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Jbul Blog

Someone Hold Me.... Please?

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Although I've been pretty vocal in times past about my console-gamer-only preferences, I've finally encountered a game that is beginning to change my mind... maybe. A friend was kind enough to give me his old PC graphics card and extra RAM, and after some procrastination, I finally installed them a few days ago into my PC.

One of the very few PC-exclusives that have really interested me over the years is a game called Amnesia: The Dark Descent. For those unfamiliar with the premise, here's a quick rundown -- you wake up in a castle, with no memory of who you are, or how you got there. You quickly learn, through taking in your surroundings, that the game takes place in the past -- a few hundred years, actually. It's an interesting premise to start a game because there's really no explanation or backstory needed, and Amnesia's setting and background are best left unexplained anyway. It has been said that Amnesia is the most terrifying game ever made -- not from a few select p**sies, mind you, but from a great amount of hardcore, seasoned gamers. This definitely piqued my interest.

The game, when first installed, stops you and gives you a lecture -- a few sentences of text that I found to be pretty cool. I thought these tips would be something like "Left Click to open doors! Reload your gun by pressing "R"! Switch weapons by pressed the directional keys!", but NO. Things are laid out before you rather bluntly, as the game tells you "Do not try to win. Take in the enviroment. You are vulnerable. Do not try to fight. Run whenever possible".

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Well, sh*t! Okay. Nothing like a warning like that to make you realize you're in for a different experience.

I really can't write a great deal about the game, as I'm only about 90 minutes in, but I will say that I went in with a macho attitude. "Pfft, stupid game can't scare me" I thought to myself. The first thing I noticed about the game was the rediculously rich atmosphere. You hear wind blowing through a crack in a window. You hear cockaroaches scurry on the ground in front of you. You hear your own breathing very loudly when you witness something "disturbing", whether it be a door opening on it's own, or a anamoly in your vision which makes it look like part of the room is melting before your eyes. Amnesia has a "sanity" system, which is interesting. If you stay in the dark too long or witness something strange, you begin to lose your mind. Your vision fades, your heart rate increases (which you can hear in the most deathly silent moments of the game). You even see things that aren't there. Or are they?

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So as I sit writing this, coming off a 1-hour long play session in broad daylight, I feel strangely uneasy -- and no, it's not the lunch I ate. But I also feel a strange sense of curiosity about what else the game could hold in store for me. Right now, I can't wait for work to be over so I can continue my experience how it was meant to be played -- with a tired head in pure, and utter darkness.

Someone hold me. Please?

Meh... F*** Giantbomb

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Douchebags. I can't reply to my friends who post in my blog more than 2 times in a row, because of "flood protection"? Kiss my ass, you fat f*cks.

That didn't last long.

Happy Birthday!

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to me! What did you guys get me? Johnsteed is making me a cake.

Damn Jbul, That's Harsh

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What do you think about game-journalism? Here's what I think, via a reply to a forum topic that asked why gamers don't demand more from their game writers --

Gaming journalism is pathetic, no doubt about that. It's still a medium for amateur, overly dorky kids who wear comic-book shirts, drink Mountain Dew, and relish in-game-sexual encounters -- in other words, snarky nerd-douches. There's no integrity, accountability, or talent in game journalism whatsoever. Part of the problem is A) The adult-public perception of videogames is still quite low (but improving very slowly) and B) The number of people who play videogames, or at least are percieved to play videogames, are under the age of 18. This has a doubling effect because they (we) don't demand more. Other forms of entertainment (music, movies, books) have primarily adult-oriented audiences who've sh!t a brick if they had to read the feces game journalists print.

Everytime I see a picture of a game journalist, literally, I think to myself "Why does every game journalist have either a crappy beard, wear glasses, or is skinny and pale?". Big part of the problem. They don't look like human beings.

Videogame journalism has yet to find its Lester Bangs, and if they did, the whiney douchebag gamers who read the sites wouldn't give two sh!ts about layered, mature writing and journalistic integrity. This hobby won't get more respect until the people who represent it deserve it.

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Sad but true. Believe it.

Newsflash: Mass Effect 3 Had A Terrible Ending

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LOL


This isn't news. The ending left my brow furrowed and a feeling of complete emptiness, despite the mostly great 30+ hours before it. People aren't kidding when they say an ending can ruin 150+ hours of excellent gameplay (well, almost).

I've read alot of viewpoints on the subject, but this paricular article asks two accomplished Science Fiction writers what they thought of the ending of Mass Effect 3. At first I was skeptical, thinking "But have these guys even played the games?", but after reading the article, it's VERY clear they are hardcore gamers who played the previous two games and have interesting insight.

NOTE: MASS EFFECT 3 ENDING SPOILERS AHEAD!

Here's a part of the article, which can be found in full right here for those interested, and I've highlighted the most signifigant parts --

"The best moments were things like Mordin Solus's sacrifice, and the wider plotline of the Salarians, Krogan and the Genophage. The outcry over the ending seems excessive to me, but did it make good science fiction?" he asks. "Well, was it good science? No. It was pretty incomprehensible and didn't make much sense even within the context of the game.

"But I'm actually a lot more interested in whether it made good fiction. And the answer is 'no' again. Heavy exposition by a glowing child never before mentioned seems a sure sign of failure. By the time you get to the end of a hundred and fifty hours of gameplay, you shouldn't need things explained. You shouldn't be watching with furrowed brow thinking wha? You shouldn't be thinking at all. You should be feeling it."

"An author owes their readers closure at the conclusion of a series of books" says Green. "Each individual story needs some form of resolution, although that could include setting up the next adventure." That next adventure is clearly a big part of BioWare's plans, and while the new ending will give key characters the epilogue they deserved, the Retake Mass Effect campaign have simplified Mass Effect 3's bigger problems, says Abercrombie.

"I think the problems started well before the ending," he explains. "The Illusive Man went from fascinating power behind the throne in Mass Effect 2 to tedious blathering villain in Mass Effect 3, for instance. The third game was more gung ho, more morally simplistic, more... cheesy than the second.

"A great ending begins right at the start. Red Dead Redemption - which I thought had a fantastic ending - has a strong central theme about the death of the West where the central character embodies that theme, the action all plays into it, and the end is bold and tough but entirely fitting. I'm not sure how a bit of DLC can make the difference for Mass Effect 3. If the spike on the top of the skyscraper is wonky because the foundation is wonky, a new spike ain't going to fix it."




So there you have it. Two great Sci-Fi writers (who are also very obviously huge gamers) think that the ending was s**t, and it was.


What are your guys thoughts?

Dear GameSpot (5 Year Anniversary)

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This July, it'll mark my 5th year of regular contribution to this site. In that time, I've gone from a conservative forum poster to one of the site's most outspoken (and possibly prolific) bloggers. I'd say my blogs have ranged from unfuriating and insulting to brilliant and eye-opening. I'm nearing 10,000 posts on the forums. It's been a fun ride for the most part, and I'm grateful to the friends I've made here and the community in general. This site has enabled me to realize my potential as a writer, as well as share my views on all sorts of topics -- gaming of course, but also dating, friendships, work, entertainment, and life in general. I'm grateful for that, although I always feel like I haven't quite belonged on a videogame site.

Although gaming is one of my favorite hobbies, I share nothing else in common with most of the people who use this site. I've lived a life of decadence in terms of women, alcohol, and drugs (all on the same night, if I'm lucky). I don't like Star Wars, Star Trek, or any corny sci-fi shows. I don't read comics, watch anime, or give a sh*t about superhero movies -- in fact, I find those things offensively nerdy and lame. I don't play Dungeons and Dragons -- I have unprotected sex. Although I'm very capable, I hate debating on forums or in blogs. I have better things to do and my life has enough drama and conflict as is. I never understood the desire to have a p*ssing contest on the forums, arguing about games. What does that solve? Maybe it's because I prefer face-to-face resolution to my problems, not fake ones.

I'm a lifelong serious athlete who's competed in Power Lifting, Boxing, Muay Thai, and Jiu-Jitsu.

See where this is going? Despite all of these differences that I have from most of you, the tools on this site have allowed us to come together over what we love -- video games and gaming. But now, especially with the modification to the blogging system, I feel like those incentives are gone. I don't care to get into a detailed breakdown of what's wrong with the site, but here's a brief one --

1) Blogging is broken. All of my blogs read "0" replies. Everyone's do. This is bad for the community because, whether we like to admit it or not, we like to see how many replies a blog gets, and how quickly -- if it's been up for 3 hours and has 15 replies, we know it's got some juicy content.

2) No notification. How do I know when someone has replied to me? I don't. Not unless I want to be BOMBARED in my off-site e-mail. This is terrible. Why would I want to use my real-life email to connect to a game site? I want my experience to be self-contained. I don't want my phone blowing up because some geek is calling me a troll in the reply section of a Gamespot article. Rediculous.

3) No videos. Why, after 5 motherf***ing years, can I still not PUT A DAMN VIDEO IN MY BLOG? Jesus christ, this feature would be so much fun. Posting funny clips, gameplay videos, or, heaven forbid, a video blog. I know I can link it off-site, but it's just not the same.

4) Emblems are meaningless. This issue is a minor one, but I remember a time when I looked forward to getting emblems on the site. They were fun to collect, BECAUSE -- they all appeared on your profile. No matter how many you had, they all appeared when you clicked onto someone's profile/blog -- meaning, if you had 50, you'd see all 50 on the lefthand side of the screen under someone's Rank and Member Since information. But since only 10 show up now (which seem to randomly rotate due to glitches), what motivation do I have to obtain more? No one ever clicks on the "see more" button. It's just not fun anymore to collect them. Therefor, people are less inclined to contribute.

5) No more community recognition. I know Gamespot employees are busy. I get it... work sucks. But the last real motivator for blogging and community contribution is/was recognition (because almost everything else had been taken away) Not just Soapbox emblems, but being recognized in the community feed. This feature enabled me to be introduced to some great bloggers, and sure, although I've been hard on Gamespot in the past, it was always fun to be featured there. It made me realize that the people in charge of this site read the user contributions and were willing to recognize them. Seriously, what the hell happened to this feature?

If I had to guess, based on Gamespot's actions, I'd say that John Davidson had a meeting and said "Okay, let's stop focusing on the users, and start focusing on bringing features no one wants to the forefront! -- like FUSE, Facebook and Twitter Integration. I know out mature users will be turned off by this, but who cares -- revenue, revenue, REVENUE!"

I mean really guys. I really hate to consider leaving this site, I've spent a considerable amount of time here, but you seem to be doing everything to be pushing me, and most of the people I love to associate with, away with a vengaence. You've taken some great steps in lowering the Mickey Mouse factor of the site (loosening up on censorship was a big step forward), but everything else is in noticable decline.

Let's put out this fire before it becomes an inferno.

Multiplayer WILL Ruin Videogames

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Without going into a long diatribe about multiplayer ruining single player videogames, let me just offer two examples --

1) My favorite game of all time, Bioshock (NOT Bioshock 2.. yuck) is finally releasing a real sequel, from the original brilliant developer, and recently, it was announced the game was delayed 6 months. Why? To include multiplayer. Yes. I'm not kidding. While it hasn't been completely confirmed, the job listing (posted alongside the delay announcement) asking for developers with "previous experience developing network backend support on a multi-console title with support for matchmaking, stat tracking and analysis, in-game push updates, etc". Son... of...a...b!tch. You've GOT to be kidding me.

2) My other favorite series in gaming, Dead Space, was slightly polluted last year when the great second entry in the series included some really pathetic multiplayer. People played it for a week, then forgot about it. The saving grace was, you could still experience the single-player game alone, how survival-horror was intended, and that was great. However, the sh!t-tastic multiplayer DID taint the overall experience, even slightly. Afterall, even if a portion of a game is clearly tacked on as a bullet-point to sell the game to the horrific Call Of Douchey audience, its' presence still counts as a mark against the game. In other words, it can't be ignored.

Anyway, here's the kicker -- Dead Space 3 will come out before March of 2013, and it will, YES, include Co-Op multiplayer.

Survival horror.... with your buddy telling fart-jokes on the other end of the mic. Fan-f*cking-tastic.

Thoughts?

Metacritic -- The Only Review That Matters

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Regardless of your personal views on gaming journalism and game-reviews in general, here's an undeniable fact -- game reviews matter,a lot. And for those with any doubts about how important this facet of our industry is, look no further than the CBS-owned Metacritic website -- a site that expertly averages reviews from different media outlets, and combines their scores into a single rating on a scale of 1-100.

A few sites have done this in the past, including the jurassic (and now fairly irrelevant) Gamerankings.com, but Metacritic is the first site to really do it right. Not only does Metacritic average their scores with mathematical precision (down to the decimal), they have an independent committee who investigates the legitamacy of each website, searching for corruption or bias. Therefor, sites whom may be taking extra advertising money are immediately excluded from contributing to the rankings (this has happened several times). Furthermore, Metacritic also places slightly higher importance (and thus relevance in the rankings) to websites with long histories of quality, unbiased reviews. So for instance, Gamespot has a higher relevancy than gamesradar.com, and so forth. This means that a 9.0 from a established source is much more meaningful than a newer contributor.

"Reviews are nonsense", you may cry, "Just the opinion of one person", you add. While true on an individual scale, Metacritic puts all individual opinions into a collective pie, telling you not one persons' arguably unimportant opinion into a definitive number where all opinions are taken into account.

Still not convinced of how signifigant Metacritic is? Consider these facts --

1) THQ's Homefront ended its' review embargo a few days before the official release date. Metacritic's score of the game landed somewhere in the low 70's, and THQ's stock immediately dropped nearly %30 (before the game was released, mind you). Homefront went onto sell fairly well (who knows why, it pretty much sucks in every respect), but the stock didn't recover for a signifigant period of time afterward.

2) Bonuses are handed out by most Publishers in the games industry depending on where their games' score ends up on Metacritic -- ONLY Metacritic. Not Gamespot, not IGN, not Gametrailers. For instance, a 80 on Metacritic might yield a $1000 bonus for each member, whereas a 85 or 90 would yield a much higher bonus. These exact figures are speculative (I doubt they are publically released, and for good reason), I admit, but it is absolute fact that these bonuses exist and are handed out readily. Why? Because it's been proven that Metacritic rankings are pivotal to game sales.

3) Metacritic is the last place on the ENTIRE INTERNET where your opinion on videogames still matters (and this may not last for much longer). Publishers and developers rabidly keep track of Metacritic's user reviews and rankings. Want proof? Bioware has been caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar -- creating accounts and writing false user reviews to promote their games and raise user review scores. Why? Because game industry people "in the know", realize that gamers go to Metacritic and read User Reviews, and in some ways, these can be just as influential as the critics' voices. When Mass Effect 3 was released, gamers bombed Metacritics user reviews, giving the PS3 version a user score of 2.9, with THOUSANDS of reviews submitted. This not only made headlines, but was a strong contributing factor to Bioware caving and re-writing their ending and releasing it as free DLC this summer.

Metacritic continues to be the very most influential and important site in the videogame industry. A place where an individual user voice can make a signifigant impact on the gaming industry, and a bible for general game quality that's hard to argue. Sure, you may not enjoy a game that ranks 90+ on Metacritc, but the stark reality is thatthe sales and influence link between Metacritic and game success and quality assures that this sites' influence will continue to grow and dominate.

It may not last forever, but for now, Metacritic is the undisputed king of gaming influence.

Epic Karma Is Epic

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Some of you may remember a girl I wrote about last year, with whom our relationship was strained because, and this is the only reason -- her parents didn't like me. That's right... after flying them out here to San Diego (they live in Tuscon, AZ), treating them to dinner (I paid for both), they told Jennifer that they didn't like me, and that they'd be very upset if she continued to date me.

I never mistreated Jennifer, and we had a good relationship while it lasted. I never lied, cheated, or abused her. In fact, it was a very loving relationship. But she was so short sighted, that she let her parents judgements about me (which were unfounded) destroy our relationship.

So that brings me to yesterday, and a phone call I get from a mutual friend. Keep in mind, I haven't spoken to Jennifer in about 9 months.

Turns out, she's dating a man in Las Vegas. She flies out there every weekend on her meager Kindergarten teacher salary to see him. They go out to the Casinos, drink, stay at hotels, generally live it up. They are considered official boyfriend and girlfriend. The last time she went out there (this last weekend), they're drinking at a bar together like they usually do in Las Vegas, and the man falls DEAD instantly from a brain anyurism. That's right, the guy dies in a blink of an eye, right in public. So the police are called, his next of kin is notified, and GET THIS...

TURNS OUT, the guy is married with 4 kids. LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



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Well gee, that's really sad. Turns out, I wasn't such a bad guy afterall, huh? OOOPS! I'm glad this turned out this way, as much as I don't wish an untimely death on anyone, this is a powerful lesson to her, and her dumb sh!t parents that they're horrific judges of character. Good luck Jennifer, and as much as it conflicts me to say it... I f*cking told you so.