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Title: Twilight Review
Posted: November 30, 2008 (12:26 PM)
It's often bothered me that, were society to end today, when survivors dug up the remains of our culture, they would be more likely to find copies of Twilight than of Shakespeare.
I for one, do not want future generations to judge my existence based off of a crappy vampire series that has somehow gained the endearment of the plushy middle-school heart of America. To be fair, I haven't read the books, and if the characters and writing are half as stale as they were in the film version, I never will.
I went to see Twilight with my compatriot Joe, who has a knack for expressing his disgust for a film in a clear succinct manner. He's also impatient, and rather than express his opinions after the film, he usually gives them during the film. In Twilight this meant a near constant stream of dialogue. Without this barrage, I never would've made it.
"He's a vampire," Joe said when Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) showed up with a ridiculous amount of white make up and hair that would make Cloud Strife gawk. On the other hand, goth chick Isabella (Kristen Stewart) can't seem to make the connection.
Not even when Edward leaps in front of an out of control vehicle and crushes it with a fist to save her does she clue in. She knows something is strange about a man who can leap twenty feet in the blink of an eye, but she can't figure out what. "He's a vampire!" Joe said with some irritation.
This awkward relationship culminates in a forest meeting, where Isabella, in true melodramatic fashion, holds back tears and fears as she recites the list of things she's uncovered:
"Your skin is cold... your eyes glow... you run fast... you have fangs..."
"YEAH," Joe cried in awed disbelief at the girl's stupidity. "Because he's a vampire!"
As an audience member you want Twilight to skip the long messy introduction and get to the point. We know it's a film about vampires. Show us what you got.
Unfortunately, the film doesn't 'got' much. Twilight is a gathering of cliches and character types, interacting under the burdens of poor makeup, uninteresting cinematography, and downright bad special effects. The acting is decent, but the stoic script counters all attempts to make it emotionally satisfying. The story, about a girl who falls in love with a vampire, doesn't go anywhere. There is no growth or change in the characters, and the script seems wary of dealing them too much pain. When it does finally deign to hurt its players, it does so with an appalling heavy handedness... followed by kisses and hugs and the promise that everything will be alright after all.
The good moments in Twilight come when the writer acknowledges and has fun with the stodgy character types. For instance, a scene in which Isabella meets Edward's vampire family and they struggle to cook her supper, turns out hilarious, especially when more and more gothic vampires show up and can't seem to conquer their quirks. The best scene is one in which all the vampires gather to play baseball. The use of their powers in something as trivial and normal as a ball game is a brilliant blending of supernatural with the everyday.
On the other hand, I've just told you that the best scene in a vampire film is when they are playing baseball. Stay away from this film. If your middle-school daughter forces you to go, at least bring a stake. You'll need it to gouge out your own heart about half way through.
Title: Online shooters: I dislike em
Posted: November 28, 2008 (03:15 AM)
In general, I dislike shooters online. I like the concept, the same kind of thrill as a paintball outing, and with certain game systems you'd expect it to work really well. But I just can't get into them. First of all, there's no such thing as a casual online shooter. You can't just jump in every once in a while and expect to have fun. The people that play these games play them so often that they murder newcomers. Even the ranking system doesn't really help (though I admit, things were worse before the ranking system).
Even this I could get around, but I have a personal disability that impedes me... I'm color blind. I know it doesn't sound like much of an excuse, but when most shooters differentiate teams by colors, it becomes a MAJOR problem. Free for alls I tend to to enjoy a lot more for this reason, though I think team games are inherently more fun.
In any case, Left 4 Dead would be a nice break from the usual "log on and get owned by some 13 year old jerk" routine. But I can't bring myself to buy an Xplosion360.
Title: Been Beta Testing HOME for the PS3
Posted: November 27, 2008 (08:19 PM)
For those that don't know, HOME is essentially Second Life, but done better. It brings PS3 gamers together in a real time environment where they can chat or game through avatars.
I'm not allowed to go into details, as per my user's agreement, but I can say the character generation rocks, the user base is friendly (if a little desperate... I've been hit on by at least twenty people... but all very friendly hits), and the graphics are quite good.
Sony's got this one in the bag. As long as they continue to expand HOME, there's no way it can fail. But it is a never ending project.
Title: I seem to be using the words tired and sick a lot
Posted: November 26, 2008 (10:26 AM)
GOD I'm tired. I got to bed at 3:00am. That's not the rough part. I was planning on sleeping in, but I work with special aid kids, and at 6:00am one of them decided to call me to chat.
Title: Scoring games can be tough (so can interesting titles for your blog posts)
Posted: November 25, 2008 (12:16 AM)
My biggest thing is that I can never decide on a clear score. I often gripe about my choice for days, only to come to the conclusion that it was a proper scoring after all.
The difficulty isn't in scoring an individual game. It's when I start to compare them. For instance, if PAIN and Mirror's Edge were the only two games on the market, PAIN would get a 1 to Mirror's Edge's 10. But when put in the general history of games, PAIN gets a 4 and ME a 6. It's when I notice that there's only a 2 point difference between the two that I start to feel bad, because I really liked ME WAAAAAAAAY better than PAIN. But PAIN is a totally different kind of game, and achieves/fails at its goals differently than ME.
I don't doubt the validity of my scores, but I do think scoring in general can be misleading. It's led many reviewers to come up with complicated ranking systems that tend to drive them crazy. I used to have such a system. I am insane.
Anyways, I have little concern over the score I'll be giving Legendary. Beat it tonight. Quite a feat, actually, on hard. It's a hard game. More on that in my review. I'll try to have it up tomorrow. I doubt I'll be able to polish it up enough to post it tonight.
After all, you've all seen my NEW reviewing system ^_^
Title: How do you review: my answer
Posted: November 24, 2008 (10:49 AM)
Someone on the blogs was asking, and my simple reply turned into an autobiography. So I figured I'd make it a post in it's own right.
For me, it depends on whether the game is new or old. If it's old, I already have a general impression based on Nostalgia and my first experience playing it. Depending on just HOW old the game is, I might go back for a quick crash course or read other reviews to tighten up my thoughts. With an older review, I focus more on capturing whether the game was fun to play than on the technicalities. My style becomes much more freeform, as well.
With a new game, I'm a lot more meticulous. I take notes the whole time I'm playing. When anything particularly strong hits me, I'll write it down. A lot of the phrases and metaphors I use in my reviews come to me during intense moments of gameplay (whether intensely bad or awesome).
Generally, by the time I'm half way through a game, I've got a good enough impression of it to write a review. But I like to finish a game before reviewing it (especially after Kingdom Hearts, which had an ending that completely changed my appreciation of the title). If it looks like I'm simply not going to be finishing the game in time to write my review, I'll either hold off until the game becomes old and I can write a review as stated above, or I'll go ahead and write it without finishing it (this works well for shooters and things like that... I'll never do this for an RPG).
When I sit down at the computer, I type out the major points of each paragraph, creating an outline. I really try to limit the things I talk about in a game to those which really stand out and make the experience distinctly better (or worse). I also believe that each genre has its salient points, its standard approaches to gameplay. In my opinion, a game will do one of the following with this approach:
1) completely fail to utilize it (and thus fail at the genre)
2) use it, but do nothing new
3) stick to it, but improve (basically, polish it up)
4) redefine the way the gameplay is used
I'm fine with the last two. The first two, not so much. Usually this more than anything decides whether I view a game in the positive or the negative.
The next thing I tend to think about is what the developers were trying to do. This is judged on two levels:
1) Was it a good idea?
2) Did they succeed?
This can tip the scale towards the good or the bad... sort've like the plus and minus on a grade.
I try to make sure when critiquing something that I have an idea of how things could've been better. Not that I think of myself as the ultimate developer, it more comes from my idea that if you are able to present a viable solution to a problem, then it shows you understand the problem. I don't always present these solutions, I'm not that arrogant. It's more a mental thing I like to keep in mind to test myself and see if I'm really getting to the heart of things.
If the above focuses didn't take up all the space, I'll get into mentioning things that in my mind are superfluous. For instance, some games just don't require good graphics. So I'll barely touch on them. Other games seem to beg for graphics, but the story is needless. Even control isn't as important in some games as others. It all depends on the style.
Above all, I like to keep in mind that the point of any game should be to entertain. Developers often forget that these days, ESPECIALLY in RPGS (at one point, RPG was my favourite genre... no longer).
Once everything is typed up, I let it sit for a moment while I have someone else read it and tell me what they think. While they're doing that, I'll be off talking with a friend about the game, running my thoughts past them to see if there are any adjustments to be made.
All in all, the process takes about 3 hours.
Title: The Lost (our film!)
Posted: November 22, 2008 (12:30 AM)
Our film is an hour long, took us a year to make, and premieres tomorrow (I'm DAMN nervous).
I produced, wrote, edited, acted, and helped direct the film. It's a Noir film about a hitman who goes back to do what he does against his will.
Here's some pictures from it:
Title: Odin Sphere Music
Posted: November 21, 2008 (10:15 PM)
I pulled it out tonight, after a year's hiatus, and restarted the game from the beginning. I'd remembered it being good, but I hadn't remember just HOW good. This game is incredible, easily one of the best of all time, in my book.
Anyone know where i can get the music from?
I'm off tomorrow to see my film premiere, so we'll see you guys again Sunday.
I'll post more information on my film in another post.
Title: That one game...
Posted: November 21, 2008 (07:40 PM)
You know how there's always that game that you've been meaning to play, you know you'll enjoy, but for whatever reason, you never pick it up?
For years, that game for me has been God of War II. I really liked the first one, despite some issues with repetition and a terrible final boss encounter. I hear the second one was even better.
Title: Dark Dreams
Posted: November 21, 2008 (03:26 PM)
I was reading a blog on dreams, and it reminded me of some of my own. Sometimes I have dark, sinister dreams. There's one I had recently which I haven't been able to get out of my head, it was so impactful. It's pretty graphic and sexual, so if you're not into that sort of thing, back away now.
The meat of it was that I ended up in a room with a beautiful naked woman who begged me to masturbate her using one of those mini-chainsaw knives that people use to cut turkey. Curious, I obliged, and then I turned the knife on inside of her. As her blood began to pour out of her nether regions, she just kept laughing and laughing. The dream ended around the time the knife had cut through her stomache and was going in and out, in and out.
Er... don't judge me!
Maybe I'll use this for a story one of these days. Or a script. I have wanted to shoot a horror film for some time, now.
Title: Notes to developers (second in a series)
Posted: November 21, 2008 (12:28 PM)
Did I mention unskippable cutscenes?
Title: Note to developers (first in a series)
Posted: November 21, 2008 (02:41 AM)
I'm going to start posting notes to developers, in the hopes that one day I will compile all of them into a little book and sell it as a "how to NOT do" guide.
Developers, pay note!
Does your game have unskippable cutscenes? If so, why? Unless your cutscene is good enough to make me orgasm each time I watch it, there is no reason that I shouldn't be able to skip it. If you MUST be pretentious, make me watch it the first time, but STOP mixing long unskippable cutscenes with the hardest fights in the game. Oh, GOD it hurts.
When you're making a game, ask yourself this simple question. Are my game's checkpoints placed right before long unnecesary walks down empty hallways, rooms where I have to collect items, or unskippable cutscenes (see above)? If so, I should stop making this game. I should not pass go, I should not collect my 200 dollars. I should stop being a game developer until I've promised Jonathan that I won't do this kind of thing anymore.
Title: Not as bad as I first thought, but still...
Posted: November 21, 2008 (02:04 AM)
Still playing through Legendary. At this point, it would be hard for the game to change my opinion much. I've played enough of the game to get a solid idea of where it's at.
So now I'm just trying to finish it. I'm hoping to have it done by Wednesday of next week, though I'm on hard and there are some extremely difficult sections that slow me down.
Plus I've got my movie premiere this Saturday, so I'm pretty much shot for that day.
In any case, I'll save the rest of my comments for the review. Not as bad as I first thought, though.
Title: Legendarily Bad
Posted: November 18, 2008 (11:08 PM)
Playing through Legendary. It's pretty bad. An interesting premise that just doesn't go anywhere, and goes nowhere fast.
Some surprisingly good scripting, though. Not dialouge, I mean scripted events. And some cool monster designs. Especially the Griffons.
Title: Games I'm hoping to pick up before January
Posted: November 17, 2008 (12:59 PM)
The list has started to grow exponentially, so I'm trying to keep things organized. What better place for it than a blog?
It's kind've a game everyone needs to have in their collection, if for no other reason than it's Bioshock
The first one treated me like a subservient animal that survived off table scraps, but somehow it was an endearing relationship
I love strategy games, what can I say?
Little Big Planet
I've heard too many good things to ignore it. I really want to review it, as well.
Chrono Trigger DS
And that's not counting my desires for a PSP and all the lists that come with that.
Title: Strange Sensation and Good Movies
Posted: November 17, 2008 (02:09 AM)
I just watched Donnie Brasco for the first time. Really liked it. Al Pacino is an amazing actor.
You know, I saw The Departed, and I didn't like it. The whole thing felt like a scenario for a scenario's sake. A lot of energy with nothing behind it. Donnie Brasco is what it feels like The Departed was trying to be, but how it had any hope of living up to how this film portrayed the same situation is beyond me.
It is in part due to the amazing acting duo that is Johnny Depp and Al Pacino. A large part. But writing is often ignored by the public. They think actors, they think directors. Writers rarely get credit. Hell, I don't even know who wrote Donnie Brasco. And while looking it up, I got distracted.
Such is the plight of the creator.
Title: Has our time come and gone?
Posted: November 16, 2008 (11:24 PM)
As a reviewer, I try not only to capture what I feel is wrong (or right) with a game, but I also try to keep in mind the general public and provide them with information that can help them decide whether a game is right for them.
And yet more and more I find myself disconnected from the society of gamers. Oh, sure, the people here at HG are great, and the friends my age and older make for great gaming conversation, but more and more I'm finding that games seemed to be aimed at a younger crowd, and a younger generation. A generation that grew up on faster TV, not the slow paced Mr. Rogers or Lamb Chops Play Along. A generation that grew up reading more magazines and tabloids than the Odyssey or JRR Tolkein.
At 25, I'm beginning to feel the distinct break between my generation and the next one.
Actually, I've been feeling it for a few years, but never has it been clearer to me than now, when I've finally started to take reviewing seriously.
I find my eye to be very critical these days. Is it wrong for me to expect game developers to hold to such high standards? I have to believe not, since it's the release of games like Fallout 3 and Longest Journey which set those standards. I suppose it's all one can do to keep on writing, and hoping to one day become a game consultant, and maybe fix some of the problems from within the industry.
Title: It's tough staying in shape
Posted: November 16, 2008 (09:17 PM)
Got back from rock climbing tonight totally exhausted. You know, it's not the physical work out so much as it keeping yourself mentally engaged. Rock climbing is good for that once you've gotten your body up to speed on what you're doing. Until then, you spend a lot of time rubbing your sore arms and wondering when you'll be able to tackle the wall again.
Sore arms are good, though. It's nice to have your body admit it did something tough, even if it seems to
Eating steak is nice, too. I'm not sure how much I ate. I just know I had to leave the table to stop myself from eating any more. I'm very full now. And very tired.
And I don't feel like writing anymore. I did write a whole bunch of stuff, but I erased it. I hate doing that. It's like the murder of ideas, or what could've been. Instead of preserving those words, I've consigned them to the depths of my mind, where they will become muddled and mixed.
Life is a memory we don't always remember correctly.
Title: Solid Snake lives... and he's Turkish
Posted: November 16, 2008 (01:06 PM)
Thought it was a good article. It's brief, so check it out:
Title: First post
Posted: November 16, 2008 (12:07 PM)
Ah, the first post.
There's no way of avoiding it. One day you're going to have to make it. It's not an easy thing to do. After all, it's like an introduction to the world. In a physical setting, you'd just be content with stating your name and volition, and maybe asking where the bottle of Ouzo is. On the internet, all that information is provided already, though. People don't want to know your name (even if you are willing to give your real name), you have the luxury of being able to easily lie about your job (so you're an aspiring movie star rather than an aspiring fluffer), and the Ouzo was drank up a long time ago.
Also, you have to keep in mind that whatever you say on a blog or forum will be there FOREVER for the whole world to see if they wish. Make an ass of yourself, and you can't just buy a round of drinks to douse everyone in temporary amnesia. No, that statement (whatever it was) is logged and blogged. Recorded for posterity, doncha know?
A lot of considerations come into a first post. Do you try to sound water-cooler philosophical, leaving your readers with something to think about through their day, sharing your wisdom with their co-workers? Do you try to leave a general impression of who you are, hoping to draw in a crowd of like minded individuals? Do you try to be funny, that old fallback? Do you decide this whole blog thing is crap anyways, and just be an ass or some other persona because you can in anonymity? Do you take this chance to get that murder off your chest?
Once you've decided on the "what" then there's still the "how" to attend to. The internet lacks inflection and diction despite being the largest collection of sarcasm in human history, but this actually puts more of a burden on you to try to get your cross apoint using clever wordcraft.
It's enough to give anyone a hernia. And we wouldn't want that. After all, we are our own harshest critics. The sad truth is, most people we'll meet won't care enough about us to take the time to judge us. So take a deep breath, relax, and click that submit button.