers.



Getting into a game is, to put it simply, very difficult. You have to sit there, hitting the "Multiplayer" button over and over as it attempts to connect to the EA servers, constantly telling you that you've disconnected. After you finally manage to get in...You'll probably want to play with some friends. This is nearly impossible, because even if you set up your "Squad", there is no guarantee that you'll get into the game in the same squad, let alone the same team. This was a problem back in Bad Company 2...And I can't believe this didn't get fixed, even for a Beta. This myriad of online-related social problems is just pathetic by big-budget AAA standards, and if this really is indicative of the final game...This game will fail on a social level.

I'll tell you this much: I have no problem playing CoD with my friends...

As much trouble as it was getting into the game, I can't help but feel that it's wroth it. Despite feeling a bit empty, the matches I played were a lot of fun, and I've got that "itch" to play it again even after playing it for a few hours. Regardless of how difficult it was to get all 3 of my buds on the same team, in the same squad, playing with friends made the experience that much better. Even if you're getting stomped on (Like we were!), Battlefield 3 is one of the best multiplayer shooters to come down the pipeline in a very long time.

Also...The Beta is FREE. Go try it! Go try it RIGHT NOW.   read


3:25 PM on 09.29.2011  

Thursday Throwback: Breaking the Mold

[This is yet another instance where I have very little time on my hands, but I want to keep with my daily postings. Thursday Throwbacks will be a nostalgia trip where I bring you all back in time with me to one of my favorite video game memories from my life, or maybe a retro review. or really anything that turns the proverbial clock back a few years and give you a glimpse of where I've come from.]

If you were to peer into my gaming world for just a second, you'd probably assume that I'm a very diverse gamer. I own something from almost every genre of gaming, including all the major consoles and a gaming PC. However, I wasn't always this way, and until very recently, I was a very limited gamer!

I suppose to tell you how far I've come, I have to also tell you where I got stuck. As any of my regular readers may recall, my first video game of all time was Gran Turismo 2. I enjoyed this series almost exclusively for a few years, dipping in and out into the shooter genre with games like Unreal Tournament and Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. I didn't own much, but I didn't need much either. However, I was about to hit a gaming rut that would last the majority of my life as a teenager: The day I got my Xbox.



I remember when I got my original Xbox, the only game I owned on it was Halo 2. I had played Halo PC before that...But Halo 2 really sucked me in to the Halo universe...And kept me pinned there for the next 4 years. I played Halo 2 ALL the time. I would play the campaign over and over trying to see just how good I could get at it, all the while honing my skills for the day I knew was coming: When I could finally play online.

I was so desperate to get online, in fact, that I looked up how to bridge your internet connection, so I connected to Xbox Live using a dial up internet connection! True story! While I could only use temporary "free" accounts on my then-Xbox 360, I would relish the laggy gaming sessions with my friends, enjoying every bit of the experience, regardless of how bad it was.



I also went to many LAN parties, and toted my console over to every friend I knew who had a broadband connection. Some of my fondest memories are of a couple of friends and I, all playing Xbox Live for the first time together, on a single console, displayed on a very small and very crappy Standard Definition TV. It was glorious, and by the time I did finally get on Xbox Live...I was a hardcore Halo-head.



This trend of Halo-only continued for a very, very long time. While I owned an Xbox 360 through high school, one of the only games I owned at the time on the console was Halo 3. I played it almost exclusively, and developed close friendships with many of my halo-mates over Xbox Live. I wasn't that popular in school (This was BEFORE gaming got "cool"), and my life pretty much centered around playing Halo, and going to school and talking to my few gamer friends about Halo.

During this period of time, I think I purchased maybe 2-3 other games. The reason I don't remember them is, well, because it probably got blocked out because of...You guessed it...Halo. However, one game came along and decided it was going to break down my Halo Wall...And that was Call of Duty 4.



Now, I didn't get all hyped up about this game like everyone else seemed to. I'd never played a CoD title in my life, and I didn't really give too much of a crap about it as a series. I was the one member of my group that kept iterating: "I'm happy with Halo. I don't care about Duty Calls 4 or whatever it is!". Despite my pestering peers, I managed to resist CoD4 for about a year after it came out. Finally, though, I broke down. I saw the Xbox version at Gamestop for 15 bucks used (It was a sale or something), and I bought it.

I hated it.

I didn't even play the campaign, but it didn't matter. I was hopping in with my buds who had been playing the game for years...And I was just getting torn apart. After years upon years of tactics built around being able to take a few hits to my shields, I was getting ripped apart in a game that was all about reflexes and getting the first shot. After a few days of trying to like it...I just put it in its box and called it. It stayed on my shelf for the next year, totally untouched.



But something began to happen that year...I was getting tired of Halo. I was enjoying playing the game...But I'd grown a bit bored of it. It was the same thing every day and it felt like gaming autopilot. I found myself not really wanting to get online, and at the same time, not knowing what else to do. Then I remembered Call of Duty...I thought about how much I'd hated it the first time, but I thought to myself that I'd never bothered playing the campaign and getting a feel for the game before going online. I figured "What the hell...Might be fun!", dusted it off, and put it in the game tray. I booted up campaign...And my afternoon was GONE...

I ended up really loving the campaign, and after I'd gotten the controls down, I headed into multiplayer once again. This time, I was doing much better and was really enjoying the change in pace. A few of my friends still played CoD4, and I started gaming with them more often. Sure enough, I'd developed a taste for the game, and I suddenly had diversity in my gaming world for the first time in years.



This was but the first step of many. After realizing as a matured human being that there were other games besides Halo in the world, I began to branch out and re-discover my gaming past. I eventually got a PS3, and rekindled my love of the Ratchet and Clank series with Future: Tools of Destruction. I got interested in the Killzone series. I started gaming on my PC more, and gained a real respect for the system with my purchase of the Orange Box, one of which becoming one of my most beloved game experiences of all time (It's the one that fibs to you about delicious baked goods). I still kept playing Halo, but I had much more going on my my gaming world than I had before.

It wasn't until about a year ago that I breached the final wall, so to speak. While talking to my girlfriend one day, she started mentioning how much she wanted to get a Wii. I had played the system once or twice before, but I specifically remember not knowing much at ALL about it. For you see, I'd never seriously played a single Nintendo title in my entire life! I think I might have played Super Mario Bros. at some point, and maybe Mario 64...But I was largely unfamiliar with the Nintendo spectrum of gaming. But the more we talked about it, the more into the idea I was. I'd recently started playing more platformers like Super Meat Boy and LIMBO...And I decided to go half-and-half with her on a Wii and a few games.



Now, to be fair, this wasn't some great gaming revelation or anything to me...But it sure was significant. I'll be honest, I don't play our Wii much these days, but I really appreciate what it did for me as far as appreciating different kinds of games. We got 4 games for our system: New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. While I've probably only played a few hours of each of these titles, they've given me some very needed perspective on a side of gaming I was totally unfamiliar with. While it's not something I enjoy playing every day, games like Super Mario Galaxy are REALLY fun, just in a different kind of way than I'm used to. Metroid Prime is a totally bizarre kind of platformer/shooter that showed me that FPSs don't all have to fit in the same mold to be fun. The Wii really let me gain a little insight into the mind of a different kind of Hardcore gamer.



While I don't tend to vary my gaming habits much from day to day, I do like to say that I'm a fairly experienced gamer, and not in just a single genre or franchise. It's not like I play every type of game every day, but I have a lot of appreciation and can enjoy a large variety of games thanks to how my gaming tastes have evolved. It took me a while to get here, and I was pretty stuck in my ways for a long time, but I'm very thankful that I broke my mold and found this whole new world that's both strange and wonderful.

So thank you to everything, from Call of Duty to Metroid to Ratchet and Clank to Mario...To all these games that made me realize that variety is the spice of a gamer's life. Halo will always have a special place in my heart...But I don't want to know what my gaming world would look like if I was still just sitting at my Xbox, unaware of just how good gaming could get.

Thanks for reading everyone!   read


5:15 PM on 09.28.2011  

How Indie Developers Give Me Hope

Big, blockbuster, AAA games are great. They're fun. They're these big-budget, well-polished games that deliver a consistently good experience at a standard price. Some of my favorite games of all time are part of huge franchises, but sometimes I'm looking for something a little different...



I don't know quite to say it than just to say it: I love indie games. I just love them to death. But you know what I love more than indie games? Indie developers. I love the entire idea that you can get a small team of very talented people together and make something great. I love the passion and drive that I see in these people, and I love the fact that they're just so overjoyed to be part of an industry they worked hard to break into.



My love of the indie developer started with a game called Monday Night Combat. I tried the demo/trial out on XBLA before I purchased it, and was really impressed by what it offered. It was a cool blend of DotA-Style play and various TPS/FPS elements...And I loved it! I immediately looked up the rather obscure developer "Uber Entertainment", and signed up on their forums. The more I learned about Uber, the more amazed I was with the game.



Uber Entertainment was originally a team of 10-15 people (If memory serves), and their goal was to create a multiplayer game on the XBLA. This is a VERY tall order, considering all the logistics involved with making a multiplayer title. On top of that, they had to make it balanced and competitive, and appeal to that FPS gamer crowd. They initially got a lot of badmouthing for just being "A Team Fortress 2 Clone", which they got a lot of on their own forums.

But Uber endured the initial wave, and when the seas calmed, they began their real strides for greatness. The game quickly differentiated itself from Team Fortress 2 in many ways, and the game developed its own following. They smartly developed a free expansion for the game...And then brought the game to Steam. From there...The rest is pretty much history.



After being very pleased with this "Indie" title that I'd picked up, I turned a more active eye to the indie game scene. The more attention I paid, the better it all seemed to get. Minecraft won me over, as well as many other wonderful titles such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Super Meat Boy, Back to the Future: The Game, Magicka, Sanctum, and more. All of these games are not big-budget titles, nor are they developed by huge studios manned to the teeth...But to me they each represent some of the best game experiences in their relative genres. Amnesia scares the PISS out of me each time I get the courage to play it. Minecraft is a title I play almost on a daily basis, and is one of my most valued creative outlets. I don't tend to like tower defense games, but I loved playing Sanctum.

Every single indie game I've purchased represents something unique that I couldn't find in the mainstream gaming market...And I just LOVE it!

Indie developers are in a unique position right now, because they can develop fantastic experiences with fairly small teams, given that they have the time and resources. It's almost that their limitations give them power, in that they MUST create something different if they hope to compete with the big boys. They create an option for the poor gamer out there by charging anything BUT 60 bucks for their games...More often than not charging as little as 5-10 dollars for their wonder-juice.

Another advantage I feel that Indie developers have over their AAA counterparts is community integration. I find that most bigger studios tend to gather limited community feedback, and are largely self-propelled game machines. Indie developers, however, are much smaller, and have a much more concentrated fanbase from which to draw their feedback. I noticed that on the Uber Entertainment forums (I know I use these guys a lot, but they're really a prime example of an Indie company doing it RIGHT!), that the developer team was directly involved, and constantly interacting with fans. They were actively interested in their likes and dislikes, and wanted to make the game better for the players and not necessarily themselves. Indie developers almost HAVE to pay attention to their fans, because they don't have a huge pile of money or funding to fall back on.

But Indie developers represent much more to me than a good source of cheap games. They represent a unique career opportunity.



We all know that it's very, very hard to get a job in the games industry these days. You have to be damn good at your job, as well as having lots of industry experience to even be considered at a major studio. Even if you get in, you're probably going to be taking a lot of orders, and probably won't feel like you're contributing a lot to the game itself until you've worked your way up the ladder.

An indie developer that has just made their first break, however, are much smaller in size, and are probably actively looking to increase their staff. Their smaller team size makes it more of an active collaboration than it does a "taking orders" desk job. I remember talking to the folks at Uber Entertainment at PAX this year (so friendly!), and I actually met the guy that started the entire studio. That wouldn't even HAPPEN at a major game studio, and I felt honored at the chance to thank the man personally for a game I really enjoyed. The point is...It didn't feel like I was talking to someone that had their "Press Face" on. It felt like I was talking to a bunch of really active, happy, engaged people who loved their jobs and couldn't wait to do what they do.

It gave me hope that some day, I could work with people like that, and not have to endure a soul-crushing menial job for the rest of my life.



Some indie devs are most known for their generosity. The Humble Indie Bundle is one of the most successful charity drives that we've ever seen in the games history, and it was all possible because the game's developers had the heart to contribute the product of all their hard work to help those less fortunate than themselves. That's something you'd never see from Activision or EA...And it really warms my heart to know that there are still good human beings out there, and that they exist in and industry I so desperately want to work in.



Indie games and their developers are unique entities in today's gaming world. They are able to exist because of ever-growing cheap technology, and are slowly making their footprint in gaming history. They provide us with an alternative to both the mainstream games themselves, and to those who are looking, an alternative to a mainstream career. In my eyes, they represent the true creative drive and spirit in the games industry, and I can only hope to work in that environment at some point in my life.

To Indie Games: May their spirit never die.   read


2:42 PM on 09.27.2011  

Tuesday Trollings: The Continued RAPE of Honest Gamers (NSFW Language)

[In my expanded efforts to produce a blog every day, I'm forced to contend with my real-life schedule at times. Some days, I simply don't have time to write something formal. But this is Tuesday Trollings: A segment where I just write down my thoughts in their most pure and opinionated form as quickly as possible. These will probably not be reasonable, logical, or attempt to be backed up by any facts or evidence. I'm just going to rant my little heart out. These are not meant to be taken seriously, and are more for entertainment than anything else. Thank you!]

Dtoid...I had a bad day today. I entered it in a bad mood, and I write to you now in a deep-loathing hatred of most of mankind. But I'm not here to tell you how shitty people are...OH WAIT...Yes I am! I'm here to tell you just how fucking shitty the ones who are in charge of our industry are!



I didn't get enough sleep last night, and I was grumpy going into this morning. I sat down on the computer, and I started to browse the morning offerings of Destructoid. The first thing I did was watch the Jimquisition, which got me into a big 'ol pile 'o rile over what has become commonplace in the used games market. I was in a good kind of mad after the show, as I usually was, and I continued to read. Then I hit this story...And the camel's back broke straight in two.

The world shit on me today, but I'm not afraid to do some slinging back, fellow readers...Get ready for a god damn SHITSTORM.



I am practically livid at game publishers right now. I am rightly PISSED THE FUCK OFF at every god damn one of them that thinks that this RAPE of our consumer rights is somehow fucking TOLERABLE. I am so fucking sick of seeing rich asshats like EAs John Riccitiello try to spoon feed me some pathetic sob story that he isn't getting enough money because poor gamers can't afford what should be a 40 dollar game to begin with...Or maybe he's got a sandy, spiny dildo up his vagina because he doesn't like that consumers have the rights to FILE A DAMN LAWSUIT AGAINST HIS ASS.



Let's address the FORMER of my two bones to pick with these fuckers: The clause in Terms of Service agreements that forbid the users from filing class-action suits against the company in question if they're currently using the service. I've got a brilliant, well-written, provacative, and intelligently-planned response to this:

FUCK THE FUCK OFF.

You're meaning to tell me that if I want to use your "product", "service", or other fucking word for something I want to use, I have to surrender my RIGHT TO TAKE YOUR ASS TO COURT?! Go suck one! In fact, go suck both of my meaty balls, because I'll be damned if I'll let one more corporation take advantage of my already squandered civil rights in this country. With each and every day that passes, more and more of these precious rights get taken away from us, and until I see the fiery planes of Hell itself freeze over with MY OWN TWO EYES, I will not WILLINGLY sign away my rights so I can use your shitty-ass service that I could do the FUCK without!

Oh, and you can at least make your service worth using you rat-cunt BASTARDS.

That reminds me! Lets take a quick mental detour and allow me to explain my thoughts on the service that EA is using this clause in: Origin.



I have some witty arguments for this one as well:

FUCK ORIGIN!

FUCK IT WITH A SPLINTERY LOG AND MAKE IT PAY FOR DINNER.

Seriously...Origin has become the focal point of almost ALL my pent-up nerd-rage over the last few months. It's gotten to a point where I want to punch straight through a wall every time I hear anything about it, because it all makes me want to throttle whoever's in charge of this pseudo-malware PIECE OF SHIT.

There was a time when I was really at a conundrum about purchasing Battlefield 3 on PC or on Xbox. One contained the graphics I wanted, and the other contained the social experience I wanted. WELL FUCK THAT DECISION...EA FOUND THE KINDNESS IN THEIR HEART TO MAKE IT FOR ME!!! Even the damn Battlefield 3 Beta requires that you have Origin installed to use it. You know, had this been a year ago, I could go onto STEAM (Yes! That wonderful service that we all already fucking use.), find Battlefield Bad Company 2, and add it to my awesome collection of PC games without having to install ANY OTHER NEEDLESS SHIT.



Now what I'd have to do is install a useless program that will hog extra resources that I don't even want or need...And on top of it it'd all be for just ONE game that I wanted. You know what I say to that? FUCK IT! I'm getting it on the Xbox now...And I'll be proud to do it. The PC owners of Battlefield 3 can have their 64 player battles and their superb graphics...At least I'll still have my rights!

FUCK. ORIGIN.

That felt good...But we aren't done yet, dear reader. Oh no, we haven't even gotten to the good part: Publisher's assault on the Used Games market.



Lets get something straight: Publishers are being greedy little cunts and they can go FUCK themselves if they think I'm going to stop buying used games, or pay for an ONLINE PASS because I feel some kind of convoluted pity for their GOLD-LINED ASSHOLES. The most recent Jimquisition (Which I noted earlier) explains the situation quite well...But I feel like taking it a step further.

The process of buying new and used games is quite simple. New game is purchased, and that game is eventually sold for a lesser price while no money goes to the developer or publisher for that sale. This makes sense...BUT NOT IN CORPORATE-DICKERY LAND!



You see, when publishers see you buying a used game...You are a criminal to them. You are a dirty thieving little pirate that has to scrape from the bottom of the barrel for PERMISSION to play their games. You are nothing more than common STREET TRASH to them, and they want to stamp you out because you didn't feel like paying full price for HOMEFRONT.

Let me tell you something, publishers. When someone buys a used game...You have already made your money. Where? On the kind-hearted consumer who bought your game NEW. Your money is made! You have that precious 60 dollars! You probably even have his money that he paid for DLC with. What more do you fucking WANT?!

Oh...That's right...I forgot that we were buying a GAME here. We're apparently buying permission to play a game. We're buying a license agreement that says that we and only we may play the game if we've given you your due BLOOD MONEY. We aren't actually shoveling out 60 dollars a pop for a product anymore...



But wait...That's how it works with everything else. Once you buy a couch...That couch is yours to do whatever vile, degraded things you want to do with it (or on it). You may also sell the couch to whomever you please...Because it's your god damn couch and you can do what you fucking please with it. The same SHOULD apply for a game: If I go to Gamestop, shell out 60 bucks for a video game (And part of this goes to the Publisher/Developers)...I want to own that video game. I don't want it to be poisoned and tainted with an Online Pass or some shit that practically prohibits me from selling the game to anyone because they'll get it and have to pay even more money to experience the full game that I originally paid for!

You know what the worst part about all this is? It makes me not want to buy games that have online passes out of principle (It almost makes me want to turn to piracy in an attempt to intentionally fuck over these companies for their decisions.). It makes me want to skip out on good games because of this fucking bullshit. It makes me want to withhold money that I want to use to support a developer that did a DAMN good job on a game on...Just because the Publisher is being an ass about it. By including an online pass, Publishers aren't just punishing consumers...They're punishing their developers too, by making their otherwise-appealing games look like corporate penny-pinching by including an Online Pass.

Now, there are of course developers that support the Online Pass...But they can go FUCK OFF because I wouldn't give them my money anyway.



And it all comes to a crashing, burning, unholy end. I'm so god damn sick of it all. We are literally getting ASS-RAPED as consumers...And hardly anyone seems to be giving a fuck. We don't own the games we buy, but somehow that's okay. We can't sue a company if we use their service, but this doesn't send up red flags. If we buy a game that someone else purchased, we probably aren't getting the full product...And this is all perfectly fine with many people out there. There are some people that get angry over this...But we should ALL be angry over this.

Because if you aren't willing to stand up for your rights when it comes to something as trivial as video games...When the fuck WILL you?

(Fin)   read


1:52 PM on 09.26.2011  

Time Glitch of the C-Blogs: Curse of the Backlog!



As I've matured as a gamer, I found that my library expanded to include more and more genres of games. Whereas 5 years ago I may have only owned a few shooters, I now have a very wide selection from Call of Duty to Pokemon. But with this variety comes a price, and that price is a BIG Backlog.



I can easily recall a time in my life when I didn't do much more than go to school, come home, and play Halo 2 all day long. I only needed one system, one game, and I was endlessly entertained. I think that I only bought a few other games in the time I owned an original Xbox, and that was both Battlefront games...Because I could be a fucking STORM TROOPER in a GALACTIC WAR. Anyway, this was back in my teenage years when I thought the only thing in the world I would ever want to do is go on Xbox Live and play Halo with my friends.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.

As I grew up, my gaming tastes changed, and I began to broaden my horizons. Just a few short years ago, I got a PS3 and got back into the Gran Turismo series (My first video games!), and less than a year ago my girlfriend and I purchased a Wii. PC gaming has also found a special place in my life with my increased interest in the Steam platform. With all these new options open to me for gaming, I began to play new genres of games that I'd never played before. As my eyes were opened, more and more games were slowly piling up in the background...



You can see where I'm going with this. A few months ago, I decided to take inventory the of sheer number of games that I had yet to complete out of my entire collection. I was surprised to learn, in this process, that I owned several games that I'd never even played. To be quite honest, I was a little shocked and taken aback. I'd never thought myself to be a wasteful and extravagant man, but to know that there was this much excess in my world...Well to say the least I felt a little shameful.

This is where today's topic rears it's ugly head. To put it simply: I have a HUGE Backlog. I own an Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS, 3DS, and PC. For each of these consoles, I have at least one video game that I've either never played, or have only touched the surface of. I'm quite ashamed of this, to be truthful, because I think it really represents how wasteful I've been with my game purchases. I feel guilty looking at my half-installed Steam library and wondering why I even bothered with some of these games if I'll never play them.



Thing is, I want to play these games. I want to play all of them and have that experience in my brain and under my belt. Sadly, I'm not a teenager with endless free time anymore, and I have other stuff to do in my life. I have a girlfriend, full time school, a daily video game blog, and sometimes I don't even want to game on my free time. Yet, I look over at my collection every once in a while and feel this enormous guilt, and think "Wow, I really should play some of these games instead of doing [thing I'm thinking of doing]". Then the conflict begins...



When I sit down and I want to play a video game, I mull over the usual suspects: Halo...Or Minecraft. One represents a game that I get online and do the whole online thing with, and the other is my own personal little sandbox that I get to immerse myself in. I'll be honest...I don't deviate much from this flightpath when I have some free time. I'll either browse internet forums, play Halo, or play Minecraft. If I happen to find myself with some free time away from home, I'll play Pokemon. And sometimes if I'm feeling particularly feisty...I'll play the game I've most recently purchased (The current one being Deus Ex: Human Revolution).

Again, there are times right before I start playing when I think "I've got this Backlog that I have to get through! I need to play these games!". I think about this for a few moments, and then I go right back to my routine. Why? Because I really like playing Halo and Minecraft! When I have free time at the end of a long school day, all I want to do is sit down and do something mindless for fun. I want to unwind and do something familiar, like browse Dtoid or post in some forums. Sometimes, I'll flip on the Xbox to see if any friends are still awake. If that fails, I'll pop into Minecraft for a bit and just kill some time to let my mind relax.



If I have the day off (Which I do on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the Weekends), I wake up and start writing these blogs for the next day. After the few hours it usually takes to do that, I'm ready to free time it up. What do I do? I browse the internet, post in some forums, publish a blog, and play Minecraft...Or Halo. Why? Because I freakkin feel like it. I don't want to sit down in my free time and do something I don't feel like doing.

Sad part is, I know it's all in my head. The few times that I do burst out of my shell and play a game from my Backlog, I have a really good time. I come away from it really enjoying myself and wondering why I don't play [X] more often. Then, I play that game a little in my spare time over the next few days...And promptly go back to my routine. It's a cycle, and a vicious one at that.

It gets worse. When I feel like playing something other than my default two...I have no idea what to play. I can play Mortal Kombat. I can play Shadows of the Damned. I can play Demons Souls. I can play Killzone 3. I can play Super Mario Galaxy 2. I can play Twilight Princess. I can play Gran Turismo 5. I can play Dragon Age...I think I've listed just about every single genre of games that I'm interested in and I'm totally overwhelmed. I sit there and spend way too much time pondering over which genre I want to play. Eventually, I just get frustrated and go play Minecraft or Halo!!!



I'm cursed. I'm cursed with a big Backlog that has a wonderful assortment of entertaining games that I feel like I'll never get to playing, because I'm either not in the mood for the ones I really need to play, or just can't make a decision on. I'm like a restless spirit; Wandering from place to place, only briefly experiencing little tastes of each part of gaming life. I'm a ghost ship, drifting endlessly in a sea of wonderful video game choices...Unable to make port or set foot on land for more than a few moments.

I know...It's just TERRIBLE.



Don't misunderstand me: I know this is just about the most pathetic, first-world problem to have in the entire spectrum of problems. I'm well aware that my problem is petty, trivial, and most of all it's a problem that some gamers would LOVE to have. Having a great variety of games to play? Who in their right mind wouldn't want that? The reason I bought all these games in the first place is that I wanted that experience available to me. I wanted to be able to play any genre, via any method, and have every option available to me should I want it. Thing is...I don't use those options very often and I feel very guilty about being so wasteful.

With this fall coming up, I'm set up to purchase even more games that I'm very interested in...And I've already skipped over a few games that I really want in favor of saving that money for more games down the line. I know that here in just a month or so, I'll be purchasing Battlefield 3. Then, come November, I'll be purchasing both Halo Anniversary and Skyrim within the same week! All of these games will eat significant portions of my time, and I'm honestly scared that my Backlog will be just be pushed back so far that I will never play any of them again for a VERY long time.



So what should I do, Dtoid? Should I follow the example of Conrad Zimmerman, and set aside time every day to play these games? Or should I just forget about feeling bad, and play what I want to play, when I want to play it? Help me break this horrible curse!

Note: This article was written with tons of exaggeration for a bit of self-deprecating humor, along with it being more entertaining to read. I recognize fully that this is a ludicrous problem to have and it's not like a matter of life and death.

Really, though...I would take some suggestions if any of you have any...   read


3:11 PM on 09.24.2011  

Can't We All Just Get Along? We're ALL Gamers!

As gaming has evolved since the days of the NES, the face of gamers have as well. We now have people gaming on everything from a console to a cell phone, and playing everything from realistic war shooters to the most nonsensical bird-flinging simulators. But what has also arisen is a lot of hate...

Anyone who's part of the gaming community has probably run across something like this at one point in their time on this earth: There is a story about casual gaming in the news, something along the lines of people pre-ordering the next iPhone or something. Things are okay for a while, nobody gives much of a flip...And then this guy comes along...



We all know "that guy". He or she's the one in the comments who is using all sorts of vulgar vocabulary to describe his deep-seeded hatred of the "casual gamer". He's relentless in his insults, going so far as to blame the "downfall of the games industry" on those members of the human race that want to play "Doodle Jump" on their coffee breaks. To this poster, the most deadly of sins is to purchase a 2 dollar game for use on your iPhone, and never consider a foray into the world of console or PC gaming.

Arguably, this person needs a reality check. Most would say that he's in the wrong. But what about the flip-side to this coin?



I imagine that some of us have also run across this person at some point in our lives: They're that aforementioned smartphone user who loves to play Angry Birds, Paper Toss, and that one rhythm game that makes you tap the screen and stuff (Can you tell I don't own a Smartphone?). Maybe they play these games only on breaks...Or maybe they play them every chance they get! One day, you're talking to this person and mention if they play any other games. They look at you and say "Oh yeah, I play Angry Birds." You say that they've misunderstood you, and ask again, including the words "Xbox" or "PS3". They then give you the dirtiest look in the world and say "Oh GOD no! I'm not one of those nerds!". Confused, you inquire further. "The only people that play video games are no-life losers who can't get a job". You want to point out that they are in fact playing video games...But decide to simply drop the subject.



From personal experience, I've also had people say similar things...And they play Call of Duty. Apparently, if you just play Call of Duty and Angry Birds, you are not no-life nerd-gamer swine, and you're still "cool". Whatever. Moot point is moot. The thing I find the most intriguing about these seemingly opposite types of people is that they're very similar in one profound way:

They hate the everloving SHIT out of the other.

While I've been guilty of plenty of gamer-hate over the years, but I've been clean for a while because of a dumb, "DUH" moment I had around 6 months ago. Call it a retard epiphany if you want, but this is what I realized:

All gamers are gamers.

I know...DERP.



However, those are words that are more than the sum of their parts. The definition of gamer has changed so much in the last few years, that I suppose some of us are having a hard time adjusting. Just a few years ago, you had to own a console or a PC to play any kind of game that was worth playing. You had to be a big enough fan to go out and purchase specific equipment to play these "video games" on. In this day and age, the devices that we use to call our friends and send text messages to each other are so powerful, they can deliver full 3D gaming experiences to anyone who has one.

So, if everyone can game, and everyone's enjoying said games...Why do they still hate each other so much? Well, let's take a look at both sides:



Regardless of which side you're on or where you come from, you have to acknowledge that "casual" games are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the gaming market. The games on the App Store for iPhone and iPad are huge entities in and of themselves, some games even becoming elevated to pop culture phenomena, like Angry Birds.

To your average consumer, this is inconsequential. But talk to a hardcore gamer and he might have a few more select words to say about this market trend. Many hardcore gamers who hate casual gaming see the casual gaming trend encroaching on their particular brand of video games that they love so much. They predict that game developers will stop focusing on their demands and cater entirely to these "phone gamers" and the "casual crowd".



While these statements are a bit overzealous, it's not like they don't have reason to worry. From Microsoft shifting it's core focus to things like Kinect and turning the Xbox into a "Family Experience", to dedicated gaming handhelds being branded as "archaic" by some video game analysts and journalists, it's not like these statements are unjustified. There is a market trend towards casual gaming, and it's not one to be ignored.



However, like most myths, the myth that "hardcore" gaming experiences will disappear entirely is nothing more than that...A myth. As long as hardcore gamers demand a hardcore gaming experience, there will be someone out there who is producing games for them. In fact, we're seeing a bit of a counter-culture movement in the First Person Shooter genre at the moment. Games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Hard Reset, and Serious Sam 3: BFE are all proudly boasting that they're going back to "what made first person shooters great". It's their marketing strategy, and so far it seems to be working out for them.

Trust me...I don't think you have to worry about traditional gaming going away any time soon, and the hardcore gamer has no real reason to hate a set of games that they don't even plan on playing.



While you don't hear as much about it on the internet, there's still a lot of anti-gamer mentality out there in the real world. Adults have learned to keep their mouths shut for the most part, but talk to any teenager and they'll tell you that there is still plenty of hate for "nerds" out there. That hate continues out of high school, even if you don't hear it in such a direct and hurtful form. From anti-gaming legislation, to just plain ignorant daytime-news talk about how games are ruining our children, there's still plenty of gamer hate going on in the world today.



I know that no anti-gamer will read this...But I still feel it needs to be said: If you play Tetris, or Doodle Jump, or Angry Birds, or any game on your phone or tablet...You're a gamer. Same as us (This especially applies if you play Call of Duty!). There isn't this magical boundary that you've made up in your head to assure yourself that you're "better" than us. If you play games and enjoy them, you're a gamer!



The misconception that every gamer is some kind of basement-dweller shut-in that can't get a job and has no friends is the common argument as to why "I'm not a gamer!". While those sorts of gamers do exist, there are far more of us who are well-adjusted human beings that happen to enjoy playing more "hardcore" games. Rather than sit down in front of our TVs to spend 2 hours watching a sports game, we prefer to spend those 2 hours adventuring in a fantasy RPG, or happily jumping on the heads of mushrooms and turtles, or even kicking back in a party with your buds and busting some heads online.

Just because we like to spend our free time differently than you do does not mean that we're some kind of socially maladjusted introvert. It just means we're different. Get to know one of us, and you might be surprised at just how "normal" we are.

The face of the gamer has changed over the years, and changed dramatically. That business man with a blackberry and briefcase could be a gamer. Your grandma who got an iPad could be a gamer. Yes...Even that high school cheerleader who texts all day in class could potentially be a gamer (But don't say it to her face!). All of these people have something in common...We all play video games! Yes! We all do! Both sides will try to harshly defend themselves, deny the facts, and put giant walls up in between themselves and the other side of the fence. But reality is a mean mistress, and at the end of the day, both sides are sitting down in front of a screen and enjoying a video game.



So why hate? Put aside those old stereotypes and embrace your fellow gamer, just as you (should) embrace your fellow man.

Who knows? Maybe you'll make a new friend.

P.S. One person I'd like to openly thank for my aforementioned epiphany is our very own Jonathan Holmes. As you all probably know, he's is one of the more odd gamers out there, but through his writing and listening to him on Podtoid, I've gained a new respect for gamers who walk a different path than I. Max Scoville mentioned in the most recent Podtoid that simply knowing him has made him want to be a kinder person. I'd like to say that while I don't know Mr. Holmes in person, he has also inspired me to be better to my fellow gamer, and fellow man.

Thanks for reading, everyone!   read


2:32 PM on 09.23.2011  

STOP...In the Name of Love!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJzcGO0qUfw

The every-day blogging goes on hiatus today, folks. It's my 1-year anniversary with my #1 gal, and we're spending the day together. Regular blogging resumes tomorrow.

In the spirit of love and kindness, thank you all for reading for the past week. It makes my day, and it makes it all worth it if I even get ONE comment on my blogs.

Thanks guys!   read


1:41 PM on 09.22.2011  

Thursday Throwback: My Very First Time.

[This is yet another instance where I have very little time on my hands, but I want to keep with my daily postings. Thursday Throwbacks will be a nostalgia trip where I bring you all back in time with me to one of my favorite video game memories from my life, or maybe a retro review. or really anything that turns the proverbial clock back a few years and give you a glimpse of where I've come from.]

It's one of my most vivid memories. I remember almost every detail, every emotion. The pure joy of that day will be something I will remember fondly into my old age. There I was, an unexpected and unaware youngling, about to experience something wonderful and unique that would change me forever...Can you guess what it was?



It was Christmas morning in the seventh year of my life...And I had just been given a Sony Playstation.

It wasn't from my over-protective parents, though. It was from my Aunt and Uncle, who had also given one to my cousins. The very first thing I did after seeing it was whirl around to my mother, look her right in the eye and said "Can I keep it!? PLEASE?!". Clearly, she knew about it before hand, but still gave me a nod that said "Okay...Yes...Yes you can...". It was in that moment that I began my quest. It was in that moment that my first footprint was laid upon the path of gaming, and my life was changed forever.



The rest of that weekend in Texas was spent glued squarely in front of the guest-room TV, transfixed by the Playstation Underground Demo CD that had come with the console (Which I still own, by the way!). My cousins and I had no idea what this "Playstation" was, but I was the most captivated by the wonderful machine that was now in my possession. I was determined to play everything on that disk...But I didn't! I didn't because one particular game blindsided my already blown mind and would end up taking over my world for the next year:



Gran Turismo 2.

It was my first video game of all time...A racing simulator! I was enthralled with it. I got to drive cars, see my car, and go very fast! All I really knew how to do at the time was press the "X" button, and use the thumbsticks to turn my car this way and that. I had no concept of "Braking"...I would crash gloriously into every corner at high speed, and laugh at the sound and how my car lifted off the ground for a second or two. I would run the course in reverse, intentionally never completing the race just to ram into other cars and watch them flip and struggle to get back on their primitive AI path.



We only had one track, and about 5 cars, but we played it over and over and over, taking turns and seeing who could get around the track fastest. We would go into the menus and look at all the cars that we could only get in the final version of the game. I remember the car that made me want to get the game itself the most: The Mini Cooper. Yes, that was the car that inspired me. After spending a weekend running around Rome Circuit in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V and returning home...I had to have the full game.

I remember going into the store with my video-game ignorant mother. We got into Target and I said "Okay, I need 'Grand Tersmo'!". My mom helped me find the "G" section, and we found the original Gran Turismo. "Is this the one you want?", she said, giving me a quizzical look. "No," I said, "I need the second one." I had to explain to her that having the two at the end made all the difference, and that it simply wasn't the same game. Poor Mom! We went to the checkout line...And the game was mine.

Some of my greatest gaming memories ensued in those following years. I got better and better at the game, eventually mastering this thing called "Braking", with the help of my father. My dad had never played a video game in his life before, but he'd always enjoyed driving. The thought of being able to drive a car without the car intrigued him, so he began to play with me. In fact, he ended up playing more of the game than I did!

Those gaming sessions were some of the best memories I have of my father. He's gone now, but if I ever want to remember what a committed and dedicated figure he was in my life, I always think back to him playing Gran Turismo with me.



The game was also popular with one of my only childhood friends. I'd invite him over to come play Gran Turismo with my dad and I. We'd sit for hours, all of us slowly becoming masters of the game, and together we'd beat each and every License Test and get the Gold trophy for it. Those are good memories as well...Trying and failing...Getting the Consolation Prize, or even getting within one millisecond of the Gold!

Gran Turismo was also a lesson in how fragile and inorganic video games could be, and how you can let them seep into your reality if you let them. While my video game library grew (Toy Story 2, Pac Man World, and many others...), my dad never really played much besides Gran Turismo 2. He was so dedicated, in fact, that after days of trying on one of the hardest License tests in the game, he had finally gotten 100% on the entire game. I remember how satisfied he was...He must have put over 200 hours into that game (I remember them...I helped him out when he needed to take naps during Endurance races!).

However, the very next day...Tragedy struck.



I booted up the game that morning, and loaded up my dad's save...Only to find that it had been wiped clean of progress! The glitch that plagued so many (And that we didn't know about back in the day), had wiped ALL of my father's hard work...Resetting his game to 0%. One of my father's huge flaws, and something I learned a lot from, was he had a bad temper. While he did not yell or break the Playstation, or anything that drastic...He never really played video games again until he died. He would come in and ask me for a race here and there on Gran Turismo 3 (Of course, I bought this game day-1!)...But he never got into video games ever again after that day.

This was a valuable lesson to a young kid like me, that I should never get so involved with video games that it makes me hate them should things go wrong. I promptly forgot about this as a teenager when I got my hands on Halo...But that's another story for another time.


My first and favorite racing-class car =)

Gran Turismo 2 was my first video game, ever. It gave me everything the precision reflexes required for First-Person-Shooters down the line, to some life lessons I never thought I'd learn from video games. It was my first obsession, and remains one of my favorite video game franchises of all time. It was the source of some of my favorite childhood memories, and some of the only ones I can remember of people very dear to me. It influenced my entire childhood, from the friends I made to the time I spent alone.

It was what turned me into a gamer, and for that...I am forever grateful.   read


3:10 PM on 09.21.2011  

Hearts and Minds: Winning Back a Gamer's Love

Gamers, right? They're fickle, sometimes to the point of hair-pulling frustration, especially after they've been hurt. It takes but one mistake to burn a heart-felt fan of a gaming series, and so many more things done right to win them back. Here's how to do it right, and subsequently how to do it wrong.



Movie fanatics are stereotyped as bitter and angry; incapable of enjoyment. Food fans are labeled as picky and smug. But the followers of video games have quite the notorious reputation of being reactionary, and passionate: We are quick to react to something we don't like, and when we don't like something, we don't like it VIOLENTLY. You see it pretty much everywhere, and if you look hard enough, you can probably see it every day. The most recent event to switch on the "Gaming Rage" button is Nubageddon, by which Nintendo had the gaul to sell us a cheap, optional peripheral which added another thumbstick to our 3DSs.

I know, right?

Anyway, even someone who casually follows the world of gaming news knows that gamers are a hard bunch to please. None know this better than the developers themselves, who's continued well-being practically depends on making us happy. Each development studio has but one goal in mind: Make a good game that gamers will enjoy playing, and I have no doubt in my mind that working at a game studio is not an easy job.



However, sometimes developers just pull the wrong stick from the Jenga tower, and everything comes crashing down in a maelstrom of fire, rage, and hate. Sometimes these are big towers that everyone sees and hears about, and sometimes they are towers way off in the distance that you probably didn't know existed. Still, developers and publishers mess up sometimes, and a fall in reputation with their fanbase usually follows.

It is in these moments that a developer either shines their brightest, or reveals their darkest secrets. They are the moments that define both game studios as a whole, and the future of a franchise...Because this is the moment where they do things right and redeem themselves, or do things wrong and perminently cement themselves in the eyes of their fans as has-beens.

While there are probably bigger debacles out there than the two that I'm going to use as examples today, these two are the ones that I have the most personal experience with. The two franchises that I talk about today are different in genre, but are actually quite similar in their developmental patterns and problems.

This whole idea started when I was talking to my girlfriend about video games, and we got on the topic of our two favorite series: Mine being Halo, and hers being Silent Hill. The more we talked about one or the other, the more we came to realize that both the Halo and Silent Hill franchises are in the same boat: They're both in a bit of a low point, and hardcore fans are more than a little skeptical about the future of their favorite games. This prompted me to write this blog, because how both franchises are being handled is a prime example of how developers can either redeem themselves, or keep making the same mistakes.



First, lets talk about Halo. With the release of Halo Reach, and Bungie putting the franchise behind them, Halo is in a transition period that is leaving fans uneasy for a number of reasons. The first of these reasons is that we're left with Halo Reach; Arguably one of the worst (If not the worst) game in the franchise. Casual Halo fans may disagree with me on this one, and some hardcore fans may as well. But rest assured that there is unrest in the community over Halo Reach. It's a big split, with some fans loving all the new changes, and many more fans hating them. There is a war of ideals going on, and it can get very, very ugly in those forum arguments.



The change in development studios is an issue of controversy as well. Long-time Bungie fans are now feeling betrayed that their studio has left the Halo name, and claim that any future Halo titles will just be a milk of the franchise because they do not have Bungie's magic touch in them. They claim that no studio can make a Halo game like Bungie can, and that 343 Industries will undoubtedly botch the series.

343 Industries is really between a rock and a hard place right now. They've got to essentially redeem the Halo series in both the eyes of those who hate them, and in the eyes of those who are looking to them for help. Everything rides on Halo 4. As much as I want to work on Halo one day...That does not sound like a fun place to be.

Fortunately, 343 Industries seems to be more than up to the task. Franchise director Frank O'Connor recognized early on that for 343 Industries to develop good Halo games, it had to have good building blocks. He's stated many times over that people who work for 343 Industries are not there to work on games. They are there to work on Halo games, and nothing else. They are just as passionate and driven as the community they're trying to please, and that foundation seems to be helping them make good decisions right from the start. For you see, 343 Industries threw a "Hail Mary" with a gamble that could have either cost them all their badges, or given them some serious brownie points.

That throw was Halo Anniversary, and it looks to be paying off. Big time.



I know that there aren't many Halo fans here on Destructoid (In fact, I see A LOT of Halo hate around here...), but while some of you may see Halo Anniversary as a desperate cash grab...I just need to inform you that you don't know what you're talking about. Halo fans had been clamoring for a HD Re-release of Halo: Combat Evolved since before the trend of HD remakes started. When the rumors finally ended and the game was announced, the Halo crowd went wild. It was a moment where I, as a Halo fan, knew that the developer of my favorite franchise was listening. I knew from that moment that they were as committed to this franchise as I was, and they were going to do their best to listen to us and make us happy.



Halo Anniversary boasted the original gameplay, untouched, but with beautiful visuals...Exactly what the fans had been asking for. On top of this, they included optional story bits in the form of terminals, 6 multiplayer maps from older Halo games, and a modified version of Reach's multiplayer to go along with them that helped replicate a more "classic" Halo feel.

The good decisions continued with the planned release of a Title Update for Halo Reach, something that nearly ALL Reach fans were begging Bungie to do. This really only matters for the most involved Halo fans (Jenga towers in the distance, remember?), but to them it is a very big deal indeed. They'd felt betrayed by Bungie's bull-headed attitude of "We're right, and don't play it if you don't like it". 343 Industries has gained vast amounts of good rep with both the Halo community and the MLG community for this decision, and is currently sitting pretty in eyes of most Halo fans. 343 has done a lot to boost the spirits of Halo fans and gain favor with those who were initially very skeptical. They've got along way to go yet, but they're doing all the right things by listening to their fans and putting out that extra effort to actually follow up on that feedback.

BUH! That was a lot of information to take in, I know, but it all needed to be said. I think 343 Industries is a perfect example of how to take a series that's at a low point start to turn it around. Stuff like Halo Anniversary might not be financially viable (They're shipping it at 40 dollars), and committing time and resources to things the fans really want - like doing a Title Update for a game that isn't yours - is all part of getting that respect and confidence with a fanbase that was hanging by a thread. 343 put in the elbow grease, and its paying off in leaps and bounds.

Sadly...Not every story is a happy one. While talking to my girlfriend about all this, we also talked about Silent Hill, a franchise that (to put it mildly) is not doing very well at all. Like Halo, the recent forays that Konami has approved have not been up to par in many of the fan's eyes. They've somehow managed to sell enough to produce sequels, but fans of the series are really desperate for a game that's returning to form. They're also looking to Konami and their respective development teams to start taking the franchise seriously again.

While I don't have a lot of personal experience and knowledge with the woes of the Silent Hill community, I know enough to know that Konami is definitely not doing things right.



This may seem a little contradictory to the outsider (I know it did to me!). With the announcement of Silent Hill: Downpour, it seemed like Silent Hill was back on the right track. This is actually pretty accurate for the most part, as the hardcore fans of the series are actually pretty happy with what Downpour is shaping up to be. It looks to be a good return to form that leaves behind old characters that needed to be retired, and focuses more on capturing the "Living Nighmare" feel that the older Silent Hill games had.

Unfortunately, that seems to be about the only thing that Konami is doing right in the eyes of Silent Hill's fans. Before we had the announcement of Downpour, and after the rather lackluster offering ofHomecoming, the fans got Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. What fans were expecting was the original Silent Hill game redone with more current-generation graphics. What they got was a "reimagining" of the series with non-HD visuals and a plot that only had loose ties to the plot of the original game. To put it mildly, fans were not happy. The game did not sell well, and did not perform well critically. In a lot of ways, this is how Halo: Anniversary could have turned out if 343 Industries had not gone the extra mile and listened to what their fans really wanted.

As far as taking the series seriously, we have Silent Hill: Book of Memories which is...

"A big departure for the series, focusing on cooperative multiplayer action rather than traditional psychological horror."

Honestly, the video speaks for itself. What you see here is not a horror game. It's not even really a Silent Hill game...And it certainly isn't what "Taking the series seriously" is all about. Rather than focus the name "Silent Hill" on a singular idea, Konami just slapped it on what appears to be a random top-down action game so that it can give what should have been a new IP more exposure.



While Silent Hill's main games might be looking a bit better, fans are still very unhappy with Konami and are rightly pissed off that their favorite series of video games are being butchered and hacked in such a way. Konami has clearly not learned its lessons, and while they might be doing something right, it's probably out of pure chance and happenstance than actually listening to fan feedback and realizing the error in their ways. Unlike 343 Industries, Konami is still off in their own bubble, almost willfully ignorant that their fans are crying out against their handling of the series. Unless something changes soon, many Silent Hill fans will have to find another outlet for their horror fix.



I know today's blog has been wordy and long, but it takes a while to explain this stuff without any details being missed along the way. When a series hits a low point and fans start to get angry, a developer must tread very carefully and change their tune if they hope to gain back that love that they may have lost momentarily.



The important thing to remember in all this is that franchise fans may be a fickle bunch and react violently to things they don't enjoy, but they do so more out of love than anything else. Halo fans don't get on the forums every day and haggle with each other for the sheer thrill of it...They debate back and forth (or YELL back and forth, depending on where you are) because they're truly passionate about the future of the franchise. They want to see their favorite video games of all time be the best they can be.

The developers of both Halo and Silent Hill (and many other franchises) may have a very tough time pulling their series out of the mud, but it's a job that's very doable if done right. Once a developer has showed their fans that they want to improve and get their series back on track, the fans will respond.

As quick as they are to hate, gamers are quick to love as well, and all it takes is a little extra effort from those in charge to make that connection happen.

Thanks for reading, those who managed to read it all.

Until tomorrow!

P.S. Never, under any circumstances google "Nub Love" without thinking VERY HARD about what that means when you aren'treferring to the 3DS Nub add-on.

P.P.S *facepalm* I just fapped to myself by accident. Take THAT out of context!   read


1:25 PM on 09.20.2011  

Tuesday Trollings: Kinect [NSFW Language]

[In my expanded efforts to produce a blog every day, I'm forced to contend with my real-life schedule at times. Some days, I simply don't have time to write something formal. But this is Tuesday Trollings: A segment where I just write down my thoughts in their most pure and opinionated form as quickly as possible. These will probably not be reasonable, logical, or attempt to be backed up by any facts or evidence. I'm just going to rant my little heart out. These are not meant to be taken seriously, and are more for entertainment than anything else. Thank you!]

Today's Topic: Kinect for Xbox 360



Oh god where do I even START. Ever since Microsoft decided to get into the "motion control" craze, I knew it was going to be bad. Even worse when I saw the damn demos they rolled out during their reveal year (2010 or something). I went into an all-caps twitter rage that day because what I saw was the death of my (at the time) favorite hardcore gaming console. Instead of games, I saw a bunch of paid boneheads led by a pretentious douchebag hipster waving their arms about and talking about the revolution that was coming to gaming.

Let me be clear: Kinect SUCKS. Kinect sucks HARD. I'm sick of seeing it. I'm sick of hearing about it. I'm sick of it even existing. Know why? It's useless. Well, not entirely. The hardware itself is mighty impressive, but it's uses for gaming are just borderline pathetic. Hey, lets make a game for Kinect, okay? It'll be cool!



First I want to be able to move my character arou- Oh fuck wait I can't do that...Um...Ooo! Lets make it so waving your arms around makes stuff happen on the screen! Like, swords! Okay! That can happen! Now lets give you somebody to fight. Okay how about when you run at the- Oh right you can't do that...Sorry. Um, how about when the enemy runs at YOU, you can block him with a shield! Yay! Then you can move- I mean when we move YOU on to a different area, more cool shit happens! Awesome!



What I hope you get from my wonderfully insightful demonstration here is that the only real GAMES that are possible with Kinect are a bunch of on-rails "experiences" that can hardly be called games. One of the integral part of modern gaming is to have CONTROL. You know, like being able to move your character around on the screen, and have joysticks for essential things like AIMING and LOOKING. With Kinect, you are offered no traditional means of control other than looking like a total idiot and moving awkwardly around your living room like a damn monkey.



What makes things worse, is Kinect can really only be used FOR these things. Mass Effect is TRYING to use Kinect in an interesting way, but all it really comes down to is an expensive microphone. Even in Ghost Recon, you could do everything that Kinect allows you to do with a controller, and probably better. Oh, that's another thing: The Kinect is an in-accurate piece of crap...When used with Microsoft's shitty software. The hardware is FINE. It can lead an robot around a room with fair accuracy.



But you know what else can do that?



A Roomba.

THAT'S RIGHT MICROSOFT. YOU JUST GOT YOUR SHIT TOSSED BY AN AUTONOMOUS VACUUM CLEANER.

Seriously though. The Kinect hardware is pretty accurate stuff, but Microsoft has found a way to make it suck, with you having to have a ton of space to play it in, on top of it having spotty input. I've played them in stores, and they are far from 1:1. They just kinda record your input, then spit out what they THINK you might have done.



Hell, even the Playstation Move does it better than Kinect does, even if it is just a Wiimote clone. You know why I have fun waggling my Wii? Because It has buttons. It has a joystick. I can interact with the world on a three dimensional basis with something that has an element of CONTROL to it. Waving my arms in front of my TV is not control, nor is it really any fun at all. I don't want to crouch down, extend my arm, and open and close my hand to shoot my gun. No, I want to aim a damn plastic perepheral at the screen, mash a plastic trigger, and pretend I'm fucking RAMBO.



Even the name comes off as pretentious. Kinect. It's just a combination of Kinetics and Connect. GET IT. IT'S LIKE YOU'RE CONNECTING WITH KINETICS BECAUSE YOU'RE MOVING AND YOU MAKE THINGS HAPPEN ON YOUR XBOX. ISN'T IT FANTASTIC AND WITTY!?!?

Natal at least sounded PROFESSIONAL.

Long story short: The Kinect may be good tech, but it's a fucking useless gaming peripheral...



Except "Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster".

That looks pretty fun.






















GOD DAMN PUFFALOPES

SO GOD DAMN PUFFY

SHIT

(fin)

P.S Let me know if you guys liked this! I certainly had fun writing it =)   read







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