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2:29 PM on 06.16.2012

Open Letter to Feminist Frequency

Dear Anita Sarkeesian,

First of all, congratulations on obliterating your $6000 goal and amassing $158,917 in total donations. I understand you are to play a number of games and make a series of videos highlighting the negative aspects concerning the female characters from a female's point of view. Tearing things apart is certainly a valid way of critiquing art (if I may be so bold); but I'm a firm believer in negativity begets negativity and positive change occurs through constructive acts. That being said, I ask you to consider taking some of your excess earnings and using it to fund a small team to develop a game you would be happy to play. By "small team", I'm thinking one programmer and one artist working on a game you can host on your site as an example of well-written female characters. I am not asking you to be the lead designer of a video game, as I know that is not your background, but I think you can call for pitches, decide on a good team and review their work until it is something you'd be proud to recommend to somebody else.

I hope this does not come off as me saying "hurrr, I'd like to see you do better than what we have!" as I do not intend that. I am just one of those hopeless fools that has devoted their life to video games for better or worse and I want to make the industry the best it can be and include everybody. I feel the best way to change videos games for the better is by creating something to provide a clear example of your position.   read

9:11 PM on 04.04.2012

10 Things You Always Wished You Knew About Hushlorentz And Finally Can!

You know the drill! Also if you don't feel like reading my mouth-words, there are some TL;DR accompanying pictures!

I surprised myself by taking my own picture!

10. Things I've done
I try to do things! Currently I'm working with a friend on starting a game company. We have one game released so far and hope to have another two finished by the end of the year. We're targeting iOS/PC and probably Mac. Also anything else cheap to develop for. I also play the guitar and am currently playing with a really low-key acoustic band. We play a gig once a month at a local bar for $100 each and free beer which is usually pretty fun. I've also made some progressive rock with a friend and some electronic music by myself. Presently, I'm starting to write some doom/drone stuff that I'll probably record and maybe put online some year.

I use this to make music.

9. Music
I likes me some metal. Almost everything I listen to comes from Europe, especially Scandinavia. There are of course exceptions and I like a handful of North American bands, but for the most part I have to look off-continent. My favorite genre would be black metal and its closest relative viking/folk but I like a lot of bands from many different genres. At the risk of playing the hipster card, I'd say the more well-known a band, the less I'm likely to listen to them. You all know people like that right? I'm not sure what it is, I like to think it's due to my stance on soulless corporations trying to turn music into the perfect product. Give me four guys recording on a tape deck playing what's in their hearts any day. I also go through phases where I listen almost exclusively to electronic music as a kind of palate cleanser, I guess.

I like music that has album covers like this.

8. New York Mets
Baseball! Wait what? Indeed! I watch the shit out of baseball. I know it's somewhat frowned upon in nerd circles to admit you like sports, but yeah I like sports. I'm so fucking sick of seeing the same shit on tv and in movies that sports offer the nice "huh, never saw that before" moments I crave. Unfortunately my favorite squadron is the NY Mets which is weird because I live in Canada. I say unfortunately because they're probably going to be one of the worst teams in baseball this year. Opening Day tomorrow!

I think this picture is awesome. Your mileage may vary!

7. Sci-Fi
For the most part movies and television makes me barf, but there are exceptions! I'm a huge fan of low-budget sci-fi as those tend to have interesting ideas and characters. I love stuff from the 70s and 80s, but I'm not opposed to watching new movies as long as the CGI is kept to a minimum. Anime is a weird one. I've liked most of what I've seen, but I never think to seek it out. Some recent movies I've liked a lot are Primer and Moon.

Couldn't think of a good picture for this and this blog probably has enough already. Just imagine a spaceship!

6. Honesty
What a weird subtitle, what does it mean? To me it's producing something you yourself would find value in. Over the last few years there has been so much bullshit in this industry we all love but, at the risk of being the eternal optimist, it seems like it's slowly turning around. I know the latest rumours on the new consoles has been mostly garbage and our friends at EA and Activision continue to urinate on the hand that feeds but new opportunities are emerging! Due to social media connecting everyone's opinions, companies are being wrenched from behind their iron curtains and consumers are getting a pretty big voice - even dictating which games they want to see created. This kind of got off on a tangent and I'm not really sure where I was going in the first place, so I'm going to stop here. Basically, I only deal with companies who share my own beliefs.

I approve of this man's choices.

5. Tv
As I've already said a few times, I hate tv. A lot of the other 10 Things Blogs have already said most of what I feel so I'll keep it short. I hate tv because: commercials. Fuck. Nothing makes me rage more than someone pretending to be your friend just to sell you something. I used to laugh at advertizer's portrayal of the common human being, but in recent years it has moved to an intense loathing. All of my media now comes from the interwebs: let's plays, youtube subscriptions,, torrents, podcasts, whatevah. However, the rest of the 10 Things Blogs are correct, Breaking Bad is the best show ever. I also only get my news from those I choose to follow on Twitter. All news is biased, so I keep the bias in line with my own.


4. Family
I have one girlfriend, two cats and no children. Children are not something I'm compatible with for long periods. I have no quarrel with them and I like spending time with my cousin's kids, but as a full time job - man, that seems like a lot of work. I would like to get a dog one day. My family never had one when I was growing up, so I don't know anything about them. I'm also fairly quiet and reserved, so if I get an asshole dog, it's going to be in charge and I don't think that's a good situation for any of us. We currently live in an apartment, so a dog isn't an option right now anyway. We've been together for a long time with no real plans for marriage. Yep, we're THOSE people! :D

They all hang out in the bathtub whynot?

3. School
I really enjoyed going through university and took a longass time doing it. I ended up with a computer science degree and half a physics degree. I started out in physics and later switched to CS when it became apparent there was no future in sitting around thinking about time, quantum foam, gravity and other theoretical stuff. I've always idolized ye olde scientists who sat by lamplight at a table in the wee hours plotting star charts and developing calculus. These days, unless you're researching a battery with a longer life, you're an asshole. I'm also much better at programming computers than seeing patterns in data, so it was the better choice in the end. One day, if I have tons of money, I'd like to finish the physics degree, figure out exactly what time and gravity are and tell you all about it.

My homey.

2. Stephen King
I used to read books. I used to. Most of my summers in high school were spent reading Tolkien and Stephen King. I was the dork who read novels on the school bus and all that jazz. My favorite series was Stephen King's The Dark Tower. So amazing! Every book he wrote took longer and longer for him to finish and they were getting better each time. After the end of book four, I was the most hype a white nerd kid can be. It took him 10 years to write the fifth and it was bad. Then books six and seven were announced for release the very next year wtf. Six was the worst of all and the seventh and final book wasn't much better. I joked at the time that Stephen King ruined all books for me, but it's eight years later and I have read maybe one or two books. So yeah, Stephen King killed books for me.


1. Dtoid
I used to avoid Dtoid because Jim Sterling was fighting with some people on the internet and the only news I got was how terrible people on this site were. Then somehow I found out about Backlog and started hanging out with Conrad every night watching him play old games and the people were not terrible. From there I started to read the articles and got to know the contributors and eventually found the cBlogs. Today Jim Sterling is one of my favorite people and my Twitter is full of awesome Dtoid people who actually write back when I spout inane bullshit at them. <3 After 18 or so years of internetting, it is the only place I call home. My Megaton! I hope to meet you one day at one of the various PAXseses!   read

1:13 PM on 02.14.2012

And then, release.

I feel like kind of a douche writing only my third blog about something I made, but here it is anyway! It's kind of a Get To Know Me post at the same time, since I've never done one of those.

For the past 14 months, I have been working with a friend making games. We call ourselves Green Pixel and we're from the snowy (not so much this year) land of Canada. Before Green Pixel, I worked at a few other smaller studios with the biggest having around 30 people and the smallest having 6. During this time, I learned you can lose your job in a variety of different ways! The first job ended when the new department head downsized and cut a lot of us loose. The second studio went backrupt due to circumstances that were not entirely their fault. My third job was a small startup built from the ashes of the second company that I ended up leaving voluntarily as we weren't doing so well and I didn't think I had enough knowledge to turn everything around.

After the third job, I got out of the game business for a while. I went to Germany for two weeks and spent all the savings I had. When I came back, I got a job at a sandwich shop to clear my head. I also discovered Fallout 3. :D Anyway, this was a great time of catharsis but before long, I started messing around with some code again. I mostly built some simple Java tools like a tile editor and a 2D animaiton tool. Who knows when you'll need something like this? Making tools lead to dreaming about making games again and it wasn't long before I had flash installed and was trying to copy everything I loved about Mega Man.

Around this time, my friend started a webcomic, ThePocalypse, and I offered to help him with some flash games, if he wanted. He did want! So he did the art and I did the programming and we made a flash game. We released it on Newgrounds and people did not hate it, so I felt it was a success. Interestingly enough, my friend lives in Japan where his wife teaches so we didn't physically see each other the whole time we created the game. We just used stuff like MSN, svn, Google Wave (remember that one?), email, yada yada. The Internet is the most amazing tool!

With one game done, we decided why not take another step and become a small indie studio. As luck would have it, a different friend of mine was moving and couldn't take his iMac. I needed a new phone anyway, so we decided to try our hand at iOS. What to make? Games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope sure are popular... but that's not really our thing. I firmly believe if you want to succeed, you do what you love - and we love 16bit JRPGs and platformers. An RPG is huge in terms of design, programming and art and would take a really long time to make, so we went with a platformer.

One day at the subshop, I had an idea for a platformer where you reach the goal by placing all sorts of blocks that are both helpful and hazardous. We prototyped it in flash and hoped the mouse controls for placing blocks would translate well to the iPhone. When it was 75% or so, we ported it to iOS and finished it off. I'm currently finishing up the flash version and it will be released before the end of the month. I know $1.99 isn't a lot of money, but I still wanted to give people a little more than the average app. We included a level editor and the ability to share levels. This is going to work across the flash version too, so you can make a level in the flash version and play the level on the iPhone or make a level on the iPhone and play it in flash... you get the idea. Also, I'm not great at designing levels, so why should you have to suffer with only my stuff?

I think that's about it! I'm optimistic for the future, but realistic. If nothing else, it was a great experience and a lesson that you don't have to interact with someone you're working with to produce something.

Below is disgusting advertising! Feel free to stop reading now. :D

So here we are, it is release day for BlockHopper for iOS. For the soundtrack, we commissioned the excellent Starship Amazing. If you do not know them, you should check them out! They sound like a modern take on chiptunes. Music inspired by video games, but not from video games... except I guess now they're from our game, but whatever.   read

6:42 PM on 01.29.2012

Location: Mirror's Edge

Going through high school in the 90s, my friends and I listened mostly to 80s punk bands like Dead Kennedy's, Descendents and Bad Religion to name a few. We formed a few shitty bands and absorbed all the literature associated with the scene such as Nineteen Eighty-Four, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and Animal Farm. As I grew older, my musical taste moved away from punk rock but the anti-authoritarian message stuck with me. It is no surprise, then, that I was drawn to the story of Mirror's Edge.

Mirror's Edge takes the Brave New World approach of a sort of dystopian utopia. Life is safe for the common person, but only because of the restrictions imposed by the totalitarian regim controlling the city. The approach of subduing the population by appearing to give people exactly what they want while slowly removing their freedom has always been more frightening to me than straight oppressive rule by fear.

The minimalist art direction in Mirror's Edge is superb. The buildings are mostly rendered in pure-white and blue; their almost too-clean exteriors gives off a real Stepford Wives-like vibe and reminds us that everything in the city must conform to one group's idea of perfection.

I was captivated by the demo and bought the game at launch. It is by no means perfect, but the music, art and story all came together in such a way that it will always be one of my favorites. With the recent business of SOPA, PIPA and currently ACTA, I have to hope Mirror's Edge remains fiction and not prophecy.   read

1:30 PM on 01.22.2012

I'm sorry, Super Metroid... it's not you, it's me.

I, like most of you, have an incredible backlog of games. Many of these games I've never even started but are widely regarded as some of the best ever created. Part of my 2012 Gaming Resolution is to play through and finish as many as I can. I decided to start with the SNES since I haven't really played anything from that era in a long time (I'm not sure if MegaMan 9 and 10 counts or not?), it has many must-play games, and it is the console that kept me company when I was growing up. I figured I'd open up with a bang and give Super Metroid a shot as this game is always in the discussion as one of the best of all time. How did it go? Well, as you may infer from the title; mixed results!

What up?

Welcome to Zebes.

2D platformers are my jam. When I was young, I played so much Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World that I now instinctively hold down the dash button for all games regardless of dashing abilities. With that said, I was completely unprepared for Zebes. My only other experience with Metroid was spending a few hours with the original NES game and getting absolutely nowhere. For the first hour or so, I was feeling Super Metroid. I was digging the atmostphere and experiencing the sensation of isolation it's well known for. The control scheme was a little funky, but I was willing to let it slide. I thought assigning diagonal aiming to the shoulder buttons worked really well when my brain got used to it. Unfortunately, as I ventured further and further into the game, the frustrations began to mount. Most of my experience with the Norfair section was spent getting out of or falling into the lava. Yep, the entire time. In the lava. As my patience was slowly eroding, the things I liked in the beginning became sources of anger. Falling down pits with no way back, getting stuck and finding out I have to bomb the rock that looks exactly like the other rocks that cannot be bombed, getting stuck and having to do moves I didn't know I could do... this last one culminated in my rage-quitting one night and actually searching Google for the strings "Super Metroid sucks" and "Super Metroid terrible". Yeah, I'm not proud of that one. The middle section of the game was mostly spent with a clenched jaw and an eye twitch, but I was able to progress. Unfortunately, any new challenge the game threw at me was met with swearing and a quick trip to youtube.

This is where I hung out.

All good things must come to an end

I ended up finishing the game with a time of 8:42. The last few hours went fairly well but the damage had been done to my psyche. I felt like Homer when he was driving back from New York behind the garbage truck, with no windshield. It only took me two tries to beat Ridley and I got no joy or satisfaction from it almost as if the game owed it to me. I did really enjoy the final fight with Mother Brain and the cutscene with the Metroid. Of course, I didn't make it to my ship the first time before Zebes detonated, but I just laughed it off. It seemed fitting all things considering.

This happened to me.

It's not you, it's me

My frustrations were all my fault. Metroid is a platformer unlike any I had played before but I kept trying to bend it to fit a mould I was comfortable with. Mario and Mega Man are very much reactionary type gameplay with similar physics with regards to running and jumping. When I play these games I'm almost constantly in motion, not so much with Metroid. If you rush into a situation without a plan, you'll be knocked around and land in the lava or a pit of spikes or those fucking plants that hold onto you. I kept rushing into situations. Secondly, I didn't learn the controls or get very good in general. I've finished the game and I still can't control Samus worth a shit. Between the floaty jumps, overshooting platforms and bouncing around like a pinball taking damage, it was rough. Ask me to do a wall jump and there's a 50% chance I'll get it to work. I've seen people doing play-throughs and holy shit, the game looks amazing when you're good! Thirdly, there were puzzles! My brain wasn't ready for this. The game gives you subtle hints each time you're supposed to do something, but my mind was in platformer mode not adventure game mode. I kept thinking I was stuck and then I'd check youtube and be pissed because the answer was fairly obvious. Which brings me to my last and maybe most important fault: At 32 years old, I'm incredibly impatient compared to when I was 12. Maybe I can blame an age of instant news, instant media, instant everything, or deadlines from school and work having to be met by a certain time; but now my reaction to being stuck in a game is to want to be given the answer immediately rather than figure it out. I hope this is something I can work on and learn to just chill again and explore...

I did not become a Jedi.

In conclusion!

Am I happy I finally played through Super Metroid? Yes and no. I'm happy for getting to experience the atmosphere and the amazing level design. I played mostly from midnight - 2 a.m. with headphones which I feel is a must. I'm also happy the game made me take a look at myself and how I can try to regain that sense of exploration I may have lost growing up. I think if the 12 year old me had owned this game he would have spent months learning to master and love it. The only thing I really regret is that my impatience sabbotaged my experience and I didn't give it a fair shake. I wish I could write a note saying "Just relax." and then Eternal Sunshine myself. I would recommend everyone give it a go, but I'm pretty sure everyone already has. I'll lock up and turn off the lights.   read

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