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Gaming trends and evolution

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Blazeknyt

Gaming Re-kindled

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.

 

 

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Focus...

 

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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

Blazeknyt

When I initially wrote this, it was the end of August, and there were various articles mentioning the rather terrible treatment gamers and people were giving each other. And this stuff is still happening...

 

Gamers, let“s not be malicious jerks, especially to members of your own community. (That is a link to a Cracked article, which may contain some NSFW language) I read an article about “swattingâ€, which is a malicious prank (as in, intentionally malicious). This behavior is going beyond simple trash talking. It got to the point that developers had to write an open letter to the gaming community to treat each other better.

 

This malign behavior is NOT a good way to treat other gamers over getting your butt whooped in video games. I completely understand that having constant losses in a game that you have sunk time into (I can“t reiterate the time part enough), and believe yourself to be good at, is incredibly frustrating. People get angry and upset over losses, and that“s fine. It can happen to anyone, and in activities other than video games. So you have a bad set of games, a bad day, or you just happen to face people who are way better than you, just try not to let it ruin your day. Unfortunately, competition is part of the game, and competition is what you decided to play in. On some level, you need to realize you put yourself in this position. Try and take the experience and learn from it. Step back, and come back to it later. Before you know it, you“ll be performing better. I can“t tell you how many times I“ve tried to do something complicated in a battle game, only to lose and return to the basics and win rather easily.

 

Then we have the big #GamerGate thing. It“s a movement that went from being afraid of losing the identity of the traditional term of “gamerâ€, to attacking games journalism. To put it simply, it went REALLY BAD, and it“s getting a lot of press that doesn“t put gamers in a good light.

 

Let“s combat the terrible part of our community...

 

Let“s not be so exclusive. Just as you grow as a person, you need to be able to let others into your community. There will be people who pay attention to X series more than you, or X game more than you. Just because said person does not pay attention to the same things as you, or to the same degree as you, doesn“t make that person any less of a “nerdâ€, “geekâ€, or even a person. Look, everyone is a nerd in some respect, and people discover things at different times. I absolutely love Castlevania, but I“m sure there are people who know more than me about it.

 

Games have changed quite a bit. It“s not just the consoles and arcades anymore. Gamers include the mobile and handheld markets, and those that play the online web games via websites and social networks. Every game won“t appeal to you, but that does not mean that certain games won“t appeal to others. While I still have not downloaded Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga, I can admit that they are fun puzzle games.

People will also have different goals when playing. One person may be doing a quest that requires the team to bum rush the stage, while another is searching for a specific object. It stinks when you can“t communicate said objectives, but that does not mean that you should become derisive to another.

 

The dictionary even defines a gamer as:

“a person who plays games, especially computer or video games.â€

 

There is no “requirement†that you put in a certain amount of times into those games, nor how much in-depth knowledge one has of a game. That definition includes everyone that plays computer or video games. Those social Facebook games? Those are played on the computer. Tablets such as the Ipad are basically seen as different kinds of computers, and even current video game consoles are basically specialized computers.

 

I know what“s above sounds like a broad generalization, and the sensationalist media reports don“t help, but let“s be a better community. Invite people in, but if they don“t understand or don“t want to play, that doesn“t mean you need to be a jerk about it. It“s just a part of life. People will like the same things, but to a different degree.

 

If you made it this far, thanks for reading.

Blazeknyt

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Sunday, August 10, 2014, was my first trip to an American Comic Book convention, the Boston Comic Con!

 

On the journey there, I had the pleasure of speaking to 2 friendly people who were spending the weekend attending. They had talked about their experience, and that they have artists at the convention commission work. After parting ways, I found them at the convention, and gladly took their picture with the artist and the commissioned work. If you two ever see this entry, I wish you both the best, and hope that you two enjoyed your time at Boston Comic Con!

 

What struck me the most was the mountainous amount of merchandise that was being sold. It wasn“t just comic books, but prints of almost anything you could think of: Portraits, sketches, inks, headshots, crossovers, paintings, single issue comics, collection comics. Overwhelming as it was, my excitement was the stronger driving force.

 

 

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After spending some time exploring and marveling at the people and merchandise, I started to actively search for something to buy. I managed to find a story that I had wanted to read for a long time:

 

 

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I finally managed to grab the Lethal Protector series! Venom is my favorite Marvel character, particularly Eddie Brock, so finding this was great. The seller didn“t even remember he had it!

 

I had not finished exploring the convention center, so I continued. After stopping at an artist“s table, he commented on my Venom shirt, and I told him about my new purchase of Lethal Protector. He commented on how much he enjoyed it, noting his love of Mark Bagley“s artwork, and saying that it was especially cheesy. After reading some of it, he is on point with the cheesiness.

 

 

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After more exploring and taking pictures, I found the board games/card games area. It was a relaxing and quiet place, compared to the crowded bustle of the main convention floor. The peacefulness was juxtaposed with how intense some of the players could be with their accessories and game mats. I particularly paid attention to Yu-Gi-Oh players, as it was the only game I understood to any greater detail. Players had their own mats, and covered their cards with red sleeves. I understand that the sleeves are there so that your opponent can“t tell if a specific card has any blemishes or marks, thus predicting what your strategy may be, but I did not know the card sleeves was a thing that serious players do. I also discovered that My Little Pony had a card game.

 

 

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I managed to speak to two more artists, one of whom was caught up in his sketching. He had just received a great review from Marvel, so he was riding high on cloud 9. The other artist said that he loved going to these conventions, not just because he could sell stuff and get more exposure, but because he got to meet his own inspirations and idols. Even the great ones have their own idols. After all they are people too.

 

The best part of the day was meeting Sean Astin (Sam from LOTR)! My brother had noticed that he was doing some sign language. Once we got to ask him about it, Sean Astin spelled out that my brother was a badass. After that exchange, he eventually mentioned that he is very happy with his time at Boston, so we taught him the sign for “happyâ€. It was a very short conversation, but I must say that this exchange was the best part of my Comic Con experience. Thanks for pushing to meet him bro.

 

So I have finally attended conventions in anime, video games, and American comics. Which one was my favorite? Sean Astin meeting aside, I must say that my times at PAX East were the best. It“s a bit of a cheap shot against the other kinds of conventions, as video games are inherently interactive. Video games also include art and sound, which the other two do not when in paper form. Video games might also be a bit easier to appreciate if your exposure is very quick, considering one could remember a song, or some noise coming from the game. When reading, you only see, but the sounds come from your imagination. While I“m reading Lethal Protector, having Spiderman“s and Venom“s voices from the 90“s cartoon running through my head is different from hearing it through a TV.

 

Thanks for reading on my thoughts and experience about Boston Comic Con! See below for more pictures!

 

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Another piece of merchandise I managed to buy.

 

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The Watchmen

 

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Dragon Age cosplayers

 

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Some creepy priest like figure.

 

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People in line for the costume contest.

Blazeknyt

Mario Kart 8 was released late May. Among all of the Luigi Death Stare fun, a new technique called “Fire Hopping†has emerged. Basically, you hop at the end of a boost in order to maintain that boost. Those that can pull off the technique can therefore maintain a boost for a slightly longer period of time. The gaming community tends to have split attitudes when techniques like this are discovered. Some say that a technique was not intended by the makers of the game, and therefore should not be used. Others say that it“s just another way to play the game. “Fire Hopping†is, in fact, just well timed jumps (jumping being an ability that a player always has) done at a certain time (during a speed boost).

 

 

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The gaming community“s thoughts tend to revolve around certain viewpoints: How the results are achieved, (exploiting the physics engine, or other in game mechanic vs. hacking or using a cheat device), what the results of the techniques are (a speed boost vs. invincibility), and if you are actively using said techniques against other players. The controversy regarding these techniques generally is not the fact that the maneuver exists, but when they are used in competitive play against other players. It is during this scenario that many say a code of “ethics†comes into play.

 

The problem with creating a code of ethics in regular game play is that the game will only recognize the player completing the objective; the game generally doesn“t always dictate how it should be done. Thus, a code of ethics is generally self-imposed. Just because one player plays the game a certain way, doesn“t mean another player has to play the same way. There may be more effective or more efficient ways of playing, but that does not mean it is the only way of playing.

 

 

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Possibly the greatest glitch ever.

 

 

Exploiting a game mechanic usually means playing the game without actually altering the code, but in a way that the developers may not have expected. Minor exploitations may be difficult, but it generally isn“t considered cheating. The “Fire Hopping†seems to be something that everyone can quite easily do, but would be hard to master. The same could be said of combos in fighting games, which started out as glitches. Everyone can do it, and it“s not that complicated, you just need to figure it out. Some of the controversy surrounding “fire hopping†is the fact that it is not a technique listed in the instruction manual, whereas other techniques like power sliding is. Using such a technique will not break the game, but it may not put you in an overly superior position. Then, there are other mechanics that do have the effect of dominating the competition.

 

The other side of exploiting a game mechanic is one where the results are a little too overpowering. The move is incredibly difficult to pull off, but the payout is great. So great, that it probably gives too much of an advantage. Some say that said moves are overly cheap, as they are difficult or impossible to counter. Others say that said technique is a result of skill, and an acute understanding of the mechanics at play. Just because something is difficult, doesn“t mean it can“t be used. A technique can not really be considered “cheating†if it is difficult, or only a few people can execute it. It may be cheap, but it is not cheating.

 

For example, Smash Bros. Melee became rather famous for the use of wave-dashing, allowing considerable movement and positioning to advanced players. Wave-dashing caused so much trouble that Smash Bros. Brawl changed the physics engine and the behavior of air dodging in order to get rid of wave-dashing. Another known tactic in racing games is snaking, where a player power slides in order to gain speed boosts during a straightaway, which allows one to continuously speed boost. Some may consider these exploits or techniques “cheatingâ€, but there is no real strict definition of cheating in video games, when one is not altering the code itself. (There are some

that can cause cheating.)

 

 

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Wave Dashing in action

 

 

What are your thoughts on discovered techniques that may or may not have been intended by the developers? Are they fun, and are some really just that cheap?

Blazeknyt

Someone wrote a book about one of the most memorable moments in fighting game history. Yeah, there“s a book about a single event. EVO moment 37 is, as the article states, “equivalent perhaps to sports legends like The Catch from the 1982 NFC Championship Game, Babe Ruth“s “called shot†in 1932 or the U.S. men“s hockey team“s Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Olympics.†It“s so amazing, because it“s the perfect underdog moment that the legends are made of: Daigo (Ken player), with 1 health left, seemingly destined to lose, has a last resort method, and he succeeds. Daigo displays the skill associated with a master of this game, much like a sports athlete.

 

I point this out not because it is a true underdog moment, but because it is also a moment in competitive gaming. Gamers have wanted the medium to be taken seriously as an art form and a medium, and this book could potentially help it. This book shows that competitive gaming is a big thing, much like sports competitions. There are professional video game competitions, much like how you watch professional sports. The publication of this book, shows a mark in how things have changed. Just like how the sports realm grew to have a professional circuit, so can video games, along with professional video game players.

 

The exponential growth of the gaming industry, along with the technology to stream, has allowed video games to grow as a medium. At the very least, exposure has increased. It“s nice to see that a niche activity, one that has not always been reported in many news outlets beyond the big events (console releases, E3, to give examples) is gaining more recognition. Maybe this book will bring more exposure to the competitive scene. It“s also a great way to give fighting games recognition, as there tends to be a massive battle in a fighting game to keep things the same while trying to keep things fresh as well.

The summer period is here, and that means the summer fighting game tournaments are just around the corner!

Blazeknyt

Time for a different kind of post. One not just about the gaming industry, but an element of the games themselves: storytelling.

 

There“s always this element of the audience trying to feel like they can relate to the character that they are playing. The goal is for the audience to care about the main character during their quest. This is true for most mediums, but video games take it to the next level, allowing you to control characters, so the feeling of being said character is much more pronounced.

 

I enjoy world building, and seeing how an entire universe fits together. Darksiders, a game that is rather heavy on lore, was a game that was right up my alley. However, there was always

in Darksiders that struck me as odd. It left me wanting more. The interaction between War and Samael left me wondering what the larger universe of Darksiders was like. I wanted an encyclopedia, much like what Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, or Golden Sun: Dark Dawn provided. The game gave you enough information that you could understand just enough, but it never painted a complete picture, something the game was criticized about.

 

 

 

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To understand more, go here.

 

 

Death“s quest in Darksiders II provided a different feeling. Much like the player, he was lost in realms that did not necessarily concern him, or that he had no business with, so the questions he can ask (you have to pick them in a menu) are practically the same questions that the player is asking. “Who is X?†“Why do you want Y?†These questions allowed Darksiders II to explore the greater world that the game takes place in. While it was still heavy on the lore and history, both were more adequately explained. Darksiders II was able to provide the feeling of being the main character, despite the fact that it is a 3rd person game.

 

And that is when the realization hit me. Darksiders is War“s story. As long as War was provided with the information needed, he can complete his quest. There is technically no need for the player to really know the deeper history of the world. (In the scene in question, the Old Ones and the power to control time) Honestly, I was a bit displeased that I had to go to an outside source or complementary sources (the comics) in order to figure out more of the universe of Darksiders. A game like Darksiders would have benefitted from something like an encyclopedia, but it certainly wasn“t necessary.

 

I got immersed in Darksiders. That desire to learn more about the world of the game made me explore outside sources, but it made me displeased at something that is relatively minor about a game I really enjoy. You may want more, but sometimes you just need to take a step back and enjoy something for what it provides.

Blazeknyt

With the newest consoles having been released by November of 2013, the latest generation of gaming is now in full swing. There is a lot of talk about how each system does not have standout games, but rest assured, those games are being made. But the new generation has just started, and while the last one is still going, it“s a good time to look back and see what it accomplished.

 

There was a lot that happened in this generation of gaming. And in order to bring the whole thing into perspective, we have to go back to 2005…

 

Microsoft, during a conference, had introduced HD TVs. The point of those HD TVs was that the next gaming console, the Xbox 360, was to be compatible with HD picture quality, in order to bring a whole new experience. In order to do that, you had to buy a TV that had the capability to do so.

 

 

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The Xbox 360 eventually came in a slim model.

 

 

During E3 of that year, Sony“s and Nintendo“s hands were forced and they unveiled their respective new machines. While Sony showed a more traditional mock-up, Nintendo, being Nintendo, had their president pull out their mock up out of his jacket pocket. The machine, codenamed the Nintendo Revolution, had been revealed.

 

However, everything presented had been just promises, and dreams. No one had made any of the dreams a reality…yet.

 

Microsoft released the Xbox 360 in November of 2005. It was the first of the three new consoles to be released. With a year head start it was allowed to set up some industry standards: HD graphics, which was promised earlier. Eventually it would bring the advent of streaming media to and from a video game console as Youtube grew in popularity. It sold very well, and was a bit more stable compared to Sony“s Playstation 3 during the beginning of its life. While it was plagued with the infamous “red ring of deathâ€, Microsoft“s bad customer service regarding fixing the console, and only a 20GB hard drive when it was first released, it was a working system beyond the fear of the red ring of death.

 

Come 2006, Sony and Nintendo were ready to place their respective machines on the market.

Sony“s Playstation 3 was incredibly powerful. It was not just a gaming console, but also a Blu-Ray player, and it was backward compatible! (At first) Sony had catered to various markets, (some people bought it solely for blu-ray) but it was one expensive box for most consumers. Released at a whopping $600, the Playstation 3 struggled. It was hard to develop for, and the PS2 emulation was causing glitches, which caused Sony to re-develop the PS3 and take out the backward compatibility.

 

 

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Remember the original "fat" model?

 

 

Nintendo on the other hand, TOOK THE WORLD BY STORM. Nintendo managed to create yet another new control scheme: Motion control! This controller allowed people to play by actually moving the controller, and was a lot more intuitive to those who were not gamers. Nintendo combined the new control scheme with an easy to play game, Wii Sports. Everything you needed to do in that game was swing the wii remote. It was easy to play and easy to get into. Combine the other two elements with a marketing scheme that showed the entire family playing video games, and the end result was exactly as advertised! Wiis were flying off the shelves, and everyone was playing Wii Sports. The Wii was the cheapest system as well, at $250. (Compared to the Xbox 360 at $300 or $400 depending on the model, and the PS3 for $500 or $600 depending on the model) I specifically remember going to a store and hearing that since Wiis were so popular, the store could only sell 1 per customer.

 

One last thing the Wii did to destroy the other two was to bring the past to the present, with the Virtual Console. Gaming was entering its seventh generation, and there were people who had fond memories of games and systems of old. Now you could play your old games on a new system, and not go through the hassle of buying said old system, a compatible tv, controllers, etc. That“s right, games from Sega Genesis, NES, SNES, Sega Saturn, N64, and more could all be on that sweet little Wii. Oh, and it was backwards compatible with the Gamecube too. You still needed a Gamecube controller and memory card, but the controller would work with those N64, or SNES games too.

 

 

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The game changers

 

 

And so, the seventh generation of gaming had begun. But the grass was not necessarily greener on the other side.

 

The Red Ring of Death for Xbox 360, the glitchy compatibility and hefty price for the PS3, and the breaking of numerous TVs because of weak Wii straps, all caused the respective companies to release new models very early on in the lifespan of the consoles. Microsoft soon released an

“elite†model, which contained a 120GB hard drive and an HDMI cable, in 2007. The Playstation 3 did away with PS2 compatibility in favor for more hard drive space. (came in 20GB, 60GB, and a few 80GB models) The Wii didn“t change at all, and in fact just reinforced the strength of the Wii remote straps.

 

Then everything slowed down and stabilized a little. Streaming media such as Netflix came (Xbox 360 got it first in 2008). People got more comfortable with the technology, and the expected newer models came out. Xbox 360 had the Xbox Live Arcade, and the Playstation 3 got the Playstation store, both online stores to buy games digitally.(basically the respective systems“ versions of the Wii“s Virtual Console). Micro transactions soon became popular, and so did downloadable content.

 

Was this the greatest generation of gaming? That question is a matter of opinion. It was however, the most impactful generation of gaming. There are too many milestones to count. There were many early faults, and then fan anger against the changing marketplace as everything went digital. There was the copying of the Wii motion controls by Microsoft and Sony, only for those to flop. Despite all of that, this gaming generation was a fun ride.

Blazeknyt

Some time ago, I found this great story, which tells the tale of a father playing video games with his kids, and how each generation of gamers will have their own perceptions as to what is a good game to them. Each generation of gamers will have their own classics and standards that they use, and the games that defined said standards.

 

The dictionary defines “classic†as:

1. of the first or highest quality, class, or rank,

2. serving as a standard, model, or guide,

3. of or adhering to an established set of artistic or scientific standards or methods

 

I started gaming during the SNES and Genesis days, when side scrolling beat em ups was the big thing, and those have really had an impact on me. Not only that, but 2D games and art in general. Those games are the “classics†for me. Gunstar Heroes, Streets of Rage, Shinobi III, Final Fantasy VI, Yoshi“s Island, and many more are the games that left a strong impact on me. Because of those games, I very much love the game Viewtiful Joe, and am glad that 2D has made its come back, such as Dragon“s Crown. While games have become more complex and much more expensive to develop, I have also found that there are times where I really like the simplicity of games like Streets of Rage, and Double Dragon. I don“t need the complexities of today's standards to have fun, or to be immersed in the game.

 

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The Past...

 

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...and the Present

 

 

"The gap between my gaming knowledge and that my of sons“ is vast. My oldest son recently asked me what a Dreamcast is. My kids don“t really know why Mike Tyson“s Punch Out!! is significant in gaming history.â€

 

Just like how VHS tapes are no longer around, some people nowadays don“t know what a Dreamcast is. Time and technology keeps moving forward. The new generation is out now. The Playstation 2 is 2 generations ago, and is considered old. Some PS2, Xbox and Gamecube titles are considered “classics†now, even if they weren“t franchise starters. I consider RPGs like Final Fantasy VI and Lufia II to be classics, as they were my early exposures to RPGs. Final Fantasy VI showed a rag tag team with no “true†main character, while Lufia II took a simple story, made it great, and combined it with a powerful, yet sad ending. When will Final Fantasy X be considered a classic, and to whom? Final Fantasy X already has an HD remake.

 

For better or for worse (ok, mostly better), gaming is being taken seriously on various fronts: Narrative, cinematography, voice acting, elements that were only considered for certain types of games during the early life of gaming. Now almost every game has movie like cutscenes. The option to use 2D or 3D is available, thus providing more flexibility in choices. It“s astounding how much the gaming industry has grown in such a short time. Everyone is going to have his or her own opinion on what makes a game so great. It is all a matter of timing. Is Halo a classic, or Goldeneye on N64? I can“t really give you the answer to that, but both are certainly some fun games that set their own standards.

 

So I guess the author of the piece was right. Everyone will have their own standards as to what is a classic to them, because there is just so much variety now. The newer generation of gamers also has history on their side to make an impact on them as well as the new generation of games. They (everyone does actually) have the option of playing the new games and going back to see how things started. Good games will always come back and stand out through the test of time.

 

 

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My first RPG, and an amazing one.

Blazeknyt

I was lucky enough to go to Distant Worlds this year, on October 6th! It is a concert of just Final Fantasy music. You read that right, just Final Fantasy music, but completely performed by an orchestra! I was rather surprised at how excited I was to go to this concert, because I“m usually not one to go to them. Since this was an orchestra, people showed up in various levels of dress. Some were dressed formally, others were dressed in a business style, some more casual, and I even spotted one person in full blown cosplay as Yuna!

 

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But this concert was a blast! As my brother put it, it was a giant nostalgia trip. There were plenty of songs I recognized and quite a few that I didn“t. There were some medleys that were played, where songs from a few games transitioned very well into one another. There was also a special 25th anniversary song that was played. The conductor noted that the team tries to make the songs as close to the games as possible.

 

I had forgotten how great the Final Fantasy VIII battle theme was, and loved it when the main theme played. I wish Dancing Mad (Kefka“s theme), the Final Fantasy VI boss theme, or the World of Balance Map theme played, but you can't have everything. However, they did play the opera! Specific singers were brought in to play Maria and Draco, and there was a narrator too! The 25th anniversary special was a great original, and the choir/chorus ended up spelling the word “chocobo†during the end of the song.

 

The man, the myth, the legend, Nobuo Uematsu was there! This is the second time I've seen him, (the first was at PAX East 2011) and he even played a song! It was the introduction music from Final Fantasy VI, and he played on a keyboard. It was pretty cool, to see him play live. The conductor, Arnie Roth told the story about how Nobuo Uematsu would play in the concert…and that was if Arnie Roth agreed to play violin! Now I“ve never seen the conductor decide to play an instrument during the concert he himself is conducting, but I thought it was one of the best aspects of the show.

 

The concert ended with the ever so popular

, and Nobuo Uematsu joined the chorus and sang along! I very much enjoyed the aspect of original medleys and songs combined with the orchestral sounds of the game music.

 

 

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See if you can spot Nobuo Uematsu!

 

All in all, it was a great show!

Blazeknyt

It has been a while. I had to get settled into school once again, so that took priority over this. But now I“m back, and ready to talk about gaming. With that, let“s go back to the past and talk about retro games and why they are so important and impactful now.

 

The retro gaming scene is a bit different. Why is it when games can look like this, or this, that games end up looking something like this? When tools are limited, people get creative about how those tools are used. It“s like if a child wants to play with a sword, and doesn“t have a plastic or rubber sword to play with, that child will grab a stick. If there“s no stick, then the child will form a chopping motion with their hand and pretend that the arm is the sword. Retro gaming taps into this mindset.

 

Streets of Rage, a side scroller on the Sega Genesis, had an abundance of moves for using only 3 buttons. Looking at some games today, there is practically button overload, even though buttons are generally used for 1 or 2 functions. This limited capability (in terms of just more than hardware and buttons) is something that the indie games are capitalizing on. And indie games are creating a ton of buzz nowadays.

 

 

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You can also press in the sticks like they're buttons.

 

With simplicity however, usually comes difficulty. Games today are certainly hard, but I generally don“t find them punishing with the exception of certain parts. Mega Man for example, I tend to find rather punishing while playing through the game, dying and continuing multiple times before getting to the Wily Towers. Streets of Rage is incredibly hard, especially once you put the difficulty settings higher. I“ve died a lot playing Vanquish too, but it was usually during a boss, or if I was screwing around. Have games really become easier, or have I become that much better?

 

Another factor that retro games use is the pure imagination of these games. This generally leads to their charm. Usually this is seen in their bright or contrasting colors, or how over the top some of the games are. The games of old seem to take that imagination and run with it as far as possible. I“m not saying games today don“t have imagination, but there is some aspect of games today where they wouldn“t fit in with the games of the 8 or 16-bit era. Look at Jack Cayman. His character design is rather cartoonish, with his overly muscular build and mechanical arm, but other aspects of him are made to look realistic. Jack looks like he“s straddling the line of cartoon and realism, whereas someone like Sonic is clearly on the cartoon side.

 

 

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On the consumer side lies the fact that information is more widely available. Now you can watch videos and read tons of reviews before deciding to make a purchase. Before the internet starting sharing everything, you had magazines, word of mouth, and maybe the back of the case to get you enticed. I think a lot more experimenting happened on the consumer side with limited information available to them. However, a limited number of genres were also successful on certain platforms. Side scrollers were EVERYWHERE, but first person shooters were the rare commodity on home consoles for a while.

 

The last factor I will talk about in retro gaming goes with the actual limitation of hardware, stamina. Less saving was around, and not every game used a password, so you had to bust your butt and blast through the game in one sitting. It“s not necessary to do so now, but I do find myself loving the fact that I can sit there for a few hours undisturbed and just play the game, even though I“m nowhere near done with it. Maybe this is one reason why I love gaming so much, and not the escapism and vast worlds that I explore.

 

I'll explore other aspects of retro gaming in the next few entries. Hope you enjoyed this one, and I apologize about the long wait.

Blazeknyt

There has been a recent article on IGN, as well as a video discussion about the free to play model. Feel free to read it here. As my last post was about DLC, I have decided to talk about something that is related yet different from DLC, the free to play model.

 

The free to play model (or F2P, as many abbreviate it to) is simple. The game itself is free, but in order to gain certain perks and items, you must pay real money. Many MMOs do this, such as my favorite, Dungeon Fighter Online (DFO). I personally never spent money on it, but I could have spent $5 in order to have unlimited weight in my storage chest, and much more space. There are also certain avatar items that allow you to change the appearance of your character and give certain stat increases, thus making dungeons a bit easier to get through.

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Customizing a character in DFO

 

The distrust of the free to play model does not stem from not the fact that the free to play model exists, but how it is implemented, and what is offered. In DFO, you had to find what you needed, and decide if it was worth it. Are those 3 items worth the critical hit boost that complement your skills? They just might be worth the $10. If you bought the items, then the game gets a bit easier for you. If you didn“t buy the items, it“s not like the game took anything away from you. You can still play the game as much as you please, and how you please. You were not restricted in any other way. The items compliment your abilities and skill.

 

If the items have a substantial effect in making the player better, then some players may call the game a “pay to win†scenario. Pay for all these super cool items, and you can kick butt everywhere you go. This type of scenario basically allows for the players to have less skill in the game. Think of it as getting the best product money can buy, and then becoming famous because you have the item, not your skill in using the item.

 

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On the other hand, distrust can stem from limiting content or playtime. Certain Zynga games have come under fire for limiting playtime. As much as I love Tekken Revolution, the fact that you are only allowed 5 online tokens at startup makes the game go that much faster. Before I know it, I“ve used my tokens and have to wait it out. I am limited to those 5 until 1 is replenished every 20 minutes or so. The cost of that is the fact that I don“t have to pay for the game at all, and it perfectly emulates the arcade experience. Strangers challenge you, and you duke it out. Now just imagine paying 50 cents for every fight that you take, much like in a real arcade. Maybe there should be a tweak where after winning 3 matches in a row, the winner gets a token back, because in the a real arcade scenario, the winner keeps on fighting and doesn“t pay again.

 

The author of the IGN article uses trust as the basis of his article, and it is true, that is what this is about. One does not want to destroy the trust of the fans and then lose out on the game that one worked so hard to put out to the public. But it is also a tough business decision on the makers of the game, because the platform on which the game is released can determine which business model will work best.

 

Are there any favorite games that could benefit from the free to play model? What if a certain game that you loved used the free to play model?

Blazeknyt

Last week, the final episode of a great machinima series ended. That show was Arby 'n“ the Chief.

 

First and foremost, I want to give big congratulations to the creator, Jon CJG. You“ve finished a series that you“ve poured your heart and soul into. You“ve provided many with countless hours of entertainment, using comedy, drama, and commentary on games and gamers. All I can say is I“ve enjoyed the ride.

 

It all started with the “Master Chief sucks at Halo†series. Where Master Chief would play Halo online. What made it so funny was that Master Chief was terrible at the game he starred in. Oh, he is also a figurine and his voice is Microsoft Sam. What started as a little comedy grew into a full-blown series with talking toys and their interactions on Xbox Live.

 

The show continued to evolve once Arbiter came in. While still a comedy at the time, it centered on Arbiter“s and Chief“s everyday life, and the different situations they encountered in Xbox Live. From treating girls right, talking about the gaming industry, to getting their hands on cheats. It was amazing what the creator came up with, using all online situations. Kind of strange when you think of the other sitcoms out there that did not tackle such issues, and a whole series here has been devoted to such.

 

 

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Once the show turned into more of an action drama, things got very interesting with a steady cast of characters, and the character development the toys would go through. Chief even went through training with Arbiter, because he realized he sucked at Halo, and needed to get better. Arbiter“s training shows too.

 

The creativity to use the figures was something new at the time. Although the voices can get grating at times (mainly during Arbiter“s monologues), Chief“s simplicity against Arbiter“s more complex manner of speech helped to solidify them as characters. I will admit that Chief“s extreme “bro†like attitude was ridiculous, but it was so funny and well done, that it didn“t matter. Besides, Chief provided most of the comedy.

 

There could be a whole lot more to say about the series, but that would make this entry ridiculously long. Feel free to watch the series, as it“s all on youtube, just note the strong language. I“m sad to see the series go, but I guess all good things must come to an end.

 

Jon CJG, I wish you the best in your future endeavors!

Blazeknyt

After the hate storm that was E3, Microsoft caved into the consumer“s demands and switched the DRM policies. Now we can trade our games without restrictions just like before! The status quo stays! It“s been one month since E3 and the DRM switch. What exactly will this effect have on the gaming industry?

 

 

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Just handing over the game

  1. Things will stay the same (for the most part).

This is the obvious result, and exactly what the customers wanted. But that means that things aren“t changing at all, and isn“t that what happens almost every new generation? As I had talked about before, this generation is not providing anything substantially new. This past generation (Wii, Xbox 360, PS3) provided an online community for each system, and that was the substantial new piece of growth. My hope and speculation is that indie game developers are given a chance, like what Sony and the PS4 is doing, and can really show how creative games can get, as the expectations for these AAA games tend to be high, and they can“t always deliver.

 

Indie games may be experimental in nature, or too short for someone to want to buy it and commit to said buy. However, indie games may actually be the “new innovation†that we all are looking for. Journey has received rave reviews in how few actions you can make. It has been announced that Sony is giving Indie developers a chance with the Playstation 4. The OUYA was released last month, and it“s basically an Android console. That“s a completely digital market already.

 

Another reason why things will stay the same is that consoles are slower to adapt. This is because a game console is a set product, and the games made for consoles are mostly set products, unlike the potentially ever-expanding MMO games. Computers can be upgraded with parts in order to handle better graphics, or increase RAM. There is also the modding community when it comes to the consoles, but not everyone does this. There is DLC around, and that can make a game last much longer, but not every game will get DLC. In other words, most console games are expected to last only so long.

 

 

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2. The inevitability of all digital is only delayed

 

There is also the case of same day digital releases. While the price is the same as grabbing a hard disc, that still doesn“t change the fact that there is a digital release. While some see digital as an inevitable event, some fear this as well. Once everything goes digital, much like in the mobile market, it becomes harder to trade, borrow, or lend games. The Xbox One“s original plan was that one could share copies of their games by allowing only a certain number of people to access the account. It“s possible that Microsoft“s plan with the Xbox One could have been what it sees as something that will happen in the console market one day. With everything eventually going digital (just look at the PC market and Steam), and consoles acting more and more like computers, won“t there be more protection attached to games or accounts?

 

Again, the hindrance to consoles and handheld markets is that they lack the flexibility of computers, and a new console does not get released every few years. A console is generally deemed to last at least 7 years, and changing rules and policies halfway into a machine“s lifespan probably isn“t the best option.

 

 

 

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So Microsoft answered to the fans callings and threats. I can say that I“m relieved about being able to let my friends borrow a hard copy if they want to. Do you think that one day consoles will follow the mobile game route? I think it is an inevitable event, but I can at least say that hard copies will be around for a little while longer.

Blazeknyt

After all this time, and despite being mentioned in almost every other entry, I have never written a piece about DLC. So, DLC, here“s your long awaited entry.

 

When DLC first came about, you used to mention DLC and gamers would throw a fit. Extra content after a game is already bought that one has to pay for just didn“t sit well with most people. That would be like buying a chess set, only for there to be special pieces to be sold separately. Some of those pieces could severely alter the game, while others may not. The fear many players have is that the game that you have bought may not be the final product, or the final intended product. Will the DLC provide others that pay for it a heavy advantage over those that don“t? This is the question that many gamers deal with, and that developers must learn to tackle. For example, skins and costumes tend to be favorites, because they don“t alter the gameplay, nor do they provide advantages ready to be abused, plus it“s easier on the developers to make.

 

Now it is a mainstay of the console industry. Over time, DLC has come to be an accepted practice in the industry. This mirrors the MMOs in a sense that a console game can continue to expand, but instead of paying a regular subscription fee (for some MMOs, not all), you pay for the game and then can choose to buy the DLC. This allows for some flexibility as to what is released, but the developers can“t release something that drastically changes the game either. MMOs can get patches that change things, hopefully for the better. It“s possible for console games now, but it may not happen. The big issue with DLC is not so much the fact that there is DLC, but how the DLC is handled.

 

 

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Some reasons to include DLC is that the section was cut in order to meet time constraints, or the section of the game could not be fleshed out while building the game before release. In this way, new DLC that expands upon the game can work out very well. Fans of Walking Dead love each episode that's released. It is also turning out to be one of the better planned DLC releases out there. Gears of War 3 did this as well. Gears of War 3 came out in September of 2011, and the third DLC, with the single player expansion came out in December of the same year. While the content itself is not anything groundbreaking, the game released its DLC while the life of the game was still high. Sometimes a game will receive DLC much later in its lifespan, thus reminding players to pick up the game again, or get more people to buy the game that did not before. (Ok, maybe I just really like single player DLC that expands upon the story I managed to bust my butt to get through)

 

On the other side of the coin is when DLC is released too soon; say a week after the game is released. Then there“s the store pre-order DLC, where stores such as Best Buy and Gamestop offer different things in order to get customer“s attention. The worst of this is on disc DLC. On disc DLC is when you have to pay to unlock something that is already on the disc. In other words, the data for the game was already there, ready to be used, you just could not access said data unless you paid to get a code to unlock that data. This is what gave CAPCOM tremendous backlash when Street Fighter X Tekken was released. The better solution would have been to make these characters regular unlockables just through playing the game. Don“t do something like this again.

 

 

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Gears of War 3 - Raam's Shadow

 

 

I personally think it“s better to release within a few months of the games release. There“s no need to shoehorn in extra content 2 weeks after the game is released in order to try and get more money. The multiplayer stuff is rather hit or miss, depending on the game.

Blazeknyt

On June 13, 2013, the North American Dungeon Fighter Online (DFO) service closed down “foreverâ€. It“s a very unfortunate turn of events, but sometimes all good things must come to an end. It was only the second MMO that I played, but I very much enjoyed this game.

 

DFO grabbed my attention while I was playing Maplestory. DFO was a more action-oriented game with its arcade style beat em up 2D gameplay. The 2D work in an age of 3D helped grab my attention, as it was reminiscent e of the old beat em up games such as Final Fight and Streets of Rage. I was instantly hooked once I found this out, as it was a far cry from the playstyle of Maplestory. DFO was a fast paced game that allowed for quick twitchy gameplay similar to the likes of Devil May Cry for example. Once I found out about the game, I did my research as to what classes specialize in what, and had already picked out the slayer to be my first and main character before I could even play the game.

 

Once you fire up the game, you get to choose your character and you are treated to a comic that introduces your character“s story before being transported to the land of Arad. This was something that I found to be great. More games should do something like this.

 

 

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The Priest prepares for his journey.

 

 

The dungeons were varied, from open forests, to caverns, to fighting in the streets and supply bases. The dungeons contained all manner of different monsters. You had classic zombies, goblins, skeletons, to giant walking minotaurs (Taus), and octopus like cyclops creatures called He“etako. The dungeons were completely separate from the towns and surrounding areas. You didn“t go into town, and then traverse a field to enter a cave. You just hit a border of town, and then a menu would pop up, prompting you to select a dungeon and difficulty level. Just click the dungeon and hit OK, and you“re there. This allowed for the player to dive right into the action…

 

 

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The original Sky Tower dungeon selection screen.

 

 

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The latest version of the Sky Tower map, minus the dungeon selection.

 

 

…And the gameplay didn“t disappoint. It was fast and frantic, as promised, allowing for combos and are juggles, which are heavily emphasized to the point that your dungeon score depends on them. Back attacks and counterattacks led to dealing more damage. Certain classes and skills could be cancelled into from regular attacks, a function akin to fighting games. Another feature brought over from fighting games was that inputting directions and button presses could also use special moves, because every skill could not be placed on a hotkey. Certain classes effectively had more cancels to expand on this aspect. Simply put, it was an action RPG that had a great foundation as for gameplay and controls.

 

I found the music to be very enjoyable as well. One of the early tracks catered to suspense, the player venturing into the (supposedly) unknown. Other tracks felt ominous,

, and others riled you up and made you want to fight.

 

The classes were diverse at first, and only grew once a player hit a certain level. Each basic class (slayer, gunner, priest, mage, and fighter were the original cast) could then specialize and was divided into 4 subclasses. The Fighter for example, could become:

  1. A Striker, who keeps practicing his/her martial arts and learns powerful precision strikes,
  2. A Brawler, who fights dirty by throwing objects and causes status effects,
  3. A Nen Master, who learns magic in order to fight offensively with projectiles and defensively with shields,
  4. A Grappler, who specializes in grabbing enemies and throwing them around the area.

A more detailed version of the 4 different subclasses can be found here.

 

 

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The Male Fighter, with the Brawler subclass to the left, and Nen Master subclass on the right.

 

 

The subclasses are where the different styles of gameplay really shined. Players would only look for certain equipment or learn certain skills, and each class had a certain NPC that would teach their skills. People would carefully plan their skill trees in order to learn the more powerful skills, or upgrade the most used skill. It was also great seeing the different play styles in action when you had them in your party. A launcher preparing his giant laser cannon, while the Monk gathered and attacked the enemies to keep them from moving would be a worthwhile team.

 

I played as a Weapon Master (or Blade Master, which was the original North American name), who specialized in juggles and the various effects the different weapons provided. A light saber was a special weapon only the Weapon Master could use and was incredibly fast, while the great sword provided more physical power and range for less magic power and speed.

While the weapon master was meant to be versatile, there were some frustrations that came with it. Being a melee fighter, there was already a lack of range, despite the great sword“s reach, while the Launcher could attack from across the screen. There was also a lack of y axis moves, allowing for many enemies to avoid me on the vertical plane. But every class has advantages as well as disadvantages. The weapon master had innate combo ability, and had no problem dealing with small enemies or grounded enemies.

 

 

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The Weapon Master. Notice he's carrying at least 3 different weapons

 

 

The community was originally more active when the game started (people talked more). People were looking for parties, and telling others where they were going. What was great was getting a party together, doing some quests for one person, and then the same party stayed together helping someone else. It was great knowing that people would just like to help out sometimes. As more updates and patches came along, party searching and buying items became more streamlined and automated. It was great, but it left some interaction out. There was also the effect of more guilds popping up as time went on. Most people would mainly help out others that were in their guild, or friends. I played less with strangers or random party members in the later time periods because of the guild.

 

The PvP arena, while not my favorite place to be, worked out well when the game introduced the Fair Arena system. In earlier stages, the almost anyone could enter your arena, so a level 20 person could face a level 45 person. The Fair Arena allowed people of the same arena rank and level to fight each other more frequently, or the game would at least try its best to find other PvP players within the same rank and level. The PvP arena acted much like a battle game, because facing a person is drastically different compared to fighting the dungeon monsters. Some quests required you to be in the arena, which is actually a great way to introduce the arena if one was not paying attention to it before. I never did much with the arena, as my focus was to play through the dungeons.

 

Well DFO, it was a good run. It is sad to see you go the way you did. Just know that you have many fans out there.

 

 

Goodbye Arad, Goodbye DFO, and goodbye to you fellow dungeon fighters.

 

 

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Blazeknyt

With the imminent closing of the only MMO that I play, Dungeon Fighter Online (DFO for short), it“s about time I talk about MMOs, and why I like them so much.

 

For those that don“t know what MMO stands for, it means Massively Multiplayer Online game. Most MMOs end up being MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), because it is the format that best fits with keeping a user base, and ensuring longevity for most games. It also allows for the best way to develop a world, a story and lore, and one of the stronger aspects of MMOs, skill trees and play styles.

 

The story and lore surrounding the game is what gets everyone to play through the quests and figure out what is going on in certain areas of the game (supposedly, not everyone really cares about the story). Each set of quests as they are called tends to form a story arc surrounding that area or land. I do my best to pay attention to these, as it“s one of the reasons people play the game. The story of the game is played differently in MMOs. Most of the story arcs may not directly concern your character“s goals and ambitions. For example, in DFO, the slayer class is concerned with the demon that possesses his arm. There are some special class specific quests that deal with this, such as weakening the influence of the demon in order to become a weapon master, or giving in to the demon to become a berserker. Certain quests at certain times deal with this issue, but the overall story of the game has nothing to do with the characters own goals. Once you get through those quests, your slayer is there, as a drifter and wanderer, exploring the world.

 

 

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The class system also plays into how that character or class will grow via skill trees. This is the meat of the MMORPG. It was always there in RPGs, and MMOs just took that concept and applied it in a different way. One basic class could then specialize and branch out into various different forms. The basic warrior could branch out and specialize in a sword and shield style, or use heavy 2 handed weapons. Do not be surprised to see people discussing the best builds, skills, and play styles of a certain class. People even do research on skill trees and play styles before starting the game. I actually did this before starting DFO. This style has become more prevalent in online multiplayer games, where one can pick the mechanic, or the sniper, medic, the warrior, or magician.

 

To further dissect the class systems and play styles, people make characters based on what they want to do overall. PvP means player versus player. Someone will make their character geared toward fighting others. PvE would be a player who makes their character geared toward fighting the regular monsters and fighting in dungeons. There“s a lot that can go into playing an MMO.

 

 

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One of the best aspects is the social part, which consoles have begun to pull off since being able to go online. You never know when you can party with someone, and how long that party will stay. It“s great when you get that perfect party of people you have never played with, and everything manages to work out well. Some players will help the newcomers and even give them free or old equipment. Unfortunately, you may come across some trolls. How they behave varies from game to game. I was fortunate enough not to come across many while playing DFO.

 

DFO closes on June 13, so there are only a few weeks left to get some gaming in. I will make an entry talking about why I loved the game. If anyone else out there plays DFO, get some time in before it shuts down completely.

 

Thanks for reading!

Blazeknyt

All eyes are on Microsoft as with every passing day, as the revelation of the new Xbox draws closer. Nintendo has already released their next gen Wii U to the public, while the Playstation 4 has only had videos and specs released. But there“s something weird going on this generation. There“s no new overhaul of…anything really. Unless Microsoft can manage to introduce something new and substantial, everything we“ve seen is a natural evolution, but nothing substantial and groundbreaking.

 

Nintendo and Sony have both pushed social media as a new tool to utilize. Nintendo introduced their hub world, where people can see what others are playing and interact with each other via messages that are typed, written, even drawn. The Playstation 4 announcement was heavily playing toward sharing gameplay videos with one“s friends.

 

 

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There's a "share" button...

 

While this function is a foreseeable evolution in gaming, there“s nothing groundbreaking that is making people go crazy. When the Nintendo 64 was released in 1996, the big breakthrough was graphics. Games could be played in 3D now! When the Playstation 2 was revealed, the big breakthrough was graphics yet again. Polygons were there, yes, but the models were such a far cry from the blocky look that the Playstation 1 had. The game characters, despite certain outfits, were starting to have some kind of realistic features. I still remember looking at certain games and thinking that it looked real! And the Playstation 2 was released in 2000!

 

 

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Still looks impressive to this day

 

 

While the PS2 had some kind of online capabilities, it was well implemented in a console by Microsoft when they burst into the scene with Xbox. With games becoming more grandiose, and online interactivity becoming the big thing, someone decided to take the helm and make game consoles go online. That was a big breakthrough for Microsoft, and when the next gen systems came out (360, PS3, Wii), all of them had online capabilities.

 

But where do we go now?

 

The Wii U made a nice move with the tablet style controller. Now people are less reliant on playing on a TV, but it“s still a console, and those are made to work with TVs. It just won“t be the same playing without a TV. Video sharing seems like a rather small update, and graphics can only get so powerful and realistic. Before we know it, we will hit the uncanny valley.

 

On the flip side of this discussion comes the bright side. Maybe with all of this stagnation and less upgrading the technology, people won“t actually focus on the technology and focus on making the games great. It“s not that we haven“t been getting great games, but developers and game makers might be able to get used to the new technology in a shorter period of time. With the new launch, there“s probably a higher chance of big studios trying new IPs. The market will hopefully get less people whining as well.

 

 

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We're depending on you

 

 

This is all just speculation, but it still makes me wonder what is going to happen to the console market in the future. Only the Wii U is out, so we don“t know the full capabilities of the other 2 systems will be. Will the console market make a big splash, or will it barely make a ripple in the water?

 

Feel free to contribute your own thoughts on the upcoming console generation!

Blazeknyt

I was lucky enough to grab tickets in time to go to PAX East once again. That“s 2 years in a row! Unfortunately, I was only able to go on Sunday this year, which meant I was a bit more time pressed compared to last year.

 

 

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The first stop was the exhibition hall, because that“s where all the action is. Despite being told that it would be less crowded than Friday or Saturday, it was still PACKED. “Less crowded†is a VERY subjective term.

The panel I was attending was not for some time, so the first major area I stopped at was Nvidia. They were showcasing their new handheld console, which is project shield. It allows one to play a game that could be played from the computer as well. I played The Conduit (on a tablet), and Blood Sword (on the console itself), while I was able to catch others playing Assassin“s Creed III, and Sonic 4. Blood Sword played well with buttons, but touchscreen play was available as well. As a console gamer, buttons just worked out much better for me. As far as Conduit is concerned, the controls weren“t difficult to get used to, and they were creative. Standing still had you reload, and there was auto fire, but you had to aim at an object that could be shot at. Double tapping allowed you to throw grenades, and tapping your secondary gun, switched guns. The only hard part was getting used to touchscreen movement. After playing, I left with a free tshirt.

 

 

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Project Shield

 

 

From there I just walked around snapping a few pictures and watching others play, as many lines were incredibly long. I watched some Mark of the Ninja, The Last of Us, and caught a glimpse of Remember Me.

 

Watching Mark of the Ninja, was fun. I have yet to play at the moment, but it looks like a great stealth game. Being a Naughty Dog fan, I am definitely looking forward to The Last of Us. The wait to play was incredibly long, but I managed to see someone stealth kill a zombie, which was pretty cool. Other than that I saw a lot of people exploring, as the area was deserted. This is a game I will certainly be looking out for. There were also very long lines to play Assassin“s Creed IV, and Gears of War Judgment. At one time the Gears line shortened, but I didn“t jump in line, and then found it extended considerably after a few minutes. Chance to play lost.

 

After some walking around, I found the Nintendo area. There were lots of people playing Wii U and 3DS, as expected. Nintendo, as promised, is celebrating Luigi, so there was a book for Luigi“s anniversary that the fans could sign! I signed it saying that he“s player 2 for life. He“s one of the best player 2“s out there! You don“t have to be player 1 to be a hero.

 

Then it was off to Merman theater for the panel, “How to Turn Your Gaming Passion into Profitsâ€. The panelists were: Anthony Frasier founder of TheKoalition.com, Alexis Hebert, community manager at Microsoft, CJ Peters, founder and CEO of KonsoleKingz.com, and Gerard Williams who created and founded HipHopGamerShow.com. Gerard Williams was carrying his giant belt.

 

 

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Advice from all of them was that there are various ways to get into the industry now compared to the past. If you want to start doing video playthroughs, start doing that. People love pictures and video. Peters and Frasier talked about the importance of learning to code, which Peters had to figure out in order to play games as a young child. Coding is what developers will do, and it is the job most needed for most game companies, so that is probably the most practical way to get in. Sound designers, concept artists, musicians, and writers all have a chance to break into the industry as well, it“s just harder. So don“t fret if that“s what you want to do!

 

While all of them had interesting stories and came from different walks of life, I paid the most attention to Alexis Hebert, because she broke into the industry through writing and playing in tournaments. I was also able to speak with her after the panel, and she stressed that I should get out of my comfort zone and read articles on subjects I know nothing about, and figure out why I decided to read that entry, what worked, what didn“t work, what else helped you continue reading the article. Some sound advice.

 

Thank you for the advice Alexis!

 

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Back in the exhibition hall, I found the Usagi Yojimbo mobile game (remember him?). After speaking with one of the exhibitors, he decided to start me on stage 10, which is pretty late in the game. There are two attack buttons, and one you can hold in order to block. It was rather chaotic for the first time playing, but it was fun.

What was spectacular, however, was out easily the licensing to use the character worked out. I had the chance to speak with the main developer, and he said all it took was a quick phone call. However, in a normal case to use specific characters there“s a bunch of rules and contracting involved between the two parties. We didn“t get into much detail about all of that though.

 

After leaving Usagi Yojimbo, I managed to catch a glimpse of

(highly stylized fantasy violence watch at your own discretion), who was running around in bright red hair and something of a punk outfit. I did not snap a picture unfortunately.

 

I did get to play Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara, which is an arcade beat em up from CAPCOM. There are a surprising number of playable characters in that game. It was fun, if not hectic. I played as the male magic user and the male fighter. The melee fighters can attack enemies that are down on the ground, and everyone can do a downward attack in the air. There are more attacks than one would think. There was an incredibly long line just to play DuckTales, and there was a broadcast of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I don“t know who was playing but the person playing as Vergil, Spencer, and Hawkeye, was insane. Hawkeye wasn“t even used, and he won multiple matches.

 

 

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The t-shirts and other merchandise was fun to see. They tend to be humorous. My favorite thing there was a Chrono Trigger poster. There was stuff from Korra, and even Harry Potter, among other games and TV shows.

 

That ends my PAX East 2013 Adventure. I thank you for reading, and here are more pictures for you to enjoy!

 

 

 

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"My name is Gato..."

 

 

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The Conduit tablet game

 

 

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A look at the tabletop area

 

 

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She was kind enough not to cast a spell on me

 

 

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Destructoid Head!

 

 

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Cammy and Juri invite a new challenger!

 

Blazeknyt

A "Full Powered" Hero

You know how some games start with the player in the past, or in some scenario where the player has full power? We all love those scenarios, as it gives a preview as to what you can expect to be at the end of the game. It“s not always 100%, as you can earn powers that you necessarily didn“t start with. That“s just a tease.

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Not happening on my watch.

 

If I were the hero I would take a different route by starting off fully powered, instead of building up power. Similar to how Samus limits herself in Metroid: Other M, (she never lost her power ups), the powers that I have would always be at my disposal, which is great, but I“m always in situations where my powers would be limited to some extent, thus forcing me to be creative with my powers and abilities surrounding them. Not only is that a great idea, but it would be realistic as well!

 

If I have the power to control heat and fire, then throwing fireballs in the forest probably isn“t the best idea, because of the risk of a firestorm. Sure I could attempt to absorb all of the heat, but that could be disastrous, and potentially kill me, as the human body (assuming I still am one) can only handle so much. But what if I must use my powers in order to find a switch to open ancient ruins? Why not try and make everything freeze by absorbing the heat in the room?

 

The possibilities are still endless, but it“s just presented in a different light. By having strong ramifications to my actions, I would have to think through the situation. Those situations would truly push me as a hero, because I would be a person that is used to just using my powers to do everything. By limiting myself, I could explore the true extent to what those abilities are.

 

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Let's stay like this.

 

Wait, if I“m learning about how to apply superpowers in a different manner, did I really start off with all of my powers? Didn“t I just explore the extent of my powers throughout the game, thus building my knowledge of them?

So maybe I didn“t start with all of my powers after all…

Blazeknyt

The perspective from which a game is presented, can govern the audiences experience. Much like in writing, a video game has to make the choice of being played in the first person, or in the third person. From a mechanics standpoint, a cover system used in games like Gears of War or Uncharted, would be odd if the games were in first person. Constantly hiding behind cover would have your character look to the side, or away from barrier where there are no enemies, thus putting the player at a disadvantage because the player can“t spot enemies. The cover system allows for better strategic advantage in a third person view.

 

 

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Marcus aiming from cover

 

 

Video games are a form of fiction, and the game is that character“s journey and story, and you, as the player, can experience the same story. Many, if not all video game formats at least allow for third person to be a viable presentation option. More often than not, one will find an action game, or an RPG to be in the third person (there are some exceptions). However, The third person perspective also runs the risk of the audience being detached from the character. To reiterate, the game is that character“s journey and story, the player is just there for the ride.

 

With that potential detachment however, comes the fact that the third person perspective allows for the audience to take a step back amidst all of the action and see the bigger picture more than first person perspective allows. You can see your character make faces showing that he or she is distressed, angry, or sad, reacting to the situation at hand (such as covering their ears after a nearby grenade explodes). Unfortunately, the detachment from the characters will make the audience feel like they are watching a movie, instead of taking part in it.

 

 

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He may have your name, but he“s not really you.

 

 

The detachment also leads to the fact that the third person perspective allows you to see your character. This is great, because it allows the player the greatest amount of control. The player can see everything at once. This allows you to tell when an object is going to fly over the character“s head and calculate how far you throw an object, or how far you will jump. The stronger level of control allows for the player to maneuver through the world better than a first person game does.

 

The first person perspective does its best to emulate human sight. The player is placed inside the head of the player character, seeing exactly what the character sees. This allows for the player to be pulled into the action of the game even more so than a game in the third person perspective does. The character you are playing, is, even more than a third person game, by extension, YOU. You see bullets whiz by your head, and the horrifying face of that killer dog is literally a few inches away from you. This makes the action that much more surreal.

 

The player is also allowed much more camera control. You can almost always decide to look wherever the heck you want to. This is especially great for all of those people that like to explore their environments. But what if you look around while some character is talking to you? Do you miss an important item, or some other funny animation? There is potential to miss some important things, but that level of control oddly reflects real life. As soon as you turn away from someone or something, that person or thing vanishes, and you are left dumbfounded. The greater amount of camera control isn“t without its limitations though.

 

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Shooting some aliens.

 

 

The first person viewpoint feels very limiting from a gameplay perspective, because shooting is what works best. There are exceptions, like Skyrim, and Mirror“s Edge but when most people think of games in the first person, it“s the shooter genre. As unique as it could be, a

or an action game where your character spins around a lot could get quite unnerving after a while if it“s played in the first person. It“s not so much that the games are bad, it“s that there are greater inherent restrictions to the first person viewpoint. The games need to have mechanics that work around this inherent limitation. There is the potential for more creative games in the first person if there are great mechanics, but the mechanics need to overcome the restrictions first.

 

Both perspectives have their own merits and limitations. Video games have used the third person perspective more than the first person, and more games tend to lend themselves better to the third person perspective as well. Both sides can lead to different levels of creativity as well, but you need to find out which perspective works best for the presentation of the game.

Blazeknyt

You know how you build your character to specialize in something (magic for example), and the character eventually becomes so good at that one thing, that he/she just uses their special thing all day and destroys opponents? Well, video game consoles did the reverse of that. They went from specializing in one thing, to gaining more skills, but while still specializing in playing video games (that is what the consoles are made for after all).

 

 

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Just how much stuff can this thing do?

 

 

Video game consoles are a piece of technology, so as technology got better, the consoles have grown to be more than that. Video game consoles pretty much went through the same process that cell phones did in becoming smart phones. Video game consoles went from specifically being able to play video games as their only function, to being able to do many things that computers are able to do. Consoles are still made to play video games above all other functions, but the other functions play a key part in the systems capabilities and marketability.

 

In essence, the growth of the power of the consoles can not only be credited to the evolution of technology, but the broad definition of the word “entertainmentâ€. Keep in mind that video game consoles are also called “entertainment systemsâ€. The original Nintendo“s full name is the Nintendo Entertainment System. It“s just that it only managed one form of entertainment: Video games. The current generation of systems is now capable of more forms of entertainment. You can go on the internet, watch, upload, or download videos, store pictures, and even make play your own music while playing a game.

 

 

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The praise ends up going to Sony, back when the Playstation was released. The Playstation could not only play video games, but it could play music CDs. This may have been the start of the multi-functioning video game console. When the Playstation 2 was released, it was able to play DVDs. The Xbox could play customized music instead of the game“s music. Now the main consoles, including the handhelds are borderline computers optimized for video games. Consoles have only grown more impressive to this day.

 

 

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The start of the multifunction game consoles

 

 

The question is, what comes next?

Blazeknyt

Oddly enough, the GameFAQs poll of the day for October 29th was the question, “what type of enemy do you find to be the most frightening?†Answers consisted of humans, zombies, vampires, and demons. Humans had the highest percentage, while demons came in second. Humans and demons come in all shapes and sizes, but demons vary in a much greater degree. Some demons have different eye colors that aren“t considered normal for humans, others have different skin color, and some others will have features such as claws, wings, or three or four fingers and toes. It“s much easier to make a demon more visually scary than a human at first. It“s also easier to see them as enemies, considering such a creature an outsider, not one of you. That“s what makes it so much easier to defeat such an enemy; you don“t see demons or ghosts as one of your own kind. I have to agree with the poll“s results; Humans tend to be the most frightening. Two villains (from my favorite two RPGs!) exemplify how frightening humans can be: Kefka, from Final Fantasy VI, and Luca Blight, from Suikoden II.

 

WARNING! BOTH OF THESE GAMES ARE OLD, BUT THIS ENTRY INCLUDES MAJOR PLOT AND STORYLINE SPOILERS. I HAVE MENTIONED THE TWO CHARACTERS EARLY FOR THIS PURPOSE. I DO NOT INTEND TO SCARE ANYONE BY TALKING ABOUT THE TWO CHARACTERS, BUT THEY DO SOME EVIL ACTS. CONTINUE READING AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

KEFKA PALAZZO (FINAL FANTASY VI)

 

Actually, I met Kefka back when it was still called Final Fantasy III. I“m sure many of you know that Kefka is the court mage for the Emperor in the game. The Empire experimented on him in order to infuse him with magic, but the process shattered his sanity. This loss of sanity is not only what makes the character so memorable, but it“s also what makes him one of the most scary villains I“ve ever encountered. Kefka openly states that he enjoys the suffering of others, and gleefully kills people, one of which is a morally good enemy character, General Leo. It“s a storyline event, but Kefka laughs after killing the guy.

 

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One of his most atrocious acts is

(Go to the 6 minute mark). This crazy act leaves the entire kingdom dead, except for party member Cyan, and Kefka clearly had no problem with the poison plan, as not only was he the one that made the plan, but he actually dumped the poison into the river. Oh, and he makes a comment about how much he“ll enjoy hearing deaths before dumping the poison. But what supplanted Kefka in evilness is one thing that many villains don“t get to claim: He actually succeeds in his plan to take over the world! Actually, it“s more than that, not only does Kefka take over, he becomes God of the new world, and rules with an iron fist like no other. The world is torn asunder, and is aptly called “the world of Ruinâ€.

 

The fact that Kefka actually manages to do what many villains do not get to, is what really made him stick out to me at that early age. At that point, I thought something like, “wow, Kefka won.†He started out as a regular human being, and then ascended into GODHOOD.

 

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A God stands among you

 

He wasn“t a super solider, didn“t have a legendary weapon, nor was he a genius of any kind. His dark humor (which I probably didn“t understand at the time), his laugh, and theme song all contribute to what makes him a great character, but that one act of destroying the world just made him stand out.

Due to my age however, another villain trumps him in impact…

 

 

LUCA BLIGHT (SUIKODEN II)

 

Luca Blight, the “Mad Princeâ€. Luca lives for battle, and his cruelty, bloodlust and reverence for power knows no bounds. He had a stronger impact on me, simply because of age. As I was a bit older (around 12-13 or so), I could understand things a bit more.

 

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Luca is downright crazy. The moment that I won“t forget is a survivor is brought to him after he razes a village. He tells the survivor to get on her legs and squeal like the pig she is. He laughs; enjoying his moment of power, and then quickly kills her. Ever since that moment, every time Luca even showed up in a talking scene, I thought something scary would happen. (and yes, some scary stuff certainly happens) Anyone that has played a Suikoden game knows that the game has giant war battles, (Each game does contain a war after all) When Luca shows up in the giant war battles, you can actually fight him. Good luck with that, as his stats are insanely high, and he has no problem coming up to you. Running in fear is basically the only option…

 

Until he finally brings the fight to you. The final battle with Luca is not you going into his stronghold like in many other RPGs. He decides to take the chance to destroy the rebellious army has caused him so much trouble. Unfortunately, this memorable battle is his last, but that doesn“t mean he“s not going down without a tough fight. This time, you get to fight him with your regular 6 man party, but Luca gets 3 turns, and has 3 methods of attacking 2 of which hit multiple party members, and the single attack hits one person 3 times. He“s one of the toughest fights in the game.

 

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Even his mother couldn't love this smile

 

What makes Luca so scary is that he is just a normal man. There are no demons or magic that make him stronger than anyone else, no scientific experimentation, and no superpowers. He“s just a normal man. “I am the true face of evil!†I don“t doubt that proclamation at all.

 

Happy Halloween everyone!

Blazeknyt

I apologize for the late entry, as life as been a bit more crazy than usual. You will get two entries this October. So without further ado…

 

Contra, Battletoads & Double Dragon, Sonic the Hedgehog, and a bunch of other games from the past had lots of people try something: Cheat codes. Cheat codes are not as widely used anymore. Games used to be filled with those kinds of things. Now these are either given to you as: unlockable cheats, (which is fine), a glitch (which isn“t really a cheat code), or through a cheat device (which is something else entirely). When I talk about a cheat code, I mean inputting a sequence at the title screen, an options screen, or when you pause the game.

 

 

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The greatest code of all time.

 

 

So why is it that cheat codes aren“t used anymore? Many cheats are now unlockable, so you earn the cheats from doing some kind of in game task. You may have to do some ridiculous side quest, but it“s not something completely hidden from you. You know the cheat exist. There“s also the side effect of the age of online gaming. I understand that with playing online, using cheat codes could mean playing against someone with unlimited health, maximum power-ups, or unlimited ammo. Being able to use those codes whenever you please could certainly make the online gameplay ridiculously cheap. We also have to deal with the advent of achievements and trophies. People cheating in order to "earn" achievements and trophies would mean that you end up playing the game in the way that companies don't want you to play the game. The last game I played that used cheat codes to some high degree was Scott Pilgrim. In that game, you actually unlocked new games modes by inputting a sequence at the title screen. However, I also have to give Scott Pilgrim a pass, because it harkens back to the 8 and 16 bit days of gaming, when those button sequence cheats were popular. In today's way of gaming, cheats could open the floodgates for not playing the game in a way the companies would like the game to be played. But this is in regards to console gaming. There's a different scene when it comes to the PC market.

 

The PC market has had mods grow in number. People get into the game“s code and modify the game itself for their own needs. That dark and gritty game can be brought to life with bright pastels while you gun down your enemies. Or maybe you just want to give your favorite character a

.

 

 

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He joined Street Fighter?

 

 

It turns out that cheat codes have gone away due to the evolution of coding. Coding has become more complex, and with those complexities, means less room for messy code. Reddit user ZorbaTHut commented on a different story:

 

“Cheats were originally introduced as a debugging mechanism. You used them to test the game. Removing them was potentially a bit difficult - old games had a lot of interconnections, and removing the cheats could actually introduce bugs - as well as irrelevant. But the games back then were simple enough that you only needed half a dozen simple cheats in order to test everything, so this worked out great.…Adding a "skip this level" cheat could be equivalent to adding a "make the game unplayable" cheat.â€

 

Even though cheat codes are around, they don“t give off the same feeling as before. That password just means you don“t spend money on a power up now, or you get an item you just didn“t feel like searching for. The closest thing we have to traditional cheat codes now are glitches, and while those are fun, but they run the risk of messing up your game. Those fun cheats where you

 

You can read the rest of the Reddit conversation here.

Blazeknyt

This is a question I get asked a lot. Usually it“s concerning video games, but my answer has to do with games in and of themselves. Now I could go into a whole myriad of reasons as to why I like games, and video games especially (such as escapism and crafting a new personality), but I“m mainly going to talk about this one thing that all games in general have in common. That big thing all games have in common is interactivity, and through using that interactivity, the ability to create your own experiences.

 

Think about watching a movie, TV show, or viewing a piece of art (any form, be it a painting, drawing, or a comic). It is mainly a passive form of interaction. You can be immersed in the TV show, but you have no say as to what actually happens while the episode is actually on TV. Any other form of interaction with the TV show comes from outside means, such as voting, or creating content that the producers eventually use in the show. Games on the other hand, take that form of interaction one step further.

 

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Who didn't have fun with this one?

 

While playing, you can create your own experience and memories, depending on what you play. You have direct influence on the game, while you play. For video games, the product is already complete and many events are scripted (everyone sees the same main events.), but you are still able to have some sort of say in how you experience the game. Some people will find one section more difficult than you did, for example. Some games even go as far as creating different scenarios or endings depending on the choices you make at certain intervals in the story. The level of interaction in gaming is much greater than in other forms of media. Just because you yell at the TV, doesn“t mean the character on screen is going to do what you want them to do. In a video game, you have control over that, although mistakes do happen. However, the strong level of interactivity doesn“t end with video games though.

 

Sports also have this ability and take it even further than video games do. For sports, the ground rules are set, but there aren“t really any scripted events. Each time you play the game, there“s always the possibility that something different may happen.

 

And last, but not least, games are simply fun!

Blazeknyt

The fighting game tournament EVO just finished recently, and with it, thoughts of fighting games sprung up. Fighting games are games you can almost always get into. In no particular order (except the last one), here are 5 reasons I love fighting games:

 

The characters

 

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Most games have tons of characters, but with fighting games it“s even more pronounced, and that“s because many characters are playable. You can almost always find someone to play with, and the roster tends to grow with each new game. Seriously, Tekken started with 8 playable characters in the arcade, and now boasts over 40.

 

 

 

 

Variety

 

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The growth of the video game industry made everything change. 2D fighters and 3D fighters offer different takes on the game. 2D fighters limit movement, but can really play with animations. Combos actually started as a glitch! 3D fighters offer a whole new range of movement, but tend to be slower in gameplay due to the more realistic movement portrayed. Soul Calibur“s movement has always felt smoother compared to Tekken“s.

 

You have hand-to-hand fighting games, weapons based fighters, and even wrestling, boxing and MMA games could fit in here. All of them offer different takes on fighting: Street Fighter and King Of Fighters are the 2D kings. The Marvel vs. Capcom series is the most renowned crossover, while Tekken and Soul Calibur refined 3D fighting.

 

 

 

 

 

The mechanics

 

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The mechanics, or the engine of the game itself is how fighters differentiate themselves. How do the combos work? What can cancel into what? Once I finally figured out how some basic combos work out, I tried this in other fighting games, and found that basic combos (at least in 2D fighters) follow the same basic formula. A heavy attack can be canceled into a special move without interruption.

 

Street Fighter IV“s Focus attack has various uses, and Tekken has a very strong influence on juggling your opponent. My favorite two mechanics are the "C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!" from Killer Instinct, and the parry system introduced in Street Fighter III, which fuels another reason below, There are incredibly advanced combos in practice modes listed out for you now. The exact combo may not be practical, but it teaches the mechanics that many competitive players use. Figuring out the game works is like figuring out an intricate puzzle, and mastering that puzzle takes lots of practice. However, once you get into that, you just may fall into the…

 

 

 

 

 

Competitive spirit

 

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In a fighting game, you are trying to prove that you are better than someone else, particularly by beating the crap out of him or her. The competitive spirit helps fuel me to learn the mechanics and analyze opponents. Knowing that I will go up against others who play the game, I need to know what combos work, what moves are worth using, and when to use them.

 

Competition has grown so much that local and international tournaments are held. It“s really cool to see that gaming has grown to become much more than a hobby. Along with tournaments, the internet has provided a way to garner information on different players and playing styles.

 

The unfortunate side effect of competition leads to emotions. Determination can lead to stubbornness, constant losses can lead to anger, and constant winning can lead to having no fun.

 

 

 

The Comeback

 

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The comeback is one of the single greatest feelings you can achieve. It doesn“t even have to be in a video game, you could make a comeback in a sports match, a board game, or a race.

 

Just watch this video.

 

So what are your favorite fighting games, and why?

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