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Mitch_Dyer Blog

One Paragraph Reviews

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So I'm doing this thing on my personal blog, DownWriteFierce.com, where we're going to be writing reviews in a single paragraph. You can see why here, but the gist is that David Jaffe and I don't see eye to eye on how reviews should be done, and why they exist to begin with.

So for the entire month of May we'll be doing a one paragraph review every day until the end of the month, and follow it up with some articles about how the adventure went for our writers, how readers are responding to it, and ultimately, whether or not a review should be as brief as a paragraph, or as in-depth and thorough as they are here at GameSpot. Clarity is something that GameSpot is passionate about. Giving readers an intimate look at their thoughts, sharing explicit details, and dishing out examples is something that is important when it comes to deciding whether or not you want to check out a game. But if it's limited to a single paragraph, will it be as worthwhile for you as a consumer, rather than a reader?

I'd like to take early feedback for a future feature, though, so if anyone has an opinion on the validity of a one paragraph review, please let me know. Leave comments, send messages, emails, whatever. I am compiling as many useful thoughts as I can into a large thing, so if you wanna see your name in an article or something (or, you know, want to contribute because it's interesting) please do! :)

Regarding Ziff

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It sounds so lame to say it, but 1up has been a staple of my life for years.

Its predecessor, Gamers.com, was the first community I was ever actively involved in.

EGM was the first videogame magazine I ever read. I inadvertently stole my first issue, a purple-plastered Mortal Kombat-cover behemoth, from a good friend. I threw it, along with my space-taking collection of old-ass mags, in a recycle bin in late '08.

Official PlayStation Magazine was the first place my name ever appeared in a magazine. I did two consecutive months worth of reader reviews. I wrote 100-word reviews of X-Men Legends II on PSP and Goldeneye 2 on PS2, which shocked me to the core upon sight. Few things inspire career ambitions more than seeing them realized in a smaller capacity.

Todd Zuniga, a 1up freelancer, gave me the greatest advice I've ever received. While it's not necessarily the best stuff I've heard from a word-typing-pro, it was the best advice I could ever have had given to me at the best possible time. Read what Todd had to say in my "Year One" post from a week or two ago.

1upYours has, unquestionably, been the greatest impact on my writing career — the thoughtful discussions and entertaining banter taught me a lot about writing, the industry, and tons more. I owe those guys a lot.

Being able to meet relative newcomer to the industry at PAX, and have him give me kickass advice about freelancing/landing a job at a big editorial outlet, was absolutely incredible. Thank you, David Ellis, who continues to work with 1up.

Shane Bettenhausen, James Mielke, Anthony Gallegos, Ryan Scott, Andrew Fitch, Nick Suttner, Giancarlo Varinini, Greg Ford, Phillip Kollar. These people have been some of the most influential and inspirational people in my entire life. To see these awesome guys kicked to the curb in a single evening is kind of surreal.

The f***ed up kind of surreal.

Best wishes to everyone who's suffering from the losses. That is to say, the entire staff of what was once Ziff Davis's 1up.com and Electronic Gaming Monthly. Much love. Thanks for all the great times with the podcasts, The 1upShow, and of course, the amazing editorial content.

Year One

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I'm surprised that I occasionally get Xbox Live messages or emails asking me how I got my job with Official Xbox Magazine. I'm so new to the world of professional writing that I didn't think I'd actually been making enough of an impact on someone that they'd want to ask me, and not someone with a mastery of the craft, what the score is. To save my lazy arse from writing a bunch of emails, here's a bit about my first year in the writing biz.

*****

The first piece of work I was ever paid to write came courtesy of Official Xbox Magazine. That first bit of typing-for-cash I did was The Scoreboard #7, a feature for OXMOnline that I took over after famed freelancer and Guitar Hero namesake, Casey Lynch, went to Radar Group. I had submit multiple reader reviews to Casey when he kicked off the online-only feature — my Mass Effect review published in #2, and my Turok one was understandably shunned to make room for other readers.

Apparently, it made an impact.

When Casey left, I caught a stray email from Dan Amrich that was also addressed to Paul Curthoys. The entirety of the text was my email address, name, and AIM handle. I have a pretty laid-back job and caught it via my cell phone in a moment of supreme slacking. I was overwhelmed as to why Dan, the first contact I'd ever made in the industry, was emailing another editor my information. Obviously, because Dan knew I was planning to hit the "Games Journalism" field, it immediately struck me as "they're going to give me a job?!" The feeling quickly faded when I realized I hadn't done anything to deserve it. I didn't apply. I didn't ask Dan for work.

So why the stray email?

Read the rest at http://downwritefierce.com/

Cool 'Casts

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This is kind of random, but I just wanted to share a couple cool podcasts I like with anyone who is unfortunate enough to come across this blog. These are my top three non-game-outlet-related podcasts that you should check out for smarts, hilarity or general awesome.

Let the shameless gushing and pipming begin...

DAVE AND JOEL'S FAST KARATE FOR THE GENTLEMAN

This is, unquestionably, my favorite podcast of all time. Talking games and crappy cartoons, these Philly-natives are 100% funny 150% of the time. I adore this show to the point that I'm listening to the 250+ episodes again.

For the fourth time. My full time job allows me to listen to tons of podcasts, and because this show is just so god damn funny, I'm always listening to it. ****c talks of terrible anime (Koi Kaze, Kannon etc.) great anime (Fist of the North Star, Ninja Scroll etc.) and general hating-on and gushing-over games is just endlessly awesome to me.

Download and love immediately.

NERDBLURB

To nerdy white boys shootin' the breeze on random geekeries in a formatted, but never coherent podcast. There's lots of laughs, plenty on behalf of their lack of luck. I love it, and they just hit the big 100, so hopefully we'll see 'em for more.

Caution: Holy Jesus, this is an offensive podcast. Anyone adverse to degrading jokes and borderline hate-speak (not really, though) should kinda maybe hang back a bit.

ANIME WORLD ORDER

This is the anime podcast that people go to to hear smart folks talk news, reviews, history, con-speak and general trivia that will BLOW YOUR FRIGGIN' MIND. Daryl Surat is a funny dude, and the entire cast's esoteric sense of humor is absolutely incredible. There's plenty of bonus episodes that will feed fans of big-names in anime like voice actors, producers and relevant people in the convention community.

What do you guys listen to? I could use more. :)

Street Fighting

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I did the review for Street Fighter HD this week, and it's safe to say that I freakin' love this game. It's gorgeous, sounds great and, well, it's hella Street Fighter. The refinements are impressive, the slick online multiplayer still has me hooked (intruding on time I should be spending with other games), and the fights feel so, so, good.

People have been complaining about the $15 price tag, which I deliberately avoided mentioning in the review. The deluge of "expensive" games on Arcade and PSN have been getting a lot of unecessary flack lately, but I think that Braid, Castle Crashers, Penny Arcade and Street Fighter are all totally worth your money. Fifteen bones seems like a lot to ask, but I think that console gamers aren't accustomed to spending that much on something that isn't off of a retail shelf. Steam offers similarly priced games of comparable quality and I'm suckered in to them every time. And I love it.

It's only $15. I make more than that in an hour at work, and if I can get a great game like Street Fighter or Castle Crashers for an hour of work, and then suck HOURS of fun out of it with my friends, that's a steal. Even Braid, which was short and single-player-only, was worth the cash. In fact, I played it twice. I played it for review at Nukoda, and then again because I enjoyed the puzzles and art so much. I'll never play Braid again, ever, but I absolutely got my money's worth from Jon Blow's mini-masterpiece, and I'd happily pay 20 or 30 for whatever he makes next, regardless of length. If your getting a game with lots of fun, a great look, or just general high quality, isn't that enough to warrant a purchase? You could be playing and having a ball instead of moaning and complaining on forums and blogs about how you're going to "vote with your dollars" and refuse to support such an outrageous release.

But the rest of us will be happily punching jaws and cutting cutesty knights with a little hole in our wallets, and a big batch of awesome on our hard drive.

Please play Street Fighter. I'll play with you, if you want, but this is such an excellent remake that I am CRAVING more from Capcom. Bionic Commando is probably my favorite arcade game of the year that doesn't have "HD Remix" in the title. Even 1942, as hand-hurting as it was, still entertained and impressed me. Capcom is on the right track and I'm dying for more. Vote with your dollars and donate cash in exchange for excellence.

Who are you?

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Hi. I'm Mitch Dyer's Xbox Live Avatar, and I'm totally friggin' uncanny. I look exactly like Mitch! What do you look like, and how do you find the NXE?

Hot Toughts - November 18th, 2008

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1. The New Xbox Experience is... like... wicked close - And I want it. Now. Actually, what I really want is for my 360 to shut up and sound less like a lawnmower running over a hand grenade and more like a dead rat. Game installs? Hell yes. Bring that **** on. I didn't get in any of the previews -- not even the "hey everyone who applied, you're in!" preview program. I guess I'll just wait like the rest of us.

 

2. Valkyria Get! - I ordered Valkyria Chronicles, though I've got almost no time to play it. I don't believe in charity -- no because I'm a jerk... I bought a PS2 for a hospital for the Child's Play Charity. I mean it in the sense that you're giving people money out of pity, but I really do want to give these developers the money they deserve. And when I do get to it I'm sure I'll be stoked to have gotten my 50 bucks out of it. It can't come soon enough (but neither can spare time)

 

3. Smack of Faith - I don't believe in hitting women--God no-- but I want nothing more than for Mirror's Edge's heroine to materialize in front of me so I can beat some sense in to the stupid jerkass with a barbwire baseball bat. I absolutely adore the game, but when I want her to kick off a small rail in a time trial, she better do it... Not climb over it sideways in a weird anti-physics manner, thus falling to her death. THAT pisses me off beyond belief.

 

4. OXM OMG - I might have a bit of a biased opinion since I freelance for them, but I'm still a big fan of Official Xbox Magazine, and I've got to hand it to the art team -- Juliann Brown is apparently a Photoshop  goddess if the cover is to be believed. Seriously, this is the best cover on any magazine I've seen since OPM's gorgeous and simple Final Fantasy X-2 cover from a few years back. Their MGS cover was rad too... It was a ton of "!"s... I assume the art is official Valve stuff, but the cover layout and imagery is so slick it's unreal. Awesome jorb, doods.

 

5.  Shaun White Snowbleh - I was JAZZED for Shaun White's snowboarding game, but it is a total dud. I played with a friend the other night and it was fun enough, but the game itself has a busted-ass trick system and an unbearable structure. Platforming? You know, stripping the middle letters from Shaun White spells out "Sh-ite"COOINCIDENCE? I THINK NOT.

 

Where's SSX when I need it?

Missing Out

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There are a ton of games coming out this year that I'm absolutely dying to play, but because of working what is essentially two full time jobs, I'm unable to dive in to everything I want. Here's what I think I'll be skipping, whether I want to or not.

 

Far Cry 2

I've got no interest in Far Cry 2, so I'm not terribly upset by missing out on playing it. Despite its incredible graphics, I think that there are too many frustrating things about it on top of being too open-ended, something I never get in to. Even Fallout is frustrating me because of that.

Valkyria Chronicles

 


 

When I saw this in stores I nearly cried. I'm dying to play it but again, where's the time? I'd kill a man to not require sleep because my time spent from 1am until 8am would be entirely devoted to shooting gorgeous looking anime dudes in the juggular with machine guns. It looks so fantastic and fun that it pains me to miss it.

NHL 09

I am a Canadian, and I've already bought what is easily my favorite sports game of all time, but there's no way in hell I'll be playing this for much longer than I already have. I should probably just sell it, but I've got too much invested in this game to do it. I want to play more. I already have it, but I've yet to seriously play it. 

LittleBigPlanet

Do I need to say anything about this? It's adorable and wicked fun, but holy smokes do I need to sink my life in to it to get the most out of it. I'll pass on this one, which is only slightly heartbreaking, and likely never return to it.

Ninjatown

I love me some tower defending -- PixelJunk Monsters is the business! -- but this cute, addictive-looking DS title is one I'll totally miss this year. I fully plan on playing the hell out of it come January, though. 

Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

 


 

I skipped the demo in anticipation of playing this platformer/racer/holy-crap-this-is-gorgeous game, but it's looking less and less likely by the second that I'll bother with it. Plus, bears are hella scary and one that can tame a phoenix to ride its back can only be the epitome of pure evil.

 

What are you missing out on this year? I know you're not all made of money, and though I feel I have a decent enough cash flow to blow on games, I'd rather plunk down the scratch on a time-stop serum so I have the time to actually dig in to all these great games.

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