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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: I am beyond screwed. You can benefit!
Posted: May 23, 2008 (05:40 PM)
I'm no longer selling any additional games beyond those that have already been arranged for. Thank you so much for all of your support, everyone!
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Posted: May 23, 2008 (01:08 AM)
Well, I've finally reached one personal goal of mine. My top 100 reviews all have 1000 hits or more. That's something I've been wanting to see happen for awhile now.

It's funny to me to think back to the days when I was excited to see the site get 7 or 8 impressions in a 24-hour period, and now it gets more like 30,000 impressions in the same time. On the old site, reviews would've taken years--each one of them--to hit 1000 views and now my Prince Caspian review is already at more than 300.

And of course, zigfried could tell you fabulous stories about the traffic for his most popular review, which has become almost an Internet phenomenon.

Anyway, I'm not here to talk about zigfried. I'm here to talk about me and my milestone. Egotistical of me, isn't it?
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Title: Movie Review: Iron Man
Posted: May 09, 2008 (09:56 PM)
Perhaps the most impressive thing I can say about "Iron Man" is that it's a good movie. Not that it's a good superhero movie, or a good action movie. No extraneous adjectives need apply. It's a good movie on any terms, and that's what impresses me so much about it. Usually, I think, superhero movies are beautiful spectacles but they don't have a lot of oomph to them once that polished sheen wears off a few years after their release.

"Iron Man" is different than that because the story is actually compelling and so is the main character. Multi-millionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is larger than life and he knows it. He's not a meek Peter Parker or a mild-mannered Clark Kent. He schmoozes women, blows off important events and takes life about as seriously as the known world today takes Uwe Boll or Jack Thompson.

As the movie opens, Stark is accompanying a military group on the way for a demonstration of his newest weapon. He's an arms dealer who subscribes to the second part of the old Roosevelt adage: "Walk softly and carry a big stick." The first part, he doesn't quite have down just yet. He's blustered his way through life, and that's part of why it comes as such a surprise to him when everything goes wrong for him.

I won't say what it is that goes wrong--you can read other reviews or any discussion that this draft might inspire if you're looking for spoilers--but I will say that Stark's world view changes. He comes back from that visit to the East with an artificial heart and a conscience. That doesn't sit well with his business partner, the long-suffering Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), but Stark doesn't particularly care.

He works on the development of a spectacular weapon: a suit that lets him fly, shoot flames from his hands, fire bullets and much more. Along the way, he contemplates his relationship with his assistant Pepper (played to unusual perfection by Gwyneth Paltrow). Then there's the rest of the movie, a bunch of glitzy special effects an downright awesome combat sequences that show just how far special effects wizardry has truly come.

Naturally, a lot of people who go to see "Iron Man" will be interested in that latter part, but to me the most interesting points of the film were the human conflict. I thrilled when Iron Man did his thing (I'd have to have been looney not to) but this was a movie that stands on its own two feet even before that stuff comes into play.

The cast, gargantuan crew, directors and writers all deserve every bit of praise they're getting. "Iron Man" is a fantastic blockbuster and a great way to kick off a summer season crowded with one must-see film after another. Even with Indiana Jones, Batman and Maxwell Smart waiting in the wings, it's difficult to imagine how things could possibly go up from here...

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Title: Icon Wars
Posted: May 02, 2008 (01:53 PM)
I was fiddling around on StumbleUpon and came across a page that I thought was pretty dang funny. You can find it here:


It's six years old and out of date, but for people who have been married to their computers for the last 10 years or so it should strike a funny bone similar to the one it struck with me.

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Title: Capturing video...
Posted: April 27, 2008 (02:05 AM)
One benefit of the new video format is that people who make cool game videos can now enjoy audiences on multiple sites. I found that out firsthand when I ported all of my video files over to YouTube. Within a day, I already had a subscriber!

That was kind of neat, so I decided to create just a handful of new videos, since the stuff I'd posted before was old.

I started by making more mission videos for 1943: The Battle of Midway, one of my favorite NES games. I noticed that while there were several videos for the game on YouTube, they mostly were hacked games. People were playing through the early levels with maximum stats, dying and then saying "Wow, but at least I did really good!"

It's a tough game. My own video had been just for the first stage, so I decided to add videos for a few more of the early stages. I wound up making videos for the first 14 stages in the game, which is a little over halfway through it. That was a lot of fun, and then I surprised myself by writing a review for the game itself (my 404th, I believe).

With that done, I then discovered that I can play games on my television and then just use the output from that to capture content onto my laptop. This is a much handier way to play than looking at a small window in the screen directly, and it allows me now to record Wii footage (which wasn't a possibility before thanks to the unique control methods).

Armed with that knowledge, I captured some PlayStation 2 footage, then some Strikers 1945 from the original PlayStation, then followed that up with some Wii content relating to recent games I've reviewed... as well as other stuff. It's a lot of fun, fairly addictive, and the end result is that the site is now just that little bit more valuable for people who come looking for content for those specific games.

I might keep adding video for awhile now, what with the process being fairly simple. Video is pretty cool and I like the idea of letting YouTube people know that we exist. The way I see it, that's just one more way to spread the word. Plus... it's fun!
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Title: Movie Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Posted: April 21, 2008 (01:40 AM)
Though I just recently moved to the Oregon Coast (and thus live quite close to Depoe Bay where it was filmed), I hadn't sat down to watch "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" in, well... ever. Still, I'd heard good things and I figured I owed it to myself to watch it. Of course, I was right.

Jack Nicholson isn't an actor I usually think much of. Maybe I've just seen the wrong movies. He plays in interesting films and I never hate his performance. It's just that he always seems to portray such outlandish characters. I start to wonder if he can play 'normal' at some point. If I was hoping to see that side of him tonight, though, certainly I picked the wrong movie. His character in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is crazy.

Or is he? That is to me the central hook of the movie, which depicts an Oregon mental institution, circa "sometime before 1975." Nicholson's character, R. P. McMurphy, is brought there from work duty because he exhibits some of the classic signs of an insane person. He's initially there only for observation, but before long he has become part of a community of crazy people where his rambunctious nature is hardly out of place.

His chief antagonist is Nurse Ratched, a woman who oozes urbane manners but over the course of the movie reveals herself to be unflinchingly unkind. She's the sort of person that would smile at you as she slit your throat, if that makes any sort of sense.

Quickly, she and McMurphy run afoul of one another, a circumstance that continues throughout much of what in general feels rather light-hearted for a drama (though it has its moments that hit you right in the gut, most of them gathered together for the conclusion). While all of that is going on, the rest of the characters in the movie are playing their remarkable roles. There's a lot of fine acting here, from a lot of people that went onto some amazing roles and now are dead or elderly. Buoyed by the performances and the humanity of the story, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" made for as enjoyable a viewing experience tonight as I'm sure it must have 33 years ago when it was filmed.

I'm sure that some people see in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" some sort of grand message for or about society, but I didn't. To me, it was simply an enjoyable film with some regrettable moments and with others that had me laughing or thinking... but never too hard. It didn't feel like it catered to the stupid or that it was meant to be above anyone's head. To me, it was a movie made for just about anyone. I didn't like the ending, but I can't really hold that against the plot or the actors or the picture. Besides that, it just shows how much the thing had me under its spell.

If my little review here isn't quite coherent, I hope you'll excuse me. I've just been watching a whole bunch of crazy people. I'm not thinking quite straight.
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Title: HonestGamers.co.uk
Posted: April 20, 2008 (01:57 AM)
I've set things up so that UK users can access the site through HonestGamers.co.uk and find the site more closely tailored to their regions.

For example, game profile pages will now display content relating to the UK by default, rather than the US. And of course, the URL reflects the UK location. Also, I will gradually be setting things up so that '(Import)' doesn't appear next to game profiles outside of North American releases.

HonestGamers is really a multi-nation site, and I hope that this change will reflect that and encourage more people from throughout the world to sample our content.

You can use the site at either URL and both sites will update accordingly, since the same databases are shared. There will probably be some minor errors for a bit, but mostly setting this up was simpler than I anticipated. Enjoy!
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Title: A few things...
Posted: April 15, 2008 (02:29 AM)
Site servers are such a pain. I spent something like 100 hours over the course of the last week. Finally, the move is all but complete. A few minor issues people pointed to have been fixed, the site is on the new server and running quickly and mentally... I am drained.

As such, I really enjoyed the video I'm about to embed in this post more than I may have otherwise. One note: if you start to watch and find yourself offended, please sit through two drawings before deciding if you're really offended. It's an awesome video that really showcases an amazing artist.

With that out of the way, this is also a good moment to mention that I've posted review number 400 (for me) on the site. It's a review for Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword on the DS.

Yes, 400 reviews. I've actually written more like 500 or 550 for the site since starting, but those early 100 to 150 have since been deleted. Anything I wrote before 2002 wasn't really worth saving, anyway, and more closely resembled the typical GameFAQs review than it did anything I write nowadays. It was good practice for me, but now it's done and I don't really miss the text all that much.

Of course, that 400 also doesn't include my work for other sites and publications like Hardcore Gamer Magazine or GamesRadar or GameRevolution. The long and short of it is that I've reviewed an awful lot. More than most people ever will, certainly.

The next question, of course, is "Will I reach 500?" I'm not sure if I will or not. Obviously, I'd like to. That's a nice milestone. It sounds so much better than 400 (a good milestone in its own right) because it's half of 1,000... which is an even nicer number. But as for motivation, I don't know how long mine will last. I am doing so much administrative work and coding and enjoying reading and writing fiction more than I have in years, so right now it seems like I don't have enough hours in the day.

Oh, and I still don't have a real job. You know, one of those things that pays actual money and keeps a roof over my head and food on the table. So getting one of those things is a priority ahead of reviews. After all, I need a place to sleep between drafting my masterpieces. So right now, the practicalities of life have to come first.

Still, even if I were to never review another game again... 400. It's a nice number.
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Title: Movie Review: Pulp Fiction
Posted: April 14, 2008 (01:58 AM)
This fact is going to make some of you scratch your heads, but I'll say it anyway: until last week, I had never seen "Pulp Fiction." I know that's incredible, what with me being a heterosexual male over 20, but there you have it.

Finally, the hype got to me. I think I've mentioned that I'm going through the list of top movies ever made on IMDB, and it came time to view "Pulp Fiction."

I waited until the perfect time to watch the movie, I'd say, because I really enjoyed it. Mostly, that's because I really appreciated the characters.

I'm not a huge John Travolta fan, but in "Pulp Fiction" he played a truly likeable character. He wasn't sickeningly sweet (like in "Look Who's Talking"), he wasn't entirely sympathetic, and yet I found myself caring what happened to him more than I've cared for a lot of characters in similar movies. His discussion with Samuel L. Jackson near the beginning of the movie was what did it for me, I think. They were talking about a guy that was supposedly thrown out a window because he gave his boss's lovely wife a foot massage.

That conversation at the start of the movie might strike some people as dead air, but to me it was a great early moment in the movie. It was humorous, it was insightful and it gave the two people engaged in the discussion a certain humanity that carried them right through to the end.

Most of the moments I liked in the movie, not surprisingly, centered around those two characters. There were other unique events too, though, mostly based on the exploits of Bruce Willis. I didn't care for his character as much as Travolta's--he was almost dull to me, despite the surprising story of his father's watch as related by Christopher Walken in a characteristically great cameo--and the tension between the two of them eventually erupted in a way that disappointed me a great deal.

When you get right down to it, there were only a few things I didn't like about the film. Mostly, they were related to Bruce Willis. Late in the movie, there was a span of what felt like 15 or 20 minutes that was quite bizarre but, somehow, rather boring. My wife was watching the movie with me and she couldn't believe that I had picked another "weird" movie. She seems to have this notion that I never watch anything worthwhile.

In any event, I'm avoiding spoilers like a mofo and there's not much more I can say about the movie without deviating from that course. Also, though I didn't appreciate the volume of the profanity, I was relieved at least to find that it was nowhere near as pervasive as in "Running Scared," which you might recall I reviewed awhile back. The difference in the levels was obvious to me. "Pulp Fiction" uses profanity to add color. "Running Scared" uses it to repel.

Wow. Remind me not to write another blog entry/review after spending days coding. But, uh... anyone want to discuss "Pulp Fiction" now? We can even go into spoiler territory, if you like!
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Title: On drama and disappearances...
Posted: March 20, 2008 (01:54 PM)
There has been some discussion about recent site events over the past few month, in particular the disappearance of two key staff members. I feel it appropriate to share my thoughts on the subject, because of course it affects me just like it does the rest of you and I wouldn't want anyone to think otherwise.

First, I should note that despite recent growth, HonestGamers is still a small enough site--particularly in terms of regular users--that losing some of its most valued contributors hurts a lot. I don't see that ever changing, even if we have a million users coming thruogh daily.

Felix did a lot of hard work on the site. He's not the only one who has done so, but a lot of his work was very visible and invaluable. He had a great deal of passion for the site's growth. We often talked about various things, with the site naturally figuring heavily among them. Regardless of the direction his life and interests have taken him, I and many others will miss his presence here a great deal.

I also miss Zigfried's presence, both because he was a fantastic reviewer and because I enjoyed talking with him about the site and the other things we (less frequently) discussed. I considered him a good online friend and it rather stings that he just dropped off both the site and AIM without notifying me. I am relieved at signs that he's still around, though, and respect him enough to believe that he had good reasons until I hear otherwise.

It's important that people have a social life and it's important that they enjoy the site. I don't want people hanging around that hate the site or need a serious break. I don't want people coming here every day by habit and wondering all the time why they bothered to do so (especially since I'm of the mind that most days, there are at least a few reasons the page loads should prove worthwhile). I want people to remember that HonestGamers is about having fun and that's the environment I want to see us maintain.

One reason I am anxious to bring talented staff members on board is so that from top to bottom, everyone involved on the site can enjoy contributing and interacting with one another, rather than coming to view it as a source of drama or work with no reward.

I'm growing rather tired of some of the drama that seems to float around here, honestly, but I consider it a part of the Internet as a whole. It can't ever be entirely avoided on any site. My goal personally is to treat people with respect and to have as much fun as I can. I hope that the rest of you feel the same and that, even if people sometimes bow out for reasons unclear, you'll continue to come to HonestGamers because you're having a good time and because you want to actively contribute to a community where others can do the same.
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