Forest of Illusions
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Thoughts on Dynasty Warriors 9: Flavours of Musō
The Base Game (e.g. Shin SangokuMusō 7/Dynasty Warriors 8)
The Expanded Edition (e.g. Shin SangokuMusō7: Moushouden/Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends)
Thoughts on Dynasty Warriors 9: Records of War
End of Year Update
Rule of the Jungle Ashcan 1: Solstice
Hyrule Haeresis 9
And so it begins once again. And so it ends.
The stargazers tell us that when we look deep into the Night Sky, were are looking back in Time. Even at the speed of light, we can only see the stars as they once were, not as they are now. Hence, when we cast our gaze Skyward, we peer into our past.
It is always in Faroff Heaven where we seek our Origin. The foundational myth any state tells itself is of the separation between Earth and Heaven, because those in power cannot maintain it through divine right if the divine is accessible to anyone. And the Origin Story is always the tale which explains to us why the world is the way that it is. Our Natural Order issued to us from an aloof and distant land in a time so long ago it cannot be changed any longer. When Heaven is removed from us Heaven becomes banal. Or perhaps another Lament for a lost Golden Age, lost so long ago it might as well have been in Heaven? Some stories tell us how to get along with each other or how we might learn something of the nature of other living things. Some stories are alive themselves, giving us advice befitting our joint lives right now. What is the lesson you take from the story of your own creation?
Sometimes the entire world changes in a single moment, like the shifting winds, and a new Reality is born.
This is the real story of what happened with the Nintendo Wii. Although not created explicitly to compete with the Microsoft XBOX, its closest analog, the Nintendo GameCube had sat comfortably alongside it and the Sony PlayStation 2 for half a generation (Factor 5, Nintendo’s shield-sister, had in fact requested the GameCube to be a more competitively powerful console, and helped co-develop it). And this had been the tradition: While the Famicom had been more or less in a class of its own, the Super Famicom had been created as a direct response to the SEGA Mega Drive (or rather, the Genesis, as North America was the true stage for that conflict) and there was much more parity between the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation than people wanted to admit. And while the GameCube had struggled, the larger concern was that video games were becoming far too exclusive. Fewer people played video games overall than in decades past, and many people who used to play played no longer. So it was decided by both former president of Nintendo Hiroshi Yamauchi and then-current president Satoru Iwata that the GameCube’s successor would push inclusivity, approachability and accessibility above all else.
Nintendo decided to cut costs for both them and their users by effectively recycling and updating the technology used in the Nintendo GameCube and, after seeing a promising pitch for motion-sensitive video game controllers inspired by flight simulation from Gryration, Inc., the Wii’s final design and ethos was crystallized. Gyration had tried to pitch the concept to Nintendo’s competitors first, but had been literally laughed at.…
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Buying Guide
A combination of technical setbacks and my own incompetence ruined another recording session, so I don’t have a video for you this week. Instead, here’s something I’ve been sitting on that I’d planned to post here next year, so consider it another rough draft of sorts. I’ll update it with new info on Skyrim for the Switch and Skyrim VR for the HTC Vive as it becomes available to me.
While you’re at it, why not check out some of the other things I’ve done on Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls with Ben Knaak?
If you have an XBOX 360, PlayStation 3 or low-end PC…
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Legendary Edition
Permanent Saturday: The Call of the Wild
Garfield is made great by the thin line it walks between comfort and banality. The strip is defined in equal parts by both concepts, and it’s impossible to have one without the other. Indeed, when it is one, it is so precisely because it is also the other at the same time. Like everything about Garfield, its running gags play into this: We expect to see them and thus enjoy the thrill of recognition when we do. And while the strip can dispense a seemingly endless series of variations on the same handful of setups, the structure itself must always remain fundamentally comforting, familiar, recognisable and, necessarily, banal.
Like the Wise Man of the Mountain we looked at last time, Garfield’s Echo Point is a running gag whose setup is based around one of our characters (usually the cat in question) interacting with an unseen aspect of Nature outside of the panel. And this time, it’s a comedic double-act built out of a literal call-and-response. Garfield reads the sign, understands that this is a place where echoes can be heard and meows into the canyon awaiting some kind of answer. Usually he gets one. In these strips then Garfield is more often than not playing the straight man again, with the punchline coming in the form of the comedic response the echo provides him with.
An echo is a captivating, almost magical thing. It’s a disembodied sound, sometimes your own voice, reverberating off of the surrounding landscape and coming back to you in such a way it seems as if it’s materializing out of thin air. Or, perhaps more accurately, as if it’s coming back to you from somewhere across the horizon. This is, after all, the sensory experience of an echo: The feeling that there’s someone somewhere in a faraway land who can hear what you’re saying, is listening, and responding back in turn. And yet, they can only respond by repeating what you yourself just said, as if they are your own ghost or shadow-self. Garfield itself has already explored this sensation, having the punchline of one Echo Point strip from a Sunday in 2011 be two cats meowing to each other from across the canyon’s expanse, with neither aware of the other’s existence. Cleverly, the Echo Point backdrop in that strip is mirrored across the divide between the final two panels, with Garfield and his interlocutor walking away marveling at the natural wonder. For of course, neither can see what or who exists beyond the boundaries of the comic strip panel’s border.
This time, the response comes in the form of a text message on Garfield’s smartphone (there is the inherent ludicrousness of a housecat owning a smartphone, but Garfield stands in for the modern human. Isn’t it just as ludicrous that statistically everyone has one of those things?). On its own, a telephone can be read as a suitable metaphor for the sensory experience of an echo: An unseen, perhaps even ghostly, presence on the other end of the line is listening to and interacting with you.…
Commentary: BloodRayne and Bloodmoon
I hope you’re not all sick of BloodRayne yet.
There’s a new video on my YouTube channel. It’s a rambling, half-lucid live replay of the first few stages of BloodRayne. Yes, the ones I already showed off.
There is a reason for this, as I explain in the video. Since I lost all my progress from the original filming of the first block of Bloodmoon episodes, I needed to go back and replay the opening hour to get a point to continue from, and I used the opportunity as an excuse to talk about the conceptual origins of the Bloodmoon series, why on Earth I chose to spotlight BloodRayne so heavily and my ever-deepening fodness for and connection to this silly, silly game.
If you like delerious, circuitous ramblings as points, arguments and conclusions slowly come into and out of focus, this video is for you. If nothing else, it’s a decent snapshot of how my mind works.
I do have to apologise though for the video cutting out briefly during the cutscenes. BloodRayne plays cutscenes in a different window than the gameplay, and OBS doesn’t like that.
You know the drill:
BloodRayne XBOX 360 Controller Support…
Unreal Tournament 2004: Arena Shooters and Metroid Talk
Come join me on a night in as I play a few rounds of Unreal Tournament 2004 and talk mostly about the Metroid series. Because that’s just how I do things.
Topics discussed (or really, rambled back and forth on) included arena shooters, my history with the genre and why I like them, the differences between Unreal Tournament and Quake, the things the genre needs to do to come back, and of course, the Metroid series. Particularly Metroid Prime Hunters, which is an unjustly overlooked Metroid-themed arena shooter for the Nintendo DS. This is probably as close as I can get to doing a real Metroid project right now, so I hope I was able to answer at least some of the questions you might have had about how I feel about Nintendo’s most fraught video game franchise.
Because I mentioned him, here are some links to the good work video game historian Liam Robertson has done on the Metroid series:
Here are the games used and mentioned in my video:
Buy Unreal Tournament 2004 on GOG
Buy Unreal Tournament 2004 on Steam
Get the Samus Aran mod for UT2004
Get an emulated version of Metroid Prime Hunters from the WiiU eShop
This is kind of an impromptu, experimental test for a new kind of video series I’m debating starting. If you like me being this unscripted and freeform, please let me know: I have a couple of ideas for ways I can use this approach for other games.…