balth 's blog
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Anything PS3, PS2, Old-school Mac (Dark Castle FTW).

My name is Mark, and I work in finance.

I am a nerdcore individual, and have done pretty much everything I've ever wanted to do in life. I've owned a comic shop, written for GamePro (one article w00t), traveled the world, played a couple CCGs professionally (and actually made money at it), owned 3 other businesses, romanced the most beautiful women and done it all with friends.

I have a blog over at where all the friends I pick up over the years like Katamari Damarcy hang out and we discuss nerdgasm things. Always looking for interesting people to join us.

There's a bit left on the old to-do list, but I'm pretty happy at my current job because I'm helping people.

I'd call myself a hardcore gamer; I started with el pong, although I was pretty young when it came out. From there I got a 'tennis' game (i don't think they actually had another name), my folks got me an Intellivision for Christmas and that was it; it was all over. I knew I could never get enough. (I get bonus points from all my friends because I still carry a He-Man intellivision keypad cover given to me by a great friend, in my wallet. The cover, not the friend.)

From there, my folks moved to the Ozarks, in the middle of BFE and Nowhere. I learned about the NES and eventually started stealing games from Wal Mart and Toys R Us, back before they had learned. Eventually I got caught stealing em at a video store, and I never did it again. But I bought a SNES from Wal-Mart my sophomore year in high school. Final Fantasy II made me an addict to RPGs. I returned my SNES to wal-mart in its original box and styrofoam my junior year of college. Because I had the receipt, original box and all styrofoam/equip, they gave me full price LOLz. I used that to buy a PSOne. It was that system that really drew me in and Final Fantasy VII and VIII and the original Persona destroyed any chance of me ever losing the RPG bug. I had a friend from Brazil while I was in college, and he was independently wealthy. Every week we would go and buy a SNES game or computer game and play it together and beat it. We were both great at fighters as well, so in my sophomore year I started doing the competitive circuit around KC, and always walked away with money. I've given up fighters mostly now; Tekken, VF, SC, SNK vs. Capcom2.. I play them for fun now; I don't have the time/energy to try to always win anymore... I won't forget the first time I walked into a Japanese arcade... I got 20-hit juggled with Cervantes. I cleaned up on SNK v. Capcom tho, and Virtua Fighter. I fared on tekken as I did on SC LOL.

Anyways, after college I started travelling for work, and was bringing in big bucks as I was gone all week/every week. I got a DC and every game/peripheral made for the system, in fours. I had a projector that I used for work, and when I was home 1-2 days a week, I'd throw parties like Mario Party as a drinking game, or Bushido Blade while drunk. It was great stuff. I picked up 5 ps2s on launch day, and let my friends buy them from me for cost. I got 2 ps3s on launch day, but 1 got cancelled, so the friend I had promised the other two let me get it. I was afraid I was going to be shot/mugged on the way out to the car with it. But it was awesome.

I am a Rhymes with Bony fanboi through and through, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate Xbox or Nintendo.

I did a 50-episode podcast on videogame news/reviews at my website

I think it was hellafun and good, but scheduling conflicts with my partner and I led to its ultimate demise.

I produced that podcast, and was putting like 4-5 hours a day into it. It was too much with work; I'm beginning to think that a roundtable format with no sfx is a much better idea LOL.

Anyways, my gamertag on the PS3 is balth feel free to add me if you want to play some warhawk or super puzzle fighter hd turbo remix alpha hyper king kamehameha spirit bomb genshiryoku shin reppu shao koken II.

The only thing that really sucks about having moved back to the 'Zarks is that there are not really any educated nerdcore type people here. I have no friends my age here, so online gaming is pretty important to me.

RPGs; Persona 3, Every Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest VIII, Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Elder Scrolls Oblivion, R:FOM, Warhawk, White Knight Story when it comes out.

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The following is a real conversation between myself and King3VBO about Bealtles: Rock Band. I think it summarizes my feelings more than anything. Also, please play RB: Beatles responsibly and do not drink yourself into a stupor so you pass out during the middle of a song. [/psa] [/speakingofthingswhichIknownot]

did you get Beatles: Rock Band?

Of course
I loves me some Beatles
and subsequent Rock Banding

you know
I have so very mixed feelings about it. And they aren't subtle.
I am almost moved to tears at some of the songs; the presentation and visuals are amazing
but I feel gypped at 41 songs of 2.5 minutes or less.
(on average)
I don't feel gypped on the production values at all. I think it's horribly engrossing and fascinating; even the unlocks are great. I have no qualms about the game AT ALL, just the content (or lack thereof)

its short
but... so fantastic

yeah, and I think that's why I'm so torn.
It IS fantastic.
I can say NOTHING bad about it.
but the bear Jew in me is crying out 'foul play!'

playing I Want You (So Heavy) is like a religious experience

lol yes
and While My Guitar Gently Weeps

oh yes
oh god yes

and for me, Sgt. Pepper/Little Help from my Friends is probably my favorite song on the disc.

So Heavy is my favorite song just because... it is. But Sgt Pepper/Little Help is probably number 2
It's just so much fun to sing

I was surprised, there were quite a few I didn't know.


It's still a great experience; I am just not sure fiscally if we are getting enough songs. What do you think?

Someone pinch me because I feel like Susan Boyle. Only not looking like her. And not coming in second. I think I need to work on my analogies...

So, I've been mostly away from dtoid for a while because of work. I post sporadically, but a lot of time has been with work and a bunch of side projects I've been working on.

One of those projects is that I've become an Apple Developer for the iPhone/iPod touch. I made a little program with the help of two other wonderfully talented individuals called iNit Non iTunes folks can read about it here.

It's an initiative tracker for D&D or any other RPG you can imagine. After playing with a virtual tabletop for so long, when I finally went back to sit down at the table for real with a local group, I had a problem keeping track of everything. So that's where the idea came from.

We had a bit of hiccuping at the start with a crash bug, but we got the update online today, so I started a small guerrilla marketing campaign; giving away some codes here and there.

I sent some emails and included my phone number... and was working away at the credit union when my phone rings and I'm not recognizing the number AT ALL.

And the next thing I know, I'm talking to Jerry Holkins, aka Tycho Brahe from Penny Arcade. For 35 minutes!
He was really nice (I was freaking out a bit) and he said to me at one point, Mark, keep your shit together, Mark. And I laughed. We geeked out and I told him where I saw the program going and he offered some suggestions as well.

We also geeked out about role-playing and tech stuff and I was just floored. I don't think even reporters get 35 minutes of one-on-one time with those guys, but Jerry was extremely nice and had some great ideas. And he was on vacation, and still took the time to call me. I am floored, still.

All I can do to summarize my day is reflect upon the words of, I think, the voice of our generation, one Mr. Ice Cube:

I have to say it was a good day...

that is all.

I saw this story spammed across all the major news sites today:

If you haven't seen it, I'll spare you the story. Jack White of the White Stripes and Jimmy Page of Led Zepplin said the following about music rhythm games:

"You think of the drum part that John Bonham did on Led Zeppelin's first track on the first album, Good Times Bad Times," Page said. "How many drummers in the world can play that part, let alone on Christmas morning?"

Ok, I see his point, but he's obviously missing the point of the genre. The point of music GAMES is to PRETEND you are John Bonham, not to BE John Bonham. Otherwise we'd be in a band. Making real music. Some of us professionals don't have time for all that.

Then, the other guy (I sort of hate him; hated him before now, really hate him now) said the following:

"It's depressing to have a label come and tell you that [Guitar Hero] is how kids are learning about music and experiencing music." While he added that he doesn't try to limit "which format people should get their music inif you have to be in a video game to get in front of them, that's a little sad."

You know what, Zack White?

That may seem an over-aggressive response, but it's people that have such a limited and narrow worldview that really gets my blood boiling. HOW people get your music as long as you get it in front of them? From sooooo many standpoints, his comment comes across as nothing more than egotistical, elitist bullshit. Let's break it down with the outline points:

1) You're a musician. Your job is to create something (music) and get it out to as many people as possible.

2) You're a businessman. You've already sold out, what do you care if you get another revenue stream?

3) You're a PR person. You have spoken negatively about a huge and growing cross-culture of fans, and a genre that introduces people to your music.

4) How could you possibly think, in the society that we live in today, that exposing people to music is bad no matter HOW it's done? With our schools consistently shrinking their programs for bands and music, as an active musician yourself, if you cared about your craft and truly wanted to see it grow, you'd encourage learning about it in every form and way possible.

Instead of sitting back behind your wall of RIAA nazis, look at bands and business models that aggressively seek to get their music in front of as many as possible. Reznor and NIN (whom I admittedly love) have done an excellent job of this. Releasing albums online AS WELL as traditional bricks and mortars, but to boot aggressively pricing their product to the point that it is TOO CUMBERSOME AND TOO MUCH OF A HASSLE TO PIRATE.

But, let's steer this back off the music industry's outmoded and outdated forms of thinking. We were talking about how Zack White *should* want everyone to have and hear his music.

But instead, he holds himself to an elitist pedestal placing himself above all those *pshaw* 'sad gamers' who happen to probably overlap with his fans, are mothers and fathers of the next generation of children yet-to-be-exposed-to-his-music and create more revenue streams that will allow him to retire a wealthy older man.

Page, I can see, doesn't get the point. I suppose what irks me even more is that Gamespot titled their piece [url=']Rock Legends rail against Guitar Hero'[/url]

Gamespot, what the fuck are you smoking? Page? Legend. White? Not even close. Come see me in 30 years and we'll see if anyone gives two shits about what Zack White has to say.

Now if you want to compare and contrast an educated statement of why not to have your songs in a music game, look at Prince. He cited his main reason for not wanting to list his songs as 'principle,' with the following explanation:

"I just think it's more important that kids learn how to actually play the guitar. It's a tough instrument--it's not easy. It took me a long time, and it was frustrating at first. And you just have to stick with it, and it's cool for people who don't have time to learn the chords or ain't interested in it, but to play music is one of the greatest things."

Now that, my friends, is an educated statement. He chose to think about his message and principles, and deliver something that stuck to his guns, but wasn't derogatory towards anyone.

I, for one, won't be purchasing any of the White Stripes tracks that evenutally WILL one day come to a music genre game. Not because I don't enjoy a few of the songs, but because I have a habit of using my money NOT in a way that supports douchebags.

By the way, if you doubt the validity of my personal opinion of Jack White, feel free to follow along with the example picture and flowchart provided.

that is all.

You know what? I'm bored.


not even

I mean Samuel L. Jackson

motherfucking bored.

And I don't swear. Much. Unless I've got the popeye suit on. But I digress...

See, here's the deal. I've got shooter A, shooter B, shooter C, shooter D... I am Michael Bay fatigued.

I've got Little Big Planet, from which I'm suffering from terminal cute fatigue AND terminal 'oh my god it will take me six months to make a level so I don't even want to boot the game' fatigue.

I can't play Rock Band by myself. It's against my religion. Stealing my spotlight.

Fallout 3 is fantastic, but there's soooooo much to do, still. And just meh. I have this catalog of games that just sits here, staring at me.

It asks me "Whatcha playin', Ash?' and then I'm stepped on with the OTHER giant robot foot. (continuity for those keeping up.)

It looks like someone's got a...

What's to be done? Well first, this is actually not just a pictogram post for those that aren't past the age of 13 and cannot stand to read. I have a point.

The point is this: videogaming, like every other industry on the planet, is cyclical. Comics are a prime example of this. When things are on a down cycle, invention and new storytelling ideas are brought forth. Once the upswing for the industry begins, stagnation in creativity sets in, leading to another eventual decline. Market analysis and trending helps extend the upswing as long as possible these days. Noone wants a repeat of the 80's crash.

And to an extent, videogaming is the same way. As I have gotten older, I sort of do trending with my friends, informally, of course. It seems we all 'fall out of games' for a while, and then come back bigger and badder than ever.

I have to say, after last holiday season's barrage of games released, I'm actually fatigued. I'm finally finishing all these games I wanted to play back then, and now I'm feeling blas about the whole thing. Work, side projects (like my new iphone app (insert shameless plug for iNit here), starting up 3 other companies AND running/playing in 4 d&d games a week has sort of left me... not wanting for the current crop of games coming out. It probably didn't help that I plowed through *2* plays of infamous in 3 days.

And now...really.. until Beatles Rock Band, Modern Warfare 2 and Dragon Age: Origins, there's not much out there I'm interested in. But I know, as the summer heat wanes, so, too, will my case of the Mondays. And then it will be time to hit the controller just that much harder.

that is all.

That Game Company (I always think of 'that 70's show'), the same company that brought us
has been hard at work for the PS-Triple putting together another very unique game called:


The setup: You're not dust on the wind, much to Kansas' chagrin (RHYMING, I HAS IT). Instead, you are a petal gently blowing on the breeze. If you wanted to do nothing more than use the game as an aesthetic simulator, you could do so; warm gentle breeze playing through your surround speakers, marvel at the pretty hi-rez pictures.

Oh ho, don't be fooled, tho! As Samuel L. Jackson would say, Pizza, Pizza, Motherfuckers! as he detonates the bombs strapped to his waist, killing all the terrorists.

What that has to do with 'flower' is not entirely clear, other than it is a vague attempt at an analogy to show that there is much more to this game. It uses the Sixaxxis controls to steer (pretty responsively) the petal in 3D. The interesting part is that this is secretly....

...wait for it...

That's right, this game is a racing game in a flower-coated shell. It has a track, namely the unopened flowers. And the more you hit, the faster you go. The wind whips behind you and in all your horrific 600 HP (that's Horse Petal) engine bears down on the course. Of course, there's no lap timer, you can take all the time you want in the world. But there is a course, and there are checkpoints (end of levels).

But don't let that fool you; it is a beautiful game that as everyone's favorite Beardtoid put it, in his nearly unintelligible Indigo Montoya accent, "Nearly a religious experience."

This game pushes the envelope of games towards art. It's that good. I think there is a strong narrative; the game sucks you in, but manages to keep making you think not only about the mechanics and the confines of which you play, but also about WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?

And that's where I'll leave it. I don't want to spoil the ending, but it's part existential and part philosophy. I believe That Game Company has made a genius of a casual/short/open game that pushes towards art.

I give it four out of five beardtoids.

(I'd give it five if it was longer, fyi.)

Also, addendum, I've been locked out of the site since the |-|@|<3R incident, props to Hamza for helping me get back in.

that is all

When I woke up this morning, I found this in my inbox:

How are you and how is your work hope all is moving fine.i seek for honest partner and i meet you at and it was interesting and attractive then i drop by to know who this was, i will like to know more about you. if you wouldn't mind you can reply my mail.
i will be very glad to read your mail with all pleasure. it will be nice to meet you and also read from you. please do honor my invitation so that we can exchange our pictures and maybe become partner.
Remember the distance does not matter what matters is the love we share with each other.
i wait to hear from you soon.

Kiss Regards Miss Suzee

(Picture not included)

Just wanted to give others a heads up, as I'm not looking to 'partner' with anyone spamming via dtoid.

Also, Happy New Year!