"You still wanna see some outtakes, bro?"

Unlike a lot of the beautiful, heartfelt blog posts about Ryan Davis I've seen this week, this one isn't going to have some poignant, personal experience on my part. I'm afraid I never had the privilege to know Ryan personally or even meet him in passing, which I will eternally regret. Hell, the closest Ryan ever came to knowing I existed was a forgettable (for him) moment on one of him and Jeff's commute livestreams. They were on a ferry boat, and Ryan had been talking about changing his look. Jeff made the helpful suggestion that he could go back to the bleached-blond, clean-shaven look he had back in the early GameSpot days, and I suggested in the chat that he should dye his beard and moustache blond and leave his hair the way it is. Jeff thought it was funny and mentioned it out loud, and Ryan made a joke about how amazing he would look.

That's about it in terms of direct interaction, sadly. But I'm posting this because of something that I never expected would bring me comfort; I have accidentally become a source of comfort to others in this dark time. See, on YouTube, I go by the username "BurningDogFace", not Deusoma. It's an old Flash cartoon reference, not about animal cruelty, FYI. And a ways back, I started recording and posting some of my favourite clips from Giant Bomb videos, more so I'd have an easy way of accessing them at will than to get attention for it. But this last week, while several of my Ryan-focused clips have gotten 'RIP Ryan Davis' comments or people mentioning how much they're going to miss him, none of them have gotten as much attention as this one:

I only realized why that one was getting more attention than most late last night, when I saw that someone else had already posted a link to my video in the 'Your Favourite Ryan Moment' thread (Along with my embarrassingly blurry SkyTrain video), much to my shock, though I must say I was even more surprised to see that former intern Matt Kessler had posted it on Twitter and it had been retweeted by a few of Ryan's friends.

Believe it or not, despite my rambling here, I'm a writer, like to write short stories and make people smile. But I find it incredibly difficult to sum up my feelings this week in words. So I just wanted to post this journal to say both Thank You, and You're Welcome.

It actually helps me feel a bit better that people are using a silly video clip I recorded as a means of comforting themselves, to remember one of Ryan's happier moments. I know it's not about me, of course, that I just happened to be the first guy to get this particular clip on YouTube, but still, just the idea that I'm helping other people feel better... well, not to sound cliche, but it feels like what Ryan would have wanted.

So I'm gonna end it here before I ramble all afternoon and just add the most important message of all.

You were the best, Ryan Davis. I loved you like a friend, and I'll never forget you. And you know what? While my last name might not be Frakes, I'm still a Johnathan with a goatee, so I'm hoping that someday, when I kick the bucket myself, maybe we can play a few hands together. I even promise to keep my tongue inside my mouth. ;-)

Rest in Peace, big guy.

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Started a Let's Play

After watching quite a few of them on YouTube, I finally went and started a Let's Play of my own, of American McGee's Alice. I didn't realize there were quite that many LPs of the game when I started, but screw those guys, I wanted to play Alice so that's what I'm playing. I had no idea what a hassle it would be to actually record and upload video to YouTube, but I was pleased with the end result. 
 
   

  Feel free to give me any helpful suggestions on what I'm doing, but please don't feel free to just yell that I suck, thank you very much. u_u

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My bad.

Okay. Gonna come clean. Earlier this year (it's still 2009, right?), I saw that someone had created a concept page here on Giant Bomb for the act of a character swallowing another character whole. 
 
Alright, good call, that actually happens more often in video games than I'd thought. 
 
The problem was that this person had chosen to title the page "vore". Because I am familiar with many varieties of Internet perverts, I am aware that "Vore" is shorthand for "vorarephilia",a bizarre fetish where the person gets off to the idea of themselves either being devoured by a much larger creature, or devouring a much smaller creature. (I can even tell you that there are "soft" and "hard" variants that mostly differ by whether or not chewing is involved. Lovely.) 
 
So I saw that this was stupid, and assumed that the page would be deleted within days. So, for no other reason than to annoy whoever had created the page, I changed the blurb to one more accurate to vore's actual meaning. And I quote...
 
"Vore" is an internet term for a sexual fetish for the act of a creature swallowing someone else whole while they are still alive. The act is also seen in many video games, in a decidedly less sexual manner.
 
Like I said. I was bored, I figured that the page would be gone in a few days, and even if it wasn't I assumed that the person who started the page would angrily change it back as soon as it was noticed.  A little harmless fun, a joke, a shenanigan, a monkey-shine.
 
As it turned out, that wasn't how it went down. The very next day*, Giant Bomb's own Dave Snider, a secondary member of the Bomb Squad, posted a feature called " I Love Giant Bomb", featuring a list of several pages that amused him. And wouldn't you know it, there, right at the top of the list, was my mocking blurb for Vore, complete with accompanying picture and amusing subtitle. 
 
I Love Giant Bomb was apparently meant to be the first of an ongoing series highlighting the Giant Bomb community, but as far as I know, that was the only instalment ever. But the damage had been done. By bringing my sarcastic alteration to the attention of a community that otherwise wouldn't care about the Vore page one way or the other, not only was it guaranteed that the page would never be deleted, it was also guaranteed that my stupid blurb, which people seemed to think was hilarious, would never be replaced. 
 
That was back in April. Now it's December. The page, blurb intact, is still there. And it isn't going anywhere.
 
So yeah. The ridiculous blurb on the Vore page? That was my fault. I made a silly joke that somehow caught the attention of someone much awesomer than I, and it ended up sticking. I never meant for that to happen, and I apologize. Not that anyone will accept my apology, they all seem to think that my alteration improves the Wiki somehow. 
 
Just goes to show how weird we here at Giant Bomb really are, eh?
 
*it might have actually been a few days later, I don't remember, but "the very next day" sounds better, don't you think?

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Split-screen is still superior

I gotta say, I don't understand all the bashing that local multiplayer gaming's getting these days. I've never so completely disagreed with Jeff Gerstmann on something, but there it is: split-screen multiplayer is still, without a doubt, better than online play.
 
Okay, any more than two players and the screen crowding is ridiculous. That's a fundamental problem. But I see it as about even to the fundamental problem of requiring a good connection for online play to be any good at all. Before immediately dismissing this point, consider: no one in the world, no matter how carefully crafted their home system, no matter how lovingly tended the developer's matchmaking servers, no one can guarantee a stable connection 100% of the time. Sometimes you'll be playing a person with a bad connection and everything will be jumpy. Sometimes the servers themselves will go down for maintenance and play will literally be impossible.
 
But that's just a comment on 'fundamental issues'. That's not even why I prefer split-screen. No, technical issues don't even come into it. It's the physical factor. The emotional factor.
 
The experience of playing a game with someone you can only interact with aurally, through a headset, will never, never equal (or even come close to) the emotional connection created by playing a game with someone sitting right next to you. 
 
I am a huge fan of the Halo games, but I almost never play on matchmaking. For me, it's all about the co-op. The whole reason I bought an Xbox in the first place was that I'd experienced how much fun you could have with Halo 1 on co-op mode. When I play Halo with my brothers, wonderful and ridiculous things happen. We've had situations where we're both trying to kill each other by jousting with Warthogs on the side of a hill, totally ignoring the hordes of aliens intent on murdering us, dodging fire from Banshees overhead, sometimes sailing over each other as we accidentally hit a bump on the hill. Once, instead of getting out of the car and entering an underground complex on foot, as the game intended, we drove the car into the building, the gunner clipping through the top of the door, and scraped along the tiny corridors, totally overpowering the Covenant with our heavy firepower. We've created all kinds of memories, done all kinds of things that made us laugh so hard our jaws ached.
 
And when silly and wonderful situations like this occur, we can actually turn to each other and laugh about it together because we're in the same room. We can casually discuss strategies on dealing with our enemies without going out of our way to activate a headset, or asking the other guy to repeat what he said because it was staticky. And when we're not being ridiculous and actually play the game the way it's meant to be played, when we're fighting powerful enemies and impossible odds and still manage to come out on top, we can share in our victory together, give each other a high five or compliment each other on our success.
 
No, the simple fact that you can play with another person over the Internet, that doesn't appeal to me. Never has. I've been able to do that for years on PC and never did it. For me, playing a video game with another person always has been and always will be about forming a bond with them, a bond that just can't happen over a headset. 
 
So until online gaming gets to the point where they can project a hologram of your distant partner into your room, it will always pale in comparison to the supposedly outdated, oh-so-simple technology of separating the display into two halves.
 
Split-screen is still superior.

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inFamous, just out of reach. (Warning: rambling ahead)

So last week, after IGN put out their review, I finally gave in and pre-ordered inFamous, the electric superhero game. (As I like to call it, "The Adventures of the Human Pikachu." It wasn't the number, it was the fact that the guy who wrote the review was totally stoked about it. He genuinely enjoyed playing through inFamous, and I got the distinct impression that he's going to go back to it. And I suspect I will love the hell out of this game for a long time to come. But how did it come to this?

I have to admit, for a while, I was leaning more towards Prototype, the other superhero game coming out this early summer. You see, when I first heard about inFamous, it was described to me by a friend as "It's like Grand Theft Auto, except you have superstrength and can fly." Think about it: watch the announcement trailer, the one that first used that epic phrase; "Save what is left, or destroy it all." At no point does Cole use his electric powers. You see him jumping around, you see explosions, you see a car flying at him, but not one spark comes out of our hero. So I was under the impression that it was going to be like Hancock, except without turning into crap halfway through. When I found out that all of Cole's powers revolve around him emitting electricity from his body, I was devastated. There's melee, yes, but it's just the strength of an ordinary man slightly enhanced by the lightning trailing behind his foot. Sure, you could move cars around, but sending out a static shockwave to flip it into the air just isn't as visceral as picking it up with your bare hands and smashing it into a dude's face. And yeah, you can climb all over the place and glide from building to building, but plenty of gaming heroes can do Parkour these days, and Batman's always been able to glide without having any powers at all.

So I turned to Prototype, where actual flight wasn't available, but at least the powers seemed more badass than electricity. Turning your hands into razor sharp claws? Transforming into your enemies? Hurling cars around recklessly? Hell yes! ...But the more I found out about the game the more something seemed off. I finally realized what it was when I showed a friend the trailer that came out a month or two ago. She described it as "trying too hard to be OMG GRITTY"; and I realized that none of the game's badassery really comes across as genuine. It's trying too hard to come across as vicious and angry, to cash in on the popularity of rage-fueled antiheroes like Kratos from God of War. Not to mention that the more of the game I learned about, the more I realized that the character was a supervillain, or at least an antihero.

Now, I'm not talking slag about Prototype for no reason here. I may actually pick that game up too, once I get my shit together and find a job, and there's nothing wrong with playing an evil character, or at least a ruthless one. But here's the thing: in Prototype, you play a government experiment with superhuman abilities who is absolutely ruthless in attaining his personal goals, and will gladly sacrifice scads of innocent people to do so. In inFamous, you play an ordinary man who is suddenly granted extraordinary powers who has the potential to become a monster like the man from Prototype... or he can fight against his baser nature and become a hero, selflessly fighting on behalf of the people.

It's this idea of choice that so appeals to me. Think about it: most superhero games force you one way or the other. In Superman games you can never kill anybody because that's important to the character. You can never say 'Oh screw it' and use your power to destroy Metropolis. In the new Wolverine game, Logan tears people limb from limb, but all of them deserve it for their evil ways. In inFamous, you decide whether to use your power to do the right thing or the easy thing. You make the choice. Sure it's the same kind of black-and-white choice between comic book villainy and saintly acts of kindness we've been seeing for years, but the choice is still yours to make.

So I went back to inFamous. It comes out in a mere five days, and the demo is available now. (Well, it would be if the Playstation Store weren't completely borked, probably due to lots of people going after the inFamous demo) The game is just barely out of reach, and I can hardly wait to get my hands on it.

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