Sunday, April 7, 2013

Reflection on life because I'm in that Mood Again. Also, Video Games.

I find it weird that I can only write whenever I either feel tired or when I can't sleep properly. I like to think that this is my body's way of trying to tell me something, but that's usually just me liking to think things that aren't true sometimes. Tangent aside, the real reason that I decided to write this thing: to update the few of you who care on what's going on with my life.

On the online class front, it's almost done, we're on the last unit and I'm almost done or done the last book we were assigned to read by the time his goes live. All in all, I'm kind of glad that my mom and my brother convinced me to go through with all of this . Not only did it give me a thing to do and kill times, but I also learned some neat stuff as well as say that I went to the University of Michigan when people ask what the hell I've been up to since they last saw me.

Another reason I wanted to write this is because of registration at my school opening up next week. This has been getting me thinking about my future in a way that I really haven't thought about since I finished high school and first applied for college a little over three years ago. I decided to look over the registration for classes to see if the one I want is still open, and it got me thinking: "Man, this shit is kind of fucking intimidating". And it was mostly because I haven't had to make a decision this big in almost a year, although I will admit that it isn't  anywhere near as fucking terrifying as when I first did it back in 2010.

After some thinking, I've decided that I'll not only go through with what will be another attempt to get into the Journalism program (third time's the charm, right ?), I'l also try to go out for another one or two programs just so that I can at least be doing something productive for the next couple of months instead of being on my ass doing nothing in the interim while looking for a job.

I also played some video games since the last time I wrote about them back in January. Said Games were DmC, Dead Space 3, Sly Cooper Thieves in Time, God of War III and Metal Gear Rising Revengeance and a replay of Dragon Age Origins in progress. Here's what I thought of each one:

DmC: A game that I think everyone should play. I say this because not only is the combat really good, but because it's got some of the most interesting scenarios I've seen in the last few years. And I say this as a big fan of Devil May Cry. The reason for this is because the combat feels dynamic and it's easy enough for new players to get into it, but it allows for some depth if you're more experienced. I first thought the Angel/Demon weapon system was kind of a gimmick at first but the more I played, the more I grew accustomed to it (Hellboy Hands ftw). It allows for some very nice combo potential, while at the same time allowing to flow and cancel into each other quite naturally. It's not Devil May Cry 3 (the best character action game ever made), and to be honest it isn't really trying to be, it's a serviceable Devil May Cry game in my humble opinion, as well as the most mechanically sound Ninja Theory has ever made. I also like it more than Devil May Cry 4 because it gets rid of the one thing I have sort of come to hate about playing as Dante.

You see, in DMC 3 you had the Style system which could let you switch between 4 very unique fighting styles (Later 5. Or 6 I don't remember it's been a while I last played it). These made substanial gameplay changes depending on what was chosen and what weapons you had equipped, and could only be changed between missions and at item shrines. This forced you to get good at whichever style you liked the most. If you wanted to be the crazy acrobat, John Woo style Gun fighter, Weapon Master or a Parrying God you had to learn the ins and outs of each style. In DMC4 you stil had all of that, but could switch between all four of them with a tap of the D-Pad. This unfortunately made the system Dante used much less interesting because you could be all of those things at once. And since Dante's part of DMC 4 is basically Nero's in reverse; enemies, bosses and all well,  it made it too easy for my liking because when you were good enough you could god mode everything. That got a little wordy, but I felt like it needed to be said. and DmC was designed well enough that I felt like it didn't need a lock-on function. I know people that disagree with me on this, but to each their own.

Dead Space 3: I've only played it for a few hours, but so far I kind of don't like it. This makes me sad because I absolutely loved the first two games. A lot of this has to do with both the changes to the weapons and the enemy encounters. The weapons in general just feel weaker across the board, which makes the game harder, but not in a good way. The addition of Hunters as regular enemies also a source of much of my ire. This is because the Hunter in the first game and the Ubermorph at the end of Dead Space 2 were more akin to Nemesis in my mind in the sense that they showed up at the worst possible time while you were doing the regularly assigned objectives. No they show up all willy nilly and ruin your day because they're dicks. I mean, I like the weapon crafting because it can allow for some weird ass combinations and the Ice Planet you get stuck on reminds me of Antartica in The Thing. I may keep playing it, because I think it'll get better. Hopefully.

Sly Cooper Thieves in Time: I really like the Sly Cooper games, but this one not so much. If I had to describe it in one sentence, it'd be: "Platforming is still awesome, but it's buried by a bunch of unnecessary mini-games and terrible boss fights". Playing as Sly or his ancestors and doing the actual platforming around the levels is actually pretty sweet, but the amount of minigames that range from "meh" to "bad" is kind of mind blowing and it has a tendency to get annoying fast. And all I'll say about the boss fights is this: I got to the end of episode 3 I stopped playing the game.

God of War 3: I liked it. It's sure as hell not God of War 2, but I liked it. Anything involving the Wings of Icarus and platforming kind of sucked, but the combat's mentality of " RAWR, SLAUGHTER EVERYTHING" is still fun. Also, Kitten Mittens is the best nickname for the Nemean Cestus I've ever heard. Whoever came up with that, bless your face. And Hercules is a boss in this game, voiced by Kevin Sorbo. That's awesome.

Metal Gear Rising Revengeance: It's got a stupid name, but I liked it a lot more than I thought I would to be honest although it's got some issues. It's combat isn't as technical as DMC 3, Bayonetta or even DmC in terms of the kind of stuff you can pull of; but it works. Simple, yet effective is how I'd describe it. The reason I don't think it's as technical as the previous action games I mentioned is because of both the Parrying, Zandatsu and Ripper Mode mechanics. The parrying mechanic can allow you to block most attacks by pressing forward on the left stick and pressing the light attack button, but the window of the timing is so big that you can effectively mash forward and light attack to get past almost anything. The Zandatsu technique is when you activate blade mode to strike a specific part of the enemy to grab their self-repair unit and replenish you health and fuel cells back to full. This can be chained multiple times if you're skilled enough and can basically keep Ripper Mode (which gives your regular attacks act as if you're using Blade Mode) going long enough for you to kill everything. Oh and there's a lock-on, but I advise against it outside of bosses because it makes the kind of sucky camera suck even more. Okay, I'm done venting I promise.

Needless to say it all made Revengeance a cakewalk for me, and it's still a cakewalk after beating it twice and getting through most of it on Very Hard, which might have more to do with me being a savant at the genre than anything. But I will say this, the boss encounters and the music are fucking awesome. The soundtrack has just the right level of video game butt rock to get you pumped and kick ass, my favorites being Mistral and Jetstream Sam. And in regards to Jetstream Sam I'll say this: Dude's kind of a badass. So yeah, if you want to check it out, I suggest getting it on sale like I did.

Dragon Age Origins Playthrough #3: I have a bizzarre, almost love/hate relationship with this game. when I first played it, I borderline hated it. A lot of this stemmed from being suggested by everyone I knew who played it to go with the Mage because they were overpowered. And since I focused on being a nuked I killed everything that looked at me funny, it took away the challenge I was looking for and made it a bit of a chore to play. I played it a second time roughly over a year ago and then proceeded to love it to death. This is because I was inspired to go back to it after playing Knights of the Old Republic for the first time ever around the same time. I then proceeded to make a Warrior with what was essentially my same build as in KOTOR on a higher difficulty and had a blast. I also decided to take my time and explore everything I could, as a result I got much more out of it by virtue of using the approval system to get companion quests and do some cool shit there.

Now, I'm doing another Warrior run this time focusing on giant two-handed weapons as a Dalish Elf (Which is quite frankly hilarious to me). I also noticed that playing it on PC gives much more control over how much you can micro-manage your party members.While the combat itself is largely automated, It actually shows how thrilling Baldur's Gate/Knights of The Old Republic style of slower-and -more-strategic approach can be for newer players who never got into it when those games first came out. It also does it without hitting you in the gut and shouting "WELCOME TO DnD, BITCHES !!" at the top of it's lungs whenever you fuck up, which is appreciated.

So yeah, that's how life's been for me in a nutshell. I gotta remember to update this thing more often. Maybe now I will since the online stuff is basically done.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Re-Adjusting. It can be a Bitch sometimes.

You're probably wondering my I named the post like this, aren't you ? Well, it for a number of things, but mostly getting back into the groove of being a student and getting back on my medication. But first a little back story: I've been out of school since April and it's currently the start of February. I started taking prescription Adderall as a means of helping me focus when studying/doing work. I chose to do this because my ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) was making it hard for me to get things done because if how easily I was getting distracted.

Needless to say, it helped me quite a bit; but when I finished in April, I didn't see a need to keep taking it (as at that point I was on Summer break), so I stopped taking it. I started back on it yesterday as a way of helping to focus on the online class reading; as a result, it started to fuck with me something fierce. As a result of this, the first day of taking the medication can be a real pain in the ass, but thankfully it only lasts for a day and isn't much of an issue past then.

The other bit of difficulty comes from getting back into the groove of being a student again, albiet part time. Back when I was in school, I usually had the system of going straight to class, getting the notes/studying in the library afterwards, going straight home, doing homework/a bit more studying and lastly unwinding before bed. Naturally, it didn't leave much for socializing but the system worked for the most part. Since I can do all of the class work from the comfort of my own home, more often than not without the necessity of pants (Which I consider a huge bonus), it kind of throws a wrench in the works for me. This is because I have all the comforts of home competing with my attention when I should be working. But I think I've got it down, I'm just going to work/read for roughly 2-3 hours a day.  It's actually managed to work so far, so here's to hoping it sticks.

For those wondering as to what the class I'm taking, it's a free online course with the University of Michigan call Fantasy and Science Fiction: Our Human Minds. This course is about how fantasy and sci-fi are related to the human mind when telling a story and the Science Fiction aspect of the course is in relation both that and it's influence on science and modern day society. It's all pretty interesting stuff so far; but the main reason I picked it (outside of the title) is because of the course syllabus which includes The Household Tales of The Brothers Grim, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein  H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau and Bram Stoker's Dracula among others. The last entry is exciting to me because even though I've been exposed to the various permutations of Dracula in the popular culture, I've never really experienced the original interpretation of the character.

Well, here's the inevitable closing paragraph. Since the online stuff is going well, I don't think I'll be able to post here as often, but still want to get at least 4 posts in a month on whatever is on my mind (I think this might be my new year's resolution in disguise), Either way, have a fantastic day, thank you for taking the time to read this and don't forget your towel. Seriously, that thing is a goddamn life saver.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mo's Games of 2012...Presented Nearly a Month Late

Author's Note: The entry for Diablo3/Torchlight 2 is probably gonna be longer than everything else on the list because of me going in-depth on why I liked each of  them for separate reasons like a crazy person. Here's to hoping it doesn't take too long to read through - Mo.

One of the things that I wanted to do with this blog was to get my thoughts on video games on paper, so to speak. Not to make a career out of it, just as a way of interpreting my thoughts and feelings on the medium that is so near and dear to me. Although to be honest, writing a list feels like a a weird thing for me to do, especially in regards to the whole "Game of The Year" thing. I generally consider the Game of The Year concept to be incredibly silly; this is due to my belief of different games meaning different thing to different people, and generally considering that each game can set out to do different things (if that makes any sense).

With that little caveat out of the way, the way this list works is that the entries are in no particular order because no one game is the best in my eyes. Except the original Mega Man X, as that is Primus' gift to Humanity. Now let's get this show started.

2012's Game of 2011: Dark Souls

A game from the year before on this list ? "Madness" you must be thinking. But I have a good reason for this: I don't have money in the back due to not having a job, and thus can't play everything I want when it comes out (plus I think most games aren't worth the full price of admission, but that's a post for another day). When Dark Souls came out, it was roughly around the time when my classes in college were starting to kick my ass, so I had to buckle down and skip it unfortunately. Being responsible as a student and strapped for cash can do that. The real reason I put Dark Souls above everything else I played in 2011 is because it's the one game that wasn't afraid to challenge everything I knew about how a game can be so soul-crushing in it's challenge level and depth of it's systems, yet be so incredibly rewarding. You must learn one thing if you have any hope of getting through it: It HATES your guts with a fiery passion. When this is understood, the journey will truly begin. There were times when it had me frustrated to the point of punching walls and saying all seven of the words you can't say on television at the top of my lungs. Sometimes simultaneously, but when I triumphed against a particularly annoying enemy, made it to the safety of a bonfire, or killed a tough boss; it was fucking euphoric. That is the reason why Dark Souls is my retroactive game of 2011

Diablo 3/Torchlight 2

These two games are probably less intertwined than I think they are, but they did the same thing: Kept me playing them until I looked at the clock and say "Oh Shit, I should probably go to sleep". While some say that Torchlight 2 has more in common with Diablo 2 than Diablo 3, I personally like to think that they are both differing permutations of the same ground work that Diablo 2 established back in 2000. Here's my reasoning in two separate parts:

Diablo 3: The way Diablo 3 does it in the ways that it's very aggressively geared towards keeping you playing the game for hours on end. Which is fucking diabolical in the best way possible (Pun fully intended). This is done through various ways, such as it putting the potion system on a cooldown timer and introduced health globes that drop from fallen foes. It also completely re-worked the skill system to allow an unprecedented amount of freedom in terms of skill builds and play styles, while also allowing for what as essentially free, unlimited respecs whenever you wished. Yeah, you read right: Free, unlimited respcecs whenever you wanted. The classes were the best part of the game as the four new classes all brought something unique to the table, while the old standby of the Barbarian got some new tricks to keep up with them whippersnappers so to speak (If you've seen the Male Barbarian, the you know what I'm talking about). Be it the Glass Cannon Demon Hunter, the Minion Master Witch Doctor, the Law of Equivalent Exchange ignoring Wizard or my personal favourite  the Lightning Bruiser Monk; there was a style of play for every player .While I admit that the inclusion of the auction house kinda fucked the game over in my eyes in terms of loot progression, and that some of the difficulty balancing in the first month or so was pretty bullshit, it still didn't take away from the hundred and fifty or so hours of enjoyment I managed to get out of it.

Torchlight 2: The way Torchlight 2 does the whole "Kill Stuff, Loot ALL The Things" approach is by being a modern day interpretation of those forgotten days of demon slaying from the dawn of the 21st Century. The skill System for each of the game's 4 classes can be either really focused, Such as the Berserker's "Kill Everything" approach or be completely different things than intended like the Engineer's ability to be a Two-Handed Bruiser, Sword and Board Tank, Support, Dual Wielding Maniac or in my case all of those things rolled into one. When going through it, it felt like a world you wanted to explore in a weird sort of way (case in point the ghost ship side quest) and while I thought the realms of Sanctuary, Azmodan's corner of the Burning Hells and the High Heavens were nice and all, they sort of lost their appeal after a while. It also did what a good sequel should do: Take what worked about the first game and improve further while adding in new things. It's also got the neat Pet system that lets you haul stuff back to town while you keep killing and looting stuff. My pet's a ferret with an adorable little backpack and aviator helmet. With goggles.

Skylanders Giants

This one kind of came out of nowhere for me. I originally had my interests piqued by both listening about Jeff's growing obsession with Skylanders on the Giant Bombcast and the fact that the figures themselves actually looked pretty kick-ass. It's a combination of my two loves of both toys and games to make something pretty interesting (as well as a game that's pretty good too). The new thing in the game is the Giants, which not only serve as more toys to get but have some neat things introduced from a gameplay perspective. Since the giants are twice the size of regular Skylanders, they can get around barriers and other obstacles their smaller compatriots can't. This is also on the list because it's the first game that me and my kid sister ever co-oped from start to finish. Not only did we have a blast doing so, but we once spent 12 hours straight playing it. Yep. TWELVE HOURS. This convinced me that if more kids games were like Skylanders Giants  than the world would be a better place. My only issue with the game is that it makes me want to get more of the little suckers, which conflicts with not having money. Well Played Activision. Well Played.


This is a  game that I hold dear because it was one of the few games that makes me appreciate them as an artistic medium. When I played Dear Esther (the original Source mod) I thought "This is pretty interesting; not my cup of tea but interesting nonetheless". When I first played it, I wasn't really that into it. I then got to the sand slopes and met my first companion, from there we raced down the slopes and were cascading through the air every time we jumped. It was fucking incredible because it made me form this connection with a person I knew nothing about. With that said, it made me feel kind of sad when I lost said companion. It says something about a game that can make me feel this strongly about something, but back to why it's on the list. The reason it's here is because it's the only game that makes me feel like I was on an actual journey. I went through hardships in the form of losing companions, I overcame obstacles and felt like I had accomplished something in reaching the light at the mountain. Lastly, the soundtrack is flipping amazing. Go buy it on iTunes if it's there.

League of Legends

If you had asked me what any of the following in terms meant this time last year: Jungling, Laning, Solo Mid/Top, AD Carry, Support, Last Hitting, and the like, I would've assumed you were talking some kind of forgotten alien language and was giving a detailed explanation about your race's invasion plans. But after a series of attempts to try to get into it, everything clicked when I found a champion (playable character) that worked with me and my play style (said Champion was graves for those wondering). Since then I haven't looked back, and even as a free to play game; it feels balanced enough that you can not own any champions and still be competitive and as someone who not only can seen the potential for art in games, but also the potential nature of competitive play; competitive League of Legends can be thrilling to both as a spectator sport and as a means of competition. It's also the free to play game that I've spent the most money on. Ever. Don't judge me.

Borderlands 2

I like Borderlands 2 a lot. As in "Beat the game twice on two separate characters and buy the Season Pass" a lot. A lot of this has to do with what I mentioned in the Torchlight 2 part of the post: It takes what worked about the original and made it better, while at the same time adding some new features like a trading system (Thank You Based Gearbox). The stand out feature of the game would be the writing headed by "Hey Ash Watcha Playin' ?" co-creator Anthony Burch, which features a lot of  Adult Swim style humour that aids in making the game more of an Affectionate Parody than anything done in the first game. He's also responsible for spawning my one of my favourite antagonists in a game since GLaDOS: Handsome Jack. He does the best thing a villain can do in my eyes: Be likeable in a way without making me feel bad about having to waste him when it's all over. His voice with an internet connection mentality made it so that I could see how much of a raving loon he was while at the same time making me want to kill him that much more. On the flip side: Constructors can eat a bag of dicks because they're the worst enemy in that game.

So there's my games of 2012. Weird list isn't
it ? There are some games that I left off of there because reasons: Mass Effect 3 because of me technically never finishing it and all of the DLC stuff for the single player striking me as "Hey, let's try to fix out story, guys". I left off the Walking Dead because at the time of writing it was still a technical mess (The save bug is the main thing keeping me from playing it). And lastly, I left off X-Com because I never played enough of it to talk about it proper. But with that out of the way, I say this: Bring on 2013.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Renewal: Or How I suddenly got my Desire to get Shit done back.

I'm sitting here typing this on my mom's laptop while sitting at my brother's desk, thinking to myself either "What should I write about tonight" or "How should I go about trying to do more of (insert thing I like doing here) in a much more efficient manner". Usually my thoughts are much more of a chaotic mine field of randomness than what is currently going on that the time of writing. But for some reason, these last few days have served to be an exercise in both a renewal in my desire to write as a way to express myself and an increased willingness to do so. I even have some ideas for some writings that I've had kicking around in my head for the last few years, but never had the chance to fully bring to paper/word document because of my aforementioned writer's block. And said writer's block is the result of losing my drive to pursue such avenues and because of a rough couple of few months.

These past few months haven't exactly been the best for me. I had at the time been given news of my rejection to a college program that I had been working towards for the past two years, and wasn't really taking it all that well. Combine that with several difficulties when searching for full-time employment and it serves as a recipe for great frustration with a bit of desperation, self pity and perceived anger at myself for screwing up and at the same time disappointing the rest of my family. 

It wasn't until my 21st birthday nearly a month ago that I decided to let go of all that perceived negativity surrounding myself and just get on with my life like I should have when I first got that admittedly sucky news. This helped improved my mood and decided to get back to the job hunt in January (because, ya' know really close to Christmas and places aren't really needing full time workers that time of year and whatnot). Wow, that got kind of dark. But it's a thing I feel like I needed to get down on this page in order to give an understanding of how I feel right now in regards to where I'm at right now. 

As a result of this, I'm going to go about with the research needed to makes some of these works a reality (and to give them the attention and hard work that they deserve). I have a feeling things are gonna start getting better. 

Now, enough of the heavy stuff. Let's have some pancakes

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Forgot I had This Thing...

Soo... I finally got off my ass and decided to dig this up. Why ? Because I've been meaning to and as either too lazy or busy to actually set the damn thing up ( though in recent weeks it's more from being lazy). The main reason I decided to get this thing moving is because I've had a long history of being a decent-ish writer when in school. Although in recent times, this has been hindered somewhat by a somewhat (more like almost crippling) case of writer's block in regards to doing writing that's not related to academics in the past 3 to 4 years. I've needed a excuse to get this off the ground and I figured that being a jobless college graduate is a good place to start.

The point of this place, exactly ? To serve as a collection of musings on whatever has my attention and possibly, as the title suggests, filter out some of my poorly, self-diagnosed crazy. If it can even be called that. Which it probably shouldn't. I've spoken enough for now. Here's a puppy