Here’s your problem.

The other day I received something in my work e-mail from the Vice President’s office about Biden’s meeting with representatives from the video game industry. I read more about it today. I don’t know what they’re hoping to find by going over this again. For that matter, I don’t know what anybody is hoping to do by re-visiting the gun control issue. We’ve been over this a million times. We come to the same conclusion each time. They are a factor, but not necessarily the factor, for why bad things keep happening.

I’m not necessarily against a little more regulation involving guns, or video games. If it is done right (that’s the hard part), I think it could help. However, there are other things out there that need a bit more attention; things that have probably come about because we’ve changed as a society. Things that don’t have such an easy fix. We’ve come a long way from the nuclear family of the 50’s, and we all know that was bunk, but I think maybe we’ve gone a little too far the other way.

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New Year’s resolution: sweat the small stuff.

This goes against traditional advice, but I don’t mean it in the traditional way. What I mean to say is; screw the big picture. The big picture, the worldwide stage, the national stage, is always a downer. It doesn’t change. Corporate and government greed. Lousy economies and violence. General bullp*ss.When was the last time you  turned on the news and saw something that you smile? How about the last time you opened the newspaper? How about the radio?

I originally wanted to do a story on what I wanted to see more of in 2013 in government. In worldwide affairs. In national affairs. I couldn’t think of anything. I couldn’t think of anything unless I thought of it in the context of what I wanted to see less of. There’s not a whole lot of good going on out there on a grand scale. There are, however, lots of little things going on out there. Little things were all I could think of.  I’d love to see more of these little things. Little things like volunteers helping hurricane victims. Little things like Internet charities that raise money in the name of small, colorful horses.   I’d love to see more people saving puppies.

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Thanks Gamefly; thanks alot.

Maybe Gamefly hasn’t noticed, but adults who play video games already have to deal with enough crap without their incredibly stupid commercials. Grown men screaming, throwing tantrums and sobbing into the lap of their girlfriend because a game is bad does not help our image, thanks.

Alright. I’m sure nobody has changed their opinions over these commercials, but I find them to be in pretty bad taste. I mean, really, what kind of jerk wrecks a store because he’s only getting $9 for an old game. Dude, have you been to a pawn shop? Have you ever watched Pawn Stars? That’s how it works, especially with transient things like most games. Sure, there are a few classics people will pay top dollar for (Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VII), but even then, you’re probably not going to get a whole lot.

Just take the store credit. Don’t fool yourself. You’re not going to pay the rent with a stack of old PS3 games.

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Toys For Men

Just for kids? Doubtful. I hear the old folks complaining “kids” movies are more for adults these day. Good. I’m glad we adults get to have fun again.

America is still behind the times. I’m not talking about universal health care or acceptance of nudity, either. I’m talking about America’s habit of taking everything fun and giving it to kids. Toys. Cartoons. Games. What is the deal with that?

Don’t get me wrong. We’ve come a long way. But I think we all know there is still quite a disconnect between the growing population of young and middle-aged adults who still like the fun stuff, and the aging population. There are still a lot of people out there who think anybody past their mid-twenties who still watches “kids” movies, thinks super heroes are cool, and plays video games has something wrong with them. A lot of people still don’t consider people interested in these things “grown up”. This doesn’t make much sense to me for a very good reason.

These things weren’t originally meant  for kids, and a lot of them still aren’t exclusively for children.

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2011: To all the Games I Loved Last Year

When I’m not wasting my time writing this blog or watching television, I’m usually working. When I’m not doing any of these things, I’m probably playing video games. Since I’ve got thisthing in my head to write about my favorite things of last year, and it is ever so easier than finding something else to write about, I’m going to write about my favorite games of 2011.

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What’s in a Face?

I recently finished Persona 4, and have been looking for something to fill the new void in my life. A friend suggested I try the original Mass Effect, and let me borrow his copy. I had been wanting to try the game for some time as I had always heard good things about it. A RPG where you shoot the crap out of  things and have sex with aliens? Sounds fun.

So, last night, I grabbed a few beers and gave Mass Effect a whirl.

The first thing I noticed about the game was the massive learning curve. Within minutes of starting the game, I realized I would have to learn everything on a trial and error basis, with no help from the game itself. No tutorials, no instructional logs. Nothing.  It took me about 2 hours to get things to work out the way I wanted to, and I’m not even sure I wont start over and try again when I turn it on tonight.

Someday, I might even get to playing the  game.

This chimp looks like James Bond next to my attempts at facial reconstruction.

Mass Effect, like many Bio Ware games, has a very detailed character creator. The face-creating technology is amazing, and there are hundreds of options, from eye shape to “cheek gauntness”. In theory, there are probably thousands of combinations. However, In my experience, there are really only 5 different faces you can create; burn victim, Danny Trejo, early man, Duke Nukem’s father and child molester. I hesitate to add this last “class” to the list, because every face I made looked like a sex offender of some kind.

This is a problem for two reasons. One, I hate using the “stock” character if the option to make my own is presented. Two, I am very lookist when it comes to fantasy. Heroes need to look like heroes. Villains need to look like villains. The stock John Shepard has the look heroes are supposed to have; young, tough, and sexy. You can tell he’s been through some sh*t, but he isn’t burned out. Alien chicks wait in line to have sex with him. My John Shepards look like group of middle-aged gang members and creepy high-school janitors who accidentally became military heroes on the way to the bar to talk about how easy the girls were when they were kids back on earth.

Maybe that is good enough for Starcraft marines, but not John Shepard.

I think next time, I’ll make the biggest jerk I can and be a total ass to everybody in order to match my character’s butt-ugly face. I guess I could always suck it up and play the original Shep too, but that would be boring.

Danny Trejo’s pretty bad-ass, anyway.


Diablo Claims First Victims: Those with no, slow Internet fall to Lord of Terror.

“They never had a chance; literally.” ~ Anonymous eyewitness

Recently, Blizzard announced the much anticipated Diablo 3; announced back in 2008, would require a constant connection to their servers in order to play it in any way. The news that the game would effectively have no offline “single player” angered some gamers, and touched off a heated debate on message boards everywhere concerning the games move to online only status.

The main debate is how people with slow internet speed or unstable connections are supposed to play the game. The answer is simple; they’re not going to.

According to Blizzard, the decision was made for a variety of reasons, including keeping characters and items created with hacks out of the online community and supporting a robust lineup of social gaming features  in order to create a persistent game-world feel. These are good reasons, yes?

However, I, and apparently a few others, have a few issues with this. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of people still have lousy, or at least sketchy internet, opposed to people who have great internet. I’m not going to get into specifics, but it is a well documented fact.  After all, a whole, national organization has been created to address the situation.

Now, if Diablo 3 was originally announced to be an online game from the start, nobody would have room to complain. However, a lot of people were salivating over this game for 4 years before they found out they wouldn’t be able to play it, or be able to play it very well.

I also have yet to see a decent explanation as to why there is no offline, single-player mode. It would seem a simple solution to cheating would be to make offline characters unable to enter the online realm. However, according to Blizzard,  it would be hard to keep things like this from happening.

I’m not so convinced being online all of the time will prevent cheating, either, but if you say so.

Speaking of “item duping”, I find it interesting this announcement comes at the same time Blizzard announced a real-money auction house feature to be included in the game. Not that I’m saying the online only thing was tacked on to accommodate this totally unnecessary and, quite frankly, scary feature, but it is a strange coincidence. However, I’m sure the idea of people using duplication cheats in single player mode and then selling their bogus wares for real money in the online world had something do to with it.

Why do we have a real-money auction house again? I think I need to go back and do some reading, because I missed the part where people actually asked for something like that. Maybe it combats gold and item farmers, or maybe getting a cut from player auctions (because who will sell things for game gold if they can get cash) is almost like a subscription fee.

Now, real-money bullp*ss aside, I can see how games are trending towards online only. A lot of people like “social” gaming (which is really the opposite of what it sounds like, if you think about it) and more and more games designers are building around multi-player. It does provide quite an exciting gaming experience. However, I think there is still a substantial base of gamers who still want single-player content and don’t want anything to do with the circus involved with online gaming. Even having to have a constant, speedy connection at this point in time is no guarantee games will run smoothly.  Most people I know who played online games are still constantly nagged by issues, from problems with internet providers and server issues to just plain laggy days. People don’t mind putting up with it for a few games they enjoy, but having to deal with it for every game you want to play (console included) would get old really fast.

Online only gaming may very well be the future, but I don’t think we’re quite ready for it yet.