Category Archives: gaming

Y’know what? It feels good to be rejected.

WordPress is doing a fine job of putting clicks between me and the written word, and don’t get me started on Grammarly. I’ll do that later, anyway. Basically, I’ve been a busy fella. The queries for Sliver of Light have begun; I’ve joined a fairly active NaNoWriMo Discord group; my first freelance writing job is in progress; the job hunt continues… and I’ve a lot of writing to do.

But here’s the thing: It feels good to be in process. Receiving a polite “no thanks” from an agent happened much sooner than I expect, but I was grateful to be heard. That’s all I ask for, and I’ll say that not all agents are good at communicating their interest. That is an article for another time, one I’m working on. Agents have as much a challenge laying out the red carpet as we do building the world they need to sell to publishers… but, I digress.

HonestGamers is providing some valuable insight into my weaknesses and strengths, as the last five reviews will certainly attest to:

20XX Review – A lovely little game with a review one of the gang couldn’t even finish reading… so I re-wrote the entire thing. Good thing I did too, because I’ve had an opportunity to adapt it into a script for a YT channel whose association I shall announce… eventually. Never be precious about your work.

Half Life 2: Lost Coast Review – You don’t really review these sorts of things. It’s a tech demo, after all. However, if you want clomid no prescription some insight into gaming development and the Half Life universe, this one’s a nice catch.

Firewatch Review – Apparently I have a thing for narrative games. This one earned me second place in HG’s Reviews of the Week. That was an unexpected pleasure, and a hint I’ll be taking. I mean, doesn’t this post have a rather narrative style to it? So yeah, more narrative rich games for me from here on. Also, top notch game.

Battlefield 1942 Review – One summer I dove deep into LAN based multiplayer gaming, and I just had to talk about it. Besides, this is the one that “started it all”… though really it was probably Pinball Dreams. To this day it’s still a fun game, even if it’s not so pretty, graphically speaking.

Candy Crush Saga Review – Is it any good? Yes, but the microtransactions are nasty! Summarily a good mental workout, but just watch how much time you sink into it. There are “2000+ levels”. Or so a splash screen told me.

What’s next? I’ve got a few on the burners, and I’m toying with some retro reviews, but they’re low on the priorities, unless they start magically paying my bills. (I’m not counting on it.) With Hurricane Harvey over, Irma is looking havoc right now, so I’m looking to my own needs. As always, one step at a time.

Where is Humble Bundle with Hurricane Humble Bundle, already? I guess the bad news is you can’t charity everyone, even when you try.

Ta for now!

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Filed under gaming, marketing, review, update, writing

Gaming in a Bubble

It doesn’t look so bad, at first. Gamers start with structures and routines and improve our mental reflexes, test our psychological boundaries and have varying regard for the morality of life. Yes, the absolute morality of family and integrity upon which world culture was founded. Now that we understand that, there is a very real problem arising in gaming that is far more severe than an economic bubble.

Let’s not get lost in who is right, because where raising children is concerned, shaking off responsibility for them is never correct. The point here is to focus on the impact of confirmation culture in a more pervasive yet subtle medium. In no other media can you be confronted with a moral choice and then be enabled to perform an action that can form your response.

Even the capacity to affect a moral choice is determined by the game developer: Some games present choices as having no consequence. Even rooting through a stranger’s home for goodies has established itself as a trope in adventure role playing. Since, developers have taken the issue more seriously and introduced mechanics of voluntary assistance from Non-Player Characters in such games.

Invariably it is up to the developer to decide how they will portray the impact of the player’s actions in their reality. However, there is something deeper bubbling under the surface of all the achievements and accomplishments that gaming has to offer: Futility. What is the ultimate value of saving the world, even if you can express how much fun you had with the others who played the same title?

As with all media, the accepted fact that there is little ROI (Return On Investment) to be had in most games, as we want more than we can have, and appreciate what we acquire even less. Games are so easily had now that there is almost no satisfaction, so we must look to other things. Can we share the experience? Will YouTube, Twitch or Patreon make it possible for us to attain some buy klonopin measure of celebrity to passify our discomfort?

Therein lies the quandry. Having obtained an accomplishment, we want to put it to use. In that way, gaming is limited. Unless the skill we acquire translates to practical application, then we are bereft of purpose. What’s more is some of these activities only reinforce behavior that in some cases is actually criminal.

Understand that all game genres have their extremes, but do we play fast and loose with the acceptability of these things? To justify them, we often do. Violence in games is the most obvious example, but “cultural differences” that extend to the treatment of both sexes can quickly become questionable. The sexualization of children and victimization of others is never right. What is the extent of our awareness and involvement?

Some of the most powerful examples are “hidden” behind levels of difficulty and time requirements so that the general public is unaware of them. Mortal Kombat is a sensational of gore satisfaction, and does not carry with it the emotional investment of games like Bioshock, The Walking Dead and others. Visual novels, in particular, invest the player emotionally as a core mechanic by simulating dates and – in some cases, debasing – sexual encounters.

Harmless fun, to wit? Mass Effect’s romance options were seen at first as mind blowing, but are now looked back on as awkward and cringe worthy. Why carry on with someone who will never do more than follow a script? Is that not fit cause for jealously? If not, why not? Don’t you deserve every bit of the devotion you entered the relationship to share?

We’re playing in a dangerous bubble, friends, and is there not enough of an example of where that train will end up in the so called leader, who shall not be named? I know I’ve asked more questions than provided answers in this post, but I intend to follow this path to it’s logical conclusion. Let’s start with being honest about the things we participate in.

To Be Continued.

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Filed under article, gaming, my view, opinion

Writing, Music, Reviews and HonestGamers.com

Where have I been since the beginning of the month? Waiting for Paypal, mostly. Nonetheless, I’m back, and I’ve been busily writing, studying, working on music and reviewing games. Here’s a breakdown with links (which open in a new window):

Reviews

Kirby’s Epic Yarn (Wii)
The Wii was never a doomed platform; it sparkles with possibility and is home to some of gaming’s most iconic motion controls. Well, the controls that people actually enjoyed. Masahiro Sakurai took the road less traveled, however: There are no motion controls in Epic Yarn. [Read More @ HonestGamers.com]

Chocobo Racing (PSX)
About the last thing I expected from Chocobo Racing’s stuttery menu was a thoroughly enjoyable story mode and racing well tuned enough to warrant many playthroughs. And competition with friends. And more playthroughs. Chocobo Racing could have one of the best story modes of any racer I’ve ever played. [Read More @ HonestGamers.com]

Final ambien.html Fantasy IX (Steam/Windows)
There’s a monkey in 18th century finery who’s going to try and steal your heart, but not before Vivi clambers into it. Romance is the language of Final Fantasy IX, and a happy-go-lucky attitude is its vehicle. IX is Shakespearean in more than its presentation; after the consequences of war, genocide and the subjugation of races are the stage for presentations of human truths and nature. [Read More @ HonestGamers.com]

Music

Remasters at Soundcloud
I’ve been remastering a selection of classic tracked mods for an upcoming album, and posting the pre-release results on Soundcloud. 1998: Sailor Rifts HD sounds pretty good …. pretty much the way I always thought it should sound, but could never accomplish with an eight channel module. I’ve released the aforementioned and: T2K Sugar & Spice HD and Cold Effects HD. [Hastypixels @ Soundcloud]

Writing

Sliver of Light
Still in progress and week by week the manuscript nears completion. If there’s any development, you’ll see it here first. My Patreon’s a little on the quiet side, but I’m still working on what to make “exclusive”. In the mean time, I’m just doing what I do. Once again, thank you for your links, feedback and time!

Be safe, friends.

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Filed under digital publishing, gaming, marketing, promotion, review, trideja

Chrono Trigger – The Underdog

This article was originally featured at HonestGamers.com

Where I Began
I have a vague recollection of the first time I picked up a Super Nintendo Entertainment System controller that vaulted me into Chrono’s distinctive reality. Memory can be vague, and I could imagine that it was in the company of a friend, or with a “Rental” sticker on the cartridge; perhaps it was the time I relived the adventure in retelling to another Role Playing Game fan who had yet to discover the ground breaking, time travelling tale.

That is perhaps part of the inspiration for Chrono Trigger, I could easily ascribe such, logically. However, my experience with the game was probably not much different than yours. I ran around, stole lunches, drank competitively, beat up a robot; checked on the girl I’d knock over first and definitely did not wait around for her to decide what candy she wanted.

Then I was judged summarily guilty as a subversive terrorist against the Kingdom and locked up in a tower. What a morning! To suggest I wasn’t have a great time would be a mistake, even though I learned, much to my chagrin, that the game was taking notes about my choices. That there were tangible consequences to my actions was a lesson I did not forget.

I didn’t care for a second that it was genius world building, mechanics-in-story seamlessly interwoven. This is a game that defined how time travel mechanics, world building and character design needed to work. No one aspect of its design received less attention than any other, and this is apparent even in detailed analysis.

Chrono Trigger is a masterwork of pixel art, eight channel orchestral character themes, strategic turn based combat and some of the most memorable characters you’re ever likely to meet. With character designs by Akira Toriyama, music by Yasanori Mitsuda and Nobou Uematsu, this is no doubt the console’s most ambitious title. Many of RPG gamings most familiar tropes got their start here, even if it did not originate them.

A Fantasy of Power
Chrono Trigger’s defining quality is its ability to allow you to become invested in your choices. Even if you don’t care, personally, for Marle, the rudderless princess you knock over, concern for her life and your impact upon it places you squarely in the middle of events. Your personal involvement with each of the characters not only dictates how much work you put into them, it also determines the outcome of the game.

To quote Nick Fury, “Ever been in a war, Councilman? Did you feel an over-abundance of control?” Each choice you make has an ever outward scaling knock-on effect that draws you to an apocalyptic conclusion seemingly beyond your control. You can escape death, rescue the princess, thwart the tyrant and even befriend the monster, but can you prevent the destruction of all humanity? Perhaps the ultimate answer we seek is addressed by Chrono Trigger: We can decide the outcome of the future.

Grandmastery
The heads of the creative team behind Trigger are considered grandmasters of their respective art. Their music, character design, pixel art and world design have inspired countless people to try their own hand at it. I submit there is no greater achievement than that. Let us not forget that the programmers also achieved an incredible feat on the aging console.

I remember being astounded that I could talk to someone and then run around the screen with the dialogue page still on screen. At the time I called it “multitasking”, though in truth it’s probably closer to task switching. Ever the techhead, I was impressed at the performance of that little grey box. Spell effects were impressive, many of which filled the screen in a showy fashion not before thought possible.

To say that these developers and creators were at the top of their craft is a fact, and they pushed the SNES to its limits and proved it still could awe the fans … without the use of any in-cart accelerators, I might add. There is no substitute for creative talent, and Chrono Trigger stands as a testament to that fact. So why is it so easily overlooked?

Progression and Heroism
I stared in heartbroken awe as Chrono’s sixteen pixel tall figure was disintegrated by Lavos’ vicious attack. Then, as Undertale would say, I was “filled with determination”. I had rescued Marle from death, and didn’t believe for a moment that he would succumb. I knew in advance that he was locked as the first party member for a reason.

It wasn’t cynical anticipation; I knew something terrible was going to happen. I’d watched games try new things and was curious what was next. Excitement may be a strange attribution to player death, but I trusted Chrono Trigger to continue to give me choices. When given the opportunity to restore the timeline, I got right to it. I know now I didn’t have to bring him back, but here’s the thing: ambien When I play Chrono Trigger, I can’t bring myself not to.

I feel obligated to bring order back, to restore what is ruined, to vanquish darkness and win the day. I know it stems from the deeply rooted sense of right I have within me, and here’s something else: I’ll never try to get any of the other endings. Stick with me, I’m going somewhere with this.

Your Ending
There are thirteen distinct endings in Chrono Trigger, and each can be effortlessly pursued thanks to New Game+, which grants you all of your prior equipment. You can defeat Lavos at less than half of your party’s maximum strength. That is a clever hint; all of the game’s potential has not been exhausted, and neither has yours.

In 1995, no one was told Chrono Trigger had multiple endings. The Internet was slow and communication was sluggish and not centralized. Translation: We didn’t have Facebook, Skype, Discord or any social media forum of significance. I don’t know how long it took for word to get around about alternate endings, but our perception of the game as complete was transformed. I didn’t have access to Chrono Trigger to explore the other endings, so for me, it was, but I don’t recall wanting very much to pursue them.

Did I find the man in the spacesuit underwhelming? Mechanically, not at all. “Core Lavos” can still be a tough fight if you’re not on your toes or privy to its defenses. Akira’s designs have a tendency toward silliness, so I wasn’t exactly surprised. Defeating Lavos, though, isn’t the point of the game.

Cause Without Root
The emotional resonance we talk about as reviewers, players and critics, is a blustery way of saying “I felt that.” Determination to win was what the characters, quests, music and art gave me. I remember feeling joyous – happy-sad – when Marle was re-united with Chrono. It may be ironic that Chrono Trigger doesn’t have a lot of emotional resonance.

All of its storytelling force comes from its ability to make you want to complete the goals that you own. They aren’t your goals; they’re preset, and can be broken down into a flow chart of relatively simple cause and effect events. We know that doesn’t lessen their meaning, because we make simple choices all the time. The difference is we get to see the resolution, or conflict, that comes of those choices in a short time frame.

Stories struggle with multi-universe scenarios. Chrono Trigger’s successor, though not direct sequel, Chrono Cross, is a branch of that narrative root. Players, when presented with forty characters to chose from, would chose not to play the game. Would a direct sequel have worked better? Would it even have been possible? I doubt it; other games have tried to recapture the magic and been panned in the attempt by critics and fans alike.

Chrono Trigger speaks to the power of our choices, and the uncertainty of consequence. Perhaps if it had just one ending, it would be more favourably regarded. It does not pretend that your choices do not matter; that there is only one possible outcome. It takes a risk and entrusts you with the fate of everyone within its world.

Why do I call this an underdog? Chrono Trigger changed how RPGs played and our expectations. It is easily glossed over as one of the best RPGs of all time, possibly because of its signature art style and narrative themes. When the world had moved on to Final Fantasy Tactics, critics still recognized Chrono Trigger’s deeper influence.

Is it preservation that has caused Squaresoft, and now Square Enix, to shut down every reinterpretation of its work? Three dimensional worlds do not suffice, novels of great respect, nor even a modest upscaling or remastering of the original assets behoove. Their narrow path of marketing does seem puzzling in the face of so many remasters of their other franchises. Let’s wrap this up.

Conclusion: Infinite Inventory
Chrono Trigger is a seminal classic. It has a novel presentation that relates the power and powerlessness of choice. Its music is some of the industry’s finest, and extolled strong female characters well before it became an industry focus, thanks to Lara Croft (also released in 1995). It continues to sell in a largely unmodified form, ported to many platforms.

It’s greatest weaknesses are indeed simple: Akira’s particular art style may just rub you the wrong way; the main storyline is uncharacteristically short. Some music themes can overstay their welcome, rarely exceeding a minute in length as was typical of the SNES. Multiple endings can be a chore to pursue.

Nonetheless, this is widely regarded as a must play, and is available on mobile for Android and iOS. If you’re retro-curious, it was also ported to PlayStation One and Nintendo DS with additional features including animated cutscenes, additional endings and more. ‘Nuff said.

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1000 copies and a new manuscript.

So it’s been two years since I self published Every One Fight, Bold Curves, A Thief at the Gala and Sector Bomb. How have my books fared?

Not too badly.

Between them all, just short of 1000 copies have moved across the digital storefronts through which Smashwords distributes my works. I probably avoided looking at those numbers because it’s not a comfortable thing to do. They’re not hundreds of thousands, not even tens. I’m not disappointed.

Consider that there’s been zero dollars spent on my ad campaigns for these books, which were short lived and social media fixated, er … centric. That’s actually a lot of books, and some of you actually keep them in your library. Thank you.

Anyone who follows me here, or on Twitter, may or may not know how much work I’ve been putting into Sliver of Light. I canned the blog “Cobalted” because I needed to rework it, and because I plan to sell it. That’s right, I’m fishing for an Editor. Those sales numbers confirm my suspicion: I’m good, but unrefined.

Like a piece of coal, you know, I need to be compressed … probably a lot … to bring out the inner gem. Oh, that’s … yeah, not inner gem. Lesse … I need to be put under pressure to bring out my best work. I won’t do that to myself; other writers might but I’m not one of those. That’s okay, because I’m also not clinical enough about my own work.

Editors play an important role in the writing adipex no prescription world, and they will as long as we write. So, my submission goes out tomorrow to the first publisher on my submissions list (which admittedly is more in my head than it is recorded anywhere). I’ve been updating my Patreon page more than this blog, so be sure to check that out and consider supporting my work if you’re interested.

The numbers say you are, and I like that they are numbers.

While I’m here, I’ll pass along the word that I’ve been game reviews for HonestGamers.com for six months now. I’ll cross post an article about ChronoTrigger as evidence … it’s a nice community and the readership is respectable. What have I covered? Well…

Front Mission Evolved (PC) – Read
Dust: An Eylsian Tale (PC) – Read
Audiosurf (PC) – Read
Audiosurf 2 (PC) – Read
Chroma Squad (PC) – Read
Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (SNES) – Read
Final Fantasy IV (PC) – Read
Rogue Legacy (PC) – Read
The Ninja Warriors (SNES) – Read
Half Life 2 (PC) – Read
Skyborn (PC) – Read
Stardew Valley (PC) – Read
Black Mesa (PC) – Read
The Swapper (PC) – Read
Half Life 2: Episode Two (PC) – Read
Guacamelee! Super Tubro Championship Edition (Wii U/PC) – Read
Half Life 2: Episode One (PC) – Read
Front Mission 4 (PC) – Read
Mighty Switch Force! Hose It Down! (PC) – Read
Transistor (PC) – Read
Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed (PC) – Read
Monster Loves You! (PC) – Read
Chocobo Racing (PSX) – Read

Sorry for the backlog! It’s all for your interest, anyway. Enjoy, and take care of yourself.

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Filed under digital publishing, freebies, gaming, marketing, novel, personal growth, promotion, publishing, review

6 Free Games from Sega

Make Love Not War features 6 top-rated titles on Steam! Hop on over now and click “Install Games” to add the lot to your account! Included are:

  • Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
  • Hell Yeah! Virtual Rabbit Missions (DLC)
  • Hell Yeah! Pimp My Rabbit (DLC)
  • Jet Set Radio
  • Sega Classics: Golden Axe, Dr. Robotnik’s valium.html Mean Bean Machine, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 3 and knuckles, Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic Spinball

Of course check out the sales on Total War: Attila, Company of Heros 2, Warhammer Dawn of War II, Total War Master Collection 2014, Company of Heros 2 Master Collection and associated DLC.

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Filed under freebies, gaming, good things, sale

Final Fantasy II is free, sort of.

According to an email I received Final Fantasy II a free download until Feb. 14th 2016 on the Final Fantasy Portal ( Google Play | iOS ), but if you need to re-download again after this event, you’ll be paying for the download. Is that to add it to your account or is this a game vending machine?

DRaMa
In the process of trying to find out I hit an absolutely ridiculous security wall called “One Time Passwords” and “Security Tokens”. These are heavy handed DRM controls to restrict both piracy and rampant farming in Square’s MMORPGs. This is why ratings don’t matter. You can’t taste awesome cake under lock and key if you don’t know which doors to open to get to it.

Why does everyone play Candy Crush? Open the package, taste the cake. It may be cheap, it may gouge you on the price of the drink you need to choke it down. It may even shove twenty other kinds of cakes at you while you’re eating, but you know what you’re getting and where to find more.

Square “cakes” are gorgeous, luscious, many layers works of art they’d rather not see abused. Who can blame them? I can. Creating an account to register the game I purchase is like going into the neighbour’s house to get dressed in my clothes. Go to site you’ve never heard of to create a two factor buy tramadol authentication code only you can use or just go play something else.

You need to be invested in order to do this.

LoopHoles
If anyone wonders why MMOs are reported as being on the decline, this is one of the reasons why. Who wants to spent twenty minutes hassling with trumped up security features when there’s so much competition? Square-Enix reported profits last quarter, but they’ve also been making cost cutting decisions and have a tendency to never put their games on sale.

Consequently no one talks about them, and even fewer play them.

Steam, GOG, Origin and Uplay appreciate the power of presence. Put a product in their hands, don’t worry if they like it. The point is you gave them something of value and they’ll remember you fondly. They have a higher chance of returning and spending money on you. Sampling. There you are.

Back to FFII. There’s no reason to jump through so many hoops for this game. There are superior free to plays available. I said it. Go find a few at Itch.io! FFII is classic, but its mobile presentation is lacking: Clumsy and boring by current standards. Few agree it’s worth its asking price.

Note that FFII is not available on the Google Play store as a stand alone purchase. If Squarix was looking to hook players on must have IP, this isn’t the way to go. Deal seekers beware.

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Filed under gaming, google play, marketing

Freebies – Need for Speed: Most Wanted

Itchin’ for a ride but light on cash? Electronic Arts has your back. Need for Speed: Most Wanted is free to download via their online service, Origin. Add it to your catalog now and it’s yours to keep! No subscription or credit nolvadex no prescription card required! Is it any good? Don’t know yet … but the price makes the gamble worthwhile.

Get yours now, the shelves are always stocked!

Just note that it does require a free EA Origin Account. Pah. Minutiae!

Enjoy!

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Audiosurf 2 – “Width of a Pixel”

Vitals
Developed/Published by: Dylan Fitterer
Platform: Windows, Linux, Mac
Available via: Steam ($16.99) -|- Direct from Publisher ($14.99 USD)
Consider also: Audiosurf ($10 CDN)

We’ve been down this road before, but it was bumpier, a little jittery, and underpowered. Acceleration was poor and the brakes squealed, but it was our first ride. We’d paid for it with our own money and no one could tell us where we could go or what we allowed to listen to. Continue reading

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Filed under article, critique, gaming, indie, marketing, review, viewpoint

Chroma Squad – “Little, Pixely, Fun”

Vitals
Published/Developed by Behold Studios
Platform(s): Windows, Linux & Mac. To Be Announced for XBox One, Playstation 3/4 and Vita
Steam for $14.99 CDN -|- GOG.com for $14.99 USD (DRM Free)
Consider also: Chroma Squad Soundtrack on Steam or Bandcamp

Power Rangers, Saban’s imitation of the sentai hero genre in Japan, is a formative experience for most of us in the 1990s and have continued to this very day. Over a dozen variants of the rainbow spectrum suited warriors have left an indelible mark on western culture. Chroma Squad captures that nostalgia with an imperfect experience, but memorable gameplay and undeniable warmth of heart. Continue reading

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Filed under article, critique, gaming, good things, indie