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the Golden Avatar's blog

11:52 AM on 09.04.2009

Shortblog at PAX: DDR

Since bloodylip, in a jealous rage, decided to ban everyone who's at PAX from IRC I have to post this here.

[embed]147545:22152[/embed]   read

10:12 AM on 02.02.2009

10 Things I Care About (but You Might Not)

1. I nearly drowned when I was two
I jumped into the deep end of a pool when no one but my brother, who is only 15 months older than me, was around. Unable to swim I began to sink, but thankfully my brother held me afloat by my hair until my parents could come to my rescue.

2. I was expelled from high school as a sophomore
One of my classmates, an all-around consummate jackass, stabbed himself in the hand with a pencil. As the wound began to bleed profusely a toadie of his suggested that he wipe his hand on my brand new suede jacket. I warned him in no uncertain terms that if he did such a thing I would beat the shit out of him. Once we were outside he smeared his bloody hand down the sleeve of my jacket. Being a man of my word I landed a glancing blow on the side of his head. Not liking the odds, his friend joined in, punching me in the back of head. I dont really remember a whole lot after that, but once the dust had settled they were both lying on the ground, one with a fractured cheekbone and the other a broken nose. Needless to say I was promptly dragged to the principals office.

Now, I wasnt actually expelled, just suspended for two weeks. But considering those two weeks coincided with finals my grades were about to be seriously affected. So, I dropped out of school, took the SAT and went to college a year early.

3. At one point I was #17 on the Warcraft 2 ladder in

4. Payne Stewart used to rent the house next to my childhood home in Augusta, Georgia during the Masters
He was a really nice guy. Every year hed come over and give my brother and I a modest gift or two, usually simple magic tricks, things I keep and cherish to this day. I always rooted for him in every tournament, and when he died in that freak airplane accident I actually cried.

5. I beat Castlevania II every day after school
I guess I never realized how awful that game truly was because the only other game I owned was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I could never get past the third level in that.

6. I had an irrational fear of jellyfish
I was stung by a jellyfish while on vacation at Kiawah Island when I was six. It was extraordinarily painful. A few years later we permanently relocated to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. I loved the beach and the ocean, but whenever I saw a jellyfish in the water I would flip out and make my way to shore as quickly as I could, never reentering the water again that day.

This pattern continued until about two years ago when I was stung on the upper thigh by a jellyfish. I was instantly cured of my fear because it barely hurt at all. Since then I hardly try to avoid jellyfish at all while swimming in the ocean.

7. I batted .864 with a 9-0 record as a pitcher in my last year of high school baseball

8. I was a vegetarian for five months last year
I quit because a) I gained about twelve pounds (carbs are the easiest thing to eat as a vegetarian; everything else takes too much work) and b) I missed chicken too much.

9. I had a 4.0 GPA in college

10. World of Warcraft is the most fun Ive ever had playing a videogame
Yeah. I know. Its not cool to like WOW or any MMO for that matter. But from November 2004 to February 2005 my brother and a good friend of mine leveled from 1-60. We never progressed without the other two present. We never grouped with anyone else. We three-manned every single zone and instance. And the stories we relate whenever we get together (which isnt nearly as often as it used to be) are priceless. I wouldnt trade those times for anything in the world.   read

9:37 AM on 01.14.2009

New Final Fantasy XIII Character Revealed

I don't read a word of Japanese, so I'm not really sure what any of this says, but I found this screen online this morning so I thought I'd share.

All I know is that this has perked my waning interest in Square-Enix's newest Final Fantasy title.   read

9:06 AM on 09.08.2008

Win a Souvenir from PAX Part II: Winner Announced

So, back before PAX I held a simple contest. I got a lot of neat stuff from PAX and have been mulling over what I should give away as a prize. I finally settled on awarding one of the fellows below:

The winner can choose which color he/she wants of the Green, Red and Orange Knights (I gave the Blue to my sister).

Oh, right. The winner. Well, in order to be as fair as possible I wrote a small program that would take the list of commenters, place them in randomly generated order and then randomly remove one name at a time until only one Dtoider was left standing. Embedded is the video of the first and only execution of this program.

EDIT: Apparently Dtoid video expects a 4:3 ratio and doesn't do any math to elegantly adjust it. Therefore, the video is a bit squashed. But you still get the idea.

Thanks for participating. I had a blast at PAX. I'm sorry for those for could not attend. I hope to to see you next year.   read

6:24 PM on 08.28.2008

Win a Souvenir from PAX!

So, I'm heading to PAX late tonight (early tomorrow, really) and am feeling generous. If you look at the attendee list you'd think just about every Dtoider is going. However, if you're one of the miserable few who was unable to make it this year, here's your chance to get something out of it.

If you post here telling me why you're not going this year you'll be entered to win a prize. What prize, you ask? I have no idea, but I'm loaded down with cash and looking to buy a ton of swag. I'll post an update from the convention sometime this weekend with details (and photos!) of what you'll be vying for, hopefully announcing the winner sometime early next week.

And not to worry, this isn't a scam or anything, I'm just really looking forward to the show and would like a spread a bit of the joy where I can.

Good luck!

EDIT 8/29/2008: 8:45 PM EST:

So, I know what I'm going to give the winner, but I'm not going to say quite yet what it is. I'm writing this from the the convention after owning some zombies in Left 4 Dead, and when I get around to taking photos and get back home, I'll post and announce the winner. Don't worry, doesn't matter where in the world you live, if you win, you'll get your prize. And in order to be fair, I wrote a quick computer program that'll randomly select the winner. Only people who have posted in this thread by 9:00 PM EST on Sunday will be eligible. Good luck!   read

9:32 AM on 08.06.2008

Dead Rising: An OCD Nightmare

I've had my 360 for about a year now and just this past week finally got around to renting Dead Rising. After about an hour of playing I took the disc from the tray, stuffed it back in its Gamefly envelope, walked down to the road and shoved it in the mailbox.

It's not that I don't like the game or the concept. What I played was fun and excitingly different from any other game I've ever played. This was until I realized that I had a limited amount of time to complete all the case files and reach the helipad. Now normally this wouldn't be too big of a problem for me. While I don't typically like games that include timers, I can usually deal with them. The problem with Dead Rising is that in order to complete the main "quest," so the speak, you have to neglect many others aspects of the gameplay, such as rescuing all the survivors. This is where I begin to go a little crazy.

I suppose I should tell you that I play games in a very leisurely manner, at least the ones that allow for it, exploring every nook, looking for every hidden item, soaking in the art, music and atmosphere, often, perhaps, to the detriment to the intended pacing of gameplay and storyline. Games where this isn't an option, on-rails shooters for example, don't bother me because this type of gameplay is inherently prohibited in the design. It appears that I have a sort of GOCD (Gaming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), because I'm not OCD in the slightest in real life.

This is why I can't make myself play Dead Rising any further. It was already beginning to stress me out, and I could see that it was only going to get worse. In the back of my mind all I can think is that I'm never going to be able to do everything I want to do before the timer runs out. I don't even know if I'm overreacting, whether the time limit is generous enough to allow for full completion, or whether I must pick and choose what gets done. I think to myself, "What if I try to do everything and end up not completing the case files on time?" It's this little niggling voice that keeps me in a constant state of anxiety, unable to truly enjoy the game.

So overwhelming

So, here's the question: is there anyone else at all that feels this way about Dead Rising or other similar games? Am I unique in this regard? If you do have a similar experience, do you give up like I do, or is there some method that helps you get over your GOCD?   read

7:55 AM on 08.01.2008

An Introduction: My Gaming Background

I’ve been a Destructoid reader for a few years now, but only recently decided to register specifically because I felt the need to comment on a particular article. I wrote a brief blog post on July’s Monthly Musing topic, but I never really got around to introducing myself. I thought I’d do so now by sharing my gaming background.

Games have been a prominent feature in my life for as long as I can remember. I've established a number of unbreakable relationships that began with a common love of gaming. Although I've been frequently criticized for my enjoyment of the medium by relatives and friends alike, I have staunchly defended gaming as a legitimate form of art against all naysayers. I was born a gamer, and I will die a gamer (I know it’s a bit melodramatic, but it’s true nonetheless).

Along with my brother, I received my first console for the Christmas of ’89: the Nintendo Entertainment System, the one that came with the Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt cartridge. My parents also gifted us with Catlevania II: Simon’s Quest and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was swiftly able to beat Mario but have never, even to this day, been able to beat Castlevania II without cheating or TMNT without using the game genie.

The Dam Level in TMNT for the NES. F*** you, Konami

I solely gamed on the NES until I received a SNES for my ninth birthday in October of ’92. It’s still pretty amazing to me to think that a game as brilliant as Super Mario World was bundled with the console. Anyway, some of my favorite games belong to the Super Nintendo.

After playing Golden Eye at a friend’s house (I was floored) I purchased a used N64 from another friend in December of ’97. In all the years since I don’t think I’ve ever been as completely awed as I was when I first played Super Mario 64; flying around the worlds, remorselessly squashing goombas and launching Bowser, all in glorious 3D.


I didn’t care about owning a Playstation until a friend of mine (the same one who sold me the N64) lent me his console and a copy of Final Fantasy VII while he went on vacation in the summer of ’99. I will confess that FFVII was the first Final Fantasy I ever played. The only RPG I’d ever really played on the SNES was Super Mario RPG, a game I still adore to this day. Needless to say, FFVII blew me away. Completely. I’d never played anything like it. And while I can acknowledge its flaws, it’s still one of my all-time favorite games, and is responsible for opening me up completely to the genre.

When I found out that FFVIII was coming out in just a few months after I completed FFVII I had to have a Playstation of my own. So I bought one off eBay. For the next couple of years all I did was play RPGs both old and new.

I bought a PS2 the day it was released, quickly realized there wasn’t anything worth playing and sold it for $600 on eBay. I finally ended up buying one a year later in order to play Final Fantasy X.

I bought a Gamecube when it came out and eventually got around to buying an Xbox which I promptly did not mod.

I bought a Wii last year, an Xbox 360 for BioShock and just recently got a PS3 (because Walmart had this $100 gift card promotional offer). I’ve never been a fanboy, if you can’t tell. Fanboyism seems to be reserved for those who can’t afford to own all the consoles of a given generation.

I guess I've neglected PC gaming in this post even though I've been a PC gamer from day one. Beginning with Castle Adventure (the first game I ever remember playing), a myriad of text-based adventure games and all those Sierra "Quest" games (Space Quest, King's Quest, Police Quest, etc.), on to all the original RTS games, the great RPGs like Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment, all the way to the modern day classics. Some of my fondest gaming memories were born from this ever-evolving platform.

Castle Adventure - Still fun today

I’m a fan of most types of games with a few exceptions. For instance, I’ve never enjoyed games that use violence to no purpose. If I’m going to be slaying hordes of enemies I like to feel that I’m justified in doing so. Games like Grand Theft Auto don’t appeal to me on any level. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Jack Thompson. I don’t believe playing ultraviolent games makes people violent in real life. I guess I just always feel the need to play the good guy. I could never go dark side in Knights of the Old Republic or join the Dark Brotherhood in Oblivion. It’s just not for me.

Anyway, that said, I’m always open to recommendations for games that I haven’t played. New experiences are always welcome.

That'll do for an introduction, I suppose, though it turned into something more akin to a nostalgic trip down memory lane.   read

9:45 AM on 07.03.2008

A Cast of Thousands: Manny Calavera

In a long line of colorful and often outrageous characters that emerged from the creative minds at LucasArts, the dominant developer of quality adventure games last century, one stands out above the rest. His name is Manny Calavera, the protagonist of the unique and heavily stylized Grim Fandango.

The game takes place in a purgatorial world where the inhabitants are stuck in a kind of limbo between death and what lies beyond. Manny is a travel agent of sorts, forced to work off his debt to the “powers that be” by ushering newly deceased individuals on the journey to an unknown, but supposedly better version of the afterlife. The more depraved the life lived, the longer and more difficult the journey.

The adventure kicks off when Manny ends up chasing after a client, Mercedes Colomar, whose saintly life should have granted her an express trip on the exclusive “Number Nine” train, settling Manny's debt in the process. Inexplicably, however, she is required to make the four-year journey on foot.

Manny is the ultimate noir hero, cynical and sarcastic at times, reflective and melancholy at others. His outlook on life is typically bleak even though he tends to rise to top in every situation he finds himself in throughout the four-year span of the game.

"Love is for the living..."

At one point, when asked if he is in love with Mercedes, Manny replies “Love? Love is for the living, Sal. I'm only after her for one reason... she's my ticket out of here.” This is the definitive line of the game, encapsulating Manny’s character perfectly. At first glance his actions up to this point and beyond appear purely mercenary, meticulously self-beneficial, but this really isn't the case. In reality he’s a charitable, selfless character, but a man who has been disenchanted and ground down by his daily interaction with the often utterly degenerate newly departed.

His desire for Mercedes is evident by this stage, a desire he will not allow to burgeon for fear of ultimate rejection and disappointment. His pessimistic resignation speaks volumes to how cynical he has become post-mortem; it makes the story’s eventual resolution all the more satisfying.

"Oh Manny... so cynical... What happened to you, Manny, that caused you to lose your sense of hope, your love of life?" "I died."

There is just something completely pure and authentic about Manny. His actions are a perfect reflection of his (after)life philosophy, making him one of the most believable, and thus empathetic, characters in the medium.

If you like adventure games, or even if you don't, and haven't played Grim Fandango you really should. It is the apex of its genre and one of the best character driven stories you'll find in a video game.   read

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