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vguy555 Blog

College Apps

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So much to do, so little time. I love to write those tedious supplement essays. 1 month left, then temporary freedom, then process begins yet again. I want some time to play Pokemon Black 2, 4 more days until release. This blog is not random.

5 Years at Gamespot!

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According to my profile, I've been a member since September 20, 2007. So today marks my 5 year anniversary at Gamespot! Since anniversaries are meant to be celebrated, I shall celebrate by recounting of my pleasant experiences in these past 5 years.

Before that, I would like to bore you with some statistics about my account:

Level: 47 (62%)

Posts: 4435

Messages Read: 3339454

Total Blog Posts: 21

Gamespot Emblems: 115

Tags: 1016

Unions Currently Joined: 14

Games Rated: 93

People Followed: 77

Followed By: 75

With that out of the way, it is time to begin my journey to the past. In no particular order, these are some of my best memories on the past 5 years spent on this website.

-Tuning in to my first E3 conference live. I was so excited and hyped to hear about all the new game announcements, especially for the Nintendo conference as I only own Nintendo systems this gen. Unfortunately, Nintendo's 2008 E3 conference was one of the most disappointing conferences ever, but it was still interesting to see all the user comments pour in live.

-Starting up a new union as a charter member. I was an officer of the VirtualWare union and I was really motivated to make it a successful and popular union. It was incredibly fun working and talking with other people who enjoyed the same games as I did, and we all shared the common goal of building up the union. The union didn't last really long though, as a lack of membership made the place slowly die off.

-Winning a trivia prize from TOTS. I didn't even know I won something until the large package arrived at my door. It was Plants vs. Zombies GOTY edition and it came with 3 nice decorative figurines. This gift came at a particularly convenient time as I was in a pretty bad mood from a losing a fencing match with a rival school. I've always appreciated this prize and would like to thank Gamespot for always giving out wonderful prizes to the users.

-Giving me the opportunity to meet a wonderful group of fellow gamers who enjoy playing Pokemon.

Even though I'm going to keep this message brief, this memory is probably the most meaningful to me.

-Last but not least, becoming a Ranger. I was overjoyed when I first found out that I was invited to join the Ranger team. It's great to have the opportunity to become more involved with a website that I like and regularly visit.

There are probably some things that I forgot about, but these 5 things were the ones I came up with after a brief period of recollection. 5 memories to celebrate 5 years . It has been a nice trip down memory lane, but it's time to look forward to the future and hope that the years ahead will be just as great.

Pirate Ruckas Facts

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Most pirates didn' force thar victims t' "walk the plank." They like t' use weapons like blades t' make the executions quick 'n easy.

Pirate ships usually used white sails (instead o' black) 'cause they we be cheap 'n helped 'em stay hidden from thar enemies.

The Great Lakes in Midwestern US was home t' pirates who plundered rum, timber, 'n venison.

Pirates wore eyepatches t' keep thar one eye adjusted t' the darkness below deck.

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Jolly Roger o' me fav'rit pirate crew!

Digital Distribution: An Appealing Alternative

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"Digital distribution is the future." Various individuals in the gaming industry have talked about this, with the belief that physical copies of video games might soon become obsolete. Although I know that digital distribution will only continue to gain in popularity, it worries me to hear companies like Electronic Arts considering the idea of going "100% digital." With that said, I believe that digital distribution should remain only as an option for consumers, and not be forced down anyone's throat.

When digital distribution first started gaining momentum, I was quite skeptical of this method of obtaining games. Why should I download this game when I can go to a nearby store and pick up a nice hard copy? I'm the type of gamer who likes to look at his/her own collection of games and keeps the boxes nice and organized on a shelf for everyone to see. Not only do I appreciate the nice boxart, I love flipping through the pages of the game manuals in between my gaming sessions. If I had the choice, I had believed that I would never buy a digital copy of a video game.

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This changed when Origin released a sale which shaved off more than half the retail price of many EA games, including TS3 expansion packs that I had wanted to buy. However, there was a catch, the sale was restricted to the digital versions only. I haven't purchased any of the expansion packs up to that point because I believed they weren't worth the $40 original price tag, but now I could own them for only a small fraction of the price. For many people, the cheap price is enough for them to take out their wallets, but to others who are stubborn in their beliefs like me, having a physical copy is just as important. I was conflicted, but in the end, the price was just too difficult to ignore. Steam's holiday and summer sales also help prove the point that cheaper prices can be a benefit to going digital. By going digital, many publishers eliminate the cost of making hard copies as well as the distribution costs. From a consumer standpoint, gamers who shop online can stop paying shipping and handling.

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This brings me to my next point, another advantage of digital distribution is it's convenience. For gamers who are lazy, or simply too far from any video game/electronic stores, you can just purchase the game from the comfort of your own home, without the need to wait a few days for the delivery. Going digital is definitely convenient for publishers, as this system makes distributing video games easier than ever. However, what's most notable about digital distribution is that it can be an invaluable resource for many game developers, which then leaves a positive impact on the gaming community in general. For up and coming independent game developers, or indie game developers, digital distribution is the only viable method of spreading their games. With a small budget and possibly no track record, they're most likely not going to get much support from publishers until their first hit. Game distribution platforms such as Steam, Xbox Live, PSN, and WiiWare give small developers a chance to showcase their work and possibly get some money in return. Minecraft is a great example of a download only indie game that reached astounding success.

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In today's gaming world, the released game might not be the finished product. It is quite common for updates and DLC to be released, and digital distribution makes updating games easy and simple. One of my favorite games, Team Fortress 2, is a perfect example of why updates are so important. Updates mean new content, fixed bugs, and a reason for gamers to return and play. For TF2, whenever a new update comes out, all I have to do is login to Steam and it automatically does the rest. If you played TF2 when it first came out and compared it to a fully updated TF2 now, you would see a huge difference in gameplay.


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Updates Since Release
From the official TF2 website, this counter keeps track of the number of updates released!

Even though I've now listed so many good things about digital distribution, I still believe in the importance of physical copies. In addition to those who simply love the boxes, there are some gamers who like to sell their games when they've completed them, or even let friends borrow them for a few days. If gaming became "100% digital," these things will no longer be possible, which brings into question whether or not you truly own the game that you bought. Different people like different things, so I believe that no matter how successful digital distribution becomes, gamers should always have the option of buying their games in the form of a disc in a box.

Video Game Novels: An Attempt to Expand the Universe

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Good video games always leave you wanting more. Sequels take time to make, and waiting for the next game doesn't satisfy the immediate craving that comes when the credits finish rolling across the screen. That's where video game novels come in.

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For certain games, you've poured in so much time and energy into it that you're almost immersed in that fictional universe. With that in mind, gamers often want to learn more about this exciting new world. Video game novels attempt to provide that desired information, but many fall short.

My first encounter with a video game novel is Halo: The Fall of Reach. After playing the missions in Halo: Combat Evolved with my friend over and over again, I've grown fond of the game and the series. Admittedly, I was more interested with the action and the shooting than the storyline when I played the game, but that is also one of the main reasons why I decided to read the novel. I wanted to learn more about the back-story to the game. Being a prequel, the author of Halo: The Fall of Reach had a lot of freedom to create his vision of what had happened. The writing quality wasn't comparable to those of bestsellers, but that was to be expected. However, that wasn't the only problem I had with the book. Confusing action sequences, drawn out events, and mediocre characters are all little details that could be improved.

Halo: Reach Image

Now I'll talk about the parts that I did enjoy. I liked reading about the training of the Spartans and the fact that the book wasn't completely centered around the popular protagonist, Master Chief. I've also learned more about the conflict between the UNSC and the Covenant that I would've never discovered from the original game. The book wasn't bad by any means and was actually a decent read even with those faults. I didn't expect too much picking up this novel, so I'm fine with what I got. However, this book is seen as one of the higher quality video game novels, which makes me more skeptical of reading others in the genre. I got lucky once and continuing with this genre might lead to much disappointment, so I decided to stop while I was ahead.

Avid fans of certain video game franchises can definitely appreciate some of these novels, as some actually provide an insightful look into the game's universe. Yet, some of the information in these books should also be taken with a grain of salt. I've heard from many people that it is not uncommon that details from the book contradict those from the video game. Just like how there are filler episodes in anime, I see video game novels more as filler than sources of accurate information. If used for purely entertainment purposes, video game novels have a positive impact as they can be exciting and fun to read. On the other hand, the questionable credibility of some can negatively impact fans who want to fully explore a game's history and lore. My advice to potential readers of video game novels is to be careful not to expect too much because you never know what you're going to get.

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The Sims Experience: Forgiveness

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The Sims is one of the most successful franchises in video game history, and rightfully so. I've loved this franchise ever since I was a kid, when I first played The Sims on my cousin's computer. I was fascinated by how much control I had over my characters and the endless options of how I wanted to play. I was attached to this franchise the moment I created my first Sim. After dabbling with the first game, I've managed to play the sequel more intently. The introduction of aliens, new families, and better social mechanics made The Sims 2 one of the best games I've ever played.

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Some of the craziness you can expect from TS2(A Sim dying on his pee)

Now you might be wondering, what wrong has this series committed that might need forgiveness? I think that most people familiar with this series know what this is going to be about: the notorious expansion packs and The Sims 3. Specifically, I'm talking about The Sims 3's new expansion packs and stuff packs. Expansion packs have been around since the original game and I've lived with the fact that they change the game and give me a reason to come back and play, but I believe that The Sims 3's expansion packs feature a severe lack of game changing content. My first problem begins with The Sims 3 base game itself. The new open world is a revolutionary step forward, but so much is lacking. Where are the aliens? The memory system? Items like the hot tub and water slide? Even the quirky Sims humor from the previous two games is not as noticeable, and what fun is this game without the unexpected craziness that many fans have grown to love? To take out the little things just to release them in expansion packs later are preposterous. Expansion packs like World Adventure, Late Night, and Pets are expected clones from The Sims 2's expansion packs. Generations does not really change much of the core gameplay, and many features should've already been in the base game. As for Showtime and the upcoming Supernatural, both feature an emphasis on night life, as does Late Night, which suggests that they could've just been combined into one larger expansion pack. In my mind, the Stuff packs are the company's way to make a quick buck off of loyal Sims fans. Twenty dollars for a few in-game items is a complete rip off. In addition, new items sets are being released regularly to The Sims 3 store, all of which are absurdly expensive. I personally have this perfectionist mentality, and I would've liked to own a perfect game, with all the expansion packs and released items, but clearly this is impossible unless I want to waste a large sum of money.

With all that said, this blog is about forgiveness. Although the recent additions to the series have disappointed me, The Sims franchise still holds a special part in my heart. I have spent many hours playing this game, building the perfect family, and exploring all the options the game has to provide. Although it's hard to forget some things, like when a bug in TS3 wiped out my family tree, it's much more important to remember all the great memories this game has given me. I'll always cherish the times when my sibling, cousins, and I laugh over stupid things like our Sims fainting from lack of sleep, or when they can't control their bladder and pee all over the floor. This game is irreplaceable, and there is currently no other game that does the same thing at this high quality. Companies will always try to maximize their profits, and it is important to forgive them because that fact will never change, and we shouldn't let that tarnish the reputation of a great series. I am, and always will be a supporter of The Sims, one of the best video game franchises of all time.

Skyward Sword Complete!

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After around 50 hours of playing Skyward Sword, I've finally defeated the final boss. Even though I probably won't be playing Hero Mode, I believe I have completed this game 100%. Every Piece of Heart obtained, every Gratitude Crystal found, the Hylian Shield received. The dungeons are good (4th one was particularly creative), the boss battles were solid, the characters had unique personalities, and the controls made the game interesting. Although the minigames made me rage a few times, Skyward Sword is still a fun and fantastic game that I have definitely enjoyed playing.

Top 10 (Somewhat) Spooky Game Villains

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Let me start out by saying that this list will be quite different from any of the other lists you see because of 3 reasons. 1. I don't have a rich gaming history. 2. I don't really like scary games lol. 3. Most of my favorite games are first party titles from Nintendo. Even though the following villains might not be considered spooky generally, they do give me the creeps sometimes.

10. Tabuu

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Who would've thought that the Master Hand can be controlled! Tabuu from Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the leader of the Subspace Army. This evil mastermind wanted to cut down the World of Trophies and take the pieces into Subspace. During his mission, Tabuu decides to enslave the R.O.B.s to serve him or face extinction. Tabuu looks like a deadly angel-like entity and he has the wings to prove it! He had wings that shoot off energy waves, and even a stong golden chain to make him hard to defeat.

9. Kamella

I've never really like witches, and perhaps that's why Kamella finds herself as #9 on my list. This creepy looking Magikoopa wears a purple robe, and green lipstick! Kamella is part of Bowser's army. She is actually quite large as you can see in the picture, and she attacks her enemies(Mario) with a magic scepter. Kamella fires fireballs and shells at the protagonist while doing an evil shriek.

8. Bowser

After talking about Kamella, it's only natural to talk about her creepy boss, Bowser. Bowser is pure evil, consistently kidnapping Princess Peach from her home, the Mushroom Kingdom. Bowser looks like one dinosaur/turtle monster that no one should mess with. He has spiked wristbands, a powerful jaw, and a large spiked shell on his back. Bowser isn't just looks either, he is able to shoot fireballs from his mouth, he crashes into enemies with his spiked shell, and sometimes he just punches them with his bare fists. Bowser always does his signature evil laugh before Mario starts to pummel him to the ground.

7. Phantoon

Phantoon looks like your everyday spooky monster. He's in space and can float, he has a huge head, and one orange eye that is just glaring at you. Phantoon is a high ranking Space Pirate, and all that is known about it is thatit wants to kill Samus. What's scary about Phantoon is it's ability to summon random Rage Hands to beat up Samus. Looks are enough to propel Phantoon to the #7spot on this list.

6. Nightmare

Yep, we have another Metroid villain that can be found in Other M. Doesn't it look beautiful! Nightmare is a alien/machine thing that is capable of altering gravity! Just like Phantoon, Nightmare wants to get rid of Samus. This hideous beast fires lasers and even tackles our female protagonist. What really freaked me out was when I thought I beat it, I started to leave the room, only to have it wake up and attack me again.

5. Dark Samus

Let's bring some variety into this list! Lol, well at least this guy/gal is from the Metroid Prime series. I don't know about you, but I think Dark Samus is one of the coolest characters in the series. This phazon clone of Samus is her main enemy in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. Dark Samus is able to shoot out phazon beams, create clones of itself, and heal itself. Dark Samus is a silent antagonist, but actions speak louder than words!

4. GLaDOS

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GLaDOS is an awesome villain! And not only because she provided the cake. GLaDOS is a crazy machine, and it is evil, yet funny at the same time. Her spooky voice accompanied players throughout the campaign of Portal. At some points in the game, it actually gave me some chills. GLaDOS really wants Chell dead. Her main weaponsare the sentry turrets and the rocket sentriesthat she uses to attack Chell. GLaDOS doesn't need an evil laugh, when she has an evil voice.

3. Ridley

Ridley is a mechanically enhanced dragon that just refuses to die. Like other space pirates, his objective is to dispose of the bounty hunter, Samus Aran. Ridley has appeared many different ways, with different enhancements each time. Yet the spookiest form of him is without a doubt his baby form, Little Birdie. Little Birdie is that carnivorous creature that you see in Other M, who ate the scientist. Ridley has been known to fire plasma beams from his mouth, as well as grabbing Samus and dragging her across the wall. Ridley is so evil he doesn't need a laugh, he has an evil shriek.

2. MB

Don't let her/its face fool you, it is made up of 100% evil. MB is in fact not a human, rather an AIthat is able to control the Space Pirates. She tricks Samus into thinking that she is an ally, when in fact MB wants all the protagonists to be dead. MB uses her telepathic powers to awaken the Space Pirates and to attack whatever target she chooses. MB does a great job of being a spooky villain in an already spooky game environment.

1. Ganondorf

Ganondorf, the Dark Lord, is #1 on this list. He is a leader of thieves, as well as the possessor of the Triforce of Power. Looking at his face in the picture, you can tell that he is someone that you wouldn't want to mess with. Ganondorf consistently causes problems in Hyrule, including kidnappings of Princess Zelda. Ganondorf has a strong sword, and he had the ability to transform into a huge boar. Honestly, I've found Twilight Princess to be spooky, an eerie kind of spooky. Especially in those dark and lonely dungeons. Facing this main antagonist was kind of exciting, and yet I didn't really want to step into this epic fight against such an evil warrior. It's a good thing that Link is a fantastic hero.

My Top 10 Spookiest Game Villains list is now complete. I hope you enjoyed reading it!

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