Hi.

Hey everybody. I've neglected this page for too long. More importantly: I've neglected you.  
  
Did that sound too creepy? Don't worry, like all things I say and do: It's intentional.  
It was meant to sound creepy. 
 
... 
 
 
It's strange writing again in this text box. I've missed it. All the little numbers and do-dads on the top. That message on-top of the text-box that says I should switch over to Parchment v2 formatting but I never will. For no real reason: I'm just that stubborn.  
I'm rambling again and I'm missing the point. It's not that I grew tired of talking to you...Talking at you... It's that it's very difficult right now too, and I never gave a concrete answer to why and I think this page should reflect something more than just: "YEAH, I'LL WRITE SOMETHING LATER I GUESS."  
 
So while were on the subject of me saying somewhat creepy construed statements to one-another, let's get personal
 
I'm in transition. 
My life has dramatically changed the last few months, but the seeds for that changed happened months if not a full year before. I had decided to continue my own personal prime-directive, something I had been admittedly somewhat scared to do. I've had a difficulty with confidence for years. Regardless, I decided I wanted more in my life, probably because even though my self-esteem has always been a bit low, it's always secretly butted-heads with my personal ambition, that's on the level of a fucking super-villain.  
For years I've been ignoring my ambition, until it simply became too much. I decided to continue the college thing out-side of an AA, so I set out to go to art school with a future goal to get into the games industry...Or the animation industry...Or any real industry that will hire me: holy-crap-job-market
 
I'm in my third quarter now. I'm downtown a bunch, and to continue the theme of being creepy personal: I'm really enjoying it. 
It's hard to define, but there's a part of me that feels...good. Just personally "good", like I've fallen into a groove of things that I can tolerate. School is tough, but if this is any indication of my future time here, or my future in general: I'm kinda excited about my future. I'm more confident. I'm fucking broke out of my mind- but I feel happy.  
 
I'm gaming less and less and I miss it. I really do. It will never go away. But I've now gone almost an entire half-a-week without picking up a controller. Go ahead and scoff at that- but we're on the topic of being creepy personal, and this is a personal blog...Aside... From the fact...That this this is being shared with whomever might see this-whatever: That still means a lot to me. 
 
I tweet and do the occasional forum post here-and-there. With all this said: Let this post be a good page for those of you who may wander here and wonder where the hell I am.  
In other words: One day more blogs will continue here. Just not yet. Not yet. 
 
...  
... 
...
 
...Gladiator was on TV while I typed this.  
 

I know now that I am strange, but I will not apologize! EVER! 

 
:P 
2 Comments

The end of productivity

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas everybody. 
 
While I compile my year-end awards, I got this little gem this holiday:
 

 ITS OVER 600 PAGES I CAN KNOCK SOMEONE OUT WITH IT! WHAT THE HELL BETHESDA!  
4 Comments

Apparently, I have a Zune

Thought this was funny.
I recently got an iPhone.  
It's my first smart-phone, so my appreciation for some of the basic functionality amuses some of my friends. One of the first things I loaded onto it was an Xbox App, and I thought it was pretty cool. 
  
So then Microsoft roll out their official Xbox App for iPhone, with all the bells, whistles, and subtlety of an atom bomb. Friend and achievement tracking, plus customizing my Avatar through the phone?
"Horray! Mindlessness for at least three minutes!"
 
So then later someone sends me a message through Live, and I decide to log onto Xbox.com to reply seeing how I find that easier to respond. 
Then I see this: 

ZUNE?!?! 
I feel like I've gone into the future, to a distant E3 conference, and there is a business man with a black shirt and a bad hair-cut on-stage. 
He's touting statistics about Xbox and Xbox Live, he turns to the audience after another poorly delivered joke and makes a proclamation: "Zune usage for Xbox Live is at __insert percentage here__." 
 
The audience quickly falls into a millisecond confused stupor before bracing another onslaught of Kinect demonstrations, only to be awoken by Jack Black promoting a new Call of Duty that's a cross-over with Guitar Hero.
6 Comments

The context conundrum


HOLY CRAP?! A BLOG?!
   
Oh, it's been a while. Thought I'd just dump out some thoughts this Thanksgiving seeing how I have a little time. 

Have you ever hated yourself for liking something/someone, because of the context surrounding said object of your affection? 
 
You know: The thing that makes you go eat fast-food late at night to make the conflicted feelings go away, and then you realize that it's a futile concept, so then you drive to a pub only to find they're not open, so then you hit the grocery store and get some beer and you come home late, crash on the couch because you're too lost in thought to focus on one specific thing about your situation and you wish someone could spell it out for you, but you don't want to diminish what you might have and you gave yourself an oath that you would never be in a situation that even might have a passing resemblance to any previous situation that messed you up mentally and you want to do the right thing and not wish what happened to you happen to someone else? 
 

C'mon, you know, that thing
 
I'm talking about games, of course.  
 
Usually when I've written about context in the past, it's been associated to a game's narrative structure. In this case I want to talk about something mostly unrelated to the game itself, context surrounding a game

Following the Link

I'm enjoying Skyward Sword
 
 Yeah, but is it better than that one game that was released thirteen years ago?!
It's one of the few games I have time for these days. I'm stuck playing a few minutes of the game here-and-there between classes and homework. Between finding the time to finally finish up Arkham City, my new adventure as Link has been a pretty positive one. The pedestal for surpassing the expectations for this franchise seem quite scattered, some still proclaim that everything should be still compared to Ocarina of Time as if was some infallible blue-print to the holy grail of game design.   
The issue with such devotion is the lack hindsight regarding certain concepts such as time, or social context. To apply the same expectations to games from 1998, is a bit lacking, unless the game isn't capable of meeting bare-bones standards that were laid down previously.  
 
Unless were talking about The Bible. Everything in that book is relevant today, and should be taken literally. * 
  
I'm not diminishing what a great game Ocarina of Time is, I just  find that we appreciate an older game more after we untie it from it's fanboy pedestal, and apply it to games today. It's one thing to say in conversation:

"OMG OCARINA OF TIME IS THE BEST GAME EVER!" (<-You deserved to be slapped if you use internet acronyms out-loud in real life.) 

Versus: 

"Ocarina of Time was instrumental in laying down a foundation of game design in both exploration and combat, that has permeated with many games years after it's release and it's effect can be still felt today." 


Ya'know, like the Bible** 
  
... 
... 
 
...Moving on...  
 
 Another musical instrument?! What's next? A xylophone?! 
Twilight Princess seemed to follow Ocarina of Time's design choices to the letter, yet in an expanded format associative to the previous generation. When you have a franchise that spawned so many elements that have been amputated and used in other products over the years, to complain that things are beginning to feel "samey" seems like a difficult proposition. But Skyward Sword positively delivers (as much as it can at least) on it's tired-and-true formula. Dungeon design, even the general flow of the game has been dramatically played with. It's not immediately apparent, but over-time the game shows it's true colors. Like Ocarina over a decade ago, it positively adapts it's tired and true mechanics and design into something that sorta feels new.  
 
Paramount to those new changes is it's control scheme, something I have enjoyed immensely. It's gotten a lot of traction online that the control scheme is fantastic, and while it doesn't work 100% of the time it works when it's pretty impressive. It's shinning example that motion controls have a place among what's considered "the main-stream."  

Breaking the Link

At the same time, I can't stand Skyward Sword and my reasoning illustrates the subject of this blog: Trying to judge a game based on it's own merits, versus the, lack of a better term: Bullshit, the game has the "privilege" of having to deal with. 
 
The context surrounding Skyward Sword is terrible. Does anyone care that Skyward Sword, shows that motion controls can be done correctly? More importantly: Are you using your Wii? Is it on? When was the last time you played anything on it? Or does it sit in a closet between the small pile of miscellaneous old consoles you've neglected.  
 
 "It's like it's won first place in a race that everyone already kinda gave up on."
Just about every conversation I've had with people regarding Skyward Sword has to begin and end regarding the state of the Wii, or Nintendo, or some commentary between the state of either Nintendo or the Wii. My annoyance is that we have had to wait until the twilight of this systems lifespan, to see such a great example of motion controls for this console.  

Sure, the Wii-Motion Plus wasn't around at the systems launch, but that's not the point. Why now? Why at such a all time-low? 
 
To be fair, and I can't repeat this enough: It's not Skyward Sword's fault. But I can't stop myself from holding back, and not appreciating the game to what I feel would be it's fullest. I feel sorry for it, and it seems every aspect of this game has to go through some cross-filter that has nothing to do with Skyward Sword. The art style looks like a water color painting, but seems like a technical concession to the hardware, thus causing an issue from time to time when these limitations rear their ugly heads. 
Is Skyward Sword to blame for this? 
  
Trying to break context surrounding a game, to the actual game itself is difficult for me.  
A better eample: What's the first thing you think of when you think of L.A. Noire? Is it the actual game, or the torrent of absurdity that was unleashed onto the internet regarding the lunacy of how that game was made? 

Mending the Link

Perhaps the best example of me personally dealing with this concept, was that old review I did for Yakuza 3. I normally don't review games, probably for the reason that review illustrates. I was inspired to write about Yakuza 3, primarily because (at the time) the sheer absurdity that surrounded the franchise and it's release out-side of Japan.   

 Couldn't have said it better myself bro.
Trying to remove ones-self is impossible to do with the concept of a review, but trying to remove ones opinions regarding the context surrounding a game seems even worse. Modern Warfare 3 and the expulsion of most of Infinity Ward? Did anything that happened in that situation altered your perspective or reasoning for the final product. 
 
For me my feelings back to Skyward Sword is perhaps more muddled. You see, I've played Xenoblade this year: One of the best JRPG's this generation. While my appreciation for Skyward Sword is high, my unwavering appreciation for Xenoblade is still high as ever. One has to ask themselves why Skyward Sword get's the ability to be released in North America, but the equally excellent Xenoblade has to hide in Europe. "Franchise appeal" should be the first response one should give, but in terms of general quality? It's infuriating that it feels like Skyward Sword is being made into a final swan-song, versus actually being one. 
  
So what's to be taken from all this? 
 
I'm not 100% sure to be quite honest, but I do have the threads to something akin to a stable conclusion. At first I thought it was a new form of my cynicism had finally awakened. But perhaps this is a reminder regarding how we appreciate games, that we we should appreciate them for what they are. A simple reminder that perhaps needs to be repeated. It's a difficult proposition that's not absolute to every situation, but perhaps we should better ourselves this holiday season to remind ourselves of this very basic concept.
 
That it helps when we reflect on the game years later, and give a higher appreciation for it.  
That it helps bring the negative appendages and baggage attached to the game, out to the forefront of your opinion, and we enjoy the game more. 
That a similar way of thinking can work both ways, and expand upon a games fundamental faults.
 
"The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a brilliant game, and it's even more amazing for having to deal with the rocky foundation surrounding the game." Doesn't that sound nice? Go give it a check when you have the chance.
 
Hope everyone has an excellent holiday season.  
Happy I was able to toss out a blog during my time off.  
I MISS YOU GUYZ!
 
*These statements might be sarcastic, unfunny, and not serious*
9 Comments

YAR

 
QUICK! I HAVE TIME TO AT LEAST WRITE DOWN SOMETHING. 
 
Uh- Hi
 
It's been a while, and I have missed you. Even the parts of you that have appendages, and perhaps require amputation. 
You probably are wondering why there's been so much radio silence, followed by a goofy pseudo-internet breakdown, followed by more radio silence, that was finally followed by a proclamation that I will be returning to blog followed by, you guessed it, more radio silence. 
 
First and foremost, lets address the following issues: 

#1)   

The internet is not a radio why are you referring to it as such, forcing me to adhere to your comical perspective.  
No, I do not find your skewed minor mannerisms character building, memorable, or remotely entertaining: Put the monocle away. 

#B) 

I am terrible at planning things.  
What will follow might make you chuckle, but I completely miss-managed a giant big thing in my life: My school schedule
 
For those who need a reminder (refresher?) I have started to finish up my degree at an art school. Somewhere during the transition, I decided to take a full-load of classes. 
No, wait, let's back-up: Somewhere during the transition I decided to take a full-load of classes, and another class. 
And also work part-time over 20 hours a week. 
 
I kid you not, it happened so fast and by the time I knew what happened it was too late. I was completely broadsided. I've burned out quite a bit mentally, and general exhaustion has kicked in. I haven't just been avoiding this site, I've been avoiding the internet: In general. For the first time in over a month, I finally picked up a video-game and started to play it. Sparingly, of course, before jumping head-first into another round of classes and homework. 
 
I have nothing much more to share here. Since the last time I announced I was going to return and start blogging again went over so freaking well in regards to execution, I'm going to not make a similar announcement. Instead I'll say that I'm slowly hitting something akin to a rhythm, a equilibrium to everything, and in time I will slowly begin posting again.  
 
I hope everyone is having good times for the holidays.   

P.S. 
No, I do not have Modern Warfare 3 and I really don't plan on picking it up, for the love of god: Stop asking me that. 
P.S.S.  
Whoever designed the lay-out for downtown Seattle needs to put away in an insane asylum. 
P.S.S.S. 
I am currently participating in No-Shave-November, which is also known as, No-Girl-Will-Want-To-Talk-To-You-Because-You-Kinda-Look-Like-A-Terrorist-Month
P.S.S.S.S. 
I am NOT playing Skyward Sword right now.... 
... 
... 
P.S.S.S.S.S. 
I just realized that if RockSteady made a Justice League game, the world would implode due to it's palpable awesomeness.  
P.S.S.S.S.S.S. 
I think I forgot how to sleep....again...
3 Comments

The Return: Let's all be awesome, and play Xenoblade.

In my school day planner ten years ago, I drew a picture to the best of my ability of the World Trade Center.
As I sketched the buildings on fire with meticulous detail, a deafening silence was produced on the television that was literally palpable. I don't think I'll ever see or hear such a sound, but watching those buildings fall, and subsequently hearing my mother literately screaming in the room at the same time, is an event that I don't think I will ever forget. 
 
I don't understand when people proclaim that we can "Never forget September 11th". Even if you don't remember the event because you were too young, the event has dramatically changed and affected so many lives, and it's repercussions are still being felt today. 
 
Cynicism regarding 9/11, is something entirely different from forgetting the event. Did 9/11 affect me from a personal level? Did I loose anyone on that day?  
No, but at the same time: Why try and find validation, to dismiss a horrifically tragic event in general
It's something that I seriously understand less, than the motivations of those who hijacked the planes that day. It's as if the failures of the foreign policy that followed the event, have overrode a basic human concept of sympathy and compassion. It's one number statistic pitted over another. How many people died on that day? How many people died in Afghanistan? Iraq? Civilians? Soldiers?   
 
Why do we do this to ourselves? What possible benefit does this have?
Looking back on the ten years of the war and death that followed, it's hard to forget that any loss of life is horrendous. That's what I feel we shouldn't "forget". That it's alright to show bit's a pieces of humanity, to other human beings for their loss. 
 
So while the news shows footage of those towers falling non-stop today (Personally can't stand that), and for some reason (?)you might have difficulty understanding why a country might emphasize a day a national tragedy occurred, that instigated more tragedy(?).  
On this day, I would implore you to not let your own narrative diminish the terrible things that happened that day. Because doing so, also diminishes the tragedy that followed.
 
Is that too hard to ask? 
To not be dicks on 9/11
That sound's pretty good right?
I don't suppose anyone is going to stand-up, and fight over what quantity or percentage of dicks they want to be on this day right? Nobody want's to be a dick in general. 
Or maybe you do? If so: Are you happy with your life...Being a dick.
 
Perhaps I'm overreacting after reading troll comments on the internet again. I hope this doesn't come across like some preachy opinion, but I'm going to go out on a limb and proclaim that having compassion on this anniversary, is not something that should be looked down upon.
 
But enough of this, Osama is very dead, his dreams and aspirations will never come to fruition, so let's talk about something awesome!  

You know what I'm going to write now? Now that I've decided to come back from the grave and blog again?

Xeno-Freaking-Blade!

I'm playing it!  
 
I think I'm going to give this game a "proper" blog a little later, I'm roughly 15-18 hours into the game and my mind is a mess of information and opinions. There's no real way to get around this but: 
 
I absolutely adore it.
Xenoblade isn't just a great JRPG, but it's been a great RPG in general. It's perhaps one of the most accessible JRPG's I've had the pleasure of playing in the last ten years, so much so that I've been getting goosebumps while playing that I haven't felt since the early PS2 generation. 
 
I originally began playing the game on an emulator, and it ran quite stable for a very long time. Sadly, sound issues began fueling an interest to find another way to play this game. I came to the conclusion that should hack my Wii, and have been playing it since. 
 
It's perhaps the most accessible JRPG I've played in years, which is directly opposite to the concept it wouldn't do well over here because it's for a "super-niche audience". It's general design seems something straight from, according to Nintendo's logic: The very unpopular World Of Warcraft.
 
JRPG's have flirted with the offline MMO design structure for a while now, but I feel like they have never been able to bridge the gap between people who enjoy traditional JRPG trappings, and the loot/quest oriented game design crack, that has permeated over the years. Xenoblade has sold me that these two different designs have a place together, and it almost seems like a verbatim response to people who had difficulty getting into games like Final Fantasy XII and White Knight Chronicles. It's combat is more participatory, than reactionary. It's narrative is well paced, balancing the mytho's of the world, and the story with a great cast of characters.
 
... And the music...
 
  
I get the impression, that this sadly might become something akin to this generation's Panzer Dragoon Saga.
While I'm happy that there was an English release of this game, I'm concerned about this thing going under the radar for a lot of people. Operation Rainfall has been brilliant in giving this game, and it's counterparts, recognition. 
That being said, the amount of people who know that Panzer Dragoon Saga was a brilliant game, versus knowing first-hand that the game was brilliant, is sadly lop-sided. I feel as if Xenoblade, and quite possibly the games of Operation Rainfall will have that same history broken stigma. 
 
Other Japanese developers are probably researching all over this game. It wouldn't surprise me if we had another go with this design template on a current gen console, and have people rightfully getting excited about it. When I finally played Panzer Dragoon Saga a year ago, my entire reflection and understanding of the Playstation JRPG era was thrown out-of-order. I felt annoyed that I didn't get to experience the game in it's historical context.
It's the same deal here. Perhaps Nintendo will get wise and release this in North America. I just hope that it's not five years from now, and were finally getting a port of this excellent game on another console.
 
From a technical standpoint: One of Xenoblade's greatest strength's is just the sheer size of the environments. The game's world is actually the dead corpse of a Titan God, and the game takes no time in addressing a sense of scale:
 
 This is early into the game, and that's the first town.
So, if you're looking to get your hands a little dirty hacking your Wii, take the time to give Xenoblade a spin. Because let's be honest here: Your not playing the Wii right now, so why not dust off the cob-webs and go to town with it?
 
Plus, you can do this with a hacked Wii:
 
Is it nerdy to play 90's adventure games on a console?  ... AH! Don't you dare, try and admit you don't want to try this yourself now! XD
This week, I hopefully will be putting the finishing touches to my PAX video experience. 
It's been a very rough couple of months for me, and I guess this is the part where I recognize people who have helped me emotionally, specifically one good friend of mine who implored me to write again.  

Now go get Xenoblade, before I break into your house.
16 Comments

Silence Broken?

Hey everyone. 
I haven't done a blog in a while, nor have I been very active on this site the last few weeks. This is has been ridiculous, especially given my recent S-Rank in L.A. Noire and my need to write about it, and there's also Capcom and their spectacular jaw-dropping public relations suicide. That story is like trying to contain an atomic bomb for me, the amount of material for a writing is palpable. Sometimes I just catch myself screaming at inanimate objects, as if I am writing a blog here. Have I illustrated the picture enough for you? I am watching a train wreck that's caught on fire, and then exploded again, and then it was doused in gasoline in order to stop the flames...and I can't write about it.
 
So, lets get one thing out of the way: I am not dead...Yet.
The last few weeks have been a continual lesson in humility, the job market is...uh...trying to say "rough" nicely. It's one thing to get turned down in a job, it's another to get turned down on a consistent basis. I am simply not used to this. You add in the factor that my extended family is visiting the home this week, and you have a storm of...well...crap-storm at every turn.
 
The next part is going to be difficult, so here I go.
I've decided until my prospects change, that I will be temporarily halting blog activity in general. I've had dry spells in the past due to personal issues, and it's kinda weird how every time I think I get into a groove-of-things, something pops up that eats up my time. In this case, I've decided the issue is pretty serious. I'll still be haunting a certain IRC chat-room, and playing games of course, but the rest of my resources I spend focusing writing things in long elaborated states, will be spent. Let's just say when I go to my new college this coming October, I think I'll be running into a similar situation.
 
I'm hoping that I will get something soon. PAX is just around the corner, and yes, I will be making another video
Maybe I'll get lucky tomorrow, who knows. Until then, consider this my official deceleration of blog hibernation. I hope it's a short winter.   
 
On a more happier note: There's this horrible thing.
Look at that awkward son-of-a-bitch. Not a fan of that guy.

6 Comments