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flintmech's blog

1:06 AM on 06.02.2013


I'm just drunk enough to post this shit


7:29 PM on 04.12.2013

Bioshock Infinite: No Such Thing as a Perfect Game

SPOILER WARNING: Just like with any other Bioshock Infinite piece actually worth your time, I cover story details. If you give even half a damn about the game, don't read this until you've completed it. That's my recommendation. I don't actually care what you do. Spoil it for yourself if you want. Your loss.

So, Bioshock Infinite is a great game. I beat it a few days after it released and I've yet to encounter someone who disagrees with that. Lately there've been a number of debates about the game and the exact level of awesomeness it managed to achieve. Some folk contend that the story and, ultimately, its ending weren't all that surprising or original, and that this warrants knocking the game down a few pegs. Others believe that the level of gore and violence in the game feels out of place or too over-the-top, in a way that distracts from the otherwise wonderful narrative. Still others say that the combat was bland, generic, and easy.

As I've witnessed these discussions arise on Twitter, I've attempted to make my case for the sides I stand on heard ("that's irrelevant", "you're wrong", "you're stupid", respectively) but in doing so, I realize that my arguments, as inelegant as Twitter's character limit often makes them, may make me sound like some blind and zealous fanboy, unable to recognize any faults in a game I love. But this simply isn't true. I certainly have my share of grievances with Bioshock Infinite, and I acknowledge that as dreamy as Ken Levine is, this game is not perfect.

Gameplay vs. Narrative

Before you start foaming at the mouth, I'm not talking about violence. I'm talking about the dissonance that occurs when the events of the story's narrative meet the harsh reality that they exist in a video game. The clearest example of this, in my mind, is right after you rescue Elizabeth in the Fink level, after Daisy Fitzroy hijacks the airship you just took. Liz is pissed at you because you're a lying scumbag. Even though you saved her from some bad guys, she doesn't trust you and is very hesitant to rejoin you. For the next 30 minutes (at least) Liz expresses anger and contempt for Booker in everything she says to him. That is until she finds some money/salts/ammo or you ask her to pick a lock.

Irrational did a great job with conveying Elizabeth's emotions. Courtnee Draper does a fantastic voice acting job, and the character animators would feel at home at Pixar. But Bioshock Infinite isn't a movie. It's a video game. And as a game, it has its list of mechanics to supply the player, sometimes agnostic of the current status of the story. In this case, whenever Liz prompted you to catch some money or agreed to pick a lock, she did so with the same affirming, confident tone, even if she's supposed to be angry at Booker.

I argue that it should have been somewhat trivial to record some "angry versions" of those call-outs and have them only play during that portion of the game, and given the otherwise superb quality and level of attention given to the rest of Bioshock Infinite, it's a bit of a disappointment that they failed here. However, I list this problem first for a reason. Whereas this disconnect probably bothered many people in a serious way, I actually found it quite entertaining. Everytime I pressed E on my keyboard in combat to catch some ammo Liz was tossing me, she still had that "I hate you" look on her face when the camera panned her way. To be honest, I found it unintentionally adorable. I acknowledge that it's a flaw in the game, but it didn't actually annoy me because I thought it was so charming.

That weapon limit

Okay, now shit's getting real. The original Bioshock let you carry all the weapons, and I struggle to find a "story reason" for the change here. Maybe they were just trying something different with the combat. After all, every enemy drops a gun, and there's no shortage of pickups. You can also pick up ammo to guns you havven't even found yet.

I get that restricting you to two weapons may play into encouraging specialization and "builds", but isn't that what the upgrades were for? On the occasions where you run out of ammo on one of your favorite guns (and Liz isn't doing her FUCKING JOB <3) it felt like an unnecessary conflict in choosing which of your guns to drop to replace with whatever that cop just dropped. I dunno, even though it didn't have a HUGE impact on the game itself, I still feel like this is an unnecessary step backwards from the original Bioshock. Whatever Irrational was trying to achieve with this decision, I feel like it would have worked out just as well without the limit. Additionally, and maybe this seems petty, but I feel like making your ground-breaking FPS epic adhere to the two-weapon system does more harm by simply giving credence to any clowns that argue that the combat is somehow no different than that found in the latest Modern War Shooter: Battle Duty, even though Bioshock Infinite has so many other fun elements that set it apart, and ... well, that's for another blog post.

What really disappoints me is the revelation that 1999 Mode doesn't remove the weapon limit. I mean, what's more definitive of first-person shooters from the late 90s: the difficulty level of computer enemies, or the unrealistic and badass arsenal your character has by the end of the game? Duke Nukem 3D and Half-Life weren't that difficult, and Quake III and Unreal Tournament were all about fragging other humans. Not dropping the 2-weapon limit in 1999 Mode seems like a massive missed opportunity! What were they thinking?!

Those FUCKING ghost battles

I played the game on Medium. I can already feel Gobun scrolling down to give me shit in the comments, but that's how it is. I played the game on Medium for a couple primary reasons: first, by principle, I tend to do my initial playthrough of a game on the "default" difficulty setting, with the potentially na´ve assumption that this is the creator's vision of the "standard" or "typical" experience; and second, I knew that I wanted to get as much out of the story as possible, and harder difficulties can tend to throw unwanted frustrations in the way of this.

And still, fuck those ghost battles.

I'm totally willing to go along with the setup for the first battle against Lady Comstock's ghost in the graveyard. The scene, I felt, was set up well, and in spite of not fighting any ghosts prior to this moment, I was able to accept it as a natural part of the game's universe. But the absurd spike in the game's difficulty was awful! As I said, I played on Medium. Up to this point, I only died several times in the whole game: a few at the very beginning (that initial run from the police from the raffle is surprisingly tough) and later just a few moments of negligence on my part. But I struggled so much against Lady Comstock, dying at least a couple dozen times.

And then you fight her again. And then once more.

And I feel like I know exactly why those battles were bullshit. Throughout the game, whenever I found upgrade vigors, I didn't necessarily focus on just Health, Salts, or Shield (in the end, I tried to evenly upgrade them over time) but I do distinctly remember putting most of my upgrades to Shield. And yet, the zombie(?) mobs that Lady Comstock's ghost summoned would, for some reason, totally deplete my shield in no more than two hits. Meaning it didn't take very many hits, if I weren't playing absolutely defensively, to die. To make it all worse, Lady Comstock's health felt at times to be unreasonably high, taking an absurd amount of hits to kill her. Couple that with regenerating her health when you die, you just have an long, frustrating experience that does nothing but drain your patience in the worst way.

I had no real problems with the game's combat system until that point. Fights were reasonable and fair, with a healthy amount of challenge, and the vigors and skylines I felt added an exciting and never-ending source of entertainment. But the difficulty decided to spike unexpectedly in that graveyard to a level that really broke the immersion for me.

Lack of choices

Throughout Bioshock Infinite, you're given a number of choices along the way. At first, these choices feel super important, because what you choose will impact the story later on. But I eventually found this to not be the case. Despite the choices given to you, Bioshock Infinite's story is surprisingly one-track. For a game that flirts so heavily with quantum mechanics and the concept of infinite realities, you'd think there would at least be multiple endings or versions of key events, even if the ultimate outcome is more or less the same. But Irrational didn't even go that far. From what I've been able to gather, the only choices that affect later on are: how you react to the ticket teller during the ambush (Booker either will or will not have a bandage on his hand for the rest of the game) and choosing to save the couple at the raffle will yield an upgrade stash later on.

Is that really all? I've seen some people suggest that this is intentional. They say that the message Bioshock Infinite is sending is that it doesn't matter what you choose, the same outcome always occurs (albeit probably in a different universe). I could probably buy that, as disappointing as it is from a gameplay perspective. Other people try and say that the futility of choice is a statement about video games as a medium. This I disagree with. There've been many people trying to describe Bioshock Infinite as some sort of gamer culture commentary. I don't see it all, and if anything I think that just sounds really narcissistic. To say that there aren't any consequences to player choice because it's making fun of previous games without consequences for player choice seems like a massive cop-out, especially given all the games that do respond to player choice (e.g. Mass Effect).

I can't finish list posts properly

So, that's my ranty list of problems with Bioshock Infinite. At least, the ones I could think of tonight, but I definitely covered the ones that have been sticking in my mind these past few weeks. I truly, truly enjoyed the game. It's a wonderful accomplishment for gaming, a great story that's acted out and presented masterfully with gameplay that is for the most part entertaining and challenging. But to ignore the nagging problems I had with it would be doing it a disservice. I'm sure the kinds of things I am complaining about probabyl sound pretty trivial to some of you, but that's how it tends to be when you're otherwise completely blown away. I will be very surprised if anything surpasses it when it comes to my game of the year for 2013.   read

7:47 PM on 11.15.2012

Guild Wars World/LORE! Primer for GW2

Hey there! If you're like me, you often hesitate entering a game franchise on a sequel. Depending on the type of game, I usually want to start at the beginning and work my way through. I'm secretly playing Halo CE: Anniversary because I've never played a Halo game and I want to play Halo 4.

I've been a long time fan of Guild Wars, ever since the original game came out in spring 2005. Naturally, I've been playing and enjoying the recently released and long-awaited sequel, Guild Wars 2. With the free trial event that's taking place this week, it occurred me that there may be a subset of gamers who are fascinated by Guild Wars 2 but perhaps afraid to get into it purely because they never played the original, and might think they're missing out on something. I get that - I understand being put off by the "2" at the end. Or maybe you are playing GW2 without having ever played the first game and you find yourself wondering about the backstory or the races, that sort of thing.

This post is intended to briefly cover what I think are the key things to know about the original Guild Wars. None of this is required to enjoy GW2 in the slightest, but I suspect having context would really add that certain "something" for a lot of people. Also I haven't blogged in a while so this gives me a reason to.

Let's begin!

Guild Wars originally existed as a single game with a single storyline. Later on, a new, standalone campaign was released and it was called Factions. To better differentiate the two, the original game was given its own subtitle and it is now referred to as Prophecies. Finally, a third campaign was eventually released. This was Nightfall. I'll go into the differences between these, but first it's important to note that Factions and Nightfall are NOT considered "expansions". They are entirely independent games with completely new stories and they can be purchased and played without owning Prophecies.

The original Guild Wars game takes place on the continent of Tyria. Humans are at war with the big feline race call the charr. At the beginning of the game, the charr call down this big storm of fireballs that destroys the human kingdom Ascalon (this event is called the Searing) and forces humans out of their homeland and across Tyria to another human nation, Kryta. Without going too deep into detail, the story takes you further all across Tyria through a jungle, a desert, snowy mountains, and finally a volcanic island. The gist of the story is that there's an evil Lich Lord who acquires a magic sceptor and gains control of an army of beings called the Titans. You defeat the Lich Lord and eventually cut off the source of the Titans and that's a wrap. Keep in mind I'm trying to be very brief. It's a lot better than I'm making it sound. :)

Tyria during Guild Wars

Factions takes place on another continent, called Cantha. Cantha is inspired by ancient China or Feudal Japan, so the whole game has sort of an Asian theme to it. Factions added two new classes to the game, in addition to the core five. The big thing with this game is that the mainland of Cantha is divided into two warring factions - the Kurzicks and the Luxons. A long time ago, a big catastrophe happened that petrified a huge forest and turned the neighboring sea into jade. The Kurzicks live in the forest and are basically goths and the Luxons live on the jade sea and are hipsters who ride giant seige turtles. Your goal is to stop this ancient bad guy who came back to life and in order to do that, you have to pick a side (Kurzick or Luxon) and work to bring the two together to combine their forces against the bad guy.

Nightfall takes place on the continent of Elona. Just like Cantha gives Factions a Japanese theme, Elona is very north African with some Arabian Nights vibes thrown in. Nightfall also brings its own two new classes. The story is that you have to stop a crazy lady with a scythe from resurrecting an evil outcast god named Abaddon and covering Elona in darkness and torment. The final battle is against Abaddon (as you might expect) and he reminds me of Bongo Bongo from Ocarina of Time.

For the sake of Guild Wars 2, all you really need to worry about is Prophecies for now.

Expansion: Eye of the North
In 2007, when ArenaNet originally announced plans for Guild Wars 2, they simultaneously announced the first (and still the only) real expansion for Guild Wars, called Eye of the North - abbreviated EotN or GWEN. EotN requires any one of the three campaigns, but really just builds off of the story of Prophecies more than the other two. EotN serves one majorly important purpose: to set in motion the story of Guild Wars 2.

Eye of the North takes place 6 years after the end of Prophecies and it's all about stopping the rise of an army of firey hellish beasts called Destroyers, lead by the Great Destroyer. After you stop them, it's ultimately revealed that the Great Destroyer is a general to an ancient sleeping dragon named Primordus. DUN-DUN-DUN!

Human - the only playable race in Guild Wars, including all 3 campaigns and EotN. Home kingdom is Ascalon. Also found inhabiting Kryta and parts of the Meguuma Jungle. In Guild Wars, humans are arch-enemies of the charr. The two races haaaate each other.

Charr - big cat warriors. Their homelands are north of Ascalon. They hate humans because they see humans as invaders (Ascalon is on former charr territory). The charr have four legions: Iron, Blood, Ash, and Flame. The Flame Legion actually worshiped Titans as gods and were thus responsible for the rain of hellfire that crushed Ascalon.

Norn - Introduced in EotN. Norn look like humans, but they're massive - adults are like 12 ft tall. They're like vikings or barbarians. They live way up north in the snowy mountains, dig hunting, fighting, and drinking, and they can transform into fucking bears.

Asura - Introduced in EotN. Tiny, diminutive, brianiacs, egotistical, sarcastic. They're geniuses with big eyes and big ears. They used to live underground until the Destroyers forced them out.

A sketch of Tyria as of Guild Wars 2

Dragons, etc
Guild Wars 2 takes place 250 years after the events of Eye of the North. During that time, a few important things happened:

The Foefire - The King of Ascalon actually stayed in Ascalon during Prophecies, choosing to continue fighting the charr instead of following the player. During a final battle, the king cast a spell of some sort as a last ditch effort - it wiped out the advancing charr army but also raised the ghosts of humans all across Ascalon. Ever since, the ruins of Ascalon have been inhabited by these ghosts. A real pain in the ass for the charr.

Dragons - A handful of enormous, ancient, evil, sleeping dragons suddenly wake up and emerge from the earth. Their arrival alone causes a lot of devastation, but maybe the most notable physical changes to Tyria are the rising of Orr and the sinking of Lion's Arch. Orr was a big city in Tyria on a penninsula that had long-ago sunk to the depths of the ocean before the story of Prophecies began. When one of the dragons woke up and crawled out from hiding, Orr came back up with him (along with a bunch of undead). The rising of an entire city from the ocean caused massive tidal waves and completely flooded the coastal captial of Kryta, Lion's Arch - which is a major player hub in Prophecies. Humans establish a new captial in Divinity's Reach.

Divinity's Reach in Guild Wars 2

Sylvari - A new race has suddenly appeared in Tyria, just 25 years before the start of GW2. Sylvari are plantlike, born from a giant tree that was planted during the time of Prophecies in the jungle.

I think that should just about do it. Now you have some context, hopefully. The story of Prophecies isn't really all that relevant to Guild Wars 2 - the big thing you need to know is the relationship between humans and charr. Currently, neither Cantha nor Elona play any role in GW2 but it's definitely possible ArenaNet will have us explore them in the future.

Like I said, none of this is required to understand or enjoy Guild Wars 2. It just serves as backstory.

If you play Guild Wars 2, you'll quickly figure out the basic plot: the five main races gotta come together to defeat the dragons.

If you've got questions about Guild Wars, feel free to ask! I've also read one of the novels that takes place a few years before GW2 (and I've started the other novel). If you're really interested, I might suggest you check out the Guild Wars wikis to do some more detailed reading of the campaigns stories.   read

10:50 PM on 09.04.2012

PAX 2012 Highlights

Like last year, I finished my PAX weekend having not played quite as many video games as I'd have liked. However, this is mostly because I spent considerable daylight time hanging out with beautiful and awesome people off the show floor doing things like eating Thai food and not standing line line, so I think it all evens out.

If we spoke at all this weekend, you likely already know that my favorite games of the show were Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Super Time Force. So rather than doing Yet Another Video Game Recap List cblog post, I'm going to honor some slightly more esoteric highlights of PAX 2012.

Best Cosplay - Shrimp Tempura Girl?

She walked by while I was in line waiting to play Monaco. I don't know where she got the idea, but it's awesome. It's the only cosplay photo that I decided on a whim to just take, and she seemed happy enough (I don't know how fried shrimp expresses agreement) to pose for my camera.

Runners-up - Anybody who wasn't those asshole Firefall models. Seriously. Fuck these guys. And their game.

Best-Dressed Asian Man - Hideo Kojima

You can't really see it in this photo that I took from the front row(!!!) but his t-shirt was bedazzled and sparkly. Also, it's Hideo Kojima so he sorta wins by default.

Runner-up - Matt Kim, aka lawofthermaldynamics.

Most Impressive Tech That I Got To Try - Those headphones at the Runner 2 booth

I've never actually tried legit noise-cancelling headphones and Bose always gets shit from the audiophiles I talk to but damn that was neat. Nicely done, Gaijin Games.

Runner-up - Dude, the Red Lion hotel has free Wi-Fi. In the rooms. Holy shit. That's a first for me. Shut up.

This category is also called "I'm Jealous I Didn't Get To Try the Oculus Rift"

Best Hotel Moment - Dat Exhausted Sunday Afternoon Break

Photo by Swishiee
Max and Beccy had finished for the day and we all just ate Thai food and decided to relax in the room for an hour. Jenn was delerious and wouldn't stop flirting with the bed, and Max and I discovered the Biboran thing.

Runner-up - The Friday hangover. Hangovers are bullshit and nobody likes them, but they're a PAX staple and an iconic way of knowing that you're starting the weekend right. Also, Swishiee discovered his PC FNF post had the word "Yup." in the title. Ah, alcohol.

Most Awkward Photo Of Myself - Posing with the HAWKEN mech

All that's missing is a Hover Hand.

Runner-up - Photobombing Swishiee's Gobun impression.

Most Skilled Jaffa Cannon Operator - Beccy Caine

Photo by Ali D
She hit Hamza square in his dumb spiky hair on the first attempt and won a dollar from Mr. Andy Dixon as a result.

Runner-up - There can be only one.

Best Tweets (No Particular Order)

Other things
- During the Hey Ash! panel, a guy got up to ask a question, and Anthony Burch mistook him for Samit Sarkar. He even called this dude Browntown. In front of everybody. And then he realized his mistake.

- Some Destructoid stickers were placed on the hood of a BMW. A group of us then ran in fear inside the hotel, not wanting to be present when the driver returned.

- Speaking of stickers, Niero lifted JJMcCallum up in an elevator to hide one of the stickers on the other side of the elevator's ceiling. Secret vandalism!

- Anthony Carboni seemed genuinely excited to discover that I'm a real person, and not just "a Twitter robot that talks about anime".   read

9:57 PM on 06.05.2012

E3: Tombs, Wounds, and High Horses

When I first saw footage of the new Tomb Raider game last year at E3 2011, I thought it looked pretty damn cool. Sure, we had no gameplay and only a cinematic, but it was gorgeous. I really dug the new, grittier, less cartoonishly-buxom design of Lara Craft. The teaser video involved Lara suddenly finding herself on a flooding, sinking ship. She nearly drowned before being rescued, then as she later leaps across a gap caused by the boat splitting, she ends up falling into the water. After a fade to black, we see Lara on a rocky shore surrounded by the shipwreck, having to mend a broken bone or some other wound with a strip of cloth. She stands, as bruised and muddy as I would expect any shipwreck survivor to be, and the video ends with the tagline, "A survivor is born."

Earlier this week, we got to see more of the game. There's a little bit of story revealed in new cutscenes along with actual gameplay. In the E3 2012 presentation, Lara sneaks, hunts game and bad dudes with a bow and arrow (WEAPON OF THE SHOW), jumps, ziplines, and dishes out some fierce melee takedowns. She also, as action game heroes often do, gets shot at and knocked around quite a bit. She falls down a waterfall, steps into a bear trap, and crashes into trees while trying to parachute to safety (while seemingly breaking her ribs in the process). In the new Tomb Raider game it seems Lara is stranded on an island surrounded by armed thugs, and she has to find a way to just to survive while surely solving some sort of mystery and evil plot. I get sort of a Snake Eater vibe from it - we see Lara shoot a deer, perhaps to get food? And there's also speculation that injuries sustained will affect gameplay. Maybe you'll need to treat them as well like in MGS3. This is of course mixed in with Uncharted-inspired cinematic action and quick time events.

My impression last year and this year was, overall, that the game looks fantastic and I can't wait to play it. I sympathize with those who are bigger fans of the franchise than I (I never got into it back in the day) who are bothered by the new direction this game is taking. There haven't been any tombs or puzzles, and many are also worried about this being a repeat of Other M in its execution of the origin story. Valid criticisms all around, but that's not why I'm writing tonight.

People seem very bothered by the fact that the main character in this gritty action game is getting hurt, and they're bothered by it because Lara's a woman. There have been countless quips about how the devs must "enjoy" seeing Lara suffer, or that the game is rather sick in how it's all about a woman being beaten while moaning. I get the sense that people are some combination of concerned and offended by what they must perceive as a vile promotion of wife-beating and sexual perversion. My guess is that many people are so eager to jump to the rescue and play the white knight that they fail to consider the context and don't realize just how sexist they themselves are being.

There's a commendable movement in gaming culture to bring about gender equality, and I'm all for it. We need female gamers being treated equally rather than as jokes or attention whores. Personally, I wish we could do away with labels like "girl gamer" as an identity as all it does is encourage the distinction rather than homogeneity. Additionally, we need more strong female game characters with roles other than damsel in distress, helpless ditz, or sex appeal. More Samus Arans and fewer Princess Peaches, I say!

But these strides towards equal representation of male and females in video games fall flat the second you act like women protagonists shouldn't get hurt. All this does, in my opinion, is reinforce the notion that women are inherently just frail, weak, or even incompetent, that they are less able to defend themselves, overcome obstacles on their own, or save the day on their own. Instead of feeling sorry for Lara Croft, we should be cheering for her. Remember the tagline? She's a survivor. She's tough. Are some of the hits really gruesome? Sure. We're meant to reel and wince. It's meant to look painful as fuck, especially in a game aiming to look realistic, because bear traps and broken ribs are painful. And Lara gets up each time, shakes it off, and presumably continues to kick some more ass (and hopefully find some treasure and solve some puzzles!). So she's automatically far more tougher than you or I. Please, hear me out: you aren't as progressive as you think you are if your gut reaction to the new Tomb Raider footage is "poor Lara! what are they thinking!"

As for the sounds Lara makes - screams, grunts, moans.. these are sounds any human being will make when shot, stabbed, or tossed over a waterfall onto a glass window. I don't know what kind of porn some of you are watching, but I don't get off on girls in pain (call me old fashioned) so "sounds like rape!" isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I hear a girl picking bullets out of her shoulder. I know a lot of these comments are meant to be jokes, but again they're jokes hinging on the notion that when a girl makes painful, guttural noises that she must be having sex. Can we all try to move forward a bit?

While I'm here, there's another semirelated mini-rant I want to get off my chest by jumping back to October of last year to another game that all of this Tomb Raider nonsense reminded me of - Batman: Arkham City. When Arkham City came out, there was some hubbub over the fact that the bad guys in the game call Catwoman a bitch. Let me repeat that - people were offended by bad guys calling someone a bad name. Of course it's offensive. They're criminals. Murderers. They aren't going to call their woman enemy "ma'am". They're going to be obscene, because it's meant to be mean. I don't condone the language Two Face and his thugs use towards women, but I expected it. And I saw no reason to complain about it unless you wanted to invent controversy.

I'm glad so many people are proactive about trying to stop mistreatment and misrepresentation of women in video games. But many of you need to reign it in some. Put some serious thought into the arguments you're making and the situations that are upsetting you. Don't sacrifice equality in the pursuit of it.

You may now carry on debating the amount of QTEs and Uncharted influences and I'll resume being excited about bows and arrows.   read

8:30 AM on 04.13.2012

Just a reminder

6:31 PM on 04.10.2012

PAX East 2012: Keith Apicary and Jessica Nigri

It's a little sad, I think, that my first Cblog after returning from PAX East is not a gushing recap of all the fun times I had, but rather venting commentary on a so-called scandal that was supposedly born from the convention this year. But, I have things that I want to say about all of it, so here it is.

Keith Apicary
I had never heard of this bafoon before last weekend. His real name is Nathan Barnatt and Keith is, obviously, a persona that he puts on. Apparently, Keith's shtick is to go to conventions and interrupt panels by dancing with his pants off. Let me make one thing clear: I don't care if you enjoy Mr. Barnatt's brand of comedy. I don't care how long he's been doing the Keith character, nor do I care how many views he has on Youtube - the man deserves to be banned from PAX and I am glad it has happened. Just because it's your "thing" to interrupt other peoples' planned entertainment, you should not be excused. If a person has a reputation for being an asshole, that doesn't mean they should be allowed to be an asshole! I am sorry, that's just how life works. I am extremely disappointed to see people on Destructoid attempting to defend Mr. Barnatt. His character is a nuisance. And I'm sure if he wasn't already Youtube-famous, far less of you would disagree. It doesn't matter how "harmless" his routine is. It's disruptive to the events other people have planned.

If I spent six months writing and preparing a presentation for my fans, or spent 90 minutes standing in line to see a panel from my favorite website or developer I'd been waiting months to see, I would be pissed as all hell to have some jackass run up on stage and "troll" for some cheap laughs by bombing the presentation. Barring Keith Apicary from PAX is not turning a party into "dinner with your in-laws" as Jonathan Holmes attempted to argue, but rather keeping out somebody who's entire goal is to do nothing but annoy and disrupt other people's experiences. If you think a PAX panel without Keith Apicary is boring, what are you doing there in the first place? If you count on a spontaneous party crasher to get some enjoyment out of your afternoon, maybe go somewhere else? Keith and his ilk is not why I go to PAX or any of PAX's panels.

If you've encountered a Keith prank in person or just watched one on Youtube and thought it was hilarious, good for you and good for Keith, but that doesn't excuse his behavior.

To make things even worse: he was granted explicit permission from Robert Khoo to attend this PAX by signing an agreement stating that he would not disrupt any panels. He broke the agreement on the first day! Once again I don't care if you're a fan, that's just shitty behavior that should not be tolerated.

Jessica Nigri
Let me first start by saying that I have long been a supporter of PAX's "no booth babes" policy. The idea is two-fold: to try and keep a somewhat "family friendly" atmosphere (the effectiveness of this tactic with violent video games 100 feet away can be debated elsewhere) and also to prevent irrelevant bimbos from luring people to a booth with cheap skin tactics. The games should stand on their own. An office secretary from Ubisoft, therefore, should not be allowed to throw on a skimpy maid outfit to lure people over to play Assassin's Creed 3 just because she works at Ubisoft. NOS Energy Drink cannot use models hired at a generic agency in bikinis to entice you over to a MLG booth simply because NOS is vaguely affiliated with competitive gaming. Random tits and ass should not be advertising Borderlands 2.

However, problems arise when the so-called "booth babes" become actually relevant to the product being shown off, namely when the women are cosplaying as main characters from the game, in particular when said cosplayer has already become fairly widely known for assuming that role. I have no reason to doubt that Jessica is far more knowledgeable about the product she's promoting than a random model hired off the street to flaunt skin in an entirely irrelevant and sleazy manner. Personally, I see a gray area, and I fully acknowledge that this may be due to my love of Suda51 and Lollipop Chainsaw. Those of you who don't care about the game probably have far less sympathy than I do for Jessica Nigri, and that's understandable. But I hope that we can come to an agreement that it is not all that simple. As sad as I was to hear that Jessica Nigri had been hassled about her outfit, I simultaneously felt a huge amount of respect for those in charge sticking to their rule, even when they probably didn't want to, in order to remain consistent.

While Jessica's cosplay wasn't any more revealing that that of many con-goers, men and women alike, some have argued that it's worse because she was being paid to dress that way. I personally don't see how that makes any difference. She wasn't being forced to wear what she did. She did it because she wanted to and was enthusiastic about taking on the role of Juliet Starling and taking photos with fans. And that's another thing about what makes her kind different from the typical "booth babe": she's playing a fictional role to be entertaining and to let fans get their photos taken with a video game character. The same can't be said of a generic model in a revealing jumpsuit who has no idea what the game or product is about, and is only there to attract traffic. Ultimately I think it comes down to the person's purpose for being there and wearing the costume. Sure, part of Jessica's presence was intended to attract attendees. But that's far from all of it and you all know I'm right. I'd venture a guess that most of the people who lined up to play Lollipop Chainsaw were already familiar with the game and maybe even Jessica's Juliet cosplaying on the Internet. She was acting more as a celebrity appearance (just as Suda himself was) than as a characterless set of tits.

Now, as to her being "kicked out": Jonathan Holmes' post does not indicate who it was specifically that asked Jessica to leave, and the last word I've heard is that WB has not commented yet. However, according to Gabe's post today on Penny Arcade "they" (being Penny Arcade) never told her to leave; only stay inside the bus or change. The story I heard Sunday night at the goodbye dinner was that the people who asked Jessica to leave were not affiliated with Penny Arcade, but rather convention center staff. This, to me, sounds extremely plausible, and if it is what indeed happened, I would attribute it to miscommunication. I see no reason to jump to conclusions and cry foul at Penny Arcade. At any rate, Jessica was thankfully allowed to return on Sunday wearing an adorable black t-shirt with the Lollipop Chainsaw logo on it. Even though that's not an in-game costume, she still did a great job with staying in character and remained as approachable and entertaining as the previous two days.

One last thing - in Gabe's post that I linked to above, he mentions last year's Duke Nukem Forever booth and the shit PA got for allowing the school girl cosplayers. This issue goes back to my original point - the no-booth-babes policy becomes tricky to enforce when the costumes are actually relevant to the game. The Duke girls were not immediately removed, and PA caught flack for this. Whereas this year, people didn't want the babe to leave. Is the difference the game? The character? The performer? The fans of either? Or is it just a matter of never being able to please everybody?

In the end, fortunately neither of these incidents (Keith or Jessica) were as criminal as some would like to report. Keith was ejected after repeated warnings, breaking a signed agreement, and causing a disturbance, and Jessica was not actually told to leave, and she remained a good sport while returning the final day in a more modest outfit. Gabe explains that Penny Arcade, Warner Bros, and Jessica are all cool.   read

5:15 PM on 04.02.2012

10 Things You Didn't know About flintmech

Huh. Okay. Let's see if I can do this.

10.) My day job is writing training simulations for the military. I work for a government contractor that develops "virtual training" for various entities, the primary customer being various branches of the US military. None of it combat. Instead, it's almost entirely based on training signal soldiers how to operate communications equipment and mobile communications shelters in the field - routers, satellite antennae, etc. We also have a "serious game" that trains in biometrics and forensics gathering (think collecting possible terrorist fingerprints or identifying IEDs). It's not really that exciting - even though I can technically say I help make games for a living, the products are extremely dull and not meant for entertainment. And those of us with actual knowledge of games and what makes them functionally good have little say in the process.

9.) My first video game experience was at a casino. Well, technically. When I was real little we lived in Biloxi, Mississippi. Biloxi sits right on the Gulf of Mexico and it's known for all of the casinos. Apparently one day my parents and some friends of theirs decided to go to one and because I was little they had to drop me off in the casino's daycare area where all the parents left their kids to play while they went inside. I was immediately drawn to a counter with maybe half a dozen small TVs, each hooked up to either a SNES or Genesis. I think my first game was The Lion King on the Genesis. I think I also remember trying to put a Genesis cart into the SNES. I was learning.

Fun fact about those casinos: they're all floating in the Gulf. A long time ago (or maybe this is still true, not sure) gambling was illegal in the state, so they just built their casinos on giant barges docked in the bay. Since they're on the water, they weren't technically "in Mississippi". There's even a casino made to look like a pirate ship. When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, at least one of these casinos was carried inland and likely landed on some houses.

8.) I can't ride bikes. I never finished learning. The best I can remember, I apparently had some bad first experiences with falling off the bike and scraping my knees terribly. I was also a huge wuss so those falls - or the fear of more falls and more Bactine sprayed on my open wounds - discouraged me from trying to master the skill. I preferred to stay inside and play video games anyway. As I got older, I wouldn't be caught dead with training wheels, so I gave up ever learning. I was really self-conscious about this for most of my life and have hardly told a single person. Only recently have I stopped caring that people know, but also I now have the internet and a car, so I don't foresee bikes in my future any time soon.

7.) I was almost an Eagle Scout. Another relic of my childhood - I was in Cub Scouts and subsequently Boy Scouts for a while growing up. By middle school I made it up to the rank of Star, which is just two away from Eagle. Scout policy is/was that once you turn 18, you're out. I was, like, 10. Had I not lost interest and become lazy and burnt out on it all, I think I was on track to hit Eagle unusually early. But I don't regret quitting. In hindsight BSA is pretty dumb and the only redeeming quality is they occasionally do some good community service, aka shit I was too lazy and apathetic to deal with.

6.) I am secretly one of Max Scoville's older Twitter clones.

These facts are suddenly getting really boring.

5.) I once stole a Captain Morgan glass from a restaurant. Some friends and I were hanging out one night drinking at this local pizza joint (literally called The Pizza Joint, the only fun hangout in my town, known for 50+ beers on tap) and at one point one of my friends mentioned how she and another had, on a previous night at this establishment, they decided to just take home one of the sweet glasses they serve beer in. I was currently drinking a Rogue Dead Guy out of a Captain Morgan glass and being prettying drunk. At the end of the night, when we'd all paid our tabs and our dishes were being collected, I blocked the waitress from taking my empty glass by simply putting my hand over it as she reached for it and shook my head. She didn't seem to care. Next thing I knew I was walking out the door with the glass in my hand. I use it to this day. I love that glass. In fact, I'm using it right now:

4.) I fucking love Breaking Bad. It's the only "current" American TV show I watch. I keep hearing people talk about other shows right now and I'm too lazy and/or apathetic to bother checking them out. None of them will top Breaking Bad. It's the best TV show in decades. Maybe ever. Also I have never watched a second of LOST.

3.) I'm accidentally sort of a beer hipster. It's really weird because I've only been drinking for a few years. But the only American beers I will touch are Yuengling or obscure local microbrews. I used to say all American beer (except Yuengling) sucks because all the shit that gets marketed is Coors or Bud Light piss. But I've recently become aware of just how awesome America's craft scene is and I grab some whenever I can. My favorite beers are ones you've probably never heard of. It's not something I try to go out of my way to be like. It just is, and I recently realized it myself.

2.) I have been using the same first-gen Logitech G5 mouse for maybe 7 years now. It's the best mouse ever.

I also have the best mouse pad ever.

1.) I have daydreamed about getting high with Tara Long.

I don't know why. Drugs are bad, kids.   read

6:28 PM on 03.27.2012

Noboru Ishiguro: RIP 1938-2012

First, a couple of things:

1) This isn't about video games. I apologize. I currently don't have a site of my own, and since I don't think Tumblr is a very good outlet for actual blogging (ironic as that may sound) I currently feel like the Destructoid CBlogs are the best place for me to write stuff. This also won't be quite as silly as my previous blog so sorry for that as well.

2) I meant to write this last week when the news broke, but one thing led to another and it didn't happen. So here I am now.


Anybody who remotely knows me beyond my retarded Destructoid posts has an idea of what kind of anime nerd I am. I tend to gravitate towards sci-fi: anything with robots or space ships is usually right up my alley. I love me some space opera. I have a particular affinity for "old school" animu - the 70s and 80s were, in my opinion, the golden age of cartoons from Japan. This is why my heart sank last Wednesday when I got home from work and discovered the news that Noboru Ishiguro had passed away.

Noboru Ishiguro was the director of some of the most classic anime series, including my personal all-time favorite, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross. In addition to Macross, Mr. Ishiguro was the director for:

Legend of Galactic Heroes
Megazone 23
Space Battleship Yamato
Super Dimension Century Orguss
Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? (movie based on the original series)
The first color adaptation of Astro Boy

...among many others - those are just the ones I'm familiar with! I don't expect many of you to be very familiar with the shows I've named (though I would be extremely pleased if you were), like I hinted at above, these shows date back 25+ years.

I will come right out and admit it, though: I was not familiar with Mr. Ishiguro's name prior to this news. But this is to be somewhat expected, no? Many leading figures behind works stay in the shadows. Space Battleship Yamato is associated with Leiji Matsumoto for his chacter designs and writing. Macross fans know the name Shoji Kawamori for creating the story and mechanical designs, as well as Ichiro Itano for the animation. Megazone 23, Orguss, and Macross are all recognized as having the same character artist, Haruhiko Mikimoto. These are the names that stand out, that are in the spotlight, that are mentioned in even the most modest discussion of those franchises. But while all of these people are responsible for the stories and visual designs, it was Noboru Ishiguro who is responsible for directing the shows, taking the ideas and drawings of the above icons and making sure they resulted in the series they ultimately became. Directors of anime, not just Mr. Ishiguro, often go underappreciated unless they also provide more "tangible" roles such as design, music, or the stories themselves.

Japanese animation really lost an important figure last week. If you think of yourself as an anime fan, especially sci-fi stuff, you likely owe gratitude to Mr. Ishiguro for his impact on later shows, even if you've never seen any of his. Rather than focus on the hole in the industry left by Mr. Ishiguro's passing, I will instead focus on the impacts his contributions have made to my geekdom (and, ultimately, the person I am today) and make a point to learn and better appreciate more of the names that scroll by in the credits.

To finish, I will leave you with some links to really great writing (better than this) about Noboru Ishiguro.

Noboru Ishiguro 1938-2012
In Memorium: Noboru Ishiguro


4:44 PM on 03.19.2012







10:20 PM on 02.16.2012

Snake Eater 3D Demo Impressions

I just checked out the demo for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater 3D on the 3DS.. got some things to say.

First of all, I should note that I'm a huge fan of the MGS series. MGS3 is my favorite entry and also one of my most favorite games of all time, and a little over a month ago I finished playing MGS3 HD on my PS3.

When Snake Eater 3D was announced, I immediately decided it was an insta-buy for me. This eagerness died down considerably over time, considering how long it has taken for the game to arrive, and how utterly satisfying the HD version was. This evening I was reinvigorated with excitement for Snake Eater 3D by playing the demo. I think it's going to be a really great experience.

Here are my observations:

- This demo does use the same 30-play limit as the Resident Evil Revelations demo. Yeah, it's a really silly thing to implement, made even more silly by the fact that such a high limit probably won't matter to most people. It certainly doesn't bother me.

- The demo spans a majority of the Virtuous Mission. As demos tend to do, it skips the opening cutscenes and picks up right as Snake has landed in the jungle, in fact it's right after the player would have retrieved his backpack from the tree. The demo ends as soon as you approach Sokolov's door at the compound. Normally this triggers a cutscene where Snake enters and meets the scientist, but here you get a "Thanks for playing!" screen.

- Graphically speaking, I think the game looks really nice. In fact I would go so far as to say it looks just as good as the HD Collection version. Keep in mind that version is a PS2 game remastered, not originally a PS3/360 title, so my claim isn't as absurd as it might sound.

- The 3D is pretty standard, I think. It adds some nice effects, but I found myself turning it off so that I could better focus on the path in front of me. Enemy soldiers in the jungle might be difficult to spot if the 3D effect is making things the slightest bit blurry for you. Plus I think you get a crisper look at the pretty graphics without the effect.

- The game supports the Circle Pad Pro attachment. I don't have one, but the Options menu allows you to turn it on or off.

- Without the extra nub, your ABXY face buttons control the game's camera. B and X look up and down, Y and A rotate horizontally. It made me feel like I was using the N64's C buttons. Nostalgic and trivial for me, but I suspect this scheme will be a nuisance for others.

- You are able to walk while crouching in this version, which is pretty interesting to me. If you remember, this wasn't possible in the game previously. Attempting to move while crouching normally forced Snake into a prone position where he would then crawl. Crouch walking is a VERY welcome feature. You get the combination of a lower profile with quicker, easier movement.

- The bottom touch screen is used to display the map and also to offer quick access to all of the Survival Viewer functions. There are touch-icons for Camo, Backpack, Food, Wound Treatment, Weapon and Item toggle, and Map (if you want to actually look at the different floors of an area or surrounding areas). These things can also be accessed from the Pause screen like you might expect, but there's really no need to, I found.

- Aiming with your gun is now done in third person, over snake's shoulder, which is a very odd change that I'm not sure I welcome. You get a cross hair when you do this, but it's a little wide, so it makes headshots (for those ever important instant-tranqs) rather difficult. The only way to aim in first person, that I could find, is to crawl through some grass, where the game forces you to first person anyway (it's always been like this).

- I vaguely remember reading about this a long time ago, but it seems you can take photos with the 3DS's camera and turn them into camo patterns for Snake. I say "seems" because this feature is disabled in the demo, but there is a faded camera button on the Camo select screen.

- While walking over the bridge, I had to keep my balance by tilting the 3DS side-to-side. An icon appears the bottom of the screen with a moving bar to indicate this is going on and to show you how you need to move. I don't recall any other bridges in the game so I don't know if this function will appear anywhere else. Perhaps when standing on a tree branch.. something I never did.

- Shooting the beehive did not produce a swarm of bees to scare the soldier across the bridge. I am hoping this was merely removed from the demo for some odd reason and will still exist in the full game.

I think the big takeaway here is the game looks really, really good, makes really good use of the touch screen, some new features have been added to the gameplay, and the 3D is nothing special. I'm really looking forward to getting the full game. Due to money, I can't say for sure if I'll get it as soon as it comes out, but I am thinking I might get it right before PAX East and play it during my flight and layovers. It will be much cheaper than a Vita plus a Vita game, after all.   read

11:58 AM on 12.22.2011

SWTOR: Just not feelin it

I consider myself a Star Wars fan. I dig the universe, the lore, and of course the original movie trilogy. I even don't really hate the prequels as much as other people. I think LEGO Star Wars sets are awesome, and the video games amazing. I wanted to be a space pirate for Halloween so I bought a toy of Boba Fett's blaster from Target. One of my earliest Nintendo 64 games was Shadows of the Empire, and that shit rocked. And that music? Hell yes.

I also tend to enjoy MMOs. Admittedly, I feel strange saying that because I haven't actually played very many of them. I guess what I really mean is I like the idea of MMOs. I'm an RPG fan and I like the idea of playing a massive game with other people in a living, breathing world, doing quests, fighting, etc. My earliest was a game called Tibia back in around 1999 or 2000. I played Ragnarok Online for a time, as well as this weird one that completely stole all of its art assets from A Link to the Past. I have had brief stints in Lineage II, Tabula Rasa, and World of Warcraft. Side note: WoW never grabbed me. I tried on multiple occasions to get hooked (deliberately!) with trial accounts, and I never even continued to play the whole two weeks. I just found it bland and uninteresting, compared to Guild Wars which I was playing at the time. More on this in a minute.

You would think that an MMO about Star Wars would be totally up my alley. When I saw the first (I think first?) trailer for it a few years ago, I got kinda excited. I signed up immediately for the newsletter or whatever so I could stay informed. I read a couple of those early newsletters, when some classes were revealed. that was cool I guess, but it wasn't long before I totally lost interest.

Here we are at the game's release, and I still haven't regained it.

Yeah, I'm probably a little bit biased. I'm a long-time huge Guild Wars fan. As a result, I've been waiting a very long time for the release of Guild Wars 2. It is my most anticipated game of 2012.

My first gripe with SWTOR is the subscription model. I believe that in 2011, online games should not charge subscription fees. Many popular MMOs have recently moved to a free-to-play model, confirming what the original Guild Wars proved several years ago: you can have a great MMO without charging a monthly fee. I think as technology has improved over the years, so-called server costs have become moot. The idea of paying to support future content seems silly when you've already paid for the game and will probably pay for expansion content a year later.

Money isn't really an issue. I can certainly afford it. Hell, I could even play SWTOR *and* GW2 because it'll be free. I mean, GW2 still doesn't even have a release date (most estimates put it in Spring of 2012) so I could easily sign up for SWTOR and enjoy it for a few months before GW2 comes out, and even continue to play both should I choose. I really just dislike the idea of paying a fee. It's an outdated model I don't want to support.

Secondly, nothing I've seen of SWTOR has done a very good job of convincing me that it strays very far from "WoW with lightsabers". Don't get me wrong - I know SWTOR is doing new things for the genre, and I've heard good stuff about the narrative and the voice acting, etc. But from what I've seen and heard, it doesn't do a whole lot that isn't new, gameplay wise. I'm not saying that's bad; it's just not very interesting to me any more, especially when this other game is doing so much more differently to shake up the MMO landscape.

I also can't say I'm a fan of the art style. It just doesn't look very pretty to me.. at all.

I dunno. I'm trying to narrow down why it's so difficult for me to care about SWTOR (as a Star Wars and MMO fan) without sounding like too much of a GW fanboy, but you have to understand how hard that is. While I personally feel like GW2 is going to be the far prettier, more original, more entertaining, more interesting, and more free game that not only MMO fans but also people who never cared for MMOs before will find extremely fun (trust me, if you've read as much about the game as I have, you'd be this confident) SWTOR is the game everybody has talked about almost all year. GW2 will certainly be SWTOR's biggest (perhaps only) competition when it comes out, yet it gets so little attention in comparison. So yeah, that's a little frustrating to me and it makes me a little spiteful.

I want to like SWTOR. I wish I could get into it and enjoy myself a good massively online Star Wars game. But having spent so much time reading about Guild Wars 2 and having played it at PAX, I feel like the bar is being set really high for MMO gameplay and what SWTOR as an MMO brings to the table, in both gameplay, originality, and graphics, is extremely underwhelming. It's disappointing.

This post is a little rambly and maybe incoherent. Hopefully not too bad.

P.S. This will likely be my last Cblog entry of 2011 so mery kurismasu and happy kwanza   read

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