Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oh Look. More Game Blaming

A justified facepalm alert.

A lawyer for a man in New Jersey who was charged with firebombing several synagogues is saying video games made him do it. In particular the XBox 360. Not just one particular game, but the entire system. That's ballsy.

This is someone who may be, with their own problems they have within their own head, been taken over by these games that young people play now.

He could have went with the insanity plea, but started laying into video games being the problem. Not the person.

Take it as you will. It's another dumbass trying to not accept that they are at fault. *shrugs* If anything, they're going after the wrong system. I'd imagine more harm came out of the Nintendo Wii then any others. Think about all of those broken televisions, fans, and fingers from hitting said fans. And Mario is one to promote setting things on fire, even helpless turtles! >.>

Monday, January 30, 2012

FF13-2 and Van Halen

I'm still trying to figure out how the writer managed to tie those two together. Drew Millard of Kill Screen (how retro) is trying to convey to the world what to expect out of 13-2, something he hasn't played or has little knowledge or, and decides to discuss why Skyrim is better. Again, I'm still working out the specifics. The article title made me go "huh?" and I had to look it over.


His argument goes something like this: FF is out of touch with it's fan base, much like Van Halen is and even when you try to dress it up in a new wrapper, it's still the same old thing. And apparently trying to review the same old thing is pointless.

But is it really?

I made a long post about it over a year ago with FF13 and Dragon Quest. Anyone who knows anything about gaming, even if you don't play RPG's knows about Dragon Quest. It's the same general premise, art, concept, and set-up with every game. And it still sells millions of copies within it's first week of release. And you know what Mr. Millard? People have been buying that new Van Halen album. It's allowing us to reminisce to a time when they were the kings of rock. We remember the days of late night parties, concerts, and waiting to see them on MTV before it became a network about Jersey and teenage mom's. Having the same style, the same tone, the same attitude isn't a bad thing. Consistency can work in the gaming world.

I don't think FF13 or 13-2 is trying to directly pander to American audiences. Because it doesn't need to. They seem to be doing just fine on their own. It doesn't need to be Skyrim nor a BioWare game. It needs to be the game that they wanted to develop, and if that means reusing some of the same stuff from their past projects, then so be it. Your precious Mass Effect 2 still undersold by a few hundred thousand copies when FF13 was released in the same month. Sticking to your guns isn't a bad thing.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Minecraft Slurs

In a snapshot of an upcoming build for Minecraft, one of the translators took it upon themselves to throw in the N-word when you swap to the Namibia language setting. Whoops.

For those that don't know Minecraft outsources their development to dedicated users/fans/etc. Mojang was quick to fix that issue and apologized for it; that it was the work of a prankster. A lot of the content in the game is user driven and because they are still a small company, they rely on others to help them with coding. Sometimes stuff like this slips through the cracks, but the fan base is pretty fast at fixing it.

Since this was just a snapshot build, only a handful of people saw this and not the entire Minecraft populace.

Why am I posting this seemingly fixable issue that didn't harm anyone? This quote from the writer:

But unfortunately, this incident proves that the quality assurance structures of larger developers are even more vital when dealing with this kind of development. 

That's right Forbes. Because the big companies don't lack quality assurance.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Growth of Anime and Manga in Europe

If you ignore all of the racist, bigot, epeen comments, this is a nice little piece on CNN about how manga is gaining popularity in Europe. A story just can't be a story online anymore. Not without people being buttheads about every little thing. /sigh

Moving on.

It's not about manga never existing in Europe before. It's been around for a long ass time else we wouldn't have the large convention culture that it has spawned. Rather that it has become more commonplace in the way that we see it in several Asian countries. People of all ages are reading the books, watching the animes, and buying the gear. You can pick up the latest stuff at a number of stores without having to special order it. It's just like buying a newspaper; that kind of access which has grown. And it's kind of cool to see.

In many ways I would attribute it to the economy. In times of money woes, people look to popular culture and entertainment to ease their worries, if only a moment. Take the Great Depression as an example. That's when movies became the "it" thing. It gave people a break from reality, a chance to see and live another life while putting their troubles away. Manga works in many ways as another form of escapism. Even here in America where we may be seeing a decline in movie ticket sales, we are seeing a steady rise in e-book and online streams of movies. Pick any moment in time where there was an economic concern and you'll see entertainment take a boost in sales.

For me, it's good to see manga more integrated into life. It's not on a shelf in the back of the book store to make you feel like you're buying porn, and they have to stick it into a brown bag so no one can see what it is. It's open access to everyone. That's what all literature should be.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Netflix and Cali

A double dose of "ouch" news.

First, Netflix is canning it's plans to add video games to it's rental system. After the outcry to the changes and fees last quarter, the company is re-evaluation it's services. We knew that they killed Quickster, which would be part of the gaming program, but the idea of gaming rentals was still on the table. Well now it's official. No games from Netflix.

Sad face. Not that I would use it all that much, but the option of having it there and being a Netflix subscriber was enticing. I would have put some effort into using it once or twice.

Second bit of news, you know that whole mess with California trying to pass that law to ban the sales of Mature games to kids and the Supreme Court calling them dumb asses? Well lucky, lucky California tax payers, they get to foot the bill. Over $1.3 million went into the creation of the law and legal fees and payment to the ESA. They are going to use that money to fund educational projects in low income areas. How nice of them. But man...that's a pretty large bill. I'm a little surprised it isn't more for how much they were talking about the case. Leeland Yee still doesn't get it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Dummy That Said No To GearBox

That's me.

As some of my close friends know, I've been looking for work for a while and saw that GearBox had a position open for a PlayTest Intern, but a paying gig for 2-4 weeks. Usually they'll have testing sessions that give you a chance to play a game early, but you're not being paid for it. You're in an MMO beta basically.

I submitted the application well over a month ago and answered a few questions about how I felt about certain games, genres, and the like. I still have the answers to my questions. I don't think there's anything wrong with me posting them. Nothing in the material that I submitted or applied to indicated that I couldn't release this information.

I thought my answers were unique. Especially this one, which I was sure would cause a few heads to turn:


Have you played a game in the last year that you didn’t really care for? What made the game not fun or unentertaining? Want did you not like about it? Did you stop playing it? If so, why?

My answer might be controversial, but I have to be honest and say Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The issue I have with the product is that it didn’t provide me with anything new in terms of game play and story telling. It was everything that I have come to expect from a Call of Duty game, and that disappointed me. By this point in time I would have hoped that Activision would have done something to bring new life to the series. For me the game felt like an iteration and not an innovation.

I’m not against sequels, prequels, and the like. Final Fantasy, for example, uses a lot of the same tropes in all of their games, but they introduce new elements of game play with each product. You don’t get the same game with each purchase. Series games such as BioShock also did this quite well, and I’m highly anticipating BioShock Infinite because of this.

For me, I had to stop playing Modern Warfare 3. It didn’t bring anything new to the series and became a let down. I wanted to expect more from it. Sadly, it gave me everything that I had already known about Call of Duty.

Over a month and 2 weeks passed since I applied. I have myself a job now for a good company. It pays the bills and not something I plan to spend my life in, but it's a guaranteed position and it's money in the bank.
Guess who calls and leaves me a voicemail yesterday? GearBox. They opened up a few more positions and were looking to hire me. And while their answering system is the most awesome thing ever, ClapTrap, I had to tell them no unless they could guarantee me that the position would open up to long-term employment.

That hurt my geek soul.

So sorry kids. I'm not going to be testing Borderlands 2. I had to say no to GearBox in order to keep food on the table. Following your dreams can be a bitch sometimes when you're flat ass poor.

Monday, January 23, 2012

20 Years of Civilization and a CNN Interview

Did anyone else feel their back buckle a little bit at the thought of that? Mario is 20+. So is Sonic. And the first red mage in Final Fantasy. It's kind of nice to see that they're still hanging in as best as they can to impact the lives of today's children.

Sid Meier chatted with CNN about this anniversary and his prophecies of the future he made way back in the day.

I've always said that games will someday take over the world and that seems to be happening.

It's a relatively simple interview. The usual congrats on the game's success and history, what will be new in the future, how's the social media/Facebook version going? Things like that.

I would have liked to have seen him discuss more about social gaming. The question was has social media changed the way gamers are thinking and Sid's response was about the growth of diversity. He didn't really answer the question but raised more questions. Is it good that gaming is growing into these new avenues? Are we seeing positive changes in the culture? Has this growth of social media gaming hampered or bringing creativity out? Things like that.

Again not a bad interview, but if I were given 20 minutes with Sid I would have come up with better questions. Just saying.

Now if you'll excuse me. It's time to pull out Civ 3.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sundance + Video Game Documentary

Indie Game: The Movie will be appearing at this years Sundance Festival in Utah. The directors/producers/creators spoke with the Salt Lake Tribune about the project. It focuses on two independent developers as they work through the gaming system to produce products for consumption. It also became a parallel between the directors of the film and the developers themselves; working through financial constraints, their artistic vision, etc.

[Filming them] was like filming ourselves six months into the making of our feature. ~ Lisanne Pajot

For fans of Super Meat Boy, they are one of the developers focused in this film. The other is a solo Canadian act.

But it's a traditional story about the struggles of being the little fish in the big pond and it reflects on the lives of the directors of the film. I'd be interested in seeing it, but we already know the outcome of stories like these. As our hobby ages, we'll see more movies about them. It's inevitable.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ultimate Geek

Guinness has released a special World Records book dedicated to Gamers and their accomplishments over the past year, and lifetimes in some cases.

Along with the absurd such as the world's largest game controller (and NES one of course, which would take 2-3 people to use properly), are winners of most tournaments for certain games, fastest Mario Kart lap, a Pokémon gaming family, and Just Dance champions.

Gamers all over the world can finally get their hands on the result of our hard labour, and this year's book packed with all the amazing records, facts, and feats that they have a right to expect from Guinness World Records. - Gaz Deavas, Editor

The controller and some of the stats aren't new, but they're still amusing to look at.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lights Going Out On January 18th

Whether you agree with the premise of the SOPA bill or not, tomorrow thousands of websites, including some popular ones in the geek realm like Wikipedia, Newgrounds, and MineCraft (yes, even MineCraft is protesting) will be "offline".

In general, I support freedom of speech and no censorship. I know a lot of people abuse those rights and a number of people complain about what's being said. It goes both ways. I have the right to speak freely just as you have the right to not listen. I think people tend to forget about the latter while they complain about the former. lol

While I think the concept of the bill isn't bad, the language being used would push away a lot of the creativity that exists on the internet. It's not about Hollywood having all the money, because they don't (there are a NUMBER of people that make just enough to get by) and it's not about the psuedo geeks wanting to stand up to corporations. It's about the freedom to be creative. That's why I'm supporting tomorrows protest and won't be posting. I wish you all a good day and see you on Thursday.

The Joke Is On CNN

Not even CNN is impervious to wild stories and bypassing journalistic research that should accompany such a position.

Earlier today they posted a story about a gamer having his arm lobbed off after playing a game. Because, you know, that’s the sensible thing to do when you are done playing.

The game is Katawa Shoujo. It’s a dating sim involving people with disabilities, such as missing limbs. It is a real game. The Global Daily posted the story, and it spread to Reddit and 4chan, which apparently caught the attention of CNN’s iReport.

Guess what? It’s fake. The Global Daily doesn’t exactly have the most  “honest” system. When you see stories about how celebrities buying pools filled with cocaine, you can’t really believe them on first take.

Since Kotaku Australia posted the article, the one on CNN has been taken down. But it was a good laugh for a few brief moments that they thought it was a real story.

Edit: Wow. I don't know how that happened but the font completely changed on me. Sorry about that.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lessons Through Gaming

And you know this has to be legit because it's coming from an online business magazine. Kendrick Chua states that an IPad game taught him some of the greatest lessons of his life.

What can I possibly learn from a game whose title is “Blood and Glory”? Surprisingly, a lot!

He proclaims this with such vigor that you have to wonder what was so great about that game. More then my silly lists of things learned from video games. Though I still maintain that my comment about BioWare is very true to reality.

But Chua's lessons were very practical, especially in the business world. When resources are limited, go to the one that will provide you the most in the long run; Don't always play defense; The journey is more fun then the end result.

The last one sounds a bit too cheesy for my tastes. "It's not about winning but how you play the game!" Right. I'm sure every sports team agrees with that statement. Heck, if you don't apply that to a game then why are you playing it in the first place?

But I digress. It's nice to see more positive articles about gaming as of late.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cross-Promotion

I've started a new project for my cosplaying hobby. We call it CosPod.

It's a Cosplay Podcast that will provide tutorials, reviews, interviews, discussion groups, convention coverage, and anything else cosplay related that I didn't mention.

Our first episode is up and running. It'll be a bi-weekly (or twice a month) video podcast. We're pretty detailed about our tutorials so you don't need to watch the video if you download it to your IPod, but we will upload individual segments onto our YouTube page after episodes are released.

If you like it or want to leave constructive feedback, please visit our Facebook Fan Page.

We also have a DeviantArt account and hope to feature a cosplayer of the month when we get more members. Hopefully starting next month. ^^ And yes, we has a Twitter.

So much social media! Dah!

I'm still debating on having a Facebook page for The Geek Spot. I already manage enough as is. I think my ramblings are just fine right here. >.>

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ambigious Statement of the Week: "Is MMO Falling?"

I'm not entirely sure where they came up with this idea for a "story" but it's been a pretty slow week for gaming news. If you are not seeing "the best games of 2012" or "the best games of 2011" lists you're probably reading about how game sales over the holiday were not so good.

So someone at  MMOSite.com decided to link the falling of MMO's to the Interactive Achievement Awards. If you don't know what it is, and not many people do, it's an annual look back at games over the past year and judged by a panel of peers, held by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. This year GameSpot will be hosting a live stream of the awards. It's not the flashy flash of award shows. In fact, I don't think they have any official ceremonies and it's more of a summit to discuss games, their future, and the like. Which is kind of nice. As gamers we tend to be a relaxed crowd. We don't need Spike. We can do it ourselves.

Because it's a peer to peer "award" discussion, MMO's don't typically have the best of followings. Something I remember hearing from the gang at Trion Studios, the guys that made Rift, MMO's are not really high on the totem pole. Even with games like World of Warcraft, they are still considered something too casual. They're not at the bottom of the list, nor at the top, but somewhere in between. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but I don't think that the Interactive Achievement Awards are a good comparison on current consumer trends. It's a group of people in the industry that have a more dominant position on certain genres. Also! It bases it's decisions on games released in the past year. DC Online and Star Wars The Old Republic were really the only 2 MMO's from top companies that made arrived. We didn't have 20 new MMO titles. So to claim that MMO's are falling is a lame duck response to the awards. At least the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences recognizes the fact that gamers need a REAL look at our hobby, and not celebrity endorsements.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Looking for an opinion

Or the NY Times just ran of stories. They ran one asking for students to speak up in their Education section. "What Game Would You Like to Redesign?"

I'm still trying to figure out what that has to do with education, but ok.

It's actually a good question. We're at the point in our gaming history that remakes are inevitable and are happening. Even madam Lara Croft is getting a spanking new image thanks to SE and Crystal Dynamics. It looks spiffy. Back to good ol' dungeon crawling Lara with a more reasonable cup size.

The article focuses on Dungeon's and Dragons and answers range all the way to Duck-Duck-Goose.

Of course my response is a video game. But I like spinning the wheel. My vote? Call of Duty.

Is the franchise just as popular as it's ever been? Yep. Doesn't mean I like it.

In fact I hate it. It's a copy/paste of the same game for years. Anything "new" or "cool" about the game is long gone. It needs to be re imagined. New life and ideas need to be introduced into the series. I don't know how doing the same thing over and over again could be entertaining. Maybe that's why these games do so well..no one realizes just how bad they are.

What would you remake?

Monday, January 09, 2012

EA Claims Using Brand Names In Games Is Protected Under First Amendement



Um...what?

From the company that is very sue-happy when it comes to using their name/image/likeness in any context, they are claiming that in their release of Battlefield 3, it is artistic freedom to use some names/objects/content.

You hear that noise? That's not an angel getting it's wings.

Textron Inc. makes a few helicopters in the real world, and they also appear in Battlefield 3 without their permission. They stated they would be taking legal action if it wasn't resolved, so EA beat them to the punch and is suing Textron for freedom of speech rights.

Why are they doing this? Well apparently they won a case over the Godfather video game when an Indiana based company attempted to sue them for using the word "Derringer" in the game to describe Tommy Guns. Derringer, which is misspelled and is actually Deringer, was a pistol maker and his name lives on through a company that produces hand guns. It's a silly thing to sue over, but hey. That's what people like to do sometimes.

EA is hoping that case will help them win the Battlefield 3 issue. Their claim is that a company such as Textron would still be making helicopters in 2014. Therefore, their trademark name and image would be on those products. It was their attempt to make the game more "real" and to skirt around not paying Textron a cent in licensing. I'd be interested in seeing what the result of this one is. It's pretty clear to me that EA is using the name and likeness without permission. This isn't at all like the Godfather game issue. You're taking a product that already exists in today's world and implementing it into a game without the knowledge of the owner. They're trying to hide behind "art" as an excuse. Very lame EA. Then again, should I expect anything else?

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Cool People Do Exist

And they sometimes go to or work at a GameStop.

Not all of them. Just a few.


I stumbled upon this Tumbler from a female GameStop employee. I may know her from my time at the corporate office, but I can't say for certain. It's the story of an older brother buying something for his younger brother, and his dad being a prick. Sorry but I don't know what else to call him.

They were recommended a game Mirror's Edge and the younger brother wanted a purple controller. Sure. Why not? Nothing wrong with that. But dad didn't like it. Dad threatened to beat the younger son if they bought that controller. Older brother stepped in. It was his money, he could do what he wanted with it, and dad would have to hit him instead of younger brother. Dad left. Younger brother cried. Female GS employee said she liked playing shooting games and blue controllers; it's ok the like what you like even if others don't agree with you.

The story turns up with a happy ending, but it's kind of sad to see this amount of gender segregation that goes so far as "my son can't use the pink controller because he's a boy." Really? Why? Who was the highest authority that said pink is only for girls and blue is only for boys? I'd like to meet this person and see if there was a law made that enforced this rule. What's wrong with a boy liking pink, purple, and red? And why can't a girl enjoy blue, black, and brown? Yeah this all ties in with my past posts about gender equality in gaming and tournaments. When we finally get society to stop labeling us by colors, we might be able to grow.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Geeky Marriage Proposals

I'm not a wedding person and don't get very sentimental, but even these geeky marriage proposals make me go dawh!

I'd like for something like that to happen to me. The Borderlands one is still my favorite, even though GearBox thinks I'm too smart to work for their QA department. That's ok.

What better way to say "I love you. Will you marry me?" then with a back talking robot.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Japan's Game Market Down For 5th Straight Year

That's based on a recent overview pulled by Famitsu. Based on sales in Japan alone, there has been an 8% difference in the market. The market has generated over $5.9 billion in sales with $2.3 billion in hardware sales due to the 3DS with a 2.4% increase in the hardware share. But overall, it's been slipping with software revenue dropping over 13%.

One thing that the article fails to look at is why. Because the earthquake and follow-up tsunami did take a pretty big chunk out of business for a good month. I remember SE having to turn off the FF11 FF14 servers to comply with Japan's power conservation rules, for well over a week. It was a pretty rough time and many are still recovering from it. That alone would put a dent into any economy. Low production, few people spending money on luxuries, it makes sense. The fact that sales overall were almost 6 billion is something I would be happy about considering the kind of year that it's been. If anything, next year may be even better.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Voice Acting 101.

Gary Oldman is not just a fine actor of over 70 films, he has also lent his voice to video games. As seen in this clip from Conan last night, Gary went over briefly his role as Viktor Reznov in Call of Duty (World at War and Black Ops). It's hard work:





Voice actor's aren't just reading a few lines of dialogue. They also have to enact random sounds, battle crys, laughter, crying, pain, anger, and a myriad of other emotions. Think about all of the times your character got punched. Someone has to make those noises, as odd and weird as that may be.

If there is any one thing that I remember from all of the conventions I've attended and hearing voice actors speak it's this: you have to make yourself look really stupid in that tiny little sound booth to get the best emotion out of you. And it's true!

Personally I like his work as Ignitus in Spyro. That's some quality acting right there if I do say so:

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Response Blog - Can Hollywood Win Back Young Men?

Lured by the evil that is video games, what ever shall Hollywood do?

To be clear, the article focuses on young men not going to movies like they use to. What happened to the woman? We make up a pretty large chunk of the movie and gaming population. We're always at the bottom the food chain.

It's no surprise that we'll be seeing more articles and blogs like this. 2011 was a pretty slow year for movies in terms of ticket sales. Taking into consideration the rise in ticket prices (just checking at a local theater, it would cost $25 for 2 people to go in the evening; holy crap), 2011 saw a drop of up to 13 percent, a 10 year low for movies. More and more people are moving towards other mediums to get their content. Even I, a die-hard purist of going to the theater and being a film student, have found myself just waiting for a film to come out on Netflix. I'd rather wait and pay $9.99 for unlimited movies a month then to spend $25 going to a theater with crappy popcorn (remember when that use to be good?), screaming children, and people talking on their cell phones. No thanks. I'll pass.

Are video games to blame? No, but they are a contributing factor as to where people are spending their free time. While the original blog post goes with the idea that story gets in the way of blowing things up, I would, of course, argue otherwise. If you can't sit through the story of LA Noire or Catherine then you don't deserve to play a video game. I'd argue that it's the exact opposite. We're leaning more towards video games because Hollywood hasn't brought us anything new where as video games have been evolving and changing. Sure we have a slew of Call of Duty, Halo, and squeals to make our eyes bleed, but for every one sequel we have dozens of new games. Limbo for example. Where as the movies this year have been nothing but rehashing the same content. Even the "new" movies such as Thor are just reusing source material from somewhere else. Again not saying that video games aren't doing this, but there are more unique pieces out there that are easy to find in comparison to movies.

I don't think Hollywood needs to "win" anyone back. Rather, they need to update themselves to the times. No, not 3D. 3D has been around since the 1950's. No one wants to admit to it. It's a fad that always comes and goes. Hollywood is in dire desperation of new blood. We're all getting tired of the sequels. Even the sequels are tired of them. They also need to find a way to better integrate themselves with the technology made available today. I'd be willing to pay a monthly subscription to Fox or WB to download their latest movie to my computer/tablet/gaming system. And not 6 months after theater release. Same day. Great way to get back to Netflix too.

There are a lot of options out there that Hollywood studios need to explore. It's slowly turning into a dying business.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Ace Attorney Movie Will Rock Your Socks Off

Just look at the screencaps! Even if the acting is terrible, the story is over the top, and the movie just doesn't work, you have to admit that they really are going all out for it. I like the fact that they didn't try to dumb down the character's looks. They gave Phoenix his spiky hair. Gumshoe has that band-aid that is always on his face. Manfred von Karma looks like a pompous asshat. Larry Butz looks like Larry Butz. Thumbs up for this movie.

The only complaint I've been reading from people is that they chose a Japanese cast instead of an American one.

Counter-argument time. The game was made and released in Japan first and then ported to the U.S. with alterations to some locations. In the original AA games, the locations were all centralized in Japan.  When ported to the U.S. they changed to allow gamers to be more connected to the content (we're more likely to care about the characters if they lived in some random city in the U.S. rather then overseas). The only time this wasn't the case was with AA: Investigations where the characters from Zheng-Fa, China were still from China.

Not to mention that a lot of characters are drawn in an ambiguous art-style that could infer that they are of multiple nationalities (i.e. Asian, American, European, etc.). Because of the art, it is very easy to allow a wide variety of people to be connected to the characters without feeling restricted to race, religion, creed, etc.

The fact that this movie takes place in Japan and is casted by Japanese actors doesn't bug me. I never really took the games seriously enough to think that it was happening in America. Japan, I could see it as a plausible nighttime legal drama. Here? It could use way more Law and Order.

I mean come on. They even have Polly the parrot that you cross-examine in the first game. Are we really going to question what nationality the actors should be? >.> In all of it's over-the-top sillyness, this does give me a lot of hope that this will be the start of something wonderful for gaming movies.