Device Connected - Episode 8 (18/03/2012)

Welp, it’s been a week! A nice, relaxing week off from school and almost every other responsibility. A week of rest.

I left on Friday night to my dad’s, where I stayed for the weekend. I live in the heart of a busy suburb, with my apartment directly next to the busiest highway in the area. I take public transport to get everywhere, I go to school in downtown Montreal, and my entourage generally consists of condos and shopping malls. My dad works in the same downtown area (a 20-minute walk from my school, which is pretty cool) but lives a 45-minute commute away, in the Laurentian country. Surrounded by mountains, forests, dirt trails and half-paved roads, I felt like it was the perfect place for me to take some time off. It certainly helps that I don’t get to see my dad as often as I’d like, too.

The perfect day.

And so, I went over and had a great time. Accompanied him for the few errands he had to run, which ended up in buying a bunch of bread for me to make french toast with, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. On Sunday, we went hiking out on a local trail, with the weather being perfect. The weather was warm, the sky was completely clear of clouds, and there was absolutely no wind.

I got back on Monday, and it’s since been a mixture of relaxing, drawing, playing games, hanging out with friends, catching up on TV shows, (Finished LOST and Metalocalypse!) and cleaning up. I also did some fun arts and crafts non-sense, like make a display of my favorite albums.

It wasn’t exactly the most productive of breaks, but I took the time I needed to chill out from the regular routine. I feel a lot better, even if I didn’t exactly accomplish much.

Though I played the usual SSX and Modern Warfare 3, I started a new Mass Effect save earlier this week because I lost my original saves when moving to a new 360. It’s been an interesting experience, to say the least. A lot of what Mass Effect great is still there, but there is also a lot that has not particularly held up well.

The inventory is still total garbage, the loading screens between individual sectors on the Galaxy Map is a drag, the shooting is acceptable at best, and there really needs to be an actual running speed when holding down A. But even still, the game remains great. The story is still my favorite, the characters are still great, and the game still has a sense of style that I sorely missed in 2. The B-movie, 80’s sci-fi look and feel to everything... I felt like it really defined what Mass Effect looked like, and that Bioware departed from that saddens me. Maybe it will come back some time in the future. One can hope, really.

This weekend was also the start of the 2012 Formula One season. I haven’t kept up with the sport for the last... two years or so, so I got really excited when I became able to watch it again.

The qualifying session on Saturday was surprisingly entertaining, with some really surprising results coming from it. Ferrari placing so far back was my biggest surprise. I mean, I know they haven’t been doing that great as of late, but that bad? Really rough. Vettel not being in the top three was also surprising, though I can’t say I was disappointed with Hamilton and Button taking the top spots. I was disappointed with Kimi Raikkonen placing so far back, though. For a return to F1, I was sad to see him not reach the potential he had with the Lotus car.

Perez, in the surprisingly strong Sauber, played a terrific game of defense against other drivers.

Even more entertaining was the race on Sunday. As a Button fan, I got all giddy when he blasted into the lead straight out of the first corner. Even more impressive was his ability to not only stay there for the majority of the race, (eventually winning it! :D) but that he managed to create an 11 second lead between him and Hamilton in second. The battles between Hamilton and Vettel were also a ton of fun to watch, though I was bummed that Grosjean and Schumacher got taken out of the race so early. Rosberg did a pretty good job with his laps, but I felt like there would of been a lot more action at the front and middle of the top-10 pack if Grosjean and Schumacher would of been there. Even still, there were a lot of great moments, like Perez being terrific on defense, and Kobayashi showing confidence and aggressiveness in his overtaking. The weather was beautiful, the track was in great condition, and there were a lot of really good moments in the race--like the hilarious radio conversation between Raikkonen and his crew about the blue flag. That had me giggling for a while. Good stuff.

It was a really great start to the season, and shows promise that this year might not be a Vettel/RedBull runaway like it was last year. Mercedes has an extremely competent car, McLaren has two world champions driving their brilliant car, and Lotus is also showing a good amount of promise. It’ll be interesting for sure, and I can’t wait to watch the Malasyian race next weekend.

Also, I guess the F1 part of the blog will return next week. And every subsequent week. I want somewhere to talk about it. Maybe I should spin this off into its own thing? I don’t know. I guess I’ll keep it here for now.

__________

And that’s it! See you next week. :]

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Device Connected - Episode 7 (11/04/2012)

Hey guys, actual update this time!

I’m really sorry for the lack of anything worthwhile from this blog in... what is it, three weeks now? School finally caught up with its mountainous load of homework, forcing me to stay entrenched in the darkened nest that is my room. Between that, midterms, and dealing with personal matters, I haven’t exactly had the time to spend writing and doing things I’d otherwise like to be doing.

But, reading week is finally upon me, and with it comes the pleasant joy of writing another entry in what continues to be a wonderful place for me to vent my nonsense. Fortunately, I actually have a bunch of crap to talk about this week.

I’ll start off with what I have the least to talk about, which is Modern Warfare 3. The first two maps came out on PS3 not too long ago, and the limited time I’ve had with them has... well, I haven’t played on them since. Right now, the only people interested in playing those maps are the super-elite, who spend all of their multiplayer experience min-maxing every possible loadout and playing like assholes. As someone who wants to enjoy my time with the game, I’ve decided to chill on that. I’ll wait ‘till the other two maps release as a single pack for the common folk, and go back to them once the masses have padded out matchmaking. As it stands right now, the Elite matchmaking is full of people I have absolutely no interest in playing against.

You'll, unfortunately, be sharing a whole lot of care packages. But whatever, let them have that shitty Remote Sentry.
Blast Shield is REQUIRED. Grenades fly everywhere, and you'll be quick to realize it's impossible to survive without the perk.

As a replacement to that, my friend and I have started playing a whole bunch of Drop Zone, one of the custom playlist options added around Christmas. We had tried out the mode when we started playing to see what it was like, only to find out that it was a grenade-spam fest. It was complete chaos, every team we joined would be behind the enemy team by 4000+ points, and it gave us no interest in playing it ever again. As of late, however, the mode seems to have changed. I’m up to level 57 on 4th prestige, and every single level has been spent playing Drop Zone. I can’t explain why but it’s suddenly become playable, and it’s been an incredibly fun experience. The constant fight to hold a territory that randomly moves across the map is tons of fun, and losing gives you the great benefit of giving you an INSANE amount of helicopters, UAVs, and CUAVs to take down. Couple that with Blind Eye Pro, and you have an entire match of my friend and I just shooting stuff out of the sky. Otherwise, it’s an entire match of my friend and I fighting to see who an capture that AC-130, Reaper, or Osprey first.

If you’re getting bored of the standard TDM/Domination fare, give the mode a shot. Equip Blast Shield (you won’t survive without it) and you’ll see-- it’s a great break from the traditional experience. The only downside is that it seems to bring out the worst in players. I tend to go with my usual loadouts-- silenced MP5 with Sleight of Hand/silenced ACR with Blind Eye-- and when I get a little ahead in points, everyone pulls out the Strikers with Range, or RSASS/AS50s to quick-scope with. It’s... I don’t know. It’s not like they’re any harder to kill, but it bothers me that it continues to be a problem like it was in Modern Warfare 2. You’d think Infinity Ward would of, you know, realised how busted both those weapons are... Whatever the case, it’s hardly enough to detract from how fun Drop Zone is. Try it!

This is what I really want to talk about, though. Which, really, is hilarious, because I have no idea where to start. SSX gets so many things right, I can’t even begin to list all the things that it’s gotten me to fall in love with. It’s the perfect sequel to a franchise I have loved since the very first iteration, and is also a mechanically brilliant re-invention of a genre of a time gone by. The core elements that made SSX an insane amount of fun are still here. The unrealistic physics, the characters, the ludicrous tricks, and the great track design. It’s all still here; made with modern controls and modern features to make it impossible to put down.

As you’d hope with a true SSX game, the physics follow the wonderful series tradition of insanity. Your average speed will always hover around 120 kilometers per hour, (74 miles per hour, for you Imperial sillies) and jumps will generally be around four or five times as high as whatever building you work at. The course design brilliantly caters to this, emphasizing the various hazards and environmental features of the mountain ranges featured in the game. There is something to be said for having a course work equally well (with some exceptions) in Race It and Trick It events. The courses still have an insane amount of shortcuts, hidden paths, alternate paths, and trick-centric paths, only instead of having three mountains-worth, you have... 29? Yeah, I think 29 is the right number. If not, it’s around there, which is still totally insane.

Oh, and the tricks are still insane, the characters still spout wonderful nonsense and the game is very pretty.

FFFFFF--Africa

Cool, now let’s talk about online, because this is what makes SSX. Taking a cue from its racing bretheren, SSX has an Autolog-esque feature called RiderNet; a feature that assumes the role of an expanded leaderboard. Players on your friend list will become rivals, who can then set scores and times as challenges for you to beat. Beating them will earn you in-game credits, as will surpassing the scores of other friends on your leaderboard. If a rival tries to take down your score, and can’t, you earn credits for every retry he’s put in. Much like it was in NFS: Hot Pursuit, (and that other abortion of a Need for Speed game, I suppose) this grows to become incredibly addictive whilst also being incredibly infuriating. Mind you, it is in probably the best way possible, as it drives you to be a better player if you’re the competitive type, but with it comes those few times where you just can’t shave those few seconds off no matter how hard you try and... well, then controllers fly, I suppose.

Don't expect to ever place in the Diamond brackets. Unless you are a bad person. Then have fun!

The Global Events are an equal stroke of genius. Taking the place of standard head-to-head multiplayer, global events take place on every drop in the game, where each drop will be a single event held for a pre-determined amount of time. Certain events will have an entry fee, and that fee totals into a larger prize pool. (Certain events are also free, where the pool is also predetermined) Competing in the event will place you in one of five brackets dependant on your score, and the higher bracket you place in, the larger the percentage of the prize pool you obtain. Certain events will also have pre-determined conditions, such as a Survival event in New Zealand banning you from using Pulse Goggles. (i.e.: FOG EVERYWHERRRRRRE) As you’re competing, the game will race some ghosts against you from various tiers, as well as insert any real-time players on the track. It gives you the great sense of playing against others, while still having the ghost to race down the track. It’s the combination of everything great about the game into an online event, and it gets you money. There’s nothing to not like about it. I seriously love it. Just like I seriously love the game.

Oh, god, and I haven’t even talked about how it remixes your music on the fly. Like, holy shit. I don’t want to delve into stuff about my music, but you should try it out with some breakbeat and drum and bass. Those two genres were made for SSX and its remix feature.

Lastly, there’s been art. As I am typing this, I realized that I stupidly planned this section without thinking that I am actually at my dad’s right now, away from all of my schoolwork and stuff. I’ll talk about what I can, but this will be a lot shorter than I had planned...

So while I don’t have any school work to share, I do have this personal piece that I am working on. It takes up two pages in my sketchbook, which add up to a combined size of 17x22 inches. It’s... pretty big. I started doodling out some stuff, made the character, and thought it would be kind of neat if I crammed the whole thing full of stuff with as much detail as possible. So I started dicking around with circular shapes and, 15 or-so-hours later, I am at this point. It’s about nearly done, with probably an hour or two more of work to put in.

There’s also been these stupid drawings I’ve done of myself and others, mostly because I’ve found a good amount of stress relief in drawing really silly shit. I’ve never really let loose with any of my art, so it’s a really nice change of pace and heart. I like silly. I love silly. I love being silly and drawing silly.

That... just about covers it, I think. I can’t think of anything more I’d have to talk about. I look forward to a week of doing nothing other than eating, sleeping, and playing games, so you can expect a whole bunch more of that nonsense when I get back next Sunday.

Until then, thanks for reading. And... I don’t know, don’t get yourself killed or something. :’D

__________

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Device Connected - Episode 6 (04/03/2012)

Hey, an actual update this week!

... Well, not really. I'm still steep in midterms, unfortunately. BUT! It all ends this week. Friday marks the start of a well-deserved reading week. :D As such, I'll actually be able to write!

But in the mean time, you get a small update. I've been playing a crap-ton of SSX, and I can't wait to talk more about it. I'll elaborate on it waaaaaaay more next week, but what you can expect is that I like it very, very, very much. Also, some stuff on the two new Modern Warfare 3 maps and how... tepid I am, I guess, to the whole thing. I'll also talk about what's been taking up so much of time. Ugh, school. This semester's being a real bastard.

But as it is now, I need to get back to this dumb homework. Stupid paint. I feel like a jerk for constantly delaying this blog, but... well, yeah. I didn't see all this work coming. Sorry. :<

As usual, here's another wonderful Birgirpall BF3 video to pass the time.

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Device Connected - Episode God Dammit (26/02/2012)

I actually wanted to have a post today. Honest. I spent all weekend in homework (and still am in so), and every time I told myself I'd save up a little spot to write stuff.

Then, out of nowhere, it's 30 minutes past the time I normally post, and I haven't written shit.

So again, I am sorry. This week is midterms, and it's made the past few days infinitely more of a rush then they should have been. I swear to you, there will be something up next week. I promise. <3

In the meantime, here is more Battlefield 3 nonsense.

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Device Connected - Episode 5 (12/02/2012)

Hey, I actually have a gaming-related topic this week! Holy crap!

Though first, I’d like to touch-upon something else quick. The Flashbulb’s new album came out this week, and you should all give it a listen. Benn Jordan is one of the most astounding musicians I’ve ever heard, and his newest album, Opus at the End of Everything, makes him even more deserving of that praise. I don’t know how to continue talking about it without sounding like an ass, so just give it a listen here. Now, on to the real topic.

I’ve pretty much played little-to-no games over the past month and a half asides from boatloads of Modern Warfare 3, essentially because I’ve had trouble finding motivation in my depression to play anything else. I suppose there’s some kind of catharsis to be found in gunning down wave after wave of player-controlled fodder. If anything, though, it’s made me realize how little of a step forward MW3 took, especially when compared to Black Ops, and what is really missing from Call of Duty to make it exciting again.

bang bang bang bang bang

For starters, there are the improvements Infinity Ward has made which, while few, are worth noting. There’s the weapon proficiencies which are a decent way of slightly changing a gun’s playstyle, even if everyone uses Kick or Attachments anyway. The new point streak system is also a great addition, with Support being a terrific compliment to snipers and Specialist being the optimal way to play a SMG class. The new Tactical (Portable Radar) and Lethal (Bouncing Betties) equipments are also pretty great.

The only downside to these improvements is that they apparently came at a cost, that cost being the near-complete ignorance of the additions that Treyarch brought to the table in Black Ops. Heavily customizable gun loadouts? Gone. Emblem/playercard creation? Gone. Wager match game types? Gone from matchmaking. (until now?) Varied, well-thought out maps? Gone. Better in-game scoreboard? Gone. And the worst part? All of that is gone because Infinity Ward is apparently run by children. People who can’t accept that another team is iterating on their franchise. While I understand the sentiment of having another team working on something you’ve been the sole developer of for years, there should still be some humility and respect to be found when that secondary team actually makes meaningful, fun changes to your game. Black Ops really gave me the impression that the team working on that game’s multiplayer really gave a shit about it, and did so because they were huge fans of the multiplayer themselves. That IW goes and rips out all of Black Ops’ improvements gives me the exact opposite impression of them.

Despite being entirely cosmetic, I miss being able to etch my clan tag into my gun, or display my emblem on it. I miss creating my own emblem, too. The Callsign titles and emblems are fun to see and unlock, but everyone still shares all of them. It was really cool to see all the really dumb shit that people came up with on Black Ops, even if half of them were weed leaves.

GREEEEEEEEEEEEEY

I also felt like the maps in Black Ops were much better. There was more variety in the environments and the actual layouts were better, even if the spawns didn’t always hold up so well at times. The omission of a Nuketown-esque map in MW3 is a god damned shame, and that every map is varying shades of brown and grey is even more annoying. There is also a laziness to their layout that irks me in certain maps, with Downturn being the biggest offender I can think of. Downturn is a terrible map, with no real flow to combat and its open spaces being nothing more than a 20ft area cluttered with blown-up cars. There are no areas that direct players into combat, there are no shortcuts to anywhere (only hallways that take twice as long to take) and there’s a complete underground system of tunnels that are never used because they lead to the least crowded areas of the map.

So colorful!

Fortunately, players seemed to have come to the same conclusion, as I have no played a match in Downturn for... well, weeks. On the other hand, the other maps remain. While they aren’t bad, they’re just bland in a way that makes it really unexciting to play on. I’m brining up Nuketown again, because it’s such a brilliant map. It was compact, it had one area for major combat (the street/lawn) and two minor areas for run around skirmishes. (houses and back of the street) Best of all, though, is that it was colorful. It was bright and sunny, and the objects that composed the map were all as bright and colorful as the sky. The 50’s-like design to everything was a refreshing change of scenery, and was a complete guilty pleasure when the Nuketown 24/7 playlists came on. You knew the spawns would be broken and you knew playing Domination on it would lead to so many grenade deaths, but you played it anyways because it was so frantic and fast-paced. You never had time to take a breath because shit was always going on, and it was always a ton of fun to look at.

This is the biggest thing I’d change in Call of Duty. See, not too long ago my friend and I were talking about how great Doom used to be. The pure, unhinged fun of a shooter that made no god-damned sense and you didn’t want it to, because why the fuck do you need it to when all you really want to do is to shoot stuff. The game has terrific level design, great enemies and weapons that were a ton of fun to use because it didn’t restrain itself. The same applied to subsequent games like Quake and Unreal, yet all of this went away thanks to the sense of realism and storytelling that developers began to think was where the genre needed to go. While I can’t criticize this decision, (Since I do enjoy some of those experiences) it’s something that needs to be loosened up a little. This is especially so in Call of Duty’s case, where it does not hold itself to realism very well and has proven this with every iteration of the franchise since COD 2.

Everything could use more pentagrams, really.

So my suggestion? Let the developers go nuts. Make a map that’s set on a cruise ship, a moving train, a series of high-class apartment rooftops, an underwater facility, a not-abandonned amusement park... the moon, even? There are creative teams on these games having their actual creativity be stifled, and I really do feel like opening this door to them a little would bring great, fun things. As an artist, I can assure you that once you have carte blanche to let loose a little, the possibilities are so much greater and so much more engaging.

The same applies to the game modes. Gun Game and other Wager Match types are gone from matchmaking, with some of them being sent to private match types instead. I probably spent half of my Black Ops play time in Wager Matches. They were so unbelievably fun, which is where the series always stands best--when it’s ridiculous. Removing them from matchmaking was a horrible idea, because there needs to be a way for players to let loose a little. After all the serious gaming, it’s great for there to be a place to just relax a little and play something with less serious rule sets. I know I am not the only one who thinks this, because Infected is currently one of the most played match types on MW3. The last-man standing mode was exclusive to Private Matches since launch, but was integrated into the Community Playlists last week to great success. Lobbies are constantly full, and most players joining and general parties of 2-3+ players just talking and hanging out. The relaxed, social and fun experience is back. I haven’t heard anyone get angry or cuss at players in the match type, because it’s so insane that there’s no reason to. It’s just smiles all around. I can only hope that they’ll add Gun Game to the rotation.

Oh my god, I can see text if I look at my walls. I need to wrap this up before all I see is text.

The point I’m trying to get across is that maybe, just maybe, games like Call of Duty shouldn’t take themselves so seriously. There’s a time and a place for it, like the single player, but the multiplayer’s variety and fun shouldn’t be crippled because of it. If the whole development team just had a little wiggle room for their ideas to come out, I bet we’d see a game that would be drastically more fun to watch and play.

Also, Infinity Ward should quit being babies and bring back my god damned created emblems. The gaming industry iterates constantly, so quit being sore losers and actually add in the improvements you failed to come up with yourselves. Maybe it’ll give you some ground to work on and further improve them instead of taking them out altogether.

___

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Device Connected - Episode 4 (05/02/2012)

I’m afraid I don’t have all that much to delve in this week. Most of it has been me dealing with the shitty parts of life catching up to me, combined with some work and frustration on the side. As is with the last few episodes, I’ll get the life stuff out of the way first: I've started therapy this week. I had my first hour-long session, and while I didn't leave feeling better about my situation, I do have a lot of answers I didn’t have before and that alone is worth it. I’ve misguided a lot of hate towards myself and, while I am still not entirely comfortable with the things I have done in the past two years, feel more comfortable with myself knowing why I did them. There’s still a lot more to go through, though, with the end goal being to get myself in a spot where I don’t fall into depression every half-hour.

So, what else is there in life? Well, for starters, there’s music. I’ve been listening to Gemini almost non-stop this week, with the Graduation EP probably being my single most-favorite EP ever. I’ve squeezed so many plays out of the four-track album. I’ve also been catching up on podcasts a fair amount, with about two weeks-worth of This is Only a Test and My Brother, My Brother and Me sitting in my iTunes un-listened to. That’s since been fixed, thankfully. Gosh darn if those McElroy brothers aren’t the funniest men alive. Feed Me’s new EP is also out, and I am listening to it as I type this. Thoughts on it next week, but it seems pretty alright on my first listen.

I also started catching up on LOST this week. I started watching the series mid-summer last year and stop watching at the end of season 4. The people I borrowed the DVDs from didn’t have seasons 5 and 6. :( I decided to finish the show now, considering that if I don’t get on it, someone in class will spoil it by randomly bringing up the ending. It’s nearly happened a few times already, best not to risk it. I’m about mid-way through season 5 now, and the show is going off the rails so heavily... It’s captivating like crazy, but I’d be lying if I said I was completely satisfied with the direction it’s taking.

In other media-related news, I finally got around to seeing The Artist. I missed just about all of the major releases near the end of last year, and I especially hated myself for not seeing The Artist, considering how much I adore Michael Hazanavicus’ and Jean Dujardin’s previous movies. I did watch it, though, and my only regret is not seeing it sooner so that I could of spammed my Twitter feed earlier about how wonderful it is. The movie is so unbelievably charming and the character performances are so great. They all express so well and there’s never a moment where you feel out of the loop for missing out on any of the non-existant dialogue. The cinematography, the soundtrack, and the presentation are all so perfectly done, too. It really does feel like some love-letter to the cinema of old, and it’s something I recommend everyone give a shot. It might not be entirely your cup of tea like it is mine, but it’s worth the chance that it might.

On the flip-side of that is Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, of which I also watched this week. It is also something I recommend you watch, only on condition that you love Tim and Eric and hate "actual" comedy. I am not entirely sure how to describe the movie to anyone who doesn't already know what brand of insanity Tim and Eric deliver. All I can really say is that if this clip doesn't do it for you, then this movie sure as hell won't. As for myself, I loved the cameos, I loved the stupid plot, I loved the stupid things that happen because of the stupid plot and I loved the stupid, stupid ending. My god, that movie was stupid awesome.

As for games, I’m afraid I've done almost none of it this week. Other than play Modern Warfare 3 with my friend, (in which we both did miserably this week, for some reason) I haven’t done any gaming whatsoever. .. wait, no, that’s a lie. I bought Dustforce, but the system requirements completely lied. It barely runs on my laptop that should be far more powerful than the minimum requirements, even at the lowest settings. A true bummer, because the laggy ten minutes I got to play of it seemed super-awesome.

Last on the docket is art, of which I made a bunch of. I finished this piece, which I started last year, and made these (1) two (2) drawings for a school project. We needed to design creatures inspired from the Greek mythology Cerberus monster. The first one is the one the teacher picked, though I personally adore the second one far more. I’ve started to make more for fun, but the stuff I had to do for school needed to take precedent. Fucking renderings...

Oh! And my phone now runs ICS. It’s awesome! Unfortunately, though, my old music player (PlayerPro) seems incompatible with ICS. I’ve re-installed PowerAMP, but I suppose the hunt is on for a proper replacement. Maybe I’ll make a guide for Android players on Tested like I did for Twitter apps...

And with that, see y’all next week. I’ll try and actually play games this time, so I have something interesting to talk about for once. ;D

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Device Connected - Episode 3 (29/01/2012)

Date's wrong... miscalculated. I made this at 2AM last night. :(

Another week, another episode of my dumb-ass blog. I continue to ramble off-topic this week, mostly because what I have to talk about regarding games and life generally isn’t interesting. But hey, why not go through with that anyway?

Last week was my first official week of school, and it is pretty much what I expected it to be. I dropped Phys. Ed, because I sure-as-shit am not getting up that early in the morning (see: 5h45AM) to do “Active Living”, especially when I finish that day at 7PM. Every other class seems pretty fun, though. I have a creature design class that I am excited about, and my English and French classes both seems pretty mellow. We actually watched part of an episode of Lost last English class, which really put a smile on my face.

As for the other stuff... well, I have therapy scheduled this week. Professional help is kind of what I need at this point. I am continuing to have nightmares and my depression isn’t really getting any better. I have been fortunate enough to have my friend come over pretty often, where we play Modern Warfare 3 a whole bunch and troll 15-year olds online. Hearing them cry and call us hackers makes me smile like nothing else. I just still am having the hardest time finding any motivation to do anything. I try to keep busy, and end up stopping moments later because I just have no drive to do whatever I am doing. It’s crippling, and I need it to stop.

What it looks like... on the inside!

But whatever, that’s going to be dealt with in due time. What really is important here is music. I’ve recently “obtained” access to What.cd, and with it came an opportunity to expand my music collection a little. There are a bunch of artists I had been meaning to check out, and that’s what I did for the entire week. I got a bunch of new music for the trip to and from school, and while I had my problems with some of them, I also found what is probably my favorite album of... well, my favorite album in a long time, really.

The first thing I downloaded was 80kidz, a group I found through Last.fm due to their “similarity” to Capsule and Shinichi Osawa. Their debut album, This Is My Shit, is pretty great. Their style is pretty much Capsule with more guitars and drums, something I can 100% get behind. “Go Mynci” and “Flying Buttress” have got to be two of the most energetic songs I’ve listened to in a while. The only issue I have with the album is that it starts off on an incredibly high note and doesn’t entirely follow through with it. The rest of the album is alright, but is no where near as good as the start. Their second album, Weekend Warrior, is much better paced, although there are no breakout tracks like there are on the first album.

Similar to 80kidz is Shinichi Osawa, only... older. Older sounding, I mean. I’ve fallen in love with the sound of Japanese Electro, and Shinchi Osawa is completely responsible for it. The One, his debut album, is an absolute blast to listen to. “Star Guitar”, “Electro 411” and “Push” are my personal favorites, but going through every track one at a time is a real treat. He’s got a really different sound, and I had a ton of fun listening to it every time I did.

I also decided to check out The Flashbulb, something I probably should of done ages ago. Friends of mine have been keeping up with his music for years, and I’m almost angry with myself that I didn’t check out his stuff any earlier. Reunion was the first album I listened to. I started playing it on the bus/metro ride to school. When I got onto the metro, I closed my eyes and just listened... and almost missed my stop. I zoned out just listening, something I don’t think has ever happened. I also listened to Arboreum the other night while drawing, and I just got into it again. Flashbulb’s mix of breakcore, nu jazz and electronic is, and I swear I hate to say this, enchanting. It inspires creativity when I am being creative, and I love it.

I also want to touch on Flashworx real quick. I haven’t listened to them as much as I have other artists this week, but if you like instrumental 80’s music, you owe it to yourself to check out their album, Two Guys in Japan. “One More Night in Tokyo” and “Odaiba Chase” are great tracks with a really awesome 80’s feel.

But now I want to talk about Grum, which is honestly all I want to talk about. I’ll set the bar as high as I can now by saying this: Heartbeats is one of my all-time favorite albums. There isn’t a single track I dislike, and I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed an album through-and-through like I have with Heartbeats. From the relaxed start of “Through the Night” to the future-80s sound of “Cybernetic”, Heartbeats is fucking incredible to listen to. I seriously haven’t heard Dance music this good in ages. If you’re looking for a point of reference, Grum is very similar to Bag Raiders, only I’ve found Grum’s music to be much more energetic and synthy. Tracks like “Turn It Up” and “Fashion” have so much groove to them that it’s like an internal struggle not to dance every time I listen to them. And, of course, there’s the titular song “Heartbeats”, which I am sure you are all acquainted to it by virtue of it being the best track on the Saints Row: The Third soundtrack. “Heartbeats” embodies everything I love about Grum. It’s not just an amazing track, but it’s perfectly placed in the album. Despite being the peak, it somehow doesn’t make the rest of the album feel any worse. If anything, I found myself enjoying the final tracks a lot more only because I was so excited from “Heartbeats”. It’s seriously a tremendous album, and you owe it to yourself to check it out of if you like electronic dance music.

That’s... about it. I could go on more, but I fear going on and on about shit I probably shouldn’t be speaking of. I’m no music-blog writer. I just listen to music and enjoy it, and thought I’d share. You probably just want the YouTube links, anyway. :P

Whatever the case, that’s that for this week. Oh! And I drew this. You should check it out. ;D See y’all next week!

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Device Connected - Episode 2 (22/01/2012)

I told you I’d keep this going!

Sorry, I’ve changed the weekly schedule of this blog series to Sunday nights. I’m usually busy on Friday nights and Saturdays, sometimes. This will work better if I have a weekend to write about whatever crossed my mind over the past week.

Along with new glasses, I gained telekinetic abilities.

This week was the start of my winter semester, which has done wonders towards my sleeping schedule. Waking up at 6h30 AM tomorrow will be a wonderful event, I’m sure. Fortunately, my sister lives quite close to school, so I can just crash there if need be. On the bright side, it’s nice to see my classmates again. Winter break felt excruciatingly long and... lonely. It’s good to be around people again. I also have a new pair of glasses to start said semester! My program classes seem to be standard fare, and I’m rather excited for English. The teacher seems really nice, and the entire semester will be about reading and analyzing short stories from around the world. Globetrottin’ that shit.

Just having something to get up and do is the biggest help, though. I’m still coming off hard from my break-up earlier this month... It’s been three weeks and it... it still hurts. A lot. I’m having a hard time accepting that something better will come along, because I am pretty sure my happiness was at a peak in that relationship. Something might come along that will mean more to me, but there’s the chance that it won’t. And that scares the living shit out of me. Whatever the case, that is something I am seeking professional help for and will refrain from spewing on and on about it here. I have more interesting things to talk about, like my Friday that was totally awesome.

Oh, Mitsubishi...

My dad, my sister and I went to the Montreal Auto Show on Friday afternoon, as we do every year. It’s a family tradition-kind of thing. It seems to get smaller and smaller every year, probably because the auto industry is doing kind of poorly. Doesn’t seem like spending a metric of money of floor space is in their best interest when most companies are struggling to make a profit at the end of the year. Even still, there was a lot to see and a lot to laugh at. For one, Mitsubishi’s lineup was frighteningly shit. I still want to punch all their board of directors for getting rid of every great car model they had/have. I hate the eco-friendly future, and to sacrifice cars like the Eclipse, Lancer and Galant to make way for said future makes me want to drive less fuel-efficient cars, or anything. Taking the fun out of driving is the wrong way to get on my good side.

Glorious. Just glorious.

Fortunately, one of the first cars on display was the ever-incredible Bugatti Veyron. It’s a whole different thing when you’re standing next to one, I tell you. That car’s tires are unbelievably massive. Everything about it is massive. Standing next to it made me feel like a kid again. That time where you have posters on your walls of supercars and they all look crazy and over-engineered. That goes away when you grow older, favoring economical cars or something with elegant design. But it all comes back to you when you see it in person. It’s awe-inspiring. I could of stood there and just looked at that car the whole show.

Japan's greatest automotive achievement since the VTEC engine.

But I didn’t. Instead, we kept going and came across a few other noteworthy cars, like the Jaguar XFR (Which is probably my favorite car, in all honesty. Sitting in it was like being in my ultimate happy place) and the Ferrari 458. Also present was my vote for “most beautiful supercar ever designed”, the Lexus LFA. If there is any engineering feat that could rival the Veyron, it’s this car. A body made entirely of a carbon fibre composite, an exhaust system tuned by Yamaha for optimal sound quality and an engine that revs so fast that an analog tachometer couldn’t keep up with it. It’s beautiful.

I literally cannot wait to race this car in every racing game.

Stealing the show, however, is the joint project between Subaru and Toyota. I had heard of the Toyota FT-86 beforehand, but I had no idea that Subaru also had it’s own STi-tuned version that they would actually put into production and market. The Subaru BRZ might have a stupid name, but the car itself is unbelievable. I swear to you, there isn’t a single angle from which this car does not look amazing. It has very slight differences from Toyota’s model of the car (which will be marketed here under the Scion brand--a fatal mistake, if you ask me) and looks gorgeous in the trademark Subaru Blue Mica paint. There’s no price announced so far, but I honestly can’t see it being anything other than the new standard for the tuner scene. I mean, fuckin’ look at it. Look at iiiiit.

Hands down the worst thing about the car show. This shit has gone too far.

Subaru was kind enough to essentially be the last worthwhile manufacturer booth on the show floor, ending the show itself on a very high note. A short while after that, I headed to a local bar/venue with my friend to go see Anamanaguchi live. They’re on their 4-stop Canada tour and the tickets were super-cheap, so it was a no-brainer to go. As expected, two fairly terrible bands opened for them. The first was some hipster rock/grunge/dunno band that sounded terrible not only because of their music, but because of the sound guy who thought it more important to text on his iPhone as opposed to fix the audio levels on his EQs that were constantly overloading. The best part of their set was when they said “Alright, this next song is called ‘Sleeping in My Car’.”, to which my friend promptly said “Yeah, I bet you do that a lot”. We burst out laughing, only to realize that he said it when the venue went dead quiet. It was awkward, and unbelievably funny at the same time.

The second band was... I can’t even put it into words. Just watch this video, and imagine that this is playing on a screen behind two dudes with incredibly long hair, one who is screaming into a mic and the other playing a BC Ritchie guitar really poorly. You’ll get the idea.

A wild Anamanaguchi appears!

Finally, Anamanaguchi came on and fucking delivered. Their set was awesome, full of energy and wicked upbeat. Peter would chime-in every so often to thank the crowd and say useless things, like how Ary smuggled in a pink switchblade and that the Canadian Border Patrol told them that to stay in the country, half their set would need to be Nickelback covers. That became the running gag for the night, as when they returned to the stage for the encore and greeted the crowd with “Wow, you guys really like Nickelback.” Luke was the one selling merch before the show started and was fucking thrilled whenever anyone bought something and would promptly close out every transaction with an excited, up-top high-five. I got a ridiculously awesome pink/yellow tie-dye shirt alongside a poster! :D The show was seriously awesome. They played great songs, they never stopped to slow their music down and threw out glowsticks to everyone in the crowd every-so-often. If you have a chance to see them live, do so. They make for a great show.

After sleeping for a billion hours from getting home late, my friend and I had a MW3 night that went on for... a lot longer than we were expecting. We ended the night with a 30 win streak, which I think was a record for the both of us. We won thirty consecutive matches, thanks to the calling-in of what seemed like countless Reapers, AC-130s and Attack Choppers. We dominated, gained an unbelievable amount of XP, and it was awesome.

So that was last week. Eventful. While I’d like to say that I will be seeing Above & Beyond this week, I fear I may not be able to, which saddens me greatly. We’ll see. Hopefully, I can. Either way, I wish you a great week, guys. :D See you next Sunday!

__

Last week's post.

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Device Connected - Episode 1 (12/01/2012)

I suppose it’s time I use this space here... You know, this “blog” thing.

I should start by saying that I’m really poor at updating anything. I would love for this to be a recurring blog, but I have a busy schedule coming up on me for the next few months and I don’t know if I will be able to. I would like to, I guess. Have a place to talk about anything on my mind. I could use that. Maybe just talk about life in general. Games sometimes, but not all the time. Also, what’s with the name? Well, I am bad with names. That’s why my blog is named after what my computer said when I plugged in my phone to charge. And why the episodic format? Because I’m creative, unlike you.

I probably won’t even be able to play many games for the next few months, honestly.

A wild GOTY nominee appears! A shame. I liked the designs I came up with this year.

I guess (Hey, every paragraph starts an “I”! I’m a selfish fuck.) I should clarify--my GOTY stuff will not continue. Sorry. I can post the pretty images in a gallery so you can see what the other categories were, and what would of won. Maybe I’ll post everything I had written that wasn’t posted in an outtakes blog or something. Or maybe in a gallery. Point is, I didn’t finish writing them, some bad shit happened, and it made me lose all will to continue writing that stuff. If you need to know, Skyrim was my Game of the Year, with Deus Ex at #2 and Catherine at #3.

I should probably start with what is bugging my mind at the moment. It is also the reason I have no finished writing that GOTY stuff. You know, I don’t want to go into the details. They suck, and they make me very, very sad. Like, I am going into therapy because it is fucking with my mind-sad. My girlfriend and I are no longer together. … for good. It’s a two year relationship that I fucked up with juvenile, selfish mistakes and it cost me a happiness I will never have again. It brings my morale down pretty severely, as I am sure y’all could imagine.

My wonderfully packed schedule. At least I have Friday's off, so I can have time to collect my brain splattered all over my bedroom walls from stress.

I start school mid-next week, and it is going to be my busiest semester yet. In typical Dawson fashion, they have completely botched my schedule and forced me to not only jam-pack my fourth semester full of classes, but also force me to take summer school to take the courses they couldn’t fit into my current schedule. Wonderful! Fucking bureaucrats, right? Or, you know, whoever is in charge of that bullshit. In addition to this, I am going to have to take up therapy. I don’t know how often per week, but I would like for it to be a regular thing that I can have a good amount of time for. What happened... fucked me up in a lot of way, on top of the many things about me that are already plenty fucked up. I have a lot of shit to deal with, and what happened did not help one bit. It’s stressing knowing you have to fix your life, and especially more so when the only moral support you could count on leaves you. I need help with it and while I need to get my shit together, I need to make sure I don’t go insane doing it.

I also need a job, because I currently have no source of income and I am in desperate need of moving out. Adding a part-time job to the schedule I have up there, on top of the therapy and homework... yeah. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to do that. I need to, though. I’ll have to figure that out in the coming weeks. I’ll have to settle with commissions for now (which some of you have contacted me about--and I will get to them! I swear. I need things to slow down a little, though. Please.), but the only problem with those is that it’s not really a source of income. I do commissions cheap, because I don’t believe in artists charging $80 an hour. No one’s time is worth that much, especially when any artist I know typically spend half of their time on the web just surfing shit.

BANG. BANG BANG.

In gaming related news, I’ve been playing a buttload more of Battlefield 3. The Back to Karkand maps are great and have really re-kindled my love for that game. Moreso than the Vanilla maps, the B2K maps really emphasize playing as a team and I love being able to just pick any role and never be punished for it. Tank or gun, medic or recon, I can always be a credit to the team if I play right. It’s awesome. I’ve also played a bunch of Skyrim, Saints Row: The Third and Forza 4, but those are things I do not want to talk about. I played all of them at my girlfriend’s and... yeah. Tough memories. I can barely even look at the boxes without wanting to cry.

My totally fucked up glasses. The support hinges are broken, and have been for years, too.
Some speed painting.

I also need to update my art stuff. Keep a portfolio going, perhaps. I don’t really like what deviantART has turned into, and I don’t much care for how tumblr works. I’d like to operate my own site, but I lack the knowledge to do that properly, unfortunately. Maybe some day, when I stumble upon a web design course or something. I suppose that’s all I have to add, at the moment. I am getting a new pair of glasses, so that’ll be cool. My current pair is being held together by painter’s tape and they have become really uncomfortable to wear.

I guess that is it, for now. I don’t really have much to add. These past days have felt like the longest time of my life now that I’m alone and I have to dredge through the rest somehow, until I start school at least. It’ll be good to be around people again, even if everything reminds me of what I lost. On the bright side, … well, there is no bright side. Everything is pretty much shit, right now. Life feels like it’s kicking me when I am down constantly, which is terrible for my morale. Opportunities are falling out, and everything feels like it’s favoring every one else who doesn’t need to be favored. Maybe my time will come.

I hope it does. I could use it.

This blog brought to you by the letter ‘I’, by the way.

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