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TonySwank's blog

5:00 PM on 08.10.2009

I suck at games: Role Playing Games

I suck at Role Playing Games. I don't finish them. Pretty much ever.

A quick list of games I've put 15+ hours into and never finished:
Final Fantasy 7, 8, and 10, Oblivion, Fallout 1 and 3, Super Paper Mario, Mario RPG, KOTOR, Dragon Warrior, Kingdom Hearts, Deus Ex, Chrono Trigger and Earthbound (those last two Iím a bit ashamed of).

A few that I have finished
Secret of Mana, Illusion of Gaia, Mass Effect, Diablo

The biggest issue I have with them is the same thing that makes most people love them, the extreme number of hours most take to complete it. That being said, most RPGs are based on an epic journey to save the world involving a number of characters with branching story lines which all help the player feel more invested in the game by the time the final boss shows up. I understand that the length of the game is at the very core of experience, itís just not for me.

People spent 100 hours with this

For me, it has not been that I don't enjoy the good RPGs out there, but when I have something like real life interrupt playing for a week or so I have a hard time jumping back in. I forget that I already went to that cave or that to keep the story going I need to go talk to Yuffie. This usually leads to me trying to get back into the game a couple of times then putting it back on the shelf for 6 months only to pick it up and start over from the beginning. I have no idea how many countless times I've saved the Runaway Five, but the number of times I've beat Giygas is a big fat zero. It's a vicious cycle.

These guys really need to take a business class

Looking at the list of RPGs that I actually have beat I noticed a connection that I hadnít really thought of. They are all action (real time) RPGs instead of turn based. Turn based combat just gets stale after a while. I really don't care that now I have a Ice 3 spell instead of an Ice 2. It would be nice if you had the option of simplifying the controls a bit so that the X button used your physical attack and the Y button brought up your magic list instead of scrolling through menu after menu. After fighting the similar enemies for an hour I get muscle memory on how to select each action for the characters. I donít even have to look at the screen during the fights. I donít want that. I might as well just use a macro to input the commands. Anything to help the battles go by a little more quickly would be welcome. Active time battles and other gimmicks to let me select attack a quarter second earlier doesn't really get me all worked up down there either. Features like the auto-win in Earthbound really help the game seem less monotonous.


So different and exciting!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Invisible enemies or Random Encounters (,also drive me nuts. If I want to try and avoid enemies as I escape back to an Inn to rest up I don't see why I shouldn't have that option. Also, itís nice to know what kind of enemy you are going to fight before the actual fight begins. When Iím out of mana donít want to fight someone who takes little to no damage from physical attacks. Chrono Trigger is a great example of how this can be implemented without detracting from the challenge of the game.

This is all I need

Difficulty level vs. actual skill. Anyone can beat 99% of RPGs. My mom, your grandma, bubbles the monkey. Just like the putting said monkey in front of a keyboard will eventually lead to Shakespeare (, all it takes to beat a RPG is time. There is a certain learning curve and level of skill in most RPGs but there is always a way to circumvent it. If you donít want to learn the intricacies of battles and the weaknesses of certain enemies just spend 5 hours grinding and youíre all set for a while. FPSs, shooters, platformers, action games all require you to learn the game and improve/adapt. Mario wouldnít be as much fun if by practicing jumping up and down for an afternoon meant that you never fell into a fit for the rest of that world.

Yep, he beat FF IV

Save points. This is not the problem that it once was with some of the older games but I donít like being forced to reach an arbitrary save point before Iím allowed to quit playing. As Iíve gotten older I donít have the marathon sessions that I used to. Most of the time I have a window between 30-60 minutes in which to game. In some RPGs this is barely enough time to get out of the town you saved in and on your way to the next objective. I donít need to be able to save after every battle but poorly spaced saved points can really detract from a gaming experience.

For only 100 gold

I could keep going on but even thinking about RPGs makes me tired. Let me know if any of you feel the same way.   read

11:13 PM on 02.23.2009

10ish things you didn't know about me

I think I may be a little late on this but I just joined over the weekend so hopefully I'm not too behind the times. I also realized after typing this that many of them are not video game related, but I think that it is a pretty good representation of me. Also it's really wordy so I'd tried to throw up some pretty pictures.

1. One of my first memories in life involves video games. Sure, there are a couple of things in there about big wheels and sesame street, but Mario is right up there. When I was about 3 I was in preschool and a couple of times a week my mom would take me to get candy or ice cream after she picked me up. The place we went had a Super Mario Bros arcade cabinet, like the same version that was on the NES not the other one. I remember standing on a stool, cause I wouldn't be tall enough while sitting on it, and playing through the first level.

2. Basketball is probably my biggest passion in life. I absolutely love everything about it. The competitiveness, the flow of the game, the feeling from making a great play. I played it from the time I was little and it was the main sport I played in high school. In college I played almost every day and even started reffing high school and intramural games. I still follow college and NBA (go Mavs) religiously.

3. College football is right behind basketball. I didn't follow it too much until I got into school, I was more of an NFL fan, but once I went to my first game I was in love. I missed didn't miss a TCU home game in 6 years and only missed one away game that was within 300 miles, and that was during my brothers wedding. Saturdays in the fall are my little piece of heaven. Also, when the newest version of NCAA Football comes out each year I try to take a day off to play it and even after the season is over I still play it almost every day.

4. The Legend of Zelda holds a special place in my heart for NES, SNES, and N64 incarnations. I blew my knee out during basketball playoffs during my senior year of high school. I couldn't really walk and was stuck in the house for over a week. My mom picked up Majoras Mask and I played that game almost continuously over the next week, in between popping the pills. I really helped me get by. The original was the first game I remember being borderline obsessed about and the sequel was a big hit as well. As far the A Link to The Past, it was the first game I got when my mom got me a SNES and I remember nothing being able to sleep that night and hooking it up around 2 a.m. to get some gaming action. It makes the opening sequence even more memorable for me.

5. I spent the better part of a century in college. Actually, right at 6 years. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do when I started out so I did a mix of Computer Science and Business. Turns out neither of those appealed to me so I spent the first two years joining a frat, drinking, and basically doing everything that didn't involve being interested in what I was supposed to be learning. Then I switched to mechanical engineering and actually enjoyed it. Turns out when I'm interested in something I actually learn and do well. It also helps that I got to smash shit with big machines, freeze stuff with liquid nitrogen, and climb around on the first F-35 while it was being built.

6. I love creating stuff. Whether it's photography, woodworking, writing, playing guitar, designing mechanical systems, working on houses, just anything. There is a feeling when I see something that I was able to transform that I don't get from anything else.

7. I grew up on a ranch in pretty much BFE. First in Fresno, California then moved to Weatherford, Texas, but my entire family is involved with horses. My Dad and Brother are professional Team Ropers (look it up), my Step Dad, Mom, Sister, and Brother in Law train cutting horses (look it up). I was always a bit of the black sheep in the family with science and sports, which I think are probably different reason than most black sheep.

8. I miss playing multiplayer games in person. Saddly it's something that doesn't happen very much anymore. When I took a job after school I moved down to Houston where I didn't know anyone. I've met plenty of great people to head out to the bars with and go watch a game, but not many of them game much. When it does happen it's usually when someone comes to visit, thank god for Xbox Live. The days playing SF2, Goldeneye, Halo and Tiger Woods while punching and screaming at whoever just kicked my ass are in the past.

9. I've had 6 surgeries in 6 years. None of them were real serious, mostly injuries, but I had my ACL/MCL rebuilt, two shoulder surgeries, 2 wrist surgeries and my gallbladder taken out. I've got pictures from 4 of them and videos from 2, a little creepy but I've always found that stuff fascinating.

10. I really like beer. I've enjoyed it for quite a few years but over the last 3 or 4 I've grown to really appreciate all the different kinds. I learn about it and try to understand the differences between styles and regions. I've been homebrewing for the last year and it is awesome. Now I've got homemade beer on tap whenever I want, awesome.

Bonus: I've been checking the Destructoid home page for a while to catch up on the goings on in the game world but I hadn't really spent any time digging deep until this weekend. It has been fucking awesome and I've loved seeing what everyone has to say. It is by far the best gaming community I've seen on the internet. It makes it really easy to talk about this stuff when everyone is involved.   read

4:50 PM on 02.20.2009

My gaming setup or: How I was able to justify buying a shit ton of powertools


I'm blown away by the response I've gotten so far, I had no idea what to expect, but not this. Front page and 25+ awesome comments. You guys freaking rock. I'm all pumped up now and hopefully I can come up with something else for you.

Here are some links showing how I build some of this stuff. Hopefully it's cool link:


I've been looking at a bunch of the gaming setups on here and since I just finished a couple of projects I thought I would throw mine up. I just moved into a house and had an empty room to work with so I started brainstorming. Here is what I came up with.

As far as pure number of games I don't think I can compete with most people on here, however I've got a couple of unique things. Also I tried to create a room that wouldn't look like I still live in my moms basement (because I don't...and my mom doesn't have a basement) and that an actual semi-adult lives here.

Enough of the jibba jabba:

My main tv is actually a projector, Epson 6100, on a homemade screen. I was able to get a 117" screen for about the same price as a 50" LCD, awesome.

Probably the best part about my room is the coffee table. After trying to find many idea for some video game originated furniture I found someone who created a workable coffee table that plugs in to the NES. I had already created my Mario blocks and donkey kong shelves so I figured why not give it a shot. Turns out it all in consumed me and I had to make every detail right. The buttons all work and I had all of the paint color matched with the actual controller. The only parts I missed out on are the wiring because all my NES controllers got stollen along with my Wiis when my house got broken into, fucking Houston. As soon as I can round up some on ebay I'll be all over it.

In the table I have my dreamcast, PS2, and Xbox with all the controllers and what not. With the wired controllers it's a bit of a pain in the ass but I have to run an AV cable up to the receiver.

My gaming storage shelves. Made from black idea shelves with tape and red paint, nothing too exciting. However keep an eye our for some Heineken keg cans, I had to choke those things down then paint them brown for realism. Man Heineken sucks. I made some ladders with some wood strips to add a little extra touch. I keep my NES, SNES, and N64 up there because I can't leave then plugged in to the receiver due to controller cord length. Some prints from the I-AM-8-BIT are scattered about up there as well.

A decent NES collection but I don't feel like typing it all out.

Nice of the SNES, turtles in time and Chrono Trigger are the big ones

Loves me some Chrono Trigger

Goldeneye and Perfect dark are nice

Guitars, actual guitars with strings and what not.

Backwards view at the double recliner. Just mounted the projector and haven't gotten the wires under control yet.

I keep the remote/main controllers in the armrest

My Custom Built PC with a Mario Block above it and some I-am-8-bit art.

I absolutely love the Zelda piece that Scott Belcastro did.

Another shot of the custom PC. I have it built in to the projector as a media center and ROM machine for playing only the ROMs that I own.

Close up of the mario block. If you punch it really hard you can actually hear a sound, however it's more like someone screaming in pain and less like a 1 up.

Mario blocked fully opened

Finally playing some games.

I've got more detail on my projects at my own blog, but I'm not sure if I can post it here.

Looking forward to hearing what you guys think in the comments.

I'll try and get some pictures of some Mario 3 on the screen to put up here, Tanooki suit for the win.[url]   read

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