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J_Knolling Blog

I'll be getting back to this soon.

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Hey guys I'm going to try to get back into this starting sometime after the 16th.

My not getting online for this blog really hasn't been a personal choice. On the 28th of May I wrecked my car in a bad accident. I was thrown from my car and had to be flown to the hospital by helicopter. I broke 7 ribs and ripped up my liver pretty bad.

They had to cut me open, remove a third of one of my lungs, have 7 titanium plates put in, and have 43 steel screws put in.

Funnily enough, the thing I'm most upset about is that I haven't been able to get online in 6 weeks! So I'm way behind on all my news, gaming and otherwise. I plan on trying to get caught up over the next few weeks.

So I'll try to get caught up and be updating this regularly, like I planned to!

Overused Plot Devices. Also: ZOMBIES!!

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I've had a belief for some time now, that if a zombie apocalypse were to happen, that I would do a decent job of surviving it. I'm not a violent person in the slightest, but I think that if I realized that the world we live in had changed that drastically, I think I could get REALLY violent, REALLY quick.

However, if the zombie apocalypse ends up being like that in Left 4 Dead 2, I don't think ANYBODY would survive it, least of all four people stranded in the middle of zombie hell.

That's my fancy way of saying that I've been able to play L4D2 recently. I know, I've previously been a little down on the L4 D series.(more because we have 2L4D games, and barely a word about Half-Life: Ep.3) But I've recently been able to have some extended sessions with the game on my friend Nick's Xbox 360. I had went over to his place to play Eternal Sonata,(that game, and my feelings about it are a whole other blog post on it's own) but I ended up spending more time play L4D2.

The game just seemed so incredibly well made. From the level design, to the strategy of using items, and the different abilities of the special infected, I just couldn't put the game down. I surprised myself by putting down JRPG for a FPS! What has the world come to???

(Spoilers ahead)

With the amount of storytelling mediums, and the fact that storytelling has been around essentially forever, it's not surprising that certain ways of advancing the story have been reused over and over again. Yet there are some games that seem to include these devices a surprising amount of time.

Overused Plot Devices

Entry #1: The Double-Cross

We've all seen this one. That's not a figurative statement; we all have literally seen this before. If you play games, you've played one that features a character betraying, backstabbing, or tricking our player characters. It's almost surprising to realize how often it occurs. Nearly every Final Fantasy since 4 includes a deception of some kind, each of the GTA games has their own share of backstabbing, and the Metal Gear Solid series is practically built on the double-cross. Even games like Shadow of the Colossus and Portal include them.

Why so much use? The double-cross is intended to create a paradigm shift for our player characters. Once the double-crosser has revealed themselves, the betrayal exposed, the motives, intentions, and emotions of the characters should change, hopefully in a dynamic, interesting way. We're shown different sides of our characters that we haven't seen before, and hopefully creating some interesting conflict in the story. For instance, in Metal Gear Solid 2, the betrayal of Raiden by his superior, the Colonel, is used to make Raiden question his identity and purpose in the world, as well as what's real, and what is an illusion.

Characters in games aren't just entities unto themselves. They are controlled and operated by us, the players, and when something happens to them, it also happens to us. This is especially true in games where the player character doesn't speak. Take for instance, Portal. At the beginning of the game, our intentions are not to destroy Glados, or even to escape the facility. But when Glados finally shows her hand and tries to kill you, simple escape is not what we want. We, the player, want revenge, because Glados didn't try to kill some spikey haired guy, or some rough sounding mercenary. She tried to kill us.

Sometimes though, the double-cross is not used intelligently, and comes off as a cheap way of exploiting our emotions. Trish's betrayal in Devil May Cry is neither clever, nor surprising, and it doesn't show us anything new about Dante, Trish, or the world that they inhabit. Dante's mission doesn't change, and the double-cross ends up feeling like an event that was included in order to make it feel like somethinghappened. The double-cross can be an easy way to try to create some interesting dynamics between your characters, but when it's not used correctly, it comes off hardly as such.

We haven't seen the last of the double-cross, and never will.(again, literally) And as long as the people making games try to use the device in clever, new, ways,(read: Bioshock) it won't go from being an overused plot device, to an annoyingly overused plot device.

Returning soon

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I'm going to try to start coming back here regularly pretty soon. If I can manage it. I, hopefully, won't just drop off the face of the earth again.

And an official to everybody that got excited about my union. I'm sorry things went down like they did.

No posts lately... +Unions

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I haven't posted in a little while, mostly because I don't really have much to talk about. Despite the fact that I've gotten several new games. ....So why don't I start there?

I picked up Pirates! a little while ago, and like Civilization, I found it extremely addictive once I started getting into it. It felt like I was sailing my ship on a giant map from that time period. My thing with these games though, is that they don't end up holding my attention for too long of a time. They're fun to play while I'm playing them, but since I son't tend to delve to deeply into the more hardcore aspects of these types of games(the micromanagement of cities, troops, or etc; or the intricacies of trading goods and whatnot), I don't really get too attached to them.

More up my alley is Fallout 3. This is another near recent acquisition, and I'm getting pretty deeply involved in it. I've stated previously about my love of a well crafted post-apocalyptia, and this one definitely doesn't disappoint. I understand that the mix of '50's retro pastiche with futuristic sci-fi is a bit gimmicky, but it doesn't change how awesome it felt to be listening to Billy Holiday while in the midst of an intense firefight.

One complaint though is that said soundtrack seems to be a little too small. I've already heard all of the tracks several times over, and I'm not really that close to finishing the game. It could have done with about 10 more tracks.

....There have been talks of new unions being formed lately, which got me thinking about creating my own union. I've mostly avoided this, mostly because of my inability to come up with some kind of unifying idea to base the union upon, or at least not any that I think would be interesting at least.

Though I think I may have one now. I've always been a fan of reading lists(see: below 1, here, and here). But as much as I love list reading, I can barely manage to make the easiest of lists. My mind gets clogged up, and outside of about three titles, I fall short. I started thinking, though, that lists could be, and maybe should be, a communal affair. You come up with a topic, then with the help of others, talk about about possible inclusions for the list and come to an agreed result.

So I guess they idea of the union would be to, on a weekly basis, come up with a topic, discuss, and create a Top Ten List(this is just an easy moniker, as the list could include more inclusions than ten, and does not necessarily have to be a 'best of' type listing; see below 2).

So...I think this could work, possibly. I'm actually probably going to try starting it in a few hours. ...What, you thought I was going to wait for your approval?

EDIT: Turns out, in the end, I DO need your approval. Shucks.

It's seems that, for some reason, these links are being listed as not being valid(????). So just copy and paste as needed.



Angel, Dollhouse, and Lost. also featuring: Zombieland; Braid

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I just finished up the fifth and final season of Angel, the Buffy spin-off show. They were airing reruns on TNT, so I figured I would slowly rap it up on there. I was never to big of a fan of the show, so I didn't mind waiting or anything like that. I did still get a little teared up at parts, although that's not really that big of a deal. Series finale's tend to get to me. Hell, I teared up during the Frasier finale.

As I finish one Joss Whedon show, I wait until Friday to finish another one. Dollhouse will be airing it's final episode on Friday. I don't think this one's going to bring out the teary eyes; I think it takes me being into the show longer than a couple of months for it to affect me like that. This finale still promises to be super cool. I really can't wait.

But starting on Tuesday, to feel the void of Dollhouse, and keeping in theme with the idea of final seasons, the last season of Lost will start airing. I'm going to leave it at that. I ain't no loser Lost fanboy.

Soooo, outside of the whole, 'last seasons of TV shows' thing, I just watched the movie Zombieland, one that I've been wanting to see for a while now. And, as I expected it to be, it was really fun. I enjoyed the entire experience immensely.

I also picked up the game Braid. I'm sure you've heard of it, so there's no need to go into details. I've been trying for a while now to steer myself away from using guides to get through games. I think it takes something away from the whole experience, and in a way, lesson it. I made it most of the way through this one, but in the end, I had to use on on two puzzles. Hey, after sitting and staring at the screen for an hour, you would too!

.....Good God, that was a boring one. I'll try to make it more fun next time.

I love my computer! I hate woodpeckers!

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My computer was for the longest time unable to play CDs or DVDs. Somehow, the drivers for my computer had become corrupted. My computer had become a really big MP3 player, since the only thing I could really do was access my itunes.

Then I fixed my internet problem. Then I fixed my CD/DVD driver problem. I managed to do both of these things quite a while ago. But it didn't really dawn on me until now how much I love my computer(when it's working).

Back during my high school days, before my PS2 came along, I spent a lot of my gaming money on amassing a decent PC game selection. After I got my PS2, and definitely after the driver problem, I seemed to forget what a good gaming resource my computer is. Games like Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Warcraft 3, Dreamfall, an old Forgotten Realms DOS games set, Morrowind and Oblivion, Fable, Max Payne 1 and 2, and Neverwinter Nights.

It's as if I've just bought a bunch of new games, since I haven't played many of these in years, and some I've never completely finished!

I've also started to realize how much I like my computer as a gaming console. I like the way I use my mouse to interact with things. Everything else is just the standard controller, but with my computer it feels like an interesting, new experience.

In other news, people suggested in the comments of my last post that I should try doing something different in order to get out of the rut that I'm in. So I've picked up a hobby: archery. I don't know how long this will last, but it's something to do, right???? And please don't call me a redneck for doing this. I've gotten enough of that from my friends.

A........Link!!! and...Writer's Block....but with your life!!!

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This is short and to the point.,36871/

Maybe try some out, if possible???

I've tried Every Day The Same Dream, and have yet to try the L4D one.

Just thought some people might like this.....

Anyways..... I think I'm in a bit of a rut. Sort of like Writer's Block, but with my entire life. Not like I'm depressed or anything stupid like that(depression, and the people who have it are stupid. Yeah, I said it), but more like I just don't know what to do next. Like I'm unable to allow anything 'new' in; like I can't hear that part of my brain that does that or something.

For example, I stopped playing the new Kingdom Hearts game because I felt like I just wasn't getting anything from it. And this wasn't the game's fault, but mine. I just got a copy of Grim Fandango, a game I've been wanting to try for quite a while now. But outside of playing the first five minutes so that I could get a preliminary feel for the game, I haven't touched it since.

And it goes outside of games. I've just gotten a copy of 'A Woman Under the Influence', the John Cassavettes film, as well as 'Happy-Go-Lucky', the latest from director Mike Leigh. But I just can't bring myself to sit down and watch them. I just fell like I wouldn't be able to recieve whatever they had to offer.

So I call it a rut. Has anyone else ever dealt with this kind of thing? What helps ya get through it? i really want to. Back when I didn't have internet, I would constantly come up with topics for this blog that I thought I could expand on and would be interesting and fun. But I can't remember any of them, and now nothings coming to me.

I hope this is just a phase that will blow over. I'll keep ya updated.

Dollhouse and Lost

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Talk About Two Shows That Have Been Taking Up My Time Lately

As I stated in my last post,(or was it the one before it?) I have been watching the show Dollhouse lately. I received the first season for Xmas, and then downloaded and recorded all of the aired episodes from this current season. I've watched them all, and am currently up to date with the episodes yet to air(only 2 left for the series).

Dollhouse suffers from the same thing that other Joss Whedon shows suffer from, that the series starts out a little slow, only to become much better later on during it's run. It happened with Buffy, Angel, and firefly. The first season is about 2/3 so-so, with the rest being pretty good. Epitaph One in particular is really amazing, almost becoming one of my favorite TV episodes of all time(Buff's 'Once More With Feeling' is already in that pantheon).

From there on into the second season, the show really starts to become remarkable. The characters change and are forced to move forward because of their actions from the past. We're not allowed to rest on our laurels as viewers and are forced to change with the characters.

The show is now cancelled, which is a shame. I would have liked to have seen the different paths that the characters would have taken. The best episodes of Buffy were in the last 3 of 7 seasons. Well, it was still good while it lasted.

I know that what I've previously said about Lost in this very blog in the past. That, while interesting in some ways, it's just a so-so show with not a whole lot to offer. I kept watching the seasons though, mostly for the same reasons that I read all of the Twilight books; I just wanted to see if I could discover the reason why so many people liked it. Unlike Twilight, I did find something in Lost. I just became absorbed in the mythology, which seemed to be well thought out and planned.

Not that I need a well planned mythology to like a show. Battlestar Galactica made up everything they did as they went along, and I love that show.

I've allowed myself to become absorbed by the good aspects of the show, even though some of the character stuff is sub-par and boring in my opinion.(Every time there's and episode about that Korean couple I cringe. That storyline is complete hack) I still would take something like Dollhouse any day.

I think the respect for Lost also comes from knowing that Dollhouse, and the way that show works, owes a little something to Lost. Lost helped redefine television for this decade, which deserves some respect, whether you like the show or not.

I should say that I'm currently wading through the back half of the fourth season of Lost, with the fifth season waiting for me in the coming week. So please, NO SPOILERS!!! Thanks a bunch.

On a completely unrelated note, for some reason, the spellcheck doesn't recognize 'dollhouse', but it does recognize 'Buffy'. Weird.

WATCHING ANY TV SHOWS OF YOUR OWN? LET'S DISCUSS 'EM!! -A daily feature available in the comments section of any of my blog posts. Post your opinion, and I'll post mine!-


Coming out of the New Year---!!Poll!!--Are my titles wearing out their welcome??

by on entertainments from the holidays....

4. Patton Oswalt-My Weakness is Strong: I'm a big fan of Patton, so this was a natural choice. The CD came with a DVD(making it worth the price tag; CD's are so outdated!!) which is what I watched first. I literally could not stop laughing throughout the entire thing. Amazing!

5. Paul F. Tompkins- Freak Wharf: Yes, another comedy album. What can I say, I like my alternative comedy. This, like #4, is a complete knockout. I think that, personally, I prefer Paul F.'s comedy to Patton's. This album also has what I think might be the ultimate comedy album ending. Amazing!

6. 3 nice journals: this was just a nice thoughtful gift. I don't really know how much I'll use them. I tend to think I do my best spontaneous writing on the computer. But still very nice

soooooooo.....That's about it. ...I'm still trying to rediscover my rythym with these things.

Let's end it with a question!(non-obligatory)

What album or artist best represents the feelings of the New Year for you?

Please, no stupid answers.