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About
Chicago based artist, writer, videogame "journalist", and massive overthinker.

join me on the *chirp chirp* here:
@siegarettes

I also run this show:
'clickbliss'
Player Profile
Xbox LIVE:hardpixelrain
PSN ID:iconstyle
Steam ID:siegarettes
Origin ID:hardpixelrain
Raptr ID:hardpixelrain
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The first episode of ARCADE SOUL, where I do my very weak Anthony Burch as the Rev impression and talk about Galaga, Passage, and the mechanics of love. Clocks in under four minutes, even if I spent an entire day doing it.


Check it out if you could, and leave some feedback.


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siegarettes
1:01 AM on 11.17.2012



Below is a preview of my Natural Selection 2 review, the full thing can be found over at PixelJudge.

Additionally, it also marks one of the first hurdles the site has faced. We recently had a colleague leave quite suddenly. There was drama involved of course, but it turns out that he was given a review copy of NS2 as well, to take on the appeal for the review, which he refused to do. This would be the second time that this has occurred. A heated conversation occurred between him and the our editor, and he did the digital equivalent of stomping out of the office yelling. Enough of that, however. On to the review:

Natural Selection 2 is a game about the survival of the fittest. Unlike the scientific principle of its name, it is not a random, circumstantial process, but one decided by two battling deities, influencing and supporting their people from above. A combination of real-time strategy and first-person shooter multiplayer, NS2 is a unique beast. Is it a species that will grow a flourishing community, or is it bound for extinction?

NS2 is a game that I will almost always feel under qualified to speak about. Aside from a passing acquaintance with the first and some time with Nuclear Dawn, I havenít engaged with any similar hybrids of this nature. Mostly because there simply havenít been many. NS2 is also a game undergoing constant evolution. During the beta updates would be released regularly almost twice a week, sometimes more. These ranged from bug fixes to numbers and map adjustments, and constantly tweaked the balance of the game. Itís an adjustment that will go unnoticed by all but the dedicated, but it speaks volumes about the developers and the community that NS2 has built, even before release.

Itís a community thatís been built partly from necessity. NS2 is a game with an almost overwhelming learning curve. Before you even join your first match, it is recommended that you spend an hour or two learning the mechanics of the game from both sides and perspectives by watching the tutorials and using the gameís Explore mode to familiarize yourself with the maps. For those completely fresh to NS2, hereís the crash course: NS2 is an asymmetrical multiplayer title in the format of space marines vs. aliens. Each sideís goal is to attempt to control the map and destroy all of the opposing teamís command stations. Marines are equipped with a variety of long range, rapid firing weapons ranging from the standard assault rifle, to the devastating flamethrower. Aliens, for the most part, lack long range options and are forced to close the distance before they can inflict damage. In order to counterbalance this, aliens will need to hunt in packs, single out lone marines, and use guerilla tactics, appearing and disappearing through vents and performing hit and run attacks. Itís a dynamic that leads to frantic and dramatic encounters, with panicked marines firing in all directions attempting to hit aliens moving with vicious speed across the room. The dynamics and vulnerabilities also force players to cooperate with each other, as lone players are not likely to survive.

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siegarettes
12:53 AM on 11.17.2012



A little preview of my Hotline Miami review. You can find the full thing over at PixelJudge:


There are no clean escapes in Hotline Miami. There is nothing clean at all about Dennotanís vision of Miami, in fact. Even through the typically detached, low resolution, top down perspective, it contains some of the most gruesome depictions of violence Iíve witnessed. Every building you enter you will turn into a House of Sadism. Hotline Miami is filled with exactly the sort of brutality that critics of the medium associate with our ďamoral cultureĒ. In fact, Hotline Miami goes so far to encourage it.

While the perspective and violence of HM may initially conjure up the image of the original GTA series, the actual experience is far from it. HM will have you performing the same surgical assault games like Frozen Synapse and the modern XCOM expect from you. Except that HM is an unlicensed medieval mob doctor. A scenario occurs as follows: you breach the door, knocking over an enemy in the process. From there you pick up their dropped weapon, throw it at the armed guard around the corner, punch out the guy coming at you with the steel pipe, pick up the gun of the fallen enemy, shoot the two armed guards coming around the corner, toss the empty weapon at the guy near the door getting back up, rush to the other downed guy and smash his head repeatedly against the floor, then grab the pipe and smash the last guyís face in with it.

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siegarettes
11:09 PM on 11.12.2012

ďHow far are you going to take me?Ē my girlfriend asks, brushing her blond hair to the side as the wind whips it back. I give no answer, but turn my eyes back to the road, its asphalt arteries flowing to the vanishing point of my vision. Iím not sure where Iím going, or why. An overpowering wanderlust consumed me, and I found myself on the highway, with no consideration to her. The formations of the canyon rise from the horizon, their storied cliff faces a tepid rust colored blur in my the periphery of my vision. Dry heat and sunlight trace the curves of my Enzo as I weave in and out of the slipstreams of the vehicles ahead, pushing the meter past 250 km/h. An Ď89 recording of ďWho Are You?Ē blares out of the stereo, the Enzoís engine humming along.

I spot another Ferrari down the road, an old rival. Catching his slipstream I match his pace and give him a sly wink over my girlfriendís shoulder, then shift down, lean in the Enzo and hear the tires squeal as I cruise sideways through the hairpin curves. We match each other through the turn; I pull up close enough to catch his expression, then give him a smirk and a salute as I right the wheels, shift up and leave him behind. My girlfriend pumps her fist in delight. Itís a hollow gesture, a move that meant more in my early days, back when I was first taking my dadís sunlight yellow Dino 246 GTS for joyrides at the streetraces to earn my own ride and impress the like of Clarissa and Jennifer. Now here I am, girl at my side, driving cross country.

As we approach the next checkpoint I can feel dread creeping upon me, as if a countdown were nearing its final moments. A brisk afternoon chill cuts through, washing away the feeling. The horizon gives way to snow saturated mountain paths. I pull my jacket tight as I overtake the next curve, my girlfriend leaning into my shoulder.

Minutes, or maybe hours later, we begin to approach the outer limits of the space station launch pad, another checkpoint down the bend. As the road straightens out a convoy of trucks emerges just from the edges of my sight. The Enzo chokes as I release the gas and drop the brake, sending the car into a spiralling course between the trucks and right towards the concrete barriers of the highway.

I jerk the wheel away, but not far enough to keep us from colliding with the wall, upheaving the vehicle and torpedoing us through the air. The car lands upright with a sputtering of the engine, the anthemic ďWho Are You?Ē still blaring. ďAre you going to give up?Ē my girlfriend shouts at me as I shift the gears back to first in an attempt to crawl towards the next point. Night has come down on us and the distant ambiance of the city points skyward to a star-filled sky, streaked with meteors. I can feel what Iíve been trying to outrun creep upon me and the Enzo stutters forward.

4... 3... 2...

1...
TIME OVER.







siegarettes
2:54 AM on 10.28.2012


I've recently been doing some writing over at PixelJudge, a startup videogames site dedicated to PC games. We don't currently have a lot of content up, but we've got a staff full of varying tastes and opinions, and an interesting review format as well. It's a bit kickass for sure.

The review format is probably the most unique part of it, where each review is treated as a "trial" broken down into various parts, complete with appeals by other reviewers at the end. There's even a button to get right down to the score and bullet points, 'cause we know how many of you scroll to the bottom immediately anyway.

So yeah, give us some love and check it out maybe?


P.S. judge me all you want for being a self-promoting jerk, it seems like it's what you gotta do to get noticed these days. no room for humbleness and humility on the net, eh?
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siegarettes
1:07 AM on 10.24.2012

Itís all surface level.
With most people itís as far as my connection goes. Ironically, itís even more of problem with many people who self-identify as ďgamersĒ. Oftentimes these are people who easily spend enough time playing games to be considered ďhardcoreĒ as well, which may or not apply to me. Despite our common interests, often I find that they donít share the same passion.

Videogames are undoubtedly a defining force in my life and personality, to the point where my Facebook page lists Videogames as my religion (In the name of Miyamoto, Mario, and the Holy Triforce, Amen). Iím joking of course, but it reveals an underlying fundamental truth about me.

I am an arcade soul. I am a scholar. Videogames exist for me on an emotional and intellectual plane that goes beyond being a hobby. I hunger for knowledge of the medium. For me, the measure of a good game is not how much ďfunĒ Iím having, or how quickly it helps me pass the time, but within the quality and density of the experience on a micro and macro level. This can be driven by the atmosphere, tone, themes, but most of all by the relationship of those factors to the underlying mechanics.

As an example, while a majority of players will find a game like Skyrim to be one of the highest marks of the medium, I find Galaga to be a superior experience. Bethesda have created a magnificent world that is easy to get lost in, an achievement that shouldnít be discounted. However, it all feels illusionary. Those chaps over at Action Button Dot Net do a bit better job of explaining it, but overall when you break Skyrim down to its fundamental parts you find mechanics that feel fundamentally unsupportive to the immersive vision that it attempts to bring. While the experience of getting lost in Skyrim can be beautiful, the act of playing the game itself is unsatisfying. Quests breakdown to tasks of travel, delivery, and killing a handful of enemies. The combat itself lacks meaningful moment to moment choices, and while it definitely requires a certain threshold of skill, more often the stats behind those actions are going to decide the outcome of the battle. You donít progress through Skyrim by getting better at it, but by simply spending time playing it.

On the flipside we have Galaga. Galaga is a game of the early age of arcades, an experience nearly stripped bare. There are only two verbs in Galaga: move and shoot. You can only move at a limited speed, and you can only have two bullets onscreen at once. While it is complicated by the ship capture mechanic, every action remains significant. Your ship moves too slow to dodge entirely on reflex, likewise with your bullets. Galaga requires an understanding of the mechanics to progress. The deeper the understanding, the further the progress.

At the height of my skill I was able to take on waves of enemies that I had never encountered. I was a step ahead, the pattern and mechanics of the game making their way into my mind and motions. I was one with the machine.
The increasing mastery over the mechanics is what continued to draw me back into the low resolution world of Galaga. Itís the reason I continue to be drawn into the world of SHMUPs and fighting games, despite not having expertise in either. This Arcade Soul those games share ensures that these games are a condensed emotional experience, short and intense. The build up, climax, and resolution are contained within only one play session. Unfortunately, it is the reason why my attention has become so fickle with many other games. In my search for new and intense experiences, games quickly lose my attention when Iíve felt that Iíve experienced the core of what they bring. Unless a game can hook me deeply mechanically, or through a combination of the themes and mechanics, it will simply not hold my attention.

Maybe it seems shallow that I write of so many of what may be incredible experiences, had I only stuck around. Iíd argue against that. For me pleasure from a deep understanding and analysis of the medium. Games that donít offer enough either thematically or mechanically, donít have anything to explore. They may be a good bit of fun, but they simply donít seem important.