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Welcome Back to the West
By oneshotstop
Posted on 08/01/16
The only thing that stops the dust is the rain. It’s a sweet reprieve, but there is no middle ground. The land is either as dry as the Betty Ford clinic, or as wet as the ocean floor. Everything can be seen from the ridge overlooking Armadillo as John Marston gently bounces along atop...


grandmagoodtimes grandmagoodtimes' Blog
Innovation and the Lazy People Who Killed It
Posted on Monday, December 29 2008 @ 00:38:32 PST

Is it just me or has game development been a bit lazy lately? I’m not saying that there are not awesome games out there, far from it. I can’t even begin to count how many great games I have played this holiday season, but I think that has more to do with my third grade education than anything else. Anyway, let us all just sit down by the campfire and think about past games that have touched us in good and bad spots, I mean ways, I mean whatever.

Fallout 3 – shoot mutants in the face in slow motion
Resistance 2 – shoot lots of mutated whatnots in the face in the good old US and A
Far Cry 2 – shoot Africans in the face while watching pretty fire burn everything
Call of Duty: World at War – shoot Nazi zombies in the face
Metal Gear Solid 4 – shoot people in the face while hiding in a box or barrel
Gears of War 2 – shoot aliens in the face and then chainsawdomize them
Bioshock – shoot drugged up crazies in the face underwater
Grand Theft Auto 4 – shoot everyone you can in the face in a fake New York City
Deadspace – shoot aliens in the face (their faces are in their limbs this time)
Left 4 Dead – four people shoot waves of zombies in the face

Do you see what I’m trying to get at? Most new games have gamers shooting things in the face with various tweaks from game to game. Most of these games aren't even new, they are just sequels with prettier graphics. Now don’t get me wrong, I love pulling the virtual trigger on my gun and dispatching as many enemies as I can in as short of a time frame as possible, but sometimes that isn’t all I want to do. Sometimes getting headshot after headshot gets a bit, dare I say, boring. Each of these games tries to bring new fun to the art of the headshot, but maybe their efforts could be used in a more productive way.

Not all new games have been re-hashes. Some of the new and breakthrough games lately have been Braid, LittleBigPlanet, and Echochrome. Braid seemed very unique at first, but then I stopped and thought for a minute. We have seen rewind elements in games before such as Prince of Persia and Grid. Just make cartoon graphics and add some puzzles and Braid is born. The rewind element is not new, but they put a new twist on it which shows some thought went into the game. LittleBigPlanet takes the tried and true platforming game play element and adds level creation, changeable costumes, and co-op play. None of these things are new, but when all of them are combined together, a new and crazy idea is born. Again, maybe not the most innovative game, but still leaps ahead of others in the creative department. Echochrome, what is there to say? This game was one of the most innovative things I have seen in a very long while. This was something so simple, and yet so easily accessible to all. This was a shinning point in recent game development history. This is what I want.

I want to see in the games of tomorrow: innovation, new game play, things I can’t even imagine right now. Something new, something fresh, something that makes people stop and say, “what, you have to do what???”. I know this is very easy to say (I just said it and it was damn easy) and yet very difficult to accomplish, but I believe it is possible. New and innovative games have been created before. Katamari Damacy was as creative a game as I have seen lately and it broke every mold I had ever seen. Roll continually larger things up into a ball and then make it into a planet? Stellar idea, keep it up. Now those guys are making Noby Noby Boy which, for the life of me, I cannot understand. This is not bad, in fact, this is fantastic! If I can’t understand the game play it is most likely because I have never seen anything like it. I don’t already have ten other games that I have mastered with the exact same game elements and button layouts. I’m sure it will be one of those games that after a lengthy attempt at explaining the plot and controls, the last words said will be “just try it”.

I guess I just want something different for a change. I want something I can show my non-1337 friends who aren’t playing games 24/7 like me and they will love it. I want a game where this scenario takes place:

Me: Hey friend, would you like to try out this awesome game I have just acquired from my local video game merchant?
Non-1337 Friend: No.
Me: But friend, I assure you this game is different. There is no shooting and now that I think of it, no blood at all. This is as tame a game as your house-friend Mr. Snuggles (the name of the pet cat).
Friend: I don’t like games, they are for the lame, boring, and impotent.
Me: Friend, I give you my word; I assure you that this is not one of those games. I promise all of this to you with my honor on the line.
Friend: Fine, but if this sucks, I’m going to punch you in the neck.

Both of us go on to play the game and we enjoy ourselves giggling until we cry while my neck remains unpunched. This is what I require of you video game developers. This is what is needed if you are to earn my money. I will not settle for mere improved graphics anymore. I want to be both impressed by the graphics and the innovative game play. This is what is required of you. I triple dog dare you to do it.

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The Price is Right, or is it?
Posted on Friday, December 12 2008 @ 16:30:10 PST

I’ve got something to say, so brace yourself, this might hurt. I was reading an article on IGN (a guy has to do something between GR updates) entitled “The Value of the PlayStation 3” which compared the costs of the PS3 vs. Xbox 360. If you want the details, head over there and read the article, but basically it compared the standard models for both consoles (80gb PS3 vs. 60gb Xbox) and then added costs for bought items where features were lacking. It also compared Blu-ray players, but since they don’t play games, I have no need to mention them here. In the end, the conclusion lacked some things and so now I am going to blab about them.

So, the PS3 is $400 and the Xbox 360 is $300. They both play games and DVDs, but only the PS3 plays Blu-ray discs. If a 360 owner wanted to watch Blu-rays, they would need to buy a separate player since Microsoft has no attachment at this time. After a quick search on the internet, I found the cheapest Blu-ray player to be $300 which would bring the combined price for a 360 to $600. Even if you found a super deal player for $200 that would still bring the combined price to $500. What’s that? You don’t need a stupid Blu-ray player on your gaming console? Fair enough, you now sit back at $300. Now let’s move on.

Is your gaming console in your room, far away from your internet router? Wireless would be nice right about now. The PS3 has built in WiFi while the Xbox is lacking this feature. If you buy the Microsoft WiFi adapter (which is $100) the prices become equal for both consoles. I’m sure you can find better deals or DIY fixes for this problem, but if you want the real deal Holyfield stuff, you have to pay big bucks. Huh? So you don’t need WiFi either? Good, a wired connection is better for multiplayer anyway. I will now take away the WiFi cost: wooooooOOOOooooooosshhh. Magic. Moving on.

Wait, what are those? Batteries? Who uses those anymore? Oh you do Xbox? Interesting. Well if you don’t want to be buying batteries all the time I suggest you purchase a rechargeable battery and cord. Well that will be $20. For some reason, Sony decided to make their controllers rechargeable from the get go. Xbox people, you have gotten by with not needing features before, but now I must put my foot down. Come on Microsoft, seriously? Batteries?? Enough from you Microsoft, next phase!

Do you enjoy playing games with your friends online? Well if you do, you can use both Xbox live and PSN to play all of your favorite online enabled games. One thing, PSN is free for everyone and Xbox live requires a subscription. Looks like $50 dollars for 13 months of Live Gold membership (the one that lets you play online). Well since you didn’t need the WiFi adapter, perhaps you don’t need Xbox Live, but I’m guessing most of you out there do need Live. Let me see… so if you have had your Live account for 2.25 years you have paid $100 (first month free with Live sign-up + 13 months @ $50 x 2) while a Playstation owner has paid $0 for their PSN account. Some people may argue quality differences, but I’m not here for that. I just want to point out differences in costs and key features.

Let’s talk about cables. The PS3 comes with composite cables (seriously, who uses that crap anymore?) while the Xbox comes with component cables (better than composite, but still not the best). I would guess that if you are a proud gamer, you would need HDMI cables and because both consoles would need the purchase of this item, I will leave it off both total prices. If HDMI cables are not wanted, I will assume the individual does not care about video quality and that the stock cables will quench all of their video thirst.

Now while playing online, you will need to shout at your opponents and remind them of their mother’s loose morals and excessive body hair. The Xbox comes packaged with a headset while the PS3 is lacking in headsettery. The PS3 can use just about any Bluetooth headset used for cell phones, but I will be fair and choose the official Playstation headset packaged with Socom: Confrontation. This will cost $60 with the video game. Headsets are not necessary so perhaps many people will not need this feature. I think that rounds out the necessary equipment, so let’s move on to some number crunching!

By my calculations a PS3 with Blu-ray, WiFi, rechargeable controller, online access, and a headset will come out to be $460. An Xbox 360 with the same features will cost $720 plus $50 every 13 months for Xbox Live Gold membership. An Xbox 360 with no Blu-ray, no WiFi, rechargeable controller, and a headset will cut costs to $320 plus $50 every 13 months. If you don’t need a headset, the PS3 price drops back to $400. Let’s run the cost of the feature lacking consoles after 3 years. PS3 = $400, Xbox = $470. Another year? PS3 = $400, Xbox = $520.

Take what you will from what I have said, I’m just trying to make some sense of this crazy, mixed up world we live in. I will admit that I am a bit biased, as I own a PS3, but I will assure you, besides the ribs I have jabbed in jest, I have tried to be as fair as possible. Get angry at me, be happy with me, whatever you’d like. If I have missed any key features or have written the wrong costs for items, please feel free to comment. Just don’t hate me, I’m a video game player just like all of you, I’m in it for the fun. Remember that? When playing games was fun without all this drama and big business money flaunting? Those were good times. Good times...

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Saving data: do not remove memory card
Posted on Thursday, January 24 2008 @ 01:02:02 PST

Let’s get right down to the nitty gritty; memory cards are amazing. They have the ability to store hours and hours of game play and fun having magic onto a one inch by two inch card. I have two memory cards for my PS2 and I can’t even tell you how many hundreds of hours of memories, hard work, procrastination, days off, frustration, and eventual victory are stored on them. Not only do they hold so much of my gaming experiences on them, but they also transport those memories instantly from one place to another. Do you want to show your friend all the awesome secrets you've found in a game? Take the card, put it in your pocket, go to his house, put it in the console, and wham bam thank you ma’am, your version of the game is right there.

Don’t get me wrong, not all things memory card related are clean and perfect. There is a dark, seedy underbelly to the memory card world. This world is filled with anger, frustration, and countless punched walls. If you have ever come across the words “corrupt” and “data” then I think you already know what I’m talking about. I have encountered this horror several times and let me tell you, it was not a pretty sight.

Let’s travel back in time, shall we? The time: freshman year of high school. The place: my friend’s house for his birthday party. I come over to his house with my copy of Gran Turismo 3 with my trusty memory card securely snapped into place in the provided memory card holder of the video game box (very handy for transportation). I am about halfway through the game with countless hours logged behind the wheel of many ultra awesome cars that have been pain-stakingly purchased, tuned, and raced to perfection. Before we can load up the game, my friend decides he wants to rent some movies and so we head out to our local video rental merchant to waste some money. After we get back to his house we decide to play some GT3. I turn to my friend and say, “Friend, would you like to see something stupid crazy? I will show you the vastest collection of the most pimped out beauties that the digital automobile world has to offer.” My friend responds with “Friend, nothing would make me happier than to see and, if you are feeling so generous, to possibly test drive the products of hours upon hours of hard work and dedication that you have put into this fine video game.” We head over to his PS2 and something is amiss; my memory card has already been placed snug as a bug in a rug into the console and GT3 sits in the CD tray. I apprehensively start up the game and wait. The world goes black... my game file has been erased. Gone, simply gone, like some kind of unwanted kitten tossed out with the weekend trash. Astonishment is the only thing that I feel, pure disbelief at the loss I have just incurred. Once those feelings wear off, rage begins to boil just below the surface of my skin. I wont get into the details of what happened next, but it turns out that my friend’s other friends tried to play my game while we were gone and accidently deleted my save file. Retards. Well after the shock wore off I decided that I must make the most of a horrible situation, I couldn't let those bastards defeat me.  I loaded up the game, buy myself a car, hit the track, and start all over from the beginning.

Here's another, shorter story for you kids at home, this one a little more recent. The game: Test Drive Unlimited. The platform: Playstation 2. The fun level of the game: -4.5. I enjoy racing games of all sorts, but this one is just bad. It’s like they took the Xbox 360 version of the game, removed all the fun parts, and then defecated in a box and shipped that out. But I digress, I had played the game for hours, to the point where I had hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy some of the best cars in the game. This time playing was not a fun time, this was a duty I bestowed upon myself, a goal that no one really wants to achieve, but must for some odd, yet utterly manly reason. The clock hits 5 am and I finally buy myself a nice car. I turn off the game and promise that I will take full advantage of my purchase the next day. The next day comes, I load up the game, and the save game data is corrupted. Frustration. Rage. Defeat. I eject the game and place it in its box. I haven’t picked up that game since.

Why does this happen? I don’t know, but it ain’t fun at all. Memory cards can bring about the deepest feelings of joy, but also launch you into the deepest, darkest pits of depression. They are a magical bunch, those memory cards, but they are a dying breed. With the new consoles come hundreds of giggle-bite hard drives with enough space to download whole games. The art of the memory card is all but dead. Maybe with hard drives will come a time with less corrupted data, maybe we will never have to hear new stories like those I have shared with you today. Maybe, but then again what’s the fun with that? It comes with the territory, like playing Russian roulette. If you lose your saved game, the only thing you can do is start it up again and go on another magical, mystical journey into the realm of digital game land.

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Misunderstood Games
Posted on Wednesday, December 5 2007 @ 03:13:13 PST

Most people would agree with the statement: some games are just better than others, but exactly which games are better than others is a hugely personal decision. Some games excel in the graphics department, others have riveting stories with deep, wel...   read more...

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Accessorize Your Gaming Today!
Posted on Thursday, November 29 2007 @ 05:20:28 PST

The home gaming console is a very versatile entertainment machine. All varieties of games can be bought, played, and hopefully enjoyed with the help of these little computers of fun. But stop, what can make these video game consoles even better? If y...   read more...

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Farewell to a Legend
Posted on Thursday, November 15 2007 @ 01:23:25 PST

In this day and age, it is rare to find your perfect match. Someone to spend your time with, someone who understands you. I am of course talking about my friend, the Playstation 2.

I’m no fanboy because I could care less about the P...   read more...

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The Mystery of the Vanishing Game
Posted on Tuesday, October 30 2007 @ 22:35:28 PST

I was reading one of the articles in Gaming News and saw that Call of Duty 4 has a ridiculously short single player campaign. The article also mentioned the sub-par efforts of Heavenly Sword and Halo 3 when it came to their campaigns. This started th...   read more...

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