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Nerd. Dork. Geek. Singer. Gamer. DJ. Husband. I'm lots of things.

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.
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djnealb
10:09 AM on 09.01.2011

I'm not going to bother too much with an intro and just get straight into it. Yes, I will be repeating what a lot of others have said, but that will hopefully help it actually get changed. I'm going to start, however, with something that I haven't noticed anybody mention yet.

Screenshot/Image Galleries

This probably has more to do with all the junk and clutter at the top of each page, but I hate trying to look at new screenshots through Destructoid. Usually, when I notice an article about new screens from an upcoming game, I'll go over to another site to see if they have them. Why? First, they have it in a slideshow format. Therefore, I only have to load the one page instead of having to go to a separate page for each image. Then, if the picture is smaller, I can just expand it from there (you do do this on the Buy/Sell page, but the larger pics tend to go offscreen). Second, I don't have to scroll down half a page just to be able to see the full pic because of all the stuff at the top of the page that I never actually use. When I click on a link to view a picture, I'd like to be able to see the full picture, first thing, on the next page. That is, of course, assuming I can't just scroll to it in a slideshow.



Springboard

There are other "Improvement" blogs that can (and have) explained it much better, but I just want to add my voices to theirs. I will admit that Springboard has gotten a bit better in the last year or so (it doesn't randomly restart my video from the ad if I switch from full screen to normal anymore), but that's akin to saying, "Y'know, this shit doesn't smell quite as bad as it did yesterday." Can you please just stick with Youtube (preferably HD)?

Comments

A few things about comments. First, the ability to edit/delete our own comments would be great. I don't think I really need to explain that one. It's actually quite surprising that it hasn't been implemented sooner.

Second, threaded comments. Instead of having to start a new comment with @so_and_so, I can just hit the "Reply to comment" link and it will make a new comment under the comment I wish to reply to. It would be even better if these threaded comments could be expandable/collapsible. That way, if I'm reading through comments and I see one that I may want to read the replies to, I can just click on the little icon to show the replies/expand the thread. When I'm done, I can click the icon again to collapse that thread and go on with the rest of the comments. This would really clean up the comments section of each article and would allow readers to bypass (or more easily engage in, if they want) the arguments/squabbling and get straight to the comments that actually pertain to the article.

Finally, I don't need to be taken to a new page just to be told that my comment has been posted and shown the comment that was posted. I know what I wrote. Plus, what you show me in the green box does some weird shit with some of the punctuation, like placing a / in front of every apostrophe. I know the comment will be posted as written, but it's still a bit unnerving. Instead of taking me to a new page to tell me the obvious, how about you just reload the page to actually show my posted comment, or, at the very least, take me back to the top of the article/blog that I'm posting under.

Clutter

Oh lord, where to start? As has been said in just about every "Improvement" blog, you've got a whole helluva lot of crap on the page that can, quite frankly, be tossed. Let's start at the top.



For the love of God and all that's holy, get rid of that scrolling monstrosity of old stories. It was neat at first, but now it's just annoying and an eyesore. Not to mention that it pushes all the new stories further down the page. It's also gotten into this strange habit of scrolling uncontrollably from time to time. It needs to be retired.

I've just refreshed the front page and at the top is a link to a Flixist article as well as how many comments are one the article. Refreshing just brings up different articles from different sister sites. I completely understand wanting to promote you sister sites, but a simple link to the site itself should be plenty. And not at the top of the page where you should be focusing on yourself. You're already promoting those same sites at the bottom (which I'll talk about in a minute). Once is enough.

Then there are the ads. I understand that you get your money from selling ad space, but is it really necessary to have 2 ads for the same damn thing right next to each other. It's even worse when you have those two ads PLUS the back drop of the whole page. Worse still is when the 2 ads at the top and side of the page are both showing the trailer to the game at the same damn time (Space Marine is the most recent offender of doing this).

Then there's this thing:



If your mouse even accidentally rolls over that little arrow next to where it says "What's your game?" you get this monstrous pop-up box that nearly takes up the whole damn screen. This needs to be done away with. I understand that you're trying to make looking up popular titles a little faster, but that's what a search bar is for. Know where the search bar is? RIGHT NEXT TO THE DAMN ARROW!

The middle of the page I'm mostly okay with. There is a section on the right with links to a bunch of recently reviewed titles that I don't think is really needed seeing as there's already a link for Reviews at the top, but it's also not terrible.

Let's talk about the bottom of the page now.



Do you really need that many links to your sister sites. In my honest opinion, the links look a bit scammy. I think it would look cleaner and much more professional if you just had one row of links using the sites logo and name. If they have a tagline, then put it underneath the logo and have the link go their main page. Maybe preface the links with something like "Hey, if you like us, check our friend's sites at:" and then the links underneath.

Whew, that was a lot of stuff. I didn't even mention that stupid chat thing or how I sort of wish you would acknowledge the forum community a little more often, but I've only got so much time. I love Destructoid. It is, hands down my favorite website to go to every day. The community here is second to none and I've actually made several friends, both online and IRL, through the site. I know that some of my criticisms may be a bit harsh, but sometimes we have to hurt the ones we love in order to get through to them. I just hope that I and the others writing these blogs can get through to you.
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There comes a time in every adult's life when they need to open their hearts and spread their love. If you're in that situation, then might I suggest adopting a poor, down-on-their-luck, DJ puppy avatar. The avatar is friendly, housebroken, and only wants someone to love him, pet him, and maybe just take him to PAX.



In return, the DJ puppy avatar will be obedient, be in any picture you want him to be in, and, lest we forget, may just help you "get lucky". How, you ask? Well, first of all, he's a dj, and they get it all the time. Secondly, he's also a puppy, hence the PERFECT wingman (because puppy). Need I say more?

For all potential adopters, please keep these things in mind. As a dj, the avatar does enjoy loud environments, preferably with lots of music. While the DJ puppy does prefer electronic dance music (mostly house), he will not be offended if you don't want to listen to it. He has his headphones and will be respectful of your wishes. Also, as a puppy, the avatar will need to be taken on walks around the convention floor. He is also very sociable, so he'll want to meet lots of people. He may also require vast amounts of alcohol. It may seem odd or inhumane to give a puppy alcoholic beverages, but the dj in him practically requires it.

In conclusion, D'AAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWW! It's a puppy wearing dj headphones with the puppy-dog eyes. Please open your heart and adopt this avatar for PAX (and seriously, he'll get you laid if you play it right.)
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I play different games for different reasons, similar to how I like to watch different movies based on my different moods. When I play an action game like Uncharted or Devil May Cry, its usually because I'm in the mood to relieve some stress by causing explosions and killing anything that moves. When I play a platformer like Mario or Ratchet and Clank, its for the environments and silly characters. And when I play a role-playing-game, I go in for the story, just like I would if I were going to see a drama. This is why Eastern RPGs will always be my preference over Western ones.

To me, the main appeal of Japanese RPGs lies in a single word that has, over the last several years, gained a rather negative connotation: linearity. I certainly understand how non-linearity has it's appeal. You get dropped into a virtual sandbox and can do just about whatever the hell you want. That's the great appeal to games like Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls (which I also enjoy). However, in a genre that is supposed to be rather story heavy, I feel that non-linearity is more of a hindrance than a boon. The question is: Why?

Let me go back to my movie analogy for a moment. When you go to see a drama, why are you there? I like to go see dramatic films for the engaging and emotional plots and (here's my key point) the excellent character development. It is exceptionally difficult, if not impossible in most cases, to do that in a Western RPG. Look at a game like Oblivion. Sure, it has a good story, but can you really relate or empathize with any of the characters. More importantly, can you do that with your character. In non-linear, Western RPGs, like Oblivion or Fallout, I would posit that, no, you can't because your character is you. When playing Oblivion, I play as myself (I even get to choose what I look like). I make decisions that I would personally make in whatever situation that it throws me. Even if I try to adopt a persona, like an evil badass or selfless saint in Fallout 3, I'm still playing as myself, just a slightly altered version of myself. Therefore, there is no character, only me.



That's what makes Japanese RPGs more emotional and engaging. When I play a JRPG, I don't play the game and make the decisions that I, myself, would make. I play as the character. How would Squall or Tidus respond to this situation? How will it affect the other characters? One of the most linear RPGs of the current generation was the rather maligned Final Fantasy XIII. Despite it's faults it still has a story that is easy to follow and characters with varying personalities that get fleshed out throughout the course of that story. A much better example would be Valkyria Chronicles. Throughout the campaign, you are playing through a book of historical battles that took place during the fictional world's equivalent to World War 2. The game is so linear that, during your first play-through, you are completely unable to go back to prior levels to attempt better scores or times. I think that was a brilliant decision on Sega's part, forcing the player to go through the story first. This allows the player to see the story and character development completely uninterrupted by sidequests or repeating missions.



I know that there are Western RPGs that probably have much better plot and character development just as there are Japanese RPGs with the opposite. However, when you're playing the next Mass Effect or Final Fantasy or Elder Scrolls or White Knight Chronicles (sorry, it took me a bit to think of another JRPG that wasn't SquareEnix), ask yourself a question. Who am I playing as? The character? Or myself?









Hey there. I'm going to make this short and sweet. I just wanted to let anybody in the central Texas area (and beyond) know that there will be a NARP at my place this Saturday, August 13th. This will actually be my second time hosting and I will not be stupid and forget to take pictures like I did last time. For more information, we have a Google group called Dtoid Austin Emailer. I'm really looking forward to seeing some of my Dtoid friends again and, hopefully, making some new ones.








So, for those who don't know, my name is Neal and I've been a member of the site for several years now. I usually just comment on front page stories and am rather active in the forums. I've never really written a blog before. However, when I read the topic of the next "Blogger's Wanted", I decided to give it a shot. The topic is East vs West, and we have to choose one side or the other. Having once written a paper in college about RPGs and the difference between Eastern and Western versions, I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to test out the blogging waters.

Unfortunately, I keep coming upon the same problems that I had whenever I tried writing anything back in school (including said RPG paper): I'm just too damned easily distracted. So, instead of writing that blog, I think I'll write this one. It seems to be going much better since, as I write this, I've been distracted far fewer times. Perhaps the problem is that I'm treating the other more academically. There I am, trying to make a good first impression while simultaneously attempting to not only contribute to the Destructoid community, but to also prove that I know what I'm talking about. And I do know what I'm talking about. The problem is that whenever I attempt to put my opinions and/or knowledge of video games on to paper (virtual or literal), I end up reading like some gaming fanboy trying too hard to show off his e-peen by trying (unsuccessfully) to sound more intelligent than the next guy. At least, that's how I read it. But like I said, I do know what I'm talking about. I promise.


So I'll write this blog instead, introducing myself to the blogging space and maybe the other will happen more naturally. Or maybe it won't. Who knows?

My name is Neal. I live in Austin, TX and am 27. I am a graduate of the University of Texas (Hook 'em Horns). As my handle says, I am a dj, but it's pretty much just a hobby. I've been gaming since my parents gave me my two older sisters Atari 2600 with Frogger, Pong, and Days of Thunder. I've been hooked since. The only current generation system I lack ownership of is an Xbox 360 (hopefully that will change before the end of the year). It is my career goal to eventually have a real job in the gaming industry (read: not retail or quality assurance).

Oh yeah, I also recently got engaged to my girlfriend of the last three and a half years.


So that's me in a nutshell. I'm really hoping that this will free up my mind to writing in general. It's so much easier when I can just write about whatever comes to my head and not try to pigeonhole it to just one topic. Maybe the East vs. West blog won't happen. I hope it will, but I won't be upset if it doesn't. Perhaps it was just too soon to try something like that. I think I'll stick to some more like these for the time being. But I promise I'll try to keep them gaming related. Thanks for understanding.
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