Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bits and Pieces # 19: Nighttime Sleep-Aid.


Status Update

                Things on the new blog project are taking longer than anticipated thanks to that situation called Life-Gets-In-The-Way and because I thought Windows 8’s automatic updates ate the entire thing that I had written, but it turns out that it didn’t.  It’s a bit of a depressing thing when you spend a bit of time at the keyboard jotting down all these thoughts and whatnot, only to have it completely disappear for one reason or another and, for me at least, it takes a while to build up the desire to even try it again.  I thought I was going to have to start over, but it turns out that I don’t.  So that’s pretty awesome.

                Because I thought it was gone completely – and, to be honest, I didn’t even check in the saved folder to make sure that it was still there ‘cause I was rather certain that I didn’t save it at all – I veered away from the project in terms of gaming altogether.  Didn’t help much that I added several new games to the list and dove into those straight away, either.  I finished Batman: Arkham Origins and Call of Duty: Ghosts, spent some time in the Ghosts’ MP, and then went into Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and almost immediately became overwhelmed by the size of the game and a strange desire to not play that one until after I’ve gone back and played through all the previous Assassin’s Creed games.  This is a problem I have.  Don’t worry about it.

                Sometimes playing games that are of that scope and you know they’re of that scope right off the bat gives this wiff of intimidation the same sort of way looking at a massive eight-hundred to a thousand page novel does.  It’s so massive, and you don’t know how you can absorb all that information and still remember anything about it, but you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?  I started it.  And then I stopped.  But not because of the intimidation, but because of other things – Life-Gets-In-The-Way type things – and didn’t play anything in over a week.

                Then one of those strange things happened.  Well, strange as strange can be when I’m concerned.  One of those things that when I tell other people about it, they look at me like I just stepped off some sort of rocket ship or another and asked them to take me to their leader.  But, please, show me the bathroom first, and can I have a Mountain Dew?  I get this look a lot, because I have weird habits.  I don’t care.  Eat them; eat my habits.  Devour them and let them become a part of you and then, AND ONLY THEN, might you maybe understand why I do this weird shit that I do.  Anyway, the strange thing was this: I was watching Event Horizon, which is a horrible-horrible horror flick that no one should ever watch.  Ever.  It’s so fucking awful and derivative that they didn’t even try to hide how derivative it was.  There’s direct lines of dialogue ripped from other movies – movies I adore, mind you – that I don’t really understand how they got away with making this movie, and how Paul WS Anderson still has a filmmaking career.  Oh, those movies are Aliens and Hellraiser, by the way.  If you know those movies and then watch Event Horizon, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

                As I was sitting there trying my hardest to make it through this picture – which was like trying to take a really painful shit, mind you – I started to get that urge to play something.  Play a game.  A certain kind of game.  A Visceral game.

                Dead Space.

                So I started playing Dead Space again.  The first one, else there’d be a fucking number in the title.  I picked up where I had left off previously: a save file where I had just beaten impossible mode and had all sorts of doodads and gadgets that were maxed out and I was slaying everything that came in my path like a mighty slayer of things that come in their path.  Whatever those things are called.  Then I stopped.  I stopped completely.  I stopped because I wanted to take it back old school and try to relive that initial experience I had when I first put Dead Space into the PlayStation 3 and fired it up for the first time.  It must be noted right here and right now that nothing scares me.  Not in fiction anyway.  Not in movies or books or comics or video games.  I’ve not been terrified of anything horror-related since I was about eight years old and that thing was Fright Night.  I’ve seen the sorts of movies that would frighten most casual viewers and I’ve read things that are unpleasant in every sense of the word (I love it nevertheless!) but Dead Space has the honor of being the first thing in twenty-nine years (well, twenty-four or five at the time, ‘cause it came out four or five years ago) that really freaked me out.

                In order to spark that old horror glow that the game had on me that initial play-through, I turned out the lights (as I had when I first played it) and slapped on the headset to fully immerse myself into the game.  And it worked.  Boy, howdy, did it work!  What the fuck does boy, howdy! Mean?  I’ve heard it used before and it just popped in my head randomly while I was clacking at the keyboard, and I threw it in here.  Eh.  I’m sitting there in the dark with headphones on and I’m playing this game in the dark corridors of the USG Ishimura and just like the first time, I keep getting that very uncomfortable feeling that something was behind me and it was fantastic!  That moment where the line between reality and fiction blurs for just a moment and your imagination steals it and starts playing tricks with you.

                I was intending on continuing the first game tonight, but oh, look, new Hopsin album for me to download – ‘cause I preordered it! – and I’m writing a blog.  So there, you go!  There’s my video gaming update.

                Now, a writing update: the story I’m working on is playing with my depression in a way that’s making it harder to write and it’s taking me longer to get through the second draft.  It’s okay, I enjoy it, and I need to keep plowing through the bastard until it’s finished.  I’ve toyed with putting it away and coming back to it later after I do something much more light-hearted in nature, but decided against it.  If I keep putting things off, nothing will get finished.  This one needs to get finished before I move onto anything else.


Fresh Ass Kicks and Kung-Fu Chops

                Oh, no, there was nothing behind me.

                I’m a concerned citizen, I am.  I sometimes done a mask and go out in the back yard of the house and imagine fighting crime before lighting up a cigarette and telling myself that shits for retards and fuckwits and the mask is just ‘cause I like it.  Normally I’m drunk when I do this and the end results end up on facebook, ‘cause those are the only “selfies” I care to fuckin’ take.  Besides the ones of my feet in those fresh ass kicks I mentioned.  I smoke the cigarette and then go back inside and think about what I’m actually concerned about and it has nothing to do with crime at all.

                Instead it’s insanely silly shit like the business model that Microsoft has created for their revival of Killer Instinct.  Yeah, this is some serious shit.  Fuck starving people, fuck social injustices; THIS IS WHAT I’M CONCERNED ABOUT.  Not really, I just don’t like to think about all that other stuff ‘cause it crushes my brain in ways that I don’t care to talk about.  BUT YES.  I’m concerned, Microsoft.  What are you doing?!

                What the fuck is Killer Instinct, anyway?

                Well, sir, Killer Instinct is pretty much a bullshit fighting game from the mid-to-late 1990s that aped several mechanics from other fighting games – mainly Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat – and wrapped them into the shiny brand new package of pre-rendered CGI character models – which, for the most part, were very mediocre.  But, SHIT MAN, that game was fucking fun!  Of course I was the only one that cared for it amongst the kids I hung around at the time, which is a continuing trend, really.  HA!  I mained Orchid in both Killer Instinct and Killer Instinct 2 in the ‘cades and on the SNES ports of the game.  But then the game died out for some reason or another that I really don’t care to look up right now.

                Earlier this year it was announced to be coming back as a console exclusive for Microsoft’s Xbox One!  HOLY FUCK!  I know, excited!  Not really.  Killer Instinct died for me three console generations ago, and I’ve moved on to the greener pastures that are tenderly cared for by Namco.  Y’know, that Tekken shit.  Plus Capcom is still tending to the fields of Street Fighter, and NetherRealm came out swinging with Mortal Kombat and Injustice: Gods Among Us.  But it was announced!

                And it was announced as Free-to-Play!


                Free fighting games are always worth a whirl, right?

                No, ‘cause as it turns out, it’s not free-to-play at all.  It’s an over-glorified demo where you get Jago and only Jago, and if you want the other five characters (yeah, a six-character character roster is all they’re throwing at us for the first two months or so of release!) you gotta pay for ‘em, and they average around five bucks a piece!

                What this business model does is make sure that this game won’t have the support from the competitive circuit outside of tournaments held by Microsoft themselves or online tournaments.  Why?  Because the folks that run those circuits have no way of telling if everyone who has the game and is entering the tournament has access to all the same characters, which creates problems.  And this puts a MASSIVE dent in the effect and sales figures that Microsoft is going to see on Killer Instinct as a whole.

                How do I know this?  ‘Cause this always happens with DLC characters, and since this game is made up of nothing but DLC characters, there’s no way to know who is gonna have what and how many times they’ve faced that character or this character, how much time they spent with that character over yonder, and it interrupts the balancing that’s always necessary to ensure that the game stays competitive.  At EVO the past two years, all DLC-based characters that any of the games offered were banned from competitive play.  All those DLC characters from Mortal Kombat?  Banned.  All those extras from Injustice?  Banned.  Sorry, Batgirl, you’re banned.  Hell, since the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of Mortal Kombat weren’t identical, because Sony allowed the usage of Kratos from God of War in their console’s version of the game, adjustments were made there, too.  Yes, Kratos fought the pantheon of Olympus and won… but he was banned from EVO.

                Killer Instinct was developed by Double Helix who have a less than stellar track record in the gaming world.  Really.  They make shit games, if I can be honest, and have NO experience in making fighting games WHATSOEVER – which is really weird, why isn’t the original development team making this game? – and have a business model in place that’s been structured around extra DLC characters from other fighting games.  Five dollars is how much Darth Vader and Yoda cost in Soul Calibur IV across two platforms; five bucks is how much Jill Valentine and Shuma Gorath cost in Marvel vs. Capcom 3/Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (and I’m steamed about that, ‘cause I got the collector’s edition of that game and got them with the package and downloaded them and everything and they’ve suddenly disappeared from my downloaded games list and I have no access to them whatsoever THANKS OBAMA) instead of releasing the base package and then adding more characters later.  Well, they ARE releasing a base package, but they’re pretending that it’s free-to-play.  Well, they ARE releasing the base package, and WERE pretending that it’s free-to-play, but the launch trailer for the game says, “FREE TO DOWNLOAD!”

                When I saw that I half-expected a ;) to follow it.

                Unfortunately, there are no sales figures to see how the title is doing, and I think because of the model they’ve made up out of thin air for it, I think tracking those sales figures will be like tracking a fart in the wind.

                Without a hefty amount of support from the fighting game community, I don’t think Killer Instinct is going to make that much of an impact.

                And by doing absolutely fuck nothing about that atrocious D-Pad on the Xbox controller kinda shows me that Microsoft isn’t taking this genre seriously.

                And, well, that just something something something.

                People are always telling me that they prefer the Xbox controllers to the DualShocks.

                Here’s what happens when people tell me that:

                When people tell me they prefer the Xbox controllers to the PlayStations, I roll my goddamned eyes.  Not because they’re bad controllers, or they’re inferior products or that they way too much – although the controllers for the original Xbox when it first came out where like seven hundred pounds of what the fuck sitting in your hands; it was like you were shaking hands with a malformed gorilla named Xbox – but because of the type of gamer I am.

                Here’s the kind of gamer I am: there’s every game in the world and then there’s fighting games.  I might play every game in the world, and I may even enjoy them – sometimes immensely! – but then there’s fighting games.  There’s the countless amounts of hours I spent in the arcades trying to learn that godfucked fireball and dragon punch in Street Fighter!  There was the countless amounts of hours I spent on the SNES perfecting those same moves!  There was the countless amounts of hours I put in performing every goddamned fatality across NINE fucking Mortal Kombat games!  Then there’s the countless amounts of hours I’ve spent learning and memorizing a few sets of King’s multi-throws and ten-strings in Tekken, only to have them not mean shit when they added the juggling system, so I had to completely change my game and start pouncing on motherfuckers brutally and never letting them off the ground because they might not let me hit the goddamned ground!  AHHHHH!  FUCK JUGGLING!  Oh, wait, it’s kinda fun once you start doing it.  Never mind.  I love you, Juggles.

                Being a fighting game gamer (haha, what the hell?) first means that D-Pad?  That D-Pad has to have pin-point precision, or as close to it as you can get, and it has to be accurate and hella responsive, AND, AND, AND it has to be comfortable!  And while Sony’s isn’t the BEST D-Pad I’ve ever had the pleasure of stroking my thumb along its sweet, sweet surfaces (ha, pervy!) – that privilege goes to SEGA’s six button controller for the SEGA Saturn, son! – it gets the job done very well.  Better for me than a fight stick, ‘cause while I do love a fight stick for that awesome arcade-perfect experience, my wrists get all wonky and start to ache after a few bouts, and we can’t have that!  Xbox’s controllers have always, always, always been one-hunnit-pursint BULLSHIT when it comes to fighting games.  Xbox?  It sucked.  Playing SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos on that machine was a nightmare of sand-paper-to-the-genitals-whilst-masturbating preportions.  Xbox 360?  Oh, for fuck’s sake, Mitsurugi go the right way!  And from what I’m reading about the Xbone?  Same.  Goddamned.  Shit.

                It’s nice to know that Microsoft puts all its money into these awesome technologies like voice commands and a camera that can watch me do everything I don’t want it watching me do, yet where it counts for me they can’t do a goddamned thing.  I can’t go, “Xbox, counter, counter, perry, ten string combo, win!” and have the fuckin’ thing fight the game for me, can I?  I’m most certainly not going to pretend Killer Instinct is Dance Dance Revolution and do what my nephew thinks would be the “COOLEST FIGHTING GAME THINGER EVER INVENTED” and mimic the characters movements in front of the Kinnect.  No, sir.  Proper D-Pad for fighting games is a must, and since they can’t put a proper one in their fucking controllers, I’m concerned.

                In fact, I’m putting on the mask and going into the backyard.

                I’ll be right back.

                Anyways, where was I?  Oh, yeah.  See, I have no problems with video game controllers whatsoever.  I can go from the Xbox to the DualShock 1, 2, or 3, to the GameCube, to the SNES, and back with no problems whatsoever.  There might be a slight learning curve as I readjust, but it’s not really a problem.  EXCEPT WHEN IT COMES TO FIGHTING GAMES.   The Xbox controllers are so unresponsive to what I want to do in the game, that the PlayStation is my preferred console of choice because of that – well, not JUST because of that, it’s also because I prefer games like God of War and Uncharted to Gears of War and Halo, exclusives, y’know?  So in order to comfortably play Killer Instinct I’d have to A) buy an Xbox One, which I fully intend on doing once Titanfall comes out B) wait for a third party to make proper fighting game controllers for the console or b) buy that bastard  two-hundred dollar Killer Instinct fight stick from MadKatz, and I’ve already mentioned how I can’t play on fightsticks for long periods of time.  Who the fuck is THAT into Killer Instinct?  A series that essentially died almost twenty years ago – seriously, Killer Instinct 2 was released in the arcades in 1994, and on the N64 in 1996 (oh, dear lord, I’ve never even thought of playing a fighting game on that atrocious controller!  Wait!  I did!  ‘Cause I played Killer Instinct Gold on it, haha, and Mortal Kombat Trilogy, but not enough to really remember having a good time with it).  Who is that much into Killer Instinct that they’re going to drop that much money JUST for that game that was supposed to have been free-to-play?

                Now, free-to-play gets a bad rap for some reason that I can’t fathom.  But there’s a model out there that Microsoft should have followed, but obviously decided not to on two separate fronts.

                That model is Namco’s model they adopted when they released Tekken Revolution on the PlayStation 3.  Ahhh, Tekken.  My favorite!  Tekken Revolution is true free-to-play, even in the limited format that they adopted.  You get tokens that refresh every half-hour to an hour depending on the game mode the tokens are used for, to play the game.  One set of tokens is for single player arcade mode, and they refresh after an hour.  The other set is for online competitive play – where the netcode is actually very nice, very smooth, and doesn’t suffer from the other netcodes used for games like Street Fighter IV – that refresh every thirty minutes, and you can max those out to five.  Revolution launched with eight players off the bat, all accessible from the start by everyone, with more characters added through updates to the software.  Those additional characters are available through gift-points which are awarded to the player by playing the game, or you can just buy them.  You can also buy more tokens if you wish, but it’s purely optional.

                It’s a very smooth and easy free-to-play model that keeps me going back for more and more.

                What’s funny about it is that it wasn’t conceived as a PlayStation exclusive, it was intended to be multi-platform, but for some reason Microsoft said no.  No, no, no.  Prolly because nothing is free-to-play on the Xbox.  Not even Netflix (not that Netflix is free, mind you); everything is tucked behind that pay-wall that is Xbox Live.  If and when – because Katsuhiro Harada has said they’re looking into it – Tekken Revolution comes to the PlayStation 4, it’ll be free-to-play.  Just like DCUO and other f2p games, you won’t have to have a PlayStation Plus account to play these games online, just as you don’t have to have a PlayStation Plus account to access Netflix.  HA.

                Free-to-play, my ass.


                Yeah, I’m pretty sure that while it might see some initial success in one form or another, Killer Instinct is DOA.


Dead Or Alive is Dead On Arrival
(for me anyways)

                In October of this year, Sony did this neat little promotion where for every fifty bucks you spent on the PlayStation Network, you’d get ten bucks back, and, well, I spent a lot on there.  Bought a lot of shit, ‘cause that’s what I do.  Some people call themselves gamers and say they love video games and play nothing but Call of Duty or Halo or some such, but I literally play everything.  Except those fucking wank as shit sports games.  Fuck those.

                With that money I bought Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate.


                I remember playing Dead or Alive 2 on one of the other PlayStation consoles a long time ago and thinking it was kinda quaint.  There was nothing there, really, to keep me coming back for more.  Not even the jiggling titties physics engine, ha!  I was mostly interested in Ryu Hayabusa being in the game because he was the ninja from those old school Ninja Gaiden games on the NES – and this DOA game came out before the revival of the Ninja Gaiden series on the Xbox.  So I played it, beat it a couple of times and never looked back.  The entire engine was centered around the same fighting engine that Virtua Fighter used, and I’m not a big fan of that franchise either.  I watched the subsequent releases on the various Xbox consoles, but since GameStop employees had a way of making me never want one of those, I never played them.  Hell, I own an Xbox 360 now, and didn’t by a DOA game for it.  But free money, so what the hell, right?!


                Everything about this game is relatively unimpressive and not very funny.  The backgrounds are uninteresting and boring and very fucking plain.  The fighting engine isn’t very exciting, the sound effects are still the same that I remember and still sound ridiculously similar to those from Virtua Fighter, but hey, jiggling titties.  WHO DOESN’T LOVE THOSE?!


                That’s really all this game is about.  It’s not very fun, but man!  Titties are everywhere.

                I swear if a woman’s boobs went in the directions that these fighting game girls’ boobs do in DOA, they’d rip themselves off their chests, become sentient and conquer the world.  Then no one would like titties, ‘cause we’d all be the titties slaves.

                Wait, what?

                Even with the addition of several characters from the Virtua Fighter series, this fighting game isn’t very interesting.

                …and this is coming from the guy that thinks Street Fighter and Tekken’s plots are AWESOME.


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