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

Month: January 2009 (page 1 of 2)

More Reflections On… Well… People (And Being Online)

A review of recent comments on the Daizenshuu EX YouTube channel and playing some Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 on Xbox Live last night reminded me just how jaw-droppingly incomprehensible people can be online. I have come across a couple good bits o’ reading over the last couple days that somewhat tie in with this subject, and I just wanted to pass them along. A lot of these thoughts will come around again when I finally decided to do a WTF EX podcast episode about current internet culture and the (non)value of feedback/comments as a whole, but until then, I hope you enjoy some of these bits.

First and foremost, let me make it explicitly clear that I hold absolutely no (serious) delusions of grandeur and hardly see myself as any sort of true “celebrity”. With that being said, I also have been running prominent (for their community/audience) websites for well over a decade, moved on up in several hobbies, presented at conventions, etc. I’m out there. People know my name and plenty of other things about me. People have come up to me in public. I’ve been asked to sign things (OK, just once that I remember). OK? OK. Just sayin’.

While I occasionally read a little too much idealistic and unrealistic prose over on Techdirt, as a whole I really enjoy what is posted there, and tend to agree more than disagree with what Michael Masnick has to say. Above-mentioned review of my YouTube comments and a few e-mails to Daizenshuu EX perfectly mirrors the title of an article from the other day, “Reading Comprehension: A Terrible Thing To Waste“.

In 2007, some people who somehow signed up for the program without meaning to, started Google searching the program — and commenting on that post, often complaining that they were signed up against their will. In April of 2007, one person noted that the charge on his credit card was denoted as being for AMZ*Prime Club. Within days, if you did a search on that phrase, we were the top result. At first, our comments started to fill up with angry messages from people who claim they never agreed to sign up for the program. Then… people started emailing and calling us demanding a refund.

Particularly with our “Rumor Guide” and detailed explanations of things from the originial Japanese reference material, many people write in to “correct” us, but end up saying the exact same thing, simply in their own words (and typically with FUNimation-only verbiage). It is almost always followed and ended by some snarky comment, demanding praise for their valuable time wasted on us (that’s if it hadn’t already started with a horribly-written insult). Just like Techdirt ended up:

Five minutes later, she replies:

How the hell do I contact Amazon – it seems to me that you and Amazon are probably working in collusion to fleece people.

And… with that I give up. Apparently, it wouldn’t matter how clearly Amazon explains their program. There are still some people who will not be able to figure it out.

… I have had too many instances where responding back and forth with readers/listeners/fans ends up with me tossing my hands up in the air. While the following example is not one where I responded back and forth with the author (I didn’t bother replying at all), and is also not an example where they don’t realize they are actually agreeing with us, it still fits in with the whole mentality of these sorts of comments. This may be completely over-the-head of my non-DBZ-fan friends and readers… but chances are, if you’re here reading this, you have some familiarity with DBZ ^_~.

In your rumors guide, u said that Trunks can’t reach SSJ2.. and your reasoning was that because it was a big deal when Gohan ascended to SSJ2 and beat Cell..

However u didn’t consider that the “big deal” could have been over Gohan’s power and NOT over the SSJ2 transformation. We all know 2 Saiyans can have different strengths even if both are SSJ form. For example, Trunks and Goten in early SSJ form can’t beat Vegeta or Goku. Also, SSJ Goten was slightly weaker than SSJ Trunks.

What I’m tryin to say is, ppl weren’t surprised at the new “SSJ2” form that Gohan transformed into. The big surprise was over the fact that Gohan’s SSJ2 form was even more powerful than Goku’s and Vegeta’s SSJ2 form.

Now, back to Trunks. During the Cell saga when Future Trunks fought Cell, he clearly became an “Ascended Super-Saiyan”. Even the episode was titled “Trunks Ascended”.

Later on, during the Majin Buu Saga, episode “230 – Super Saiyan 3!”, Goku CLEARLY stated that an “ascended super-saiyan” is also known as “super saiyan 2”.

So there u have it.. Future Trunks WAS indeed able to become SSJ2.

There are so many things wrong with this e-mail. They are clearly writing in response to one particular entry in the “Rumor Guide“, and yet despite having a well-researched and correct explanation in front of them, there is some… I don’t even know what to call it…? I don’t think “sense of entitlement” is the right way to explain it, but it’s along the same lines. As I’ve noted time and time again, there seem to be a large contingent of FUNimation-only fans that yearn to “correct” information based off the original Japanese… and while that’s not to say there isn’t the opposite (I mean, hello!… I’m right here!)… oh, you can see where this is going (an “It’s FUNimation’s own fault there’s a fractured fanbase, not mine” editorial is too much effort for me, these days). Let’s just move on.

The other article I wanted to point you over to was “Some Things Need To Change” by Michael Arrington over on TechCruch. Arrington takes a lot of flack for things he does and says, but at the end of the day, I think he’s pretty accurate in saying:

I write about technology startups and news. In any sane world that shouldn’t make me someone who has to deal with death threats and being spat on. It shouldn’t require me to absorb more verbal abuse than a human being can realistically deal with.

Again, please refer to the beginning of this entry where I plainly state that I’m not placing myself among the larger crowd of genuine success stories in the tech world. I’m just some guy on the internet talking to other nerds. There are clear parallels and warning signs, though. Do I really want to take any of my projects “further”, whether it’s a legitimate business or just a highly-expanded-upon hobby-venture? If there are already fake YouTube accounts set up with the sole purpose of insulting one of my websites (whoops; just legitimized it by acknowledging its existence!), repeatedly have to delete anti-Japanese comments from my actual YouTube account… blah blah blah. I don’t mean to make it out to be a larger situation than it really is (let’s be honest… it’s not). At the same time, they’re all horrible reminders about what kinds of people are out there, and how easily they have access to provide “feedback” to you. Why should anyone have to put themselves in a position where that’s even a realistic situation? Perhaps I’m being the unrealistic and delusional one, expecting and hoping to just go about my business having fun with enjoying things without receiving negative comments in response.

The problem is that I love what I do when I’m not hiding from some crazy fucker who wants to kill me or being spat on by some unhappy European entrepreneur we didn’t write about.

CONCLUSION: My buddy David summed it up pretty well when he told me…

I think YouTube, Hulu, and similar large online forums just show how the world really is: loudmouthed, hateful, and ignorant.

Also, if your first name is “Michael”, you appear to be doomed on the internet. Even further additionally, does John Gabriel’s theory just make that much sense?

As I’ve stated before, I’m not looking for “sympathy” or even agreement with the topics discussed and relayed in these types of posts. People seem to like the “behind-the-scenes” look into how things are done at Casa de EX (like my podcasting setup), and I figured this all worked together nicely to provide yet another view. Especially if you disagree with what I’ve presented, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Pretty interesting how I’ve essentially degraded internet comments to a worthless pile of trash not suitable for a second glance, and then say I value them. Let me instead end it on a funny e-mail.

From: < name removed >
Sent: Sun, 25 Nov 2007 7:04 pm

You know Yoshio Anzai (shueshia) ?
Please give me information about yoshio anzai and contact information for yoshio… please
ATT: < name removed >
Bogota Colombia

Hey, it’s snowing outside!

(Any uplifting things you’d like to hear about? :P)

Website, Podcast, & Future Plans

I would feel guilty about writing a non-content post like this if I hadn’t just written a pretty decent one yesterday… ^_~. I definitely wanted to get some thoughts out there, because I believe it is extremely important to be transparent and open with how projects are going. If you are here and reading, you probably care and probably want to know… right?

This is one of my favorite parts of having this site around, and is something I had wanted to do for years (being that I wanted to just have a regular ol’ gaming blog). While this site was launched as a combination blog/podcast offering, I think it is very important to have both and I try to put just as much preparation and effort into one as I do the other. Blog entries are also things I can do from work, from home, while on the road… Sure, this is all obvious stuff, but I also think it’s worth actually saying (typing?) aloud to re-enforce that it’s available to me whenever, and I can, should, and will have fun doing it!

As the e-mails and blog comments have indicated, some of you are wondering when the next podcast is coming out. That’s a good question! The holiday season, traveling, etc. ended up killing off the December show, and now we are coming to the end of January. D’oh! Back when I was a much younger Mike running websites as a teenager, a two month period seemed like an absolute eternity. Now-a-days (especially in the midst of a house purchase), two months goes by like… well… picture me snapping my fingers here. There ya’ go. Just like that. I’m not sure that our plans for December’s/January’s episode even make sense any more (a reflection back on 1998’s games… ya’ know, looking back at ten years ago) simply because now we’re into 2009, and Retronauts ended up getting out an episode on it, themselves. We have plenty of topics we have tossed around to each other (Jeff is dying to do a show about game soundtracks), but is there anything in particular you would like to hear the group discuss?

Speaking of which, does the format of the show interest you? Don’t take that question as meaning that I don’t like it; I’m actually pretty indifferent about the format of the show. I personally love topical discussions, and so that (by default) ended up being part of the show. The standard “Hey, let’s talk about the games we’re all playing!” is pretty standard on every single gaming podcast, but I find myself enjoying that part of every show (both my own and other shows that I listen to). I think it’s safe to say that this will always be in there, but how do you feel about it? Since we aim(ed) to have a monthly show, we were shooting for a 90-120 minute length of the show). How about that? Do you want longer or shorter? Hopefully not longer…!

I guess you could also call this “layout”. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a while is move away from the we-clearly-adapted-the-default-WordPress-theme for a design of the site. I really like the custom theme I incorporated over into my personal blog. You can see that I have a thing for individual entries having their own surrounding “block”, and I’ve always wanted to get rid of a sidebar and drive all navigation up top. If I can swing some free time, you may see me experimenting with the look of the site. Do not be alarmed. Do not adjust your television sets.

So that’s that, now you know, and knowledge is power.

Video Game Club – “Halo” (Level 3… Not “Halo 3”)

Perhaps contrary to popular belief, I am indeed slowly making my way through some games. They may be the same ol’ games, but I’m making progress, none-the-less! I got in a little more playtime with the first Halo last night, and ran into some additional frustration… though it’s completely unrelated to platforming, this time around!

(No real spoilers here, so don’t worry if you haven’t played the game… then again, I think I’m the only person who hasn’t played the game…)

There have been two instances so far where I have been almost unable to continue playing the game simply because I can’t tell what I am supposed to do (or more correctly, where I am supposed to go to do the thing that I was just told I have to do).

The first came about during level two (“Halo”) where I needed to activate a light bridge to pass across the giant gap in the roadway (shortly after getting control of the Warthog). After clearing the bridge area of baddies, I was told there was a switch to go hit to activate the bridge… but I found myself walking back and forth around the entire area completely unable to find said switch. I checked what I thought was every single nook and cranny and box and dead bad guy looking for this miraculous switch that would allow me to continue my gameplay. I took a break after something like 15 minutes to go talk to Jeff about something, and when I came back I resumed my search. Even after consulting FAQs which told me there was a ramp up on the right, I still couldn’t find the darn thing. I lost track of how much time I spent doing this, but I eventually found this fabeled narrow ramp. What prevented me from finding this? It seemed to obvious and in the open, yet I had been walking around for a ridiculous amount of time. Was it the color scheme of the stage? Was it because the ramp was so narrow? I don’t think I know the answer to this question.

I wish that was the last time I had that problem, but I ran into the exact same issue last night.

The first half of level three (“The Truth and Reconciliation”) seemed to be intended as a halfway-stealthy mission, but I have too severe a case of Gaming A.D.D.™ to be able to do that (nevermind the fact that I didn’t seem to have the sniper rifle I was apparently supposed to have). I am playing on easy, though, so that combined with the hilariously-effective stationary turrets allowed me to clear through pretty easily once I got reacquainted with the controls (it had been about two weeks since I last played). I eventually reached a comparatively wide open area that circled around a pit (for those that have played, you probably know which area I mean… it’s the second-to-last area in the first half of the level before you get beamed up). I once again had an instance where after I had cleaned out the entire area of baddies… I absolutely could not figure out where the heck I was supposed to go. I even backtracked all the way to the beginning of the level (and then back again) just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything important like a side cavern or something like that. I easily spent half an hour wandering around the level, and while I managed to grab a whole bunch of extra ammo for myself, no progress was being made. I once again consulted the plethora of poorly-written FAQs on the interwebz, all of which paid no mind to the situation and told me to just continue on up the mountain as if there was not an issue here at all. If I’m spending all this time trying to figure out where to go, isn’t there some kind of issue, though? Once again, after spending this ridiculous amount of time wandering around, I found (gasp!) the narrow pathway that led me up the mountain, right in plain view the entire time.

What’s going on here? Am I just being careless? Am I not paying attention to my surroundings? Like I asked myself earlier, does it have to do with the color scheme of the game? Is it just another example of my unfamiliarity with the genre, and perhaps its non-maturation at that point in time? Am I just making excuses for my own incompetence?

How about you all? Have you had similar experiences? I’d especially like to hear about similar experiences in different genres. The closest example I can remember that’s non-FPS-related was my attempt to re-find Narsche in Final Fantasy VI which I had written about previously.

Disaster In-Progress: Main Rig Down

Despite it being entirely recorded, edited, mixed, and otherwise fully completed well ahead of schedule this weekend, Episode #0161 of the podcast for Daizenshuu EX is not online. Nor have I been able to help coordinate the forum transfer over to the new server. Nor have I been chilling in the IRC channel like I normally am.

Yesterday early afternoon I was unplugging my laptop’s power cord from the surge protector which the main rig is also plugged into. I accidentally flipped the switch on it, effectively cutting power to everything there. No biggie. Nothing that hasn’t happened before. Flipped the switch, and everything immediately came back on (monitor, computer, stereo, scanner, wireless headphones, etc.). I headed out into the dining room where I was working on hooking up the new HD digital camera to my laptop (sorry; that’s all work-work related, and not play-work related!) and installed a few things.

When I wandered back out to the main rig, it was sitting on this screen:


Very strange. I figured it perhaps just got itself hung up, and I would reboot and go into Safe Mode if I had to. Manually turned it off, let it sit for a minute, turned it back on… same thing. OK, now this is getting bad. I completely unplugged everything and let it sit for a long while, in the meantime consulting some friends online for opinions.

The opinions started pouring in that perhaps the power supply fried itself (or something along those lines). I found it very sad that such a simple little thing would cause such a drastic effect, but I suppose it’s not unheard of. This is also one of the aspects of computer hardware I know very little about; I can install a new optical drive or a hard drive or even a stick of RAM, but that’s about the extent of my internal-computer-knowledge.

(NOTE: Yes, everything whirled-up and sounded pretty normal when I rebooted it. The green lights on the front USB ports indicated they had power. The monitor definitely isn’t “frozen” with a burned-in screen, or anything, because I can cycle through inputs and it changes to show that it has no connected source.)

I ended up at Best Buy and picked up a 700 watt power supply, which was a contrast to the 1000 watt power supply inside my Dell XPS 710 (but all opinions seemed to be that 1000 watt was pretty ridiculous, especially considering I wasn’t exactly launching any spaceships with this computer). I had to spend some time at the in-laws’ after picking it up, but jumped right into potential repairs upon returning home. I eventually figured out that I needed to remove all three of my hard drives in order to get access to pulling out the pre-existing power supply, and it was around then that Jeff was able to run over and help me pull it apart.


Holy Hell.

Long story short, the power supply that came with it is a proprietary 1000 watt monster. I know very little about what I’m about to mention, but it had both a 24-pin and a 20-pin connector (yes, two of them) that went directly into the motherboard, which seemed very different from not only the new 700 watt power supply I picked up, but anything Jeff had seen before. As opposed to the new power supply, The Beast had all of its wires coming directly from one spot (which you unfortunately can’t see off-screen to the left in the above picture), all filtering and twisting and winding throughout the system. We eventually managed to feel them out and get every single last bit unplugged from devices, but now I’m pretty much left with a system that has no power supply.

This is all assuming the power supply was even in the issue in the first place, which I never really got full confirmation on (not that I’d ever be able to). I called Dell customer support out of morbid curiosity (warranty expired exactly a year ago), and after being potentially up-sold to “North American-based premium customer support”, I spoke with someone I could barely comprehend and ultimately had to say goodbye to without any real help.

So now I’m out in the cold all by myself. If it is indeed the power supply, Dell does not directly sell a replacement, so I’m potentially buying a new or refurbished one off of eBay ($50-150). If that’s not the problem… well… what is? And how do I even tell?

I’ve got a GeForce 9800 GT showing up this week, too… I was planning on finishing up Portal with it and running a bunch of other stuff all silky-smooth…

Didn’t sleep much last night due to my frustration. This is on top of a 360 whose graphics card fried itself alive (not covered by Microsoft’s extended warranty, though I’ve since paid the $100 to have it replaced), and a spontaneously-bricked PSP whose current status is theorized to be a fried motherboard (which cannot be brought back from the dead with a Pandora’s Battery, which I’ve already tried courtesy of Corey, and I will thus have to pay $100 to get it replaced or just buy a new one), and a Rock Band drum whose blue pad snapped a wire inside.

(To answer a couple quick questions, yes, if I get it back up and running or can hook up the SATA hard drive with Episode #0161 on it somewhere else, I’ll go ahead and post that show. If not right away, it will be retroactively posted in the future. Yes, I should be able to record another show on-schedule next week if we feel up to it… I can record on the laptop, and do all the mixing on the Shuttle which has all the project files and bumper music masters. Knock-on-wood, but here’s hoping that main C:/-drive isn’t farked… should be completely fine, though…)

Number-One Rankings On Google

I saw in my search engine referrals the phrase “dragonball fansite” the other day (for Daizenshuu EX), so I figured I’d take a look and see where we placed with that. Whoa! Number one…?! Awesome! Out of curiosity, I tried a bunch of additional search terms/phrases to see which also brought us up as the first link on Google (at least while searching signed into my own profile; your mileage may vary). Here are a few that I am really proud of:

  • daizenshuu
  • dragonball fansite
  • dragon ball fansite
  • dragon ball podcast
  • dragonball podcast
  • dbz podcast
  • best dbz website
  • best dragonball website
  • best dragon ball website
  • dragonball website
  • dragon ball website
  • dbz website

I don’t know if anyone actually uses those types of search phrases, but if they came to mind for me to use, perhaps someone else will do the same. There’s still a long way to go for us to show up for simple searches like “dragonball” or “dbz”, but hey… we’ve gone eleven years and have done this well. What’s another decade or so? We’ll out-last everyone and end up on top by default :P.

Problem Not-Yet-Solved: Wireless Podcast Downloads

I had originally typed this up on my iPhone and was planning on posting it via the WordPress application, but I ran into a little snag: the dreaded “invalid post id” error. Now I’m re-typing it on a standard ol’ computer while looking down at the draft on my phone to make sure it’s all written up verbatim. What a drag. Ah, well. It prompted me to upgrade the WordPress installation on this blog and get image insertions working again, so I suppose it was all in my best interest.


I have had this little issue for a while, but have not been able to solve it as-of-yet. When Apple decided to allow wireless downloads of podcasts to the iPhone from within the iTunes Store, I decided to try it out with Lo-Fidelity.

It worked perfectly fine, except that I am completely unable to locate it for deletion when the phone is connected to the computer and the iTunes application. It is not under “Music” and it is not under “Podcasts”. It simply does not exist, as far as I can tell. Except… ya’ know… it actually is there somewhere on the phone’s drive, since I can still tap and listen to it.


Thoughts? Similar experiences? Solutions? I haven’t tried downloading any more podcasts over WiFi for fear of not being able to delete them. I have to imagine this is some sort of strange, isolated case…

Annoying Phone Messages

While on the way to work (at precisely 8:21 am), I received a call from “Unknown” which I promptly ignored. They left a message (as I expected they would), so I checked it out. Below is a transcription of that (pre-recorded) message:

Hello. Today is Monday, December 15th. We are calling regarding an important, personal business matter. This call is NOT a sales or solicitation call and requires your immediate attention. Please return this call before end-of-business Tuesday, December the 16th, to 1-877-857-9756. You may return this call between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM eastern standard time. Again, that number is 1-877-857-9756. Thank you.

Please note today’s date. Yes, today is January 21st… not December 15th. There’s strike number one. OK, fine. Strike number one was even calling me in the first place, and this was a strike after many strikes within the actual voice message. But still… seriously? And you’re calling before your actual “business hours” even start…?

When you Google around with the phone number, you get a variety of responses on forums and “Who called me?”-type sites. Some claim it’s a scam, some claim it’s a hijacked (but legitimate) number, some claim it’s a debt collection agency, etc.

Being that I don’t exactly owe anyone any money, that’s certainly not the case with me.

I received a couple of these a few months back, but with personal voice messages as opposed to this pre-recorded one. While en-route between the ceremony and reception for the wedding of a couple friends a couple months back, I decided to actually return the call from that previous annoyance. A very grumpy lady answered with no identification. I explained to her that I kept receiving calls from this number and I would like them to immediately cease. She asked me to confirm my phone number. I told her that if she was unable to see which number I was calling from, there was little chance that they were any sort of legitimate organization and I had no desire and was under absolutely no obligation to divulge any information about myself. She (obviously) started getting very angry, and refused to identify herself or her organization despite my repeated attempts at asking, claiming they “represent” many organizations. I ended up hanging up on her since I was getting nowhere, and I hadn’t received any calls from them since.

I wonder if this is the same place, or if I am just cooincidentally getting hit up again? I know there has been yet another disastrous credit leak due to a keylogger inside the Heartland systems, so everyone should be on their toes with nonsense like this.

Podcasting Friends

Let’s write about something a little more uplifting, rather than the other day’s dive into the depths of internet excrement! Yay!

It’s no secret that I love podcasts. They provide an excellent complement to just listening to music, and for someone who works a job where my ears can be free when I want them to be and can be filled with that I want them to be filled with, I love that choice. What I especially love is when honest-to-goodness friends get in on the action, and especially friends that I don’t get a chance to see every weekend. It stinks that some of us only get to see each other during conventions (and lately weddings!) and a couple other points during the year, so whenever friends like to get in on the podcasting action and let me hear their voices throughout the day, I love it to death.

I just wanted to give a brief run-down on some personal friends who are podcasting, hopefully toss some listeners their way, and remind them that they’re great people and it’s fantastic that we can share something so incredibly nerdy like podcasting.

JEFF: Lo-Fidelity
OK, this one’s kind of a cop-out answer, since now I’m “co-hosting” the show. Originally, Jeff and our buddy Brad (both of whom I’ve known from AMVs for many years now) started up the show to discuss indie music, do some reviews, discussions, etc. I absolutely adored it, because Brad’s one heck of a stand-up fellow, the nicest guy in the world, and has plenty of worthwhile opinions to share. I had an opportunity to guest-host in Brad’s place one episode (I think it was seven), and then I got just a couple more before the show went on hiatus. Almost exactly one year later Jeff decided to start it up again, this time with me filling Brad’s shoes (not an envious position to be in). We’re really hoping to get Brad on the show whenever we can, though, so that’s great. Even though I’m part of the show, it’s a completely different dynamic with Jeff hosting it. I just show up with my equipment, Jeff hosts/moderates it, does all the editing, most of the prep-work, posts it up, etc. I actually feel more “comfortable” (maybe “differently comfortable” is more accurate) with recording this way, as opposed to being the “host” of my other shows (even though I’m surrounded by co-hosts on all of them!). It’s a great dynamic, and when I listen to the show, I still feel like I’m checking in with Jeff to see what’s going on (even though he lives right around the corner and I was right there to record with him).

BRYCE: Otaku Generation
This is an interesting case, because I met Bryce because of the podcast he’s a part of. When Meri and I headed over to Pennsylvania one night to record the show after having been invited on, that was the first time we ever actually met Bryce. Since then, we’ve been able to hang out at conventions, have him over on Video Game Conversations, and just general hang out and chill like any other friends would. It’s been fantastic to gain a friendship through a hobby like that, and is one of the reasons I haven’t completely lost hope in humanity.

KEVIN & BOB: The Appcast
They literally just posted their first episode this week, but it was so great to hear Kevin and Bob (both of whom I’ve also known through AMVs for several years now) doing a show. I was so impressed and proud of their sound quality and organization with the very first show. I’ll admit that a bunch of us are total iPhone dorks, with Kevin and Bob being the obvious leaders (thus, the podcast), so it’s wonderful to be able to listen in on my friends geeking-out.

In a nutshell, I feel like it almost lets me “hang out” with my friends a little bit whenever a new show is out and I’m busy at work plugging away at something. It sounds a little creepy and anti-social, I suppose, but it’s the truth. It’s not like we don’t actually get together in person! Really! I promise!

YouTube Comments & Their Irrelevance

Something I’ve hinted at and plan on doing a podcast on at some point in the future here at WTF EX is concerning the usage, implementation, and overall general idea of “comments”. I’ll save the nitty-gritty for whenever I get around to recording that episode with whomever happens to be on the show (as per the promise of “no set schedule and no set guests”), but I will share one comment that just came in today. First you’ll need a little background, though.

We have a brief series of original video clips over on Daizenshuu EX called “Inconsistencies” (which are placed on our site and also our YouTube channel). They explore changes between the original manga and TV adaptation of the DragonBall series in what we consider to be a fun and visually-interesting way. For a little side-project website, I’d say they’re pretty darn well-produced. We don’t have slick graphics and animated intros like stuff on Game Trailers, but we’ve got motion blur and decent audio!

Ever since the first (of three) clips went live, the overwhelming response has been that of FUNimation English dub fans who take extraordinary issue with someone speaking English and not only referencing terms and names from the original Japanese version, but also showing said Japanese version. General assumed intelligence level pre-conceptions of a FUNimation English dub fan who can still manage to type properly aside, these comments showcase what I feel is a huge problem with the safe anonymity of the interwebz, and especially mass-consumption social networks like YouTube. There is zero accountability, zero sense of self, and zero sense of community (shockingly opposite of what these sites attempt to create: community). I wish I could say it’s just children being children, but it’s terribly far from the truth. It’s difficult to analyze the situation without full knowledge of just who these people are, but I have to imagine it would be naive to assume they are all uneducated, bored, neglected children.

John C. Dvorak has written some interesting things regarding the value online comments, and a conversation between Leo Laporte and Amber McCarther on an episode of the net@night podcast (forgive me for not having the exact episode) placed YouTube comments at the absolute bottom of the totem poll, with absolutely zero value to society. So how about this example? Let’s take a look at it, and give the commenter the unfortunate satisfaction of attention.

Wow. You said Genki-Dama and showed subtitles. You’re a fucking Japanophile. It’s called Spirit Bomb. Stop thinking you’re cool by using Japanese terms. You’re not cool, you’re not elite, you’re just an idiot. DBZ in Japanese sucks. Everyone is voiced by the same 60-year-old constipated woman and the music is way too cheerful and mono quality. Seriously, this video made me sick because of how elite you think you are by saying Goku-sama and stuff. Fucking loser.

FALLACY: The translation of “Genki-Dama” is not “Spirit Bomb”, making the FUNimation term inaccurate. This person simply prefers that name, and therefore claims the original is somehow wrong.

TRUTH: I’m an idiot. Then again, we’re all foolish at some point or another. The verdict’s out on whether or not I’m retarded, though.

FALLACY: Not everyone is voiced by “the same 60-year-old constipated woman”. Notable American voice actor Chris Sabat provides more roles to his company’s production of the DragonBall series than any single Japanese voice actor in their own original production of the show. What they’re really trying to say? “lolz you like the gay goku voice“.

TRUTH: The music is indeed mono. Then again, the show started in 1986.

FALLACY: No-one said “Goku-sama”. They simply ran out of insults at this point and wanted to wrap it up.

I won’t lie; these types of comments do wear down on you after a while. I don’t know the exact phrase or who to attribute it to, but you have to consider that if you don’t think you’re crazy, but everyone around you is telling you that you’re insane, you should really take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. In this case, is the overwhelming negative response from these YouTube commenters the “correct” opinion? Or is it, as I’ve always held to be the case, just a bunch of childish, near-sociopaths flapping their mouths online where they can’t be smacked upside the head? I’ve never had anything more than a single, friendly disagreement at any convention I’ve ever been to before, and since I know these types of people are out there, that just leads me to believe that (a) I haven’t had the chance to be in the same room as them, or (b) they don’t have the balls to say this stuff in real life. Sure, it’s the typical “elitist” standpoint to take, assuming that these “commoners” are somehow “beneath” you… but is there any validity to it?

Furthermore, how do we overhaul the comment system to make it worthwhile? If we do so, don’t we just make it geared towards what we want to hear, rather than what the possible majority actually have to say? I guess those questions will have to be further discussed in whatever and whenever podcast we do!

Part of me wants to invite these people onto a show just to genuinely hear why they think this way and what the basis is for their points, but then the elitist side of me jumps in and just assumes they’re children that wouldn’t be able to hold a professional discussion without nervously squawking their way through, hanging up, or otherwise being useless.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not looking for validation or support. I’ve been doing this stuff online for over ten years, and have a thick-enough skin that I can move on with my life. Just felt like sharing those thoughts, and on a place with a small-enough readership that I don’t expect that validation :P.

Video Game Club: “Half-Life” and “Halo”

This is a little bit of a follow-up to a post I made back on November 30th, but I have a lot more to add with a lot more detail. I originally called this post “Platforming In FPS Games” but I ended up talking about a significant amount more than just that subject, so I think it fits in with the “Video Game Club” idea much better. There aren’t any significant “spoilers” in what I’ve discussed here (especially since I’m still so early in the games), so there is no “behind-the-cut” to hit and read the rest of the entry.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I’m not the biggest fan of FPS games. After the obligatory Doom II and Duke Nuken 3D back in high school, I didn’t progress with the genre at all. Sure, I played a little Goldeneye 007 on Nintendo 64 like anyone else who owned the console, but not gaming on the PC at all (in arguably one of its “golden” eras), I simply never really had the chance to play them, and they never really entered my mind as something to even bother with.

I think it was the combination of seeing Bioshock, Team Fortress 2, and Portal in 2007 that swayed me a little bit. The first was all about an incredible atmosphere, the second was all about a hilarious aesthetic and class-based teamwork, and the third was all about humor and ingenuity. More than weapons, more than speed, more than the number of polygons, and more than anything else, those aspects made me take a second look at the genre.

I played through the demo of Bioshock (once on the 360, and even then again on the PC) and really enjoyed what I played. I picked it up on 360 sometime last year (and even just a couple weeks back for $5 on Steam… just to have it around) but haven’t gotten around to playing any more of it. I’ve dabbled here and there in Team Fortress 2, but the game is essentially unapproachable for general multiplayer action for anyone who isn’t already an FPS master. I’m sitting on my save at the last level in Portal, and loved every minute I have played in it (I’ll get around to beating it, I promise!).

Within the last month, I decided that before playing any more of these games (including the Half-Life 2 series of games, which I obtained via The Orange Box), I was going to dip a little back into the past and play a couple older games to see how the genre has evolved at least over the last ten years (if not longer). I had asked for the first Halo as a Christmas present last year, and it’s been sitting in my collection ever since. I picked up the first Half-Life on Steam a couple months back when they were running the special $1 sale on it to celebrate its 10-year anniversary. With these two in tow, the golden standards of PC- and console-based FPSing, I figured I would have a great and educated jumping ground.

The first thing I confirmed for myself (which I’ve mentioned before, but it bears repeating) was how much of snob I’ve become for mouse-and-keyboard FPSing, despite hardly caring about the genre at all. I played through a little bit of the demo for Portal: Still Alive on 360, and was immediately thrown off with the (by-comparison) clunkiness and slow response time. Andrew mentioned on the podcast recently how he played through the 360 version with absolutely no problem, but had never actually played (at least seriously) an FPS on the PC to really compare the controls. To come in with a total “n00b” perspective with absolutely zero pre-conceptions and honestly give all types of control schemes a chance, I can honestly say that given the opportunity, I would always pick mouse-and-keyboard over dual-sticks, and I have a hard time understanding why anyone would ever choose differently.

Let’s talk about the actual games, though.

Being so unfamiliar with and terrible at FPS games, and therefore multiplayer sessions being nothing more than an endless and frustrating cycle of spawn-kill, I really enjoyed being able to dive into the single-player campaign of Half-Life. I love stories, narrative, flow, etc., and so far it’s delivered on all fronts (note that I just finished “Office Complex”, the third “level”, last night). I understand that it’s a game from 10 years ago, so I’ve been able to forgive the quirky mannerisms of some of the NPCs (which actually makes them more endearing than I think they otherwise would be). I haven’t gotten too much of the “story” yet, but the flow it’s riding along with has been near-perfect so far. I’ve only seen one hint of the “G-man” (I know I’ve missed some), but it was wonderfully creepy and enthralling. I’d love to tell you more about it, but I really need to get further along in the game before I can say a lot more.

There is one part of the gameplay I’d like to slightly rant about, though, and it happens to be the original title of this column (before I ended up writing so much more than I anticipated): platforming in FPS games. I neglected to mention earlier that I played through a bit of the first Turok game on Nintendo 64, and this may have been one of the moments in FPS gaming that turned me off for a while. I personally have an incredibly difficult time “platforming” in first-person. By that I mostly mean precise jumping. Whether it was from little circular cliff to little circular cliff in Turok, or hanging box to hanging box in Half-Life, I have a horrible time doing it right. My sense of depth is completely thrown off, and I have almost zero “sense of self” with regards to my surroundings. I know a lot of readers/listeners wrote in to say that it’s something you get used to with time (which I can completely see happening), but as-of-yet, I am still suffering from the same plague.

Let me showcase two examples that drove me absolutely insane just within the “Office Complex” level. In this first example (the second-to-last area within “Office Complex”), you need to get up into that little vent/corridor, which will lead the way to hopping atop the moving conveyor, and ultimately across to the next section. I can’t describe or count the number of ways and times that I tried to get in there. I even pushed a giant box from one end of the level back to this room (all Zelda puzzle-solving style) just in case I need to jump from the ledge across from the vent up to the box and then up into the vent (needless to say, I didn’t need to do that). Despite the fact that I had been doing several running crouch-jumps towards that area, it never worked. Well, that’s not true. Eventually it worked. I have no idea what I did differently, but somehow I managed to squeeze myself up in there. I had actually not played the game in maybe a week or so because I was “stuck” in trying to get myself up in there, so it was quite a relief to not have to drop the game simply because I couldn’t control myself properly in level three.

That wasn’t the end of my frustration, though. Anyone who knows the game much better than I ever hope to will know exactly what came next.

That’s right. Climbing up ladders, jumping to other landings, jumping to more ladders, and getting to the top of an elevator was my next task. I amazingly only died once before I got to the last ladder (and that was my own fault for not paying full attention to the game). The last jump looks so incredibly easy, and should have been a piece of cake. However, this is probably the one spot where I died in the game more so than any other spot thus-far. Despite it being directly in front of me, I absolutely could not get myself to jump straight across and grab onto the ladder. I always seemed to end up too low, ladder completely within my sight but not my grasp, and then found myself plummeting to my death below. I stopped counting how many times I died, but I eventually grabbed onto it and finished the level.

This means that my experience with Half-Life so far has been complete enjoyment of the story/narrative, the characters, and even the enemies… with the major “fault” being one tiny element of the gameplay! Unfortunately, that one “fault” has been enough to frustrate me into not playing the game for at least one week’s period of time, and intimidate me from playing as much as I otherwise would probably want to.

Let’s leave behind Half-Life (except to make comparisons) and turn over to Halo, a game that came out three years later. Almost immediately upon starting the game, I could see just how much of a new groundwork Half-Life had laid for the genre with its scripted events and mostly-obvious level design choices to lead you in the right direction. While not as memorable as the monorail sequence that begins Half-Life, the beginning of Halo does many of the same things by introducing you to the game’s world, the basic control schemes, the important sub-characters, the enemies, and more. I especially liked the back-and-forth choice you are offered with regards to inverted or standard control with the right control stick; it crossed the fourth wall just barely enough to still make sense in-universe, but make you smile at the same time.

I have definitely played much less in Halo than I have in Half-Life (only about an hour or so, completing level two, “Halo”), so I do not yet have as much in-depth insight into my own gameplay as I will upon finishing a few more sessions with the game. To tangentially relate the discussion back to the original topic (being platforming in FPS games), the only “platforming” problem I have had so far was more in the vehicle usage than controlling Master Chief, himself. I had a very difficult time controlling the Warthog, especially when I would need to change directions. I felt as if it were almost driving too fast, giving me little in the way of response time. Yes, I flipped myself over countless times. Yes, I had to get out and punch the Warthog out of a corner so I could hop back in it (once accidentally exploding myself in the process). I think I will have an easier time controlling the vehicles in Halo than I will jumping around from box to box to ladder to ladder in Half-Life, but I suppose that remains to be seen.

It would be impossible to talk about the two games without mentioning the vast difference between each main character (Gordon Freeman and Master Chief, respectively). The “silent protagonist” shtick certainly isn’t something unfamiliar to me (having played plenty a Legend of Zelda title), and I have to admit I was pretty surprised when Master Chief actually spoke (albeit during cut-scenes), as opposed to Gordon who remains completely silent at all times. I don’t have much more to add to this part of the discussion just yet, as I feel I’m far too early in each game to do a fair comparison in that respect.

Those of you still waiting to hear about my experiences with Final Fantasy VI, fret not. I have continued into the game some more, and I will absolutely be delving into more thoughts and ponderings with it. Until then, let me know what you think about this particular topic, and what your experiences have been. I feel like I’m in a totally new world, and I look forward to (hopefully) finishing these two games and maybe even moving on to their sequels (eventually… remember, it’s taken me ten years to get to Half-Life).

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