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Kevin-V Blog

GameSpot Complete: Cheap. Avery Score and Alex Navarro: Priceless.

Dear Ryan Davis:

I have maintained a secret crush on you for years now, what with that scruffy facial hair and your macho good looks. I've never shared my true feelings for fear of rejection and the vast distance separating the coasts, although there are clear physical similarities between you and my partner, which strikes me as both complimentary and slightly disturbing.

I am afraid, however, that while my affection for you will always remain, it has waned, and I have turned to two other sources of personal inspiration. Since these two men work in the same office as you, I hope you can keep your petty jealousies to yourself. No one will ever replace that physical lust that I will maintain towards you, but you can't replace matters of the heart, and Alex Navarro and Avery Score have captured my attention and I don't think I can let them go.

See, Avery manages to make me laugh, and as carolynmichelle has eloquently noted in the past, it's hard to choose a single favorite "Avery moment," whether he be imploring Bethany to let him do something for her or insisting that he "regulates on all shades of the booty." Avery does indeed regulate on all shades of the booty, and if it takes an unhealthy addiciton to Leon's green herb, then so be it.

Alex has always remained a source of endless fascination for me, not only because of his traditional good looks and phenomenal taste in music, but because he has pissed off backyard wrestlers everywhere, and I think that must count for something. He also plays bad games so we don't have to, and after having to trudge through a few of the same titles, I have gained newfound respect for the man who would rather lay prone in the middle of a busy highway than play Big Rigs. And oddly enough, when I think of the name "Daisy Duke," I do not think of short denim shorts or Catherine Bach; I think of Alex Navarro, professional juggalo.

And yes Ryan, I have also had dalliances with other staffers as well. Bethany's internal beauty shines from within and from without; Andrew's professional stoicism gives plenty to ponder; and Rich Gallup's goofy smile would melt even the most icy of hearts. You will always remain my Mona Lisa, so I will perpetually admire your beautiful machismo from afar. However, Alex and Avery have shown me the true way to happiness, so unless you are willing to fight for me, I must end this cycle of unrequited love. I may pay tribute to this love by adding a special .signature to my profile to go along with the ones for Jeff, Avery, Alex, Jason, and Greg, but don't assume it means you can expect me to change my mind. Alex and Avery have proven that they know the key, and until you are ready to provide for my needs, you will place a distant third.

-With much regret,

fiddlecub

P.S. - To Avery and Alex: thanks for the chalupas from Taco Bell; you sure do know the way to a man's heart. Too bad Ryan never got the hints.

Funny Valentine

I often wonder what is wrong with me that I have managed a partner that shares so little passion - but I was usually content after those tough moments to dismiss it as differences in personality. It feels like a personal failure, but I suppose I could always justify it as a glitch in the Matrix, a small issue that could be compromised upon but could never be solved completely.

And so today I received an email from the man I considered to be my best friend, the man who was there to listen when I had eyes full of tears, the man who gave me joy when I needed it and the man whose smile always made me smile back. He was the man who promised he would be my friend forever, and now that he has found someone to love, there is no longer a place in his heart and in his life for me.

And so it becomes apparent that my personal failings override the joy I bring to anyone, that I am as disposable as anyone else, and that I can be forgotten when something better comes along. I have strived to learn from my mistakes, to do the right thing, and now, trying isn't enough. I wish to change, to be the giving friend and the loving husband; I want to give up on my own needs, my desire for passionate love and loyal friendship; my hope that I touch the lives of those I love in a positive way. I am failing, and I can't ignore it anymore. I so long for that passion and desire, and that strength from someone upon whom I can lean, and those things have been taken away just when they were in my grasp. I am not sure what I have done, but whatever those mistakes have been, they have cost the things most dear to me. Jeff does not want to be part of my life and heart anymore, and Rich is content to express his passion for WoW and his kids, and leave me a distant third.

To Jeff, if you ever read this, I adore you, and I am sorry to have let you down, to have done something that makes you want to throw me away now that you have the love in your life you so deserve. To Rich, I love you and hope that someday you have someone that inspires you to have the passion that I wish you had for me. And to all those I love, I am sorry if I touched your lives in any other way then the one I meant. I came into your lives hoping I could bring you joy, and I have failed the ones who mattered most. The person I most wish to be has been replaced by a stranger in the mirror, and I am powerless to do anything but hate him.

What Do King Arthur And Ostriches Have In Common?

Are these your coworkers? Now may be the time to act.

Yup, I watched the Superbowl all right, right down to the most pathetic clock squandering in the history of the sport. Honestly, I am not a fan of either team, and in those cases, I usually root for the underdog. Last night was no exception, so I was cheering Philadelphia on, not only because I wanted to see the wind knocked out of New England's sails, but because I had a whole dollar on the line. I lost my dollar, and I wept, for I will never see it again. I also watched the commercials, and it seems apparent that careerbuilder.com is familiar with my old bosses, since they starred in last night's commercial. I thank God that my new bosses are somewhat less simian than those at BF Saul.

Aside from that, things have been extremely mundane for me the last week, albeit slammed busy at the job. The bad news (just when I thought I had experienced enough sickness in the last 12 months to send me to an early grave) is that I had strep throat, so I missed half a day of work on Friday and went home to rest and soothe the fiery pain. What further depressed me as that I didn't feel like playing games as a result. I played a ladder match of Battle for Middle Earth and was soundly whomped by my Mordorian competitor, taking my current statistics to 7 wins, 8 losses; I played a little Invisible War but got disgusted at the level of difficulty in my current mission; I played a little Half-Life 2 deathmatch and got tired of it before I had barely started; and finally ended up playing Midway Arcade Treasures on the Gamecube, where I discovered that a lot of these old school games aren't nearly as good as I remember them, although they are certainly as HARD as I remember them. The treat, however, was getting to play Joust 2, which I have never actually seen in an arcade. I love me some flapping ostriches.

Instead, I watched one of my favorite "comfort" movies, Chicken Run, over and over until Rich came home, when he found me asleep on the couch, the whistling theme of the movie playing on the DVD menu screen. He made me a tuna sandwich and some Italian wedding soup (the one with the little meatballs), and I crawled into bed shortly afterwards. I spent most of the day Saturday intermittently whining and wandering about in somewhat of a dazed state, hopped up on antibiotics and Nyquil. As I mentioned in another entry, I am terribly sensitive when I am sick, so all anyone has to do is say "the sky is blue," and I will cry, as if I was told me they had murdered a kitten. What is it with my tear ducts? Why can't I have the whole manly "grunt and ignore my feelings" curse? Why can't I passive-agressively ignore my feelings like most men, or express them with anger, power tools, or beer drinking? Don't get me wrong, I'm butch when I need to be: I change my own oil, I chop firewood, and I own plenty of flannel shirts. But when it comes to that whole "feelings" thing, my masculinity dissolves into a puddle of snot and tears. Give me a virus and you might as well forget it: bring me a cup of tea, a box of Kleenex, and a copy of Casablanca, so I can sublimate those tears!

Tonight, I get to clean. I am usually good about keeping my games, CD's, and DVD's all neat and tidy in their proper cases, but there are little Gamecube discs scattered around the coffee table like there had been a crowd of Pikmin playing frisbee there. I'll put them away, mop the floors, do the dusting, vacuum the carpets, and by then, I should be ready to hunker down and show Alex Denton who's boss once and for all.

More Heaving Cleavage, Even!

The attack of the breasts continues, this time in the form of Playboy: The Mansion, the newest member of the "Sims-y" family, and sadly, presenting nothing that impresses nearly as much as the boobs themselves, which are almost the caricatures that Hugh Hefner himself has become. In the modern world, Playboy doesn't provide the titillation it once did, so I suppose an official video game is a natural extension of its marketing. It's still socially acceptable to purchase a Playboy from a regular newsstand, making its bazoombas as mainstream as unclothed bazoombas can be, while those looking for a little more action to their bazoombas still need to receive their periodicals in a brown paper bag, or buy them in a store with walls covered with embarrassing paraphernalia that makes you wonder: "What do you do with that thing?"

I'm not a bazoomba man myself (although I am discovering that the word "bazoomba" is as much fun to type as it is to say), but scantily-clad men are a little harder to come by in the videogame world. The last bit of male sexuality I even remember in a recent game was Katamari Damacy's King of all Cosmos - which isn't so sexual as it is ... bizarre. Of course, Invisible War has a few interesting moments, such as when Seattle's Cultural Minister invites you to his hotel room for some hijinks, but for the most part, references like these are for the homerotic amusement of the average straight male. It's no big deal to me: I don't turn to video games for that sort of stimulation, although the success of certain titles that feature bouncing boobage makes me feel as though I must be in the minority. As for the Playboy game, well, keep your eyes peeled to Inside Gamer Online for my upcoming review.

Work has been terribly busy, which is why I haven't had much time to share. I did manage to get a haircut on my lunch hour yesterday, though. I always get a buzzcut, which makes me look really intimidating right now, because my five-o'clock shadow combines with the shaved head to give me this menacing Vin Diesel quality. I'm more concerned about my weight, however. At the beginning of 2004, I lost about 50 pounds, dropping to a relatively skinny (at least, for me: I am 6'2" tall and have a rather large framre) 199 pounds. Sadly, I have gained most of that back, so I am on a mission to drop those pounds again. Not only is my health at stake, of course, but in May, I'll be heading out to E3 to hobnob with my cohorts in crime. That provides me inspiration to look my best when I finally get to see my peeps in person.

So, back to work. What's new? What's exciting? Any cleavage of note in your life lately?

Lucid Dreaming

I've been dreaming a lot lately, although I'm not sure exactly why. The bad news is that this means I am not sleeping as restfully as I would like, but the good news is that it gives me the opportunity to lucid dream on occasion. If you are not familiar with lucid dreaming, it's the ability to recognize that you are dreaming while still asleep, and if you so desire, change the events of the dreams to your liking. When I was young, I would be conscious of my dreaming state all the time, and taught myself how to wake up if I didn't particularly care for the dream. Long before I ever learned what lucid dreaming was, I started to do things like fly around, or simply travel through fantasy lands to see what things I could find and what people I could talk to.

Last night, I had two lucid dreams, one of which started with me posting on the forums about Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath. It was relatively simple, but once I was conscious of the dream, I used it to explore my Developer for a Day entry by playing Kronos as if it were an existing game.The good news is that my game was fun, even if it was only in my imagination. The other dream involved my car, and started out in the strange way so many dreams do: I was married (to a woman), amd we were visting friends, so I parked at a nearby roadside inlet. In the dream, my wife and I returned to the car to find it smashed, and for some reason, we were able to lift it off the ground and further away from the road. This is when I became lucid, so I decided that I should have a Ford Mustang and transformed my car, and me and the wifey (not sure why I didn't transform her into Brad Pitt) sped off and started banging into cars in true Burnout 3 style. A few takedowns later, I decided I was bored and woke myself up. If you are interested in learning about lucid dreaming, check out this site: it's my favorite one on the subject.

Speaking of Stranger's Wrath, I really must say I am enjoying the hell out of it so far. Shooting truly "live" ammo is a blast, but the design elements are so well implemented, it's hard to argue with the gameplay. The 3rd-person and 1st-person elements are both quite good, and you can seamlessly move back and forth between the gameplay styles. I love the interesting mix of stealth, puzzles, and action, and the game's humor, particularly in the form of the one-liners chippunks spout at you, is appealing. The Stranger himself gets a tad grating due to his logey voice acting, and it isn't all that challenging as of yet, but all in all, it's an easily recommendable title to anyone that is looking for innovative gameplay and a strong emphasis on humor.

Consider this my "token" entry: I probably won't have another one until next week, although you just never know! Don't cry for me, Argentina. Or Zimbabwe, for that matter.

Play My Exclusive Demo, Available Only In This Edition Of fiddlecub's Journal!

I Could Have Been A RIch Man

All in all, it's been an exciting weekend in the gaming side of life. Not only was my Half-Life 2 review featured in the Reader's Choice awards at GameSpot, but my Developer for a Day entry was chosen as a finalist in that contest. On top of the Balrog I won from a recent On The Spot episode, life has been an ambarrassment of pleasures. I keep poking myself to make sure I am not dreaming, but as it turns out, repeatedly poking one's arm results in dark bruises if done often enough. Perhaps I shouldn't have poked so hard.

I pass on sincere congratulations to my comrades in crime in the contest, as well as those who were not chosen. Judging from the entries of some of the non-winners, it looks as though there are some high-quality ideas in the running, which is both exciting and daunting. I am very proud of my entry, but by the same token, totally impressed by the snippets I read in the synopses. In particular, Special_K411's entry, TBD, sounds really cool and original, judging from the short description: "Using the unique capabilities of the Nintendo DS, TBD has you rescue a friend trapped inside a comic-book by drawing his tools." If there was ever a "I wish I'd thought of that!" moment, it was when I read that nifty idea. Of course, I thought that when I saw the Cold Heat Soldering Tool infomercial - but I digress. Last year's winner, September23, looks to be a daunting force again as well, with a truly unique premise on board. I am having so much fun with this process, and what's more, I feel like I have grown to know some other forumites better than I did before because of it. I barely knew ChronoSquall14 before, but we have become friends, thanks in no small part to the GS journals and the DfaD contest.

Not only did he stop my Rohirrim troops in their tracks, but he is pretty daunting to rural drivers as well.

I also spent some time polishing my skills in a few online games. I didn't actually play any World of Warcraft this snowy weekend, just because I was in more of an action / strategy mood, so I spent many hours with Half-Life 2 deathmatch, and not quite so many with Battle for Middle Earth. I am a fairly seasoned deathmatch player, so that went quite well (although I am by turn totally impressed by some of the terrific user-made maps out there - and totally flabbergasted at the number of weirdos that make a big open field with a building, throw in some weapons and a single respawn point, and pretend anyone would want to play on it. Sheesh!), but my ladder matches on BfME online didn't go all that well. I spent way too much money at the outset on standard troops, and my opponents took great joy in making me flounder with a single hero. Next time, I am not playing with Rohirrim units, so I can see how well I do with Gandalf: he kicked my butt!

I also spent plenty of time with Deus Ex: Invisible War. When the demo was released, I had some none-too-kind words to say about it, and I felt rather strongly that I did not wish to tarnish my memory of the original with a title that did not live up to its predecessor. However, when I saw it in the bargain bin for 15 bucks a few weeks ago, I figured I was willing to take the chance. Guess what? I am glad I did. This is one of the cases where the demo does not offer the most positive elements of the full game, and while the graphical performance of the full game is as sluggish as the demo, the open-ended action and the role-playing elements are rather fulfilling. I am surprised that I am having a good time, and while I still have some frustrations, they are not nearly as evident as many thought they would be. Plenty of gamers clamor for a demo before the release of a full game, so they get the chance to experience what the full title has to offer; but some demos, like that for Invisible War (not to mention, the terrible one for Rome: Total War), provide an argument that sometimes they aren't the best marketing tool after all.

So now, back to work. I'll wait until next time to share the ordeal of the shrimp quesadillas...

You Paid HOW Much For A Copy Of WoW?

I may be a busy beaver, but this little guy seems more relaxed

FIrst off, just let me say this: I have been a busy beaver, for in the space of three days I had two reviews due at Inside Gamer Online, and thanks to the grace of my bosses, I got a day's extension to post my Getaway: Black Monday review. Why, oh why must developers think that a great narrative means they can skimp on actual gameplay? This was a huge letdown after finishing Resident Evil 4, which is a fantastic title. Yet, while I truly loved RE4, I don't know that I agree that it is the be-all-and-end-all console title that some believe it to be. You can get my lengthy opinion by reading the linked review, and by no means is it a negative one. 9.2 is a fantastic score, and since I have been with IGO, I have only scored 1 game higher than that (Half-Life 2), and one game equal to that (the highly underrated Rollercoaster Tycoon 3). In fact, I have "only" scored 7 games in the 9's: RE4, HL2, RCT3, World of Warcraft, Doom 3, The Chronicles of Riddick, and Katamari Damacy. They are all worthy titles, and RE4 belongs in that list, but I don't know that it deserves the 10's - or even the 9.8's and 9.6's - that it has been receiving.

Frankly, I don't concern myself with other reviews, because I believe I am more than qualified to let my evaluation stand on its own merits, but it's always interesting to see where I fall regarding critical consensus. Obviously, I always evaluate my journalism skills when I notice that my review is wildly inconsistent with others, but in every case so far, I have felt very confident in my informed opinion. When my reviews for RCT3 and Katamari Damacy scored higher than the GameRankings average, I wasn't bothered; the same is true of my relatively "low" RE4 score of 9.2, or the 7.8's I gave to Psi-Ops and Prince of Persia: Warrior Within. Killzone still stands as the review that has produced the most hate, but I expect I will see some Resident Evil 4 backlash because I didn't say, "OMG! RE4 is teh r0xx0rz! 11/10!"

Both searches continue. I wonder if Amelia Earhart was in there too?

In other news, I searched the Baltimore and DC areas in vain this weekend for an additional copy of World of Warcraft. Because I bought the collector's edition, a second 10-day trial was included, so Rich and I started playing together as Humans - me as a mage, him as a paladin. I figured I would be able to simply buy a new copy once the trial fizzled out, but as it happens, finding a copy of WoW is like trying to locate Jimmy Hoffa at a Teamster's meeting. After searching in vain all weekend in two metropolitan areas, I did the unthinkable: I bid for, and won, a copy of World of Warcraft on Ebay. Yes, indeed, I was fleeced, and I smiled the entire time. It was so painful, I should have asked if Vaseline was included. The very nice man in Alabama provided me the CD Key that very night, so Rich and I were able to happliy play WoW together last night with a $100 CD Key, courtesy of cdove.

Am I stupid? Well, yeah. But like any addiction, we are willing to shell out when we need our fix, and getting high (even on WoW) is a lot better with someone you know than on your own. As for the ongoing financial pain, as my grandfather would say, "it puts hair on my chest."

Frangelico + Vodka + Lemon Wedge + Sugar = Chocolate Cake. Really?

Some Consoles Drink To Drown Their Sorrows

I have nothing against the American Legion. I mean, any group that holds hands in a circle and sings "God Bless America" can't be all that bad. Some of you may recall, however, that I had an unpleasant experience with an alcoholic drink called "99 Bananas" on my last visit to a Legion hall, and since then, I hadn't had as much as a sip of an alcoholic beverage. In fact, just the thought of a swig of whiskey or even a sip of beer has caused my stomach to churn.

Yesterday afternoon was the Baltimore-renowned Shrimp Feast, a gluttonous gathering of immense proportions, and another Schline family excuse to drink to excess and celebrate its expertise in procreation. Rich and I were a tad late, but once we got there, his mother and sister-in-law had already managed to get stupid, and his sister Angie was well on her way. I should also mention that Rich's ex-wife Patty was there. She is, after all, an honorary member of the family and the mother of Rich's children, so she is bound to pop up at the most inopportune times. It was also her birthday, so she was more than enthusiastic about the feast, although my jealousy towards her knows no bounds. Her gastric bypass surgery has rendered her almost 100 pounds thinner than before, and she is - well - quite attractive. Not to mention that Rich sees her almost every day when he drops off the kids - but I'm not jealous. No - not little ol' moi.

In any case, Patty dragged me over to her table and insisted I try this drink that apparently tastes "just like chocolate cake." First, you mix equal parts Frangelico liqueur and vodka. Then, dip a lemon wedge in sugar, put the lemon in your mouth, and spit out the rind. Then, you swig what seems like a quart of the booze and swallow it all down. It really did taste like chocolate cake, but also caused me to almost vomit right then and there. You know how when some food or another has made you sick in the past, so you can barely stomach just the thought of it? The food known as "alcohol" has apparently joined those ranks, and I spent the rest of the afternoon happily sipping on Coke - or at least, until Rich's sister-in-law Amanda spiked my Coke with strawberry flavored vodka. Word to the wise: do not mix fruit-flavored whiskey with Coke. Four out of five lushes at my table agreed.

I Named Every Shrimp - Just Before I Ate It

Patty was eventually so drunk, she was sidling up to every man in her vicinity, myself included. That's all fine and dandy. I didn't even mind when she grabbed my hands and massaged her own boobs with them; her boobs have never done me any harm, after all. I didn't even mind the lap dance, and I was almost tempted to stick a few dollar bills down her pants. What I did mind, however, was when she warmed up to Rich, put her arm around him, and started whispering in his ear. Well, as it turns out, they were trying to figure out if a guy at one of the tables was gay, but for heaven's sake: I watched in horror as my partner's ex-wife apparently whispered sweet nothings in his ear, and then kissed him on the cheek. The cheek, I tell you! She might as well have taken off her clothes and waved her newly svelte body in his face. Well, at least, my overactive imagination supposed them to be one and the same.

Eventually I got over it, of course, but not without having an attitude for a while - an attitude that only increased when Amanda got so upset with Rich's brother Kenny (can you keep this cast of characters straight? I know I can't) that she left in tears. I ran after her to make sure she wasn't driving (she was close to toppling over), but she ended up walking home, which was luckily just a block away. She refused my offer for a ride, and didn't particularly care for consolation either, so I left her in peace. When I went back inside, I told Rich he should talk to Kenny. His reponse? "It's probably just post-partum depression." It sounded so dismissive, I wanted to scream. I sure as hell hope when I am upset that he gives me more comfort than that.

At least this time I am not nursing a hangover. We are about to take Ryan to the orthodontist, so I need to pull myself together. I have been too busy playing Half-Life 2 Deathmatch and World of Warcraft to worry about showering today, so I guess I will go clean up and put on some clothes, since I can't leave the house in a t-shirt and boxers. Well, I could, but the nippy weather would cause certain shrinkage, so it's probably for the best.

Back To The Future

Well, admittedly it's been a while. Some money struggles and work struggles have really kept me out of the loop, but things seemed to have calmed down for the time being, so I am sitting back in my comfortable, relaxing old dining room chair so I can write a real journal entry, as opposed to the Spam I inflicted this morning. Wait - did I say the chair was comfortable? Scratch that. The comfy computer chair has been moved to the bedroom, since the new computer desk sits lower than mine, and it's the only computer chair we currently own. I am using a wooden dining room chair, which is fine for a few minutes, but a disaster after 4 hours of Half-Life 2 deathmatch.

But enough complaining! I'll wait until next time to elaborate on why money really should grow on trees, and how waking up at 7AM every day can be considered cruel and unusual. Instead, I will share a bit about one of the enjoyable things that has been taking up my time: the Developer for a Day 3 contest. God bless Adam's soul, he deserves a load of credit for creating the contest and taking us seriously - and for giving us an outlet for our creative ideas, no matter how wild they may be. It was a lot of fun to put my idea on paper; the creative energy for this title has been swirling in my mind for quite some time, and it was great to see it on the page. Even if the handsome Mr. Buchen dismisses it outright as a bad idea, I could not possibly regret a moment I spent writing it.

Turning the notion of a time-traveling action-adventure into an actual, honest-to-God design, however, was not all fun and games. In fact, I have walked away from my 20-page, 7850-word document with a great deal of respect for game development. I am no stranger to the creative process: I majored in violin performance and music composition, so I know that creating art is not as simple as waiting for a muse to inhabit my body and take me over as if I am channeling Mozart. Sure, innate talent and creativity are involved, but there is also a great deal of hard work. The hard work that went into the design of my game wasn't really the writing itself; tapping on my keyboard is just busy work. As F. Scott Fitzgerald once mentioned, sometimes you have to "murder your darlings." I had a lot of fantastic ideas when I sat down to create, and as the process took wing, it became very apparent to me that some of the greatest concepts imaginable don't work when you begin to design around them. Of course, it works that way in music, too; composing a demanding piano sonata is one thing, but requiring your performer to sprout 6 extra fingers is quite another.

Chopping the excess digits from the enterprise was astoundingly difficult, particularly since my game's story revolves around time travel. Any narrative featuring time travel always gets a bit tricky, as it requires the player/viewer to suspend a good deal of his disbelief, but weaving a complex story through travels to 7 different periods of time was a difficult task. In terms of story, my goals were to create a time-hopping, globe-tripping plot without making is seem like an excuse to simply let the player battle it out against a bunch of different enemies in different areas. I didn't want to make another Timesplitters game, where the plot was just an excuse for action; I wanted to create a meaty story that was ultimately based in fantasy, blending anachronism and consistency, that made every chapter seem absolutely plausible in the context of a cohesive whole.

Well, as any Star Trek (or Quantum Leap, or Back to the Future, or Peggy Sue Got Married) fan will tell you, time travel plots do not lend themselves to cohesion, since they open up gaping plot holes. "If you changed the past, you may never existed at all, so how can you have gone back and changed it? If it were changed, then you never existed; if it wasn't changed, then you did exist, but then cannot have possibly changed it!" It all becomes a vicious circle of questions that can never be answered, paradoxes that cannot be reconciled. Because of this, I had to make a lot of sweeping changes to my story. Asking the player to suspend disbelief is one thing; asking him or her to abandon all reason is quite another.

Once I had the story where I wanted it, it came down to fashioning the details of the gameplay mechanics. I already knew how the basic concept would work, but once I put it down to paper, I realized that a lot of my expertise was in the narrative, but that I needed as much cohesion in my gameplay vision as I did in my story thread. Once again, however, a good number of my darling ideas that sounded initially brilliant got murdered, too. At first, I had envisioned the player being able to return to points he had already visited in order to solve puzzles. However, in practice, it created more problems than it solved. How can I create puzzles that require you to backtrack in an action game without making it a chore? How can I add the feature into the game and make the story work around it? How can I let the player visit eras he will be visiting later and still keep them fresh for the forthcoming action sequences? In short, I couldn't do any of those things and still retain many of the basic notions that provided the skeleton for the design. Out went the backtracking, and with it, much of the puzzle solving.

And on it went. How do I take some fairly common mechanics and twist them into something original? I think I made it work. Deflecting projectiles with a sword's been done before; trapping and accumulating multiple bullets as they circle my katana and then releasing them in a flurry hasn't, as far as I know. Shurikens have been done before; throwing them at chariot-riding Romans as they chase you out of the gladiator arena hasn't, as far as I know. In the end, I realized that in some form or another, I got a lot of my ideas from games that already exist. After all, I have been gaming since the advent of the form, so I can't ignore their influence. At first, I resisted the entire notion of comparing my concept to existing titles, and the document itself draws no parallels, keeping its description and details devoid of comparisons. But in the end, I can't pretend that the design doesn't reflect shades of other games. If you look hard enough, you are bound to see the influences of Prince of Persia, Dynasty Warriors, Max Payne, Viewtiful Joe, Half-Life 2, and a few others I haven't thought of -not to mention, the shadows of Quantum Leap and the 80's television show Voyagers.

I think I achieved what I hoped to, in the end. I may have trimmed the fat from a design dripping in excess, but I replaced it with new features that I think made a good action/adventure design a great one. I won't share the details for the time being - but for now, you can feast on my poorly Photoshopped image and dream up your own grand stories to associate with it!

Lost But Not Forgotten

Consider this a Spam entry. I am just asking for forgiveness for waiting 9 days between entries, and I will have a lengthy entry to share in the next day or so explaining why I have been so busy - and stressed.

With best wishes for the happiest of New Years,
Kevin "fiddlecub" VanOrd