*Note from the Fuuuuuture: Oh wow, this one went long again. Sorry!*
I finally did it!
I got myself work with Amazon Fresh up here in Seattle! I'm not going into more detail than saying I'll be working at their warehouse packing food because that's all there really is to it. Unfortunately, I'm on temp-to-hire status right now, so I have to put my best foot forward whenever I do get called in to work each week.
It's astounding how much of a profound effect this has had on me. I lost a big chunk of weight after the interview (probably 3-4 pounds it felt like) and I'm much more relaxed. I've settled on a daytime cycle again and my sleep has been deeper and more meaningful (even if the dreams are still weird as shit). It feels like I'm finally starting to move up and get going with direction in my life again.
Two topics to talk about today. First up is staying power in video games.
Recently, I found myself watching some play-through videos of a guy on Youtube. He emulated those great four-player beat-em-ups from the arcades we so love (Turtles in Time stands out as a good example) and watching him play with friends really perked me up as I was watching. As I moved through his backlog of over a thousand (!!!) videos, I stumbled onto an older play-through he'd done of Ratchet & Clank.
For those not in the know, Ratchet & Clank is an action/adventure/shooter game starring as it's title characters a Lombax with a humongous armory of incredibly powerful weapons and a little silver robot who goes with him everywhere and speaks without using contractions. On a side note, it's rather...oddly satisfying to have done a quick check and have found not as much 34'd art of Ratchet as I thought there would be. He's lesser known to some extent, but even so, the 34'd are is actually somewhat tasteful and doesn't always automatically gay him up for everyone's delectation, a sad trend I see with most *every* video game character out there who happens to sport a bit of fur.
My talk isn't about Rule 34 art of Ratchet, however. It's about staying power in video games. See, I own the R&C PlayStation 2 series of games and have had them on my shelf for some time now collecting dust. After watching that play-through on Youtube, I put R&C2: Going Commando into our PS2 and started playing again...and fell in love with the gameplay all over again. The controls are tight, the graphics pretty stellar for PS2-era consoles, and the voice work is top notch. Story carries itself nicely and there is TONS of replay value in the Challenge Mode.
Oh yeah, and getting the R.Y.N.O. missile launcher is always a challenge to attain, but getting it is satisfying in ways that even my little inner caveman cannot deny.
I've played through the second game, am on the third, and the first is being shipped to me from a retailer online since my copy is scratched to hell *grumblegamestopmumble*. But the thing that really stuns me about this is how fun the game still is after EIGHT YEARS. Yes, it certainly isn't next generation graphics and the load times are at least covered by neat little space flybys, but that really doesn't matter, does it? The game itself is stunningly well put together and as such, it has staying power, something most modern games could only *wish* for.
Take a recent game I played called Bulletstorm. If you've heard of it, great. If not, look it up. I bought it and...well...wished I hadn't, but not for the reasons you might think. See, the game itself is okay. I really wish they'd gone with someone older than fourteen years old to write the script and dialogue (at least, it feels that way with all of the dick references), but really, it's not a bad game. I just don't want to play it ever again. There was another game called Darksiders last year. I played that too and it was sort of like the Apocalypse meets Legend of Zelda with a sprinkle of Devil May Cry as garnish. Not bad, really, but I have no reason to play it ever again because it just had no lasting power to it.
I wish more games did. I really do. Online MMOs don't really count because, in their very nature, they have to have staying power or they don't stay online very long. And in the end, their staying power is a bit different than what I'm talking about. Staying power is something that you can put in your system, turn on the TV, and just...smile with that warm fuzzy feeling that you're in for a good ride. You *know* it's going to be fun and it's going to leave you with an excellent feeling after you've finished it. Admittedly, that feeling will be subjective from person to person, but there are some exceptions to this. Classic games like R&C, the Jak and Daxter series, Sly Cooper just to name a few all have really outstanding libraries and I would challenge anyone to find bad reviews on them that don't end at "Last Gen Graphics". They all stand on their own and while some may be devilishly difficult at times, it never ceases to be fun in essence to play them.
I'm rambling, but to wrap that subject up, think on your favorite games, then think on *why* they are your favorites...and really consider just how many recent games have that same feeling when you play them and finish them.
My second topic is deeper than that. Recently, a realization struck me as I was leaving the Escapist Magazine website. I'd gone there initially to watch Yahtzee's review of Portal 2 (he calls it fairly and doesn't gush as much as everyone else does) and ended up staying much longer than I thought I would on some of the other articles of the website. Notably, the series called Extra Credits held me for a long while. It's run by three online friends who all have ties to the gaming industry itself and is usually five to ten minutes of highly informative and well thought out discussion on topics relating to gaming and gaming culture. Hell, they spent one episode talking about gamification and how teachers could use gaming concepts such as experience points and leveling up to improve students drive to want to succeed in their schooling. And to me, it actually sounded *really* viable!
It's a stellar show and I highly suggest you go and watch it. If anything, their frank and sincere discussion on why Metroid: Other M didn't work and how it didn't work helped bring a sense of catharsis to me so long after both Alfie and I played it.
As I thumbed through the Escapist's other articles, I noticed that there were...well, fewer "just here for the cheap laughs" kind of shows and more of the "let's be a bit grown up and discuss this" kind. MovieBob does a decent job of reviewing movies (not as good as Red Letter Media, but then, that's not really anyone's fault) and, when he isn't slobbering over Marvel licenses, he's actually very deep and intuitive about his reasonings for reviewing the movie he watched the way he did. He *also* does a side project where he talks about geek culture and how some things are more than what they seem. Hell, his discussion on why Magneto was *RIGHT* in the X-Men movies is pretty spot on when you get right down to it.
There are the usual suspects of 'Leave-A-Bad-Taste-In-Your-Mouth 'comedy' shows that are still there on Escapist...but there's starting to be fewer. I remember about a year ago, they hyped their second season of a show called Game Dogs that somehow managed to be offensive to both the furry and gamer in me...but it vanished and never got off the ground. Probably because it was a terrible show and someone actually took that hint. There's a show starring some...guy who makes himself out to...be some kind of hero. It has a generic stereotype ethnic sidekick on the front and practically screams EGO to me, so I stay away, but really...
The overall stance of the website has grown up! True, it's more out of it's teenage puberty of finding insufferable humor in fart and dick jokes and is now in the phase where it questions things, really seeks to understand itself and why it is here, what direction it's going. The shows are starting to be intelligent and more thought out than just base rambling and ranting about RARSOMETHINGIHATERAR. They actually carry weight and make you really question and discuss things...and yet, more of the shows still make you laugh. Yahtzee too, even, has seemed to try and put thought behind his discussions and is, in his own way, trying to get us to think about why we play and what we should ask for as gamers.
The realization here is that this one website used to be juvenile...and now isn't. It's growing up, getting away from it's teenage wangst years and really standing maturely. It's put a more positive spin on the Internet as a whole for me. More websites are doing this and if you take the time to think, it's becoming better and better! True, we'll never be rid of the 4chan sites...but if you think of it, you really don't think of it all that much...and they have little power anyhow. ED recently evaporated (thanks to it's owners being money-happy) and as such, the internet got a little more classier. Wikipedia grows and is edited every day by people looking to be informative and intelligent.
I'm not saying it has to be Masterpiece Theater...but it's nice that it's not My Little Pony all the time.
*picture of Raditz* Just sayin'!