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Uber Mashu's blog

10:07 AM on 07.26.2011

Videoshame: Final Fantasy VIII ballroom confession.

I would rather somebody barge into my room and catch me with trousers down, than have them walk in and see me watching this video; sat there with my elbows on desk, arms pointing skyward, hands knotted together and my head resting on top of them, tilted at a slight angle.

I love the damn thing. I can't stop watching it. Typing this sentence alone has triggered that instinctive urge to stop everything I'm doing and watch it again. When proof reading this later, I'm only going to do the same. This compulsion has that suspcious ďIím taking my laptop out of the room. Pray I donít visit the restroom and take it in there with me,Ē air about it.

My issue with this frankly moving piece of videogame cinema actually has little to do with the content itself, but more the questions I suspect it'll raise from an impartial bystander: "Why is he watching that? Is he unhappy? Is he lonely? Did he really just refer to his fat ginger cat as his little red-haired stepson?Ē

Now on the wrong side of twenty-five and fast approaching the big three-oh-no, all of my close friends and immediate family are either settling down or in the early stages of, whereas I remain decidedly single. Social gatherings are like being onboard Noahís Ark, and when the conversation dries up enough, the animals travelling two-by-two will sometimes stare at the empty space beside me and ask about my romantic life.

As Iíve grown progressively older and questionably more handsome, Iíve noticed that no matter how playful the discussion was prior to this line of inquiry, an often witty retort about ďdying aloneĒ will typically shift the tone to a much darker one. Instead of taking my comment in the humour it was clearly intended, one of Godís creatures will typically respond in kind with something tasteful like: "We'll find you someone soon [Matty].Ē

There is nothing worse than pity. Ecspecially when you feel it's undeserved, and there's no easy way to communicate that point without coming across as defensive, and there's always some smart ass who'll "read between the lines" and come to the assumption that it's just another byproduct of your loneliness. Now donít get me wrong, I understand that this offer of a life jacket is one made with love, but Iím not drowning in sadness. Not yet anyway. You wonít find me sat in my room alone most nights, sobbing delicious salty tears to the sounds of the Smiths; Iím in there shooting things in the face and eating enough crisps to keep me looking portly and far from trim. (While listening to the Smiths.) Iím happy.

So theoretical lovesick assumptions aside, what is the real reason for my romantic FMV (Full eMotion Video) obsession?

Well, suprisinging no one I suspect, as a teenager I suffered quite heavilly from depression and other forms of mental illness. This reached breaking point at sixteen when I suffered a complete nervous breakdown.

(Hey wait Ė where the hell are you going? Iím about to pour my heart out here. So help me god, if you click that close tab crosshair, my next blog will be called ďNobody loves meĒ and Iíll dedicate it to you personally. My story isnít anything too shocking or out of the ordinary, but this information is essential in helping explain my infatuation.)

During this overcast period of my life, I played a lot of Final Fantasy VIII to help me cope whenever there was a good chance of rain. At the time, I remember being able to see a lot of myself in protagonist Squall Leonheart, a now well established Square-Enix character template that mirrored their entire audience. He was introverted, socially clumbsy, silently angry at a world that had somehow wronged him and struggled with his own issues of low self-esteem. This elaborate fantasy of mine probably wasnít helped by a rather prominent scar on my nose. One that has now faded significantly with age.

Helped largely by itís inclusion on the bonus disc for the Final Fantasy VII platinum re-release, (which allowed quick and SeeDy access if I wanted a cuddle), the Ballroom scene was one of my favourites, even back then. Itís just so chipper and disgustingly sweet.

I guess that rediscovering it as an adult helps put my life in perspective, and I use it like a child would a comfort blanket. Itís my own personal bat signal and it symbolizes a very difficult period of my life. It helps remind me that I no longer need a nice man in my life to routinely tell me to ďcheer up,Ē and that any madness I suffer from now is entirely rational. I hope.

And while I am in no way ashamed of my wavy-lined past, I really donít need anyone catching me relive it. Not by accident anyway. We all have our skeletons and we all feel vulnerable from time to time, but Iíd rather have a private moment alone in the cubicle, thanks. Iíll expose myself when I want to and not because youíve caught me with my fly open. Itís much less embaressing that way!


5:33 PM on 06.30.2011

Byte-sized: Halo Anniversary & Halo 4.

This commentary is designed to get me more involved with the Destructoid community and I'm hoping to make a regular feature of it. I have a tendency of posting a ma-ha-ssive project in here once every six months, to then fade back into obscurity because I'm so bloody slow [and good looking.]

All feedback is welcome, even the negative stuff, but I will secretly hate you for it.

In the words of Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, the ďHalooooooooo! God only knows and so does everybody elseĒ combat evolved anniversary edition was finally made public at E3 this year. My little sister has kept better secrets. (And called me better names.)

Unfortunately, Microsoft delivered this good news with so much enthusiasm, that their announcement felt more like a confession than feigned surprise. Instead of being told, ďWeíre going to Disneyland!Ē we got a defeated shrug and ďYouíre father and I are separating. Happy Birthday.Ē

In the revealed trailer, special care was made to mention that just seven of ďthe greatest multiplayer maps of all timeĒ were being remastered, whereas the original game actually shipped with thirteen. If youíre the type of person who spends their evenings with a cat on your lap instead of a girl on your arm, itís likely youíve already dismissed this as nothing more than a sneaky business decision, and one designed to sell us the rest of the maps later Ė maybe?

Like a fed up mother desperately pleading for her eldest son to get off his lazy rear and find himself a job, our introduction to Halo 4 began with Cortana tugging furiously at Master Chiefís bed sheets and throwing open the curtains; anything to help him find that initiative to get out of bed.

When he does eventually find the courage within himself to crawl out of his pit, his newfound strength manifests itself into a Jetpack. A power heís had all along I suspect, and not one he brought with the benefits heís been claiming the last three years.

Echoing a past discussion weíd heard at the start of Halo 3, Cortana previously revealed she had chosen ďIím thinking of [sleeping] my way out Ė mix things up a bitĒ as her partnered Spartan because he was lucky. Well thanks to our now informed participation in the events that led to the fall of Reach, we know that wasnít the case at all. Sheíd chosen Noble Six and had only got lumbered with Johnny-boy because heíd overslept on the Pillar of Autumn that morning.

MC Sleeps-a-lot has proven time and time again thatís heís bone idle and 343 Industries should be applauded for nailing a crucial component of his character.

Iím now convinced this new trilogy* is in good and capable hands, as the team clearly know their source material.


6:25 PM on 06.26.2011

Podtoid 154 listener questions: Please give Matthew the job. [Update]

Through their podcast and on my behalf, Destructoid editors, Jim Sterling, Max Scoville, Tara Long and JOHNATHAN HOLMES* recently asked the UK's Official Playstation Magazine to give me the job I interviewed (poorly) for.

If it werenít for them, the site and these C-Blogs, I never would have started writing in the first place. Iím not sure the collective handsome of Podtoid know just how much that public act of kindness meant to me; an albeit rather tight lipped member of this community. What they did could have helped change my life.

Taking the audio they'd recorded, I attached it to this video I made and emailed the Editor who had witnessed me lose half my bodyweight in anxiety sweats. (Spoiler warning: I hope you're not expecting a happy ending.)

Unfortunately, like a game show contestant that got to the final round and gambled everything, I walked away with nothing but that amazing consolation prize. I didnít get the job.

However, since this bad news, instead of pacing round the house in just a dressing gown feeling sorry for myself and watching reruns of Scrubs Iíve seen twice that day already, I've done nothing but scribble words into a notepad. The kind words of encouragement and support from people inside and outside this community have given me real hope for the future.

So thank you Destructoid. Just the thought of you leaves me blushing.


6:05 PM on 05.25.2011

P2 Press Start: Videogame manual & mini-guide.

Thank you loyal customer for investing in our product. Please clean up before you leave.

Playing with people can prove very challenging at times. Hopefully the instructions found within this manual will help you get the most out of your game playing experience. Inside we'll cover everything from basic rules of gameplay, to which Cloud "I'm sad" Strife gets to use the third party controller. We're not adverse to giving you a few helpful tips along the way either.

Also, we are aware that nobody actually reads these things. Unless you've left a string of successful relationships in your wake, it's likely you've already picked up a pad up and learnt how to hate the ones you love.

This game supports:
- Up to how ever many people you can fit in one room locally.
- I don't care where I place, as long as it's at least one place above your efforts, leaderboards.
- HD visuals from 720p to, I saw that s**t you just pulled.

- A visit to the restroom before playing is mandatory.

- Ensure all windows are shut in the immediate area. This should keep any concerned third parties to a minimum, and prevent you from ever having to explain to a uniformed officer, just how far "up the backside" your friend really should "stick [his] effing controller".

- Mute your f**king headset when eating. You could be doing a great disservice to those Jaffa Cakes you're consuming. They sure might taste delicious, but they certainly don't sound it.

- When replacing any unwanted disc with another title, do make an effort to leave it within it's correctly labeled case. Should its plastic prison not make itself known, be sure to sit the disc face down, in a secure, and easy to find locale. This is particularly crucial when playing an "away" game. You could inadvertently be dooming its owner to an evening spent counting change; change they found down the back of the sofa, looking for the blasted thing.

(1) Match length - Way past your bedtime, and long enough to lead your boss to question your performance at work tomorow.

(2) Rounds won/total kills - Keep a mental tally of these, because come the end of the night, everyone's account will be different, and some will claim they performed better than they rightly have. Losers will side with one another, in spite of what the facts say, just to make you look a clown.

(3) Avatar - Designed to remind you just how much of a jerk your friend is, even if he's not present. A victory against an AI oponnent, is still a victory against a wolf in Steve's clothing.

(4) Vitality gauge/KD ratio - Juxtaposed against one another to determine just how grand your victory was. The bigger the difference, the greater their humiliation.

Online: Here, the aim of the game is to pretend you haven't seen a single game or party invite as they continue to flood your inbox. To be successful in this mode, we recommend you change your status to "busy" or "appear offline" long after it's overdue.

Offlline: When asked if you fancy popping over for a few rounds of "spill your drink on my carpet and apologise profusely until someone else makes the same mistake" with the fellas, you must always decline. The goal here is to consistently give the impression you are busy, despite being quite the opposite.

This mode is a real test of endurance and not one designed with beginners in mind. As you make your way up the ladder, you will face many opponents, and each and every one of them will ask "why aren't you coming?"

Noteworthy bosses to watch out for in this mode include:
The guy who'll defiantly boast about something arbitary you're "totally going to miss out on" when defeated; and the ignoramoose unaware you're not going until the last minute. Typically this will be a handicap match, where you'll be forced to explain yourself again to the group as a whole.

Local - Mechanically, this is no different to any modes of online play, but will end with you sleeping on your mates sofa, or them on yours.

Co-op - You must perform better than your friend(s) at any cost. Even if it means the whole team and their overall performance suffer as as a result of your recklessness. Stand on the shoulders of giants and call yourself tall.

Online - When playing this distraction, you should do nothing but bitch about the one guy having trouble with his internet connection. Blame his lag when you're losing, and ignore his cries of protest when it's proving beneficial to everyone but him.

As the Laggernaut, ask everyone to be patient with you, but show little understanding back. Demand your peers allow immediate re-entry after disconnect, and expect prompt replies to any messages sent. Once they've dropped everything and sent you that invitation, make sure to accept it and go afk without comment. This should leave everybody confused and talking to dead air.

While waiting for this absentee to return, do use this opportunity to make awkward small talk with the friends of a friend you're playing with, or if you'd prefer, make your excuses and claim to "go get a drink". Mute your headset and sit there in a now comfortable silence, conveniantly returning from your aside the same time your friend does.

This psycho-manchild still boasts today about that time they beat you six years ago. If defeated, they will take all stats into account, no matter how meaningless. When this happens, an assist will become a nice way of saying "stolen from."

Weak against: They're only as good as their last game.
Special attack: The winner will write history, but the loser can still lie about it tomorow.

The Barry Burton to your Jill Valentine. Redfield's blood or not, he's just happy it's not yours. When it comes to team games, he'll always be your first pick. It would be unfair not to. He did buy the drinks.

Weak against: Innapropriate comments about loved ones, like "Next time I'm round, I'm going to give your lady the eye!" can prove fatal to your relationship.
Special attack: Hurting the ones they love. They're prone to abuze your trust and team kill for laughs.

You've never met him before, but you're sure you hate him. He's typically found in public matches online, or worse, he knows a mate of yours and hangs around like a bad smell. He's over familiar, rude and doesn't like same sex relationships.

Weak against: He claims to know your mother at a rather intimate level, but you'll never call him daddy.
Special attack: The online variant will quit before your win registers, but his local equivalent can't take a hint.

Build bridges and bond over your mutual love of computer games, forgetting they're just there to make up the numbers. Get caught up in the moment and make plans to hang out next weekend, be it at his, or online. Repeatedly fail to do so and complicate your limited friendship further with more false promises, until he eventually learns to resent you.

Weak against: Call screening and "we should do this more often." (See single player)
Special attack: A twinge of guilt when you bump into him by chance, and look into those big brown hurt eyes of his.

A woman you have lusted after for quite some time. You think she's pretty, she thinks you're weird.

Weak against: Videogame retailers. When entering these cesspits of sleeze, it's likely every male member of staff will think they're in with a chance. They're not.

Special attack: When this stereotype suggests Ubisoft's "Just Dance" at a house party, you will say yes, and you will pretend to enjoy it, thinking you're in with a chance. You're not.

A master tactician, this hardware update spent their youth watching you play Resident Evil in their pyjamas. You taught them everything they know. They've studied your moves, they've seen you cry, and they know how you take your tea. (Milk, no sugar.)

Weak against: Directly responsible for a number of casulties in your collection, they're suseptible to feelings of guilt.

[Editors note: RIP Uber Mashu's Dreamcast: October 1999 - September 2001. Poisoned unjustly by a spilt bottle of shampoo. Weeks before your death, I wondered what that plastic burning smell was. (I'm leaving this here to see if the perp actually reads this!)]

Special attack: Faster reflexes and "I'm telling mum on you!"

This clever adversary will sit in front of the telly and make themselves comfortable, covering just enough of the screen to hide either an important text box or aiming reticule. This is a game breaking combo they will spam until an effective strategy is devised.

Weak against: A yell of frustration, and a closed bedroom door.
Special attack: The use of claws, which will increase their damage significantly. Luckilly, this is foreshadowed by a loud angry hiss.

- To prevent the stench of heavy sweat from lingering in your living room for days, we recommend you play at a friend's house instead.

- The over use of phrases like "nice game guys" and "I'm so sorry [for kicking your ass]" will comfort nobody but your conscience.

- Group sessions of Guitar Hero and Rock Band must be played PROPALLY. Nobody wants to see you flail around wildly on the floor with your stupid plastic guitar, thank you very much. Rock 'n Roll isn't about fun, it's about score multipliers.

- Bonus points are awarded for affecting friendships not directly involved with the game itself. For example: "You're making too much noise, I worked last night and I'm trying to sleep. Please keep it down."

- Mute everyone in a public lobby. All of them. No exceptions. Those who talk won't matter, and those who don't, know better.

Any of the poor saps in the Destructoid community who mistook this for something worth reading.

Paul, for convincing me to start writing again and because it will embaress him.

The Royal Mail, for taking their sweet time delivering my preordered copy of L.A. Noire. Without them, I wouldn't have found the time to write this at all.

Nicola Roberts, just for being there really. Only ever a quick google search away.

My trusty kettle and it's ability to boil an alarming amount of tea.
...and the lavvy, for allowing me to remove the tea my body rejected.

Please fill out the form found below, and we'll do our best to respond to any inquiries or complaints within 48 hours.   read

1:15 PM on 07.10.2010

Learning to play: A lesson in Game Design.

University has finally drawn to a close for the year. I had been participating in (and sweating throughout I might add) a super exciting degree in Game Design. This is the first real chance Iíve had to reflect on the experience and Iíve come to the shocking and painful realization that maybe this wasnít the right path for me to take in life. Whilst my grades havenít been anything special, they havenít been half bad either. Iím not failing in any case, Iíve just decided to focus my attention elsewhere.

The sole purpose of this article is to make light of this very difficult decision. With my tongue pressed firmly in cheek, I hope to both educate and inform anyone looking to do the same. Expect to discover what classes youíre likely to partake in, how many times you can expect to hear the phrase ďepic failĒ in one day and what the male to female ratio is in any given class. (Iíll let you in on a little secret. The numbers arenít in your favour.)
So pack away your toys children, gather round the fireplace and make yourselves comfortable. Granddad wants to tell you a storyÖ

I was actually looking to do something completely different the very first time I took a look at the courses available. Something Iíd thought long and hard about in fact. Instead, the first result my good chum the search engine threw at me was the aforementioned course. As of that moment, all logical and rational thinking was thrown out the window and I was blinded by childhood nostalgia. Iíd spent countless hours of my youth sprawled out on the living room floor designing levels for characters like Mario and Sonic on now extinct computer paper. Throwing caution to the wind, I applied there and then. That was a mistake.

My overall intent isnít to patronise you, but I strongly suspect it'll sound that way. Iím the friend who offers you constructive criticism or advice when you never even asked for it. Itís also important to note that Iím not attacking any education in Game Design, far from it in fact. I still find the idea a little romantic and the stuff of fairytale. The experience has taught me a lot. In retrospect I was maybe a little naive and more in love with the dream than I was the process itself, but that canít be helped now. Iíd just like to help prevent some of you from making the exact same mistakes I did.

Just promise me you'll take a look at the drop before you commit to jumping off it. Thatís what I should have done, but I didnít. Why? Because Iím stupid. Youíre not stupid are you?

Theyíll be more on this later. See me after class.

Upon enrolling, your new home from home will not be the mild comfort of a classroom, but a narrow noisy corridor. Here you will stand, you will sit and you will trade the pokemons on your Nintendo DS. From time to time the doors you so often lean upon will swing open and youíll find yourself taking part in a lesson or two.

Now labelled a dirty disgusting dropout, I can only divulge the limited number of classes I personally attended my short-lived first year. Reliable sources on the inside have told me there have been some new additions to the roster since I left, but itís not really my place to comment on them. That would be like arguing over a review score for a game I haven't played yet.

The nominations are:

This lesson would kick start your week, and was usually a good indicator as to how the rest of it would pan out. Typically, it would involve turning up late and finding out what everybody did at the weekend. Somebody got drunk.

This area of study will feature quite heavily on your timetable and is exactly what youíd expect. Plenty of exercise, the occasional lecture and a class governor willing to offer assistance when needed.

To me programming was like a text based Whereís Wally? You could spend hours staring at your monitor, trying to spot that elusive semi-colon you missed, only to kick yourself later when you find it sitting there smugly next to itís new boyfriend. Itís a strange emotion that; instant relief coupled together with a strong sense of shame. Itís like emptying your full bladder into a public toilet, only to discover youíve done it in the ladies.

Our school had a love affair with 3ds max, but unlike the universal language of C++ there are a number of alternatives available. That choice of software is up to the demon headmaster. (Psst! That'd be a good question to ask during your application interview. Itís probably best you donít tell him I sent you though.)

Surprisingly, we spent very little time playing with the software in class. It was actually one of our shortest lessons. I suspect this was because itís very hard to Ďteachí people how to be creative. Under the strict class regime, it would be like offering an art student tracing paper. Everybodyís work would just end up looking identical. Instead they chose to give us the teaching equivalent of a pencil case and blank sheet of paper and as a result, our imagination was left to run riot.

As a dashing young artiste looking to find himself an attractive lady partner to play with (Interested parties should send their ASL along with a picture to @UberMashu on twitter), this was the area I looked forward to studying the most. Instead I hated it and ended up having my heart broken.

Despite the rather intimidating name, I personally found this class one of the more interesting. Other mortals may think differently of course, but in response I must ask them this; the portly feline that follows, is he not the fattest cat you have ever seen? The correct answer is yes. I believe so anyway. Ergo, my word is gospel.

HCI dealt with all the fine minute details of game design. The little things; the important things; the things we take for granted. Things like:

- How we use the controller and itís evolution over the years.
- Realism in games.
- Effective use of light and sound.
- In game actions that provoke a reaction.
- Character control.
...and other boring things like difficulty curves and incentives to keep the player interested.

All of these thing thing things are frequently brought up in order to make you think think think. Like Rick Moranis would his fictional kids, youíre asked to look at everything under a magnifying glass.

I found it fascinating and yes, I am a hit at parties. The ladies love me.

Game Design had a very close working relationship with HCI and the two would often blend together as a single entity. To begin with, we learnt a little about story telling methods within the medium and the subsequent rules that came with them. You donít want player one getting access to an area they really shouldnít too early in the narrative do you?

For the second half of the year, we were given the chance to make our own game design document for a fictional product of our choosing. In groups of 3-4 youíre asked to come up with a concept and create your own faux pas masterpiece. On paper, this covers everything from character design, to menu interface and in game writing. This is (supposedly) no different to how a developer would pimp an idea to a publisher.

In order to make board games, you need to be familiar with the hardware youíre using. You canít make a cup of tea without knowing where the tea bags are kept right? In this lesson youíd fill your brain with all kinds of nonsense about personal desktops, operating systems, mobile phones, consoles and the insides they entail.

If Mario had five lives and was eaten by a piranha plant, how many lives would he have left? This lesson actually had more in common with physics than it did conventional mathematics.

This class was so popular Iíd often find myself sat alone in a large silence filled classroom, lucky enough to be one of the few that caught the look of disappointment in my tutorís eye.

Professional skills were all about self-development. I thought I was perfect, it taught me to become humble. (Iím kidding by the way. Iím a deeply flawed but beautiful human being.) You would quite literally plan for the future. This was done by researching any ideal future employer and looking at the qualities they were asking for in staff. From this was born a personal action plan, a bid to become a better person. Mineís working out brilliantly by the way.

The class was unpopular thanks partly to the large number of questionnaires youíd fill in every lesson. Hundreds upon hundreds of questions that forced you to self evaluate. In my classmateís defence, a lot of them wouldnít have looked too out of place in a womanís magazine. Most considered the lesson irrelevant, but then again it wasnít up to them to make that decision was it?

Youíll quickly want to trade your old friends in for the new ones at the nearest Gamestation. Do keep the pretty ones though. They're highly collectable.

The beautiful thing about the geek culture is we can smell our own. Unlike the Internet forums and the hobby sites, everyone in the classroom had a physical presence. We were all scared of each other. Nobody wanted to be sent home with a note from teacher. Fear provokes change and as a result, we quickly grew to love one other and get along (everyone except Mike). Not one screamed at another in caps for hating on the PS3 or 360. Instead they chose to abuse their student loan and get both. Troll toll money was now better wasted on beer!

If someone had told me six months ago Iíd have met such a terrific bunch of lads, I wouldnít have believed you. My Dad on the other hand says he always suspected as much. This was easily the hardest thing about dropping out. Iíll miss those guys, even Mike. Moving isn't it? Please donít cry. Iím not good with tearsÖ Or womenÖ Or rational thinkingÖ Or bumping uglies.

The school you attend will offer you the tools, advice and all the information you need. They will not however, whisper into your ear and do the work for you. That legwork is left up to yours truly. I cannot stress this enough. Give yourself that much needed head start. Your tutorís are not your girlfriend and the assignments they give are not the unwashed dishes in the sink. They need to be done. Your workload is only going to increase. Come Lunchtime even more plates and cutlery will be added. Donít put off tomorrow, what you can do today.

Think of it this way, if it does turn out you hate washing the dishes, youíve just saved yourself a lot of debt. If however you discover youíre rather fond of the soapy bubbles, youíve only gone and left the particularly nasty pans to soak first. The marigolds are on and youíre nothing if not prepared.

You need to be realistic about your expectations. Short of creating your own independent software company, youíre not going to graduate and walk into a high profile job. This degree will only help get your foot in the door. Unless youíre extremely lucky or exceptionally talented, itís going to be years until youíre actively telling Dude Huge heís ďdoing it wrongĒ and ďget out of my office.Ē For now you need to be content with work as a low level programmer or key coffee maker. Competition is understandably fierce and youíre not the only one bidding on this auction.

Iím not embarrassed to say I have neither the talent nor patience to survive in that side of the industry. The reason I chose to attend university after all these years was to escape a job I hated. I wanted to do something I loved, not pay the bills. I strongly suspected this path would have lead me down a similar road, albeit with a slightly more impressive title. Iíll have to make do with simply ĎKingí for now.

Iím a lousy modeller and a poor to adequate programmer. Iím not likely to get much better. Granted, Iím not the worldís best writer either, but unlike those two, thereís a strong desire to improve. I am grateful for the experience though as it was a real eye opener. I have newfound respect for the people in the trade. You guys work bloody hard!

A big apology to any of my tutors if they feel I wasted their time, and any of the readers who now feel the same. Dropping out was no reflection on your teachings and Iím more than thankful for what you taught me. I was born with beauty, not brains it seems. As for my new friends, donít lose touch! I plan on milking you for exclusives in the near future! ;-)

Öand a big thank you pour vous dear reader.

I promise to make my next piece that much shorter, but please do bear in mind that I also told my mother ďthat this time Iím moving out for good.Ē I do hope I kept you entertained throughout at least? If I did happen to bore you, send me your address and Iíll mail you a hand written apology. No really, I will.

(Disclaimer: This was originally written for my website portfolio come the end of April, so apologies if any of it sounds dated. Two months is a long time on the Internet. Seeing as the new school year is fast approaching, I've thrown it into the DToid C-Blogs in the grim hope that someone besides my mum and the postman will actually read it and maybe find it useful.)   read

5:53 PM on 03.18.2010

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

This is support of Jimís The joy of being a videogame reviewer.

Iím a Veggiesaurus. I havenít eaten meat for, coming up two years now? A lot of my friends arenít even aware of my flesh aversion. Out of some crazy misguided logic, Iíve chosen never to preach to others about my decision. I donít give a passenger ship what you eat, as long as youíre happy eating it. Iíd appreciate it if others would do the same for me.

Instead, I constantly find myself under the spotlight. Regularly having to defend my actions and explain myself to half strangers who learn my dark secret. Iím not PETA and Iím not that douche bag handing out leaflets of tortured animals on the street, in order to shock you into submission. Iím just grown man stood in a bar ordering his dindins, praying the words ďQuorn burgerĒ are out of earshot of the other patrons. Iím not hurting anybody. Opinions are subjective, not fact. Why the high heel should I be ashamed to have one that differs from yours?

Destructoid is another herbivore in a carnivoreís world, and I love them for it. You can always trust the staff to speak their mind and be honest with you. They arenít afraid to stray from the herd and say something some may consider controversial. Not for the hits, or the always interesting hate mail, but because their readers respect them for speaking their minds. Let me rephrase that: because their readers should respect them for speaking their minds.
This industry, like any other is hungry for our money. We live in an almost Dickensian state, where every publisher plays the role of the Artful Dodger keen to nick those copper pennies of ours. The video game magazines, journalists and writers play the active role of the policeman. They help us spot the wrongíuns. Iíve seen enough cop dramas to understand that not every guy on the force has a clean sheet, but I believe Destructoidís motives are honorable. Theyíre the good guys.

The angry Mob is crying out for Jim Sterling to be lynched yet again. Rumor has it, he wasnít the biggest fan of Final Fantasy XIII.

ďBoo! Hiss! Heís attention seeking!Ē - they cry.
ďIím never coming here again.Ē Ė they saunter.
ďHeís behind you!Ē I yell back.

He didnít call you names, he didnít sleep with your mother and he didnít raid your cupboards. He reviewed a video game. He gave you his opinion. He played a game and did not like it. Itís called free will sweet heart.
Free will works both ways of course, but when you start berating a man over a video game review, youíve got your priorities all wrong. Getting personal, calling his weight into question and sending him abusive private messages is not only rude and insensitive, itís bullying. What an ugly bitter human being you are.

If youíre insecure enough to get your panties in a right twist because someone on the Internet disagreed with you, youíre on the wrong site son. What youíre looking for is a willing salesperson. Someone to convince you any old rubbish is worth your time and money. Would you be interested in our insurance package or any of these wonderful accessories sir? Dtoid is not a Cheshire cat. If shit is bad, theyíll tell you itís bad. They wonít sugar coat it and warm it up for you.

If you disagree, thatís fine. Please just be an adult about it or make your responses entertaining please. Thereís enough negativity in the world without you pooping on your own doorstep. This barrage of hate is proving tiresome. None of the writers, least of all Jim, are masochists. If they are, Iím surprised they get anything done. Youíre feeding theyíre supposed habit.

Iíve grown rather fond of this site over the years and it saddens me no end to see the comments regularly become a battlefield. Video games are supposed to be fun right? Stop taking them and yourselves so seriously. Continue to sit on your side of the fence and allow him the choice to sit on the other. You eat the sausage meat and heíll continue to eat the lady salad. Thereís no reason to drag him screaming over to your side. That just leaves less for you. Stop attacking the writers for being themselves. Youíre strangling the site and stifling its creativity.

Iím sure this will drown under a large number of more worthy c-blogs, but thanks for taking the time out and reading my faceless ramblings. You donít make friends with salad apparently.

Happy belated Birthday Destructoid! Stay proud of who you are. I donít say it nearly enough, but I love you. x   read

4:27 PM on 10.04.2009

Nothing is sacred: Could you spare some Ch-ch-ch-changes?

Unfortunately in any industry, to borrow the name from the title, nothing is sacred. Ours is no exception. If it sells, theyíll make more of it. And by them, I mean everyone. Book publishers, Game Developers, record labels and Simon Cowell. They'll exhaust any good and original idea until the consumer is bored and it doesn't make the delicious money it once used to. It's business at it's most simplest.

Why waste spend pennies on a new and untested idea, when you can borrow someone elses thatís already proven to work?
For every Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, there's an Eragon and Twilight. For every interesting horror movie with a strong female lead, there's every Hollywood film made in the last ten years. For every band that writes good music, there's a Coldplay. For every commercially successful game like Guitar Hero, there's an unnecessary sequel every six months and a million clones in tow. Repeat when necessary. Copy and Paste. The minimum of work required for maximum profit. Why worry about artistic credibility when you can have an indoor heated pool and a wife with breast implants?

No sole party is to blame either. Sure you can point a disparaging finger at someone like the CEO (of) Activision, but the average consumer is far from blameless and dare I say it, an idiot. (Not you mind. Youíre awesome and by awesome, I mean sexy and by sexy I mean Iíd like to have sex with you. What say you put down this blog and we have an early night?)
If there wasn't a big enough market for these games, people wouldn't make them. Simple as that. Companies care not for our criticism or complaints, they care only for bar charts, profit margins and money. Itís the only language they understand.

Before you get any perverted ideas, dibs. That's now my woman you're now looking at.

For example; The Nintendo Wii. I donít need to tell you how fantastically well it sold, but I will anyway. This is because Iím a right patronising bar steward. It sold well, very well indeed. Not only did they manage to ensnare their existing demographic, they successfully managed to target a new market altogether. Non gamers. People like Ma and Pa and that attractive lady at the checkout with the ample bosom. Besides a brilliant marketing campaign, arguably the reason for the Wiiís success was itís main selling point/gimmick; the motion controls. It helped make Nintendo Scrooge McDuck rich and a household name.
Three to four years later, Microsoft and Sony announce their own equivalent of go go gadget motion control. This is because they want a slice of Nintendoís sugar mummy and daddy market. We the existing gamer arenít going anywhere and they know it. I fear weíre going to be left standing in the club holding onto their purse whilst they chat up some rich entrepreneur in front of us. Sure, at the end of the night we get to go home with them, but their mind is elsewhere.
The market is evolving in ways Iím not comfortable with, and we the gamers are just too accepting of it. Iím not just talking about motion controls either.

ďModern warfare 2 is selling for the extortionate rrp price of £49.99 because Activision knows itíll make a lot of money? I donít mind paying the extra because Iím a f**king mug. I wonder why games are still so expensive?Ē

ďWhat do you mean the DLC was already on the disc? Oh thatís ok, the game itself was worth the fee I paid in store alone. This isnít just an excuse to milk me of further money. Moo.Ē

ď£40 quid for an Xbox live subscription? Thatís disgusting. What the hell am I paying for exactly? SWEET! A set of 'reasonably' priced dumbbells and a telescope for my avatar!Ē

ďI donít mind if generic sports simulation 2010 only has a few minor stat updates and a couple of new features. Iíll happily pay full price because I really really like generic sports simulation.Ē

And so on and so forth.

You can yell from the rooftops, dressed up in your best spandex and blog on sites like this complaining that Mr fat cat is urinating on your rug again, but how many of you actively spray him with water, hit him where it hurts (the wallet) and tell him what a bad kitty he is? Not enough clearly. Too many of us are willing to just ignore the mess heís made and let someone else deal with it. Heíll learn his lesson eventually you tell yourself. Well when he starts emptying his bowels on your bedroom floor, youíll have no one but yourself to blame.

Please, just stop paying for this rubbish. Youíre feeding their habit and making it worse.
Every cloned sequel with a fresh coat of paint you purchase, every pointless and overpriced micro transaction you make, every original game ip you illegally download is effectively telling these companies that this business practice of theirs is ok. If you think itís bad now, itís only going to get worse. Youíre the sort of fellow whoíd happily egg my house because itís the norm, whilst companies like Activison, Capcom and THQ use my bathroom without flushing afterward.

As this youthful market of ours gets more and more mainstream, the more original and interesting games, ideas and concepts are going to drown under a landslide of excrement. Iím not saying everything fresh and exciting will completely disappear, but their number will certainly decrease. Both the movie and the music world have already fallen prey to a similar disease. These days, the only things worth investigating from either media are typically independent, away from public eye or just long forgotten about. Whilst it helps fuel the superiority complex of snobs like me, it is overall a little depressing and dare I say it, sometimes a little lonely.

ďNo I did not see who won pop idol last night. I wasnít aware Saw 12 was out no. Hannah Montana is Miley Cyrus? What in gods name are you smoking!?Ē

Instead of moving forward, it feels like weíre taking a step back. This form of entertainment and escapism I love so much is slowly becoming alien to me. Dim lit bedrooms with cheeto stained T-shirts are out, whilst minor celebrities, playing alongside their families in brightly lit living rooms are In. Iím not sure we can see each other anymore. Iím sorry, weíve just gown apart. Of course we can still be friends.

So to summarize. Class open you books to page 11 of "I told you so".
The gaming industry is my temple and youíre shitting on it. Nothing is sacred. Please change your ways now before itís too late. If you do, Iíll put a good word in for you in heaven. I know the fella at the door.

If that made any sense, thank you. Youíre now my new best friend. If it didnít, then Iíve finally snapped. I knew this day would come eventually. Iím going to die in a home arenít I? Iím orf to listen to some Morrissey records. That should cheer me up. He's the only one who truely understands me. I guess Iím deeply disturbed. (Deeply disturbed with a fantastic taste in music?)
Cheers my dears, I love you all in my own special way. Even you, yes you, the ugly ones.

Lots of mad monkey love and kisses,
Uber Mashu.


Personal note: I should learn how to edit.   read

8:26 PM on 03.31.2009

Gamers Block.

To recap on events Iím sure youíre not privy to; *Cue sitcom style montage of events that have transpired in the last 6 months, full of pretty girls, pop culture references and the latest melodies now available on itunes. *

Iíve been unemployed since late October. I quit my job of 3 years at a game store (the very week I was offered a promotion) to better myself and not get stuck in a rut. Just like that guy in that movie with Ryan Reynolds. Unfortunately, life doesnít always imitate art and 6 months later all Iíve managed to do is end up in my Y Fronts, having exhausted all my savings and the only female attention I have received is from my mother or my feline better half.

I have applied to college to do a bit of the old Game design but (and if I get in) thatís another 6 months away if Iím lucky. I AM LOSING MY MIND. MELODRAMA. The caps make it more real and reach out to you as a reader see. Besides job hunting in a desperate attempt to get some fundage behind my 2 a day (early) Easter egg habit, I have been surviving on my Games collection.

6 months is a long time and let me tell you my friends, no amount of consistent and substantial social life, living it up in bars wooing the ladies or hanging with the guys is going to successfully kill every single goddamn spare hour you have at your disposal. As a classic and rather clichťd nerd I typically like to kill those ďrareĒ moments of boredom with a spot of the old gaming and my god is that getting exhausting. Iíve caught up on titles I bought on the cheap years ago and never got round to completing. Games I fancied replaying for entertainment purposes. I exhaust any new release within days. Resident Evil 5 was (almost) mastered within a week. Great game. Fantastic game (ignoring the fact that it was a 4 clone and any other problems I had with it). I just canít stand the sight of the bastard any more. Itís nothing personal, but Iíd like to compare it to a dirty weekend away with the newly acquired misses. You do your thing, work the old charm, perform the old in/out a couple times, have a romantic dinner and then wish sheíd sod off temporarily so you can watch your soaps. Itís nothing personal; you just need your space for a while. Youíve spent too long in close proximity with your little love biscuit.

Trapped in my room and a town located in the sticks, hunting for work, I donít get that space. My room isnít my room without some heat radiating off the fan of some console. I sneeze or lose my balance and Iím pretty much guaranteed a slow and painful death by suffocation from my video game collection.
I wander the local ghost town escaping the dark clutches of my nerd prison and the only shops of interest heavily stock the items I find most endearing yet (currently) so tiring.
I go out and cavort with friends, but a lot of them are former work colleagues. As previously mentioned I worked in a Game store. Games tend to crop up from time to time you know? I canít even sup on a traditional pint of ale without hearing the fecking Konami code at least once!
Iíve taken up running. Iím slowly trying to kill myself with physical exercise. Iíve started drawing again. Iíve started writing again in the form of this blog. Iím now reading more than ever. Iím on first name terms with the sweet old lady at the library, toothless grin aní all! The thing is, Iím now slowly tiring of them too (The old lady especially). Holy plot twist Mattman!

So yes, Iím in a rut and Iím looking for advices. Advice besides anything patronizing like ďHang in there old chumĒ or ďGet a jobĒ are most welcome. Both Iím working on.

What have you done to combat against such a problem yourself? Are there any programs youíd suggest Iíd familiarise myself with before going to college and designing the next big hit with a number in its title? Are you free tomorow night?
Anything you can offer me in the form of words or a constructed sentence will make this old man very happy albeit for a couple seconds. Regardless of itís content.

There are only so many times or ways that I can touch myself before life just isnít worth living any more.
One as handsome as I was not meant for an existence as dull as this.


3:13 PM on 03.09.2009

Buyerís remorse.

Weíre all aware of what happens after we purchase a game we love. Weíll play them to exhaustion; search gamefaqs for every nook, cranny and surface you may have overlooked until you grow tired and exhausted, then attacking anyone on the internet who doesnít give it a score over ninety percent.
You want to tell it that itís pretty and get a nice little disc clean in the country. You want to have its DLC and live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, this isnít always the case. So what happens then? The obvious really. Deep inside this treasure chest of words, Iím plan to educate (and hopefully entertain) you on many scenarios that I suspect youíre already aware of. Timewaster go! Waste time attack!

People like to complain. Itís whatís separates us from the animals. Tears, opposable thumbs and excessive whining. Spend five minutes in an online forum or listen to a crowdís reaction during a warm up act and youíll understand the human psyche. Our species as a whole is capable of many colorful ways to say ďYou suck!Ē
So it comes as no surprise that at least once in every gamerís life, they ask themselves "Why am I playing this rubbish?" I'd use a much stronger word, but I'm very much a noble gentleman.
The usual response (In my case non verbal, adding the "Strong silent type" to my list of personal attributes) is to stand up, feel dizzy, think about lunch and then perform one of the following acts:

ē Return it to the store claiming it was an unwanted gift that some lovably ignorant aunt/uncle/cousin twice removed unknowingly bought you as a celebration of your birth. This is of course accompanied by the obligatory roll of the eyes, sly wily grin and a shrug of the shoulders. Very much like the Fonz's infamous "Heeeey!" pose but with Jazz hands. The cashier understands that this was an act beyond your terrestrial control, sympathizes with you and exchanges it immediately for a much "better" product. This is usually an equally bad piece of tripe that they're being forced to push that week.

ē You realize that the product in question is far outside the 10 day exchange and drown in your salty tears. These are not what you'd call "Happy Days"

ē You bought it on the cheap and don't want to be THAT guy or gal by returning it. You know the type. The kind of Human Being who takes great pleasure in forcing their way to the front of the bus line despite having arrived mere seconds before the door opens. As an encore to this heinous act, they'll then hold up the rest of the local transporteers, by counting their change and emptying the contents of their man bag in front of the driver looking for that last elusive 20 pence.

ē Despite your better judgment youíve gone and lost that most elusive of gems, the receipt. No doubt you lost it as you were waving it excitedly in the air as you exited the store, congratulating yourself on a purchase well made. A bold move that has cost you dearly.
You nervously wait in line and sweat profusely, instantly making yourself look guilty. Of course, this purchase was made with cash, so the odds are stacked against you further. Two seemingly mortal store clerks stand behind the counter on opposite sides of the till as the line gets increasingly smaller and smaller. Both of these men are strangers, yet they hold unspoken power over you.
One appears to be an overly friendly bubbly and chatty manchild. The kind of jester outside of this present situation youíd avoid like the plague. For now though, heís much better than the alternative. Clerk numero deux has what appears to be nicotine patches covering his arms, surrounded by menacing tattoos. This is all accompanied by a stench of ďyesterdaysĒ booze. He looks surly, hung-over and talks to people in a series of grunts very similar to Morse code. Your eyes meet briefly and you quickly turn away, Butterflies forming in your belly. ďOh god, oh god, please donít let it be him...

ē You give it away to friend or relative like the enlightened Good Samaritan you are.
You will then bring up this seemingly meaningless yet noble act every time you want something. Be it a place to crash, a ride or a chance to bump uglies with his Sister. The phrase ďYou owe me oneĒ will pass your lips on a regular basis. What a Sucker.

ē In some rare cases, you'll keep the offending disc/cartridge and play it on the odd rainy day. Just like visiting a convicted friend in the slammer you'll quickly remember why you stopped writing to the gun wielding nut job and are more than relieved when he gets sent back to his cell. The cell in this case being your top shelf and not the sexy newsagent kind.

ē In some even rarer cases, you'll still rack up a ridiculous amount of hours playing on the title and claim youíre hoarding it for achievements or trophies. You hate everything about this game yet you just can't seem to get enough. It has done nothing but hurt you, but like an abusive ex lover, you'd still let the disc slide sensually into the tray and "hit that" till your hand cramps up.

Life is full of disappointment and cannot be avoided. There are no exceptions.
Movies will always feature a strong female lead in a bid to avoid the stereotype, ironically creating its own.
American Idol or a similar guise will always grace our screen and fight it out for Christmas number one.
The Girl next door will always complain that she can never meet a nice guy just like you, then throw herself at the sort of fella whoíd stab you (or her in a metaphorical sense) with his poking device were you to show the slightest hint of excitement at Pokťmon.

Attack it on the internet with written language. Adjust Metacritic scores. Email the developer or publisher (depending on personal preference) a photoshopped image of your genitalia resting upon their head. Whatever makes you happy.
Just try and take solace in this line Iíve stolen from a major motion picture:

ďThe sweet is never as sweet without the sour.Ē Ė Vanilla Sky.   read

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