Semper Fidelis: Becoming a Marine- Part 1 of ? Where to start?

Disclaimer:

This probably seems a bit... out of place for this particular community, but I'm not really "part of" another community, and I kind of felt like sharing my experience so far and try to reach out to anyone who might be thinking of a military career, especially with how easy it can be to do for the wrong reasons or with the wrong expectations. While I have immense respect and admiration for the Marine Corps, and it was the branch that I picked to go for, I am by no means looking to sway towards any one branch of the military, nor the military at all. The Marine Corps, I believe, was the right choice for me, but the men and women serving the United States are all service-members, and that is all that matters to me. I know people in pretty much every military branch out there, and they are all people I greatly respect both as individuals who have made sacrifices for my country, and just as people who have been good to me and those that I care about. I'll probably poke a few jabs here and there at various bits and pieces of the wonderful military culture, but that doesn't mean I actually think that the Army's basic training is anything to scoff at, that airmen are glorified couch potatoes, or that the Coast Guard- well, chances are I mean just about anything I say about them, but I also probably won't say anything about them so, we'll just leave it at that.

Again, I am not a member of any branch of the military, I am simply making an effort to achieve that, and documenting and hopefully conversing about the experience as I go. I am not speaking for any branch, particularly the Marine Corps. I am not an official source of information, and you should ALWAYS confirm anything I say with a recruiter or other reputable source should you feel the desire to go that far.

What the hell do I aim to achieve by doing this?

It's pretty simple really. I want to explain the process of joining the United States Marine Corps as I experience it. It as been a long and difficult road for me, often for reasons of my own fault, and just as often for reasons out of my control. It was a journey that took me 6 months just to decide to begin, and ultimately will end with about the same amount of time training to become a Marine, to become a combat ready Marine, and to prepare me for my MOS.

I'd like to give anyone out there who is thinking of joining a service, particularly those who like me, are younger, and are still in or just out of high school, a decent idea of what it means, and what you need to do and know and some context to help them decide if such a huge decision is really worth it for them.

The decision to join the military, even if you never end up deployed in a combat zone, is a big one. When you leave boot camp, you have an obligation that will last years, and there are significant penalties if you do not fulfill that obligation. I am enlisting for 4 years of active duty, and 4 years of reserves. That's 8 years of my life where the Corps will be a part of my life. Half of that time, it will be most of my life. I may be shipped to a combat zone such as Afghanistan, and have to survive the hazards of such a deployment. It is not a decision you come to lightly.

Where to start?

The question I have right now is where the hell should I start this off? While I certainly know the things that I wanted to know, I don't know what other's want to know. Do I lead off with the obligations and the complications and the consequences of my decision, and risk sounding like a martyr, or scaring folks off? Do I start with the possibilities and the perks and benefits of service life, and risk sounding like a recruiter? Do I start with a checklist of things to do in order to get the ball rolling and an explanation of how the process went for me, and risk boring the socks off of all of you? I'm not really sure just yet, I think maybe I'll start with WHY I decided I wanted to join the military, and what drew me to the Marines, and hopefully I'll get some input on where I should start after that, and then really get into the meat of it.

Please, give some feedback! I know I'm probably not going to get a lot of bites with this, being as the community is what it is, but I know there are some service members out there in the community and so there must be those who are looking into joining or might be open to the idea, or who might just be curious about the process and the experience. Let me know if there are particular things you want to know, questions you want answered, or just need a pep talk to help you get up and get your ass to a recruiter and start walking down the path. Or hell, if you want me to convince you why you SHOULDN'T join the military, I can probably muster up a good few reasons too. I'm just trying to help educate people, and share my experiences with you all.

Part 2

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So it looks like I won't be renewing as planned.

I had planned on renewing the instant I got a chance for another year of Whiskey Media. Even though I planned on spending the next six months (give or take) training to be a Marine, and then spending the next 4-ish years being one, I knew I wanted to support the cause. I've pretty much been here since the beginning. I can't quite remember when I signed up and started posting, but I had been coming to the site since it started. I didn't actually even know about the reason this place sprung up. Ironically, I was just glad there was somewhere other than Gamestop to come for gaming news and coverage. Eventually I got hooked on Quick Looks, and soon spiraled into my first full on involvement with a site. Suddenly I wasn't visiting any other sites. Every once in a while I dragged myself to GT, because this was back when no one really offered "high resolution" videos (even GT was only 540, not 720 at all), or Gamersyde because they always had very high quality videos, albeit they didn't put much out, and only really gave a shit about console games. But for the most part, I stayed here, and watched as the site grew up around me. And man, was it awesome. Since Giantbomb started up, it has evolved into an entirely different, and in many ways more awesome and beautiful beast. Random live streams (the odd planned one even!), HD video (as a graphics "whore" [Read: someone passionate about the tech that goes into games], that was awesome), more and more content like Dave's Radio Show, Jar Time, Random PC Games with VInny and Dave, and a ton more. It's been an awesome experience, seeing the site evolve from it's beginnings into such an impressively sophisticated and awesome place to go.

So awesome in fact, that I can finally say that it has been over a year since I've visited the likes of Gamespot or Gametrailers. I still frequent Gamersyde, but they are pretty much just a media site, and I dunno where else I can get 1080/60 videos of Battlefield so I go there for things like that. I have been known to visit Rock Paper Shotgun here and there, because I still feel that PC coverage is lacking on Giantbomb (I've been thinking maybe Will, Norm, Dave, and perhaps Vinny should get together, cross the streams a bit, and start a PC gaming podcast or something. PC gaming isn't dead!), but even that I don't go to very often. Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but I used to frequent just about every major gaming news and coverage site or blog out there. Every day, I'd check em all, and every day, I'd be frustrated by massive ads for things I didn't give a flying fuck about, reviews that could have been written by two year olds, and communities so grating they should be used as an industrial sand blaster.

Now Giantbomb isn't perfect. Ryan is ladder blind. Brad is terrible at games, except for the part where he obliterates most of the community at the games he actually plays. Jeff is a crazy motherfucker. Vinny isn't on camera enough. Dave is... actually Dave is perfect. Dave, can I have your babies? If that's not cool, I'll just have to find your sister, steal her egg, and pretend- actually never mind. I don't wanna give away the surprise.

But Giantbomb sure is fucking close. I saw the ads for the first time today. I had seen the past iterations of ads, like the Gears of War "campaign" that was pretty much just one tiny banner at the top. But holy shit, what's this? A video game being advertised. And what, it's not mimicking the top of the page and then suddenly exploding when I click to read that new review?? Wow! Now, I hope they have gotten past that little... issue they had recently with the awful awful ads, but as long as they keep to general video game stuff in the ads, I'm fine. I'm happy to support them, even if that means clicking on any ad that I find I don't mind seeing, even if I don't really care about the ad and it won't influence my purchasing decision. The content is still amazing, the people are still amazing, the community is still fairly kick ass even with (because of, really) the oddly low amount of homophobia and non-meme based racism and religious bullshit (by which I mean arguments over it, not just having or not having it).

So I just want to extend my apology for not renewing. Unfortunately, I am present $500 in the hole, and too damn busy trying to scrape by and actually ship off to basic soon. Long story short, I've been screwed from about three different directions and my time is pretty much up. Which means not only do I not have the $50 to spend, but I don't even really have the time to earn said money. However if I'm not dropped from DEP before I can get my shit in order and get off to boot camp, I fully plan on re-upping my sub as soon as possible. Well, either way I plan on doing it, but it'll be a lot easier to make that $500 back when I have a guaranteed job than trying to get a decent one around here.

Thanks to all you subscribers keeping Giantbomb supported, and I'm sorry I was unable to remain in the ranks! I'll be back soon though, you can count on that!

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SF:IV is a fucking TERRIBLE game.

Let me just preface this by saying simply I have never played another fighting game seriously.  I've played a few like BlazzBlue or whatever the fuck, some MK when I was about 5 years old, thats it. Nothing as much as this. On top of this, I purchased SSFIV on Games on Demand on my 360. I do not have the manual. Never saw it, touched it, or got the opportunity get the information contained within.


Which is kind of why I hate this game.

Never. Ever. Ever. Ever. EVER. have I been more insanely frustrated by the impenetrable shell of bullshit around a game. Morrowind? Whatever. Stalker? Holding my hand practically. Mount and Blade? Makes total sense! Controls so intuitively it's like an extension of my body. At least when put next to this god damn game.

Capcom, as many of us know, has been really hurtin' in this less than healthy economy. So, it's hard to believe that they would be so incredibly naive with this game. I get that Street Fighter has a HUGE following. I know that SFIV probably did pretty well for Capcom. But I have to wonder when Capcom will see that the only way to stop having a smattering of mild commercial successes among a plethora of failures, is to make these games appeal to PEOPLE. Not fans, but GAMERS.

I'm not good with fighting games. I need to learn how to play them. I don't even have the basics down. Z movements? Fuck it. I just do two quarters and call it good. Not because I'm lazy, but that's just what I do for whatever reason. I try and do better. It just doesn't happen.

So, I knew I sucked. I knew I'd need to figure the game out. I jumped right into the training. 
The first thing I thought? Fuck, why do i need to go into a fuckin' menu just to find out how to do what the game is supposed to be teaching me.
After a while, I decided to just deal with it. Hitting select to see what I should see up front isn't insurmountable. After all, it's just a couple buttons. Right?

Nope. As I get up there, I'm a little frustrated by how picky the game is when it comes to diagonally jumping. Ie, most of the time I just jumped straight up or blocked. Again, my fault, and I've gotten a good bit better at it since then. A bit frustrated with the timing of pulling off moves (something not at all demonstrated or spelled out at all). But all in all, it seemed ok. It was clear that it was mostly just because I have no experience at all.

Then I got into the combos.

Jesus Christ. The timing is just a bunch of bullshit. First of all, it requires WAY too much trial and error to have even a slight idea of what the fuck the timing is on any of it. Most of the time, the timing seems totally off, totally senseless. Some of it was reasonable. Most of it was ridiculous. And the amount of time allowed was ridiculous.

So eventually, I got to know a character, became decent, with them, knew all their moves, etc.. Started the Arcade stuff up. On easy.

After about 15 hours of frustration (often extreme, like when fighting a certain projectile spamming, flash kicking dick bag), I started to get the hang of the game. I still had little to know idea how to counter moves in any way (by which I mean respond, I don't mean it in the game speak sense), but I was starting to win. If just barely. Then, finally I was getting ok. There were still some characters that would just demolish me, but the simpler fights went well.

Then, I finally got to Bison. My rival. So I think "Oh, this will probably be tricky. Hopefully this takes me a few tries, so I know it's challenging, but I'm sure I can win without a ton of trouble."

Noooooope. Between moves that hit from a different direction than they moved in seemingly at random, an ultra that pretty much always avoids interuption and lands on a different side every other time, spamming of his fucking, drill of purple flame move or whatever the hell it is 4 or 5 times in a row, often with it being unblockable, and his CONSTANTLY being close no matter how clever I got with putting distance between us, I spent as much time trying and failing to beat him as I did just to get to the point where I could fight him.


On easy.

The lowest fucking setting.



Now, I know that It is all because I"m not good at the game. The game is a good fighting game when you know what your doing. I am not disputing that. When I'm doing well and not struggling with the controls, I'm having a good bit of fun. But the amount of frustration involved in someone looking to increase the number of people looking to keep buying into the SF scene byt getting into the fighting game genre is completely unacceptable. In a game that is all about timing and execution and understanding strategies and knowing the moves of those your fighting as well as your own, the answer to my problem A) shouldn't be the manual, B) and if it has to be, it shouldn't be unavailable to me at all, and C) absolutely should not be "Well maybe if you looked up a FAQ" .

I shouldn't have to read in depth guides to figure out how one character works just to enjoy a game. Games need to be built for people who know how to play them AND include the tools you need to get to that point. Not one or the other, and CERTAINLY shouldn't just assume your pretty good at it.


Am I going to stick with it? Yes, I certainly am. Do I hope to eventually enjoy the game? Very much so. Can I right now? Not really, no. It's one thing not to tell a person how to use the mechanics of your game. It's totally different not to even teach the basic core mechanics and controls. And for a fighting game, it needs to have far more feedback (for example, show me how my timing is wrong, rather than just telling me. Let me slow things down to figure it out and look for the cues in animation and all that. Hold my hand a little. Explain things properly.

/rant
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Just Watched the TNT, got me thinking about separate branding.

I was kinda bothered by the the crew's comments on how the games need to be more standardized. If at this point, you are already getting tired of the formula, imagine how bad that would be if every CoD had exactly the same stuff as the last. While I understand Jeff's dislike of zombies, I also think it's a little unfair to expect two studios that are run totally separately and produce games separately to just take a single side and go only with that. I feel like it would be better if there was MORE separation with MW and Treyarch CoD, because it seems like when they pull away from MW things, not only do they extend the lifetime of the franchise by preventing the series like really feeling like an annual series. While the gameplay core is kind of similar, I feel like MW2 and Black Ops are in a lot of ways, wildly different, particularly in setting and story telling. I think it would have been a mistake to have spec ops in Black Ops because that would be bordering on feeling like "Hey, we made another game like that game that came out 12 months ago." 
I find it odd that these guys often do the thing of saying "Well, this whole formula is starting to get old" but when they don't keep the formula even more familiar, they complain yet again. I don't think it is petty to say "Hey, we made zombies and it was super popular in our game, lets do that again." And I'm willing to bet at least 50% of the people wanting this game wanted Zombies, if not more. I feel that if anything, it's more petty to take the features of the other teams stuff just for the sake of selling better. Zombies is a quality mode, just as well made as Spec Ops, and at least as popular. 
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed both modes, and all of the things that made MW and Treyarch CoD their own things, I don't favor Treyarch at all, they have made bad games, but I feel like with Black Ops, they have shown that they are capable of making their own goddamn game.

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Just beat Reach

Man. Talk about the end of an era. It's kinda sad to see Halo go. For all of the shit Bungie gets, they have done an incredible amount of purely amazing work. Reach was one of the finest examples of lovingly hand crafted artistry. Only the best could have seen the series off so well. As it ends, so it begins. Thanks f or all the great times, and the helmet and siggys.

Yours truly, a devoted fan.

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Unusual levels of stupidity concerning Bioshock: Infinity.

So I went on Gamersyde.com to look for updates, and saw that just about everyone was pissy that a Bioshock game.... had similarities to, shock, other Bioshock games. What the hell? Its a franchise. I know its a franchise that depends on discovery a lot, but from what I've heard from just about anyone seeing the game is that the game, while it has the basic concepts of previous games, it handles everything in a pretty different way, and they have managed to make the game feel a lot different. Yet these idiots are bitching about how there are some vague similarities and some not so vague concepts, but most of them have nothing to do with the discovery of the game. 
 
So I'm curious what the reaction is here on Giantbomb. I wasn't super surprised to see that level of ignorance from Gamersyde, but the community there is pretty small.

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Subscribed today!

It feels great to give, and its really good knowing that the bombcast will be free for everyone! I'm really proud to be a supporter, and super proud of all the people that helped free the bombcast! Just watched the HD quick look of Reach, and WOW! I'm super psyched about this whole HD thing, and I am really impressed at how well the streaming went. It didn't hitch or drop so much as to make me wait for a buffer, something none of the bigger sites like gametrailers (who only has like, 540p videos) has given me. Super impressed, super happy, and super psyched for more to come. 
 
Now I just have to wait to watch DP in HD.... And NOBY NOBY BOY! =O

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Reaction to the recent Bombcast news:

 Look, I am totally in favor of charging for NEW stuff. You guys said that you were NOT going to charge for existing things. This is messed up. You cannot tell the community that the site will remain the same for free users, and then do something totally different. You said the original site would be the same, all of the payed stuff would be brand new. I wouldn't be as upset (I'd still be pretty upset), if we hadn't been promised free users would not experience any change. This is not at all what we were told. The rest of the stuff is TOTALLY cool. I understand the need for money for big videos and stuff. But your fee is the same as Xbox Live's, and you don't have to do NEARLY as much. If you guys gave the Bombcast a bit early, maybe a couple of days, I wouldn't mind. But I think its a real cheap shot to the people who love you guys, who want to keep up with you guys, but by the time they hear all of the stuff they listen to the Bombcast for, its already in the past and something else is going on. I will HAPPILY give you guys money. But, this was a dishonest move. Its a podcast. You aren't charging for early access, your PUNISHING people who cannot afford your fee, setting them back a week. I love Giant Bomb, I am more than happy to pay the fee for you guys to ADD things to the site. But this is a big hit to my respect to you guys. At the very least, make it so that there is a cheaper fee you can pay purely for access to the Bombcast. I can't imagine 5-10 bucks a year would bother either side for that. But for people who don't want things like HD footage, who just want the Bombcast, $50 is fucking insane.  

Your podcast is very topical, talking about the last weeks events. If you make people listen to it a week later, a LOT of people are just going to say "Fuck that, I already know all of this."  

You have done just fine with this site as it is without a fee. That includes the Bombcast. I understand that you have to work really really hard to develop these new features. I WANT to pay you for those things, because you guys TOTALLY deserve it. But the Bombcast? That is pure content, and it seems really dishonest for you to not only do it, but wait till the last second to say anything about it. Seems to me like you knew people would hate this. You wanna charge for the Bombcast being live? FUCK yes. I would TOTALLY pay for that. But I would never pay for a podcast, certainly not for timely access to a TOPICAL weekly Bombcast. I understand it takes a lot of time. I do, really. I understand that gets in the way of your time. But making people miss half of it really sucks. 
 
Let me be clear. I LOVE you guys. I really do. And I would love to pay more for OTHER things just to keep the podcast free for all other users. But this seems really fucking unfair to the people who cannot pay the fee. I know it doesn't seem like a lot to a lot of the people out there, but considering the hardships of this time, and how much of your audience is pretty young, you are really screwing over a lot of people. 

 You guys said that the change would be additive. The fact that you didn't see that it was important to keep that word is really disappointing. I am totally going to subscribe. Totally. I love you guys, and you are worth it. But I know what it is like as the person who cannot pay for this kind of thing, and it sucks. I know a lot of people often lose the awareness of those people, but that doesn't make it fair. 
 
Please guys, at the very least, think of a way to help out the people who cannot or will not pay the $50 fee. Maybe you can accept donations, or you can just allow people to pay for ONLY the podcast. Not everyone can or gives a shit about 720p, most people do NOT browse the web frequently on smartphones, etc. So break things up. Even some poor 14 year old can afford 5-15 bucks a year. So not only will people be able to just get what they want, but you will see more people who will be willing to pay for your content. I want to see you guys live like kings, but I hate that you feel you have to punish the people who built you. If I was a rich ass mother, I would totally just pay people's fees, or just pay for all of the costs of the podcast myself, but unfortunately, I cannot do that. You guys deserve money, but I hate when things like this and Live, and other payed services have a black and white format, when so much of those things are totally useless to a lot of people. I am willing to bet that like, 30% of people on Live would rather just get a cheaper fee for nothing but voice chat and online play. 
 
I really hope this works out for you guys, and maybe some day you'll do so well that you can stop charging for timely podcasts or something. You guys do amazing things, really, and you deserve to make a load of cash. You guys have more integrity then every fucking journalist out there in the industry combined. You guys make life great for me, and I love ya all to death. Really, you guys do amazing things, and you keep the industry at least a little bit pure, cutting through the bullshit and working for us, the consumers of the content. I really don't want you guys to think, if you read this, that I think you guys aren't worth it, that you don't deserve something for your troubles, because you do. I just hope you guys can give people a better solution, like changing it to a live stream of the podcast, or giving a smaller fee for just the Bombcast.

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Portal 2 delay- Time issues, or new mechanics?

Just speculation here folks, but what do you think is the real reason behind the delay of Portal 2? I get the vague feeling that they are adding some (potentially dangerous) mechanic to the game, which is obviously a big deal. What about you folks out there, are we gunna have rocket jumping in Portal 2, or was there just a fire in the Valve office?

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Crazy "in-game" dream

I had the weirdest dream the other week: I was living in the Bad Company 2 Engine, runnin' around shootin' people (marveling at how real it was, because it was a little enhanced in my dream lol), and I was just going on and on to my team mates about how totally weird it was that my computer (which I was apparantly playing on) could play Bad Company at Max, but couldn't even bother with Crysis. The weirdest part of it was that I totally thought the whole thing was real, even after I woke up I was having issues separating reality from the dream. Just curious if anyone else has every had a sort of "in-game" dream. Sharing is encouraged!

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