The Obsolete Gamer Show: William Townsend (Open Season – Scared Silly)


William_Townsend_OGSGamers are everywhere and everyday we find more and more of them enjoying what we all love even when working on say an upcoming film. William Townsend stars in the latest film in the Open Season series, Open Season: Scared Silly and we sat down with him to talk about the film and his love of gaming.

During recording, William often left the Sony lot just to head home and play video games and he talked to us about his gaming roots as well as how he views gaming in Hollywood.

 

 

 

Open Season celebrates its 10th anniversary with this film which you can check on March 8th on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.

 

OGZ: Gamers can eat

Almost every gamer has had that moment where they eat a little (or way) too much during a gaming session. In this clip the gamers discuss some of their more embarrassing eating moments while gaming and how they were received when eating out as a group.

As always OGZ has gamer (re:adult) language and is more than likely not safe for work.

Jan Kavan: Gaming in the Czech Republic

One of the great things about interviewing people is finding out about their culture and as gamer’s, sometimes we can have blinders on believing everyone had a history similar to our own.

During our interview with Jan Kavan creator of J.U.L.I.A: Among the Stars, he told us about how gaming developed in the Czech Republic and it was interesting to say the least to hear the differences between there and the U.S.

You can see the full interview here

Catlateral Damage

[youtube id=”vQJAQ2-Q_3Q” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Catlateral Damage

Goat Simulator with a Cat?

Perhaps not, but this indie game caught my eye when I saw it. First it is called, Catlateral Damage which is awesome in itself. What it is, is a first person mischievous cat simulator. Just like that damn goat, your mission is to knock over your owners belonging making a mess on the floor, just like real life am I right?

Catlateral Damage

You have 2 minutes to achieve this and just like the Table Flipping Game, the fun is in the knowledge that you are messing up someone else’s stuff. So the Dev is going to be adding more to the game so there will be different rooms and more stuff to knock off and the game is Greenlit and will support Occulus Rift.

Catlateral Damage Catlateral Damage Catlateral Damage

  • Visit the Greelight page & leave gameplay suggestions & feedback HERE
  • Play in a Unity supported browser HERE or Download the Alpha HERE

 

Thanks to PressHeartToContinue for the video review.

We Interview Chris Avellone From Obsidian Entertainment: Part 2

Chris Avellone metal

 Chris Avellone From Obsidian Entertainment

Be sure to read Part 1 here!

General Questions About Gaming And Game Design:

What do you think about games that are based around an alignment based system? Are they too limited? How would you enforce the alignment role-playing aspect?

I don’t always believe in a game imposing morality unless it’s part of a franchise (Star Wars). In Alpha Protocol we did away with a player morality bar because in the espionage world, it’s difficult to say whether you’re “good” or “bad,” you’re just out to accomplish your mission and your reasons are your own. I do feel it’s fair if you set up reputation bars for other people, companions, and factions because it’s easier to imagine how NPCs and communities would judge your actions that us trying to judge the player and slap a +/- on it.

I did dislike the alignment system in D&D because it always assumed the player should choose an alignment before adventuring in the world. So in Torment, we let the player be a blank slate and let the alignment evolve (and reverse) over time depending on your actions. We felt that this was a better interpretation of the alignment system and it made more sense in the context of the narrative.

What do you think about the trend that we see in modern gaming where people consider MMORPGs to be RPGs? Is this correct or have they simply not had then chance to play a real traditional RPG?

Advancement schemes are similar, and some of the cause and effect you experience in RPGs is there, and I’d argue the ability to form your own party from other players provides the equivalent of an RPG experience in many respects. You may not always be able to make your decisions and actions felt in the environment because you can’t disturb the MMORPG equilibrium to the same extent as you can in a single-player RPG, but some of the core elements are there, yes.

If you had to remake a classic RPG made by another studio, which one would you remake and why?

SSI Wizard’s Crown or Eternal Dagger because I loved the way they showcased the dungeons and allowed you to develop your character. Pool of Radiance would also be fun (the 1st Goldbox one) as would Dark Sun’s Shattered Lands (which I loved).

What is the most influential yet obscure game you have ever played and why do you find it so important in your gaming history?

Well, in terms of influential yet obscure, that cuts a lot of games out – I feel a lot of the more common games have had a big influence on my designs (Portal, Chronotrigger, Ultima Underworld). If I were to name some “obscure” ones, I’d probably say System Shock 2 is the top of the list (it’s basically a design doc for how to make a great game), Amnesia: The Dark Descent for introducing a challenge mechanism that could simultaneously terrify you, Bastion’s narration mechanics, and Wasteland for proving to me how you could use game mechanics in the context of a “conventional” RPG to make some truly brilliant levels if you took a step back and thought outside the box.

What was your favorite character from RPGs you have worked on and why?

That’s tough, and it varies. I liked most of the Torment cast for different reasons, even Ignus and Vhailor. If I had to choose one, it would probably be Fall-From-Grace, I always enjoyed the premise of a puritan succubus who’s simultaneously the nicest, wisest, and gentlest people you can meet on the Planes. Jennifer Hale did a great job with her voice.

Who is your favorite co-worker and why?

Brian Menze, our concept artist and the lead artist on South Park now. I’ve known Brian ever since the Black Isle days, and he’s been my friend for a very, very long time. We still try and do comic book Wednesdays every week, and the studio would be a sadder place without his presence. He’s brought a lot of characters in the studio to life, and he’s incredibly modest and humble about his pieces, which makes me like him all the more.

Who in computing or video game history has been your idol and why?

Tim Cain, Tom Hall, Richard Dansky, to name a few. Tim reimagined how RPG mechanics could work for me, Tom Hall reimagined how design aesthetics could be applied in unconventional ways (Anachronox), and Richard Dansky never stops being a great guy and helping people.

I couldn’t possibly name everyone, but those are the people that jump to mind. I have the good fortune to work with Tim Cain on this project, and that’s one of my life goals on my bucket list.

First Project Eternity Screenshot

What do you watch/play/listen-to/read while trying to get creative ideas for projects?

Mostly trance music. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics while writing a character, I find the words and inner speech of the character I’m writing gets all jumbled up.

Going to see a live show or play I’ve found is one of the best means to stir the creative pot up when I have writer’s block (or even if I don’t). I have a lot of friends in the theater or who play in bands, and watching them live is enthusiastically contagious.

Other times, I immerse myself in research. Often when tackling an area, concept, or type of game, I try to read as much literature and watch as much media relevant to it (example, for Fallout New Vegas: Lonesome Road, I re-read Damnation Alley again, watched The Road, etc, etc.). When I got back into Wasteland, I started listening to a lot more 80s music, watching 80s movies and even researching 80s commercials to get a feel for the era… I’m embarrassed to say my memories of the 80s have slipped away, so it’s a shock to remember some of the big moments and media of the decade.

Project Eternity Specific Questions:

I always loved the interaction between my party members in some of your previous games, especially in Planescape: Torment. I did not like how rare these interactions did happen though. Do you plan on implementing a more ongoing interaction between the party companions? Have you considered adding interactions that will only happen when you have certain companions in the party?

Yes and yes, we feel companion commentary with each other is a strong means of showing how alive and reactive your companions are – not just to the world and your actions, but to each other’s presence. Plus, they’re fun to write, I certainly enjoyed writing the ones in Torment and would have loved to have written more.

Are we going to be limited in party size? Yes, it would probably make the game a lot easier to be walking around with an army so what we are asking is, what would be the magic number and how can you logically limit the size? Have you considered implementing the hiring of mercenary NPCs?

Party size will be a single player character and up to five companions – or as you mentioned above with mercenaries, you can also round out your party with recruited allies (which you can customize and build in the Adventurer’s Hall).

How do you plan to sell the game once it is finished and live? Retail? Steam? Impulse? GOG?

GOG (DRM-free) and Steam are our digital distribution outlets. We are also going to see if we can work on distributing the boxed version at retail as well, but we have not specific plans on that yet.

Have you considered making certain parts of the game have a randomized value that would add to the replayability of the game? Have you considered randomizing major plot points or the true intentions of certain characters?

Right now, our efforts have been focused on the hand-crafted elements that will make up the spine of the game.

project eternity wallpaper

Will gear be generally usable by most characters or will it require a certain adjustment for use? By this I mean, can a mage wear at least some level of real armor. Also, a dwarf wouldn’t be able to wear a troll’s armor unless he had an armorer make a suit of armor from that troll’s armor. Do you plan to implement that kind of level of equipment realism in the game? Will gear have wear and tear? Will the game offer some level of crafting element?

We won’t restrict gear according to player race. If you find armor, any race can wear it.

Would somebody be able to simply play not caring what the game’s plot is trying to get us to do? What I mean is similar to what’s found in the game Mount & Blade, for which you can pick what you really want to do such as hire one-self out to work for the highest paying empire or faction.

Like an Infinity Engine title, there is a plot, and while we will have dungeons that respawn and events in the world that you can cause to happen through your actions (such as turning a town or city hostile), the game requires some interaction with the plot from the player to progress. That said, we do want the player to feel free in how they approach the plot and feel that they can make the choices they want to make.

Will you give players the option to dramatically change the world in the RPG such as by ending it or potentially creating utopia?

The story hasn’t been nailed down yet, we’re still crafting it. We do want the world to persist in some fashion after the first installment, and even if great changes occur in the first game, there’s still plenty of world to explore in future games.

Would we be able to have our character fall in love with other characters in the game? Do we get to choose this or what if the game chose for us? Would it be possible to start a family, such as in the Fable games or Europa 1400 The Guild?

There’ll be a variety of mature relationships in the game, and you can choose to interact with them as little or as much as you want.

How is time handled in the game? Will the game take the course of a year? Will it take many years with some of the effects from the earlier part of the game affecting the mid and end game?

We’re handling time in a similar fashion to the BG and IWD games. Events happen in more-or-less real-time (real game time, that is, not literally minute per real world minute) except for rest sequences. We probably won’t be advancing time artificially off screen (“Act 1 is over, so X years pass,” for example).

Will the game offer any kind of multiplayer, such as letting our friends take over our party members in combat?

We want to focus on the single-player experience and make sure that’s solid. We don’t have any multiplayer plans at this time.

Would you let players submit translated versions of the game in other languages that haven’t yet been scheduled for translation?

They would most likely be part of the translation efforts if they wanted to volunteer. We’d welcome the help, and we’ve already received a huge amount of support from international fans that would love to do the translations for us (and if you are one of them and you’re reading this –thanks again).

Do you plan on updating the game with expansions once the game is released? How often would this happen? Would players be able to make their own mods or expansions once the game is live and would an editor be made available eventually?

We would like to do this, although we’re still examining how the pipelines for expansions would work. We don’t want to promise something that we couldn’t do until we’d done more research. We recently released an update with our modding views – we like modding, we want to encourage it, but we don’t want to promise it unless we know we can do it, or else we’d do our players and backers a disservice.

Although I have asked about technology already, since this is such a game changer, I made it a separate question: Will this universe have guns or gunpowder?

It has both. Gunpowder weapons exist, though they are single-shot wheellock variety, and are primarily used to give mages an unprecedented run for their money.

Will all the major races be humanoids or will you implement at least one really weird non-humanoid races a major player in this world?

We’ve got a selection of races, both seemingly-traditional and ones that are more off the beaten path. Some of the concept pieces we’ve released (notably the female dwarf) should give some clues as to what to expect from the choices for race in the game.

What’s the major mode of transportation in this universe?

Foot travel is the primary mode of transportation, although occasionally players may find themselves magically transported somewhere. To speed up overland travel, we will implement a map UI so the player can quickly move their party to locations they’ve already discovered. Note that our map UI is similar to what’s been found in the Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate games, not Elder Scrolls or Fallout 3/New Vegas-style fast travel.

What kinds of religions will we see in the game?

This will fall on Josh Sawyer (our resident theologian). More to come on this as the world is fleshed out in future updates.

Five Don’ts of gaming

You are not going for a Twin Galaxies record so when you decide to have a retro game night with your friends do not show how you can beat Super Mario Bros 3 with one life because it will just piss us off and make us retaliate on you. ~J.A. Laraque

Five Don’ts of gaming

dos-and-donts-sign

I can’t stand those 5 or 10 things you should or shouldn’t do articles. Those articles are often so cheesy with advice anyone with half a brain would already know about. So without future adieu here are a list of 5 things gamers shouldn’t do.

Don’t eat while using voice chat

voice chat eating

Seriously, 9 times out of ten, your microphone already sucks and the worst sound in the world is someone chewing food and it coming in over your speakers. For some reason people who eat while voice chatting never use push to talk either. Also, remember to leave voice chat or we might here you going at it to Fappathon and that is just a reputation killer.

Don’t put stickers on your console

stickers

I did this with one of my Nintendo’s. I thought it would be cool to put my own mark on it by adding a sticker and next thing I knew my NES looked like a teenaged girl’s notebook. It got so bad I would cover my NES when friends game over. Luckily, I broke it during a frustrated night of the original Metal Gear and got a new one.

Don’t play a game you own at in front of friends

super-mario-bros-3

You are not going for a Twin Galaxies record so when you decide to have a retro game night with your friends do not show how you can beat Super Mario Bros 3 with one life because it will just piss us off and make us retaliate on you. On the other hand, if you want to school your friends in a game of Temco Bowl go right ahead.

Don’t treat your noob girlfriend like the noob she is

noob

No, this is not a sexist statement. We all know girls can pwn just as hardcore as guys, but we also have many girlfriends completely not into any games. So if you want to introduce your none gaming girlfriend to say Starcraft, go right ahead. However, you cannot attack her for sucking the way you might do a friend because she won’t take it nicely and you will find yourself playing solo for many nights to come.

Don’t play a controller with dirty hands

soap controller

If you want to have that special controller that only you use then fine, but if you plan to let others play your controller keep it clean. One of the worst things in the world is to be handed a controller and its grimy or sticky because we have no idea how it got that way and our imaginations will go while. Break out the hand sanitizer for goodness sakes.

There are many other don’ts out there, but you get the idea. Next time we will bring you some Do’s to make sure you are up to par. In the meantime, if you have some more don’ts to share, let us know.

Free Stuff – Pure Pwnage

Pure Pwnage logo
Pure Pwnage logo

Pure Pwnage is the show about the “uber gamer”. If you don’t know Jeremy and his friends, you’ve been missing out. The show is about The Pwner, an uber gamer that has no life and is worse than a Korean Gamer. He owns at every kind of game but really shines in RTS games. The show is about Jeremy and his friends and how they deal with being hardcore gamers when all the normal people in the real world try to bring them down. Get a job? WTF. Cooking food, oh you mean crafting food… that kind of stuff.

The link to watch the entire show on hulu the show is http://www.hulu.com/pure-pwnage Click here for the main website of Pure Pwnage.

How Video Games Changed My Life

It went on from there and about a week later he recognized me as a Final Fantasy IV Rosa cosplayer at a convention just a few months before, when I had no idea he even existed. Needless to say since then our relationship only grew.~Lady Death

How Video Games Changed My Life

To contribute to the theme of life changing events with video gaming being the catalyst, I have a story of my own out of so many I had to choose from. Seeing as we are running this idea through until Valentine’s Day, I decided to write on how I met my boyfriend.

FFIV Cosplay
With my friends at Yasumicon ’08

We met in a math class roughly three years ago during college. He was playing Castlevania: Tales of Ecclesia on the DS during quite a few of the classes. We still argue to this day whether it was a good idea or not to have the lead character a woman during an entire game of the series. In any case, I was interested but didn’t say anything, and eventually we spoke. Naturally, games like Guilty Gear and Dance Dance Revolution were brought up as common interests before anything else.

Guilty Gear is a fighting game series still played by its loyal fans that have stuck it through until its apparent end. One of the most important things in any fighting game is the character you play as or “main”. When I and my boyfriend used to play, he professionally, he “mained” May and I, Ky Kiske

It went on from there and about a week later he recognized me as a Final Fantasy IV Rosa cosplayer at a convention just a few months before, when I had no idea he even existed. Needless to say since then our relationship only grew.

I am a fatalist, and I believe Fate has an interesting way of communicating. We have been together almost three years and our relationship is still going strong. Video gaming is beyond an interest. It’s a lifestyle and we couldn’t be happier living it together.

I love him so much. He’s the May to my Ky…Wait, what?

Notes: We’re both sad about the whole “Guilty Gear being dumped for a more user friendly game” thing. Definitely.

How Gaming Changed This Girl’s Life

It’s funny how, in the beginning, he thought it was cool dating a girl who liked gaming. He now cautions guys against dating gamer girls! He was just mad that I took over his Playstation for about a whole solid month. Yeah, I know it shouldn’t have been that long, but I’m one of those “gotta get everything” kinda gamers.~Jessi Roman

How Gaming Changed This Girl’s Life

Single moments in history are what make up our lives.  Some moments pass by unnoticed, seemingly meaningless, lost in a neurological card catalog, while others are etched into our memories, never to be forgotten.

chronocross_kid

What was it about that day in 2nd grade (no, I’m not going to tell you what year it was!) that stood out in my memory? Santa Claus came to our class. We went up and down the rows, each naming one thing we wanted for Christmas. I was the only one that did not ask for a Nintendo! I asked for a drum set, and I got it… never did become much of a musician. At any rate, this was not the catalyst that began my transformation from the geeky kid that every one made fun of into… well, the geeky gamer girl that everyone made fun of. (Thank God for the sudden acclamation of geek culture!) No, it was not this single moment, framed in time, that changed my life, but for some reason it stuck.

I didn’t get a NES of my very own until several years later. That’s not to say that I didn’t spend hours upon hours of my formative years playing Super Mario Bros. with the boy across the street. But no, I wasn’t a “gamer” back then. I mean, I definitely remember that feeling I got the first time I found out that my Princess was in another castle… -_- and I remember how I swelled with pride when I finally beat 8-4 and found her! I mean, I have some seriously precious gaming memories that even go as far back as Sierra’s “Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter”.

space-quest-1--roger-wilco-and-the-sarien-encounter-(vga)-screenshot

There was a life-changing gaming experience for me, though. It wasn’t until after I graduated high school. I started dating this guy who had a Playstation. He changed my life forever. Not only did I end up marrying the guy, but he introduced me to Chrono Cross – most epic RPG ever! I had never played a serious RPG before… I mean, does Zelda count? No, I didn’t think so. So being all girly and stuff, I got really sucked in by the art, and the plethora of characters you could pick up. Matter of fact, to this day, a key element in how I rate an RPG is the number of playable characters.

Let’s face it, people, there’s no greater game to have launched me into the world of serious hard-core gaming. I worked a split shift at the JCC, so I had a block of four hours free time in the middle of the day. He gave me the key to his house (and unknowingly, the key to his heart <3… yeah, I’m a sap), and I’d spend those four hours immersed in the tropical archipelago, El Nido.

Chrono Cross

It’s funny how, in the beginning, he thought it was cool dating a girl who liked gaming. He now cautions guys against dating gamer girls! He was just mad that I took over his Playstation for about a whole solid month. Yeah, I know it shouldn’t have been that long, but I’m one of those “gotta get everything” kinda gamers… so I went for every character… played out every possible subplot… even used the strategy guide to make sure I didn’t miss anything. And boy did I get everything! It changed my life. Really. I wonder if I had not spent those hours upon hours hanging out at his house, playing Chrono Cross… I wonder if I still would have won his heart? I’m not going to go so far as to say that gaming got me married… but maybe it did. Maybe it changed my life more than I’ll ever know.

It’s been over ten years now, and we’re still married… and still gaming! I may have gotten better at sharing, and co-op games are more fun now! But to this day, nothing has ever come close to the grand epicness that is Chrono Cross. No other game has made such an impact on my life. Even as I write this now, I’m listening to the OST, and realizing how important it is that I go back for a re-play.

Did a game ever change your life? If so, how? What game was it?

Jessi Roman is a geek, gamer, mom, proudly raising the next generation of nerds! You can read her blog here.

Ten Questions: Yehuda Berlinger: It’s Alive

Yehuda Berlinger a blogger, avid gamer, all-around artist and game designer, is also the creative mind responsible for the forthcoming and frankly brilliant looking It’s Alive board game by Reiver Games. What follows is an interview Yehuda was kind enough to offer to the rowdy lot that inhabits Gnomes Lair. Enjoy it.

Yehuda Berlinger
1. Let’s start with something personal, shall we? Nice. How did you get into game design?

The same way that artists get into art: it’s something that I must do.I can’t help but tinker with any game I have, while, at the same time, trying to figure out the reasons that the designer or publisher came up with the final rules as they are.

After some experimenting, I began to realize that there is nothing holy in the end results of a game. Often as not, they are just that way because the designer or publisher had to choose something. Often, it was the first number they came up with, or whatever matched the type of game that they liked to play.

Since different people like different things, it seems obvious to me that games should be played differently by different people. There is no “right” way to play the game, despite what the rules say. There are better and worse rule sets, but even then, if people like playing the worse one, why stop them?

After tinkering with other games, the next natural step was to take different game ideas and try putting them together into new games.

2. Is it only board games you’re interested in designing or are you looking to expand into video gaming and/or RPG territory?

Definitely not video games; they’re not my thing, even though I’ve programmed for many years.RPGs: if someone wants to hire me, I’d take a stab at it. Naturally, whenever I play RPGs, I’m always making up new classes, weapons, spells, and so on.

3. Care to mention some of your favorite games?

I interpret the word “game” fairly liberally. Not only does it include different game genres, but it would have to include different ways to play the games that I have.For computer games, I’ll play board and card games or rogue-like games. In board and card gaming, Go, Bridge, Scrabble, Anagrams, Puerto Rico, El Grande, and a few other top Euro-games. For Puerto Rico, my favorite is playing with random buildings from the sets I created. For CCGs, it’s drafting cards, and building decks on the fly.

I also love Frisbee and Soccer. I like word based party games. I like dice-light role-play and biblio-drama. And I like inventing games, as a game.

Yehuda Berlinger

 

4. So on to your brand new It’s Alive! board game. It’s your second one right? Care to describe it a bit?

It’s actually a re-theme and slight tweak of the first one. The new theme replaces the Menorah theme which appealed to Jews and probably some religious Christians.It’s gone through several other themes as well.

5. A set-collection and board game it is, then. How do those game mechanics work?

It’s a simple set-collection, auction game, where you have to collect eight different items in order to complete the set. Each round, you either buy the item for its value, toss it out for half its value, or auction it off.That’s the heart of the game. In most games, you likely have to do all three in some combination. And the game is naturally balanced so that almost every game is fairly close.

The simplicity and auction ideas are fairly reminiscent of Knizia’s design style, I believe.

6. Regarding the weird an wacky game setting/plot. Did you decide on it? Could you briefly describe it?

The new theme is entirely Jack’s idea. I merely gave my approval. I think it’s a good theme for the market he’s aiming at.It’s about a mad scientist trying to collect enough body parts to build a monster. Sometimes you find whole coffins, and sometimes the rampaging villagers try to burn you down. The truth is, I think Jack chose the theme because, when you have your entire body, you get to yell “It’s Alive!”

The game won’t be able to sit on the same shelf as games like Rummikub and Canasta, and I know that some little old ladies would buy the game if it did. But that’s not the first market Jack’s looking to approach.

7. Still, should be fine for kids. What’s the target group of It’s Alive?

Gamers and geeks.

8. Are you happy with the final product and Reiver Games? Why did you decide to go for a limited 300 copies only release?

I haven’t seen it yet, and, in fact, it’s not actually ready yet. The 300 copies is, again, Jack’s way of operating. He hand cuts and assembles each game by himself.

9. Anything planned for the future? Should we be looking forward to more designed by Yehuda games?

Absolutely. I always have a few game ideas buzzing around. Every once in a while I’ll make up a prototype and bring it to my game group. If it’s good, I’ll move forward with it.

10. Improvise, please. Is there anything you ‘d like t add. Something related to your blog perhaps?

Game design is just another art, like writing, poetry, and creating literature parodies of famous poems and legal codes. It’s what keeps me going.

Thanks for taking the time, best of luck with It’s Alive!

Thanks, Gnome.

Kondtantinos or Gnome is a classic and indie gaming writer. You can see his wonderful blog by following this link – Gnomes Lair.

Are Asians Good At All Games?


Quick answer: Nope! Where the hell did this stereotype come from? Where did this claim that Asians are the demigods of gaming originate? I don’t know and I’m sure a quick google search could answer that question for me, but you know what? I don’t feel like opening my browser for such productive means! Instead I’m going to rant while being entirely ill informed and uneducated! Are you ready because I am!

The claim that Asians are amazing at games probably started with Starcraft and not a day before that. Just look back at the epic story of The Wizard starring Fred Savage. Who won that tournament? Not an Asian. That alone is hardcore evidence that our allies in the Far whatever directions aren’t that adept at video games.

The only game that I can recall Asians faring well in would be RTS games. Everyone complains when they go against an Asian player in a Real Time Strategy because you know you’re going to die. RTS games in Korea are like the fucking Olympics or Soccer. It’s a pretty big fucking deal. Ungodly accuracy, impeccable multitasking, and the execution of unparalleled tactics lead them to victory. I guess it makes sense for them to do well considering Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War so close by!

The Unmoving Faces of Death
It doesn’t seem American born Asians have the same prowess as their homegrown cousins. It seems that the water in those lands are what grant them this advantage in RTS gaming. In the League of Legends championship USA placed third because they overcompensated the team with Asians and instead the Euros defeated us. Great job! You got stomped by wine drinking, rotten shark eating Europeans. Lets not even get into how poorly our US team spoke when they get the microphone handed to them from the cheerful Riot female interviewer.

Beyond the RTS realm where do they stand out? They can’t play racing games for obvious reasons. They’ll just drive slow, swerving side to side with their indicator on but never turning. You can’t win a race like that! This inability to perform well in vehicles then carries over into the realm of flying games. They’re going to just kamikaze into the ground since it’s all they know. Fun Fact: The Japanese claimed that being a Kamikaze was a tactic when in reality it was to avoid the embarrassment of being known as the worst pilots in the world.

Fighting games? What just happened a week or so ago? Famous gamer Daigo claimed in a video he could destroy America in Marvel Versus Capcom 3. I forgot what happened… Oh wait, no! I remember! He got completely thrashed about like a little bitch. Looks like the stereotype filled someone else with false pride.

Now I know you’re probably wondering why I even bothered to write this article. I wrote it in the hopes that you no longer feel fear when playing a game against an Asian gamer. They’re like anyone else, except for in an RTS. Don’t be afraid anymore. Fill your lungs with the vigor of hopefulness and victory to destroy these fools and free them from them by abolishing the stereotype with every defeat you liberate them with. Asian can be defeated and it is up to you to lead the charge.

Cryptic Studio Has Moved On But Have Their Games?: Star Trek Edition


For those of you eagerly waiting for this review after the sudden ending of the previous portion of this two-part article, I apologize. I wasn’t having problems with time or just pure laziness. No, I had problems with how to word my feelings towards Star Trek Online and how best to give an honest review without completely belittling the game. I know, I know. You’re used to that kind of response from me but I decided to be a bit more delicate with how I explain the faults and pluses of STO.

So here goes…

It is laughable to think that Cryptic Studios thinks of STO as an MMORPG. While all the big boys in the room strut their stuff with content, gameplay, character growth, and easily defined instructions, Star Trek Online stumbles and fumbles around the room like a drunk teenage girl at a frat party. At the end of the night, the only ones with a grin on their faces are the real MMOs while STO is dabbing off semen from its face with wet naps.


Wow… I feel uncomfortable reading this. I’m going to just-

What could possess me to attack Star Trek Online in such an unrelenting manner? Is it because I could barely give the game a shot beyond level 4? Yes, it is! I got to level 11 in FF XIV and that game is the equivalent of dining on Indian food , beautiful to look at but horrible to digest. I have never been unable to hit at least level 10 in an MMORPG but Star Trek Online managed to prove me wrong.

That sounds horrible, Mr. Khan! Why was it so god awful?

That’s an easy question to answer, Little Timmy. The game’s initial tutorial manages to be not only fast paced but slow at the same time. There’s a ton of jargon thrown around that doesn’t make sense to begin with and there isn’t much of an explanation as to what any of it means. All I got from the tutorial was that I could shoot lasers and photon torpedoes when I’m in my ship and when I’m on a ground mission I can shoot laser beams and “backstab” the enemy when I attack from their blindside. There really isn’t a clear definition in the beginning what role your class plays or what kind of ships you are able to command. I was certain I was limited to Science Ships since I chose the Scientist profession but I later found out from a friend that I could pilot any ship. Oh, that’s fucking fantastic to know.


For those of you who enjoy looking at your character and face stomping the enemy while adoring how badass you made your Vulcan or Custom Alien, sorry to disappoint but the game is lacking in ground missions and you are spending most of your time viewing the ass tail of your ship. How engrossing! Yes, you can customize your ship but the differences aren’t that vast aside from size. The ship customization is as in-depth as the shape variations presented in a Lego Kit. Everything is a block except some are half a blocks! Whoop-dee-fucking-doo!

From a game with such an absorbing avatar customization, it’s a shame that you spend your time running slow naval circles around enemy space bandits. As far as I could grasp the tactic was to go half speed and adjust your acceleration and deceleration to complete this amazingly slow circle strafe around your enemy to knock out their shields and ass fuck them with photon torpedoes. Combat got repetitive quickly.

The game’s missions were probably the most bland I’ve ever seen in an MMO post 2006. “What was that, Ensign? There’s no one in the quadrant? I guess everything is… Oh my god! Space Bandits out of fucking nowhere!” That was as in depth as the missions got at level 4. They didn’t want to showcase more early on maybe because there wasn’t anything left to show.

The ground missions were probably the worst part about leveling. I should be excited to see my captain running about shooting bitches in the face and parachuting off planet sized drills like in the movie, right? Too bad! I was limited to picking up resources on a planet and randomly getting jumped by “Unknown villain #3” and then transporting back to the ship. Oh wait, I forgot. There were more options. I was able to go to a mining site to speak with a couple of diggers to see how they felt about their jobs and report back to their manager. Yup! They called in the space fleets special forces to settle a dispute about a broken holodeck in the break room.

"Come on, Team! Lets pick up some rocks!"

Now, I understand I have been harsh on the game and there is a reason for that. If STO were a free to play MMORPG, I would dress it with every accolade known in the universe. A free to play space RPG? Sign me up! Let me have fleeting moments of fun!

Unfortunately, the game isn’t F2P. It’s Pay to Play and it’s $15 a fucking month. This game has a huge pair of balls to even consider charging people. Cryptic was fortunate enough that people even purchased fucking the game. It has the depth of a game developed for a smart phone.

STO lacks the environment, quests, gameplay, and depth of games like World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, and even City of Heroes. Quite a bold statement coming from a level 4 Lieutenant, right? That’s why I’m not saying for people to keep away from this game. Play it if you like, it’s your money. I personally don’t see the justification of this game being $15 a month. You’d probably find more fun in Runescape for a cheaper price.

Perfect Worlds purchased this title when they acquired Cryptic Studios. What potential they see in this hunk of shit I will never know. The game is an MMO-abomination and is better served on a free to play model or simply a box sale model like Guild Wars. Then and maybe then it would be worth the time it takes to patch and login. Until that unlikely day comes about, STO will remain uninstalled and far, far away from my computer.

Knightsquire

Knightsquire

Aaaah, yes, summer-time. Beaches, Tequila with a slice of orange, fruit with a slice of Tequila, overheated PCs and the chronic lack of money. Enter Independent Gaming and its brand new freeware find: Knightsquire (and not Knight’s Quest). A brilliant short adventure game that might just help you save enough money to treat yourself to your favorite alcoholic poison.

Knightsquire, lovingly crafted by none other than buloght (?), is apparently a game about a knight and his squire. Make that better a game about a knight, his squire and a door stuck shut. Not very epic in scope, but funny, quirky and touching on the delicate subject of squire-maltreatment (quite the class issue in medieval Europe), Knightsquire is a rather traditional point and click adventure, that’s slightly reminiscent of Gobliins 2 (see Gobliins 2 @ mobygames). Following a long adventuring tradition it lets you pick up , examine, interact with and use a variety of inventory objects, sporting mostly inventory driven puzzles. Oh, and it will entertain you for at least a couple of hours, provided of course you aren’t the ultimate adventure gaming genius.

Knightsquire

Anyway. On to the visual arts front, oh most perceptive and observant of readers, where as you should have already noticed Knightsquire sports brilliant low-res 2d graphics, with a distinct comic-book feel and buckets of color (well 32bits of it actually). Stylish eye-candy I would characterize it, were I not so majorly irritated by Firefox, thus getting all cranky and nasty, thus avoiding any good-hearted exaggerations.

Still, you get the point. It’s beautiful. It’s a precious little gem after all. And it lets you control both the knight and the squire. I swear I even heard of a resident princess!

That’s a (nine) out of (ten).

The Spectrum Games Bible

Having already missed the apparently excellent ZX Spectrum Book – 1982-19xx book, I’m more than excited to have been timely informed about the incredibly ambitious Spectrum Games Bible 1982-2008 project, that’s already spanning two books and covering more than 500 games. What’s more, at least four more books will soon be released, hopefully reviewing every game ever released for the gloriously humble Speccy. Now, that’s what I call ambition. Possibly a worthy cause too. Well, almost. Anyway.

To grab the extremely well priced first books (or their rather pricey colour counterparts) do yourselves a favour and follow this handily underlined link. Mind you, you can even contribute to the forthcoming volumes -this is most obviously a group project, you see- and, yes, actually get paid. Oh, oh, and for some free, online, high-score comparing ZX Spectrum gaming you have to give MySpeccy a try.

The Unsurprising Incompetence of Sony


We all know what’s going on with Sony. For those of you who don’t know, you either don’t game or you live under a rock. The greatest hacking escapade of 2011 has left the company’s loyal consumers hanging on the sideline while they hope to the heavens that their credit card info hasn’t been sold to the highest bidder. If you haven’t cancelled your credit card, asked for a new number, or put out a fraud alert by now it’s best advised you do so now.

What I really wanted to get into with this article isn’t Sony’s time and time again ability to completely fuck up everything they touch. I want to know why anyone would even remain loyal to this colossal abortion of a company?

Because Microsoft is the devil, Umar!

Microsoft can be whatever you want to call it but Xbox Live has provided some of the best online multiplayer entertainment compared to their other console rivals. True, the Xbox live community is immature at best. Again, it is true, most of the games that come out for Xbox are also available on the PC but this isn’t just about comparing PSN to Xbox Live.

I don’t care about the other consoles. Disregard the Wii, Xbox, or the PC in this decision. Why should someone remain devoted to Sony games or devices? If you can’t get past that, you’re missing the point entirely.

What is the point then, you fat asshole?

The point is, as a customer, why should you remain with a company that can’t protect your CC information? Why remain with a company who has been so crippled by the attack they have yet to restart their service? Why remain with a company that markets with an asshat like Kevin Butler? Why remain with a company that barely has anything to show at E3 time and time again and when they do manage to reveal something it becomes an internet meme?

And this is just with their Playstation portion of the company. They recently announced and moved forward with the shutting down of all Sony Online Entertainment games due to this “intrusion”. That means games like Everquest 2, Everquest… and what other games would be affected by this? Didn’t they seize operations on a huge plethora of their games? I know they have DCUO but how many customers can you upset by bringing that game down? Their ten remaining customers? Big deal. If this assault doesn’t put the nail in the coffin for DCUO then its loyal subscribers are used to be being screwed over and over again.

For a company that is already struggling to breathe in the MMO market, this setback is going to draw more players to WoW, LOTRO, and/or Rift. How can they recoup their losses? Offer a free month for the month they’re already going to lose? Give away 700 Station Points?
Thanks for the piece of mind, Sony. I’ll enjoy these small tokens of your appreciation for my loyalty while some criminal abuses the shit out of my credit.

Face it, loyal Sony fanboys. You’re on the Titantic and you can get off the ship and survive or freeze to death in the piercing icy waters of Hell. You aren’t Rose. No one wants to draw you naked. You won’t live through this.

I know a couple of people who are still riding on Sony’s cock. To them I say you’re a complete moron. Enjoy lubing up your ass with olive oil while this company and its attackers continue to fuck you from behind.

Now I want to hear from you, the reader. I want to know why on God’s green and polluted Earth would you want to stay with Sony?

The ZX Spectrum Bible

Actually, more of the ZX Spectrum PDF emulation Bible, but this would be too long a post title… Still, oh wise and cheap-ass retroheads, just click here and you’ll get yourselves the brilliant 82 pages long PDF of the aptly (and rather eloquently) named The ZX Spectrum on your PC. Brilliant, educating, handy, quite free and sporting a nice cover, this is as retro as an ebook can get.

 

Little Wars

Playing with toy soldiers is apparently as ancient a hobby as playing with ones self (well … almost). Ancient Egyptians did it, the Romans did it, Indians did it and the Chinese must have surely entertained the thought.

Playing with toy soldiers in a modern context, on the other hand, is -as expected- a rather more recent development, and as such a more cruel one too. The whole thing, you see, didn’t start as playing per se, but more of as a way to train Prussian military officers in the subtleties (?) of war (Kriegspiel they called it, and it used dice to simulate random battlefield events). The concept didn’t actually evolve into something less blood thirsty till H.G. Wells decided that a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books would be a nifty idea.

A game that would be the first modern miniature wargame not intended for being used in slaughtering actual people in particularly gruesome ways. A game Mr. Wells would cunningly name Little Wars. Also a game (published in the most traditional of book formats) lovingly preserved by the good people of Project Gutenberg and thankfully available in full and for free right here. Go on. Read the thing. It’s brilliant and you’ll get to feel all 1913 too. Seems pretty playable, mind you.

Cataclysm: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

World of Warcraft Cataclysm Logo

Without a doubt, Cataclysm was another home run hit for the power gaming company Blizzard.  Selling a stunning 3.3 million copies (including pre-sales) on the first day and 4.7 million by the end of the first month (including pre-sales) was not as shocking as some seemed to say it was.  The most popular and played MMORPG of all time is going to have extremely high sales figures especially since Blizzard added in pre-sale digital downloads for the first time ever.  The apparent controversy surrounding these numbers is unwarranted.  Pre-sales are part of any game release and Blizzard is fully entitled to count them towards first day sales in my opinion.  And let’s be honest, does it matter? No, over 5 million people have already purchased Cataclysm and that number is sure to grow.  A better question would be, Will Cataclysm peak over 12 million subscriptions like its predecessors? or has the game peaked overall? and how long until it fades into gaming oblivion?  Sorry, that won’t be covered in this article but expect me to tackle the topic in the future.

The Good.

As you know, Blizzard has been catering to the casual gamer more and more.  Why? Simple, money.  Blizzard does not want to lose clients because they feel the game is too hard or too time consuming.  Just go to through the account cancellation process and you will see many different prompts that seem to ask why you are quitting and many are tailored towards the casual gamer.  Now, I know we are in “The Good” category but let me say that this “casual” policy has both positive and negative effects on the game and it’s players as I will discuss throughout the whole article.

Blizzard wanted to make raiding simpler and thus they have designed everything so that you don’t need a full 25 man raid to compete.  You can gather 9 friends and compete on an equal plain with everyone else in the world.  I personally love this move because it allows you to play with more of your close friends if you so choose.  This reduces the amount of pugs you have to get and usually reduces the severity of the headache you will suffer during a failing raid.  Of course, Blizzard is not naive and to appease the more hardcore gamers, they designed it so you get more loot proportionate to your raid size in 25mans compared to 10mans.  Even though that feels like a “lame” fix, it was probably the best Blizzard could do considering they put 10 and 25 mans on the same pedestal.  Either way, the casual gamers rejoiced in this change and overall, it has had a positive impact.  As for the “pride”  factor between major guilds competing at the top level for world firsts, 25mans still seem to be the cream of the crop but even the best of the best have been switching to 10mans for certain encounters!  All the major content has been completed and here is how it played out among the world’s elite.

Top 10 PvE WoW Guilds

Leveling is finally enjoyable!  You heard me right.  I for one am not a fan of leveling and never have been especially in World of Warcraft but the leveling redesign has even changed my mind.  Don’t get me wrong,  I am not going out and leveling alts for the hell of it but I am also not dreading the boring, monotonous grind that was leveling.  The overhaul to the zones and quests has streamlined the process.  Moreover, the changes to spells have given you diversity at the lower levels.  I did not enjoy spamming just one or two buttons to level as it felt like I could fall asleep while doing it.  Now, it feels like I can actually take some pleasure in leveling.  While this was something that wasn’t necessary to change, it was a very positive overhaul.  Of course, you could say that the change was specifically designed to help the casual gamer level easier, faster and with more joy!  Blizzard is sneakier than you might imagine.

Finally, let us talk about the servers.  They were great.  Illidan, one of the most popular WoW servers, where I leveled to 85 was completely stable.  No major lag spikes, no crashes and no downtime.  Moreover, the servers came up on time.  Blizzard wanted to ensure that Cataclysm was launched without a hitch and they nailed it home.  As for server queues, they were terrible early on but everyone expected that so I don’t need to harp on it very much.

The Bad.

With great power comes great responsibility.  Oh wait, this isn’t Spiderman, its WoW: Cataclysm.  How about…With great homogenization, comes great laziness.  I am definitely not one to favor the complete homogenization of classes that seems to be happening with more and more frequency.  While I like the idea that buffs are being spread around to more classes on paper, I hate it in reality.  I know Blizzard would like 5man and 10man dungeons and raids to have a majority of the game buffs but I think that is a bad idea.  One of the inevitable drawbacks of having less people in a group or raid is the reduction of potential buffs.  Thus, players need to design their groups accordingly.  At the rate Blizzard is going, in two expansions, my 10man is just going to be 10 paladins with every buff in the game dominating every encounter.  Yes, I am laying it on a little thick but it is for good reason.  Let us look at some of the homogenization we have seen with Cataclysm.

First, buffs are being spread around to more classes.  Second,  bloodlust/heroism is now usable by three classes.  Honestly, having bloodlust/heroism on just one class was probably not the greatest idea but I don’t think that bloodlust/heroism is a well-designed mechanic anyway.  I know that it is a great part of Warcraft lore but I think it could have been implemented differently because it has been insanely powerful since it went live.  On a good note, Blizzard did finally decide to remove it from arenas.  Third, it seems that every melee has a spammable interrupt.  Why do I dislike this?  Mainly because the classes that didn’t have them before didn’t have them for a reason and now that they do, they seem overly useful in both PvE and PvP.  Either way, I think that Blizzard could use some of that infinite pool of money they have to diversify the game more instead of homogenize it.  Once again, it all comes back to the positive and negative effects of the “casual” gamer syndrome.

For me, five man dungeons and heroics on my main were extremely simple.  I almost always ran with a pre-made 5man so we just queued up and destroyed whatever we got.  However, this was not the case for many people, especially those trying to gear alts.  First, if you are not a tank or a healer, have fun waiting in a 30minute queue to do one heroic.  Second, if you are a tank or a healer, make sure you abuse the system by selling queue pops all day in trade chat.  While this is now fixed, it was way too late.  Third, how is it that if you solo queue you always seem to get the absolute worst players in the world in your group?  Not only do they have gear that is terrible but they have no idea how to do any of the fights.  I can’t really blame Blizzard on that one but I sure can vent some minor frustration.  Overall, I like the simplicity in the fact that you can just queue from anywhere in the world at anytime, but if you are running solo, there is a strong change that you will just be wasting an hour of your time.

World of Warcraft Dungeon Queue Time

I will keep my dislike of the PvP situation short as I plan on doing a full write-up of it in the near future but it has to be mentioned briefly.  I don’t know if I would say that arenas have hit a low point because I thought they were pretty bad when you could kill someone inside of one GCD in WotLK but they are not prospering by any means.  Of course, you will always have people complaining that their class is too underpowered but when top players are re-rolling because they just know their class it too weak to compete at the top level, then something is probably wrong.  For the first time ever, mages seem to be underpowered unless you like jumping around spamming ice lance all day!  Maybe underpowered isn’t the write word, but they do seem to have a nice big target on their back.  Melee teams seem to run a train on them all day and since all the healers have dispel and frost armor is not nearly as useful as it was, they appear to be in a dire situation.

While I think they might deserve it considering how strong they have been in the past, their situation just highlights the fact that with Blizzard’s homogenized design is leading to negative impacts in PvP.  Now, I don’t think Blizzard cares much about the PvP scene anyway but that doesn’t mean that it should be the way it is now.  I personally think that HP is actually too high in many cases but it may be a result of the new completely underpowered healing debuffs.  I always thought 50% healing reduction was too much but with classes having this much HP, I think 10% is too low.  Blizzard really needs to overhaul the whole PvP system if they ever want to truly fix it.  HPS and self-healing (DK, Ret Pally, etc) are also way to high for my taste.  Anyway, more on this in a future article.  For now, just know that PvP, specifically arenas appear to be in a not so good state.

The Ugly.

I am still not a fan of the games graphics even after this overhaul.  While I know that the original game platform is getting older, it doesn’t change my opinion.  I don’t think the graphics are bad enough to hurt anything in the game but I don’t find them particularly breath taking either.  Will Blizzard create a completely new engine for their cash cow?  Unlikely but they could if they really wanted to.  However, it is more likely that instead of creating a new engine for WoW, they would just put a new project together to start design WoW 2 (if they haven’t already).

Looks like the same game to me.

It also feels like the identity of some of the old servers has been lost.  With all the new players coming in over the years and all the transfers, something about the old nostalgia seems to have faded.  While this is not a result of Cataclysm, I feel that is something that can be mentioned in this section.  If you played vanilla and are still playing today, you probably know what I mean.  It was nice early on when you thought you knew a lot of people and possibly had some clout on the server but now, the game seems to be moving at a pace that removes this.  The best way to put it is to say that the identity of the servers seem to have faded into a blur of inconsequence.

Finally, I will end on another topic that Blizzard has no control over.  The Elitist Jerks (EJ) forums also have a negative impact on the game, specifically, on new players.  When you are in a pug or just see “go to EJ” spammed in trade chat when someone asks a question, you have to get annoyed.  Instead of actually learning something in the game or asking someone who might know, you are directed to a website that tells you how to play and spec your class.  So much for the subtleties that you notice after playing your main for a long time.  So much for actually learning a class and enjoying that process.   Long gone are the days where there was some mystery or secrecy to playing WoW.  To clarify, EJ can work wonders for those who have been playing the game for a long time and understand it’s nuances.  However, if you are new to the game or a class, you skip the basic learning process and just learn the “perfect rotation” instead.  Who cares that you died in fire or didn’t shield or didn’t misdirect or didn’t do 1 of 100 different things that are more useful than just spamming damage.  The sad fact is, WoW has turned into a numbers games on many levels and I understand why it has, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

Conclusion

Cataclysm is fun at first but the sheen of a new game is quickly replaced by the same old car smell from before.  What made WoW good in the past is the same that makes WoW good now.  The social atmosphere and friends you make along the way still entrap players.  For many people, the time you log in game is controlled by the social structures: when you do your dailies, when you are raiding, etc.  The bonds of friendship people form which result in teams and guilds being formed push the never ending cycle that is a beast  of game known as World of Warcraft.  If you enjoyed the repetitive cycle that WoW presented in past whether it be through raiding, PvP or any one of the other things Blizzard created, then you will surely find joy in Cataclysm and play it as you had played all the other WoW expansions in the past.  However, if you were looking for something brand new that would make your eyes pop and your pearly white teeth show,  then unfortunately, you will have to keep looking as Cataclysm is simply a new name, not a new face.

The Interview: Alex Aguila

Alex Aguila from Alienware
Alex Aguila from Alienware

Alex Aguila

Alex Agulia was the co-founder and former president of Alienware, but long before that he was an avid computer and console game and collector. In our Gamer Profile of Alex, we peeked inside the world of a real gamer and while there I had a chance to stir up an old Temco Bowl rivalry between him and current president of Dell Gaming at Alienware, Arthur Lewis. In Arthur’s interview, he talked about his early days of gaming all the way up to the Alienware days. We wanted to go back to Alex and this time get a bit more of a history of his gaming and to take one more shot at their competition.

Obsolete Gamer: When did you first begin playing video games?

Alex: The first video game I ever saw was Pong at a Miami Beach hotel in 1975. I was 8 years old. A few years later I played with the Odyssey 2 and all the hand held electronic games but my first love (that I still love it today) was the Atari 2600.

Obsolete Gamer: When did your love for video games turn into a full time hobby?

Alex: Games have always been a part of my life. It is something that is just part of me since the late 70s.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about collecting video games and consoles?

Alex: I hate to throw away anything that I enjoy, so my collection of video game started back in the late 70s. I now have a huge collection. In the last 15 years or so I have almost strictly concentrated on very rare games for the different consoles and when I say rare I mean really, really rare.

Obsolete Gamer: How big into the Arcade scene were you?

Alex: I feel blessed that I was there from the very start. Arcade gaming was bigger for me in the early 80s than consoles were actually. I spent every quarter I could get my hands on playing defender, stargate, zaxxon, Ms pac man, Galaga and many, many other classic etc. I got really great at some of them. I was the dude people gathered around to see a game ending. I actually could finish dragon’s lair with my back turned away from the machine simply relying on audio queues. That’s a lot of quarters.

Obsolete Gamer: At what point did you move into PC gaming?

Alex: The commodore 64 opened up an entire new realm of more sophisticated games. There was a period where I shelved all consoles and stopped going to the arcade around the mid-80s. Commodore was simply too strong. The simulations were great (playable today), the text adventures were great (playable to this day). It was a given that I would graduate from the commodore 64 to the PC in the early 90s.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us the differences in your experience playing console games of the 90’s and PC games of the 90’s?

Alex: Super Nintendo’s Donkey Kong Country was a classic masterpiece. I have finished the game beginning to end 4 times since it was released (I have not done that with any other game PC or console). That being said, there was nothing that Sega or Nintendo could do that would even come close to some of the stuff the PC was doing. When the CD-Rom and CD-Rom games were released, the gap grew even larger.

Obsolete Gamer: Was your love for gaming a major reason for co-founding Alienware?

Alex: Yeah, I was a gaming guru. Nelson was a gamer that built PCs, it was a natural fit.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you give us a little history of the gaming “friendly competition” between yourself and Arthur Lewis?

Alex: You know a lot has been made out of this through the years but before there was any “competition” there was a lot of “cooperation”. We played Atari 2600 sword quest series and raiders of the lost ark quite a bit and we worked together towards a common goal. The real competition started when Nintendo released Tecmo bowl and Bases Loaded. The era of cooperation was over, It got ugly, what can I say…

Obsolete Gamer: Arthur stated you guys are about even as far as gaming, would you agree with that?

Alex: Yeah I guess, I’ll give Arthur Robotron and sports games (any era any console) but gaming encompasses quite a bit. Saying “gaming” is a big statement. He is really great (legendary) in specific areas. So am I, I’ll leave it at that.

Obsolete Gamer: Do you plan to have a rematch of Temco football since Arthur won last?

Alex: He won’t play me or give me a rematch since the early 90s. I get it since the story and the myth grow larger that way. I made peace with it.

Obsolete Gamer: Are you active in the gaming community?

Alex: Yes I am the founder of www.combatace.com a site dedicated to combat simulations, I play DCU universe right now and we have a pretty cool super hero team with a website.

Obsolete Gamer: What are your thoughts on the number of classic games being rereleased on today’s consoles?

Alex: I’ll give you a worn out cliché answer but the truth is the truth. A good game is a good game any era, so of course there will be rereleases but I encourage the developers doing it to stay as true to the original source and code as possible. No one wants someone messing with their Mona Lisa.

My Introduction within the Sausage Fest!

Jesus and the sausage fest
Jesus and the sausage fest

Let me introduce myself then, I’m your average obsessive PC gamer, drinks too much red bull and spends countless hours playing the latest FPS or mucking around in some MMORPG with friends.

I’m also a female gamer, but I’m not here to preach about girl power and whether we kick the asses of boys or not. I play for fun and while I am rather competitive I’m not out to spear-head the whole girl gamers are the best propaganda, we all share a common interest, which is gaming right?.

While I love me some console gaming, my real love is all on the PC, back when Counter Strike first came out. I played it religiously, to the point where I’d get my mom to drop me off at some random tiny little comic book store that had like six PC’s in this tiny little backroom where we’d spend hours playing DE_Dust and sweating like pigs while we screamed and flailed every time one of us got a kill on the other and my male friends would shout “Get back to the kitchen” and I’d laugh (as if we haven’t heard that one before).

I was also a huge fan of Quake, Medal of Honor, UT2004 , Shadowbane and countless other games along the way, though thankfully after a few years went by I managed to find a local LAN party where instead of a tiny little backroom filled with sweaty gamers, it turned into a much larger room with more people to play with/against, though it turned out to be just as sweaty sometimes, but a hell of a lot of fun.

But I will admit I’m not all killing and PVP. I did at one time go through a DDR phase, stomping around like an idiot at Dave & Busters which looked nothing like dancing to Japanese songs I didn’t even understand. I was also the proud owner of like twelve tamagotchi’s on my keychain and even played the Yu-Gi-Oh trading card game. (I was 16, but when I realized at a local tournament that I was playing against 9 year old boys and I was actually beaten by an 11 year old one, I decided it was not the game for me, and I felt pretty stupid too).

I owned about six different Pikachu plushies and played both Pokemon Red and Blue religiously on my Gameboy. I love all the Sonic games and have clocked in countless hours on old school Tekken and loads of other games that would pretty much take a long while to list really.

While yes, I am indeed the proud owner of a set of ovaries, it doesn’t mean I’m out there licking controllers or obsessing over Farmville (which I have actually tried to play, but I’ll leave that for another time!)

For the moment, I’m playing it up on Call of Duty: Black ops, Borderlands, L4D2 and even some WoW since Cataclysm is coming out soonish, and while I’ll gladly say I’ll kick your ass in some of those I listed, I’m not saying it because I’m a female gamer, I’ll say it because I’m just your average obsessive gamer with the common goal to pew pew it up.

A New Challenger Approaches…

Princess Peach Daisy driving
Princess Peach Daisy driving

A New Challenger Approaches

Life can throw you a lot of curveballs. You might find yourself unexpectedly becoming a father, be picked first when people choose their teammates, and even find a million dollars in a duffel bag. The point is, there will always come a time where you will be blindsided. Sometimes it is for the better and sometimes it is for the worse. It could hurt your ego or even boost it. This one event, though, could leave you with a knotting feeling in your stomach. You don’t quite know how to take the news and you don’t quite know if you can accept it.

The event I’m talking about is when someone you hold near and dear to you takes you down a peg. You’re supposed to be their knight, their champion. You’re the one who crushes roaches. You’re the one who walks through the dark hallway unafraid. You’re the one who chain roots a Tauren warrior underwater so that your loved one can flee to safety. You are one who is not fearful but accepts fear for what it is. You are the hero and the guardian.

Then, the day comes when you realize this person isn’t as helpless as you’d think. There comes the time where you are the underdog and the fragile swan becomes the marauding murderer.
I had always thought of myself as an above average gamer. One game I thought myself exceptionally good at was Mario Kart for the SNES. I had played every version of Mario Kart because it always held that great competitive yet joyous multiplayer aspect to it. I was a first place kind of player. Yeah, sometimes I’d get second or third but I was always on that pedestal and more times than none I was the one towering over the runner-ups. I had never met a player who was greater than me in Mario Kart. We were either equal or I burned brighter.

It filled me with great happiness to be as skilled as I was at Mario Kart. Yes, it was a game where I would dominate but it was fun not only for me but for friends and family that played a long side myself. It was simply an entertaining game, one that I especially enjoyed throughout my life.

Then, Mario Kart Wii came out. I will admit, I was there at the midnight release with all the nine year old kids who were dressed as Mario but I didn’t care. Mario Kart was something I had to have in my collection and I bared no shame being the only person with hair on his balls in the line. To my lack of surprise, it played practically the same as the previous titles but had a couple of changes that added some gusto to the mix. I would certainly dominate in this Mario Kart again.

How wrong I was… I was so naive.

This was the first Mario Kart to come out since my wife and I were married and I had never played Mario Kart with her before. I expected it to be the same kind of formula as when we usually played multiplayer games. We’d do a couple of rounds and then she’d get upset that I’m winning and then I’ll do a couple of rounds where I slow down a bit and pretend to fuck up so she’d do better but then she’d bitch at me accusing me of allowing her to win. Shortly after that, she’d give up and never play again. We’ve all been through this scenario, if not with our wife, then with our brother, or sister, or guido friend.

Not this time, though.

After the first trek through Mario Raceway, my wife was first and by a long shot. I couldn’t even catch up. Beginner’s luck, I thought to myself. That’s what it had to be. There is no way she is devastating me this much.

Another race, again same results.

Another race, she is not a speck in my rear view mirror but a speck in my horizon.

Another race, I finally got ahead but wait what is this? Wham, Bam, thank you ma’am. She demolishes me with every weapon known to the Mushroom Kingdom and overtakes me with an enormous lead.

How could this happen? How could she be this good? She doesn’t know about pressing UP when going off a ramp for a boost. She doesn’t know about using a shell or banana as a barricade to destroy red shells. She doesn’t know about popping a wheelie on a straight road to gain a significant speed boost.
So how?! How does she know how to win with such grace?

Pushing my ego aside, I dared to ask. “Honey,” I politely inquired, “How did you do that? What is your secret?” She looked at me puzzled. “I just raced, you motherfucker.” is her reply. This wasn’t sufficient. I had to know. What did she do?

“Do you dodge bananas well?”
“I just drive.”

“Do you conserve your mushroom boosts?”
“I just drive.”

“Do you race directly behind someone to increase your acceleration?”
“I just drive.”

There is no secret. She just drives. But this isn’t good enough of an answer! How did she defeat me, a golden god in my own right?! No matter how long we haven’t played Mario Kart, she still dominates everyone. None are left in her wake.

When I look into her eyes as she plays, I see no determination. I see no enjoyment. I see no past, I see no present, and I see no future.

What I do see is a soulless machination whose sole purpose in life is to sow confusion and hysteria in the minds of those she crushes.

I love my wife. I really do. However, when we play Mario Kart I feel like I should be sporting a purse because she makes me look a bitch. She took one of the most memorable games of my childhood and turned into one of the most terrifying and unexplainable experiences in my life. I am left with a feeling of pride as it is my wife who is destroying my friends in Mario Kart but at the same time an incredible wave filled with unworthy emotions sweep over me. I enjoy playing with her but I also fear those remorseless eyes.

Never again will Mario Kart hold a feeling of pure bliss in my heart. It will forever and onward be filled with a mixture of shriveling self esteem and panic.

Official Viva Amiga Teaser Trailer: Version 1

Viva Amiga web still
Viva Amiga web still

Obsolete Gamer has been working with the good folks over at Viva Amiga on their creation and marketing of their upcoming documentary. Earlier this year we published an article with Zack Weddington of the film.

Now you can check out their first teaser trailer.

Be Thankful, Gamer

Be Thankful, Gamer

I know. The title blew your mind. Umar Khan is writing about something he is thankful for rather than venting an apocalyptic hate filled rant? This is impossible, you may think to yourself. But it’s true. While my editorials are usually about me demeaning a genre or writing farewell letters, I am thankful for many things. And while I am in great appreciation for the greater things in life outside of gaming like friends and family and just the general ability to live, I am still thankful for the lesser things in life found in games.

happy-thanksgiving

I am thankful for games that give me a limited aerial arsenal and decide its time for an aerial fight. “Wait, what did he say?!” Calm down, reader! Give me a chance to explain myself. In games that focus too much on ground combat, I find it refreshing to be put into an aerial battle where my arsenal is limited to a single slashing attack. While these fights are repetitious in nature they also make every hit you land as important as the first swing. A force of timing and precision infuse you where the rest of the game left you with the mindless monotony of button mashing. One cannot deny the sheer satisfaction they feel when that overgrown robotic fly careens into the ground, left in a smoldering heap. Was it obnoxious? It sure was but you know when you have that get together with friends and talk about the game you’re all going to say, “Wasn’t the air battle a pain in the ass?” You’ll forge friends in common camaraderie and that is something you should be thankful for.

I am thankful for underwater levels because nothing gets my heart pumping more in a game than knowing there is the potential to suffocate or that hair rising terror that there could be a giant squid monster lurking in the murky depths. The sensation of dread that creeps upon me knowing that there is something dwelling around me in the darkness and one of my few hopes of survival around the crushing pressures of the blue abyss is my limited air supply is invigorating. I feel an unrelenting wave of anxiety as I progress through a game and I begin to notice the foreshadowing scenery getting a bit more coastal because I know, at some point, I will be submerged and I will end up crying myself to sleep like a little bitch that night.

I am thankful for villains who aren’t pure evil but just have differing views that they believe are correct and bode no true ill intent. In some sense you could find yourself relating to their predicament. If I learned one thing from Loghain in Dragon Age it’s that sometimes you have to be a D-bag to get through the day. Sure, the responsibility and knowledge of what you did will weigh heavily upon your shoulders but in order to be a titan sometimes you have to bear the curse of Atlas first. And while I found myself at odds with Loghain, had the tables been turned, had I witnessed the world from his perspective, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to find myself being loyal to this patriot.

I am thankful for in-game prostitutes. They are a great way to gauge your true moral values in life. As a teenager playing Grand Theft Auto, sleeping with a prostitute and immediately killing her for a refund was economical and humorous all at once. As I grew older and prostitutes found themselves leaking into other games, (haha, I said “leaking”) I began to take a more virtuous approach towards these emotionally distraught individuals. Should they keep to themselves as my hero rolled on by, I could see the pity in their eyes, the defeat drawn upon their faces as they simply tried to survive with the education they managed to soak in during their times in high school and the deprivation of their living situation, be it an addiction to drugs or a baby at home they wish to save from this lifestyle. However, should she open her disease-ridden, puss marked mouth and say “Hey, daddy? Want some tenda luvin care?” I kick into crusader mode and begin to purge the barrio from these swindling sluts! Some may say, what a hypocrite! I say, “Fuck you!”

I am thankful for player collision and the ability to grab your partner. Nothing increases the enjoyment of a game like having a cohort. And nothing increases that bliss like being able to nab your partner and toss them into a canyon between platforms. I remember spending more time fighting with my brother in the New Super Mario Brothers Wii than actually trying to complete the level. Constantly jumping in different directions to slam into each other and fall to our deaths, tossing one another into bob-ombs, and bubbling up to lose the level are some of the most amusing cooperative game play elements I have ever encountered. Let us not forget of the grand self-sabotage in the coop mode of Little Big Planet. If you remember, you could grab your partner’s arm and drag them. Nothing in comparison could be funnier than watching a friend run to gain force for a jump and chasing after them. Right before they took their leap of faith, I would nab their arm quickly and tug in the opposite direction, At this point all I had to do was let go, depleting their momentum but leaving them cascading in the air and falling short of the platform. I am so thankful for the ability to interact with your partner in a game. So very thankful for all the laughs and tears shed while with playing with friends.

So, dear reader, there are things out there to be thankful for in games, if you really think about it. They bring memorable times with friends, an opportunity to share a story with your brothers in arms, and a chance to display your true character traits. Right now, some of you are probably in your room, isolated from your family because you have relatives coming over for Thanksgiving and wish to not be bothered. You want to hold your Xbox close to you and whisper sweet nothings into its air vents but remember, keeping your gaming experience to yourself is lonely. Stories are best shared than kept in your head. Get out there, make some friends, drink with your family, have a good time because life is meaningless without people you care about, even if you feel they don’t care about you. It’s only one day any way. Enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

APB. I Think U Dun Goofed

APB logo
APB logo

Long, long ago in the summer of 2010 there lived a game called All Points Bulletin. It was a large sandbox-ish Grand Theft Auto online that took developer Realtime Worlds millions to create. For many, it was a brief stint of entertainment that was hindered by hacks, broken mechanics, and normal players being dominated by gamers who memorized the map and all the good camping spots. For some, it was a new age Wild West where you could roam the city freely and reap havoc on a grand scale against friend and foe.

Of any game out there it had the most amazing character customization option to date. People were creating Ninja Turtle Gangsters with a van to match. People made pedophile theme gangster with Pedobear etched on the side of their vehicles. The game had so much to offer cosmetic hogs that it seemed it could hold a respectable player base for that option alone at least.

But what happened? APB just didn’t seem to hit its expected highs and hit unexpected lows. Was it because of the game? Was it because there were no commercials or real advertisements? You’d think a game like this would have millions of GTA fans drooling all over it. Unfortunately for Realtime Worlds, this isn’t a dream that would become a reality. On September 16th, 2010 the game would breathe its last breaths as it was announced they would be bringing it offline. All the servers came down and that was the end of this Gangster Vs Vigilante Armageddon.

However…

Recently it was announced that free MMO publisher Gamersfirst was going to resuscitate the corpse of APB and release it within the first half of the next year under a Free to Play model. While it does seem they intend to bring back APB, it certainly feels like it is going to be zombified rather than returning to its true former grace.

The team developing this game under Gamersfirst is Reloaded Productions, a group that has been working on an original RPG for the past year or so and has released nothing under its belt. None of the former the employees of Realtime Worlds are even involved in this Rebirth project.

This Free to Play model wreaks of failure as well. Former players of APB will most likely not even be able to play as their old characters and would have to start over again. Why is that? Well, legal issues from Realtime Worlds indicate that they can’t release databases with customer information so this release of APB would be more of an APB v2.

Exactly how will this F2P model work? It has been confirmed that players may “lease” weapons and purchase a premium status that expands on the creation tools. Let me allow this to set in. It expands on nothing. Reloaded Productions isn’t expanding on the current games creation tools. They are holding back options that this game was released with and are now charging players to unlock the only real great thing this game had going for it.

What was the point of this purchase? Everything about this rerelease suggests that this game will be an abomination beyond all abominations. While it hasn’t been released yet and I am talking out of my ass, the confirmed changes in the team, the monetized plan, and the withholding of the games key feature just makes me uninterested in the future of APB.

How can a developer who didn’t create this game and doesn’t even know how to manage the Unreal 3 Engine that it was based upon make this game a future success. That’s like asking me to work on it your trigonometry homework. Just because I’m part Asian doesn’t mean I know math. The same goes for a “developer” who acquires a game they didn’t work on and expecting to be able to reverse engineer something they don’t understand.

I wouldn’t suggest jumping back into APB if you’re really looking to get into this game again. Just get Grand Theft Auto 4 and play online if you’re looking for a shootout jamboree. With all the mechanic flaws this game had under Realtime Worlds, there is no possible way that Reloaded Productions is going to be able fix any of the mistakes the original team failed to correct firsthand.

My Unparallel Loathing of Gaming Hipsters

WoW Ret Cat
WoW Ret Cat

My Unparallel Loathing of Gaming Hipsters

I can’t take it anymore, reader. I simply cannot suffer the pretentious attitude of gaming hipsters. They leave my stomach churning, tie my throat in a knot, and cause an unpronounced level of pain in my scrotum. Why God? I ask you this! Why do they exist to believe themselves to be upon a celestial pedestal of understanding and ownership of some delusional knowledge they do not possess?

Hipsters.

The word alone makes me want to go on a punching jamboree at a local Starbucks. Those bastards just weren’t content on having the indie scene, huh? They had to someone seep like a poison into the gaming community. And it wasn’t like they miraculously appeared out of nowhere. No, no. I just noticed they’ve been here for years, secretly hiding like some Massachusetts Witch Covenant biding their time for an unveiling.

But you know what?

No one gives a shit about them or the opinion of their Gaming Hipster Community. But contrary to that last sentence, I do care to a degree. I’d like to point out my disliking for them in detail. Yes, reader, you will become more knowledgeable on who is a gaming hipster and may even come into the realization that you yourself or someone you hold dear to your hearts may even be one of these aberrations.

    • No one cares if you were in beta.

    Aside from narrow-minded children and frat boys, no one cares that you’ve played since beta. When someone asks a question as to whether something is a good talent specialization or how to beat a certain raid boss, don’t reply with “Trust me, I’ve been playing since Beta.” This doesn’t make you more knowledgeable to specializations or strategies. Especially don’t say this in games like World of Warcraft. The game at its current state is completely different than its original incarnation at this point and your opinion is null and void. Another thing, games that go into Beta maybe have 10-15 people who are actually voicing legit opinions in that gaming community. The rest are people who whine and shit because they don’t understand gaming mechanics or can’t even offer viable solutions aside from nerfing the entirety of a class. Oh, and speaking of classes…

      • No one cares if were an underpowered class pre-buff.
          “Mmm, I liked a Shadow Knight before they got buffed!” Wow? Really? Holy shit, that is amazing news. I’m glad you stuck through your underpowered character until they got revamped. You know why classes get revamped? It isn’t because it only takes “skilled” people to play them and make them viable. Any other class that isn’t gimp with an equally “skilled” player is going to steam roll you in numbers and efficiency. They buff classes to bring them up to par. Aww, don’t cry! Just because people can now faceroll as your favorite underground class doesn’t mean you suck. If you really were skilled you’d still be better than the rest of them by far, right? Or is it because no one played the class you had no real competition to gauge yourself? Wait. What was that you muttered underneath your breath? Oh, that’s what you said? Well guess what…
      • No one cares if your guild beat content before it got nerfed.

      I remember going into threads that said “Fenrir’s Pups beat Ragnaros” and reading the replies of smug faced, Rockstar drinking hipsters who would sneer the achievement with “Congratulations on beating old and nerfed content.” What a monster you must be! Let’s look at those virtual muscles. Wow! You’ve been really hitting the E-Gym. We all know beating Ragnaros pre-nerf was like fighting Muhammad Ali in his prime and fighting him after the nerf was like fighting him today. We get that. No need to boast about it, though. Your past efforts fall upon deaf ears because not a single person today gives a shit.

      Hey, what’s that you’re playing? Is that an NES emulator? What game are you playing? Is that Super Mario Brothers 2? It isn’t? It sure looks like… holy shit don’t say it.

      • No one cares if you played Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic before people played Super Mario 2!

      I’m glad that you are in touch with the origins of a game and know that Super Mario Brothers 2 is a rehashing of another game but don’t toss it away because it wasn’t indie enough for you. Most of the creatures in Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic were created by Nintendo anyway.

      This sick need to do the polar opposite of anything popular or mainstream brings me to my last point.

        • Fuck You.

        Fuck you, gaming hipster. You’re the person who finds the Playstation Network vastly superior to Xbox Live. You’re the person who guffaws at Apple products (and yes, I admit, I was once this type of person) without even trying to grasp why people like them. You’re the person still playing your NES because all new games suck like some grumpy old man who still plays that game with a hoop and stick. You’re the person who demands nostalgia and only subscribes to progression servers for a month and quits within 3 days because those memories weren’t as fond as you thought they were.

        There is no means to stop you from these self imposed habits and traits and there is no wisdom or knowledge I can bestow to remedy the hipster hivemind so I will gladly end this article in the simplest but most profound way I know…

        Eat a dick, gaming hipster. Eat a steaming plate of dicks on a bed of rice.

        OGS: The NES Show

        NES console
        NES console

        OGS is finally back with a brand new show! This show we tackled the NES from its beginnings, all the great games and accessories for it and much more. We were joined by our newest NES and SNES writer Luis and had OGS regulars Umar Khan and Edgar Median call in and share their experience with the Nintendo Entertainment System.

        All in all it was a great time, lots of laughs and we know you will enjoy it. So head on over to the OGS main page to listen or you can download the show using ITunes.

        Zone 40 Wireless Gaming

        Zone 40 Wireless Gaming console
        Zone 40 Wireless Gaming console

        Why oh why would you want to knock off the Wii? I mean you could just load up Yahoo games or an emulator. Fine, I will stop hating, but this console struck me when I was in Denver attending the beer fest. This was behind the counter at a CVS drugstore and I kind of brushed it off at first and then once I got home looked more into it.

        What we know


        Well the system looks a lot like a Wii console and it offers wireless gaming. However it is called the Zone 40 because 40 games are built into the console and that is the limit (so far) as far as software titles. There is an expansion slot, but it is not clear what it is used for. So you get two controls the console, rca cables, 40 built in games (11 of which are sports interactive), a stand and instruction manual for $39.99.

        The word on the net

        For those who don’t just scream “It’s a fake!” the reviews still aren’t good for the Zone 40. Pretty much it is said to be a system for a six year old and looks horrible on a HD TV. The sweet spot for this game is a 27 to 32 inch tv, normal definition.

        It’s the games stupid


        Depending on who you ask the games on the Zone 40 are either really horrible or terribly crappy. Some even say the graphics on the original 2600 look better. The 11 sport interactive games play sloppy and don’t have the look or reaction time of the Wii and the arcade games are not even as good as flash games you can find on an ad on a porn website.

        Here is the title list:

        100 METER  110 HURDLES ARCHERY BASEBALL BASKETBALL BEE FIGHTING BOMBER-MAN BOWLING BOX WORLD CHESS MASTER COMPETIVE FENCING DANCING GIRLS DARTS DISCUS FIRE MAN FISH WAR FISHING GOLF HIGH JUMP HIGHWAY RACING HITTING MICE JAVELIN LONG JUMP MOTOR STORM PING PONG SHOOTING BALLONS SNAKES SOCCER SPEED RACING SQUARES SUDOKU SWIMMING SWORD OF WARRIORS TANKSTENNIS THE MOUSE AND THE CAT TRIPLE JUMP UNDERSEA ADVENTURE WALKING-RACE ZUMA

        The verdict

        I haven’t played this, but it doesn’t look worth the cash, but if you want me to test it send my PayPal account $50 bucks and I will do a full review. Why $50? $40 for the game and $10 for the beer I need to make it through the review.

        The Interview: William D. Volk

        William D Volk

        To say that William D. Volk has had an interesting career in gaming would be an understatement. From playing video games in high school to having his first gaming related job in college, to creating a number of great games. Volk began working with Avalon Hill starting off in quality assurance. In time he began working on his own titles including Conflict 2500, Voyage 1 and Controller.

        Obsolete Gamer was able to get insight into his career working with various companies including Activision where he was VP of Technology has his technical direction over Return to Zork. We were also able to get his opinion on some of the events in his life including the video game crash, the Philips CD-I and mobile gaming.

        Avalon Hill logo
        Avalon Hill logo

        Obsolete Gamer: Would it be fair to say you did not grow up playing games but once you were into your college years you found your love of gaming?

        William Volk: I was playing games at the arcade in High School.  Pong showed up in the early ’70’s.

        Obsolete Gamer: What was the first video game that you were exposed to?

        William Volk: Probabily Pong.

        Obsolete Gamer: What was the first video game that hooked you?

        William Volk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Wars On a PDP-8 at University of Penn … original Startrek  and the Classic Adventure.

        Obsolete Gamer: How does the process for transferring a strategic board game to computer software work and what was it like testing these games?

        William Volk: Very few of Avalon Hills Computer Games were based on the board games in 79-82.  I wanted to tackle “Iron Men and Wooden Ships” but by then I had taken a position with Rising Star.  I also proposed an online version of Squad Leader.

        Conflict 2500
        Conflict 2500

        Obsolete Gamer: Any gamers today have never seen much less played a text game, can you give us a little insight into how text base games were at that time?

        William Volk: Everyone was hooked on the Infocom games.  You can still play them today.  Lords of Karma was Avalon Hill’s best text adventure IMHO.

        Obsolete Gamer: During your work with Avalon Hill you began to create your own titles, can you tell us about the thought process of coming up with a game and then trying to create it?

        William Volk: Conflict 2500: I was renting a place in Baltimore during the summer of 1980 and was a huge fan of Star Raiders (Spaceship Yamato).  I had played the Startrek game and wanted a more complex version of that.

        Voyager I: Saw a maze program on an Apple II.  At UNH in 1981 I did a class project using a random maze generator that displayed a solid wall 3D maze on some incredibly expensive Textronix terminal.  The game was kinda based on the end of the original Alien film.  The getting off the ship because you set self-destruct part.

        Controller: Was working at a video game store in Portsmouth NH and the owner (Frank D Kelley) had been an air-boss in the navy (controller).  He wanted a simple game to land aircraft.  Reagan fired the air-traffic controllers and Avalon Hill picked up the game.  I KICK MYSELF for not porting that to the iPhone on day one, given the success of Flight Control.

        Obsolete Gamer: What was the atmosphere at Avalon Hill like?

        William Volk: Very congenial.  There were people who had started there in the 1950’s!  The board game people were absolute experts on military history.  I would have conversations with a WWII vet who worked there and had witnessed a ME262 attack on a B17.

        PlayScreen logo
        PlayScreen logo

        Obsolete Gamer: How did it feel to see the work done at Avalon hill released to the public?

        William Volk: Funny, I was in Baltimore for a meeting last week.  Had dinner in the harbor area about 200 ft from the location of a shop (probably not there) where I saw Conflict on a shelf for the first time.

        Obsolete Gamer: You were able to avoid what is called the great video game crash when you moved to Epson and was offered a great position, what were those years like moving forward as many other companies and the industry as a whole suffered?

        William Volk: I felt compelled to take a ‘real’ job in 1982 because I had been in college and grad school for almost 8 years by that point.  So when I showed some folks at Epson my little 3D rendering system on the Atari 800 they referred me to Rising Star in California.  I was hired at the COMDEX show in Vegas in Nov. 1982.

        Rising Star was great but leaving independent game development was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  It did teach me about technical management and the Val Draw program I wrote was probably my greatest technical achievement.  A full 2D drafting system in 58 kilobytes of FORTH.  Lines, arcs, splines, associative dimensions, virtual memory, zoom, snap, automatic parallel lines … the stroke font was packed into a byte per stroke.  I don’t even know how I pulled it off.  In real dollars I made more $$$ in 1984 than I may have since, but I really should have just continued building games as an independent.  I didn’t realize that I was doing pretty good and I had some nice stuff I wanted to do.

        Controller
        Controller

        Obsolete Gamer: The Pyramid of Peril was a 3D adventure inspired by some of your previous work and Raiders of the Lost Ark, can you tell us about the creative process when developing that game?

        William Volk: Obviously based on Voyager 1.  Pyramid shaped puzzle.  David Barrett helped with the writing.  The Mac was new and exciting.  The entire game from concept to heat shrinking the boxes – 30 days.  Coded on a 128kb Mac.

        Obsolete Gamer: Completing a project of the scope of “Pyramid” in 30 days was impressive, how was it done so quickly?

        William Volk: I had the maze generating and display algorithms from Voyager and people to help on the artwork.

         

         

        Obsolete Gamer: Most people know of the fate of the Philips CD-I, but can you tell us your thoughts on why in the end the company failed?

        William Volk: Delayed launch to add MPEG Video.  AIM (American Interactive Media) decided that they didn’t need the video game industry to back the system.  EA and others, who had spent serious money building development systems, abandoned it because of the delays.

        Obsolete Gamer: When you became director of technology and began pushing for Activision to publish “The Manhole” how did you know this would be the right move?

        William Volk: I could see true greatness in the creativity of Rand and Robyn Miller (Cyan).  The User Interface was just breakthrough.  I was also a bit pissed at the delay of CD-I and wanted to send a message about that.  Activision was recovering from the video game crash and wanted something that was ground breaking.  Finally Stewart Alsop suggested that the Manhole would be an ideal CD-ROM title.  He was right.

        Obsolete Gamer: What were the main challenges in moving away from the Midi format to actual recordings?

        William Volk: We didn’t want to use CD-Audio tracks on the Mac (first) version, because we wanted to be able to pull data from the CD, we had to … because of Hypercard.  So we had to come up with a way of paging in 8 bit, 22khz audio chunks.  The CD-Emulator said it wouldn’t work, so we burned a test CD ($500 at that time!) and it worked.  Using live musicians was very cool.  I believe $20k of the budget was just for the music.  Russell Lieblich composed most of the music.

        When we did the PC CD-ROM title we had our own engine …. MADE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multimedia_Applications_Development_Environment) so we could force a cache of data in a scene and use CD-Audio (redbook) tracks.

        Return to Zork
        Return to Zork

        Obsolete Gamer: What was it like behind the scenes at Activision during its troubled time of the late 80’s?

        William Volk: Fall of 1989 was one of Activison’s good years: Mech Warrior I, Death Track, Ghostbusters II, The Manhole, etc… The financial mess started in 1990 with the judgement on the Magnavox patent case.  Funny thing in 1990 is we coped with massive Nerf Gun wars and RC car ‘racing’ (consisting of running RC10’s into each other at 40mph+ … each car … in the parking lot).  In a strange way the coping made the place very fun to be at.  I still have a scar on my head from playing that game from “Sam and Max” where you hit full beer cans with some sort of post-nuclear-apocolyptic club.  Yeah, Fizzball http://samandmax.wikia.com/wiki/Fizzball Other local companies would come and watch us play this at lunchtime.

        It wasn’t fun to see everyone go though.  Down to about 13 when we made the move to LA.

        Obsolete Gamer: What was your feeling of using full motion video in games?

        William Volk: It was clever but got overused eventually.  I do think we were heading in the right direction with RTZ’s emotional response system and intricate conversation interfaces.

        Obsolete Gamer: Can you tell us about the interface you created for Return to Zork?

        William Volk: The Diamond Reverse Parser was inspired by an article Eddie Dombrower had seen from MIT.  I just used Taxicab Geometry with diamonds because it made the hit-detect faster.  We had used this sort of hit detect trick on “Tongue of the Fatman”.   So the idea you could use any object on any object and have the reverse parser show you what the action was came out of the disappointing reception we got with LGOP2.    We wanted INSANELY DIFFICULT and UNFAIR puzzles.  Yes, there really was a “Chris Lombardi Memorial Puzzle” in the game (internal object name), dedicated to a writer at CGW who had panned LGOP2.  I believe it was the sliding stone – sentences puzzle.

        It’s not clear how we came up with it all the character interactions, but we were trying to make the video more than just “Interruptible Media”.  So the idea of being able to ask characters about objects, pictures, and even what other characters had to say … that was the goal.

        The Manhole box art
        The Manhole box art

        Obsolete Gamer: How did it feel to save a company with the release of a great game?

        William Volk: Great, but frustrating that we couldn’t get the studio to just let us run with that UI and style.  Everyone wanted to copy Myst.  Ironic, when you consider I helped to get Cyan their first publishing gig.  I am very proud of RTZ.

        Obsolete Gamer: What are the differences in your feelings about mobile gaming from then to today?

        William Volk: Well, Mobile Gaming from 2001 to 2007 was very much like games of the early 1980’s.  Very small games.  Then the iPhone shows up and we now have one of the most innovative sectors in gaming.  Just playing Match 3D (Sherri Cuono’s design) game is Sci-Fi like with the multitouch interfaces.

        We haven’t even begun to exploit augmented reality, social interactions and other possibilities.

        Obsolete Gamer: Of all your time in the industry do you have a favorite story about that time?

        William Volk: Yeah.  Producer (John Skeel) goes to comic show in NYC in 1989 or so.  Likes a new comic book so he negotiates a deal to get the video game rights for $20k.   Activision does a weekend focus group on the concept with kids, soda and pizza.  The result?

        TEENAGE BOYS SHOW LITTLE INTEREST IN  ANTHROPOMORPHIC  TURTLES.

        Activision logo
        Activision logo

        Obsolete Gamer: Overall what was your favorite computer or game system?

        William Volk: The FM Towns.  Really.   The Amiga a close second.

        Obsolete Gamer: What was your favorite classic game?

        William Volk: Choplifter.

        Obsolete Gamer: Was there a game you had in your head that you wanted to release, but never did/could?

        William Volk: I seriously wanted to release a Wing Commander type game … where after hours of play, many missions and incredible skill you would end up crashed on some planet (otherwise you would be killed) … and then end up in an elaborate adventure involving learning how to interact with native people … and have us DENY THAT THE ADVENTURE GAME EXISTED.  Like only 1 in 10,000 players would stumble upon that game within a game.  Yeah, that sounds crazy, but it’s what I wanted to do in the early 1990’s.

        Obsolete Gamer: If you could rerelease any game you’ve worked on using today’s technology what would it be?

        William Volk: Return to Zork in a “Grand Theft Auto” type engine and fairer puzzles.

        Currently William Volk is the co-founder and CEO of PlayScreen and an avid cyclist.

        Demon’s Souls

        Demon’s Soul box
        Demon’s Soul box

        Demon’s Souls

        If the hype surrounding the PS3 exclusive Demon’s Souls was to be believed, I was looking forward to a game with a brutal difficulty not seen since the heyday of Rygar and Battletoads; one that had a more terrifying atmosphere than Silent Hill; and with more varied and gruesome ways to die than Dragon’s Lair combined with Space Quest. In short, the ultimate challenge for the hard-core. With the bar set so high, it seemed likely to disappoint in at least some respects. What I found was a flawed but thoroughly enjoyable third person hack and slash/dungeon crawler that threatened to send me to a video game addiction clinic before I finally managed to best it.

        The basic mechanics of the game can be summed up as follows: “Kill Demons, Get Souls”. Souls are released by killing enemies and they can also be found on the corpses of deceased adventurers. Souls are effectively the unit of currency in this game and can be used to buy items, repair or upgrade equipment, learn miracles and magic, and even upgrade your character’s stats. If you die, you start back at the beginning of the level as a spirit and with all of your souls gone. There will be blue-glowing bloodstain at approximately where the game determined you messed up (if you fell down a well, for instance, it will be just before you left the ground), and if you can reach it before dying again, you can get your souls back.

        Demon's Soul character
        Demon’s Soul character

        Combat is action-packed and extremely unforgiving. Button mashers won’t make it very far, as many of the enemies have good shields and are only vulnerable after they attack. Defensive players can turn a fight their way with a perfectly timed parry/riposte combo or open themselves up for a flurry of blows. Almost anything can kill you, so situational awareness is a must-have to survive. The game’s wide variety of weaponry and shields can be equipped in either hand and there are spells and items that can be used to enchant them. Demon’s Souls has an item upgrade system where blacksmiths can fortify your equipment in exchange for various types of ore. Some of the benefits include adding poison, bleeding, or fire damage; health or mana regeneration; and bonuses to critical hits, to name a few.

        Demon's Soul
        Demon’s Soul

        Player characters are customizable down to the bone structure of the face and there are several “classes” to choose from that ultimately only effect your initial equipment and stats. One is free to upgrade their combat skills as they see fit and pursue different avenues of magic or types of weaponry. It may take a considerable amount of stat upgrading to do so, but it is very possible to turn a robe-clad magician into a full-plate wearing berserker with a sword nearly twice his size.

        The game consists of a central hub called the Nexus that serves as your home base and has passageways to the five worlds. Each has its own distinctive art style and feel including a European castle with all the requisite archers, pikemen, and a couple of fire-breathing dragons; a shantytown filled with plague-rats, mosquitoes, and leeches, all surrounded by some of the most disgusting swampland imaginable; a temple full of samurai skeletons and flying manta-rays; and a mine that seems to go the depths of capital H hell. Each world has three or four stages each with a boss Demon that must be defeated. The souls of the boss Demons can be traded to different NPCs in exchange for spells and miracles, and in some cases, can be used to create powerful weapons.

        Demon's Soul nexus
        Demon’s Soul nexus

        One of the innovative features in Demon’s Souls is the world tendency system. Tendency ranges in a continuum from pure white to pure black and can affect many aspects of the game. The player’s health in soul form is higher in a white world tendency and lower in the black. The amount and difficulty of enemies ramps up the blacker you get, and the type of loot dropped is also a factor. Some NPCs will only appear in pure tendencies, and there are even portions of the levels that are otherwise inaccessible until a certain world tendency has been reached. There is a system in place for keeping track of character tendency as well but it has a less dramatic effect on the game except in a few select situations.

        Demon's Soul nexus
        Demon’s Soul nexus

        Players navigate through the game’s areas while either alive or dead. In corporeal form, the player has more health and the ability to summon up to two Blue Phantoms (spirit form players) to help him defeat the stage’s Boss Demon. Being alive has its drawbacks: dying in a level will shift the game’s world tendency towards black. There also exists the threat of being invaded and killed by a soul-hungry Black Phantom player. Spirits gain bodily form by defeating a boss Demon or assisting a player as a Blue Phantom (both of which will shift world  tendency), successfully invading and killing a host player as a Black Phantom (world and character shifted to black), or by using a magical item.

        Demon's Soul shrine
        Demon’s Soul shrine

        In addition to the relatively seamless co-op and PVP experience, players are able to see ghostly images of other adventurers in the same areas, as well as the ability to give them hints or lure them to their doom. One of the first things you’ll notice while playing online are pools of blood scattered around. These are grisly remainders of other players that have died. By touching a bloodstains, you are able to see the last four or five seconds leading up to that player’s demise. This can be a great way to spot traps and ambushes that would otherwise give little to no warning. Another way that players can interact is by leaving messages, which can be entered through a Madlibs-style system using a library of the game’s terminology. Players can vote up useful messages and this will reward their creators with health. There is no way to down-vote messages that are misleading, false, or simply situated in places that will kill you if you try to read them, unfortunately, but there are a couple of messages (“beware false messages”, “liar!”, etc.) that can be left as tip-offs.

        Demon's Soul shrine
        Demon’s Soul shrine

        For players that manage to finish the game’s main quest, a NG+ is available to start at the beginning with a character’s weaponry and stats intact to fight through an even more sadistic challenge. The game’s difficulty increases the more times you beat it (up to NG+8, at least!).  There is an in-game hall of fame called the Pantheon to show off the players that have the highest number of souls, most trophies achieved, etc. and this can be helpful to see what sort of equipment is favored by the best.

        I had been following this game for a while, back before it was announced that there was even going to be a North American version and many people were importing Demon’s Souls from Japan. Gaming forums were full of people trading war stories about how many different ways they died before beating the first level, and I think the average was about twenty. Import sales continued to rise to the point where Demon’s Souls was released stateside. I snagged a copy from Amazon but it languished on my shelf for a couple of months before I decided to break the plastic and possibly my spirit by playing it for myself.

        Demon's Soul shrine
        Demon’s Soul shrine

        When I finally worked up the courage to pop this game into my PS3, I was immediately grabbed by its atmospheric soundtrack and the bleakness of the art direction. The tutorial level showed me the basics of the game mechanics and drove home the message that a scrawny demon with a broken sword and no shield could easily take me down if I didn’t watch myself in combat. More and stronger baddies are introduced including the dreaded blue-eye knights with the ability to bash your shield out of your hands, chain three or four attacks together, and heal themselves if somebody did manage to wound them. More advanced combat tactics were required, such as the parry/riposte combo. I eventually found out that if I could get behind an enemy, there is a brutal backstab attack that would make the TF2 spy blush. Past the knight was an even bigger foe: the morbidly obese Vanguard demon that swings a battle axe twice the size of your character. I was under the impression that this was an unwinnable fight to utterly demoralize new players since the tutorial level invariably ends with your death, but I’ve read that it is possible to beat Vanguard here, even with the newbie equipment.

        Demon's Soul valley
        Demon’s Soul valley

        The next couple of hours were a blur of gristly deaths. I would get past one obstacle and find myself stabbed, ambushed, crushed by a trap, toasted by a dragon, stabbed again, filled with crossbow bolts, and impaled by the blue-eye’s tougher counterpart: the red-eye knight. I was nearly at the home stretch but missed a step going down a spiral staircase and found myself plummeting to my doom, landing right on the switch that opened the gate to the end-boss. Obsolete Gamer cohort Stirge dubbed this game “You Can’t Win” around this point, which I think has a nicer ring than my nickname: “Kill Yourself Dungeon 3000”.

        Demon's Soul tunnel
        Demon’s Soul tunnel

        There are few things that I didn’t like about this game and I don’t want them drowned out in a flood of praise for the stuff that was done right.

        • The targeting system stinks; when locked on to an enemy, it changes the controls so that moving side to side will strafe around a target rather than turn. This is usually a good thing when fighting one-on-one, but throw two or three extra combatants into the mix, and I’ll find myself dodging right into someone else’s attack or even off of a cliff. Also, if an enemy is out of range to be targeted, it will reset the camera, usually to face the wrong direction.
        • The camera is your biggest enemy. Demon’s Souls has a pretty good third-person camera system assuming you’re in an open area without a lot of debris. The camera fails miserably when in underground catacombs, some of which can be quite twisty and hard to maneuver even when you can see where you’re going.
        • When logging into the server, the world tendency will be reset to the average of all players, which can make it very hard to get to pure black or pure white. There are some occasions where the tendency will be set to pure white or pure black, such as holidays or announcements from the developers, but aside from special server events, logging in shouldn’t affect anything.
        • You can get booted back to the main menu if your internet connection becomes broken while playing online. I’ve found it better to play offline than have to gamble with the PS Network logging me out.
        • Contra-lag. The game can slow down if there’s too much stuff on the screen, like in the old-school space shooters. In some games, this bug ends up like a feature; a free bullet-time mode when things got hectic. This is unacceptable in a next-gen title.
        • This one is a minor gripe, but there is no way to sell items to merchants, so the only way to get any currency is by slaying demons or eating soul items.
        Demon's Soul tunnel
        Demon’s Soul tunnel

        Every time you die, you start back at the beginning of the level, where you will have to fight past the legions of demonic assholes that you barely survived fighting in the first place, just to get back to your bloodstain. Many times, I’d find myself trying to rush through the beginning wave of enemies only to find myself mercilessly swordraped by some of the weakest dudes in the game.

        There is a good variety to the Boss Demons. Some are relatively human-sized, others stand two-stories tall; most can kill you with a single attack, even if blocked with a good shield. The Dragon God from World 2 (Stonefang Mine) almost seems to have been borrowed from the Scarecrow sequences in Batman: Arhkam Asylum, as keeping out of the Dragon’s line of sight is the only way to survive.

        Demon's Soul tunnel
        Demon’s Soul tunnel

        The Tower of Latria wins my award as having some of the game’s most freaky moments. You start near the top floor of a prison in a medieval castle and have to go through all five stories of it to find the keys that will let you out. There are narrow walkways and breaks in the floor that can drop you to your death if you’re not paying attention. Through the bars of the cells, you can see the emaciated forms of the prisoners, some of which will drop to their knees when you go by, as if they’re begging to be put out of their misery, others will hide in the shadows and try and shank you to death. Several lantern-carrying guards walk slowly up and down the corridors, and the only sound aside from the gibbering and shrieking of the prisoners is the eerie tolling of a bell that gets louder as the guards get closer. It somehow manages to get more disturbing once you get out of the prison and into the cathedral but I won’t spoil all the surprises. I also wouldn’t recommend playing this part right before bedtime.

        Demon's Soul valley
        Demon’s Soul valley

        I would have to give high marks for nearly every aspect of the game’s presentation. The quality of the in-game graphics are pretty good, but perhaps a bit lacking when compared to some of the cinematic cut-scenes that introduce some of the bosses and locations. The levels are well designed and nuanced for the most part. The sound design pops; there are tons of great weapon clashes, monster growls and squeals, and magic effects. There isn’t a whole lot of voice acting in this game, but what little there is benefits from a diverse cast of expressive voices. The music ranges from epic symphonic scores to stuff that would fit right in to a 1970’s horror movie, but what I found interesting was the way that music cues are held back for boss fights or other major plot developments; for most of your time exploring the five worlds, you will be enveloped in ambient sound. This, along with the ghostly images of other players’ phantoms, helps heighten feelings of isolation and strangeness unique to Demon’s Souls.

        Demon's Soul warning
        Demon’s Soul warning

        Playing online can be a blast if you don’t mind the occasional PVP encounter, as Black Phantom players can and will jump in on your game if you’re in body form and attempt to murder you at the most inopportune times. I’ve been able to recruit a couple of Blue Phantom players the last time that happened, and it ended up turning into a huge brawl. Summoning Blue Phantoms can be a double-edged sword, as the bosses get much harder the more players there are.

        I think it was on the second or third night of my Demon’s Souls addiction, after a three hour soul-farming bender, that I left a cautionary sticky-note on the inside of the game’s case; a warning to future-me to think about what I was getting into. Of course, I didn’t pay it any heed; this game is too challenging and deep to blow off just because it’s aggravatingly hard. Also, this is one of the only games in recent memory to give me adrenaline rushes when the action gets furious. In closing, Demon’s Souls is a cruel mistress and if you like to wear nipple clamps or enjoy a good flogging, this one is for you. I’d like to leave you with some survival strategies I’ve picked up from my time with the game.

        • Watch your equipment encumbrance weight. You can load up to your maximum with a suit of plate armor and a comically large battle-axe, but this comes at the price of maneuverability. One the things that will save your skin is the rolling dodge, and if your endurance is too low for that amount of gear, you will end up on the ground for a few seconds in a very vulnerable way. The magic number to stay under is half of your maximum equipment weight.
        • Weapon upgrades. There are a limited number of Crystal Lizards that will spawn in each world, some of which are the only source for the various rare ores needed to upgrade your weapons. If you’re trying to trophy-whore this game, I recommend looking up a guide to finding out where the spawns are in advance.
        • On Royalty and magic. When I found out that the Royal class started out with a magic ring that can regenerate MP, I dumped my Temple Knight build and started the game anew. Talk about easy mode! Royals have practically no starting armor or weaponry to write home about, but the Fragrant ring is a great item for a caster, not to mention the fact that they also come equipped with Soul Arrow, the magic missile equivalent in Demon’s Souls. Having a pure caster almost breaks the game, however, as I was able to storm through most of the worlds blasting everything that moved with my pea shooter spell and effectively unlimited ammo, given a book or a magazine to read while it replenishes. I cheesed out some of the major bosses by nuking them from a distance or even by casting poison and running away. I beat the game but I feel like I’ve cheated myself in the process. Now I’m in the process of playing through as a fighter and the game is so much more challenging.
        • Common sense. A lot of this game seems like trial and error, but your biggest defense is not being dumb: keep your shield ready, peek around corners, listen for footsteps, etc. If you see a pile of freshly incinerated corpses, keep it in the back of your mind that whatever caused that will probably like to do the same thing to you.

        Cosplay: Street Kisser II

        Show me a gaming blog and I will show you a section full of sexy Cosplay pictures so Obsolete Gamer does not claim to be hip, fresh or original in the regard. With that said we like the ladies and we like games so we thought why not show off some lovely ladies of gaming? Well, we are still waiting for the pictures to come in so in the meantime check out some of these loosely game related pictures and, you’re welcome.

         

         

        Villian Spotlight: Kefka Palazzo

        Insanity Kefka Palazzo demotivational poster
        Insanity Kefka Palazzo demotivational poster

        Kefka Palazzo

        Since the dawn of video game culture, there have been a lot of subjects you don’t bring up unless you want some greasy, unhygienic, nerd frothing from the mouth with a rabid induced rage. One of these subjects that is commonly brought up by RPG geeks which ends up in a heated debate is who is the greatest Final Fantasy villain? Normally, the debate is stomped by a wave of Sephiroth loving assholes. For some reason, long white hair, trench coats, and absurdly gigantic katanas are cool. Not just that, this guy’s freaking theme song is an orchestra chiming in death and destruction. The problem a lot of people seem to not realize is that the question asked who is the GREATEST villain in Final Fantasy. People seem to confuse cool with greatness.

        I’m unsure if the sway towards Sephiroth is because a lot of people played FF VII as their first real RPG and considered anything before that garbage or mediocre. I do agree that Final Fantasy VII was a fantastic game and that Sephiroth was indeed a cool villain. The thing is, he didn’t accomplish much and his role as a villain was rather one dimensional. His creativity for slaughter was usually left with a sword swing and some fire. His actual development as a character was rather bland and nonexistent.

        I know. I know.

        Take a deep breath.

        It hurts to hear this kind of criticism about the One Winged Angel but I’m about to open your eyes to a true villain. Someone who’s appearance was comical but their lust for destruction was their only drive in life. There wasn’t a waking moment where this monster didn’t think about the end of the world. Many villains feel this way but he isn’t a Cobra Commander or Doctor Claw replica. Where many villains fail and constantly try again, Kefka succeeds. Here’s a look into the devilish antics performed by the supernatural sociopath known as Kefka Palazzo.

        As the game begins, Kefka Palazzo is only known as the Emperor’s Court Wizard and doesn’t seem to be more than just some queer looking clown. The Emperor decides to begin a process of infusing Magitek into humans. Kefka decides to volunteer for this process and is able to wield magic. Come to think of it… how was this guy the Court Wizard if he couldn’t control magic to begin with? Anyway, an obvious homage to Captain America occurs and Kefka becomes Captain Magitek and stops the World War that is plaguing the planet and is pronounced the savior of the world.

        The End.

        Things didn’t work out that way, sadly, for Kefka and he turned into a psychopath who deemed that everything ever in the entire world had to die. He became the Joker with magic. He forces Terra, the main character in the story, to wear a slave crown and attack a town that claims to have an Esper in their mines. Terra manages to escape the enslavement and runs off. Kefka, obviously angered by this decides to burn down an ENTIRE fucking castle just to kill a bitch. Pretty hardcore right? Sephiroth lit up a small secluded town but Kefka razed a whole castle.

        Final Fantasy 6 Kefka Palazzo – poison
        Final Fantasy 6 Kefka Palazzo – poison

        After burning down a castle what else should you do? Grow impatient obviously! The Empire decides to attack the Kingdom of Doma and begins a long and drawn out siege. What does Kefka do to make things move a long faster? Does he impale a girl in the back with a sword? Hell no. Kefka poisons the kingdom’s water supply killing everyone inside, including Cyan’s, one of your party members, wife and his children. I don’t remember any Final Fantasy villains poisoning the innocent because they were consuming too much of their schedule.

        When you’ve poisoned an entire kingdom what else can you do at the end of the day? Drink a cold beer and watch some TV? Take a hot shower and go to bed? Or freeze all your enemies in place and order one of them to prove their loyalty and kill their friends? The latter sounds like the best idea for this bad ass motherfucker. Unfortunately, the character he ordered to prove their loyalty stabbed him instead. But guess what? Big whoop. Instead of getting medical treatment he kills his king and draws in the powers of a couple of magical statues to become a God.

        Looks like your team fucked up, huh? This guy is God and you know what his first order of business is? He isn’t going to hang a meteor over your most populated city. He reshaped the entire planet pushing it into a post apocalyptic world and then demanded people to worship him. You know what happened to the millions of people who said “Fuck that!” collectively? Independence Day. He burned them down with enough force to carve scars into the planet’s surface.

        He became a God and forced people into his worship and still that isn’t good enough. This cum dumpster decides it’s a damn good idea to just end life since that shit is meaningless to him. Sure he’s defeated by the heroes of the story but that’s the point! He didn’t care if he died. In reality, he probably let them win because he was too much of a bad ass to die. He figured he was way to cool for the world of the living anyway. His death was his final “F U” to the world since he already fucked it up and now he’s dead and doesn’t have to bother to clean that shit up.

        By now, I’m hoping your frothing has ended and you realize the error of your ways. I know it’s going to be hard to put away your Sephiroth figurines and wall posters but you have finally been educated or rather re-educated in the makings of a true monster and villain. You may subconsciously still blurt out Sephiroth’s name like a slutty wife screaming out her secret lover’s name when the question arises as to who is the greatest Final Fantasy antagonist but you will feel that itching in the back of your mind. You know you’re wrong and some day you can even accept that.

        Blizzard’s New World of Warcraft Expansion Targeting Their Original Player-base?

        WoW Kobold
        WoW Kobold

        Warcraft Expansion Targeting Their Original Player-base

        Rumors have been coming down the grapevine that Blizzard is moving away from the traditional attitude of making each expansion easier than the last. The audience that they garnered in during Wrath of the Lich King seem to be involuntarily entering a new “old” era of World of Warcraft. Not only is the expansion revamping the old vanilla zones but it seems that old combat rule sets are about to follow in. Are they attempting to isolate their WOTLK Ez-Mode audience that has been showered in epic loots for sneezing in the right direction? It sure seems so.

        Some Beta contestants have been mentioning that level 81 greens in Cataclysm are stronger than epics that drop off of Arthas in WOTLK. Sound a bit familiar? The same formula was used in Burning Crusade where you could replace your entire Tier 3 set and weapons by level 64 with vastly more powerful “uncommon” gear. On top of this change, they are putting the “epic” back into purple by making blues a much more common drop. Testimonials from people in Beta have been mentioning they have yet to have seen a purple item. They are mentioning that the abundance of blues are the equivalent of seeing a warrior in Valor Armor with a purple from Stratholme or UBRS before Molten Core came out. In Vanilla WoW, when you saw someone with an epic, even just one, it really meant that item was purely epic because of the miniscule chance something like that would drop. Is there a reason Blizzard is reverting to this style of loot dropping? Some players are so upset about this they have even vented their rage on the forums how there will be more blues in Cataclysm than in WOTLK. One possible troll stated even if the blues have stats that are equivalent to a purple they refuse to have to raid to get purple colors now. A bit immature? Well, that’s WoW’s community for you.

        Another homage to the old school playing style of World of Warcraft will be the return of Crowd Control! That’s right, Mages! You can start Polymorphing again! It had seemed that during WOTLK, CC had become a thing of the past and players would do the simple thing and just body pull and use Area-Of-Effect spells to burn everything down quickly. Healers would just spam their fastest heal and keep the tank up constantly. In Cataclysm, Blizzard (and something beta tester can attest to) mentions that combat difficulty has increased significantly and just nuking everything that is still moving isn’t going to work anymore. Players are going to actually have to use their crowd controlling abilities to keep pulls safe.

        Tanks are also going to have a bit more of a problem now because healers are being forced to use more than one heal to keep them alive. Yes, they are making healers have actual heal rotations because they are making their spells more mana hungry. Tanks hit points won’t be able to keep up with massive bombardment from 9 mobs at once any longer. It looks like Blizzard is trying to make all players fill a more important and diverse role in a group even in lowly dungeons.

        Is Blizzard looking to bring back players that have left and also bring in new players that haven’t been spoiled by WOTLK easy handouts with the new Team Jacob race? If this is the case, how is their majority audience in WOTLK going to fair when Cataclysm releases? The expansion still has awhile to go before their release date and there are always more features and additions to throw in but if this is the course that they are going how negatively could this impact their current population?

        Games Coming Out September 2010 for PC

        Civilization 5 pre-release picture
        Civilization 5 pre-release image

        Games Coming Out September 2010 for PC by Honorabili

        August had some nice releases but September looks like a heavy month for PC gaming as well!

        Aion: Assault on Balaurea, September 7 2010

        The anticipated expansion is released, which will appease this game’s many fans. Click here to see all our articles regarding this game.

        R.U.S.E., September 7 2010

        Interesting concept behind an RTS where you can deceive your enemy with imaginary armies. Let’s see how it does considering most people are still playing Starcraft 2.

        Amnesia The Dark Descent, September 8 2010

        The date had gotten pushed back for this game. Click here to see what I had to say about it last month.

        The Patrician 4, September 14 2010

        I used to play a lot of The Patrician on Amiga. It was a great sea-faring times trade and city management simulator. Check this one out if you’re into that sort of thing. ;-]

        Civilization 5, September 21 2010

        Whereas the release of Starcraft 2 was the apocalypse for Korea, this game is the same for me… Prepare for my disappearance as we will see yet another masterpiece in wargaming history.

        F1 2010, September 21

        Although I will be playing Civilization 5, this immersive Formula 1 game is being released the same day by Codemasters. It’s next on my list after Civ 5!

        Final Fantasy XIV, September 22 (Collector’s Edition) and 30 (normal version) 2010

        Another epic Final Fantasy… Let’s see how this one does. Click here for details as to what you will get with each copy.

        Darksiders, September 23 2010

        Looks like yet another God of War clone to me… If you buy it through Steam they give you Titan Quest Gold, a game we like to make fun of.

        Front Mission Evolved, September 28 2010

        Since MechWarrior is dead in the water, this game will pick up the slack in the meantime.

        Dead Rising 2, September 28

        This is one of those retardedly fun games that involves zombies and lots and lots of gore. Always a winner!

        H.A.W.X. 2, September 30 2010

        H.A.W.X. 1 has a special place in my heart and it’s probably the funnest game I played in December 2009. I look forward to this action packed sequel! Make more!

        Japan, I Left Your RPGs On The Sidewalk And Changed The Locks. We’re Through!

        Chrono Trigger cry
        Chrono Trigger cry

        Japan, I Left Your RPGs On The Sidewalk And Changed The Locks. We’re Through!

        Dear Japan,
        My dear and sweet Japan, it breaks my heart to write this message. I hope this tear stained letter lets you know that the way I felt about you… about us was something I will always cherish. While the flickering flame on the candle that represented my love for you has been snuffed, the moments we shared will always be emblazoned into my mind and heart.

        Do you remember when we first met, my childhood friend? I was seven years old walking through the SNES rental section of Blockbuster looking for a new game to rent. My little childish sticky hands were all over the Aladdin rental box, a smile stretching from ear to ear as I imagined taking the fight to Jaffar. I skipped down the aisle looking for my mommy so that I could go home with Aladdin and enjoy the adventures of an Arabian night. The other games looked on as I gleefully took flight down towards the register. I was blind to their laminated glare.

        Like a rifle’s laser scope, I could feel the pressure of a presence weighing down upon me. This entity’s gaze was fixated on me, reaching out for a friend. Slowly turning to my left, my heart went a flutter. Behind the plastic wrappings of the case was an unknown creature holding a wicked sword. Its white fur and pink nose were innocent yet it held a darkened tormenting blade that screamed out to me like a van with free candy. My grip on Aladdin loosened as he fell to the ground face down and like a handicapped older woman was unable to get up without my help. That is where Aladdin would remain though, living away his last breaths as I stepped closer to examine the enigma in front of me. My fingers raced against the title as I dared to utter the name, your name…
        Final Fantasy III.

        At the time I was ignorant to your true identity. How could I have known? I was only a child and you offered me the ambrosia of adventure. I brought you into my home and for the first time in my life, I learned from a game. I read, I established connections with a game’s characters, I felt remorse for a fictional struggle, and I…

        Well, you know…

        I fell in love.

        Yes, I said it. I fell in love with you, Japan and your RPGs. I still wanted to take that magic carpet ride but not with Aladdin. You engrossed me into your adventures and made me actually care about story and my characters. I chose characters who statistically sucked but because I felt for their background, I strived to turn them into weapons of perfection so we could see their adventure through to the end. I never thought I would experience anything like this ever again. I thought our love was a once in a life time voyage, a one night stand that left me laying in my motel room bed dripping like a used whore.

        I was wrong. You kindled my heart through and through for the years. You invaded my life like a powerful militant country raping and pillaging my childhood for resources. You attempted to take them by force but you didn’t expect one thing, Japan. I welcomed you with open arms.

        Like Teth-Adam meeting his Isis, your power and my love for you flourished for years to come. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, and the others. Month after month, year after year, it seemed like an eternity that our love would last.

        Then things changed…

        You became predictable. Another story about a hero who has amnesia? Another villain who dresses like David Bowie? What was that? Someone wants to destroy the world for no fucking reason? Wait, what? The hero can’t speak and can only express themselves by exclamation points and question marks? This is what you bring me?

        Like a disgruntled woman on her anniversary, discontent with the predictable present of flowers and a dinner at Bennigan’s, my loins yearned for more than what you had to offer. I had seen too many movies on Lifetime. You were the villain in all of this. You were the man who didn’t lust for me and you know what, Japan? I stopped lusting for you. I went back home. I went West. I went to America.
        The West showed me something that you couldn’t show me. They showed me how my actions can change the story. They showed me how my hero was capable of the greater good or the most unspeakable horror. America wasn’t one dimensional. They let me choose.

        You forced me into this linear adventure with the same old characters. You took away the tragedy that I loved in you. There wasn’t any drama. You filled your games with twelve year old heroes who from the very beginning accepted their role as a savior. You are nothing like America and I’m sorry for that.

        I love my complicated and deep storylines. I love my free reign in the events to unfold. I love not playing as a clean shaven emotionally complicated hero. I love The West’s Clint Eastwood attitude. It makes me feel like I’m in control. Not you! Me!

        Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age have yanked me from your grasp. I didn’t secretly leave you. The evidence was there the whole time. They took what your wrought and pushed it to another level… a level that I’m afraid you won’t reach.

        Japan, you are the clean shaven boy with flowers who took me to the prom, the one who promised to bring me home before 11pm. America is the boy I want to leave with after 11pm. He has tattoos, he smokes, and his motorcycle is fueled by the blood of kittens. At the end of that night, you hope I give you a kiss but America hopes they can pop all my cherries in one session.

        I’m sorry Japan, but for now this is good bye. Your lack of creativity, your undying urge to force me into a position I don’t think I want to be in, your inability to manifest a story that hasn’t already been done, and making me play as a he-she has forced this.

        Is this the life that you want to lead? Will you take the road that has been laid out before you or will we meet again somewhere else in our lives?

        Good bye Japan…
        Your Umi-kins.

        The Obsolete Gamer Show 5

        Video Game obsession
        Video Game obsession

        What do you get when you put three crazy geeky gamers in a room for an hour, uncommon hilarity. On this week’s OGS our famed editorial writer Umar joined us to talk about everything from Farmville hate to Pokemon love. No gaming subject was too taboo nor were the jokes. I have to say I believe this was our funniest show ever and I will just leave it at that.

        However, we want to talk about next week’s show. OGS now has its own Skype and we want to add some more fan participation to the show. For next week shows we want to talk about your fondest or funniest memories from your MMO time. Now we would love to hear stories about other MMO’s besides World of Warcraft (particularly Everquest stories), but we will take what you have. There is one requirement, to earn a chance to get on the show you will need to post about one of those memories on our forums. After that we will announce via our Facebook Fan page when fans can Skype in and we will try to select everyone who participated.

        Zack Weddington – Viva Amiga

        Viva Amiga logo
        Viva Amiga logo

        Viva Amiga

        Sometimes it goes beyond classic gaming, when we talk about certain companies, they and the products they release, are considered classics themselves. What makes a company a classic is the multifunctionality they brought to the industry and the Amiga computer did just that. It was more than just a computer for many of its fans. Unfortunately, in today’s world either you had one and know exactly how awesome it was from the hardware to the software to the community or you have no clue.

        There are websites and fans by the thousands that still discuss and even use Amiga computers today. Perhaps it can be considered a cult following, but like anything truly a classic there will be those who wish to preserve its memory. In the past there have been attempts to create a video documentary on the Amiga computer and its impact on the industry, but in the end they fell short. Zack Weddington and Viva Amiga plan to change that with their upcoming documentary on the Amiga.

        Viva Amiga is currently working on a documentary about the Amiga computer and its impact on the industry, the marketplace and even pop culture. The film will cover all aspects of the system from business to gaming and everywhere in-between. One of the most important points that Zack states he is going for is the human factor. It is the real life stories from people who made and used the system.

        A great product supported by a great company and revered by an awesome user base is what creates a complete classic and it is the people that make that happen. On the Amiga Film website you will be able to track the progress of the film and submit your own stories and experiences with the Amiga system. Obsolete Gamer is also collecting information on our forums and will support the film in any way we can because we are after all fans ourselves.

        In an effort to bring more awareness of this film to fans of the Amiga system we conducted an interview with Zack Weddington from Viva Amiga on the upcoming documentary.

        Zach Weddington – Viva Amiga
        Zach Weddington – Viva Amiga

        Obsolete Gamer: What made you want to do a documentary on the Amiga computer?

        Zack Weddington: I had started going to the Vintage Computer Festival East every year with my good friend Mike Lee, where I got to see all kinds of great old computer systems on display. I saw presentations by people like former Commodore Engineer Chuck Peddle who designed the MOS-6502 processor chip which ran almost every console in the 1980’s. I was a huge Amiga fan back in the day as well so I think all that was kinda rattling around in my brain when I was just driving around in my car one night. That’s when the idea stuck me, and I called my friend Mike right away, who thought it was a great idea. He became one of my partners on the film.

        Obsolete Gamer: There are still a ton of not only fans, but users of Amiga computers today. Is the film more for them or mainstream even for those who may not have used or even remember the Amiga?

        Zack Weddington: The film is being made “for the fans”, most definitely, but we are also hoping to attract viewers who have an interest in technology and geeky topics in general. We think the film will be interesting to people who have never even heard of the Amiga, because it is the stories of the people involved with the Amiga which really drive the film. It’s also gonna have a hell of a lot of eye candy and awesome animation done by me and my other partner, David Kessler, a fellow video artist.

        Obsolete Gamer: What is your own background and experience with Amiga computers?

        Zack Weddington: It’s a pretty good story, I think. I was a passionate user of the Amiga. Back when I was about 12 or so, I started seeing computer graphics on television. Things like the Dire Straits video “Money for Nothing” with the blocky characters, Crest toothpaste commercials with those bouncing blue toothpaste blobs. I was really entranced by 3-D CGI. I asked my father how those were made and he told me they were done on a computer. From that moment on, I wanted to learn how to do 3-D computer animation. So I begged my Dad to buy me a computer, and he did. An IBM PS/2. A great machine for the time, but of course, you couldn’t do any serious animation on it with just a16 color pallette and no video output of any kind. So I was disappointed.

        Months later I was walking through a bookstore in a mall and saw the Amiga 500 displaying a 3-D raytraced animation by Dr. Gandalf. It was a photorealistic animtation of one of those “infinite motion” desk toys with the silver balls that swing. I was amazed by the reflections and shadows in the animation. Here was a desktop computer that could clearly do the kind of animation I wanted to create, and it was even cheaper than the computer my father had just bought me. I convinced my Dad to let me sell the PS/2 and get an Amiga instead. He thought I was nuts, but of course it was the right decision. I went on to create tons of animations with my Amiga and make a career for myself doing this kind of stuff.

         

        Dave Haynie – Viva Amiga
        Dave Haynie – Viva Amiga

        Obsolete Gamer: Now on your website you state the film is for fans and users of the Amiga and you are looking for ideas and thoughts, how has the reception been so far?

        Zack Weddington: The reception has been great. People are very supportive and excited about the whole thing.

        Obsolete Gamer: As for user submitted content what kind are you looking for?

        I am looking for animations people made, “demo scene” type stuff, music…any kind of media that you might think has merit and think represents what a person could do with the Amiga. Anyone who has content they want to submit should email me at vivaamiga@yahoo.com for now.

        Obsolete Gamer: Have people in the industry been receptive to your film?

        Zack Weddington: The only people that really know about the film right now are the Amiga

        community and former Commodore people. I’m still kind of slowly leaking out details of the film. I’ve got some connections with the G4 network that I plan to take advantage of later on, but the film is still in the early stages of shooting. Lot of work to do before I begin plastering the film everywhere…

        Obsolete Gamer: When you speak of focusing on the “human side” what is your vision as far as that?

        Zack Weddington: People who designed the Amiga, who worked at Commodore, who wrote for Amiga  magazines….people who really cared about the Amiga and what it made possible,

        these are the kind of people that appear in the film and tell their personal stories. It’s the stories of the people who made the thing possible as well as the story of the machine itself.

         

        Bil Herd – Viva Amiga
        Bil Herd – Viva Amiga

        Obsolete Gamer: When do you hope to launch the film?

        Zack Weddington: We’re looking at sometime in late 2011 or early 2012. It’s a lot of work.

        Obsolete Gamer: What can we as fans of Amiga do to help?

        Zack Weddington: At the moment, just stay in the loop and check out the website , blog, and Facebook. I’ll be asking for some favors in the fall.

        Obsolete Gamer: As far as gaming, what was your favorite Amiga game?

        Zack Weddington: Well, back in the 80’s I was an arcade maniac. I spent probably 8 hours a week in arcades at least, so that’s where my favorite games were located. I was a SEGA fanboy, used to just sit and watch OutRun in “attract mode” just to try and figure out how the amazing graphics were done. Being creative types, me and my friend Josh used to spend hours making our own games with the “Shoot Em Up Construction Kit” on the Amiga. You could design your own sprites and backgrounds for your own vertically scrolling shooter games. It rocked.

        In addition to tracking the progress of the film on the Viva Amiga website they also have a FaceBook page where you can leave comments and receive updates. Obsolete Gamer will also be following the films progress as well as bringing you articles and stories on the Amiga. We can always use your input and you can submit questions and comments via our forums.

        Arthur Lewis: Alienware

        Alienware Performance Systems logo

        Arthur_Lewis

        Arthur Lewis – Alienware

        Name: Arthur Lewis

        Title: President, Alienware Corporation & GM Dell Gaming at Alienware

        Company: Alienware

        Favorite Classic Game: A ton of them

        Quote: So this gamer profile is a bit different, Arthur Lewis was kind enough to talk with J.A. Laraque at E3 about his love of classic video games.

        Arthur Lewis Gamer Profile Interview


        The Lion, The Witch, and The Mouth Breather

        Angry Multiplayer

        You are traversing with a small battalion of your closest friends through a seething cave leading toward the coiling serpent dragon which has daunted your whole lot for the past three weeks. This monster has left the nearby village smoldering, killed your king, left the country in shambles and you’ve gathered a force formidable enough to make this monstrosity’s blood fill the rivers from their draught. The time has come. It is asleep. The archers ready their bow; your knights raise their shields defensively; the finger tips of your mages are encompassed by the hostile arcane. You are ready. Your blade cuts through the air like a guillotine towards the nape of the behemoth’s neck. You are suddenly countered by a shrieking voice which drops your whole party to their knees. “MOM! Give me thirty more minutes! I’m raiding with my friends! No!!! I won’t get off! I hate you!”

        The Lion The Witch And The Mouth Breather
        The Lion The Witch And The Mouth Breather

        For those who game online, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It is the whining little kid in your party who is constantly on open mic, screaming at his mother about how unfairly they treat him. The ranting doesn’t end. Oh no, far from it. It continues for hours unless someone takes the initiative to kick this mouth breather out of your Vent channel. If there’s one thing that can ruin online gaming it’s the damn, disrespectful gamers who do not use Push-To-Talk when you’re playing. Oh, and before I continue, I’m not hating on little kids who are filled with angst because I hate almost all people who don’t know how to cover their microphones. I’m going to go ahead and divide these various personas up and give you a diagnosis of why they are a bane to internet multiplayer.

        · Pizza Eating Joe – Joe is or wishes he was a frat boy. He thinks he’s cool online by exposing his wit in the midst of quoting movies, cackling at every joke and getting involved in every conversation. While these characteristics are enough to want to hurt Joe, he does something that crosses the line of internet ethics (yes, the internet has ethics). Joe likes to chew pizza with an open mic and lets everyone hear it. The most direct method to ending this gushing ambiance is to tell Joe to push the microphone away while he purees his food down his gullet. He illogically retorts with reassurance that the pizza is very delicious. No one cares, Joe. We don’t want to think about that greasy pizza touching your microphone increasing the chances of it rubbing against your acne ridden face. His intentions are simple. He’s cool and he’s eating pizza. He wants you to experience how awesome he is when he eats pizza.

        · Mouth Breathing Mendoza – Mendoza has one issue or another which causes him to have a problem breathing. Be it a stuffy nose, obesity, respiratory issues, or he just breathes like an ogre, Mendoza feels the need to place his mic either on the rimming of his booger-encrusted nose or gently caressing his upper lip area. He knows Push-To-Talk is there but he feels it is a priority that you hear what he has to say amidst all of his wheezing. All you will hear is his deep, pedophiliac breathing on your ear for moments at a time until he finally says something that is blatantly obvious to all parties involved in the situation. It isn’t even enough that he quietly lingers just to blurt these sudden non-issue comments but his voice output exceeds any safety regulation the Lord has put forth for your ears to survive and endure. One night with Mouth Breathing Mendoza and you leave feeling violated with a stream of blood dripping from your damaged ear drums.

        · Rage Induced Ralph – When something goes wrong, Rage Induced Ralph answers his calling. Did you accidentally aggro a room? Did your friendly fire affect him? Was his kill stolen by you? Have no fear, because this internet tough guy is there to talk you down and constantly rant. His breathing is heavy because his adrenaline is pumping. His TV or Speaker volume is maxed out so you can hear that double echoing feedback from when he finally gets revenge on you for what you did. God forbid Ralph has a significant other because chances are that your grief onto him is going to make him flip out on this innocent bystander. Ralph will not stop trashing talking you and taunting you until your match is over. The reason Ralph is like this is simple. He’s either living in or from New Jersey, his skin is carrot colored, and he has a ridiculous blow out. Harming this man’s ego is like murdering his infant child. Be careful og this predator because he never forgives and he never forgets.

        · Static Bomb Baxter– You’ve known him online for quite some time. He’s not a bad guy but he isn’t quite one of “the guys” yet until he gets a mic to talk to the crew. Constantly being asked to get a microphone, Baxter finally types into your guild’s chat and says “I have an old one I could use. I don’t know if it works though.” It is at this point some people rejoice that Baxter can join into the conversation but you know better than that. Those dreaded final texted words will be the end of you all. Baxter returns with his microphone, installs the software needed to join your channel and that normally welcoming chime rings in the channel when he finally joins. He doesn’t know about Push-To-Talk so he has to be guided through it. Regrettably, his sound is so loud on his headphones it carries over through the microphone. It creates a loop of feedback that takes some time for all parties to recover from. When the mist has cleared, Baxter finally mutters a word into the mic. A static blast of malfunctioning hardware spits into your membrane, causing disorientation, double vision, internal bleeding, and for some reason or another, you produced a kidney stone. You beg Baxter to stop talking but he doesn’t listen because he can’t hear you on his headset! He continues with this barrage until you all submit to the pain. Baxter disappears after this embarrassment and is never seen in-game again.

        · Cry Baby Christopher – As stated in the introduction to this little rant, Christopher is a teenager who is still finding his place in this world. Unfortunately, the unforgiving world of the internet does not want him until he finds that place. The problem with Christopher is that he is young and doesn’t know what Push-To-Talk is and even when he does figure it out, his finger is always jammed firmly against that key so you hear him all the time. He’s fine when he doesn’t talk. As a matter of fact, he’s probably better at the game than you are. The downside to Christopher is that he isn’t a mute. He likes to brag about all the ladies in his school who want him and how badass he is when he plays pranks on his unfortunate teacher. Regardless of how desperately he seeks approval from his peers, Christopher always finds a way to lose that respect. That loss usually occurs at bed time when his parents demand he goes to bed and that his addiction to the internet is too great. He combines all the aspects of every persona described. He is angry, he is probably eating, he’s now wheezing, and his microphone is receiving a lot of static from his high pitched shrieks. Normally after such outbursts, Christopher is exiled from the internet.

        Clearly, I pointed out the personas commonly encountered and while I can’t suggest a remedy that will destroy these individuals before they are garnered a chance to speak, I can recommend some very basic tips for those who feel fall into any of these categories.

        1. Turn off your microphone.
        2. Move the microphone away from your face when you aren’t speaking.
        3. Learn Push-To-Talk.
        4. Don’t speak ever.
        5. Destroy your modem or Wi-Fi receiver.

        I certainly hope these reasonable tips will help these individuals progress in their careers as internet users. If not, in the foreseeable and very near future more people will be plagued with these Horsemen of the Internet Apocalypse. In any case, I’m off and back into the fray to play Modern Warfare 2 with my friend Baxter.

        The Interview – Justin Melendez – LanSlide PC

        LanSlide Gaming PCs logo
        LanSlide Gaming PCs logo

        LanSlide PC

        Some people may ask why is there still a need for LAN parties with console domination, MMO’s and high-speed internet, but if you are asking those questions then you don’t get the point. A LAN party is just as much about social interaction as it is about gaming. I personally met the majority of my Miami friends after joining a LAN party and it was the best experience I’ve had regarding gaming.

        Earthquake entry level power
        Earthquake entry level power

        LanSlide PCs is a company that peeked my interest because not only do they build high-end gaming systems, but they focus on the LAN party aspect of PC gaming. Originally people would bring whateversystem they had to a LAN party and often the custom or self-build systems were extremely large and heavy. However, as time went on more and more people built smaller systems so they could specially take them to LAN parties. The company Shuttle was a godsend to LAN party goers because of its small form factor. Having a place to turn to in order to have custom gaming systems build for LAN parties just seemed like a good idea.

        Now while LanSlide does specialize in custom build LAN ready systems that doesn’t mean they aren’t meant for everyday and even extreme gaming. Another good thing is that their wide array of options allows you to select a system that fits your needs from components to price. You can select your processor choice and build from there with various case sizes and pricing from around $800 for the entry level system all the way up to $4800 for the extreme gaming rigs.

        LanSlide PCs PC Pack
        LanSlide PCs PC Pack

        Now their PC-Pack is defiantly a LAN go’ers dream, it is a large backpack designed to hold almost everything you would need to take to a LAN party. I was able to get my hand on one and I was impressed by its sizes, design and craftsmanship. The pack can hold a 22 inch flat panel monitor, gaming keyboard, headphones, your mouse and a ton of other accessories you would need for on the go gaming. What’s cool is the pack splits when opened so you can fit all your items in separate compartments where they remain protected and won’t bounce around. My only complaint was on the website under “What doesn’t fit” it lists Florida.

        You’ve seen Justin’s gamer profile, but we wanted to get a little more information on him and LanSlide PC.

        What is the vision, the overall goal of LanSlide?

        LanSlide was founded by a group of gamers sick of dragging their oversized desktops around. We’re dedicated to bringing powerful but portable desktop computers to the gaming community because we find being together, in the same room, gives a level of interaction and shared experience that can’t be matched over a computer connection. So I guess you could say our vision is to make it easier for gamers to get together and play games. At the same time, our goal as a company is to create affordable gaming machines that are well-suited to the needs of our gamers. Too many companies have forgotten that last bit, which is a big part of why we felt we needed to create LanSlide.

        With high-speed internet and consoles, do you believe LAN parties are still popular?

        All you have to do is look at conventions like PAX and Digital Overload, where tons of gamers show up with their gaming rigs, to see that LAN gaming is alive and well. A close friend of mine has two of the major consoles, yet I can’t remember the last time we played a game on them; I’m over there several times a week with my PC, however. The multiplayer games are just more interesting on PCs. Try playing an RTS, MMO, or FPS on the console; it’s just not as good for that kind of game play. I think consoles have PCs beat in the single player genre (although they don’t have to, hint hint, cough cough game producers), but when it comes to multiplayer, PCs are where all the interesting stuff is happening. High speed internet and the move towards centralized servers only make it easier for people who are not in the area to log in and join up. People have always liked to get together in person, no matter what their interests, and what better thing for gamers to get together over than video games.

        What makes LanSlide stand out from other manufacturers?

        When we took a look at the industry, we found that a lot of computers were oversized and overpriced. So when we founded LanSlide, we set out to change that. All of our computers are portable and we make a point not to overcharge for high-end machines. We also take the time with our customers to make sure they’re getting the best machines to suit their needs. We’ll often e-mail back and forth several times with a prospective customer to help them build a computer. In addition, we take our feedback very seriously, and when someone has a good idea, we try to implement it as quickly as possible.

        How would you help a gamer choose one of your systems?

        It really depends on what kind of games they play. There’s a wide range of PC gamers, from the hardcore to the super-casual. For most people, who only need one video card, we recommend any of our small form factor systems. For people who are really hardcore and want insane rigs that are going to blow everyone else out of the water, we have a mid-tower that’ll take 2-3 video cards. If you want to do all of that AND do it in 3D, go for one of our 3D systems, which set you up with everything you need to game in 3D. Our biggest piece of advice, though, is to make sure you get a rig that’s going to solve the in-game problems you’re having and improve your gaming experience. We also recommend you buy a system that leaves you some room to grow as a gamer.

        Tell us about the concept behind the PC Pack?

        You go through the trouble and expense of buying all this awesome gaming gear, so shouldn’t you have something to protect it? That’s the idea behind the PC Pack (http://www.lanslidepcs.com/productdetails.asp?pid=40). It’s basically a backpack designed to hold and protect up to a 22″ widescreen monitor, extra-long gaming keyboard, mouse, headphones, and all the other things you need to run your desktop. It makes it easy to transport your computer in one trip, since our cases are all easy to carry, and everything else goes in the PC Pack and can be put on your back. Imagine the difference when walking into a big LAN party on the third floor of a conference center, where you only have to make the trip once, half the weight is on your back instead of in your arms, and you have a free hand to open the door. There’s just no comparison to moving your computer without it, plus it saves you the heartbreak of losing your brand new monitor to a flight of stairs.

        How do you think 3D gaming will change the face of PC gaming?

        3D gaming makes for a more immersive experience, and that has a huge impact on the player, making it possible to get much more involved in the game. There’s nothing like the feeling of being the main character in your favorite FPS, ducking to take cover behind objects while you work your way through the enemy camp. Furthermore, we believe that, as 3D gaming becomes more prevalent, game developers will start designing specifically for 3D, and that may create a whole new class of games that play in new and amazing ways.

        If you haven’t experienced a true LAN party you should and if you need a system to take then LanSlide might be right up your alley. In the end you can’t replace the interaction you get face to face and in person so anyone who is fighting to keep LAN parties going is awesome in my book. I personally loved to go to LAN parties then load up an Atari emulator sometimes just to piss people off, good times.

        My Favorite Ventrilo Harassments

        The Internet and Real Life are two different things
        The Internet and Real Life are two different things

        My Favorite Ventrilo Harassments by Honorabili

        Need a good laugh? Check out these videos to show clever pranks done on fellow & noob gamers by the Ventrilo Harassment experts!

        I love a good prank as some of my favorite victims already know… Onto the videos!

        Ventrilo Harassment – Tina & The WoW Nerds

        The girl sounds so cute…

        …but sometimes stupid at the same time. So many great lines such as “Thank God she’s gone so now I don’t have to talk in a deep voice.”

        Ventrilo Harassment – Chris Hansen 2

        You might not be able to control your “horny level” …

        …but it is terrible sexy.

        Ventrilo Harassment – Duke Nukem Style

        “I’ve got balls of steel!”

        The best is how the lady just complete snaps! “I don’t think your mother’s very happy about it!” The classic: “I’ll kill you OLD STYLE!”

        Ventrilo Harassment – Peggy Forever

        In fact, the mom comes back as a ghost to forever haunt Ventrilo Harassment victims. 😀

        “Um, Ma’am! This is my vent server.”

        Ventrilo Harassment – The Girl

        “There’s a girl on our vent server.”

        “It may be against the rules to mute a chick.”

        Ventrilo Harassment – World Of Warcraft Nerd

        “4 Strength, 4 Stam Leather Belt!”

        “It sounds just like Joe! (angry) No, it’s not!!”

        Ventrilo Harassment – World Of Warcraft Nerd 3

        What this kid says kills me…

        Kids say the craziest things. “Dude, my mom got me this new game.”

        Ventertainment – 1337 haxz0rz

        “I got this kid’s credit card info. LUL!”

        “I got his IP!” “I got this kids LUL!”

        Ventrilo Harassment – Your Mother

        Of course, we need to have one with Arnold.

        I like it when at least they play along.

        Ventrilo Harassment – You Banned The Wrong Person!

        Of course, it’s easy to get confused especially when being pranked by one of the experts…

        Like in this one where they punished the innocent. 😀

        Ventertainment – Nerds of Confusion

        “That’d be fucking hot!”

        I like how one of the players thought he was hearing things from drinking too much. 😀

        Ventertainment – Nerd Confusion 2: Awesome Edition

        Funny how nerdy people sound sometimes and to have to hear that crap over and over…

        So whiny!

        Ventertainment – Nerd Confusion 3: The Ring

        This one is probably one of the funniest ones because they have no freaking clue as to what’s going on. They just keep having fun with it though and that makes it great!

        Their explanations are epic, such as getting feedback from outer space, aliens, etc. Good fun!

        Ventertainment – Mad As Hell

        So great that they used the best lines from Network, which these kids have never seen…

        “You’ve got to get mad!” The ending is so great!

        Ventertainment – Halloween 3

        The use of music and slowed down voices is great in this one!

        The girl gets so scared by her own voice. Ah yes!

        Ventertainment – Sticky Keys

        I love how people just keep thinking stuff crashes without getting any messages and other people trying to provide shitty tech support.

        “It keeps saying *DUN DUN DUN DAH*”

        Ventertainment – Bubb Rubb

        Love the noobs…

        “The whistle goes WOO WOO!”

        ***

        Well kids, that’s enough bullshit for today! Enjoy, laugh, be merry, keep gaming, and get pranked!

        Question of the day #1

        Question Mark papers
        Question Mark papers

        The question of the day began on our Facebook page where we would ask our fans various questions related to gaming. We are now expanding on this by adding a question of the day to the main site as well as our Obsolete Gamer Forums.

        Today’s question:  If you could turn any video game vixen real who would it be?

        J.A.’s Answer: One of the first would have to be Mai Shiranui from Fatal Fury. I mean just her stance would memorize me so badly I would get my ass kicked.

        Mai Shiranui from Fatal Fury
        Mai Shiranui from Fatal Fury



        You can leave your answer as a comment or answer on our Official forums

        News Bits from the Modern World #1

        News on games and the gaming industry brought to you in anti-TLDR format for the morning of April 12, 2010.

        Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare logo
        Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare logo

        We learned over the weekend that CODMW3 is in production which isn’t a surprise to many critics who believed that Activision would now be pushing to release new versions of their game once a year. Though Activision is not saying exactly when it will be released we can wager a guess that it will be just in time for the holidays. The question is, will people be willing to buy a COD game every year and will releasing these sequels so quickly lower the overall quality?

        Gears of War logo
        Gears of War logo

        First Conan now Jim Fallon, GOW3 was to debut on Light Night, but it was spoiled when Microsoft confirmed the titles release for April 2011, oh well at least he still has one of the best house bands out there.

        State of the LAN Party IV

        LAN Party sign
        LAN Party sign

         

        If you missed it you can read part 1 here , part 2 here and part 3 here.

        We saw how the LAN party evolved with new technology and how it inspired Alienware and how Alienware helped change the look of many LAN parties. With faster, more portable systems we saw LAN parties rise. With high-speed internet and MMO’s we watched as membership diminished.  Everyone grew older, but we were still gamers, the question was, what games will be played and how will that affect the LAN party.

        When the XBOX360 was introduced, Microsoft realized with the success of XBOX Live on the XBOX that pushing forward with online community gaming was the future of console gaming. If there were a few gamers who still did not utilize the online universe of gamers beforehand, once the 360 hit the shelves even they joined in.

        The 360 also brought a new type of LAN to gamers, the Console LAN or Local Play Lan was established where people would bring together multiple XBOX systems and connect them in order to multiplay. This allowed gamers to use separate television screens since for many the split screen was not a viable option.

        What made XBOX live so successful was the variety it brought to gamers. You could play the hottest games like Halo 3 or classic favorites such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  For better or worse you could chat online with fellow friends and gamers which gave console gamers pretty much all the tools a LAN member would use when gaming at a LAN party.

        Software developers also realized the market created by the 360 and the Playstation 3. More computer titles were being ported over to the console. Not only that, but there were much more FPS and RTS games developed for consoles than ever before.

        Many in the industry knew that computer gamers also owned a console and wanted the switch from the PC to the console to not be a shock to the system. Both 360 and PS3 were designed with top end processors and video cards. This allowed players to experience games on par and sometimes better than their PC counterparts.

        Those looking for a lower cost gaming system turned to consoles to experience high end graphics and gaming without the high end price tag of computer gaming units. With online play complete with patches, demos and downloads, the console gamer had everything they needed.

        By the time consoles invaded my LAN party we had reduced in size to just a few friends, but the new presence was noticed. Games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero replaced the twitch action games we played before. It saddened me at first. I believed some of us were getting too old for fast paced FPS games. Honestly I thought it was a fad, but numbers don’t lie. Interactive party games are as hot now as FPS games were ten years ago.

        I embraced the change. I enjoyed playing those games (even those on the Wii) and I remembered the point of the LAN was to have fun with friends which we did have. The connectivity we have today can bring us closer together if used correctly. Having access to your friends 24/7 through XBOX Live, IM programs, FaceBook and Ventrilo can be a wonderful thing even if it does lessen the need for LAN parties.

        In the end those of us who grew up during the gaming revolution will continue to be gamers for a long time to come. The games may change and the way we play them. Friends come and go and places we play will change, but the main goal stays the same, have fun.

        The future of the LAN party may be more virtual, larger groups of gamers playing from their home with others across the world. With gadgets such as the iPhone sporting multiplayer capabilities, we may find ourselves having impromptu LAN parties from our phones while waiting for our oil to be changed or at the doctor’s office.

        The great thing about technology is it adapts and changes the landscape. More and more people will have access to the tools to allow them to play the games they want and with that will come a community to join and interact with. The LAN party is ever changing, but will never die. As long as there are gamers there will be games and a means to play them.

        Burger Time

        Burger Time box art
        Burger Time box art

        Burger Time

        If there are two things that go together its video games and fast food, I have to believe that was one of the inspirations for the classic 1982 arcade game, BurgerTime. Created by Data East, BurgerTime was maze/pursuit game in the vein of classics like Pac-Man; however, instead of powering up your hero, Peter Pepper tries to crush his enemies under hamburger fixings.

        You begin each level with several burger fixings sprawled out across the map. The map itself is a maze of platforms and ladders which you must navigate to walk over the burger fixings to drop them down below. The overall goal is to stack up and complete your burgers. During this endeavor you are chased down by several enemies including Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Pickle, and Mr. Egg.

        Personally I always found it strange that other food would want to take you out for wanting to make burgers. I figured they would be happy you are cooking burgers and not them. Perhaps you cooked their family members earlier and they are coming back for revenge. Speaking of which does anyone else find it creepy that in the shredded mini-wheat’s commercial the dad wants his son to grow up strong so he can be eaten by humans? Oh, well back to BurgerTime.

        Burger Time gameplay
        Burger Time gameplay

        Peter Pepper is pretty fast, but you can easily become cornered by your enemies so you want to map out your route carefully. If you become trapped Peter can fire pepper shots at enemies to stun them allowing you to run by. You can earn more pepper shots by collecting bonus food in the center of the maze.

        Now you don’t just want to run and make all the burgers too quickly. While that is the overall goal the key is to crush as many enemies under the burger fixings as you do so. You can get the enemies to follow you underneath, say a burger patty, and then quickly climb above it and drop it down on top of them. You can also have them directly behind you as you run over a burger fixing causing it to fall to the next level below killing the enemies. The trick was to get as many as possible while building the burger so you earn the maximum amount of points.

        The record high score for BurgerTime was 11,512,500 points. My highest score is too embarrassing to mention. BurgerTime was one of those games that you either played for hours or it pissed you off within ten minutes and you quit.

        As you would expect BurgerTime was ported to a ton of consoles and computer systems and you can play it today on many phones, flash game websites and emulators.

        Originally named just Hamburger, BurgerTime was truly a classic and always got me hungry when playing it. Hmmmmmmm burgers!

        Here is the Burger Time parody by Mega64:

        The Obsolete Gamers – Vol 1

        Obsolete Gamer favicon
        Obsolete Gamer favicon

        The Obsolete Gamers covers the various events experience by Ignacio/honorabili and J.A. Laraque. In Vol one J.A. Laraque and Mark test out the FC Twin which plays NES and NES games.

        In Part one we introduce Mark and his new toy the FC Twin

        In Part 2 Mark demos some more classic games.

        The Bonus footage covers Mark playing the classic F-Zero!

        State of the LAN Party III

        LAN Party dark
        LAN Party dark

        If you missed it you can read part 1 here , part 2 here .

        Everyone thought that growing older, getting married and having kids would be the only thing to bring an end to the LAN party. While it was true that as we got older we did not have LAN parties every two weeks, we still had them once a month. What did risk putting ours and many LAN parties to an end was Massively Multiplayer Online Games or MMOs.

        By the time the game Everquest had come out our LAN party was in full swing. We had met with many other LAN groups across Florida and made a name for ourselves. I personally found working atAlienware, that the growing attendance to LAN parties translated into more buzz around our products.

        One effect was peoples request for a smaller more LAN friendly sized system. People were torn between the massive power and size of our Dragon case and the prospect of having a small portable case to take. Remember, at this time there really wasn’t a gaming laptop and smaller form factor cases were not widely known of or used.

        In the midst of larger LAN’s and more attention to networked gaming, a new fully 3D massive multiplayer role playing game was being released to the public. Now Everquest was not the first MMO, but it was the first to do fully interactive three dimensional game play and it brought in gamers who loved Dungeons and Dragons and the other successful MMO at the time, Ultima Online.

        Over the next few months hundreds of thousands of people began to play EQ. At first this did not change the attendance of our LAN parties, but it did change much of the conversation within them. Many of us got into EQ and spent much of the LAN talking about our characters. We did continue to play normal LAN games like FPS’s and RTS’s, but somehow we always came back to talking about Everquest.

        This was not just an occurrence at my LAN group. All across the U.S. people were talking about how Everquest, or as it was soon to be known as, EverCrack, was taking away gamers from their normal LAN games.

        In our LAN group there was actually a divide between those who played EQ and those who did not. The pure gamers, as they called themselves, hated the fact that we talked so much about EQ and one said our LAN party officially died the day we connected a DSL line and played EQ at the LAN.

        From my and many other EQ players point of view nothing really changed. We still played other games and interacted. MMO’s were just a new part of the landscape that we enjoyed, but we did find some took to EQ more than others. On the EQ main boards there were daily discussions of people becoming less active in work, school, their social life and LAN parties due to EQ. However, I felt in the end we became even more social because of it.

        As high speed internet became easier to come by many LAN goers opted instead to play online. Gaming clans regained much of their strength because of this and LAN parties grew smaller and less frequent. Some of this was also blamed on MMO’s, but also because many companies decision to hold massive yearly LAN parties. It was felt that there was no longer a need to have a LAN party ever month when you could play over the net and then go to the larger sponsored LAN events.

        Oddly enough, the EQ players were the ones to stay in touch the most. Since we all played on the same server in the game guild, we would often meet outside of EQ to talk and hang out. We found that many of our non-MMO playing LAN members did not want to attend these social gatherings. Perhaps it was because we talked about EQ, but we were skeptical.

        As time went on many EQ and MMO players found themselves going back to LAN parties to get away from MMO’s and to do something different. LAN parties became much more social and private, except for the company sponsored ones.

        At Alienware, we knew what our customers wanted and launched several gaming laptops which helped many LAN party members return to their LAN’s now being able to quickly and easily transport their gaming system.

        In part 4 of the series I will talk about the evolution of the console and the affect new technology has had on the LAN party and the future of the LAN and its place in computer history.

        The Amiga – 1985

        Amiga logo
        Amiga logo

        The Amiga

        We all know the Amiga was one of the most awesome computers out there, but man were some of their commercials weird. Take this one for instance for 1985, you would think you are in some weird Sci-Fi or SYFY (yuck) channel cheesy movie of the week.

        Amiga Fact #213 – The A500’s codename was the Rock Lobster.

        Check out all our videos on our YouTube Channel.

        State of the Lan Party II

        LAN Party 2
        LAN Party 2

        In case you missed it you can read part 1 here

        Originally posted on Direct2Dell Blog.

        Thousands of led lights flashing and blinking illuminate the otherwise dark room at the LAN party. At first glance you might think everyone is playing on a uniformed system, but with a simple question; what kind of rig do you have, you will find out how special and unique LAN goers systems are.

        Originally you were only cool if you had a self build custom computer. Still today many who build their own system will swear by it and turn their nose up at anyone with what they call a stock system. When Alienware came on the scene this all changed. It can be debated which one prefers, but once Alienware systems started showing up at LAN parties it became clear that you did not have to be a computer building whiz kid to have a sweet rig.

        When I was introduced to Alienware I had already built a system with the help of my friends. I was proud of my system and it was pretty awesome. I have to be honest that when I saw the original hydraulic case in purple my jaw dropped. Here was a system just as powerful as mind in a custom color that looked like it was built by its owner. I later came to realize this was because Alienware employees did indeed hand build their own systems.

        To be fair, there were those who compared prices and specs in an attempt to validate their own systems, but for the majority it was accepted as a LAN worthy rig. This may seem silly to those on the outside, but to the LAN member our PCs are as important to us as a powerful engine is to a mechanic.

        A lot of time and effort was put into system building. Often one would spend days just building it and then do all sorts of tweaks and fixes to it to get it just right for game day. While it was a badge of honor when you did build your own system it was not for everyone. I never bothered anyone about having a store bought rig considering my first LAN system was store bought. This did not stop others who believed you had to build a gaming system and nothing else was good enough.

        Today we have systems that can run most of the games we want to play. Many people still build, but with high performance options at reasonable prices like, Alienware this allows gamers of all ages and economic statuses to own a powerful system. Back in the late nineties this was still not the case. The 3D video card market was just taking off and newer games required quite the system resources.

        The downside was that to keep up with the newer games and products you had to upgrade pretty frequently, but to the hardcore LAN and gamer this was all part of the process. Alienware allowed those who could not build or did not have time to troubleshoot the opportunity to have a system that had the power to play their games and the ability to upgrade whenever it was necessary. It was no wonder as time went on that you saw more and more Alienware rigs at LAN parties.

        Many who built their own systems also owned an Alienware because of its unique look and upgradability. In the end some will always swear by their own hand built rig, but custom company systems have earned their place among gamers and LAN attendees alike.

        In part three of the series we will explore how games and game play have affected the LAN party.

        You can read part 3 here and part 4 here

        Games Coming Out April 2010 For Console

        Coming Soon sign
        Coming Soon sign

        Ah April, the time for taxes and looking forward toward the summer. It’s a good thing game releases don’t take spring breaks because if there is one thing a true gamer wants it’s the next great game to play.

        I’m going to change things up this time and create two lists, the A list, meaning its worth your time and cash and the WTF list and if you don’t know what that means look it up. So without further adieu let’s do this.

        The “A” List

        Splinter Cell: Conviction: April 13th

        DRM aside Splinter Cell has been a solid title for quiet some times and as seen in the trailer this game looks to continue that trend by bringing you the stealthy gameplay mixed in with enough action and story to keep you interested.

        Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City: April 13th

        What can I say it’s GTA and if you are a fan of the series then you have to add this game to your purchase list. It includes The Lost and Damned & The Ballad of Gay Tony, two complete games in one package. I mean who can get enough of carjacking and hooker beatings?

        Super Street Fighter IV: April 27th

        It’s Street Fighter IV, but with more butts to kick! What else is there to say, SFIV was pretty awesome and if there is one thing Capcom can do besides make great games is milk them for all they’re worth. However, to be fair there are a ton of new characters, new level designs and features to this game and again, this is nothing new for Capcom or the Street Fighter series. Simply put, if you loved SFIV then you will be getting this game and the ton of downloadable costume packs that are sure to follow.

        Dead to Rights: Retribution: April 27th

        In my opinion Dead to Rights got it right with their mix of story and action when I played the original it completely drew me in and now with Retribution you get more story, more action, more characters and of course more brutal combat!

        FIFA World Cup 2010: April 27th (PSP)

        It’s called Football you American dogs! Okay so many of us Americans are not into Soccer, but it is the world’s game and FIFA has always done it right. If you are a fan then rejoice because this year’s version looks great with updated rosters and a new shooting mechanic all on the PSP. Yes, I said the PSP. People do own them!

        The “WTF” List

        Mean Girls: April 20th (DS)

        Remember this movie, anyone? Lindsay Lohan is in it. By the way did you know that Lindsay Lohan tried to sue E-Trade over the baby commercial where they say the line; “and that milk-a-holic Lindsay wasn’t over?” You know from this commercial? Why is she suing? Because she thinks she is the Lindsay they are referring to as a way to make fun of her as if she is the only Lindsay on the planet. Why am I bringing this up? Because it is a hell of a lot more interesting than this game would be.

        My First Dollhouse: April 27th (DS)

        Oh look another DS game! Hey, check it out, you know how kids use to play with toys and have a real doll house? Well forget that BS if my child wants a dollhouse she can get one on the DS where I don’t have to pick up after her or trip over the new dining room table she got for it. The good thing about this game is at least your brother can’t break that realistic tea set your aunt got you for Christmas, or can he?

        State of the LAN Party I

        LAN party
        LAN party

        Originally posted by me on the Direct2Dell Blogs

        A good friend of mine asked me what would become of LAN parties with so many people having access to high-speed internet and online games like, World of Warcraft. To answer his question I thought back to when I first arrived in Miami.

        I did not know anyone my age, so I asked my mother for a computer; this led to me buying Warcraft for the PC. I did not know much about online gaming so I did an Alta-Vista search and found a site called Dawango.

        Dawango, called that because it stood for, “Dialup Wide-Area Network Game Operation” allowed people to dial in and play with other people over their network. The big games at the time were Doom and Duke Nukem 3D.

        It was in the Miami channel that I met my first real online friends. Over the next few weeks we played a ton of games together and then one day they told me about a LAN party they were going to start called Red-Eye.

        Now I had never taken my PC out of the house and with all the warnings about giving out information to people you meet online the idea of going to some warehouse with my PC to meet people I never had seen in person was just crazy. However, I decided to give it a chance and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

        The LAN party allowed me to meet great new people and make lifelong friends. In fact, if it was not for the LAN party I would not have become an Alienware employee. It was at that LAN that I learned how important a person’s computer is to them and where I saw my first Alienware. It was a jet black hydraulic case and had everyone there asking about it.

        The LAN however, is more than just gaming and competition. I thought of it as a fraternity for gamers. Often you had people who were more seasoned in gaming or had been with the LAN group longer and so they were looked upon as elders.

        You earned your place not only by how well you played, but your rig (computer), your knowledge of gaming and computers and your overall personality. When I showed up I had a small computer I purchased from a discount store and knew little about the inner workings of a computer. Less than a year later, I knew how to build my own PC and how to connect and troubleshoot networks without ever stepping into a classroom.

        In part 2, I will talk about how personal a person’s computer is to a LAN member and the debate between buying and building your own. Also I will cover the evolution of the LAN and the friendships created within.