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3:40 PM on 02.22.2013

Journey to the Omegathon Part Two: Photo Op

A few days after the initial phone call, I was scrolling through my gmail and got my next contact from Penny Arcade. A few of the organizers sent out a notice that they would need some basic information, a headshot for the program, and for us to sign some sort of agreement/waiver type document.

My eyes scanned the document fairly quickly; it wasn't very long. But towards the end, I found one of those necessary but slightly unnerving "Penny Arcade is not responsible for any injuries sustained while competing the Omegathon" statements.

I had a flash of some rather unpleasant scenes playing through my head: myself, flailing around with playing the inevitable dancing game; myself, falling of the stage like an idiot; myself, bleeding out on stage, filled with ninja stars of my competitor's hired assassins.

I though back to my conversation with one of the past Omeganauts, Pork Buns, on what to expect from the competition. Her response was chilling:

"Terror. Lots of terror."

Well then.

My first instinct was to disguise myself. The best offense is a good defense right? Hmm. Something about that sounds off. My point is, i was going to wear some sort of mask in my photo and submit my first name as 'Mystery' and my last name as "Challenger." I felt very smart, and for a short time, very safe.

And of course I remembered that in my bout of maniacal excitement at being chosen for the Omegathon, I told everyone who even vaguely knows me through the internet that I had been picked.

Here are my plans, currently full of wrench.

So I resigned myself to taking a normal photo. I got my camera ready, put on something cute andOH MY GOD IT'S BEEN A WEEK AND I NEED TO SEND THE PHOTO IN TOMORROW!

I browsed through photos of myself on my computer. I found some good ones, but it needed to be 4" x 4" at 300 dpi. I have a DSLR camera, so I figured somewhere I should have a good quality photo to use. Imagine my dread, dear readers, when I discovered that 90% of my high quality photos are on my external 1TB hard drive....that is currently missing its USB cable.

So, no photos with the Destructoid helmet on, no photos of me making silly but somehow cute faces, no photos of me in any of my pretty rad cosplays. Balls.

Short on time, I was forced to ask my lovely mother for help getting a decent headshot for the program. Maybe this goes without saying, but let me just put this out there: if you need a headshot for some reason, never, ever ask your mom to take your photo for you.

Don't get me wrong, I love my mother dearly. She's funny and loving and great at helping me and my friends paint Warhammer figures. But, like many mothers, she thinks I am the cutest child alive and everything I wear is adorable and I'm her little baby.

For reference, I'll be turning 26 this year.

So, instead of taking ten minutes to snap a few photos, it turned into a 40 minute ordeal. Changing my hair around, switching the lighting, getting shots from at least eight different angles. Total, my mom took about 60 photos. I felt like I went through some sort of Olympic event. You know, the type where the goal is to smile a bunch without blinking or twitching, you are the only competitor, and there is no prize for winning.

And the stupid thing is, I looked ridiculous in almost all of them.

In the end though, I got a decent photo, and that's what really matter. Now all I can do is wait until the games list gets posted, and listen to the Burning Rangers theme song to get myself pumped.

  read


1:06 PM on 02.18.2013

Getting the Call: Part One of an Omeganaut's Journey

Hey there Dtoid community. For those of you who don't know, I'm Nintendoll, long-time site member. I haven't been very active recently; working two jobs and going back to school can do that sometimes.

But! I thought now may be the time to get to know the community again as I will be attending PAX East....as an Omeganaut!

My first PAX with Destructoid members was PAX Prime 2008 and I can't even describe how awesome it was. From stealing Niero's beer at the bar, drinking the Red Lion dry and meeting the man who would be my boyfriend for the next two years, it was an insane experience that only god crazier. Gay bars, Destructoid stickers on strippers, people getting set on fire, and finding out I could out-drink Hamza...the best memories.

I miss those times.

So I've decided to chronicle my time spent training, preparing, and competing in the Omegathon. You can get to know me, I can get to know you, and we can keep the magic going.

(Disclaimer: the following is a dramatic re-enactment of the events that transpired February 15th, 2013).

So Part One: The Call

It was a Friday night like any other. Over the last few months I've been drawn into the world of painting tabletop figures by my friends. In the afternoon, I purchased my first figures of my own: the Waldgeist from Malifaux. I was still finishing a Menoth figure (Warmachine) which belonged to a friend and is my first painting project. At first, I was worried about messing up every little thing, having never painted a figure this size before. But my tiny lady hands did not fail me, and my handiwork was looking pretty solid for a first timer.

So the scene is set: there are about five of us, watching Adventure time, painting as carefully as is possible with a hyperactive dog wiggling everywhere, when a sound interrupted our merriment.

The CALL.

My phone came alive with the sound of....whatever default Verizon ringtone I have set. The mystery deepened when I realized that the incoming call was from...RESTRICTED. Who was reaching out, from beyond the reaches of time and space, to contact me anonymously?

I removed myself from the room discreetly, so as not to disturb the unbridled gaiety around me. I trembled slightly as I answered the call.

"Hello?"

"Hi, is this Chelsea?"

"This is she."

"This is Gabe calling from Penny Arcade."

AN MY WORLD WAS FOREVER CHANGED.

It's honestly a little blurry from that point on. I know my legs started to feel weak and shaky. I know everyone in the room got quiet after Gabe asked me if I'd like to be an Omeganaut and I yelled, "OH MY GOD ARE YOU SERIOUS?!" fairly loudly. While still on the phone with Gabe, I announced to my friends that I was being called to participate as an Omeganaut. A loud cheer erupted in the room as I accepted.

I couldn't paint for the rest of the night because I was shaking with excitement.

I'm still a little shaky, truth be told. I'm going to start rotating through some of my game catalog to prepare (although past Omeganauts have recommended waiting until the list is release).

I have no idea if I'll win. Heck, I have no idea if I'll make it past the first round. But I am definitely excited to compete, and celebrate my 7th year attending the Penny Arcade Expo!   read


2:09 PM on 01.27.2012

Why the New Xbox 360 Dashboard is Killing Indie Games

So now, after the new Xbox dashboard has pushed forward through all the hate, people seem to be quieting all their grumbles and life goes on as normal, right?

WRONG.

The new dashboard has completely destroyed the market for Xbox Live Indie Games. Once prominently featured in the game section, it has slowly been pushed farther and farther away from the public eye.

Do you remember this?



It seems a very long time ago that the indie (or community, or XNA games as they once were called) were featured right at the forefront of the games section. When XNA Creator's Club and the community games first were launched, it was a huge step in fostering console game innovation. A mere three days after launch there were already a reported 45 games released. I mean, wow. Developers could not wait to show the world what they could do on consoles, and now they had a wonderful vehicle to do so.

Fast forward to November 1st, 2010: the launch of The New Xbox Experience.

Microsoft takes a page out of Apple's design book and the "blades" of yesteryear and replaced with 2D content squares in a 3D space. While certainly not the "color TV phenomenon" that MS was hoping for, it did seem to make browsing the dashboard a little easier. Plus, OH BOY! AVATARS!

So what happened to the XNA Community games then? Well, let's take a look:



According to MS, Indie titles no longer have a place in the "Games" section of the Marketplace, but have now been lumped in with avatar items and music downloads in the "Specialty Shops" section. Fortunately for indie developers, lots of complaining paired with extensive media coverage prompted Microsoft to move the Indie Games back into the games section of the Marketplace.

So in the end, it was a victory for the little guy! Hooray! Let the spirit and innovation so heralded by the original launch of XNA Community Games live on!

Until....



Wait, where is that again?

Here are some directions for getting to the Xbox Live Indie Games.

Hit right bumper to get to the "games" tab (capitalization is so 2010 guys). Now to the bottom left, "Games Marketplace."

("Are we there yet Dad?" "No. And if you ask one more time, I will turn this car RIGHT AROUND.")

Choose the inexplicable photo of a girl jumping with the label "Game Type." Alternatively, you can check your reflexes trying to select the Indie Games option from the quickly revolving feature panel. Oh, there it is! The Indie games! Time to see what's hot in the community...but wait! There's still more jackassery to be had!

You can only browse Indie titles by release date. Unless you took the time to catch the Indie Games revolving panel, which offers browsing by "Kotaku's Favorites," "Contest Finalists," "Most Popular," and (here it is again) "New Releases." Why these options aren't available from the "Game Type" screen is beyond me. It's the first time I've had to play some sort of weird mini game to allow me to browse games properly.

These are not even close to how I would like to browse through any games. Two basically are "the best games...based on the opinions of a few people." Most popular and new releases are kind of useful but...what happened to "Alphabetical" and "Highest Rated?" I usually use a combination of "Highest Rated" and "Most Popular" to determine what's good.

I think it's truly a shame that Microsoft is trying to push Indie Games aside for advertising space and money. Indie Games are what truly make Xbox so unique and different from their competitors, creating a space for small-time developers to explore and show their creativity to a wide and varied audience. Remember: just because Indie Games don't have achievements, doesn't mean their any less fun or important to the gaming community.









Images sources:
Image 1: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/edunhill/archive/2007/09/03/getting-started-with-xna.aspx
Image 2: http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2010/11/03/xbox-live-indie-games/
Image 3: http://www.indiegamemag.com/satirical-shooter-game-type-mocks-microsofts-new-dashboard/   read


11:28 AM on 08.21.2011

Memoirs of an Ex-GameStop Employee

Yes, this is in response to the much debated GameStop Employees Are Jerks blog a few days ago. TheManChild's experience working there brought back memories of the good old days, and I thought it was time for a trip down memory lane.

Working at GameStop was pretty much the epitome of jobs when I was in high school. My sister was a keyholder at a different store (she exacted her revenge on the store by hiding pieces of fried chicken in the ceiling tiles), and I had friends in each of the three (yes, three) GameStops in the mall.

I actually got hired there because I used to sit on the floor behind the counter and play DS while waiting for my friend Bonnie to finish her shift. I'd usually end up helping customers find things or start talking game recommendations when I got bored so the manager just eventually just put me on payroll.



I was surprised at the things I could get away with. Like covering the Guitar Hero demo controller with sparkly My Little Pony stickers (see above), getting into a staple war with my coworker, or answering the phone and pretending to be an automated service ("Thank You for calling GameStop! Press 1 if you would like to buy a game. Press 2 to trade in a game. Press 3 to preorder the hottest new titles!).

The store I ended up in was located in a back corner that no one ever went to so it was nice and quiet where I worked....until the damned Babies'R'Us opened up across the hall.



Now, this seems like such a small, unimportant thing to happen to a mall with over 1 million square feet of retail space. However, due to the the wave of horrible parenting gripping the nation, this meant that Mommy would send her children into the videogame store to play while she was shopping (oddly enough, I have NEVER seen a father do this).

So, with the opening of poorly spelled baby superstore, came the arrival of many unattended children between the ages of 6-11. These children would play our interactive Xbox and Playstation displays for hours (screaming to boot), open every single game box, sit on the floor to read copies of GameInformer, and in one case run around knocking as many game cases off the rack as possible.

At first, we developed what we called "Code 16." 16 was the numbered circuit on our breaker that powered the interactive displays. If a kid was sitting there playing the Guitar Hero demo over and over for an hour, we'd simply flip off the circuit. Usually, this conversation would follow:

Annoying Kid: "Hey, the thing stopped working."

Me: "Yeah...that happens sometimes."

-silence-

-Annoying Kid leaves, goes to GameStop across the hall-

A few times, the kids would throw us a frightened look, the bolt out of the store in fear that something they did caused the machine to break. Unfortunately, after a while this didn't seem to work anymore as children would get dropped off already holding their Nintendo DS, and just sit in the middle of the floor to play MarioKart.

My assistant manager (who also happened to be my good friend of 4 or 5 years) was not happy with this situation. She decided to use her friendship with mall security to her advantage: they became the Small Children Relocation Service. All we had to do was tell them we had a lost kid in our store and a few minutes later, a uniformed man would escort the children away like there criminals they were.


This is an actual photo of a security guard from the mall I worked at.

There were many other adventures, of course, so I'll just list a few:

-My sister worked the midnight release of Halo 2. Between 9pm (when the store closed) and midnight, all that separated the crowd from the new game was a pull-down grill. So the staff ordered pizza, popped the game into an Xbox and played for 3 hours, with the back of the TV facing the crowd, talking loudly about how awesome the game was.

-My district manager got so pissed at a customer (who had insisted that when she opened the boxed for her used Xbox, that she found a VCR instead and brought the VCR and demanded that she get a new Xbox for her troubles) that he went into the back room, took the new Xbox out and promptly poured water all over it. He then dried it, resealed the box, and presented it to the crazy lady.

-My friend Bonnie and I both ended up with stalkers. At first it was innocent, like they got us presents and hung out in the store. Then Bonnie got a voicemail on her phone that was almost 20 minutes long from a guy high out of his brain talking about all of the sex things he wanted to do with her. So the next thing she got was a restraining order.

Sad to say, a year or so ago the company finally realized they didn't need 3 stores in one mall, and closed the one I used to work at. They didn't bother to remodel any of the shelving in the store which makes me wonder...have the employees in the new men's clothing shop begun to find the hidden, sparkly pony stickers I left behind in every corner of the store?   read


2:44 PM on 08.12.2011

East Vs. West - The Quest for Character Empathy



I wanted to start be referencing a specific article, but unfortunately it seems to be lost within the black hole of the internet. In the article, a Japanese developer said something along the lines of, Eastern games are focused around building, while Western games are concentrate on destroying. Now, I don't believe that to be entirely true. Earth Defense Force 2017 is certainly more destruction based, and games like Civilization and The Sims are based entirely on user creation. What strikes me as a major difference in the types of games developed really comes down to the character representation, and how it connects the player to the game world.

This occurred to me while I was playing Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. The Fatal Frame series is largely considered one of the best examples of survival horror in gaming. What makes this game so terrifying? Most of the game play involves simply moving around empty rooms, searching for clues broken up by the occasional ghostly assault. Why is it, that no matter how much I tell myself it's just a game, I still can't play this game at night (besides me being a huge wuss)?



The answer is this: the ability to connect to the character. Seeing the character as a full-fledged human being is crucial to making that connection. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the idea is that ANYONE would be powerless against incorporeal monsters. The player and the protagonist are on equal footing in terms of power within the game world. Think of it realistically: if you lost your sister in a creepy town in the middle of the woods, what would you do? Probably walk around and look for her, right? Because you don't believe in ghosts, so there wouldn't be any danger. By the time you realized you were wrong, it would be too late. Having these things in common with the main character makes it easier to relate to them--as a person, not just as a game avatar.

The character in Fatal Frame isn't a tool to explore the world. How the character interacts with the world is restricted, making the player feel as if they are watching rather than controlling the character's movements. The game uses different camera angles and lighting techniques normally found in cinema to build the relationship between the player and the protagonist. We see her vulnerability because we are able to observe her from every angle without her knowledge. We feel for her because she--like the player--is burdened by the limitations of being human (an example being that she carries the camera as her single weapon). We only see her point of view while she's being attacked: while she is at her weakest state. (The only exception to this is if you bought the Xbox version, which allows the option to play the game from a first-person perspective).



There are of course, other aspects that contribute as well. Probably the most obvious is that your only weapon is a camera. The significance of the camera is that it's a weapon that harms aggressors without actually touching them. It is a reminder that there is no physical protection from the killer ghost townspeople who are wandering around. In addition, ammo (or in this game, film) pick up areas don't regenerate. That's right: if you find all of the film in the game and use it, you're stuck using nothing but the shitty basic film...which is the equivalent of using nothing but a handgun in a traditional FPS.

Now take a game that is developed by an American studio, like Dead Space (keep in mind, I'm not scrutinizing the quality of the game). My experience with this game is a little less extensive, so a lot of what I know of the latter parts of the game are through conversations with others and watching other people play. I already know this will open up to some criticisms, but hey, this game is the best example for comparison.



In Dead Space, you play as a full grown man with up-gradable space armor with (relatively) convenient access to weapons. This moves the focus of the game away from the character and towards the items and abilities he can utilize. Isaac moves around the environment with his back to the player, severing the connection to the most recognizable aspect of people: the face. On most of the occasions we do get to see his face, all we get is the glow-in-the-dark can he wears as a helmet. Even Isaac's profession, as an engineer on a spaceship, is difficult for the average person to wrap their head around. While the weapons in the game mostly focus on an engineering background, we take another small step away from reality when he quickly adapts to using and modifying the tools of his trade to kill instead of repair. In addition, most people I've spoken to (and many forums I've visited) complain that by a certain point in the game, they felt their character was too powerful and the game lost some of its fear factor.



The second point of interest here is that the camera can be moved around at will. This gives the player a significantly larger amount of control than the character in the game. Putting more control into the players' hands prevents them from from seeing the character as a separate personality. The player controls what the character sees and interacts with (as opposed to Fatal Frame, where the camera is set specifically so the player and the character experience certain events together). The character is now an extension of the player, and is more of a Swiss Army Knife than a character in terms of his function within the game. The times we can connect with him are when there are cutscenes involving the plot. The only problem is, since the player has spent so much time in action-oriented scenarios like solving puzzles and shooting enemies, these moments feel more like breaks for the player than anything else.

In both Dead Space and Fatal Frame II, you control a protagonist searching for someone they love. However, the latter denies the player they control usually granted in third-person games, limiting the character's abilities to those of a normal human being. The former give the player abilities beyond what's currently feasible for a human. The draw of Fatal Frame, and in fact of many Asian-developed games, is the character and story development that pulls you into the full experience. A North American-developed game holds it's own be creating a detailed fantasy world that relies more heavily on the player using the main character as a tool for physically interacting with and exploring that world.

So which technique lends itself better to survival horror? Well, given that Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly is a last-gen game released in 2003 that retails for $30 used, and Dead Space was released in 2008 and retail price new is around $20...well, I think the East wins on this one.   read


2:51 PM on 09.12.2009

Why The Beatles Rock Band is More than Just A Re-Skin

When I heard the announcement of The Beatles Rock Band, needless to say I was quite excited. Whether you like them or not, The Beatles changed the music world. I happen to be a fan, so my excitement was only checked by one lingering doubt: Would this iteration of the series simply be a re-designed version of the older Rock Band games?

The answer, for those of you who have probably read any review or had a hands-on with the game, is a resounding "no." Even at the most basic level, the 60's-inspired visuals and photographs do more than just make the game look pretty. These, in combination with the timeline of Story Mode, really do transport you back to another era. Seeing the appearances of each band member change over time gives the player a new lens in which to view the band's career--a view previously only observed by those old enough to have personally experienced the phenomena known as "Beatlesmania."

The art direction in this game is truly exceptional. Especially noticeable (as Nick Chester mentioned in his review) in the "dreamscape" levels, where the songs will start in Abbey Road recording studio and transport the player into a psychedelic kaleidoscope or an undersea land. My personal favorite would have to be Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends. The amount of work put into these environments is incredible, and the collaborative effort of Apple Corps and Harmonix in recreating the feeling of The Beatles as a visual aspect of the game is beyond words. The whimsical, surreal, and just plain beautiful worlds encompassed in the songs of The Beatles are well represented.

To be perfectly honest, playing The Beatles Rock Band could only be compared to my experience in The Beatles Museum in Liverpool. I felt as if I was looking through a window of time, seeing the faces of young boys becoming men; moving, growing, traveling, and changing as people. The main difference is that at the museum, I felt as if I was haunted by the faces and voices of happy ghosts; boys never knowing how the future would pull them apart. While playing The Beatles Rock Band, I felt as if I was experiencing the good times with them, carefree and ready to embrace the future. Both the Story Mode and unlockable content help in maintaining this feeling of actually existing in the time period.

I think what is truly unique about this game is that it really is more than a game: it's a full experience that draws you into the careers and lives of The Beatles. I don't by any means think this is a perfect game; in fact "hardcore" gamers might even complain about the title's lack of technical difficulty (outside of the new and challenging vocal harmony mode).

If you are a Beatles fan, a music fan, or a history fan, this is a serious must buy. This isn't just Rock Band. This is a music revival in the form of a living, breathing chapter of musical and pop culture history.   read


3:25 PM on 06.06.2009

The Gamer Connection

Warning: This is a GAME R SRIOUS BIZNISS post :D

(originally posted on my personal blog Super Nintendoll)

There's plenty of commotion after this year's E3. Nintendo disappointed (again), Sony busted out some big titles, and Microsoft concentrated on the social software of the Xbox 360. But in the fray, what really caught my attention was Takahashi's comments in the Eurogamer article where he talks about Katamari and consumerism.

Takahashi is really a man ahead of his time. While other developers are making games as simple entertainment, he is making games that intertwine fun and social commentary. Katamari Damacy is a game that I (and I'm sure many others) have not really taken a lot of time to think about deeply. This is probably because as gamers, we are trained not to. Most games are about quick reaction time or strategic thinking, leaving no room contemplation or interpretation. To me, Takahashi's games are reaching in the the realm of classic literature by manipulating these standard components of gameplay. This may sound like a strange comment, but bear with me while I explain.

Good books are those which are well-written, and can send out a powerful message. Books like these you will frequently find on bestseller lists. But truly great books are those which are not only well-written by standards of language, but also through use of symbolism and allowance of open, personal interpretation. These are piece of literature that allow the mind to explore and make a personal connection with the writing--sometimes one that may not have been intended by the author.

Katamari Damacy is a great game because it leaves itself open to interpretation. Yes, it was intended as a statement on consumerism. Yet it also leaves itself open to a multitude of personal interpretations.

Can it not also be seen as supporting the perseverance of individuals in the face of great challenges? I mean, the King asks you to make the moon in a half hour. It seems like an impossible task for such a measly Prince. The physical rewards giving to the Prince by the King are hardly worth the effort. So the Prince's main motivation is from within himself--whether it is driven by a sense of responsibility for his family or for the larger responsibility as Prince of of the Cosmos. He gets no true reward for his actions besides self satisfaction.

It can also be seen as making a statement on the fragility of human life in the grand scale of the universe. A larger-than-life being makes a simple mistake of knocking out the stars and through the course of the game, the whole world is destroyed for it. People are proud that we have been able to fill the world with all sorts of wonderous things, but it is for this very reason that the King targets the Earth. There seems to be no regret on the part of the King or Prince for loss of human life; in fact it is portrayed as amusing. Isn't it strange to think that we've been playing a game that trivializes human life in the grand scheme of the universe, and never once stop to think about how powerful that message could be?

The key to his game is simply, in some ways, the blatant shallowness of the King and the blind obedience of his son. Neither character takes time to think about the consequences of their actions, just as human being frequently act without thinking. Does it not also reflect our own blindness as gamers, playing whatever is shoved in front of us and not asking what war games or fantasy games represent in the larger scheme of things? Has anyone really ever stopped to think about what games like Call of Duty represent? The horror of war and death, which most game designers have no experience with, is not even truly and accurately portrayed (though I'm sure it is done to the best of their ability). It can be seen as a powerful statement against those who look but don't see the world around them.

Some people may read this and think, "Holy Jesus, you're taking this way too seriously. It's just a game!" But those are the type of people who only set the gaming industry back, preventing it from reaching its full potential as both an art form and entertainment. Gaming is in a very in-between place. There are certainly plenty of games out there that are trying to get a message across. Their methods however, are simplistic and unrefined. The messages are often boiled down to one sentence: "Do the right thing," "Defeat the enemy," "Justice Prevails," and so forth. These messages are often diluted through gameplay that is repetitive and provides no direct connection to the message itself. How does shooting someone in Gears of War represent justice? Does the death of an enemy bring Marcus Fenix closer to justice, or just allow him to make it to the final level?

When we think about what is the most impressive in a game, oftentimes what first comes to mind is either graphics, story, or entertainment value. Most games today lack a personal message or connection with the player. There are very few games today that use the medium to convey meaning while allowing the player to simultaneously draw their own conclusions based on their personal experience with the game. Katamari Damacy as well as Noby Noby Boy are intriguing games because they serve as open ended metaphors for larger life issues.

So the question stands: Why aren't there more games that try to make a personal connection with the player? The answer is simple, one that Takahashi also knows: money.

A game that connects with someone on a personal level means that everyone will have a different reaction to it. I know plenty of people who think Katamari Damacy is a stupid game. That is because their personal connection is different from other peoples'. Games like those done by Daniel Benmergui (Ludomancy) are also a good example of open metaphor games--there are no instructions, you simply must interact with the world as best you can. By not outright telling the player what the "winning" situation is, Benmergui lets the player freely explore the environment and make decisions based on their own emotions and personal preference.

Because games like this have no formal instruction or way to win, they are very hard to market to a wide audience. Those who are less patient will get frustrated easily and give up, saying the game is poorly made. To a degree, it requires the player to care about characters or stories that are difficult to understand--and that is a challenge that not all gamers are up to.

This trend of open-ended metaphor games is one that I hope will only grow larger as gaming becomes more mainstream. There will be room for these niche games. The original Bioshock made it about halfway by installing a twist that made you question your identity and motives. However, this brief moment of a self-contradictory existence is only lightly touched upon, as your character automatically makes the correct "moral" decision (which is more based on self-preservation than morals). Still, this baby step towards games that make you think is much appreciated, as can be seen by both sales and raving reviews.

People seem to be pushing innovative gameplay this year, but what they should be pushing are innovative ways of connecting and communicating with the player. I hope to see more developers pushing the envelop when it comes to games that will make you ask questions instead of answering them. This to me is the only way that a gamer can become more actively (mentally) involved in the gaming medium.   read


9:19 PM on 03.25.2009

Obligatory Drunk "I Love You Man" Post

Hey guys, so I had some drinks tonight. And it just reminded me of all the good times I had at PAX being drunk with you guys. Remember that time I stole your hat, CountingConflict? Or that time I played against Asain joe in drunk DDR? What about that time I made out with Mid3vol, or drank that mysterious half-full glass of beer at redwood bar? Those were good time.

I might keep writing about PAX, but it's an ATV trail so I might just have to turn back.

Seriously, destructoid people are the best people, even when I can't feel my face. THE FACE STILL LOVES YOU. All of the good friends I have now, I found through this website. I dunno. I mean, it's not like I didn't have friends before this. But meetin Dtoiders near me, was just totally rad. They're all just people I can be myself with and it's awesome.

Also, vote for sickNasty in that Mirror's Edge contest, because he had to show off his junk to all of NYC in Times Square. Tourists took phtos with him. HARDCORE.

Happy birthday Samit!


More love to Destructoid people. I'm an extra nerdy nerd, because I'm a girl who loves video games and sci fi and anime, so there;s a pretty limited niche of people who share my interests. At my school here, there's practically no one I get along with. But Dtoid people, no matter how long I've know them, feel like they've been friends with me for years. It's totally awesome.

Also, mid3vol requested that I blog her dick. I'm not actually sure how to go about doing that. And Gandy needs to grow his beard back.

I'm sur there are other, important things I should say. Besides "Destructoid is awesome." But alcohol is making me a little sleepy. So I will say goodbye, and that IRC is awesome. If you want to talk to me drunk, go to #destructoid on the dynastynet server. DOOO EEEEEEEEEET!

G'night :D   read


7:58 AM on 03.22.2009

Quick review of Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness

I started playing Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness a month or so ago and I noticed something strange. There was no Destructoid Review! So, let me give you a super quick review of a game that might possibly revive a dying series.


Hooray! Let's ride a cow and have the baby chickens ride the horse!

Now, I've progress about a year in the game. In previous games, this would me that I was about a third of the way through the game. No so this time around. After a season in HM:IoH, I soon realized that almost everything takes longer to accomplish in this game--except earning money.

You start at the beginning of the game with almost literally nothing. There are only about 5 villagers on the island, you get no dog or horse to start with, the bridges to other areas of the island are completely broken, and each of you animal barns is so small they only have two feeders. Crops start out pretty similar to the other games: you buy them from the store, you have to sell 100 of each of the beginning crops to unlock more, etc. There are a few interesting differences that help you out at the beginning:

1. You can put ANYTHING in your shipping bin. Weeds, cans, rocks, whatever. This is actually pretty helpful as in this version when you hit rocks with your hammer, they turn into "Stone Material" which you can sell for a pretty good price.

2. You can see how much people like you; villagers OR marriage candidates. This is pretty useful since it takes much longer for people to become good friends with you in this game.

3. Your tools upgrade completely differently. They have a certain number of open slots for "Wonderful Stones." Each of the 7 stones has a different function (using less stamina, working on a larger area, having a stronger effect) and can really only be gained by winning festivals (lame).

4. You can see your stamina and fullness. This is super useful. Fullness is difficult to keep up at the beginning of the game, since you can't cook and neither of the two restaurants are open. Fullness determines how early in the morning you wake up, and stamina is the same as the other games (if you work too much you black out and go straight to bed).

I haven't really played a Harvest Moon game since More Friends of Mineral Town and A Wonderful Life, but I have to say I'm glad I picked this one up. Like MFoMT, the concentration isn't really on earning money--you can earn money pretty easily in either game. However, in IoH the concentration is really on what you do with your money. You can improve the town roads, repair the bridges to other areas of the island, upgrade your house, chicken coop, animal band, stable, supply shed, build a maker shed, build a greenhouse, upgrade your household appliances, etc. Or you can concentrate on goals that aren't money related, like reaching the bottom of the mine, becoming friends with everyone, winning festivals, upgrading your tools, unlocking recipes, and more. There is just so much to do in this game it is insane.

That said, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. With other Harvest Moon games, once you've played one jumping into a new installment of the series is pretty simple. It's almost too easy to become quickly successful in the game. IoH does not allow you to do this. It forces you to play the game at a slower pace, especially at the beginning of the game when it is next to impossible to refill your stamina. I was barely able to manage growing three fields (3X3) of crops in my first season.


My sister says Pierre "is gay." He's the one that looks like Willy Wonka...I might have to agree.

Another disappointment was the characters. It is still one of my biggest complaints in the game: all of the Harvest Moon characters have zero personality. They're pretty generic. Any given character could swap dialog with another and not really change the game much. There are only two character who seem to have real personality: Vaughn (who's kind of cold and distant....and reminds me of Zero from Vampire Knight ;_;) and Regis (who is rich and pompous). Even the "wild natives" of the island are boring as hell. The Witch Princess isn't really evil, mean, or even mischievous. Many of the characters are bad copies of older HM characters with newer (and sillier) names: Kai is Denny, Maria is Sabrina, Gotz is Gannon, Rick is Elliot, Lillia is Felicia, Gray is Vaughn, etc. That being said, one of the problems I have is that I don't want to marry any of the candidates that the game gives you.


WAKKA CHIKKA BOW WOW!!!!

While I don't think the Island will ever compare to any iteration of Mineral Town (N64, PS1 or GBA), it's still a pretty good installment in the series. I appreciate the new pieces of gameplay that have been added, but I would still like to see a little more creativity when it comes to characters. A good chunk of the game is based on interacting with the people on the island, and it would be much more enjoyable if they all didn't seem to be the same person. New gameplay also makes the game more challenging, but it pretty much just pushes me to prove my HM fandom and mastery by doing everything.

Also, this game is awesome because the default female farmer name is Chelsea. THEY KNEW I AM THEIR BIGGEST FAN ZOMGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Do you think people would get it if I did a cosplay???



Bottom Line: If you are a fan of the series, you should by this. If you have never played a Harvest Moon game, keep searching for a copy on N64, PS1, or Gameboy Advance.   read


6:02 PM on 03.01.2009

Help me decide my PAX cosplay!

Alright, PAX is fast approaching and I need help! Last year a did a couple of fun cosplays: Pa Rappa the Rapper and Yukari (Persona 3). This time around I need help deciding what cosplays to do.

Personal requirements:

I don't want to do any SUPER sexy cosplay. I want to wear something that will be at least semi-comfortable to walk around in all day. I also don't want anything with crazy moving parts that will take forever to put together. It also needs to be something that I can realistically do (don't pick female characters with obnoxiously large breasts).

And no, I'm not cosplaying Cammy.

So, here are a couple ideas of my own I had, but I want your input for whether or not you like them/any other ideas you have.

#1 - Amy from Soul Caliber IV


Amy is little, like me. Getting a wig right will be a pain, but I might just cheat and do a curly wig in pigtails. I actually already have the skirt for this outfit. It wouldn't take too much tweaking from my mom or my crafty friends to get this put together either.

#2 Ulala from Space Channel 5

Um I fucking love this game. This cosplay would actually be super easy. My sister has a bad-ass Ulala costume from Halloween a couple years ago, and with her permission and a couple of adjustments I could make this work quite easily. I know I said no super-sexy costumes, but this would also give me an excuse to learn all of the dance moves from the game and dance all over the place for no reason, which is a definite plus.

#3 Rikku (FFX)

I want to do the FFX Rikku not only because her outfit is more classy, but also because it is fucking impossible to find a good scarf for the costume (I am a perfectionist and would probably kill myself trying to find one). It's probably (oddly enough) one of the harder cosplays to do just because of the ridiculous detail in her outfit. It looks deceptively easy, but with the crazy neckline, buckles everywhere and that strap thing on her leg, I would have my work cut out for me.

My cop-out cosplay would probably be Celeste from Mirror's Edge. I'll probably only do it if I run out of time/money for my other cosplay ideas.

So, feedback plz? kthnx.   read


9:41 AM on 03.01.2009

Monthly Lulz #1 - Yuna (FFX-2)

My buddy power-glove made a post earlier today about a new monthy c-blog topic called Monthly Lulz. While some people seemed to think it wasn't a great idea, it kind of inspired me a little bit. So, I thought I would make a post about the strange transformation that occurred to one of my favorite video game heroines between game sequel: Yuna.

Apparently Yuna's lonely days after the defeat of sin were not easy. Friends went their separate ways, and Yuna bore the pain by becoming an internation pop star...and whoring herself out. You think I'm exaggerating? Check out her Sailor Moon-inspired striptease at the beginning of the game. In front of thousands of people no less.

So anyway, on to my WTF breakdown.



This doesn't seem so bad at first glance, right? WRONG. Just because you are a girl who is hot and has nice boobies doesn't mean you can take a pair of scissors, cut up all of your clothing and wear the fashion Frankenstein outfit.

1. The Unnecessary Hoodie

Look, I like a hooded shirt just as much as the next person. But I can't for the life of me figure out why you would put a hood on a...well, let's just call it a halter top. Why would you even need a hooded halter top? I mean, if you're wearing a top that skimpy, it's probably pretty warm out. The hood doesn't seem to be very functional. Especially with that crazy rat-tail hair extension thing going on. I mean, is there a hole in it for the wrap to go through, or does it just stick out the side? Oh wait, I get it now. The hood is there so Yuna can coil up the rat tail and hide it after hours of harassment from school children, all asking if they can have "just one more game of jump rope."

2. The Bicep Gauntlet

First off, how do you even lace that thing onto your arm? You'd have to get someone else to do it or else risk looking like a retarded dinosaur. I can't really see what purpose this has for Yuna. I mean, for a big burly man it would serve as a great pick up line: "Why do you wear a gauntlet on your bicep?" "Why, too keep people from getting to the gun show for free." Or something like that. They don't even look particularly durable. If I was to stab and/or shoot Yuna in the arm, I bet it wouldn't provide much protection. However, it would make a pretty good tourniquet...oh my god. Yuna's a fucking junkie. Well, I guess that explains half of the outfit right there.

3. ???????

What the fuck is this? I have no idea what this is.

4. The Half-Skirt

I want to know who thought this shit up. Who looks at a skirt and says "Yeah that's cool. But you know what would be better? CUTTING IT IN HALF!" Cutting the skirt in half doesn't make it more efficient, in fact it becomes more cumbersome than ever. That shit will get caught in every automatic door around. The only reason for having half of a skirt is if Yuna had some sort of horrible childhood scar on the outside of her left thigh. That must be it; even her Songstress outfit has a half-skirt on the left side. Should have been wearing those gauntlets on her thighs I guess.

5. Spanky Panties

For those who don't know, "spanky panties" are what cheerleaders normally wear under their skirts. They're comfortable with A LOT of coverage so that football players and fans won't get more of a show than they paid for. Here, it seems like Yuna ran out of money. I mean, those boots must have been fucking expensive. Or maybe she's trying to make up for having too much cloth on one side of her outfit. I think maybe drunk one night, she took the line "Show us some leg" a little bit more seriously than she should have.

So there you have it. Yuna's clothing was either super expensive designer stuff, or else a misfit of re-sewn garments from various other outfits. In either case, what was she thinking?   read


7:02 AM on 02.26.2009

More reasons why IRC is awesome

Last night, I got wasted in IRC. To be honest, I can't remember what I said, but when I woke up this morning the caps lock key was on. So whatever I said, it was VERY CAPITALIZED.

This morning, I found a notepad file on my desktop named "IRC." I don't remember when these happened, but I did at one point start taking down quotes since AlsoCocks is still borked. So, enjoy the things that I can't remember. And that Kacie can't remember.


kacie|drinking when people say xbawks
kacie|drinking I like to imagine them playing on a chicken


*** mid3vol is now known as Dyn_User3007541
*** Dyn_User3007541 is now known as SuffOcat

Suff0cat Oh shit not this again
SuffOcat I LIKE IT IN THE POOPER

coonskin05 ill ban hammer you with my dick Mandi

Gandy|Drinking fine mandi, dont enjoy seeing me in all my man bear glory
mid3vol gandy i am now in love with you and your mass amounts of facial fur

The_Young_Scot DON'T LISTEN TO KACIE
Gandy|Drinking She a crazy ho
The_Young_Scot SHE'S A SPATULA

01:30 Suff0cat: Someone hold me
01:31 Detry: Gimme teh tits
01:31 elysse did it in his butt. in his butt.
01:31 randombullseye holds suff-O-cat.
01:31 Cataract holds suffocat
01:31 Detry fucks tits
01:31 Cataract smells suffocat
01:31 Suff0cat: Hell yeah!
01:31kacie|drinking: how cute
01:31 nindrunkdoll puts suff0cat in a sleeper hold
01:31Cronosblade: lol
01:31 Gandy|Drinking holds Suff0cat......sexually
01:31 mid3vol: ewwww have you ever seen the niptuck episode where his son attempts to give himself a circumcision?!
01:31 Cataract starts going for the reach around

kacie|drinking: I'm not carzy.   read


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