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Theater Rooms are awesome, lets be real about it. Who doesn't want to watch movies or game on a giant screen from the comfort of their own home?
But they're too expensive...
$1265 - That's how much it cost for me to build my theater room. For a comparison, the 60" 1080p Sony in my living room cost $1050, plus another 150-200 for the sound bar so that I could actually hear my TV. So my living room setup is closer to $1200-1250. It's not insignificant, but it is totally doable.
The theater room amount also includes seating, if you have already have furniture, knock off $450. BOOM! Theater room for $815.
I'm going to take you through the steps I took in creating my own little theater room and hopefully provide you with some good tips in creating one yourself.
Step 1: Measure & Plan, Plan & Measure
This is the most important step in the entire process. Break out your measuring tape and figure out your room. You're going to want the length, width and height of the room.
Are you going to mount the screen? If so Wall or Ceiling? You're going to want to find a stud finder and measure out the studs on the wall or the joists in the ceiling. In my case, the joists in my ceiling weren't spaced standard widths apart, which made a ceiling mount for a 120" screen a difficult prospect. Ultimately I decided to go with a free standing screen. High quality, simple set up, no mounting required. You can also paint a wall with specially designed screen paint.
How big of a screen do you want? There are many formats for calculating "throw" which is the size screen that can be projected based on a projectors location. You can look up the formulas and calculate what the "ideal" is. ProjectorCentral.com has a built in calculator on it, where you can choose your projector and it gives you all the calculations. Below are the results for my particular projector. For most, a 100" screen will be more than sufficient, I however am a crazy person and wanted that 120".
So for a 116" screen, it is recommended to sit 12' back. I will say there is some leeway to this. Base it on what is comfortable to you. This could be a little closer or even further back. If you can buy the projector first and project on a blank wall to test screen sizes and what you are comfortable with, I HIGHLY recommend it. Doing this will help prevent buyer's remorse from either wasting money buying a screen that is too large for you to use all of the viewable area or a screen that is smaller than what your room is actually capable of.
Step 2: Finding Your Projector
Projectors range from pretty cheap to expensive. You're typically going to notice 5 resolutions: XGA, SXGA, WXGA, HD720 and HD1080. Right away, you're going to want to eliminate the first 2 resolutions. XGA and SXGA just do not have the picture quality you're going to want. WXGA is the best of those 3 options and some of the projectors even have 16:9 modes to give you a resolution pretty close to 720P. That said, the minimum I really recommend is 720p.
What you purchase is likely going to come down to cost. This is my first attempt at a theater room and I wanted to spend close to as little as possible to get a decent room together. Also if things didn't work out, I'd have less buyer remorse. So I decided on 720p as my resolution. You'll see that 720p projectors price points start at $500+. However, there is a way to get them cheaper. As far as other settings go, I would just make sure the projector you choose has built in image correction tools, will help you to get the best looking image after mounting.
I chose to go with a manufacturer refurbished Epson 730HD. This decision saved me $150 off the cost of the projector, bringing the total to $350. When buying refurbished products, pay attention to who did the refurb. Since it was done by the manufacturer, it also came with a 2 year warranty, a nice piece of mind for buying a refurbished product.
Step 3: Finding a Screen
So by now you've decided how you're going to mount the screen: ceiling, wall, floor or paint. I will say this, if you are painting, take special care to cover any imperfections in the wall you are painting first, you WILL notice these imperfections with a projected image and they can be quite distracting. Screen paint is also pretty expensive, you likely won't save that much money over just buying a screen.
Going back to step 1, you've measured what your optimum screen size should be, or you got your projector early and have sized it out to what you'd like. Similar to how TV's are, as the size goes up, you are going to pay more; as the quality goes up, you know you are going to have to pay more; the more features there are... you get the point.
I'm still new to this, so I do not really have screen preferences. I advise you, like any other product, to read several reviews from several sources (good, bad, middle of the road). I chose to go with the 120" Yardmaster 2 by Elite Screens, 4 1/2 Stars on amazon with 151 reviews $180, seemed like a good place to start. It was also freestanding, something that was a need for me.
Step 4: The Sound
My projector came with a single Mono speaker in it, not really the best in terms of a theater room. Your selection of sound options is pretty much limitless. It really boils down to how much you want to spend and how much work you want to put into how you mount all of the speakers.
Again, I was keeping this a budget build, so I opted to go with a sound bar. I chose an open box Samsung 400 series. By going open box I saved about $100-150, paying only around $260 for it. This set up included the Sound bar, a wireless sub and wireless rear satellite speakers. And for $260 it sounds fantastic.
The most important feature, is the HDMI pass through. It's important to take a look at your projector before investing in the sound system. My projector in particular has NO audio out. So I had to make sure I had a solution that pass the sound through separately from the video. The HDMI pass through allows to cut down on extra cabling, especially when you have multiple input needs.
Step 5: Mounting
By this point you've decided how you're going to mount everything. While some room setups don't allow for it, it is best to try to center the projector and screen. There should be those tools to help straighten the image if you're a little bit off, but do your best. Most screens come ready to be mounted right into the wall or ceiling, just get the hardware and get it into the joist/studs. The projector can be ceiling mounted, placed on a high shelf or on a table. I recommend ceiling or shelf mounting, it can be pretty frustrating to reconfigure the screen if your projector gets moved. Again, go by reviews on anything you're going to be purchasing. I paid maybe $25 for my mount, had solid reviews and does the trick.
IF YOU CEILING MOUNT MAKE SURE YOU HAVE IT INTO A JOIST! Last thing you want is this falling out of the drywall and right onto your head.
Step 6: Seating
Whatever you choose here is up to you. Most important thing is that you're comfortable. We ended up purchasing a couple "Theater Recliners" from Walmart for $150 each. For the price you can't really beat them. Comfortable, have a nice recline, in 3 weeks I've fallen asleep in one of them at least twice.
-Projector lamps: the lamp in a projector won't last as long as a TV, so it will need to be replaced every 1-2 years. You can find both refurbed and compatible lamps to save money on this. Just be prepared, this WILL happen eventually.
- HDMI switch: Can buy these pretty cheap on Amazon, way better than getting up to switch HDMI every time you want to change inputs
- TV Stand: Depending on how low your screen hangs, you might not have a lot of room for a stand to keep all of your consoles/video equipment. The LACK TV stand from Ikea is on $50, low to the ground and has a lot of room because of its length. I'll be picking one up during my next trip to Ikea.
- Blackout Curtains: Is your theater room anywhere other than the basement? You're gonna want these. Walmart sells these cheap Eclipse blackout curtains for $10 a panel. Put these up in the room and you're good to watch any time of day.
- Hide the cables: Do your best, you can pick up an outlet cover/wall chase from Home Depot for under $10.
- Make it your own: Add art to the walls, throw a popcorn machine in there, whatever you want. It's your theater/gaming room, throw your own custom flair on it
Eventually I will replace the projector with something 1080p and get a proper sound system installed, but right now I couldn't be happier with how this room came out. It's easily my favorite room in the house.
We currently live in an age where Video Games have become a transcendent form of multimedia. From the days of Home Pong back in 1975 to the Playstation 4, Video Games have become integrated into the entertainment industry. The reason for this is because of the amount of creativity game designers have exhibited with their vast worlds and wonderful landscapes. But even more so, it is because of the stories being told by video games evolving beyond anything most motion pictures could ever tell. But if this is the case, why does it seem we like we are living in an era of remasters and re-releases?
Allow me to digress for a moment by saying that there is nothing wrong with remasters and re-releases. A lot of the games that have recently received the Next Gen treatment look absolutely stunning in comparison to their original versions. Also, reliving the wonders of games like Shadow Complex (which recently received a remastered version) reminds you of just how amazing they were during your first play through. I would never knock the prospect of replaying so many stories and reliving memories from gaming's past via a new piece of hardware. Still, it seems as if these practices are becoming a creative crutch.
Shadow Complex Remastered (Screenshot Courtesy of videogamer.com)
Let's take a moment to look back to the seventh generation of gaming consoles. Original stories were vast ocean of possibilities despite if they were coming from new IPs or already existing ones. We saw the Master Chief end his campaign against the Covenant. We dove deep into the reaches of insanity by exploring the mind of Alan Wake. We became morally conflicted as we traveled across the galaxy in the universe of Mass Effect. There was so much originality oozing from game studios! Now, we are receiving an influx of remasters and stereotypical military shooters.
After E3 2014, Shigeru Miyamoto (the creator of Nintendo's mascot, Mario) spoke out about the mind-numbing amount of bloody shooters which dominated the press conferences that year. "To some, it might have seemed as though there wasn't a wide variety of software at E3, and as though many people followed the same direction to make their video games. I believe this is a revelation of creative immaturity on our part as creators in the video game industry."
Mario Creator, Shigeru Miyamoto (Courtesy of wiiudaily.com)
Was Miyamoto correct? Is the lack of creativity attributed to creative immaturity? It is true that despite the home console market being eight generations in, video games is still a very young industry as a whole. But given some of the strong showings of 2015, one could argue that this couldn't possibly be the case. The Witcher 3: WIld Hunt, which received several Game of the Year awards, had one of the most compelling stories of this current console generation. Clearly, developers are capable of giving us new and engaging plots to sink our teeth into. So, what's stopping them?
In an article from theguardian.com, Holly Nielson said something that rings true to the current state of the industry from my personal opinion. "Creativity begins with how we feel and how we see and present ourselves as people. This industry isn“t just dressing identically, it draws its inspiration from the same music, movies and books. This homogeneity leads to staid ideas." This begs me to ask the question, has the gaming industry stopped feeling as a whole?
What happened to games which made you invoke a certain emotion? What happened to worlds and plots which prompted you to become emotionally invested in the characters? Has the industry stopped caring about the creative aspects of the industry? I don't think that's the case. I feel like this might be a horrible case of writer's block. Besides, there are plenty of games coming this year that will test the limits of the imagination.
The gaming industry as a whole must, in lamens terms, get their sugar together. We are soon to enter the four year of the current console generation. It's time to give us the glorious worlds and plots that engulfed us during the previous generation. It can be done. They just need,..a little imagination.
I consider myself a reasonable(ish) person, one who“s usually slow to anger unless I“m navigating THOSE FREAKING MEDUSA HEADS in Castlevania. Whenever a company makes a business decision I don“t agree with, I try to look at it objectively and think of the many reasons why it could be a good thing, and why they thought they should go ahead with their plans. Not this time though, as Microsoft has gone and made a baffling decision involving PC gaming that makes me want to throw an Xbox off a balcony into a pile of other broken Xboxes and possibly even switch to Linux while I“m at it. That decision was leaving Steam and Windows 7/8 users in the dust for their upcoming PC game releases.
Someone get me a sledgehammer.
Let“s start with a little background though – we all know and possibly love Steam, right? It“s a great service for buying digital PC games, since you can keep them all in one tidy library instead of having to remember where you bought what game if you need to retrieve a download link again. Sure, there are other services like Origin and GOG Galaxy, but the massive number of available games on Steam absolutely dwarfs the competition, from indies to AAA to everything in between, it“s almost all on Steam. Steam also has a large community that's usually willing to help resolve issues, so you don't have to wait for Valve to take your number. Isn“t it great to have such a wide variety of games new and old, and a thriving community supporting them, all in one easy place?
Apparently Microsoft doesn“t think so, at least, not anymore. Sure, if you have a look right now, you“ll see some Microsoft Studios published games such as Mark of the Ninja and Ori and the Blind Forest. But those are the last ones you“re likely to see with Microsoft“s new outlook, as part of their supposed commitment to delivering the same quality Xbox games to PC gamers. Why is that? Because Microsoft, in all their infinite wisdom, has decided that you had better be using Windows 10 and Windows 10 ONLY if you wanna play their newest games on PC, because they“ll only be available on the Windows 10 Store. Got Windows 7 and wanna play Quantum Break on PC? Tough cookies, sonny, you“d better upgrade that operating system or get yourself an Xbox One.
You didn't want this anyway, right?
So what the hell are they thinking? Locking their PC games to Windows 10 is no different than locking a game to Xbox One specifically, because you still need a specific system just to play the game. They are taking the console-exclusive approach and applying it to what should be a â€œfree systemâ€ of sorts, where any range of machines with varying operating systems and configurations have access to the same games. Who does this benefit besides Microsoft? Absolutely no one, that“s who. It gets their newest OS in more hands so they can make the numbers look good, and having the games exclusive to the Windows Store means more money for Microsoft and no sharing with the likes of Valve. If you“re waiting on me to try and find a way this helps the consumer, you“re gonna be waiting a while. It means not being able to shop around for a good price. It means only having one "official" source of support if something goes wrong. And if you already hate having to use Origin for EA games, it means splitting your PC library up across different services even more. It's not even so much that games aren't available on Steam, though that is annoying. It's that they can't be played if you don't have one specific operating system, despite how almost every developer and publisher besides Microsoft (remember Halo 2's Vista-only compatibility?) optimizes their games for various versions of Windows, and sometimes other OSes like Mac or Linux.
Now, I“ll be fair and note that Windows 10 is technically free to upgrade to, and you can upgrade from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, so there“s no real reason you can“t actually play the games that will come to Windows 10 Store if you“d like. Therein lies another problem, though – not everyone wants this â€œupgrade.â€ Some people are just fine and happy using an older version of Windows, and see no real reason to switch, even with the promise of being able to play stuff like Killer Instinct or Gears of War Ultimate Edition. Oh, and another problem? Since Windows 10 was developed and released after most currently available games came out and stopped being supported, there are a handful of games with compatibility issues ranging from save files disappearing to DRM not working (which you might notice means you can“t even play the game) to sound issues and more. How is that an upgrade if you“re already an avid PC gamer?
Notice how the light is on the outside of the window. You'll find only darkness within.
I“m willing to admit I“ve always been biased against Microsoft, and this is just another in a long line of missteps that keeps me snuggled in the arms of Sony and Nintendo. It doesn“t help much that I“m quite comfortable using Windows 7 and have no desire to change it if I don“t have to. But I don“t think I“m alone when I say that this new approach to PC gaming is a huge step back from the tried and true method of, you know, distributing PC games across various digital stores and optimizing them for use on different operating systems. It“s a step that only goes one way – in Microsoft“s direction. In their sudden rush to bridge the gap between Xbox and PC gaming, they ended up making them basically the same thing. I suppose no amount of complaining is realistically going to change their new stance on PC gaming though, and that stance boils down to â€œget Windows 10 or get bent.â€
So anyway, there's my rant on how annoying it is that I won't be able to play Killer Instinct without an Xbox One or Windows 10. How do you feel about Microsoft's commitment to only releasing games on Windows 10? Maybe you don't care because you already upgraded to Win10, or maybe you don't care because you don't play PC games. Maybe you're just as annoyed as I am! Whatever the case, let me know how you feel in the comments!
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Certain games suck you in. You get absorbed into the story, the mechanics, the physics, the advanced techniques and tricks. Before you know it, you“re playing one, or a few games and only those games. It may be for certain achievements, or to best opponents, or for a challenge. I admit that fighting games tend to do this for me. I get caught up in the mechanics of how combos work, what is unavoidable, too cheap, too obvious, and learn certain strategies for certain characters. Fighting games are also good in short bursts, if you“re strapped for time.
Then things take a turn in your enjoyment of the game. The game is still fun, but you are always working toward a certain goal. It“s not as fun as it was when you started. Maybe it“s pulling off that combo, or finally getting a win after a losing streak, or looking for that lost item that requires a specific set of items, or choices to be made (to the point that a guide is needed). You look at the trees instead of the forest, so to speak. Your individual goals matter more than the game as a whole does.
Then a new game comes along, and takes your enjoyment back into the forest, the whole picture. All the elements of the game seamlessly weave together, and you find yourself not caring so much about your performance, or the details of the mechanics, and just enjoying the game for what it is: A video game. Entertainment.
And you“re having a blast!
For me, that game was Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. It was like the spirit of the Metal Gear Solid games, but in a new package. A new world to explore, a new story to experience, but with a character and a series I knew. The alert sound was there, but with completely different music. It wasn“t thriller and suspense style music, it was hard rock and metal, which got your blood pumping and told you to fight. The signature alert sound effectively changed meanings in Metal Gear Rising.
I found myself doing my usual habit of playing with the controls and screwing around. I enjoyed it tremendously. After certain battles, especially boss battles, talking to your teammates for over 30 minutes was normal. I loved most of that.
This happened once again with Guacamelee! I will admit that my experience with Guacamelee! was rushed, because I wasn't playing it on my system, but playing through it was pure joy. The mythology, the humor, the luchador motif, the combos, combined with all of the power ups you get, made the game just so much fun. Co-op play sold the game for me.
So that is one main reason I like variety in my games. A chance to explore new worlds, and at times, just get lost in different aspects of games. Every type of game offers its own thing, and sometimes those things, whatever they may be, can take you by surprise.
Another year means another series of high level play and huge upsets. Damn, this year's EVO was really hype, boasting the biggest turn out they've ever had! Not to mention some of the most diverse top 8's I've seen in certain games in a long time in terms of player's nationality and character selection. Though, that stuff you can find out about later, let's get down to the nitty gritty with this year's summary of Evolution Championship Series.
Ultra Street Fighter IV The series 7th year at EVO
1st. EG I Momochi, who played as Elena, Evil Ryu, and Ken, from Japan.
2nd. AVM I GamerBee, who played as Adon and Elena, from Taiwan.
3rd. Infiltration, who played as Abel, Akuma, Chun-Li, Decapre, Elena, Evil Ryu, Juri, and Ryu, from South Korea.
Losers finals for me was the highlight of the entire tournament, spanning almost 40 minutes of pure chaos and top level play between two of my favorite players, Infiltration and GamerBee. And while I normally would only post a video of the Grand Finals, I'm just gonna go ahead an leave the entire top 8!
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 The series 5th year at EVO
1st. BE I KaneBlueRiver, who played as Hulk/Sentinel/Haggar, from Chile.
2nd. RayRay, who played as Magneto/Doctor Doom/Sentinel, from the USA.
3rd. ApologyMan, who played as Firebrand/Doctor Doom/Super-Skrull, from the USA.
Now, as some of you may already know, I'm not the biggest Mahvel fan out there. Though, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a spectacle to see someone win EVO with a big body team, and using Hulk on point as well! In a game I've expected to always be dominated by top tiers, it was so refreshing to not see a single Vergil or even Zero in the top 3's teams.
Super Smash Bros Melee The series 3rd year at EVO
1st. A I Armada, who played as Fox, and Peach, from Sweden.
2nd. TL I HungryBox, who played as Jigglypuff, from the USA.
3rd. EG I PPMD, who played as Falco, and Marth, from the USA.
Speaking of top tiers, I feel like this is one of the few games that will never be able to break away from its current mold. While fun to watch, Melee is still one of the most cruel and unforgiving games to play on a higher level for simple mess ups. With Smash Wii U surpassing entry numbers, could this be the last year we see Melee as a main stage event?
Mortal Kombat X The series 1st year at EVO
1st. cR I SonicFox, who played as Erron Black (Outlaw), and Kitana (Royal Storm), from the USA.
2nd. PND I A F0xy Grampa, who played as Kung Lao (Buzz Saw, and Tempest), from the UK.
3rd. cR I HoneyBee, who played as D'Vorah (Swarm Queen), from Canada.
While I initially thought MKX might be the game to finally dethrone Street Fighter for hype and entrants, it just didn't live up to the rest of the year. Not to say that these matches weren't hype, but, c'mon. It's SonicFox, this guy is freaking amazing. First he won the ESL Pro League and now he's won EVO.
Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- The series 1st year at EVO.
1st. Ogawa, who used Zato-1, from Japan.
2nd. ODG I Nage, who used Faust, from Japan.
3rd. Woshige, who used Millia, from Japan.
Guilty Gear Xrd is a fun, pretty game to watch with incredibly hype and tense moments. Looking past a few...minor mistakes from the top 8, I'd say it went pretty successfully for the game's first year. Though, moving forward, it's kinda hard to imagine what will be around for next EVO. It seems like every year Arc System Works and Aksys put out a new fighter that takes over the main stage! Let's hope Guilty Gear is here to stay for a bit.
Killer Instinct The series 2nd year at EVO
1st. Rico Suave, who played as Fulgore, Glacius, Omen, Spinal, and Thunder, from the USA.
2nd. Gutter Magic, who played as Thunder, from the USA.
3rd. SleepNS, who played as Kan-Ra, from the USA.
Now, another year has passed and my knowledge of Killer Instinct has remained exactly the same, but that's okay. This years grand finals, and even top 8 in general was incredibly entertaining to watch, especially with the fantastic commentary that made me feel like I knew exactly what was happening at each and every moment.
Tekken 7 The series 1st year at EVO
1st. ORZ I Nobi, who played as Dragunov, from Japan.
2nd. BE I Ao, who played as Alisa, from Japan.
3rd. NJF I Saint, who played as Shaheen, from South Korea.
I'm the biggest Tekken expert around, I do love me some Tekken 3 though... However, when a game hasn't even had a retail release yet and you can pull together a massive tournament like this, I can't help but clap and watch in surprise to the level of play these competitors show. God this game is pretty...
Super Smash Bros Wii U The series 1st year at EVO
1st. ZeRo, who played as Diddy Kong, and Shiek, from Chile.
2nd. LLL I Mr. R, who played as Shiek, from the Netherlands.
3rd. Nairo, who played as Zero Suit Samus, from the USA.
I must say, looking over the top 8, I was quite surprised to see that only half of it contained players from the USA. Glad to see some other countries taking a liking to this game on a competitive level. Though, I'm a little sad to see Shiek and Diddy Kong in grand finals. Melee was already a tiers dominated game that it's kinda disappointing to see it's farther sequel follow in suit. Though, outside of grand finals, there was a good amount of variety.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax The series 1st year at EVO
1st. KSB I Superboy, who played as Ken Amada w/ Koromaru, from Japan.
2nd. NB I Tahichi, who played as Margaret, and Yukari Takeba, from Japan.
3rd. Hagiwara, who played as Teddie, from Japan.
Before EVO even started this year, I was pretty surprised that Ultimax even took a spot on main stage, and not to be rude, I still am. I figured the game scene was pretty lax and dead ever since Guilty Gear had come out, but watching the grand finals match of a Ken player destroying a Margaret-- Ooh! Man that was hype.
Well there we have it, another year of fighting games and another one to come. Street Fighter V is just on the horizon, a new BlazBlue already fresh with footage, Tekken 7's new retail release, and now a rumored new DLC pack for Mortal Kombat X! Phew, I wonder where we'll be next year, but it'll definitely be bigger than this year.
In case anyone is curious as just to how many people signed up for each tournament, well you can see that here!
- Ultra Street Fighter IV – 2227
- Super Smash Bros. for Wii U – 1926
- Super Smash Bros. Melee – 1869
- Mortal Kombat X – 1162
- Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- – 968
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 – 816
- Tekken 7 – 458
- Persona 4 Arena Ultimax – 437
- Killer Instinct – 397
Now, the last thing I'd like to do would be show a video from Maximilian, one of the FGC's most active supporter and contributor. Every year for EVO, he puts together a top 5 moments video, and here is this year's!
Alrighty, that's all! Hope everyone enjoyed EVO this year. Can't wait to see it again~
- Ultra Street Fighter IV – 2227
Toy Story to Wall-E, Pixar animation has always ridden a fine line between entertainment for children and messages that resonate more with those accompanying the children. The ability to express and cope with a wide range of feelings seems to be Pixar's prime directive and it is this space that we find Inside Out.
Inside Out follows a little girl named Riley who deals with some emotional issues, prompted by life-changing decisions by her parents. Pixar Animation Studio's President and the Director of Inside Out mentioned that a sequel is not currently in the books, but â€œnever say never.é We are, after all, receiving a sequel to Finding Nemo in 2016.
Let's take a look at a few possible underlying plot lines that Inside Out 2 could tackle based on Inside Out:
Puberty. Changes are coming. This would have to be the frontrunner for the theme of Inside Out 2. Inside Out already portrayed Riley as dealing with issues of leaving behind her childhood, but a few events in the film makes it clear that her issues are compounded by the advance of puberty. The sequel would, in all likelihood, place an even bigger spotlight on this change.
Identity. Riley's brain is controlled by five emotional characters, but Inside Out temporarily visited the brain of three characters beyond Riley. The mother, the father and a boy on the hockey team. As you can see below, the brains of the father and mother are controlled emotions containing uniform characteristics. The boy on the hockey team may have a brain that is out of control, but it is also filled with uniform characters.
Could Pixar be hinting at gender identity as a potential underlying story line in the sequel? Pixar is generally known for their subtlety, as they do not generally bash children over the head with messages that may be portrayed as inappropriate for the targeted audience. I am expecting to see both of these as driving forces behind a new story for Inside Out 2, even if the main story for the children becomes little more than introducing a handful of new emotions.
What did you think about Inside Out? What do you think will take center stage for Inside Out 2?
Samsung Galaxy S6
I recently picked up the new Galaxy S6, opting for the standard model over the more hyped (and more pricy) S6 Edge.
Thing's I like so far
- Gorgeous AMOLED High Resolution Screen
- Fast and Snappy
- Nice "Premium" Feel
- Super Customizable
- Dual SIM
- Fingerprint Unlock
- Wireless Charging
- Great Camera
Thing's I don't like
- No Removable Battery
- No SD Card
Basically to expand a bit on the above points. The phone packs a lot of punch and feels super high end, an absolutely fantastic device. Of course it does have some negatives but the positives far outweigh them.
The screen is a 1440p resolution screen, which seems like overkill on a phone but looks absolutely fantastic with super rich colours and gorgeous deep blacks. The phone is blazing fast and responsive and can multi task like a BEAST. You can even have two apps open at the same time thanks to it's new split screen feature which opens both apps on the same screen. I've always loved the HTC flagships for their sexy aluminium bodies but the S6 is definitely on the same level with it's brushed gorilla glass faces and aluminium frame, it's truly FEELS premium rather than cheap and plasticy.
My Homescreen! (Full Res Here)
Thanks to the new iteration of Android Lollipop you can customize the phone into oblivion and it's fantastic. It also supports dual SIM so you don't have to swap out your cards when traveling (useful for me so I can put my US and HK phone chips in it.).
The fingerprint unlock SEEMED stupid to me... until I tried it and now I'm a believer. All it takes is a brief touch of the home key and the phone is instantly unlocked, it works flawlessly even if my fingers are sweaty or whatnot.
The wireless charging is also another "gimmick" I didn't really believe in until I tried it.... it's super easy, just plop the phone on the pad and it charges just as fast as if it were plugged in the normal way. Speaking of which this phone charges FAST, I went from 50% to 100% in about 25 minutes.
Would I recommend this phone? Absolutely!
Below are a few screenshots I took with it as well as a video (Though I forgot to set up the video settings to showcase the higher quality settings whoops!).... the camera truly is fantastic. I didn't do any editing to these pictures, these are exactly as they were taken.
- Gorgeous AMOLED High Resolution Screen
I really need to start either typing these things in Word or saving my drafts. That said, I am still typing this in the awful on-site editor. Sigh. Let me try this again. It is the end of the semester and that means many things, namely Summer. While Summer also means many things, what it means for GamePodunk is Ciel's to-do list can finally be picked at. As such expect me to once again play an active role in the community and earn my invisible dollars.
I remember posting an update some time ago, but alas I cannot locate it. I know that things around here can get pretty bleak and as such I figured it was high time to post another blog just to keep everyone up-to-date with the goings on of GamePodunk. So what is on GP's plate for the future, then, huh? Well, I am not so certain myself! But what I do know is what I intend to bring to the table. So let us unpack this lunchbox and try to see how long it takes for me to exhaust this stupid food metaphor.
is a nice, instrumental, song to guide you through these slightly intoxicated words.
Now kick off your shoes, sit back, and feast on my words! And cue the obligatory anime .gif already! (People are going to start thinking this is a site for weebs--and they would be correct.)
I have a few interviews lined up. Kind of like a buffet line--OK I was reaching with that one. I hope to have an extensive Realm Reborn interview posted by the end of the month. No, not with Square, but with those who play the game. I have asked numerous people to participate and answer questions about their experience with the game. Not boring questions either (I do not roll like that, you know that). Complete with character photos, too!
I am also looking to continue interviewing up-and-coming gaming personalities. I do not care to interview known personalities. They do not need or quite frankly deserve the publicity. As GP is (still somehow) a growing spud, it only makes sense to help others grow as well.
Expect one more interview this month before the Realm one. I hope I can do about one a month. I have no idea who it is yet. Time will tell. I do not really care to do video/audio interviews for a variety of reasons so please don't ask and just learn to read.
I am currently (and newly) unemployed. That means in order to play games I will have to start reviewing them. Expect more reviews from me in the future. I look forward to doing this more often; less for the games and more for the experience. We have lost some great faces over the last year and I will try my best to fill in the blanks. Wish me luck!
Probably starting sometime by the end of the week I will post-up my gaming library and let everyone vote on a game they want to see me play. I will then play that game via a Let's Play stream on Twitch. Uh, there might be some giveaways of sorts eventually--but not right away. I am sure by the time I get the whole thing posted I will have some incentive to get everyone to watch. Maybe I will turn it into a drinking game since I will be drinking anyway.
I think these will still exist. I dunno. It was no secret I was pretty bothered with the showing at most of them. I will have to revamp some things. There will probably be more Twitter-based giveaways and less forum-based activities. But take this with a grain of salt. I would rather have less "Do X, Get Y" and have people come join us on Game Nights for cool prizes. Which leads me to my next point. I've got a Destiny expansion pass bundle-thing I am looking to get rid of. Hint, hint.
We already play a lot of Smash and Mario Kart. We did play a lot of CS:GO too. Well hopefully soon people that participate will stand a chance to win a prize or two! I also want to add more games to those we frequent. Not sure what these prizes are. I will make a post in the future asking everyone to post their gaming library. I will then sift through everything and figure out what games most of us have in common. Cause I have nothing better to do with my time.
Idea: Prizes = Amiibos. You kids eat those things up. It only makes sense to win an Amiibo while playing Smash.
There are some other minor things I want to adjust, like... still get us a new and darker skin. I'm trying people, I'm trying! Jason is a hard man to please.
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The announcement that Crimes and Punishments: Sherlock Holmes would be part of this month's Playstation Plus Instant Collection was wonderful, despite my skepticism. I'm a pretty big fan of Sherlock Holmes, but had very little hope for Crimes and Punishments because I held doubts about the translation of such an iconic literary figure to interactive media.
Would the game read like a script, where the player is simply driven to a specific conclusion through forced, linear clues? How far can they take it before the player is just floundering, wandering around aimlessly looking for answers? Also, would it rely on Batvision-type clue hunting? Crimes and Punishments ultimately earned itself a silent debut and, upon release, received an immediate price drop from retailers like Gamestop courtesy of a 'scratch-off' game. All of the hallmarks I, and many others, typically avoid as a consumer.
It is a shame, too,
This latest interactive adventure is enjoyable for fans of the character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes and Watson tackles six independent mysteries in Crimes and Punishments, each of which allows for the player to draw multiple conclusions based upon the clues and dole out the respective punishments. Clues can be obtained through numerous methods, from inspecting evidence and 'profiling' suspects to conducting experiments and utilizing Sherlock's talents. Players must then visit the 'deduction' area, which is designed like a Hollywood portrayal of a brain's synapses, after obtaining clues in order to draw connections between them and come up with a person's motive or opportunity. After a culprit has been identified, whether correctly or incorrectly, the player is then given the option to condemn the criminal or skirt justice. The ability to punish or absolve those in moral gray areas is a nice touch that provides the illusion of a freedom absent in so many games. Players are also given the option at the end of each episode to revisit their decision before continuing to the next episode if they are unhappy with the outcome.
Crimes and Punishments is not without its faults. A slow paced game is to be expected from a Sherlock Holmes title, but the pacing feels excessively slow as the result of the game's lengthy loading screens. Crimes and Punishments may not be on the same level as Herdy Gerdy loading times, but the loading is extremely frustrating when one considers there are only a handful of areas are being visited in each episode. Another major drawback is that the puzzles in this game are rather simplistic, the hardest of which are some of the later lockpicking mini-games that feature sliding tumblers. Players who get stuck on a particular puzzle can easily skip it after a few seconds with no penalty.
Major technical issues and puzzle simplicity stifled a lot of what Frogwares tried to accomplish in making the premier interactive Sherlock Holmes experience, but the six episodes in Crimes and Punishments will ultimately make fans to feel as if they are truly revisiting the world of Sherlock Holmes with new cases. Holmes fans, detective novel junkies and even light puzzle game enthusiasts should undoubtedly investigate this title.
Crimes & Punishments: Sherlock Holmes (65/100)
As the blog title suggests, I'm looking for people interested in a little PS4 multiplayer action. I don't have a super extensive library yet but am interested in getting into multiplayer with the following games:
Assassin's Creed IV
Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition
The Last of Us Remastered
Feel free to add me on PSN if you aren't already on my list.
PSN = kezins
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The PlayStation 4 launched in November 2013 and Sony has yet to provide a lengthened charging cord option for PS4 owners. With the Dualshock 4's seemingly shorter battery life (due mainly to the light bar on top of the controller) gamers are looking for charging solutions.
Many of the third party options offered via Amazon have poorly fitting plugs, break easily and short-out often. This is reflected in review scores with most hovering between 2 and 3 stars. With third party options so undependable and no first party option other than the short cable included with the PS4, many owners have felt helpless...
Dreamgear has released a high-quality, 10 foot charging cord for the Dualshock 4. After seeing the surprisingly high reviews on Amazon, I decided to give it a shot. After about a month of use I can say without a doubt that Dreamgear has delivered with this product.
Dreamgear's Charge and Play 10 ft long Charge Cable provides gamers with a longer alternative to the cable Sony packs in with all PS4s. At 10 feet, the cord allows PlayStation 4 owners to charge their controller while they play as opposed to using Sony's cable which doesn't reach out far from the console. Both ends of the cord fit snugly into their respective ports allowing for constant charging.
This is by far the best third party option out there and since there is no first party option, there is no debate. The Dreamgear Charge and Play is a steal at $9.99 too. If the shortened battery life of the Dualshock 4 is frustrating you, invest in this cable. You won't regret it!
Meet the Podunkers 2 is the return of the much beloved blog series I started many moons ago with the intention to feature members of the community, a sort of gamer spotlight if you will. Hopefully we can make these a regular feature again!
What's the first game you've ever played?
My first ever game - that I can actually remember that is - was Mickey Mouse's Castle of Illusion on the Sega Megadrive. That's the Genesis, for all you American types.
What a game that was; it still holds a special place in my heart to this day. I can remember distinctly playing it on a Christmas morning when I was but a wee munchkin, and never, ever being able to actually finish it.
As an adult one of my produest accomplisments was finally mastering it.
Describe your current gaming setup.
I have my own designated games room in my house. Technically it's the spare guest room, but I've basically taken over it with my gaming stuff.
Inside I have all of my gaming collection - a huge box filled with games stemming back from the PS1 onwards - several cool geek posters and an excellent Sonic made out of felt that my friend made me, a chest of drawers covered in arty ripped comic books, and all of my consoles.
Currently I own a PS3, PS4, 3DS, Wii U, Xbox 360 and still have an old original Xbox, PS2 and Wii kicking about somewhere. I've also got loads of Guitar Hero controllers (I know, retro, right?), headsets and various other stuff that I forget.
I'd say I've got several hundred games in my collection ranging from stuff like the original Crash Bandicoot to the things that released this year.
Name the one game that changed your life, that is, what's the one game that made you into the gamer you are today?
Got to be Final Fantasy 7. This was one of the first gaming experiences that truly blew my mind from the very start.
To this day I can still play through FF7 and love every second of it. Great soundtrack, amazing villain, brilliant characters and everything else all combine together to make one of the best experiences available on any platform.
Funnily enough, this wasn't even my game. My dad, who used to game, bought it for himself to play through. That lasted all of two days and I quickly stole the game for my own purposes *insert best evil laugh here*
This game is also responsible for my love of the JRPG and I'm really hoping FFXV makes amends for XIII.
What is your all-time favourite game EVER?
Again, probably FF7. If it had a direct competitor from the modern era, it would have to be Batman: Arkham City.
I've always loved Batman, so when Rocksteady made one of the best Batman games ever, I was always going to love that too.
I think I've played through it about six times now, and it only came out a couple of years ago.
What's your story? How'd you end up on Game Podunk? What brought about the return?
Our story begins on a snowy Christmas eve. The snow, beautiful and white, whirled outside the windows as a young Dan Curtis stumbled across an advertisement for bloggers on VideogameJournalismJobs.com, followed through the link and began his blogging career.
In all seriousness, that's what happened. Minus the snow and Christmas. I was at university at the time studying for my degree in magazine journalism, and as a side project I wanted to get involved in game writing before I went out into the big bad world of work. At the time GP was one of the only sites out there offering actual money for quality content, so - not quite knowing if I was good enough to fit the bill - I started blogging.
What happened next was pretty unsuspected. My work was promoted to featured status extremely quickly, and I also established a rapore with the current overlord of GP, NashKirb. This then lead eventually to me becoming a GP Editor, taking control over site development, articles and working closely with everyone's favourite lovable GP rogue, Jason Clement.
Unfortunately as my university career was wrapping up at this point I had to consider my next move in life, so - with an extremely heavy heart I might add - I had to leave GP for another site which was promising regular steady payments. That turned out to be a load of rubbish, and after discovering this, I moved on to my own project, ManaTank.com.
When I was looking for a job and had time to work on it everyday, MT went from strength to strength. Then I got one of those job things, the people I worked with made the site into something I didn't like, and I cut ties.
Since then I've been working as a content editor during the day where I write words for a network of websites. I also write on the side for WhatCulture.com, but part of me always wondered what was happening over at GP.
I'd been investigating every so often for a while what was going on at GP, but - on a whim - I decided to just bite the bullet, make a return and see what was going down with everyone here.
I'm happy to see so many familiar faces still kicking around on GP, and have been welcomed back with open arms. In the future I hope to help out around here when I can (and I'm much more experienced now than that fresh-faced idiot who was still at university!).
Be honest, how much did you miss us?
I honestly did miss everyone. When I worked for GP it was one of the most tight-knit working communities I'd been in, where everyone worked extremely hard to make GP the best it can be.
Like I said before, it's great to catch up with some old friends and to see what's happened over my abscence.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Dan Curtis is back! Watch this space to see what happens.
...If Jason will let me help, that is
What did you think of the return of MTP? Who remembers Frosted?
Two of the Legendary Masterworks created by the Master Craftsman Gerolt in his prime, tomes capable of boosting a Summoner or Scholar's power to incredible levels, yet these abilities are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to what these items, when restored to their full power are capable of.
Saturated in the energies of some of Eorzea's most talented Arcanists, the Books eventually gained a form of sentience and learned to use the aether to communicate amongst themselves, absorbing their wielder's desires to protect Eorzea and gather knowledge the Books of Spades and Diamonds gained with thier self-awareness a purpose and used their ability to network and communicate to help achieve the goal of keeping Eorzea safe.
However with the chaos in the aether from the events before, during and after the Calamity, many of the Books became weathered and lie dormant, and those that survived found themselves cut off from their brethren isolated and alone.
Following an the exploration of the Syrcus Tower, Aisha K'lank'lan noted Summoner and adventurer acquired an unweathered Book of Spades, soon after making contact The Book asked for her to undertake several tasks to help keep Eorzea stable, and protect it's people
Ever willing to accept a challenge Aisha went forth but after many sleepless nights and more than one failed mission she and the Book reasoned that the best way forward would be to gather together allies and perhaps with time reestablish the network of Spades and Diamonds, their wielders and allies to once again create a coalition for good works throughout Eorzea.
Choosing to make this project her own Aisha decided not to first reach out to her own free company and instead witht he Book's help began gathering information and gaining allies herself and after many months of work she and her Book believe the work is ready to begin in earnest.
Dokey was delighted upon receiving Aisha's mysterious letter. Dokey's travels have not quite yielded the results she so wished; she is still regarded as a madwoman, a tyrant, and fool by the people of Eorzea. Her acceptance to meet with the letter's author derived both from the immediacy of its call and the chance to sway the individual minds of a nation. Ultimately, it was clear Aisha was in need of assistance and saying "no" did not even occur to Dokey. She only hopes her presence and name do not marr nor hinder the forthcoming adventure in any way.
And so the two met in person. Much to Dokey's surprise, Aisha was able to discern her location without request. The two greeted each others, concerned little with the letter and more worried of the recent history of the other. Aisha was quick to ask, however, if there was a place they could sit and talk--down to business per usual. Dokey invited her into the cabin she has been renting through the years, although never quite staying in. Only recently because of the misfortune granted to her by her efforts to re-shape Eorzea has she returned to the seclusion of the hut. She was delighted to see Aisha, a familiar face. She was more excited to be of some use.
Dokey offered Aisha some tea. Aisha accepted with a smile.
Dokey stood as Aisha sat and delivered her tale. She had asked Dokey if she had heard of the Book of Spades. The title was something Dokey had not heard of since her childhood--the stuff of legends and bedtime stories. Further as she is no longer part of the courts of Eorzea such matters were no longer relayed to her. Both her interest in and her memory of the book have waned as a result of maturity and time. Confounded, she implored Aisha to explain herself. She asked how Aisha came into possession of the book.
Aisha explained that during a foray into the Syrcus Tower she had looted the book from the person of fallen solider. Additionally she told of the book's history and its purpose (see: 'backstory' above). A woman of ethics, Dokey had more questions still. Further having not talked to Aisha in some time her character was, for Dokey, in question. Why exactly was Aisha in the Tower? Aisha was, assisting the Sons of Saint Coinarch with shutting down the place and stopping the Mad Emperor Xande. Pleased by such a noble response and the still virtuous character of her old friend, Dokey agreed to help Aisha for both their sakes. However, there were two condtions: 1.) Why her? and 2.) Dokey would not kill nor harm any creature that may come before them; she would only provide support both in health and spirit.
Aisha nods and adds that it was not only her who wishes for Dokey's assistance, but the book as well. The book, she said, spoke to her. Shocked! Dokey was in awe that a book could talk! Aisha had to remind her that it did not talk per se, but it wrote. Still enamored by the sight of the magnificent book, Dokey longed to own one of her own! Oh how her bookshelf missed such a rarity. She had always thought the book assumed the will of its owner and its mind was some closed off portion of the owners intellect. Never had she thought both were distinct!
The Book wanted to speak to Dokey.
"Good evening, professor, it is a pleasure to speak with you," the words curled neatly atop the page.
Dokey was taken aback, "Wh..."
"I understand this may be a new experience for you, allow me to explain." There was a pause. "Myself and my brtheren, the Book of Spades and DIamonds, had established a network of sorts between each other. It is how we gained and shared knowledge with oursevles and our weidelers. As our knowledge grew, we found ourselves able to... predict events... in minor ways at first with increasing clarity as time passed and the data at our disposal grew."
Under Dokey's studious glare, the fire of an excited child burned.
"We used this ability to safeguard Eorzea, trimming the hedges of fate," the final word came a moment later then the rest. The Book continued to explain how the Calamity disrupted their lines of Aether used in communication but also destroyed and left many of the Books without power. The Book proclaimed its intent to continue its work.
Always the skeptic and concerned with the safety of everyone else, Dokey no doubt had question.
Dokey inquired into the books previous owner and whether or not if, in the wrong hands, the book could be used for evil. The book's memory of its previous owner(s) is "indistinct" because he entered ST before the Calamity. The book assured Dokey that none of the books could be used for wrongdoing because, by the gift of their precognition, they would not permit it. Dokey remained weary because the answer did not quite seem to answer her question. Her friend had faith, so she she thought she would too. In the very least, she would be there if anything went wrong. She did not press further. Instead, she asked why the book had chosen her in particular.
The book answered vaguely, "Though I am not sure of the details, your involvement with this project is meant to do something positive for Eorzea.. and yourself." Another vague answer, but this one Dokey admired and agreed to be, as she said, "A puppet of fate." The book corrected her without hesitation, "There is no need for that level of devotion, I assure you; we are partners here if nothing else."
"Man has always shared a hand in the creation of the world," Dokey replied. The book did not answer.
(To wrap this up because I have other things to take care of, I am omitting particulars.)
And with that, Aisha closed the the book. Although closed it could still hear the two friends so Dokey communicated with Aisha via Linkshell. There, Dokey continued to express her apprehensiveness. Regardless, she conveyed to Aisha that she would see it to the end, if only for the sake of her friend. In discretion the two further discussed the nature of the book and their quest until the sun rose.
Aisha left in order to round up more people for their journey.
Dokey stayed in her small cottage so she could tie up loose ends. She had forgotten about her tea. She wondered when she would hear from Aisha next.
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Last year, around this time, something extremely strange happened to me that I don't think I'll ever be able to forget. It has scarred me for life, and I think I'd like to share my odd experience with you.
I'm a huge fan of the game Counter-Strike. It's not a very popular game, so I doubt you've ever heard of it. Anyway, one day I was playing the newest iteration of the series, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with my friend Gabe and we were killing all of the bad guys on the other team. Of course, Halloween was just around the corner, so the developers, a mysterious small company creatively named "Valve", decided to include a mysterious festive decoration in the game. Gabe had told me that the new addition was something very frightening and involved ghosts. I'm extremely terrified of ghosts, so I was cowering in my chair the whole match. He eventually told me that the map we were on didn't have the ghoulish festive decoration on it, so I breathed a deep sigh of relief and played the map like I normally would until it switched to a different map.
The map changed, and I shuddered thinking what the terrifyingly frightful new addition might possibly be. I began to cautiously walk through the map until Gabe told me to come over to where his character was at. I nearly covered my eyes, only letting a tiny area to see out of, and quivered in my seat as I slowly inched my way closer and closer to Gabe's location. As I came close, I finally saw what the "terrifying" new addition to the game was: the chickens that typically wander around this map now looked like little ghosts running around! I wiped away my tears of fear in relief, and sighed. Gabe can be such a jerk sometimes.
However, later in the evening something actually did happen to us that I shudder to think about even today. We played a few more matches that night, laughing at and stabbing the spooky ghost-chickens with our knives in jest. I decided to log off and go to sleep after one more match, and Gabe also decided to go to sleep after one last match. We decided to play on opposite teams instead of together like we usually do, and so Gabe chose the Terrorist side while I became a Counter-Terrorist. We both met, and we both fired at each other. I was a bit more accurate than Gabe was, so I got the kill, but something very odd happened after he died. In "CSGO", as we like to call it, after you die a still image of your killer is shown briefly before you either respawn or have to wait to respawn after the round ends. This time however.......what happened is almost indescribable for me.
After Gabe died, instead of being able to continue moving my character like I normally would be able to, a still image of his dead body popped up. This time, however, a distorted and somewhat faint apparition was near his body. The still image didn't go away, either. It remained on my screen indefinitely, and as I'm terrified of ghosts I began to back away from my chair. I picked up my phone from my nightstand and started dialing Gabe's number. He didn't answer, so I called once more and again he didn't answer. Gabe always answers, so I thought this was really odd. I tried shutting off my computer to calm myself down, but for some reason nothing happened when I held down the power button. I decided to just sleep on the couch in our living room to avoid looking at the terrifying creature on my screen and go over to Gabe's house in the morning to ask him if he also saw the ghost.
As I made my little makeshift bed on the couch and crawled into bed, I started to hear a very faint voice saying something I couldn't quite understand. I hesitantly peeked over my blanket and didn't see anyone, so I buried myself under the covers until morning. When I woke up, I realized I was still wearing my pajamas so I needed to change before I walked over to Gabe's house. As I walked in my room, I initially noticed something distinct- my computer display had changed. It wasn't the still image of the ghost over Gabe's body in "CSGO" now. Instead, in its place were four odd letters on an alternatively flashing white and black background: ÇqÉÆƒ. Initially unsure of what that might mean, I thought about it for a bit and realized that it was my friend Gabe's name upside-down. I immediately tensed up, realizing something was wrong. I quickly threw on a t-shirt and shorts, slipped on some sneakers, and rushed over to Gabe's house.
As I turned the corner on to Gabe's street, Half-Life Lane, I slowed down as I neared his house. There was police tape all over the front of his house, and three police officers were standing out front. One officer was taking pictures of his house while another was jotting down notes in a notebook. The third officer was talking to Gabe's mom, who was bawling her eyes out. I was confused- what exactly had happened? As I approached the officers, they directed me to stay clear of the area as it was under police investigation. I asked the officer with notebook what had happened, and he told me a death had occurred in the house. He wouldn't say more, so I walked in sorrow back to my house. Was Gabe really dead? It couldn't be possible. There's no way!
As I walked back in my room, my computer seemed to be back to normal, thankfully. It was still powered on and sitting at the desktop. I called Gabe just to confirm that he was truly gone one last time, but to my surprise he actually answered! "G-g-g-gabe?" I tentatively whispered. He replied back, saying, "Yeah man, it's me. Sorry about last night, bro. My memory is sort of hazy so I can't remember everything, but after last night I blacked out after playing a couple matches with you, bro. When I woke up, Horatio- you know, our pet chicken? Anyway, Horatio was dead, man! I don't know what happened to him, but oh well. We got more chickens, so I don't really care." I sighed in relief at that moment. I asked him, "Hey, up for some CSGO, bro?"
It was that night that still haunts to this day. I remember it clearly. I remember her face, her voice, her touch, her eyes, and her presence. She was only a little girl, but yet still haunting and at the same time she was crying. It felt like a curse after she went away. Ever since then I'd get nightmares here and there. It was lonely. The dreams I had were terrifying, dark, sad, cold, and depressing because I was alone. This all happened when I was just a young boy curious to know what the internet has brought to this world.
One night I wanted to discover what chat rooms were like. I've met different kinds of people. Some are good, some are bad, some are creepers, and some just looking to troll. I didn't know how awful human beings can be on the internet. There was one particular letter that I received in a chatroom. At the time I had no idea what chain letters were and I believed anything what was said on the net.
It was past midnight when I received the chain letter, I read through it and was very scared about it. The letter talked about a story of a girl in the early 1900s being kidnapped, tortured, and buried alive by her kidnapper. Her body was never found until many years later her remains were discovered. They the area where she died you can hear her screams and cry late night. The letter then said her ghost would appear tonight in your room to haunt you if you don't send the letter to 10 people in 5 minutes. The problem is though in the chatroom the site doesn't allow you to copy/paste messages and it must be some sort of special coding. I begged the person who sent it to me to help out, but no response. He quietly left the chatroom. I was already past 5 minutes when I was trying to type the whole thing to send to other people to save my life. Few minutes later I told myself this isn't real at all. It's just a joke and troll people. Half of me says it is and half of me says it's true. I stayed up a little longer to make sure the girl didn't appear so I wore my cassette player listening to the radio and laid in bed trying to sleep.
Things were normal throughout the night until about 2-3am. I wasn't sure if I was awake or if I was still dreaming. Everything felt so real and haunting. There was a cold aura around my bed and I can feel her presence above me. My body became paralyzed and still wasn't sure if my eyes were open or not. She was there. Watching me from the ceiling. I can still hear the music on my player and I started to sweat and wanting to cry in fear. My mouth would not open. I wanted to scream so bad for my parents, but I couldn't. I can barely breathe and felt her face coming towards me. It was something out of a horror movie. Her cold pale hands started to touch my body starting from my legs. I can see her smiling with those red haunting eyes. She had a dirty black curly hair, white clothing like a ghost, and her skin is pale white. It was like she resembles the dead girl from movies such as The Grudge and The Ring. I couldn't believe the letter came true.
She slowly floats over my body towards my face. The feeling was just surreal as she kept touching me. My body started to cramp and I can't feel my legs. I fought hard to move, but I just could not. I felt a pain within my legs like a scratch. I was feeling goose bumps as her cold aura surrounded my body. What is she going to do? She was trying to tell me something, but I couldn't hear well. This episode lasted for 30 minutes. My head was spinning fast and I wanted to get out of this nightmare. I have no idea what to do. She's just sitting there staring at me. I felt weaker and weaker as time goes by and there was nothing I can do. She suddenly cried as I struggled. Why was she crying? Did she felt bad about scaring me? I had no idea what was going on. She suddenly disappeared when I broke away the paralyzation. I checked my legs to see if there was a scratch and there it was. It was definitely real.
I got out of my bed and turn on the lights and was filled with sweat. There were tears streaming down my face because I was really scared. I have sensitive feelings that I can easily become hurt from emotions. I opened my door and my cat Louie was sitting outside waiting to come in. I had him sleep on my bed with me for safety and peace.
Ever since that night I still remember every detail of it and remember writing about it in high school. Nobody believed me, but that's ok. It's hard to convince others to believe your story. I felt that a curse was put upon me for some reason. I've had weird nightmares and dreams that have me feeling abandoned and alone. People push me away not being there for me. It's a weird feeling that it could be a sign or something. I do have moments in dreams that feel like Deja vu happening in real life. Maybe the girl possess me in some way. Maybe a miracle to keep others from getting kidnapped or in trouble. I've always brought good things to people I meet. I make them happy and I'm glad I do, but wondered how long it can last. Ah not sure what I'm even talking about. This story just stays in me for a long time. Anyways hope you enjoyed the story. You don't have to believe it or not, but it's true. We all have something that happened in our lives that sticks to our minds. Only yourself can believe the truth or not to not be haunted from it. Who knows? Maybe I'm already dead and just living as a ghost on the internet and protecting you guys.
Bungie's hotly anticipated Destiny reached retail shelves at the beginning of September, the fulfillment of a $500,000,000 adventure to home consoles. Guardians logged more than a hundred million hours in the first week after release, but the numbers only tell a fraction of the story. Destiny serves as Bungie's first chapter in the studio's life after Halo, but the game remains deeply influenced by Halo in both aesthetic design and mechanics.
Destiny's imagery remains its strongest asset, boasting some of the best use visual design seen on this generation of consoles. The landscape views are breathtaking, begging the player to take a break and stare into the horizon. Bungie has an uncanny ability to spin a tale through an epic score and Destiny does not fail to deliver on that front. Destiny's successful score, visual superiority and marketing brilliance only highlight the failures in nearly every other category. The game's emotionally stirring tunes and high profile voice acting serve as a mask for its pathetically lacking narrative, whose meager 8 hour experience can be best described as a â€œTour de Flopé as it ultimately falls flat.
The unrewarding story becomes even more exasperated as bounties force the player to replay those missions without the option to skip the cut-scenes. All of the bounties, from Daily Vanguard and Daily Heroic to the Queen's Wrath event, simply ask the player to replay those story missions with minor alterations in level, added damage multiplier and dubbed a â€œchallenge.é
Bungie built tenuous links between three of its four playable story locations and the enemies at each of those locations within the game. A common thread throughout this game is Bungie's ability to sabotage players by erecting a hedge maze around its content. The player must go out of their way to experience everything this game has to offer, a non-issue if that only meant exploring the world from within the game. For example, players can find a moderate amount of lore in the Grimoire cards that unlock throughout the game, but access to those cards are restricted to the Bungie's website. Many will argue that most did not temper expectations, but it is not as if the world expected Bungie to create a Space Opera whose writing can outshine the likes of Isaac Asimov or Shakespeare. A complete, competent story arc would have sufficed. Instead, we received a hodgepodge of missions requiring an inordinate amount of backtracking.
To top it all off Bungie went so far as to lock away its most engaging content in the Vault of Glass, which includes challenging battles, interesting battle designs and a stealth section that may have you feeling like a character in the Hobbit. The instance is certainly difficult and requires good communication, but the healthy checkpoints after each leg of the journey alleviates a lot of frustration when dealing with competent teammates. The lack of a chat, which may be fixed with future patches, and inability to recruit a â€œpick-up groupé of like-minded individuals without the painstaking process of sending out random Xbox Live and Playstation Network (trial-and-error) invites makes the Vault of Glass even more difficult to tackle.
One would think that the easiest method to obtain a group would seem to be joining a large clan, but the absence of a Clan portal within the game is just one more hurdle for players. In order to join a clan, the player must visit Bungie's â€œClané subsection on their website, apply for membership and then await for the Founder (not just any founding member) to approve the application. The player, once approved, must then revisit the Clan subsection and set that clan as their affiliation. Unfortunately, joining a clan does not unlock a clan member list within the game and puts the player in a similar position as they were in prior to joining the clan.
The loot system garners some true contempt.
Destiny characters have a soft level cap of 20, but some armor grants a bonus to â€œLighté and can bring those Guardians up to level 30. Legendary (purple) items unlock at level 20, but they drop in â€œengramé form. An engram is a mysterious item that requires decryption from the Cryptarch located in the tower, but while the random number generator may have dropped a legendary-quality engram the Cyptarch plays by its own rules. Double jeopardy does not apply in the world of Destiny as legendary-quality engrams have a high likelihood of receiving a gut wrenching downgrade into a Rare (blue) quality item or being for a different class. This downgrade, while being addressed in a future patch, only highlights the pathetic choices in gear.
The Legendary Engrams can yield the exact same gear which can be purchased for crucible or vanguard marks from the various reputation vendors. The raid gear is uniquely named, but the gear's modifiers have a negligible difference to the gear obtained through other methods. Some raid gear will add bonus damage to raid-specific enemies like Oracles, but the armor and modifiers to Strength, Intelligence or Discipline are essentially the same. Bungie touted the amount of loot, but in reality the designs and variety are found wanting.
The first week of the Queen's Wrath missions yielded helmets and chest pieces that were comparable to almost any legendary quality helmet or chest piece available through other means for a fraction of the effort. Bungie followed this up by placing yet another barrier on players that let them dismantle the Queen's Wrath gear, but removed the ability to receive upgrade materials from those rewards. Bungie's attempt to extend the life of this game by placing more artificially created hurdles in front of players has become well documented since launch. A future patch, while removing the issue of downgrading, will also downgrade all existing unidentified legendary engrams.
Fight in the Crucible for Glory, Nothing Else.
Destiny brings guardians together in the Crucible to fight for glory and, as expected, this is strongest aspect of the game. The standard Free-For-All (Rumble), Clash (Team Deathmatch) and Control (King of the Hill/Domination) all make an appearance as a staple, with other modes like Salvage (Small Team Objective Mode) alternating on the weekend playlists. Players are awarded random items that range from Legendary Engrams to Armor Shaders, but do not count on completing your gear with those drops as they are also subject to Ye Olde RNG. The post-game rewards are not indicative of how well you have performed as a person with a .08 Kill-Death-Ratio on Team Deathmatch is just as likely to receive something as the team leader.
How does it handle? Shotguns, Fusion Rifles and Assault Rifles account for the majority of player deaths, leaving weapons like the Scout Rifle, Pulse Rifle and Hand Canon in the wind. A future patch may help balance the weaponry for the modes with capped armor, standardized weapon damage and disabled level advantages. The Crucible, at this point in time, may require you to conform to the norms or spend your time being frustrated. One of the biggest problems with the Crucible lies with Postmortem kills. Grenades, rockets and moves with areas of effects are some of the most common forms of postmortem kills, but latency related gun and melee kills are becoming a bigger nuisance. Guardians will often find themselves dying anywhere from 1-3 seconds after killing their opponent. Obnoxious, but not game breaking. Overall, the competitive multiplayer mode remains the game's strongest selling point.
My experiences with Destiny have run the end entire gamut of quality and leveled three separate characters in distinctly different manners. My first class, Titan, was leveled through the story and instances that are called Vanguard Strikes. My second class, Warlock, was leveled primarily in the Crucible with very little dabbling in the story. I leveled my third class, Hunter, at the infamous â€œLoot Cave.é Character leveling through level 20, regardless of method, is one of the least rewarding experiences of the entire game, a chore on the same level as the grind for moderately better gear or upgrade materials.
Destiny is beginning its path in life in the same vein as a Call of Duty game, breaking sales records and garnering intense criticism as people continue to play it. One might argue that Destiny is simply a game that is benefiting from the lack of quality releases on the current generation of systems. Destiny is the embodiment of poor execution. There is no question that the visual design, music and avatar handling deserve every accolade thrown their way. The high profile voice acting felt stale, bargain bin story and an unrewarding â€œlooté system remain the most notable low points that are hard to overlook.
Destiny may be the most visually appealing game in its class, but an objective look last year's television-based game Defiance only highlights Destiny's shortcomings. If you're looking for games that offer a more well-rounded story experience and a better understanding of how to reward players then you might explore the worlds of Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition and Borderlands 2. Holding out on Destiny? The world of Destiny will be one of those experiences that will always be changing through patches, but this game simply fails to deliver the quality one has come to expect from the company that brought us Halo 2 and Halo 3.
There may be too many unknown variables for this title, from quality of future content to balance.
The story is little more than a time sink with very little pay-off.
If you don't plan on raiding, you're missing out on the most interesting dungeon/mission designs in the entire game.
If you do plan on raiding, be prepared for an even less rewarding grind than we see in most MMORPGs. You grind for marks, reputation and event missions to obtain new items. Then you grind for more experience to level those items (WARNING: Levels beyond 20 will fluctuate when switching out armor, like removing a legendary helmet fully that is leveled to wear a new exotic helmet that is not)
There are many reasons why someone might decide to trade in their used video games or consoles. Perhaps you decide to take the plunge to the newest console released and figure that since your PlayStation 3 is just gathering dust, it would help ease the pain of handing over a lot of money to get a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One and a few games. Maybe you grew tired of the constant dying in Dark Souls 2 and want to play something else. Or it is possible that you still have a few days until payday and there's no gas in the car to get you to work. No matter the reason, trading in video games and consoles can be a bit nerve-racking or a hassle. For the longest time, GameStop was the one big store people thought of when talking about trading in games. Sure, there are other (and usually better) options such as selling a game on eBay. But for those who need the money now, the wait time to sell a game or console can be too long.
Recently, Wal-Mart began to offer the same service as 'a new way to unlock value in their current purchases and save even more when it comes to one of the fastest-growing forms of entertainment.' In their press release for the new trade-in program, they promise an easy service for those who might want to use the money given to them on something other than video games. But how does it compare to the same service that GameStop offers?Not a bad value considering GameStop is willing to pay $35 if you're a PowerUp Rewards member.
I've had to go to GameStop to trade in games and consoles before. Not something I personally love to do but some times, it was the best way I could ensure gas money for work and food on the table. The process at GameStop is as simple as bringing in the items you are wanting to part with and having the associate look the game over and scan it, being told the grand total, and choosing whether you want store credit or cash (which is roughly 20% less than what store credit nets you). There is also no real way of knowing exactly how much they will offer for a title as their website does not offer a search feature to check. Though, you can get an idea when it comes to the current releases.
A lot of folks consider it a rip-off as GameStop can offer to pay a couple of dollars for a somewhat older title and then sell it later on for upwards of $20 to $30. In a way, GameStop does practice some unfair business antics. However as a business, GameStop is only looking out for ways to make itself a profit. This is a common business practice and one that some companies rely on to be successful. It should be mentioned that though the values can be lackluster, GameStop does usually have some sort of trade-in promotion going on. Some range from an added percentage if used towards a new release to added percentage for those who trade in more than a set number of games at a time.
Wal-Mart's program does have a few variables to it when compared to GameStop's program. Given that this is still in its fledgling stage, it's no surprise when you come across some small issues. Given that I'm no stranger to trading in games (or Wal-Mart), I thought that it would be interesting to check out how going into the store and trading in a game or two worked. Can't be too tough to do, correct?
And it's not. However, you could get lost in trying to figure out where to go. First thought might be to visit the customer service desk. Nope! Do you walk back to the electronic section? Yes! Unless the electronics connection in your store is in a different section (which would make no sense). It is also possible that they only have one computer that is set up to handle the trade in program. This can be a real hassle if it's in use when you get to the store and happen to be in a hurry. Or if the computer is out of service.
Well... That surely has to be better than what GameStop would give a sucker- I mean, soon-to-be former PS4 owner.
I traded in games twice. The first time, the entire deal took roughly twenty-five minutes. It was the store associate's first time handling a trade-in and while she had some issues with the printer, the time frame wasn't too bad. The second trip took the longest, clocking in at close to two hours and going downhill from the beginning. When I arrived, the sole computer containing the trade-in program was in use. No big deal, I wasn't in much of a hurry. It took roughly an hour and a half before the sole computer in the store with the trade-in program was free to scan and take care of my trade-in. It was during this way that I learned the store would have to call in an outside technician to install the program into another computer and that wouldn't be possible until the next day at the earliest.
Prior to heading into the store, I had checked out the values of the games so I had an idea of what to expect. When the transaction came to a close, the total of the games I traded in did match up to what I had seen via the website. As mentioned above, this is a feature that GameStop doesn't really employ. Yes, you can check the values of some of the newest titles but there is no really way to get a current value of something released last year (unless it happens to be a popular title).
Dang, I guess not. Though it looks like PowerUp members don't get an increase.
As one who has some experience with trading in titles at GameStop, I was waiting to hear about a cut in the total due to not having a Wal-Mart credit card or other 'proof of being a Wal-Mart junkie.' Nope, the total given to you is what you get. But it is stressed that you know that the funds are applied to a Wal-Mart gift card and that getting the money in cash is not possible. This is one thing that could hurt Wal-Mart's program though I really don't see it having too much of an effect. Another thing to note is that Wal-Mart (at this time) doesn't have any special promotions going on for trading in games like GameStop does.
If I had to choose which of the two services I prefer, I would have to say that it really depends on what you need the money for and what promotion GameStop is running. Of course, neither is the best choice when you want to make space in your gaming library. While it is still in its infancy, Wal-Mart's trade-in program does show promise. They just need to ensure that each store has more than one computer with the program installed and possibly look into offering promotions similar to GameStop's.
I was looking through the comments section of an article on Kotaku a few days ago. I forget what exactly the article was about, beyond the fact that it was related to E3. There was a quick series of comments in regards to "casual" gamers and whether or not shooters had ever been games for "casual" gamers to use to introduce themselves to games with, and whether or not one of the original posters was hating on casual gamers. The conversation sparked a realisation in me. Now, I'm not going to sit here and claim to be some sort of ultimate authority on games and trends and psychology; I'd say the incredibly laid-back title of this blog belies me any right to claim major authority on those topics. Rather, I'm going to be saying what I personally have realized from that string of comments, and you readers can interpret it however you want. I will say that for me, it was a rather obvious yet eye-opening revelation as to the whole "casualisation-dumbing-down-Candy-Crush" phenomenon the games industry is still going through.
My mom plays the hell out of Candy Crush. She plays it so much, she won't install it on her phone, her reasoning being that she'd never get anything done if the game were always close a hand. She borrows my dad's phone to play the game, and the two of them have admittedly been somewhat obsessed with matching games for many years now. I personally don't understand the appeal, as I sit in front of a PS4 playing Watch_Dogs and Transistor (two games I might build another post about, just a heads up) and Warframe and dozens of other vastly more complex titles. The sort of games considered "hardcore" as opposed to the banal "casual-ness" of Candy Crush and all games on mobile devices. I myself have overcome my disdain of many mobile games (check out Epoch and Epoch 2 for really well-designed cover shooters, of all things) but I remain somewhat derisive of games that seem built to target the lowest level of skill.
But, after that conversation, about how shooters may once have been the casual entry point, I stepped back and realized something about video games as compared to every other form of entertainment.
Video games, lumped together into one giant category of interactive experiences, are perhaps one of the most variably demanding forms of entertainment mankind has ever produced.
Books and movies, for example, require little skill or investment of their users beyond an investment of time, though books do require that pages be turned, and that is even less of a problem with Kindles and PDFs. Those forms of entertainment will, in my opinion, endure more or less forever because of their inherent simplicity. Anyone can theoretically watch a movie, because watching is the only required activity to do so. Reading a book does require one to be literate, but the places of the world where we can compare video games to books in terms of required skills and complexity are not places where general literacy is in catastrophic decline. Not to make light of people who cannot read, I must say. I'm just saying, reading on average requires little beyond knowledge and the ability to somehow have a page moved.
Even most sports games don't require an outstanding level of skill or physical fitness if they are only played recreationally. And the comparison of sports perhaps makes the greatest metaphorical comparison to video games in regards to the barriers to entry.
There's a reason soccer is one of the most popular, most played sports on the planet. It requires at minimum two movable objects and a kick-able sphere. Soccer literally could not be simplified beyond that point and remain soccer. Basketball, likewise, requires nothing beyond a ball and a hoop (the once-hanging-by-a-thread hoop that used to adorn my garage saw literal years of use from all sorts of ballplayers) Baseball, on the other hand, requires a particular type of ball, a bat, a glove, an wide-open field, multiple people, a greater degree of skill. The barrier to entry in baseball is far higher than the barrier of entry to soccer. Even if someone only has a few components of baseball and makes use of them, they remain consciously aware they are not playing actual baseball. Two people throwing a ball back and forth are playing catch. I'm not sure what the proper word is if someone tries to hit a ball on their own with a bat and no other people engaged, and I'm sure not going to try and come up with one here. American Football likewise requires a large group of people and specialized equipment and playing spaces; football actually counts double because both the injury and non-injury possible variants (regular football, flag football) require specialized gear to reduce the risk of injury. Yet all of these sports are still fairly simple in what players are required to do to play them. The point here is that, even if various sports have various requirements for specialized gear, recreational sports in themselves require little skill beyond the ability to hit or throw balls in specific ways.
Now, we reach the point of video games. Of what is required for recreational video game play. It is here that the greatest difference between video games and most other forms of traditional entertainment become apparent. Most games stacked in the court of hardcore experiences demand such abilities of information processing and multitasking, watching several points of interest onscreen while navigating the buttons on increasingly complex and obtusely ostentatious controllers, the average person would be utterly overwhelmed. The first home console game controller for the Atari 2600 had a single joystick and one button. Thirty-or-so years down the line and the two major competing consoles have a minimum of fourteen buttons and two sticks on their controllers. Sixteen, if we count clicking in the sticks as buttons. If we count the touchpad, the PS4 controller has seventeen distinct buttons. Don't even get me started on the implications of motion and voice control in regards to game complexity and ease of use.
My father used to dabble in Halo CE and play cartoonish racing games with me while I was growing up. An assignment for a game design course last year saw me set him down in front of the recently released Darksiders 2 for observation as to how he played and reacted to the game; he was overwhelmed by the demands of the game and while he made it past the intro stage, the level of skill he'd exhibited was, quite frankly, childlike (he frequently failed/died at wall-running and platforming sections, often failing to preform the required moves, and simply spammed the heavy-weapon charge attack, never touching any of the other buttons or even attempting to look into any other means of attack once he got that down. He also never dodged). Getting used to moving the camera took him some time. The level of complexity inherent to the game was well beyond what he was comfortable with. Primary and secondary weapon attacks, dodging, locking on, holding buttons to equip gear and hotkeys, for lack of a better term, on the d-pad for health potions, everything mapped to specific buttons on what is, objectively, a device that is almost on par with home theater system and DVR remotes in terms of complexity of design and ease of use and understandability; quickly understanding these things and making use of them was beyond him. Yet he's often resolutely blazing through various match-three games on his Mac in his spare time in the office. I imagine my mother, who has solely played with games like Candy Crush and Bejeweled, would have been cut to pieces by the first two skeletons.
This is, perhaps, the explanation behind the casual game explosion of recent years. Everyone now has a game-capable device in their pocket, but not everyone can break through the barrier to entry of more classical game types like first-person shooters and RPGs and open-world action games. At least, they don't have the time or the interest to develop the skill required to get into the more traditional franchises and their respective genres. But publishers and developers realized that rather than let an enormous portion of humanity as a market go untapped, they simply ought to shift their focus. Rather than try to force the experiences of PCs and Consoles into smartphones and sell them to people who would normally never play games, they built the gaming equivalents of soccer in terms of requirements and complexity.
All you need to get into Candy Crush is a phone and the ability to recognize when three similar shapes are touching and then tap them. That's a far cry from being able to hold a button to lock on to a frozen magical skeleton winding up to cut your head off, and launching a long, button-press-delayed, multi-weapon combo that leaves him utterly destroyed. It's a far cry from needing to line sights up and fire on a target that is running towards you and shooting you, throwing your aim off with damage-scope-wobble. It's a far cry from having to try and escape the army of cops chasing you after you jacked a car and accidentally ran one over, and you're still getting the grasp of the rules and controls of the game itself, and there's now a possibility you can hack traffic lights and blockers and steam pipes to tie the cops up. It's a far cry from any activity in any major game genre from the last decade or more. It speaks to the growing complexity of video games, where thirty-or-so years ago the most complex games were about shooting blobs of pixels moving down at you, or avoiding four colored ghosts while you tried to eat little dots. Nowadays, we're powering through incredibly realistic depictions of real-world cities, shooting fireballs out of our hands and draining every ounce of neon from Seattle, or hacking one of dozens of traffic lights in Chicago to try and cause a crash that will destroy the car of a target, or getting into a zero-gravity gunfight outside a space station hundreds of miles above the planet. I once considered modern technology from the perspective of my ninety-five year-old grandfather, and I realized that to him, the 2010s must seem like something out of science fiction. Video games are that perspective in microcosm.
Here, in this analysis of complexity barriers, the baseball metaphor pays in spades. My dad could beat the intro stage in Darksiders 2 by spamming the charge attack, but he consciously knew there was a wealth of depth and options he was neglecting, like how throwing a ball back and forth is not baseball; it is catch, and is at times far less enjoyable than baseball proper. Yet if catch is all one is able to play when presented with the game proper, how enjoyable will the experience be? There will come a time in such situations where the knowledge of one's active dismissal of depth and options and complexity for the sake of simple playability will outweigh any enjoyment that might be gleaned, because some people simply don't have the time or interest to acclimate enough to break through the barrier to entry of complexity of modern video games. I'd argue my dad was rapidly approaching that point by the time he beat the intro stage's end boss. Forcing complex products onto people who will be overwhelmed by said complexity, people to whom that complexity is a barrier to entry into the medium as a whole, will not make them embrace the product. It'll ultimately leave them with an unenjoyable experience. Is it not better for all of us to leave the "casuals" to their soccers-of-games, and the "hardcores" to their baseballs-of-games? Ultimately, those are the particular experiences each group of people enjoys the most, and isn't that the point of video games, nay, of entertainment, in the first place?
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Developer: JuiceBox Games
Publisher: JuiceBox Games
Platform: iOS and Android
Release Date: February 2014
HonorBound boasts elements that a role-playing game (RPG) must exhibit: a turn-based gameplay, character modification, progressive levels, and orchestral visuals, and scoring. Players are tasked to choose their heroes to send in the battlefield, to bring stability to a land of chaos.
Similar to Monster Legacy that we“ve previously featured, HonorBound employs a Pokemon-style mechanism, as you beat monsters and turn them into playable heroes. Below is our comprehensive review of this mobile game.
The goal is to create and lead a squadron of warriors to save a fantasy world dominated by witches and zombies. You will need to choose one character from five elemental heroes. As the game progresses, you need to bank on your strategy to form the rest of your squad.
In completing your team, there“s an option for summoning the forces of good, including a wizard or an archer, which can be done using your initial allotment of treasure. Starting the game becomes a breeze, with the ability to collect player points and potions to use in battles later on.
But, if you“re saving these for more important actions, you can recruit your party from the battlefield, by weakening your enemies and slowly recruiting them to your team. You can buy new gears, educate them on spell casting, and even combine two heroes to conjure a superior one.
Upgrading player ranks
Away to level up your characters is to battle them out -- the more difficult the battle is, the higher the chance of getting experience points. Write Party said you can earn more points from a player VS player (PVP) battle, as opposed to a player VS enemy (PVE) one. If you recruited a new hero, the best way to increase their statistics is to take them into an easier level, before proceeding to a more challenging one.
In the commander“s case, there“s no need to battle to increase stats. There“s a plus sign located next to the rank category, which spends embers to upgrade when tapped.
Ritual 2 and Ritual 3
You can evolve your cards upon reaching Ritual 2. There“s a star ranking, indicating if your cards have fully increased its stats, which can be anywhere between 1-4. If your Warrior Rank has one gold star and three gray ones, it means it can still evolve three times more.
Meanwhile, reaching Ritual 3 allows you to fortify your gaming cards. In the middle of a battle, you can pick one gaining card and some sacrifice cards. Take note that the gaining card will yield large amounts of experience. This comes in handy when dealing with tougher enemies and battles.
Graphics and sounds
In terms of graphics, JNM Tech gives it an 8/10, saying it boasts of flash animations and cartoon-styled worlds and characters. â€œMenu items look smooth with no glaringly obvious blocky textures,â€ the article said. These graphics are best exhibited by an iDevice such as the iPhone 5S, which comes with a Retina display that takes care of loading periods and response time.
Meanwhile, the graphics are complimented by an overlay of orchestral musical scoring, reminiscent of an old school RPG game. This is best experienced with a handset with a cutting-edge sound technology and graphic prowess like the HTC One M8. It“s one of the latest HTC smartphones that has a revamped BoomSound, as confirmed by O2, which delivers a powerful sound experience without causing distortion.
Inside the battles
PocketGamer said that the pitfalls are found in the game“s design choices. If you“re not in a battle, you basically just wander in search for treasure. The environments have a claustrophobic element, wherein a battle can be triggered by just a simple interaction with your opponent.
Lastly, each step costs energy. When you ran out of them, you either wait for it to be recharged or purchase for energy. PocketGamer said there are certain areas you need to traverse, which are over your maximum number of energy.
Overall, HonorBound is an addicting RPG game, appropriate for all players with varied skill sets. The combat provides enough room for players to exercise their freedom in creating their own tactics. What do you like about this four-month-old RPG game?
BioShock Infinite (PS3)
Developed by Irrational Games
Published by 2K Games
Released March 26, 2013
Review Written April 12, 2014
For years I had been closely eyeing this title since its 2010 reveal from Irrational Games. As a fan of the original BioShock and its sequel, I anticipated an amazing rollercoaster that would possibly trump the original BioShock. With Irrational Games and Ken Levine regaining the creative reigns for BioShock Infinite, will this title bring the same magic displayed in the city of Rapture or should the floating city of Columbia just drift into oblivion like a meandering balloon? In short, yes BioShock Infinite captures similar values from the original BioShock but in itself is an entirely different experience.
Although my timing for finally getting around to this game is fairly horrible in light of the recent news of Irrational Games being shutdown and dispersed, I“m glad I finally took the time to experience what I had been fawning over for years. BioShock Infinite is a great game in my opinion and in the twenty-three hours it took me to complete the campaign I enjoyed it to its entirety. Though the game can be completed in less than fifteen hours, I spent many moments gazing about the environments or searching for secrets strewn within the levels out of habit. As opposed to the dark beauty that was Rapture, the floating city of Columbia explodes with wonderfully bright colored hues. The floating city just looks so clean and vivid.
BioShock Infinite utilizes a range of bright color schemes throughout each of the levels, and similar to the original Bioshock the structured tonality matches the transpiring situations. To add to this, the talking NPC“s and soft musical tones make this floating isle feel realistic, like I“m watching an adventure film about a lively civilization in the sky. Though with beauty comes an underlying horror as I would find myself witnessing screen tearing during certain climactic parts of the game. At first it was distracting but it completely disappears from annoyance as its appearances were minimal.
Story-wise, in BioShock Infinite you take on the role of Booker DeWitt who has been tasked with finding a girl named Elizabeth to erase all of his gambling debts in the year 1912. Very much different from BioShock“s Jack, Booker actually has dialogue and interacts with the locals of Columbia. Not being a muted puppet controlled by the player, Booker has personality. Elizabeth also has a great personality and easily meshes with Booker creating an entertaining ride to the viewers.
I“m Commander False Shepard, and this is my favorite tattoo on my body.
BioShock Infinite dabbles in previously viewed ideals of choice but mixing it with American history, quantum physics, and ideals of destiny. More of a science fictional action-adventure than its horror focused predecessors, BioShock Infinite“s story resembles that of a Hollywood blockbuster. I found myself glued to my seat enjoying what developments were thrown at me and often anticipated what twists and turns were to come. Even though the ending left my head spinning and required me to replay the campaign a second time to grasp what was unfolded, I thoroughly enjoyed the story within BioShock Infinite.
The gameplay is what ties the story and the visuals all together, and the BioShock formula still hasn“t really changed since the previous games. I“m not complaining though as I enjoyed the numerous shootouts throughout the game and believe the style worked with how the story flowed. I“ve heard a few mention they didn“t feel that the firefights didn“t fit within the game, but I believe it fit perfectly with Columbia“s very own Civil War brewing. These firefights were made more interesting when a robotic replica of an American Founding Father walks towards you with a gatling gun. There“s nothing like that surprise factor that leaves you open for attack as you try to configure what the hell is actually going on, and I“m talking about you robotic Abe Lincoln.
Whoa! The Be Sharps reunited to perform their hit, â€œBaby On Boardâ€.
As the gameplay formula hasn“t changed, the controls are still as smooth as the previous BioShocks. The only differing mechanics are the skylines and having Elizabeth tagging along. The skylines act as a fancy transition between locals while mixing in strategic combat. I often found myself riding the lines to investigate possible secret areas or to get a quick jump on unsuspecting enemies. The other change was having a sidekick along for the long journey. I actually feared a little that the game would end up being one long escort mission with Elizabeth constantly getting in the way or getting killed. This isn“t the case as Elizabeth can“t be injured by enemies and will actually hide during firefights. She even plays the role of helper throughout each area by throwing items your way that she“s found. Set in the same way that Ellie was mechanically just Joel“s shadow in The Last of Us, Elizabeth is there for the fight but doesn“t interfere with the flow of it.
Although the game is damn near perfect in my book I still longed for one feature that was available in the first BioShock, hacking minigames. For some strange reason I loved the hacking minigames in the previous installments, and in BioShock Infinite they are missing. All of the locks are either opened via a keycode or through Elizabeth“s amazing lock picking skills that could quite possibly put Jill â€œThe Master of Lock Pickingâ€ Valentine to shame. Although it was missing from the game, it is quite possible Irrational Games deemed it unnecessary or something that would ruin the current flow of the adventure.
In conclusion, even though Bioshock Infinite strays away from the former“s horror focused design, the science fictional action is a welcome sight. The cast of characters all play a prominent role and will be easily remembered in days past. Easily noted, the Lutice twins and their banter similar to that of a 1940“s comedic duo will always come to mind when looking back at what could be the final BioShock game. So in turn, if you enjoyed the previous BioShock games or enjoy FPS games that have an interesting story to follow, then BioShock Infinite is definitely a game you should buy. So wipe away the debt, bring them the girlâ€¦
Review Written by Solid-Alchemist
If you enjoyed this review and would like to check out some other opinion pieces, come on over to The Time Heist. Any critique's or recommendations are welcome!
EVERYONE GETS A GAME OF THRONES NAME AND TITLE. DEAL WITH IT.
Ludono - Khaleesi Juliark Lannister "The Last Dragon"
TKtheknight - Red Priestess Tristsei Bolton "The Young Wolf"
Kiwi - Kingsguard Kiwiannis Bolton "Master of Coin"
Marcus - Princess Marcuetyr Bolton "Commander of the City Watch"
Leah - Ser Leahryn Baelish "The Little Lion"
barrel - Princess Barrecel Tyrell "First of His Name"
RavenBlueIndigo - Lady Ravengo Clegane "Warrior of Light"
Kikyou - Khaleesi Kikyoerys Arryn "The Ghost of Harrenhal"
Rex - Wildling Rexandre Stark "The Kingslayer"
Jason - Lord Jasonogon Targaryen "Defender of the Vale"
John Kidman - Queensguard Johndor Tyrell "The Brave Companion"
Venom - Queen Venomcel Martell "Master of Whisperers"
Ciel - Maegi Cieldor Mormont "Littlefinger"
gaiages - Kingsguard Gaiaganda Targaryen "Mother of Dragons"
TylerxDurden - Maegi Tylerysa Bolton "First Sword of Braavos"
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It's been one year. On March 19, 2014, I had officially been working at the same place for a whole year. That place, which many of you entertainment buffs out there might actually know, whether from our physical stores or our website, is Hastings Entertainment. A lot has happened in my one year at Hastings. So much so that I felt like sharing my journey with you...
It all began when I moved into my parents' new place to get my life back in order after some crap with the last house of residence (something about rent, bills, people moving out, yadda yadda yadda). This was in August of 2012. I enjoyed having freetime, and I was finally able to do stuff on Game Podunk, but I needed a way to make an income. And while GP paid me at the time, it wasn't quite enough to make a living. So I applied, applied, and applied some more.
March came, and I didn't have a job yet. I remembered my sister telling me about this place called Hastings that she really likes shopping at. She told me about it months earlier of course, and while I knew of the place, the only time I entered the store was to sell a few games, movies, and books. But this was an entertainment store. It sells games and isn't a GameStop or a Walmart. This was the perfect place for me to work, I thought. So I applied.
It didn't take very long to get the call to come in for an interview. I entered the store at around 9 AM one Saturday morning with some black slacks, a dress shirt, a tie, and a pair of dress shoes probably. I met the store manager, who greeted me, asked me to take a seat, and began firing at me with questions. It was your typical interview - me telling her about myself and her telling me how they do things there - and I eventually was out the door and on my way to take a drug test. I was in as soon as the results came through.
Me, the New Guy
I was hired as a "Customer Service Associate," or "CSA" for short, and I was a little nervous on my first day, as this was my first real retail job, with the only retail experience I had being at the tiny market portion of the fast food/ice cream/grocery place I worked at prior. Of course, as I would later learn, most people are nervous when they first start working there.
And as I also learned, it gets easier. Inevitably, I got the hang of things; checking customers out at my register became a cinch, checking in rentals became a quick and easy task, and everything else from answering phone calls and paging other employees to making announcements and cleaning my area became a breeze.
Not everything became a breeze, however. There were certain goals we who worked at the front counter had to try and meet, and I was very much an amateur at all of them. Adding emails to customer accounts, signing up new members, and upselling our featured candy seemed simple enough, but I rarely met my goals for either of them.
Then there were reservations (like reserving games), which no customer ever did. And finally, there was this magazine subscription program where we offer to customers three subscriptions free for two months when prompted to. I got some numbers, but rarely met my goals.
And when it came to hours, I got the short end of the stick, working no more than probably 10-12 hours a week at first. It began to irritate me, but I figured I could at least write as much as I could for Game Podunk to pay for a few games here and there, as well as the occasional review copy. I began receiving more hours eventually, but it was no doubt not enough for someone to live off of if they lived on their own.
I Done Messed Up
But then there were mistakes made, some big, some small, and I would no doubt learn from them. The first time I got written up, I don't remember what it was for, but it was merely a verbal warning and wouldn't hurt me in any way. Just a learning experience, you know?
But then I got the real deal. When I got my first written warning, it was due to my drawer being over. And it wasn't just a few bucks, it was a whopping $20. It was then that I began questioning whether or not I should be working there and feared I may get fired before long.
But it only got worse. My second nonverbal write-up was for something I was not expecting at all. One day, soon after I began my shift, there was a paper we had to read and sign. It was about how we were not allowed to accept checks for gift cards.
AND GUESS WHAT I DID! That same shift, I was scammed. Two women had approached me with handfuls of Foot Locker gift cards. To make a long and embarrassing and I WANNA DIE story short, I accepted checks for gift cards that potentially lost the company over $1000 (I never really found out if the checks went through or not). Go me. And since this was the kind of job with a "three strikes, you're out!" type thing, I had one left until I was out.
It Got Better from There
But over the next few months, it got better, and I never got a single written warning since. My salesman skills became more refined, allowing me to do better at hitting my goals every day that I worked. I got more hours because I worked hard and was actually willing to go the extra mile.
When someone called in, I usually was the one who was called to fill that shift. When I was already working a shift and the person who came in after me called in, I agreed to stay and work a double. And when I got, erm, a bit intoxicated when my twin bro came to visit and hang out, I would agree to come in when called in early, even though I had about two hours of sleep and a hangover.
Then there was the thing with the magazine subscriptions (which we call "synapse"). Of all the goals I was able to reach, I became something of a synapse master. The normal goal is usually three, basically meaning you only had to get one person to get three. One day, I got 27. That same week, I had over 70, putting our store at #1 in the area. Coworkers began to have more respect for me and my growth as a salesman (I like to think, anyway). It may seem silly (because it kinda is), but synapse is important to the company. Plus, we get $0.25 for every one, so that's cool.
Me, the Heroic Manager
For all my hard work, willingness, and synapse numbers, something interesting happened. You see, after Summer had ended, we were down two managers, or if you want to be technical, we were down two "Counter Team Leaders." One had left to tend to her daughter after her babysitter sat on her couldn't help out anymore, and the other got a teaching job after graduating from college earlier in the year. Both had been replaced by new hires, but they wouldn't last.
One of these new CTLs left for a reason I never quite figured out (the jist is that she called the SM crying, and next thing you know, she's gone). The other just plain sucked at her job and requested to be demoted to a CSA. I must thank her for that. Shortly after she stepped down, I was called into the backroom to speak with the SM. I was offered a promotion. I accepted. From then on, I was a CTL, or if you want to be basic, a manager at Hastings.
A lot happened over just a few months, and I no doubt improved during my time there. I wasn't the only one who thought that, as was made most apparent during a meeting we had one Saturday morning. The meeting was, for the most part, about how we'd be handling ourselves during the holidays, as well as ways we can improve. But then we got to something I had never heard of - a title given only to a select few known as the "Hastings Hero." There were two awarded that title. I was one of them. You can check out the award itself RIGHT HERE.
The following few months weren't all that interesting. I saw new faces come and go, experienced my first holiday season, and occasionally had to deal with...the more unique customers. Overall, though, my first year at Hastings has been quite interesting, and after getting bumped up to full-time just in time for my anniversary, I can't help but wonder what my second year will have in store...
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The death of MTGox is the greatest thing to happen to cryptocurrencies in a long, long time. You might ask why considering the numerous calls for regulation and unbridled chaos its dissolution has left. The unfortunate reality is that roughly $400 million USD in Bitcoin was lost and isn't coming back. No one except the people responsible at Gox can fix that. As crypto users, however, it's our responsibility to ensure this never happens again by keeping online exchanges accountable, decentralized and transparent. MTGox screwed customers over by withholding withdrawals, leading many to wonder where their money was (and still is, for that matter) and ensuring their was confusion as to what was really happening. Shutting down and reorganizing isn't the answer to fixing the problem.
A core point of BTC, to avoid placing currency in unstable banks, was thrown out the window the moment MTGox became popular. I get that folks wanted to protect their hard-earned scrap, but an online wallet handled by programmers that were way in over their heads wasn't the way to do it. MTGox was a trading card site that somehow became the most popular cryptocurrency exchange on the net. MTGox used outdated security protocols and a shifty proprietary wallet system; there were red flags everywhere. And while Bitcoin industry leaders have recently assured users this will not be repeated, it's ultimately up to us to keep cryptocurrency use alive.
As mentioned before, the first step is doing away with online wallet banking and centralized institutions. We've all seen how that's worked out for physical currencies and Bitcoin users. Banks are not secure; offline wallets are far safer alternatives. While I understand the fear of unreliable hard-drives, the simple solution is to back-up your wallets to various safe locations. An online wallet is an even bigger gamble than the crypto gaming sites. If you're worried about thieves hacking and stealing your coins, encrypt the wallet. It's as simple as that.
The second step is to decentralize the currency system. In other words, every coin on the market needs to divest itself from Bitcoin. Each altcoin has a purpose and use. The value of said coins should not be dependent on Bitcoin. Achieving relative independence can be done through more exchanges that convert cryptos to and from existing world currencies. It will be a challenging process but can ultimately make adoption easier and strengthen the overall health of the market. Bitcoin is important, no doubt, but other coins need not be tied into BTC since they're not being backed by the grand-daddy currency.
The third step is to make widespread adoption a feasible, desirable option. This means opening more markets and businesses to cryptocurrency use. Imagine paying for your coffee with Dogecoin or buying a brew at the local bar with Litecoin. Some entrepeneurs have already taken the initiative and integrated crypto payment systems. We have to take it a step further, however, and solidify cryptos as a viable means of payment. We don't need to back these coins with precious metals or cash, but it's important to stabilize the crypto economy in order to introduce the coins to a larger audience. Paperless payment is the future.
Step four is simple: introduce your friends and family to cryptocurrencies. There's been this prevailing notion that cryptos are for the tech elite and geeks. While some technical knowledge is required to mine, the general process can be easily taught in a matter of minutes. All it requires is you to help guide the way and get them thinking in the way of the future. Cryptos shouldn't be made cryptic when we, more than ever, need to bring in new users. If they start with Dogecoin, that's perfectly fine. If they wish to start with Bitcoin, that's fine too. Help your friends find the coin they enjoy and like to use. It's all about founding crypto communities before we get to the Moon (a shibe-ism, if you aren't familiar). Locking out potential adopters makes little sense when cryptos offer so much promise.
Where will the future take cryptocurrency? That's a good question, but the growing market rebound from the MTGox scandal has already shown that we're a resilient lot. No budding currency is going to progress without extreme growing pains. When all is said and done, we've come a long way in providing a glimpse at an alternative payment system not dependent on weakening banks. And even though there are bad eggs, we've made a lot of progress without regulation. What currency can claim to have experienced the same growth cryptos have? We're on the edge of a new digital frontier. It's up to us to keep pushing the boundaries and make this frontier a home.