Exquisite Corps - Journal From The Front Part 1

I wasn't sure whether I was cut out for this assignment or living life in a secret underground bunker. Is this just another war like we've seen before or am I chronicling something much bigger? Can I have this kind of responsibility? What if we fail and life as we know it no longer exists? Am I really the man to tell the story about the end of the world?

March 4th, 2015

I've arrived at the bunker and given the squad that I will be following around on the battlefield. These are the people I need to put my trust in as all our lives will be on the line. I'll never forget meeting them this day. They were full of life and hope. There was Vincenzo Caravella, who had a rough exterior but you could tell he had a heart of gold. I don't think he wanted to be a killer but he was forced into this life due to the circumstances. Alex Navarro was very reserved as he prepared for the coming storm. He would frequently be heard listening to SKA music from his bunk. It was a welcoming distraction from horrors he had seen and was going to see. Dan Ryckert was the epitome of an all-American who wanted nothing more than to be on the frontlines to save his country and fellow man. Speaking to him briefly, he would wax poetic about the meals he missed from Taco Bell. It was the thing he missed the most. There was Dave Langzone who sounded very sincere when he told me to “get fucked boy.” Finally, Abby Russell. What can I say about Abby? She was clearly full of life and she had hair that could touch the sky and our hearts. I knew she would be here to keep morale up for the Squad and it was very much welcome.

March 5th, 2015

We hear word of alien activity, some possible Sectoids in the area. Naturally, Exquisite Squad was called up to investigate. They were the right team for the job. To say I was nervous about heading to a mission so soon would be an understatement but it was my job and I thought their story should be told. As we land, I’m instructed to stay on the plane as they didn’t want any civilian casualties on this mission. I was relieved to not have to see any combat up close but I still wanted to tell this story with the detail and gravitas it deserves. As Exquisite Squad left the plane, I just remember Abby giving me a wink and some finger guns while saying “We got this!” That was the last time I had hope. I could hear everything happening over comms as the small skirmish waged on. Abby wanted to make sure she had a good vantage point from atop the diner while everyone else carefully set up flanking maneuvers. She thought she had the jump on these Sectoids with a clear vantage point but she did not. A generation before me always remembered the day the music died and I couldn’t understand how that feels. Today I understand. As the squad comes back into the plane, the first thing I see is Vincenzo carrying Abby’s body on board with the single tear he could muster rolling down his cheek. Alex wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone, which isn’t out of the ordinary, but you could feel the sadness he had on this day. When I asked Dan what happened, he recounted the following. “I was trying to make it to her with this med-pack but I couldn’t make it time. The Sectoid found a good spot to shoot and that’s all it took. But you’re damn straight I took that damn Secty out for both Abby and America!” We flew back to the bunker in silence after that. All in all, the mission was a success. The team accomplished what they needed to but at what price?

March 8th, 2015

Tensions were high in the bunker. The commanding officers were happy with the results so far. The loss of life was acceptable, even if unfortunate. None of the squad felt that way, they blamed themselves and each other. Morale was low. The commanders knew the squad needed a boost, so they brought in the new recruit. Before all this went down, America watched daytime television with a fervor for dance and good times. This was brought to us by Ellen Degeneres and this was the day she became the newest member of Exquisite Squad. We had hope again.

March 15th, 2015

It’s been a week since Ellen had come in a boosted the squad’s morale. We all had affection for Abby but Ellen was a hell of a dancer. Her attitude was infectious and we were having fun during the downtime. The downtime came to an end as our commanders ordered a UFO to be shot down in the mid-west. This was a huge opportunity to gain intel on the alien enemies. So, of course, they sent the best of the best...Exquisite Squad. This was a high priority mission and Ellen’s first. The carrier set down outside the burning forest and I can still see the bright lights that exuded off the alien spacecraft. No one knew those bright lights would be Ellen’s final stage but she went out doing what she loved. During the course of the battle, Dan was in a jam and was pinned down by some Sectys. So, as a distraction, Ellen began dancing and you can probably guess what happened next. She was shot down in cold blood. From the way Dan tells the story, this gave him the chance to rush in with his shotgun and gun down the aliens in a blaze of glory for America. But what is glory without hope?


Remembering Ryan Davis

I didn't know Ryan Davis personally, but I felt like I did. I got the pleasure to meet Ryan Davis a few different times on the show floor at PAX East and I also had the opportunity to see the Bombcast live. From my very limited experience with Ryan, he was a great guy who was very friendly and inviting to anyone that came up to talk to him. He seemed like a humble guy, and the game industry lost a truly unique dude last week.

I first heard of Ryan back during his Gamespot days as I was a big fan of On The Spot and the Hotspot when it featured him and guys like Jeff Gerstmann, Rich Gallup, and Brad Shoemaker. It was one of the first real shows on the internet that I actually took the time to watch just because those guys made games interesting to me. This was why ,after they had left Gamespot, I immediately jumped on the Giant Bomb bandwagon when it was announced.

Ryan was the best host for the Giant Bombcast, and a big part of the reason that I kept coming back to it. Whenever he wasn't on an episode it always felt like something was missing (even though I love all the other guys as well). That is what will make things the hardest, knowing that he won't be hosting any more Bombcasts. It's been my pleasure throughout the years to get to know Ryan through the Bombcast and videos. You start to know these guys, and the podcasts feel as if you're just sitting around having a conversation with your friends. I know that Ryan Davis had a love of life and would pretty much do anything for a laugh. I was there live when he did this:

That may have been one of the single best moments I have EVER witnessed in my life, and I was there when The Undertaker threw Mankind off the Hell in a Cell at King of the Ring '98! I also know that Ryan likes a good summer jam, old school rap, bourbon, incredibly bad alcoholic concoctions, and a lot more than I can even think of off the top of my head. This was like losing a friend, even if I'd never had the chance to get to know him personally. It just sucks, plain and simple.

At the end of the day, if I can be half as good as Ryan Davis then I know I am doing something right. I will wear my Lincoln Force shirt with pride, because that was a pretty bad ass idea.

Ryan was a unique guy, and everything he did was fun to listen to and watch. His expressions were great and he was just hilarious. Makes me want to have fun in whatever I do going forward.

My most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

I'll try to bring the mood up with this amazing piece of art:

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Quick Thoughts: Dust

I woke up this morning, and I decided to check out the final release of Xbox Live’s Summer of Arcade - Dust: An Elysian Tale. I found myself interested in this game because of the story behind the game itself. This is a game that was made by a single man, Dean Dodrill. He coded and did the art for the game entirely on his own, and only got outside help to do the music. He actually had to learn how to code to make the game, as he was an animator previously. His first go at it was so impressive that he won Microsoft’s Dream-Build-Play contest in 2009 to help fund his project. I can tell just by playing the first few hours that this game must have been a labor of love for Dean. The thing you notice first and foremost are the visuals and they are some of the best visuals I’ve seen in any game, period! The animation and the artwork just moves so seamlessly throughout the world. Once you start playing the game, though, everything comes together. He does a good job of keeping the game play simple, but complex. It uses basic hack and slash game play but mixes in some simple combos to flesh out the game play. It also follows in the footsteps of the MetroidVania-genre where you explore the map trying to get the top percentage and finding every secret. In that vain, there are parts you can’t get to until you get different powers giving the game a lot of longevity. Overall, I am really enjoying playing this game, and the only downside is there isn’t much to the story. However, I’m still early on so we’ll see if that picks up. My personal feelings are if you like the MetroidVania style game, and want to see a unique take on that buy it and support this dude. You won’t be disappointed.

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