Monday, 30 December 2013

2013

Last year, I vowed I would begin work on my novel "Alone Together". And I have. Got a big chunk of the first draft written down during National Novel Writing Month, which I also completed for the first time this year.

I lost a lot of friends. A lot of people I thought were irreplaceable, vital parts of my life, when I needed them the most.

I saw people like Mike Krahulik and Gail Simone shit all over their audience and get rewarded for it.

The movie, novel, music, game and porn industries practically collapsed, and I say good riddance. Nothing of value has been lost. There was a time when all of those things mattered, and allowed artists to produce meaningful content. That age died along with them, along with justice and mercy.

I lost whatever hope or faith I had in human beings.

Also, Roger Ebert and Nelson Mandela died.

This year marked the turning point when I stopped mourning for the death of humanity, and decided it deserved to die. I'm glad it's dead. I'm glad there's no hope for this ignorant, selfish species.

But Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead were cool tv shows.

Next year I'm gonna try to upgrade my computer to play all of the stuff I bought during the Steam holiday sales.

I still have a few people to draw belated Xmas fanart for.

I made peace one person who I wronged in the past.

I ran into my best friend at a grocery store for the first time in almost ten years.

I'll see you in hell, 2013.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Walking Dead: "In The Water"





So, Telltale Games just retconned the first season of The Walking Dead. They’re bringing a dead character back to life. But for some reason they’re keeping that stupid plot twist where Vernon magically became evil for no reason. But it’s okay, because the worst, most insufferable character from the first game is now the main character.

Pre-order now, and the game will periodically inject you with a Mystery Disease!



Monday, 25 November 2013

Gail Simone

It's not every day you see an otherwise respected, reasonable-thinking member of popular culture have a complete meltdown. Usually it's pretty gradual, with a celebrity only slowly dishing out the insanity over their careers until it reaches critical mass.


It's interesting when it happens all in one day. When someone who appears to be a sane and functioning member of society just throws out everything that made them beloved in the first place, usually it's because they said something on Twitter.


How strange, how sad, that Gail Simone of all people would be the next in line. It's not every day a talented writer and an ally of diversity in comics chooses to throw out the goodwill she's earned from her fans by being a complete jackass. The author of comics such as "The Movement" and "Secret Six" has, up until now, displayed the charm, the intelligence and the fierce talent comics need. And also the polite, good-natured sense of humour that an often all-too-serious medium could use more of. To see her fall this low is tragic.


She responded to an innocent question from someone concerned about what his place in the comics industry might mean to someone who might have a harder time breaking through. Her response equated to telling him to give up.


To respond with such venom, such contempt was uncharacteristic of her. Her fans(including myself) responded. At this point, a reasonable human being(like the one we thought Gail Simone was) might become introspective. They might try to understand the negative reaction, maybe take a look back at their decisions and ask themselves if they had made a mistake.


Gail Simone, in her wisdom, decided to be a stubborn, mean-spirited bully instead. And then complain that people are sending her mean letters.




Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Fresh Air & Vapor Trails

I forgot why I wanted to be an artist.


I haven't been able to even think of calling myself an artist over the last year. I've lost count of the people who I pushed away, and the people who just straight-up abandoned me. I lost almost all of the people I wanted to write and draw for. I lost the only audience I ever wanted. To try and start over now would feel like an empty gesture. I thought to gain success and personal achievement without them would be a hollow victory.


Why bother? Why bother getting all of those stories in my head down on paper? Why bother trying to learn anatomy, or research trans issues to better portray the characters in a comic book project? Why bother finishing NaNoWriMo this year, when I failed every other year I tried it, and no one will read it? Why learn to code, so I can design a game for vile, stupid underachievers who feel video games are their to masturbate them? Why should I learn to write a screenplay, for a fascist film industry that has brainwashed a generation into eating its' own regurgitated shit?


Why did art and entertainment matter to me to begin with? 



Monday, 18 November 2013

Ana Kessel

Ana Kessel, an intern artist at Insomniac games was the victim of a hit-and-run car accident. She had to have one of her legs amputated.

So Epic Games, a completely different, unrelated game developer mind you, decided to auction off some merchandise of their to help pay for her medical costs.

And I have nothing to add to this story, except that I never expected the guys responsible for cover-based shooting and the chainsaw gun would warm my heart, but there you have it.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Like Rogue

I like the idea of proceduraly-generated content in games. Especially where that's the main focus the game is built around. Every room being completely different and having different monsters and items and such every time. Sounds exciting doesn't it? Each experience a little different from the last? So why are so many people who try to pay homage to those games so bad at it?

What I'm seeing in the games that say they're inspired by "Roguelike" games is unflattering and sloppy. Without fail, games like Spelunky and Binding of Isaac mistake giving the player nothing to work with as "challenge", or "difficulty". It's not challenging in BoI when there are dozens of treasure chests and treasure rooms I could use to upgrade my character to stand a better chance... but the game doesn't give me any keys to unlock them. It's not "difficult" when Spelunky makes it so I need bombs to progress when I don't have any. Or making you find treasure to get money to buy items, and then not putting in any shops, anywhere.

That's not challenge or difficulty. That's being a lazy, cheap-ass game designer.

I only got this far because the game was suddenly very generous with its' powerups early on. Luck should be a factor in a roguelike game, but it sucks the fun out of it when it's all about luck, and nothing I do to improve will have any say in what happens.



Saturday, 9 November 2013

I Belong

Four hours ago, I ran into my best friend at a grocery store near my house.


I haven’t seen her in 8 years. I never thought I would see her again.


I’ve spent the last 8 years hating my guts for how I treated this person in high school, wondering if she was still alive even. Or if she’d ever forgive me. Thousands of sleepless nights staring into the dark, killing myself for how I could treat someone who did so much right by me like garbage.


She remembered me. And she was happy to see me after all these years. She wasn’t mad or uncomfortable. My face was red the whole time.



Friday, 8 November 2013

Final Fantasy X: Nemesis

Over the last year, I've spent 108 hours in Final Fantasy X min/maxing my team to defeat "Nemesis", the insanely high-level optional superboss. This is something I rarely if ever do in these types of games. I've come close a few times, but this is the first time I can ever say I haven't just beaten a game: I've annihilated it.

Via finalfantasy.wikia.com



Call of Duty Ghosts: System Requirements



The new Call of Duty blocks out paying customers of the PC version for made-up RAM requirements. Enjoy your $60 doorstop, kids!

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Majora's Mask: "Blue Shell"

Via zeldawiki.org

I never finished Majora's Mask. I always meant to, but either it was too "weird" for me at the time, or I just needed more time to recover from the impact Ocarina of Time had on me. But even having only gotten about halfway through, I still remember it leaving an impression on me. I've played more than a few horror games in my day, but this is one of the few video games I'd call "haunted".

After seeing some very thoughtful video analysis on it, I decided to give it another go. And that will surely lead to my own extensive, thoughtful analysis of its' themes, its' mechanics and the understated effect it had(or should have had) on the games industry, in the shadow of a giant.


Or I can just be really bitter about the Goron Racetrack.

Fucking Mario Kart isn't that cheap.


END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Super Smash Bros: "Wii Fit Trainer"

There's a screenshot making the rounds of a male version of the Wii Fit Trainer in the upcoming Smash Bros. game. It might just be an unrelated promotional image, it might be a different character, or it could be an alternate "costume", akin to Wario's two different looks in Brawl.

Via miiverse.nintendo.net


I hope this means what I think it means. Specifically, how weird it was that the Animal Crossing villager was revealed as being male, despite the series' strong popularity among women(at least according to my Tumblr dashboard).

I kind of hope they take this further. Not to the lengths of giving every single character the Rule 63 treatment, but anything to make this less of a sausage fest. Yes, it is called Smash BROTHERS. But I think the franchise can evolve past a pun of the game it's named after. Brawl disappointed me in part because the character roster exploded, yet there wasn't a single new female combatant(Fanservice Suit Samus does not count). Even though it has dozens of options from the Fire Emblem franchise alone, let alone the entire Nintendo back catalogue.

Maybe this means we can see more diverse characters without the need to put on a huge workload for the dev team. If Fox and Falco can count as two separate spots on the roster, then I don't think it's too much of a stretch to throw Krystal in there as an alternate skin. Maybe you could frankenstein Marth and Ike's moveset, tweak the strength and speed and come up with a suitably playable Lyn. Even if they're clones of existing move sets, it's better than nothing. We'll just have to wait and see.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Walking Dead Game: Season 2 Trailer




I never liked "Clementine" from The Walking Dead game. She's the central focus, and the relationship between her and Lee is what the entire first season is built around, and I think that's part of why it goes right down the toilet by the end. I just bonded so much more with the other characters, but the game assumes I care more about Clementine. Even though Duck and Ben felt like more honest portrayals of young survivors. I wanted to protect those two. They felt real to me.

So finding out that we're going to play as Clementine in season 2 does not fill me with confidence. I'm not surprised, just disappointed. Seven new, interesting characters were introduced in "400 Days", but nope. Let's just go with Elmo. Okay.


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Monday, 28 October 2013

Lara Croft: Two Raider

The most popular thing I've made on Tumblr is an (admittedly flawed) series of pictures detailing the decline in imagination in character design for video games. At least in regards to the main protagonists, the people whose faces are on the cover. Many people chimed in. Some of them made some very shallow, idiotic responses, as is expected on the internet. There's been a lot of denial, and a lot of hand-wringing for the sexism and racism apparent in the industry today.

But I also heard from some people who made compelling arguments that there ARE still interesting and diverse character designs in video games. Yes, even in the main protagonists. These people weren't denying that things are bad, but I've been reminded that it's not all doom and gloom for this industry. So I can admit that that even though the original post is a misfire, at least I got it out of my system. And at least I was reminded of some interesting games I still need to try out one of these days.


But the one thing I do protest is this: the sheer number of people insisting to me that the new Lara Croft is “badass”. You know, the one who brutally murders and sets fire to hundreds of dudes, and regularly has to slaughter dangerous wildlife...

…but then immediately becomes a helpless, whimpering crybaby over a deer?


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

I'm still here

Last night was one of the worst nights I can remember. I mean, most nights are pretty bad, regarding my depression. Mental illness is kind of an asshole like that.

But this was beyond what I'm used to. Last night was excruciating. I don't think I've ever hated being alive that much. I don't know if I've ever hated everything and everyone in the world with as much absolution as yesterday. I've always struggled under a sense of purposelessness, but this was worse than the last four years of self-loathing combined.

Today was nowhere near as awful. Yesterday was a fucking emergency, and I'm not going so far as to say I'm "better". I don't want to worry anyone, but I also don't want to give anyone the wrong impression. I'm not okay, I'm not out of the woods. But I've got a better sense of where I am now than yesterday.

Being in a constant state of tremendous emotional pain is normal for me. I don't know if there's any way to get better, but I'm not giving up yet. I'm still here. I'll survive.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Hiroshi Yamauchi, Dead At 85

Talk about your end of an era. This is the guy who was a part of Nintendo when it was mostly about trading cards and taxi services. This guy was there when they had to rewrite Popeye arcade machines to have original characters(who you may have heard of). The man who, as the old legend goes, had the foresight to see that a factory employee making toys on work hours would be one of his company's more valuable assets(Gunpei Yokoi). He oversaw the greatest Japanese video game developer during it's best and worst days.

The last major console he was involved in was the Gamecube. That's a risk-taker if I ever heard one. We could use a few more Yamauchi's in this medium and a lot fewer Koticks. It's a shame he's gone.


END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 6 September 2013

PAX, MLP & My Beliefs



I gave up My Little Pony in 2012. It became apparent the show felt the handicapped were either mistakes that needed to be fixed/ignored, or the butt of tasteless jokes. I swore off being a brony. It hurt my soul to do it, because the show brought so much happiness into my life. But some things are more important than my happiness. You can’t stand by cruelty, just because it’s not aimed at you.


The show has only gotten more popular. Nobody else gave it up. Everyone I’ve ever talked to feels the same way about it. I’ve never heard anyone justify the behaviour of Hasbro, The Hub or show runner Jason Thiessen. It’s always: “Yeah, it sucks. It’s totally discriminatory and unfair, but what are you gonna do?” 



They say it as if they’re powerless. They justify it by saying that it still makes them happy. That it did a lot of good for them, so it’s okay. That the good it brings to their individual lives somehow outweighs the evil it brought down on an entire group of people.


The testimony of weak people does not impress me. This is also my problem with organized religion. If something you believe in does something monstrous, that doesn’t go away because it gave you a purpose. “So what if the Catholic Church molests children and then defends the attackers? It gets me out of the house, so that makes me a goody good-good!”


If you have to look the other way, you’re not in the presence of something good.



Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Lost Amongst Our Winnings

Last week, over the course of four days I watched all eight of the Harry Potter movies. 1-2 on Tuesday, 3-4 on Wednesday, 5-6-7 on Thursday and 8 on Friday. I’m not sure what compelled me to watch them. I guess I’d have to eventually.


I can’t remember a time where I’ve been this unhappy with my life. The last four years have been excruciating, and it’s somehow inexplicably gotten worse every day. I am long past the point where I don’t see it getting better, or manageable. I know it’s only going to get worse. Lately I’m starting to think it wouldn’t be so bad if it all just… stopped. While I don’t have any plans to kill myself, I’ve thought about it a lot more in 2013 than I ever have.




Monday, 2 September 2013

"Halo 4" Review

by Alex Hill

1/5




Halo 4 is not the worst video game. It is the worst TYPE of game. An unbearable, spineless endeavour that can't even be bothered to be obscene. A design-by-committee Frankenstein's monster of cribbed video game fads, and franchise-destroying change for its' own sake. Not even Halo: Reach struggled to reconcile what its' audience needed from the most basic controller input. This is a travesty even for the people who made Windows.



Saturday, 31 August 2013

Mighty No. 9



Keiji Inafune needs money to make a game similar to Mega Man, without the corporate meddling that Crapcom gave him.

The main characters are named "Beck" and "Call".

Pay the man, internet.


END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Fire Emblem: "Smash Brethren 3"

There’s a downloadable mission in Fire Emblem: Awakening called “Smash Bretheren 3”. It’s one of the most insanely fuckballs hard Fire Emblem missions I’ve played. I’ve had to restart it well over ten times. The hardest missions in these games tend to be restarted maybe 2 or 3 times, for comparison. 


The reason I bought this DLC is because if you beat it, “Lyn” from Fire Emblem 7 joins your team. This is my favourite female character in any game, and now she’s got a snazzy redesign:




Saturday, 24 August 2013

Not Very Gentlemanly

Yann Seznec's indie game was downloaded 50,000 times! ...but only 114 people paid for it.

This wasn't EA or Activision, or some other slimey faceless corporation poisoning the hobby. This was a personal project. They are not sticking it to "The Man". I think piracy isn't quite the black and white issue people want it to be, but those 50,000 losers aren't helping. 


Man, why can't Madden or Call of Duty get these kinds of sales numbers?

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Roger Ebert: "Awake In The Dark"



I loved Roger Ebert. I loved how important art and empathy was to him. But I did not truly start to miss Roger until a minute or so before writing this article. It didn't start to sink in until I started typing the words you're reading. It occurred to me while watching Doug Walker talk about him that there were times where he laughed so hard he could barely breathe. There had to be. And I wondered what that must have been like without being able to speak.

Did it hurt? This is all conjecture, gleamed from years of watching him spar with fellow critics on television, and pour himself into his writing. But the strangest thought has entered my head: Even with his stone-faced expression, even with half his face gone, I'll bet you could always tell when he thought something was really funny.



Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Walking Dead: FIXED

The main theme of The Walking Dead franchise is hope in the face of futility. It is not fatalism. It is not "everything sucks and it's not worth living anymore". It means that no matter how awful it gets, no matter how many times you find your daughters decapitated in a prison barber shop, or see your husband beaten to death with a baseball bat, you keep going.

Kenny says as much in Episode 5... two minutes before killing himself in a stupid and contrived gesture where he had plenty of time to escape. This is why The Walking Dead by Telltale Games is a failure. It talks the talk, but it does not walk the walk.



Fortunately, I have gone to great lengths to fix the ending of TWD. Please, hold your applause:






Saturday, 27 July 2013

Fez II Canceled

After a bitter exchange with Marcus Beer of Gametrailers.com, Phil Fish has abruptly canceled production of "Fez II".

To this day, I don't understand the hate everyone has for Phil Fish. No one can seem to point me to a specific instance where he ate a puppy to warrant the reaction I've seen. He made some valid criticisms against modern Japanese games, and then after that everyone just seemed to lose their mind. According to the Polytron website, he did this to "get out of video games", and not because of the incident with Beer.


Considering 90% of the headlines for articles talking about this read like: "Stupid Buttface Phil Fish Is A Shit-Clown Who Smells (and canceled Fez II)", I don't blame him. The comments on his own website are worse than anything I've ever heard or read from him.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Activision Blizzard

Activision is now an indie studio. That is... weird.

Activision paid $8 billion to its' former parent company, Vivendi Universal, and now they're somehow in the same category as people who make games in their garage for pennies on the App store. If I recall correctly, id, the makers of Doom were the last big, AAA independently-owned studio. I don't quite know what Activision gains from this, but apparently that's a thing that's happened.

You guys... this means Call of Duty is now an indie-game. I think I need to lie down...


END OF LINE

~A.H.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Half-Masked: "Your Webcomic Is Bad"

Oh lord, I found it: I found that amusingly mean-spirited review of a terrible gamer webcomic I once had.

John Solomon's "Your Webcomic Is Bad And You Should Feel Bad" is from a long line of edgy internet Strong Bad personalities that mistook cruelty for wit. For a time, it seemed like everyone wanted to be Maddox(myself included). I disagreed with almost everything he's ever said or done, and I don't think he actually accomplished anything. Criticism was too much responsibility for him, so he resorted to the Cool Kids Club wailing and gnashing of teeth.


...But he was SO RIGHT about my comic.



Saturday, 13 July 2013

Beware The Batman: 10 Questions

"Beware The Batman" premiered today. It was such a pointless waste of the franchise, I expected Tom Hardy would show up with a mouth full of bees.

Below the cut are ten questions I had while watching it:



Monday, 8 July 2013

Writing

I have this book I'm trying to write. I don't know why I'm not writing it, I don't know why I haven't touched it. I have no discipline, that's what it is. I need someone to slap me in the face if I stop writing for longer than twelve seconds.

And as soul-scarring as it is to think "What if I'm a bad writer?", or "What if this isn't very good at all?"... the real question that terrifies me, the question that's just paralyzing and keeps me from getting any work done is:

"What if it's good?"


Friday, 5 July 2013

The Walking Dead: 400 Days



I think I've figured out what's wrong with "The Walking Dead" game by Telltale Games. I realized this as I was playing through the DLC, "400 Days", which acts as a bridge between the first five episodes released so far, and the upcoming second season.

Yes, there will be spoilers.



Friday, 21 June 2013

Penny Arcade Report

The Penny Arcade Report was supposed to be a safe haven from the prostitution of modern video games journalism. A place for legitimate news and discussion about topics that actually matter to the medium. Instead, we got a sloppy paid endorsement for the Playstation 4 controller. In that article, Ben Kuchera actually compares the act of touching a plastic toy with the conception of his own child.

"Yesterday I felt my next child move for the first time. I felt her tiny feet kick through my wife's belly, my hand finally being given its first tactile evidence that my child is alive and healthy. That experience was several steps higher than feeling the PlayStation 4 controller for the first time but, damnit, they were closer than I'm comfortable admitting."

But for me, the highlight is when he goes on a really creepy tangent about touching underage girls, as a metaphor for touching a video game controller:

"It felt like the first time I touched a girl’s breast in the backseat of a car with fogged up windows, scared that her parents were going to fling the door open and start yelling at me. I wanted to grab the controller and run. I wanted to nuzzle it against my face and ask it who is a good controller? Who is a good controller?

You’re a good controller, you sexy thing, you."
"No kissing on the mouth".


This was the best Penny Arcade could do? Ben Kuchera, you make Geoff Keighley look like he has self-respect.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Xbox 180

Microsoft is reversing two of the more cartoonishly evil attributes of their new console. You can now play and trade games with ease and functionality closer to that of... the consoles we have always owned. And that Always-On DRM seems to have been shot down. Granted, there's still the matter of the price and the Kreepy-Kinect, but I honestly didn't think a console developer had it in them to throw bad ideas away.

This still puts it at a distant 4th place, if I'm taking into account modern consoles(and the 3DS). But it's no longer the Hindenberg-level disaster it was last week. This isn't a great thing, but this had the potential to set a very bad precedent for the medium and I'm glad someone at Microsoft came to their senses.


Now if we could just get them to do something about Windows.


END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

E3 2013: Playstation 4

So, let's recap:



The Xbox One requires an always-online connection, or else after 24 hours it will brick itself and prevent you from playing games. You have to pay a fee to let a friend borrow a game, or to play a used game. The Kinect is mandatory and always listening/watching everything you do, like Orwell's Eye of Sauron. It costs $500.

The Playstation 4 doesn't pull any of that crap, and it costs a hundred dollars less.






Saturday, 8 June 2013

Checkered Thoughts

Some days I think to myself:
"Does it really matter what race the main character is? I think if black people can relate to Spiderman and girls can relate to Harry Potter, then does the race, sexual orientation or gender of a character really matter? Is that really the message we should be sending? "Only the surface is important"?

By saying we need more diversity, are we really helping minorities, or are we just being condescending by assuming they can't see past their own appearance and experiences?"

But on other days, I think:
"Fuckin' white people."

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Fail Whale: The Revenge



Look at this steaming bowl of rhinoceros shit. This is what recently showed up in my inbox, courtesy of Twitter Inc. I've had automated messages before. I like to think I know what an e-mail forced out of the rectum of The Machine looks like. There's a certain rhythm and familiarity to an e-mail that has never had any human involvement.

But this? This is the work of a person. A person with an inflated sense of self-importance and a wounded ego. This is the result of someone exerting imagined authority. Look at the passive-aggressive tone, buried under seemingly mature-sounding soft language.


There's a suspicious aroma in the air; the smell of someone trying to quit an argument they're losing. Let's examine those two highlighted parts, shall we?



Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Batman: Arkham Origins Trailer

Does anyone notice how in the Batman: Arkham Origins trailer, everyone is wearing a mask? The henchman's faces are covered up in ski masks for the cold weather. You can only see the eyes of Deathstroke, Deadshot and Black Mask. Batman has his cowl, although he's Batman, so his face is permanently frozen into a scowl. If it's not a mask, it's at least a poker-face.



If I wanted to give the people who made this trailer more credit than they deserve, I'd ask if this was pointing out a running theme of some kind, seeing as Black Mask is the main antagonist in this game. It seems the only people unafraid to go out at night in Gotham are the people who won't show their true face to the world.

But if I'm going to be realistic here, I think it's a matter of visual priority. The trailer itself looks fantastic, almost photo-realistic at times. But we're still struggling with human faces, and eliminating most of that from the equation early on would be pretty convenient for the animators. It's a band-aid solution, but for a small trailer it serves its' purpose here.

It may also serve to give us a hint as to which members of the Rogues Gallery will be featured. I'm already hearing "Anarky" may be involved. Although I have to wonder if the upcoming cartoon where he's the main antagonist may have influenced the decision for him to be in AO as well.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Fail Whale

I had a Twitter account. It was suspended. Not for being rude, but because I followed too many people.

There's a sidebar on Twitter that offers suggestions for people to follow. What am I supposed to do, not click it? Ignore people who I actively want to hear more from? Why would Twitter put up a feature it doesn't want people to use?

Am I just supposed to treat it like an echo-chamber, rambling mindlessly while ignoring the thoughts and feelings of everyone else?


Because I already have a Facebook account.


END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

May 23

Today is the birthday of someone very important to me. It's an important date for me, and every year I try to do something special for it. Maybe by writing an article, or drawing something:




This year... I don't know. I'm not feeling really productive today. And I can't really think of something significant to do this time. (And for the record, this person doesn't know it matters to me, and I'm not really a part of her life anymore. But I do it just to entertain the ritual. Maybe it's my weird way of honouring that friendship.)

There's still time left in the day. Maybe I'll find some inspiration and whip something up. Or maybe I'll just dick around in Skyrim a bit more.


*shrugs*


END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Xbox One: "Living Games Technology"



This is from Microsoft's page about their new console, the "Xbox One".

This is terrifying.

Forget about what this means for the problem of "Boosters", people who just leave the Xbox turned on so that they'll accumulate experience in online games while not contributing, thereby ruining every multiplayer game ever. There's an even bigger pitfall to this idea:


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Final Fantasy X: Blitzball

I have a confession to make: I love Blitzball. One of the most maligned mini-games in any video game, and I love it to bits. I'll try to explain why it works for me, and why it puts off so many others who've played Final Fantasy X.

For the record, Blitzball is a fictional underwater sport.

Which makes it harder to translate to reality than Quidditch AND Three-Man Squamish.


Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Valve: "Sweat Box"

Valve tests Left 4 Dead to see how much you're sweating during play, as if that could be useful information in any context. Is this related to that Director stuff, where the game makes itself more difficult depending on how "stressed" you are(despite the fact that it has no way of knowing that unless you literally hook yourself up to it)?

Let's say they used this sweat information in their games, and it would alter itself depending on how much sweat you've accumulated. What if they're just playing on a hot day in a room without air-conditioning? What if they're playing in the winter? Instead of designing encounters around nebulous, unrelated bodily functions, why don't they base the in-game difficulty on how much health and ammo your team has? What else have they got planned? Will they patch the game so that it spawns a Smoker every time I really have to pee? How is this making their games better?

This is why Left 4 Dead sucks out loud. You can't make the game harder or easier depending on how stressed out you think I am. But you can use the same information I'm using to determine how stressed I should be. Things like Health, how many team-mates are still alive, how much distance I have to cover to get to the safe room, whether or not I have first or second-tier weapons, whether I have a lot of pipe bombs or molotov cocktails or none, etc.

You wouldn't believe how many times I was playing this game limping, on my last hit point, with only one team-mate left alive, both of us down to our pistols, and the game decided I wasn't "stressed" enough. So they put a Tank in front of the safe room.

These idiots are not seeing the forest for the trees.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Lorax: Review

by Alex Hill


2/5



What still strikes me now, fourty-two years after it was written, was how fair "The Lorax" was. It was a cautionary fable about the price of a cushier life for man. It had a strong, serious message explained in Theodore Geissel's clear and gentle brilliance. It has been challenged in the past by people who felt it was unfair to the foresting industry, but it wasn't merely a one-sided rant. Especially in the 1972 animated short, the profit-driven Once-ler shows remorse for the damage his empire causes, and The Lorax seemed willing to compromise. There is a cost to civilization, and to personal gain. But he also allowed the faceless Once-ler his human weakness, instead of painting him as a simplistic villain.

Geissel knew that it's easy to do wrong by our world. But it's also easier than we admit to do the right thing.

Which is why I understand the damage the 2012 adaptation does to the material. I'm sure Illumination Entertainment meant well when they shilled for gas-guzzlers and disposable diapers. That doesn't make this a bad movie. It means their marketing division is run by the Grinch.


Thursday, 25 April 2013

Final Fantasy X: Open Concept Barn

I'm replaying Final Fantasy X, and I got to one of the parts where you get a different cutscene depending on who you were palling around with.

Two of the characters get into an argument about organized religion. While driving to their next destination, the protagonist and one other character are talking it over. It's meant to give the player some insight into the thought-process and feelings of characters that are otherwise pretty guarded (FFX is populated by several hard-asses who refuse to tell the main character important information. There's a good reason for why this is, but it makes them to seem like cold, unhelpful jerks for the first half of the game).


Who the main character talks to on the way is different, depending on how you play the game.

RIDIN' ON CARS!!



Saturday, 20 April 2013

No, Seriously

I am excited to announce I've begun pre-production on my latest project: "Thrusto's Last Score"! It's going to be a turn-based RPG about a robot who CAN NEVER STOP HUMPING.

Oh, and one of your team-mates is God.

I am not even close to kidding.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Little Witch Academia

No sooner than I question whether or not mankind will ever even desire to rise out from the swamp we've placed ourselves in, the animation studio Trigger posts its' short film: "Little Witch Academia".


There is nothing I don't like about this. There isn't a single frame of animation that isn't dripping with charm. It's boisterous and stylish and pretty, but it never veers too far off-course, or too far in one direction. It is never deathly-serious, nor sickly-sweet. There isn't a single sexy fanservicey character. There's excitement and humour and warmth. Characters learn from their mistakes here without feeling like it's trying to cram a message down my throat.

It works. In half an hour, it has more entertainment value than some major hollywood productions(especially our limping excuse for an animation industry right now).

Go watch it. Clear 30 minutes from your day and check it out. Share it with your friends. Every animated feature, even the terrible bargain bin knockoffs are the result of months, sometimes years of hard work. This is one of the few pieces of animation I've seen where you can see the care and devotion in every second. It's not often I get the feeling a company had as much fun creating something as I did watching it.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Self-Destruct Button

Do we even WANT to be civilized?

Civilized means being well-behaved, punctual, polite, consistent, unemotional and useful. But in all of the media and fiction we consume, we're always chasing for that certain something that makes us lose control of our emotions. We seek to blow off carefully structured activity for mindless, random wanderlust. We want what will make us feel like a kid again, young and out of control. We seek to shed a tear, to pump our fist in unexpected victory, to loathe the bad guy's guts and to praise the hero. To praise ourselves.

We go to the Superbowl for the chance to feel that unbelievable joy wash over us, when Our Team wins and  Their Team loses. We read books to feel the gut-wrenching pain of the protagonist's failures, and to revel in his overcoming his obstacles. We listen to music, play video games, watch movies and tv, and read books in the hope that it will awaken something primal in us. Because that's the one thing civilization doesn't have to offer.


Maybe the hijacking of culture by shallow style over substance, shock-drama and reality tv isn't out of greed.  Maybe it's not that we, as a society want to be children. Maybe we want to be apes. Maybe it's not that being an adult was harder than we wanted it to be; maybe being human is too much for us to handle. 


Do you ever get the feeling that our species is frantically looking for its' self-destruct button?

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Phoenix: FINALE

Photobucket

The last issue of my Halo webcomic is now online. Titled "Reborn", it's 104 pages long, split by an Epilogue. All in all, the entire series clocks in at 600 pages. After several years of production, it is done.

 You can read the entire thing at http://phoenix.thecomicseries.com/, or select individual pages/chapters from the Archives.


"Halo" belongs to Microsoft.

END OF LINE

 ~A.H.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Michael Bay's Mega Man X



I am troubled by the trend in video games of simply "rebooting" classic franchises, in ways that are fundamentally wrong. The badly-designed, ugly re-imaginings that confuse missing the point of the source material with "going in bold, new directions"(or what Winston Rowntree called "Franchise-destroying change for the sake of change").

And they usually title these abortions in ways that just make it annoying to talk about them years later. Sonic the Hedgehog. Bionic Commando. Devil May Cry. Tomb Raider. The upcoming Thief installment isn't numbered or otherwise categorized from the original moniker, which looks like it might as well be an entirely different game. Now we have to clarify if we're talking about the original good game, or the stinking pustule that borrowed its' legacy.

At least Bomberman's terrible reboot had the decency to add the subtitle "Act Zero", which could be synonymous with "Bad Version".

They're usually overly serious, gritty, pandering only to cheap gimmicks of the time. Often they lack not only whatever creative spark made the originals so enduring, or any of the original people who worked on it, but also any polish or even a sign of remedial QA testing. If they are useful in any way, they are barometers for everything wrong with video games at the time of their creation. A historical record of how clueless the people in charge of making video games can be.


If there is one small silver lining to Capcom's total abandonment of the Mega Man franchise(and Keiji Inafune's ragequit from their offices), it's that we were spared the horrible reboot of Mega Man X.



Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Grand Jury Prize 2012

The Grand Jury Prize is my annual thingy that acts as an alternative to first place, in my list of the Favourite Things of the year. It's not 11th place. It's not the Best Thing. It's just another possible contender for the first-place standing of a given year.

Yes, I know I literally just did something like this, but that was for 2011. Because I'm a procrastinator. My selection for the year of 2012(which I'd still say is pretty late) is as follows:



Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Grand Jury Prize 2011

"The Grand Jury Prize" is an alternative to first place in my annual "Favourite Things" lists. It did seriously take me  a year to decide on my choice for 2011's, which you'll note was two years ago.

I suppose I'll also have to do one for 2012, but here's the long-overdue selection for the year previous:




Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Phoenix Issue 10: "Cross Your Heart"


The second-to-last issue of my webcomic "Phoenix" is online. It was originally going to be part of the finale, but after 85 pages I realized I'd have to chop this sucker in two. The last issue will premiere sometime in April or May, if all goes according to plan.

Which, considering recent life drama, is unlikely.


You can read any of the back issues from the archive, or you can start all the way at the beginning. Or you could not, because maybe you've got better shit to do, I dunno.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Favourite Things of 2012

2012 somehow managed to suck harder than the previous three years. I don't know how life just keeps getting gradually worse every day. I don't know what is wrong with the planet I live on, but I'm sick of it. I'm honestly surprised I was able to think of 10 things this year that didn't make me want to throttle someone.

Whatever, here's the 10 least terrible things I can remember from last year:


Thursday, 28 February 2013

Masahiro Sakurai Needs A Stand

Masahiro Sakurai, an industry veteran behind the Kirby and Super Smash Bros. video game franchises, apparently has been having health troubles. Calcified Tendinitis, and ruptures in the muscles in his arms. Considering his job demands that he test video games sometimes, this is troublesome(quick: name the number of games that can be successfully played with only your left hand.)

This guy is one of the few heroes we have in an industry of snakes. He's endured a lot of pressure and a lot of crap from publishers. And yet, nearly every game he is a part of has an undeniable mark of his influence. He went above and beyond in managing the production of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, even going so far as performing the written updates for the official website.


It'd be a shame for him to have his abilities damaged this soon in life. Although, I imagine he's probably regretting the control scheme he gave Kid Icarus: Uprising right about now...

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Gmail Priority Inbox Ad

I saw an ad on youtube for "Gmail Priority Inbox". No voice-overs, nothing fancy. Just a simple, easy-to-understand presentation of stuff Gmail does. It has music I can only describe as swanktastic. And it's only a couple of minutes long.

THIS IS WHAT ALL ADS SHOULD BE. Especially on the internet. Quick, uncomplicated and mildly enjoyable. There is so much noise in advertisements, so much desperation from people with a terrible need for attention and no ideas. I will gladly sit through this ad for Gmail, a service I already use, and refrain from pressing the Skip Ad button(or from turning ad-blocker back on). I can think of few commercials that earn this privilege.


I will be saddened to discover if I am unable to simply watch that ad on its own, independent of Game Grumps episodes. Look out for it if you get the chance.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Friday, 8 February 2013

2012 Blacklist

Before I announce my Fave Things of 2012 list, here now are several things that would have been my favourite of the year, if they didn't fuck up spectacularly in some way. Here are the things that I have disqualified.

Here is this year's Blacklist:




Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Dark Knight Quadrilogy



"The Dark Knight Trilogy" is a pretty arrogant term for the "Nolanverse" Batman movies. On that note, "Nolanverse" is a pretty clunky catch-all term for the most recent Batman pictures, but whatever. Notice they didn't call it the "Batman Begins" trilogy, and I'm sure the fact that Batman Begins didn't make a billion dollars at the box office has nothing to do with that. Nope.


It shows DC Comics and Warner Bros. have no clue what they're doing. They're blind, grasping tightly to whatever made them money the most recently, instead of trying to figure out HOW these films made money in the first place. The only reason we didn't get more Joel Schumacher garbage is because "Batman & Robin" tanked at the box office. Nobody got the sudden epiphany that he was the wrong director, or that they were putting too much pressure on him to make it into a toy commercial.

Those movies didn't stop getting made because they were awful. They stopped when they stopped making money. That's it.


Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Neckbeards With Triforce Tattoos

"The Wii U remake of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker looks stupid."

HERE WE GO AGAIN


I remember the unbelievable bitching that went on after Wind Waker was first announced all those years ago. I still remember forum after forum of people bashing a game just for its' appearance, without giving it a fair chance. Without letting it stand on its' own merits. Completely dismissing it because "colour? that's gay, bro".


I have tried to talk to Zelda fanboys/girls. I have made many attempts to engage in intelligent discourse with these creatures. They cannot be reasoned with. They do not have imagination. They do not welcome experimentation. They target any entry in the series and blast them for not being "Ocarina of Time" or "A Link To The Past".

They play those two games until it becomes second-nature. They worship those two games and will not accept anything that is not a carbon-copy. Anything that steps slightly out of bounds with these blueprints, anything that ventures outside of their muscle-memory(in even the most superficial way) is shit to them. It wasn't the same way it was when they were 12, so they hate it.


I heard enough of this crap when Wind Waker first came out. The arguments against the screenshots for Wind Waker HD are no more sophisticated than those leveled against the Gamecube iteration. I was told this game would suck because it had a colourful art-style. I was told, repeatedly, that I was wrong and dumb for liking a "baby-game".


History has proven me right. It's going to happen again, and Zelda fanboys will learn nothing from any of this.

As usual.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Pandora's Tower

And that makes 3-for-3. Operation Rainfall has now been a complete success, due in no small part to the folks at XSEED. I'm starting to lose count over how many games these guys have saved.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Adventure Quest Worlds

I was scrolling through the vidye-gaimz blogs today, and I stumbled upon this jewel:


It made me especially happy to know that people are still shitting on Evony ads after all this time.

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Monday, 14 January 2013

SWTOR: "The Gay Planet"

So let me get this straight:

An MMO in 2013 decided that all gayness must be quarantined to one specific location, and you have to pay extra to access it?


To anyone who has bought or is continuing to play/pay for "Star Wars: The Old Republic:"

STOP THAT.
CUT THAT SHIT OUT.

And to EA and Bioware: You suck more dicks than anyone on "Makeb".

END OF LINE

~A.H.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Review

by Alex Hill




I can hardly believe it's been more than a decade since I first heard of the Lord of the Rings films, saw them and was so strongly shaped by them. I have no doubt that Guillermo del Toro's version of "The Hobbit" would have been a sight unlike any other. But to have another trilogy in Middle-Earth by Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop is an unexpected comfort. Like slipping into an old coat that still fits.