yian / Member

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yian Blog

It has been a while since I posted on my blog

A lot of things has changed since the last time I posted something here. I am still attending school, and everything is going pretty well there. I passed my mid-point review, so that means I am 50% done with the program. I have also become involved with a few comic projects, and they have kept me busy.

Other than tons of work, there is really nothing new to report. So, hopefully I will get to play some games and write a review or something... but my interest in video game has dropped considerably... games just don't seem to be all that fun any more. I guess when you are constantly worrying about other things, such as work, then there is really no way to relax and enjoy a video game.

Fettuccine Siena

Recently I have had so much Fettuccine Siena From this place called Uncle Veto's Pizza. It tastes really good.

And as you can see, I have run out of things to say. :(

Army of Two Review Incident Comes to a Good Conclusion

At the end of the day, JusticeCovert addressed the issue swiftly and professionally:

The score we awarded Army of Two was in no way impacted by any kind of political agenda, and was agreed upon by our entire editorial team (several of whom had spent time playing the game) before the review was published.JusticeCovert

Full response at the end of this page. Looks like my only concern has been proven to be unfounded. My faith to Gamespot +1.

Captain Planet

I recall that my first major conflict with my parents took place when I was 16. The event contributed a great deal toward my transformation from a teenager to an adult, but ironically I cannot recall what the argument was about. Nevertheless, every man and woman seek independence through rebellious acts to demonstrate their capacity and eagerness to break away from the nest built around them. One might stumble and fall, but just as an infant who bruises and cry, eventually the steps grow sturdy and a path is walked with dignity and maturity, and hopes that came within when one embraces all possibility of future.

Individualism notwithstanding, human race also continues its inner struggle as philosophers around the world from all ages joining the great conversation. Theologians envisioned a wise, all-seeing father figure that define the purpose of our existence, while others battle this invisible cradle that has once sheltered us but now hinder our progress for human soul, too, seek not refuge but independence and strength to stand on own two feet and walk. As time went by, the great creator became more metaphorical but its importance continues to be praised and recognized, for no matter how strong an individual become, one always remember that it is not the flesh but the intangible values such as morality that define the civilized world as we know it, and a divine personification allowed us passing down the torch to the future generation without blinding us by its light; glory seen in a mirror, not through our own arrogance. Man might be the master of the world, but the world sustains thee.

What I don't understand is how anyone could see all these in a video game platform.

I mean, come on, give me a break. A company makes a bunch of video games and a system so they can MAKE MONEY. None of these companies cares if their customer get sick and die tomorrow. They don't care about the game buyer as a human being. So why get so angry when someone criticizes your platform?

I have seen people getting upset when their religious belief is criticized (which is down right ridicules in its own way,) but religion is quite a big part of human society for thousands of years so it is not unreasonable. Religion is part of the culture therefore it defines character of a member of that society. But a video game system? How does a video game system relate to a person?

It is just a piece of machine that I have to pay hard-earned cash for. It is supposed to SERVE ME. And when it doesn't work to my desire, I am going to complain about it whenever, however, and wherever I want to.

I used to drive a Toyota Camry. It was a great car and it was cheap. Good gas mileage, cheap maintenance, and so on. If I were to recommend a car, I would say go get a Toyota Camry. But if Toyota ever builds a car that sucks, I am not going to defend them. Toyota is a car company. And if they want my praises, they need to make good cars. I don't worship Toyota just because Camry was awesome. I just want to state the fact: I bought a Camry and it worked great. If I ever bought a Toyota and if it were ever to suck, I will not be afraid to say that Toyota screwed up.

That's how human beings grow. In fact, that's how every industry grow. Imagine what would have happened if all the graphic designers from the early 90s all decided to be fanboys. They would worship everything Quark ever has to offer, including the expensive plug-ins that should have come with the retail version of the program in the first place. But no, graphic designers weren't fanboys, and a lot of them switched to Adobe and today everyone know what Photoshop is. Because Graphic designers know something is stupid when they see it.

But I am making a mistake here. I am looking at fanboyism through my eyes. It is not fair. I soon realized that fanboyism means something completely different for a kid.

When I was much, much younger, I loved Captain Planet. I was a big fan of the show. I spent all my money on the toys. I used to spend all day pouring hot water on Captain Planet action figure's chest and watch the color change and yell "oh no I am polluted!" My life was all about Captain Planet. I would go to school wearing a ring that has a symbol of fire on it, and I always wanted to save the planet and fight the "dirty" industry that pollutes the world. I wanted to be a Planeteer. And remember Duke Nukem? He glows in the dark! I used to play that toy under my bed until the glow paint goes dim.

Of course, there is nothing great about Captain Planet. The plastic used to produce these toys and their packaging probably did way more harm to the environment that any Captain Planet could salvage. Not to mention the industrial waste generated in order to bring the cartoon to life. Imagine the irony, a Chinese factory with buckets of lead paint and tall chimneys emitting thick smoke, busy printing the slogan "the power is yours" on the back of the packaging. The power of hypocrisy, maybe? Oh, and Ted Turner is a douche. Captain Planet was nothing more than a market ploy to make money. No one should ever be proud of being a fan of Captain Planet.

But here I am, once the biggest fan of Captain Planet.

I could take out my entire intellectual arsenal and bash on fanboyism, which I sort of did, but the point I really wanted to make is that any criticism made on fanboyism is only valid if you are talking yourself out of fanboyism. But I believe everyone was a fanboy at one point. I can't even imagine how I would have reacted if someone were there and tell me what Captain Planet was really about when I was younger. I would not consider that as a new way to look at life; it would be nothing more than cruelty - why would you take my Captain Planet away from me? I mean, I was just a kid. My hands were so small they could hardly grab toilet paper, and my head could only understand so much. My world is just these little places around me, and my Captain Planet. Why can't I love something that meant so much to me?

My sister used to hug a big Hello Kitty doll when she went to bed. Hello Kitty, in terms of merchandise marketing, is probably far worst than any Captain Planet. Hello Kitty didn't have a plot, it looked and still looks stupid, and the only decent movie it managed to produce was based on Alice in Wonderland. What a piece of garbage, really, but my sister loved it. That cute-looking cotton-filled garbage did more to sustain her sanity during her turbulent three years at high school than my parents could ever have done.

So, go ahead, worship Sony. Worship Microsoft. Worship Nintendo. There will be a day when you don't look at these corporations the same way you once were, but I'm sure you will always remember the fun you had with your games. And maybe you will even hate these companies at some point, but I'm sure you will be glad that you had fun, just like I had with Captain Planet. I mean, life is so short. We took away spiritual supremacy but a solution never came forward. We set out to find an answer, without realizing that the belief that the answer is somewhere out there is a faith on its own. But we never chose this life, really... we are merely the product of this society. We want to believe enlightenment but we were strictly industrial, making us nothing but splinters of a dream of truthfulness. So, who is to say that anyone does not deserve to have a little innocent fun, having their own Captain Planet?

Damn, I Can't Play Oni

The best game ever made refuses to work on my computer. Hamburgers!

Well, I have been trying to play Oni but the game simply won't work anymore. I tried everything: Patched .exe for XP, patched .dll file, enabling Extension Limit in Nvidia CP... you name it. The game will run but the graphics are all corrupted and I can't get past the menu, so all I could do was listening to the background music.. Is it really too much to ask for some Devil Spin Kick and Rising fury?

Flop from the Past: Homeworld 2.

Today, I would like to spend sometime talking about Homeworld 2, a space 3D RTS title from Relic, the famed developer responsible for Warhammer 40K series and Company of Heroes. As the sequel to the groundbreaking game Homeworld, Homeworld 2 initially attracted a considerable amount of hype when it was announced. However, the game didn't sell too many copies. As the result, Homeworld universe fell into obscurity and Relic went on for bigger and better things.

Being a big fan of the franchise, I felt sorry for Relic. Oh, and just to prove how big a Homeworld fan I am, here is a belt buckle I made based on Homeworld 2's logo. It was even mentioned on relicnews:

I believe that the failure of Homeworld 2 could have been the result of several misguided design decisions:

1 - Formations.

In Homeworld, players were able to organize ships into formations, such as broad, claw, wall, or sphere formations. This feature was removed from Homeworld 2. In a developer interview, it was explained that formation added no real bonus during attack runs so the feature was left out. Instead, ships in Homeworld 2 automatically align into certain type of "ideal battle formation" when combined with other ship types. Theoretically, this would reduce micromanagement and therefore lower players' stress level, but it also reduces player's choice of tactics since all ship behave similarly during combat. Also, Formation from original Homeworld serve other useful purposes, such as fleet organizations. Without formation feature, Homeworld 2 become a game of number, in which players simply build ships and move them to the enemy bases, then watch the battle unfold with very little control from the player's end.

2 - Shipyards.

The idea sounded cool on paper: a battlecruiser so massive that not even Mothership could construct, and a separate shipyard must be built for it. In practice, however, this made very little sense and added no fun to the gameplay. Judging by a shipyard's size and capability demonstrated in-game, a shipyard is more powerful than Mothership in every way. This made Mothership obsolete, and reduced the dramatic effect of having Mothership serving as the most important ship of the fleet and its symbolic status as the last hope of your race was lessened. Also, shipyard's AI was truly screwed up. If you have ever built more than one shipyard, you will know that they get stuck into each other a lot when trying to align themselves with Mothership.

3 - Strike Craft with Unlimited Fuel.

This idea was actually not invented by Relic, but by Barking Dog Studio, which produced Homeworld: Cataclysm. Strike Craft (such as fighters and corvettes) used to have a fuel limit in the original Homeworld, and they must be refueled after certain amount of time in service. Considering strike crafts were designed for maximum maneuverability in mind, they were excellent against capital ships. Removing the fuel limit on strike crafts means that players could send them across the entire map and attack enemy's base directly, which removed a lot of tactical depth from the game.

4 - Recycled Elements.

Video game sequels are naturally based on their predecessor, but Homeworld 2 featured many things that any veteran players could tell that they were the same thing with a different name and appearance. Examples: the crew transport escort mission was a direct copy from a level in Cataclysm; the Dreadnought was a direct copy of the Siege Cannon from Cataclysm; Movers/Keepers were identical to the swarming little buggers from the Kadesh mission in the original Homeworld... just to name a few. In short, Homeworld 2 didn't do much to keep the game fresh.

5 - Broken Level Designs.

The original Homeworld was criticized for its linear progression and its trial-and-error approach to solve a mission. Players usually need advanced knowledge of the level, build the right ships, then replay the next mission and hope that the fleet is properly prepared this time. In Homeworld 2, the problem remained, and in fact was even compounded since missions were automatically advanced as soon as all objectives were achieved. Homeworld 2 won't even give time for the players to reorganize and rebuild the fleet before rushing the player into the next big thing. Also, the game scaled the enemy fleet size according to the player's fleet size, which means players were actually punished for maintaining a large fleet through superior tactics; if you lose few units in a mission, you could expect the next level to be hell.

Overall, these are the weaknesses I felt while playing through Homeworld 2. The franchise featured a great storyline as its backbone, and I was attracted to its universe for the longest time.

Homeworld 2 felt like a rushed product, and it was a shame that Relic and Sierra did not treat this title with enough respect. If the game used another 6 months and ironed out all its wrinkles, the game could have done much better and we might even hear about Homeworld 3.

Finally, some suggestions from me to improve Homeworld 2, if Relic ever decides to remake the game one day:

1 - Include the Death Star and Darth Vader. Getting sued by George Lucas will give you a lot of publicity in no time.

2 - Bundle each copy of the game with a free color inkjet printer. Now the fans can print out paper model layouts and make their favorite Homeworld ships.

3 - Offer a $50 rebate. People love rebates.

4 - Make a "You can win a date with Karen Sjet" contest. People who bought the game can mail the game boxed to Relic, and a lottery will take place. The winner will have his house run over by a bulldozer and know how the Hiigaran felt when their homeworld was decimated.

Now I think I have made a terrible mistake

I have no idea what has gotten into me in the past few days. Maybe it was the lack of sleep. Maybe it was my repressed anger trying to vent its way out, and maybe there was a little red devil who had too much Tabasco sauce for drink. But the truth has become obvious to me now. Let's face it; it was one of the biggest witch hunt against Gamespot, and I was part of the crowd with pitchforks.

Gee wiz, I am so embarrassed.

This is how it all went down: upon hearing the news of Jeff's firing because of the 6.0 review, I automatically assumed that it was the truth, and I believed - or hoped - that it was only a matter of time before all evidences will surface and all rumors to be proved true. I did dig around the web as much as I could, trying to find more credible sources, but every major game news outlet said it was but a rumor. I had my doubts, and I didn't jump into the frenzy right away.

But quickly every forum was on fire and many people were taking action against Gamespot; subscription being canceled, forums being flooded with topics, signatures being made and a union dedicated to Jeff was formed. 1UP's little protest sparked even more noises among the part of community who was stopping at nothing to devour Gamespot. And soon many people started to wear "Viva el Jeff" signatures. (Errr, yeah, I made those.)

Before I had a chance to cool myself down and look at the issue objectively, I was filled with rage; each passing paragraph of criticism from the community suddenly all seem so real to me, and every info from the anonymous sources all seemed so credible. A game reviewer (and it's Jeff!) getting fired by his company because he refused to submit to green and greed... this story just sound awesome. It was sensational. A Chris Henson busting pedophiles kind of sensational. I wanted to believ it was true. And I did.

The result? All the crazy bashing and smashing... all based on a rumor. A rumor without a single credible evidence.

Ironic this is, really. Throughout my life I have restlessly preached the idea of the lack of independent thinking among Americans. Every piece of example of a witch hunt came to my attention, and I relentlessly criticized people's ignorance and shed endless amount of pity on those innocent victims. And now, look at me... I became the very person that I have always loathed.

I guess, at the end of the day, I still learned something. I am just as capable of becoming evil as everyone else. I am really no better than anyone.

I am sorry.

The Rise and Fall of Common Sense

I would like to light up the mood with a story not related to CNET. It seems to me that every blog and editorials are talking about the evil CNET empire right now, so how about something different? Let me share an interesting story with you so we can leave all the fighting and screaming behind for a few minutes.

When I was going to school in a small town in Pennsylvania, there was a big AMC theater in town and it was a big part of the town's commerce. I used to have a job there... selling pop corn. One day, this blond girl came in and asked for a job. She was a real cutie and it turned out that she was actually the property owner's daughter. That was quite a connection, so naturally she got the job right away.

Well, he family was fairly rich since they own a lot of land, so I asked her why she wanted to work in a theater selling tickets. She told me she loves rubbing her fingers against those pink tickets. Well, that was actually a secret I shouldn't have shared with you guys, since she told me that she was embarrassed by it and only revealed that to her very close friends. But oh well.

So, you figured it out! I was a close friend of hers! Well, it got even better than that, actually. Soon we shared many secrets and it wasn't before long that we started dating. We grew closeer together each day. On a Christmas Eve, she took me to her house and see her parents for the first time. I was invited for the dinner!

Her father was a very nice guy, and he was very big into investing his money into all these different funds and stuff. "Investment is the key to a wealthy life, son, especially in America," he said to me once. And every time he used that quote, he would always wipe out a cigar from a pocket located strangely close to his penis Soit felt like he just took out his penis and started smoking it.

One day, he was crossing the street from a grocery store. A truck hit him. The impact force was so large that his body parts flew everywhere. The entire town was shocked because he was a nice guy and respected by everyone in town. The mayor came to the funeral with many other council members. Many influential locals also showed up.

Ohh, and yeah, man, it was terrible. There were guts on the road when that happened. HIS guts. Sorry, I just have to mention it.

Fortunately, he knew he would die one day and he had his will made. The lawyer informed the family (that included my hot blond date) all the arrangements and that's when it hit me: if I end up marrying my date, I will own a lot of lands. AMC will be paying me the rent!

But for the time being, her mother was in charge. And instead of AMC, her mother had other ideas. One day, during a Thanksgiving dinner, she told us that she was not going to renew the contract with AMC. She wanted to convert the movie theater into a trendy restaurant. she got it all figured out: her friend, who was also a chef in New York, had always wanted to run her own restaurant, so she will be leasing the place to her.

"We should have done that a long time ago, "she said, "look at all the nice restaurants around this place. This is what the people in this town want."

If you are the smart type, you should have already figured out the rest of the story... the movie theater got converted into a restaurant, and the business wasn't that good because the reason why there are so many restaurants there in the first place was because there was a movie theater. With the theater, there was no crowd, and there was no business. This really got me thinking. What a lack of common sense! How could she not have realized that the reason those restaurants were there was because of the theater!?

So here we are back to the CNET business. Sorry guys, I lied; this post is 100% CNET related. The reason Gamespot makes money for you and becomes one of the better video game website around is because of it integrity. Over the past decades, this place established a community, and it built a bond of trust with everyone that reads Gamespot reviews.

Now, CNET, seeing how other shrimps selling out their dignity, thought "oh this is where the money is!" Without ever realizing that if you ditch the crowd, you ditch the money in the long run. How short-sighted.

When Greg K was leaving, CNET probably didn't make any real effort to keep him. After all, they probably just can't wait for him to leave so they can have more control over the site's direction. The, they realized there was people like Jeff. They might be different than Greg, but they are hardcore Gamespot people none the less. Now CNET is happy. All the obstacle is gone. CNET can do whatever he wants to do with Gamespot now.

You know how I feel? I thinki that it's not about content anymore. It's about control and greed. CNET was afraif that other editors under their flag would use Gamespot as an example to emphasize community and content above profit; after all, those who are in touch with the community not only makes money, but also enjoys what they do. Gamespot was a dream job. It was probably making all other staff at CNET jealous, and all the CNET executives angry. Every second Gamespot does thing with integrity, it shows how little CNET has it.

Roman Empire crucified Jesus for the very same reason, wasn't it? But Roman Empire fell apart anyway, and guess how many Christians we have today? Ohh, let me see. Emmm. Calculator plzzz...??

CNET will fall, but our respect to honesty, trust, and the value of integrity will stay. And most of all, our common sense of not biting the hands that feed you. Some damage cannot be controlled.

So, there, my rant against CNET. Oh wait, the story. I need to finish up what happened to the blond and her mom. Well, I made my point, so let me just make a quick ending. Um, oh, yeah, their house caught on fire and they screamed and screamed then they got burnt to death. And their hamsters got all the land. Then the town was nuked by aliens. THE END~!