Wednesday, July 29

I don't quite get this; I'm employed as a temp, but there isn't enough work.

Seriously, I'm less busy at this job than I was at my last job, and I have, unfortunately, far fewer diversions.

I have a feeling it's going to be awhile before I find employment that makes sense.

Wednesday, July 22

My dream could come true

My dream of being a porn star. Huzza!

While I'm on the subject, when I first moved to Portland I had a hypothesis that said that within one block of every adult business (strippers, porn, whatever) within one block there would be an asian food restaurant. I think as a theory it's been disproven, but the hypothesis is still very strong.

When I started temping in Clackamas, I wondered if the hypothesis would hold.

Pleased to say that so far, it does.

Monday, July 20

a place to archive

In yoga I’ve also learned flexibility — physical and mental. If a muscle seizes up, just wait, it will relax — keep stretching or flexing. If you feel a mental reflex to resist something, just sit with it, the reflex will pass. This is indeed why people sometimes counsel yoga to treat addictions. Wait before you act — or don’t act — as the case may be. You achieve much once you stop telling yourself you can’t do things.

from |

Going to experiment w/ using this blog to post things I'd like to reference again, someday.

Tuesday, July 14

This about covers it

Her: "Are you excited at all about the job tomorrow?"
Me: "No."

I feel like a massive failure.

Saturday, July 11

Resistance 2 (or, I wish I knew more people with PS3s)

Thankfully, while wading through the cesspool of boredom that was Lost Odyssey, I found a very cheap copy of Resistance 2.

Resistance 2 is in many ways your standard FPS; you play a sci-fi soldier, the aliens want to take over the earth, kill all of them. Sounds pretty familiar I'm sure. I'm going to hit the high points though.

First, the story stays apace of the subject matter. It's an action game, so the plot is just complex enough to propel you to the next junction, no further. This is fine, actually; look how well this idea worked in the latest Star Trek movie. There's no need to make things complicated; you good, aliens bad, go. However the story also remains true to itself. While there will inevitably be a Resistance 3, I can only hope that the events of this game are kept as cannon. By this I mean; Resistance 2 is not about how you StMFD, and there is now dancing in the streets. Do you save the day? Yes. Does it feel like you've just put off the inevitable? Yes.

What's also cool is that there is apparently a parallel story that is played as a co-op campaign. That just seems awesome and I can't wait to try it, I just wish I knew more people to play it with.

One of the critiques of the first Resistance game was that it didn't really shake up the FPS genre. I'd have to say that this is still true in the sequel. My response is simple: Who cares?

A good game, executed well is what I'm asking for. They deliver it. The missions were challenging, but not unfair. The parts I had to repeat I learned from and did better the next time. The crazy firefight sequences felt right (chaotic, hazardous, fun only because they weren't real) the creepy parts of the game made me edgy, and I was entertained. I had at least two "Ho-ly shit!" moments when I first saw what I was supposed to fight against, and very frequently felt just like I was in a well oiled action movie.

You don't have to reinvent the wheel if what you have rolls so smoothly.

Now that said, I have two issues. First, there were times when I was lost and didn't know where I was supposed to go next. It didn't happen often, but when it did happen the game lost a lot of momentum. There are even sequences where they put a tag on the screen that you're supposed to move towards, and I found this to be extremely helpful. At the same time what this demonstrates is some glitches in design. If I get lost in what is basically a shooter on rails, something is amiss.

Second, there were two moments in the game which depended on AI controlled characters to get to a certain point before the player could go any further, and the AI was being all daffy about it. This basically strands the player (or at least it stranded me) until I died. Fortunately, the checkpoint save system means that it's rare that a player will have to go too far in order to regain what she or he lost by dying. It wasn't the end of the world, but it was a mild pain in the butt.

Those minor complaints aside, I found Resistance 2 to be a hell of a lot of fun, and am looking forward to playing the co-op campaign. I hope there's some cool people to play it with.

Thursday, July 9

I played Lost Odyssey so you don't have to

Honestly, I think I finished the game in part so I could write that headline.

I knew what I was in for when I got this game; an old-school JRPG, where the good guys line up on one side and the bad guys on another and you throw swords and spells called 'Windus' (that's the 3rd level wind spell!) at each other. Random encounters, raiding people's houses for loot, some levelgrinding tedium; basically everything I experienced in Final Fantasy 7 only prettier. I still hated it.

In a game that plays for 50 hours or longer (I put in over 60) having a complex, weaving story is something that one comes to expect. What happens next? becomes a relevant way to prod the player from "random city on the coast that we start from" to "fucked up mountaintop that we must fight a strange griffin upon" to "remote village where no one goes to the strange house on the hill" and so on, and so on.

Unfortunately, the story is straightforward and mindbendingly dull. Kaim, the hero, is part of a group of immortals who have been part of the world for a millennia. His memories are lost, he knows only that he is a soldier. After a cataclysmic battle he is set on a quest that leads him to uncovering his memories and this, naturally, leads to saving the world.

Now, what I've just told you is the spoiler free version of this game but here's the problem: even if I told you the spoilers I would be adding absolutely nothing to the synopsis I just wrote. There are no big reveals, no twists or turns that aren't telegraphed like a atomic bomb tested in the middle of San Francisco. The villain is cartoonishly comic, and if it weren't for the Presidency of Bush Jr. I would deny that anyone that obviously evil could ever gain that much power in such a blunt manner.

There are a ton of short stories in the game where Kaim gets back chunks of his lost memories but there are at least two problems with this. First those stores are told well outside of the main narrative. They don't inform the current storyline (with rare exceptions) and they don't enhance Kaim as a character; he's still a brooding, humorless dick. Second, the presentation for these stories are a complete break from the game; the player has to sit there and watch as words are very prettily shown on the screen with a hazy nature background as scenery. There's no GAME there. In a medium that is supposed to be interactive they've broken the primary rule; disassociating the audience from the game.

It's understandable that the basic gameplay mechanics might become dull over time. Sadly, they are boring right from the start. Your muscle attacks with swords. There is no strategy there, because attacking with swords is a lot faster and better than using any of your learned skills. Your wizards cast spells. The spells they cast should be ones that are in opposition to the elemental characteristic of the enemy. That is, you cast Water against Fire, Fire against Wind, Wind against Earth, Earth against Water. I think. Sixty damn hours in and I still had to look up which element was best vs another element.

In this case, I blame designers. There wasn't anything intuitive about selecting the elemental spells in the menu, so those subtle reminders that would've helped me map out what to do weren't there. Going to the manual in the middle of a game is an indicator of bad design.

Bad design also comes into play when moving from place to place. Getting to and using the map is difficult, as there are two map screens; one that tells you the names of places and one that just shows you the world. Sometimes I just want to check where I am in relationship to a city but I can't just do that, I have to actually go somewhere because just seeing where I am on a map doesn't tell me anything unless I know where I am in relationship to another place. So I have to go to another place, even if it's where I just came from and that involves a load screen and waiting and boredom.

What's a real drag is having certain characters predisposed to death. There are two who have understandably low health points-the characters are children-but they're vital to getting through the game! So the player has to sit there and resurrect them time and time again, in hopes they will survive to the end of the battle, because dead characters don't level up. One of the best things in the game that I did was engage in a short sequence that made me a ton of money. Buying resurrection potions suddenly wasn't a problem, and I bought a ton of them. More than I can ever remember having to buy for an RPG.

Gameplay gets tiring, moving around is a pain in the butt, and the story is boring. Is there an upside?

There is; the character Jansen Friedh. A friend described him as 'what would happen if you put Bruce Campbell in a game' and that's not too far off the mark. Funny, complaining, interested in getting laid, interested in not getting the crap beat out of him, Jansen is the most human and likable character in the game. Sure his character arc is utterly predictable but at least it's fun to watch. Nobody else gives the story any tension whatsoever--they spend sixty hours being exactly who they are when you meet them.

So I say avoid it.

Finally, I'd like to thank these Gamefaq writers: German Dragon, INVAL1D, and Split Infinity. They made searching through the cities and getting through the maps far easier than the game designers did, and I am eternally grateful to them for the work they did.

Wednesday, July 1

Transformers 3: Return of the Primes

Although I haven't seen TF2, I've read enough reviews containing the 'plot' to know what happens. I understand it's not a movie in the sense that there is a story that somehow connects you from point A to D, so I don't feel weird about what I'm going to do next.

I'm going to tell you what's up for Transformers 3: Return of the Primes (which I'm making up as a title).

Blah blah blah explosions/stupid jokes/explosions/tits until the end when
1) Optimus Prime dies.
2) Giving Sam the last piece of the Allspark.
3) Everything is all but lost (including a special moment when Ultra Magnus, in an attempt to rip out Megatron's heart says, 'Open, damnit, OPEN!')
4) When Sam takes in the Allspark, saying to Mikela: 'Sorry'
5) Mikela screams: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (It will be her only line in the movie)
6) Then to Stan Bush's The Touch, (the original, not that abominable re-creation) Sam turns into RODIMUS PRIME.
7) And proceeds to Save the Motherfuckin' Day. (Which is why the Transformers in Transformer heaven sent Sam back; and Optimus keeps going on about Sam's destiny and all that other bullshit. Sam is Neo, except he becomes a machine.)

That's why the Transformers films focused on the humans instead of, you know, the awesome giant robots blowing everything the fuck up. It'll be Bay laughing at all of us because suddenly those first two piece of shit movies will have subtext and be about something: Man's transformation from boy to godlike robot that StMFD. This of course is a metaphor for how we need to lose ourselves in technology or perish. So in addition to demonstrating that Bay knows how to arrange a narrative arc, fanboys all over will forgive him because of Rodimus, and The Touch. (They shouldn't, but they will.)

When this happens; I want credit.