Monday, February 23, 2009

Battle Report: Street Fighter 4

I love silly fighting game characters. Facing off against the stoic badasses that head each fighting game. Throwing out their ridiculous winning animations after their equally ridiculous wins against more "epic" characters. Reminding us to never take these games too seriously.

That's part of the reason I knew Sakura was my main when I first played her. The other part? Instant gratification. When her dragon punch lands it has at least double the hits as a normal Ken/Ryu punch. Sure the damage is probably the same, but the clack-clack-clack-clack after catching a player off guard and punishing them just feels so good. Her offensive based specials also reminded me of playing Guilty Gear more than other character.

As you can probably tell, I'm feeling pretty good about this game right now. It's almost a polar opposite to my flagging attempts at playing last night. The day before going online for the first time showed me just how nubish me and my local fighting game clique are. Players saw through my over reliance of special moves and tore me apart. My tactics didn't work and I had nothing to replace them.

Then my friend came over and tore down anything that was left. His Balrog's punches a bulldozer clearing the rubble. I found myself barely able to do damage to him. But I'm not one to resign after defeat. As cliched as it is, what does not kill you makes you stronger. With the cleared land, I could now build a solid foundation.

My friend taught me to pay more attention to basic attacks. Landing a sweep on an attacking player is safer and easier than trying to counter the attacks with a special move. With my back to basics style I went online today and picked apart my foes. Only unleashing my former link combo flashiness when the opportunity arose. Sure they were newbies. All bearing exploitable holes in their offense and defense. But it feels good not to lose to them.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Well made HL2 fan film

Brings back memories of Half Life 2. I can't really put into words why I like the Combine of the Half Life universe. Maybe it's the militaristic, oppression with a Sci-Fi bent. Maybe its all the little details like how the cops' suits emit sirens when the die. Something about it just pumps my adrenaline.

I've got two friends who own the game right now but they're both climbing out of respectable backlogs. I'm afraid they'll both be turned off by the fledgling level design Valve has so refined in Portal and HL2's Episodes.

Come on, guys. Weather HL2. Or play through Portal and see the kind of pacing and subtle story telling Valve is capable of achieving. If you want more, go for the episodes.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Par for course: L4D content free

Looks like the Left4Dead content coming out this fall will be free for both consoles.

Microsoft has tried to maintain a certain "market value" for all it's content on the XBLM. After all, people might be reluctant to pay for a Gears or Halo map pack if they just got their L4D maps for free. I can imagine how Valve convinced Microsoft to allow this sort of heretical price tag on the XBLM. "Go ahead and send the message that people should be buying our games on the PC and not the 360 if you really wanna charge for this stuff."

I'm glad as the game shipped a little light on the content side. Even by Valve's new "you'll only play a few maps anyway, just look at Counter Strike" ideology, the 4 campaigns are starting to wear thin.

I'll admit, I was hoping the 360 content wouldn't be free. I engaged in a some petty PC superiority posturing with a 360 L4D player awhile back. This news only goes to prove his point. But really, what does it matter who's right or wrong when we're speculating on the backroom dealings of game publishers? We all end up on the cover of Modern Jackass.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Meditations on Capitalism

This whole financial crisis has got me thinking. Capitalism is very dependent on consumerism. When the Chinese box making industry hits hard times when we stop buying enough HDTVs I have to ask myself where this global society is going. Say what you will about globalization. If those box making jobs were in America, then the American box making industry would be suffering. The point is the economy runs on us buying lots of stuff. When people stop buying things, our economy collapses.

This troubles me. I don't like materialism. I'm no Buddhist but that religion teaches us that we should not seek out shallow happiness in material possessions. What if America were a Buddhist nation? Would we have a president that told us to shop more as a response to 9/11?

"It is not correct to say that each society gets the men it deserves. Rather, each society produces the men it needs." - Peter Berger, Invitation to Sociology

The men capitalism needs to survive and flourish are rabid consumerists. All their possessions are disposable and replaceable. What's your first inclination when something breaks? Buy a new one. It's more profitable for companies to sell you a new product than repair your old one. Think about this the next time you use a disposable utensil at a restaurant. Its better for our economy if that restaurant pays a plastic utensil company to manufacture new sporks and straws on a regular basis. Yeah, it creates more jobs and pumps money into the economy but it really offends my pretentious environmentalist side. Think about the resources and chemicals it takes to create the plastics for those sporks. Then imagine the diesel it takes to ship those sporks across america to the restaurant chains. Now look at yourself, using the spork once, then throwing it out.

I'm not sure if capitalism deserves anything, but certainly the American society could do with more responsible citizens. If we are all content with more modest living perhaps we can weather this recession a bit easier. But that's just me. What do you think?

Disturbance in the workforce: Me

Funny thing about being laid off; people treat it like someone in your family died.

"How are you feeling?"
"I'm so sorry to hear this happened."
"Norman, are you crying?"

I guess our culture paints a picture of destitution and adversity around unemployment. I couldn't be further from that picture. Why would I be crying over losing a job I wasn't completely satisfied with? Maybe if I were depending on my pay check to pay off my expensive car and mortgage from month to month or I had a family to take care of. I'll admit, I'm lucky to be in the financial situation I'm in right now.

For months before this week's layoff I considered leaving my IT consulting job to explore other career options. Fear of change and the warm blanket of a ridiculously high salary kept me in place. This could be the kick in the ass I need to venture out. After allHopefully the video game industry isn't collapsing too much to take me in.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

This American Life meets video games

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by all the new stuff coming out off the death of EGM (see my podcast sidebar). My weekly listening schedule hasn't been quite as shortened as I thought it would be.

One notable podcast is A Life Well Wasted from Robert Ashley. The first episode takes the This American Life format and applies it to recently deceased EGM. Though, honestly, I don't think you should listen to it focusing on that premise. I found myself nitpicking where ALWW wasn't like TAL. But it should be taken as what it is. A history of EGM from the eyes of the editors.