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I just played Sonic Robo Blast 2 and I gotta ask, how does someone stay dedicated on a fangame project for that long? I know you probably don't have the know-all end-all definitive answer but yeah your thoughts?

Well, I worked on a fangame of my own for almost a decade. It wasn’t a continuous decade, mind you, but all total, it came to about 9 1/2 years since I originally said, “Hey, yeah, I wanna try and make this thing.”

Creativity is a weird thing. It’s like an itch. Scratching an itch feels really, really good! But sometimes you don’t scratch it enough, and it still itches. Or maybe if you ignore it long enough, it fades away. But deep down, it still itches, and sometimes it comes back so hard you CAN’T ignore it.

So you get an idea for a game. An itch. And the only satisfaction is when you’ve seen your idea through far enough that it stops needing to be scratched.

Another way to look at it is you are a compulsive problem solver. You see a problem, and your mind instantly sets on fire with possible solutions. And you can’t function until you try at least one of them.

With TFH, I’d work on the game until I hit a roadblock and bashing my head against the wall started to hurt. I’d stop working on it, and then 9-18 months later, I’d get a spark of creativity on how to solve one of its problems, and the process would start all over again. Even now, as I’ve told myself that TFH is done and dead forever, I still get flashes of “I wonder if this was the answer to that problem?

(I’ve resigned myself to merely wondering, however. The idea might turn up again in a future game I make, but not anything called TFH)

It’s important to remember that Sonic Robo-Blast 2 has not had the same identical development team for its entire existence. A lot of people got burned out and left. Stealth, one of the developers behind the recent Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 remastered iOS ports, was an SRB2 coder for a time back in the early 2000’s. There was a period of about two years where I was considered a texture artist. Old blood leaves, fresh blood enters.

It’s also just passion, I guess. To go back to the itching analogy, it’s like scratching your back. That always feels good, right? Whether it currently itches or not. That’s passion, which is kind of weird and gross if you think about it too hard.

It’s why people stay in one industry. Because it scratches their back, forever.

What difficulty setting do you generally play on for games that allow you to choose (easy, normal, hard, very hard, etc)?

Anonymous

Growing up, I played everything on Easy. I actually learned to really hate Konami games - not only were they some of the hardest games available, but they’d often give you an “Easy Mode” option only to cut you off three or four levels in and say “Okay stop screwing around and play on a real difficulty setting to see the rest of the game, you wuss.”

My response to that was to buy a Game Genie.

I used that Game Genie for everything. Most famously, I would use my Game Genie to level my character directly to 99 in RPGs like Final Fantasy 2, Chrono Trigger, and Earthbound - I was too young to understand concepts like “grinding”, so rather than struggle with tough bosses with under-leveled characters, I’d just pump up their strength with cheats. I knew how close I was getting to the end of their respective games by how many hits it took to kill things - about the time everything stopped dying in one hit, I knew I was nearing the home stretch.

I would bring a notepad with me to a store’s magazine rack, flip through code books, and write down whatever sounded interesting. Then, I would go rent games based specifically on wanting to see what certain cheat codes did.

Sometime around 2003-2004 I finally decided it was time to man up and play games the right way. I never ended up with Game Genies/Sharks for anything past the SNES, and cheat codes as they originally were started going out of style - they were getting replaced by stuff like Perfect Dark’s “DK Mode”. Weird cosmetic unlockable stuff you got for playing the game normally and not actual cheats that let you skip content you haven’t already seen.

The first big game I was proud of myself for not defaulting to easy mode was the PC version of Halo: Combat Evolved. About the time I got to the Library I was really tempted to drop down a difficulty level, but I persevered and it ended up feeling like a significant achievement. It was like, “Hey, I can do this after all. I don’t have to play games on easy mode!”

That was the catalyst that slowly weaned me off of playing everything on easy mode. Nowadays I feel kind of lame if I start a game on anything below Normal difficulty. I beat Bayonetta on Normal, and more recently, I beat Serious Sam 3 on Normal.

The only games I’ll consider for easy mode are ones that people recommend I play on easy, like Red Faction Guerrilla. Or, if, like, I’m doing a livestream - when you’re streaming, a non-trivial amount of concentration is always dedicated to the fact that you are live on the internet in front of a dozen or more people, and that’s usually enough to throw me off. Easy Mode in those circumstances is just to cut down on me getting stuck and bogging the stream down.

For me to delve in to higher difficulties, it has to be a game I really love. Back when I was still deep in to cheating and playing games on easy mode, I beat Super Puzzle Fighter on the hardest difficulty at the maximum speed, because I loved it just that much.

When I beat Bayonetta, I considered restarting it at the next higher difficulty level. But then my cousin said he wanted to borrow the game and that’s where it has been for the last 14 months or however long he’s had it. I don’t think he’s played more than 20 minutes, either.

But yeah, I just generally go with Normal difficulty these days.

E3 recaps and opinions

So hey if you like reading my writing I’m usually tasked with summarizing and opining on the press conferences, and here’s me doing just that.

Microsoft

Sony

Nintendo

As I progress you can tell my brain started to turn a bit mushy - in the last 24 hours I’ve written something like 6000 words - that’s more than eight pages of text. Near as we get to Nintendo’s write-up, I don’t seem quite as opinionated as I was during Microsoft’s press conference (though that’s also because there wasn’t much during Nintendo’s to be fiercely opinionated about).

So yeah, enjoy, I guess?

Apr 5

Same guy as before, sorry if I'm annoying you. But, do you think the Xbox announcement would have gone over better if it wasn't right after the poor fan reception of Sim City?

Anonymous

If questions were annoying me, I would simply close my ask box.

I think Sim City being fresh in everyone’s minds does not help Microsoft’s case, but there are examples way before Sim City to consider. Everybody groaned when Diablo III’s always-on internet connection was announced, everybody groaned when Assassins Creed 2’s always-on internet connection was announced.

Because of the proliferation of game-sharing, some Playstation 3 downloadable games (like Bionic Commando Re-Armed 2) have come with always-on internet DRM, and when PSN was down for more than a month, they couldn’t be played at all.

Things requiring always-on internet connectivity is not a new concept. The issue comes from the growing number of companies who think it is an adequate solution to a problem that doesn’t even matter to the average consumer. This is literally a case of game publishers freaking out over something that is exclusive to them and pushing that burden on to us, hoping we’ll shoulder it. And whenever this subject comes up, I always have and always will have five words to describe my position on it:

Gaming is not a charity.

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blazehedgehog:

New video review, y’all! This is something I’ve actually mulled over doing literally for years, and never have gotten around to it. Basically, I pick a selection of free (or at least cheap) horror games you can play for Halloween and talk about them. The idea started as a blog series I wanted to write three or four years ago, but it’s one of those things I just never got around to doing.

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Reblogging myself because I really want to get this out there. You should reblog me, too. This is the kind of video that seems a little bit pointless after Halloween, and I’m really trying to get aggressive with advertising myself for perhaps the first time in my life.

In 24 hours or so I’m under 150 views total, which, I mean, if you had 150 people in a room that’s a lot of people, but by comparison my year-old Sonic Generations video review has like 3000 views (which, while we’re at it, go watch that one, too. I seriously spent like a month putting it together). Point is: I want more than 147 views. Help me get more! The more people that watch my video reviews, the more inclined I am to do more, and sooner. And the more I do, the better I get, and the more entertaining they get. Everybody wins.

New video review, y’all! This is something I’ve actually mulled over doing literally for years, and never have gotten around to it. Basically, I pick a selection of free (or at least cheap) horror games you can play for Halloween and talk about them. The idea started as a blog series I wanted to write three or four years ago, but it’s one of those things I just never got around to doing.

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And here’s a Sonic Adventure 2 Review


I found you, faker!

True story: one of the first reviews I can ever remember writing for any video game was for Sonic Adventure 2. I re-wrote that review for SA2 no less than twice as I improved my writing ability, making this the third or even fourth time I’ve written a review for it. Unsurprisingly, my opinion of the game has not changed much since 2001, though I have definitely gotten better at writing:

The story of Sonic Adventure 2 is a complicated one; Sonic Team took special care leading up to its release to keep many of its story details a secret, and even through the normal course of the game, much of the game’s plot remains unclear – perhaps due to poor translation, poor writing, or a combination of the two. It’s the kind of plot where things just happen, and characters sometimes make decisions that don’t really make sense except to serve as an excuse to set up the next level – yet it is still preoccupied with trying to tell us this at-times-laughable “story” about an evil, bio-engineered talking hedgehog with magical time-warping powers who is hell-bent on getting revenge on the planet earth. In a way, though, that’s video games – the plot to any Super Mario is no less ridiculous when you break it down, but neither does it try as hard to make you care about its story as much as Sonic Adventure 2 does, where its lengthy cutscenes can make up close to a quarter of the game’s total play time.

The other 3/4ths of the game is, of course, spent playing through either “Hero Story” or “Dark Story”, which is an oddly Japanese way of saying good versus evil. Each story is split up between three playable characters broken up by class, bringing the total roster to six, in spite of complaints that Sonic Adventure‘s large number of characters was pushing its star performer too far out of the spotlight. To combat this, Sonic Team attempted to streamline each character’s role – and while noble in concept, it does not always work out so well in practice. Whereas Sonic’s levels in the original Sonic Adventure were serpentine, somewhat open areas that each felt noticeably unique, all of the “speed-class” levels in Sonic Adventure 2 are built from the same heavily-scripted, linear, single-lane tracks hovering over illogical bottomless pits, turning every stage in to a glorified re-skin of Speed Highway. (Keep reading…)

Obviously I am not, uh, entirely kind to the game, though I do make a point to say that I do think parts of Sonic Adventure 2 are good. And it’s definitely better than Sonic Heroes, at any rate. I just hope this doesn’t spark too much vitriol in retaliation.

It is important to note, however, that if you consider my review as using the full review scale, I’m actually rating the game strictly as “Average”. But the only people who acknowledge that stuff are other reviewers, it would seem.

My NiGHTS XBLA review is up!

I’d say this took me longer than I anticipated, but it’s been about a week, and so far that seems to be about what I average for writing a review these days. But yeah! You know the four thousand images I’ve posted over the last week of a NiGHTS video? It was for this review. Your taste:

Thanks to the efforts of Microsoft and their Xbox Live Arcade, online leaderboards are thriving. Now more than ever is the time for NiGHTS: Into Dreams… to shine. Everything is right: as a $10 downloadable, it makes perfect sense, and stylistically, it should be able to rub elbows with the likes of Journey, Braid, and other “high concept” digital download games. This is the environment a game like NiGHTS was made for, and could prove that the game was perhaps a little ahead of its time. There’s one big problem: the controls. More than anything else, what helped set NiGHTS apart from many other games is the fluidity in its controls. The original concept for NiGHTS was to capture the grace of flight – something the original game manages to do very, very well. This concept was so important to the aesthetic of the game that the Sega Saturn version of NiGHTS came packaged with a special “3D Control Pad”. While the game could be played with a regular digital Saturn controller, to truly experience NiGHTS the way it was meant to be played, you had to use an analog stick. The Saturn’s 3D Control Pad would later serve as the basis for the Dreamcast controller, which in turn inspired the Xbox controller, which brings us to the modern-day Xbox 360 controller – an evolutionary legacy that started with the Saturn 3D control Pad. One would expect, then, that NiGHTS HD should control exactly like it did back on the Sega Saturn – but nothing could be further from the truth. (Keep reading…)

If you’re looking for the video, here it is, but I’d appreciate if you read the rest of the review, too.

Oct 2

Final Thoughts: Black Mesa Source

It was more than a week ago that I left off with Black Mesa Source; I had a Jet Set Radio HD review to write, and I’m the kind of person whom, when there is work to be done, it’s kind of all I can focus on. I more or less refused to let myself play anything other than Jet Set Radio HD until I was finished with my review, so with that finally out of the way, I started two things: preparing for my next video review (it’s going to be a doozy if it pans out), and resuming Black Mesa Source.

I wrote some preliminary words from the perspective of the first three hours, but now that I’ve finished the game, I can definitively say…

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(Source: blackmesasource.com)

Dreamcast Marathon Post Mortem: Uncomfortable Situations

I’d be lying if I said the Dreamcast Marathon ‘til Dawn went off “without a hitch”. It was late getting started, and almost immediately plagued with technical problems - the Virtual Audio Cable setup I used during the Sonic Endurance Race was impossible this time around, as it was creating some kind of indefinite stutter-loop. A work-around was deployed, but it was a little bit messy.

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