Let's discuss Avengers: Infinity War -- a movie BOUND to make you feel so good!

January 30, 2012

The Things I’ll Do to You…

So, how about that portrayal of women in fiction?

I’ve entertained the thought a few times on this blog that I want to be a writer.  Maybe I’ve got what it takes to be the next big name.  Maybe I don’t.  Maybe I’ll have people lining up to read my fiction.  Maybe I’ll just be an underground voice, with a cult following and snooty zealots scoffing and saying “You just wouldn’t get it.”  Who’s to say?  The point is, I have a goal in life.

I also have a very specific, very certain fear: a scenario in which someone will stand up, point their finger at me, and shout “That’s sexist!

Also I'm a JPEG made in Paint for some reason.

January 29, 2012

The Ballad of the Blue Bomber

Upon my usual return from school
Where academia doth justly rule
My ears did soon detect the sound
Of bleeps and bloops so great abound.

My interest was soon greatly piqued
So through the hall I did sneak
To investigate the hidden source
And let my searching run its course.

I firmly grasped the wooden door
Whilst my dogs barked ever more;
The notes that I did rapidly hear
Filled my heart with chilling fear.

Epic Oatmeal

On a cloudy Sabbath day now passed
I awoke in a droll, huddled mass
Woe to me, for the previous night
Saw not sweet dreams, but fiendish fright.

I gazed at my clock – nine and a score;
Time now wasted, and mine no more!
Yet drained as I was, what could I do
But tumble and doze another two?

I mustered my strength, and all my will –
“By my pride, I shan’t stay still!
This morn, though bleak, shall never best
My steel resolve!  To hell with rest!”

January 28, 2012

5 Life Lessons We Can Learn from The Centurions

Swine flu.  Economic recessions.  Global warming.  The impending zombie apocalypse.  That’s not something that anyone wants to wake up to in the morning, but it’s a cruel reality – the world doesn’t like humans (probably because humans are so keen on messing it up in the first place, but oh well).  Nobody likes having to deal with this stuff, either; some people try to work against it, some try to ignore it, some make it worse – the point is, it’s enough to make people edgy, fearful, depressed, you name it.  I suspect that there are still others who retreat to the safety of the days of youth, with nap time, plastic slides, schoolyard crushes…actually, that sounds pretty cool right now.  I’m going to go grab a time machine.

AFTER I make my peace, of course.  See, it’s the past that makes us who we are, and the past, for better or worse, has some ideas that we can take to heart.  And what better exemplar of this fact than my favorite cartoon (and merchandising vehicle) The Centurions?

January 23, 2012

You’re Doing It Wrong

The weather’s been pretty nice as of late.  Some sun, not too chilly -- yeah, the wind’s blowing like crazy, but that’s hardly worth complaining about.  And I’ve got plenty of oatmeal in the house; I’d argue to the death that it’s the breakfast of champions.  Had some tacos last night with a friend, played some games, watched 28 Days Later for the first time (pretty good movie, man!) …I’d say I’ve got nothing to complain about.

Oh, let’s look at what games are coming out this month.   Oooh, Soulcalibur 5.  That looks pretty good.  And it looks like we’ve got…

…Oh.  Oh dear.  It’s…


XIII-2.  Heh heh.  Ha.  Ha.  Ha.  Ha.  That’s…pretty…

So Epic, Bro

“Epic” is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days.  Surely you’ve noticed.  People will use it as an adjective all the time, often as a synonym for “awesome” or something of the sort.  There’s even a game developer called Epic Games -- but for the most part, I suppose this is a fair evolution.  In a world where CG in movies and graphics engines in games can make worlds come alive and explosions several dozen times more fiery, it’s probably going to get even harder to find a good description for that sweet action scene from that one movie.  Or any given guitar solo from the metal band of your choice.

Okay, I admit I just mentioned that to have an excuse to post some metal.  Can you blame me?

But I can’t shake the feeling that maybe, just maybe, we should make better use of the word.  If we label everything as “epic” so haphazardly, then we might end up losing more than just a battle to preserve such sacred semantics.

You're Looking at...

...2012-2912's Game of the Year.  After that...eh, I'd give it to Super Mario KD-0079.  Let's cooperate!

January 21, 2012

A New(er) Personal Low

A game for real men.

Remember how I mentioned the other day that I downloaded the visual novel Katawa Shoujo?  You know, the one where you play a lad with a heart defect trying to find true love amidst a gaggle of lasses with disabilities?  Well I’ve been playing a fair bit of it recently, and…well…

I don’t think I’ve ever HNNNNNNNNNNNNNGed so hard so often with a video game.

"Just...too...cute...!" -- The last words of most Katawa Shoujo players.

January 17, 2012

Select Your Alter Ego

So a new trailer for Street Fighter X Tekken was released today. 

Much rejoicing and hyping-up was had across the internet, and gaming forums everywhere.  And why wouldn’t there be?  After weeks, even months of teasing, Capcom decided to reveal a few more cards in its hand.  Cards, of course, being characters.  The Spanish ninja, Vega!  The bike-money obsessed boxer, Balrog!  Chinese kung-fu schoolgirl Xiaoyu (who I could never, ever beat in Tekken 5 on my way to becoming a Tekken Lord)!  Paul Phoenix, professional alien puncher!

I love a man who defends the Earth from interstellar solicitors.

A lot of detractors were heaping their fury onto SFxT as of late, thanks to a lack of information and some controversial decisions.  But it’s possible that, with the reveal of a few more characters, the hype train is back on the rails.  Why?  Let’s be real here: these characters have anywhere between three to twenty years’ worth of history as the fighters of their respective franchises.  That’s a long time to be punching people in the face -- and more importantly, a long time to bring fans old and new to your cause. 

The Video Game: The Movie: The Game

So, video games.  I hear they’re pretty cool -- like playing an interactive movie.  But if that’s the case, then should we think of them as movies?

To be fair, there is an increasing number of parallels between games and movies; blame that on all those doohickeys in them newfangled PSBoxes and Wiistations.  And to be fair, the increase in the number of gamers and the following mainstream emergence of a formerly elite hobby makes for an audience with different needs and desires -- and of course, expectations. 
So how well do the two mediums mesh?  Can we think of games as an extension of movies?  Or should the two be kept on opposite sides of a fence?  A fence separated by attack dogs, a moat filled with piranhas, and spike pits straight out of Mega Man’s worst nightmares?

Let’s have a look at our options.

January 16, 2012

The Hardy Tale of Blackules (Book 1)

And thus without a moment’s regret
Did that brave warrior, his passion whet
As he stood on the summit of Mount Doomfire
Doubtless he had earned the God Dragon’s ire

For in a headlock, he held the beast
With the sincere aim of making a feast
Of draconic meat and serpentine bone
And fashion his skull into a rugged throne.

The beast did swing his sword edged tail
But what came next was an inhuman wail;
With but a yawn and a flick of his wrist
The warrior tore it free -- in one quick twist!

January 15, 2012

Art at its finest.

We have LOLcats, Rage Comics, Fus Ro Dah, With a Box of Scraps, and everything related to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

Now, Internet, I ask of thee: why isn't THIS a meme?

A New Personal Low

There have been three games I’ve wanted so much that I’ve gotten obsessive over them.  The first is Super Smash Bros. Brawl.  The second: Persona 4, which would go on to become my 4th favorite game ever.  The third -- and the most recent -- is Katawa Shoujo.

All the colors of the rainbow.

I’d heard about the game a while back -- a freeware visual novel created by, get this, a bunch of forum-goers on the internet based on a single page of art from an indie artist.  Its main characters?  High school students gathered at a school for people with disabilities, running the gamut from blindness to deafness to amputations.  Its gameplay?  Reading and clicking through text and occasionally answering a multiple-choice prompt, with the perceived goal of becoming “really good friends” with one of the disabled girls (hence the title). 

I feel embarrassed just writing that.  Hot off the heels of finishing the sublime 999, I wanted to try my hand at another visual novel.  And when I heard that Katawa Shoujo was available for download, and FREE, I raised my eyebrows in amusement and intrigue, as I so often do.  And when I saw the reactions across the internet -- tales of grown male gamers closing their laptops and setting their heads on their desks to cry -- I knew this was a game I had to play. 

I’ve only played a few games that have made me cry, or tear up, or choke up.  Sonic Adventure 2.  Trauma Team.  The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.  The aforementioned 999.  Those are the kinds of experiences that I want to dissect -- to understand what makes them tick, so that I can use them in my own works.  How do I make a true emotional moment?  How do I make readers choke up and take a look at their own lives?  Sure, I can make people laugh, and I can make them pump their fists and say “Hell yeah, homeslice!”  But do I have what it takes to make them cry?  I suspect not.  And that’s why I intend to use the game as training to learn its secrets.

Such as how to resist the awesome seductive power of drill hair.

The only problem is the price of entry.  Do I dare venture in?  Do I dare face the power of emotion?  Do I dare play a game that veers dangerously close to being a dating sim, coated with distinctly Japanese visuals, and risk becoming a glossy-eyed nerd who clutches anime hug pillows and whispers “Moe…^_^” well into the night?

Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme.  For one thing, I’m already nerdy enough.  Playing a visual novel isn’t going to change me that much.  And besides, from what I've heard this game is quite tasteful...outside of its title, in which "katawa" is considered very offensive in Japan.  But that was intentional.  The developers behind it are pushing boundaries in a way plenty of other companies shy away from -- or arse up entirely -- so this might be...interesting, to say the least.  I'm all for a game that teaches me something new, and something with a bit more class and taste (my gamer cred needs a quick boost every now and then).  So all in all, I’m looking forward to a full playthrough of Katawa Shoujo; it could be a very nice change of pace from a world of brown shooters. 

Bring on the tears, game.  I DARE you.

Download it here (assuming you have a torrent program): http://katawa-shoujo.com/  Be a man.  (Or a woman.  A...WOman.  Or...woMAN.  Or tacos.)

What if Game Developers Had Smaller Budgets?

You know what they say about people who have money.  It turns them into jerks.

Well, they say that behind their backs.  But the fact remains that people and companies with some serious coin are always going to come under fire from the regular guy; it’s the bourgeoisie against the proletariat all over again.  The gaming world is no exception: if you’ve got a company with enough money to make Scrooge McDuck a little antsy, you’ve got a company that draws ire from armies of non-believers.  Activision, Square-Enix, EA, and more put their wallets into production, and it shows.  Massive ad campaigns.  Graphics that make reality look like a finger painting.  Bombastic set pieces.  Cinematic experiences that are waging war on Hollywood.

They're comin' for that ass, Cameron.

All of these factors and more are enough to earn the never-ending hatred of gamers everywhere.

With cinematic bombast come plots that have holes the size of craters.  With eye-melting graphics comes re-used assets and drastically shortened gameplay.  With dedication to set pieces and sights comes an experience so linear that a tube of toothpaste has more depth.  It’s enough to make gamers bitter and cynical -- and drive them to hold indie games and titles from smaller companies in higher esteem (provided that they’re good, of course).  Big-budget games are -- and by extension transform the industry into -- a business affair with high risks and expectations.  Small-budget games are what you might call “hipster magnets” in the sense that they’re in it for the art.  You know, in a totally un-ironic way. 

You've probably never heard of it.

But I wonder what would happen if big-budget titles -- the dreaded AAA releases and annual franchises that earn groans from forum-goers everywhere -- had their big budgets slashed?  What if they were suddenly forced to rely not on the ability to tout their hyper-dimensional graphics engine, but on all the other factors that make a video game a video game?  What if they had to convince audiences and potential buyers without the ability to spend a cool five million with bells, whistles, and Jonah Hill?


The Case For

The average game, as I once read, costs twenty to twenty-five million dollars to make.  At least, that’s what they cost back in 2009 -- when the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 firmly rooted themselves as “current-gen” technology.  When God of War III came out, later boasts revealed that it cost somewhere around 44 million dollars to make.  In spite of that astronomical number, it did fairly well for itself; it probably helped that it had a healthy fanbase and a recognizable franchise behind it.

But money corrupts.  We’ve seen it in fiction and in real life.  Gamers have every right to fear for their future when sales figures and total shipments are the biggest accomplishments for a game, and not things like innovative gameplay or an engrossing story.  The big companies can put in the big bucks and afford top-of-the-line motion capture tech or an input/output doohickey that renders 4,096 different shades of brown -- and chances are they’re confident they’ll make their investment back.


But suppose they didn’t have the money for that.  I can think of a few features they’d have to slash right off the bat: awe-inspiring graphics and most likely diminished online support (to say nothing of crippled marketing).  In terms of the actual company, you’d probably have to work with a smaller team as well.  And you wouldn’t be able to hire outside help, either.  Come to think of it, would a smaller budget lead to a download-only release?  That’s a fair avenue for plenty of companies compared to a retail release (or releasing said game at a discount).

So let’s see here…worse graphics.  Slashed online multiplayer.  No set pieces.  Lower expectations of success; probably just trying to stay afloat.  Probably no voice actors with a high price tag.  Really, big developers would be losing a lot (at the cost of being able to, say, give the money they weren’t allowed to use to children.  Or puppies.  Or orphan puppies.)

How do you succeed, then?  How do you get your product out there?  Make it good.

Originality.  Depth.  Challenge.  Amusement.  Catharsis.  Fun.  You don’t need a big budget to make sure that your game succeeds.  You just need to remember, and implement, what makes a game a game.  If you can’t afford the Hollywood trappings, axe them; companies have done more with less in the past and in the present.  With the fat gone, all you have left is the delicious meat; as a developer, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’ve made that meat as tasty as possible.  And there are plenty of ways to do it.  Make a game with stylized visuals, rather than graphics that render every grain of dust.    Introduce a story that tugs at the heartstrings, or just makes players laugh out loud.  Push gamers to the point of tears with levels that are hard enough to make eating a box of Railroad Spike-Os seem pleasant by comparison, but just rewarding enough to make them as addictive as Cinnamon Railroad Spike-Os. 

Part of a balanced breakfast.

In a world where big budgets = huge risks = the threat of job losses, maybe it’s good to not put so much money into a product.  It gives the developers a chance to take risks not with their pockets, but with their intellectual property.  Games with guns n’ zombies are in right now, which leads to an overload of the market with the same generic product; what better way to differentiate oneself from the crowd -- and earn some notoriety -- with something different?  Something original?  Something that’s earned its merits based on the game’s mechanics, not bells and whistles?

Atlus is a Japanese company that consistently -- almost unfairly -- doles out titles that, while small in budget, are big in ideas, challenge, entertainment, and more.  It’s a comparatively small company, yes, but its fans are as rabid and dedicated as any other (I speak from experience).  But of course, there are plenty of western developers busting out some hits: Outland, Super Meat Boy, and ESPECIALLY Braid are all lifetime achievers in my book.  Super Meat Boy has gone on to sell a million units, in spite of being about a block of 2D meat.  Braid has gone on to become an exemplar of “games as art” -- and it was made with less than 200k.

It was Super Mario Bros. for geniuses.  And stalkers.

For some companies, their AAA models are fine.  For others, there’s no money to be had in aping what your competitors are doing, and doing better by virtue of being so filthy rich that a dip in Niagara Falls wouldn’t clean them off.  If you can’t beat the competition on their terms, shift the battlefield in your favor.  Give them something smaller, but much more satisfying.    The gaming world will thank you for it.

The Case Against

Hey, you know what’s good?  Money.

You know what else is good?  Using money to produce the things you want.

Let’s be realistic here.  Games cost money to make -- a lot of it.  Even if you slash the budget, you’re slashing the kneecaps of the creators.  It takes money to hire talented people.  It takes money to put all the assets into a coherent package.  But most importantly, it takes money to realize a creative vision.  Now more than ever is that the case; in the age of HD gaming (or as I call it, “The Age of Nolan North”), there’s potential to create the biggest, most luscious worlds in history.  But it’s not a task you can do alone.  You need a team.  You need tech.  And most of all, you need money.

We're lucky Braid didn't look like this.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is making the rounds as one of the most impressive and open-ended games ever released.  Having played it -- and having sent my hero Blackules to the farthest northern reaches to burn walruses alive -- I can attest to that.  But would even a tenth of that sprawling world be available if not for the developers throwing money into its gullet like an oversized baby?  Likewise, how successful would any company be in realizing its aims if it didn’t have the money to back up its production?

Money doesn’t always ensure quality.  But given the choice, would you rather a company with no money handling your games?  Or a company that can afford a quality assurance team?

Let’s have a scenario.  Company A is the big budget company.  Company B is the little guy.  Both are competing in an art contest.  Company A has plenty of money to spend, and they use it to buy all the best art supplies, and paints, and brushes, and glitter, and paper they can -- and they even have veteran voice actor Nolan North handle the painting.  Company B can’t afford anything more than Popsicle sticks and glue, so they have to work with that.  Company A puts out the biggest, most glittering painting they can -- a mural-sized work that takes two forklifts to carry in and out of a building.  And the painting itself?  It’s a sailboat.  Company B walks in with a smaller piece: an abstract model of the universe rendered in Popsicle sticks…which also happens to look like Nolan North’s head.

Let's face it, the man has a rugged appeal.

What will people like more?  Who’s to say, really?  They could go for the sailboat, if only because its glitter is blinding to them.  They could go for the Popsicle sticks, citing it as the most moving work of art ever produced, while remaining curiously handsome.  People have different tastes, and if they want to prefer the sailboat, they’re allowed to.

The same applies to the gaming industry.  People wouldn’t buy games like Gears of War 3 or Uncharted 3 or Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty if there wasn’t something in there that they liked.  The games have their audiences, and they’re aware of what they like, want, and need; with gaming itself becoming more popular and mainstream, so too must companies cater to their tastes.  Maybe people want supreme visuals.  Maybe they want popcorn-flick plots.  Maybe they just want simple gameplay, coupled with the chance to shoot and stab their friends (but mostly enemies, I’d wager).  Maybe it’s just best to be at peace with that; we shouldn’t blame a company’s resources for its failings, but the paradigms within.  It’s those big budgets that make plenty of games possible; if there’s an issue, it should be with the fact that there’s an intellectual disconnect, not “They’re rich, so they’re Hellspawn.”

So in the end…

This post solves nothing.

Still, you can’t help but wonder.  Are budgets alone to blame for the gaming industry’s problems?  Is money the root of all evil here, as well?  Would everyone be better off with indie titles and games from little companies?

Yes, no, maybe so.  It’s all a matter of preference, I suppose.  Some people are happy with things the way they are.  Some aren’t.  All I can say is, stick with the games that make you happiest.  Let others enjoy their games.  And most of all?  Be sure to look up at the sky every night -- because if you do, and if you believe in miracles, you’ll see Nolan North winking at you from the stars. 


January 13, 2012

This Article is Getting a Reboot

You know, I’ve always felt like I don’t really belong in my age group.  Not because I’m more mature than everyone else (if anything, the reverse is true); it’s because more often than not, I feel like I’m an old man compared to the young ‘uns around me.  I’m no stranger to a nice, quiet afternoon nap.  I consider anything past twelve-thirty at night to be extremely late.  I love eating oatmeal for breakfast, and I don’t have any problems eating broccoli.  My only saving grace is that I don’t like prune juice…yet.

Nevertheless, the day is coming.

That, and the fact that I’m not completely crippled by my nostalgia.  I’ll allow and accept change as needed, but as long as it’s within reason.  The established canon of franchises the world round are there for a reason -- they’re a guide, a sort of history that shouldn’t be defiled by newborns trying to change elements to suit their fancy.  If I may borrow an old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t reboot it.”

…Wait, you mean people don’t say that?  Well, they should.  I DID say that I’ll allow change as needed.

January 12, 2012

Me on an Average Thursday

World domination: the end goal of all would-be writers.  (Devil-eared mechs optional.)

Red Means Angry

He's a little miffed right now.

So the other day, I tried the Asura's Wrath demo on PS3.  And...well, I'm not sure what to say about it.  When asked by my brother, all I sad was "This guy is very, very angry."  Demos being demos, I didn't want to judge the game based on about twenty minutes of context-less beatdowns.  I'm an equal-opportunity gamer, unless your name has Final Fantasy XIII in it -- in which you can just mosey right on into the lowest circle of Hell.

But I digress.  By default, I want to like -- no, LOVE Asura's Wrath.  For one thing, it's a game made by Capcom and CyberConnect2, companies known for delivering stylish crazy action and ultra-cinematic battles, respectively (with regular overlap).  It's not another brown-tinged military shooter.  You play as a guy with six arms who punches and punches and punches until he turns a finger that could poke a hole through Brazil into molten confetti, along with the moon-sized deity that it belongs to.

So yeah, I'm excited.  At the same time, I'm really worried about this game.  It's a cinematic experience, sure, but -- as I've said in the past -- games and movies are separate for a reason.  Games put the action in the hands of the players, crafting battles and skirmishes as they see fit.  Movies do not.  Movies are all about scripted events, occuring in a predetermined fashion.  But then again, games are featuring more of these scripted events than ever before; logically, that would make a game like Asura's Wrath primed for perfect review scores and acclaim by the public.

Number Munchers

So let me tell you about this game 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.

(equips Hat of Infinite Gushing)

Dude, this game is straight-up dope!  Like you wouldn't believe, man!  It's like, have you ever seen any of the Saw movies?  Well imagine that, but -- get this -- on a boat!  A damn boat, dude!  And there are these nine guys who get forced to play a game with math and puzzles and huge 80s wristwatches and the Titanic, and they've all got bombs in their stomach and they'll all go BOOM if they don't play right!  And if they don't get off the boat in nine hours, that boat'll be all like, "Dude, I'm so outta this piece," and it'll go straight to the bottom of the ocean!  Weak!  So you gotta scan in your watch and go in a door and do puzzles and find digital roots, and -- dude, did I tell you already?  It's just so damn legit, dude.  Like you don't even KNOW.

(unequips Hat of Infinite Gushing, uses Hi-Potion to heal ruptured brain cells)

Oh, I'm gonna be feeling that one for the next seventeen years...but enough of that.  Now, I'll be the first to admit that I haven't seen any of the movies in the Saw franchise, and I have no intention to; even so, I'm pretty confident that 999 is several dozen times better than all the movies put together.  But before I get ahead of myself, I should probably start by saying it's not really much of a game; yeah, it's a DS cartridge that you plug into your Nintendo DS, and if you press buttons things go bloop-bloop-bloop and deetly-deetly, but anyone looking for bombastic action or explosive output for each input had best look elsewhere.

Fans of Marty McFly's fashion sense are quite welcome, however.

Dat Curly Hair

It’s been a few months since I beat Catherine.  Fun game, that.  And I’d say that my 15-or-so-hour run with it has been harder than four years of college.  At least when you’re in class you don’t have to worry about climbing a giant tower while dealing with murderous sheep, all while pushing around blocks to build a staircase to freedom, all while making sure not to step too carelessly on ice blocks, monster blocks, those jackass crumbling blocks, or blocks that suck you into a black hole.  I felt like crying a few times.  On the plus side, this is one of the rare circumstances where you can say “I escaped from a buttfaced monster” with any sort of viable context.

But still, there’s something weird about that game.  Not the aforementioned gluteal beast, or the fact that the main character’s insecurities in life are trying to slaughter him.  It’s the fact that, even after all this time, I’m still thinking about the game.  I’ve beaten my fair share of games, mind, some of which are much harder than Catherine ever was (Sin and Punishment: Star Successor will leave you a callous, soulless husk if you allow it).  But Catherine is different.  For all our love of epic tales and mighty heroes, that game felt -- it FEELS -- like it matters.  Almost like it’s talking to the player, engaging with him or her.  Much like the conflict of the story, it makes you care about what matters most to you.

And to think, mothers the world over think video games are just kill-simulators.  Ha!  They’re only half-right, at best!

"Fuckin' blocks!  I'm gonna climb the shit out of you!" --Actual dialogue

Double Dunk

So I've been thinking -- thinking, and not much else -- about doing some e-publishing as of late.

For the moment, it seems like a fair course of action for me regardless of risks (need I remind you what a "cross-up" means?).  It could be a quick way to get some of my stuff out there to the masses -- a little bit of PR, some exposure, ensuring that the internet is .00000000000001% less concentrated porn -- and as I've heard there's a bit of money to be had, I figure it's worth a shot.  Plus, I'll finally be a legitimate writer...published, in one form or another, and able to actually put a prduct out there in the wild instead of clutching my pages to my chest and tearfully drop-kicking anyone who wants to take even a peek at my stuff.*

But -- diabolical as I am -- I wonder if I can't have it both ways.  E-publishing (and/or self-publising) seems to be transforming into a legitimate way to get one's writing out there; on the other hand, I'd be crazy to ignore print publishing and all those publishing houses so readily.  It's a case of the old guard versus the new generation, I think; as a newbie writer, I'm in no position to poo-poo on either of them.  I'll take what I can get, but at the same time I think that the two can work in tandem, and put me in a happy middle ground.  One for relatively short-term gains to build some fame, and one for long-term gains following e-publishing, where said fame can draw a few eyes.

So basically, my plan is to game the system for my own personal gain.  Look at how noble I am.

So I suppose that's where I am for now.  I've got a handful of short stories that are more or less ready to go, and I want to put out some major products in the near future**; what I really need right now is a chance to gain an audience.  (And courage bordering on the suicidal, but, details.)  Hopefully, I'll be able to pull off a win.

*That too, sounded vaguely sexual.  I think this blog has its first running gag...
**Yep.  Definitely got a gag.  

Those Wacky Yeerks

So over the past month, I spent some time at my grandma's house.  My family's visits to Beaumont have their perks and downsides.  The downsides include no internet, being forced to share a room with my brother (who refuses to go to sleep at a reasonable time), and of course hearing my grandma's catch phrases: "Huh?" and "I don't know what you're saying."  Because you haven't lived until you've tried to explain the plot of James Cameron's Avatar to a 93-year-old woman who has trouble discerning if you're saying "yes" or "no."

But there IS a certain perk that makes it worthwhile.  See, a few years ago I took a certain step to make sure that -- even in the absence of the internet, or ready access to the video game console of my choice vis a vis limited space for packing -- I have something to keep me busy.  This, of course, was long before I had my laptop, and as I recall even before I had a Nintendo DS; in other words, something that I could use even without voltage running through it.

Books.  A handful of Animorphs books, to be exact, to be nestled between a pair of bookholders near my bed in Beaumont.  At the time, it seemed like a sound strategy: it had been a while since I'd read them, but they were too precious to just throw away.  Bringing them to Beaumont -- and then, sacreligious as it may sound, LEAVING them there -- would ensure that I could relive some fine memories every now and then.  I could blast through a full installment in a night, relive the good old days, and come time to return home I'd leave them there in the archive.  Then, whenever we'd return, I'd have my old friends waiting for me.  Friends that I hadn't read in ages, given new life and new merit by virtue of inaccessibilty.

It was the perfect strategy.  Too perfect, in fact.  Because this time around, when I cracked open Animorphs #22: The Solution, I found more than a little nostalgia, or a little entertainment.  I realized that there was a reason why I loved the series so much; why I refused to give my copies away; why, even as I type this, I still have roughly half the series nestled in a shoebox a foot away from me.

Animorphs is just too good.  

Suspect 3D effects aside.

So I Guess I'm a Blogger Now

Yep, I'm starting a blog.

(puffs out chest and struts down freeway)

Twenty-second century man, comin' through!  Make way for me, plebians!  My era is at ha-

(gets hit by speeding clown car; loses a life)

...Great.  Now I've only got eight lives left.  I might have to go back to Level Six and score another twenty million points before I end up dying again.  But that can wait; the important thing is, this may or may not become the platform I use to become something of relative use in this big blue world of ours.  Or at the very least, a guy whose keyboard taps can become something that entertains audiences from one corner of the internet to the other.  Assuming that the internet has corners -- though that begs the question of whether or not one can fall off the edges of the web a la pre-Columbus explorers.

But before I get ahead of myself, I'd better explain myself -- namely, by answering the question "What's a cross-up?"  Here's a handy definition from Urban Dictionary (probably the least-sexually charged definition available):

"cross-up: a common technique seen in fighting games; a jumping attack performed as you jump over the opponent that connects with the opponent from behind."

Get it?  Well here's a description of it in action from IGN's Street Fighter 4 guide:

"For an opponent to guard against a cross-up, he/she must not only change their guard to a high guard but must also press toward the attacker to guard, instead of away from the attacker. Judging the difference between a normal jump-in and a cross-up is often difficult in the heat of battle, so by forcing the opponent to change many directions of his/her guard, you are much more likely to connect your hit, letting you move into a combo."

Neat, huh?  Well, a cross-up is just one of countless fighting game terms and techniques; wavedashing, tri-dashing, chain combos, links, buffering, Tiger Knee motions, the works.  All of them are designed to give the player some sort of weapon to use to mount an effective offense, and maybe even win a match.  But these techniques -- much like this blog's titular cross-up -- aren't guarantees of victory.  You have to have skill and cunning to use it at just the right moment, or else you risk a completely ineffective, and even preventable attack.  (Considering that games like Street Fighter have dozens of anti-air attacks, you're putting your life on the line whenever you take flight.)  Given that, it seems fitting to name the blog Cross-Up.  Not because I want to get knocked out of the sky with a well-placed uppercut to the liver, mind, but because of everything else it symbolizes.  There's no guarantee that this, or anything that I do from here on out will ensure my victory.  Even so, just keeping my feet on the ground hardly seems any more effective.  So I'm going to go ahead and leap for it -- I'll jump, make my move, and hope I don't eat a Shoryuken for my troubles.  And who knows?  I just might be able to land a Super Combo finish.*

So yeah.  I'll be posting whatever I think will entertain, excite, and occasionally draw a skeptical, arched-eyebrow stare.  As I think myself a writer, I'll probably be tossing news about my exploits out there whenever it suits my fancy; maybe I'll leave a snippet of things that I'm working on, or news about my coming ascension to glory.  But since I imagine there's not too much to say most days, I'll probably post plenty of stuff about video games.  Remember, it's not filler if it's awesome!  And maybe I'll actually try my hand at this whole "networking" thing.  You know, spreading the word?  Getting people to visit my site?  Becoming notorious in the blogosphere?  Wink wink?  Nudge nudge?  Sparkle sparkle?

Well, whatever.  Hopefully, this is jthe beginning of something great.  So if you keep dropping in, I'll have more than enough self-esteem to provide.  And hey, maybe I'll do something smokin' sick to earn your praise for eons to come.  It could happen, right?

*In retrospect, that sounded vaguely sexual.