I've never been great at filling out these little bio things, I blame my low self-esteem. I'm a 21 year old Computer Engineering student from North Carolina. I first started lurking around D-Toid about 7-8 months ago after becoming fed-up with the "community" over at GameTrailers. I used to blog over there constantly but I haven't made the transition over yet. I'm shy D:
I'm on the internet... a lot. I enjoy reading what people have to say, keeping up with what's going on in the world of both gaming and Japan. Along with my love for gaming, I'm also very big into anime and the Japanese culture. You'll find me under the same name over on Japanator and MAL.
I began writing game reviews back around age 13/14. Unfortunately, I just didn't see much of a future in writing about video games, so I moved onto my second love of computers.
Spoiler warning: Through my discussion of how I went about playing the game, the scenarios that will be touched upon will likely contain spoilers to those that have not played the game. If you intend on playing the game or are yet to finish it, I would recommend waiting until you have completed the game. You have been warned.
After listening to this weeks podtoid and a little bit of the Heavy Rain spoilertoid, something became apparent to me: I enjoyed the game for completely different reasons. While I thought the story was genuinely entertaining, I didn't care for much else. Outside of the few quick time event scenes that filled me with a short burst of adrenaline, I found the rest of the game to be vague and and rather boring. It just wasn't for me. However, I still managed to get a good amount of enjoyment out of it.
I was really curious to see just how much of a choose your own adventure game this really was. I decided that I was going to play my characters with the personalities that I wanted them to have. While I did listen to what the character's were thinking and feeling, I still was focused on making them do what I wanted them to do. If they did something that I didn't like or feel fit the situation, it was going to reflect in the game. The results were both believable and hilarious. Here's my Heavy Rain experience:
Ethan I didn't like him from the very start. His dead stare and perfect posture pissed me off. I could tell he had more money then I'll ever have and one of the cleanest homes I'd ever seen. From that point I decided that I would be playing the role of a complete douche bag. After all, all rich people with big clean futuristic houses are usually a little bit up tight. Plus, my ugly fish-mouthed wife scared the bejesus out of me. Needless to say, she put those groceries away on her own.
After Jason dies in the beginning of the game, I decided I'd take it out on Shaun. I forced him to do his homework and sent him to bed early with no TV, snacks, or dinner. Like hell I was going to let him mooch off me. When we went to the playground after school, I constantly teased him to play with things. I first pointed out the seesaw saying “Hey, lets play!” My son got so excited, then I'd walk away, leaving him sitting there on his own. After getting disappointed and heading back to the bench, I then pointed out the swings and repeated the process. Silly kid fell for it again -snicker-
Although, once Shaun was kidnapped I did decide to try to save him, for the sake of moving the story forward. I made him chop off his finger with a rusty hatchet with nothing to help dull the pain. I made him “run” through the broken glass, often coming close to bleeding out. And as morbid as that all may sound, it was making the whole ordeal a lot more enjoyable. It was as if these trials really were trying to make him a better man in the end. Also, the drug dealer didn't have a chance, I shot him in the face before he even finished his sentence.
In my ending, after saving my son, I had a chance to shoot Shelby as a condolence for all I had been through. However, as you'll see in a second, I personally had come to love Mr. Shelby, and had no desire to kill him off. Nothing made me happier than to see my character come to his senses about loving his son and completing four near death trials only to be mowed down by a hail of police gun fire.
Shelby I knew that this guy was a bad ass. A big guy with an inhaler? Fuck yes, he wasn't going to take shit from anyone. And for the most part, the game let me do just that. During my first meeting with Lauren, I refused to put any money down on the table, but still left her my calling card. When the nasty old boyfriend/client showed up, I walked out. If she wasn't going to give me any information, why should I care. I laughed pretty hard when she showed up at my door with a black eye, of which I confronted right away. “Looks pretty bad.” When asked if she could join up with me in the investigation, I told her to get out. Unfortunately, the game wouldn't let me end the relationship there.
In the convenience store, I let Scott's weight get the best of him. When coming up from behind with the bottle, I “accidentally” knocked some stuff over, letting the QTE run out (something I did quite often). After being caught, I sweet talked the thug into letting his guard down in which I took the liberty of beating his ass down. Oddly enough, the robbers body as well as his gun, were left in the store. I imagine the police were eventually contacted, but boy were those two pretty calm and collect after that ordeal.
After being deceived by Lauren and thrown into the lake, I was hopeful that I would finally be able to rid myself of her. The fish-faced whore had been following me for far too long. Thankfully, the game was nice enough to do so. BAM, left to drown. As I drove into Kramer's mansion, I seamlessly killed every black suited figure that popped up with a shot to the face. Fun fact: this was hands down my most favorite part of the game. I continued into his office where I beat the shit out of him and then left him to die. No pills for old Charles.
In my ending, Shelby gets away free and is seen both at his mothers hospital room and his brothers grave.
Madison Unaffected by the shower scene at the start, I chose to wait a bit longer before finally profiling her appropriately as “the woman.” My goal was to to make everyone's lives as miserable as possible when playing as her. Leading men on only to destroy their hopes and dreams was something that I had always wanted to do before. Unfortunately, after Madison's amazing QTE scene, I quickly lost most of my interest in her as a character. Basically what it came down to was an article of clothing being removed whenever possible.
During the scenes where I was supposed to be patching Ethan up from his injuries, I often messed around and either gave him the wrong medicine or applied the wrong treatment to the wrong area. Teehee, just playing with you Ethan <3 This eventually led to the sex scene, which was one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen in a video game. It was so poorly animated that I felt sick to my stomach. So sick that I decided Madison would be dieing the next chance I had. So while in Scott's place, I decided to let her burn to death. I walked straight into the fire and put down the controller. Another one down.
I will say that the encounter with the old pervy doctor was pretty awesome. While the whole “oops, there's the doorbell!” was a little too convenient and killed all tension built up in that scene, going on through a pretty convincing scene of choreography ending with a drill to the hart felt really rewarding. For the record, I asked for a drink and never took a sip.
Jayden Jayden always felt out of place to me. His terrible accent and dictation led me to believe that he was a schizophrenic. So that's how I played him, often altering his actions in mid scene. I'd go from agreeing with someone to yelling at them or threatening them. For me, it made his character believable, else I'm really not sure how someone like him would make it into the FBI.
Any time Blake and I would go to investigate someone, I would follow a similar process. Walk around, ignoring what Blake had to say, start agreeing with what the suspect had to say, screaming at Blake, and then physically harming the suspect. I was convinced that Jayden really did have a problem. The poor guy was obviously being affected by his Triptocaine addiction more than we were being led to believe. I shot that poor religious freak in a heart beat, and then continued to yell at Blake over it.
Unfortunately, Jayden did not die for me. I was hoping that I would be able to make him OD at the end of the game so I played seriously throughout the fight with Mad Jack, escaping from the car crusher and killing Jack with the digger. Had I know I wouldn't have been able to shoot up again, I probably would have let him die there. Jayden did retire from the FBI in my ending, after “giving up” on the video evidence recorded in Paco's room. I was amazed by how lenient the FBI is with letting their employes come back whenever they like.
I admit, I probably did not play the game the way it was meant to. Making things awkward in situations was not what the studio was hoping its players would do. I probably shouldn't be laughing after interviewing someone about their dead son, but at least laughter is a better emotional response than disinterest. However, after finishing it and talking to others about it, it seems that my way of playing was just as entertaining as theirs. I really was enjoying the story up until the big reveal at the end, at which point I was glad I had played the way I had been.
For the record, the game would have been miles better had Paco been the killer. Just saying...
After watching the rage inducing episode of GameTrailer's Bonus Round from a few weeks ago, in which a guest stated that it was fine to buy WoW gold for real money, I became interested in a little game called FarmVille. I didn't know much about it, other than the fact that all of my female friends on Facebook seemed to be in love with it. After hearing so many good things about it during the episode, I felt there was reason enough for me to give it a try. After all, according to him it was the “future of the gaming business.” I told myself that I would give it a try for two weeks and then come to a conclusion. Two weeks are finally up.
There's not really a whole lot that can be said about the game. You are a farmer with a field and you grow things. You then wait to harvest the things you've planted and then repeat the process. You can also add buildings and animals to your farm which take up more space and result in lower profits. Decorations and other useless things can also be purchased to make your farm look like a yard sale. From all of my friends farms, I understand that the tackier it looks, the better you are doing. This is the obvious objective of the game, as there is no end.
This is the game, I shit you not.
The game utilizes two different forms of currency: gold and dollars. Gold being fake money that you make by growing things and throwing shit on your neighbors plants, and dollars which are earned through leveling/achievements... and spending real money. FarmVille, at it's roots, is nothing more than a flash game with microtransactions. Do you need to pay to play the game? Absolutely not. In fact, during my two weeks playing, I saw no need to spend money at all. I had massed a small fortune by the end by doing nothing more than planting and harvesting crops several times a day, based upon their pay back. I could have bought machines to make my field tending easier, but there was no need. However, I assume that clicking on little squares over and over is too much for the normal Facebook user. After the first four days of dedicated farming, I had lost all interest in the game. I switched out my 4 hour crops for 2 day crops and gone back to doing things of relevant interest to me.
However, while the game was a complete waste of my time, I actually can see the game's appeal. To someone that has never played Harvest Moon, this must seem like the coolest concept ever. You get to work in the virtual world and earn virtual money for the time you virtually invest. And the best part of it all? You get to show it off to your friends with lots of little updates that appear all over your page because clicking the “don't show” button is for losers. People must know of your great achievements, otherwise why would you bother playing? But I do admit that I found myself constantly maintaining my crops for the first 3 days. I wanted to plant those fucking berries...
Harvesting crops, just like a real farmer!
But is this really the future of gaming? As much as I hate to say it, In a way I think it's the first huge step in what we'll be seeing in the years to come. Games like this are much more accessible. There's nothing to download, playing straight in the users browser on any given platform, and they're obviously making money off of it. After all, what's a few dollars here and there, especially if you're not playing anything else? Make it accessible and appealing. Look how well the Wii did. With a few exceptions, it's nothing more than a casual gamers paradise. It's obvious there's easy money to be had in today's market, and companies are going to seek it. But will it have an impact on people like us? I wish I knew the answer to that.
In conclusion, FarmVille is a thing that exists and you should pay it no attention. It's nothing but a time sink with microtransations hovering around in the background. Honestly, go play some Harvest Moon. Not only is it a better game, but there's more to do than just click about to shitty music. Or better yet, Robot Unicorn Attack.
This has been somewhat of a difficult entry for me to do. On one hand, it deals with something that's closely related to myself, and on the other it's something that's common to almost everyone in the gaming community. While I wanted it to be something special for myself, I really wanted to address an issue that we as gamers can all relate to. I know it's a long entry, but I couldn't think of any break pictures to use. Please spare a few minutes of your time to give it a read and comment.
About a month ago, I met up with an old friend of mine for lunch. We had been good friends in high school and it had been a few years since we sat down and had a talk. The big news on the table was his recent engagement. The meeting was somewhat awkward, we never really had a whole lot in common to begin with and it was apparent that these past two years had furthered that gap even greater. I was still playing games and not too worried about work; he was about to get married and was searching for employment. Some what of an uneven battle field.
Halfway through lunch, his fiance shows up and joins us. I congratulated her and did the usual act when you don't really know someone all that well. From the times we'd met before, I knew that I had even less in common with her than my friend. She began talking about how she was all stressed out about finding work as an elementary school teacher and that the rest of her time was spent around all her friends. This, of course, led to the imminent question: “So what have you been up to?” This question is about as terrifying as “What do you do for fun?” to me. I never know if I should just lie to make the conversation move ahead or tell the truth; in this case, I wish I had lied. I told her I was doing the same old thing: busy with school work, playing video games with friends online and watching anime. This is where the conversation began to go down hill (and relates to the purpose of this article).
Now, I've never really been a popular guy. I eventually made some close friends in high school and that was more than enough for me. Prior to that, I was more or less alone. Picked on, teased, the whole routine; but I digress. There was something that did help me keep my sanity, and that was SOCOM for the PS2. It was a wonderful (pre-glitching) community that I felt a part of. When I was about fifteen, I found myself applying for a position in a “mature” clan for adults. At the time, they were unaware that I was under their requirement age which was quickly brought to light and voted upon. After a few weeks of discussion and spending time with them, I was finally admitted. And, for the first time in my life, I felt like I really belonged to a group.
Keeping this in mind, lets jump back to my lunch meeting. My friends fiance, after asking a series of questions that tried to belittle what I do for fun, looked me straight in the eye and said something to me that made me absolutely cringe: “I've known people who can't distinguish the virtual world from the real world. You need to stop playing games, thinking that these people are your friends. You don't even know them. You should be out meeting real people.” I was enraged, but I bit my lip. There was so much wrong about that sentence, but I wasn't about to start an argument in the restaurant next to my friend and bride-to-be. Needless to say, the meeting ended shortly after that.
On my way back home, I began thinking about what she said. While there was some validity to her point, there was one blatant problem with it: she seriously believed that there is no community to gaming. In her mind, the idea of a close knit “family” developing from a video game was not unlikely, but impossible. Here was a person, looking me in the eye, telling me that I didn't have a family. I've been a member of my clan for six years now. I spent much of my teenage life growing up with them across multiple games. Over the years, hardly any members have left. Once you're in the family, it's hard to leave. Not only being serious about the game, but also being there for one another. I have multiple members phone numbers who I talk to on a daily basis out of game. Tell me, with what I just said, doesn't that seem to describe some sort of bond?
Flash forward to last week. It was a normal Monday, aside from the post-snow that we don't usually get in North Carolina. I received a message that one of my clan members had passed away, a person I truly considered a friend of mine. I was taken aback. I had talked to him just the other week and everything had seemed to be alright. I started recalling his voice, all the stupid little things he used to say. I remembered all the long nights spent online. At that point, a piece of my childhood had literally been destroyed: I had lost a family member. We all gathered as a group on our message board, paying our respects. Donations were even collected for the family. I'll ask again, is this not a bond?
Sadly, her voice echoed in the back of my head. Along with feeling sad about the loss, I was again filled with rage. It hurt knowing that she probably wasn't the only one that thought our friendship was nothing more than a superficial interaction over the internet. The time spent online with my friends easily exceeded that spent with my family. After all, how much time do you really spend with your “real friends” each day? Hours at a time? It's probably a lot less then you first considered. Sadly, I know the people guilty of making these claims will never be the ones that read this.
I'm not here to say that everyone you meet on the internet is your friend, that's absolutely ridiculous. There are obviously people out there who aren't your friend, but no one goes into anything with the “everyone's my friend” mentality, same as the real world. I'm not here looking for sympathy, this is anything but that. I enjoyed all the time that was spent with him and glad that I had the the privilege of doing so.
Nor am I saying that relationships with people face to face is a bad thing, I'm only trying to prove that it's not the only thing. Just because you have a relationship with someone over a game doesn't mean that that relationship doesn't extend past it. I've personally had lunch with a member of my clan, we're friends both in and out of game. I'm not sure if it's just a scary concept for some to accept that there are more people out there than Halo kids or if they feel left out for not having such a community to belong to. After all, what's the difference between meeting strangers at a bar and playing a few public rounds of any game online?
And I know I'm not alone on this. Gaming communities are everywhere. It's only unfortunate that so many downplay the significance that some of these groups play in people's lives.