A place about everything and nothing

Musing

Planet Cracker


Hey folks, if you guys have been following my blog, you would have seen some of my game reviews. But now, in conjunction with the reviews, I’m going to start cracking the games wide open. What do I mean by that? Well simple, after every game review I will conduct a postmortem on the game. What I will be focusing on will be primarily on the level design, storytelling method as well as the design and game principles employed in the game itself.

So, if you are looking for any Planet Cracker posts, all you have to do is either go to my Planet Cracker tab on top or you can look for them in my Planet Cracker categories.

So folks, stay tuned.

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My Retribution


I know it has been awhile since I’ve written anything substantial. This is probably the part where I tell you how busy with some big project I’m working on and the whole elaborate details. The truth is, I’ve been loafing around playing King’s Bounty. Steam tells me I’ve spent an ungodly 84 hours on it and I’m only 3/4 to finishing it. I really should be doing something more constructive shouldn’t I?

Oh yes people, I just got my copy of Dawn of War II: Retribution, Collector’s Edition of course. Yes I know, I’ve manage to grab my copy 4 days earlier, I didn’t know that till I tried installing it on Steam though… Talk about Retribution, but hey watch out for my review/reviews.


Drudgery


Every day, I sit on the same train to work, I always find myself staring at the same old scenery, trees zipping by in a familiar blur and with each passing station; the world loses its color. Perhaps it is the loss of my childlike innocence or is it just my naivety crumbling away with each revelation. Growing up was never meant to be so bleak, when did I become so jaded? So cynical? Why has the world lost its color?

In a world so bleak, there is only one place I can escape to, the one place where the world still shines like a newly minted coin and everything just seems so much simpler. My mind.

Of course, to say that my mind is simple is far from the truth, if Christopher Nolan ever got to check out my brain, it would make Inception look like a sock puppet theater compared to what goes on inside.

So close your eyes and relax, let the veil of reality lift from your eyes and step through the mist into a world beyond.

—————–


I’m home

Those were my first thoughts.

Half-formed trees swayed on its own accord, buildings sprung up across the landscape as quickly as they were consumed by nature, destruction and creation, Ourburos, the serpent eating its tail.

Verdant pastures stretch out into infinity while the tingle of grass against the sole of my feet brought a smile to my lips. I tossed myself into the soft embrace of this emerald dream and laid there staring at the cotton candy sky.

Reaching out, I grabbed a plume of cloud and shaped it into a rose, with a yank, I brought it down from the heavens and I planted it next to me.

It was then that I noticed this curious little hole, it laid merely a few paces away from where I forcibly planted a white fluffy doppelganger of a rose.

Peering into the hole, I tried to discern its contents, the next thing I knew, I was on my butt nursing a bump on my head. A brown furry little freight train had decided to pop out of the hole at the very same instance I decided to put my head near it.

With a hand still on my head, I glared at the rabbit, who too was nursing its little head, except it wasn’t really a rabbit. It looked more like someone had decided to dress my dog up in a bunny suit and most disastrously believed it could pass off as a real rabbit.

A distant crack brought my attention to the distant horizon, the sky has darkened visibly and lightning snaked through the darkness like coruscating worms.

That is where dark thoughts lie

I turned and stared at the dog/rabbit.

You can talk?

Were you honestly expecting anything less in a world where you can pluck a cloud out of the sky?

Fair point

You better get going. They are coming” Inclining its head to the north, the dog/rabbit thing gestured me to head towards that direction.

A minute I was in a wide open pasture, the next I was standing before a forest clearing with a small pond in the middle. The specular reflection of the moon cast a ghostly light on the withered trees; it did little to sooth my unease. As I drew closer, I noticed a lady sitting by the pond, and she turned to me and beckoned.

She was breathtaking, piercing emerald eyes that could stop a man dead and locks of raven black hair spilling over her shoulder like a waterfall in midnight black. That was all I know, that was all I could remember, her face was a haze, a fleeting image, like a half-remembered dream. You could almost make out her features but you never could. All I knew were those pretty eyes.

Tell them of what you saw here…” She whispered into my soul. “Never forget…

Looking into the distance, she whispered one final time “They are here…

—————–

SLEEPING ON THE JOB AGAIN!?

I sat back up in a start. I glanced around, enclosed within a 3x3m plastic divider, there I was, another cell in another monolithic corporate beast.

I looked down at my desk, a pool had formed where I had fallen asleep and a specular reflection of the moon stared back at me.

With a twist of my hip, I spun my chair around and greeted my slave driver with a cheery voice “Au Contraire! I’ve got a world to bring into reality!


Identity Crisis: A Gamer’s Epic Journey


In the span of 3 days, I have encountered 3 posts on the topic of gamer identity right here in the ocean of information. The first is by a local gaming magazine Playworks, you can read the post “Defining the Gamer“. The next was Kotaku, I’m sure most gamers are familiar with it, similarly, you can view the original post “Is Gamer A Dirty Word” and lastly, a post by Transmythology, you can view the post “Wake Up Geek Culture: Time to Live“.

Each of the posts are tackling the same problem from different angels and approach, one questions the word “Gamer” itself, the other questions the connotation  of said word and lastly a post about fandom and the elitism inherent in it.

Alright, lets tackle this one by one, starting off with Gamer as a term. The thing we must understand, is the fact that  words are social constructs, words by themselves are gibberish, they are without meaning or form. It is the people that give meaning to words. I covered a similar topic in one of my earlier posts “Mind Your Language“.

The fact that words are social constructs being with it, implications, and in the case of gamers, the implications can be rather unpleasant to the uninitiated. Gamers is a term given to people who play alot of video games, I’m gonna recycle a post I put up on Playworks.

Do we truly need ‘Gamer’ as a label? As a title? Games encompass a wide spectrum of medium, board games, miniature games, table-top games, video games even sports.

Chess is a game, but do the people who play chess regularly or even professionally consider themselves a gamer? I highly doubt it. How bout the myriad of people who play Farmville on Facebook? If by strict definition, they can be considered gamers in the strictest sense of the word, but do the people who play those games label themselves as gamers?

A gamer, in a cultural sense, is someone who plays video games very often and keeps in touch with the latest gaming news. Video games are usually the gauge of a person’s gamer-ism but are not necessarily a strict benchmark.

As games and reality continue to converge, we will be forced to reevaluate what game is, and what being a gamer means. “Gamer” should not be a label, title nor a category, it is a concept. A concept is malleable, a category is not, so a gamer is simply a person who enjoys playing games, regards him or herself as a gamer and is proud of gaming as an act itself.

One should just be comfortable with what they are and what they enjoy doing, it doesn’t matter what people call you or what social niche you feel inclined to fill, the simple fact is, just be yourself. Who cares what other people think, haters will always be haters, why waste time on them when you can spend it getting more exp.

Moving on, let’s take a look at the history of video games, because that is after all the most common association of what a gamer does. You may be wondering why I’m looking into the history of video games, simple, it is the source of all the stereotypes. So the first video games came out around 1940s to the 1950s, not to mention the first video games were on an extremely rudimentary computer, a technological wonder of its age. New technology has always been treated with some suspicion and the amount of knowledge required to even make and use such technology can be staggering. This acts as a barrier into video gaming, technological jargon.

Who were the people who made the first video games? Technology experts with their thick glasses and their lab coats, this mental image of what geeks are kinda stuck, especially the glasses. What does this do with the negative association of being a gamer? I’ll get to that in a short while, bear with me.

Let’s move on to another aspect of video gaming, time. Video Games, especially the bigger titles, demand a great amount of time from its players. This leads me to the point of human evolutionary psychology, an animal with a highly evolved brain is still an animal, we are driven by primal needs and the most powerfully of them is the need to procreate. Most human activities either involve survival or socializing. Socializing can be viewed as a way to find potential mates in a deep-seated psychological sense, the fact that we spend so much time on games, reduces the chance of one going out and socializing. Admittedly this is not necessarily true but acts as a good marker for how most people might subconsciously think.

If we just look around, most people who do not play games are more often than not involved in a social activity of some sort.  Analyzing further, we see issues like gender classification as well, which we still see today, women are suppose to like ‘girly’ things and game systems just ain’t girly with its big bulky wired manliness. Women were never expected to get into the nitty gritty insides of a high tech computer, even now, there is still an overwhelming difference in the number of male technical workers to that of females. This of course, is caused mostly by social pressure and the status quo.

So women hardly play video games and gamers do not have time to go out and meet people. I think on some level, everyone can see this, the hard part is to look past this rather shallow but unfortunately true idea and see the people that gamers are, and the thing is, more and more gamers are finding a balance between life and games.

So let us take a look at the elitism that surrounds the gaming community, admittedly, most of the hostility was borne more of a reactionary hostility, I mean if you have people making fun of you and what you do, you will eventually snap and strike back, this makes the gaming community passive aggressive or just outright hostile to the new comers (newbs) of a gaming community, a hostility borne out of suspicion. As we look down the road, this has evolved into a niche, something these outcasts can rally to and take comfort that they are alone, this exclusivity builds upon the very human need to belong and yet be an individual at the same time. We are rare enough to make us exotic, but prevalent enough to find friends.

In a very masochistic way, I think most gamers enjoy this exclusivity. With the advent of facebook games and the whole casual game industry, gamers find their once clear definition challenged, when you are challenged, the most common reaction is to lash out, which brings about the need to redefine what a gamer is. The people advocating this are, not surprisingly, the gamers themselves. I mean even I have lashed out at the in my post “The real fake fans“. Gamers see this as an intrusion into a space they once have a clear definition and a place they belonged.

The world is changing, old stereotypes are eroding and labels are becoming less important, people are who they are, it doesn’t matter if you are a music connoisseur, a movie buff, comic book nerd, Otaku or a gamer, in the end, we are all just people who enjoy what we love and that is what matters. It is natural to want to protect the things we are passionate about, but how we feel do not apply to how people perceive it and people need to accept that and just live with it.

So be proud of who you are, no matter what stereotype you fall under.


2010 in review


The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The average container ship can carry about 4,500 containers. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2010. If each view were a shipping container, your blog would have filled about 3 fully loaded ships.

In 2010, there were 81 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 112 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 30mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was August 6th with 374 views. The most popular post that day was Warhammer Witch Hunter Costume.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, forum.manor.ru, mankindunplugged.com, shoutmix.com, and mikeramblesaboutstuff.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for sarah kerrigan, witch hunter costume, red vs blue, witch hunter, and kerrigan.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Warhammer Witch Hunter Costume July 2010
5 comments

2

Witch Hunter Costume Revisted August 2010
2 comments

3

Red vs Blue July 2010

4

 

Mass Effect…The Movie!!? May 2010

5

 

Empowered June 2010

 

Wow, I’m pretty amazed to find out my blog did this ‘well‘. I am elated of course and I like to thank all you constant viewers out there. Thank you again and have a good one.


Power From Pain


The tantalizing taste of fear lingered in the air as blood dripped from the wicked blades of the warrior. The warrior leaned in close to the dying man. “Your suffering is most exquisite Mon-keigh“, with a throaty laugh, the lithe warrior garbed in armor of midnight black, drove his serrated blade into the man’s chest.

With a snort, the warrior drew in the escaping soul essence, enriched with pain and despair, it was most potent in its powers. Shivering with pleasure, the lithe warrior traced the blood trail he had made, into a hall. With eyes sharpened by the intoxicating pain of the man, he surveyed the room with nerves afire.

Come out little one, I know you are here“. The soft inhalation of breath caught his heighten senses. “Yesssss” The warrior uttered in a low sibilant voice. “Yesss, little one, hide… Your terror will be all the more sweeter when I find you. I shall flense the flesh from your bones, and your screams shall invigorate me. There is much power from pain, and your pain will be most delightful to me

Pain, suffering, anger. They are all emotions and feelings one would consider negative, destructive even. To me, they are a source of power, a source of inspiration, there is no language more universal then pain and suffering. The aching within your breast, the impotent rage that fills your lungs, the debilitating despair that drive grown men and women to their knees, such is the power of pain.

Most of my poetry are written in states of heightened emotions, negative emotions, and into my works I channel them. I thread a fine line however, as it is so easy to be consumed by such emotions, I channel the destructive potential of such feelings into something constructive, a message, a plea perhaps and maybe even a warning. Such is the power of pain that even the best of us will still fall prey to its influence. As Yoda once said “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering ”

Thread lightly my friends, though suffering can be a powerful creative force, it is all too easy to be consumed by it.


Leaving on a Jet Plane


In, a few hours time from this very moment, I will be leaving for Australia. Even as you read this I might already be midway across the vast span of water, separating nations. Nations that at one time, all belonged to the super continent Pangea. Ever the eager teacher I am, always spewing random facts about the world.

I’m afraid. People laugh at me and call me paranoid. My trip will be fine they say, just get me a souvenir they say. But I dread this day like nothing you can imagine. I do not fear this little trip, heck, I’m not even afraid of my mortality. What really chills me is the things I have left undone. Words that have been left unsaid and people I might not be able to see again.

Does this count as a fear of death? Maybe, when you have things to loose they tend to haunt you evermore don’t they. Stop being silly they say. Silly? Hardly, I’m just prepared for an eventuality be it that the reaper comes for me early or late. But there are so many things I have yet to do…

Everyone lives to die. To borrow a page from Heidegger, it is not death that bothers us but rather the process, the dying. It is in this that we live a life that is worth dying, to live the best to one’s ability despite the bleak eventuality, morbid perhaps, grim even? I find it beautiful. Call me a fool, but a fool is the one that sees the most does he not?

As I contemplate life and death, introspection always jumps you. I recently had a row with one of my really close friend. It remains unresolved I’m afraid… I hate to have to leave the country like this… Not even a goodbye or farewell… Well I guess it is my fault…

Regardless, I’m leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again. Well actually I do, lets disperse this sombre and rather forbidding atmosphere. I’ll be back on the 18th of October and if you have not already guessed, my computer is up and running again, after a 3 week hiatus. Guess I’ll be taking another long hiatus again unfortunately. Rest assured when I come back, if I come back there will loads more of posts about everything and nothing at all, for such is life.

Have a good day people. Live long and prosper!


Dead in the Water… Kinda like Irwin


Hey loyal readers! Who am I kidding… The fact that I’ve not posted squat for almost 3 weeks aint helping my viewership. Not that it’s a fault of my own, unless you consider frying out your computer by trying to play starcraft 2 on an asthetically pleasing setting i.e ultra…

So yes, I’m not dead… yet. Just my com. Well, I might be dead coming 27th as I fly down under to partake in a hazing ritual known in my country as National Service. So yes conscript reporting!

The fact is… I’m dreading the coming trip. I want to come back alive and it is not entirely safe down there. I mean kangaroos can pawn your sorry ass and not mentioning the multitude of poisonous/lethal flora and fauna out there. Crikey! That’s a big… UGH…

Well if I come back alive, well I might be off for a few other overseas exercise. Less dangerous me thinks… me hopes… Anyhow, blogging on borrowed time. *Poof*


Iron-Y Man ep1


Actual quote from Iron Mans 2. More Iron-Y Man goodness next week!


What’s New on The Elysian Plains?


There comes a time when you know that your life can be so much more, so much better and so much more meaningful. But often, people let this feeling pass them by and do nothing to grasp this ethereal promise of something greater. But I am not just anybody and today shall mark the day of change.

Some new concepts to be posted on this blog.

1) Artist of the Week – A weekly look at artists I personally think deserve wider recognition.

2) Iron-Y Man – A weekly photoshop Image of Iron-Y Man and an ironic quote.

3) The Vault – A picture compilation. Neatly sorted and categorized… relatively

4) Portfolio – Self explanatory

5) WTF?: What the FRAPS? – Still Pending, the file size is a problem.