My experience so far with Project CARS.

Hey fellow duders, so I noticed Patrick dropped a video of Project CARS in Worth Reading and I suggest you watch that video to get an idea of how that game looks graphically in an artistic light. As I write this, I am rendering a video of how the game looks running off my machine from a more action oriented perspective.

So I've been seriously into racing sims since the first Gran Turismo. I remember buying a Dual Shock just for that game and once I heard the Chemical Brothers remix of Manic Street Preachers’ Everything Must Go, I fell in love with the genre. So I played Forza Motorsport and Slightly Mad’s take with Need for Speed Shift and dug what each company brought to the table. Slightly Mad Studios' taking another crack at the genre with the crowd funded Project CARS. And I must say it’s looking and playing pretty good. Now I didn’t mention PC racing simulators because Project CARS will also be available on consoles as well.

Now know this, the game’s still in development and as such still has some missing features. The game pretty much has exhibition race mode, freeplay, and multiplayer. The career mode has placeholder screens, but I can say this game will have you going from Kart racer to full fledged F1 Racer with everything in between thrown in there with the exception of rally driving. Something’s got to give and the community voted to remove it so the studio can focus on what’s in the game already. Also, the game seems intended to be used with a driving wheel which a very good thing, and as such in earlier builds of the game controllers were not fun to use. Now the game controls way better with 360 pads, but I still feel like the controls can be tightened up a bit more.

Do yourself a favor, use a wheel over a controller.

Now on to the elephant in the room the graphics. Simply put, the game is beautiful. It’s funny for me because I have seen the game with both unfinished graphics, models, textures, and tracks, yet they manage to amaze with each build when they refine something as small as the UI to completing a full track. The weather and environment effects are amazing as well. You have the option to race day, night, or go from sun down to sun up while the weather cycles from a clear night to a stormy dawn. The functional interiors are some of the best I have seen so far in the genre, this is a game I WANT to play from cockpit view (actually, I prefer the 1st person Helmet cam. It’s awesome to say the least.)

This a Steam screencap of the game running off my PC. Yeah, I know right?!

I can say that as development has went on the game has been optimized pretty well. In the beginning I had to run the game at medium settings to maintain 60fps while later builds I was able to run high settings and keep the 60 fps (I have a similar setup to Jeff’s PC he built with the Tested guys in 2011 using a GTX 580.) Nowadays, I have a GTX 770 and run the game in between high and ultra settings, and I’ll suffer some small dips in framerate here and there mostly due to extreme weather effects while in the cockpit. With the windshield wipers going, and the car’s lamps shining extra light. It’ll go from 60 to 40 frames per second nothing too bad, considering the games projected release is at the end of the year.

One thing I have to mention before I embed my video, yes this is a crowdfunded game similar to Broken Age, Star Citizen, and etc. I must say that I have been the happiest with the interaction with the developers of this game more so than the others I have contributed to. Nearly all of the liveries on vehicles are actually created and voted to be in the game by the community. So while most of us are just reporting bugs, there’s guys and gals out there making stuff for the game and having it actually being used. I’m sorry if I come off as a snake oil vendor, but I feel I’m in a unique position to show a game that doesn’t get much coverage on regular mainstream gaming sites.

PS this recorded using Nvidia Shadowplay

PPS I made some slight grammatical edits.

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The Souls franchise's most ignored NPC may be one of it's deepest.

*Sorry for the weirdly Kotaku/IGN-ish Blog title. Also, some very minor Souls series spoilers lie in wait to smash your face in like a boulder atop a staircase. You've been warned.

The Souls franchise has grasped our community in its clutches, as Vinny conquered Dark Souls and Brad makes his Crystal Lizard hunting way through Demon's Souls. Also, with a sequel looming on the horizon that will test our nerve yet again, I thought to myself why not look at one of the Souls series' oft-overlooked NPC staples.

I doo eet fo' da lulz.

No, I'm not talking about the Souls' version of the standard internet troll, Patches. An interesting character in his own right, Patches does embody the nature of players who may use messages to lure the determined yet uninitiated to jump to their doom off random cliffs. Alas, Patches will always be, "That dick who kicked me into a pit of death, then started selling me shit."

The NPC in question I speak of is in fact the Crestfallen Warrior. The Crestfallen Warrior (known here on as CrestBro for brevity sake) is unlike other NPCs in the series, as his goal is likely analogous to the player's. Most other NPCs have personal motives that drive them to reach their goals or meet their untimely fates. Also, unique to the CrestBro in both games is his role as a sullen guide to beginners. He sets you on the early path if you're willing to listen: in Demon's Souls he tells you to use the Archstones to amass the power necessary to gain power or to save Boletaria and in Dark Souls he tells you to ring the Bells of Awakening. He'll also depressingly deliver information on some of the other NPCs you'll meet, some of the places you'll see, game mechanics, and lightly jab you when you've failed. All pretty standard stuff...

Depressed bros of the same feather flock together.

...until you've proven yourself worthy enough to actually accomplish the weighty tasks that you've both seemingly have undertaken. In both games when you've realized certain goals, CrestBro will assume a more jealous and callous tone toward the player. Both characters give in to their depression: Demon's Souls' CrestBro believes the goals set before him to be futile, ultimately commits suicide. Whereas Dark Souls' equivalent finally succumbs to the almost too common fate of the Undead, and becomes a Hollow due to Frapmt's "stench." Being drunk on Haterade leads to shitty fate, now that's a life lesson if there ever was one.

Poor CrestBro will never get to play with Priscilla's DownyⓇ soft tale.

I find these two small narrative arcs to be very compelling, as they seem to be an allegory to players who pick up the game and give up after repeated failures. The goal of the Souls games at the end of it all, is to overcome the challenges faced through experience, patience, and tenacity. Where the Crestbro has some experience, he lacks the other two qualities needed to progress further and just gives up. It gives the player a sense of accomplishment to supersede this tangible character (as other players are only encountered as phantoms,) all the while giving this entity added depth and ironically humanity. It makes me wonder how CrestBro may show up in Dark Souls II, if he does at all.

Hope you enjoyed this little write up, and I also look forward to Jolly Co-Operation with you fellow duders on March 11th. Also, don't forget to poor one out for the CrestBro...

Don't cry Crestfallen Drake, you too may one day be so grossly incandescent.

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So this video games and art debate is kind of fun to figure out.

*Be forewarned this is just some artist duder's (hack) who also loves games trying to piece together some neo-profound (Yes I believe I just made that term up) dilemma on whether something you may also love should validated as art. Take my point of view as an artist pondering the philosophy of what art is and what art is supposed to do in day and age where terms like new media exist.

YO I EDITED THIS THANG A BIT: So when I say art I mean it in the sense of Fine Art rather than Applied Art. Which means fine art which is intended to evoke an emotion, where as applied art serves a purpose or function like an ad or that Nike check.

So some co-workers and I finally had a conversation on this subject, and it turns out we are on somewhat opposite ends on the debate. They like many others in the gaming community believe games are in fact art, but I tend lean more toward's Roger Ebert's point of view. Well, sort of. I believe video games can elevate to a new art form, but it will also require a lot of reinvention of what we consider video games to be.

Ask yourself, "Do I really consider this art?"

While I agree video games do use art such as illustration, music, storytelling, and etc. It doesn't mean the game itself is art. That would be like someone saying Apple's 1984 ad was art. Yeah it's an inspired piece of imagery, but at the end of the day, it's sole purpose is inform you about a product. The same is true for games of today and yesteryear: their purpose is to have fun and entertain. I mean a toilet is a toilet, no matter how nice it looks you still use that mofo to shit in.

Hey guys, is this art too?

Now, I'm not going to hit you upside the head with all that "art is supposed to make feel" crap. Well maybe just a little. I will say art subjectively pulls emotions from the people who experience it. Games can most certainly do this, and that's where I agree with the potential of video games becoming art. For this to happen you might have to sacrifice something. I mean is the purpose of every movie, painting, or song in existence to be entertaining and fun? I think not, actually this is where my opinion of art may clash with what you think art is.

I love this, for all the wrong reasons.

Art to me is something that doesn't have to have a purpose or use to communicate to the senses of the beholders. It doesn't have to be a feeling of witnessing pure beauty or horror exclusively, it just brings out emotions. For example Picasso's Guernica is a massive ugly piece art that effectively conveys the tragedies of war. It's hideously beautiful in my eyes. Yet it just sits on wall not doing jack shit but be ugly as hell and is for myself, Picasso's finest work because it brings me all these weird feelings. It's not something I think is fun to look at or entertaining to behold, but I appreciate it. See all that craziness I just wrote about some dumb painting, only art can make you do that.

So pretty so emotional, so close yet so far.

Now video games are getting there slowly but surely. I think games like Braid, Journey and Hotline Miami are good candidates for being considered art. But alas, they aren't because there isn't a game that is intentionally designed to draw emotions without caring about its game-play being entertaining or fun to counterbalance these games. You can say in some respects gameplay is subjective as well, Dark Souls and Killer7 are the two examples of non-indie games that are close to art in my book. There's just something lost with all the titles i mentioned that makes it fall short of being art.

Now this is art. Kind of?

Maybe the actual term Video Gameis what's holding back our favorite hobby. Maybe it's the idea that all this interactive media we consume has to be a game and not anything else. Anybody can experience art, but not everyone can or will complete a game for better or worse. This is the point I brought forth to my co-workers, and they just stopped and actually pondered that idea. That's where that conversation ended. I think that when developers make eschew the game part and focus on creating an interactive pieces of art, then our hobby we love can be validated as art. But until then forget trying to apply art to video games, and just enjoy playing these FUCKING AWESOME VIDEO GAMES!!!!

So there you have it from a 29 year old illustrator/ animator and someone who's been playing video games since 1986. There are other things that prevent games from being art such as corporate meddling, creative stifling from the gaming community, and other minor issues that will hopefully work themselves out in light of a ever burgeoning indie scene. Until next time I bid you all adieu.

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What Vidya Games in my Rap SONGS?!

So, lately I've been fascinated with finding rap songs that incorporate video games in someway. Whether through samples or lyrical content, and these aren't just random fan made mash-ups either.

While not a standard long form blog entry, I thought I'd share some of my findings with you without going on the forums proper and hitting y'all upside the head with "Youtube Spam!!!"

So without further ado... Youtube Spam!!!

Vast Aire & Kenyattah Black rapping over the title music of Super Metroid.

Dom Kennedy rhyming over Chrono Trigger's Guardia Forest Theme.

Percee P & Diamond D (BRONX STAND UP!!!!... sorry bout that.) doing their thing over Contra's Title Theme.

BrandUn DeShay and Charles Hamilton rapping about 11/11 over Sonic 1+2's Level Complete theme. The ones before they went to shit. Don't lie to yourselves, y'all know it's true.

While not using a video game sample, XV rhymes over a beat that "Feels Soulful... but Powerful." Which invokes the song's title of Chaka Shao Khan. (Chaka Khan + Shao Kahn = Soulfully Powerful)

So yeah, crazy huh. There's a lot more out there, and hey feel free to add any of your finds below. I also might update this entry from time to time with new stuff as well.

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My 'Year in Review' That Nobody's Gonna Read 2012 Edition

This is sorta a GOTY post, but not really. Take it as you will, also coarse salty language will be used here and there. So, read at your own discretion. Fuck!

So what's crackin' my GB peeps! With a New Year smacking us upside the head like a pimp, I'd like to do some sort of year in review. No, this will not be your standard fare top 10, honestly I haven't played enough games to really warrant a top ten (so a top 5 is more in order.) Also, a lot of weird shit went down that left me pensive about where gaming as a whole is heading.

Industry Lockdown

So let's tackle the industry bullshit, the first order of business: Mass Effect Trizzy. This boils down to an issue of entitlement versus what is expected of developers to deliver in our gaming experiences. Now, I didn't like ME3's ending; it was a little too contrived and felt like it was something that Neon Genesis Evangelion inspired. The fact that they went back and changed it was good on Bioware's part but the artist in me is like "FUCK you whiny bitches, it's their story God damn it!"

The ladies exposed a lot of fuckery dudes have been perpretating. Not only are female developers and gamers getting mistreated, but then there are the "white knight" mongoloids who don't realize that they too are being completely misogynistic as well. This stuff happens in all industries and people in general need to just grow the hell up.

Crowd Funding aka Kickstarting aka Give us your money now and maybe we'll make something you'd want from it. This to me has been something that should've been happening, but I'm fearful that it has also gotten out of hand. I've contributed to three projects myself this year (Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2, and Project CARS.) But I feel like I invested into sure things, and there were projects that sounded awesome yet didn't reach their goals. Are we gonna get our games? Who knows, but at least we made our voices very loud with the help of our wallets.

There was a lot of craziness going on from studio closures, Youtube commentary & LP's, indie games making stronger strides, sequelitus, and the PC reclaiming dominance which has Sony and Microsoft scrambling to iron out there next machines' specs. Like I've stated before I'm pondering what 2013 and beyond holds for gaming as a whole. It's exciting and scary at the same time.

My Top 3 Non 2012 Games of 2012

3. WH 40k: Dawn of War 2 All of em' Edition - It's my favorite RTS, as it's also the only one I'm good at.

2. Batman: Arkham City - PC issues forced me to sit on this until it was fixed, one of best games this generation hands down.

1. Dark Souls - Let's just say I own this game on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. 'Nuff said.

2012 Biggest Disappointment

Assassin's Creed 3 - Yes even more disappointing than Mass Effect 3. A decent game that could have been so much more than what was released.

2012 Genre of the Year

Stealth - Mark of Ninja, Hitman: Absolution, Dishonored, and whole bunch of others. This was a banner year for stealth as a whole.

My Top 5 Games Of the Year

5. Asura's Wrath - Holy Shit was this a fun little early year ditty. The QTE's felt appropriate and the somewhat tedious beat 'em up side was kept to a minimum, and I thank CyberConnect2 for that. All other power fantasies be damned when I can destroy planet-sized dudes with my bare hands.

4. Binary Domain/ Spec Ops: The Line - They were both cover based third person shooters, but both had very unique stories and ideas behind them. Just goes to show you that endearing stories go a long way.

3. The Walking Dead - This game is Heavy Rain during a zombie apocalypse. Also, Clementine can get me to do nearly any-non-pedo-thing, damn that precious little virtual girl.

2. Sleeping Dogs - This game looks, plays, and feels amazing. I'm glad Square Enix saved this game. This is probably the 2nd best (Saints Row da 3rd is 1) non Rockstar open world game I've played. Kudos United Front Games.

1. Dishonored - My game of the year hands down. Player freedom is king in this game no matter if you take the no kill stealth approach, or the angel of death kill 'em all path; this game has something for you.

The Game I Wish I Finished So I Can Add It To This List, But Didn't Have Time To

X-Com: Enemy Unknown - So this game is awesome, but I'm still playing through it so here's an honory nod.

So, thanks for reading all that, you sir/ madam are da Man/ woMan. Leave line if you want. Happy New Years as well Duders/ Dudettes(?)!

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So yeah I don't really like to blog much, but what the hell.

What's up GB. I know I may not be the most active community member or what have you, but I do love this site and its community. So I guess formal introductions are due. I'm a freelance artist by trade who used to work for a huge company (I'll spare the details for brevity sake.) I've been gaming on consoles for about 25 years, and have gamed on PC for the last 15 years (The latter of which this blog is actually about.) So, yeah I found this site at the end of '08, lurked for a bit, and became a member in the summer of '09 thanks to the P4 Endurance Run and the random videos.

Like this, but with GUTS!

So back to the topic at hand, GAMING RIGS! So let me come clean; that part about me gaming on the PC for 15 years, apparently I've been doing it wrong the whole time. You see the PCs and Mac (hey I AM an artist by trade) that I've owned were good for general purpose and work. For gaming they were alright, but nothing amazing. I felt now more than ever that it was time to take the plunge. So after doing a shit ton of research and watching some vids I decided to build my own, and after 4 hours (this was my first build ever) I ended up with something pretty awesome.

The specs and internal parts are similar to Jeff's rig with changes here and there. The most obvious is a Nvidia GTX 580 instead of a 570, and I also got faster RAM. I must say that running the games like Bad Company 2 and The Witcher 2 fully maxed out at 60 frames to boot is a sight to behold.

Fuuuuu.... I'm one of those A-Holes now aren't I?

So there you have it, a small introduction and a PC build... I don't know what else I can add. I guess it's time to use that one Zero Punctuation meme about PC Aryans. Oh there it is. Hmm, now I feel kind of like a hypocrite for using that. Shit, where are you going? Umm yeah, I knew I forgot to mention something, I also have a PS3 and a Xbox 360. Does that make you feel better? Awww thanks for coming bac... Hey wait! Why are shaking your head like that? Well, I guess I fucked that up. I guess it's time to go ahead and crawl back into my hermit crab shell and keep it moving.

If you read all that bragadocious crap, I thank you. If you didn't then I don't fucking blame you, but thanks all same. So peace out Giant Bomb, maybe one day I'll muster the courage to do another one of these in the future. I guess I'll just leave you with this image that's probably been posted on the site a million times by various users. Enjoy.

Damn Altair, you look really good for a dead guy.

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