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Found 14 results

  1. Despite the rather philosophical and metaphorical nature of the title of this blog, all I'm doing today is talking about my weekend, specifically this past Saturday morning. This past Saturday morning happened to be one of the best examples of how life is just full of opportunities waiting to be taken, most of which are fed to you on a silver platter but you may not even realize it. However, in my case, it all started with a newspaper ad. Let's backtrack to earlier last week. It was about mid-Wednesday when I walked back into my dad's house after staying with some friends for a couple of days. I usually swap between my dad's place and friends' houses every couple of days; when I'm home, I'm working on writing and playing video games or watching tons of NCIS; when I'm with my friends, I'm not doing much else except play video games, hang out, go to parties and eat Taco Bell. Needless to say, I like being home for a few days in between being with friends, just as a breather. When I returned home, I walked by my dad's computer table and my eyes instantly darted toward a piece of laminated paper. On top of the paper, but also laminated, was a small newspaper clipping and on the paper, a written note. It was from my dad's girlfriend, saying that he should address the newspaper clipping. Written in the newspaper clipping was an add seeking people for an upcoming movie called, “Noah.” Now, I've never done much of any acting, but it's always been a personal dream to get into it, as it may be for many others. However, it's never really been a passion strong enough for me to take classes or get into theater. For me, it's always been something that I thought would just “happen” for me – maybe I would impress someone one day and end up with lines in a movie. Hey, it could happen right? Of course, another way to go about it is to go to casting calls, where casting agencies look for people to put into movies, televisions shows, plays, commercials, even web series. If you're not already in the business, it can be rather difficult to just break into a Hollywood career, and it's still rather difficult if you already are. Still, I saw this as an opportunity. If anything, it'd be a fun Saturday morning with my dad, who looked rather excited to be in attendance. The ad was looking for “slim, slender men and women, with runner's bodies.” While I'm not in the best of shape, I'm definitely slim and slender – my dad, on the other hand, is a big, bald, muscular dude who would probably be better fit for playing the role as a football player or a wrestler. Nevertheless, he really wanted to go and, since I had nothing to do that morning, I tagged along. The casting call was about a half hour away from my dad's in a town called Brookville, which is the same town that I had lived in for one year just after I moved from my hometown and just one year before I moved to Connecticut at the end of 9th grade (technically, I lived in Upper Brookville, but whatever). The entire ride there, my dad and I talked about what exactly the casting call would be like, what we may be doing, and, obviously, how cool it would be if the both of us got into the movie. Mid-ride, I looked up the movie and found that, contrary to what I was thinking, this movie “Noah” is going to be a big-budget film, not some indie short or something to that effect. Once I found out that Russell Crowe and Emma Stone were going to be in the movie, I knew shit was going to get real. This was now more exciting than ever – if we got into the movie, I could meet these people! Maybe! Anyway, we finally arrive at the location of the casting call, which happens to be at a local church. We find our way into a decently-sized room with about one hundred chairs. Some people were already there, but overall the room was rather empty. No one there seemed important, either. This is pretty much what it looked like. It wasn't until almost an hour later, when the casting call was about to begin, that not only a parade of wannabe-actors and actresses walk in, even some that seemed qualified by holding resumes and portfolios or headshots and whatnot, but also some rich-as-hell and important-as-hell-looking people strolled in. These people were the ones that seemed to be running the entire thing. Not long after, the two of us and everyone else in the room were given a form to fill out. Apparently, this form was just for basic information that they would use to cast for future projects – once you're in their database, any time they do a casting call, you'll be automatically put into the running and possibly considered without even moving a muscle. However, this form was far from basic...I mean, how in the hell am I supposed to know my neck size and jacket length off the top of my head? And why was my dad's Ford F150 considered a “prop” when I'm at a casting call for a movie set in biblical times? Does Russell Crowe not finish the ark in time and needs a getaway vehicle to escape the flood? I guess I'd have to be in the business to know that information. When I was filling out the form, another man walked up to me and gave me a card, telling me to write my name on it and keep it on me. It was entirely vague and almost a bit creepy, but I nevertheless felt very excited because I was specifically picked for something! Soon after, one of the important-looking dudes grabbed a microphone, apparently from a dimensional portal inside the right pocket of his jeans, and began to speak to us. We were told that the call is based primarily on filling out that form and then getting a picture taken of us. Once both of those things were done, we could leave, since the building was getting packed with people and a huge line was forming behind us, so they wanted to keep things moving. Though, if you were given one of those cards to put your name on, you must go outside once your done and wait. He also explained that the casting call was for another movie called, “Wolves of Wall Street” or something like that, but after that I heard nothing more on the film. Guess I wasn't leaving anytime soon. I felt bad for my dad, considering it was his idea to go, but he didn't get one of those cards. Then again, I didn't know what exactly the cards were meant for, so they could have been for something bad (there's always that possibility), but no one knew at that point. I still hadn't got called up for my picture to be taken yet, so it wasn't of much concern. When my row of chairs finally did get called, we all stood and formed a line for our pictures to be taken. After a few minutes, I got up to a table and handed a short man my form. On both of his arms, he had some pretty cool Super Mario Bros tattoos that wrapped around his biceps and fore-arms. I pointed them out and told him that they were cool, in which he only replied, “Thanks.” I shrugged it off and walked by him to get my picture taken. This was one of his tattoos. He also had Peach dressed as that chick from Waterboy and Mario as Jesus from The Passion. As I stood at the tape on the ground, waiting for the camera guys to find the right backdrop for my awesome picture (apparently, after using the same part of the wall for other people, now it was decided that they needed a new place to take these pictures), the tattooed guy turned in his chair and stretched out his arm, in his hand a small card. I took it, finding that it was one of those name cards from earlier but with information on the back: the name of a film and an email address. He told me to send pictures of myself to that email address. Fuck yeah, I'm good. I get picked for movies without even trying. So, now I was in the running for three different films, one of which being the one mentioned on the back of that card. I guess they weren't casting for that film that morning, so to be picked for some role or position for that movie got me really hyped. I'm still pressuring my dad so I can get headshots of myself as quick as possible (after I finished this sentence, I got up and reminded my dad again, just to be more of a bother). With pictures taken for both my dad and I, we stepped outside and I seemed to be one of the first ones out there to be waiting thanks to that card. I didn't really converse with anyone – there was a small group of people talking to each other that all seemed hand-picked for this specific movie and were there because the casting guys asked them to be. Other people stepped outside in small bunches and they all seemed disconnected, so I didn't make any moves at anyone. I just stood near my father unit and talked with him for a while. Finally, one of the casting people walked outside. I had no idea if he was the director of the movie, but he might as well have been – he spoke like how I thought a director would speak and dressed like how I thought one would dress, he was definitely playing the role well if he wasn't director already. I'll call him the director. The director was now addressing us, letting us know that we were chosen because we fit the bill rather well and now we were going to do some small acting routines that will be featured in what seemed like an action scene in the movie. Next to him was a bulky, curly haired man that looked of Hawaiian descent. The director told us that we'd be split into two groups, one with him and one with Hawaii man, and would do some basic acting then switch stations (so, we'd be with Hawaii man first, then the director or vice versa). Pretty much exactly what he looked like but much more muscular. I was split into the Hawaii man's group first. We walked farther away from the building with the guy, who was very much less director-ish than his buddy. On our way to our “station,” he explained that we were all basically cast for the movie and now they were looking for people to do some minor action stuff that isn't exactly stunt-worthy, as in we'd be getting paid a bit more than regular extras because we were going to be doing some physical work, though we were considered stunt-doubles or anything. This was awesome news. I wasn't sure how accurate his statement was – that we were literally cast in the movie or that our chances of being cast were much better, to the point that we might as well be – but either way I was excited as all hell. To be simply cast like that, as if it were the means of snapping one's fingers, was such an intense experience. Over at the Hawaii man's station, our first acting had to do with pretending we were holding a shield and spear and had to poke upward, as if we were fighting something much larger than us. I could explain to you why, as we were told, but I don't want to be “that guy” nor do I like spoilers, even if the movie doesn't come out until 2014. Let's just say that if you've read the Bible or at least just the story of Noah, this movie doesn't exactly follow that story exactly. Anyway, I was one of the first to go and with a loud, “ACTION!,” from Tito of Rocket Power fame, I marched forward, doing my best impression of a guy with a spear and a shield fighting something much larger than himself. I felt like I did a pretty good job, but once I was done, I knew I definitely did a good job – Hawaii man pointed to me and said, “Good job, kid, good job,” while giving me a nice thumbs-up. Achievement Unlocked – Hawaiian Man Likes Your Style. I am, of course, not an actor by trade, so for a random guy like me to actually do well in some acting felt good. At the same time, I was absolutely baffled by the performances of the others – over half of my group was made up by guys and girls that had come to the casting call with portfolios, resumes, pictures, etc, many of which claiming to be actors and actresses. But, holy shit, did some of them suck! One guy thought he was a boxer, using his “spear” like a dagger and his shield like a baseball bat (???) to deliver too many strikes in an unrealistic amount of time. Another guy wasn't even trying. His performance was so pathetic that I was actually surprised at how bad some people could be at acting. If he actually went to war as a guy with a spear and a shield, he'd be the last to die because no opponent would consider him enough of a threat to actually waste time on killing him first. After that session, which also included some formation drills (which weren't hard and no one seemed to do those particularly awful), we left Hawaiian man and made our way back over to the director. At this station, we had to run at about 3/4th speed and come to a quick stop, as if something comes out of nowhere and stops our progress. As much as that sounds somewhat easy, it's a lot harder than it seems. 3/4th speed still means that you're giving it at least a jog and then to stop on as close to a dime as possible due to something that doesn't exist, and not fall over, and make sure that your facial expression mirrors a situation in which you're rather desperate and for this calamity to happen is terrible...well, it's a huge clusterfuck of stuff you have to do and it's not easy, especially for someone with no acting experience like myself. Because of how many people that were waiting, I only got to do it twice. I have to say, I did the exercise rather well – not the best, but definitely one of the best out of the people in my group. I definitely tried my hardest to make it convincing. After a couple of rounds, we were done. The groups came together with the director and Hawaiian man. The two explained to us that the working conditions would be hard, as the scene has action and isn't exactly set upon a yacht or anything like that. However, we would be getting paid more. Still, he stressed that people that don't think they can handle it should just back out. No one did, but considering some of the performances I saw, I wish they did. Jeez, shit was bad at times. We also had to do a scene in which we pretend to be a super hero and cry about it. We all lined up and met the director and Hawaiian man individually, which basically boiled down to handing them the cards with our names on them and getting a handshake. I thanked them for their time, then walked over to my dad so we could head home. Of course, the entire way back we talked about the experience. My dad, though disappointed that he didn't get specifically picked for anything, was still happy that he went and was proud of me. He talked anxiously about finding more casting calls so that he could one day be in a movie with Russell Crowe, which would be awesome for him. He also sent a text to his girlfriend's daughter, who is a photographer, so I could get headshots done for that other movie that I need to email out. And then I went home and played Street Fighter. All I wanted to do was play more Street Fighter. So, the moral of the story is to always take opportunities and pursue your dreams, even if you think it's impossible. You'll always lose if you never try, even if the stakes are high or your goal is unreachable. Sometimes, things can just go your way and an opportunity will present itself that may change part or all of your life. I mean, is this just some acting work or the beginning of a full-fledged Hollywood career? Am I the next James Franco? I could very well be! Or we could be in the sequel to Pineapple Express together, that would be sweet. Or, at the very least, always take time to read the newspaper and peruse the ads. You never know what you'll find.
  2. God damn it. I really didn't want to like this game at all. I was a hardcore Starcraft 2 monster, very happy grinding my way through mid-level leagues until somehow becoming the champion of the world in 2016. And I dismissed this game rather quickly for being somewhat hard to follow at first glance and for its cartoonish style. Now that I think about it, all the hate I had for the game was probably rather illogical, but then again, hate is rarely logical. Then, at MLG Anaheim, our good friend Mr. vVv LordJerith convinced me that I should dabble more in the realm of MOBAs and MMOs. With Guild Wars 2 far out on the horizon, really my only best choice without spending any outlandish amounts of money (just purchased a ticket to DayGlow) was League of Legends. He said I'd enjoy it, and I said it was stupid. And now I really enjoy it. I honestly could go on and on about what I like about the game, so I will. First of all, it's free-to-play. All that was needed from me was a download and install. I don't know about anyone else, but free stuff is amazing, especially if the free stuff happens to be a well-made video game that's actually worth something. I mean, what better way is there to get into a competitive game than to pick one up that costs you know monetary investment? And what better way to advertise a highly-competitive title than to make it free? I can't think of one (well, I can, but they're not appropriate for all audiences [hookers]). So I decided to finally start it up and get into playing. Now, from watching LoL matches at various MLG events, I realized I probably wouldn't understand how exactly the game works until I play it, but I already had a basic idea of how games functioned - walk around, cast spells, level up, merk bitches, destroy stuff, take their base, destroy the base, enjoy victory. And, obviously excluding major and minor details, that's pretty much a summary of any game of competitive LoL ever. But once I got to playing it, I found that it was not only enjoyable, but somewhat addicting. For a new player surrounded by other new players, and some low-skill ones, I found myself doing rather well in my introductory matches after utilizing the game's tutorial. Once I figured out the basic gameplan of what a LoL player should be doing to get XP and Gold, as well as deal with enemy champions, I pretty much dominated a majority of my matches. And even in matches my team lost, I still did pretty okay and wasn't completely shut-out. I really began to enjoy the huge amount of champions to choose from. It felt like Riot played a lot of Marvel vs Capcom 2 back in their day considering how huge the roster is. With so many champions, I felt a bit more at home on the selection screen, and was pleasantly surprised to find a number of heroes that seemed enjoyable. I played several rounds with Skarner, Malphite, and Fiddlesticks thanks to them being free at the time, and enjoyed learning what they had to offer and how I could use them to play specific roles on a team, even if my team was just a random bunch of people. Eventually I got that, "one more game, one more game..." kind of feeling, to the point where I spent an entire afternoon playing and forgot to eat any sort of lunch or dinner, only being reminded by my dad that I had only ate eggs and toast earlier that day and that I was probably starving. I was - it was very easy for me to just jump into another game, talk with new people, figure out a strategy, and try to play my best. Meeting new people to play with was a lot of fun, especially after having an enjoyable time with one another in a particular lane and doing well, prompting each other to congratulate one another after every possible action and send friend requests immediately after the match. I missed that kind of interaction, one that is so desperately needed in an experience like Starcraft 2, where loneliness is very common. The one thing I didn't miss, however, were idiotic teammates. Besides the several afk people and a couple of feeders, I only had one instance where a teammate just did something so ridiculously stupid that it made me become vocally annoyed with it. It basically boiled down to when I was jumped into an emergency 2v1 situation just as one of my teammates was returning from base. I got slowed out of nowhere just as my teammate came to my side. Instead of helping me, he promptly turned right around and ran away. I almost got away with a kill, but was unable to finish one of them off. Either way, I was going to die, no thanks to my mate, who then now had a 2v1 situation of his own that he barely survived thanks to turret hugging. Wasn't happy about that. Still, I find League of Legends to be very enjoyable, which still sort of bothers me. Now that I've been playing League, I want to continue to play League, but now I feel like all the time I've put into Starcraft 2 to be genuinely good will be cast out the window if I stop putting the time in. And now with summer in full gear, I'll have a job, and I've moved down to NY for the time being to see my friends. I feel a bit overwhelmed. But then I remember that it's all just gaming and I'll get over it eventually. I do what I was meant to do. And really what I feel like I am meant to do right now is to kick ass on LoL for the bitches. Bitches love ass kicking on LoL. So yeah, I'm enjoying it. Fuck.
  3. Normally, I tend not to have a schedule when I make blog posts, but for a daily journal such as this, it's hard not to keep up with the precedent set so far. However, because there has only been one blog post before this and, as far as I'm concerned, 0 hits, who cares what the result is. I could just stop posting all together. But I guess this is more for me than anyone else. Unfortunately, I was unable to sit down last night and type this up, so I'm getting to it the following day. Most likely I'll have two of these go up on the same day, but whatever. Yesterday was a pretty busy day for me, but it didn't start out that way. After classes, I was determined to take a nap before getting to any activities that day, but my inability to dose off prevented that from happening. Instead, I decided to go for a run, which actually turned into going to the gym and working out by myself. I'm not a gym rat at all, in fact I'm rather frail and skinny because I don't work out ever and my exercise mainly came from sports (which I don't really play much of anymore in college). It'd be a bit of an understatement to say, plainly, that I'm sore today following my workout yesterday. After cooling off and showering, I made my way to the library for another lab session. Yesterday was such a beautiful day, so thankfully I was able to grab my usual seat on the 3rd floor next to the window. I opened that shit up and let the amazing breeze and clean spring air flow in. It felt pretty awesome to have the breeze coming in as I played on ladder. As I said yesterday, my goal for each day is to play a minimum of ten games before coming to a decision on either leaving the session or laddering more. Yesterday was quite not like that routine, but it certainly started off normally. My home...the Silver League. Maintaining my high Silver league status, I was put up against two Silver players, a Terran and a Zerg, both of which I lost to. I was keeping my notes from the previous day in class – don't do stupid builds, scan and scout often, don't let the opponent stabilize, etc. And, personally, I felt like I did a good job. In both games, however, I was essentially out-macroed. The first ladder match, the TvT, probably came down to an early marine/marauder push I made that dropped my army numbers much lower than they should have been, and I just could not recover. I wasn't too happy, but they weren't the worst losses in a row. But then my next two games were much easier. I got paired against two Bronze players in my following matches and one without difficulty. This bothered me a bit – the game felt confident in pairing me against Bronze players, which means it may be suggesting that that's where I belong. However, I solidly beat these players, which means while I definitely do not belong in Bronze, I cannot consistently beat Silver players in the same way I beat Bronze players, so I won't be in Gold or higher until I can do that. I quickly moved on and stopped concerning myself with the issue. In my fifth 1v1 ladder match, I got another TvT, which was certainly an odd match. The game started out simply – I began with a standard Terran opening and was essentially building up a marine/marauder/tank army that would just push out alongside an upgrade timing or something. However, my opponent had a different plan in mind. After a small bout in the middle of the map, things quieted down, until I found that he was massing tanks outside my base and was inching closer. I couldn't do much at first; walking right up to the siege line would be suicide. I had some Thors popping out, but they couldn't do much from my natural and would only get damaged if they tried to creep down the ramp. I even lost a bunker and some depots thanks to the siege line and a few scans gaining my opponent vision temporarily. Without any avenue to leave my base or expand, I was effectively pinned down, and with each passing minute my opponent's mass of tanks was growing larger. Even marines were streaming towards my base. He had all my options covered, it seems. Times a million. However, in reality, that was not the case. My opponent was so concerned with moving closer and closer to my base while picking off any outlying buildings that he could that he wasn't paying any attention at all to what was going on in my main base. With all of his scans being used up for my ramp and a small distance into my natural, he could not see that I had transitioned into starports. I plopped down tech labs on all three of my new structures and began to get the resources necessary for the newest additions to my army: three battlecruisers. Before I had begun making them, however, I had sent out a couple of medivacs and a viking to support my army and scout, respectively. Seeing that he only had his natural expansion as the only base other than his main, I took this opportunity to drop into his natural mineral line. Of course, he had no army to defend it because his whole army was sieged outside my base. He decided to send a small squad of marines, but he underestimated the power of 1/1 marines and marauders supported by two medivacs. Another squad of marines fell to my drop, but it would end up meaning very little – three battlecruisers created a large presence in my base. They inched toward my ramp, over my army, closer and closer to my opponent and...ragequit. “Victory!” my screen read, he had left the game without even a good game exerted. Obviously, once he saw that my battlecruisers existed, there was no other option. Tanks, as many of you may or may not know, cannot attack air units. Battlecruisers fly. Put 1 and 1 together. I was happy to finish my first 5 games with a 3-2 record; not the best performance, not the worst. As for now, my 1v1 ladder practice was over with. A few friends had gotten online, so we had enough to run 3v3s. And let me just say this – fuck team games. Now, don't get me wrong, I absolutely love team matches. They're a great way to practice macro, and it all takes place without the seriousness of 1v1 (at least for me, that is). We all shot insults at each other, scoffing at one's micro or whatever, but we had a fun time. However, it seems to me that everyone else that plays team games does not want to have a fun time. Or maybe they find just the mere mention of cheese to be really hilarious, because we got cannon rushed, 6 pooled, dark templar rushed, several times in the 6 team games we played. All of which fucked up my builds and all of which frustrated me. The team games we did win were the ones without cheese, except the final match. Another friend had logged on, though this friend was as amateur as you could get. With only 7 games under his belt within the four days he has owned the game, my friend actually didn't do that bad, except that he really wasn't adding to the team. That meant when we got into a heated match in our final game, it didn't go to well. He did good for a new player, though. I'm proud of his progress! Toxic Slums was the map for our last match, a 4v4. The match was solely Terrans and Protoss. Not an ounce of cheese was found in the first minutes (and not for the whole match, either). Finally, a regular game! The only problem with a lot of Protoss in a team game...a lot of Void Rays. For a long 47 minutes, our teams struggled for the gold expansions in the middle. One of my Protoss teammates dominated with his blink stalker/Colossi build, while I dealt damage with siege tanks and a fuckton of marines. Our armies fought each other off constantly. It seemed like there wasn't a single moment in which an engagement wasn't going on. I was dropping marines into their bases, one of my Protoss teammates had his charge zealots making rounds in the middle of the map, etc. But their armies were just as strong as ours. It seemed like it would be a game of of who can survive for the longest, as the resources on the map were getting severely diminished. The fortieth minute hit and my team found itself slowly losing map control. Reapers were hitting our outside expansions just as I quickly grabbed a far right expansion that had no activity within it. The other team was able to land a huge drop into the weakest of our teammate's base, allowing the other armies to move in through the front, and though we would hold it off for several minutes, at that moment we lost the game and could never get it back. Our buildings began to get ravaged, just as I began an ultimately unsuccessful mission to nuke enemy bases with ghosts. The only nuke that would actually get used almost connected with a small cluster of thors. They escaped with only a few feet from the explosion. I was salty. After that game, which was finished with a number of positive comments from each team on how exciting and good the match turned out to be, everyone on my team logged off. My five hour session came to a close there, as well. I ended the day with 3 wins and 2 losses in 1v1; 2 wins and 1 loss in 3v3; and 0 wins and 3 losses in 4v4 for a total of 11 games played yesterday total. Because I only played 5 1v1 games yesterday as opposed to the 10 I usually play (it's assumed that 10 games means 10 1v1 games), but I still got practice either way, even while having some fun. And I definitely learned from the session, which is good. I found mostly that what I had found yesterday was 100% correct – don't do stupid builds. When I play textbook and solid, with good marco and micro, I have a good game, even if I don't win. That goes for team games as well – I dominated in one 3v3 match thanks to my smooth transition to mass thors in the late game. With several upgrades, my glacier of steel and rocketry, so to speak, steamrolled our opponents with little effort needed. And, obviously, I play better when I'm not getting cannon rushed or dark templar rushed, either. Tonight should be a good day for Starcraft. My dad is picking me up in the afternoon after my classes and his doctor's appointment. I'll eat lunch, try to catch a nap, watch some television, etc. But eventually I'll log in and, hopefully, I'll be playing for a very long time into the late hours of the night. I'll be taking this opportunity to better myself and get much more experience with the ton of games I plan to play. It'll be quite the lab session.
  4. Warning: Contains Spoilers Sometimes being a competitive gamer gets in the way of being, well, a gamer. As much as I'm practically addicted to Starcraft 2, the hours upon hours a day I put into practicing the game does take away from actually enjoying most other games I would otherwise be playing. Sure, I get to play some fun N64 sessions with my roommates often, but mostly I dedicate my own gaming time to competitive SC2. However, being on spring break this week, I decided to dial back my practice time a bit and instead enjoy what the rest of the industry has to offer. When I decided today this week that I was going to play some new games, I then realized that the only thing I had with me gaming wise was my laptop, which has SC2, as well as other games I've beaten. I needed a new console game, something to run campaign by myself, just like the old days. I have too many multiplayer sessions so I need some alone time with just me and the game, I thought to myself. Thankfully, an opportunity presented itself – my friend had recently picked up the new SSX game for his 360 and, after managing to run to Gamestop after lunch today, I picked up Vanquish (which was release in October of 2010) after seeing that it was on sale for $15 and that the clerk mentioned that it was “severely underrated.” I couldn't resist. First, I want to start with SSX, the latest installment in the extreme snowboarding franchise published by Electronic Arts. Let me start off by saying that SSX comes into my view with a disadvantage – it is not SSX Tricky, the second installment in the series and by far my favorite snowboarding game of all time. I've put countless hours into Tricky, making it one of the most played games to ever be popped into my Gamecube (it was also the first Gamecube game I ever owned, too!). So, unless this SSX was SSX Tricky 2 or something better, it was going to disappoint. Can't beat the classics. Immediately, I felt the prophecy unfolding. The cheesy intro to the game's plot started to dig a hole for itself – apparently, veteran riders Mac, Zoey, and Elise form a team of snowboarders called SSX (which stands for Surfing, Snowboarding, and Cross Country...or something like that) that square off against the just-as-unoriginal Team Griff, which is led by, you guessed it, Griff, a former member of SSX. The objective of the game is to defeat Team Griff on the world's 9 Deadly Descents, winning races and grabbing points by doing insanely awesome combos. Unlike in SSX Tricky, once again setting the highest bar for me in the series, the new SSX felt...well, bland. Yeah, the graphics are good, the sense of speed is there, and the realism is taken up a notch. But the problem is that, well, it's just not very fun. For one thing, the beginning of the game moves at a terribly slow pace, and by that I mean it took me a long time to get myself to run another race after finishing another one. First of all, one of the greatest things about SSX Tricky was that there were a bunch of racers causing tons of calamity down the track, knocking each other down violently, and scoring crazy amounts of points in any way they could. But in the new SSX, that's not all necessarily there. Many races, for example, have 4 or less snowboarders to an event (as opposed to the 6 racers in every event featured in Tricky). Some races were just trips down the mountain against a “ghost” of another snowboarder, the snowboarding equivalent to masturbating while trying to break a speed record set by Ron Jeremy. There's no tension, nothing to stir up excitement. I can't even violently stiff arm opponents as I race down the mountain, mostly because I'm not even racing against an actual opponent half the time! Nope, I really don't enjoy racing by myself, sorry. Then there's the fact that SSX is trying to “reinvent” the franchise. Tricky was fun because it was outlandishly cartoony and over-the-top. But SSX is simply trying to take itself too seriously, incorporating armor and health into the game, as well as items like wingsuits and helmets with flashlights (I've always wanted a game version of one of those!), as well as having more cheesy intros to mountain runs (according to the narrator, apparently Team SSX will simply get the funding it needs to survive by having big livestream numbers on its PornHub account). Oh and, obviously, none of the mountain runs are anything but, you guessed it, downward slopes of snow on top of rock. At the very least SSX Tricky's courses had flavor and personality to them, with warp pipes, ridiculous pipelines, and snowflake combo upgrades galore. Apparently when a franchise is reinvented, that means taking out all the good stuff for the real stuff. Realism does not always mean fun. That's simply the problem here, actually, as I said before. SSX just isn't fun. With Tricky, scoring combos wasn't necessarily hard, but it brought a lot to the game. Characters yelled and screamed at each other, as well as having distinct moves and looks; courses were colorful and amazing rides; graphics bounced off the screen in a way that doesn't make you sick (looking at you 3D technology, god I hate you). But with SSX 2012, I get to look at the same environments over and over while the characters, who all wear similar body armor, lack a lot of personality (no, Zoe pathetically shadow boxing in the helicopter before her first run does not count as having personality) and make no effort to make me care about the game. In Tricky, I absolutely loved suiting up as my boy Mac, stiff arming the living hell out of Elise any chance I got, then seeing the engagement at the winner's platform between the two stir up fire. Instead, I get a cheesy narrator, an annoying helicopter pilot that lets me know that I'm actually a functioning human being with the ability to snowboard (why is it that I need to here from a helicopter pilot, by the way?) and no fun at all. Oh, and the game has absolutely no local multiplayer, and the online multiplayer is essentially time trials against ghosts. So much fun! Thankfully, just before I wanted to return the game for my friend so he could use the money on something more useful, the Xbox randomly red ringed, forcing us to end our SSX session. I happily took this opportunity to pop in Vanquish and give the first two missions a test run. I mean, it couldn't be any worse than a pathetic excuse for a snowboarding game, right (EA, I just want SSX Tricky 2, come on!)? I was certainly right – Vanquish ended up being better than SSX, much better. Yeah, the games are different (who compares third person shooters to shovelware...um, snowboarding games, anyway?), but they're still both games. I can definitely say, without a doubt, that I walked away from the first two missions of Vanquish with a lot more excitement, hype, and fun had than when SSX tried to commit suicide in my friend's console. Thanks red ring of death, high five! Honestly, I think the reason why I like Vanquish so much is that it's more like SSX Tricky than SSX 2012 is. Right from the get-go, the game is completely ridiculous – protagonist Sam Gideon, who's voice sounds like the result of being strangled by a group of orangutans constantly for a period of several months, is tasked with stopped an evil Russian ultra-nationalist from destroying New York City and the rest of the United States after using a huge American space station to destroy San Francisco. A long, but extremely awesome cutscene (which is awesomely capitalized by Gideon straight not giving a fuck and blowing cigarette smoke, while in full armor, at the face of his commanding officer, who looks like an old Marcus Fenix [badass!]) precedes an epic rush into a Russian ship which forces Gideon and the rest of Bravo Company to destroy waves of Russian robotic infantry. To do this, I got my hands on Gideon's DARPA-funded battle armor that makes him the closest this game's universe will get to having Master Chief in its wars. Gideon has access to a pretty standard array of weaponry (a shotgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, the usual culprits), but they all have a strong sense of power and punch when the trigger is pulled. However, Vanquish's best mechanics are the cover system and the boosted power slide. The cover system, most certainly inspired by the Gears of War series, works very well, if anything a bit quickly. I certainly didn't mind the insanely agile movements that Gideon makes from cover to cover, though. The slide, however, is probably the coolest thing Vanquish has to offer – with the press (and hold) of a button, Gideon races across the ground on his knees. From this position, he can simply blast by enemies, fire his gun, and take cover. If you decide upon the second option, however, Gideon goes into “bullet time,” which is exactly what you think it is. Though Vanquish isn't exactly going to win awards for its story or voice acting, and neither will it find comfort in innovating weaponry in video games (at least give the guns cool names!), the most important thing is that it's fun! Sliding towards enemies so I can give them the business with the shotgun is extremely exciting, while taking pot shots at far away enemies with the sniper feels just as good as it does in any other shooter, if not more so. There are even boss fights! You heard me right, boss fights. The infection of Call of Duty games oddly started a trend of the decline of boss fights and the rise of “set pieces”, which are pretty much just big climatic events that consist of you doing the same things you were doing previously in the mission but with more explosions and curse words. Vanquish, however, doesn't give a damn about trends, so instead I got to face off against a towering robot with some glowing weak points I got to aim at. At first, I fear that the boss battle would simply be just as dated as ones found in older console generations – fire at the weak spot, dodge attacks, rinse and repeat. Vanquish was able to throw a curve ball in this department thanks to giving the bosses much more to do. While I peppered bullets into the number of soft spots on the boss character, I had to do my best to slide away from rampant cluster-missile launchers, gigantic lasers, and direct physical slams from the robot. Even on Normal difficulty, the boss gave me a challenge as ammo constantly ran dry while I barely managed to escape its multiple attacks. Oh, and then it transformed into another form, which was even harder to deal with. No, Vanquish's boss battles are not completely reinventing how those work, either, but again the most important part was that fighting the big Russian robot was a ton of fun. It didn't feel scripted, it didn't feel slow. It took all of my known skills and technology to defeat the menace, and I walked away with a sense of accomplishment. Now, it is fair that I put the new SSX on a bar raised by SSX Tricky, and that it ended up failing to impress me because it was not as good? Of course. I would hope that sequels are better than their predecessors. And is it fair to recommend Vanquish despite having faults even though I do not recommend SSX for also having faults? Definitely, because despite its faults (which are less like faults and more like really hilarious offerings to the comedy gods), Vanquish is still a really enjoyable game. However, for SSX, despite its faults, it is not a fun game. EA, you're going to have to do better than that. As for all of you reading this, give both games a try and see how you like them...but mark my words, beating the living hell out of Russian robots and being a total badass in space armor is much more fun than beating the living hell out of snowboarding ghosts and being a totally bland character dressed in garbage cans and package peanuts.
  5. SAVE FILE Where Gaming's Best Stories Are Told Follow!: http://www.twitter.com/vVvRapture Official Zelda Timeline Revealed There it is. The official Zelda timeline. Every game is accounted for. From the original all the way to Skyward Sword. For years, the timeline has been a mystery to the Zelda fandom, being cleverly, or unintentionally, hidden by the lack of connection between many of the Zelda games. While Nintendo teased us every once in a while, asserting the position of small “arcs”, such as Zelda II being a direct sequel to The Legend of Zelda and Ocarina of Time being directly followed by Majora's Mask, no one could truly figure out what the full canon was. How could we? Apparently, the only document that had the official timeline was neatly locked away. That is, until now. Celebrating the franchise's 25th anniversary, Nintendo has released the “Hyrule Historia”, a huge package of artwork and information from the entire chronology of the series. Thanks to an expert translator, the most important of all the documents – the true order of the games – was finally converted to English. Above is said document. Anyone who isn't familiar with the lore of the Zelda series is most likely very confused, what with wars and eras being thrown into the mix. What matters the most is the split of the timeline. The dreaded split timeline theories have been around the Zelda fandom for years, consisting of the basis of most assumed hypothesis due to the end of the N64's Ocarina of Time. Hopefully you've played the game, but if you haven't, time travel becomes the name of the game and ends up screwing the entire timeline over. As far as Nintendo is concerned, the ending of OoT resulted in three alternate timelines – if Link ultimately fails to defeat Ganondorf at the end of the game, the fall of Hyrule and the Era of Light and Dark occur, causing A Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda, and more to occur. If Link is victorious and decides to return to the past to live out his childhood (since he sort of, you know, couldn't do that for many reasons [just go play the damn game!]), he sets out and ends up in the events of Majora's Mask, which is then followed by Twilight Princess. If Link decides not to go back to the past, but to live on as an adult, Wind Waker and all of its sequels succeed such a decision. Ultimately, despite some inconsistencies that will surely arise from the analysis of the most devoted fans, this seems all logical. But, it still seems rather odd. Most of the Zelda fandom was actually very comfortable with the split timeline theory. The difference is that it was assumed only two alternate realities would occur – Link returns to his childhood or Link remains an adult. The games like AlttP, Zelda 1, Zelda 2, etc. seemed to all fit in somehow in the other timelines, but because no one could truly pinpoint their location (unlike, say, Skyward Sword, which was established as the first Zelda game chronologically), thus creating conflicting theories throughout the community. Nintendo fixes this by putting in a third option – Link loses to Ganon at the end of OoT, a reality no one in the community accepted considering that they never thought that Link dieing was an acceptable conclusion to the game. Obviously, someone must eventually finish OoT to see the ending, so for Link dieing to actually create a result may make sense, but it's certainly a curve-ball from the Big N. Either way, the time-line is established. Theorizing must be over with, right? Wrong. The community is still in full-force, analyzing the timeline for whatever missing information they could possibly hope to be resolved in future games. Many are already pointing at the very large gap of information during the “Sky Era” in which no current Zelda game occupies, leading many to believe that a sequel to Skyward Sword is on its way. Likewise, no current Zelda game occupies the “Sealing War” period, which could possibly hint at a game that sits between the failure of Link at the end of OoT and A Link to the Past. Either way, at least we know. That's better than nothing, right?
  6. Alright, let's get down to it. You've created a concept for your show - you're unique, doing something different and you have the passion to keep it going until the end. You sat down and really thought about why someone would even bother to listen to your show in the first place. Now you just have to actually start with the physicality of the show. Enough brainstorming, it's time to get real work done. However, if you are really still stuck on what kind of show you want to make, head over to part 1 of this series for some help ( http://www.vvv-gamin...pts-and-basics/ ). Now, obviously it's very important that once you think about a podcast and get a good idea of what you want to do, that you actually go ahead and do it. Nobody can listen to your podcast if it's solely a figment of your imagination. But creating a podcast isn't just talking into a microphone and hoping people happen to come across and listen. There's a lot of work for you to do before you get people loyal enough to wait for each and every new installment of your series. And you'll be one of the lucky ones; many podcasts rarely get off the ground and stick around long enough to develop a fanbase at all. Most fade away into the endless data streams of the internet. But I'm not working with losers here, I'm working with someone who wants to be the best...right? Here, Take This! There are a few things you'll need before starting up this show of yours. This list falls between concept and physicality - you'll physically need these things, but they are more conceptual than going out and buying a new headset to record audio. These next few questions should help you figure out what exactly you'll need to do a show in this stage: -What kind of podcast is this? -How do I talk to my audience? -Who else gets to talk to my audience? -How long will my podcast run for and when does it get released? -What is my goal in doing this show? That's a lot to think about, so let's go through it together. Feel free to stop and re-read, there's no rush. 1) What kind of podcast is this? This should seem easy, but it's something worth thinking about. It may have come up during your conceptual brainstorming, but this is a question posed in a different way. I'm not asking if you're doing a video game podcast or a movie review podcast, as in, what kind of podcast, not what genre it finds itself in. By this, your podcast can be a talk show, a skit show, etc. Most podcasts are talk shows in which the cast members discuss topics and news in a roundtable-like manner, though others pride themselves as being interactive shows, some having skits, a few being all sorts of different kinds of things. For a beginner, doing a podcast in the manner of a talk show is not only the easiest to get into, but the easiest to master, as talk shows take less preperation and work to get off the ground. You must also be aware of how much scripting your show has, if any at all. Many podcasts have scripted segments, more common in sketch comedy podcasts or story-telling shows, but many have barely any scripting, if any, at all. These are improv shows, ones in which the people on the show talk simply off the top of their head and do not read from a script. My podcast, Directional Influence, is completely unscripted, right down to the intro and outro segments. However, just because you may want to do an improv show doesn't mean you don't have to prepare at all. Many shows split their episodes into segments, which are usually separated by some sort of audio transition, to organize the episode into relevant topics. For example, a video game podcast may have three segments in an episode, one in which the cast talks about recent news, the second being a group review on a newly-released video game and the third being an interview with someone from a development team. Though all these segments revolve around video games, they are distinctly different enough to be split up into different segments. This also helps the listener know what exactly they'll be listening to, as if an episode is one long segment, the listener will never know when a discussion or interview will start until the cast just starts whenever they feel like it. 2) How do I talk to my audience? This also seems relatively simple, but there are so many ways to screw this up it's not even funny. When it comes to a podcast, the show essentially lives in its own bubble that, while doesn't necessarily always react with the outside world, can frequently acknowledge and always has to be aware of everyone outside of said bubble. Unless your podcast is only being kept to yourself or no one cares to listen, the podcast cannot function in its own bubble without being aware of everything that doesn't happen to exist just in that space. Most talk show podcasts function in the same way actual talk shows on television and radio work - the cast talk with themselves and whomever else may be a guest on the show and have a conversation amongst themselves. However, this conversation is obviously being listened in to by the viewers, so the conversation almost works like a question and answer panel without anyone asking questions. The cast instead converses, but does so in the direction of the audience as if they were actually there. The reason for this is because the podcast is for the audience, not for the cast. If the audience doesn't care, the podcast doesn't matter. Thus, podcasts that are riddled with inside jokes only the cast understands or shows that allow cast members to freely chat about whatever they want will simply not work. Remember, people go to Q&A panels to talk about the topic at hand, not about what a cast member's cat had for dinner. 3) Who else gets to talk to my audience? Now this is important. Most podcasts tend to have a cast of at least two people and mainly this is because you can only have a conversation with said two or more people (unless you're having a conversation with yourself, which 99.9% of the time will never work and will never be found funny). Having a cast of many people allows for different opinions, different perspectives and different personalities. Having a podcast with a guy who likes to talk about stuffed animals is infinitely less funny and entertaining than having a cast with a guy who likes to talk about stuffed animals, a girl who likes to set stuffed animals on fire, a businessman who sells stuffed animals for profit and a conservationist who is against the production of stuffed animals entirely. Essentially, your cast must have flavor. Just because you have more than one person doesn't mean your cast is good - you must have a rich mixture of people that aren't all the same. With that said, it's best not to have a cast that typically agrees with each other all the time and likes everything the same way as everyone else does. For a movie podcast, for example, it makes sense that everyone on the show likes movies, but it doesn't make sense to have all the cast members adore horror movies (unless the podcast is specifically only about horror movies). Additionally, people must either care about the opinions of the cast or must be equally entertained by all the members of the show. If the show is more of a talk show, then the opinions must matter. Last segment I discussed that you don't necessarily need to be the most important person in the community to start a show. However, on the other hand, no one is going to listen to a podcast filled with random people that have no influence on whatever they're talking about unless the show is hysterically funny, in which case the opinions still don't matter, only the entertainment value does. For example, my show Directional Influence is pretty diverse in terms of the opinions that appear on the show. When I began my show, I was not extremely knowedgeable on the competitive scene I was a part of, nor was I a top player or tournament organizer. Thus, to round out the show, I invited the two other cast spots to be filled by a top player and a tournament organizer. Currently, my show now has three distinct personalities - an amateur player who is better at analyzing the game than playing it, a top player that provides a perspective from being one of the better players in the game, and a tournament organizer who knows how the tournaments and the community function. That sounds a lot better than three randoms talking about things they know nothing about. 4) How long will my podcast run for and when does it get released? Now we get to the personal preference part of this. There is absolutely no limit to how long or short your show can be. Likewise, there's no rule that defines when during the week and at what time and how many times you can release new installments of your show. It's all up to you. But, with that said, use logic and be reasonable. You have to understand both yourself and your audience when thinking about these things. First off, how long your show is. A good talk show podcast can go for 45 minutes to an hour, sometimes even an hour and a half or two hours. If your cast always has a lot to talk about, there's nothing wrong with making an episode a bit longer than usual (and remember this, not every episode has to be the same length or fit a time slot like on television or radio). But, you have to be reasonable - drawing out an episode for almost three hours should make you think why it took so long and should persuade you to go back to the file and see if there's any slack you can cut out that's not necessary. 9 out of 10 times recordings have a solid amount of useless talk that can be trimmed before release, so feel free to make cuts if you need to. You also have to realize that most people will probably not listen to a podcast that is two hours long unless they are extremely passionate about the show or the show keeps the listener glued to their headphones for the entirety of the two hours and that's extremely difficult to pull off. Thus, having a show that rounds out between 45 minutes to an hour is a good way to start out. Then you can mix things up if you feel like the show needs to be longer or shorter. Just remember, the fans always matter - never make your show too long that it bores them or too short that they feel cheated. Then you have to decide the routine in how you release your episodes. Some podcasts use a weekly or bi-weekly formula in which each new episode is released on the same day of the week every week or two. Some shows opt for a monthly release or a "around-there" release format. The "around-there" format is essentially when a podcast releases around the same time every few weeks or month without it being a written ideal. As in, a show may release every three to four weeks, but it's never actually said when the show is scheduled to come out - avid listeners just know when to expect a new episode. As a beginner, stick to a routine before you get reckless. Just don't burn yourself out. You will never need to release a new episode every few days, a weekly format tends to always been the minimum unless it's a special occasion. And if you feel like you're being burned out by weekly releases or that there isn't enough to talk about each week, maybe change to a bi-weekly or monthly format to let topics accumulate. 5) What is the goal in doing my show? Finally, the million-dollar question: what's the point of doing this? What is your purpose? This should be something you know before you get into any of the above, actually. Do you want to have your show be the number one source for news and entertainment in your community? Do you want to have the show just to express your opinions on a bigger platform? Do you want to gain more recognition for your accomplishments, personality and ways of thinking? There's not much more I can tell you than just that you have to know why you want to do this and to not lose track of your goals. Don't try to be something your not and never try to become something that's not what you want. Stick to what you believe in and just do it. Coming Up in Part 3 Well, now you have everything ready to go. Now it's time to really start your podcast. But, before you do that, you're going to need to know what equipment you'll need, what software you'll need, and all of that. As I said, it's not simply just talking into a microphone. --------- Written by Dakota "Rapture" Lasky of vVv Gaming. 8/3/2011. Do not reproduce without giving credit.
  7. I think it's safe to say that after being part of the podcast scene for well over a year, it was only a matter of time before I wrote one of these. I've always been an advocate for encouraging others to start their own shows regardless of where your interests lie. You may be a gamer, a movie buff, someone who listens to music or plays sports all day, and you may even be someone who wants to do more than just enjoy their hobby. Instead of just being seen as a participant, maybe you'd like to be seen as an analyst, a commentator, or at least some kind of person that can share their thoughts on a particular subject for the entire community to hear. One of the best ways to get your voice heard or to do your part in the community, or to just enjoy the experience of it, is to start doing your own webshow. It's not as hard as it looks, but it isn't a walk in the park; it's a trade only so many have mastered, and while anyone can do it, it's not like everyone should do it. But if you're dedicated and have your mind set on becoming a podcaster, then keep reading. What is a podcast? In simple terms, a podcast is an internet broadcast that's either live or pre-recorded, and consists of either all audio files (like radio) or is supplemented with video. Podcasts cover an immense range of subjects (you can find a podcast about literally anything), can be however long or short they want depending on how the host sees fit, and they can be produced with tons of different concepts, like being a comedy skit show, a news show, a lecture show, etc. Podcasting has almost too many options for any one person to comprehend, but at the very least the medium thankfully allows any one person to make their show as unique and productive as possible because of how many diverse ways the medium can be handled. If you want to do a podcast, understand that podcasting can be as big or small as you make it. If you want to do a small, audio-only broadcast talking about cars, go for it. Or you can do a big production with visual interviews, videos about cars, interviews with big names in the industry, or even show of your own car masterpieces, then you can do that, too. Visual vs Audio-Only A big decision when starting a podcast is deciding on what kind of broadcast you'd like to do. Audio podcasts are essentially internet radio broadcasts, as the only kind of output the audience gets is whatever sound is on the file, whether it be music, sound effects, or just the host(s) talking. Visual shows, on the other hand, usually consist of similar traits as the audio-only like having hosts speak and having sound, but it is also supplemented by a visual factor. Audio podcasts are certainly the most abundant of the two, as being a listener of a podcast means less physical investment than someone who has to watch an entire livestream or video to be part of a visual podcast audience. Audio shows are usually prerecorded, in fact most of them are, but some can be live. However, because audio podcasts can be easily edited by audio editing software, most audio show hosts tend to stick to their shows being prerecorded. Audio podcasts can also be put on iTunes and uploading sites, allowing for fans to download episodes and listen to them wherever they want. On the other hand, visual shows rely less on just audio and more on a bigger package where hosts can discuss topics and show video of said topic, as an example, to make the experience much more in-depth. Visual shows can also be live or prerecorded, and can also take advantage of streaming sites like justin.tv or ustream.com that allow them to do their show live for people to watch in real time. Visual shows have a much easier time at doing this, not to mention that a live show can have its stream be recorded so people who did not watch it live can watch it at another time. While visual shows cannot necessarily take advantage of things like iTunes, the ability to have visual shows on streaming sites and even on Youtube makes up for it. Note, just because a visual show may seem like a much bigger production, it does not necessarily have to be. Audio podcasts can be just as well produced, just as a visual show can be. The only limitations with either kind of show is how much the host(s) are able to put into the show and what kind of equipment they have available. Creating the Concept So you've decided that podcasting is what you'd like to do. You saw the road sign, looked at your options, and took the path that felt right for you. Now you're heading down a trail of success. All you've got to do is just be the best like no one ever was, right? Well, no, wrong. Like I said earlier, podcasting is something anyone can do, but isn't for everyone. Physically, it's not the hardest project to start and keep running, but to be a success, you have to do everything right and that's not necessarily easy. First of all, you have to know what you are interested in. Where do your interests lie? What do you like to do with your free time? What do you have the most opinions about? What do you find yourself always trying to talk to others about? An idea for a show can easily lie in the answers for those questions. Anything that you are able to talk about freely is most likely your best choice for a show. Sure, you'd think a podcast about Jersey Shore would be really popular, and maybe it would be, but if you're not a fan, it'll be very difficult to keep the show going no matter how potentially successful that might be. On the other hand, you also have to keep others' interests in mind; you may find discussing the color gray being a top choice in paint colors a really amazing topic, but you'll probably be the only one on that boat. Remember, it's really not about you, but the fans themselves. They have to be interested to keep watching or listening, so if they aren't interested, or if you are interesting, then the show loses all of what truly matters. So let's say you've picked the subject you'd like to talk about. Hypothetically, being a gamer, you decide you'd like to do a show about console gaming. You love discussing console wars, you love reviewing console games, you own almost every console that has ever been released. Or maybe you're just a gaming enthusiast, but not really into the PC gaming world. You own an Xbox 360 and maybe some last-gen systems like the Gamecube, but you like gaming so much that you'd just like to have a show talking about games. A show talking about video games is fine. A show talking about cars is fine. A show talking about Oprah Winfrey is fine. But what isn't is that you won't be the only one doing this. You aren't the first to do it, you won't be the last to do it. You'll be just another gamer who has a show like hundreds of other gamers, and you'll be sharing opinions most likely shared by thousands upon thousands of other gamers, too. You're just like everyone else. But don't be discouraged, this is how everything starts out. Right now you've established the general concept for your show: you're doing a show about games. But now you have to get more specific and more unique. Not only that, but you and the show itself has to be unique. You can't just be a "news show", as it's been done before. You have to provide content that no one else does or you have to provide said content in a way that is truly unique. This is one of the most important, yet overlooked, factors about getting into media. You cannot just start up a general gaming show and hope that it'll become an internet sensation if it doesn't bring something new, fresh or different to the table. Your quality may be golden, but if you seem to be just like everyone else, you'll be treated like everyone else. People want entertainment, but they also do not want to watch the same entertainment over and over again. This is where you need to establish your identity and angle. Who are you and how do you see or how do you talk about the topic? One of the best things about doing anything in media is that you really don't need to be a "somebody" when you start out, as this is something that comes along with the trade. Sure, it helps, but if your media skills are good enough, you're name will become more widespread than you'd might think. I started my podcast, Directional Influence, as being a new player with very little tournament experience and skill. Today, I'm still not a top player, but because of my show's success, DI has made my name much more known that it normally would have been without doing the show at all. However, it doesn't matter who you are if you don't have a unique angle or trait. There needs to be at least one thing (preferably a lot of things) that make your production different from being too similar from other shows. To lay it out for you, I'll use one of my favorite webshows out on the web, Zero Punctuation: -Host (alias Yahtzee) reviews games with a very fast talking speed -Reviews are scathing and almost always negative -Videos are supplemented by funny animations that represent Yahtzee's gripes -Never too long, always entertaining and reference-worthy Yahtzee doesn't just review games, he critiques them heavily. Not only does he do this, but he is laugh-out-loud funny and supports his comedy by speaking oddly fast, making all of his reviews hilarious. He's also a smart fellow and uses his location of Australia to take jabs at the industry and the country himself, while doing the same to "mainstream" games, chest-high walls, and quick-time events. Just as Yahtzee has his own way of doing things, you too should have your own way of doing things. Do you want to review games on this show? Well then you have to review them in such a way that your reviews are not just any game review. Use your imagination to figure out how to be as original as humanly possible. Coming Up in Part 2... So you want to do a show. You've picked your topic and you've decided how you'll be unique compared to all the other shows on the same topic. Now you've got some planning to do. Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn about how to physically plan out a show, including how it will be run, who will be on it, when you'll be doing it, and all of that. You may have the concepts down, but now it's time to get some work done. --------- Written by Dakota "Rapture" Lasky of vVv Gaming. 6/27/2011. Do not reproduce without giving credit.
  8. Waiting in line could possibly be more entertaining than watching paint dry, but it's still not much of a hobby. And that's if you get to wait in line at all
  9. Back in the year 2000, after we all got over the whole Y2K thing, I was still only seven years old. Actually, come to think of it, I don't really remember much of the actual Y2K scare until after the fact. Either way, we all found out that life would still continue, with or without computers apparently, and thus the rest of the first year of the century went off without a hitch. The birds chirped, the sun glowed, and MechWarrior 4 came out for PC. From then on, my life would never be the same: I became a mech fan. Ever since my dad got me MW4 for our family computer, that stuff we call, "outside", didn't matter anymore. All that mattered was MechWarrior 4 and it's subsequent expansions I harassed my family to get me on a holiday. I became obsessed with the experience, and mind you it was my first ever mech game. There was just something about these kinds of games that got me hooked. In fact, it was MechWarrior 4 that prompted me to get Metroid Prime for the Gamecube, as I thought Samus was a mech for some reason, setting ablaze my passion for the Metroid series and making it one of my favorite franchises in all of video gaming. Thanks MechWarrior. But though the Metroid series has had quite a number of stellar entries, MechWarrior
  10. Since the Wii 2 was rumored, then finally confirmed, everyone has been crazed not only about the system itself and what it entails, but also the games coming out for it. Would the fabled Pikmin 3 finally be released, showing itself on the oddly dubbed "Project Cafe" successor to the current Wii? Will Zelda: Skyward Sword be pushed back to become a launch title for Wii 2? And what about that weird controller with the tablet in the middle? How will the streaming work and can it run with the 3DS? So many questions, but for Smashers like me, we want just one thing answered: Is there a Super Smash Bros 4? At this point, it's safe to say that we have absolutely no idea. Unlike the confirmation of the appearance of Wii 2 at E3, many of the game rumors have not been confirmed. PureNintendo.com recently gave a huge list of specs and concepts for the Wii 2, as well as a ridiculous amount of games that apparently are going to appear in trailer or playable form this year at the huge game expo. On that list, marked with a "playable" stamp, is Super Smash Bros 4. We may be seeing this sometime this June. So, I mean, what can we think of this? And what will it be like? To address the former, essentially this rumor is claiming that the next Smash Bros will be playable this year at E3. As much as this would be awesome and amazing for everyone, we have to think both realistically and logically here. Brawl was announced in 2005, which was quickly paired at E3 with the first launch trailer that confirmed Metaknight, Pit, Wario, Zero Suit Samus and Konami's Solid Snake to be playable characters. Just thinking of that, by the way, makes me giddy. There's nothing like anticipating a new Smash game. Anyway, when it was announced, it wasn't playable, and wouldn't become playable for a while. Brawl didn't actually begin its development stage until 2005, several years after the release of Melee, and wasn't even released until 2008. So, being realistic here, we really can't expect a true playable demo of the game yet. If anything, Nintendo will probably keep the game's gameplay, save for any that shows up in a release trailer, quite under wraps. Smash is one of Nintendo's hugest franchises and the last thing it wants to do is show all of its cards too early. Plus, this is if the console even has any playable demos in the first place - as far as we know, the confirmation of playable demos of any game for the system has not been announced, and if/when it does, it's doubtful Smash will be part of the playable category. When the Wii was announced, Wii Sports was the big game that was played, and even then we didn't see all of what the Wii had to offer back then. Putting that aside, let's be optimistic and say that there will be a Smash 4. We all want it to happen, even though we really don't know who will be making it in the first place. Sakurai was essentially begged to make Brawl and now he's all up in the Kid Icarus franchise as of late. That's not to say Nintendo lacks any capable developer; I'm sure Retro Studios wouldn't mind adding the best Smash Bros ever created to their resume. So, with that said, assuming it is being made, what kind of game will it be? As in, well, what kind of Smash will it be? What kind of Smash should it be? A better Brawl or a better Melee? Which is...better? With the Smash community, it seems like the two most viable options have appeared: It will be a "true" sequel to Melee, or an upgraded Brawl. And, in my eyes, I'm actually leaning toward the latter. Everyone knows I'm a huge Melee fan. I love the hype, the community, the overall amazing quality of the game. I've spent countless hours playing it by myself and even more with friends. There was nothing like a good game of Melee late at night back in the day. However, do I really just want a Melee 2.0? Not necessarily. Brawl, in it of itself, is a solid title. Yeah, there's things wrong with it, but it actually introduced a lot of things I do enjoy. I love the roster, save for a few spots; I'm a big fan of the stages; the campaign actually wasn't that bad; all of the cool things to unlock were pretty, um, cool. There's a lot that could be better, but to be completely honest, just because a game isn't "Melee 2.0" doesn't mean SSB4 can't be a good mix of what Melee was, what Brawl is, and what a new Smash game could bring. That, my readers, is what is the truly best option. The great thing about what we have here is that there is so much we can take from previous games, as well as create with new additions. There's nothing wrong with change. I love Melee, but I don't want to buy a graphically-updated replica of it. I want a new Smash, one that brings the best of all the previous titles, as well as changes up things that makes it separate from all the other titles. Sure, I'll still buy it regardless of whatever it turns out to be, but this seems like the smartest thing to do, and I'm sure the developers behind it, if they are behind it, are completely aware of this. With that said, I really have confidence in the next Smash. I don't want Brawl 2.0, Melee 2.0, or even 64 2.0 (though that would probably be as ridiculous as MvC2 in terms of craziness); I just want Super Smash Bros 4. I want to keep the best of the old, and bring in the best of the new. That's the clearest goal I can see for anyone that decides or decided to take on the franchise for the new console. And please, I beg of you, whomever is developing this game, please make Ridley and King K. Rool playable!
  11. One of the most important parts of games involving any sort of combat is weapon balancing. Gamers who frequent the online realms of their favorite games are usually very in-tune with the balancing between every weapon at their disposal, as are those who play fighting games and understand the balancing between each character in the roster. For gaming, weapon balance is key to making the community happy; no one is going to play a game in which someone can gain access to a shotgun that has a reload time of .3 seconds, a fire rate of an assault rifle, and damage output of a catapult using whales as projectiles. Every weapon must have pros and cons, and this applies to both campaign modes and multiplayer, as when there is less of a balance, the game itself suffers as a whole. For campaigns, weapon balancing is essentially for keeping a game challenging and, at the same time, worthwhile to play. In an obvious example, it makes no logical sense to give the player access to a weapon early in the game that allows them to kill every enemy they see with no effort. There has to be a scaling factor
  12. What do you think of when you picture competitive gaming? Fame and glory? A fun weekend at an MLG event? Online matches? A waste of time and money? When it comes to competitive gaming, everyone has their own opinion. Many find it to be another road to glory in this thing we call life. Some just do it for fun. Others think it is not worth their time. But, the thing that all of our opinions have in common is that, for most of us, we are competitive gamers. Posting this at vVv, I can say that essentially everyone here is, in some way, shape or form, connected to competitive gaming. But, have any of you considered what the rest of the gaming community thinks? The people that don't out-host GB allstars and fly around the country to partake in events may not have the same views. Thanks to my position in my school newspaper, asking people for their opinions on certain subjects is almost a daily routine. So, I took it upon myself, after thinking about the idea for this article, to ask a few people about their thoughts on competitive gaming while I was supposed to be doing my actual work. One freshmen at my high school, who decided to be named anonymous, said, "I play with my friends , but I have no idea what Major League Gaming is. I know Halo 3 has a playlist called MLG, but I never play it. I never knew what it was." Just a case of unawareness? Many others seemed to have the same reaction. It seems like many of them don't know much about competitive gaming past owning their friends. What about the people that do know? "I never got into it, " said junior Garvin Wells, "it seemed like too much time. The chances of me doing anything or being successful are not there." Another junior, Brandon Conforti, seemed to think the same idea. "Unless I'm getting the hundreds of dollars back I spent to be there, why go?" Probably the most interesting bit I was able to collect, however, is a quote from my good friend Marco Melargno, who said, "It isn't the most welcoming of places. I was yelled at and called names more than I was invited to play games with people. They didn't care how good I was. I didn't even know if I was as good as them. They never let me show them." What does this all mean? Well, most of us can agree that, yes, many people aren't the most welcoming in the competitive gaming community. It may all just be a waste of time and money. What does this mean to people that have been a part of competitive gaming, for better or for worse? To be honest, from what I've seen, competitive gaming is a double-edged sword. There are times when you really just want to give up and pursue something else. But, then you have the times that you really do enjoy. Whether or not you keep going is up to you. This article isn't really meant to change people's opinions, but rather, just a different look in. Maybe it isn't so different than things you may have heard. Still nice to hear what others think. Names and quotes taken from students of Torrington High School of Torrington, Connecticut. Consent has been given to use the names and quotes from the individuals in the above article.
  13. Yeah, I'm not one for introductions. Let's get this straight so we can all move on. Sound good? When I was interviewed by Jerry (vVv LordJerith for all of you unnecessarily oblivious), we discussed a potential plan for me to have an active blog of my writings. This would include reviewing, and whatever else that was conversed about, since I honestly can't remember. Well, here it is. This is vVv Blogsanity. I like the name. This is my blog, which will be (hopefully) a go-to source for information and entertainment. For those of you that know how I write, I'm always one to add humor and sarcasm into whatever I'm doing. I can be blunt. I can hate. I can praise. That's what makes it fun. So, here is what you should expect from this insanity of the blogs: -Reviews -Previews -Demo Play -Rants -Opinion Articles Reviewing and previewing is pretty simple. I'll analyze movies, books, TV shows, games, etc. that have been released or will be released in the near future. Reviews will be, well, reviewing these things. Previews will be getting a close look at these things before released, as in what to expect, any information, and such. Demo Play is a favorite of mine. It is similar to the a Preview, but more like a Hands-On Feature. I essentially take a demo (Xbox 360 only, since that's what I play) and analyze the game based on said demo. This is almost like a review of the demo, but may lead into what to expect from the final build of the game, what should be fixed for the final build of the game, and if the final build of the game is worth your time based on what I've experienced in the demo. It's a good time. Then, we have rants. Everyone likes rants. Rants will be the most random thing you'll find here and it'll mostly be for your entertainment. I'll pick really any topic and rant about it. Whether or not you benefit from it isn't up to me, it is up to if you enjoy someone rambling on about the same thing until it is like beating a dead horse. Also a good time. Finally, we have Opinion Articles. This is like a rant, but unlike a rant, isn't a rant. I'll find a topic of interest and give my two cents on it while avoiding going into a hatefest, avoiding sipping that haterade, and going into rant mode. Think of it as the anti-rant. So, yeah. That's what you should know. That's what you'll be getting. That's what I'll be delivering to you. I hope you all enjoy what is to come (no "That's what she said" implication intended). If you have any suggestions, comments, concerns, etc, I believe there is a form of commenting on these blogs. If not, you can e-mail me at brodeurrocks@optonline.net or tri1337@hotmail.com, or aim me at dkmonkey30 or send me a private message here on the site. Any questions?
  14. Rapture

    District 9 Review

    Even though this isn't a new review (I wrote this one around the time the movie came out), because this blog is here, I figured I'd post it for you all to access easier. And, I love the movie, so you should read this anyways. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- District 9 Produced by Peter Jackson, Bill Block, Ken Kamins, Paul Hanson, and Elliot Ferwerda Written by Neil Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell Released: August 14th, 2009 (NA) Time: 112 min. Here's my problem with summer movies that aren't The Dark Knight (2008). Every summer movie it seems, unlike The Dark Knight, never seem to resonate. None of them really took my breath away. After seeing the normal flow of summer movies this year, I was saddened to find that none of them almost suffocated me to death. The only one that was truly a good movie was Star Trek, not because its Star Trek, but because it was just a damn good movie. Still, that was technically Spring, but I digress. Yet, someone decided to throw me a lifeline named District 9. The most I knew about it was that it had something to do with aliens, something to do with a district (people say its the 9th one, but that's debatable), and...well, yeah, that's it. It made me curious. So, why not check it out? After walking out of that movie theater last Friday night, I will gladly say that everyone with more than half a brain should see this movie. It is dramatic, smart, action-packed, and above all, a movie that you will talk about for weeks on end. District 9 is an adventure that you may not have expected and that's what's great about it. It's not a cliche alien flick, it's a true, honest movie about social issues we still have today. Still, without the messages, you can walk out saying that it was still amazing. And you'd be right. District 9 follows the events of an ongoing crisis in South Africa, in some points showing it as a documentary, which involves the housing of over a million of "Prawns", a derogatory term the humans have given the non-humans, in the District 9 slum. Following the footsteps of corporate puppet Wikus van der Merwe, the film takes you on a spiraling roller coaster of an adventure that ends with an odd, yet "actiony" ending. Science-fiction fans will appreciate the time taken into making it a sure hit, yet people just looking for a good time will find a lot of awesome fights and explosion to satisfy any thrill seeker. District 9 successfully weaves action with a emotional narrative that focuses on the conflict between the humans and aliens, as well as their relationships between each other. The aliens seem to be more human than the humans are, with every sentence heartfelt, even if they are all clicks and gargles and need subtitles for the normal human being to understand (that being the movie-goer, mind you). Of course, it becomes more personal when the main character finds himself in a predicament that he can't seem to get out of without the help of one of the extraterrestrials. The movie itself is almost near-perfect. There is very little to bash it on, but then again, nothing is perfect. District 9 seems to take off a bit too slow as it tries to build up the atmosphere of the movie with documentary-styled introductions to the conflict and it's history. The ending is also a bit offbeat, as it doesn't really end, but rather just leaves the conflict ongoing and without much solution. This may be a message to the viewer or may just be that it doesn't need an ending, but some may be a bit disappointed in what they don't get after watching the whole movie. But, I can easily say that the positives extremely outweigh the minimal negatives there are. District 9 is a masterpiece of sorts. It brings a breath of fresh air to a dim summer movie line-up that didn't impress many at all. District 9 is something Hollywood needed. It is an intelligent movie that many need to see for more than it just being an alien movie. There is something to be learned from District 9. When you take the time to truly create an amazing movie and not just slap something together with poor dialogue and crappy acting pieces, you get something like District 9: a film that is above average in every meaning of the phrase. You should not think twice about seeing District 9. Catch this gem before you lose it.
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