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10:19 AM on 02.27.2010

Awesome Crap: BioShock 2 Syringe Pen



I would like to share two of my interests with you: I like to surf the web of Inter and I like awesome, useless, and overpriced crap. Adding a third interest, writing, and I would like to share the awesome, useless, and overpriced crap I find on the web of Inter.

I am a big fan of Rapture. After playing BioShock, I was hooked. The story was sweet, the game was creepy enough to give me a chill but still let me sleep at night, and I love shooters. After catching a rather big wave, I decided to ride out the Take Two Interactive Google search and see where it got me: The Take-Two Interactive store. There was, you know, the usual games and guides and stuff like that. But then I saw it: a Sinclair Solutions Syringe Pen.

Seeing as gamers also tend to be rather large collectors (I recently read Funktastic's Expertise on Collecting blog and I know quite a few swag-hungry gamers in my workplace as well), I figured I share this pretty nifty find. It's a bit pricey, but what useless crap isn't?

Along with this sweet pen, the Take-Two Interactive store has some nifty special offers - mostly posters, though. There's an artbook for you artists out there, and also a pretty cool PS3 skin. Though, the syringe pen is definitely the most awesome crap on there.   read


9:19 AM on 02.23.2010

Anti-Piracy, Anti-Used, Anti-Consumer?

CNBC just posted an article entitled "Game Publishers Fight Back Against Used Games." Used game retailers and game developers and publishers have been bickering about who gets what in a used game transaction, but the measures some of these companies are taking to ensure more new game sales are starting to get ridiculous and overly taxing on the consumer.

Ubisoft's new DRM for PC games is ridiculous. PC game piracy is, unfortunately, very rampant in the industry. However, forcing every PC gamer that wants to play a Ubisoft game to have and maintain an internet connection is a bad mistake on Ubisoft's part. Yes - probably 9 out of 10 people who own a PC and want to play games will also have an online connection. However, that one person who doesn't have internet is now out of luck. What about those people who are in between homes and have not yet set up their internet? Or, what if there's a problem with a consumer's ISP and they aren't connected? LAN parties are now also screwed, unless of course every PC at the LAN party is connected (which doesn't always happen).

Anyone who was an avid Half-Life player back in the day will remember the WON system. They will also remember the frustrating switch to Steam and how Steam was not functional for almost a week because it got overloaded (not entirely unlike what happened to Xbox LIVE last Christmas season). One of the large criticisms of Steam when it first came out was that it lacked an Offline Mode. Ubisoft needs to re-read this little chapter in video game history and understand that tying the functionality of a game to an online service will not be a sustainable way to combat piracy. Well, it will fight piracy for sure, but it will also do more to push away consumers who would love to fork over cash for games... you know, until they find out that unless they have an established internet connection, that game is really just a fancy paperweight.

Sony has their own plan. The PSP Go, the all digital handheld, is a good concept idea, but they should've waited for the PSP 2 as re-releasing this 4th iteration of the PSP cut out all of the current PSP owners by not offering them a way to turn their hard media into the digital media the PSP Go uses. That was the first mistake.

Sony also has implemented a way to lock out features of games that you will need to pay extra for if you purchase the game used. For instance, the new SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 3 on the PSP, will require online activation to use all of the features. Now, if you buy this game brand new, the activation is free. If you buy the game used, you have to spend another $20 to activate the on-line play feature, among others.

The only system I have seen that I agree with is EA's system. When purchasing a new copy of, say, Mass Effect 2, Dante's Inferno, or DA: Origins, you get a code that gets you DLC for free. Obviously, buying the game used will force consumers to pay extra for those DLC packs. This lets people who don't have the money to buy games used and still get to play and experience the game, but also gives people who have the money to buy it new and get some free stuff.

I understand the game publishers and developers looking to make more money, but they are going to great lengths to make a few extra bucks, and it's not going to work because it's going to punish the consumers in the end. However, I did some research on EA's earnings and they are still making quite a lot of money.

By doing some quick research on EA's earnings, I found that EA's gross profit from 2006 was roughly $1.93 million. In 2009 (we still have another month - their fiscal year ends March 31, 2010), their gross profit is $1.86 million - and they have yet to release Battlefield Bad Company 2. I see a pretty stable company, to be honest. I am no financial genius, but from what I see, in the past 4 years, they have done a pretty swell job developing and publishing popular games that grossed them a solid amount of cash.

Now, as publishers/developers keep bickering about not getting a cut of the used game sales by certain retailers, they are spending money and time in developing ways to make buying new games more lucrative. EA's system, like I described earlier, is one that I agree with. However, other companies are taking extreme measures for a problem that really doesn't seem to be that big of an impact. Used game retailers do very well in promoting the industry, after all, as gamers can use their old games to help buy themselves a new game.

Game publishers and developers will be digging their own grave if they keep pushing the issue. Without specialty retailers for video games, the industry will take a big hit. One of the reasons why the game industry hasn't suffered as much as other industries in this financial crisis is because consumers can use their old product as payment for new products. Cut that out and you are going to lose a lot of business. Making DRMs like Ubisoft will push willing consumers away. Making games a hassle to play will cut interest in the newer games.

I suggest holding onto your current consoles and maybe investing in a few retro systems, because if the current trend keeps on going, requiring stable internet connection for every game, then you're going to be longing for those game consoles where you can just plug it in, pop the cartridge in, and game.

Sincerely, I hope the game industry starts to think more about their consumer than their bottom line, because pushing this issue as they are now will only push the paying customers away, and even though the bottom line will look bigger at first, it will not be sustainable.   read


7:37 PM on 01.12.2010

The Future: HP Bar Half Full

The future of the gaming industry looks bloody bleak. Stores have become so fed up with shovelware thanks to Nintendo's adamant marketing to the casual gamer that they are refusing to stock these garbage titles. The age of digital distribution for gaming is approaching, doing away with the physical ownership of one's games. Waving your arms around like a silly monkey to control games has become the industry trend, the mad dash to finish line to see who can make it work the best. And, videogames are the international scapegoat for all things evil. What's up with that, videogames?

I am most disappointed in Nintendo. Formerly a hardcore gamer powerhouse, Nintendo has become associated with flash minigames. Why spend $199 on a console to play games I can enjoy for free via my web browser? Oh, I can wave my arms around? Oh, neat! That's not to say that the Wii doesn't have its games... the New Super Mario Bros., Smash Bros., Mario Kart, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (but wasn't that also on the GameCube??), Super Mario Galaxy, Wario Land, Mario Party 8... well, these games are all Nintendo games! The third party support for good games on the Wii is severely lacking which is not surprising due to the Wii's lack of technological innovation compared to its competitors.

To the core gamer, the future of Nintendo seems bleak. The recently announced Legend of Zelda is a glimmer of hope, although the fact that the Wii's graphics are comparable to the GameCube is rather sad. But, graphics aren't everything! I know that, but in this day and age, outdated graphics are no excuse. Technology moves quick, so please try to keep up! With the beautiful graphics of the PS3 at 1080p, having your maximum resolution at 480p is laughable.

Nintendo's hard marketing to the casual crowd has also opened the flood gates for developers to dump any and all ideas for games into the reality bin. Calvin Tucker's redneck games? Carnival games? Barnyard games? Are you kidding? It's garbage, full of garbage that will end up in the mystery dump along with the E.T. cartridges.

Sony also let loose their digital distribution machine. The PSPgo was unleashed to...a few sales here and there. However, the move by Sony signaled the newest venture that will undoubtedly take over: digital distribution. The medium has already consumed the music market and it is only a matter of time until it swallows the movie and game market as well. When high speed internet becomes the norm regardless of location, this move will make things easier. However, there are still a large number of people who are stuck in 1992 with their dial up modems and slow DSL. There's just not enough bandwidth to go around for games and movies of gigantic size to be downloaded. Mark my words, though, once this happens, kiss videogame stores goodbye.

Digital distribution is especially upsetting because I, personally, cannot for the life of me justify spending money on virtual property. Electronics can be wonky and you can easily lose that $60 game if your five year old cousin Larry likes to play with magnets. Sure, you can just download the game again, but if your internet is lacking, who wants to wait a day to download a 10gb game? I just want to play it! I tried rending a HD movie from the PSN. Yea, it was cheap. Yea, it took me 12 hours to download it. I wanted to watch it now, though.

There is also the issue of stores. All digital distribution will mean that videogame stores will cease to exist. As much as we all hate GameStop, it's still nice to be able to trade in unwanted games to help pay for new ones (am I really going to play Madden NFL 2010 once Madden NFL 2011 comes out?) and it is also nice to walk into such a store to find a used game cheap that you may want to play, but not dish out a lot of cash for a brand new copy. I picked up a used copy of Madden NFL 2009 for like $10 a few months ago. I'm not a big fan of football, but I like to occasionally throw the pigskin around, so this was a nice way to satisfy that urge. With all digital distribution, finding old treasures or cheap fixes will also cease to exist. Let's hope for frequent amazing Steam sales?

Nintendo, being the powerhouse gaming company it is, has also created a mad flux about motion controls. Project Natal and the Sony Wand are in the works to bring this wacky control scheme opportunity to the PS3 and Xbox 360 and I can't say I am excited. I am loathing this move. Will this open the flood gates for more shovelware? Will we see Willy Wonka's Candyland Minigames on the Xbox 360 in the future? Having one console drowning in a slew of shoddy games is enough, must we enable the filth to spread? The motion control madness is like a mad pestilence on the gaming industry. The only hope is that both Sony and Microsoft have acknowledge that these controls will not replace the normal controller.

Of course, video games are also the root of all evil. Germany and Australia are easy targets to show how ridiculous people are behaving in the wake of the videogame culture expanding. Even porn stars are dogging on videogames.

The future of the videogame industry is bleak. It's diminishing. Once the fad of the Wii has completely faded out and the other big dogs see that motion controls are a cheap gimmick, hopefully the industry will return to normal, quality games will be made, and the gaming companies will continue to churn out worthwhile experiences rather than barf worthy titles that you can physically buy.

P.S. I apologize for the lack of pictures.   read


3:28 PM on 01.05.2010

Man to Machine: I DO.



Ever fallen in love with a character from a book, movie, or game that you wanted to spend your life with? Well, this guy Sal (or Sal 9000 as he calls himself on the e-world) has definitely been crushing on his Nintendo DS. Though Sal 9000 is not the turd shown above, he does say that he has definitely has taken his girlfriend on vacation to resort beaches, so the depiction of a socially deprived young man above is not far from the truth.

Sal 9000 is rolling in the hay with his virtual girlfriend Nene in the (Japanese, of course) dating sim game "Love, Plus."

Since the point of this game is to enjoy your relationship (how?), the game never ends. Sal 9000 is ecstatic. What will Nene do as a widow, though, I wonder?

For a giggle read the full story here.   read


9:07 AM on 09.09.2009

Mini Ninjas: Pint Sized Heroes, Gallons of Fun

So, you've undoubtely heard this game's name somewhere in the past couple weeks and you've probably noticed its lower than normal-for-next-gen price point at $49.99. That low price point is usually a red flag when speaking about the quality of a game, but, there are always exceptions to the rule. Let me introduce you to one of these exceptions...



My initial draw to this game was the cute characters and that, like the traditional Sonic the Hedgehog, the enemies were actually captured and transformed animals that returned to their natural state upon administering some damage. The cute lil' foxies and bunnies! Awhhhh. Yea. I got suckered in by that. The story is actually pretty neat, however. An evil samurai lord has taken control of castles in this ninja world and is capturing helpless animals to turn them into mindless samurai evildoers, thus offsetting the balance of nature. All the ninjas that have been sent to investigate have vanished, and you are the last ninja left. So, your ninja master sets you out to restore the balance and find out what happened to your ninja compadres.

So, I started playing it expecting a shallow kid's game of just hack'n'slashin away at evil samurais. The beginning tutorial dragged on for a bit longer than I wanted it to, with a bit of some "run up here to talk to this guy," then "go here and find this guy," and then "go back to this dude," but I am glad I champed through it. The game revealed itself to be for a much bigger audience than children.

The action plays just like God of War. What? Did I read that right? Yes, you did. God of War. If you love God of War and need a game to hold you over until the double remastered pack comes out in November, or even waiting for God of War III in March, pick this game up now! The action is just like God of War and the boss fights utilize the same gameplay mechanic, so it is a treat to play, even though the graphics leave a bit to be desired. It looks like a well-made PS2 title and the environments are rather bland - textures are often just two or three different shades of a color.

Mini Ninjas utilizes magic spells - dubbed Kuji Magic in the game - to help you complete various objectives, but mostly just to save the precious forest animals or to take control of them using "Spirit Form." (And yes, Kuji is a real thing - read about it here if you are curious. And yes, I googled it because I was curious!) An old ninja master hid various scrolls that contained more spells throughout the world, so as you play you will run across Kuji Shrines where you can unlock new spells. You are given a "Detect Kuji Shrine" spell to help you locate these and casting this spell will summon three, for a lack of a better description, bird spirits who will fly to the nearest shrine, if there is one. Also, to activate the shrines, you have to donate an Anemone flower which you can always find hidden near the Kuji Shrines.

When you take control of an animal - whether it's a boar, bear, rabbit, fox - your life meter goes to one heart so you can die rather easily. However, as an animal, the enemies will not detect you and you will be able to "sense" collectibles in the surrounding area, which makes it easier to find and 100% the level. Each level tracks how many Kuji Shrines there are, coins, Jizo Statues, caged animals you free, and plants you find, and by becoming an animal, each item in the world will start emitting smoke so you can spot them easily.

You can use the coins you find to buy weapons and recipes from temples that are scattered along your path. Weapons range from smoke bombs to caltrops that stop advancing enemies. The flowers you pick up as you go can be used to make healing potions, Ki potions (Ki is the energy your magic uses), and various other goodies - but you need to unlock the recipes for them before you can use them.

You will find your missing ninja friends on your journey and these ninja followers are usable by you. In essence, it works as if just equipping a different weapon. Only one ninja can be selected at a time (and only Hiro, the main ninja, can use Kuji Magic) and each ninja has a different weapon and a different special attack and it is possible to change out ninjas in the middle of a fight. They share each other's health, however, so if you have Futo selected and you get killed, you will restart the level or from your last checkpoint.

To add more depth to the game, as you go along killing evil samurais, you will gain experience points and eventually level up, adding more health bars, more Ki energy, speed, etc.

There is definitely more to this game than you'd expect looking at the cover - and it will definitely give core gamers such as yourselves an enjoyable run through. I would not mind seeing a Mini Ninjas 2 in the future where they hired actual artists and gave the game a much needed graphical overhaul, but as far as gameplay goes, this game gets everything right.   read


8:31 PM on 08.05.2009

I suck at games: An anecdote on learning curves being awesome

About 6 or so years ago while playing an incredibly boring game of WarHammer 40k with my brother and his friend, I was told about a game called Day of Defeat. My brother's friend showed us the game - the very first FPS I had seen since I played Doom 2 when I was only 7. I was amazed at how awesome and fun this game appeared to be and I told myself that I must have it. But, I had to get Half-Life first. Day of Defeat was a mod for this real, actual game I learned. So, after politely asking my parental unit for a ride to Babbage's (How I miss this store!), I picked up a copy of Half-Life and promptly said "screw you, download Day of Defeat!" And I did just that.

After the game was installed and I was sitting in my dining room on my laptop and my brother was across the table from me also playing, we decided to hit up a server together and see what fun awaited. Or not.

I kind of had an idea of what to do. There were flags scattered about the map that you had to capture by either running through them or sitting with a teammate like ducks in a pond, waiting a few seconds for the flag to turn your own color. And using weapons? Grenades? Aiming? I was slow to react, had no idea where enemies came from, how to differentiate from teammate and enemy. It was a mess, but I was having fun because this was something completely new to me and I had a buddy to experience this with. Had I been alone in this experience, it may not have turned out as well.

I went to bed, woke up the next day and proceeded to endure a 12-hour long Day of Defeat marathon. I played nonstop - save for eating and peeing - throughout the day, hopping from server to server. Slowly but surely I began to recognize a few maps and such. By the end of the day, at least I looked like I knew what I was doing. Improvement! Alas, the famed kill-death ratio that everyone in multiplayer FPS games brag about was just not happening for me. I was dying way more than I was killing and this would not change for a long time.

As my brother and his friends and I got to playing more and more, we made a clan. We got our very own ghetto-rigged server (thanks to me, of course!) and we started getting buddy-buddy with other clans we'd meet. This was only the beginning. We started to have scrimmages with these other clans. After my first scrimmage I was hooked. I rooted out the competitive community of this game - I don't remember how - but faster than I could blink I was knee deep in this competitive shit and I was sucking hard. Our clan joined a league. Our first match was a complete domination and not on our part. The rival team's leader told us "you guys are clearly not ready for competition."

These words kind of stung - we seemed to fare well playing on our server, kicking ass and taking names no problem. But now, we joined a league, and we didn't even know our ass from our dicks. So, determined, I managed to get my clan to practice and practice. I damn near turned my clan from a group of happy go lucky weekend gamers into hardcore fucktards who would sign on for hours every night just to go over maps, strategies, exercises. It got ridiculous, but, as I learned, in this upper echelon level of play, this is what players did. After a few weeks of this hardcore playing, my entire clan said "fuck this, I just want to have fun!" and quit. It appeared this level of play was not for everyone - there was a clear line between playing and competing and I learned that the hard way - at the expense of real and virtual relationships.

I soldiered on, however, and found my home amongst gamers who were veterans at competing and, due to my addictive nature, spent 8+ hours a night playing Day of Defeat with this team. It was no longer a clan, it was a team. This was a whole new world and boy, did I learn a lot. On the unusual times I would hop on a public server and play with the normal day to day players, it was like stealing candy from a baby. Playing in the competitive environment of these hardcore kids forced you to know so much about the game that you literally could pwn inexperienced players with your eyes closed.

And, it was an awkward feeling that just a year ago, that awful awful player that was just getting WRECKED... well that was me. And I didn't understand why I was getting wrecked back then, and now, I didn't understand why I was able to wreck other players. I didn't feel any different - just felt more comfortable. Playing the game, moving around with WASD, flicking my mouse around - it was like second nature. I moved around the maps like I had millions of times before. I knew all the camping spots, how to bounce grenades perfectly, how to time the other team moving from their spawn at the beginning of a match. It was a piece of cake.

This also happened in college. My roommate and I became fascinated with WarCraft 3. We both picked up the battle chest and played online. We sucked. We played versus each other in hopes to practice, but I always lost and he always won, and there was no progressing playing the same opponent over and over. I didn't have the patience. I played my roomate mostly just for fun, something to do. But he, he was insistent. He wanted to go on Battle.net and wreck faces. He began downloading replays, whipping out a notebook and taking notes. Build orders, etc, was all being written down. How to micromanage. What units were good vs. other units? What to do if your opponent does this. I got lucky - I did none of the legwork. My roomate did that all for me. He even took notes on what I did wrong by watching replays of me getting destroyed. Then we met this other kid, an old school StarCraft player who definitely knew how to micro, but did not know the WarCraft universe at all. We decided to hop on the 3v3 ladder. Within a week, we were top 25. It was an amazing feeling to have accomplished that - after playing the game for 6 months.

But, I had to look at how we got there. We played the game some 6 hours a day. At the cafeteria we talked strategies. We tried strategies out. We regrouped, watched replays, read forum posts on strategies, etc., and we just immersed ourselves in this universe. Nothing else mattered (except school... and getting drunk).

But what of it? I have, since first competing in Day of Defeat, participated in numerous competitive environments for videogames: Day of Defeat, Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat: Source, Counter-Strike: Source, WarCraft 3: TFT, Company of Heroes, and DotA. Each game came with an incredible learning curve to play at the level demanded to actually enjoy competing - but this should not change.

The "Barrier of Difficulty," the almighty learning curve, is definitely justified. The fact that some people will just be plain god-awful at certain types of games is definitely a reasonable fact and a reasonable reason (lol) that these barriers of difficulty should just chill and have a beer. Every game you play will have different levels of opponents, and these opponents will have different reasons and intentions in playing the game.

Steep learning curves all depend on your opponent in the case of multiplayer games. If you suck at playing an FPS in single player mode and you are on the easiest difficulty setting - my best guess is that you suck at the game because you don't play that genre very often and that is the reason you suck hard dick. Playing video games requires trained motor skills along with knowing the game and if you don't exercise those skills, you won't do well. And, sucking at a game will discourage you partaking in that game, which in turn will make you play less of that genre of game.

These "barriers of difficulty" should not be viewed as flaws to a game - but just part of the game. It's like playing soccer - should the fact that you are bad at soccer be a reason for soccer officials to ease up on the rules to make it more accessible? No, people are amazing at soccer because they practice it. They immerse themselves in it. The same goes for video games. The difficulty - especially in multiplayer online games - definitely makes the game superbly interesting. Mostly because watching someone who knows the ins and outs of a certain game play is one of the greatest things ever. It's like watching Tony Hawk in real life pulling off wicked tricks (I know he did the 900 forever ago, but back then that was like holy crap!)

This same goes for videogames - people who are in love with a game so much and chose to immerse themselves in them deserve being as good as they are. Making games accessible so random newbs can still win while playing veterans is just dumb and discourages players from investing time in the game.

My $.02   read


4:29 PM on 07.17.2009

BioShock 2 Release Date Battle Begins!



The announcement of BioShock 2's delay has definitely pissed me off. It was one of the games that I was dying to get my hands on this holiday. After a recent visit to my local GameStop, I saw this preorder list in a big binder. Pictured above, I discreetly took a picture with my super sweet cell phone that has GameStop listing BioShock 2's release date as January 4th, 2010. So, it is missing the holidays by one and a half weeks. Kind of sucks, but, also made me kind of happy.

Happy, that is, if this date is indeed correct. At least it is not too far away from the holiday season. Just thought I'd share my find in case you guys hadn't already seen or heard about it.

However...I decided to put my unique, one of a kind, web research talents to use. Amazon.com, which is selling it for $3 off if you preorder it (apparently), has a published January 31st release date on their website. I took a picture for your pleasure.



I scampered over to Best Buy's website to see what they believed to be this highly anticipated game's release. They were a little behind, however, and still published a November 3rd, 2009 release date. C'mon guys, get with the program LOL M I RITE?? Here's a picture of their fail:



So, what's it going to be? I'd like to go with GameStop's prediction because it's the earliest! I wonder what makes retailers publish whatever the fuck release date they feel like? Is it wishy-washy-ness from the publisher or what?

This is exactly what I hate about the preorder business. All these retailers want to make money now, so they'll throw up release dates for whatever date they want. I mean, God of War III has been preoderable (from GameStop at least) for a long time, and the release date just keeps getting pushed back.

Just also want to make it noted: All pictures were captured today, July 17th, 2009. Seems a little early to be loosing your hair over a game that won't come out in 6 months lol?

Anyway, I am excited to see who wins the battle. Pretty sure Best Buy already lost. Keep the practice, guys!   read


10:41 AM on 07.16.2009

Marcus Fenix Apparently Has a Diary



Okay, well, not really. But, in case you did not know, there is a wonderful lady who has taken it upon herself to write books in the Gears of War universe! I stumbled across the first book (pictured on the left) while I was looking for Discworld novels at Borders that I had not yet read (which is a tough feat... I've read pretty much all of them). Having played Gears of War and Gears of War 2 and loving the crap out of both experiences, I had to buy this book. I finished this book four days later because it was [/i]that[/i] good. It was like my Harry Potter experience all over again. A book that just couldn't be put down! And, it offered a pretty awesome insight to the main characters.

If you like to read or if you like the Gears of War universe, pick this shit up! The best part is... there's a second book coming! From author Karen Traviss, the second book will only retail at $15 according to the press release on the official Gears of War website and will be available on July 28th.

The first book is a prequel to the first game, although the very beginning didn't seem to match up. It must have been a prequel to Gears of War 2 because in the book, Fenix has already been broken out of jail and his association with Hoffman is edgy because of what happened. The second book will pick up where Gears of War 2 left off as Fenix and his buddies escort survivors from Jacinto to a safe haven.

I am anxiously awaiting the announcement of Gears of War 3. It has to be coming!   read


8:23 PM on 07.12.2009

Remove GameStop stickers LoL

So, I always hear people bitch about GameStop's stickers on their used games and the shit residue they leave when they unsuccessfully try to peel the buggers off. So, I decided to create a little how-to video to show these kids how to remove these stickers because, to be honest, I am so sick and tired of reading and hearing about how GameStop sucks ass because they put tons of stickers all over their shit. I am mostly sick and tired about the bashing because plenty other retailers do it too.. Play N Trade, for example, uses stickers the size of a pornstar's dick on their games.

So, without further ado, here is the video how-to.

[embed]139547:20571[/embed]

There you have it. Now you know how to remove stickers without using chemicals like Goo Gone and if you are too lazy to do this and still complain, you should be dressed in a cheddar suit and thrown in a pit of rabid rats.   read


2:29 PM on 07.08.2009

Power in My Hands, part II

Power in My Hands, part 2 is the continuation of an inFAMOUS fan-fiction short story, viewing an event in Empire city through the eyes of an EMT who viewed himself as morally sound... and still does... for now. Power in My Hands, part I can be viewed here: http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/zgerhard/power-in-my-hands-136161.phtml


In dire circumstances, boys become men. We do things we told ourselves we never would. Then, our dire circumstance arrives and we headstrong individuals stick to our guns. We stick to our guns because the circumstance is not quite dire - only the closest we have come so far. My threshold broke last night.

I dumped the Reaper's body in the river. I had no limitations. Everyone saw. Nobody cared. I just hope I have made a bigger impact to these peoples' lives. This thug won't even be remembered by his own mother.

The AK-47 that Mr. Light Socket gave me hung over my shoulder. I decided it was a necessity to survive and vowed I would not let the power overcome me. The power, the control of whether a person lives or dies was nothing to take lightly. My patients weren't disturbed by the weapon's presence; I still felt uncomfortable wielding it though.

With my feet dangling off the edge of my gas station's roof, I watched all the citizens buzzing about, wandering with no purpose, like college students, except there was no party down the block.

I pulled out my bottle of water. Clean, drinkable water was almost impossible to find now. I stocked up on as much as I could, taking from the river before the people inevitably soiled it. Now I am no better, though, polluting the river with the scrumptious corpse of a thug. In dire circumstances, you become someone you didn't plan to be. I took a big swig of the luke-warm water. It was refreshing nonetheless. I screwed the cap on, but some how managed to catapult it out of my hands to the ground below. Fuck.

I hung from the roof, letting my legs dangle before dropping. I made it a point not to roll, not sure how my new friend AK-47 would feel about that. Instead, I bounced awkwardly forward and slid an uncomfortable bit on my palms.

"Sweet!" I heard a grizzly voice behind me. An old man, a... passerby, for lack of a better word, grabbed my bottle. I got to my feet as fast as I could.

"That's mine," I said as sternly as possible. I was not very intimidating, however, even as I glared coldly into the old man's blue eyes.

"I found it," the old man replied. "There are no rules anymore."

Attired with my AK-47 apparently did not make me an intimidating image either. With one swift upper torso jolt, I swung the rifle from my back into my hands. The man turned and ran as fast as his run-down body would let him. Empire City had gone so far down the shitter, these crazies would put their life on the life for a drink of water. We really were in the animal kingdom now. He could have just asked, I thought. I would've given him a sip. Instead, I raised my rifle and took careful aim as best as I knew how and rested my finger on the trigger.

One heartbeat later, I lowered my vehicle of judgment. What the hell was I doing? I was an EMT. A medic playing doctor. I wanted to help these people. That was my goal and here I am, ready to pull the trigger and plow a common scavenger to death with bullets. He's just trying to get by like everyone else. Fuck.

"You're a fucking pussy," a witness yelled over. "I would've wasted the fucker," he added and laughed. Questionable people walked the streets night and day, and I was not surprised. Most people in this city would not even hesitate before pulling the trigger. Survival of the fittest was the primary law now. Down on the streets was a questionable place to be for a long period of time. Unless, of course, you wanted to mingle with these questionable people. My rooftop clinic was safe - for the most part. Most peoples' bad ideas vaporized when they spotted the sick and wounded patients resting. The Reapers were the only bastards so far heartless enough to attack it. Still, I carried my new found toy just in case circumstances changed. Anything was possible now. For instance, I can lay waste to this prick calling me a pussy. o, now was not a dire circumstance. Now was a time to show my true character. I help those in need. I let my guard down and walked away from the street punk. I watched him walk away from my rooftop. I wonder if he will live to see tomorrow? No one ever knew.

I had scavenged a pad lock and key from a now defunct hardware store. Most people hit the grocery stores first. I used the lock to secure a box - a box I filled with bottles of water for myself and my patients. I had it all rationed out, but this recent theft had me digging in earlier than I wanted. Taking this water felt wrong. It was for my patients primarily. IT was like tapping into your kid's college fund for that much needed vacation. Still, if I didn't make it, none of these poor bastards would either. Tapping into their... our water supply early was a necessary evil. Damn, I feel important.

I crawled on an empty cot and listened to my patients' coughing and labored breathing. In time, they'd make it okay. I knew that for now. I hugged my AK-47 like a teddy bear. You know, just in case.

It took a while to get used to sleeping outside - especially among my own patients. It would be a while more until I got used to sleeping with a tool of destruction. Didn't even know how many bullets I had left. But, if whoever I pointed it at didn't know either, did it really matter?

Barely fallen asleep, I heard a person climbing up on my roof. It had happened before, but in light of recent events, I got a little nervous and clutched my rifle, pretending to be fully asleep. I listened intently to my intruder's movements - breathing quickly and moving just so. The person made his way over to me faster than I anticipated and clutched my shoulder. To my surprise, that's all he clutched and he shook me while urgently whispering "doctor!"

"Yes?" I asked, fully opening my eyes. I recognized him as a previous patient. A scavenger had broken a few of his fingers and knocked him out cold while stealing a loaf of bread from him. I invited him to come see me any time he needed help. Almost regret that invitation now.

"A man, a man needs help!" He raised his volume and pointed with his crooked fingers. "Just two blocks down!"

I shushed him. "There are sick people here."

"Sorry," he urgently whispered. "Please, come!" It wasn't unusual for people ot request my help late at night - but every time I wanted to tell them they got the wrong guy. Kind of hard to fake being one of the only doctor-capable persons in a five block radius. But, after a few moments of being awake and seeing our desperate surroundings, I got a second wind for I remembered why I did what I did.

I rolled out of my cot, awkwardly managing the AK-47 at my side. "Lead the way," I said.

"Name's Simon," he whispered before taking off. I guess I should've remembered, but keeping a distance from my patients was a priority. I had enough to deal with; I didn't need to make friends with dying men.

The streets were just as dead at night as they were during the day. Garbage littered the streets and the citizens of Empire City were littered among it. It was all right, though, because everyone ignored you. It wasn't like before the blast when every homeless person begged you for anything and wouldn't shut up until you gave them something, anything. No one really had anything to give anymore.

I jogged behind Simon, dodging and hurdling small piles of trash. I could hear the wailing of a man in the distance.

As I got closer, I saw the figure, the wounded man. He was lying on his back clutching his abdomen. Many stabbing victims came across my path and all for the same reason: someone wanted something that didn't belong to them and they wanted it real bad. Problems arose when the other party involved refused to give up the object of interested, most commonly food or water. I was almost in such a situation.

I mentally prepared myself as I hurried down the last block. I saw the man grabbing his gut and assumed an abdominal stab wound. Stop the bleeding - I had old t-shirts neatly ripped into squares. Clean, for the most part. Cleaner than anything I could get a hold of now. Back in the day, that was enough - stop the bleeding and let the surgeon at the hospital worry about removing the weapon and closing the reopened wound. But, hospitals didn't exist here anymore. Had to seal the wound as soon as possible and hope for the best. Some made it, some were unlucky - a disruption in the bowls was especially lethal without the proper resources.

I quickly knelt down by the man upon arriving by his side and immediately recognized him. Thief. Without my water bottle - most likely what put him in this situation. Ironic. At least my AK-47 would have been a quick death. If I could aim.

For the first time in my entire career, I did not want to help. I stared at the old man. A broken bottle protruded from his stomach and he was in a puddle of his own blood. He might make it, but my will to interfere in any way had been sucked out of me.

"My bottle of water was stolen twice, wasn't it?" I sternly asked, my consideration for his life thrown out the window. It was a big bottle of water, and there was no way an old man could walk down the street for a long time without anyone attempting to claim it for their own. Unless he hid it, which, by the looks of it, he did not do. His eyes opened wide and his wails for help diminished. He looked terrified for he recognized me and recognized his mistake; to have stolen from the one man who could help you. You watch your neighbor's back and they watch yours. That was a ground rule of society. As soon as you made the decision to only be out for yourself, we became a part of the animal kingdom. But, like before, I again remembered why I did what I did. Someone had to keep the civility.

I reached for my old t-shirt bandages in my messenger bag and my hand bumped into my rifle. I revisited last night. I remembered how shocked I was to suddenly have this power over human life in the palm of my hands. As I pulled the broken bottle out of the man's abdomen and padded his wound, I pondered the choice I had just made.

Control over whether or not someone lives or dies was no longer new to me. Turns out, I've had such power in my hands for a long time.   read


5:49 AM on 06.21.2009

Censor This! FU

I hate Jack Thompson. I hate Cooper Lawrence. I hate dolts who think violent video games skewer kids' perception of reality. That's your job, Mom and Dad. And my favorite part is that everyone and their mothers gets up in arms about violent video games and the images on the video game cover boxes.

Why is it then that I see this upon going to CNN.com to get news? A place I have been getting news since I was a freshman in high school nine years ago.

I saw this heartwarming image...



Kind of reminiscent of the Left 4 Dead cover, isn't it?

Why isn't CNN being attacked for this audacious display of violence just as much as video games are being bashed? At least I have the choice not to purchase a game if I think it looks violent. Going to CNN.com for news... well, I didn't really have a choice. It was just BAM! The bloodied hand of a dying protester in Iran. Awesome.

One of the reasons I am repulsed by this image is because I know this is real. It is similar to when those gunmen attacked in India and the pictures of bloodied train stations were posted on this same news website. My parents did a good job of making me understand the difference between fake and real. I am a pacifist in all regards, I hate guns and weapons and I oppose warfare and all that good junk. However, I love killing bitches in Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, BioShock, Mass Effect, Grand Theft Auto, and such violent "killing machine trainer" video games. You know, because pushing X to reload is incredibly similar to reloading an actual AK-47.

I am just incredibly peeved that parents can relinquish their responsibilities, blame video games, especially when images like this are posted on easily accessible news websites that kids most likely regularly visit for research and info for classes.

Now, I am not that upset at the picture - I could care less - I am not that uptight. It's just the conflict of interest in the censorship. I hate it.

/rant   read


4:52 PM on 06.18.2009

Swedes poke Blizzard about StarCraft 2!

So, two Swedes (the only Swedes who have a game show in that over thar country) managed to poke designers of StarCraft 2 with some interesting questions at DreamHack.

As I was listening to this interview (mostly because I am fortunate enough to be fluent in Swedish:P) I was again reminded why I love every game this company develops. It has something to do with the "we won't release the game until its ready" but more... it has to do with their passion to put together an experience to tell a story. The designers reminded the crowd again and again how the multiplayer part of the game was separate from the campaign and that the campaign had almost zero relation to multiplayer: playing the campaign would not prepare you for Battle.net and the campaign even allowed for features and such that would never make its way into multiplayer because they were so intent on creating an experience that could tell a story. And, folks, that's one of the reasons yours truly likes to play videogame: the story.

The heroes that were introduced in WarCraft 3 were an awesome addition to the RTS series. I am saddened, however, to know that they will not introduce this same hero system into StarCraft 2. They actually intentionally avoided it and, according to the interview, did it so to better allow battles of a grand scale and allow multiple battles to take place in a more balanced setting. The designers mentioned that when the hero was involved in a battle in WarCraft 3, the focus was always on the battle with the hero, and the hero pretty much decided the win. They wanted large battles in StarCraft 2 and they wanted multiple battles to take place. With a hero system, this would not happen as the focus would always shift to the battle(s) involved with the hero. I think.

One of the Swede interviewers mentioned that they were disappointed by WarCraft 3's soundtrack because it sounded too synth-like and lacked a melody. Good news on the front: the designers confirmed that StarCraft 2 will have full orchestra recordings for an epic soundtrack. This is pretty sweet. I smell GameStop pre-order bonus!

Blizzard is releasing each race's campaign as a separate game. When this was first announced, people all over were calling shenanigans that Blizzard just wanted to make as much money as possible a la Lords of the Rings trilogy. However, these lead designers explained that when they were initially creating the missions to tell Jim Raynor's story, the missions and the story grew, and it grew so large that there was no way they could pack it all in one game. Now, the multiplayer will be ready to rock upon the first chapter's release for all those hungry for Battle.net, but whether or not changes will be implemented into the multiplayer with each successive chapter is not yet known. The designers claim that they will have to assess the community's response to the first game before they can make any decisions. Good answer!

The beta is "not even quarters" away the designers say, and they added that their goal is to have the game release this year. I am crossing my fingers. This game has been on the to-do list for way too long. Eleven years to be exact.

The full video interview can be seen here: http://www.press2play.tv/Spel/vrldsexklusiv-starcraft-2inter-802.aspx

Yes, there are subtitles!

So, definitely saving up for a new Alienware laptop so that I can play this and Diablo III. Excitement commence!   read


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