I recently got into a bit of an argument with a man on twitter.
That actually does sound as stupid as I thought I would, having written it down. Regardless, I got into an argument with him over the topic of feminism. He described himself as ‘anti-feminist’ and this was the only thing in his twitter profile, so I really should have known better.
In our longer than I’m proud to admit … well, let’s call it a discussion, I learned a couple things. This post is part rant, part debate primer, and part personal declaration. Before you read on though, I’m going to give a quick warning: this is probably way heavier than anything else you’ll read on my site. It’s rare I post stuff like this. Ye be warned, etc. etc.
I’ve played a lot of videogames in my time. Not as many as some, but I’ve been playing console games since I was 3 (at least that’s as far back as I can remember). I’ve played Sega Master System games, I’ve played old 386 PC games, I’ve played my share of SNES, Playstation, Gamecube, etc. etc. I’ve played a whole lot of ‘em. But one thing I’ve never really done is played a collection of games all the way through their storyline. I was never good enough at Ultima Underworld, my computer couldn’t handle Warcraft 3, Starcraft 2, or the recently released Diablo III. Hell, even IPs that exist for the Xbox don’t generally entice me to finish them.
I look at my shelf of games, and I see a whole collection of games that just couldn’t keep me engaged: Gears of War, Lego Batman, Bioshock 2, Blue Dragon; the list goes on and on. Most of these fall down on the part that will keep me playing through the worst gaming experiences: Storyline.
I’m a sucker for a well-constructed, properly delivered storyline. You can give me some pretty terrible game controls, some god-awful camera work, and some of the worst textures, and I will endure if your story is compelling and gets me to give a crap. This may sound like something simple to do, as I’m generally pretty open to some far-out storylines, but you would be wrong. I’m probably the most criticle of shoe-horned, akward, or generally stupid plot points that serve only to play on a persons emotions. I cannot generally abide by such tools, and it’s the reason many of the unfinished games on my shelf are there; mediocrity in tale-spinning.
So why Mass Effect? What made me give not one, not two, but three (or more if you count DLC) shits about such a franchise?
Regardless, in my long-standing tradition of playing games well past their popularity spike (I haven’t even reviewed Mass Effect or Bioshock 2, both recently played) I recently picked up Torchlight on the XBox Arcade. From my vague recollections, Torchlight was something like Diablo, but streamlined and graphically updated.
Believe it or not, that’s pretty much it. Well, except the compelling storyline.
I’m not an Apple fanboy. Truly I’m not. Now that said, I have a macbook, an iPad, and an iPhone that I have through my current workplace. By all accounts, one would think that I am a total fanboy. I mean, I own pretty much one of their everything. I’ll even go on to say that I really, really enjoy their products; I like the iPhone/iPad interactions, I enjoy the iterations of their OS, and I appreciate the aesthetic of their products.
I have never been a total fan though. At the end of the day, they are tools that I use to get things done throughout my day. I don’t hold them in any higher regard than the PCs that I use at my workplace (or grew up with). I’ve had my issues with their products as well and I’ll be the first to point them out. I will also be the first in line to point out that Apple has ‘screwing their clientele’ down to a high art. I mean, they have a release schedule and setup that makes sure that everyone that purchases their wares will be jealous of those who purchase the next iteration. They can really be dicks like that. They engineer demand so well that there should be a degree in it available to higher education locales.
But as of Thursday, July 7th, 2011, I can say that I am now a loyal customer of Apple. Still not a fanboy, but they’ve secured my loyalty. And all it took was an email.
I am not a fan of Rockstar Games, generally. Not to say that they don’t do good work, but their usual fare just isn’t something that I can enjoy for more than about 10 minutes. Grand Theft Auto 3 and onwards always felt tedious (regardless of how much you can personally achieve in it), and Red Dead Redemption just seemed like the same thing, but with cowboys.
The whole ‘open world, do what you want, oh by the way there’s some actual story here if you wanna play it’ model never really did much for me. It’s neat and all, I get the appeal, but I never really got into it.
So then they start talking about L.A. Noire, and my first thought was “oh good, GTA in the 1940′s but this time you’re a cop and will get shot at by bad guys instead of the other way around. Yawwwwn” and promptly ignored it. But then they started releasing the trailers for L.A. Noire, and I watched them. And then I watched some more. And then I started reading about what L.A. Noire was really going to be. A detective game, but with chases, shakedowns, shooting, and moral implications.
Then I got excited.
I’ve been waiting a long time for this.
Pretty much everyone who played the first Portal has been chomping at the bit for a sequel of sorts to come around. That being said, Portal was a bit of a sleeper hit (and meme generator). It took a while for it to become popular. It took even longer for for it to become popular to release on its own. It did, of course, and I’ve been the proud owner of Portal: Still Alive (the XBox 360 release) for a good while now.
So when I heard about a Portal 2 coming out, I became very excited (along with a good portion of the Internet). What’s interesting is Portal came out in 2007. There is a 4 year gap between the two games, which is a long time in the game industry. With that kind of gap, people are going to be expecting a lot from this release.
So the question is: does it stand up?
I try and avoid political issues for the most part. That is to say, I try and avoid writing about them. I try to do so because there are better venues to have these discussions,which thanks to the Internet, generally degrade into tinfoil hat-wearing crap-slingers raging at each other. It’s hard to have an intelligent conversation about it 90% of the time, so it’s best to avoid it on small blogs.
That said, I’m going to break my rule a bit here and make a point to say that Canada, as a ‘great example’ of a democracy has some of the worst voting numbers I have ever seen. I’ll admit that I’m not that old, but there is imperial data to back me up, and the percentages have been slipping like my grades did throughout highschool.
To be honest, it’s a fucking disgrace, and we as a country should be utterly fucking ashamed.
So I’ve mentioned at some point or another that a lot of my work at RY has been developing jquery plugins and the like to make our lives easier during the busy reporting season. Overall they’ve worked out pretty well, but every once in a while someone finds a bug with one (or all) that needs addressing. Since they’re my creations, It’s usually put to me to correct these things.
Most of the time, these bugs are a small oversight on my part, or just straight-up stupidity. I’m not perfect, and I’ll gladly fix these things as they come up. I don’t consider bugs in my code that people find to be an affront to my skill; in reality I find them an opportunity to get better at what I do.
Then you run into something like a bug using setInterval, and things just stop making sense.
Font-replacement is a thing now on the internet. Gone are the days of Helvetica, Arial, and like, three other fonts. Now designers, coders, and hacks can add fonts to any web project. Heck, sometimes even for free!
But of course there are always drawbacks. The number of font-files you need is staggering, and the CSS you need to set up borders on the insane. Here’s the best CSS code I’ve seen for that. Then there’s the licensing issues: font’s ain’t free (mostly). If you want to use a good collection of the fonts out there, you have to pay. There are loads of services out there at this point that can serve up almost every possible font you could ever want. Some you pay for, some (like what I use for my own website) are free.
Getting past the pay barrier and the CSS file drudgery, you are left with another issue: rendering. Some fonts, while applicable for the web, have not been optimized. There’s a big difference between a web-optimized font, and a print font that has been released to the web. That is to say the latter look like shit most of the time. This is a major difference between a mac and a PC.
Let me explain further.
I’m quickly becoming a big fan of Double Fine Productions, and the wonderful stuff that’s coming wonderfully out of their wonderful hands. I didn’t get a chance to review Costume Quest when it came out (by which I mean I was too goddamned lazy) but I can say that it was easily one of the best Xbox Arcade games to come out in forever.
When the expansion for Costume Quest came out, I burned through it and found that Double Fine threw in an easter egg/achievement that advertised their new game (and subject of this review), Stacking.
With some interesting mechanics, and the Double Fine sense of humour, Stacking makes for an interesting addition to the Xbox Arcade.