I've lived 100% of my life in Texas. That year and a half in Oklahoma don't count because, well, it was Oklahoma.
When I'm not working or spending time with the wife, then I'm gaming (unless it's one of those rare occasions that I actually spend some time practicing my djing). I love all types of games except sports games. I especially love RPGs and action games.
I currently do administrative work for a major university, but I hope to eventually get an MBA and work in the game industry on the business side of things.
So what originally started as trying to get a few Texans together for a monthly gaming thing (Juegos Rancheros for those interested) ended up involving a few people from Arizona as well. One thing led to another and now I am eagerly anticipating on holding another NARP. But this time, instead of restricting it to only Austin or Texas in general, I'm including everybody, but specifically the American Southwest.
What does this mean for you? Well, if you have the cognitive capacity to read and understand the words that I'm typing, and you live in one of the states colored in in the above pic, then it means that I'm inviting you to my house on Saturday, July 26th. Really, any and every Dtoider is invited if you think you can make it.
There is more planning that I'll have to do, but I just wanted to make sure that everybody knew about it and kept it on their radars. Any and all suggestions/ideas/letting me know you'll be there are greatly appreciated. Feel free to post something here, on my twitter (@djnealb), or you can email me (email@example.com). You can also help with some of the planning/ideas by talking about it in the forum thread here. In the meantime...
So there I was, working in my office. Well, "working" would probably be more appropriate, but I'm sure some actual work was also getting done as well. Anyway, a student of the major university that I work for walks in for his scheduled appointment with an advisor. The student takes a seat just happens to notice several of the gaming paraphernalia that I have on my desk, including one spectacular bobblehead at the corner.
Not only is the student a gamer, but he also happens to be a fellow Dtoider. We then start talking about games and what we've been playing. What we look for in games, what we're highly anticipating (as it happens we're both pretty stoked for Borderlands 2). We also started talking about older games and how we are both building up (or rebuilding, as it where) our classic games collections. I happened to mention offhand that I have been wanting to buy an N64 for a while now, but I can never justify it because every time I got to a used game store I remind myself that I'm trying to save money for a wedding and a honeymoon. If you just read that sentence in 7 seconds or less, then that is about the exact amount of time that I said it. As I said, it was an offhanded comment which I didn't even think twice about and we started talking about other favorite old game systems.
The student gets called into his appointment and leaves. I'm pretty happy because I don't actually get to talk about games very often at my job, and this was even better since it was with a fellow Dtoider. I begin "working" again and about 25 minutes later the same student stops back at my office. "Hey Neal," he says. "You said you were looking for an N64, right? Well, I've got one that you can have. Consider it an early wedding gift." I was definitely not expecting this, and was actually worried that I might get in trouble for accepting a gift from a student. This was on Friday, so I thought that he would be like a typical student (i.e. like I was back when I was a student) and probably just forget about it over the weekend.
Nope. When did college students actually start remembering the promises that they make to people that they only just met? He actually calls my office on Monday to make sure that I'll be there and that he'll drop it off before 5. So obviously I'm a bit worried again and go to talk to my supervisor. I explain the situation and my boss understands my trepidation, but he says that since I'm not really in a position to give him any sort of favorable treatment for anything, and since he's just giving it to me as a friend, then there's nothing wrong. So there we have it. I get an N64 (thanks for including Super Mario 64, btw), an new friend, and I'm not in trouble at work. Thanks JotGarden!
For those of you who may not know what Legend of Dragoon was, shame on you! Legend was a PS1 era JRPG developed by Sony. It was, arguably, one of the better RPGs of that generation and was criminally ignored by the masses. I have been dreaming of a continuation to the story (be it either a prequel or sequel) for a very long time. I'm not going to go into the whole "the story of Legend of Dragoon starts with..." thing. That's what Wikipedia is for. What I'd like to do is give my reasons for why I've been wanting a new LoD for so long. Oh, and there might be a few spoiler-y things here, so you've been warned.
The ending itself doesn't really beg for a sequel, though I'm pretty sure the right story tellers could definitely make one.. The story itself, however, practically demands a prequel. Through the course of LoD, you learn of an ancient war between the humans and Winglies (think of them as a sort of advance human with wings of light). The Winglies had practically every advantage conceivable over the humans. They were faster, stronger, and could fly, so to end he humans made a pact with some dragons to gain their powers (or something like that, it's been a while since I played). That's practically a game in itself. Just call it Legend of Dragoon: The Dragon Campaign (as it was called in the first game)
You also find out during the course of the game that Rose, the Black Dragoon, has been alive the whole time since the end of The Dragon Campaign and was known as The Black Monster for killing "the moon child" every 108 years. There could easily be an action game that delves into some of that history.
Anyway, this has been a dream of mine since I first finished Legend of Dragoon all those years ago. Especially more so since it's just been announced that it will finally be released on the PlayStation Network on May 1st (which just so happens to be the day before my birthday). I sincerely hope as many people will buy it as possible. It would literally be a dream come true if a sequel were to be made based on the amazing sales of this rereleased title.
It's been a while since I've done a blog post, but I think the most recent Bloggers Wanted is a good chance for me to dip my toe back in to the c-blog waters. Especially since I disappointing game experience very recently. FYI, this is going to be a bit spoiler-y, so if you're wanting to keep the ending to Sonic Generations a surprise, you may want to finish it first and then come back. Don't worry, it won't take you long.
Before Generations, I probably hadn't really played a Sonic game since Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Sure, I had played 3, and even bought 4, but 2 was the only one that I really put a lot of time into. The game was just pure fun. Gameplay was fast and responsive. The levels were varied and interesting. And the music: Oh God, that music. Seriously, I could probably listen to Metropolis Zone on an endless loop for hours. But most importantly, the game was just satisfying. The difficulty progressed at a great pace and you felt accomplished upon finally beating the game.
I never paid attention to the 3D Sonic games, but Sonic 4 caught my attention and resparked my love for the speedy blue hedgehog. Based on that I downloaded the demo for Sonic Generations, which contained the opening level, Green Hill Zone, of both classic and modern Sonic. The classic level was great. It reminded so much of what I loved in the Genesis days. The controls were responsive, the colors were bright, the level was detailed and offered several different routes, and even the music sounded like I was 7 years old again. However, it was the modern version of Green Hill Zone which really caught my eye. I know a lot of people loved the game for the return of the classic gameplay, but it was the speed and newness of the modern levels that really hooked me. What can I say, I'm a sucker for shiny, new things.
So yeah, I loved the game and bought it soon after that. First thing that I learned was this Sonic game had a story. I had always heard of the crappy stories in the new Sonic games, but I had never really experienced one before. And yeah, this one was pretty crap-tacular. Something about Robotnik (or Eggman, whatever) doing something and all of Sonic's friends (who the hell are all these...things...that aren't Tails and Knuckles?) disappearing and a whole lot of whatever. Once I start actually playing the game, I just don't care. I'm Sonic the Hedgehog, the Blue Blur, racing towards the end of each stage.
Seriously, I don't know about 95% of the characters in that picture.
Anyway, the game is great. I'm having a blast in all of the classic and modern levels. The boss battles are great. I even enjoy all the little side missions (except for that fucking crocodile which can just go fuck itself). It's not long before I realize that the goal of the game is to actually get all the Chaos Emeralds. Okay. That's a little weird since it was always a cool little option in the prior games, but whatever, I'm enjoying myself. It turns out that the emeralds are used to unlock the final area. I'm expecting the final area/boss battle to be a two-parter: one with classic Sonic and one with modern Sonic. Nope, instead I get what can only be described as the most boring boss battle of any game that I can remember playing. Ever.
So some stuff happens and both Sonics end up turning into Super Sonics. In my mind, I'm thinking that this is awesome. My thinking is that I'll get to play through two more levels: one as classic Super Sonic and another as modern Super Sonic. Nope. The final level is nothing more than an on rails section in which you move Sonic around a tube, avoiding objects flying at you, and try to run into the giant robo-monster thing that the classic and modern Robotniks (I'm sorry, but Dr. Eggman just sounds stupid to me). You can switch from being modern Sonic to classic on the fly, but all that does is switch you from a 3D over the shoulder perspective to a 2D sidescrolling perspective in which you move up and down in that tube (which is essentially just a big alley in 2D). What's worse is that all of those unknown animal friend things keep shouting the same God-damned things at you over and over and over and over. It basically ruined what was a pretty fun game and turned it into a chore. You can see it for yourself here.
So the online pass is a thing that's happening, and it seems that there really isn't a thing we can do to stop it. I usually buy my games brand new whenever possible, so the online pass doesn't really affect me that much. However, for older games for the PS2 or Gamecube, I obviously have to buy used. I may not want a certain game right now, but in 5 or 10 years I may say, "Hey, I never tried this one and always heard it was pretty good. I think I'll give it a try." So my fear is what happens when PS3/Wii/360 games are what PS2/Gamecube/Xbox games are now?
The Problem So, according to all the big publishers like Sony, EA, and Ubisoft, they're just losing too much money from used game sales. While I certainly don't doubt that they lose money from used games, I do find it hard to believe that they're losing as much as they make it seem. I find it especially hard to believe given that Gamestop's new game sales rose last year when their used game sales stayed the same. But don't let something like a fact confuse you. Never you mind that all used games were bought new, or that used games do NOT represent new space being taken up online. EA and Sony are going to go bottom up because used games are practically mugging them of their profits.
Their Solution The Online Pass (or PS Pass if you're Sony). The publishers simply want to recoup some of their losses from the constant thievery that Gamestop and other used game retailers are performing. There's nothing terrible about that. If you buy a game used, they simply ask that you input a code and that you pay them $10 on top of what you've already paid. Oh, and if you don't pay up and put in that code, they're not going to let you play a major portion of the game that's already on the disk. Hmmm, that's odd. I don't remember reading about that on the back of the box... Wait, who's doing the mugging again?
Better Solutions First of all, there are better solutions already available. id's new game, Rage, offers a pass that, if bought new, gives the player access to a few extra areas on the map that has extra items like ammo, money, and engineering items. There's nothing major there like some sort of ultra-gun that kills giant mutants in a single shot, and the extra areas not only have to be found, but are also filled with mutants once you find them. They are completely negligible and the game can be played through without even accessing them. Instead of punishing players for buying Rage used, they're actively encouraging players to buy it new.
Another better system is one that's been in place basically since the start of the current generation: paid DLC. When you buy a used game, all you get is what came on the disc. If you like the game, you'll want to play more of it, thus buying some or all of whatever DLC is available on the PSN/Xbox Live. However, in recent years, games that release GOTY editions have been coming with all the DLC on the disc. Perhaps the publishers should stop putting the DLC packs on the disk and instead give the new buyer a pass to download those packs for free. Just be sure to slap a sticker on the shrink wrap (thus being removed by the new buyer and not seen by used buyers) saying that the game comes with a pass to download all the DLC and maybe just casually mention the DLC on the box.
My Solution I've also been seeing some gamers throw around the idea of packaging the multiplayer portion as completely separate games. While I, personally, think that the idea of packaging a separate retail copy of the multiplayer part of a game is kind of stupid, the seed of this idea isn't that bad. If Sony and EA are going to force used buyers to pay for the multiplayer experience, at least make them pay for something that isn't included on the original disk. To me, being forced to make an additional payment for something I already bought is insulting. Multiplayer is already on the disk, so I shouldn't be forced to pay just to unlock it. However, if multiplayer is akin to DLC, then I wouldn't feel as insulted. The brand new buyer can, once again, have the pass to download the multiplayer for free, and the used buyer can decide whether or not they want to pay to download it. Again, just put a sticker on the shrink wrap of new games saying that they can download that for free. The back of the box should mention something about how multiplayer is downloadable and only takes a small fee. Is it a perfect plan? Of course not. But I do think that it's better and far less insulting than what the publishers are currently offering.
Since Halloween is just around the corner, I thought that I would share a rather frightening scene for any gamer. The Backlog. No, I'm not going to be starting my own series of me going through and trying to complete my massive backlog of video games. I just feel like sharing the recent additions/pending additions to my backlog. Also, by no means am I claiming to have the worst backlog in the world.
Let's see: I bought the Ico/SotC HD Collection when it came out, got Dark Souls in the mail the other week because I preordered the Collector's Edition back in June, I'm only about 1/2 way thru White Knight Chronicles 1 on the White Knight Chronicles 2 disc (meaning I still haven't touched 2 yet), I'm currently working on Rage, just bought Arkham City on Tuesday, and plan on getting Uncharted 3, Skyrim, and Zelda: Skyward Sword. All of that, plus all of the older PS2 and Gamecube games that I either haven't finished or even started yet.
Yep, I'd say that my backlog is probably S.O.L. of ever getting completed.
p.s. I'll try to take a picture of all the games that are on the backlog this evening when I get home.