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GLaDOS.  Why must you be so subtly mean to people.  Really, what have humans done to you?

Before I get too much into my impressions of Portal, I would like to take some time to mention the main things I notice about the games I play.

Primarily, I pay attention to the story; a game with a good story but poor gameplay will do better than a game with poor story and good gameplay, simply because the story is more likely to hold my attention even through horrible responsiveness of play.

Second, if I fail at something because I screwed up then I’m a bit more forgiving than if I fail because of a convoluted game mechanic.

Thirdly, even if I get frustrated, the game as a whole has to be an enjoyable experience.  I try not to let a few bad spots in a game ruin the experience, because it falls back on the first and second things I look for in a game.

Those three things in mind, my opinion is that looking at a game removes bias somewhat.  It saves a lot of arguments about graphics, controls (to the extent that overly complicated controls fall into bad gameplay), platform, price, popularity, etc.  Those fall short of the three things I look for.  That said, I don’t really review games.  Say, I get asked to set a game on a scale, I can’t do it because scales are arbitrary things and scales ought to be divided into different game categories to begin with.  If anything, I will compare a game with either another game of it’s type, or with another game made by the same developer.

But that’s enough philosophy for now. I will get more into how I evaluate games in other posts.  Specifically I’m getting Darkspore tonight so I will be giving my impressions of that, and in the coming months I will have impressions of KotOR 1 and 2, as well as some speculations of my playthrough(s) of the Mass Effect series, and anything else that may pop up between now and when Mass Effect 3/The Old Republic come out.

*SPOILERS* If you haven’t played Portal, stop being bad like me and go play it.  $10 bucks on Steam, not that much.  Played it yet?  Don’t care about spoilers?  Fine, have it your way.  *END SPOILER ALERT*

So, Portal.  Initial feelings were along the lines of ‘Okay, I’ve heard a little bit about this game, I can see why people enjoyed it.”  I had fun getting through the first few puzzles.  Granted, I had seen let’s plays of Totalbiscuit and the Yogscast go through the first few puzzles in Portal 2, which are incredibly similar to the first few puzzles.  Tutorial puzzles if you will.  GLaDOS getting increasingly sarcastic/demeaning as the tests went on are what made them sort of enjoyable.  It fed what masochism I have in me just enough that I didn’t feel like the game was hating me, but was engaged in thinking of how pretentious GLaDOS was.

So getting through the game, as puzzles get harder and when you finally beat the “last” puzzle, it really seems like something isn’t quite right with the world.  This especially hit home when you escape being burned to a crisp and GLaDOS really goes nuts with being biased toward humans.  I’ll spare you the details, but my thoughts sort of wandered as I meandered my way to GLaDOS’ room.

Thoughts like “How much of this is the humans behind Aperture Sciences’ design?”  There are all these offices, and writing on the wall, and you wonder when did GLaDOS and the machines start taking over everything.  It really is odd that GlaDOS seems to just control everything.  Very interesting story, in my opinion.  I say interesting, and by that I mean that it’s a familiar story, but it has a special twist to it.  There are the apocalyptic stories of machines taking over, enslaving/killing all the humans, etc., but Valve takes it a little further and adds in that the machines are testing humans for their own amusement.  Not just that, but also sacrificing fellow machines.  I really did feel sad that the companion cube had to die, especially when I reached the ended and GLaDOS really starts laying it thick.  For one, there isn’t any cake.  Two, if I could have saved the companion cube, I would have.

So, that’s all I care to talk about for Portal.  We shall see if I get Portal 2 and do impressions of that as well.  I love seeing how games evolve through sequels.  Unless the game gets worse from sequels or doesn’t really change between games.  Then there is a stagnation aspect where you just give up on the series.  For now, I have a appointment with some alien lifeforms.

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Quick Impressions: Portal

Mwahahahaha.  I’m being the rebel and giving my impressions of the original Portal amidst all of this hubbub over the release of Portal 2.  Just a quick one, though.  Later today, if I have time/think about it, I will give a bit more on my thoughts about it.

Largely, I enjoyed myself.  It’s not often that you can pick up a game and spend several hours trying to beat it, get massively frustrated at the stupid things you do, cry when your best friend dies, and enjoy a nice super computer death song that isn’t “Daisy, Daisy.”  BTW, I would love to hear that duet sometime…

Anyway, those are my impressions of the original Portal.  Will probably pick up Portal 2 sometime in the near future, and of course be looking for a more in depth thoughts of the game (and others) as the week rolls on.

A little while ago, I talked about this little thing called dead time.  Adapted from dead week, I described it as the time it took to wait for the next big thing to occur.  Well, since then there hasn’t been much that I could call as dead time because classes have pretty kept me busy and my faith development has made me try to make every moment count.

What I mean by that is that I’ve stopped thinking about any given point in time as wasted.  I try to look for what about my time spent doing whatever was worthwhile, and while I certainly don’t think about time as wasted, I definitely think that there is time better spent doing something else or doing something better.  This brings up to the title of today’s blog.

Recently, I have cancelled my World of Warcraft subscription.  When you pay for something subscription based, you spend more than money on it; there is some time spent because you want to get your money’s worth.  So, I felt that my time spent in WoW wasn’t really worth the money I was paying for it.  For one, I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing in the game.  For another, the game itself had become very stagnant.  This may be a result of not being able to do what I wanted to do, but even doing that possibly wouldn’t have been worth my money.

Then there is the bullshit that Blizzard keeps doing with the game.  They introduce new features that don’t actually fix problems with the game.  Does that mean all my time playing was wasted?  In short, no.  In long form, I have some good memories of playing World of Warcraft, but over the past year or so those memories have become very few and far between.  So, barring some miraculous incentive to resubscribe to WoW, I probably won’t be going back to it.  Quite frankly, I rather be playing Diablo 3, but that game isn’t out, and playing WoW isn’t even an adequate stand-in.

So about the title, “Knowing when to quit.”  This applies to just about anything in life, really.  I have had to consider this through all my life, and those instances I will not be discussing here.  What I will say is that it is one of those hidden skills that people have.  I happen to have a lot of patience and am a little too stubborn for my own good so I try to hang onto things, rationalize my way into thinking that whatever it is I’m doing is worthwhile.  Well, until whatever it is I’m doing is beyond the point of being rationalized.  Then it becomes dead weight and I am simply holding onto it out of some weird attachment.  Well, the past year I’ve been working on getting over these odd attachments and moving forward.

That said, a few of my posts are a little outdated, so instead of updates of new stuff, I will be updating the old stuff, and trying to remember how to use better words.  Or deciding that the words  I use are good enough.  We shall see.

Oh blog. You are such a funny word. Actually, I’ve been using this site mainly because I needed to post some pictures on a forum and putting them up here was easier than something else. I have since gotten myself a photobucket account, so I will not have anymore useless posts that only have pictures.

In other news, restarting writing in this blog so I have something to do late at night when I have taken my fill of reading/listening/watching all the things that interest me on the interwebs. Not really had a chance to look for any good books to read lately.

I’ve played a lot of games since last posting, though, so will look through what I have written so far so I can get anyone who happens to read this blog an update on my thoughts.

Got into listening to Blue Plz! in the past half a year, and now they are doing these audio blogs that are thoughts on development on what they do with their website and content that gets put out. The latest one talked about honesty in gaming journalism.

The point I am getting to is that I want my thoughts on a game I write about here to be just that, thoughts on the experience. I have my likes and dislikes, but those are hardly qualifications for making a good judgement of a game, or anything for that matter. I try really hard to not just pass judgement on something. Form an opinion, sure, but opinions are cheap. If I were to ever make a judgement on something, it would be a very big deal.

That said, I will hopefully put something up, but no promises. I used to post rants about whatever nonsense on Facebook and such, but that never really seemed helpful to me. They were also usually personal, and with this blog it’s going to be casual. Nothing too terribly serious/personal will in here, because that is best saved for real life interactions with people. Anyway, see you all later.

Glowstone in water

Sneak peek at one of the features of the city I’m building in Minecraft!

Central unit for my floating city

Dead time

Dead week.  Usually a pretty shitty time when I still did theatre stuff.  It was the last week or so of rehearsal before opening night.

Recently, I’ve modified the term to be dead time.  Pretty much anytime where I feel that something in the world is just a load of waiting around for the next big thing.  In this case, the expansion for World of Warcraft, Cataclysm.

The game just feels, dead.  The recent patch has killed my ambition; I really just want to start on the pre-expansion events and then into the actual expansion.

Except it is more than that.  More of my enthusiasm is sapped more from the fact that I won’t be raiding with my guild for a good chunk of Cataclysm, so that sort of has me a little bummed out.  However, I do want to get my own guild started, as a sort of promise to myself that I will try one aspect of the game that I have never really experienced.

Anyway, brain dump because I haven’t done one of those in a while.

Darth Bane

Just finished the trilogy, and damn.  I am going to miss reading through this story, and it makes me want to check out Drew Karpyshyn’s other novels (especially the Mass Effect ones).  Fortunately enough, I’ll get to experience some of his writing in Star Wars: The Old Republic when it comes out in the spring.

One very interesting thing about the books is that they develop the potential of the Dark Side of the Force extremely well.  Now, the books are short, yes, but they are more or less action based, and the entertainment value is lost the longer that those drag on.

Anyway, haven’t posted in a while, but may pick up on it more later.

KotOR

Okay, so I left out one game from the list I posted about before, but that’s mostly because I deliberately left out games that I’m looking forward to in the future that I won’t be playing during the summer.

That being I’m back to trudging through the first Knights of the Old Republic.  Ancient game, I know, but my interest has been rekindled because I started looking into the Star Wars MMO being developed by Bioware set to be released next year.

Seeing as how the setting from the MMO is going to be somewhat based on KotOR, and I happen to like Bioware games in general (I’m looking at your Mass Effect and Dragon Age), I want to familiarize myself with the story a little better.

Pretty much any game I play that has a story that goes with it, I get into the story pretty well.  Age of Empires taught me a little bit about history, Age of Mythology taught me about, well, mythology, the Blizzard games do a really good job of presenting the game’s lore as long as player’s actually care about it, Mass Effect and the first Dragon Age game do a decent job of blending the story with gameplay.

Back on topic, KotOR has all the elements you would expect from a game that is, well, old.  The graphics aren’t shiney, game design just feels outdated, but the story is still fairly good.  Granted, I can’t stand getting away from WoW for any extended period of time, and the lack of achievements keeps me from having any other discernible goal besides just finishing the game, but it does give a sort of nostalgia that I’m reliving my childhood in some way.

Summertime: Gametime

Sort of a corollary to my previous post, it dawned on me how much my schedule fills up during the summer.  By that, I mean I have less free time to worry about my favorite game growing dull.  That said, I still have a lot to catch up on as far as video games go.  Well, there’s getting in shape, too, but that’s coming along alright thanks to swimming 400m every day this week.

The main thing is I still haven’t finished Final Fantasy 13.  It plays well enough, but I just don’t have the drive to finish it when I have other things to do.  I got really interested in Borderlands the other day, mostly because Mass Effect got me hooked on shooter RPGs.  Even so, I just don’t have the time to play any of those games (not to mention I’m reluctant to spend any money).  Less time to play means less time for World of Warcraft to suck away.

There is one game I will most likely get into this summer, that game being Starcraft 2.  I can’t remember how many times I played the original campaigns because I enjoyed to story so much.  I never really got into doing Battle.net matches and the like, but I do enjoy the Blizzard RTS story in the campaigns.

If I do end up playing any of the above games, I’ll be sure to write some thoughts on it.

That said, I did get a chance to play a few acts of the first Gears of War with my friend a few weeks ago.  I missed my chainsaw bayonet.  I suck at aiming, so I usually just draw guys in and hack ’em down.  Nothing quite like playing a gory shooter past midnight, yelling at each other for every mistake.  One thing that seemed to bug us both was that friends and enemies were pretty indistinguishable.  Maybe it was intended, but sometimes we would end up killing our own teammates.  We actually intended on playing the first one a while ago but the box we rented had the wrong game so we ended up playing the second one.  So much story we missed, but at least it was cool to have Cole Train on our team.  Did I mention Marcus Fenix is a BAMF?  I don’t know, I think Chance keeps missing out on having all the cool characters.  Then again, I keep missing out on the Dom achievements.  Why he gets special ones, don’t ask me.

So, that about wraps that up.  My guild has bounced back from losing some key dps-ers from the raid team, so we’re back to working on Sindragosa in ICC.  All in all, looks to be a good summer, both for work and play.