Til All Are One

Friday, June 16, 2006

Another crack at it

So I didn't really succeed at doing what I said about "going easy on myself" about this blog thing. I still felt a need to be really significant. I finally had an epiphany when I stumbled upon the gamelifeshow website. Here's a bunch of guys (and one girl, who seems to be the "Gwen Stefani" of the group in a very unintentional way) just doing something for the heck of it, and even though their talent for hosting a show is, in my personal opinion, negligable, their passion for doing it shines through, and significance be damned.

So why do I feel the need to be so purposeful with my entries. I don't know, I suppose I'm trying to figure that out. I bounce from one unexplored web page to another, discovering what personal touches people are adding to this organism known as the web, and seeing what it evolves in to, and being impressed more often than I think I will. Then I look at my crappy homepage, and I think why don't I work harder on it. Maybe I could impress some other people. But whether I do or I don't, that's not the important part. I just have to understand that better.

So of course many things have changed since Feb. Dana and I are married. The wedding went off without a hitch, and I could not have asked for anything to go better than it did. I was really happy throughout the entire day, and I was so glad that many of my friends made it. Sylvain has some awesome pictures of the event on his blog.

Another big change is that I finally broke my addiction with FFXI. It's really weird because Dana still plays, but I have learned a lot about our differences since we stopped playing. I am intensely goal driven. If what I'm doing isn't contributing to the fastest attainment of my goal at the time, I think of it as a waste of time. Dana is more in to enjoying whatever she is doing at the moment, regardless of how much it contributes to the overall goal. I believe she belongs to a minority of MMO players (although it's possible that this may be a male/female thing, in which case I suspect a lot more women players are like her,) and I believe it is this minority that can play an MMO without becoming addicted.

As for me, I knew I couldn't, so I've sworn off MMOs. After a two week self-imposed hiatus on playing games, I returned to the PS2 with Kingdom Hearts II, which I'm enjoying quite a bit. I'm almost done, but I want the secret ending so I'm grinding away at completing all of Jiminy's Journal and farming all of the synthesis materials, which is obviously postponing my ending by quite a lot. I suppose that's the point. It's amazing to me now how I can just go on to youtube.com or Google video and look up the ending. I could never have imagined that when I first started using the internet.

I'm still cruising through the chronological list of Famicom games (and now PC Engine games, due to where I am in the time line.) I've had a good time playing through Dragon Warrior III again, discovered how good The Guardian Legend is, and enjoyed a translation of the Japanese only released Konami's Wai Wai World which pools various Konami mascot's in to one side scroller. On the portable side, The New Super Mario Bros. is keeping me busy intermitantly, having tired of Brain Age in about two weeks.

So... this blog is never going to be me demonstrating that I'm on the bleeding edge of technology (there were many more KH2 reviews before mine...) but if noone but me gets enjoyment out of reading this, then I'll have to be OK with that, because there's nothing wrong with that. Now, if only I could feel like myspace.com was worthwhile...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Starting over fresh

I'm gonna take another whack at this. I think I put a little too much pressure on myself to make this some exciting form of entertainment for anyone who reads it rather than just being merely an outlet for my thoughts, whether anyone reads it or not. I dunno, I'm weird that way.

These days, Dana and I probably spend more time playing FFXI than ever. It's like we're after some really difficult and elusive goal to get more out of the game than we have been, but in order to do that, we're forced to jump through even more hoops. Leveling up at this point (we're @ level 37) is agonizingly slow. Two hours of dedicated playing in one evening usually gets us up one level, but not always. And we need to be between 45 and 50 to complete the next major mission that we have. It becomes kind of a bummer when you realize that in order to reach a high level in a different job, you have to go all the way through that pain again.

The wedding plans are moving along, even if only at a snails pace. Dana and I are just not enthusiastic planners. I want the wedding to be fun for everyone who is coming, but there's so many details to set in place that we get tired just thinking about it. Needless to say, Dana is not exactly a bride-zilla. I still have to contact the florist, and get ready to do the invitations. I can't believe it's less than 4 months away...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I think the cat is out of the bag...

OK, a meaningful post for once. Or at least a hardcore rant.

I would say the golden age for video games for me personally was right about 1992~1993. The Super Nintendo was only a couple of years old, and the NES wasn't so old that it was religated to the closet just yet. The Sega Genesis was out and about, but my hardcore Nintendo fandom would not allow me to appreciate what that system had to offer in terms of games for many years to come. And there was even that Turbo-Grax16 system that I saw from time to time and was intrigued with, but US support for the system was weak, even though it manage to topple the Famicom's dominance in Japan.

Nintendo Power and Electronic Gaming Monthly would come to my mailbox every month showing promises of incredible games due out shortly, and glimpes at the incredible offerings from the land of the rising sun that I may or may not get to play in Engrish. These magazine were aimed at a small percentage of the world population known as "gamers." In time, the term "hard-core" would be added to the front to seperate the players that rabidly bought every system and every mind bogglingly difficult game that came out for them, from the players that Sony was trying to attract, i.e. everyone else.

That happened around 1995. And though the Playstation was due to come out, and deliver on the promise that Nintendo failed to keep with the N64, things were beginning to change. The magazines didn't catch on right away, but the retailers sure did. Sony of America's early refusal to import complicated or strategic RPGs almost put a nail in the coffin of what I considered the most enjoyable form of video games being released in the States. Fortunately, Final Fantasy VII convinced them otherwise. It's ironic that I feel fortunate about FF7's release since it was my least favorite FF at that time. The departure from cute sprite based and illustrious hand drawn enemies to a cold and pointy polygonal 3-D world took the FF charm away, and I still haven't warmed up to it completely even though I'm accepted it as inevitable.

Time marches forward, and we see Sega disappear from the hardware market due to lack of fan (read: hard-core) support, Sony claiming the throne away from Nintendo, and Microsoft simply entering the video game industry because Sony dared to invade their monopoly over internet traffic when they announced that the PS2 would play some games online. The hard-core gamer is still alive and strong, but it's sharing a very crowded swimming pool with people who don't take swimming quite as seriously. That makes it very hard for the hard-core gamer to practice laps.

And now in this very strange time of 2005, it seems some movement to legitamize video games as not only a very (VERY) profitable form of media, but as a mainstream form of entertainment is taking place. On top of that, other forms of entertainment are depicting people who were once shunned as inapproachably hardcore and "otaku" as geeky in a fashionably cute way. Girls who play games are glorified as... as girls who play games. I certainly have no problem with girls who play games, as I enjoy playing greatly with my fiance. But the glorification that is going on at this time is making me a little cold.

I guess it's just something I have to accept. As I get older, more and more of the population, particularly the generations beneath me, are going to be in to gaming, and those of us who were once marginalized and ostrosized as "incurably nerdy" are now too old and too cynical to revel in the wake of the change in attitude toward gamers. I don't care for the latest EGM issues that look like MTV threw up in the pages. I can't stand watching G4 half of the time. I simply don't like culture depicting to me how games should be enjoyed. And I know it's my choice to pay attention to it or ignore it, but the fact that it's occuring gets under my skin.

Now I understand how indie movie fans feel when they are sneered at for preferring their lesser known gems over the likes of Terminator 3. Because it's how I feel when I mention how great Stella Deus and Katamary Damacy are to the many Grand Theft Auto fans out there. Or when I dare to say that the Dreamcast was an entirely underrated system to all the XBox 360 pre-order fanatics.

The game industry will continue to grow with or without me, and there may come a time when I feel left in the dust. As my old age hardens me to newer experiences that younger players will go on to classify as the quinticential game playing experience. And I will continue to play the games that I enjoy, old and new alike. But I will always be conscious of the divide that I feel growing bewteen those of us who were there from the beginning, and those that are picking up joysticks for the first time. It will be interesting to see what happens if I ever have a child. Will I be able to enjoy those newer experiences with him/her? Through him/her? Will I be able to communicate and share my love for the older, dare I say archaic, technology of the games that I grew up on? I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Continuing Adventures of...

First up, thank you all for the b-day wishes. It was a very low key day, but it was nice. "Trevor" is doing well, I've been playing with him consistantly every day since Dana got Nintendogs for me. I have over 3500 trainer points, and I understand that for my version, once I hit 4000, I will unlock German Shepards. That will be my second puppy breed. I've unlocked Pugs, but I'm not fond of those.

Dana and I have finally reach level 30 in FFXI, so we have begun our advanced job quests. Dana would like to become a Samurai while I am going for Summoner. It seems that the Summoner quest is much easier than the Samurai quest so it looks like I will be completing mine first. I would seriously like to proceed with the Rank missions, but seeing as the one I'm up to requires nearly a full party of level 35 players, it's going to take a while. I really don't like how high the level requirements are for that game.

Nothing else major to report. Dana's birthday is in six days. No major plans figured out yet, but if any details come together, I'll be sure to post them. The GP2X is shipping now, so I'll be posting the moment I get mine. A SNES emu is reportedly in development for it, but skeptics think it might be a rumor. I hope it's not, but more importantly, I'd like to hear some MAME news soon.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

So what happened?

I'm not quite sure. I thought about adding a blog post every day since the last one, but I never pushed myself to actually do it. I've been looking at the blogs I've posted so far and I realized, if they're not even interesting to me, how do I expect them to be interesting to any one else? All I do is come on here and talk about where I am in a number two MMO, and my reaction to age old games. Yeah, those things are interesting to me, and I could breath some life in to the subject when I write about it, but really, I don't think I'm inspiring anyone with my writing.

The video game blog world out there is exploding. I read Kotaku and Joystiq almost everyday. There's a passion behind it, it inspires me to want to be like those authors. Perhaps that's the true reason I started this blog in the first place. The notion that people write articles which are part fact and part opinion intrigues me. I'm no longer a game developer, but I guess I sort of felt that I could still be a part of the industry by participating in this exploding phenomenon. That's a little like saying you're a basketball player because you practice throwing a ball in to the hoop over your garage door.

I appreciate the regular visitors to my blog, especially Jeff. And to answer you question Jeff, my birthday was yesterday. The big three-oh. It was nice, and Dana bought me Nintendogs. Now I'm raising a Shiba Inu, who I have named appropriately Trevor. So far he hasn't learned many commands, but he's good at catching a frisbee, and he's beginning to really like me.

I suppose my blog won't change much in format unless my whim dictates otherwise. I don't think I'm going to develop a fanatical following, the kind that I sort of wish I could have. But that has more to do with my ego, then the theraputical value of writing entries in the first place. Oh well. I'll let you know where Dana and I are in Vana'diel tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

It's November again

Wow, November 1st, my birthmonth has started. It's a Tuesday, so it's a long day for both Dana and myself. I'm going to pick up dinner and bring it over to Dorian's house and catch up with him and Mary Kate and see how little Atticus is doing. He recently asked me about Pilotwings 64 and it reminded me about how I played it while twidling my thumbs after beating Mario 64 and waiting for ANYTHING else to come out on the N64 (I think Wave Race 64 was the next title). It wasn't a bad game, just not enjoyable all the way through.

Last night Dana got home from class and was so tired, she didn't feel like playing FFXI. So I logged on by myself, took the airship from Kazham to Jeuno, and rented a Chocobo from Jeuno to San d'Oria, and changed to my Red Mage job. I went from level 7 to level 8 before I realized the only reason I was doign Red Mage was because I wanted to reach level 10 so I could use the Barpoison spell I found on a monster. That would take a while, and it wouldn't help me nearly as much as leveling up my Black Mage job, which I'm using as my sub-job, so I started leveling that job up until my eye lids got heavy. Tonight will probably be more of the same.

I finally saw the ending to Robo Warrior (NES), but I had to cheat quite a bit to see it, by using emulator save states. Every time I reached a good safe point, I'd save the game, and reload if I ever died. It didn't necessarily remove the challenge from the game, but it made it a lot easier and made me more likely to play sloppy. As for Chester Field, I think I have to start over because I missed two major items going from stage 5 to stage 6. It's not that great of a game, but it is my goal to beat as many games in chronological order as I can, so if I truly want to move on, I'll need to dedicate some time in to it. At least it's not that bad.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Whoops...

I guess this is what happens. Over time I will slowly forget to update as frequently as I would like to. I forgive myself though. It was a nice weekend. Dana and I threw a party Sat. night. It was supposed to be a costume party, but not enough people responded, and those that did probably would have felt silly in costumes, so it simply became a dinner party. It was nice to see Bart and Tom again. But the time that I've been away from Firaxis is starting to weaken the friendship I have with them a little bit. I think primarily because they just finished a death march in order to complete Civ IV. So their whole lives have been work work work, and I, for one, do not miss that.

So with the remaining free time over the weekend, Dana and I decided it was time to take up the airship keys quest in FFXI for a few reasons. One because the next mission we have for San d'Oria really requires level 35 and we're only 25, and two because the next best place to level up is in Kazham, which we need the airship pass to reach. I personally don't like quests that are based on random luck drops. And this one had three of them, and for two people, so we had to continuously fight slightly hard monsters for 6 random drops. :P But we pulled it off and we are now stationed in Kazham, waiting for our chance to fly up in levels again.

On the NES front, I've been bouncing around a couple of Famicom games. One is Fantasy Zone, a port of Sega's horizontal shooter arcade game, and I'm finding the NES version very difficult. I'm playing the Sunsoft version, not the US unlicensed Tengen version. I keep getting nailed in boss fights because I'm not patient enough to dodge bullets. The next is Robo Warrior, released in Japan as Bomber King. I don't know if it was ever officially meant to be part of the Bomberman series, but Hudson sure likes games with bombs. That's another very hard game, but it is fun to blow everything in the stage up. And lastly, I'm playing through an English translation of a game called Chester Field. It never came out here, but very interestingly, there is an ad for the game in one of the early Nintendo Fun Club newsletters (pre-Nintendo Power), so it was meant to come out here at one point, but didn't. It was clearly inspired by the Adventure of Link, it's just a bit rougher animation and scrolling wise. Also, the mazes are very unintuitive. You might go in a circle through rooms and end up in a different room than your starting point... That's it for now.