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Hi. I'm Mike. This isn't updated often.

Month: November 2008 (page 1 of 2)

Mike Does Some FPSing

So Valve was running a deal through Steam a little while ago offering the original Half-Life for only 98 cents (it being the ten-year anniversary of the game’s release in 1998; I’m aware that Ocarina of Time is also ten years old, but that’s a subject for another discussion). I had never played the game, and I can’t turn something down when it’s 98 cents… no matter what it is.

I started playing the game this evening. Got around an hour or so in (according to Steam, I played for 1.2 hours). I’m absolutely terrible at these games, so I’m playing on “Easy” and I died a lot. Without spoiling too much, here are a couple things I noticed / wanted to mention:

– I hate platforming in first-person. I cannot for the life of me ever fully determine where exactly my character is in relation their surroundings and get any sort of depth-perception. Do you get used to this with time?

– I hate falling in first-person. See the above description for why I might be having this problem.

– I’ve noted this before, but I’m definitely a mouse-and-keyboard elitist, despite barely playing these types of games.

That’s about it, so far. It runs absolutely beautifully in 1680×1050 on this computer (as it should, being ten years old). Kinda nice not having any sorts of stuttering problems! Not much to say beyond those few things… just kinda wanted to write about it…

Podcast Episode 003: Dumping Ground

Wow. Whoda thunk that episode three would be out so soon when there were two months between one and two…? I know I certainly didn’t! Them’s the breaks here, though. When Jeff and I get together and there are microphones in front of us, something is going to come out. And end up in an RSS feed.

What you’re about to hear is a little bit of an experimentation on a few different fronts. The beginning of the episode (the “meat” of the episode, if you will) was actually recorded after all of the other stuff, which in this case is the end of the episode. Follow all that?

In a nutshell, Jeff is working to revive Lo-Fidelity (his music review/appreciation podcast), and we were farting around with my mixer and his MacBook Pro to test levels and all that kind of boring pre-recording stuffage. We ended up amusing ourselves in the process and were wondering what to do with all of that material. I suggested we just dump it over here on WTF EX, and then further decided that rather than just dump it, let’s record an “intro” to it and make it an actual episode. Furthermore, let’s not edit a damn thing other than dragging it into the production timeline and creating transitions between the “segments”.

So here you go. If you ever wanted to hear us completely unedited, uncut, and uncensored (but thankfully not in a cropped-widescreen presentation), this is it. I hold myself absolutely non-responsible for anything I said, and instead place all of the blame of Jeff. What you’re about to listen to is the ramblings of one man who had already recorded an entire normal podcast, and another who’s itching to record his own.

You have been warned. Please enjoy.

Podcast Episode 002: First E-mail Addresses

So here we are about two months after the first episode of this little side-side-podcast. It’s certainly living up to the “what I want, when I want” mantra that I set forth! While we were waiting around for Julian to show up to record the previous podcast episode for Daizenshuu EX, I figured those of us on the local mixer should go ahead and do something short and fun for this blog. So we did!

Jeff is back on this episode, and Meri also joins us, as we talk about our first-ever e-mail addresses and some early internet ignorance. I thought we had a couple pretty interesting stories, and it certainly drives home the idea that we were all stupid early teenagers at some point in our lives.

Enjoy the show, and have a great Thanksgiving weekend~!

Conversation 005: Crossover Games and Our Top 10 Special Guest Appearances

Damn right we have episode five for you!

It came a little later in the month than anticipated, but hey… everyone’s got busy lives going on right now. Thankfully we were all able to get together and record a great episode, including our buddy Bryce, who’s back once again to shoot the shiz with us.

This time around we had a nice long discussion about all the games we’ve been playing (especially Andrew, who seems to have become a different man). Phones, handhelds, last-gen, current-gen, PCs… we have it all covered. We moved into our discussion about crossover games, and specifically why and how they are created. Is it a simple money-making machine? Is it beneficial to all parties involved? Do they get better over time? We finished up with a very fitting Top 10 list: the Top 10 Special Guest Appearances. Not specifically from crossover games, these characters took a special role in the games they did a guest stint in, and they are all memorable in their own ways.

We’ll hit you back again soon with some regular blog entries. In the meantime, enjoy the show, and let us know what you think about everything! We have big plans for the site (including blog entries, podcasts, design, community, etc.), and we’re thrilled to have you along for the ride.

Bathroom Note

Seriously? How old are we, people…? This is a place of business, not a college dorm. Being in a college town is not an excuse.

Thinking About Ditching Cable

So Meri and I are seriously considering just ditching our cable television entirely.

We’ve come to the realization that beyond her occasional crashing with some HGTV… we just don’t watch anything. Sure, there’s South Park when there are new episodes, but the official website & Netflix can take care of that in due time. We’ve dropped Heroes, so that doesn’t matter anymore. For other, regular ol’ American TV shows (if we’re ever going to watch them), we’d rather much watch them on DVD without commercials, anyway.

I also finally used Hulu for the first time the other day, and found it surprisingly watchable. We checked out a random, recent episode of The Simpsons, and I was thrilled to see Dilbert on there, as well. It’s definitely making the case for a media-hub PC output to the TV, rather than just the PS3 or 360.

Speaking of which, those two are also replacing much of the “TV viewing”. No, it’s not because of gaming, but actual programming. Whether it’s material from Game Trailers or Game Videos or even some other random site, I love tossing things on DVD-RW and popping it in one of the systems for TV-viewing. That’s about to get even better with the “New Xbox Experience” and its tie-in with our Netflix account… streaming right to the TV without needing any new equipment!

At the end of the day, we’re not ever really watching “TV” and saving about $80 on a product (digital cable package + On Demand) we’re not using sure doesn’t sound like a bad deal. Are any of you living (well) without cable? I don’t see myself missing it…

Borders Hilarity

What does it mean when all the workout videos are under “Intermediate Fiction”…?

How About You? Playing Your Wii At All?

I am constantly hearing more and more reports on gaming podcasts from journalists and general enthusiasts alike saying that their Wii is doing nothing more than collecting dust. Meri and I both have moments of guilt, ourselves, where we verbally note that the Wii is basically just sitting there for the sake of sitting there and looking pretty.

Why aren’t we using it more? Is it the particular games we own that simply bore us? Is it Nintendo, themselves, driving us away with things like Wii Music? Why aren’t I going back to all those Virtual Console games I purchased?

Let me toss a couple ideas out there.

Something I’ve heard pop up a few times (and more recently Rym & Scott did a GeekNights episode about it) is that instead of playing new games, we just keep going back and playing the same old games from the past over and over again.

I am totally guilty of this (but is “guilty” the right word to use if I don’t feel bad about it…?). Despite owning tons of games (some even unopened) that I’ve never played, I will go back and play through the original Legend of Zelda on NES at least once every two years. There’s also never a bad time to decide to sit down and beat Super Mario Bros. 3 or even the original Kirby’s Dream Land, which for me is almost like a brainless activity at this point. Then there are all the times I’ll hook up the Saturn and play a few races in Sega Rally Championship or Daytona USA. Meri has played through Ocarina of Time at least once in recent memory, and while she’s just now finishing up the first Phoenix Wright, you’ll see Super Mario World sticking out of Slot 2 down there. Then there are “new old games” like (the obligatory mention of) Rock Band. It’s basically an expansion upon Guitar Hero (which is itself an expansion on previous rhythm games), which means we’re really playing the same game that we’ve been playing for years and years and years, only with new content every week. That brings in the whole idea of a single game being its own platform, but I won’t bother getting into that, again.

So I suppose the real question is: am I not playing the Wii, or am I just playing old games and thus inadvertently not playing the Wii?

For people my age and older (anyone post-college, I suppose), another big factor is disposable income and the sheer amount of games. Unlike when I was younger and onwards into college and could only afford one or two games at a time, now I can pretty much own anything I want whenever I want it (for example, buying Dragon Quest IV because it was $20 this week, despite the fact that I have a row of other RPGs to get through first). There’s no need to justify a purchase for myself by forcing an entire play-through and trying to convince myself that a game is pure art when it’s really nothing more than just another game. If I get bored with it or see something shiny elsewhere, I move on.

Pulling the Wii back in, let’s look at Super Smash Bros. Brawl versus the previous Super Smash Bros. Melee on the Gamecube. In the previous game, I not only unlocked every character, but made it a point to beat the game with every character in both single-player modes to get each version of their trophy. I would spend those coins to try and get more trophies, spin them around to look at them, read up on their history, etc. I’m not sure how much time I put into that game, but it was certainly a lot…! However, with Brawl, I only went so far as to unlock all of the characters and stages. I never actually finished Subspace Emissary (I think I got about 75% of the way through), and I didn’t put any time into creating any of my own stages (or collecting all of the parts to be able to do so). That’s not to say I never play the game ever again, though. There are instances where I’m craving some Nintendo fanboy catering, or have to laugh at how incomprehensibly bad the online-play integration was, and I pop it in for a few minutes. A get-together of friends is another great time, since I do have four Wavebirds… The point, though, is that despite dropping the $50 on the game, I simply don’t feel the burning desire or any real compelling reason to attach myself to that game solely as I would were I twenty years younger.

How about straight-up dropping games? Personally, I’ve dropped just as many games on the Wii (sorry, Super Mario Galaxy) as I have on other systems, so there’s nothing inherently there to jump on and pick apart.

So am I really just playing the same games over and over? Let’s take a look at what I’m playing just in the last week and see if there are any trends:

– Rock Band 2 (360): Mentioned above; basically just Guitar Hero evolved, so yes, the same game over and over.

– DragonBall Z: Infinite World (PS2): A mash-up of Budokai 3 (which I played through twice; US PS2 & JP PS2), Shin Budokai (which I own and dropped) and Burst Limit (which I own and dropped), so yes, the same game over and over.

DragonBall: Origins (DS): Whoa, a totally new game! Fancy that. I’m quasi playing it “for work“, though.

Final Fantasy VI (GBA): New to me! Classification is up in the air on this one, though, since it’s an evolution of games I’ve played before (III & IV) and a predecessor to ones I’ve also played (VII, VIII, X).

How about a game I only recently kicked the bad habit of? That’s right, Pokemon. Well, FireRed was an enhanced remake of a game I had played when it first came out (in my case, Yellow) and Pearl is really just another evolution of the same game (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it).

So what does that say about me? Am I just playing it safe? I will admit to starting to unfortunately feel that apprehension and insecurity when I start playing an entirely new game, something I never expected myself to feel with regards to any technology.

How does that relate to the Wii? Shouldn’t I be right at home since it’s basically a Gamecube and all my old games are there on Virtual Console? I’m totally ready to go with Shining Force II (again, another old game I’ve played through multiple times) but I really need to finish some of these other games I’m playing, first! Our Wii actually gets used like clockwork every time Andrew and Jeff are over, if only to mess around on the Everybody Votes Channel. I know, I know… it sounds ridiculous… but it’s an event in our household. We even have our own lingo to go along with it, talking about who’s the biggest “conformist” when their choices are closest to the general population, and so on and so forth.

I also wonder if it seems like I use the 360 more than I actually do because I use it as a media center for displaying programming up on the television. Combine that with the Rock Band constant state-of-being, and I suppose it would look like I’m attached to it.

What about you all? Does your Wii collect dust, or is it at the center of your gaming experience? Does any of that other nonsense I’ve spouted relate to you, or is it just the gibberish of yet another ranting lunatic on the intarwebz?

How’s Married Life? Pretty Much The Same…

I don’t know about Meri, but I’ve certainly had quite a few people at work and in other social situations ask the standard, “So how’s married life treating you?” question. Every time, my answer is the same: a halfway-confused response of, “Well… the same as it was before, but with a ring on.

I wonder how much of the standard, American perception of married life is based on reality, how much of it comes from media (and more specifically, TV shows like The Simpsons and Married With Children), and how different we may or may not be from all of that.

Is it really such a struggle? Is there really so much faux-animosity? Am I just too young and naive, still?

The optimistic side of me realizes that our situation is probably quite different than most others. We’ve been a couple for eight years, have lived together for the last four, and didn’t even get engaged until less than a year ago. There are no secrets, no surprises, no false expectations.

Anyone that knows us is well aware of how much we enjoy spending time together, and generally have little interest in persuing separate “girls nights” or “guys nights”… we’re together with everyone, and that’s the way we like it.

We had something in our wedding ceremony about marriage being a union of two people, yet those two people retain their individuality and respect for that and blah blah blah. It was one of the pieces that I wasn’t fully 100% on agreeing with, but I didn’t particularly disagree with it, either. I just wasn’t sure that it perfectly explained how we are together. (If that was the least of my concerns with all the wording, I’d say that’s a pretty good thing :P)

So what’s the point of all this? I’m not entirely sure, myself. The curious side of me is thoroughly intrigued to see if the supposedly-naive side of me is correct in thinking that we’ll never be one of those couples making lame jokes about how different marriage is down the road, getting on each others’ nerves, etc.

Of course, I can’t possibly predict how things change if/when children enter the picture.

For now, though… yeah, it’s the same. But with a ring on. Which I’m finally used to wearing and am not constantly fiddling with.

Sorry! Wanna play something else…?

My friends list on the 360 is looking pretty funny, lately. It basically consists of 10% random games, and then 90% Gears of War 2.

While I appreciate all the co-op / multiplayer gaming requests I’m getting from everyone to play GoW2, unfortunately (for you) I don’t have the game and don’t have much of an interest in playing it :P.

You’ll be getting a pretty hefty update on what we all have been playing on episode five of the podcast. Right now we’re scheduled to record not this coming weekend, but the weekend after… so look for the show very soon after that. I know Andrew’s been playing more games than I can even fathom, so he’s sure to have a lot to say. You’ll probably get some crossover discussion outta me due to a couple new releases, but… well, just wait to hear about it on the show!

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