My First Extra Life!

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Hey everyone!

Budi AKA audioBusting here. I've been watching Extra Life streams of the Giant Bomb community for years, but this is the very first Extra Life I am doing. I hope it will go great!

These are the details for the stream I am doing. I posted most of this on Facebook, so there is some explaining of things that some of you are probably already familiar with. Facebook is kinda bad for this stuff so I'll probably link back here when I update on FB/Twitter later. Anyway...

I am running a 24-hour livestream on 5 November 2016 for Extra Life. Update: it's been postponed to 12 November 2016.

WHAT'S THAT?

How it works, in my case, is that I am going to play video games for 24 hours at my house in Jakarta, and you will be able to watch a live feed of it on Twitch. I'm hoping to gain attention and direct people (including you!) to donate to my Extra Life fundraising page. This event is largely for local North American hospitals, but your donation through my page is tax-deductible and ALL PROCEEDS go to the international efforts of a children's hospital in the network. Being sick sucks, and it sucks even more that kids have to suffer through a lot of scary stuff when it happens to them. Children's hospitals such as SickKids work hard to treat kids all over the world, and I hope I can help them just by doing this one thing for one day.

Even if you are not donating, please please please do at least share to your family and friends about this event for awareness.

It's not just going to be a silent stream of games being played, though. I will try to commentate and keep it entertaining, if you do decide to join in on Twitch or even call in (more on that later). There are also incentives for you to donate and watch, if the thought of helping hospitals to treat sick children is somehow not enough for your cold, black heart! (Just kidding, I know you're all generous folks.)

WHAT GAMES WILL YOU BE PLAYING?

Good question! It can be up to YOU to decide. I have somehow amassed hundreds of game through years of purchasing, even though I don't always have time for all of them. I want to put them to some good use by playing them for this event, so I will be picking at least 24 games out of them for me to play in the 24 hours.

I have publicly listed about 450 (yes, four hundred fifty!) games I feel like I should play more, or have never even played at all, right here.

Here's where you come in: if you donate $5 to my fundraising page, you can vote for a game on the list to be played. Just put in the suggestion on the donation comments! I will be announcing the games I will be playing, 4 at a time every day, for the next 6 days. When there are not enough votes, I will pick them randomly. Better vote as soon as you can!

Update: All of the games had been picked! Read the posts below for the list.

WHAT ELSE CAN I GET FOR MY DONATIONS?

For higher donations, you can get more:

If you donate $10, you can also suggest specific things to do in the game (like drive a specific car in a driving game, or do a cheat-assisted run of XCOM, for example).

If you donate $20, forget the in-game restriction, feel free to suggest whatever dumb thing you want me to do during the stream and I will try to do it within reason (I mean, I can probably do push-ups every other game if you ask me to, but there's no way I'm doing backflips every 5 minutes).

I also have a bunch of spare keys for games I own, so for every $10 you donate, I will enter you to a raffle for a chance to win one of these ten games on Steam:

They're all great games, so you should totally donate for a chance to get them!

Update: I got more prizes to give away from Extra Life! They are:

To recap:

  • $5 : pick a game from the list done! but you can donate anyway, and feel good about it
  • $10: specific in-game suggestion
  • $20: suggest anything!
  • every $10: raffle tickets for prizes listed above (2 tickets for $20, 3 for $30, and so on)

CAN I JOIN IN?

Absolutely! Feel free join in the livestream, either in person or by Skype voice call. A few people are already lined up for this, but there's still (a lot of) time to fill in those 24 hours! I think I will really need this support to keep me going, because playing games for 24 hours is more exhausting than it probably sounds. This will also encourage other people you know to pay some attention to my fundraising, so please join in if you are able to! Just reach out to me through Facebook/Twitter/whatever messaging. If you are not able to, that's also okay, just come watch and hang out on the Twitch chat if you like. I'll be there all day anyway!

EXTRA LIFE SOUNDS FUN, BUT ACTUALLY, I THINK YOU'RE BORING

That's fine too! Go to extra-life.org for other people who are playing different games for donations to different North American hospitals. Check them out instead!

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Yet another Japan travel blog (but mostly about portable games!)

I had the fortune to go on a short trip with my siblings to Japan last week, to Tokyo and Nagoya. It was for a family event, and I knew beforehand that there will be a modest amount of downtime waiting around for others or being on planes and trains. I have this habit of over-preparing with video games for trips like these to play during those downtimes. I find it difficult to predict if a game would actually be a good fit to play while travelling and what I will be in the mood for, so I like to prepare a bunch ahead of time and only play one or two that just happen to fit at the time. This time, I mostly prepared only phone games. I brought my spare battery and ordered a pocket Wifi rental ahead of time, so it seemed that only using my phone would at least make things lighter. I always have a bunch of games ready to play on my phone anyway, but the ones I was expecting to play were A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, Clash Royale. I also brought my Vita for reasons I'll get into later, and it was also somehow becoming a tradition for me to play LUFTRAUSERS before I board planes (now that I've written it down just now, it does seem rather serendipitous.) I felt like I was ready to go!

I mostly took (badly framed) photos of food, so here's a train lunch box. Way better than airplane food!
I mostly took (badly framed) photos of food, so here's a train lunch box. Way better than airplane food!

Those plans kinda fell apart even before I got to the airport. I'm not gonna go too much into it, but it involved eating too much chilli sauce for dinner. It was a red-eye flight and I was already (er) pooped by the time I got on our ride to the airport. We got to the boarding gate, and when it got a bit quiet I fished out my phone. I really couldn't be bothered pulling out my Vita for LUFTRAUSERS at that point. I played a game of Clash Royale with a friend for the first time, and realised what nonsense this game actually is. It gave the illusion of competition when I played games with strangers on the ladder, but once I played with my friend (who has played more than my couple of days' worth of cards, and coincidentally has an almost identical card selection in his deck), I just got completely destroyed. It was the kind of destruction that seemed completely unfair, since his units just straight up have higher stats than mine do. Even he admits that it was unfair. The point of the game seemed to be the progression of stuff, to level things up and see numbers go up, after all. The game is only fair when you get matched with strangers of a similar rank. I guess there could be some interesting metagame implications there, but it demands so much attention with the chest timers and everything, and it feels ultimately pointless. That completely turned me off the game almost immediately, and I haven't touched it since.

I thought that I was going to be playing XCOM on the flight a little, but I wasn't really in the mood to, and the in-flight entertainment was surprisingly very good. I watched The Big Short before going to sleep, which if you haven't watched, you totally should. It's hard to believe that it was co-written and directed by the guy who also did Anchorman and Step Brothers. It was immensely funny, cleverly shot, fast paced, and so, so bitter about the banking industry. Every single actor in the cast was also brilliant. Great movie. I went to sleep afterwards and watched Creed when I woke up, which was also a good movie!

"Healthy" food with rice and grated yam. It was real slimy!

There was as much downtime as I expected, if not more, when I was in Tokyo. I tried to play A Good Snowman at first. This game is a really good puzzle game, by the way. To describe it in a meets-meets way, it is Sokoban meets Tower of Hanoi meets snowball rolling with a focused and well-paced set of puzzles. You can hug the snowmen you build too! Anyway, I think I was pretty close to finishing at that point, with only about four puzzles left that I can see. I started on one and immediately got stuck. I am still stuck on that puzzle even now. It is so hard. I am going crazy over this puzzle. Gosh, I hate Sokoban. I still wanted to play a puzzle game then, and I basically just fired up whatever puzzle games I had on my phone. I played Threes, which is great but not quite what I wanted. I played Alphabear, which I have not played in a long time and only reminded me that I did not really enjoy playing it.

Somehow, I settled into playing Hearthstone instead. Maybe part of it was vindication for my loss of faith in Clash Royale as a competitive game, and it has a certain mix of problem-solving and progression that was hitting the spot. The game lengths are short and predictable enough to fit in whatever small bits of time I had. When there's not enough time, I just read up on strategies online and try to build decks. There was a lot going on in the metagame: the new expansion was slowly being announced, and the new Standard format was also on the way. It was pretty fun, and I think I've gotten better at the game as a result. The only unfortunate part was probably that week's Tavern Brawl being the return of the worst Tavern Brawl in history: the one where pretty much everything is just random nonsense.

Crème brûlée I had for breakfast (haha) at the... L'Occitane Café???
Crème brûlée I had for breakfast (haha) at the... L'Occitane Café???

That said, Hearthstone is still just Hearthstone, and playing card games over and over can only last so long. Having watched Creed, I was in the mood for more Rocky-like entertainment. I saw that Punch Club was on sale on the Android Play Store with a new expansion, so I got it. It's kind of weird how much I like and dislike this game at the same time. In terms of playing it on-the-go, it is great. It is a solid life management sim with pretty good Rocky-esque vibes. The interface is simple and low-maintenance, and there's enough variation in the gameplay for it to be reasonably interesting (as in, not boring.)

What is irritating me is the goofiness and really obvious low-effort references to all possible inspirations that the game has. The guy who first takes me under his wings is named and looks like Mick. The love interest (and only woman, so far) is named Adrian, and she is my friend's sister. What is also annoying about them is that they are some of the most pointless video game nonsense. As far as I can tell, Mick doesn't do anything other than feeding me if I become broke (which I haven't), and the first thing Adrian does is give me a freaking fetch quest to collect 5 flowers or whatever. Seriously, game? That's only some of the Rocky references, and there are other nostalgic references to other movies, especially in similar martial arts / fighting sports genre. I hate it. It's done to a level where I am not sure if anything in this game is original. The game is also pretty buggy; UI elements often freak out, and it completely crashed my phone a few times.

Despite those complaints, I do enjoy getting buff, learning new fighting skills, juggling between fighting and surviving modern life. I like how stat points are lost over time, which means that I have to do extensive training right as fights happen (although it's kind of a bummer that there isn't much novel ways to training, mostly only gym training like I'm the Ivan Drago half of Rocky IV or something.) The combat system was perfect for my situation, but I cannot see it working in any other situations. It is almost completely off-hand and random. I even literally stopped looking at the screen when the characters fight. I can't imagine how boring it would be if all you can do is watch the two pixel men punch/kick each other sometimes for a minute or however long a round goes.

The Miso Katsu was so sizzling hot, it was spraying sauce all over the place!
The Miso Katsu was so sizzling hot, it was spraying sauce all over the place!

When I got to Nagoya, I had some time to visit a couple stores that sell games. They were only a book store and an electronics store, but beggars can't be choosers. I wanted to go there because I wanted to buy a Vita game; specifically, Taiko no Tatsujin: V Version. I used to be super into portable Taiko no Tatsujin games years ago, when there were a few on the DS and PSP. I wanted to see if I could go back into it now. It is a simple two-button drumming rhythm arcade game that has not much to it, but the difficulty does scale up pretty high. I heard that there is a new, harder difficulty, and a new RPG mode like the one in one of the previous DS games. The book store that I went to does have a sizeable video game section, but it was telling how unpopular the Vita is. Among the numerous shelves, there were more shelves dedicated to PS2 and PSP games, separately, than there were to Vita games. There was only one small shelf for Vita games. I could not find the game there either. The electronics store was a little better, having two shelves of Vita games. In comparison, there were maybe more than ten shelves of 3DS games. I luckily found a single sample case for Taiko no Tatsujin in one of the shelves, and bought the game. (By the way, it seems like the most hyped game then was the new Dragon Quest game. It seemed interesting!)

I tried playing the game that night. The menus were surprisingly familiar, as if nothing has changed in so many years. The difficulties were all unlocked from the very start, with the exception of the even more difficult difficulty setting which, I found later, unlocks per song after beating it at the then-highest difficulty. There are many settings for play variants (no miss, mirror, etc), and they are streamlined in a way that made me think that the game is designed with serious veterans in mind. I fired up a classic, Ridge Racer, and found that it is almost identical to how it was 6, 7 years ago. I instinctively remembered most of the song, even if my skills have become very rusty. I was honestly not sure if I was happy or sad that the game had not changed in so many years. Playing a few other songs also showed that their style of notation is still about the same. It often focused on the melody or switching between parts of the song in a way that doesn't always make sense for a percussion instrument. There was a detachment between the gameplay and the music that I had found to be a problem with many rhythm games back then, and with other rhythm games having tried to improve beyond this over the years, it seemed a bit archaic.

The RPG mode had a lot of things that made it seem like a complex RPG system, with equipment having different stats and custom effects, a sort-of party system, and quests. It was a little reminiscent of how Theatrhythm works, and I liked Theatrhythm, but it seems a little out of place in this game. The mode in general seemed like a step back from the old DS game's RPG mode. The core mechanic of playing the game and dodging bomb notes remain the same, only this time there are variants depending on the quests. It's an incredibly slight improvement for a 5+ year difference. The RPG part of the game seemed to have been boiled down to just menus, while the old DS game had an overworld and a random encounter system and everything. I have to say, I was very disappointed. I don't know if I want to ever play this game again. What a waste! The game wasn't cheap too!

Not food, but here is a shelf of Minecraft merch I found in Nagoya!
Not food, but here is a shelf of Minecraft merch I found in Nagoya!

Whew, this ended up longer than I expected. Anyway, thanks for reading! I'd be interested to hear what everyone's travelling habits are too. Do you usually bring games when travelling?

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XCOM Time Capsule and Dragon's Dogma: Pawn Resources

I think I've mentioned in one of my older posts that I've always wanted to write more blog to practice my slow-ass writing. English isn't my first language, so I could use the practice. I've sadly only gotten to write a couple posts here and there, but I hope I can make more time to write stuff.

I had some free time last weekend and managed to play some video games, and some of them were quite interesting. I played Firewatch to completion and wrote a review for it (which took waaay longer than I expected...) so I'm not going to touch it any more here. Other than that and the usual Rocket League, I got to play two older games that I love: XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen.

XCOM: The Boys Are Back In Town

Like opening a time capsule, filled with soldiers!
Like opening a time capsule, filled with soldiers!

Seeing so many people talk about XCOM 2 gave me the XCOM itch last week. It had been two(!) years since I last played XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which I wanted to finish before I get to XCOM 2, so I started playing that instead. On the load screen, I was quickly reminded why I stopped playing. XCOM Base Defense.

I had been playing XCOM at that time with a few things set to stack against me, to keep things somewhat interesting. I turned on random soldier stats, random upgrade trees, and the Ironman mode. This made me play the game in an extremely cautious way. I spend as little money as possible so I don't waste any of them, and part of that means that I've only got enough stuff to equip exactly six soldiers in my team. To make things easier for me, I unequipped my soldiers of all their gear whenever they get back from a mission. This goes well until the XCOM Base Defense mission, where everyone is caught off-guard, and my best armors were not worn by anyone. I was so afraid of losing any of my soldiers that I could not go back and continue playing the game...

I find it funny in retrospect, because my story kind of lines up with the XCOM 2 canon. The aliens invaded my base, then presumably killed everyone inside and kidnapped me while I cowered in fear. I still wanted to see how it will actually turn out though, and I don't exactly have the 80+ dollars to buy XCOM 2 anyway, so I loaded my save and began the mission. I was surprised at how much of this game I remembered, and how much of the rest I got wrong. In my recollections of the game, I had a badass female heavy not wearing her titan armor who I was most afraid of losing, but I actually didn't have her at all. (Only after checking my memorial later do I remember that she died in an earlier mission).

Seeing all my old soldiers felt really nostalgic. The way the mission slowly introduces reinforcements over time made it even better, as pretty much every wave of reinforcement has one or two of the old gang as the leader. It's as if they are getting their own professional wrestling entrances. Oh, it's my ace sniper lady with the super jumps! Bishop and his white armour, high movement and reliable aim! The pink big boy with the huge fuck-off rocket blast radius! I knew exactly what everyone were good at, despite not having seen them in two years (two!! years!!!). It was great fun to command them around, just like old times. Well, maybe except when I accidentally blew up my MVP ranger with pink boy's rocket blast. I'm still a bit annoyed that the game failed to frame him in camera while targeting the rocket. The mission wasn't as scary as I thought it would be, and I ended up clearing the mission with only 2 casualties (a rookie and the exploded ranger).

It was back in the base where I immediately got overwhelmed. There are so many balls in the air and I didn't know what to juggle anymore. I have like, what, two satellite uplinks and two spaceships in production? I immediately fucked up and bought some useless upgrade I didn't want, because I completely forgot how much the currency is worth. Coming back to this save and clearing the base defense was totally worth it, but I don't know if I will continue playing it now...

Dragon's Dogma: Fantasy HR Simulator 2016

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There is something I recently noticed about the way I played Dragon's Dogma: I care too much about managing the pawns in this game. I love doing the hiring and the firing of those things. I've gotten into the habit of replacing pawns every time I return to town, or whenever I'm not happy with them. It takes FOREVER, but I just love love love doing it.

Then I noticed something else. What I do... is basically HR staffing work, isn't it?

I am so overly particular in the screening process. I search by level (or friends list), filter for classes, then read through the list of pawns like a stack of resumes. The list of skills is, well, a list of skills the pawns have, and I make a point of looking for specific skills that fit into the party I want. Sorry, but I'm looking for someone with High Anodyne AND High Halidom. THREE Affinity spells? An empty skill slot? Forget about it. I've even rejected pawns for being overqualified. Why would I do that? My thought is literally, "I don't think such an overqualified pawn is a good fit for my playthrough." There's practically no reason for me to not hire a level 200 pawn into my party. It's completely free, since the owner is in my friends list! It's not like pawns can quit to greener pastures or anything!

After the resumes comes the interview process. What sort of clothing does the pawn wear? Is there creative design in the character creation? What sort of personalities do they have? (Your Sorcerer is a Guardian/Medicant? Get out of my office.) This is probably the most arbitrary and emotional part of the process. A default-voice female pawn wearing a Set of Queen's Clothing is an almost guaranteed no-no, since there are a million of them around, therefore signifying parental neglect. A pawn with the restraint to not use any DLC equipment gets a lot more respect. Once I eliminated all but two pawns, I finally form my party.

I don't really do this consciously, but I also give the pawns a sort of probationary period afterwards. I would watch the pawns a little more closely in the first battle we get into. Sometimes they are clearly bumbling, or just standing around not doing much, which usually means that there is something wrong with their personalities. If I do find something wrong with them that I missed earlier in the process (a Guardian Ranger with a blank secondary?!), I would even consider going back to town to replace them immediately. This part doesn't really matter though, since my turnover rate is so high that it barely makes a difference. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Now, I do realise that this is a really ridiculous habit. I think I'm just projecting my fears as an employee with some sort of impostor syndrome onto my fantasy self. Honestly, I don't think this is helping me at all. It's kind of reinforcing my fears and making me more afraid of being on the other end in real life. That said... I do kinda enjoy doing it... haha. I think I will try to rein it in a bit, at least for the sake of time, but I do not know if I ever want to stop doing this HR fantasy roleplaying.

The other ridiculous thing about this is that I don't put as much scrutiny over my own pawn. He is a Scather/Challenger Warrior, but I would not mind even if he becomes a Guardian. He is my beautiful baby boy and I love him...

When you wish upon a star, even the Jamaican national flag can turn into a real boy.
When you wish upon a star, even the Jamaican national flag can turn into a real boy.

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Games I played at PAX Australia (that I had never seen before) 2015!

Hey there! I'm sitting here waiting for a pot of stew to finish cooking, so I thought I'll just take some time to do a write-up on some games I played at PAX Australia last week, just like I did last year. I only went for one day instead of three days this year. It felt just a little too short, but I did manage to play most of the indie game on the show floor! I'm probably not gonna list every single one here, but I'll try to remember as much as I can.

Without further ado, here are the games:

Armed with Wings: Rearmed is an early-access 2D character action game with a stylised grayscale aesthetics, and I do like character action games! To be honest, I forgot what this game was called and had to look it up, so we're off to a good start! It is one among few of the games I played that had Zelda inspirations: this one has the 3D Zelda platforming mechanic where you jump as you run off an edge, which I guess is to limit your jump in combat. The combat is mostly up/down/neutral directions + 2 normal/special attack buttons, and a guard/dodge button. The character will jump a little when chaining a couple dodges in a row, and there is also a counterattack mechanic with the guard timing. It feels solid and well-animated. There is also a falcon you can summon and use to solve puzzles, I guess? I'm not sure what other purpose it has. It's a fairly fun game, but I thought it was missing some good enemy tells for the dodge/guard mechanic, especially when compared to other modern character action games like anything Platinum has made.

Look at that smoke!
Look at that smoke!

Mystery is a strange combination of a procedurally-generated Cluedo-like murder mystery and a 2D Zelda-like dungeon crawler. You walk from room to room in a mansion to find clues in a murder mystery, while killing monsters with your pool cue or whatever weapon and finding keys to open doors. The enemies explode into a puff of smoke like in Wind Waker! The graphics is the key selling point for me, because it looks like an old Japanese PS1 game! It's a bold aesthetic for sure.

Honestly, I'm not sure what Postbug is? I think I was a bug delivering mails to other bugs? It looks like a PC puzzle game from the 90's. You can play it yourself on their website. Watch out for spiders!

Western Press is basically a Mario Party minigame. It's a 2-player competitive game where you're shown a string of button presses and have to press them faster than your opponent. The tagline is "lower your expectations", which I guess is accurate? It is exactly what it sounds like.

Tear Through is a top-down tactical shooter that seems inspired by SWAT 4 and Rainbow Six, not unlike Door Kickers. What makes this unique is that it's a 2-player co-operative game! Friendly fire always on! This was super fun to play even with a stranger. It's a pretty simple pick-up-and-play sort of game, although some specific controls could have been made a little simpler... I couldn't remember how to do door stuff while playing.

Objects in Space is a space simulator. It looks very space simulation-y, but also submarine-y? I saw numbers and physics and stuff on the screen. They had an elaborate custom-made controller/LED display setup that made the booth look like a submarine/spaceship bridge! They said that the game will release with Arduino support to hook your own homemade controls and display, which is pretty cool.

Defect also has a space seagull!
Defect also has a space seagull!

Defect: Spaceship Destruction Kit is a much simpler 2D spaceship game where you build a spaceship for every level in the game. The running joke is that the ship keeps getting stolen by your crew at the end of the level, so you have to keep making new ones. The old ships will eventually appear in later levels as enemies too! I made a dumb-looking spaceship that's basically a brick with a bunch of jets attached. It turned out that spaceships need wings to turn (I'm not a physicist but I don't think space works that way? anyway,) so my flying brick just jetted straight past the objectives and into space... The person manning the booth was super helpful in fixing my spaceship design, and it was very fun! There apparently will also be online support where you can see other people's spaceship designs, and even have your friends' appear in your game as enemies... The only bummer so far is that you cannot name your own spaceship. You can only use randomly generated names. They're pretty good though. My flying brick was called "The Home Made Express".

One More Line is a one-button linear competitive racing game where you try to orbit around dots and not hit the dots or the walls. It's a nice concept, and it visually looks good, but I don't know. I didn't think it was very interesting. It is what it is.

Thumb Drift is a game where a car drifts as you move your thumb on the screen. It's one of those score games that is very difficult to control. It looks really nice! But I didn't feel like it was very fun to play. Oh well.

Blockpocalypse is a 4-player co-op game where you are being chased by, er, an apocalypse? And you have to run away and climb up to get to a helicopter. To close gaps and climb along the way, everyone has to grab what are like tetris blocks and stack 'em up. It's a fun, frantic puzzle-solving game, but it was fairly short and easy to beat. And the character selection was a bit too meme-y, which turns me off a little. I hope there's more to the game than that!

DESYNC looks fucking amazing. Holy crap. It's like Bulletstorm but in the Tron world. It's, it's... Just go watch the trailer.

Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire is a turn-based tactical RPG that looks A LOT like The Banner Saga. Not really much to say about it other than that. The demo was pretty neat, but it didn't show any of the macro gameplay.

Dragon's Wake is a game where you play as a dragon hatchling as it grows up in this fantasy world. Since it's a fantasy video game, your parents get murdered immediately after starting, and you're out to get revenge. I technically didn't play this at PAX since the booth was full, but they were giving away beta codes for free. I think the beta is actually the whole game so far? I played through it most of the way through and it seemed fairly complete. The game looks pretty low-key, and it doesn't get very complex, but it's a surprisingly fun platformer with simple but effective storytelling. Also, dragons are cool. The final boss is total nonsense though. I simply couldn't beat it! Unlike my grown dragon, I was still a baby gamer...

Evergreen is a game where you play as a mythical tree growing through the eras of Earth. Yes, you read that right. You are a tree in this game. It looks like someone thought "what if SpeedTree is a video game?" and executed on it. It looked very promising!

I played WItch House last year, but this game has changed dramatically since then. Heck, I'd go as far as saying that it's a completely different game. It's not a Diablo clone survival horror game anymore, it's now a turn-based tactical board game with a selection of scenarios. The scenario I played was a murder mystery, where I had to move three characters (I picked the nun, the nurse, and the gangster) room-to-room in a mansion to find clues while killing demons along the way. (Sounds familiar?) I then accused the main suspect (the priest) after finding enough clues, and he summoned a huge demon that can only be damaged by items or environmental hazards. My nurse single-handedly defeated the demons while the others were busy fighting additional spawns. She did a cool action roll whenever she moves away from the demon! I was a little skeptical of this major change at first, but I think it's a better game now.

Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth was probably my favorite game, and my biggest guilty pleasure at PAX this year. This was apparently at last year's PAX, but I must have missed it. I enjoyed it for all the wrong reasons, which I'll get into in the next paragraph. It is another game inspired by Zelda, this time the 3D kind. It is a fairly ambitious 3D action-adventure game that looks A LOT like Wind Waker. It was a very long demo, and I played through the whole thing thinking, "This demo has to end in, like, 3 more minutes right?" I must have spent more than half an hour on it. The demo was a vertical slice of some of the dungeons in the game. The main protagonist is a young boy who can shapeshift into other people with unique powers, and the dungeons are designed around these powers. The combat is pretty simple hack-and-slash with weapon-specific combos, but the weapons eventually break and you have to pick new weapons on-the-go.

Playing Warden was a guilty pleasure because it was very, very janky and broken in many ways. I was really down on it in the first minute of playing, but I figured out that I could push an NPC to weird places by picking up a rock and running towards them, and I was instantly turned around. There is a button to slide/dodge, and the interpolated animation looks suuuper janky, so I was just constantly spamming it over and over. I figured out that I can just keep jumping up to climb vines faster, but it got me stuck in a looping out-of-place clambering animation in some specific cases, which slowly pushes me out of the world for some reason. On top of all this, the audio was beyond broken, though I think it was an issue with the headphones. Some audio cues were playing, some were not, and sometimes I'm not sure if some of the noise and music were even coming from my game. The constant breaking of the game was strangely compelling, and it made me feel like one of those game-breaking speedrunners. In the last dungeon, I straight up slid my way past every single enemy when possible, and won the final battle without getting hit. It felt so, so cool. Most importantly, none of these issues were necessarily game-breaking. The only major bug I bumped into is where the character started constantly sliding to the right at great speed without any animation, and I had to have the exhibitor fix it for me (though I wonder if I could have exploited it instead.) Being able to still finish the game even with all this jankiness felt really good! I also felt really awkward though, because I was afraid of what people think when they see me do all these terrible things to the game.

Am I a bad person for liking the game this way? Maybe I am. I guess it's not really good publicity to have me show how broken and janky this game could be. To be fair, this is a pre-release game, so I expect them to fix most of these things before release. The exhibitor (who was very nice despite how I played their game =P) said that the rather floaty combat will even have an overhaul. Even without all those video game weirdness, I reckon it'll be a very good game. It looks quite beautiful! More games should take inspiration from Wind Waker.

(Speaking of janky video games, I also watched someone play through the What Remains of Edith Finch demo at the Playstation booth and she made the tentacle at the last segment freak out on geometry. That was fun =P)

Aaand that's it, folks! In case you are wondering about the stew, it ended up getting burnt a little =( It's still pretty good though! Anyway, thanks for reading!

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I Tried To Seek Adoulin, Instead I Found This: My Final Fantasy XI Experience

It's been almost two months since I complained a bunch about trying to get Final Fantasy XI to start on my blog, and believe it or not, I did finally play the game. My free 30-day subscription ran out a month ago, and I've been meaning to follow that blog post up with my first impressions. It sounded like some people were interested in what I'd think of it. I even prepared screenshots and stuff. Obviously, I ended up never actually finishing that follow-up. Sorry for jumping straight to the end of the story here, but it might partly because I just could not care any less about the game afterwards. One, two weeks later, I felt like it was too late to post this anyway. Who cares anymore? (Also, I'm a lazy garbage, but that's a whole other story.)

Right now, I'm just sitting here with not much to do, having played too much Rocket League for the day. I thought, forget it, I might as well just get it all out there while I still could. Killer Cuts just came on shuffle, so I'm super feeling it. Without further ado, here is the rest of my Final Fantasy XI experience, told in three parts because that's how many times I sat down and played the game. (Note: there's just as much complaining in this one as the last one!)

Session 1

Guess what?
Guess what?

Continuing where I left off last time, it may not surprise you that the game setup was far from over. I tried launching the game and it immediately froze my whole computer. To be more accurate, it froze Windows Explorer and Task Manager, which made it practically impossible to do anything.

It took some searching, but I figured out that this is a problem that anyone with newer versions of Windows or DirectX, I'm not sure which, would have. The Final Fantasy XI engine uses a DirectX networking API called DirectPlay, which has been deprecated since at least DirectX 9.0. If you don't have this on your PC, everything will all go to crap. So, pro tip: You have to go to your Windows Features setting to enable the DirectPlay legacy component before starting the game. I had to restart my PC three times before figuring this all out.

(This video is not mine, it's the only one of the main menu I could find on YouTube.)

After finally solving The Puzzle once and for all, the game started! A flythrough of the world is in the background while sweeping orchestral music plays. I hadn't felt such excitement over starting a game since I tricked Knights of the Old Republic into thinking that my PC had a better graphics card than it did, so that it will let me play the game at all. Don't worry though, it did not last very long, as my gamepad was not working at all. I was warned of this, so it did not came as a surprise, but the control options are nowhere to be found on the main menu.

The process of setting up the gamepad was so annoying that I don't even want to recall it. It all came down to the separate configuration program that is stored within the PlayOnline installation directory. It was then when I realized how incredibly frustrating the PlayOnline experience is, as it takes forever to exit the game, log out of PlayOnline, exit the program, and then start it back up, log into PlayOnline (with the whole One Time Passwords process), and get into the game just to test out my gamepad configuration. By the way, in case any of you want to play this (for some inexplicable reason) and play it with a gamepad, I figured out that the DualShock 4 works better on its own without any DS4Tool/DS4Windows turned on. The game accepts it as a generic gamepad. The configuration program also comprises of some other esoteric game settings, and most importantly the resolution settings! Good thing I found it. Oh, by the way, there is also a different setting for aspect ratios, but that can only be changed in-game. Yeah...

I finally was able to see the main menu at a good resolution, controlling it with my gamepad, and I was too exhausted to play the game already. I guess this was enough of the game for the day. The main menu was pretty cool, though.

Session 2

Character creation is probably my favorite part of playing an MMORPG. I really like morphing a character into existence, testing the limits of the systems, imagining the sorts of adventures these weirdos I am making will have. I always spend a lot of time doing this, so I've gotten quite particular with character creators. I am saying this because I want to emphasise that FFXI probably has the dumbest character creation I've ever seen. Just look at this:

No Caption Provided

FIrst of all, I could barely see the text for the character attributes 20 centimeters away from the monitor. What kind of a typeface is that?! That looks the font my mom would have chosen to write a restaurant menu with (just kidding, I love my mom.) Second of all, that's not zoomed in because I zoomed it in. The camera cannot even be controlled. What was happening is that for every race/gender option up there, they will play this custom-made cinematic to show off the character. In this screenshot, the camera zoomed in by itself as that Male Hume looked over his shoulder, anime-style. The Tarutaru character skips around and trips like cute child or something. It's like the dumbest fashion show I've ever witnessed. I'm not entirely sure if I really hate this, or really love it. Anyway, third of all is the most legitimate, but understandable issue. There simply isn't enough customizable options. I struggled to make someone resembling my FFXIV character, Jajaboy Mamaboy, though I'm not too disappointed with the final result.

No Caption Provided

I chose to start in the castle area, San Antonio or whatever it's called. A lot of what I encountered screams PS2-era JRPG. The graphics is definitely outdated, but I found it comfortably nostalgic. The character movement is also enjoyable in a weird way. Most jarringly, everyone speaks only in the small text box on the bottom of the screen.

There was something about the writing in this game that reminds me of FFXIV. It's some combination of strong characterisation and endearing dialogue that left a really good impression on me. I genuinely enjoyed the character interactions, as wooden as the actors themselves were on the game screen. I actually laughed when I was given the dialogue option, "I want to go shopping," to start my adventure. I included some of my favorite dialogues at the end of this section.

I goofed around in the city for some time, while learning the basic controls to the game. Everything about the interface felt so bizarre. The camera was inverted by default. Menu options are really difficult to navigate, and it wasn't immediately obvious that some of them have multiple pages. A lot of the UI elements just have no explanation to them, there are no tooltips or anything. I guess UX has gone a long way since 2002.

Another thing I noticed in the city: it felt very dead. NPC's are just standing around like statues, existing just for the sake of players. There is a lot of empty space everywhere. I saw only a couple player characters, and even said hi to them, but none of them responded in any way. They looked like they knew what they were doing. It felt lonely.

In the previous thread, @leegillespie kindly offered to restart from scratch and play with me, so I tried to add him to my friends list. The interface for the friends list is as confusing as ever, so that did not work out. I think I have to add friends from PlayOnline, but through some PlayOnline ID or something? Anyway, I gave up pretty quickly on that front. Sorry, @leegillespie.

Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3

Session 3

Enough goofing around, let's fight something!

No Caption Provided

Some guy in the city gave me some basic tasks to do as a beginner, and one of them was to go out and level my weapon skill up to 5. The combat system was immediately familiar to me, as it's not too far off from how the combat works in FFXIV when you lock on with a gamepad. You move around the targeted enemy, and the character auto-attacks when in range. Using a menu to use abilities is new to me, but I kinda like the idea. What's also similar, unfortunately, was how mindbogglingly boring the combat is at low levels, as there wasn't much to do at my level. Jaboy had one skill, which apparently takes a whole hour to cool down, and I accidentally cast it back in the city. The combat was literally just watching each other's health meters going down until someone wins. My weapon skill level was taking forever to increase, so I gave up pretty quickly and returned to the city. In retrospect, the rate at which I was giving up on things at that point is alarmingly high.

I kept hearing about this Records of Eminence thing being very important for beginners, so I went ahead and looked into it. I took the first objective and met this Rolandienne guy. He gladly explained the ins and outs of the Records of Eminence in a deliciously meta one-way conversation. According to him, this whole system works by having some kind of floating, invisible creepy voodoo doll following behind me, watching everything I do and writing it into a journal. It's so dumb. I love it.

No Caption Provided

I started to go on the basic tutorial quests, which gave a nice themepark-like structure to this whole mess. It gave me an incentive to trek further away from the city walls to look for training from this Field Manual, and so I did. The world outside the walls was kind of a bummer, to be quite frank. It felt even more dead outside than inside the city. The fog—which I reckon is either a weather effect or, as PS2 games are wont to do, hiding the draw distance—felt suffocating and depressing. Like in the city, there seemed to be stretches of empty space everywhere. The wildlife is very sparse, so I had to chase them around from far away. It felt like another forever until I reached the Field Manual. From what I can tell, it's a literal manual that gives me repeatable quests. I took the quest that told me to hunt five of a specific type of worms, and I could not even find any of them.

Something about having books and invisible floating voodoo dolls giving me quests bothered me. The things I were doing: they were not in service of any story or anything. They're explicitly made in service of me, the player, to level up and learn how to play. It felt self-indulgent. It felt pointless.

Two unrelated but equally bewildering things happened during and after this, and I guess they serve as an ending to my adventures in Vana'diel. The first thing that happened is treasure chests. Some monsters dropped treasure chests, which I like, but what's this?

No Caption Provided

They had a freaking lock picking mini-game. I liked the novelty of the first one, but wow, it just keeps happening. If you haven't figured it out from the screenshot, the mini-game is to guess a two-digit number within a limited number of guesses. One attempt can be spent to ask for a random clue about the number. It sucks so bad. Even navigating the menu and entering the numbers sucks, especially with the latency that I had. What purpose does this mini-game serve? Am I supposed to have fun wishing for a good clue and executing a binary search in my head? It confuses me even more when I open a treasure chest that fortunately had no lock to pick, to find items marked as temporary. I think they just disappear when I leave the area, and unlocked treasure chests only store temporary items. I just.... I don't understand why any of this is a thing.

The second thing happened after I finished all basic tutorial quests. It seemed like I'm a little way off from doing the other Records of Eminence tutorial quests, so I went back to the city in hopes of continuing the main storyline, the other tutorial quests, anything really. I walked through the city gate and the game was suddenly cut to elsewhere. It was an important looking cutscene featuring characters I don't know, talking about events I've never heard of, in a location I've never seen. I was so stunned, I forgot to take any screenshots to prove that this actually happened. The cutscene ended and the game returned to Jaboy, in the city, as if nothing had happened. I thought I was going crazy. I tried to look it up online, and the best explanation I could find was that it was a cutscene meant to introduce players to one of the expansion packs. It made no sense at all.

Epilogue

I honestly thought I was going to play more of this. A lot of it was really weird and annoying, but it definitely had heart. I tried to play it again, but it felt like my apathy towards the game beats the charm it had just so. I definitely had some more free time I could have spared, but there's always something I'd rather do than to play this game. I think the biggest problem is just that it takes so long to do anything in the game. There's too much blank space in playing the game. When I got the 5-day warning for my free trial, I could not be bothered to even think about it. I had so much spirit going into this game, refusing to let the convoluted setup to stop me, yet I was then defeated.

The warning signs were definitely all there since the beginning, but I'm still glad I gave this a shot. It makes me sad that games like these are just going to die off in the future, and it's good that I saw that much of whatever transient state the game was in. I wish I could see more of it, but this is where I give up one last time. Time to head back to Eorzea, I guess!

(Edit: I changed the title because it was meant as a placeholder and I forgot to change it, oops haha.)

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My first hours with Final Fantasy XI

This is going to be a pretty boring blog post, in which I painstakingly detail the first six or so hours of my Final Fantasy XI experience, which was pain-inducing and mentally taxing to say the least. I am bored and tired for reasons I will detail (again, painstakingly) in the following paragraphs, and I want to impart a realistic amount of boredom and tiredness to mirror how I feel because I am spiteful and somewhat upset. I hope this at least could be a PSA for FFXI being on sale until June and for how to get the game going.

Part 1: Buying the game.

EPIC! SAVINGS!
EPIC! SAVINGS!

Even though it was literally only yesterday, I cannot remember what pushed me to check the prices for Final Fantasy XI anymore. I saw that it was having a big discount, and I wanted to purchase it immediately. This was not an impulsive decision, mind you; I've been planning to buy this game for a long time. I heard the stories of how unique and intriguing the game is, and ever since I fell in love with Final Fantasy XIV I felt curiosity to see what came before it. The prices seemed a low enough barrier of entry, and I heard that it had been updated to allow for more casual low-level play, so I went ahead and tried to buy it. What I did not expect to be so high is the cost in time and effort, as this became the start of quite a journey...

The first hurdle is not so complicated. There are two different versions of the game, Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin and Final Fantasy XI: Ultimate Collection Seekers Edition. The former is $5, the latter is $10. Seeing the word "Ultimate Collection" made me think that it is a collector's edition-type product. I thought, I'd buy the base game just for $5, but $10 doesn't sound too far off. I looked at the product details to see what's in the Ultimate Collection (Seekers Edition). It seems to just contain the game and add-ons. Wait, then what's in the other one? The former appears to contain only the last expansion pack, Seekers of Adoulin, which came out two years ago. There is no way to buy the base game of any other expansions by themselves, hence my confusion. Good thing I cleared that up, I'd have ended up wasting $5 otherwise...

So I put Final Fantasy® XI: Ultimate Collection Seekers Edition into my "cart", and went straight to checkout. I chose to use Facebook login; the Square Enix store account is somehow different than the Square Enix membership account. I started filling in my billing details into the form... only to find that they list only NA/US countries in the Country field. I live in Australia, so I thought that meant I cannot buy the game. I looked at the URL. "store.na.square-enix.com". Oh, this is a NA-specific store. I guessed I'll have to look for an Australian store.

Part 2: Buying the game for real, wherever it is.

Where's my game?
Where's my game?

Putting the words into Google quickly lead me to where I was supposed to go. It seemed like the European Square Enix and North American Square Enix have completely different storefronts, and the Australian store is a subset of the European store. They don't even have the same store layouts or accounts system. You have to use the Square Enix membership account on the European store. I went straight to the search box, typed in "final fantasy xi" and... nothing? It lists the lone expansion pack, Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin, in between Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIV Online. Where is the Final Fantasy® XI: Ultimate Collection Seekers Edition that I seek?!

I tried Google some more. I found the European product page, but opening it just redirects me back to the Australian store front page. I found the FFXI website, which redirected me to another FFXI website, which is a Flash website. The "Buy Now" button redirects me back to the NA store. I found another FFXI website for Europeans, which also redirects me to a FFXI Flash website but for Europeans. I clicked the "Buy Now" button. It redirected me to the Australian store front page. What gives?

Fortunately, I finally did find the product page for the FF®XI:UCSE. I had to manually find it in the products listing from the navigation bar. Games -> PC Downloads -> MMORPG. And so I found it, the darned $10 thing that I wanted. (One nice thing so far is that it is 10 Australian Dollars, which is less than 10 US Dollars!)

Part 3: Installing the game... among other things. And waiting.

Thirteen years worth of expansions.
Thirteen years worth of expansions.

The purchasing process was painless and as expected. I logged in, filled in my address, paid for it and voila. I was a new owner of Final Fantasy XI. Yay.

It gave me a download link to a downloader, which started downloading the game. It was about a 5GB download. I went about my evening while waiting for it to download. Some of said evening involved making a tuna melt, eating it while watching Mad Men, and then making another toasted sandwich while watching more Mad Men. Mad Men is pretty good. The sandwiches were alright, too. Anyway, I eventually returned to find the download to have completed.

The downloader launched an extractor, which failed extracting because the downloader and the downloaded extractor were in different directories and that messed things up. I manually launched the extractor, which extracted an installer, which I then launched. The installer then launched seven separate installers one by one, one for each of the base game and its expansions and another for something called PlayOnline Viewer. I did not know what that meant, but I figured it must be important since it was set to be installed by default (unlike the DirectX 8.1 installer.) The PlayOnline Viewer installer installed PlayOnline Viewer and something called Tetra Master. That was also set to be installed by default, so I allowed it. I liked the splash artwork for the installers for the game.

That installation process took longer than I wished it did. I had to keep pressing "Next", "Install" and "Finish" for every single component, so I stayed at my computer. It must have taken almost an hour. I did not pay attention to the time as I was listening to Mouth Sounds and having a discussion with a friend about a 90's anime show in which a young bee gets separated from his queen bee mother. Was he abandoned or was there a villain involved? I could not remember. I brought the show up because Yoshitaka Amano, the illustrator of the FInal Fantasy artworks, apparently animated for that show.

It finally finished installing the game, and I tried to launch the game. There are no executables to be found in the game directory. I assumed that the PlayOnline Viewer has something to do with it, so I launched that.

Part 4: Registering an account. Or two. I'm not quite sure.

Menus, menus, every where.
Menus, menus, every where.

I was surprised to find a program menu reminiscent of early 2000's sci-fi video game menus. The UI and sound effects are very pleasing. The music was quite intense. It had a jazz musician flipping out on a piano over some sort of drum and bass track. I waited for it to finish updating itself, and it gave me an option between registration and login. the login screen is... well, it had a lot of fields and only two of them had anything to do with Square Enix membership accounts. What puzzled me more is the register button at the bottom of the screen, as if I was on the registration screen by mistake. I went back and chose registration, and was told to register through my Square Enix membership account settings.

I switched to my browser and logged into my Square Enix Membership account -- which, by the way, is kind of a pain to use in FFXIV without one-time passwords, which is also kind of a pain, but a lesser pain, but that's another story. There's a big FFXI/PlayOnline button, so I clicked on that. It then asked my for my PlayOnline registration code. Uh, huh?

I looked for the receipt in my email. It's quite an extensive receipt, with many codes and ID's and such. Near the bottom of the receipt (not counting disclosures and copyrights and such, so more like right in the middle) are registration codes. I say "codes" because I have three different ones. (I still do not know why I have three of them.)

I put in the first code, and it just gave me a PlayOnline account. With a password and everything, all in plain text and sent to my email. At this point, I could not care less anymore.

No Caption Provided

I put in all the information I had to the PlayOnline Viewer. There is one field that I do not know what to fill with: "Member Name". Member name. What is that supposed to even be? Member of what? It's not the PlayOnline ID, there's a different field for that. It's not the "Square Enix account ID" either. Is this like a public account handle? I put in my handle.

It made some funny fake modem noises while it tried to verify me. It registered successfully, then asked me to type in a new public handle for my PlayOnline account. Um. I typed in my Member Name.

A cool menu with another cool music popped out. There seems to be way too many features on this thing (a mail service AND a chat service?) I clicked on Final Fantasy XI.

A PLAY BUTTON! I clicked the play button.

...and this appeared. Hah.
...and this appeared. Hah.

I clicked the new play button. It told me that I do not have a "Content ID". I had no fucking idea what that even means.

Going back to the FFXI menu, there was an option for "Content ID'. There is a button labeled "About Content ID". Two of them, in fact. The other one is called "Expanded Services". I felt a little fear of missing out some content, but I just pretended that did not exist. "Content ID', apparently, is what they call subscriptions... I think? But... don't I have a free 30-day trial? I tried one of the other buttons and it told me to go to the Square Enix account management thing. So back there I went.

No mention of Content ID. They seem to call it "options" on Square Enix account land. "Service option"? Something to do with "options". The free trial only kicks in after you put in your credit card details... so I did, and immediately canceled the subscription. The subscription list updated with something labeled "Free Trial" and a green dot next to it. Green is good, right? Green means go. So I went back to PlayOnline Viewer, logged out and logged back in because that's what it told me to do.

Part 5: Launching the game!

I pressed "Play". I pressed the other "Play" button. It said "Downloading Content ID list". It said that I have Content ID. Yes! Finally, I can...

...welp
...welp

So here I am, ranting on the internet while I wait for the PlayOnline Viewer to download those files. If you read this whole thing... thanks, I guess? "Sorry" is more like it, I suppose. It is now after midnight. I just want to play the dang game. I am so tired. I hope this will all be worth it. Good night.

Update:

So, this happened right after posting:

No Caption Provided

It was probably my internet connection. That's what I get for complaining, I guess!

Update (19/07/2015): It took me like two months, but here's the follow-up to this story.

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Games I played at PAX AUS (that I had never seen before)

It's a little late for this now, but I want to just write down my thoughts about some games I played at PAX Australia 2014 and share them real quick. I got to roam around the expo hall and played games I didn't even know exist, and a lot of them were super cool. I wanted to make a list but I don't really have time to try adding game pages into the wiki and all that =(

WAVE WAVE looks a lot like Super Hexagon, but it's a one-button game where you either zig or zag depending on whether you are touching the screen. Its main game mode includes a determined set of patterns to run through. It felt unique, but it did not hook me the way Super Hexagon did. I can see other people digging this more though.

EXPAND is a game about a square in a circular labyrinth. It goes one puzzle screen at a time, keeping you (the square) almost always on the screen and beautiful music playing continuously. There's no penalty to failing a puzzle, you just get to retry the screen but spun by 90 degrees. The way they just keep playing the music reminds me of Echochrome. It's not completely linear, which is neat. They had me write one word to describe the game and I couldn't think of anything good so I wrote "nice" after thinking for a really long time and it was pretty embarassing on my part.

I don't remember much of the first Bean's Quest, which I bought because I liked the soundtrack, but I had a good time playing BEAN'S QUEST 2: BEAN DREAMS. The chaotic nature of its physics engine and uncontrollable jumping makes this game really amusing. It's still the same music composer so that's cool too.

WITCH HOUSE is like a survival horror in a Diablo clone. It's a weird mix between 1920's pulp noir comics and Lovecraftian horror. I played as a nun (other options being detectives and magicians) and I shot monsters with a Tommy gun and it was pretty rad. The monsters aren't just there to be killed though, sometimes they would just run off into the darkness or stalk the player from a distance. Their corpses have to be burnt to prevent them from coming back (nun magic also worked well). The slow pace of the game may put some people off, but I really liked it. The very nice person manning the booth said that they wrote, programmed, art'ed etc the game alone, but I'm not buying that because 1) how the hell can you be so skilled and 2) what the fuck am I doing with my life in comparison.

SWORDY is my favourite for sure. It's as if Gang Beasts had a love child with Hammerfight. 4 players are dumped into a top-down arena with a bunch of weapons (which you can pick up by walking over) and the controls are left stick to move, right stick to stick arms in a direction, right bumper to let go, left/right triggers to punch/thrust each arm outwards. Damage, movement, and all are simulated by a physics engine. Each player has a set amount of lives and the last player standing wins. When you are having a kill streak, your weapon catches on fire. Trying to stab a runaway in the butt with a giant flaming sword looks like a scene straight out of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

BEARZERKERS is another 4-player game where everyone is a ball creature rolling away from one or more bear(s). You can do stuff like erect walls, which is no trouble for the bears but can block other players. Whoever gets eaten by the bears the least wins. It's fun to watch other people play, I found. There's also a co-op mode but it didn't seem as interesting.

Some guy yelled at me to play SQUARE HEROES (another 4-player competitive game) in the middle of a match and it was pretty fun. I guess everyone is worms with a helmcopter and we shoot each other with bows and laser guns? I'm not sure how but I got second place, so I voted for it on Steam Greenlight.

To play NIPPY CATS, you put your finger on a tablet screen and you don't let the cats catch your finger. High scorers get a free shirt, so I played it until my finger hurts (without success). The strategy that seems to work is to rub your finger in a large circle while dodging all visible cats, and the cats move in so quickly that I might could have started a fire with my finger. It's advertised as "the dark souls of cat gaming", but it felt a lot more like high-level Geometry Wars but with cats.

BONZA is a neat (and obviously Aussie) word puzzle game where you assemble crossword fragments around a central theme as if a jigsaw puzzle. They gave me a $5 Amazon App Store voucher, but it didn't work so that's all I'm gonna write =P

I dropped by the Microsoft booth and I was surprised at the amount of indie games coming to the Xbox One. It was unfortunately not a popular booth, however. I played LOVERS IN DANGEROUS SPACETIME alone, which would be completely sad if not for the cute space dog that accompanied me instead of another player, so it was only moderately sad. I watched 2 teenage girls play ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST and they seemed to really enjoy it, and the game looks fantastic. The most popular game at the booth was inexplicably some sci-fi roller coaster game I never heard of and then completely forgot the title of.

I also visited Nintendo's booth to check out this hot game called DISNEY MAGICAL WORLD. It was put in a weird spot and nobody was playing it, so I hopped in. I dressed up a kid in some dumb looking Mickey hat and shorts and that was enough to amuse me. The framerate unfortunately dropped significantly when I exited the dress-up menu. I then played CAPTAIN TOAD, which was positioned right across. I never played Super Mario 3D World and only heard of this game's existence. It was weird that I had to invert both axes before the cameras made sense, and the game visually looks good, but I found the game itself sort of uninteresting. Maybe just the early levels are a bit too simple. I didn't try the new 3DS or Splatoon because fuck queues, but Splatoon seems like a cool game.

I played the Australian Edition of CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY with some strangers and it was great fun. They replaced American references I don't get with Australian references I don't get! Well, I understood "throwing a baby into the dunny" at least. I really wanted to get a box, but they were already sold out at their wonderfully offensive booth within the first few hours. I instead enjoyed(?) watching an Australian marching band perform various American songs and a balloon man making... some sort of big black things and giving them away.

GAMELOADING isn't really a game, but I liked the sneak peek I saw. The sneak peek was focused around marketing. There was a great scene where the Armello team (another game I never heard of before that looks cool) tried to set up a booth during PAX East by sneaking into someone else's space, having not booked any space beforehand. It was very fascinating!

This isn't a game either, but there was a weird moment at a panel I went to. A panelist asked who have played Cart Life, and only a handful of us raised our hands (in comparison, Papers, Please got the same crowd to almost all raise hands). I'm only mentioning this because it reminded me that Cart Life is good and free and everyone should check it out.

Those are the games! This ended up way longer than I wanted, thanks for reading. I kinda wish I took photos to show, the only photo I took is of the back of the Cards Against Humanity booth. I'm not entirely sure why I took this one in the first place. Seems ironic in retrospect. Oh well!

PAX Australia!
PAX Australia!

EDIT: I forgot to mention METAL DEAD ENCORE, which franchise I admittedly first encountered as an animated gif on gamebutts.club. I watched a developer guide someone through a bit of the game, and it has a type of dumb humor that works pretty well with a crowd. One scene had someone's head slowly explode in a super gross way and it made me cringe and laugh at the same time. The developers seem to be really into it, and the completely original metal soundtrack is quite impressive.

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So... I played the Wii again recently.

All we have is an old Wii and two Wii remotes
All we have is an old Wii and two Wii remotes

It was a few weeks ago, around the start of the school holidays. Unaware of the next-gen craziness that was happening, one of my sisters suddenly asked me to set up my old Wii console in the house. My family never really played much of it and they're not really big on video games, so it came to me as a bit of a surprise. We only played Wii Sports and such, and I played a few more games on it (the Trauma Center games are so good, by the way) before losing any desire to turn it on ever again. I didn't really want to set it up, because it needed some work. The A/V cable was missing, the power adapter had the wrong plug, the remote batteries were leaking, et cetera. It ended up taking almost a fortnight before I got everything set up correctly in my spare time, right on time for a family friend's visit... and it was surprisingly worth the effort.

No Caption Provided

The first game we played was Just Dance 2 It's quite an old game that many people (i.e. people who go on video game forums like us) may dismiss it easily, but this game is super fun. It's incredibly shallow and our Wii only outputs in freaking 480i(the first thing my sister said when we booted it up was "have Wii games always looked this blurry?"), but none of that mattered. The game just goes straight to dancing, and the dancing is fun. The song selection is really old at this point, but it's varied and crazy enough to almost be timeless. Dancing any Bollywood duet to anysong would've been fun, but the song, silly choreography and colorful direction the game gives are perfectly stupid. Even though the game is barely interactive, playing it was the most active I've been, and the most fun I've had in a long time. We only stopped when we were tired as all hell, after more than 3 hours of playing.

Later on that week, we all played my old Wii library little-by-little. My sister seemed to enjoy House of the Dead: Overkill a lot (this really surprised me), and we played a few episodes of You Don't Know Jack, which is still great fun. And then we played Super Mario Galaxy. I didn't really "get" the game when I played it before (as I usually do with Mario games, unfortunately), but boy am I glad to give it another chance. I've thought that the multiplayer concept (the so-called "Co-Star Mode") is terrible, but it actually gives a good excuse to have one spectator "playing" the game with the main player, interacting and giving suggestions more actively. I'm a terrible Mario player, so it actually helped me too. This game just looks and sounds and plays fantastic, and even with so many "game of the generation" recommendations it still exceeded my expectations.. We only played a couple of levels, but I'm definitely going back into it when I have the time.

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Playing the Wii again -- after years since the last time I even touched it -- feels refreshing. It showed me again how awesome video games can be, even when they might not be at their best. As the industry is moving into a new generation, everyone wants the future to be perfect. It's nice to be reminded that, although that is ideal, it doesn't need to be. Video games are still around, and they're still fun. And they still will be too!

Thanks for reading this nonsense I wanted to share. I hope you all enjoy your holidays too.

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How to eat boned wings!

I got this stock photo from foxnews.com, no joke.
I got this stock photo from foxnews.com, no joke.

Okay, that's it. This whole #TeamBoneless thing has been driving me crazy, because boned wings are obviously superior to boneless wings, which aren't even the wings of a chicken! Anyway, one of the major arguments for boneless wings is that they are clean; they do not require you to use your hands, which are apparently the utensil of savages. Now, I do understand the cleanliness argument, but ignoring my belief that our hands are -- in fact -- quite sophisticated and difficult to use properly (have you ever eaten loose rice with your hands before? You know what I'm talking about), I don't think eating wings is actually that difficult with other utensils.

As I have mentioned in another thread, I usually eat wings with a spoon. Well, sometimes with a knife and a fork, sometimes with a pair of chopsticks, but I think the technique is universal. What you need is just some knowledge of the wings' anatomy. Mind you, my limited knowledge of wings anatomy is just from eating a bunch of wings. (Aside: I like to eat any part of the chicken without my hands; I like the challenge and clean hands. I usually end up with cleaner bones than others too!)

I did some serious research to prepare this post anyway (which involves a full minute of Google Image Search! phew!) to illustrate things properly.

(Taken from some wikispaces site, 2nd Google result for
(Taken from some wikispaces site, 2nd Google result for "chicken wings anatomy")

I think you all know why eating wings are so goddamn difficult. It's that hole in the middle of the forearm! Well, here's the obvious solution to this problem: separate the bones. Specifically, the ulna and the radius. How we separate them depends entirely on how the wings are cooked.

If they are well-cooked, with very tender meat and softened tendons, you want to go for the elbow. The elbow should be the fatter end of the forearm (away from the pointy "hand", if it is not cut off). What you want to do is to pull or scoop away the thinner bone (the radius) at the joint so that it comes off from the elbow. Then, you can either cut the other end off the wrist, or just pull it away.

If the wings are a bit hard (this usually happens to slimmer country chickens, or if just lightly fried), the elbow end could be a bit difficult to separate as the tendons might not be soft enough. In this case, I usually go for the wrist. Still going for the radius first, I'd try to cut between the two bones, and then lever the bone away from the elbow. Even if it's still too hard to come off completely, having the wrist joint freed helps a lot. (Addendum: if it's still too hard to do it without touching, I usually bring it up to my mouth for a quick bite or grab.)

(Taken from ~lunarballad's DeviantArt, 1st Google result)
(Taken from ~lunarballad's DeviantArt, 1st Google result)

So, I guess the second part to the strategy is what we came for: the meat. This part is a bit easier if you see how muscles are connected. As long as you don't cut the muscles across, it should be really easy to get the most out of your wings without ever touching it with your hands! I would discourage this with beef, pork, or chicken breast -- as cutting them along the lines make them harder to chew -- but I think the wings and thighs of chicken are great for this way of eating. They're naturally more tender, so this gets maximum springiness out of them. Wings are too short across to get anything if you cut that way anyways. Well, if you get good enough with getting the bones out, I'm sure you can keep most of the meat intact and cut them however the heck you want. I usually get the outermost biceps of the wings first (marked orange in the diagram), but it's up to you where you start!

...Are you still reading? Thanks for reading this all of this text that doesn't really have anything to do with video games! It is great to know how to do this when I want both chicken wings and clean hands, like when I'm socializing at dinner, watching TV, or playing video games! Feel free to post about how you eat wings yourself; I'm sure I'm not the only one who always tries to eat chicken as efficiently as possible. #TeamBoneIn

P.S. Here's a good video guide on how to do something similar and have the wings still intact, but it requires hands:

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