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5401  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Completed RPGs of 2007 on: May 28, 2007, 07:43:43 PM
Completed games of 2007 for me:

Yo-Jin-Bo, Hotel Dusk, Piece of Wonder, Memories Off: Complete (which includes Memories Off: Pure), Memories Off 2nd, Suigetsu Mayoi Gokoro... I think that's it.  

None were RPGs, though Piece of Wonder was an SRPG/love adventure hybrid.
5402  The Rest / General Discussions / GamePro: 11 Worst Video Game Trends on: May 28, 2007, 05:48:21 PM
Lucid,  I think the discussion is starting to veer away from the portrayal of women in games to that of, like movies, the blockbuster movie/game vs. the art-house movie/game.  

I think I see what you're saying about certain aesthetic trends hurting the more art-house creative mentality in all media.  Love it or hate it, gaming is a business.  Like with movies, the mostly vapid Hollywood blockbusters with explosions, car chases, T&A, and the like make a hell of a lot more money and draw more crowd than art films, and the art-house films tend to be overshadowed or ignored... even if they're really freaking good.  I think we can all name independent and/or art-house films that deserve accolades, rewards, and recognition but are snubbed in favor of big budget Hollywood blockbusters.  

Every popular Bollywood movie in India is all the same: pretty people in colorful costumes dancing around trees in beautiful locales and overacting like bad Shakespeare.  But that's what the public wants.  When living in a country that's pretty much a shithole of corruption and poverty, do you really want to see films about corruption and poverty?  Yeah, there are movie makers in southern India who do gritty, realistically acted, no song and dance, social commentary films that win awards elsewhere in the world, but people in India don't give a flying fuck.  They see corruption and poverty all the time in their daily lives, so why do they want to see it again in their movies?  They go to the movies to escape the shithole of everyday life.  

In terms of independent console gaming, I would think doing that would be more difficult than starting your own independent record label or making your own independent film.  The technology to do those things is available to the masses.  Console devkits are not.  Maybe if devkits and all were more accessible to smaller art-house developers and publishers were willing to take risks on art-house games, then maybe we'll see more innovative independent gaming and more of that "high-art" gaming that you seem to desire.  It'd be nice to see more indie game developers doing their thing, though from what I understand, procuring devkits for consoles can be prohibitively difficult and expensive.  

I still hold fast to the opinion that the "disturbing" trends we're having these debates on thanks to GamePro's list apply more to console gaming than PC gaming.  The PC platform has always had a mean or median userbase (among gamers) that's older than the console userbase, so quite a few PC games like The Longest Journey or Planetscape: Torment are less "juvenile" and very artistic and mature.  

In addition, it's easier for more art-house game studios to develop for PC than for consoles.  There's software out there accessible to the masses to create PC games with.  In regards to the indie ethic, one of the most charming RPGs I played in recent years was an independently produced and published PC game called Aveyond (by Amaranth games.)  It plays like a classically styled console RPG.  

I can agree that American RPGs like Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines are less afraid to show darker sides of mortal nature and utilize characters that don't fit into the ideals and norms of what you'd expect in a video game protagonist, aesthetically or otherwise.  Where your typical Japanese RPG protagonist is a fresh-faced innocent youth, a more typical US RPG protagonist is often older and more world-weary.  

In terms of that final sentence you called me out on, since when did I say I get EVERYthing out of my daily life?  Granted, I don't see/experience everything, but who does?  Each human being has his or her own unique circumstances surrounding their own phenomenological experience.  This makes each person's experience different.  And because of that difference, people choose to explore the nature of humanity in their own myriad ways.  Some choose not to explore it at all.  Some people feel the need to explore it at more extensive and deeper levels than others while others are satisfied with the insight they already have.

I often feel like I can gain more insight into humanity, especially my own humanity, through my experience and metacognition of my own interpersonal relationships with family, peers, colleagues, teachers, students, and whomever else I encounter in life.  That's really what I mean by gaining insight into humanity and the intricacies thereof through going out and living life; gaining insight into humanity through more active experiential means.  Although, yes, a textbook can provide me with an objective schema through which to filter my observations, thoughts, interactions, etc. into more cohesive insights that makes sense.  I'm a guy who'll often take an idea from a textbook to task and see if, and to what extent, it applies to life as I know it.    

I'm lucky that in my life I have plenty of opportunities to explore peoples' phenomenological experiences.  I'm currently studying counseling psychology (I really like the existential-humanistic approach to counseling), training to be a school guidance counselor, and one of my jobs (I have 2) is working at an inner-city school's after school program doing some youth counseling (mostly group counseling).  Exploring the nature and intricacies of humans and their relationships with each other and their environments and helping people navigate through them?  That's going to be my career, and school is one societal (and socio-political) hub where the myriad intricacies of humanity, human nature, interpersonal and object relationships, and all kinds of wild and wacky things come to an often tangled head.
5403  Media / The Soundroom / s0nG oF tEh mOmEnt on: May 28, 2007, 12:05:02 PM
I was at a ska show on Friday.  My friends The Waffle Stompers hosted it and there were 5 bands.  Although the Waffle Stompers absolutely slayed with their elaborate stage show, the band I liked best that night was upstate New York's own Pinstripe Melee.  They claimed they hadn't rehearsed or played out in a while, but holy shit were they ever tight.  

So my song of the moment is "Fast Food Friends" by Pinstripe Melee.  I dare anyone to not want to get up and skank while listening to this song.  The musicianship is super tight and the song is so damn catchy.  

http://www.pinstripemelee.com
http://www.myspace.com/pinstripemelee

Hello!
How can I serve you today,
Do you want fries, or maybe the parfait?
I'm just here, trying to serve you best
In my plastic hat, and this damn checkered vest

Got nothing new on the menu
And the inventory has run stale
I'm just looking to make you a deal
Lets have a meal
And not a date
Without plastic forks, or plastic plates

Can't you read, the sign says under new management!
Or didn't you understand, quite what that meant
This restaurant's closed, no more meal ticket deals
So take what you find, and keep what you steal
You took it from me!
5404  The Rest / General Discussions / GamePro: 11 Worst Video Game Trends on: May 28, 2007, 09:20:27 AM
In that case, something like Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines runs the gamut for types of characters you can play as in terms of aesthetics.  There are the beauty-obsessed Toreador, the sewer-rat Nosferatu, and everything in between.  But regardless of their visual aesthetics, they all have various internal traits that make them appealing to play as.  

If only that game wasn't so buggy and only playable on high-end systems.  That thing was awesome.  

I have been giving more black and white examples of things, but I think we can all agree that characters need more than just looks.  And even in terms of aesthetics, we all have different tastes.  Most guys think Pam Anderson's a total hottie, whereas I think she's revolting.

I think most US video games are less afraid to portray characters and character designs as imperfect than most Japanese video games are.  Even Squall's scar in FF8 had to look pretty.  In a more typical US video game, scars on characters are scars; there's nothing pretty about them.  

We could discuss character aesthetics in video games all day and mostly agree to not quite see eye to eye on things, but in terms of that list of "disturbing video game trends" the whole awesomely beautiful woman being a "disturbing trend" is not something I can agree with.  Do I think there needs to be improvement and more diversity among video game women?  Absolutely.  But do I think the "hot chicks with guns" is a bad/disturbing video game trend?  No, or at least not as bad as some other trends like crappy ass games based on popular licenses.    

I still like my escapism in entertainment, though, because I can get humanity and all the amazing intricacies associated with it just by living my daily life.
5405  Media / The Soundroom / The Beatles on: May 27, 2007, 11:13:09 PM
The Beatles... they were a big influence on this indie rock band I used to be in.  Although the Beatles' music could be hit or miss for my tastes, especially depending on the era as they evolved a lot over the years, they've earned their place in music history.  There has never been a band like the Beatles and there never will be.  

If you were to ask me who I think the mightiest band of all time is, I'd say Led Zeppelin or Iron Maiden.  Most would say The Beatles.  Although I listen to a lot of jazz, R&B, showtunes, and all kinds of other music, when it comes to rock, I prefer heavier rock.    

Personally, I thought the solo material after the break up mostly sucked.  The magic was with the 4 of them.  And I think Sir Paul has become a total douchebag these days in his old age.  His solo stuff makes me want to barf.  

I have to be in a particular mood to listen to the Beatles.  I can't just listen to them on a whim like I can with Zeppelin or Maiden.

"Eleanor Rigby" is still my all time favorite Beatles song.  And Sgt. Pepper is easily my favorite Beatles album.  Other Beatles albums I can't always listen to on a whim or in their entirety, but Sgt. Pepper is one that I can listen to and enjoy every time.
5406  The Rest / General Discussions / GamePro: 11 Worst Video Game Trends on: May 27, 2007, 10:49:40 PM
In terms of ugly (or less attractive) characters being more interesting to play, I can see that in, say, Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines (and its tabletop counterpart) where a lot of people enjoy playing as the Nosferatu.  Thing is, to counterbalance their horrid physical appearance, the Nosferatu have a ton of traits that make them really appealing and desirable to play as.    

It's like with dating.  If a person isn't fly, they'd better have something else as their trump card.  If a person is less attractive, s/he had better have a fan-fucking-tastic personality and something wicked cool about them.  Not much to look at but just competed in the Olympics?  Wicked cool.  Not much to look at but was on the research team that (hypothetically) cured diabetes?  Wicked cool!  Not much to look at but laid down that awesome bass track on that hot new R&B hit?  Wicked cool!  

I remember playing PSO back in ye olden days and one of my friends in the game (a woman) said that she would try making a fat "bull dyke" HUnewearl so that guys wouldn't hit on her character.  After two weeks, she deleted that character because she didn't quite want to stare at her overweight HUnewearl for hundreds of hours.  She much preferred to play her more aesthetically pleasing characters.  

Do I think some portrayals of video game women are exaggerated and overdone?  Yes.  Tifa's basketball boobs come to mind.  And who doesn't laugh when some female character's in her skivvies in the middle of the arctic north?  I'm all for video game females being more appropriately dressed, but I still like my heroines to be beautiful.  Maya in Septerra Core is a perfect example of an attractive heroine with *gasp* full body armor.  What can I say?  I play video games for escapism and I want pretty people in my fantasy worlds.  But that's just one man's way of thinking.  

As for the list, I would put Poke-clones and card-battle games in there as questionable trends.
5407  The Rest / General Discussions / GamePro: 11 Worst Video Game Trends on: May 27, 2007, 01:54:21 PM
Quote from: "Lucid"
Quote
I don't know about anyone else, but I would rather play a video game as a Carmen Electra lookalike than a Janet Reno one.


Why does it have to be either/or though? There's more to the spectrum of looks than just very attractive and hideously ugly. Take the protagonists in Silent Hill games for example, they're pretty average looking people, and in my opinion helps draw you into the situation more, or perhaps makes it easier to suspend disbelief.



I never said it had to.  I was just giving a very cut and dry example.  A "lesser of two evils" example I guess.

Heh, I could've used Pam Anderson in my example instead of Carmen Electra, but I always found Pam absolutely hideous while most guys creamed their pants over her.
5408  The Rest / General Discussions / GamePro: 11 Worst Video Game Trends on: May 27, 2007, 09:46:26 AM
Quote from: "Lucid"


Nice list, a lot of those listed are some of the reasons gaming will remain a toy, and not develop into a more mature artistic interactive medium.


That could be argued more for console gaming, but not for PC gaming.  PC gaming has always been ahead of consoles in terms of "mature artistic interactive medium" but even now, console games are starting to grow up with their constituents.  After all, the kids who grew up with 8-bit Nintendo are in their 20s and 30s now.  

In any case, I agree with the #1 on the list.  Developers need to stop churning out WW2 games.  That dead horse has been beaten, sewn back up, beaten again, sewn back up, beaten again ad nauseum.

I disagree with the "perfect woman" thing, though.  What's wrong with having attractive game characters?  Males in modern video games tend to be well-muscled and attractive too (i.e. Dante in the Devil May Cry games.)  I don't know about anyone else, but I would rather play a video game as a Carmen Electra lookalike than a Janet Reno one.  And I'd also rather play a video game as a badassed looking guy like Dante than some fat, bald, overweight slob who looks like a skeevy landlord.  I'm with Dice on this one.  If you ditch that "perfect man/woman" thing in gaming, then what's the alternative?
5409  The Rest / General Discussions / GaGaGame Journal #5 on: May 26, 2007, 10:55:21 PM
I decided to fire up Xenosaga 2 and 3 for the hell of it.  I can see how Xeno 1 and 2 can be monotonous and or frustrating.  Xeno 3 is where the series finally gets it right, so better late than never.  My only caveat is that I liked in prior Xeno games that during human battles, characters could do individual combo attacks using square and triangle and Xeno 3 just has "attack."  I like the use of square and triangle to do multi-hit combo attacks, though admittedly it was done to greater effect in XenoGEARS where you could earn more AP and do more extensive combo strings.  

And at the very least, Shion seems like far less of a weenie in Xeno 3.  

I'll probably end up Gamesharking my way through the first 2 Xeno games.  I'd rather experience the events first hand than just read them in the Xeno 3 summary database.  Just reading the summaries is just not the same as experiencing the drama first hand.

I definitely dig the series.  For all its flaws and faults, I love that it's a cool ass futuristic sci-fi RPG series (I won't say sci-fi/fantasy because sci-fi *is* a form of fantasy), and you don't get too many futuristic sci-fi RPGs.  I mean, you do, but for every sci-fi type RPG, there's, like, 500 medieval fantasy ones.  I prefer sci-fi over trad/medieval type fantasy.  The Star Ocean games have always had potential to be cool ass futuristic sci-fi RPGs, but they ALWAYS dump you on some backwater, primitive, bumfuck, middle-of-nowhere planet devoid of technology and pretty much keep you there.  I already get more than my fair share of traditional fantasy RPGing.  I want more sci-fi or other "non" traditional types of fantasy.

To me, the Xenosaga games feel like Star Wars on steroids, and that's a good thing to me.
5410  Media / The Soundroom / Concerts 07 on: May 26, 2007, 05:23:50 PM
My friend and I just saw a killer local ska show last night with local and touring bands.  It was at a suburban community center so it was mostly high school kids at the show, but man I had an absolute blast.  It was so much fun.  The crowd was just as awesome and entertaining as the music.  There were circle pits galore and I must've sweated  gallons from all that skanking.  

5 bands played:
a ska-core band called The Best of the Worst were a lot of fun.  
The Smooth Talkers were a pop punk band who had some catchy songs, but zero stage presence (save for the drummer.)  
Le Monstre were a folk-punk band who had talent, but their music wasn't really my thing.  
Pinstripe Melee, from upstate New York, absolutely killed.  They were so freaking tight and the crowd went nuts for them.  Really nice guys too.  
And capping off the night were our friends The Waffle Stompers.  They came out in full regalia dressed like Angus Young, Elvis, Freddie Mercury, someone in the Aquabats, and more.  The crowd was absolutely bananas during their set.  I always thought The Waffle Stompers were a good band, but they were 1000 times better than the last time I saw them.  

The Waffle Stompers http://www.myspace.com/thewafflestompers
Pinstripe Melee http://www.pinstripemelee.com http://www.myspace.com/pinstripemelee  

Clueless- I get the feeling the Taking Back Sunday stage mix was intentional. Their bassist, Matt Rubano, is the only one in the band with actual talent (he has a degree in jazz performance.) I look at him and Ryknow of Mudvayne and ask myself "what are such talented bassists doing in such lousy bands?"
5411  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Odin Sphere out in US May 22nd, Dual language on: May 24, 2007, 08:10:04 AM
For Soul Nomad, NIS is projecting an August 2007 release date, but other media outlets are speculating a September release date.  It came out in Japan on January 25 this year.  

That's the best I can tell you about Soul Nomad.
5412  The Rest / General Discussions / GaGaGame Journal #5 on: May 23, 2007, 11:26:45 PM
5-6 hours of Xenosaga was surprisingly enough to cure my love adventure burnout after spending ridiculous amounts of time playing two Memories Off titles in a row, multiple times over.  

So I started Suigetsu Mayoi Gokoro for Dreamcast.  The beginning is painfully slow, but the story is starting to open up now.  

In Xenosaga, I'm at the part where Ziggurat 8 has to infiltrate Margulis' ship to recover MOMO.  

Xeno's on hold again.  It's love adventure time again, baby, yeah!

Still,
Code:
I'm a tad miffed that they killed off fucking Virgil in Xenosaga.  He was such an awesome character.  I'm upset that they killed him and left me saddled with that useless whore Shion.  This is almost as bad as Earthbound where the uber-cool and ultra powerful bee alien is killed by Pokey's mom and you're stuck saddled with a completely useless annoying fat kid.  
Ugh, Shion makes Rinoa look badass... and I hated Rinoa, damn whiny ass simpering spoilt brat weenie chick.
5413  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Odin Sphere out in US May 22nd, Dual language on: May 23, 2007, 07:56:15 PM
I ordered my copy and got an email yesterday that it shipped.  I should get it hopefully soon.  

I splurged a bit on games getting this one, preordering Grim Grimoire, and planning to preorder Soul Nomad once it's in the EB/Gamestop system.  

2D 2D 2D!!!!! And I don't mean the singer for the Gorillaz.
5414  The Rest / General Discussions / GaGaGame Journal #5 on: May 22, 2007, 06:05:31 PM
Point taken.  However, in your self-disclosing example, you proved that you could recognize and own up to your own hypocrisy.  Shion's too damn stupid to recognize it and obviously too oblivious to own up to it.  

Either way, seeing Cherenkov and Virgil call her out on her ineptitude and have her cower like a dog with its tail between its legs was entertaining.  

Normally I enjoy playing an RPG or adventure as a female character since they always have more dynamic storylines, but playing as an inept simpering weenie spineless jellyfish of a broad...
5415  The Rest / General Discussions / GaGaGame Journal #5 on: May 22, 2007, 11:10:02 AM
I'm about 3.5 hours into Xenosaga.  KOS-MOS and Virgil have joined Shion's party and now they're off to the hanger to snag escape pods.  

I like the game and all; the setting, the visuals, the music, the unique storyline are all good.  Battles are pretty fun too.  And the supporting cast is excellent with great portrayals.  

But I must ask, does Shion get any better as a character?  Or at least slightly less dim-witted?  Because right now, she should be on the short yellow bus than on the Woglinde.  She's supposed to be this brilliant PhD scientist person, but she's an idiot.  She whines a lot, allows herself to be victimized, acts very childish when things don't go her way, and is a complete hypocrite with the whole "I love people and equal rights" when in reality she's just a cowardly corporate pawn (or slave if you will) who works in the best interests of her corporation than the people she claims she loves so much.  

"Teeheehee, my parents even wonder how I made it to first division."  Even her parents think she's a moron.  That's pathetic.    

Lt. Virgil's fucking cool, though.  I love how he calls Shion out on every stupid little hypocritical thing she says, thinks, and does.  That guy's sharp and not a cowardly imbecile like Shion who simply cannot win against him.  He's my favorite character so far.  

I've met plenty of phenomenally stupid video game characters in all the years I've been playing story-intensive video games, but Shion's taking the cake.
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