Adventures In Dreaming

Right. So I had this weird dream last night that I JUST woke up from and I wanted to write it down before the memory starts to fade. Even now I can feel it slipping away, so I may need to try and fill in the blanks. A friend of mine pops in at some point. For brevity's sake, he will be known only as DLR. I just needed a place to post it. I figured I'd post it here. Here goes.

It's a brisk morning in somewhere Ireland. (I'm originally from Canada, but my lineage traces back to the Irish. Still, I've never been there and I only know what it looks like from movies and pictures) My Dad was now living there and had a new job. (He and my Mom had split up for some reason) I was sitting around his house, bored. There was nothing to do in the surrounding area. (His house was surrounded by trees and a dirt road leading to the main road, I assume) I decided to go for a walk. (In this dream, Ireland is very small, enough to walk it in a day) The first thing I came across was this little shop; a tiny convenience store. It looked closed. (I remember how quaint it looked) I continued to walk.

[Flash forward]

After walking the entire day in the rolling, green hills of Ireland, I was on my way home and dark veil of night covered the scene. I walked up to small, elderly lady with grey, stringy, thin hair who was peering out over the ocean. She was sitting on a picnic table. (She kind of looks like you image what a woman who could see into the future would look like. Not a fortune teller, but someone who you have a feeling could tell you ominous things about the future. She couldn't, but you know)

I walked up to her.

"Hello," I said in an Irish accent I just discovered I now had.

She didn't say anything in return at first.

"Well, I better be off," I said with that same accent.

"You should brave the winds, lad. Tomorrow you should open the shop. People will appreciate it," She finally replied.

(Apparently the shop I came across was closed to due to wind. So, some pussy closed down due to wind and I'm tasked with re-opening it. Also, it was now windy. I also realized I was wearing a long, Harry Potter-type scarf. It, along with my long hair, was blowing in the wind. I was also dressed very handsome. {Picture a handsome man dressed in very stylish fall clothing. If you can't do that without feeling uncomfortable, maybe you should look into yourself as a human being. I'm very comfortable in my heterosexuality, so I can appreciate a handsome man without thinking I'm gay. Maybe you're gay! I digress} I was looking straight dreamy)

"I'll do that," I replied. (I wasn't going to do that)

I started walking in-land a bit and came across a small town. All the small houses and shops were dark and closed, except for one big building that had a light on in the window. I walked to it and peered inside. It was a bunch of old people playing bridge or something. It was adorable. I walked away and headed for home.

[Flash forward]

It was the next day. I was driving my see my friend DLR at his new job in Ireland. (Apparently he left his job in Texas for this. I shrug at this like it's a normal thing to do) I arrive at the job site and head inside. (It looks like a lumber yard from a cartoon or something, but the office building looked like just a big house) Inside, DLR and I hug and he asked me how my trip was. A few minutes later, his boss comes in. He lives in the house and owns the company. He was a real scowl on his face. I already didn't like this guy.

(Flash forward)

After some time passed, DLR and I were about to head out to the project site to see what he was doing here, the owner's wife entered. She had grey, curly perm-like hair. (You know, like as lot of old people have. Kind of like the Queen of England. Come to think of it, a LOT like the Queen of England. Holy shit, she might have been the Queen of England. Anyway) She seemed pleasant, that is, until she opened her mouth. DLR introduced my to his woman, and she continued to call me "She". (I assume because of the long hair, but my massive beard should prove otherwise)

"He's a man," her husband commented.

"She's a very pretty one at that," she replied.

(This bitch was stepping and shit was 'bout to get real if she didn't check herself)

So DLR takes me down to the job site. (It looked like a they were building a bunch of houses and stores. Kind of like building a movie set) Then, we went to his pickup truck. (3/4 ton for those coming along for the ride) We started driving but then forgot his dog. (His dog in real life is named Rachet, but this wasn't him. He referred to it as Chance. Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure the dog in Homeward Bound was named Chance. It wasn't that Chance, because this one was big and fat and slobbery and adorable)

We went back to his job site to pick up Chance, but when we got there, the owner and his wife seems darker; scarier. The owner needed to talk with DLR, so they stepped aside, but he handed me a 3 ft length of hose.

"There's a power issue on site 3. Just go down there and throw this over the fence," the owner said. (That's exactly how he fucking said it. I couldn't forget that. I just realized how much fucking nonsense this all is. Jesus Christ)

Like a stupid child, I take his word for it and the hose and walk down to the job site. (This is were shit gets weird. More-so.) When I get down there, I realize...I don't know what the fuck "site 3" means, but I hold onto the hose. I walked back to the house and people are arguing. The wife is screaming and the owner looks like he is about to hit DLR. I run in and hit the owner with the hose like it's nunchuks. He gets pissed and comes at me. DLR and I bolt for his truck. He gets in and starts crying like a little baby. (I've known DLR for a while. I have never seen him or heard him cry and I don't remember him ever talking about crying. This was like a sobbing little baby. It didn't weird me out though.)

I open the passenger side door and move the raw ground beef to the dashboard so I could sit down. (I know) Once I was seated and buckled in, I consoled him. He then drove away forgetting Chance again. When we get back, there is a full blown gunfight between the workers and the Triads. (That's right, THE FUCKING TRIADS) We stopped near the house and Chance ran in through DLRs side of the truck. The Owner started shooting at us and DLR took off and drove us over a cliff. It seemed to tumble forever. When it finally hit the ground, we got out. We were fine, but unfortunately, Chance was dead. DLR started crying again. I consoled him.

It was now time for revenge. We got back in the still working truck and drove up to the scene of the gunfight. We got out and DLR ran up to the owner and started punching him in the face. I ran up to the Queen of England and started beating her with a hose until she died. When DLR came out of his rage, we realized I killed the owner's wife and we ran to the truck. We took off and suddenly the owner was in the back seat and tried to strangle DLR. Again, we drive off the cliff. Before the truck hits the ground, we both jump out leaving the owner in to die.

The truck hits and explodes. We landed safely due to all the trees surround the job site. (I don't even) DLR and I looked at each other. It was finally over. Before we knew it, the owner started to crawl out of the truck, but was stuck in it. (Very Terminator in his persistence) I saw some metal bundle strapping on the ground. (If you don't know, metal strapping is used to hold bundles or lumber together on a skid during transport. I've worked in a lumber warehouse off and on for the past 10 years. The metal kind is the best. Don't get me fucking started on the plastic shit) I took the strapping and wrapped it around his neck and started to saw through it like a tree. He was still calling me names the entire time I was sawing even when the head was seconds away from coming off.

When I finally cut through it, it was still talking. We decided this was finally over. We patted the fire on the truck out with our hands and drove away. (Because that truck was still working)

(Flash forward)

The last thing I remember seeing before waking up was DRL, myself and a big group of our friends sitting around my apartment (THE ONE I LIVE IN RIGHT NOW IN CANADA) playing PS4. (Which I don't own)

Fin

Now, there are a few things I took away from this dream.

  1. Trucks are indestructible
  2. The Queen of England is a BITCH
  3. Ireland shifts from being big and small whenever it wants. I assume it has something to do with space-time or wormholes or something
  4. Electrical/power issues are fixed with a hose
  5. Old people are creepy
  6. DLR cries like a stupid baby
  7. I have really no idea what DLR does for a living
  8. The Triad have beef with the Royal Family
  9. I'm skilled with 3 ft of hose and a band of lumber strap
  10. Video Games are pretty cool
  11. Dreams are weird
  12. I want a hamburger

I'm sorry.

-Ryan

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Free-to-Pay: One man's look at the rise of Free-to-Play Gaming

Free-to-Play, Pay-to-Play, Pay-to-Win, Free-to-Pay.

At one time or another, I've heard one of these terms used to describe the free-to-play(F2P) model. Over the past few years, many once pay-to-play MMOs have converted to a F2P model, hoping to generate a growing number of players who would otherwise not purchased the game, for lack of interest/funds. Some games have been successful in moving from a paid subscription model to F2P. EverQuest and Lord of the Rings Online, for example have had huge population spikes once they made the move. Games like Guild Wars 2 have launched with a one time fee, like most retail games, but offer an MMO world with a microtransaction, F2P model within, which has worked quite well for ArenaNet.

RUN! TERRIBLE PRACTICES ON OUR SIX!

The unfortunate side of F2P is how the developer will, on occasion, hinder your progress, nearly forcing you to buy whatever it is they're selling, for you continue to enjoy your time with their game. Known as pay-to-win, these games tend to turn off the average person as they only wish to play a free game to some level of enjoyment without being forced to pay. An example of pay-to-win is Battlefield Heroes. You just straight up have to buy guns. Unless you want to be stuck with the default gun anyway. Some of the pay guns make the game much easier to score kills. This may have changed since I played. Also, Hawken was a good example. When I first played, the only way to get new mechs was to buy them with real money, leaving you with only one light mech and three guns. Also, mech slots had to be paid for and you were given only one. It was a turn off and I stopped playing. Since then, there is an in-game currency, which you can use to buy mechs and I believe you also have more slots before you need to buy more.

Normally I wouldn't have spent as much time as I have over the last year or so with F2P games, but after I was laid off, money became tight and to feed my video game addiction, I turned to F2P. Free-to-play games are games that are 100% free and do not force you to ever spend a dime to do everything the game has to offer, but offer many microtransactions if you so desire. The first one that comes to mind is MechWarrior Online. MWO allows you to play the game without spend a dime. You are given four mech slots as well as four rotating trial mechs so you can earn money to then buy your own. All weapons, parts and chassis' can be purchased with in-game currency. Only cosmetic items and certain single use boosters can be bought with real money. The boosters give a slight advantage, but are certainly not pay-to-win.

This pleases me, Tenno

Another example of completely F2P is Warframe. After creating your account, you play through the tutorial, then you are given the option of one of three starting Warframes. Once you open up to the full game, you are given an extra Warframe slot and three extra weapons slots. You can do everything in that game with what they give you. Also, frame parts can be farmed and crafted with everything you can find in the game as well as weapons. They do give you the option for mictotransactions for everything in the game, but it is completely unnecessary.

Star Trek Online is one of the converted F2P games I fell in love with. I'm a huge Star Trek nerd and even though I'm not much of a fan of the away team stuff, the space combat is amazing. It's one of the best space combat simulators you will ever find with a free price tag. I am almost all the way through the story and I have not needed to pay a single dime of my own money. I could see it not being for everyone, but Star Trek fans should give it a shot. It's a big boiling pot of fanfair.

Legit excited for this

Games like League of Legends, DotA 2, Team Fortress 2 and World of Tanks/Warplanes/Warships are the poster children for the new wave of non-standard gaming practices. Newer games are coming out developed as F2P from the ground up and more and more are figuring out the right way to do it. It works so well, that even some retail games are integrating microtransactions into them. A game that was judged harshly for having them was Dead Space 3, which I didn't have the same problem with as the rest of the internet. I would never have known if it wasn't for people yelling about them. They weren't flashing in my face constantly and there was no mention of them except maybe once the entire game. I was able to complete that game with ease and I didn't spend anything other than the dollar for the humble bundle. Until microtransactions become obnoxious and progress hindering in a retail game, I don't really see the big deal, but that's a discussion for another time.

Games can be free and still profitable, just don't shove microtransactions down our throat or make it so we don't want to play your game because we actually can't finish it without paying money. I didn't need to ever spend money in Warframe, but I did, but I really enjoy that game and want to support the devs. You catch more bees with honey. Or something like that.

What free-to-play games do you like? Have I missed some bad offenders of the pay-to-win model? Anything you want to see become free-to-play? Sound off in the comments below!

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Ryan Davis

If there was an equivalent to tapping my pen on the page trying to decide what to write for blogs, I did it. Maybe staring at the cursor flashing, giving me nothing. Nothing but tears when I think, anyway.

I had been following Ryan Davis for a long time. Along with Jeff, Brad, Alex, Carrie and Vinny from the GameSpot days. Little did I know they would have such a profound influence on my life. Back then, they were part of something bigger. They were wrapped up in a bigger company, but it was those few that I related to the most. After they separated from GameSpot, I followed them to their new project: Giant Bomb. From the moment they shot that first video, detailing what Giant Bomb was (A website, about Video Games), I knew something special was happening. Even now, I feel like I'm rambling. Honestly I`m terrified to write much more.

I never got to meet Ryan. I hoped one day I would make it to PAX or show up to the office one day, or maybe scream at him on the street with any luck. I wanted to shake his hand. Thank him for what he has done for me and the internet at large. He was always in a good mood. He made me laugh countless times. He and Jeff were Batman and Superman. They loved each other like brothers. I have a friendship like that, and it kills me to think what Jeff might be going through. I know I would be going through hell. I still wonder if this is a joke. If this was all just an elaborate joke, and tomorrow he comes out from behind the two-way mirror and yells "Gotcha!", I'd be more than happy to see him again. Please let that be the case.

As sad as I may be, Ryan had a lot of close friends and recently a Wife. It tears me up inside thinking about what he left behind. Everyone is devastated. Even the people he had never met. The more I think about it, the more I think about the people he worked with and the people he loved. This is not the best time for them. I feel selfish for even feeling upset, but this is a time for mourning. We lost one of the coolest people on the planet.

I don't know what else to say. I'm heartbroken. I'm angry. I'm sad. I want to make everything better, but I don't have that power. I love Mondays? Fuck that. I hate Mondays more than ever.

I'm going to miss you, Ryan Davis. I love you. Godspeed you damn Summerjam Scholar and Laserdisc Champion.

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Bridging the Generation Gap

The Console Generations. Every one has been drastically different. From controls to hardware to visuals, each console has offered something big and different enough to catch our attention, but there has been several constants among change. Each console has given us pretty standard controls, though some have tried to convert us to Motionology, where as others are just trying to get some of those wayward souls back by offering a non-standard accessory to ease the transition. They also come with games. A broad statement, but it's true. Games will always be the constant with a gaming console. No matter how much they change, they will always be games. More onto my point, however, was this generation offered us a little something more in the form of Gamertags. More importantly, Achievements.

Achievements, Trophies, Accomplishments...Whatever you want to refer to them as; love 'em or hate 'em, Achievements one of the biggest changes to the gaming community in years and have influenced an whole new generation of gamers and have reinvigorated the rest. In the past, beating a game or a frustrating boss meant bragging rights among your school yard chums and a sense of self accomplishment. To prove yourself, you had to either recreate your glory by beating that said game/boss in front of your friends or show them a completed save file. An example from my childhood would be the day I beat Donkey Kong Country. To celebrate, I went to urinate since it'd been hours of holding it so I wouldn't fall out of "The Zone". I still remember finishing up my business and planting my hands on the door before leaving and just grinning at a job well done. Still one of the hardest games to this day, and I had konquered it. (See what I did there?) After a moment of self glory, I opened the door to find my big brother and my little cousin wrestling on the bed in his room across from the bathroom, where my glory was achieved. (Again, see what I did? I believe this is how being a on a roll starts) As I enter the room, I see the controller still on the bed. As I looked to the screen, my save file was gone. It a state of shock I backed out to the title screen and went back to the save files. At that moment, I put the controller down, rested my face into my hands and the world went away. I wasn't angry, not at first. I was something I had never felt before. I was, for the first time, Heartbroken. It's been decades and I've gotten over it, but writing this brings back memories of that day...and it still kind of hurts. In the back of my head, I still have the feeling my brother and cousin did it on purpose because they saw how happy it made me. They used to be dicks, they still can be, so it's not a thought I'm willing to brush off with ease. I digress.

The point is games have always been a proving ground for hand/eye coordination, endurance, strategy, competitiveness and determination among other things and we really didn't have a system of proof until this current generation. That may sound stupid to some people, but I like the idea of having my gaming accomplishments recorded and displayed online as part of my "gamer" profile. This is the first step to what could become recording a gamer's history over future generations, if it's done properly. Again that may sound stupid, but Basketball players have trophies for a lifetime of their accomplishments, Directors have award for their body of work...I'm not asking for a physical trophy, a digital one would do just fine. Sure the difference is they get payed to do it, but they also love doing it. I love gaming and even thought I don't get paid for it, I'm not going to stop. Getting a single achievement is great, but seeing what I've done over the past two years is pretty amazing. It's great seeing how much I've done with something I love do over the course the time I've had my Xbox. (Just shy of 3 years) As we as gamers get older, we become less petty when it comes to having to prove what games we've played/beaten etc but it's still awesome to have my history readily available online to prove something if need be. Now onto the proper point to this article.

This being the first generation to do achievements/trophies, the industry has a great chance to bridge the gap between the console generations and make this more of just a gimmick; make it something worth our while. Microsoft seems to be in the best position to do this. They've been linking the gamer card since the original Xbox and what will they do when they link it to the next generation Xbox. Will they just carry over some aspects? I hope now. Will they carry everything over and let you continue what you, as a gamer, have started with your score? I bloody well hope so. I'm pretty proud of what I've been able to accomplish in the past 3 years of owning my 360 and if I could continue that into the next generation, from where I left off on the 360, that would truly be awesome. People always say: "It's not fair, I can't catch up to you", which is stupid. I've been gaming and game day-after-day upping that score. It's a history of gaming. It's not about someone new trying to catch up to some who's been playing for 3 years, it's about veterancy. I've been at this a long time, 50k GamerScore is like a rank. I've been at this a long time and when I'm 50, I want to be able to show off how much of a gamer nerd I am by having a crazy high score or rank or whatever. It shows the new gamers that I've been around the block. The reason I want to be able to continue on where I left off with the new generation is that if I ever have kids and they want to play games like their old man, I want them to start their own history while at the same time I can show them mine. Which gives them the opportunity to ask questions about old games they see in my history and so on.

Building a history would be relatively easy. I mean, when we do make the jump to the next generation, they can categorize the achievements pages by console, so you can flip past the generations and not have older ones mixing with new ones, but keeping your score the same and just keep adding onto it. It wouldn't be difficult with the 360, though I'm not sure how the PSN would do it. I know they record it online, but switching to a new console might bring up some issues, unless they allow you to download you past trophy history on the PS4. They might even have it set up completely different and more user friendly next time around, who knows. In any case, I like this idea. I wouldn't have written about it if I didn't. I'm definitely sure some people will hate it, but discussion is what ideas are all about.

So this is my plea to the industry. Don't let this become a gimmick! Let's make it one of those constants that stays throughout future generations. It was a good idea. Let me keep my gamer card throughout future generations! Steam has already got this down. It never has to change, so your history just keeps building. The PSN and XBL need to make recording your progress a constant in this ever changing industry. The only other thing I could hope for, in a perfect world, would be a single unification of the tags. Places like Giant Bomb and Raptr are a good start, but they only allow us to add our multiple tags to one place to keep a record of it all. What I want is a way to log into one gamer tag across multiple consoles. I know it won't happen, but I did say this would have to be a perfect world.

I now have an online identity and making me start over from scratch each generation is cruel. Let this be a beginning for us and future generations. I wish I had this as a kid! I could look back without needing to keep it all in my brain. Remember games I forgot I played, see what I achieved. This generation started something great, it's now up to the industry to decided if it lives or dies in the next generation.

- Your friendly neighborhood SharpShotApollo

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Entitlement - A Look At Why It Understandably Exists, Though Really Shouldn't

** EDIT: I was looking through my old work and realized this made me sound like all gamers have entitlement. I want to assure you I don't think that to be the case. I wanted this to be an analysis of how I can understandably see why it does exist and why some people could feel they should have some sort of ruling voice. I don't feel I do, but spend any time on a gaming forum and you see why I think a lot of gamers do. **

As most people know, gamers are known to have the most profound entitlement in any industry of entertainment. Many people don't seem to understand why. Well, there is a very good reason why. We pay for our hobby. Sure other people spend money on their hobby. People who play sports buy equipment, TV watchers pay for Cable, movie-goers buy tickets/rentals, people who race buy parts and fuel. Usually all bought once and after a period of time, they replace broken parts or upgrade. Gamers, on the other hand, PAY for their hobby. More-so than any other form of hobby. Think about it. We buy games on a monthly basis, we pay to play online with Xbox Live, we pay for deals when it comes to PSN Plus. We pay monthly fees for MMOs. We buy DLC to extend an otherwise finished game. We buy multiple consoles. We buy better parts almost annually for PCs. So on and so fourth.

We have this entitlement because we pay to play; we keep the industry going. Without us games and consoles wouldn't exist. I guess you could say that about anyone's hobby, but Gamers are the most opinionated and rightfully so. I watch TV, I watch Movies, I play Sports. Gaming, however, is where I spend my hard earned cash the most. Why do we get pissed when a game is delayed or doesn't turn out they way we wanted? Well, because we pay good money for these games and to see I'm not going to get it on time or it sucks, well, sucks! It's sites like Giant Bomb, IGN, Joystiq and Destructoid that help us spend our money properly. It's why they provide us with a forum to discuss the industry and our favorite games. I bet their more sites dedicated to gaming than there is model building or puzzle making.

I don't start flame wars; I'm not a fanboy. I like gaming. I like to be civilized when I talk about games, just like any other medium for discussion. The pictures below will prove my point as to why some have this sense of idealistic authority in the gaming industry. It's also my collection of gaming hardware at my current residence. The rest is in storage or is digital via Steam.

Xbox 360 and PS3 current collection.
I kinda like collector's editions.
Xbox, Gamecube and DS collection.
Only a few of my PC games. I hate Jewel Cases, so I printed out DVD labels and bought cases for my older games.
Battle Chests along with Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed collectible guides. Didn't break the spine!
A disappointing buy. The BLOPS prestige edition.
A few more games plus my 2 360's and my big block Xbox.
PS3 and Gamecube. Unfortunately, my N64, SNES and NES are in storage. Also, old, shitty laptop is shitty. (Under Lugz box)
Collector's Edition junk.
More CE junk. I love all of it.
My parents handed me a box when they last visited. Game were in it. It worried me though. This is a fraction of it...
SNES and N64 Zelda's i display prominently!
I don't know who did this to my game!!
Game changer.
Still have yet to finish this game. Hard as fuck!
Don't even remember owning this!
Classic. As much so as my copy of Metal Gear 2: Snake's Revenge. I wish that was in this box.
Perfect condition N64 controller. Probably one of the last.
They seem prehistoric now.
Booklet. No game to be found though.
Some of my N64 and a couple of SNES games. This around the time I started keeping boxes.
Still works. I might play Pokemon Red later!
How times have changed.
One of several plastic instruments from the rhythm game genre craze.

So that's it. It kind of gives perspective in why we have so much entitlement. It may not always come off as a good thing, but maybe people should understand a little more why we do. Do you think we're entitled? Good thing or bad thing? Sound off!

-Your friendly neighborhood SharpShotApollo

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The Hero's Return - A Mass Effect (3) Blog

I'm a Mass Effect superfan. Before I even owned an Xbox 360, I had been following this game. I dreamed of the day my poor college-attending ass would be able to play it. I thought about buying the game to play on my buddy's 360. Yes, I wanted my hands on it this bad. The only other game I thought about doing this for was Metal Gear Solid 3, alas I still have yet to play that one. Mass Effect, on the other hand, was one of the first games I purchased when I came into a large sum of money after finishing college. Putting over 7 playthroughs and 200+ hours into Mass Effect, you could say I was somewhat excited for the sequel. You could also say I was squealing like a schoolgirl weeks before its release in January of 2010. I digress.
 
A post over on the Giant Bomb Mass Effect 3 forum  gave me the idea for this blog. The premise was which characters I wanted to see return in Mass Effect 3. I gave a response, but I wanted to go a little more in depth with my answers. One, because I love talking Mass Effect with anyone and everyone, and two, I like to ramble on about stuff I love. Drinking makes this evident. If you listen to my Podcast, you will soon find out we drink and ramble about games. Most of the time when we listen back to it, we find ourselves yelling at our iPhones, PCs or iPods to "shut the fuck up, you drunk!". True story. Anywho, as I sip my glass of Canadian Club Reserve, I present to you The Hero's Return - A Mass Effect (3) blog. (Yes, that's a Pink Floyd reference. I like to reference awesome when I blog. :D )
 
**NOTICE:** The following will contain spoilers for PS3 owners. If you have yet to play it, you might want to steer clear.
 
With the release of Mass Effect 3 technically under a year away, if you believe that it will make it out by December which I'm pretty confident it won't, we have to imagine what will be the main plot. Ok, maybe we don't have the imagine. The Reapers are coming and Shepard is the only person who can stop them. I saw another post in the forums about what Giant Bomb user DriveupLife had a theory on. His theory is about uniting the factions, which you can find here. I'll be getting into why I like this theory and how I see it going down in a bit.
 
One thing I want from Mass Effect 3 is the possibility of space combat. A little something more advanced from the Kotor mini game Bioware did. Maybe a little more Halo: Reach-ish. Full control of the Normandy in a combat situation OR taking control of a one-maned fighter from a Capital Ship or from a Space Station or Installation. 
 
The Normandy is docked at a station on the edge of The Terminus and it comes under Reaper attack, maybe Rogue Geth, maybe pirate attack. Shepard learns of the station's fighter compliment. He orders the Normandy to battlestations and detach from dock. He and his two current companions along with the station's fighter pilots launch their craft to defend the station. To cover if his companions can pilot the fighters or not, let's say they either stay behind to help with the relief effort on board the station or he orders them back to the Normandy before she detaches. Why is there one extra fighter for Shepard? One of the pilots dies in an explosion before they launch for drama or the station has extra fighters in case of technical issues for practicality. Either way, both are probable instances for the story to move from there. Maybe Shepard gets hit near the end of combat and he gets captured before the Normandy can rescue him? Then we get a little action with Shepard on his own, stuck on an unknown ship trying to send an SOS to his companions informing them of his location. 
 
See, I told you I like to ramble. With that part of a potential Mass Effect fantasy out of the way, I'll move on to the support cast. Who I want to return as Shepard's team. This doesn't include the ship's crew, for example, Kelly Chambers or Joker. Also this is where I'll add my two cents about the factions being united. Keep in mind as I write this, my first Shepard was male soldier who chose Ashley then Miranda as his bed companions. So if I go on about things you didn't experience, note this was my first experience.
 
Garrus Vakarian aka Archangel

 The Turian. The Legend.
Garrus has become as big a part of Mass Effect as Shepard has. He will be in Mass Effect 3, he has to be. He is my favorite character in the franchise and I've always treated him as my Second-in-Command. Miranda may have the title, but he is the actual. He is my Shepard's tactician and confident. He is my Turian Liaison and he probably has contacts within the Turian military. The Turians might be the hardest to convince of the Reapers existence, so he may be key to getting the ball rolling with his people, when he provides them with solid evidence of the true Reaper threat.
 
Ashley Williams/ Kaidan Alenko
 Former lover makes a return.
For this part, I will be writing with Ashley in mind. For the most part, the same can be said for Kaidan.
 
 Ashely was my Soldier Shepard's love interest in Mass Effect and through my choices in Mass Effect 2, I believe I may have jeopardized my relationship with her. I chose to peruse relations with Miranda with my Soldier Shep and I had no idea that if you choose not to pursue a new relationship, Shepard would look at Ashley's picture and smile on the journey through the Omega Relay. This blew my mind. It made me realize that there was a huge possibility of having Ashley make a return. 
 
Be that as it may, having her return makes her a liaison to the Alliance. With a friend on the counsel with Anderson and Ashley on board, she will be able to keep tabs on Shepard and makes sure he's telling the truth and truly no longer working with Cerberus. Having her back also opens up the romantic aspect of Shepard's life. Does having her back make Shepard thing twice about his new relationship? Did he choose to stay faithful and now she's back by his side? Maybe she has a new lover and you have to reprove yourself to her by saving this new man in her life. I want to see aspects of the original Mass Effect come full circle into the final chapter. I believe this is a good way to include some of that original story.
 
  Tali'Zorah vas Normandy 
 The adorable engineer.
Tali is another one of those characters who have become a huge part of the Mass Effect franchise. Being a huge fan of the franchise, I love all aspects of the universe and don't associate it with any one or two characters. When it comes to gamers less Mass Effect crazy who've played it, I can't help but imagine the names Shepard, Garrus, Liara and Tali come to mind. She one of the faces of the franchise. Not only an expert in the field of Engineering, her demeanor is like none other among Shepard and Co. She's kind-hearted, brave, brilliant, loyal and innocent . Innocent to the point when a romantic dialog opens up with her, she becomes fluttered and he responses are adorable. 
 
Aside from being just an amazing character, she is Shepard's only link to the Quarian. A race who excels in technology. They created the Geth. An self-aware AI capable of learning vast amounts of information and absorbing technology with ease. With help from Tali, Shepard could very well recruit the Quarians in Galaxy's final hour. Of course, she was a possible love interest, so seeing her story arch with Shepard unfold would be a delight.
 
  Liara T'Soni 
 "Back off man, I'm a scientist."
SHADOW BROKER SPOILERS AHEAD! 

You can stick whoever you want on the poster for Mass Effect, but Liara is one of the "poster child" characters of the franchise. Going from the sweet and innocent scientist from Mass Effect to the ruthless information broker we met in Mass Effect 2. Liara is close to Shepard, love interest or not. She would do anything for him. In her new position as Shadow Broker, she can help getting any and all information on anything he may need. Having her by his side will make the link to the Shadow Network even more valuable. Getting real time information on enemies, installations, etc. Feron could stay behind at HQ while she's away. Plus, having access to Shadow Network agents would be resourceful in the coming events as well as unfolding any romance options Shepard may have pursued with her.
 
SHADOW BROKER SPOILERS END!
 
 Urdnot Wrex 
 Last of the Battlemasters. Leader of the Krogan Clans.
Wrex has never been one to stand idly by while Shepard was in need. Yes, in Mass Effect 2, he couldn't join you as his people needed him there, but with the coming threat of the Reapers, I think Wrex will join Shepard once more. He is the leader of his people and they will follow him into battle. With the Korgan behind Shepard, the Reapers will have their war. Grunt was fine and could be liaison to the Krogans, but Wrex is the original badass and won't sit this one out. He can't. His warrior blood wouldn't allow it. That is, if he survived his time during Mass Effect, which in my experience, he most certainly did.
 
Legion 
 "Organics fear us. We wish to understand, not to incite."
Legion is the enemy. Correction, he was the enemy. Legion just wants what's best for his people. The Geth are in civil war. The "Heretics" are under control of the Reapers, where as the rest of the Geth are apathetic toward organics. He was designed to interact with organics, specifically Shepard himself. Legion is the only liaison to the Geth Shepard has. In my experience, I helped with with a virus that would convert the Heretics into rejoining the other, good Geth. This, I believe, will be a huge impact in the third outing for Shepard. With the Geth fighting for organics, the armed force will be increased ten fold. Legion will become an important part of Mass Effect 3. It just seems like his storyline was the perfect setup for it.

Miranda Lawson 
 Cerberus Officer. Genetically enhanced.
Miranda is, or should I say was, a loyal Cerberus Officer before the final moments of Mass Effect 2 in my experience. She is my Shepard's current love interest and although an efficient soldier and biotic user, she most likely still has contacts within the Cerberus organization, maker her an asset in brining Cerberus resources to Shepard's side in aid against the Reapers. Cerberus technology would be infinitely useful in combating the Reapers. She has given her full loyalty to Shepard and in turn makes her a powerful ally.
 
 Mordin Solus
 Back off man, I'm a...Oh...I used that one all ready. : \
Mordin is again, one of those team members that would be a good liaison to his people. The Salarians. In fact, he used to be a member of the Special Tasks Group. With contacts he, most likely, still has within the military and Shepard's name among the STG from his deeds in Mass Effect in good form, they would be able to work their way at not only having the STG join the fight, but the Salarian military as well. On the plus, Mordin is an expert in scientific tech and some of his work would be a great help in fighting the Reapers.
 
  Thane Krios 
 On Death's door.
I like Thane, I really do. I'm not sure how much of a Military the Drell have, unless he has some friends who are also assassins, but I wasn't sure what he could bring to the table. The main reason Thane is on this list, is because he's kinda awesome. Besides that, I want to see where is story leads. Can we find a cure for his illness? Will he die before Earth's final hour? Either way, I want Thane back for Mass Effect 3. If he's to die, I want it to be an honorable one.
 
 Zaeed Massani 
 Rebel with a cause.
I surprised myself with this one. I don't really like Zaeed. Never did. The fact he was the former leader of the Blue Suns mercenaries makes me think he might be a big asset in the fight to come. If he could regain command of the Blue Suns, he might be able to unite the merc groups under one flag. This would be a huge help for Shepard and with Zaeed's loyalty, it might stay like that. I fear that if he were to gain that much power, he might not know how to handle it for the good of the galaxy. When the fight is over, it might have not been the best idea to give him that much power.
 
HONORABLE MENTION:

Samara
Justice Bringer.
Look, we already have an Asari, sorry doll face. The reason she gets an honorable mention is because Samara probably has a lot more pull with the Asari government than Liara has, but other than that, I'm not sure she would be a huge help other than on a personal level, fighting by Shepard's side. Unless she can recruit the Justicars, but I think that would just fall under the Asari Military. They can definitely bring her back to be the Asari liaison, since Liara kind of has her hands full with previously mention tasks. I think Samara is a super badass, so I'd love to have her for another round in the third outing.
 
 There you have it! The character I want to return and my thoughts on the Uniting the Factions theory. Let me know what you think! Post you're own theories or tell me I'm crazy! Come one, come all!
 
-Your friendly neighborhood SharpShotApollo
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Good? Evil? A Little Something In-Between?

 In recent months, I've been playing a lot of games. Games that let you choose a path. A path of heroism and honor, one of corruption and evil or a little something in between. A neutral state of mind and body. Allow me to explain: 
 

  I can be you're hero, baby!
Path of a Hero: A character path of good deeds and self-sacrifice. Usually involving the protection of ones who cannot protect themselves and the destruction of those who compromise that protection. The character is a symbol of justice and a beacon of hope; no matter what the cost to themselves.

  I'mma fuck you up. By all means, try and stop me.
Path of the Villain: A character basking in darkness. Everything they do has something in it for them. A symbol of selfishness, they prey on the needs of others and let nothing stand in their way for their own self-preservation.   
 
  Wabbits. I hunt them. (Elmer Fudd reference: check)
Path of the Neutral: A character riding a fine line between good and evil. The kind of person is does what they think is the proper thing to do whatever the situation calls for. One minute, they could give a starving family money to eat for a week, then turn around and stab a dude in the neck for looking at him in that funny "strange" way not ten minutes later. They're hard to read in where they stand. Usually referred to as an Anti-Hero or Anti-Villain.
 
When it comes to gaming, difficulty determines how you play the game tactically. In an FPS, difficulty allows you to play like a super soldier when at the extremest of low, using no cover, reloading on the run and getting in close for the stabby knife kill, all while having very little fear of death. At the other end of the spectrum, an FPS can turn into a nightmare for some, and a challenge to test your skill. Using cover, reloading often and holding your ground until you know it's safe to make your way to the next piece of cover, only inches away..
 
In a choose your path style of game, not only does the enemy AI increase the challenge, the decision you make can either get you through in a breeze or make the game much more of a challenge. Usually the path of good is what's going to cause you the most heartache. Making the decision to keep a thug alive because he surrendered is the right, heroic thing to do. It just sucks balls when I meet that thug, thirty minutes later, rearmed and fighting against me with ten of his friends. The evil option is to kill him where he stands, he doesn't warn is friends and I get off with full ammo, unharmed. Obviously with a Neutral stance on the world, you can make the decision on the fly, whatever works best for the player.
 
Sure, a person who is playing a full-blow hero could make the decision that may be evil, but helps you in the long run, but then you're not playing it right. I mean, if you're just playing, based on the decisions you yourself would make, that's fine, but if I make the decision to be a hero, I stick with it, whatever the consequences.
 
A point to all of this is coming, I swear...Here it is.
 
I have issues with the world. We all do. Either bad drives, bum luck, people in general piss you off and so on. Gaming is a great way to take out some of that frustration. Hell it's a way to run into that frustration while playing. (ie Running into racist fuckheads while playing MW2 or Halo online) Games like MW2, Halo, Bad Company, etc are great way to just shoot at other people without being considered a murder by taking it to the mean streets of real life.
 
With outlets like shooters available for frustration purposes when needed, I find myself playing the uber white knight hero when it comes to choosing my path in games that allow it, like Mass Effect and it's sequel, The Fallout series, Red Dead Redemption, etc. Some might call it a hero complex. I call it years of being brainwashed by Television and Movies; Cartoons and Comic. It's not too often a villain gets a TV show or a Movie and when it comes to most media, it always turns out with a happy ending. It was a trend over the years. Mario was just trying to save the princess, Spiderman just wants to help people after he was wronged, Snake has to save the world from Liquid, Superman was a symbol of hope and justice when people needed him the most. Due to so many of these factors, I can't help but be the hero.
 
I've tried on many occasions to be a bad dude. I've made evil characters in the past for Mass Effect and Fallout, but I just never go back to them. It didn't do it for me. Especially in Fallout because it just makes the game so easy. Along with the fact I hated some of the scum NPCs in that game, that I would just end up blowing their head off. I'm still the hero for ridding the wasteland of that garbage. Another chance was my DCUO beta villain character. I'm have a hard time going back to her because A) I'm a little tired of that game right now and B) I can't bring myself to strike down the heroes I grew up reading about or watching. My friend and co-host of TeaBagRadio, Sean told me that he had to strike down Supergirl. He's a monster for it and I could never do that to such a sweet, innocent girl. She's just trying to do the right thing, dammit!
 
I think I got my point across. I think I was rambling toward the end there. In short, the world is being brainwashed every day to be heroic. At the very least they want you to be an anti-hero. I pose a question: How do you play a "choose your path" game? Good? Evil? A little something in-between? I'd love to know how you play!
 
Until next time,
 
-Your friendly neighborhood SharpShotApollo
 
P.S. Merry Christmas everyone!
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Can't Sleep, Gotta Save The World!

 
So recently everyone who's anyone (with a 360) has been playing Halo: Reach. Strangely enough, this isn't about Reach, or football (Colts destroyed the Giants for anyone who cares).

Anyway.

No, this is about a game I didn't give a chance when it was first released. A game that, when it it became a $20 greatest hits title, I played for an hour or two and shelfed. Now that I've given more time and changed my strategy toward, have fallen in love with. The hand-holding, public kissy-kissy, single-strand-of-spaghetti-drawing-you-closer-and-closer-until-your-faces-smash-together kind of love that not many games can provide. A few games that come to mind are LoZ: A Link to the Past, Metal Gear Solid, Uncharted 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Mass Effect and of course, Mass Effect 2. I could list more and you might ask, "Ryan, I thought you said not many games could provide that kind of love?" Well asshole, how many games have been made in the past 24 years? If I could name a solid one hundred games, that would still be considered "not many". Lucky I don't even think I could name 20, neither would I want to for love of time.

Now I bet you're thinking one of two things, "What game is he talking about!?!?" In response, you shouldn't be freaking out with that much anticipation about the games I love. That would be weird. Or you're thinking "I'm gonna stop reading now". In response I would make sad face and go about my day. For the mild mannered and slightly interested, I present to you:

 Now in Technicolor!
Now I, again, think I know what you're thinking: "How did you not give Fallout 3 a chance?". For boards users, it's would go a little something *Dramatic pause* like this: "What?!?1 You suxZ0rz, how did you not give teh Falloutz a chance!!?11!"

Well, I did give it a chance, and I didn't like what I was playing. Mostly because I'm not into the whole 'scavenge-to-survive, yet we're gonna throw a world of super mutant-make-me-wanna-cry' gameplay. Does that make me a bad person or gamer? No. I also suck at RTS, and no, I don't suck at RPGs. Come back to me after you've played and beat Mass Effect 1 and 2 a total of 8 and 6 times respectably, A Link to the Past so much you've lost count, and both KoTors several times. Then we can judge each other. I prefer not to judge gamers, as I respect gamers as family.

My love story routes from one. single. strategy. I changed the difficulty to easy. I don't do this often. I, as a matter of fact, hate it. I prefer to play on the difficulty the Developers see fit, usually in this day and age, is a variant of the word 'Normal'. Some games, like Halo, describe hard or "Heroic" as the norm. I fall in line and listen to their wisdom. When I get through a game on the default difficulty, and decided I loved it enough to give it another go, I amp up the difficulty. Gears of War, Halo and Call of Duty are all great examples of such. I've tackled The hardest modes at some point or another. Halo will be getting the Legendary treatment soon and Call of Duty because, evidently, I'm a self-masochist. Though I do love that rush of beating a Call of Duty when the difficulty description is "You will not survive". Bring it on.

When it came to Fallout 3, it was different. I didn't enjoy myself like the others. It was frustrating just dying all the time with no health packs and getting ripped apart. RPGs are known for there brutality when it comes to save points and combat. Luckily, I know this pattern and save quite a bit, with multiple saves. Yet, it still happens where I would be exploring and get jumped by Mercs with weapons far superior to my own. Once the difficult decision to change the difficulty was made (See what I did there) I started enjoying myself. Ammo is aplenty, enemies are reasonable to defeat and I've progressed ten-fold in the story. Also, it is awesome.

I'm still deciding if it's one of the games that will not lose it's spark. Remember the long, ramble of a love speech I gave earlier? Well, the games I mentioned never lost that spark. It's like the early period in the relationship and it's on a constant loop. With most games, I have the same relationship, until we spend time together and things get comfortable. It's not a bad thing, I can fart in front of her and nobody minds, she pees with the door open and nobody minds. It's still not the same as that first time you decided to be a couple though. With games like Modern Warfare 2, it's the beating-boyfriend kind of relationshit (yes, shit) where boy loves girl one day, hits girl second day because they're out of pepper. Pepper is a metaphor. One to signify his life is falling through holes around him and being ingested by society. That and he is a jackass for hitting a woman. I don't condone that kind of behavior in RL, but when it comes to games, it's my relationshit with Modern Warfare 2.

But I digress.

Fallout 3 is trying to ruin my sleep schedule something fierce. I usually(try) go to bed around 3AM. I don't have a full time job, so this is pretty easy, So I can wake up around 10AM. I used to work nights and am a night person, so it was easy for me to stay up until 6AM and wake up at 1 or 2PM. This always made me feel like a bag of shit, so I decided to make some changes, look for a day job and try to stay on schedule. Lately, Fallout 3 told me to go eff myself and I've been sleeping late and staying up later. It's also how I found myself living in Fallout 3's world. I was not letting my character sleep. I was too busy trying to saving the world. Sleep was for the weak. When I realized what was happening, I decided to fix that and I'm currently in the process of fixing that, in game and out. I love my Lone Wanderer and myself to much to screw up our sleep. So now, she sleeps when she's been up to long, and I keep my 3AM regiment...sort of. Last night doesn't count, kay?

As of now, I made the mistake of jumping into the Reach Multiplayer for shits and giggles. Bad move. As soon as I'm done writing this, I'm going to turn my Xbox on and play Reach. Fallout will take a back seat for a while. Let's see if it's draw is enough to bring me back. I'm thinking yes, it will. I guess we'll see.

Well friends, I have to say, I enjoyed this quite a bit. I haven't blogged in quite some time and this was fun. Maybe more in the future, but having a podcast kind of hurt me wanting to write a blog. Who want to read when they can listen right? Which reminds me, he dudes, TeaBagRadio is recording on Thursday with Special Guest Ryan DeLaRosa of The Game Over Podcast! G-OVAH!!!!

If you've got questions, we've got answers. Just think, you might actually be the lucky winner of Halo: Reach and a possible mystery game! I don't know how long the guys are gonna keep give out free stuff, maybe for the next 10 years, maybe yesterday, so don't take the chance, just send in a question and you're entered. Crazy easy, right? RIGHT? Right. If you do have questions, no pressure or anything or even just have some comments or a funny story, hit us up at: TeaBagFM@gmail.com.

Also, have you guys heard of this awesome way of keeping in touch with people? It's called Twitter and I want you all to be on it so I can follow you and you can follow me and we can all be friends! If you're on there, let me know! Let's be friends! Kay? You can find TeaBagRadio, Sean, Dub and myself on there. I'll even link it!

@TeaBagRadio

@Trucker_Sean
@Dubarewskies
@SharpShotApollo
Special Guest: @AirstrikeRhino

For those of you who read this, I thank you. For those of you who are listeners, you guys are awesome and it's your support that keeps us going. You guys are the best, and only TeaBagForce we could ask for!

Until next time, this is your friendly neighborhood SharpShotApollo, signing off.     
 
Last minute P.S. Mother by Pink Floyd would have made an awesome end credits song for Fallout 3. Just sayin'
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TeaBagRadio!

 


For those here who know me (From IGN, XBL, PSN or Twitter) know I have a podcast. It's called TeaBagRadio and it it features three dudes, @Trucker_Sean, @Dubarewskies and myself, @SharpShotApollo. All of us are on Twitter as well as @TeaBagRadio. We drink and talk games. We also play A LOT of games and give away games too! For example, we gave away TEN, yes TEN games for our tenth episode. Crazy, amiright? All you had to do was send in a question to be entered in the draw.
 
Like what you hear? No? Well, maybe give us a listen anyway? Pretty please? iTunes or teabagradio.podbean.com will set you up. <3
 
This week:
 
  • Dubs visit to PAX Prime 2010
  • Monday Night Combat
  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Mafia 2
  • 50 Cent Blood on the Sand
  • Spider Man Shattered Dimensions
  • The Game “We don’t mention by name”
  • Scott Pilgrim Vs the World
  • Shank
  • Plants Vs Zombies XBL
  • Dead Rising 2
  • Mass Effect 2 DLC “Lair of the Shadow Broker”
  • Red Dead Redemption
 
Question/Comments? Email us at TeaBagFM@Gmail.com
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