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honestgamer It's not all an elaborate ruse, some misguided attempt to establish for myself an online persona of dubious quality. I really am dull. If you don't find that unbearable, though, this is my blog that examines just how truly boring I can be.

Title: Expect more retro coverage here from yours truly
Posted: June 27, 2012 (02:42 AM)
I decided that it's a bit silly how I have close to 300 games for the NES, SNES and Genesis that I basically never play, especially since I know that I love me some retro gaming. The main issue was that I didn't want to fiddle around with having three separate retro systems hooked up to my television, which already is surrounded by newer systems.

The solution brought itself to my attention several months back: it's the Hyperkin RetroN 3. The problem was that I had a hard time "pulling the trigger" on a purchase, because technically I already have the hardware to play my games. It's in boxes here in my apartment.

Finally, I decided that if this would help me get more use out of my games, it was worth doing. So I made the purchase, along with some knockoff NES and SNES controllers (which are remarkably good and cheap). Apparently, with patents expired, people can make great hardware to play all these old games.

The system arrived today, and I have already reviewed a game as a result. I look forward to (hopefully) playing through and reviewing plenty more retro titles from my collection in the months ahead, if there's interest. I do have a lot of great games--or potentially great games that I've not yet played, despite owning them--that aren't yet reviewed on the site. I'd like to see HonestGamers get back to posting a nice selection of reviews for those older titles, not just the new stuff... though I plan to keep up with that, too, with help from freelancers and staff.

So anyway, that's an update from me. I hadn't posted in this blog for awhile, and I figured this was as good a reason to post as any!
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Title: Site Changes
Posted: May 06, 2012 (03:03 AM)
There's a new landing page for the site, which I know is always a surprise but I hope that you'll all find the new layout useful. It should more effectively highlight a variety of new content for people who visit the site for the first time, while the content that more regular users tend to enjoy most is right near the top of the page (or requires less scrolling to reach).

I've posted in more detail on the forums. You can view that topic right here.

In other news, I've taken additional steps to disable iframes on the forum, both in messages and in signatures, as they can serve as a security exploit. I know some people like to use things that include iframes, but there's no telling who might control the content on the other end, so it was an appropriate change. Have a great weekend, everyone!
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Title: Another slight blog tweak
Posted: March 03, 2012 (12:25 AM)
I discovered that the links to posts from the Friends page were not always working as should (specifically, when people would try to click to read the original post that prompted any replies that now appear in the feed), so I fixed those links. It's just a minor tweak, all for the best because previously the page was not working as intended and now it is.
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Title: Main site change
Posted: February 12, 2012 (06:52 PM)
You have likely noticed by now that the left and right columns on the main site were swapped. There's a simple reason for that. I've been reading for a long time about the natural path a person's eyes follow when viewing a site. I've also been reading within Google's help pages that it's important to switch up design elements (such as the orientation of columns) to determine which layouts get the desired response.

The new setup is an experiment. People tend to look toward the left of the page first, which will allow them to see our latest featured content no matter what page they first view upon arriving on the site. In general, the tendency is to ignore content on the far right side of a page. Because our left bar is narrower than the right bar, the effect of the new design is that the left content calls attention to itself (as it should, to encourage more traffic to reviews and such) but the right column also pops out more and is more comfortable to read.

I realize that the experience can be jarring for people who have been viewing pages on the site for years. It took me between 15 and 20 page loads as I browsed the site before I adapted to the change, but now I quite like it. I hope that you'll give the change a chance and see how it impacts your browsing experience. It will likely remain in place for at least a few weeks to give me time to determine what impact (if any) it has on our traffic.

Edit: For whatever reason, pages now seem to load faster than they did previously. I like that.
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Title: Slight blog tweak
Posted: February 07, 2012 (03:46 PM)
Obviously, I haven't been making huge tweaks to the blogs after the recent change of some enormity, but today I did add one tweak that's been on my mind for a bit: a bar along the top of the page so that it's easy to return to your own profile if you visit a friend's blog. It's something some of you had asked about, as well.

Another change I may implement today is a change to add replies to the "Friends" page, so that it's easier to see discussions friends might be having that you aren't necessarily aware exist. It's likely I'll put that change in place today, perhaps even in the next few minutes. It'll make it easier for more people to join interesting discussions.

This section of the site is obviously still a work in progress. I hope that you're enjoying the streamlined design as much as I am. Thanks for continuing to frequent the site and for posting in your blogs when you have something to share.
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Title: Blog revision progress report
Posted: January 02, 2012 (02:36 AM)
As you can see, the blogs are sort of working now. I thought I'd take a moment to update you on what's changed before I retire for the evening.

* Old content that was previously accessible through blogs can no longer be accessed in that manner, as I noted some time ago would eventually be the case. Now you'll be able to use your blog to access only content that is actually live on the site: reviews, previews, interviews and news articles.

* Your landing page is no longer your blog. On your landing page, the most recent blog post that you made will display, as will your greeting message. However, you'll now see recent content submissions listed. This should be handy for regular contributors. You can go to one place to remind yourself what you've recently reviewed, you can click to edit or delete (as permitted) and you can also click if there are feedback topics. It's also still possible to click "Reviews" on the top bar if you want to check out your complete review listings.

* Overall blog search is gone. It tended to lead to spammers and such, anyway. Currently, the only way to find a blog is to click through from the main site. You can also click "Friends" to view recent posts from people who you have added as friends. Besides reducing strain on the site during peak times, this has the added bonus of ensuring that you're less likely to see content from people who really get under your skin.

* The blogs now provide you with 728 pixels, so you can post images that large or smaller without worrying that part of the image won't display. Because the right column is gone now, the net effect is that the site should also be viewable on very low resolutions without the need for too many scroll bars. With the proliferation of mobile Internet browsers, this could be a definite positive. Blogs also look less cluttered.

There is still work to be done. I'll be removing a lot of account functions that no longer make sense because of the revised design. There's some general polishing and additional streamlining that I'd still like to do, as well. However, the blogs are now functional and you should be able to use them without incident, even as minor work continues periodically over the coming weeks.

As always, thanks for using the site and the blogs. I hope that you find the updated format helpful. See you around!
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Title: And The King of Fighters XIII makes 600...
Posted: November 28, 2011 (05:46 PM)
Today I reached another long-anticipated personal milestone: I posted what presently serves as my 600th review on the site. It's not actually the 600th that I've contributed here (a few years back, I went through and deleted a number of my earliest contributions that just weren't up to snuff), but it's a big moment for me just the same.

The plan wasn't to use The King of Fighters XIII as the 600th review. I had planned to review The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. But I'm not done with that game and I have a lot more to play before I'll feel comfortable reviewing it. I like to finish Zelda games before I review them, you know? So The King of Fighters XIII review was overdue and that moved it to the top of the heap.

My 600th review also isn't the 600th review of mine that is available online. I have reviews still waiting to be moved over from Gameroni and I have freelance reviews posted at GameSpot and GamesRadar and GameRevolution and Realm of Gaming that'll never appear here. Not only that, but I wrote a lot of reviews for Hardcore Gamer Magazine and a few for its (last I checked) defunct web site. There are closer to 700 of my reviews out in the wild now, if you look around.

So I'm excited. What began as something I sort of did for fun has become something that allows me to initiate or participate in discussion related to an industry and hobby that I love. I'm grateful for all of you who have come to this site with your own contributions--from reviews to comments on reviews that others write--because without you I would have given up on this a long time ago. Thanks for contributing to my success, and I hope that this site can return the favor and contribute to your own success, if it hasn't already!
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Title: Wagnaria anime review
Posted: September 02, 2011 (12:43 AM)
I don’t get to watch nearly as much anime as I might like, so there are a lot of surprises left for me to discover. That’s especially true now that anime and manga have both caught on here in North America (more than they had when I was in high school, at least), and it’s true because companies like NIS America are localizing interesting projects and making them almost impossible to resist. I can’t imagine that I ever would have known something like “Wagnaria” even existed a few years ago, but now I’ve watched the deluxe set on DVD.

So, what is “Wagnaria” exactly? It’s a 13-episode series about a family restaurant of the same name, but you’ve never seen a family restaurant like this one. The shift manager, Kyoko Shirafuji, threatens her workers and doesn’t seem to do much more than look sour and make schedules and eat parfaits. She was a former bancho, so she has thugs at her disposal if things get hard on her employees.

Popura is tiny and cute, a 17-year-old who (bust size aside) looks more like a 10-year-old. She is the one who is tasked with finding a new part-time worker for the restaurant after they lose an employee, and she is the one who finds a young man named Sota Takanashi. He’s much taller than she is, despite being a year behind her in school, but he loves cute things (even water fleas) and that’s enough that he agrees to come work at the restaurant.

When he arrives at his job, Sota finds that he’s gotten himself into a bit of a mess by agreeing to work at such a strange restaurant. Kyoko and Popura may be mildly strange, but they’re only the beginning. There also are Yachiyo (a young girl who carries a sword with her everywhere she goes) and Mahiru Inami (a red-headed vixen who involuntarily punches men on sight). In fact, there’s not a person on the entire staff who doesn’t have some sort of quirk.

Not that Sota isn’t used to quirks; at home, he has four sisters who can’t seem to agree on anything. One can’t help but wonder how Sota himself turned out as well as he did.

There are a lot of possibilities for such an interesting cast of characters, but “Wagnaria” doesn’t really have a lot of time to properly explore them. The first few episodes are spent introducing characters and they’re barely given time to slowly grow before suddenly the credits are rolling on the final episode and you’re wishing that you could pop in another few DVDs and keep the story going. It’s light fluff, certainly, but sometimes that’s all a person really wants and “Wagnaria” delivers that perfectly… and oddly.

For those who purchase the deluxe set, NIS America also has a few treats in store. The hardbound book includes a flow chart that presents all of the interactions in an easy-to-understand manner, plus there’s a lot of artwork and there are even some manga samples. The samples have even less time to do interesting things than the actual episodes do, but they’re still a nice treat for people who have fallen in love with the quirky characters the same way that I eventually did.

“Wagnaria” won’t likely be remembered as any great accomplishment in anime, but if you enjoy lighthearted misadventures and social interactions, you’ll find enough to like that you’ll probably join me in wishing things didn’t have to end.
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Title: More reviews from the house of Jason?
Posted: July 23, 2011 (01:47 AM)
I hope that very soon, you'll see my review output increase.

As you may or may not know (most of you should know by now), I now work from home. That's how I make my money. I'm a freelancer and I write guides and reviews for meager pay but at least it's work I mostly enjoy. However, I've been filling a lot of time between assignments with Facebook social games.

This is stupid, of course. While Facebook social games aren't horrible, if you find the right ones, they're also not especially good compared to the many retro games I could be playing instead, or even a lot of the new releases that come through my apartment. So I plan to put more time into those--or into just chilling and watching movies and such--and less time into Facebook games.

I still have other things that I'll be doing on social media (specifically Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Empire Avenue), but I also hope to cut my time back there so that I have still more time to play the games I love and write about them. This has been a long time coming.

I won't be giving up Facebook games entirely, though; if you haven't tried it yet, you really ought to give Civilization World a shot. It's a blast and different from Zynga's stuff. Also, Little Cave Story from EA is a lot of fun, really quirky and old school.

Anyway, I'm feeling very good about this decision despite only making it a little while ago. Maybe I'll even write more fiction now instead of spending all my time crossing my fingers and hoping that someone joins my fake bank so that I only have to get 7 more friends to join and can then level my bank up to level 2 and do it all over again...
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Title: Hasta la vista, day job!
Posted: May 28, 2011 (11:52 PM)
I just finished my final shift at the large department store where I've worked for the last three years. It feels really good to know that the next time I go there, it'll be as a regular customer.

The job was decent, as retail jobs go. I was a cashier/clerk in the home electronic department for the last year and a half, and I was good at my job and got along with all of my coworkers and the customers. Everyone was sorry to see me go, and it was made abundantly clear that the door is open if I ever want to return.

I really don't, though. I'm a much more creative person than retail jobs really need, and I hope eventually to be my own boss in charge of my own hours and my earning potential and such. So I'll be moving forward as a freelancer, writing guides and other content for people who are prepared to pay me for such things. The list is short for now, but hopefully it'll grow.

What that means for HonestGamers is that I'll continue to heavily invest throughout June, as I've been having some promising results following previous investment, but after that I won't have as much income to spend on the site. However, the site remains one of my true priorities and you can be sure that I'll be spending a lot of time and energy here, even if I won't have the luxury of investing a lot of money (though I won't stop investing entirely, you can be sure).

You'll probably see more reviews posted by yours truly, more activity from me in the queues, more posts on the forums and possibly on my site blog... stuff like that. Some of that has already begun occurring over the last few weeks, and it should continue. I also will likely be able to more quickly address issues that may happen to arise, including site code tweaks and SEO efforts and such, and I'll be able to jump on opportunities that impact the site more quickly. However, it's important to remember that I'll still need to find work to support myself. As I mentioned, I will continue to write occasional content for other outlets when the right opportunities arise. I'll spend some of my time working on fiction and hopefully more time relaxing, as well. It's been years since I've allowed myself an actual vacation. Maybe I'll take one soon.

I look forward to this new phase of my life, and I look forward to finally being able to put more of my own time into the site. While I've been active on the site for years (often spending around 40 hours a week around my day jobs and freelance work, and sometimes much more than that), I've had frequent interruptions that prevented me from being as productive as I would have liked. I've never had as much time to pour into the site as I'll have in the weeks and months to come--assuming that everything goes well--and I hope that everyone will benefit from that.

It's important to remember, though, that HonestGamers exists today because I've seldom had to handle things alone. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes and people like EmP and Leroux and Zig and Masters and Overdrive and Woodhouse and Sho don't always get the credit that they deserve. There hasn't been a time during most of the last decade where I haven't had at least one staff person helping out (and plenty of users to boot), and if that continues I'm confident that we're ready to really go places. Please continue enjoying your time here on the site, continue contributing and keep letting people know about the community that we've built here at HonestGamers.
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