Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars

I read this book in a day. I don't read much, much less whole books in one day. It takes a really engaging story to get me to read a book that fast. The last time I read a book that sucked me in like TFioS did, was probably Harry Potter. This book took me back to when I was a teenager in a way no other book has. I relate to Gus a lot with his "existentially fraught free-throws" I thought like that a lot in high school, and I still do from time to time. And I think Haley is the new #1 fictional character that I could imagine falling in love with. I love the comment on the cover "Filled with staccato bursts of humor and tragedy." An extremely accurate description. I found myself laughing before my tears even had a chance to dry several times. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Incorrect use of thee and thou in video games

Just a quick post about one of my pet peeves in video games, incorrect use of thee and thou (and other archaic English terms and conjugations). Both words mean "you" but thou is used as a subject and thee as an object. Middle English verb conjugation is super easy compared to some other languages I can think of.

I go
thou goest
he, she, it goeth
we go
you go
they go

Second-person pronouns (nominative, possessive, objective)
thou, thy/thine, thee
you, your/yours, ye

English no longer conjugates pronouns, with the exception of "whom" but people hardly use that anymore either. So I get why this mistake happens so much. I guess it's just because I grew up in the Mormon church, so I'm used to hearing these terms use properly. So when "Thee dost dare invade my home!?" pops up in Final Fantasy Dimensions, it makes me cringe.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Summary of Demon's Souls Boss attempts

Demon's Souls

World 1, Boletarian Palace
1-1, Phalanx, (4 or 5 tries)
1-2, Tower Knight (3rd try)
1-3, Penetrator (2nd try with Biorr)
1-4, Old King Allant (3rd try, gave up and used poison)

World 2, Stonefang Tunnel
2-1, Armor Spider   (FIRST TRY!)
2-2, Flamelurker (omg, I lost count in frustration)
2-3, Dragon God (3rd try)

World 3, Tower of Latria
3-1, Fool's Idol (5th or 6th try I think)
3-2, Maneater (10th-ish...)
3-3, Old Monk (FIRST TRY!)

World 4, Shrine of Storms
4-1, Adjudicator (FIRST TRY!)
4-2, Old Hero (FIRST TRY!)
4-3, Storm King (FIRST TRY!)

World 5, Valley of Defilement
5-1, Leechmonger (FIRST TRY!)
5-2, Dirty Colossus (FIRST TRY!)
5-3, Maiden Astraea (2nd try, first time i fell into the blood and got eaten by babies O_o, omg)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Big Dreams, Little Tokyo

There are so many things I love about this movie. I love the guys speaking in Okinawan dialect, I love the scene where the Murakami yells at Boyd and tells him that he will never be Japanese, I love the way Boyd tones down his translation or straight up makes things up to smooth out the business meeting, I love how they have to double translate during that meeting from Spanish to English to Japanese, I love how Boyd is such a lovable quirky character, and I love how at the end of the movie, everyone, even his eccentric wannabe sumo wrestler room mate is reading his book.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Japanese Bronies

I've been re-watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic on NicoNico Douga. It's a Japanese site similar to youtube, but it has the option of displaying comments directly on the screen, like screen shot about of Japanese fans saying how cute AJ is when she blushes. According to this (you should read that too) I found out that Big Macintosh, Cherilee and Fluttershy are the most popular among the Japanese fans. Applejack is pretty popular too. They call her (otoko-mae) handsome. And they seem to love Pinkie too. When ever she does something the screen gets flooded with (Pinkie w, w=lol).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Little Pony, G1-G3

So, I watched a little of the older generations of MLP, just to see how much the show has improved. The main pony cast is terrible. They all have the same whiny voices and stupid lines, it's really painful to watch.

The villains and side characters on the other hand are slightly more interesting and memorable than the main pony cast. I vaguely remember the bush woolies, Scorpan, Mr Moochick and his rabbit. I also remember the magical items that pop up now and then. Like the seashell that summons the sea ponies and the rainbow of light from the locket that the human girl has.

What stands out most all in my memory is the smooze! It's classic! Like Philip fighting the dragon in Sleeping Beauty, it's that one thing that made it tolerable for boys who were forced to watch this crap with their sisters. Hell yeah! Finally some epic conflict in this boring cartoon! Purple goo that consumes whole kingdoms in seconds AND has a catchy theme song! If the smooze makes a comeback in G4, you won't hear me complain.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

So I've seen MLP stuff popping up all over the internet for a quite while now, but didn't think much of it. Then this summer I found out several of my friends from back home watch the show, and this is pretty much what happened. I was hooked. When I brought it up with my girlfriend she immediately tried to talk about something else. So I ranted to her about why the show is so much better than one would assume from it's over the top girly cute surface. The characters have interesting personalities that play off each other really well and make for some great stories.

Beyond the show itself is the fandom. It's crazy. I've spent more time looking at fan made stuff now than I did watching the show. I really need to give it a rest for a while.

My favorites videos are...
Your facekau
My Little War Horse
My Little Pwny
I Don't Have a Favorite Pony by Hank Green of the Vlog Brothers 
SHED.MOV and the rest of that absolutely mad series. BTW it includes Egoraptor voice acting
My Little Brony by College Humor 
Teens React to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Music Videos...
Picture Perfect Pony Official Music Video Animation
She Reads All Day
Want It, Need It (Hold Me) and the original that it's based on
Russian Dancing Pony and the original
Fluttershy Rap
Rainbow Dash is Gay (or European)
PMV: Everyone Thinks Rainbow Dash is Gay (Bo Burnham)
PMV: Luna Does Not Need a Microphone (Tenacious D)
Eurobeat Brony - Discord (The Living Tombstone's Remix)
PMV: Rainbow Dash - Like A Boss by The Lonely Island
Cupcakes HD more shock comedy, like

Cool Official Hasbro Stuff
Italian Friendship is Magic Opening
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic - 8 bit (Promo) - The Hub

Some other intersting ones are...
A bunch of dudes singing the smile song
Dr. Who goes to Ponyville
Ponies what are British and Ponies what are British Sequel
My Little Pony decorated San Diego Trolley outside and in!
Derpy Loves her Lava Lamp (with sound!)
DEATH BATTLE! : Starscream VS Rainbow Dash 
MLP Stuck on the Mind
Epic Wub Time: Musicians of Ponyville
My Little Portal GLaDOS theme song (MLP Music)

There's even this channel featuring an original character called Colgate who sings songs about brushing teeth and shoots a toothpaste canon. I assume it was created by someone who is either a dentist, works for Colgate, or is strangely obsessed with dental hygiene.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Shadow Of The Colossus, Doing What Only VIDEO GAMES Can Do

Fumito Ueda is my hero. I loved Ico, but Shadow of the Colossus completely blew me away. I think it's one of the best games ever made. It's a game that is just so good that it's hard to play anything else for a while after you finish it. It makes me wonder, "why aren't there more games like this?" More truly innovative, immersive games that dare to do things that only games can do.

1) Dynamic music that changes based on the player's current situation and captures the emotion of that moment.

・Wander's (or the wanderer's) long journey to the forbidden land (Track 1 - To The Ancient Land).
・Silence as you roam the vast landscape.
・Mysterious music begins as you enter a colossus's lair. (Track 11 - Green Hill, Track 14 - Lakeside)
・Suspenseful music puts you on edge when you catch a glimpse of the giant beast in the distance. (Track 15 - Silence, Track 6 - Sign Of Colossus).
・Desperate music as your struggle against the creature begins (Track 7 - Monstrous People, Track 8 - Opened Path, Track 16 - Fear of Power, Track 12 - Violent Encounter, etc).
・Triumphant music as you close in on the colossus's weak point (Track 13 - Resurrected Power).
・A quiet reverie as the colossus slowly collapses, leaving you to wonder if awakening and slaying the creature was actually the right thing to do. (Track 9 - End Of The Battle)
・Organ music when you return to the temple to receive your next order from the mysterious deity (Track 10 - Idol Collapse).

2) Letting the player learn how to play the game through experimentation.

Egoraptor, a popular internet celebrity, pointed out this great game design feature in Megaman X in this video. It seems like an obvious thing that any good video game designer should know, but teaching the player how to play the game by letting them experiment is something you don't see as often in games these days. Many games bore the player with a tutorial before the game even starts.

SotC gives lots of little hints with every colossus fight. My first playthrough of SotC took over 10 hours. My second playthrough took about one third of the time. It was still fun the second time, but there was really something magical about that first playthrough. Even though it took 3 times longer than necessary, every moment was fun because every failed attempt gave me a hint and lead me to try something else.

3) Controls that enhance the story.

Colossus climbing. The colossi are covered, in parts, with grass-like hair that Wander can hold onto an climb. The colossi will try to shake you off, leaving the player with no choice but holding the R2 button until it stops. Most of the time, you are able to simply hold R2 and confidently stay latched on to the colossus as you climb toward it's weak point. But sometimes there are parts with no grass/hair to hang onto. So you have to let go of R2 for a moment and dash across, knowing you could be shaken off at any moment. Other times you will desperately climb all over the colossus but be unable to find the weak point. Eventually your grip with weaken and you'll fall off and have to start climbing all over.

Colossus stabbing. The way you stab the colossi adds even more intensity to the epic battles. As you hold down the □ button, Wander grasps his sword with both hands and gradually raises it high over his head. When you release the button he stabs and does damage based on how long you held your sword up. Most of the colossi have a fairly brief window of opportunity to get in a maximum damage hit before they start trying to shake you off again, so you can't hesitate.

4) Letting the player essentially BECOME the protagonist and share in their struggle.

This is something I didn't notice until Egoraptor pointed it out. Game design itself can tell a story in a unique way that only games can. In Megaman X, the first battle with Vile is impossible to win, but the player doesn't know this. This frustrates the player, but at the same time makes the moment when Zero rescues you even more memorable and gives the player motivation to become stronger to eventually beat Vile. You admire Zero and want to become like him.

Impossible battles have become pretty common in video games since then, esspecially in Japanese console RPGs. The problem is that they are so predictable now, and often don't serve much of a purpose. (SPOILERS) SotC on the other hand has an unconventional impossible battle at the end of the game that enhances the story. First you become a giant horned shadow creature. Instead of the small, nimble hero, you've become a hulking monster, similar to the colossi you fought, and you start lashing out at your friends. Although you don't necessarily win or lose, just seeing the change in your character and feeling difference of the controls is disturbing for the player. It shocks the player and makes them think, "What's happened to me?" "What have I done?" "What am I doing"


(MORE SPOILERS) Besides these 4 things, there's also the way Wander's appearance changes as you progress. At first it seems like it's just dirt, or battle scars, but eventually it becomes clear that something is terribly wrong. There is also the emotional attachment you feel to your horse as he is essential for travel and for defeating some of the colossi. The girl you are trying to save resting on a pedestal in a temple is reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty or Zelda 2. But instead of being the pure hearted hero, trying to save the girl actually makes you the bad guy, and you are punished in the end for trying to defy death.

And finally, some speculations. I don't know if Fumito Ueda has revealed any of this or not, but I've read online that the Wander becomes reborn as a boy with horns in the end as a chance to seek redemption. They say he is Ico's ancestor, but I wonder if he's meant to be Ico himself. I also wonder if the boy in the upcoming game Last Guardian is related somehow. I think he might be Wander as a boy. Perhaps that game will end with the boy saying farewell to Trico and riding off on a black horse. It would be nice to see a connection between all 3 games.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Game Reviewing

Considering my options for getting into the game industry again recently...

1) My Japanese still isn't good enough to be a game translator, maybe in another 5 years.
2) Game tester, but from the stories I read from it doesn't sound so great.
3) Go to school to learn programming and art once I save up enough money.
4) Continue Legend of Arcana, my RPG maker project.
5) Review games in the mean time?

There are so many game reviewers out there though, I need something to set myself apart from them. I'm way to lazy to make videos, and long in depth reviews sounds boring too. Just come up with an interesting rating system and make quick lists of pros and cons, I think I'll give it a try.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sonic Whiners

"Sonic was so much better in 2D" "What were they thinking!?" "The physics are all messed up!" "The series has fallen so far"

So many modern Sonic haters! I get it though, there have been a lot of crap Sonic games. The 3 biggest offenders in my opinion are...

1) The early attempts at 3D games before the technology was developed enough, like 3D blast and Riders.
2) The Wii titles with terrible controls, like Sonic and the Secret Rings.
3) Games with extra characters that no one cares about, Knuckles/Rouge treasure hunting levels, Dr. Eggman/Tails mech levels, Big, Amy, Cream, etc.

People are entitled to their opinions. But just because a sequel is a bit different from the original doesn't mean it's automatically bad. I wonder if a lot of modern Sonic haters are just jumping on the hater bandwagon. The problem is, there is such a huge expectation of what a Sonic game "should" be, that anything outside of that expectation gets torn up. I have not played Sonic 2006, Shadow the Hedgehog or Sonic Colors, so I can't comment on those yet. So, aside from the 3 complains I listed, which I agree with, the biggest complaint I hear about is...

The Physics
Yeah, they're different, but so what? I barely notice it. Sonic got a homing attack ability. So what? They gave him a homing attack so the game wouldn't have to slow down when you needed to attack something in 3D, I think it fits Sonic perfectly.

Sonic Adventure 2
... is my favorite 3D sonic... but only the Sonic and Shadow stages. It is seriously MESSED UP that such an awesome Sonic game stuck being 1/3rd a shitty shooting game and 1/3rd a shitty treasure hunting game.

Sonic Generations
"The series has fallen so far." Sadly, I have to agree, comparing each of the 3 areas is SG, it's hard to deny the earlier levels are better.

Sonic 4
Has such an appropriate title. The first full fledged 2D sonic since Sonic 3, it does not disappoint. Sega finally copied Nintendo and played the nostalgia card like a pro. Some people continue to complain about the physics and say Sonic Fan Remix is better, even though it only has one level and is full of bugs. But to me, it is a completely worthy 4th entry.

Ys Origin (a game you should've heard of)

Ys should be much more well known than it is. It should be bigger than Zelda and Final Fantasy, because it is basically all the best parts of Zelda and Final Fantasy put together. Why don't more people know about Ys? Many reasons that I won't go into, but hopefully PC gaming will continue to become more popular, and Falcom will keep releasing their old games on Steam (I'm hoping Ys 6 and 7!).

Ys Origin is a great place to start for people who are new to the series, like the title says, it is the origin, a prequel to the first Ys, so you won't be missing anything from the stories of other games.

First, the negative points.
There is no character customization, just a set list of upgrades you can get anytime you have enough SP to spend. The majority of the enemies aren't too dangerous unless you are playing on the harder difficulties. There are 3 chargeable special attack skills for each character, plus dash and double jump, but that's about it for power ups. So, The game really shines in two major areas, boss fights and storyline.

The Boss Fights
...are epic. They're so hard! They remind me of Mega Man. Once you figure out their pattern you're okay, but even then, reacting fast enough to survive is a challenge. Every boss is huge and every boss is very satisfying when you beat them.

The Storyline
Falcom states that the Ys games are based on the theme of kindness. The good guys in Ys games are so awesome, none of the head cases you see in FF games these days. Really relatable characters fighting for what they believe in.

Secret of Mana Prologue

I love the prologue of Secret of Mana. It just sounds so epic.

Darkness sweeps the
troubled land, as Mana's
power fades...
People await a hero who
will wield the sword...
Excaliber, Herald, Gigas..
The blade has many
names, for it has been
celebrated in myths and
legends throughout time,
but all of these speak to
just one weapon:
the Mana Sword

I had no idea it was originally originally this atrocious bit of Engrish...

In a calamity,
people waited for a brave
with the sword.

The sword revealed the power
of its true nature to
retrieve the peace.

Excalibur, Kusanagi, and
all the other swords talked
in myth, legend, and saga...
People named those
swords in many ways.

They all meant one thing.
The one and only...

The Sword of Mana.

Well done Squaresoft localization team of 1993, well done.

It's a shame the Japanese version of the game doesn't have the prologue in Japanese, because I'm sure it would've sounded just as epic as the English if it had been left in its original language.

Minecraft (OP, 3/27/12)

I've been doing almost nothing but play Minecraft for the past week, it's been a blast, but all good things must come to an end.

Here is a quick summary of my first (and probably last) complete single player survival game. Seed # is 8536631278964272380.

The interior of my main house, not far from the spawn point.

The exterior of my main house
I finally found the end at x = 1169 z = -11 and built my last house there.

The exterior of the last house I made in survival

The interior

After finishing the game, I reloaded the seed in creative mode to fly around and see what I missed. At x = -422 z = 591 I found this flooded town with a 3 diamond chest!

I messed around with creative mode for a few days using a Tundra Island seed I found

The gates of hell!

A glass house with desert stuff inside.

An island in the sky. You have to swim up the waterfall to access it. I also made some tree houses and a tower, and I was going to make an ice castle, but couldn't think of an interesting design, so I just looked at youtube minecraft videos all day. My attempts to make anything in creative mode just pale in comparison to this guy's work amazing!

Minecraft Design (OP, 3/27/12)

Minecraft led me to wonder about making a game similar to it or Terraria using RPG Maker, but it would take way too much coding knowledge for me. This guy seems to be doing a good job, I'll leave it to him.

If I were to make a game like minecraft, I would do more with the linked dimensions idea, like have 5 unique dimensions each with their own large variety of biomes. And make more dungeon like areas, like the abandoned mines and ancient ruins. It would be way fun.

But, randomly generated stuff requires coding that is way over my head. Something that I can try to imitate is the game's enemy design. It reminds me of Mario a bit. There are so few enemies, but the way they play off of each other is amazing! Alone each enemy is easily defeated, but in combination (especially with a skeleton or other ranged attacker) it becomes much more challenging.

Also, there's the dreaded creeper. Not only because it can kill you in one hit, not only is it suicidal, not only does its lack of arms make the way it stares and hops toward you even creepier, it can do more than kill you, it can blow up your creations! And if it blows up your bed... back to the original spawn point for you! An enemy that causes dread when you don't see it and panic when you do, that's some truly amazing enemy design.

Minecraft Seeds (OP, 3/29/12)

Here is my seed collection. Enjoy!

Tree House Seed -2676487015137566560
Lots of swamp and desert with just enough jungle. You can harvest the vines from the swamp to make the giant jungle trees more climbable.

Burning Flooding Abandoned Mine! 1022993489799657922

Very flooded town 8536631278964272380
This one is really far from the spawn point, way over at x = -422 z = 591. The blacksmith chest has 3 diamonds.

3 Diamond Chest -1468173422680553912
It's hard to to compete with the 9 Diamond seed someone else found (-671258039) but I did find this one with 3 at x = -234 z = 334 near spawn point.

Super Meat Boy

What can I say about this game that hasn't already been said? I absolutely love it. It has easy to understand but hard to master controls. It has level design that keeps pumping out new and interesting challenges. It has a timer, and the promise of unlocking a new level when you get an A rank completion time, which makes replaying levels to get a better time addicting. I love that it includes so many unlockable characters from other indie games. Hearing them talk about making the game in interviews is really inspiring, I can't wait to make something myself.

Dubstep, what is music?

I love the quote at the end of Feed Me's song "Grand Theft Ecstasy." It reminds me of what I've heard people say about dubstep recently and what I think about some of the more extreme experimental music I've heard, like squarepusher and leftfield.

"What happened to music? Now these people are making songs that I don't even consider music anymore"

When I first heard it, I laughed. But it's pretty profound, putting that at the end of a song with a more modern electronic sound like that. Some people probably don't consider that music. I don't like some experimental/minimalist music I've heard, but I've met people who swear it's amazing music. Fine, good for them. I'm not gonna get in their face and tell them "That's not REAL music, that's just noise!" Isn't that what people said about rock'n'roll? Who has the right to diss other people's taste in music?

I mean think about it, what's the most basic music you can think of? Drums, or percussion, right? But I've seen street performers rock out with a box, literally, a wooden box. And have you heard of Stomp? Damn...

I have listened to some pretty weird stuff. And although may not have liked it at all, I recognize that it is not just random noise, it's something someone put time and effort into and there are other people who appreciate it.

Legend of Korra season 1

AWESOME!!! So! Freaking! Awesome!

Okay, some negative thoughts first... It's kinda sad, my first thoughts when I finished it were exactly the same as when I watched the first episode of Avatar.
1) This would be exponentially more popular in Japan if it were made in Japan.
2) Japanese anime would be exponentially more popular worldwide (even more than it already is) if anime studios put as much effort into animation quality as this show. Ah well.


Some BAMF moments in the series... Naga carrying 4 people on her back, and still anticipating an attack in time to jump up and smack the attacker off a cliff, then keep running. Dude! Oh yeah, and then Lin Beifong takes down an airship or something, whatever.

Pacing... I dunno, I guess even though I haven't watched as much anime in the past 4 years as I did before I came to Japan (ironic isn't it?) some part of me expects Avatar to be more like an anime and have slower pacing. Some awesome moments could have been drawn out a bit more, like Korra discovering how to dodge stuff and how to air bend, and Tarlok suddenly blood bending Korra. Also the triple KO victories in the bending area were kinda ridiculous. Why would the other team ever line themselves up like that?

Shocking... The last scene with Tarlok and Aman was... wow O_o For a kid's show, that was super dark. The show has a pretty low death rate even though it basically turns into a war by the end. Almost every airplane pilot or mech operator you see parachute or escape safely. But with an exit like that, I would be surprised to see those two in the next season.

Spirit world... I was starting to worry Korra wouldn't do anything spiritual in season 1. The way they finally included it was perfect though. In avatar season 1 Aang connects to the spirit world for the first time to win a battle, but Korra's first encounter with the spirit world is to heal after the battle is already over. I like that.

Next season?... Season 1 had a lot of closure. It's kind of sad, I thought Aman was a pretty awesome bad guy. The fire lord from Avatar was such a generic bad guy, Aman was much more complex. I was hoping he would just swim away when he landed in the water. **sigh** Once he exposed his water bending ability (like a total newb), it was all over. And Tarlok is gone too, so the only person I can see being the bad guy for the next season is Hiroshi, that would be weird...

This Blog and Blogger

Wow... Blogger had a major update at some point that I missed, now I'm looking at a big blank page instead of a little email style box. Maybe they want people to write more? Or there was a demand from bloggers for a bigger workspace? Anyway, the big thing I noticed is, of all the blogs that I write, this one gets looked at the most.

Some Stuff 3731 views
Legend of Arcana 279 views
Mainichi Ganbare 719 views

Legend of Arcana, the indie game I've been developing with RPG maker gets a lot of views too for some reason, even though it's on hiatus now. And Mainichi Ganbare still gets a decent number of views! That surprised me too. Makes me wanna blog more. I love my Some Stuff blog, it's mostly entertainment stuff, but that's what the world is all about these days.