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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



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4:44 PM on 03.19.2012

MOSS ERVECT TREEUH

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ITS A GARM AND PPLZ R MADD HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

BIOWARS

edit: PPPPBBBBBBBBBBBBTTTTTHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH



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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


6:16 PM on 12.01.2011

Like Zelda? Get Skyward Sword.



I am generally not the kind of person who goes into an Internet rage when somebody says they don't like what I like. I understand that we all have varying tastes and opinions.

Instead, what happens for me, is when I feel I have found a truly special and exceptionally enjoyable game, but I see other people deciding to ignore it or claiming they dislike it, I actually get sort of depressed - especially when the justifications presented are flimsy. Not angry, depressed.

At least, that's the best way I can describe it. It really does make me feel sad.

Not sad because they dislike something I like. But sad because they're missing out. I actually pity that person and the hole they're putting in their life for no reason.

This post is directed to anybody who considers themselves a "Zelda Fan". If you don't fit this description, just go ahead and press Back or close this tab and go read something else.

If you are a fan of Zelda, regardless of whether your favorite entry is A Link to the Past, Majora's Mask, or Link's Awakening, you need to play Skyward Sword. Don't have a Wii? Buy a Wii. This game is worth it if you're a Zelda fan.

I know what you're thinking - but Flint, those damn motion controls!

Listen, I get it. I understand not being keen on the idea of motion controls. Especially when so many motion-controlled games do it so poorly. I understand the comfort of just lounging on the couch and getting lost in a game without having to move your forearms. I am an extremely lazy person. I get it.

I'm not going to waste my time trying to explain how Skyward Sword does motion controls right or whatever. Instead, I'm going to ask that you pause for a moment and, just briefly, forget that Skyward Sword requires motion controls. Got it? Okay.

Skyward Sword is arguably the best Zelda game to come out in many years. I predict it will go down in history as one of the best ever. At the very least, it sets the bar for future Zelda titles very high. Everything about it (remember, we're ignoring the motion controls for the moment) is beautiful. The story, the music, the puzzles, the items, the graphics. We see the classic characters we've known for 25 years developed like never before. Nearly every dungeon puzzle is new to the series - I'm roughly 30 hours in (still not done, btw) and haven't lit a single torch or pushed a single ice block. At the end of the day when you go to bed, you will close your eyes and see the gorgeous painterly and colorful imagery of the game's world and characters.

The game is more challenging than any of the recent predecessors. Your hearts are a precious commodity. Your shield, a fragile companion. You will buy more Red Potions than you've bought in any previous game. You will be required to think in dungeons. You will get stuck. But when you figure it out, oh the satisfaction. Every single cutscene will have you smiling or picking your jaw up off the floor. You will laugh. You will likely even cry. You will get mad, not at the game, but at the villains. You will share Link's desire to rescue Zelda to a degree that no prior game has inspired.



You will have such an emotional attachment to Skyward Sword that you won't want to stop playing. I haven't touched Skyrim since Skyward Sword came out.

Hopefully I've conveyed just how magical of a Zelda game Skyward Sword is. Hopefully, you now long to experience this game that I've described to you. When I snap my fingers, you will remember that the game requires Motion+ controls.

*snap*

Here's my problem: as much as I try to empathize with my fellow gamers, I just cannot understand why someone who would otherwise be all over this game would dismiss it because of the control scheme. When I see somebody complain about Skyward Sword's motion control requirement and lament how they will never play it because of this, I get truly, legitimately sad. That just doesn't seem like a logical, rational conclusion for a person to make. It is unfair to yourself as a Zelda fan to deprive yourself of Skyward Sword's overall experience purely because of a dislike of motion controls.

The motion controls do have a learning curve. It requires you relearn some mechanics. But it also adds depth to the combat. You need to think. You need to be cautious. You need to master the game in the same way Link needs to master his skills throughout his journey. I assure you it is absolutely nothing but rewarding. If you like Dark Souls, you must appreciate what this does to a Zelda game.

But above all else, the ultimate point I'm trying to make with this post is this: any discomfort or frustration you might feel (or think you will feel) as a result of being required to move your arm while playing the game will be vastly overshadowed by everything else the game has to offer. You won't care that you're using motion controls because you'll be too busy falling madly in love with the characters, the story, the music, the graphics, and the puzzles - the overall soul of Skyward Sword. You might even fall in love with the controls as well; who knows! Some people have said that moving around is "distracting" and takes them out of the game, making them "aware" of their bodies while playing. But I propose that not even a house fire will be able to take you out of the game's immersion. There is so much to get lost in, so much to admire and explore and master. You might find yourself paying attention to your arm movements in the early hours of the game as you learn the basics - I won't deny that it's new. But provided that you enter the game with an open mind and be prepared to take a few beatings early on, you'll quickly forget that you're moving your arm. Ultimately, there is so much to get lost in, so much to admire and explore and master - I ask that you please trust me when I say "distraction" by motion controls shall not be an issue.

Skyward Sword is a love letter from Nintendo to Zelda fans. Dismissing the game because of the motion controls would be like throwing the letter in the trash without reading it because Nintendo wrote it in cursive.   read


6:07 PM on 11.16.2011

Hey, PETA, check this out!

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4:06 PM on 10.18.2011

Online Passes: I'm Not Buying It.



When I saw the new Bloggers Wanted topic go up, I decided this would be a good opportunity to gather my various thoughts on the matter into one place and lay them out on the table.

Let's get right to it. I am against the concept of online passes for a number of reasons, which I hope to be able to explain in this post. The biggest thing, however, is I essentially feel all of the arguments for online passes are based on full and partial lies. Other arguments do their best to try and make me feel guilty or petty for being against the online passes. No matter what case you make, I'm just not buying it.

Before I go further, I suppose it would be helpful to nail down just what is meant by "online pass" for the sake of my post. Here, the term will be used to refer to any practice of removing access to on-disc content from second-hand consumers, requiring them to pay an extra fee to regain that access. This content has typically been, but is not limited to, online multiplayer, whether it be a competitive or cooperative mode. After purchasing the right to access that content, the player usually has to jump through obnoxious hoops like entering a 12-16 digit code with the controller, but methods may not be limited to this.

So what are the arguments that are typically used in defense of online passes?
1. Servers cost money!
2. Developers/publishers have a right to make a profit!
3. Always buy new regardless, to support the developer!
4. PC gamers have been entering codes for years, it's no big deal!

Here we go!

Servers cost money!

If you've paid any attention to my posts over the past year or met me at PAX, you probably know how excited I am for Guild Wars 2. I'm a big fan of the original, and GW2 is set to be one of the two next big MMORPGs next year, following The Old Republic's release in December. One of the biggest things the Guild Wars name is known for, and this includes GW2, is the lack of a monthly subscription fee.

Outside of the really shitty low-tier free-to-play Korean MMOs, the standard thing for mainstream MMORPGs is a monthly subscription fee, typically $10-$15 per month. This is true whether we're talking about World of Warcraft, Lineage 2, City of Heroes, Age of Conan, etc. etc.. but not Guild Wars. The developers at ArenaNet decided you would pay for the game once (like all other video games) and be free to play the game forever whenever you want. Guild Wars has sold over 6 million copies (as of 2009) and still has an arguably large active community of players. GW2 will continue this model.

Over the past couple of years, we have begun to slowly see more and more MMOs drop the monthly fees. WoW is now free-to-play up until level 20. Age of Conan went free to play in May 2011. DC Universe Online recently announced the switch, as did Lineage II. Now, some of these are certainly older or less "successful" than others, and specific reasoning for going free-to-play may vary from game to game (developer to developer) but the trend is still there and in my opinion, still relevant. It's my belief that the so-called costs of maintaining game servers to host millions of players have been declining over the past several years, even to the point of being nonexistent. The "expensive server" argument would have been valid in 1999, but not anymore. Subscription fees are simply no longer mandatory to maintain massively multiplayer online games, and more devs are discovering this. Guild Wars' success and the hype surrounding GW2 is proof of this.

And so far I've just been discussing MMOs. There's a big difference between how players connect with MMOs and how they connect with console games. With an MMO, the developers maintain their own dedicated servers which players join and play on. But when you go online with your console, whether you're playing Call of Duty or Uncharted, all you're doing is connecting to a lobby, which lets your console locate other consoles. There are no dedicated servers. It is your console and your internet connection (or that of the person you connect to) that is hosting the online match. Very little of the developer's bandwidth is actually used to serve the online matches themselves. It seems only logical then to assume that online console games should cost even less to maintain than MMOs! I mean, right? Or am I taking crazy pills?

Before I move onto my next point, I want to reiterate a point Jim Sterling has been making because I feel it's still not getting through to many people. Let's pretend for a second that a developer actually does depend on a portion of each game sale to support that player's online connection to the game's "servers". If I trade in my game, I can no longer play online. If somebody buys my copy used, the number of people online does not change. There is no additional person that needs to be supported. As far as the developer's servers are concerned, the game was never traded in. It's not like piracy, where a game is duplicated over and over again. The original gamer's online space which came with the game is exchanged along with the game.

Developers/publishers have a right to make a profit!

In keeping with the spirit of the release of Arkham City, I'll share this scene from The Untold Legend of the BatMan which tends to pop into my head whenever topics like this come up:


But is that justice?! - No, Mr. Wayne, that's the law!

Here, a young Bruce Wayne in law school realizes that if he wants to serve justice he needs to work outside of the law. Now, I'm not trying to compare online passes with vehicular manslaughter. I just think the exchange between Bruce and his professor is pretty apt. Just because something is legally allowed doesn't necessarily mean it's fair or harmless. Also I just really like Batman.

Here's the thing. Yes, the developers and publishers have a legal right to make money off of their product. That's capitalism! There's nothing wrong with that. It's perfectly legal for them to charge fees for our entertainment through their products and services. Fine.

But just because something is legal doesn't necessarily make it ethical. We are not obligated to accept and agree with a company's methods for making extra money off of us just because what they're doing is legal. Bringing up their rights and what the law says and how capitalism works are all just cop-outs which dodge the issue entirely.

I've been playing games for roughly 15 years. I'm from a time when something that is listed in the manual, on the game's box, and in the game's menu is something I have access to once I purchase the game from the store. Let's not kid ourselves, whether we're talking cartridges, CDs, DVDs, or Blu-Ray, the online capability is something that is shipped and included out of the box. If I pay a store money in exchange for that box, I am paying for everything that's in that box. This is how it has always been, and I do not support any trend that seeks to do away with this philosophy. Yes, I'm entitled. Because that's how video games have worked for decades. I have certain expectations based on years of prior experience and established customs. Seeing as how I've just squashed the server costs argument, there's nothing new in the past several years that developers should see the need to collect a tax on. Stop locking me out of content I own. Let me connect to somebody else's PS3 and shoot them in the virtual face and stop interfering.

Here's another thing: console gamers have effectively been playing online matches since 2002, when Xbox Live originally launched. (This doesn't even take into account Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast!) The Xbox Live fee goes to Microsoft and grants you access to all of the features and content on that service. But did you need to pay Epic an online tax if you bought Unreal Championship used and wanted to play online? What about paying Bungie extra money for Halo 2 connectivity? No? So why now? Why now, considering any server costs can only be getting cheaper as time goes on as technology improves?

Taking it one step further: the used game market has been around for many years, even before Gamestop became the behemoth it is. But only recently are companies whining about "not making any money" from used sales and only now are they starting to implement online pass systems.

What about the second-hand markets for other types of products? If I buy "Serenity" on BluRay from somebody on eBay, does Universal Pictures or Nathan Fillion expect me to pay them a tax so they can keep making money on that copy of the movie? What about if I buy a Dream Theater album from a friend? Does the band or Atlantic Records come after me for their "lost sale"? No! These parties already earned the money they deserve from the original purchase of the product. If I buy second hand from somebody else because it's more affordable to me, that transaction is between me and that other person - the creator or distributor of the content has no business in this transaction.

It just doesn't make any sense why the creators and distributors of video games think they're so special and unique. I just. Don't. Buy it.

Always buy new regardless, to support the developer!

This is a mentality I empathize with. There are a number of developers which I've become a great fan of. Whenever possible, I go out of my way to show my support for these companies and the excellent products they make that I enjoy. And I say this having done quite a bit of pirating over the years. Not just with games, but movies and music too. But particularly with games - make something excellent and don't be a dick to me, and you will have my support.

Why, then, should I support a company that engages in locking out consumers from on-disc content and charging taxes for nonexistent reasons, making even people who buy new jump through hoops to prove their loyalty?



Also, this argument assumes expansion DLC, collectors editions, GOTY reissue editions, sequels, and t-shirts don't exist. Developers have many ways to earn money on top of the initial launch of a game. Hell, we're even at time when day-one DLC is a thing that exists! As much as I hate it (that's another topic) it just goes to show that developers are making tons of extra cash right on top of initial game sales from the moment a game launches - content that even somebody who bought the disc used will buy if they enjoy the product enough - and yet they have the nerve to say they aren't making enough money? These people do not have my sympathy or my support..

PC gamers have been entering codes for years, it's no big deal!

Listen up: I'm also a PC gamer. I've never taken sides between PC and consoles. I believe that certain genres of games are best played with a certain type of control scheme, and I also like to keep my options open for exclusives. I feel I only limit myself by becoming a fanboy for one particular platform.

As a PC gamer, I'm sick of hearing people play the "CD key" defense. CD keys were NEVER good. They've ALWAYS been a pain in the ass. In recent years with the surge of digital distribution through the likes of Steam, we're seeing a decline in CD key use, and PC gaming has only improved as a result. As we move forward and technology advances, I see CD keys as a relic of the past, a remnant of a darker period in video game history. Just because we dealt with something in the past doesn't make it acceptable in the present. As a PC gamer, I look forward to the day when CD keys are completely gone from existence.

Besides, entering a key with a controller is even more obnoxious than with a keyboard. Ever consider that?

Meanwhile...

What should we do? What can we do?

Hopefully I've made it clear why I am opposed to online passes. I find them ethically dirty and the justifications for them shaky at best, and at worst outright dishonest. I remain entirely unconvinced that there's any reason for them to exist.

Personally, I've taken a "don't like it, don't buy it!" approach and I'm finding it to be a lot simpler than you might think. Companies like EA and UbiSoft will not be seeing a cent from me for quite some time and to be honest, I can't say I'll miss any of their games. If I buy Arkham City (it won't be any time soon) it'll likely be from Gamestop, used.

I'm also going to remember that things aren't all that bad. There's still an overwhelming majority of great games out there that aren't being affected by this nonsense. I'm trying to adopt Jonathan Holmes's approach - the man is never upset about anything. The Wii and 3DS both have lots of games that interest me. You won't be seeing any online passes for Skyward Sword. Likewise, titles from Atlus and Suda51 always deliver without the bullshit.

My protest of the online pass system will continue as long as it has to. I don't predict missing out on any games as a result, certainly not for the foreseeable future. I'm currently still pretty easily annoyed by flippant gamers who dismiss the issue entirely and claim there's nothing wrong. I firmly believe this is a slippery slope, and continued acceptance will only lead to the practice spreading to other elements of video games, like single player content (as evidenced by Rage and Arkham City). But I can only hope in time I am able to let stuff like that slide and stop caring about how painfully other people are being fucked, as long as I'm having a good time.   read


8:58 PM on 09.09.2011

Here's what's wrong with PC gaming

Observe:



Any ideas to get us out of this infinite loop?

Obviously there are exceptions. Valve being the most famous one. But every time I read a story like this one the above image pops into my head. I finally decided to put it into png form and share.   read


4:20 PM on 08.30.2011

My first PAX was a roaring success

Hory shet, guys. Wow. Just wow.

Last night at around a quarter to midnight, Eastern time, I finally arrived home to my little one-bedroom apartment, officially ending my first-ever PAX.

I want to send all of my thanks to the wonderful Dtoid peeps who I met and hung out with. You were all so welcoming and friendly. Every staff member I met was unbelievably humble and entertaining, and the community bros are an awesome and sociable bunch. I guess I'll recap the weekend as it went for me.

Thursday
I spent the whole day flying or waiting to fly. I've never flown before, unless you count this one time when I was a baby, and I don't. First it was a silly 40-minute flight from Augusta to Atlanta, followed by a 4-hour layover and then 4-hour flight from Atlanta to Seattle. While waiting in Atlanta, I attempted to listen to the newest Podtoid using the official Android app. It worked like a champ, until one point when I paused it so I could listen to a gate-change announcement. After moving my shit, I tried to unpause the podcast, only to have the app decide to start it over and apparently seeking doesn't work. I had about an hour left. I wasn't about to listen to it all over again right away.

The dudes in the email thread weren't kidding. The walk from the SEATAC terminal to the Light Rail station felt like forever, but was totally worth it. It was a very pleasant and super convenient ride. Nearly everybody on it was clearly there for PAX, which was awesome. And here's a secret: I accidentally rode for free. I felt really guilty about doing so, as it wasn't intentional.. I'm just a clumsy mess when it comes to travelling and somehow completely missed the ticket booth, and instead saw a wide-open and unguarded train door. My thought was "durr, maybe you pay when you get on?". Spoiler: you don't.

I checked into the hotel at about 8:30 that night. 32nd floor of the Crowne Plaza. I didn't request anything fancy when I reserved, in fact my only criteria for hotel choice were vicinity to the convention and price, so I know I didn't book an expensive hotel. But apparently I ended up with a "club floor" room. Free breakfast every morning and I needed to use my key in the elevator to get to the floor. I felt ballin as fuck. Also, the key was an advertisement for Mass Effect 3. Seriously:



I spent the next few hours awkwardly roaming the floors of Gameworks, taking it all in, shaking a few hands, not knowing anybody else (being a first-timer) and trying to adjust to the fact that the West coast doesn't have Yuengling.

Eventually I just decided to grab a recently-emptied seat and that's when the night became awesome. I proceeded to spend the rest of the night drinking and laughing with Jim Sterling and Max Scoville. I'm not exaggerating when I say that was basically a dream come true right there. It was almost too perfect. If I did nothing else over the weekend except play a few games and then fly home, I think I would have been happy.

Friday
Running on four hours of sleep, jetlag, and a hangover, I got up dark and early because I wanted to be in line. I know veterans must think it's kind of gauche to bother with getting to the expo early but dammit, it was my first PAX and I wanted to play some vidyas. The whole thing was really exciting. The downside to that morning is that, even though I was close to the beginning of the line, I was still on the "wrong" end - furthest from the skybridge, meaning I was farthest from my first destination once the hounds were released at 10:00. By the time I got to the Guild Wars 2 booth, it was already packed and all of the invitations to the developer's Saturday night party were already completely gone.

Throughout the first day, I played Guild Wars 2, Lollipop Chainsaw, Skyward Sword, and oggled everything representing Bioshock Infinite with my eye parts.



That night, the Elephant and Castle was pretty awesome. Destructoid took over the basement area which was kinda cool, and the bar's taps were spewing nothing but foam the whole night, which was less cool. MuddBstrd and I attempted to check out the Protomen concert initially, but we discovered that the Corazon is a total shithole. Glad we ditched that plan in the end, man!

Saturday
Originally my plan for Saturday morning was to take my time and not be concerned with being "early" in line again. I slept a little longer, grabbed a coffee on the way to the convention, and.... still ended up in line around 9:00. Oh well, due to my timing I managed to successfully snag one of them awesome Guild Wars 2 bandanas that ArenaNet was passing around all weekend.

Speaking of which, I actually immediately left the convention and went across the street to get in line for the Guild Wars 2 panel not scheduled to start until 1:00. I'm glad I did. I was among the first 5-6 people in a line that ended up being maybe 700+ people. This was crucial as I not only got to sit at the very front, but the first few hundred people that lined up received a special (and free) limited edition GW2 tshirt. After the panel I shook the lead game content designer's hand and struggled to not explode in fanboy joy.

After that, I played Skyrim in which I kicked a wolf in the face and also dragons. Buy Skyrim.



I also bought some sexy artbooks.

Sunday
After the hysterical and awesome Destructoid Live panel and the group photo, the rest of the day was a mad dash to get playtime in with the remaining things I wanted to try. I played Firefall, Jurassic Park, El Shaddai, and Rhythm Heaven Wii. I know it might sound like I didn't do a lot, but so much time is spent either waiting to play or trying to decide what to play. If I had more time, I would have tried Twisted Metal, Sonic, and Aliens. Or I would have played more Guild Wars 2.

That night, the community met up at Rock Bottom for one final party. Lucky timing got me seated once again with Max, as well as Niero, Nick Chester, MuddBstrd, power-glove, and the Destructoid helmet. We ordered Dragonfruit mojitos because dragons (and also they were actually delicious).



Monday morning, Zoeker and I formed a party to safely get each other back to the airport without getting lost. That mission was a success. We parted and I spent the day flying and waiting and flying. I attempted Podtoid on the app again but once again I didn't finish it, only got a little further than last time. Since this week's will be late, I'll make a point to finish "Katy Perry Is My Kryptonite" soon.

Thanks again to everybody who made the weekend awesome. I'm dead exhausted and sad it's all over. I can't wait until I get to do it all again.

P.S. I think I've decided to drop the letters from the end of my username on Dtoid. I discovered that the "csci" doesn't roll off the tongue very well when saying it out loud which made introducing myself awkward. So there.   read


10:04 AM on 08.30.2011

Improvements: Springboard sucks

Seriously. The video quality is often blurry, it plays repetitive, often irrelevant ads which can't be muted, and the interface is terrible.

Just stick with Youtube. This will also improve consistency.   read


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