How I Wished Life Was A Video Game (Personal Discussion)

Remember a while back when I talked about Gaming while Adulting?

Hell it was one of the first things I wrote for this blog, not the first thing I’ve ever written but I digress. I talked about how I coped with the responsibilities of adulthood and playing video games. This time around, I want to hit on the subject opposite of what I talked about, the fantasy of what life would be like if video games were reality.

I’ve covered this a couple times, dialogue trees, instructions manuals, etc. but this time, due to the reality I’m dealing with and how much easier things would be. I know, fantasy, escapism, but when life gets hard, about as hard as it’s coming down on me, I just like to imagine things would be a bit better if I lived in a video game style world.

Getting the chance to input a cheat code to spawn a new car, get infinite money, gain super powers, any of these things could make the day to day grind so much easier when life keeps kicking you when you are down. Being in a realm where I could charm my way through situations, where save points exist so if I made a bad decision I could jump back to that save and choose to do another action.

I don’t hold regrets in my life, I dislike some of the bad things I have done in the past, I’ve done some pretty horrible things that I would like to take back, but everything that I’ve done has brought me to the man I am. I had only wished the man I was had planned for a future better so I wouldn’t be scrambling to fix thing. I do wish, however, that life was just a bit more forgiving or at least more enjoyable when stress is hitting you from every angle.

I Know Things Wont Change By Wishing

I just like to imagine how things could be, I know I need to change my situation on my own accord and not wait for the universe to hand something out to me. I just have a hard trying to reach a point of being a responsible adult without losing my sanity, my anxiety has a way of exacerbating everything to the Nth degree. Taking some time to wonder what I would do in a situation if I could play like the Sole Survivor from Fallout 4 keeps me sane and places me in a situation where I can assess my own issues from a more comedic position.

I have improved who I was from years ago, I’ve dragged myself up from a position of just all around crap, and became a better man for it. Problem is things pile up, mistakes are made, and life becomes an all around a pain from time to time. Many of you might understand this, hell I would expect many people I know to understand just how difficult life can be.

I’m not saying I have it the worst, I know people who deserve more support than me, but I also know my situation is the one I have to deal with on a daily basis so it’s the one I unfortunately focus on. I don’t think less of my friends and their plight, heck I wished I could do more to help those around me when they need it. I just know at the moment I could hardly keep my head above water.

Which is why I idly think of the world with video game elements. Hell if I could use cheat codes or access super powers, like super speed, I could save money on using my car and wasting gas, just run back and forth. I could also use it to finish all my daily tasks more effectively where the real world limits me to certain constraints. I could only imagine a good time being had if I decided to misuse a power like that, but in general just looking to imagine life just a tad be easier.

To End the Fantasy

I know, this entry hasn’t been the most informative or interesting to most people, I’ve been having some writers block and was looking to break it by writing my experiences lately and just musing of something more interesting in my life. I know it is sad for an adult my age to be wishing like a child for some sort of video game inspired miracle when I could be working to fix things as a whole, but it’s how I cope. I craft stories, ideas, something to ease the pain while trying to deal with the situation. As a writer, I’ve always found myself writing about reality and twisting it to be better because the world around us is sometimes shit.

I can’t lie and say things will be better as easily as snapping my fingers or rolling a 20 sided dice, but I can at least soften the blow. I like knowing that I’m creative enough to imagine a better world while I try to figure out how to make the one we have the same. I just don’t find comfort in tackling a problem while my body falls apart due to stress. Taking the time to craft some fantasy may not be such a bad thing.

Again sorry, this one may end up being a throwaway personal post, but I needed to express my issues, my wishes, break my writers block, and to keep good to my word about keeping posts up here.

To those that read this, thank you. I just hope it didn’t become mind numbing for you in the end.

-ProdigiousJ

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Pokemon GO Fest: Should Have Seen This Coming?

Pokemon GO Fest: Should Have Seen This Coming?

Pokemon Go has always been kind of a… trainwreck.

I say this because I still play it and at times enjoy it. I am objective in my own way, since I love Pokemon as a whole and had high hopes for Niantic when they put this out. I also knew after a week or two, they dropped the pokeball as it were, and left us in a lurch.

That being said, today was the Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago, where Pokemon Go trainers from around the Chicago area, to try and catch pokemon, do raid battles, and spin Stops in order to build bonuses for Trainers all around the world after the event. This would all lead up to the “Mystery” event, which we all knew it was going to be a Legendary Raid (don’t lie).

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Or at least that was supposed to be the case, but players poured in complaints about connectivity issues, unable to log on and do what the entire event was all about. Things got so heated that when the CEO of Niantic, John Hanke, took the stage to address the issues, he was only booed off by the crowd of angry players. A little while later, those same players began to chant “We Can’t Play!” in frustration in while at the event.

Who can blame them?

People flew in from outta state and out of the country to participate only to show up at the event where they couldn’t do a damn thing. Thinking on the plane ride over, “Man I can’t wait to see what rare pokemon they have for us that I don’t have at home?” only to show up and start admiring the load screen because they aren’t getting past that any time soon. “I could have a gym in another country/state!” then the only thing they get to do is sweat in a crowd of people in another country/state. pokemongocrwd.jpg

Some players even wasted money to travel there, some spending money in game for items to help them for the event. This dawned on the Niantic team and they recently offered a refunds to ticket holders, and added on the bonus of a $100 in coins in game. This also doesn’t mention the lines to get inside the event still going on, who also can’t connect due to cell networks being congested.

To say this event was not well planned is an understatement but we shouldn’t be surprised. This kind of event bombing as hard as the infamous Dash Con ballpit (yeah pulling out an oldie) is expected from the company who didn’t plan ahead on the games release. Announced many features that have just recently been released, a year later, many of which were said to be either on release or close to it. Like I talked about in my other article about my re-addiction to the game, features being removed and “fixed” returned months later, removing fan made services on the pokemon locator systems and etc. I wont dive into it again, but just circling back to say I’m not surprised.

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The Good Coming From This

Not much, besides an awesome display of chanting by Pokemon fans, but the two important things are the first two Legendaries were announced, Lugia (Yes!) and Articuno (Meh), and that the players hit the goals they were shooting for, which is rumored to give us bonuses after the event.

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Will these bonuses happen, maybe who the heck knows if they will be able to deliver but I will be hopeful indeed.

Other than that, nothing much came from the event, that I was partially excited for. Other than the acknowledgement that Niantic will continue its trend of not thinking ahead, letting down people’s expectations because of poor planning, but the most important thing, bringing people together.

That’s right, what is looking to be close to 20,000 players gathered from all around, were brought together by the love of Pokemon and the desire to play the game they made. The idea that some say Pokemon Go is dead doesn’t seem so accurate. I was surprised when the app first came out, I was hesitant to go out to local parks because I have horrible social anxiety, that so many people showed up to catch Gen 1 pokemon, kids, adults, and even some in their late 50s or 60s.

This game maybe a train-wreck sometimes, but it is always keeping people on board no matter how bad things fall apart. Not many gaming franchises can have their CEO booed off stage at a failed event, while maintaining such a huge fanbase. I continually find myself bashing Pokemon Go, going to the point of weening myself off, only to come back when some subtle features, or some larger ones with the Raids, show up and then I’m jumping right back in. I’ve even started a second account just so I can help with gyms or raids if I can actually figure out how to use it separately. If only I could find my spare older phones.

Either way, I’m not surprised by the failure of the games devs when something fails or bombs miserably. Yeah it’s harsh but every bad thing has a silver lining. Niantic’s is that they can still manage to reel people in and keep them playing. Meeting new people, building teams for the new raids, joining/creating social media groups to keep contact, the devs have picked the one property that even if they mess things up, people stick with them.

Kudos to Niantic for trying, I guess. Though as of me writing this, they have done a bit more than just refund the ticket and $100 coins for players who went to the event. Legendary Pokemon Lugia gets added to the trainers who participated in the event (or tried to) and extended the pokestop events for the players in Chicago around the park by 2 miles. So hey quick response to the problem, good on you. Maybe next time have a plan to avoid this, work with the cell companies or something along those lines.

Either way, the event was a success of some kind ways and people who could get in to play actually came out on top, maybe stocking up on balls, or just getting the chance to get a Legendary for free.

Can’t lose for losing it seems.

-ProdigiousJ

Women In The Nerdspace: The Roles They Play

Women In The Nerdspace: The Roles They Play

To Start, I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this topic and some of the things I say, and frankly I don’t give a damn. You’ve been warned.

Ever since there have been men, women have existed along beside them. From cavemen and cavewomen, Adam and Eve (if your biblical), and even Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man. The trails we’ve walked, they have followed suit or even blazed their own trails ahead of us. They support us when we need it, can be strong, independent beings in comparison to some of the men I’ve met in my life, and yet one question keeps coming to mind when I think of the state of things.

Why The Hell Do Men Mot Give Women The Respect They Deserve?

Seriously though, why is it so hard to give women credit they deserve when it comes to, well, anything they do? In the workplace, they make less annually than we do, they had to be allowed the right to vote where men just got handed it instantly. Women have worked their assess off to get to the same level as men in many situations, professions, rights, and yet many men still can’t do the decent thing and treat them as equals.

My Opinion: I am all for equality, women deserve to be treated better and in many ways they have us beat. Yeah people, men or women, can judge me, put labels on me because I want to say women are better in many ways and deserve to be respected.

Before I go any further with my personal thoughts, let me go ahead and tell you why I’m willing to dip my toes into internet hate comments water, to talk about the women, in video games mostly but I will rant about equality in general at some point.

Last weekend, Sunday, one of my all time favorite shows, Doctor Who, announced the next person to take the title of The Doctor. To a lot of people’s shock (and whiny hate) the 13th Doctor was announced to be a women. Jodie Whittaker, has a handful of acting credits, the most notable would be her role on Broadchurch, where oddly enough former 10th Doctor David Tennant stars in it as well. We only received a couple minute clip, at that, showing her walking and receiving the TARDIS key, but I can only have high hopes.

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The Rest Of The Internet However

So many man tears were shed, so many man squeals echoed in the Nerdspace as there always male hero was now a women. Because, you know, women can’t be as heroic because… you know… their female… and stuff.

Why? WHY?! Why on Earth or even in the vast Universe we have around our planet do men or even some upset women think a woman playing the Doctor means the show is dying? Such little respect for a woman who has devoted her life to acting, someone who was chosen by show runners, and even many of the former cast, keeping in mind that the 5th Doctor was a bit off when he commented against a Female Doctor, they have spoken IN FAVOR of the change. I can still not wrap my head around why people have such a hard time giving women they deserve, in or out of media.

There was a video that mocked the haters for it, which touched upon the stupidity of Female Ghostbusters and some other jokes about the series. It was so on point, I will embed it below so you all can enjoy in the insanity that is butt hurt fans.

Video Game Women And Their Impact

Since I am in the habit of writing about video games and the beauty and sometimes ignorance I see in them, I figured I tap into the various ladies who have starred in their own series, the success of them, and even the early, demeaning depictions of them as characters.

Since this topic would have me on a tare for at least a couple of hours, I’m going to highlight some of the biggest roles (Top 5) and a handful of demeaning roles/depictions in both the past and the present. If this post gets away from me, it may run longer than Top 5 but hey, icing on the cake for those who find this interesting.

My Top 5 Women Protagonist

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  • 5: The OG female protagonist, to my knowledge, who started the trend of women in gaming, Ms. Pac-Man. Yeah it was just a reskin of Pac-Man, but it was the simple addition of a hair bow, a mole, and lipstick, Ms. showed up on the scene to show “Hey, eating power pellets isn’t just for guys”. Yeah This sounds like a cop out, but being the first women in video games at the time has to count for something. It also shows that stereotypes have been deeply ingrained from the very early days of gaming.

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  • 4: Samus Aran, Bounty Hunter, Part Alien, Part Hero. She was always a silent protagonist, then again nobody knew she was a she. Samus was such a badass, people just thought she was a man because of how awesome she was. When the endings (fair, good, best only) in the original Metroid revealed that the cannon wielding beast was actually a woman, people lost their shit. At the time it was because the developers put her in a skimpy leotard, but over time she became a little less sexualized… ah who am I kidding they still portray her in a skin tight “Zero Suit” but that doesn’t mean she isn’t any less of a positive role model, she goes out, kicks ass, and hunts down Space Pirates.

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  • 3. Fem Shepard is an odd choice I know, because it sounds a bit degrading being called Fem anything, since it means that it isn’t the original, but honestly I can see the two characters as separate beings. While I can’t comment on specific details that the character does, you know being a bad ass in any form and can be the kindest person or the evil warlord type. It’s the voice, Jennifer Hale, who makes this character it’s own person. I don’t associate Male Shep and Fem Shep as just a skin swap, the person portraying the Spectre brings out a whole new perspective. The emotion, the delivery, this brings out this character. As the playthroughs of both male and female are two separate timelines/universes, because I firmly believe Fem Shepard is her own character.

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  • 2. This one is strange to be sure, but just bear with me. You’ll get the pun in just a minute by the way… So, I never am one to keep it just strictly human when it comes to my Top Whatever lists, (keep that in mind for future filler articles). In this case I’m including a chick with attitude, Kazooie from Banjo-Kazooie. Now let the two puns sink in, groan, roll eyes, and get over it. The reason she makes my list is; 1. Not many people know she is a female, and I’m not sure if it was scripted into the games dialogue, at least as far as I know, and doing a search hasn’t turned up too much on how it was revealed just that it was. 2. She is honest, upfront, a bit harsh, and a needed ally to make it through many areas of the game. She is needed, she doesn’t hold back and can hold her own (in most situations). Bird Brain Kazooie gets this spot. And look, one devs didn’t sexualize!

I debated on a few people for this spot because there were plenty of women who fit, but I made my final decision based off one thing: Does her role replicate what happens in real life? It was an easy answer, and you’ll be skeptical at first but hear me out.

  • 1. My number one spot goes to *drum roll*

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Aloy from Horizon: Zero Dawn. Think about this for just one second, especially if you played the game through the first hour or so, you’ll see parallels that show how our society works when it comes to women, to some degree (there are variations of course). Shunned as a baby, her whole life people are told not to talk to her, ignore her, or look down upon her. Not because she was a woman, but because of something story related that I wont reveal. But her whole life she was looked down upon, not thought much of, and even as she grew up and proved herself as a skilled hunter, people still looked down upon her, underestimated her. Most people felt there was no way she could be the person to take down the threat looming ahead, and it isn’t until she worked her ass off and took down some of the biggest robots did people start buying into the idea she was worth making the time of day for. Make sense? See parallels? I at least do and I maybe wrong. But she was portrayed as the underdog and I always love underdog characters. Intelligent, skilled, and the underdog, with some real world parallels, I couldn’t have asked for a more well rounded character. Yes she has her flaws, yes she is too stubborn for her own good, sure she has a temper, but who doesn’t have flaws.

Getting To The (Respawn) Point

The point I was making about this is that women deserve respect, deserve to be treated equally, and these women stood out as video game characters who received that respect. They were given there own game or shared the billing as the Main character not just a supporting character.

While looking up other games that started women as the protagonist I found that stretching back as far as the older PC games, and a big market in japan on the older consoles, all women main characters were super sexualized. Scantly clad, dim, big chests, etc. It’s not surprising, it still happens to this day, in fact the over sexualization of certain women characters made it where I wouldn’t place them on the list. I would have put Jill Valentine as a runner up but she steadily turns from police uniform, a skirt outfit, and then finally a skin tight looking body suit. Her personality has changed over the years too, so slowly kicking her off my top 5.

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I couldn’t have found a better show of Jill’s costume changes. DLC for Revelations 2 (Supposedly)

Before I get the comment about how I feel about scantily clad ladies, I know that is sexy, I’m a guy and to deny it would be just lying to myself. Female characters are designed the way they are because most devs know sex sells and so they embrace it. I’m not blind but I can appreciate beauty, sexy, and all that but I can also know when appreciating the women and what she does, or what she is capable is more important than thinking only of their beauty.

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Time to come full circle and wrap this up. The bottom line is, when people, mostly men, degrade women to less they what they are worth, it really, really, pisses me off. I’ve always been one to respect women, some I can joke around with and act like an ass but I never think they are worth any less. Some women don’t live up to the level of respect I hold them to but that’s only because they don’t respect themselves.

To the men out there reading this, if you didn’t gleam anything from this, I understand, I can’t change the world nor your mind, but I can tell you that if you ever disrespect women, I don’t respect you. Period. I know that’s harsh, but I’ve had so many female friends who have been in abusive relationships, both mental and physical, and I can’t stand to watch as the people in their lives treat as less than they are. The toll disrespect takes on a person shows and it’s terrifyingly shocking.

To those upset about the female 13th Doctor, get over it. Watch it or don’t, because in the end the show will go on because the huge following it has will not be diminished by a handful of you left. Plus that just means you really aren’t a fan because one change you hate made you run away, true fandom means standing by your group. Just ask sports fan, the ones who get off and on a team are called bandwagon fans, since they just want to be around when the team plays well. True fans stick around even in the hard times.

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I just made a sports reference and it hurts a little since I have no clue about sports. I’m proud of myself a little.

Final Thoughts:

Respect Women, they are our equals and sometimes they have skills or personalities that are better than ours. To not respect women is to basically just live a life inside a sausage fest, since that’s the only people in which you seem to respect or treat fairly.

Get over women being in a leading role/position. Women have just as much right to be the one who saves the day as any man. It’s going to happen, threatening to leave a franchise because your main character doesn’t have a dong, then maybe you should just find a new hobby.

You disrespect women and I don’t respect you. Sure I’ll have some people who hate me for it but those are the people I might just not care to get along with.

I apologize for the length and maybe the preachiness of it all. I just get ranty and angry when I’m particularly passionate about a specific and like I said at the beginning I could go on for hours about this, but for now I’ll leave you all with this.

Can’t we all just appreciate one another and grow to be a better world. Because you never know when aliens look down and are just like “Wow, no intelligent life here, keep fucking moving.”

-ProdigiousJ

Why Games Are Easier Now Than Before

Why Games Are Easier Now Than Before

First I want to apologize for missing this past Saturday, life has been pretty chaotic and led me to absentmindedly miss it. My post may be sporadic over the next few weeks because of these unforeseen issues, but I’ll try to get one post put up when I can.

Thank you for understanding!

Today though, I want to talk about how game difficulty has evolved over the years, specifically difficulty levels through the ages.

As a very young gamer, being born a little after the advent of video games, I know games that now most gamers call ‘retro’, but I knew them as brand new or pretty close to it. Super Mario, Donkey Kong Country, Sonic The Hedgehog, and even Duck Hunt, these titles shaped my early childhood. These inspired me to find the beauty and grace in most things video games. Unless you count the Atari 2600 games.. I’m still getting reoccurring nightmares from Superman and E.T. Yeah I know without the Atari we wouldn’t have games as we know them, but all I can say is they have not aged well at all. They are some ugly looking fuckers if you ask me. But that is the curse of being born a bit after gaming because popular and began evolving but before the creation of the powerful tech devs use to create stunning graphics, stretching beyond 8 Bits.

To me I will always be spoiled by the over arching development games  have gone through, so I’ll be jaded when it comes to comparing graphics.

The Difficulty Of It All

That aside, being someone who played a lot of the old school/Retro games, both as a kid and recently as an adult, it has given me some perspective on what you call difficulty levels. What inspired me to bring up difficulty is that with the recent release of Crash N’Sane Trilogy, with it being a “new” title,  many Youtubers, friends, and random internet people are playing it. Whether they are doing a let’s play or just running through it during their personal time, a common occurrence I’ve seen is plenty of people complaining about how hard it is to play it. Watching people getting flustered and rage quitting over a game that has been out almost 21 years now, it got me thinking.

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Is Crash Bandicoot… hard? Not sure if it was as hard as everyone else makes it seems to be when I played it. It was all about timing and platforming, a few levels are still memorized and I haven’t played in forever. It never seemed to be that much of an issue for me, then I have to wonder way are so many people having such a hard time?

Then it hit me, and it was so obvious I’m surprised it didn’t reach out and pinch me. Many of these players having such a hard time had never played the originals. They perceived a challenging level as too hard because they may not have played games to 100% in the days before trophies and refined controls. The ability to reach the 2nd level on a very hard game was the reward itself and it made you feel like a certified badass.

Even gamers my age, I’m included on a few games, never played the more challenging games whatsoever. Either from lack of interest as a kid or because their parents couldn’t or wouldn’t buy them for them. Whatever reason they had, the experience of learning these jumping patterns, enemy spawn points, or how to run through an area filled with pits and enemies  without getting hit a single time, all because they had to play the same stretch of level over and over at least 100 times. Limited lives, no checkpoints, no save files or passwords, just 2 lives or less and only allowed to be hit twice before starting all over (Looking at you Ghost N’ Goblins).

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It trained a whole generation of gamers to overthink, strategize, and find the will not to snap their very fragile controllers.

The Crux of Difficulty

Games like this were the proving grounds for both devs and skilled players. Game success meant a future career for designers, a future game meant another challenge for the player to conquer. Slowly the difficult games became more difficult, if they weren’t already at maximum. Games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Pitfall, Megaman, and Contra were already challenging, but as they ramped up the difficulty, those gamers seeking fun more than a challenge became quickly discouraged. I can be counted as someone whose become discouraged over certain titles.

Fun Fact: To this day, I have yet to beat a MegaMan game, I’ve been getting progressively better through the years, but never made it past two of the bosses, maybe 3. These games seem challenging, but also have a mix hint of sadism yet have a set of basics to follow in order to win. It’s hard to say the game isn’t beaten by many, as I know quite a few, but it stands to reason that there are people like me who couldn’t beat it.

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Yes it goes back to skill and will, but this also ties into the idea of titles existing that maybe too difficult while trying to be challenging. Battletoads, Ghosts N’ Goblins, Ninja Gaiden (Original), these are all examples of games that seem to number low in the amount of people who actually beat them. How many times have people shoved these games in a drawer in frustration because they couldn’t get past level 1 or 2. There is a very fine line between challenging and ridiculously insane barrages of enemies and bad controls, this then brings us to where games began to ease up (after a long run of keeping the challenge in small bursts).

The Decline of Crap Difficulty

Time’s gone on and tech has improved by leaps and bounds each console generation. During each one, a set of challenging games have filled the void for the old school skill based ones. Though with each generation, the definition of challenge has changed, diminishing the quality of what games used to be.

Those upset by Crash’s difficulty now would find it much easier if they sat back and compared it to games like Contra, GN’G, or Mega Man. Heck if they had beaten Mega Man  in the years before and then went on to play Crash, they’d probably be able to breeze right through it. That’s the problem with developers as gaming has aged. They began to focus in the other aspects besides the challenge, ideals like fun, story driven games, and voice acting, which aren’t bad things. Devs tried to keep the player on their toes, but picking Hard Mode in a game pales in comparison to the only mode in certain games from gaming’s yesteryear. Anyone who looks back will realize we definitely have it easier now than back then.

Then again there is the Souls series and they hold the staple for the Hardest games of our current generation. I’d rather spend hours trying to beat a Mega Man game with hours of failure than try to beat a Souls game at all.

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Guess It’s all Perspective in the end.

-ProdigiousJ

How Pokemon Go Got Me Re Addicted

How Pokemon Go Got Me Re Addicted

The game that flubbed horribly on release has once again sunk its claws into me

While I just platinumed Horizon: Zero Dawn and have a lot to discuss (still considering if I should do a full review or not), I decided to sit down and write my thoughts on the recent changes and the hooks launched from Niantic to drag poor unsuspecting sods back into the walkathon known as Pokemon Go.

Almost a year ago today, the supposed global phenom was released to the world to about as much hype as one game could have when the hype train was set to maximum overdrive. Everybody was going nuts about what this game meant, based off a release trailer and some words from the developer. The fact that the Pokemon Company had put enough faith in a company other than Nintendo was enough to get a lot of people on board. Little did they know that the second they dropped the game, they dropped the damn ball. All the items in the trailer, co-op battles, trading, battling friends/enemies, and distance tracking. All promised, and all missing on release.

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Yeah sure, we got gyms, and some flawed distance tracking which was quickly removed, as was the support from community sites showing pokemon locations were banned, but that’s it. Nothing we were promised was in the initial release, not a fucking thing, which was a major letdown for those expecting great things from Niantic. Granted it became one of the most popular way to get exercise, one of the coolest reasons to get outside and socialize with people from your neighborhood. Old and young players alike began to make the Pokemon phenom just as big as it was in the 90’s, some who had followed from before, while bringing their children and our younger friends into the fold. It managed to get me to go to events in crowded parks just because it involved Pokemon, and I’m one of the most antisocial beings I know.

After a while, the craze died down and you’d see less and less people playing, to the point that many players were the ones who had something to prove (mostly to themselves). It wasn’t too long ago that I quit playing for real and only opened the app to do the 7 day streak for my wife, and just because I felt compelled, my own. I was all but clean of the drug known as Pokemon Go, and then everything changed once the Raid Battles came.

With A Simple Change, Everything Is Different (But Not)

When the Raid Battles were introduced, it changed how the gym system worked and opened a new avenue for catching certain Pokemon at higher levels and getting together with people to take them down. It brought one of the features that were supposed to be set for release, co-op battles making social interaction a higher priority when it comes to tackling some of the bigger raid bosses. As well as changing the Gym setup to make it a little easier on people looking to actually keep a leg up in gym battles, adding a berry mechanic to boosting morale for the pokemon stationed at your Gyms.

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The game made it interesting again, at least made me sit here and start planning stats of my pokemon to make sure I have the strongest of each type. I all but quit messing with CP and appraisal system, and let my evolution stats be what they will, that was until the update dropped just about a week ago. The introduction of Raid Boss Pokemon and the bonuses they offer (Golden Rasp Berries, Rare Candy, etc), has given me some pretty interesting incentives to keep my strongest guys on the field, as always prepping for the rumored Legendary Raids, the Three Legendary Birds or Mewtwo, which they teased in the trailer so long ago.

I’ve only participated in three raids, two solos and one group, and it hasn’t been all that bad. A group of 5 raided against a Rhydon at 4 stars, and we got close to winning when the time cut out. Which was kinda bullshit because we drained it’s health and then the timer, at 3 seconds, kicked us out saying time was up. Rather shitty but it was my first go, so it didn’t matter much. I was hooked after that, the other players telling me stories of ones they soloed and of the high lvl Pokemon they caught. I spent the next day restocking on healing items, I never used them before when I stopped Gym battles, I just needed space for my 600+ Pokeballs and the other assorted balls as well. I also spent that day searching out one and two star raids, only finding one close by, just to test my strongest guys. Turns out I won easily but I couldn’t manage to catch the Quilava with the special pokeballs after winning. This past weekend I ran through another 2 star Raid on a Muk, and managed to thrash it and catch it.

The kicker of the whole update was that nothing else was affected. Gyms received the only update, an aesthetic change (which looks badass) and them hosting the Raid Battles within them. Everything else stayed the same. Maybe the capture rates on some Pokemon changed, but that’s hard for me to really say because I only tried to catch what I didn’t already have registered or I didn’t have the evolve form of. Looking at the game as a whole, you can’t really tell the difference between pre-update to post-update, at least on any truly substantial level, and yet people like me have probably come in droves back to the Pokemon Trainer Simulator.

It’s a bit sad to say I have become a more avid player since the update, but it’d true. Powering up Pokemon, trying to get stronger evolutions, checking appraisal stats, and placing guys back in Gyms, all this has become a regular thing for me again and all because I want park next to some stranger in a parking lot and possibly not talk. But hey, we might catch a Charizard if there is enough of us. For now, I am suckered back in, yet this may give way to another wave of clarity before walking away completely. Or the Legendaries will get announced and I’ll be all to excited.

It really is a toss up at this point.

-ProdigiousJ

A Stat Reroll: How I’m Changing My Norm

A Stat Reroll: How I’m Changing My Norm

I’m Usually one for lofty speeches

Though as of late, it hasn’t been as consistent for me. I’ve grown to resemble more of a closed book than an open door, keeping people from understanding my contents, my truths, while giving out only enough information to keep people just close enough. I’ve become more of a silent man who walks in the background, a NPC that nobody really needed to notice but got along just as well as he could.

But something hit me the other day, the day of someones birthday, the birthday of a man who I’ve never met before. A Youtuber who I’ve come to admire and respect, who usually has some uplifting message every few months, hell maybe once a week.

Markiplier was not someone I followed back when he started, but rather someone I came across a few years back. Throughout the vast library of videos he has, many of them have helped me get through a hard time, and many who have inspired me to do great things.

Unfortunately, I have never fully acted on that inspiration, never working, living, or playing as hard as I can to become the best I can. Doing what I can to make the world a better place in the best ways I can. I always feel a pang of sadness when I realize I have yet to reach that exciting moment when I fulfill that promise of bettering myself.

But back to the day in question, Markiplier was going on about his birthday and watching older videos of his and reacting to them. He then began to reminisce about how small his channel was at one point, how his life was totally different in the beginning. He talked about how he felt guilty for asking people to share and like his work, and even more so when he had his channel banned and had to re-upload all his videos. There was a moment where he reflected on the instance he almost gave up, almost never went on to restart his channel, and could have decided his limited run as a Youtuber was over.

The World Can Always Change

However, he went through with uploading them all, individually on his “mom’s old internet” he said after his friends convinced him to keep going. He then had to ask his followers to go and individually like, share, etc, his old videos to get the Youtube algorythm to register him better, or however that system actually works.

The basic point of it all was that he changed his life by actually going forward and putting forth the effort to entertain and achieve all that he sought to do. Be better, do better, make the world better. I could be blending that reaction video and his keeping promises video but the message was the same and all too inspiring.

So I decided that day I was going to make a change. Given the situation I am, I have to work harder to get by, I have to schedule better to get to work in all the things I want to do and be. All that I have strived to be since I was a kid, I have to actually work harder than I have to reach it.

This blog, for those few of you who read it, is something I hope makes a better life for someone else out there  as well as for myself and my joy of writing and video games. As is a podcast I’ve started to try to host on with a few work buddies. These are the things that I’ve always wanted to do to entertain, to inform, to reflect and these are now things I need to work on to better reach the success I want.

What I Plan On Doing

I want to work on a new writing schedule for this blog, write when I come home, and instead of posting it at 2 in the morning, post it the next morning after proofreading it and making sure it doesn’t sound groggy and half assed. I also will be trying to schedule some more recording time for the podcast, and after today’s first recording that looks to be an uphill battle. However, I want to keep going and learn from the experience. I want to grow, I want to help and entertain people, maybe brighten a day just like Markiplier does on a daily basis. I don’t seek to be him, but I seek to emulate his enthusiasm to change the world for the better.

My new writing schedule will be Wednesday and Saturday. Sometimes I may include a Friday post as well if something comes up I want to write about. I will keep myself accountable so I will be successful in what I do and how I attempt to help the world around me. I also will happily welcome readers and friends hold me accountable, at least a simple reminder, just to keep me honest. So from now on, expect posts on the most inane, the most beautiful, and the most hilarious (to me anyway) subjects every Wednesday and Saturday.

To close, I’d like to say what Markiplier might try to say at the end of one his inspirational speeches. Guys, for those few who do read, just try to be the good you want to see in the world. Make someone smile, tell a friend a crappy joke when they are feeling down, but do it all with a smile and never give up thinking you can’t change yourself or the world around you. Be strong and always aim to be better every day because if you don’t try to better yourself then you can never grow and you can never learn.

-ProdigiousJ

My First Experience With D&D: Goblins Screams and Flames

My First Experience With D&D: Goblins Screams and Flames

Tabletop games have never been my strong suit.

I have always wanted to try my hand at Dungeons and Dragons, but as a kid, I was embarrassed what people would think of me. People’s opinions always ruled what I shared with in public, or reached out to others to learn, so I decided asking about learning what was considered “nerdy” was something to keep off my to do list. Little did I know that being nerdy or geeky was awesome and to be celebrated.

Years would pass, and as most people know the habits and insecurities get so embedded in your mind that you can’t truly shake the notion of mockery or scorn by people who you know wouldn’t judge you anyway. It’s safe to say I’ve put off many, many things that culture once didn’t accept that seemed to be especially interesting and just today I started down the probably long path of checking off one of my goals. I started my journey on a D&D campaign.

The Rise of Reedicus Feedicus

Now part of the name is wasn’t exactly my choice, but it was either that or Moun Ton Doo, and besides the lung busting laughter that ensued, I preferred Reedicus Feedicus. Before my best friend and I started working on my stats and background, I pulled up an old video made from character models from the game Summoner acting out a skit written by Rick and Morty’s Dan Harmon. I’ve known about it for years and I’m sure so many other people know it, I just couldn’t help having “I wanna cast magic missile” playing in the background.

Finding out that the father of all rpgs was far different than what I’m used to playing threw me off a bit, I was expecting to play only by the set amount of points to each character and that I would gain more as I leveled up. When told that I was stuck with the amount I have and that I could roll for the stats I would have forever, only skills adding up as you level. So much I knew about tabletop games.

I waited about 15 years to learn about this game, and what certain video game franchises that toted D&D mechanics had taught me differently than what the game appeared to be. Not that I’m saying I was led astray, but that I what I was expecting and what I got were marginally different things. Taking the time to learn these new old rules takes a toll on someone who apparently knows absolutely nothing about rpgs, even if the differences weren’t all that major, but it does put things into question for me.

Was basic point allotment apart of the game before or was it added in later on in favor for those who didn’t like the “fuckin’ deal with what you roll” mentality? Or did video game and future table top games just adapt because those who were ok with it were tired of hearing those who weren’t complain? I can’t say for certain, though I’m sure the more I research, I’ll find out eventually but for now I’m taking things one dice roll at a time.

Tiefling Rouges Have More Fun

I always struggle in games when it lets me choose classes. I feel this urge building up deep inside of me that screams at me. Sometimes a wild cry of “I would love to shoot a motherfucker from a long ways away”, while another screams “Hell, let me charm my way through life while stealing people’s priceless objects.” So many voices cry out to be heard, to be given a chance to live outside the bounds of our laws, and sometimes our morals. I just love the rush of all the possibilities of games like that but I know, in the end, I can’t choose them all. So I whittle down the most interesting of the characters and what skills I would rather utilize, if I could do so myself.

Not always an easy task, but I end up being a Rouge about 90% of the time, as long as I have sleight of hand, a high charisma stat so I can charm the pants off people or talk myself out of any situation, and the use of a bow is always a must. I’ll take the shadowy path anytime, but I have some standards. Either being Chaotic Good or Neutral keeps me in line with my own moral compass to some regard, I mean Reedicus still steals and usually lies to NPCs but he isn’t cold hearted.

This go round, I decided on Tiefling, for those who don’t know, it’s basically a devil. In my case, after rolling for height and weight, I’m 5’4″ and weigh 125, so not all that intimidating looking. Heck, we even found a profile image for it as if Reedicus drew it. The DM in training, the aforementioned friend, and I spent the next 15 minutes or more just working out simple stats, me asking questions because I had no idea what I was doing or what some of the more unfamiliar aspects of character development were. In the end, I liked how things turned out, even the dice rolls were in my favor for the stats.

tieflingrogue_oots

One of my favorite race abilities just so happened to make my character act like a total dick if he wanted to. Making sounds come from pinpoint locations, making my voice booming, making unlocked doors and windows fly open or close at a whim, and even flickering candles. I could just be a total ass while staying in the shadows if I wanted to! As well as one of the, I can’t remember the actual word, but I’ll call it a skill, was to be proficient in an horned instrument just so I could use the horn and the booming voice all in one go if I wanted to. Yeah, I will have fun with this when an actual campaign goes down.

The Mock Battle To End All Mock Battles

To end the day, once Reedicus was brought to life, he wanted to run a mock battle between me, 5 NPC characters in which he created before I arrived, including a Warforged golem named Sir Kills Alot, and 7 goblins. Within the course of 20 minutes, I think I lost track of time between all the laughing and commenting on all the events transpiring within the cave. The battle was simple, but as my first run at it started with me moving the dwarf bard into the line of fire as a meat-shield, and even this didn’t end with him being downed till the last moves of the match ending with him and Goblin #1 impaled on each others swords, the bard trying to shout insults to damage him to no avail.

In other words, the battle was a huge success, only having two of my characters downed and having learned some awesome things about each character class that I never thought was possible. I mean insults damaging people? I never knew bards could be so interesting. I’d never be one, but now I have a newfound respect for the song singers, not that it means I wont make them meat-shields in the future, just that I wont take them for granted if I go against them.

All in all, this experience was great, I can’t believe I waited so long to even try to learn the game. Out of fear of being judge or even the fear of not being as knowledgeable about tabletop games as other people and being judged for it, I stopped myself from enjoying something like this that could breed such humor and imagination. It’s weird discovering things so late in life, because it makes me sound like a child but I’ll live with sounding like a child if I get to enjoy this game as much as I did today.

So I guess a lesson for anyone reading this is, don’t let fear stop you from doing something that could be exciting, or just something you are interested in, just do it! You can’t just hold off on what could be a great experience, doing that just leaves you with “what ifs” while everyone else is off having an awesome time doing what you’re afraid to. Keeping an open mind and not letting the stress bother you enough to halt fun, you live a life half lived.

A lesson I learned a little late in life apparently.

-ProdigiousJ