Saturday, November 20, 2010

Baten Kaitos: Complete!

WOW, did that take a long time!  I spent well over 70 hours playing that thing!  That game is massive, full of more than a few surprises, and fun the whole way.

The game is fantastic.  It's obvious why this game got great well as why it wasn't a best-seller.

And did I mention that the music is AMAZING! \m/

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


So, my brother talked me into National Novel Writing Month this year.  I've got a novel I;m currently working on, but I've decided instead to start a new one from scratch.  As these things go, though, they may end up the same later on, we'll see.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Baten Kaitos

I've been having a hankering for a good old RPG lately (having nearly burned myself out with RTS after Starcraft 2 and a replay of Warcraft 3 before that) So I stopped by my (not so) local Gamestop and came away with an acquisition (or three).

I was initially turned off by the whole JRPG aspect, but I was intrigued enough to give it a shot (and it was 6 bucks.  It nicely rounded off my third game for their buy 2 get 1 free sale).  I do not regret that decision, and could very well be my favorite of the games I bought it with (Megaman X 7 and 8).  I was also put off by how long it took me to start playing the game, which actually wasn't so bad by JRPG standards and was much faster than, say, Final Fantasy XII.  I'm also a little put off by how much time I'm spending by forcing myself to backtrack for the sidequests.

What really got me hooked on this game, though, was when I got to my first battle, and I heard their battle music:

Yeah, the music for the game is awesome.  The graphics for the game are surprisingly eye-pleasing.  Their vaunted card-battle system is well implemented, and surprisingly intuitive, unlike other card battle set-ups I can think of.  There's no inventory, no menu to select attack, defend, magic, run away, etc. You just play the cards that come up.

The story is nothing to write home about, I haven't gotten far, but I can tell it's pretty traditional JRPG stuff.  There's an evil god sealed away, the evil empire (who has guns and airships) is out to free it, and I'm sure he's the final boss fight.  I'm fairly certain that the main character is evil in a good body; he does, after all, have only one wing *cue Sephiroth music* 

This game might have a few surprises for me yet, though.


You're telling me there's an entire genre of this stuff?

Rhapsody of Fire- Emerald Sword

Dark Moor- Maid of Orleans

Kamelot- Forever
(Video is just black, it's not your computer)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Costume Time!

I have recently made an acquisition at my local savers that has jump-started my efforts into a project I've been thinking about.  A costume, perhaps even (if I'm lucky) for Halloween this year.

An Alchemist, based on the one from Torchlight.

My acquisition?


I almost couldn't believe it when I found them, They're just so perfect, though not without flaws.  The range of motion, for example, is pretty bad.

I'm doing the same thing with both hands. 

The only finger on the glove that extends all the way is, funnily enough, the middle one.  The thumb has a guard, and is for all intents and purposes, immobile.  I'll be fixing both of those, as well as tightening the finger slots to get more 1:1 movement (I can currently fit 3 fingers in one) in addition to increasing the range of motion.  I'll also be replacing the palm side, which is all gross and worn out.
That's all for now!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hard at Work

The school season has started again, and now that I've finished with what is roughly my 3rd week of classes, I think I've gotten back in the groove.

I've not simply been doing coursework, however, (mostly because the classes I'm taking don't really require a lot of coursework, which is awesome) and I've been working on a few projects and hobbies that I had set aside for a while, and have even started up some new ones.  One such, as I've mentioned in a previous post, is exploration of my music tastes.  Another is a comic of sorts that I've been neglecting called Legend of The Phoenix, (which actually inspired me to create this blog in the first place) and my most recent project, Metal Man: Rock & Roll, which has been taking up most of my free time.

Legend of The Phoenix is, I assume, not very good, but I may yet post some images.  I tend to downplay my own abilities, and it could very well be better than I think, though it does at this point consist of sketches in a notebook that I made when I was bored in class last year.  For those of you who care, the picture for my twitter account is the main character.

Metal Man: Rock & Roll was thought of when I really realized that much of the really good music from Video Games are the ones that have their roots in good ol' Rock & Roll.  Take April, by Deep Purple for example:

Pay specific attention around the 2:00 mark

And then of course there's stuff like this:

Anyway, you get my point.  Metal Man is basically my way to homage not only the great games of the past, and their music, but the great music that inspired it as well.

I'll be putting up more on these (and other) projects shortly.

Monday, August 30, 2010


It surprises me how a game involving the wimping out of the main character and a focus on their character and "Maternal Instincts" has that acronym.

It saddens me that the actual gameplay for this game looks ludicrously fun, yet the cutscenes (like lyrics I don't agree with in a song) completely ruin it for me.

It encourages me that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I've recently discovered a video through my Internet meanderings *cough*malstrom*cough* and I sincerely hope it gets spread around.

I think that Malstrom's e-mailer hit it on the nose when he said that this video embodies everything that is wrong (in similar fashion to how Spirit Tracks embodies everything wrong with Zelda.)

There are many good comments on youtube about this, but my favorite is this one:
Of course, it could do without the whole I CAN HAS CAPSLOCK thing, but even so, it still expresses my thoughts watching through the video.  Samus has had no problem blowing this guy up the past four times (even by Sakamoto 'Canon,' she's already fought Ridley twice) so why is she suddenly all helpless now?  It would make sense if this were a prequel, in fact, I think much of this game would be better suited as a prequel.  Or a movie.  Or a manga.

What I don't understand is why Samus even needs to have characterization in the first place.  Video games are about role play, they're about me taking up the role of someone and making their decisions.  Video games, due to their nature, are event driven, and not plot, character, or time driven.  The story is the story I tell myself.  The other characters are free to have as much characterization and development as is necessary, but the player character is me.

That's one of the things I really like about the original Starcraft, you were the magistrate/commander, cerebrate, or executor.  The characters talked to you and there was no player 'character,' it was you. Of course, there is the Protoss campaign, which has 'your old friend' Fenix, but that just helps you know 'you like this guy.'  In fact, I think that's been one of the things bugging me about Starcraft 2.  Best I can tell, that character that used to be you (during the Terran campaign, anyway) is now this Matt Horner fella.  I liked it better when I was the commander, not this new thing where I think I'm supposed to be Raynor.  It actually feels a lot like Warcraft 3 in that way, that sort of third-person approach to the story.

This wasn't unique to Starcraft, either, as many games were set up to get you in the game. Off the top of my head, I can think of two: The Ultima Series and Star Control 2.

Ultima did a lot of things like this.  You are a hero from Earth.  You become "The Avatar."  Lord British (Richard Gariott, though I don't think that's ever 'said' in the game) is your friend, also from Earth.  As a character, the Avatar doesn't really have much development, aside from the quest to become the Avatar (game 4) and really, each game you pretty much decide your personality with the questions they give you at the beginning.

Another good thing Ultima did right is your party, which you have free reign over.  You ask someone to join you, and they do.  You tell them to leave, and they do (usually they aren't happy about it either.)  As I recall, the party members could affect your game experience, as well. 

The early Castlevania, Zelda, Mario, and most relevantly Metroid games seem to have this sort of attitude.  The player character is rather flat as a character, but they serve as your avatar to the game world.  A sort of archetype for role play. I think really a major problem with video games is that they've moved away from the 'first person' approach to the story and more to a 'third person' one.  Your viewpoint character is no longer you, but just who you're experiencing the story through.

That 'first-person' approach to the story I think is really only something that can be achieved in video games.  Their nature is such that your actions move forward the story.  When you're being told what to do is when people start complaining.

Now I'd like to switch gears a bit and tell you what I find wrong in the video.

1. You have to be told to use super missiles.  If I've got Super Missles, and know how to use them, why do I have to be told?  Oh, I know, it's because the game designers think I'm stupid.  Like in Spirit Tracks, where there has to be a big cutscene (read: interrupting gameplay.)  to explain how to use a key. "hey look, a key!  I wonder where we use it"  "Hey look a door, we need a key.  I have an idea! try that key you found earlier!"

It would be something else, and probably better game design in general, to just have something where the tutorial pops up when you've shown you need it.  You don't need to authorize Super Missiles, let me have them from the start, and when I use regular missiles to try and blow up something that takes Super Missiles, then you tell me to use them.  If I still can't do it, come up with the tutorial.

Of course, that could be what actually happens in the game, so I could eat my words.

2. Samus is a power ranger.  I've actually been thinking about this since I saw the 'laughably hardcore' trailer, where she is shown 'morphing.'  In this one, she even 'de-morphs' while she's getting tossed around by Ridley.  I actually wonder if this game would be better with that mindset, like how my brother commented that the new TRON movie is about ghosts and specters (from SC2) and now I think I'll have a lot of fun with that one.  think about it, you have Samus as the outcast of the group, the 6th ranger, Adam as the red Ranger, the black guy as mind.

Actually, that brings me to another point.
3. Obligatory black guy.  This might stem from Japanese media copying American stereotypes, but even so, that's no excuse.  Want a cast with some racial diversity?   I again point to Starcraft, the second one this time.  To me, there isn't really any obvious tokenism.  I didn't really get the feeling of stereotypes, as much as archetypes.  There's the war general, the Hoodoo man, really the only stereotypes I noticed were the news anchors.

4. She's blown up Ridley already.  Four times.  She's blown up the Space Pirate Homeworld twice (no idea how that works, but whatever)  How is she now having problems with her past?  Again, this would be better as a prequel.

5. Samus looks like a Barbie doll.  I don't mean just because she's got blond hair and that, but she looks like she's made out of plastic.  Everyone does in this game.  The physics are weird, too.  sub-90s or something.  It just overall doesn't look right. (they might be passable in a children's show, but that's only because people think kids are stupid).

I'm really just 'meh' about this game.  I'm definitely not paying full price for it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A picture

Just the one for now, apparently there were a lot of blurry ones.  You can find a couple more on Kevin Gent's blog (he's the one on the left, he's also the one with the camera)  That's me on the right, with a partial Link costume (I decided I liked it better without the hat, at least while my hair's short)

I've actually been inspired by the event, and I'm wanting to work on some costume ideas, such as a re-working of the Link costume, as well as a steampunk alchemist sort of getup. I will have pictures of those as well, once I get them done.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The other Guys

Ah, Marky Mark.  Not only have you been my nickname for as long as I can remember, but you somehow make a good action star.
I don't really understand it, either, since he doesn't seem to be the type when you look at him. I've really liked him in everything I've seen him in, though, from The Italian Job to Max Payne.  Will Farrell also does a good performance in this movie, showing us once again that he can act more than one role.

I honestly can't think of a better match up than Mary Mark and Will Farrell (or Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne "Not The Rock" Johnson as the super-cops for that matter) considering the roles they played.
The Other Guys is everything it looks like and more: a(n almost) straight-faced parody of a crime drama, crossed with 80's action movie.  The effects were obvious at times and there was a wealth of needless explosions.  Needless to say, I loved it.  Not nearly as good as Scott Pilgrim, mind you, and may yet be one-upped with RED, but still well worth the watch.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

An epic of epic epicness.

What am i supposed to say about a movie that was written and directed by the same guy that did Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead?  About a movie that has plenty of elements from anime (ranging from over-the-top slapstick action to laser shooting finger guns to the "what the heck just happened" feeling) as well as the video game elements that make me love Press Start (including actual video game music)  as well as humor and wit that reminds me of Monty Python (well, going too much into that would spoil the fun, wouldn't it)?

Well, I can say this: this movie is awesome.  It has lines that I'll be quoting for a long time.  It has references so cleverly hidden that I probably will still miss some of them a second time through.  It has fantastic visuals, clever writing, and a quality that makes me feel like it would be just as awesome without all the snazzy big budget special effects.

See this movie.  I highly recommend it, though I do caution that it is well deserving of the PG-13 rating.

I have found music!

Okay, so maybe this isn't the most recent development, but I haven't thought to post it here until now.

For most of my life I've just sort of shrugged when someone asked me what kind of music I like.  I'd also probably suggest a song or two, or maybe just say "rock" or "video game music" or some such. 

Naturally, video games and Rock and Roll led me to Guitar Hero 3, and with it, I discovered Dragonforce.

Above: Awesome

Dungeons and Dragons/fantasy inspired lyrics, video game inspired music, even their name just says "this band is awesome".  So naturally, I wanted to find more of this awesomeness, and I made a channel on Pandora radio and found many more bands that I now like.  These include the likes of Kamelot, Epica, Dark Moor, and others.

So now, when someone asks me the kind of music I like, I can proudly say, "Metal".

I have returned from an epic quest!

Camping is fun.  Especially when you go with friends, and most especially, when you and three others dress up in Lord of the Rings style attire and have some fun.  Not even that Live Action Role-Play sort of stuff, just running and jumping around, having fun, and someone taking pictures and video so you can all laugh about it later (as opposed to only laughing about it then.)

I will be sharing pictures as soon as I get them, and rest assured, they will be epic.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Why Comic Sans?

As always, whenever I see a baseless "hate" movement, I feel compelled to rebel in extremely childish fashion.  Especially when the reasons for the hate are equally childish.  For example, when I see the hate garnered towards Twilight, I feel compelled to write an article about what the Twilight movies and books do right.

Or, when I find a hate towards a particular font, especially when such hate comes from designers acting like there's a 'right' and 'wrong' way to use fonts, and hate the font because it is "overused" (not like Times New Roman or Arial are, of course not.) or "Easy" (What does that even mean?) Or "Easy to Read"  (How is 'easy to read' a bad thing?)  I feel like doing something childish, like starting up a "I love comic sans" movement, or changing my blog to be entirely comic sans, or perhaps simply creating a post in the font of "evil" (i.e. Microsoft).
That's just it, though.  I suspect that much of the reason why people hate Comic Sans is because the Evil Microsoft corporation (of evil)tm  made it, and not Apple (or their patron saint Steve Jobs)

Honestly, why not hate Times New Roman because it's usually the default font and an "amateur" way to look professional?

Oh, wait.

Ah, the 'professionals', why is it simply so easy to laugh at their idiocy?  Malstrom, Malstrom, you've opened me up to a whole new world of laughter.

You want to have a larf to?

Here you go (I just can't help myself):
typesettingWe believe in the sanctity of typography and that the traditions and established standards of this craft should be upheld throughout all time. From Gutenberg's letterpress to the digital age, type in all forms is sacred and indispensable. Type is a voice; its very qualities and characteristics communicate to readers a meaning beyond mere syntax.
Early type designing and setting was so laborious that it is a blasphemy to the history of the craft that any fool can sit down at their personal computer and design their own typeface. Technological advances have transformed typography into a tawdry triviality. The patriarchs of this profession were highly educated men. However, today the widespread heretical uses of this medium prove that even the uneducated have opportunities to desecrate this art form; therefore, destroying the historical integrity of typography.
Like the tone of a spoken voice, the characteristics of a typeface convey meaning. The design of the typeface is, in itself, its voice. Often this voice speaks louder than the text itself. Thus when designing a "Do Not Enter" sign the use of a heavy-stroked, attention-commanding font such as Impact or Arial Black is appropriate. Typesetting such a message in Comic Sans would be ludicrous. Though this is sort of misuse is frequent, it is unjustified. Clearly, Comic Sans as a voice conveys silliness, childish naivete, irreverence, and is far too casual for such a purpose. It is analogous to showing up for a black tie event in a clown costume.
We are summoning forth the proletariat around the globe to aid us in this revolution. We call on the common man to rise up in revolt against this evil of typographical ignorance. We believe in the gospel message "ban comic sans." It shall be salvation to all who are literate. By banding together to eradicate this font from the face of the earth we strive to ensure that future generations will be liberated from this epidemic and never suffer this scourge that is the plague of our time.

I do like how they made it so easy. 

I've thought about showing up to a black tie event in a T-shirt and Jeans, but a clown costume?  Now that's an idea!  Or maybe I'll go in my Link costume, not even wearing pants!  Maybe I could convince Malstrom to do it instead...

Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to go to bed and perhaps return to 'professional' posting tomorrow.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

5 more days

Again, this is how you make a Space Marine game.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cyclical time

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

—George Santayana
I cannot fathom what it must be like to be someone who was familiar with SNES, NES, and Sega Genesis back in the day.  I remember when my family got a SNES, back when I was around 4 years old, which was rather late in the cycle.  I cannot fathom it, but the current state of Video Games is to the point where even a youngin' like myself is getting Déjà vu.  I can't even imagine what Malstrom and others like him have been going through for the past 4 years.  As far as I know, that was one of the major reasons for Malstrom doing what he did, he saw history being repeated.

I get that feeling, though, when I see new versions of Sonic, Donkey Kong Country, and every new 2D Castlevania since Symphony of the Night coming back.

I get that feeling when I look at the past, and see a push for 3D including clunky glasses,

 And Nintendo releasing a portable 3D device,

and I get some semblance of what those older than myself must feel.

History repeats itself, and those who do not learn from it are doomed to the repetition.  Nintendo appears to have learned from their past, and it will be interesting to see the results.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Last Airbender

Yay, another movie!

 They couldn't call it Avatar, since James Cameron's movie took the name

I feel I should first say that I've never seen the Anime, (yes, I know it was animated in the west.  It's still an Anime) and that was completely on purpose.  You see, I've noticed something over the years, I think I'll call it the rule of remakes: Whatever the movie is based off of will nearly always be better than the movie.  For this reason, I decided early on that, having never watched the show, I would wait and watch the movie first, letting myself judge it for what it is, and not compare it to the source material.

Unfortunately, I think that this movie suffers from Dragonball: Evolution syndrome; it isn't the anime, therefore the fans will hate it regardless.  No matter how accurate it is, no matter how good the casting, acting, script, etc. Things will be left out.  Their favorite character won't get enough screen time, their voice will be off, etc.   No, there will be no pleasing the rabid fans, so disregard them (if you are a rabid fan, disregard this review) and go see it. 

Yes, that's right, I defy the internet (you can expect more of that, I refuse to be a habitual cynic) and actually like this movie.  It's fun, it's M. Night Shamallamaman, it's well worth a Saturday afternoon matinée.  It was everything I expected;  not as good as Prince of Persia or Iron Man, but up there with G.I. Joe and Dragonball Evolution. Although I wouldn't recommend seeing it in 3D. (really, I wouldn't recommend paying extra to see any movie in 3D)

On the Farwin Scale of Movies: I'd definitely see it again, and I want to watch the Anime now.

But why should you care what I thought?  You know if you want to see it or not.  So go see for yourself (or not) and make your own decision.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The world of a story

Do you remember, back when Avatar was released, how it polarized people?  Some loved it, some hated it.  Personally I didn't see it.  I didn't really find much about it that was compelling enough to spend my money on. 

What I find interesting, though, is the people who loved or hated it. More interesting is that they had different reasons for doing so.  The critics (and others) who panned it did so because it was the same old story, it was The Matrix, Fern Gully, Battle for Terra, and many other stories rolled into one. 

But what about the people who liked it?  You know, the people who were 'stupid' because they liked a movie with a 'bad' script.  They didn't like the movie because of the script.  There were many who really liked the 3D of the movie, but what really got most people excited was the world of Pandora.  The details of the world, of which 3D simply took to the next level, were what people were really excited about.

What other worlds get people excited?  I know after playing Warcraft III I almost want to play World of Warcraft, the prospect of exploring the vast, detailed world shown in it is a tempting one.  Then of course, I remember all the stories about people getting lost spend hours, days, or weeks at a time playing the game.

What is it about Lord of the Rings that gets everyone so excited to the point that the one book series literally created the fantasy genre? It is the rich detail of Middle Earth.  What about the Wheel of Time, which shaped the modern fantasy genre?  Eragon?  Twilight? They are all the same.  It is the world.  It is the content. I know that fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson spends much of his time in building a world for his stories to take place in before he even starts writing the novel.  The world of his Mistborn trilogy has vast amounts of content which is barely hinted at (if mentioned at all) within the books themselves.

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series has not only vast amounts of content, but the strength of Mythos on its side.  The world has cyclical time, history literally comes back around and repeats itself with the same people over and over again (with a few variations, however).  The aim of The Dark One is to break the cycle, break the calendar, and remake it in his image.  The age of legends ended thousands of years prior, an age which had incomprehensible technology and lost magics.  Relics from this time are still being discovered, and many of them are unknown as to their use.  The age of legends ended with a great disaster that greatly changed the face of the whole earth. 

Brandon Sanderson's books also have some element of Mythos to them.

Now, to take a look at the Malstrom Post that inspired all this.  Why?  because he ends up saying the exact same things that I just said.

Warren Spector has a great new interview. I laughed at this part:

There’s a point in every project where I beat my head on my desk and say “why I do I always do things the hard way? Why don’t I just make a shooter?” With this game it was like, “Wow, why am I making a thirdperson game in which the player can determine where the walls and floors go? Oh my God!”
Listen to this quote:
One of the great challenges for videogames is that we have to stop building movie sets and start building worlds. Back in the old days, Origin’s motto was ‘We create worlds’. Somewhere along the line we lost that, and started building movie sets. And so for years I’ve been looking for an excuse to build a world that’s more dynamic. But it would have been a radically different game without Mickey as its beating creative heart.
One of the reasons why I think video games are seeing serious decline is that there is no interest or talent focused on creating content, or the ‘continuum’ or ‘world’ the game exists in. Content creation skills are very different than game making skills.

This is as far as I got before I had to take a break and write what all that up there. I was unaware of the rest of this:
What does Mario, Metroid, and Zelda have in common? They are all unique worlds. I remember when the games came out. People were not fascinated by the characters of Mario, Samus, and Link, they were really fascinated by the worlds and wanted to remain in that world.
What I said with books, he said with games.
Fantasy and science-fiction authors have no problem creating ‘accessible writing’. The big, big problem is the world creation, ultimately the content of the book. They agonizingly spend years creating the fictional world. Much of this fictional world won’t even appear in the book! And much of the fictional world somehow ‘appears’ in the middle of the writing process!
Fantasy and science-fiction authors have no problem creating ‘accessible writing’. The big, big problem is the world creation, ultimately the content of the book. They agonizingly spend years creating the fictional world. Much of this fictional world won’t even appear in the book! And much of the fictional world somehow ‘appears’ in the middle of the writing process!
And What did I say earlier?

As Spector noted, video games are not interested in making worlds. This ‘world’ is the biggest reason why people go off and buy the sequel. They want to return to that world! People will buy Starcraft 2, for example, to see what happens in that game world. “No,” says the reader. “They will buy it for the multiplayer gameplay.” But Blizzard, themselves, say that half of their customers do not even play multiplayer.
 I've been replaying Warcraft III for the second or third time, I've never touched the multiplayer.  This is also a main reason I only played Starcraft 2 beta, I don't really have interest in playing the multiplayer.  I've talked with my brother; he feels the same way.

I certainly didn't read Eragon (and the rest of the Inheritance Trilogy Cycle) because I expected it to be 'new' or to blow me away, I read it because I expected it to be everything fantasy is, and it turned out to be Star Wars set in Middle Earth.  I don't know how much more 'everything fantasy' than that.  Again, I stress that it's the world, not the Star Wars plot (seriously, almost scene for scene) or the horrible writing (written by a 15 year old, what did you expect?) but the world that kept me reading.

When Blizzard designs units for their RTS games, they go with what unit has the most interesting story, the one that best fleshes out this ‘continuum’ or ‘world’ they are in.

I remember how shockingly awesome World of warcraft was when it released because it felt incredible to explore the world of Azeroth in such a way. Blizzard was busy building up the ‘Warcraft’ continuum bit by bit since the original Warcraft came out. (The biggest complaint against World of Warcraft is that Blizzard has put in so many strange things that the Warcraft continuum no longer makes sense.)
This is getting surreal, I think I'm reading too much Malstrom. 

Gameplay is not enough. You must create an interesting game world to go with it. The best way to create an interesting game world is to STEAL IT from another medium or from real life. Sports games are great at this since the world of sports is time tested and exists outside of gaming. Licensed games also do this. Early video game makers would put in cliches of their favorite books and TV shows. Contra has something like a cross between Rambo and Aliens in it.

And I was about to go off on gameplay but got distracted by the last one.  It's like I can predict what he's going to say before I even know he's said it!

Another funny story, I just had a conversation with my brother (and sister) and I realized something about movies based on other mediums, such as the Prince of Persia movie.  The key is not to get the story or characters right, but to get the world right.  The world of Pirates of the Caribbean is remarkably similar to the world of Monkey Island (I mean more than just that they're pirates, with pirate lore, in the Caribbean.)  This is something that I think, for example, the Eragon movie didn't do quite right.  It didn't really feel like Star Wars in Middle Earth, in fact the world felt more like the Dungeons and Dragons movie. (which to be fair I never saw)

Back to Malstrom:

When Mario Mania was around, it wasn’t so much about the character of Mario but the fantastical Mushroom Land that everyone wanted to be in. Mario was around in Donkey Kong. Mario even had his own game in Mario Brothers. But the difference is that Mushroom Land did not exist yet.
In order to illustrate the game world, I must separate it from the gameplay. How do we do this? Well, people have already done it. Things like cartoons and all would revel in the game world even though there was no gameplay.

Seriously, I can't describe how surreal this is.  I am honestly just reading through his post and as soon as I have a thought about something I read I stop, quote it, and write my thoughts.  Maybe I am just subliminally seeing something down the page and not knowing it, but it is just plain weird to type my thoughts about something he's said, and then scroll down to see him say the exact same thing.

Maybe I invent time travel in 15 or so years and then have to come back in time, set up myself in Texas, and start writing a blog since knowledge of disruption is somehow vitally important to saving the world.

Or maybe I'm just reading too much into this coincidence.

Anyway, Malstrom reminded me of the Super Mario Brothers movie, which if you know about it, had nothing to do with Mushroom Kingdom, and the Super Show Malstrom shows did a much better job.  I think that the zany nature very nicely represented a game where you could shoot fireballs at walking mushroom animals and flying turtles and walk on top of the ceiling while underground. In fact, I think that's the problem with many video game to movie adaptations; they don't transition the world very well. (characters are part of the world, by the way)

My point is that Mario Mania existed only when the Game World was expanding and fleshing out. Since then, Nintendo has refused to expand this world. The Mario Universe has been in a stasis for decades as it keeps being re-used and re-used for various sports games, racing games, RPG games, or whatever game Mario appears in. In Mario 5, there was no real expansion of the game world (however, this probably didn’t matter since people hadn’t seen a console 2d Mario in 18 years).
 I get the feeling that people who criticize it for being 'just another 2D Mario' are meaning this, that it doesn't really bring many new things to the table.  In fact, one of my concerns about Donkey Kong Country Returns is that it feels like just Donkey Kong Country, but with Tikis. (which feels as out of place as the stuff in Banjo & Kazooie Nuts & Bolts)

In Mario Sunshine, well, that game took place in a very different place than Mushroom Land. In the Mario Galaxies, Mushroom Land existed only through a blender. The worlds were in pieces and nothing had any cohesion. In the Galaxies, it was as if the Game World was sacrificed on the altar of gameplay.
 (...Or the Piantas in Super Mario Sunshine.)

Look at the Zelda fan. They love to talk about the timeline of Zelda games. They do this because they enjoy the Game World that is Zelda. The drive for Zelda fans to purchase the new Zelda game clearly goes beyond gameplay to include seeing how the Zelda Game World has expanded. Games like Spirit Tracks not only failed to truly expand the Game World, they destablized the ‘continuum’ by putting in elements that didn’t make any sense in the Zelda world (i.e. trains). One of the biggest complaints about Twilight Princess was that it felt like it was Ocarina of Time. This complain was both gameplay based (on the formula) and on the game world itself (do we really need to keep seeing Kariko Village and the same exact Link To The Past map?).
 Hey, he's talking about me!  I am the Zelda fan, after all. (or something like that)  I only have to say, yes.  But my main problem with Twilight Princess was not only that it felt like it was Ocarina of Time, but that when it didn't, the 'new' stuff felt as out of place (i.e. "destabilized the continuum") as the train of Spirit Tracks.  While a novel concept, I really don't think "shootout in an old west town" when I think "Legend of Zelda"  For all its Pirates (who don't do anything) and cutesy themes, Wind Waker actually did manage to expand the universe somewhat without breaking it with the bird-people (they've got fish people, why not?  except that the fish people...became the bird people) and the sailing which has been shown in games such as Link's Awakening.

The 'exact same Link to the Past map'  is actually something I've been thinking about, and I've got an article planned on Hylian Geography, where I'll try to piece together (or at least make some sense of) the various maps..  To go with the theme of this post (and Malstrom's), maybe what Nintendo needs is a full map of Hyrule more so than a mysterious word document with the entire Time line.
People love their Game Worlds. This is why maps are extremely popular in video games whether they appear as a stage selection technique in Super Mario Brothers 3 and Super Mario World or if they are a cloth map for a RPG.

Above: Awesome map is awesome.
Indeed it is, and goes right along with what I just said.

Did you know that maps are extremely popular in the book medium? It’s true! Crack open your Lord of the Rings books, and you will find maps. Tolkien didn’t so much as create a story, he crafted a very detailed world. Why do you think Dune became popular? It wasn’t because it was the best written book. It is because it had a very fleshed out world. The very popular Star Wars and Star Trek also have very fleshed out universes.
 And of course he mentions Tolkein. (I think I got that from on of his older posts, though.)

But it is very important to note that fictional universes, of whatever medium, must operate by the laws of that universe. If it does not, the audience will feel cheated and the universe will collapse in on itself. If you set up as a rule in your fictional universe that magic use will deplete mana, the novel becomes a sort of game with the reader wondering how is the character going to get out of this situation since he used up all his mana! But if the author makes the character use magic even though the mana is depleted, the reader will be furious and the universe will likely collapse if the reader doesn’t close the book in frustration. 
Movies and television shows also must obey the rules of their fictional universe. Later Star Trek shows began breaking their own universe rules which caused fans to turn away in disgust (the driving reason for Trekkies to keep watching Trek was to see how the new episodes would ‘flesh out’ the universe even more). The Battlestar Galactica remake caused a big backlash when the writers made a deus-ex-machina of angels appearing to solve the problems of the plot.
 This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately.  Especially with out of place things.  Is it possible to have these anachronisms without breaking your universe?  I think it is, as long as you make your universe such that it is possible.  Also notice how what he talks about with mana in  the novel is remarkably similar to what was done with Eragon (how does he do that?)  I think Tales of Monkey Island is one thing that contributed to this.

Suspension of disbelief is a curious thing.  If something is there out of place, and you know it, and you communicate this to the consumer (i.e. hanging a lantern or lampshading) then it doesn't feel so out of place.

But yes, any content makers out there, please make sure that if you want to something new with your series, make sure you won't break your universe.  This is a problem I've found with many comedies, for example, where they will break their entire universe just to tell a silly joke (which usually isn't all that good anyway) 

There are some examples of video games having this issue. Spirit Tracks is the one that readily comes to mind. Sure, the game tried to ‘explain’ the trains, but no one bought that it was an organic growth of the Zelda universe. This is why the Game World must be the master, not the gameplay. Gameplay is limited to what is in the Game World.
 The problem I have with Spirit Tracks (or really most Zelda games after Ocarina) is that each of them has new things which are not part of the 'organic growth'.  Not only is the world they set up inconsistent with earlier Zeldas, but much of it is inconsistent with itself. How many times are we going to have an 'origin' of Link's clothes, for example?  The older games simply had the tunic and hat getup as a somewhat normal garb of the time, as they had other people wearing similar clothes.  It was Ocarina that tried to attach some sort of meaning to it. 

The fictional world is exactly why people like the story.  The gameplay, cinematography, or writing style are all means to an end, they are all there to take the the consumer to the world.

You do not re-design the Universe just because you like train gameplay. Fans will reject it.
 Just like you don't break your world apart into little chunks just because you like gravity-based gameplay, I assume?

Do not confuse this with I.P. I.P., which stands for Intellectual Property, is a legal fiction. The ‘world’ is the beef of the game. If it isn’t enticing, people won’t care about the gameplay. Much of gaming’s history shows great consumer interest in increases in graphics and sound and computer technology to allow the larger creation of game worlds. How many people actually played GTA 3 the way the developers intended? I bet many people played GTA 3 just to experience the rich and detailed game world.
 When I first heard people talking about I.P.s I could only think "what does Internet Protocol have to do with anything?"  Once I figured it out, I was still confused why everyone insisted on calling them I.P.s  "Nintendo Needs a new I.P. this E3" for example.  I still don't think I really know what people mean when they say this.  If people mean they want a new series, then why don't they just say so?  Maybe it's just because games are so similar these days that "I.P." is the only thing distinguishing them from one another.  I think it just proves Malstrom's point and the attitudes of people that the focus is more on "I.P." than the game world.

The Generation Zero developers could create New Worlds because they did not grow up on video games (since they didn’t exist). They grew up on board games, on books like Lord of the Rings, on movies, and on television. So the first games used many concepts found in books and television and movies.All these other mediums provided rich soil for Game World plants to be seeded and to sprout and grow.

Today, game developers grew up on video games. Many of them do not even bother reading books, wondering about Nature, or other things outside of video games. The soil is no longer rich. All they know is to copy what came before. Games today feel like a photocopy of a photocopy. No game world is fresh. It feels like a copy from another game world.

No wonder video games have become boring!
 Maybe I should get into entertainment, since I think of myself as the former, rather than the latter.  It wouldn't be based solely on video games, but other things that I see when I look at the world.

The puzzling thing about video games

I've heard 2D platformers as being 'puzzles in disguise,' and I think that really shows the nature of a game.  People complain about puzzles in Zelda, or Mario, but it is not the puzzle that is the problem.  The problem is that you can see the puzzle.  Think for a moment of a game you have played that had a great level design.  Now think of a game which had really poor level design.  What is the difference?   Take Final Fantasy XIII for example: I haven't played the game, but the most common complaint I hear is that for the first 20 hours of the game you are doing little more than running forward, pressing A, and watching a cut-scene.  How boring.  I would like you to think now of a puzzle game you may have played recently.  What was a really fun one?  What was a really boring one?

I would now like you to imagine a Sudoku or other number puzzle.  (If you don't know what Sudoku is, or feel a hankering for one, here's a good site for them.  You should try one.)  Anyways, suppose you are solving the puzzle and you reach a point where you have the option of putting a 5 or a 3 in a box.  What if it were possible to solve the puzzle with either number in that square?  Just imagine, solving the same puzzle while at the same time solving it differently each time.  Re-solvability right there!  Do you think that sounds fun?

If you do, great.  You're a better puzzle solver than me.  I don't think it sounds fun at all.  I actually thought it did at first, but then I thought about it:  if it's possible to solve with either number, how do I know if I'm doing it right?  How can I check the solution when I'm done to see if I messed up?  If it's possible to have more than one number in that box, is it possible for the rest of them?  Is it possible to have more than one number in a row, column, or block?   Really, if this were possible, what you would have is no Sudoku, but a simple grid where you can fill in whatever number you want.  Without the rules of Sudoku, it's no fun.

You may be able to guess the point I'm getting to.  My point is that video games are, at their heart, puzzles.  And the best kind of puzzles are the ones that can be solved in multiple ways.  Even puzzles like Sudoku have multiple ways to solve them, even if you end up putting the same number in the same square each time.  This is what is meant when, say, Malstrom says that the crux of a game's content is the interesting choices you can make as a player.  (as he puts it: "do I jump on the goomba or jump over it?)

The problem arises when the game maker doesn't understand this.  The complaint of it being the same every time is meant with a branching storyline and/or multiple endings, essentially letting you have the option of putting a 3 in the box instead of a 5.  And it does lead to a different ending, a different solution.  But if that is the case, wouldn't that mean that I haven't really solved the puzzle until I've found each possible variation at each junction point?  I thought branching storylines sounded cool at first, but then I got fed-up with those "choose your own adventure" books when I had to read through each possible situation to find the "Best" set of events, trying to find the "real" ending.  The same goes for any Video games with branching stories or multiple endings.  It's like a way to force me to replay the game, when really it feels like busywork.

And who wouldn't be excited about a user-generated Sudoku?  You mentioned that earlier, essentially what it is is a 100-page Sudoku book with only about 15 of the puzzles set up.  The rest is left up to you, the solver!  Why, you could even make your own game, and make a grid without Sudoku rules if you wanted to!  So much creative potential!  You could put a 27 in one of the boxes! so creative! 

 ...Wait, who are you and what's with the abrasive color to your font?

 Oh, by the way, the company created those 9x9 grids, so anything you make from them belongs to that company, and isn't yours.  And what do you mean you paid for 100 Sudoku but only got 15? you can make your own, you get to be creative!  isn't your creative potential worth more than that $50? 


Yeah, User Generated Content is the extreme variant of multiple endings.  I didn't really expect to take the Sudoku comparison that far, but it works out far better than I'd planned. 

At any rate, in case I didn't make my point clear enough:  Games are, at their heart, puzzles.  The way to make a good game is to give me multiple ways in which I can solve the problem.  This is a problem I see with many independent games, they really have only one way to beat each level.  When you beat the game, you solved the puzzle and really there's no point to play it again.

There's something I've noticed with the older Zelda games, they typically had multiple ways to do things.  While sometimes you needed one item or another to access an area or dungeon, the item was more than just a key.  It had other uses.  Link to the Past had you figure out for yourself that you could hook onto jars (skulls, in the Dark World) and there were no big, obvious targets with the "Use Hookshot Here" recently erased.

So, funny story.  I wrote the above (everything before the above paragraph, rather) because I read through part of this interview of Warren Spector about Epic Mickey.  (My post concerning Malstrom's post where I got that link from is in the works.)

Then I went back and read this:

How can it be more mainstream to insist that players have the skill to solve the puzzle the way the designer intended, or have the skill to defeat the thing by shooting it 10,000 times while its back is turned and its right foot is up, rather than just saying, "Hey, solve this problem the way you want, player!"
 And this:
In addition to paint and thinners, we have a secondary mechanic. I think every game needs at least two mechanics, a core and a secondary, to provide enough variety for players - especially an RPG. You can find these sketches which you can make real in the world, and they all have multiple uses. They’re like the tools in the Zelda games – in a Zelda game you basically use the tools for one purpose in the places the designers tell you to use them. You can use our tools anywhere.

And then I suddenly started to get very interested in Epic Mickey.

a few more quotes I found interesting:

If you look back at the games I’ve made, no one’s going to say they’re the best looking games in the world. I always put gameplay ahead of graphics, I always thought I would.

How much of a challenge have you found designing the camera?
We have the challenges that no other designers have had with a camera in a third person game. Designing a camera is hard enough, but imagine doing it when the wall behind the player may or may not exist – or the floor beneath the player may disappear. The camera troubles with this game are epic believe me, and I guarantee we’ll be tuning the camera the day Disney prise this out of my hands.
 I did notice problems with the camera, though I had to hear someone at E3 comment about it before I realized that that was what it was.  I just thought it looked like a Nintendo 64 game.  That's why it does.  It's good to hear that they're working on it.  I hope it works out. (as many early 3D games showed, a bad camera can kill an otherwise great game)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hey, look!

A Metroid game!

A little lacking on, y'know, Metroids, though.

Epic Mickey

I'm still not sure what to think about this one, we'll see.

A morality system?

The paint/thinner part looks okay, but comes off as contrived.

The way he talks about "game mechanics" and "Innovations" concerns me somewhat.

Each player having a unique experience due to choices they make.  Yes and no, depending on where the choices lay.

2D Platforming sections look fun (of course)

 I just don't know if the game will be fun or not.

E3 part 2

Sports games, meh.

NBA Jam? maybe.

Mario Sports pack?  Hahahaha, no.

Sales figures, confirming much of what Malstrom's been saying.

Hey look!  It's Mario Wii Party!

Actually, now that I think about it, I'm surprised that that's not in Microsoft's Wii Ripoff Natal Kinect collection (or was it? I wasn't really paying attention to their conference)

Golden Sun?  *Shrug* never been much of a fan.  It might satiate my want for old-school Final Fantasy, though.

Goldeneye?  Nintendo's pulling out all the stops, aren't they?

E3 Impressions: Legend of Zelda

So, here we go, I'm going to watch through Nintendo's press conference, and try to kind of leave my impressions here.

Cell shading?  I'm not so sure, it makes me think of Wind Waker.
Skyward Sword, huh?  I like it!

Bill Trinnen demoing, dag nabbit, it actually looks fun.

Mushrooms, hm...

Sword beams?!? holy crap, holy crap, holy crap...

Miyamoto is demoing it now,

swordfighing inspired by Wii sports resort? [expletive]!

Potion drinking is in real time?

Don't have to point at the screen to aim the slingshot?

Items not assigned to buttons?

Rolling bombs ala Wii sports bowling? Nice.

Bow & Arrow also inspired by Wii Sports Resort?  Very nice.

Whip?  Oh please let there be Indiana Jones throwbacks.

Crap, I'm sold.  Time to start up the "can't wait 'til next year" calendar

EDIT: Also of note is the fact that the Master sword is PROMINENTLY displayed.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Starts tomorrow. I'll be keeping an eye or two on this, things could get interesting.

I guess the only game I'm really looking forward to is Zelda Wii, though there may be some others that surprise me.  What I'm really looking forward to seeing is the 3DS, Kinect, and Move in action, as well as any games that Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony (respectively) might have for their newfangled devices

In the mean time, I guess I'll just have to keep on with Warcraft III.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sweet Cuppin' Cakes!?

The Game!

Well, that's my guess, anyway.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Prince of Persia: The sands of time

I'm back! And I've brought a movie review with me! And I've got to say, I'm thoroughly impressed.

Your eyes do not deceive you, reader, a video game movie that Isn't completely horrendous.  It exists! (although I guess it helps that it was produced by the guy who did the unofficial Monkey Island Movie, rather than Uwe Boll)

Perhaps I have the same advantage as I did with the sixth Harry Potter movie, where I had been removed from the source material long enough that I could simply enjoy the movie for what it was. Or perhaps it's just because I haven played the video game. (I've played the Two Thrones, though)

And it was fun!  lighthearted, but still able to be serious.  Jake Gyllenhaal actually pulled off the prince, not only in looks, but somewhat in personality, as well.  There was lots of parkour, action, and humor, just as it should be.

I'm not one to put scores to the movies I watch, but I enjoyed Prince of Persia much more than Sherlock Holmes, the last movie I saw in the theaters.  Mind you, that one was really good too.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Not to get political...

I don't really want this blog to get politically, religiously, or otherwise charged with controversy.  I like to talk about light things, like video games.  However, I did find an article that I found rather interesting, and I thought I'd share.

Why Religion is Good for us (as written by an atheist)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What Blizzard does right

So, for purposes of tiding me over until the Starcraft 2 release, I bought myself the Starcraft Battle chest. Luckily, before I opened it, I took a second look at the Collector's edition of Starcraft 2.  Which comes with the original Starcraft, plus BroodWar expansion.  On a custom 2 GB Flash Drive.  Needless to say, I promptly returned my Battle chest and pre-ordered the Collector's edition. 

Now, this may confuse those of you who've read what I've had to say already about Starcraft 2,  since I already pre-ordered it.  Well, the thing is,  The Game Crazy near where I live (both of them, actually) are gone.  My pre-orders? Gone.  I'm just glad I used all my trade-in credit while I had it.

Now, a Collector's edition like this, I would expect to have the artbook, and probably the custom Flash Drive.  The fact that the flash drive comes pre-loaded with the original Starcraft and BroodWar is easily worth $30 on its own, but Blizzard, of course, goes the extra mile with a comic book (which basically amounts to more artwork), a behind-the-scenes DVD (seriously, have you ever heard a game coming with one of these?) a soundtrack (which is like pre-ordering Halo and getting a free soundtrack, except Starcraft is actually pretty good on its own right,)  a World of Warcraft pet, and...wait, That's the mysterious day-one DLC?  That's...actually pretty cool.

So, what Blizzard does right? Stuff like this.  Giving actual stuff (that is well worth more than the extra $40) with their games.  Actual stuff, y'know, the things that can't be transferred digitally, can't be pirated.

Another thing that I've noticed about Blizzard is their attention to detail.  The little things.  I've been playing through Warcraft III again, and wondering how 8 year old graphics can still impress me.  Especially the cut-scenes.  I think this is why, the little things.  The people and creatures move...unnaturally for the most part, but then again, you look away from them and focus on, say, their clothing, and you notice how naturally it moves.  How realistic it looks.

Or maybe it just has to do with it being good-quality 3D animation that isn't composed solely of dark earth-tones and/or shiny stuff. (good examples of both? Twilight Princess.)  There's even, on 'the prophet's earth-tone robe, a bright red ruby, and it glints realistically (or at least it looks like that to me).  The armor that people wear isn't blindingly shiny, and some has the audacity to be dull.

Even on the not-so good in-game quality, there's still the attention to detail.  It makes you want to scroll in and take a good look at the units, the buildings, and the landscape, and see the detail on them.

Or maybe I'm just being nostalgic.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wait, what?

Another "Other M" game?  Nintendo, you just want to confuse me, don't you?  You have Final Fantasy M, That space marine game with Samus, and now you've got this laughably hardcore game?

You cannot seriously tell me that the above is the same game as this,

and this,

and expect me to not laugh in your face.

One more thing:
This reminds me of something...if only I could put my finger on it.

The only thing funnier than this trailer is fans' reactions to it.  You'd think it was a completely different game from the one I saw the trailer to.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I need to watch more Anime

I've been thinking about the sort of TV/Movies/games/etc. that I like and I've come to a few conclusions about the sort of things I like: Fun over-the-top 'awesomeness,' generally with lots of camp and cliché, with plenty of "what the crap?" moments that are just so crazy awesome you just can't help but laugh.

Examples of this are some of my favorite movies: Press Start, Dragonball Evolution and, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Games such as Castlevania, (where you whip a wall and get turkey,) Super Mario Brothers (What the crap is a goomba, anyway?) and many other games full of those "What the crap" moments. Malstrom wrote in his blog about this sort of things, the "What the Crap" moments making a game fun, but I can't be bothered to look it up to give you a link.

This is only spurred on by some of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid: Power Rangers, Xiaolin Showdown, Jackie Chan Adventures.  These all have that same over-the-top awesomeness/silliness.

Anime has it too.

All of the things I've mentioned have that same over-the-top awesomeness/silliness that comes from anime.  I haven't even mentioned my favorite shows growing up that were anime: Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Digimon, Escaflowne, and others.  Power Rangers is pretty much just a live-action anime.

And so we come to today, where I've browsed through various anime and found this (it's about a half hour long, so be warned.  Also apparently Veoh won't work in some countries, so sorry if you can't watch it):

View More Free Videos Online at

This is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about.  This is what I mean when I say that games, movies, music, books, et cetera, are all getting too 'serious,' 'artsy,' and generally just 'adult,' and aren't fun anymore.  They should be more like this.  Fun. light. Not afraid to be corny, cheesy, or campy.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Monster burger

I must say, Nintendo's advertisement department is certainly doing their job.  If you haven't seen this or the other commercials for Monster Hunter Tri, then go to youtube and find them.  They're as hilarious as this one.

I really want to play this game, and I think that these commercials actually had their part in that.  The game itself looks fun, too!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nintendo announces their Ace in the Hole

Well, that's surprising.

I thought it would take longer for the next Handheld to come out.

Is it just me, or does "3DS" seem like a tongue-in-cheek response to "DS2"?  In fact, it seems as if Nintendo is pushing the "3D" part of it, and it's certainly looking like everyone's taking the bait.  Don't forget what Iwata said:

Interviewer: "The graphics for the next DS will be highly detailed and it will contain a motion sensor, right?"

Iwata: "Those things are naturally being required. But do you think it would sell with just that?"
"Highly detailed graphics": Check
"motion sensor": Check

But wait, there's more!

This has to be it.  This must be the reason that Nintendo's 'big' games have already been announced.  They've been cleared out so that they won't get in the way of what Nintendo wants to show off.

But wait, is there even more?


I feel like I'm reading a Brandon Sanderson book, where the obvious 'twist' is almost a ploy, something to make you content when you figure it out, so when the other seven twists simultaneously slap you across the face you go down for the count.  Are we going to see something similar?  Will there be a "Sanderson Avalanche" of Nintendo products this E3?

In any case, Nintendo knows they have the better hand, and they're calling Microsoft's and Sony's bluffs.

I might actually follow E3 this year.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why I Like Brandon Sanderson

Those of you unfamiliar with the fantasy genre (or books in general) probably have never heard of Brandon Sanderson.  Those who are probably have heard of him the same way I have: He's the guy who's finishing the Wheel of Time series. 

For many of you that may not mean much, but I can say this: I enjoy reading his books.  His books are thoroughly engaging, manage to stand on their own even when part of a series, and for the size of the books (general fantasy fare, roundabout a thousand pages) I don't usually feel like I'm reading a huge epic.  He manages to keep things interesting, and I've found that the way he writes manages to be very comfortable and transparent.

But enough about that, what I want to talk about today is a planned 10-book series of which the first is due out in August.  The Way of Kings.

 But I don't really want to talk about the book itself (yet,) what I want to talk about is everything surrounding it.

The book industry is having a heyday with this.  As you can see on the cover, #1 New York Times Best Selling Author is advertised, the name Brandon Sanderson takes up a good fourth of the cover, the Industry is hyping this thing up to be the next Wheel of Time, the next Lord of the Rings.

The author, however, has a different view:
My editor, bless his heart, compared THE WAY OF KINGS to DUNE and LORD OF THE RINGS in the catalogue copy that he wrote. He’s a wonderful man, but I cringe when any new book is compared to masterworks like those. DUNE and LotR have proven themselves over decades, passing the test of time. They had monumental influences on their respective genres.

No new novel has the right to claim such a comparison out of the gate. If you go into KINGS expecting the next LORD OF THE RINGS or DUNE, you will be disappointed. I am not Tolkien or Herbert. I am what I am—a largely unproven writer still in the early days of his career.

Early in my drafting process for this book, I fell into some traps by putting too much weight upon the future of this novel. I began to think that KINGS would be the book that would define my solo career, and I began to worry (with all of the recent eyes that have been watching me) that this book needed to be something incredibly jaw-dropping and earth-shattering, otherwise it would be a failure.

That’s a bad way to be thinking as you write a book, and probably an even worse way to be thinking as you start reading a book. The Wheel of Time didn’t start to really make its mark until book three or four; it was the same for Harry Potter. Series like this take time to build. Beyond that, you can’t go into a series with the mind-set that it needs to be a huge blockbuster to be successful.

I’m not sure what I want people to think about this book. I want them to read it, enjoy it, and say nice things about it. I want them to anticipate it and talk about it on blogs, waiting for the day it is released. But in the end, it’s just a book. Let’s not hype this thing to death.

This is the sort of thing that gains my respect.  Mr. Sanderson isn't full of himself as many 'artists' are. He sees himself as an author just starting to make his mark.  He sees his books as just that: Books. 

When he was selected to finish off the Wheel of Time series he acted in a similarly humble manner.  He didn't take what is quite frankly the opportunity of a lifetime for himself, for money or his own vainglory, but for the fans.

Brandon Sanderson writes for the love of the craft, he writes so that people can have fun reading his books.  He writes for all the right reasons.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Returning a favor

Gee, does this look familiar? at all?

I just can't seem to place it.

Oh, wait, I know!

Yeah, that's what it reminds me of.  Definitely.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Something Smells Fishy (and it's not the Chinese food)


A "required" day-one patch for Starcraft 2?  That doesn't really sound good.  Apparently it's for the new, not the game itself, but I'm still a little cautious about this.

Now, I haven't had any professional experience in game making, but is it too late to just implement this stuff in the code? Are they that far along already?  They haven't put out a release date yet, so why the patch?  Are they planning on releasing the game sooner than I thought?

Or is this just like the day-one DLC in other games like Mass Effect 2?  I doubt it, but the possibility actually scares me a little.

*Sigh*, I guess I'll just have to wait a little longer and see.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chef's Nightmare

You find yourself seated within a grand hall, fit for plays, symphonies, and live Television showsThe curtains are closed and before you can question where you are or why, a well-dressed man approaches a lone microphone in front of the curtains.
"Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to Tonight's edition of Chef's Nightmare, where one mad chef aims to combine greasy, fatty, delicious foods in ways that will almost raise your cholesterol even while salivating in anticipation.  I am your host, Kyle Skyshot, and it is my proud honor tonight to bring to you none other than the latest breakthrough in bacon and cheese technology.  But first, we treat you to the comic stylings of Jim Gaffigan."

 Jim Gaffigan, wearing a white shirt, suit jacket, and jeans takes the stage and promptly begins.

Before you can fully wonder where the stool appeared from,  Kyle returns and shoos Jim Gaffigan from the stage.

"Thank you, Jim.  I'm sure we're all hungry now for some BACON."

The crowd laughs instinctively, but quiets down as the house lights dim and a spotlight goes on Kyle.  A drumroll starts as he begins talking.

"And now, the moment you've all been waiting for, it's time to reveal the latest creation of mad chef CID Farwin..."

The curtains open dramatically, revealing CID Farwin, holding his newest creation.

"The Chupaqueso Bacon Cheeseburger!"
"It's a cheeseburger! it's a chupaqueso! It's on whole wheat bread!"

The crowd cheers among fanfare as Kyle walks to the young man.

"Simply amazing, CID.  Once again you've shocked not only me but this wonderful audience as well.  Now, tell us about your newest creation."

"Well, Kyle, this delectable dish is so easy to make, even you could make it! Simply fry up a Hamburger in your average skillet, fry up some bacon, fry up some cheese, and combine in whichever way feels most intuitive.  Serve on a Hamburger bun or whatever bread is handy, or eat like a regular chupaqueso."

Kyle takes a bite out of an offered Cheeseburger and his face takes on a look of euphoria.

"Mmm, simply fantastic.  But don't just take my word for it, everyone in tonights audience gets a free Chupaqueso Bacon Cheeseburger!  Simply show your ticket stub in the front lobby, or buy additional burgers for $4.95 apiece.

"Unfortunately, that's all the time we have for Tonight. We hope you enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) tonight's creation! Until next time..."

The audience joins in shouting the show's motto,


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I don't believe this

*resumes crying*

Why....what...who...Oh just watch this

Why do people keep confusing Metroid with this?  Once again, the title comes up and says Metroid, but I don't believe it for a second. Where's the Metroid?  Where's any Metroid?  Where's Samus?  She can't be that emo blonde chick  (who'd make a great Squeenix protagonist, albeit a well-endowed one).  It's Final Fantasy M, I'm telling you! (that's 1,000 for those of you unfamiliar with roman numerals)

People are funny #5, "Biggest innovation in gaming this generation"

There is, at least some semblance of sanity on the internet, even on what I would expect to be a haven for 'hardcore.'

However this thread and the people trying to defend their points are borderline hilarious.

Let's look at our options for 'biggest innovation':

Online Multiplayer:Oh, yes, because this definitely hasn't been around for thirteen years or anything like that.

Achievements: Right, because high scores haven't been around since arcades or anything like that. 

The same people today that obsess over achievements and gamerpoints would be the same as the kids years ago at the arcade, except instead of being the "1337 Haxx0rz" "p0wning n00bz" with their "N1nj4 Sk1llz," they were "da bomb," wasting the wannabies big time with their totally wicked badness.  I kid you not.

Technological Leap:  Bringing PC graphics of 10 years ago to a console! Such an innovation!  Don't believe me?  Computer graphics have been capable of 1280×1024 resolution (enough to display 720p) since 1998.  1920x1080 (1080p) was emerging around the time sony announced the PS2.  Such innovation.  What, you mean the resolution of the games?  Computers have always had better graphics in their games.  (not to mention that the nature of PCs make it so you can adapt the computer to your game, and games are made to let you adapt the game to your computer)

Not to mention that "Technological Leap" is pretty much what defines a generation from it's predecessors (8-bit generation, 16-bit generation, 64-bit generation, and so on), so the 'technological leap' isn't so much your biggest innovation, since it's kind of expected.  If that's you're only innovation, then there is something horribly wrong.  I'm looking at you, PS3.

It's like what Iwata says about the rumored "WiiHD" or "Wii2,"  Of course it's going to be HD, what else are they going to do?

DLC: Downloadable content?  Like, stuff from the developers that I download enhance my game?  Like a patch?  A map pack?  Expansion?  Or the stuff you got with the Dreamcast?

Hm, it seems there hasn't really been any defining innovations this generation.  So sad that the Video Game Industry has run out of ideas.  Wait, did I miss one?  What was it again?  Oh, yes.

Motion Control:  Oh, yes the Wii remote!  A computer mouse fused with a remote control!  Gyroscope technology, first invented in 1817!  Peripherals for the Wii just like in the NES days!  The Miis, planned for the NES!  Motion games that totally have never been done in arcades and the like!  So innovative! 

What? You're shocked?  You thought I was going to pick motion controls?  Why would you ever think a thing like that?

There is, of course, the final option.

Other: The real innovation this generation comes from the Wii, but is not motion controls.  If it were, than Microsoft and Sony would stand a legitimate chance with Natal and Arc, respectively.  It is not a graphical or technological achievement.  It is not a feature. To modify a quote: "It is not what they are on the inside, but what they do, that defines them."   It is not the Wii, it is not the Wii remote, but what they represent.  It is the revolution. 

The revolution is more than a discarded name for the Wii.  It is the gamer, playing his shiny, expensive HD (or 3-D) game, with all its 'art' and 'story' who has the ability to say "this sucks" and shut it off.  Maybe he turns to an arcade-style 'old-school' game and has some fun.  Maybe he makes his own game.  Maybe he goes out and does something else with his time.  Maybe all three.

It is games like Wii fit, a game where I stand on a scale and shift my weight around (whee?)  and actually have fun doing so.  It is games that push the boundaries of what a game is.  It is games which, rather than say "look how awesome I am, look at the one who made me and how awesome he is," turn around and say, "Forget about me, forget about that guy, look how awesome you are!"

It is a change in the perception of the game.

Nintendo appears to understand this; they did, at least, through the development and launch of the Wii, but the lack of complete, solid Motion Plus games does not bode well.  Malstrom says that Nintendo pushing their "Super Gamecube" games at first opportunity is so that they can announce true Motion Plus games at E3.  'Gaming' sites and analysts say Nintendo is pushing the last of their 'core games' so they can announce a new console.

Honestly, looking at Nintendo's recent actions and the news/buzz, I don't know which to believe, though I hope Malstrom is right.  Whatever Nintendo is planning, they obviously think it's big.  We shall see.  Only time will tell if Nintendo will ride the revolution they started or grow content and let it crush them.