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Title: Happy Birthday, Zipp
Posted: April 04, 2011 (03:55 PM)
Happy Birthday, Friend.
What would you like?
Did you get The Wise Man's Fear yet?
I could even send you Darkness if you want.
Or something on PSN. I think you can do that.
I've got it. If you're anything like Kyle, you'll enjoy this.
3:20 is the best. Happy Birthday.
Kidding. Seriously, though. If you want something on that list let me know.
Title: If you actually have the means to do so, you can take it...
Posted: April 01, 2011 (03:12 AM)
It's been a while since I've written any sort of fiction and that's really what quiets my raging mind (I know there's a few of you that feel the same) and maybe it's the fact I should be sleeping but am too anxious to actually do so. Hell, could be that I've finally had a long enough break from Darkness to get back into something other than a review. Not really sure. All I know is that I want to write something that isn't owed to anyone. Just splurging I suppose. I still don't have the energy to write Chaos but closer now.
Anyway. Sorry. I'm rambling.
When I was younger, I often gave Tolkien some criticism because I saw that no matter what he wrote it was always Middle-Earth related and I thought he was kind of...uncreative. When I actually got involved with the fiction world I learned that it wasn't a lack of inspiration, but said inspiration was all-encompassing. He couldn't escape Middle-Earth because it was so vast and so...broad that it would torment him if he didn't tell that story.
It's my guess anyway.
And now, I feel for him. I'll not escape Highlace, Grahamas or any story I've told with that first novel. I had not imagined when I began writing it that each and every character would have such a back story and that I would have to tell each. I know that's a touch dramatic, but for those few of you who have written fiction and truly cared about it, you know what I'm talking about.
The point is: I'm not really going to write anything else. I have random novel ideas and short stories I would like to see on paper but my inspiration outside of the whole...Loresinathos, Grahamas, next great leader of humanity tale is a shimmer on the lake. There one moment, gone the next.
For the most part.
There is, however, one thing I would like to do before I die. I want to make a game. I've reviewed and played them long enough to know (or at least think I know) what would make something great. I want to design, write and produce The Calling. Hell, I almost reviewed it for C this Alphabetolympics but decided against it at the last minute.
It's a cop game. We have games where we battle law enforcement, games where we go to war against the world but not a game where we wear a badge, where we fight the good fight*.
It's probably not far off I imagine but I want to do it justice. My Dad was a cop for 32 years and I've learned over time there's an honor in that and a somewhat quiet, unspoken appreciation.
I want it to cover a broad range of gaming aspects.
Basically, it starts with the main character...we'll call him James Degrados (still working out the little details) as a newly graduated cadet who works his way through the ranks as the game progresses. It will feature some GTA moments where he's a patrolmen and busts speeders and traffic violators. Some will run and you'll have to chase them, others will obey. Random is the point I'm going for with that. You eventually work your way up to detective and the game introduces a sort of Arkham Asylum, Heavy Rain concept of collecting evidence and sifting through crime scenes. All the while, he develops a relationship with a girl named Emily who will eventually become his wife. Random, strong impacts are made throughout the game on what she means to you and the constant battles are broken up with a very strong story that shows the real James, and who he is outside of the department.
Those two are really only one-quarter of the game. The main draw is James becoming a member of the S.W.A.T. team where it develops into a very intense, unpredictable shooter. I would like to incorporate an aspect where you use the headset and call out certain commands like "Hands Up" and "Get Out On the Ground" that will be repeated in game in the character's voice, and each criminal responds differently. Some will attack you and you'll have to shoot, others will adhere. There's a very technical, precision aspect to it like using tear gas, cover, team based, etc. like that in Socom.
Eventually, James meets his fellow S.W.A.T. member and partner Danielle. You have a few situations with Dan before the impact of him watching your back becomes apparent, and the game forces you into an unavoidable battle where your back is turned, he puts his hand on your shoulder to push you aside and nails a thug who would have easily shot you in the back. For a moment, he keeps his hand there, you look at him, then place your hand on his shoulder as a thank you. (Sorry, this will have meaning in a while, I promise). That sort of evolves into a bond between you two and that's how you say hello to each other, a silent reminder that you're partners and you have watch over the other's safety.
A few hours are spent doing S.W.A.T. battles with various outcomes--some intense, some simple. The main thing I wanted to present was variety and keeping the gamer interested. And the end of each day, you log in the evidence you found and the game progresses from there.
The reason why I mentioned that is because you have a choice. Or rather, you will. You come across what you believe to be a petty drug and gun runner named Vladamir. On a bust to one of his meth labs you discover a huge sum of money ($500,000 cash inside a duffel bag). You're alone when you find it.
And though the game doesn't tell you exactly, you have a choice to book that into evidence or not. Doing so or not doing so will inevitably change the course of the entire game. If you guys are really interested I'll tell you the other two outcomes as there is a bad or neutral path you can explore (it's like Heavy Rain if your choices had actually meant something, or changed the game).
For now, we'll just go with the good.
Booking said evidence will put Vladamir on your tail and the game begins pounding you with his onslaughts. Attacks on the precinct, death threats, car bombs (which you may or may not see) and what will eventually become an all-out war between your S.W.A.T. team and Vladamir, who's gaining power by coercing several militias to band together and rise up. Amidst all this chaos, you find out that Emily is pregnant.
You continue to do your job, your bond with Danielle grows stronger and your relationship with Emily heightens. And all the while, Vladamir garners more numbers and more weapons. And he's got a target painted on only one man: you.
He will draw in a grand number of soldiers that could potentially create a civil war with a decent catalyst and such evidence is given both in news casts you'll watch on your day off and busts you encounter over the course of the game. It builds up, you on one side he on the other. While the numbers game is there, it doesn't stray away from the fact it's him and you, and there's hatred on both sides.
Choose the good path and the game's pseudo ending will find Vladamir breaking into your home with more enemies than you can deal with regardless of how good you are (because you have that, as this game will be all about choices), killing Emily and your unborn child and critically wounding you. Eventually, Danielle and the other S.W.A.T. members come to your rescue while you're blinking in and out of consciousness and Vladamir escapes.
The next scene finds you at a funeral, arm in a sling, standing and staring down at a casket with an American Flag wrapped about it. A song plays in the background (of which I will give you at the end) and people come and go in an unfocused manner, placing red roses upon the casket--that of your now dead wife Emily. And it ends with Danielle placing the last flower, turning towards you and placing his hand upon your shoulder in the same fashion he did when he saved your life. A misty, glimmering tear slides down your cheek. You place your hand on his shoulder, he nods, grabs you and forces you into a hug which you can't fight, only crumble into his arms and weep. The Calling then fades to the credits.
But, in tribute to Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood it can't end like that. And as you watch the credits, a voice-over comes in--that of a phone call between you and Danielle.
Danielle: I can't ever begin to tell you how sorry I am.
James: Right now, I don't want you to be sorry. I need you with me.
Danielle: I'm with you. Always. As we all are.
James: Good. Because we may not come back from this, and even if we do we're going to have a lot we'll need to answer for.
Danielle: I love you, James. And I loved Emily. That doesn't make a difference to me.
James: You sure?
Danielle: If I was there, I'd put my hand on your shoulder as I always have you fucking idiot.
James: (Laughs) If I've not said it before, or if I don't get the chance to say it again...thank you.
Danielle: You don't ever need to say that to me, but you're welcome all the same. So what do you have planned? What do you want to do?
James: Kill 'em. Kill every last mother fucking one of them.
Danielle: I'm with you.
James: I know. You always are.
Those were the main points I wanted to get across. I may not have readily expressed it, but the game is about building relationships mainly between you and Emily and you and Danielle so it will have so much more an impact when you lose her in one way or another.
It got really, really, ridciously long...but yeah...
That's my one dream outside of building my some 15 novels.
Title: Damn you, O.D.
Posted: April 01, 2011 (01:10 AM)
I really hope you do the second one because that's a hell of an idea. Now you got me thinking about. Wanting to do it. Fired up about it, if only for the fact of doing one of my reviews justice.
And I'm scrolling through my list, wondering which is a great game deserving of a face-lift. I have a few really: Eternal Blue, Devil May Cry 3, Landstalker or maybe Shining The Holy Ark.
Not really sure. There are a few. So if we are going with this contest I want to take a vote. You can just list it or give me reasons but I ask to you, HG Community, what do you think is my worst review?
Know that if you do vote, I will do the same for you if you'd like.
Looking forward to this one, so if you do it know that I'm down. Or in. Or on board. One of those things.
Title: I'm Ultimately Going To Regret This
Posted: March 31, 2011 (04:21 PM)
Admitting this, I mean.
I'm actually kind of excited for this. Well, no, really excited.
I grew up with this show, and it was my favorite for many years. Sure it was campy, the production value was low and Snarf was the most irritating character ever next to Jar Jar Binks but it was still great. And there's a sort of nostalgic draw to it...reminds me of when I was a kid.
I get the odd feeling that Jason is with me on this one. Just a guess.
Title: Other random, more focused thoughts
Posted: March 23, 2011 (04:15 AM)
For any writers who are looking to get published: have you ever read a book that's so incredible you've said to yourself "there is no way that anyone would reject that"? I have, most recently The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It is one of the most defined and interesting fantasy novels I've read in a very long time, maybe ever. And when I read it, I imagined he had no trouble in getting published.
I know that's slightly insane. I don't think there's ever been a new writer in the history of the written word that hasn't been rejected at least once. You really don't think about it until you read it, though. And I googled him in order to find the name of his follow-up novel and discovered on Wikipedia that The Name Of The Wind had been rejected "several" times. The exact number I'm not sure, but I do know Rowling earned 13 letters, until an uninteresting publisher brought it home, let his child read it--whom later antagonized him for the next chapters.
Point is, it's somewhat...inspiring. It doesn't fully take away the sting of bad news letters, but it helps in lessening the time between taking those chances. I've reached that point, hell I'm past it and I'm getting a little ansy. I haven't found a traditional publisher yet that seems like it would be a good fit, and a lot of people have made the suggestion of going the Ebook route. Part of it, yeah, is wanting to get it out there and seeing the world's reaction to it, wanting it to be read but the more I ponder on it the more positives I am finding.
Digital publishers are more apt to invest in new writers and no names, because there's far less overhead required. Most companies only buy the digital rights, allowing you to pursue traditional publication methods and in most cases, if you have good digital numbers others are far more likely to consider you. Advertising is easy, self-publication is cheaper and wait time is vastly diminished as there's no waiting for printing, or running out of stock.
I've been over some of the negatives, like not having something physical, the art form of creating a novel with the cover, flaps, etc. and still the looming feeling that I'm limiting myself. My biggest hang-up, though, comes from researching some of these companies. Most of them don't even strike me as legitimate, and a lot of their websites look no better than ones I used to build on Geocities. And most I've found require you to do all the work--marketing and editing mainly--but they seem to demand a rather high royalty for nothing more than adding a section on their website.
I'm sure it's simply a matter of finding the right one, but there are a lot, at least 10 to 1 with traditional publishers and most are so overwhelmed they're not currently taking submissions.
For now, I'm still on the fence about it. I'm definitely going to keep browsing in my free time so if anyone has some info, I would greatly appreciate it, but I'm still leaning towards the traditional way of doing things.
That being said, I mentioned earlier that I'm getting kind of twitchy and I know this has turned into a much longer post than I intended, but I wanted to say this. It is aimed at a certain person, due to something I read recently. I'm not going to name him directly, just for the sake of respect but maybe this will relate to what he's going through and--in some small way--help him.
I'm twitchy because I want to write again. I've done some reviews, blogs and previews. I even wrote an article for a genre I've never attempted before. It helps, yeah, but that demon is still there. I don't think it will ever go away and the only chance I have of quieting it for a while is with my follow up, In A Time Of Chaos.
And yeah, I've held off on it for a while baring several reasons. Want to get Darkness utterly settled before I start a new project, still have a little lingering burn out from the huge mess that came from formatting, covers and Lulu. But in truth...
Yeah, I'll admit it. It freaks me out thinking about a sequel. I think it should if you actually care about something. And a thousand questions tumble through my head that only further my anxiety: what if it's not as good as the first one, what if I run out of ideas, what if I lose my touch, what if...well.
No matter how many times you do it, writing a book is venturing into the vast, dark world of the unknown. Life in general is like that. And there are a lot of intimidating shadows and glowing stares that appear menacing. Sometimes they're harmless illusions you've amplified in order to halt your progress. Other times, they're genuine dangers you have to face head-on.
There's always going to be fear. I can write a thousand fantasy books, and still not know everything there is to the genre. I can spend a decade in school, earn a doctorate in English, learn every style and technique that exists but I'm always going to be nervous before, during and after any book.
And you know what: I'm still going to try. Classes, clinics and mentors can teach you a lot of things, but they can't teach you heart, passion or determination. In the end, it's those qualities that are going to make or break a book. Not knowing everything about a genre, or going out of your comfort zone will only hinder you if you let it but that's a common problem when you care about what you're doing. Just try to remember that caring about it will make it incredible. I don't always have the right answers, nor can I tell anyone exactly how to press on but I can give you one small piece of advice:
Sorry. That was far more dramatic than I intended it to be...
Then again, that's my style Baby.
Love that fucking song, too.
True Baby out.
Title: Random, useless thoughts
Posted: March 21, 2011 (04:32 AM)
Sorry, I couldn't help it. Tell me if you get that. Seriously though...
Breakout Kings - I don't really watch new shows when they come out. I've been disappointed far too many times. Happy Town? Gone. Flash Forward? Axed. Sanctuary? Junk ever since they got rid of Emilie Ullerup. Dark Blue? Ripped away. Despite an overwhelming prediction of dread and anticipated angst, I watched the first episode--mainly because I was curious how much it would be like Leverage (which is phenomenal by the way.) A brief overview of the show is this: a group of convicts, all with special skills, are brought together to help the law in capturing prisoners that escape. With every successful nab, they get a month shaved off their sentence. Sounds a lot like Leverage, criminals catching other criminals. I expected that. What I did not expect was how brilliant the show would actually be, and how it would immediately set itself apart from the TNT series, or any show out there. Leverage is more like the Ocean's 11 movies--humorous antics and spy-like feats mixed into occasional drama. Kings is completely different. It's more psychological, more character driven and intense. I've only seen 3 episodes (because there are only 3) but I'm already hooked, and feel a strange attachment and connection with each role. They even have a brilliant, quirky character in the form of an obsessive gambler and for some reason I love those types, like Thomas Jane in The Mentalist or Reed in Criminal Minds. They fascinate me.
Robert Knepper - On the tail of the whole Breakout Kings thought, Knepper was on tonight's episode reprising his role from Prison Break of Theodore Bagwell. He was brilliant on that show, phenomenal in Transporter 3 and sadistically charming on Heroes. He is like Magneto, John Travolta in Pulp Fiction (or Broken Arrow, Swordfish, Pelham 123, Face/Off) or The Joker. A bad guy who's just so...entertaining you can't help but like them. T-Bag was the most despicable of prisoners but he ended up being one of my favorites simply because Knepper is such an incredible actor and he plays that part flawlessly. I recently saw the remake of Nightmare On Elm Street and couldn't help but think that movie would have been a hell of a lot better with him in the lead. He's been in a good many things, but I still can't help but wonder why he's not more famous than he is.
Console Classix.com - Anyone ever heard of or used them? I stumbled onto them searching for El Viento to hold up my end of a bargain (which I couldn't even find on Ebay, and that left me wondering how a game that is supposedly so incredible is harder to find than a sober person at Mardi Gras). They strike me as a GameTap company without all the exposure or the massive budget to make their website look decent. Wondering if they're legit, or just charging people to use an emulator they could get free elsewhere. If you've used them, let me know or if you know of a place I can play El Viento I would greatly appreciate it.
Gardening - I'm gunning for the platinum trophy on The Sims 3 but I don't know if I'll ever get it. I'm close, but no matter what I try I can't grow the perfect plant. Hell, I can't grow any plant at all. Apparently you can choose "plant" when you pick a seed from your inventory but I'm not ever presented with that option. I can't even plant with my cursor. It's starting to get a little annoying. Even the tips I found online (because apparently this is an issue or bug) didn't help. I've started three new games, increased my gardening skill and nothing. Got so desperate I hit Fastkilr up on AIM, wondering if he encountered that same issue (that was me, just in case you were wondering) but he wasn't around. Maybe he'll see this sooner (or others who've had the problem will) and lend me their advice. Just throwing that out there. Heh.
That's it for now. Have a few Name of the Wind thoughts and theological ponders but those are for later.
True Baby out.
Was played on Breakout Kings. Kick ass song by a band that gets better and better with every track I hear.
I'm really done now.
Title: Wrote an MK preview
Posted: March 17, 2011 (07:37 PM)
I wrote this initially as a favor to Jason (the other Jason) but I know there are a lot of MK fans here as well, so I wanted to share. I think it turned out rather well:
For years Mortal Kombat has been on a downward spiral, suffering from the same affliction many popular titles encounter: a loss of identity. What began as a brutal, no-holds-barred pioneer slowly devolved into a clunky, watered-down mess. Whether the several, sometimes non-violent, directions the game took was an attempt to market it to a wider audience, an effort to be taken seriously or simply a de-sensitized fan base, none can say. It was, however, evident that a change was needed if MK was to survive or even contend with the brilliant Street Fighter IV. So what’s the best way to instill new life into a series that has had more disappointing sequels than the Silent Hill franchise?
Strip it down to the bare essentials, those things that made it popular in the first place.
Which is, seemingly, what Netherrealm studios has done with their latest release, the simply named Mortal Kombat.
Like many, I got a chance this week to play around with the demo, and must say that I’m ultimately impressed with what I saw—albeit nervous at the same time. I had heard many rumors that Mortal Kombat was a re-imagining of the first game with a larger roster, enough gore to make Tarantino nauseous and a brand new engine to drive it into your brain. And while the demo didn’t reveal anything in regards to the story or how it’s going to work with so many new characters, it did grant me a very disturbing insight into the core element that made MK a cultural phenomenon: the violence.
Though I only had the opportunity to play with four characters—Mileena, Sub-Zero, Scorpion and Johnny Cage (who’s even more of a tool, if that was possible)—each with only one Fatality, it’s evident that Netherrealm has put in the time and effort to make something memorable…whether you want to recall it or not. Most likely, the full version will provide more than one but even those were enough to shock then intrigue me. I won’t go over them all, as you really must play this demo and see for yourself, but my favorite that I absolutely must mention was Scorpion’s. He rips out his sword, slicing horizontal towards his enemy’s waist so fast that the upper torso lands squarely on the legs and stays there. He completes the same miraculous feat with the victim’s head, like a building block of body parts, then proceeds to kick the torso, flinging it back and spinning the head high into the air. One last vertical swipe severs the head right down the middle, and the two parts—brain exposed—fall to the ground.
It was utterly brutal, a little unnecessary and over-the-top, but it shook and amazed me nonetheless. It’s also evident—through the CGI preview at the end of the demo—there will be a fair amount of environment Fatalities that go far beyond characters simply falling on spikes. One had a prone Liu Kang struck so hard in the face by a racing taxi it took his head clean off, leaving his tense, twisted corpse twitching. Another showed Scorpion ramming Sub-Zero’s face into a pool of magma. When he pulled it away, the face had been completely burned off, the skeleton’s jaw still clacking and molten lava oozing out his eye sockets.
To further add to the shock value, MK has also added a new element: X-Ray attacks. Any time you’re hit or land a blow, it increases your three-sectioned power bar. When one is filled, it allows you to use combo breakers and more devastating special moves like Scorpion’s flaming spear. When you have three filled, you can execute a very brutal, damaging combo where time slows and the game X-rays the victim to show their skeletal structure and inner organs. Unlike other games, these combos are universal, implemented by pressing the two shoulder buttons simultaneously so you’re free to sit back and watch as Sub-zero grabs the other players stomach, freezes it, crushes it and then head butts them in the jaw, shattering it to pieces.
With that one element added to mechanics, several more seem to have been removed. Styles and weapons seem to be missing. The 3-D plane is gone, no longer requiring—or better put allowing—a player to side step and counter. They’ve also simplified the combos to mixtures of two and three buttons, most of them not requiring any additional responses like pushing forward or back. Such would seem foolish, but in both playing and watching the ending trailer, they appear to have made the combos far more forgiving in terms of customization. Missing a button that’s not listed won’t always end the combo—provided you find another one that will work, and the once lapse in special move response has been eliminated. If you can program the combination fast enough, you can link special moves to combos, slam someone with Johnny’s shadow kick after three hooks, then nail their airborne body with a fireball before they have a chance to defend themselves—or even land. Most of these aren’t listed, and it’s hard to say if they will be, but I must say it adds an intriguing and engaging element. It allows the player to experiment and actually immerse themselves into fighting by putting them in control.
But it’s there that I wonder how MK will be received by gamers. Will they become enthralled or frustrated at having to learn a new system yet again? And better, how will they go about executing these combos without the ability to side-step and counter, especially if they’re using someone who lacks any type of stun move? You can “jump” into the combos much like you could with the old school Mortal Kombat 3 run combos (which I really miss and think that was the closest MK came to having a unique and mature style) but that becomes predictable after a while, much like it did with Street Fighter. In order to win, gamers are going to have to devise new and unique skills. It’s going to force gamers to develop techniques and either evolve, or suffer massive defeat—perhaps prompting some of them to give up entirely. When you think about it, it truly is a brilliant move. Well, brilliant or stupid. The most renowned fighting games have always required a strong commitment in order to be excelled in and MK lovers are no different. I am curious to see if a reinvention of a long-running style is going to invigorate gamers or frustrate them beyond belief. Will they embrace it or shun it?
Based on what I’ve seen and played, I’m embracing…
This song actually relates to the post. I'll let the first person who can tell me how borrow my copy of Tactics Ogre.
Title: By the way, you suck...
Posted: March 13, 2011 (12:38 AM)
Thank you for re-releasing Vagrant Story, good luck with Final Fantasy XIV...oh and by the way, you suck.
Sorry. There's a story here. My girl is utterly obsessed with DC Universe Online and since I love her, I let her play it whenever she wants. That, unfortunately, leaves me with little time to play since we have one T.V. and one PS 3. So I opted for some portables when she was super heroing it up. I've kind of been burned though. Golden Sun was a sedative and Tactics: Ogre was horrible. So I decided to go with something I knew wouldn't disappoint me: the DS version of Chrono Trigger.
That was a bigger mistake than the Death Match thing. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Chrono Trigger in the least. But it had...kind of faded over the last ten years. I had forgotten how magnificent this game is. From the opening scene with the balloons bursting over the festival, to the touching scene with Frog and Cyrus to that...tear-jerking moment with Nadia and Chrono hugging after they bring him back I just...
Fuck you, Square for not giving me a follow up. And I'll say this, before it starts another spam war: I am 100%, totally, unequivocally, explicitly behind you on the whole "intellectual property, cease and desist" order you issued. I would rape someone who took what I built and made their own story, especially if I was still alive to do it myself.
With that said, though, I don't blame them in the least. I, as a lot of others, would listen to my fans. I would write Chaos even if I thought it wouldn't go anywhere, simply because I gave a shit about the countless people who made my first project a success. You don't. I'm not sure why you have yet to make a decent sequel. Sorry, a boss, a line and angry echos in time don't count. But you should. And going on some silly, egotistical power trip and pulling your lawyers in to issue some bully statement is the furthest thing from what your fans...sorry, Chrono Trigger fans want.
They are the ones who buy your games, even when they're shitty, long winded no charm, half-heart efforts like Final Fantasy XIII. But by all means, spend your money and effort on a sequel featuring only Lightning. She's totally hot, but that doesn't justify it at all. Well, not as much as it should anyway.
Open your ears every now and then. Give the people what they want. That, or don't crush those who have enough passion, heart and effort to do what you can't. It would be like Sega bitching at those wonderful individuals who spent their own time and money translating Scenarios II and III. It tells me you're only interested in the money, and I hate fuckers like that.
True Baby Out.