If you have any examples of bad translations feel free to send them to us.
September 28, 2009
September 25, 2009
In this edition of Insufficient Funds, I'm going to offer you an array of short, little funny experiences. Maybe the games featured previously were too time consuming for you? Well fret not young gamer. Every game featured today will take you a mere handful of minutes. If you don't have time to check these out, then you probably wouldn't have time to even be on this site. SO GET BACK TO WORK!
You Have to Burn the Rope
With the simple description of, "Computer games are getting so hard these days...", Kian Bashiri (aka Mazapan) walked right into the hearts of gamers worldwide and settled in. Go ahead, analyze the crap out of this game. Yes, it's probably a metaphor for something. I'm not going to talk about that here. I'm just going to tell you how funny it is, and that it is worth the minute it will take you to beat it so that you can hear the song at the end.
P.S. SPOILER ALERT! You have to burn the rope to win.
Click here to play
Don't Shit Your Pants
Well Mr. Metaphor, what's the metaphor in this game huh? Is it a metaphor for the epic struggle someone faces in this tough economy? We just want a little relief, but it's so hard to find any. Or maybe it's a scathing indictment of video games? Even when you succeed, your brain still turns to shit. Or perhaps it's just a ridiculous game about not shitting in your pants?
Can you become Shit King?
This is the Only Level
Oh! I've got it! It's a commentary on video games these days? How they just recycle the same art assets over and over again, reusing areas and enemies so that they don't have to create new ones. Or maybe it's about the US Presidency? They all might look different, but it's really the same old thing. Hmm... oh nevermind. I give up.
The elephant forgot the rest of the levels
September 24, 2009
In case you don't follow my every move on the web like my friend Steve does, I thought I'd make you this handy guide. Now you can stalk me just as easily as Steve does. Which, you know... is kind of creepy. Maybe you should just back off.
If you happen to use Twitter, then add me! I use it constantly. Usually from my phone. Which means you get to hear me talk about random weird things happening to me throughout the day. Like when I almost hit a raccoon. You'll probably hear about that.
Bitmobbers on Twitter: Scribblenauts Edition
I quite often frequent a site called Bitmob in an attempt to break into the game journalism industry. I have made some aquaintances from said site, and one of them has also creepily started to cyber stalk me. His name is Lance, and he posted this stream of random tweets that was very me centric. I'm looking into a restraining order for him.
Bitmobbers on Twitter: Scribblenauts Edition
One day, that creepy Lance guy just started randomely asking me questions. For some reason, I answered them. I really need to stop encouraging that guy.
A Twitterview with Alex R. Cronk-Young
Bitmob Game Club
Like a book club only MUCH nerdier, me and several other Bitmob members are playing through a game and discussing it. This time, it is the freeware game Cave Story. Want to play along? Well hurry and catch up!
Game Club: Cave Story Edition
Pixel Revolt: Episode 7
For some reason, these guys thought I would be a funny and interesting guest for their podcast. I'm not sure what they were thinking, but I came on anyway. You can also find this on iTunes by the way.
Yeah, this is kind of used as my soapbox for ranting right now. I promise that will change soon though. I'm plotting out a story/book type of thing right now that I will post on this blog chapter by chapter. I'm going to call it a blook!
Well there ya go. Now you can cyber stalk me just like all the cool kids. Just be forwarned, I'm kind of boring.
Well, it's the last weekend of September. I'm not really sure what to think of the movie releases this week. We've got two sci-fi action flicks that look like they would have made summer release as blockbusters, but what does it say that they've been thrown in the September dumping ground? I guess we'll find out once the reviews hit.
Wow. Uh, that scene at the end of this trailer is just... wow. Maybe we won't have to wait for the reviews on this one.
Like I said, this looks like just another summer popcorn action flick, but it was thrown into September territory so I'd be wary of it's quality. Still, that scene where everyone collapsed at once? Somehow that looked really cool to me. Probably not worth seeing the whole movie just for that is it?
Capitalism: A Love Story
Michael Moore's jokes are kind of getting old. The megaphone outside of the building thing? Give it a rest. Still, I'm interested to hear the points he brings up in the film.
What will you be seeing?
September 22, 2009
Every time a game journalist is asked about how someone can get into the industry, they will inevitably mention writing talent in their answer. It's perfectly understandable. They are asked this question countless times, and probably more then half of the people asking are not amazing writers. Still, something about this seems a little arrogant to me.
Most of the time, game journalists will mention in their response that not everyone has writing talent, and that if you don't, you probably never will. I disagree with statements like this to the extent that in my opinion, it comes down to effort. Sure, a lot of writers are completely average and have no style of their own, but everyone can write.
You may not know proper grammar, spelling, or structure, but if you are really serious about writing, all of these skills can be learned. If everyone puts in the effort to grow as a writer, there's a plateau that they can reach. You might not have a unique style and talent at writing to excel above that point, but I think everyone can get there.
This is why I love Bitmob so much. It is giving young writers an outlet and an audience that is much greater then any they could create on their own blog. It's then up to each person what they will do with that, but it offers a place for them to be encouraged to read, learn and grow as writers. It is hard to keep writing consistently on a blog that nobody reads. At Bitmob you are given an audience no matter how little you write.
So why do game journalists discourage people from trying to reach that plateau from the very outset? Because previously, there was a very limited amount of seats available in the industry. Now however, sites like Bitmob offer a place for anyone that wants to put in the work.
So this is my open call to game journalist and former game journalists. There is no need to discourage anyone from trying to become a video game writer anymore. Let every single person you meet have that glimmer of hope, because it can only help them to get better.
When Ryan Scott openly mocks a persons writing on a live PAX panel, or when Shawn Elliott sends out tweets like this one, I groan. I understand why they do it. It's reactionary. They are trying to spare peoples feelings. In their minds 99% of the countless people they meet won't be able to get into the industry, but they are behind the times.
So please, change your ways. Encourage people to get better. Give them helpful pointers if need be. In this new era of gaming journalism, everyone has a place if they work hard enough, and no one who wants it that badly deserves to be left out because you made them feel like they would never be able to.
September 20, 2009
In case you were unaware, the Sega Dreamcast turned 10 years old earlier this month. Much was written from gamers about their love of the system, and about its tragic demise, but nobody seems to care about the characters who called it home.
Sure there have been interviews with former Sega executives about what went wrong and how they feel about it, but you'll never get a straight answer from those big shot suits. Nope, if you want the real scoop, you have to go to the bottom rung on the ladder. In this case, that means the video game characters themselves.
Not wanting to bother with a bunch of characters that wouldn't know a thing, I decided to start right off with the guy who would know the most dirt, Sonic. I've been on the line with his agent for an hour now, waiting to get an interview so I can ask the tough questions.
*** 9 Hours Later ***
So, I guess Sonic has some hot new game coming out that's supposed to take him back to his classic style and everyone will love it? Either way, I couldn't get an appointment. I guess I'll lower my standards for the moment and try to find out some gossip from a less beloved character, Ulala from Space Channel 5.
I called beforehand but I got the feeling I didn't really need to with how quickly she agreed. I glance at the note I had scribbled the address on to make sure I have the right apartment before knocking. She answers the door in a matter of seconds.
I hardly recognize her. She's no longer the skinny, peppy girl she used to be. She's dressed in a stained covered t-shirt that's way too tight and a pair of sweatpants. She's probably gained at least 150 lbs since her Space Channel 5 days, is eating from a bag of Cheetos, holding a beer, and clearly has no bra on. This should be an interesting interview.
I open my mouth to ask my first question, but I barely get the first word out before I am interrupted.
Alex: "I was jus-"
Ulala: "Yeah yeah, we can get to your questions later. I wanted to ask you something that I've needed an answer for. Being one of these people that play the games I used to star in, you should be able to answer."
Alex: "Uh... OK. I guess I could try to an-"
Ulala: "Whats she got that I don't?"
Alex: "....um. I'm afraid I don't understand who you're talking about."
Ulala: "Lara. What the fuck was so great about her?! The tits?! I've got those! They might not be as big BUT THEY'RE THERE!"
I hear a pounding coming from the other apartment and shouts muffled by the wall.
Alex: "...uh, well. I would argue you were just as desirable as he-"
Ulala: "Bullshit! She made me want to get into that video game shit! You nerds cream all over her! What about me?! She's in the Guinness Book of Records as Most Successful Human Video Game Heroine!!! I'm a fucking human video game heroine!! WHAT ABOUT ME?!? SHE WAS IN FUCKING PLAYBOY!! THAT'S JUST FUCKING WEIRD!!!
I quickly realized I wouldn't be getting much information out of her and made up some reason that I had to leave. As I tried to dash out of the apartment, she grabbed me by my arm. I turned and saw that she was rubbing one of her fingers around a nipple and licking her lip. I yanked my arm free and cupped my hand over my mouth as I burst out the apartment door.
I bent over, clutching my knees and gasping on the dirty wet street. I could hear her shouting from the window, "WHATEVER! ALL YOU NERDS ARE THE SAME! YUR PROLLY INTO FURRYS OR SOMETHING! DISGUSTING FUCKS!"
Already regretting this article, I was about to call it quits when I noticed a flyer for an autograph signing Sonic was doing the next day. I wrote the address and time down on my hand and walked off to the sounds of Ulala and her neighbor, who were now screaming at each other.
Freshly showered, though no amount of water or soap could ever get me clean again, I arrived at the game store where Sonic was to appear. To my surprise there was a line around the block. I guess I should have arrived earlier but I had spent most of the morning on the shower floor in a fetal position, weeping. I stepped in line behind a group of pre-teens excitedly chattering back and forth.
***4 Hours Later***
I had just about had it with listening to the kids in front of me talk argue over which shitty Sonic friend was the best, and the 30 year olds behind me arguing over who was legally married to Sonic, when I reached the front of the line.
Sonic quickly signed the pre-teens games, and a guard shoved them off as they tried to ask some stupid question about Charmy the Bee and Amy Rose being in love. I stepped up and Sonic glanced up at me.
Sonic: "Where's your game? Whatever, I'll sign this stupid card. Here ya go."
Alex: "Wait, I wanted to ask you what you think killed the Dreamca..."
I was violently shoved out the door by a burly security guard and left with nothing to show for the entire thing but a flimsy card with Sonic's signature. As I walked off, the 30 somethings came out the door behind me.
Loser 1: "Did you hear that? He said "Hey" to me like a married person would say to their spouse!"
Loser 2: "Hah! How stupid do you think I am? He said "Hey" to you like he did to every one else. He looked at me like we were married! You HAD to have seen that!"
Their high pitched argument grew inaudible as they shoved and pushed each other in the opposite direction I was walking. I decided to see if I could get a straight answer out of someone who wouldn't be able to brush me off, or try to rape me, Seaman.
Uuuuh... yeah. Apparently that thing is dead. It was floating upside down in it's little tank. Smelled pretty bad. Alright. The 'Typing of the Dead' guys James and Gary? Meh. Why not?
I tracked down the house that James and Gary lived in rather easily. All the neighbors pointed it out as the one that was falling apart and emitting weird smells. I knocked a couple times but when no one answered I let myself in. My hand darted to cover my nose when I caught wind of the smell.
I stepped over piles of trash and made my way through the house calling out their names. It wasn't long before I found James sitting in the kitchen in a rickety looking wooden chair, behind an over-turned table. He startled awake when I stepped next to him.
James: "Aaah! Uh. Who are you? A zombie? Huh!?"
Alex: "Uh, no. My name's Alex, I just wanted to interview you... where's Gary?"
James jerks his head in the direction of the living room.
James: "They got him awhile ago."
I look over the counter and see the rotting corpse of Gary lying on the floor, head blown off, shotgun in hand.
Alex: "AAAH! WHAT THE HELL?! DID HE KILL HIMSELF?!"
James: "The zombies were gonna get 'im. Wanted to go on his own terms."
Alex: "What uh... what zombies James? There aren't any zombies. That was a video game."
His hands are stuck in claw like shapes.
Alex: "What happened to your hands?"
James: "Carpal tunnel. No one was fighting the zombies anymore. We had to."
Alex: "Uh... right. So you guys have just been in here playing the game for all these years?"
James: "SOMEONE HAD TO FIGHT THE ZOMBIES!"
At this point I decided it would probably be best if I didn't work him up anymore then I already had. I stepped quietly out of the house as James started to fall back asleep, mumbling something about zombies.
After taking the questions from the police, I drove home with a new found determination to end these interviews. I was going to get that interview with Sonic if it was the last thing I did. I climbed into bed with plots and schemes running through my head.
I looked up at the fancy apartment complex where Sonic reportedly lived. It turns out it's actually pretty easy to find that information online. In fact, there are 24 hour web cams positioned in windows of the apartment building across the street, angled in a way that they can see inside Sonics bathroom, most notably his shower.
It's slightly disturbing, but at least it helped me track down this hot shot once and for all. I walk through the lobby of the lavish lobby with all it's sterile whiteness. It's a very IKEA-esque design. The elevator is solid glass and attached to a track running up the wall so that everyone can watch you slowly raise out of the lobby and out of view.
I walk down the hallway of floor 17 until I find apartment number 69. I knock and wait...
***5 Minutes Later***
I knock again, more loudly this time, and wait...
***10 Minutes Later***
This time I pound as hard as I can.
Sonic: "YEEEEEEEAH! I'M COOOOMING! JESUS CHRIST!
He finally opens the door, wearing some sort of feminine looking bathrobe that looks to be made of silk.
Sonic: "Yeah? Whadda you want kid? Autograph? Picture? Do blow off my ass crack? Hurry it up, I've got things to do."
Alex: "Well, no. I just wanted to ask you a question."
Sonic: "Shoot. I've got a meeting with those suits at Sega in an hour to talk about my new FPS."
Alex: "Well... I just wanted to know why the Dreamcast failed. I mean, it was the gamer's system right? What went wrong?"
Sonic: "Really? And you think I'll have a good answer for that? Didn't you ask anyone else?"
Alex: "Well yeah. I asked Ulala from Space Channel 5, James from Typing of the Dead, and I tried to ask Seaman but he couldn't exactly answer anything."
Sonic: "Stop and think about those games you just listed kiddo."
Alex: "... Hmm?"
Sonic: "Think reeeeeeal hard now. Don't hurt your head, but really think about it. The Dreamcast failed because...?"
Alex: "uuuuh, the games were fucking weird?"
Sonic: "THERE YA GO! Only nerds like you who track me down to ask about a console that died 10 years ago ever gave a shit about it. Next time, think a little harder before bothering me about stupid shit? Thanks."
The door slams in my face.
As I stand in the hallway with nothing but the heavy, nasally breathing of some tween kid hiding behind a big potted fern, I start to ponder my answer. He's probably right, the Dreamcast was weird. I doubt we'll ever get another system like it. As I turn and begin to slowly walk out, a security guard passes me. I point toward the fern as I step into the elevator. Was it all worth it? I guess I got some sort of answer, thats as much as we'll probably ever get.
September 19, 2009
Seeing GWAR has been a far more difficult task for me to achieve then it would seem to be. With every opportunity, there came an obstacle, until last night. Finally, the world allowed me to see the band that I have obsessively studied the ridiculous lore of.
GWAR is performance art with tubs of blood. The show that they put on is a thousand times more complex then any show the radio hits of the day would put on. The amount of work they put into their props and stage show must be ridiculous.
From watching their past dvds, I noticed a huge improvement in their costumes throughout the years. But when Cardinal Syn, the 10 foot tall robot with glowing eyes, came out on the stage my jaw dropped. I struggled to even find where the person insides head would be.
The fact that the minds behind GWAR are still doing these extremely elaborate performances after 25 years is amazing. They most likely only make a modest profit off of the whole thing, so it truly shows their love of entertaining the crowd.
And they definitely entertain. You don't have to be a fan of metal to enjoy one of their shows. You probably shouldn't mind being covered in fake blood that stains deep though. And make sure you don't take things so seriously that you would be offended by a bunch of space monsters tearing apart the President of the United States when he comes out to present them with an award for saving the planet. Just pump your fist, smile wide, and soak up the blood from his spewing head chasm.
Now here are some pictures from my adventure:
The anticipation is at fever pitch.
Managed to snap a picture before the blood started to spray. Even that angry looking security guard started laughing during the show.
Drenched in the blood of many slain creatures and celebrities. That shirt used to be white.
My hands also used to be white.
Last picture before the clean-up began.
My contacts may never be the same.
September 17, 2009
Well, it's a much better week for movies. Maybe not movies that I want to see, but there's at least several that SOME people will want to see. Whether you've got kids or you're a fan of schlocky horror movie campiness, there's stuff out there for you finally.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Seems funny and goofy enough to be worth a viewing. If my kid was a little older, I'd probably take her to see this.
Somehow it seems a better fit for Diablo Cody's lines to be in a campy b-horror movie then it did a indie darling Oscar contender like Juno. And somehow, Megan Fox seems perfect to deliver her cute, quirky, kind of ditzy dialogue. Still, will this be just like Drag Me To Hell, and bring in an audience that it completely unaware of it's purposeful cheesiness?
Steven Soderburgh is one of those directors I've been meaning to catch up on. Problem is, he's so stinking prolific. He's already had Che, The Girlfriend Experience, and now this within the span of one year. The Informant is a true story, that was told in detail on an episode of the This American Life radio show. I think I've heard that episode, but this trailer doesn't hint at anything from it, so maybe I haven't.
What will you be seeing?
September 16, 2009
John Davison could see the writing on the wall when he left EGM. He had made his case numerous times for the magazine to attempt to change of focus. Some way for it to stop competing with the burgeoning online realm, as well as open itself more to the casual, family friendly market that he saw growing in video games.
Let's just say, he was ahead of his time. Other people didn't see as much need for any changes. So John moved on, and formed his own site, What They Play, centered around families and the parents who may be unsure about the games their kids are playing. While he is growing more successful everyday, EGM sadly went the way of the dinosaur.
He very kindly agreed to an interview, and I got a chance to ask him about the future of families and casual games, his thoughts on EGM returning to store shelves soon, and the glut of Wii peripherals, among other things. Just in case you missed my previous interview with Robert Ashley, a former freelance writer for 1up and EGM, about his band I Come to Shanghai, be sure to check that out as well.
A big part of your site is educating parents of just what kind of content is in some games. Do you encounter a lot of people who feel there is no place for violence in games? How do we convince people like this that there is a place for mature games just as there is kid friendly ones?
It's been rare to find people that are completely opposed outright to the notion of there being games for adults. There have been a few, obviously but the vast majority of the audience has been very curious about all aspects of games. We've seen a lot of questions about game content, and the results have usually surprised parents that weren't previously familiar with the topic.
When we launched in 2007 it was around the same time as the first Assassin's Creed. Because a lot of kids thought the game was "cool," that information was floating its way up to parents who in turn had questions about it. Invariably the response was along the lines of "I get what it's about, it has the word 'assassin' in the title - but are there any consequences to killing?"
A LOT of parents have been very surprised to learn that the notion of consequence pops up a lot in games, and that the killing isn't purely indiscriminate. I can remember discussing GTA IV with a parent on a radio show who asked me "will there EVER be a game where there are real consequences for your actions?" The response was easy "yes, this one."
Clearly you see the "casual" gaming landscape, and the new batch of gamers that have come with it, as a big part of video games now, you've built a whole business off of it after all, but do you see it sticking around? "Core" gamers seem to feel the new "casual" game trend is a threat to the games they enjoy. How do you think we can play nice and convince them that their future isn't at risk?
No kind of game is a "threat" to any other kind of game. That's just absurd. Games are entertainment, and game makers will watch what people respond favorably to and adapt accordingly. Fun is fun, regardless of what flavor it is. There are more excellent quality "core" games this year than ever, and a lot of the stuff that's dismissed as "casual" replicates a lot of the gameplay mechanics that we were all falling over ourselves with glee about ten years ago. Some of the games that live on Facebook these days are incredibly advanced. The fact that they come in a farm or restaurant themed wrapper doesn't take away the clever social systems and economic simulations that they provide.
Gamers are weird when it comes to this self-classification stuff. It's like any maturing entertainment form ultimately though, I guess. There will always be a group that feel they have some kind of "ownership" because they were into it first, and consequently resent any subsequent success. Just look at the situation with Nintendo for proof of that.
What with my job, kid, and other various projects, I don't get a lot of time to actually play games that aren't handheld and casual. But I still listen to 5 or 6 game podcasts a week and check the news online, so I think I'd still be considered a "core" gamer. I'm sure there are a lot of gamers in this same situation, so can't we get rid of the terms hardcore and casual? Do we even need them? At least change hardcore to enthusiastic or something? I'm tired of putting quotes around those terms so that it's clear to everyone reading that I don't like them.
I wish. It's more of a self-classification system from gamers now than anything. There are an increasing number of "gamers" that don't even think of themselves that way. There's a big difference between declaring yourself "hardcore" because you watch stitched together Final Fantasy cut-scenes in Japanese when you don't even speak a word, and exhibiting "hardcore" gameplay behavior. There are a lot of people that will sink hours and hours into Bejeweled Blitz or Luxor or Farmville, or Peggle. They are the true indication that things are becoming more mainstream. The games industry needs to be feeding entertainment to more and more people who don't define themselves purely by what they consume.
Obviously you're a fan of the iphone as a gaming platform. Recently Sony announced iphone-like games for PSP called Minis. Do you see this structure as the way all handhelds should go, or is there still a place for the PS2 length games that have previously dominated the PSP line-up? What about the console download services, PSN, XBLA, and WiiWare? Would you like to see these go toward full length games, or just small arcade games?
It's another part of the, I dunno - what should we call it? The "mainstreaming" of video games. More people are going to be far more likely to try something for a low price, than invest in something very expensive. Downloadable games, subscription games, free games with microtransactions, modular and episodic games - they all appear to be the direction that the market is evolving because they don't intimidate consumers with high prices. At least not all in one go, anyway. The more people that publishers and developers can get to try something, and then hook them, the better. I think it's a far healthier trend than the $120+ games we're seeing with the crazy peripherals.
An emailer to the What They Play Podcast once made an argument for the amount of family friendly games on the PS3. Given the new price point, do you think Sony would be wise to market the PS3 to families, or are the Wii and the 360 Arcade too big of a barrier for them?
What was interesting about that was that when we really dug into it, the PS3 is stealthily quite a family friendly console. It's not as obviously so as the Wii, but there are plenty of games that families can play together - whether it's the Lego games (that are, admittedly, available for everything) or some of the cool downloadable games on PSN. I think where it still falls flat though is in serving up experiences for younger kids. That'll change now the price has dropped though, I'm sure.
Sony's new marketing push that "it only does everything" is a smart first step toward an audience beyond the core. It can be a scary box for rookie or first time gamers, so anything they can do to soften the brand right now is really going to help them.
When I was a kid, I tried for hours to get past levels in games like Mega Man. These days a game meant for kids seems to mean "extremely simple". Is this just because of the prior design limitations, or do you feel like kids games hold your hand too much?
Stuff that's aimed at children these days is far more in tune with what kids respond to, and their attention spans than anything we had when we were young. Young kids really respond to repetition, simple gameplay themes, and they love seeing tangible progress - so the stuff we're seeing these days taps into those needs far more effectively than the stuff that Sega and Nintendo subjected us to.
Right at launch the Wii had an accessory for consumers to purchase, the nunchuk, then came the Balance Board and Motion Plus. Now we're hearing about heart monitors and horseback riding seats. Is Nintendo shooting themselves in the foot and possibly driving the new audience they've managed to get away with peripheral fatigue?
You'd think, but so far Nintendo has managed to ensure that any new peripheral comes bundled with an essential Nintendo experience. I have to admit to having some serious doubts about the MotionPlus at first, but after playing Wii Sports Resort it's easy to see how they'll get the device into people's homes. So far the sales numbers seem to indicate that it's working, too.
Why isn't the Wii considered next-gen? Advertisements for PS3/360 games seem to always say, available on all next-gen systems. As we get closer to leaving the uncanny valley behind, shouldn't we look to things besides graphics to determine if something is worthy of being called next-gen?
That term is a little outdated now, isn't it? Can we call anything that's three years old "next gen" any more?
So, we have a date on the re-release of EGM now, December 1st. I myself am a fan of the idea of making a higher quality, collectible magazine that they can charge more for. What do you think is their best chance for success?
I still love magazines. There's an art to making good magazines. Simon Cox (the creative director at Ziff Davis when I was editorial director) used to spend a great deal of time discussing and working with the teams on the art of "magazinecraft" - it's all about understanding your audience, and providing a well paced, good looking, well-written, thoughtfully-produced product that exceeds the readers' expectations.
Given how magazines fit into the overall media landscape these days, they need to provide something quite different; they have to be something that your audience is prepared to both WAIT for and PAY for. You can't just bang out some previews and reviews and a few other stories, because you can find that in a million places online.
Steve has the luxury of rebooting EGM in a pretty unique media environment. The days of second-guessing what should be in print, versus what should be online are pretty much over now. Print has strengths, and always will have - so the secret to success is embracing them and not diluting them.
I have to say, having spent a few years away from print, I have a whole new perspective on the way you approach content across different media types. In the unlikely event that I'd ever work in print again, I think I'd feel much more confident about making some bold moves. I hope to see EGM do that later this year.
I'll wrap things up with the obligatory "getting into the industry" question. What's your advice for someone looking to get into the journalism/press side of the games industry? I've started a blog that I try to write on everyday, and I post my stuff to sites like Bitmob and 1up to try to get more recognition, is there anything else you'd recommend doing?
Fundamental writing skill is always going to be core. There are still a lot of people out there that seem to think that being "into games" is enough, and it really isn't. Beyond that though, it's showing that you can think through an idea and craft stories that are more than just one-dimensional and boring. Being able to pitch a story and explain why it's interesting and different, and an interesting perspective on a subject is always going to impress an editor.
Because the media landscape has changed so much, especially in games, the whole previews/reviews thing just isn't going to cut it - especially from an aspirational standpoint. To get your foot in the door these days it's going to be all about finding a good angle. As part of that, I'd definitely embrace social media, and be very careful about what you project on Twitter, Facebook and in any gaming communities you join. That stuff is a big part of how subjects will research you, and they can have a very immediate effect on your ability to get the access you want - whether it's to products, or (especially) people.
Back in January, I told my brother Aaron he should mail his recently recorded cd out to some blogs and podcasts and such. One of the ones I suggested was All Songs Considered, hoping that he'd get picked up by Robin Hilton and put onto the Second Stage podcast. Well, it took more then half a year but there he is. And to top it all off, Robin wrote some very nice things about him. You can check it all out here:
All Songs Considered Blog: Second Stage: Aaron Young and his Nightjars
And check out some more of his music here:
Myspace: Aaron Young and his Nightjars
Congratulations Aaron. You deserve it. Keep making the music that makes you happy. But maybe come back to Michigan to do it? We all miss you, especially Emmy.
September 15, 2009
Video Round-Up is a monthly post that collects an assortment of videos from around the web. Whether they be music videos, creative viral marketing, just plain cool, or just plain ridiculous, they will all be found on Video Round-Up every 15th.
This might be a bit of a shameless plug for my cousin as he plays in this band (although he's not in this video), but I really like them. It would probably be more of a shameless plug for my cousin if I said that I liked his own band more and then posted a link like this one here.
Source: Shawn Elliott
Here's a home video of me heading out with the guys. Nothing too exciting.
It would also probably be a shameless plug for my cousin if I posted a clip of the creator of Found Magazine playing a song that he created from the inspiration he found in my cousins ghetto booty song The Booty Don't Stop.
Someone had WAY too much time on their hands. Thank God the Internet provides a place for people like this to get some recognition for their uh... work?
Source: Shawn Elliott
Sorry for all those shameless plugs everyone. I'll make it up to you with this adorable cat video. Everyone loves adorable cat videos.
September 13, 2009
Sleep Dealer is the full length directorial debut of Alex Rivera. I can find a vast amount of descriptions of the budget as low, minuscule, or tiny, but I can't seem to find an exact number. Either way, it can easily be lumped in with the new trend of low budget, unique sci-fi movies to come out. I was debating whether or not to review this, or make a post about the similarities between it and District 9.
There are a lot of them. Both are low budget, full length debuts from a director. Both have unique stories that are metaphors for real life issues preminent in the directors places of birth. Both are set in areas not normally common to a sci-fi movie. And both have some elements of cliche story telling within their creative plot ideas. Still, one of them made over $100 million and the other only $75,000.
Sleep Dealer imagines a future not too far from now. Where a new technology called nodes allow people to connect themselves directly to a future version of the Internet. Once connected, you can work a job from across the world, upload your memories and sell them to interested parties, or just scratch your perverted, sexual itch.
In this world we follow Memo, a poor farmer, living near the Mexico/American border. He manages to get his family into some trouble, and travels to the city to get nodes so he can earn money for them. Here comes that metaphor I was telling you about. The job he gets allows him to link up with a construction robot in California. An interesting idea on the future of the immigration and labor issues, but the movie never really explores the politics of that situation any further.
Instead we are told a completely different story, of a girl that Memo meets and falls in love with and the things she does to inadvertently bring someone else into his life. It dips very slightly into some Romantic Comedy (without the comedy) genre cliches, but their relationship isn't the entire story. It's more a story of a struggling, poor Mexican village, and how one of the villagers manages to fight back, if only a little bit.
It's not an amazing story, but it's unique enough to be a worthwhile watch. Unlike District 9 however, I don't think it made enough money to catapult Alex Rivera to the levels that Neill Blomkamp is surely at now. His next movie will likely be as low budget as this one was. But hopefully someone like Peter Jackson will take notice of him. I'd love to see what he could do with even the relatively low budget District 9 got, let alone the budget Blomkamp will most likely get for his next release.
Score: 4 out of 5
Confused about our rating system? Read this explanation.
September 12, 2009
This should be Josh's triumphant entry into the land of the Mediaphiles. Unfortunately he emailed this to me and then never responded when I told him he had to make the post himself so it could be listed under his name. What can I say? The guys hilarious, but sort of a Houdini. Maybe one day he will do these things regularly, but for now savor this tasty morsel for as long as you can.
More like "The Final MEH-stination".
The latest death-fearing vehicle has people (SPOILER ALERT!) dying in elaborately crafted deaths. The lamest of these deaths involves the water filtration of a pool. Without spoiling what happens in that scene, I'll just say it sucks. Actually, saying it "sucks" pretty much spoiled it.
I imagine most of these death scenes occurring in a Looney Tunes short starring Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner. The only difference is the gore quotient. THE Final Destination (please don't forget the THE. Forgetting the THE overshadows the importance of this treasure of a movie) lays out the guts like some sort of zombie buffet.
It's all in the name of entertainment and fun though. Nobody comes to these movies to watch the hero rise against the odds concocted by the grim reaper. We watch the grim reaper play a human version of mouse trap with the characters. Watch this movie, and you'll see that the grim man himself doesn't forget to add plenty of cheese for his victims, too.
Now in order to better sum up his complete thoughts on this movie, Josh has offered a closing Haiku:
Death is a grim thing
But not with deaths this stupid
Watch it to laugh hard
I'll assume my own rating to Josh's review as he didn't give one. I didn't see the movie, but it sounds like it wasn't quite Hilariously Bad (5), or So Bad it's Funny (4), but still averagely bad enough to be entertaining in it's badness, so I'll give it a...
3 out of 5 on the Reverse Scale.
September 11, 2009
I think it’s safe to say that we all got excited for this film upon watching the trailer because of the amazing job the animation team did on the film, the intensity of struggle we felt and of course because Tim Burton’s name is in the credits. Well, I have to say that this was all just fluff. We were hypnotized by the pretty colors, cute, little, sewn up characters and nicely timed music and many are in store for a big disappointment.
The setting had such great potential, the characters were memorable and easy to fall in love with, and the creativity that was put into this film would seemingly lead to a very good looking and sounding classic. But where these aspects excelled, the story itself (the most integral part of a film) was lacking and didn’t incite much emotion out of me at all. The film was entirely too predictable with a Disney-esque story arch (the pg-13 rating is most likely to blame for this). It left me, at certain points, bored. The story is filled with gaping holes and leaves no clues for viewers to fill in these blanks with our imagination.
The great struggle for humanity I felt from the trailers prior to release was absent while watching the film. The initial concept seemed to have a darker under-tone to it but the end product teases viewers with a stark, drab landscape only to throw a very light and unfulfilling story at us instead. With a fantastic setting like a post-apocalyptic WWII ravaged world, I expected there to be a greater sense of how these '9' used the world around them. Other than with their equipment and bodies, this too was missing.
There were only minor references to their past and how they’ve survived in this world being hunted by machines. Which leads me to my next big question, WHY ARE THEY BEING HUNTED BY MACHINES? Even upon their awakening and the machines acknowledgment of their existence, what threat could they possibly pose to the them? What is the reason for this great war between the two factions? Having watched the entirety of this film, these questions remain unanswered.
Simply put, this film looks to woo you with very well done animation and the Tim Burton name on the poster. But in the end, what you get is an ungratifying experience that leaves you in the hall outside the theater staring at the neatly placed 9 poster on the wall wondering what went wrong.
Still, the day a major toy company releases plush or vinyl versions of the 9, I will be there in line to collect them all.
Score: 2 out of 5
September 10, 2009
Yet another example of a director breaking into Hollywood via his short film. 9, just like District 9 (coincidence?) was originally a short by Shane Acker that got noticed by some big names. Now he's been given the opportunity to make it a full length. I'm a fan of darker adult-like movies being made in CG or other styles normally left to kids movies, so I'm looking forward to 9 quite a bit.
Isn't this I Know What You Did Last Summer? Maybe they should have called it I Know What You Did Last Semester? And how do you stab a tire iron into someones chest? Still, I like the tagline. Theta Pi... or die! Now that's marketing.
Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself
Who keeps giving Tyler Perry money to make movies? If you know, I'd appreciate it if you told them to knock it off please. It's not that I don't think he should be allowed to make movies. It's that he makes SO MANY OF THEM! And if you're going to make a serious drama, maybe you shouldn't pull an Eddie Murphy and dress up like a bunch of stupid characters? Just an idea.
September 08, 2009
I stop at the gas station on my way out of town, because my iPod is low on battery life and I don't have a car charger. Perusing the selection on the shelves, I come away with the ultimate solution. At one end, a car cigarette lighter type adapter, at the other a long line of connectors that can be disconnected based on your mp3 player of choice. "Fits almost all popular mp3 players!" it says across the front of the package.
This is a scenario I'm sure every one of us has gone through. If not, then I'm sure you have replaced your charger every single time you've gotten a cell phone upgrade. Every company on the tech market has their own unique plug ends. It's their way of forcing you to spend more money on the chargers that they make.
Why do we let companies get away with this? What we plug into the ends of our fancy new gadgets, is not what the companies that made them survive on. The chargers that they make for their devices are just a means to further pad the CEO's wallets.
What we need is a government mandate stating one set phone and mp3 player charger as the sole design. Sure, you'll probably argue that it's not the governments place to block the profits of a company, but it is their place to help stop consumer price gouging. Making us buy a $30 or more charger every time we buy a new phone is ridiculous.
The money isn't the end to the benefits that we'd see from this change though. Think about a world with one standard charger/adapter to all of our phone/mp3 players. All of sudden, car makers woud be able to design mp3 player docking stations into the consoles of their cars. Chargers could pop out of the cup holders and be able to charge any phone or music device you owned.
No more carrying around a tape deck adapter, aux cable, and fm tuner, just so you'd be able to connect your iPod to every car you happen to be in. You'd now know that no matter what car you get into, there'd be a way to connect or charge your device. Now THAT my friend, is a world I want to live in.
At least that's what has been found according to newer research from the twin GRACE satellites that came up with this model of the actual shape/surface/topography of the earth as it spins.
It seems that certain areas of the Earth's mass has a denser gravity than others resulting in very deep valleys and very high mountains.
Big whoop, right? I mean I can tell the Earth is not round and smooth by looking at the potholes on my way to the gas station, right?
Well, the information obtained by the GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) has exponentially raised our knowledge of the surface of the earth in the first 30 days of the mission than we have gathered in the past 30 years.
Something about knowing there have been thousands of satellites launched into space since the 1950's it's a little jaw-dropping considering the first recorded satellite collision happened sometime last year.
But the GRACE mission is a pair of twin satellites that follow the same trajectory, with the second satellite only 220 km behind, allowing their measurements to be accurate to within the nearest micron ( 1/1000 of a meter).
This helpful data will give us more insight of the fluctuations of sea level over time, atmospheric pressure over certain bodies of land and water, and Arctic ice melting.
Seems like a good resource for all environmental advocates, no?
But marine biologists can also gain from this helpful instrument in orbit.
It seems that not only can we look better and deeper over the surface of the earth, but also that we can actually measure levels down into the deepest regions of the ocean bed.
I wouldn't be surprised if we use more and more data from this mission, seeing as how it updates every 30 days with newer information.
September 07, 2009
Looking around the dark, damp cave that is the Mediaphile landscape, I think it's safe to say that I'm the only Mac nerd on the staff here, with that said.... yes, my opinions are biased. You'll just have to deal with it.
As an outspoken lover and supporter of all things Apple, I've recently been struck with quite the conundrum and I'm finding it difficult to approach said conundrum. See, the fact is, I'm a broke college student who is already in more debt than my parents put together and I'm beginning to see things in a much different light...
As money becomes the bane of my existence one thing has really been bothering me lately, why the hell does Apple insist on charging ridiculous prices for their products?! And how do they continue getting away with it?!
The first thing that pops into mind is when I promptly traveled to my nearest Apple store before my included 1 year warranty ran out on my Macbook Pro, to purchase the AppleCare extended 3 year warranty.
I took my AppleCare box home (conveniently priced at $250)and my world was abruptly shattered by it not working. As I speak with the nice gentlemen in tech support over the phone, he quickly realizes that I've been sold the AppleCare for Macbooks, not for the Macbook Pro. Undoubtedly frustrated that I put so much effort and sacrifice in saving up to even afford the service, I head straight back to the Apple store.
Now here is where my retail common sense kicks in and in my head I think, OK, they sold me the wrong product, they'll take this one back and swap it out for the right one. To correct their mistake...... boy was I wrong.
The reality of what happened was that they took back the Macbook AppleCare and credited the $250 back to my account, then brought out the correct AppleCare and wanted to charge me the $350 that the Macbook Pro AppleCare costs.
Seeing as I had used the last of whatever I had to buy the wrong AppleCare and knowing that it would take forever and a day for my account to even see my original $250, I simply told them they could keep that damn Applecare and walked out.
Why do Macs really cost so much, huh? Why do we really continue to gravitate towards their products? I know we've become mindless drones, too weak to resist the lure of a well marketed product. But even in these tough times, have we still not learned to use our common sense and not be distracted by catchy songs and bright colors?
Most importantly, why Apple, do you feel the need to continually take advantage of your own loyal customers? Simply because you can? As a company who openly caters to college students, why then must I either have rich parents or starve myself for a month to afford anything that involves my laptop?
While writing this I remind myself that I need to treat my laptop charger better. Because the last thing I need right now is to try and make $80 appear from nowhere.
Listening to the latest Sophist Radio (plug for some great guys) got me thinking. I'm really glad that Christopher Nolan is keeping his Batman movies grounded in reality, but there are so many Batman villains with fantastical powers that would still be awesome in his dark and gritty styled movies. But if/when Nolan does another Batman film, he won't just completely change his direction. So this post must first start with how I think Nolan should end his trilogy of flicks.
Now, I'm not a huge comic fan. In fact I only started reading them a little more then a year or two ago. But I do know that at one point in the comics Bane broke Batmans back and forced him into a sort of retirement. Bane is realistic enough a villain, he's essentially just 'roided out, and given the themes of The Dark Knight I think this story arc would fit perfectly.
Throughout Dark Knight, Batman makes mention of Harvey Dent cleaning up the city. And he hopes that at some point there won't be any need for him at all. So what a fitting end to a trilogy it would be if Bane ended Batmans crime fighting career, but then got locked away by the police. All of a sudden, the whole city rallied behind Batman, and criminals were no longer looked up to or feared, but shunned. Throw a Zodiac-esque Riddler in there for some filler and you've got a hell of a finale.
After that, wait 3 or 4 years and then reboot. Bring on someone who is known for dabbling in some fantasy and has a unique style. I would say Guillermo del Toro but he's the go-to guy for everything these days.
Keep things dark and gritty, but throw in the villains that got overlooked by Nolan because they weren't realistic enough. Clayface, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy. I suppose you'd run the risk of alienating casual Batman fans who don't know the characters, but they'd probably still be on board just from the Batman name. They could throw in the mainstays like Joker just to ground the movies with recognizable villains but I don't think it'd be necessary.
Would you like to see this happen? Who would you like to see in a more fantastical Batman flick? By the way, don't troll me if I screwed up any Batman lore. All I know of Batman I learned from the animated series I watched everyday after school, so I'm sure I got something wrong.
September 05, 2009
Here's the short review: Its Worms with social networking tacked on. In case you never played Worms, it's pretty simple. You've got your team of little characters, the enemy has theirs. Run them around the map on your turn, and aim their cute, little weapons and the enemies cute, little heads. Don't die.
Worms is one of my favorite series. I can always do with a little Worms, which is why I immediately tried this game out when I heard about it. Besides the basic Worm elements, Crazy Planets has rounded maps, planets... duh. Then there's the social networking aspects.
Which leads me to my problems with the game, or at least with my experience with the game. You see, I add just about everyone I even remotely know if Facebook suggests them to me. So I have a lot more friends then most probably do, and I use the term friends loosely. Still, only one of those people is playing Crazy Planets.
Without having other friends of yours playing the game, it gets pretty boring. You start off with enough resources to upgrade one of your weapons, but after that your on your own. In order to upgrade things, you need items that can only be obtained via cash money payments, or from friends that are playing the game.
On top of this, the game is designed to keep you playing for a long period of time in short bursts. The definition of casual. If you research a new weapon, or upgrade one, then it takes a real life time span of 24 hours before you can use it. That is, unless you want to fork over some of your real life dough to get them instantly.
Then there's the walls, the figurative ones. You hit a lot of these. For instance, it was becoming increasingly difficult to progress through the game without a new unit under my command. So at some point I just had to grind a level over and over until I was a high enough level to recruit a new person.
Now, it's not letting me continue to the next set of levels that I have been up to for 2 levels. I have to grind out one more level before I can go through. It's moments like these that get very boring when you're playing the game as much as I am. If you were playing it over the span of a month rather then the week that I spent with the game, then it might not be so frustrating.
In the end, it's a perfectly adequate game. Using your actual friends for allies, and having their faces plastered onto the characters bodies is entertaining enough. If you haven't played Worms, you might easily mistake this game as amazing. Myself having played the vastly superior Worms series on countless occasions, it's hard to ignore the flaws inherent in a Facebook ripoff of it. It's still a fun distraction for the free price tag though. And I have an arcade cabinet and a 2001 Monolith on my planet, you can't beat that.
September 04, 2009
Any retro gamer with a Wii has no doubt complained at least once about the slow drizzle of content being put out on the systems Virtual Console service. One of the worst offenders is on the Nintendo 64 side of things. As of this date, almost 3 years into the Wii's life, there are only 16 N64 releases on the VC.
Just goes to show that it truly is the luck of the draw. I thought I would be guaranteeing a success for Yanglyn when I gave her 4 entries because she comments so much. I was about to cut it back some but she didn't even get drawn in the end anyway.
Still, you might want to help ensure your win on our next giveaway by commenting on every single story that goes up. It couldn't hurt.
September 03, 2009
I loved Office Space, but Idiocracy got some pretty negative reviews. Still, that could have been because of studio problems he had. It remains to be seen whether Extract is a worthy successor to Office Space then. I guess we'll see.
All About Steve
Let's... uh. Let's just not talk about this one.
Sorry, but I guess you get the color commentary from Miss Peppy here as that's all I can find. 2 things I want to say about this movie: 1. Is Gerard Butler in EVERYTHING these days? and 2. Isn't this almost exactly like Death Race except the prisoners play an FPS instead of Twisted Metal?
I thought at first that this was a family trying to escape whatever outbreak was happening. According to the plot description they are just 4 friends. It probably would have added a lot to the movie if they had to exile their own family members in order to stay alive. Oh well.
Well that's all we have this weekend. What will you be seeing?
September 02, 2009
Seven o'clock AM on a cool Michigan morning, I arrive at the farm to feed the cows. The fence charge is unusually low, so I investigate. The cows won't come when called, so I venture back into the field. Upon finding them, I inspect the fence they are near. Nothing. So I lead them back for food.
There are some path finding issues. Several of them begin to wander straight into enemy territory and I must herd them back the right way. One of the cows gets ahead of me and gets hung up on the corner of a gate. He starts clipping back and forth, blocking the path for the rest of the cows, who begin to bunch up in a pile.
Moments like these have become common in my reality. That is to say, moments that do not exist in reality. A gamer sees the world in a completely different way from everyone else, the normals....
Another cool morning feeding the cows. As I step over the fence and turn the corner, I notice two cows have broken into the pen with our 3-legged cow (Fact or Fiction? You decide) and are eating all of her hay. I chase them out and begin repairing the broken fence.
Several towers and some traps later, I notice the oncoming horde of enemy soldiers. I hunker down in the hayloft and watch. They approach my defenses and stare longingly inside, then wander past one by one. This wave has been held off, but will my measly defenses hold up to the next one?
We've all had moments like this, right? After trying to master Queens of the Stone Age's No One Knows in Guitar Hero for days, I will forever see colored bars flying past my face when I listen to that song. After playing Burnout Legends on PSP obsessively for weeks, I couldn't ever pass a lawn service trailer with the ramp down and not think about hitting it full speed.
This is either a common thing, or I'm a psycho. If it is the latter, then you can assume that this entire article has been a work of fiction. I mean, three-legged cow? Really? That's just ridiculous.
September 01, 2009
With the success of Wii Fit, fitness games were here to stay. But so far there have only been two major releases in the genre, the previously mentioned Wii Fit and EA Sports Active. Everything else has been shovel ware, made to jump on the bandwagon. That's going to change this fall however.
Not only are both of the fitness game juggernauts releasing follow-ups, but Ubisoft is jumping into the game with what looks to be a serious attempt at innovation within the genre, Your Shape.
I feel oddly connected to this new genre, having played both of the major releases in it for over 30 days straight. Some of you may have followed my EA Sports Active 30 day challenge, but I also played Wii Fit everyday for over a month. So I thought I'd use my knowledge of the genre to weigh in (pun intended) on some things I'd like to see in the next batch of fitness games.
- Tips for dieting - Active was more targeted toward woman who want something to do at home instead of going to their aerobicize class then it was the pudgy video game nerd. So I can understand it not having this. But there was no excuse for Wii Fit, which was targeted to the whole family. Having never dieted before playing either of these games, I was overwhelmed. Simple tips on how many calories you should have a day would have been very helpful to me.
- Balance Board weigh-ins - The balance board is right there in front of my TV. It can measure my weight. So why am I going into the bathroom to use the scale? I want the balance board to automatically weigh you everyday you play the game and adjust the workouts accordingly. If I haven't lost much, ramp up the difficulty a bit. If I've lost a lot, slow it down a little and let me rest.
- More activities you can do while watching TV - Wii Fit had a walking activity, that would use clicking sounds from the wiimote speaker to keep you in time while you watched TV. Active had nothing like this, and I quickly became bored staring at my digital representation and mimicking it the same ways everyday.
- Lots of different schedules - Active's 30 day challenge was a great place to start with the game. But the second you finished it, it was hard to start again. I want 30, 60, 90, and 120 day challenges, maybe even a year long one. If you start off on the 30 day routine, it will seamlessly continue into the 60 day one once you finish. It'd be much easier to motivate yourself to keep going this way.
Some of the new games are already implementing changes that I'd like to see. The new version of EA Sports Active is supposed to allow more specific body area targeting workouts, and Your Shape is attempting to do away with the controller which I whole heartedly approve of. Still, these are some suggestions I would like to see implemented.
We'll see what happens when these games come out. I never reached my goal weight, and haven't been exercising for awhile. Though I've kept a diet up so I haven't gained anything back.
I'm deciding whether Wii Fit Plus, EA Sports Active: More Workouts (terrible name), or Your Shape is the most right for me. I'll probably do another 30 day challenge with at least one of them, so keep an eye out on the 30 day challenge tag so you can follow along.