I reread Katawa Shoujo, I have thoughts

Approximately three years ago a Visual Novel Dating Sim came out written by English speakers about a Japanese High School for the disabled. Approximately two years ago Day9 and two friends played it for his Meta Dating show wherein 3 guys drunk alcohol, played games that dealt with romance and tried to break down what was interesting about them. Going in I was expecting little more than a good laugh. I was surprised. The writing and prose was solid, the handling of touchy subjects was deft, there were laughs but they were intentional and came off as so. By the end of the stream I realized that there was something to it. I downloaded it. I read it all within a few weeks. It made my snuck into the top 3 for the year during literally the last week. I also wrote a thing about it then.

Dresden Files is a hard act to follow

I revisited it a few weeks back after Xmas. I did the same the previous year actually. At this point it’s sort of become a holiday tradition. Also I came right off rereading the currently 15 book series Dresden Files and the 5 book series Codex Alera and it felt good to follow those two up with more reading that would take weeks. Course I did spend a surprising amount of time standing up, walking away from the novel and wondering “what if I were there and had Codex Alera’s Fury Crafting I could fly around and that’d be cool” or “I wonder what would happen if Harry Dresden met Hanako. They have similar experiences with burning houses. What if Hanako learned magic?” so maybe coming right off those had effects but hey, whatever.

Anyway, I have thoughts! I thought I’d share them route by route based on the order I went through them this time. I seperate them because the way Katawa Shoujo is structured is basically that the first act is spent choosing a girl and then the remaining 3 acts are a contained rom com about them. Know that these thoughts aren’t for those who haven’t read it. I’m not going to explain everything or hide spoilers. If you want to understand or not be spoiled read it yourself before reading.

Lily: Lily was the first route I went to simply because I think objectively it’s the one where the most folk are helped. In it Lily and Shizune’s beef is squashed, Hanako becomes more sociable and independent (more so than in her own route arguably), and Lily’s sister brings her boyfriend with her when she moves. It also has a lot of great moments in it, especially towards the end. The hospital scene in particular is fantastic. White. It’s the only route with an epilogue for some reason. That said it’s never been my favorite route and nothing this time changes that.

Shizune: I like Shizune’s route more than most I think. There’s a lot interesting about it. First off there’s the whole 2nd act. It’s spent learning sign language so that you and Shizune can communicate naturally without Misha to interpret. I think it’s a really cool act since slowly, scene by scene, more of Shizune’s gestures are translated as Shizune makes them. You see more of the Shizune Misha relationship through that too, seeing how Misha changes Shizune’s words as she speaks them.

In any other route Hisao would have this self realization.

Second there’s there’s the whole arc of the last 2 acts. In most all of the other routes the arc is that Hisao, the male lead, is a bit of an idiot and picks up a little worldliness, goes from schlub to less-schlub, has some moments of self realization and gets his relationships with others straightened out. However in the Shizune route that basic structure is for Shizune rather than Hisao. Shizune’s the one whose friendships fall apart as her relationship drives a wedge between her and Misha who never got over her feelings for Shizune. Shizune’s the one who realizes she doesn’t know how to handle people properly, goes through a change and comes out the other side changed marginally. Hisao spends most of the route subservient to Shizune in this respect. Very interesting that.

Rin: Rin and Hanako are the two characters I was always frustrated Hisao didn’t get enough. Sure, most of what Rin says is nonsense but there’s a lot of insight to be found in some lines that always spoke to me. Words. At one point Rin remarks how words are hard. How she’ll often say the wrong words in sentences and how that frustrates her. Choosing words seems easy, but the trick is choosing words other people understand. Hisao didn’t really get that but I did.

Hanako: Hanako was the first route I went the first time I played and I always felt Hisao didn’t get her. Of course, as said earlier, every route is a rom com. In a rom com the arc is that the guy is an idiot at the start and learns important lessons by the end so these frustrations are probably misplaced on the whole. That said hey, stepping on only specific colors of floor tiles in High School is totally common and regular and not weird at all Hisao. It was mentioned in an XKCD comic once! Twice actually!

It's pretty obvious to everyone but Hisao

The thing that bothers me in this one is that Hisao doesn’t pick up that Hanako is totally interested in a relationship early on. One only forms during the 4th act. Course first time through I had no idea this wasn’t the norm. I was surprised to find most relationships started early during Act 3 or at the end of Act 2. He treats her as if she’s delicate which, as she expresses later, frustrated her to no end. Still a good route though other than that I suppose. Interesting thing that's easy to see in this route, random characters all over are totally shipping you two. Lily, Misha and the minor girl who doesn't have a role in any other route to name a few. All have scenes where they ask you about your relationship with her and can't keep the grins off their faces for the life of them when Hisao wonders why they're so curious. Funny really.

Emi: This time I realized something. I’m most like Emi. I’ve always identified most with Rin or Hanako before. Hanako for not really liking social situations and Rin for wanting to express things in ways and shit. However I realize now I’ve thought about this wrong. Like Emi I like getting places fast and not stopping for nothing. Like Emi I was always a year older than my peers during High School yet was shorter than most. Like Emi I always loved to be the center of attention but didn’t really entrust much in most of them (back in High School I worried about being judged for spending all night every night with games/internet as silly as that sounds). Like Emi I have a habit of ignoring pain and such until things get so severe they have to be dealt with. Like Emi I’m good with the glib. Like Emi I don’t really think ahead much, just play things by ear. I could probably go on.

This is a really funny bit in context

It was crazy realizing this when I got to her bit the other day. Sure, I related to her for each individual thing before, but I had never considered exactly how well it lines up. I was thrown off I think because she’s athletic and I’m not which is a very significant difference because a lot of her character is based around running but still. I’ve also not dealt with loss before. Not important differences I think, I still have the most in common with her versus any of the other girls.

There’s also other interesting stuff about her story of course. She’s the only story where you can still get the best ending after completely boning up one part. Not only that, but the boned up route is actually a bit more romantic than the route in which you do the right thing because Hisao goes to greater lengths to apologize. Very interesting that, makes it very hard to figure out what route to do when rereading. The correct “don’t make a horrific faux paux” route or the one where you do? I went with the former this time since I did the latter last year.

ANYWAY That’s a bunch of thoughts. It’s a solid read, might read again last year, might not. I wasn’t expecting it to take all the way into AGDQ, I was hoping to finish it while I was still on vacation. It was very nice to be in that world for a few weeks again. It feels a bit weird that I’ll not be returning to that setting and those characters anytime soon.

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20 Years of Donkey Kong Country

20 years ago today (November 21st) Rare’s first super huge hit Donkey Kong Country hit store shelves in North America. It was an amazing showpiece featuring at the time incredible sprite work, incredible animation fidelity, a profoundly great soundtrack, snarky manual writing, solid fast paced gameplay and attention to detail which was rare then. It was a sensational game that was hard to find for ages and revitalized the SNES in its last years. Yes, it had issues which would only be fixed entirely in its sequel DKC2 but that doesn’t diminish what DKC was. An accomplishment.

One of the things that I love about DKC is the atmospheric qualities. Mario always seemed sterile and lame in comparison to me. DKC had lush jungles, beautiful sunsets, dark stormy weather, background wildlife, fluid character animation with 30 frames of animation per second (for comparison Mario’s SMW run animation has 3 sprites whereas DK’s has 20), charming baddies which made honky noises when they were felled, etc etc. It had life. I loved that. Still to this day while the prerendered graphics are no longer cutting edge I can see that life and the detail in it. It’s best seen in GIFs I think where the animation quality can really shine.

Anyway, what should you do to celebrate? Well for one Smash Wii U is out today. Maybe write your congressman, tell him that K Rool should be DLC for it. He’s one of the most popular requested characters right now and it’s his 20th birthday as well! Another thing you can do is buy Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze for your Wii U. It’s a phenomenal game in its own right that’s as good in 2014 as DKC2 was in 1995. You can also buy the original trilogy on Wii U VC if you’re in Europe. Sadly Nintendo of America hasn’t seen fit to rerelease them yet. Again, write your congressman. Maybe watch a speedrun of DKC or DKC2 from one of the Games Done Quick. DKC2 is the 8th most common game ran at Games Done Quick because it’s a great speed game and 1 and 3 are not too far behind. You could also just play some DKC or think nice things about it.

I’m probably going to just play some of it and think nice things about it. Happy Birthday DKC! I love you. Quick, make a wish!

Edit: More things to check out if you're down for it! Here's a link to a Twitch Non-Highlight VOD (It'll vanish one day) of a DKC Anniversary Race the SpeedRunsLive guys put on. There was also an update to DKC-Atlas's Maps feature that adds navigable overworld maps, music, animation and other cool shit. Check it out!


Out In Force: Stray Thoughts About Large Casts

This blog thing will mostly about Super Time Force. Okay, now that I’ve established that let’s travel back in time to the late 90s so I can avoid that topic for another 60 seconds or so.

The year 199X

Seriously though I would like a Banjo game where you could play as Klungo, Chief Bloatazan and the Cool Pet Thing.

So it was 199X. I was X years old naturally since I was born in 1990 and Rareware ruled the Earth. They made most of if not all of my favorite games! Banjo-Kazooie was out, Donkey Kong 64 was either out or soon to be out, and I believed deeply that casts of playable characters could only go up from there. As an X year old it made perfect sense really. Banjo-Kazooie had just B-K together & animals, Donkey Kong 64 had 5, Banjo-Tooie was going to have an transformation in every world, Mumbo and Banjo and Kazooie separate. Clearly a trend of cast sizes going up. I imagined single player game franchises that would go on for decades, continuously adding characters and getting up to a roster of dozens over time.

A silly idea now obviously as clearly adding more characters to a Banjo Type game is the last thing people want and backtracking and character switching were big issues for many in DK64 and Banjo-Tooie. But at the time it made sense and, honestly, I did like it a lot in DK64 and loved it in Banjo-Tooie. And while time has made me see DK64 for what it is, a platformer with its content randomly split between 5 characters who play mostly the same, I still love Banjo-Tooie as its characters manage to work quite differently from one another and the game isn’t terribly over padded as a result only slightly so. Clearly the imaginary games I wished for would've been terribly overstuffed or would feature characters not meaningfully different. Anyway oh shit we’re back at the present. Wait, what? I just said something about Super Time Force in the first paragraph. Oh wow!

The year 201X

In the wierdest way imaginable Super Time Force is my stupid idea from the 90s seen to fruition. There are so many characters in Super Time Force, all of them are novel in some way, all of them can find a place while playing and you basically, through the mechanisms of time travel, use them all in tandem. It’s amazing actually. It’s really cool learning how to handle each one, learning to use their strengths to do things that other character can’t do as well or can’t do at all.

For instance there’s Zachasaurus, the Dinosaur on a skateboard. He’s equipped with a short range bite and some long range goo, but that’s not all! He can also jump on enemies and bop off them because he’s on a skateboard! So it turns out that makes him super useful for just booking through stages since where other characters would just die if the fastest jump happens to land where enemies are Zack will just happily bop off them. Kookabunga!

There’s also Dolphin Lundgren the dolphin with a machine gun. At first I thought he was a bit weak since his normal is just a sonic ping which is short range and really weak. However eventually I got to using his special on a boss, which is a concentrated stream of bullet fire, and realized he’s fantastic for concentrated fire.

There’s more where those two came from. There’s Squirty Harry who can send off fart clouds and light them on fire for a great AOE. There’s Cleo who can surround herself with boomerangs which can stop bullets and protect Cleo while damaging others. There’s Lou Don Jim whose lightsaber is pretty powerful and can deflect projectiles making him real good for quickly dealing with streams of bullets without Blocky. And of course the main 4 are all pretty solid and there are others that are quite good and others still who I haven't oh god I’m out of time. Going back a bit.

Okay, now that that’s taken care of I’ll spend some time farting around with collectable lines of inquiry. Like does Super Meat Boy qualify and what about the MOBAs of the world? For Super Meat Boy I don’t really think so because at the end of the day Meat Boy was always the correct character choice and it never felt like the levels were meant to be played with the other characters. As for MOBAs I’ll say it’s different here because Super Time Force is single player but I do admire how they make characters of a team seem special unto themselves. The characters in a MOBA game are like star athletes. They’re all bigger than life like Shaq, Hulk Hogan, President Obama, the Undertaker, Magneto or Jerry Springer. It’s very cool.

Let’s wrap this bad boy up. So when I was a kid I dreamed of games with overly big casts that managed to be super diverse offering loads of gameplay opportunities and making each character matter. Games that were like amped up Banjo-Tooie's. As as 2X year old I’ve since come to the conclusion things aren't that simple and such a game would naturally be burdened by backtracking and copying but here is Super Time Force making the dream come true in a way I could've never imagined. It’s quite good. You should probably buy it.

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Things I think about Oculus

The Oculus story has a lot of angles to it and the number of think pieces around have shown many sides to it. I think the following things.

One, Oculus' investors were spooked by the Sony reveal. The Facebook deal was made in less than a week. They probably stopped believing in the long view when a rival appeared poised to possibly beat them to market. It is a good thing those short sighted investors aren't the bossmen anymore.

Two Facebook has money and can take a more long term approach to VR. In 10 years VR could be everywhere if Oculus plays it right and doesn't immediately try to cash in. They made a movie about how Zuckerberg took the long view with Facebook.

Three Virtual Reality is the future. Question is who is the face of it? Sony, Microsoft or Oculus?

Four John Carmack.

Five optimism.

Six the people who are upset and believe they personally are earned dividends are out of their damn minds. They made good on the rewards and, even better, they did it well. They ethically and legally did their duties to their backers.

Seven yeah Facebook is a bit sketchy and I don’t use it anymore. Not because of privacy though, just because I was getting nothing out of it. No one else’s posts interested me and no one engaged with my posts. Abysmal hole. Prefer Twitter and forums.

Eight people screaming about betrayal are pretty ridiculous. Don’t like Oculus Rift anymore? Okay, dollar vote for Microsoft or Sony then. It’s a free world.

Nine what was said about games just being a start is absolutely true. Yes, games are fun but this tech has so much raw motherfucking potential beyond gaming it could end the world. This is only barely an exaggeration.

Ten optimism again.

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PSA: Always be Roll Jumping

Today's Quick Look of DKC Tropical Freeze is a great reminder for those of us who know DKC well that not everyone knows how to roll jump. Straight up always be roll jumping. It's the best. Rolling is a lot faster than running and, when you jump out of a roll, you have a lot of extra momentum that takes you farther. Air control being what it is in DKCR and DKCTF it's a lot easier to overshoot where you want to land than in the original SNES games but with a little practice it can be pretty reliable especially if you have Diddy or Dixie and can use their power to kill your momentum before landing. Also try rolling off a ledge! You can jump out of a roll at any time even in midair. This is super key.

Using a roll jump I circumvent an owl and a cannon jumping right to the platform in the center from the platform on the left. This is a hard one.

Outside of roll jumping rolling is just super useful. If you have a buddy on your back it's infinite and you can do it as long as you like. Otherwise you can use it to take out one dude (be careful if it's a string of dudes) or just use it exclusively for roll jumps which are faster than just running anyway. (Note: In the SNES games rolling works different. Momentum is not higher for a roll jump than a regular jump. It's easier to stop though because you have more air control. Additionally you roll as long as you're hitting dudes and get a speed boost for each one you hit.)

Roll jumping in midair has always worked

Watch this guy do the first level of a speed run of DKCR. He's always roll jumping because, without the infinite roll, that's the fastest way to move. Look how far he goes with each jump. Remember the gaps that Jeff and Brad struggled to cross. They're trivial with a roll jump! You don't need any space to start it, it comes out instantly pretty much. It's great.

So yeah, always be rolling and roll jumping. That's sort of rule #1 while playing DKC games. Playing DKC without rolling is like... playing Sonic without realizing he can turn into a ball. It's essential and the key to going fast and doing tricky jumps. Good luck and don't stop for nothing!

(Note: Would've liked to post to the DKCTF board however the "Search for a Specific forum" option is borked.)

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Metroid Conspiracy Theory

I watched a speedrun of Metroid Fusion yesterday. I've been doing that a lot lately after watching AGDQ 2014 and wanting to see more. Watching it I recalled that, despite whatever harm Other M did to Fusion's characters, it's setting and premise remained cool. It was a novel concept that this massive research lab was taken over by a nasty parasite that could replicate anything it came across and half Metroid Samus was the only one suited to stopping them. It also had a bit of shady business coming from the humans for once which was a pretty cool aspect. It's all very solid and well thought out but thinking on it yesterday I realized something didn't add up.

How did the X Parasites get a hold of Space Pirate DNA? There weren't Space Pirates on SR-388. That must mean they had Space Pirates somewhere on the Space Station. Were they experimenting on Space Pirates? That would make some sense given they were breeding Metroids and planned to breed X as well. To what end were they experimenting though? Were they just trying to figure out how they tick or... Were they breeding Space Pirates too?

I looked into this a little. Apparently Space Pirates are always genetically engineering themselves better. They've also got a knack for getting a hold of more Metroids and powerful creatures somehow. I thought about it a bit. And I've come to the conclusion Space Pirates are an inside job. The space station in Fusion is clearly designed for illicit breeding and bio engineering but not just for Metroids I think. I think the Galactic Federation actively has bred and engineered the Space Pirates both to keep outlying worlds from Browncoating and to keep the military budget, both in terms of weapon development/research and manpower, strong and steady. The pirates are in some ways ideal for that since while they have a number of strongholds which they're not especially good at holding that can be contracted out to independent parties (In Prime 3 and Hunters it's established there are dozens of hired guns each capable of taking out a Pirate leaders even within their strongholds) the main danger of Space Pirates is such that they could be anywhere and they could attack any undefended ship at any time. Easy to rationalize how they can return to strength after having their bases wiped out time and time again when they always can bounce back to guerrilla tactics.

Additionally doing some reading on other elements of the Metroid fiction some things fall into place with this theory. A lot of what the GF does in the games can be justified by wanting to keep pace with morally bankrupt Pirates. For instance the Pirates use Phazon Weapons which slowly poison the user. So does the GF. An upside of Pirates continually upgrading themselves biologically is that the GF can continue to get more powerful as well. Additionally one an raise an eyebrow at previous Metroid plots focusing on how Space Pirates have managed to clone Metroids and breed/engineer them to make them more dangerous which is exactly what the GF was doing on the space station. Had the X situation not turned as raw as it did odds are Space Pirates would've just found Metroids again and the GF would say "unbelievable! They did it again!" Additionally there's the bit where Mother Brain and the Metroids were made by the Chozos.

Here's my theory about Mother Brain and Metroids. One, Metroids aren't bad by default, they're made that way through breeding/engineering. The Metroids in Metroid 1 are little more than guard dogs and don't leave Tourian even though there would be little risk involved for the nigh unstoppable Metroids. Also obviously the ones in Metroid II were in nature and really shouldn't have been hunted to extinction for no reason. Two, Mother Brain went off the reservation. Saw the big picture for what it was. Took control of a band of pirates and wanted to do more with it than scare the natives. She failed and was killed by Samus.

Basically the theory is this. The pirates are too evil and loose too many strongholds too often to keep up the research necessary to dramatically change all their soldiers every few years, especially since they often lose their leadership when they lose their HQs. The GF have the resources and facilities to do this research and, additionally, do conduct some research in the same fields the pirates do ostensibly to keep pace. They see enemies as a tool for control and aren't concerned how dangerous they are or what the collateral damage is as evidenced by their intentions with the X. Basically the Pirates are created and supported by covert human research out of labs like the one in Fusion and serve to support and maintain military spending.

I would like it if this was the direction of a post-Fusion Metroid game since in any case you'd have to do a plot like that as Samus and the GF aren't on good terms after Fusion. Plus Samus is half Metroid now, maybe she could get a Castlevania Bat like move where she becomes a Metroid along with other crazy Metroid inspired moves. That'd be cool.

Phazon was totally a real and legit threat though.


On a foray into the Visual Novel genre I found game that I... hated. I need to explain why.

Metadating, whereby Sean Plott and friends explore the domain of interactive romance.

So a year back plus I had never experienced anything that resembled a Visual Novel. Closest I got was playing Persona 3 which is hardly close at all considering all the grinding you have to do before you get on with the awesome story of Persona 3. Then there was an episode of Metadating, a live show where Starcraft II streamer Day[9] and two of his friends would play games about dating, about a well regarded Visual Novel called Katawa Shoujo. As they described the premise, a dating visual novel where you attend a school for the disabled and foster relationships with one of 5 girls with various disabilities, I settled in ready for a wonderful livestream where 3 guys drink beer, laugh and try to understand an incoherent mess. It was going to be fun! It took me a while to realize as they went through the intro, talking about the style of the prose and how it establishes things that this game actually wasn't funny bad. In fact, it was... well done? What? The 3 drinking men are all analyzing how everything that's happening works well together instead of guffawing at inconsistent nonsense like the previous visual novel they played. After that carried through the show and they Day[9] decided they'd return to it the next episode I decided to play it myself. I quite liked it. It made my top 10 that year. At #3. After that I never played another Visual Novel again unless you count Persona 4 Arena which you might as well.

That is until a few weeks ago when I said "I think I'll replay Katawa Shoujo over Christmas." I then did that. And then I finished and wanted more. So I decided to go try other Visual Novels. Rather than do the sensible thing and go grab 999 the visual novel Patrick recommended last year I went and looked at Katawa Shojo's wiki page and clicked on the top game under "Similar games" and looked at the one topic in that forum. People seemed to like it. It's written by someone whose native language is English (which I feel is an important part of why Katawa Shoujo worked. Written by English speakers who have good English. Novels are made of English, this logic checks out.) and people seem to like it. People in the thread are mentioning Digital A Love Story which I'm pretty sure I've heard of. Maybe Paul Barnett was into that one year?

I realize that in real life yes, High School Students are dumb and have terrible culture. When I'm playing a game I like to pretend they aren't though.

So the Visual Novel I decided to play was "Don't Take It Personally, Babe, It Just Ain't Your Story" which is turns out is shit. In this shit Visual Novel you play as a High School teacher and you read your students Facebook and Emails on the down low. It's bad. And I'm very sure it's bad. I feel strongly about that. That said there are things that are, academically, interesting about it. For instance I feel like I understand now what it must feel like to be a teacher. Playing it I felt like all their drama was beneath me and also that they're largely very stupid. In a way I imagine that must be how teachers would feel if they actually read your Facebook. They'd roll their eyes a lot. I think that's academically interesting? I also think it's entirely unintended. I also think it's interesting in a way to write a game heavily based on social media. Hell, I had a similar hilarious idea a couple months ago that could be described as "Banjo-Kazooie like world, cast as colorful as Banjo-Kazooie, the only way any characters communicate is with Twitter." I was highly amused with my idea. I toyed with the notion that if you At Replied the wrong person too many times they'd block you and you'd never read their tweets again and also the game wouldn't alert you as a needlessly clever parody of how real Twitter works. So what I'm saying is I also understand the compulsion to write what you know and to write about the way we communicate in modern day which makes story telling really weird. Like if Banjo took out a phone and tweeted upon getting a Jiggy that'd be dumb and great.

With that let's get right in on what is bad about this visual novel. Since I was just talking about culture I feel like the first thing is that the culture that the author knows is completely anathema to me. It's like she has a fetish I do not and there's just a ton of fan service moments that I'm supposed to appreciate. Case in point before any day where a student wants to have a word before you leave before you go see to them you're forced to look at Fake 4Chan because the main character feels like he can spare a moment. Like reading Fake 4Chan is his reward. Also a number of the students don't use good regular English. Also the only thing other than teenage drama that is discussed on Facebook seems to be how boring/confusing my class is and some shit about some non-localized (the game is set in Canada) Anime which I imagine doesn't really exist which the kids are discussing. On some level I imagine that this is part of me filtering out the part of the internet where that sort of person lives, not looking at Facebook ever and looking down on anyone who can't be bothered to spell properly or uses the word "weeaboo." In any case it caused a lot of the game to be distasteful to me which definitely contributes to its problems. Bad use of English. Unfortunate.

Second thing sort of has more to do with more specific story stuff. I found the directions the story went in to be hit or miss. Decent at best, stupid at worst. I'm going to start spoiling shit. Maybe read no more if you care. Anyway, so the first really weird fucking thing that happens is you can become a pedophile if you so choose by accepting the advance of a student. Doing this is really stupid period but I feel the writer, and the character, doesn't even really consider the second biggest reason why after age of consent. THE SCHOOL SURREPTITIOUSLY READS EVERY STUDENT'S PRIVATE COMMUNICATIONS. Hell, you know the advance is coming because you read her conversations between her and a friend about it. What happens when another one of her other teachers sees the messages she and her friend make about dating a professor? There's going to be a goddamn inquisition! Curious if any of that happens I checked using the autoskip stuff (which doesn't work very well since you need to read facebook posts manually). Turns out that while he offers her no warning that private communications aren't safe and she and her friends do gossip more specifically than would be comfortable it goes fine and is extremely creepy and gross even though the worst the main character did in the few acts I looked at was kissing her. All that happens bad in that case is you get blackmailed by her friend who's trying to get out of being disciplined for bullying. Speaking of the bullying subplot that's the justification for being allowed to pry into your students privacy, bullying. Yet the one time in the story bullying is going on a parent has to actively get involved before shit for brains main character actually does anything about it. Let me say that again, the whole reason he is allowed to read private messages is to stop bullying. He doesn't do it. The reason why would appear to be worrying that students would question where he got the information from but that doesn't explain why he couldn't just refer the situation to a principal or a psychiatrist. Do schools have psychiatrists? I know they have principals.

Okay, so there's also a dumb ass ghost story that's dumb and terribly handled. At one point a student appears to suicide off camera judging from the Facebook and Message activity. The main character believes it and then a mother dressed as a woman in a Kimono (since when do women in Kimono pass for ghosts? In Canada?) stalks you and says spooky things that I ignore entirely. She also sends spam which I also ignore entirely though the main character does not. Main character is kind of an idiot. Anyway turns out it was an elaborate trick for no reason? She was alive but transferred (which no one in the office knew why?) and everyone thought it'd be funny to pretend she killed herself on Facebook? The main character at this point figures that the Mom in the screenshot to the right figured him out with this clever ruse, concluded that the school would let him take the fall for official school policy and immediately tells her what he was doing. Idiot, even if she says "I got you on the Social Networking shit!" you don't know what precisely she has you on until she says it herself! I immediately quit the game and uninstalled it on the spot at that line because fuck the player character, he wasn't nearly as fucked as he thought. What, everyone who followed that girl on Facebook understood she wasn't really dead while people were saying rip? She couldn't have told everyone that followed that girl, much less made sure they didn't tell a teacher or look for adult support. If you have 5 classes a day (assuming 2 periods you don't have any classes) you have (in the real world) something like 100 to 150 students. If you talk to other faculty you increase the odds of hearing about an apparent suicide. Frankly the trap was inconclusive and I take huge issue with it in any case. If the author intended it to be fool proof than the author did not think very hard about it. If the main character thought he was done he was a fool. I hated how that played out and was annoyed by the stupid ghost shit. Ugh.

Anyway that's a really long blog about this crap game. I played it, I deleted it, and I needed to talk about it to get closure. Sidenote, I'd really like to remove it as similar to Katawa Shoujo as its structure and content isn't similar at all in any way other than being in the same genre and language. Ugh. I don't know what I'll do now, I guess I should play 999 since I trust Patrick's judgement.


A little Unity game I made, Mission ID 2700

Hey anyone who's interested, I made a vector ass vector game in Unity over the course of 2 months for a project for school. An independent study specifically so I was given a lot of freedom over what specifically the project would be so I decided on Unity, since I had heard it was the Indie Engine of choice in a Quick Look, I decided on Vector Graphics to compensate for me having no modeling skills and I decided on a game where you, a robot, shoot at bad robots. Abominations the game calls them. I've had a basic idea of gunplay where you and most of your enemies could only shoot in compass directions for a while now. I've always liked the idea because in it lining up your shots and avoiding enemy fire are 2 sides of the same coin. I find it interesting. I also wrote a bunch of programming humor into screens between each of the 16 levels I made. I think they're funny. I have no idea if they're actually funny.

I call it MissionID 2700. Quick word of warning, might be a bit hard. Sorry about that.


My Biggest Surprise of the Year

Earlier today I 100%ed Katawa Shoujo, the first visual novel I've ever had a genuine interest in after seeing it on Day[9]'s Metadating show a week back. While it's a game with fantastic relatable characters, solid writing and a pretty great premise however truth be told these weren't the things that hooked me. The thing that hooked me was that Day[9] and crew actually had genuine interest in not only playing the game for the show but also playing more of it beyond the 2 hours of the show. That's what got me to download it (it's free), that's what got me in the door. That's what got me over the fact that up until now I would never have imagined myself ever playing a Visual Novel or even being interested in one. I hope what I say here might inspire others to do the same.

This "game" ended up hitting me harder than any book, game, film or show I've seen in the last year. And I played Walking Dead. And I read the Steve Jobs Biography. Nothing made me more emotionally invested and, ultimately, more introspective this year. I related to characters more reading/playing this than I have done anywhere else all year. Even real life. Especially real life. Parts of this game make me wonder if I'm doing everything wrong. It makes me think about death, the future, insecurities, communication, everything really. I don't know. That's the end of that thought. I just don't know.

Katawa Shoujo jumped into my heart over the course of this week and jumped up into my top 10 for this year at #3 right behind Fez and Sound Shapes. I'm really glad I watched that episode of Metadating and I'm really glad I gave it a chance. I think you should too.


Bests Of The Year

My Game Of The Year is Fez. You can read why here. (Runners up: Sound Shapes, Borderlands 2, Diablo 3, Syndicate)

My Assorted Video Game Related Awards are here. I have 10 categories this year ranging from Best Humble Bundle (Botanicula Debut) to "Ability I'd most like to have in real life." (Blink after playing Dishonored)

My Film of the year is Looper. It was a really well crafted movie about Time Travel that touched me in all the right ways. I was very very impressed with it on many levels and it has the air of a film that a man spent a lot of time perfecting. It's fun in all the right places, intriguing in all the right ways, profound in a few very important spots, and it has a humdinger of an ending which worked perfectly for me and, in many ways, tied the whole movie together thematically and practically. I have to give it props. (Runners up: Avengers, Dark Knight Rises)

My Film I've Never Seen Before 2012 which came out before 2012 of 2012 is Porco Rosso. Porco Rosso is the fucking best you guys. Oh my god, it's a relatively subdued and grounded Miyazaki film which tells the story of a Airplane Bounty Hunter in the Adriatic between WWI and WWII. This bounty hunter happens to be a pig, which more relates to his world view and how he feels about the war than it does any fantastical nonsense. The way it's treated and the way he bears his curse is amazing and it really makes the movie shine. I would compare it to Brave only Brave's use of Bear was much more contrived and awkward where in Porco Rosso it feels perfectly natural in an amazing way. You seriously need to watch it if you haven't already. (Runners up: N/A)

My TV Show Of The Year is Breaking Bad. Obviously. (Runner up: Game of Thrones)

My Non Media Acquisition Of The Year Is my new Lenovo Yoga. It's just the best in so many ways and I absolutely love it. (Runners up: C5 Earbuds, eInk Kindle, Vibram Five Fingers)

My Book That I Read For The First Time This Year is Steve Jobs. That was a damn good biography. (Runners up: The Essential Difference: Male and Female Brains And The Truth About Autism, Halo: The Fall of Reach, Seductive Interaction Design, Killing is Harmless: A Critical Reading Of Spec Ops The Line*)

*Note: Haven't read this book yet as I intend to have played Spec Ops the Line before reading it but I want to include it as it's really interesting to see long form video game criticism & analysis pop up in book form. Doesn't feel right to sweep it under the rug because I haven't read it yet because I want to read it the right way.