Monday, September 1, 2014

PAX Prime - Day 3

 It's sad to say this was my last day of PAX, but what an experience I had along with the friends that I spent it with. The first order of business was going straight to the Inside Gearbox panel roughly 2 hours ahead of the scheduled start time, and what an attendance it was. The line turned out to almost fill the entire theater entrance and almost into the lobby. Rightfully so considering Gearbox is known for giving away awesome stuff to all attendees of their panels. This PAX, they gave away a free season pass for Borderlands The Pre-Sequel. This was certainly a perfect early birthday present to a game that's getting released on my birthday. Later that same day a friend and I went over and stood in line for another 2-2 1/2 hours to play the game for 30 minutes. It was a little bit of a rough start since they were running the 360 version of the game and I play on the PC, so I had to take some time learning the controls first.

 We stopped by to check out the LCS for a little bit, and then moved on to have lunch at GameWorks across the street from the convention center. It was the first time ever going there and it reminded me a lot of Dave and Busters only focused more on the games with 2 floors of various games that were NOT redemption! There was Tekken, Marvel vs Capcom 2, SSF IV, 5 DDR machines, Pop'n Music Fever, Taiko no Tatsujin, DJ Max Technika 3, various racing, pinball and shooting games. It was a blast to play there after the nearly 1 hour wait for food that we ordered...

 That's pretty much all the gaming-related goodness that happened throughout my PAX trip this year. I don't how much I gotta say how much more awesome it was than PAX East, a lot more than I expected. Definitely going to try and go next year if funds are nice to me.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

PAX Prime - Day 2

 Day 2, just as awesome, maybe more awesome than the first day. More panels, more celeb meet ups, lets just break it down.

 First stop was the TwitchPlaysPokemon panel. Lets just say there's more than a load of data that's been archived from just the first run through Pokemon Red. Data such as the most popular command used, the user who posted the most commands, how long people watched the stream on average, number of unique viewers, and so much more. Next up was a trip to watch a couple matches from the LCS semifinals. Lastly was an improv panel with a couple members from LoadingReadyRun and Extra Credits. It was generally a geek filled version of Whose Line Is It Anyway. It was an absolute riot and was very glad I caught it. Definitely looking forward to Late Night Dub Fight tomorrow night. Also got a chance to meet and chat a bit with Graham Stark and beej after the improv panel before the night was over.

 That's basically day in a nutshell aside that I bought myself a 10 year anniversary of PAX T-shirt and also the Zelda Hyrule Historia book which will take me awhile to get through. It's a book that I've been looking to get since it was released that basically gives the official rundown on the Zelda series and the proper chronological order of the games. A very informational book that I'm sure to enjoy!

 Day 1 has concluded and what a way to start. So many amazing panels happening all at one and I missed nearly half of what I wanted to see. What I did manage to see were the Hironobu Sakaguchi panel, The AVGN movie screening, and Bioware's demo of the single player of Dragon Age Inquisition and preview of Dragon Age Keep. 

 The AVGN movie was pretty much just as I expected. Though it felt a bit long, the story progression also felt as though it was picking up speed the further into the story it was getting. I was almost losing track of what was going on at times with all the action that was going on at once. Whether or not the progression on its own was a parody in itself, the movie left me laughing and cheering the whole way through. 

The Hironobu Sakaguchi panel was probably better than I had expected it to be. It was mainly a one on one interview discussing his thoughts and feelings about his various works along with his opinions on today's market of RPG's both Japanese and Western. He also revealed a photo of the team that developed Blue Dragon for the PS2. Amongst the team were Hironobu Sakaguchi and Akira Toriyama standing next to each other in the front of the group, which is one of the more rare pictures of the man behind the amazing Dragonball Z. He also released info on his latest game Terra Battle, which is a turn based grid-battle system for mobile. The game has a download system where every time the game reaches a certain amount if downloads, new content is created for the game.

 That's pretty much all there was for panels. I did manage to catch a few more famous faces including Kris Straub and Mikey Neumann and while ordering breakfast, happen to run into romscout of SDA / speed running fame. 

Hopefully the next update isn't as delayed, but that just goes to show how much activity there is and the amount of fun you can have!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Pre-PAX Hype!

 It is currently 5am and I've been up for nearly an hour now due to my internal clock still thinking it's already 8am on the east coast. It also doesn't help that I went to bed at roughly midnight-1am, so I've only had maybe 3 hours of sleep after being up almost 24 hours due to having to get up early to catch the plane to come here.

 All that aside I figured I'd do a quick post to say I'm at my first PAX Prime. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't all that excited after being at PAX East the past 3 years. However, this being my first Prime, I am definitely excited to see it. As I did with East I'll update on all that I saw and the panels I went to and the people I saw.

 Speaking of which, while I was hanging around just outside the convention entrance I happen to already spot some famous faces of the Internet. So congrats to Corey and Ian Horner of LoadingReadyRun, James Portnow, Lucahjin, and NintendoCapriSun, you are my first sightings of this years PAX Prime! And if that wasn't enough, one of my friends ran into Justin Wong randomly at the airport while waiting to meetup with me. Unfortunately this was one celebrity meetup I wish I was there for but it was not to be. :( Hopefully I'll run into him myself during PAX, but with thousands of other people walking around its unlikely but you never know. I am certainly looking forward to meeting some new faces including Dodger and Sam, James Rolfe (AVGN), and Zoe Quinn. Unfortunately there probably won't be any Something Awful goons I'll run into, but there will be some SDA speed runners that I hope to catch a sight of, most notably Mike Uyama and romscout. They're doing a panel this year on Monday, but unfortunately I am heading back home on that day. It certainly breaks my heart not attending and supporting the one community that I am most proud of being a part of, but I do hope to run into them beforehand. 

 Well that's going to so it for my fist post from Seattle, and I'll keep you guys up to date tomorrow!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

First Impression: Audition Portable

 In the summer of 2005, Korea launched a rhythm MMO game called Audition Online Dance Battle. The game plays very similar to the Playstation 1 game Bust-A-Groove. The game became a huge success, so much so they actually created an offline version of the game for the PSP called "Audition Portable". I was (very) lucky enough to get my hands on this little game, and I will be giving you an Audition veteran's first impression on this Korean exclusive.

 First off, the game is very English friendly. There is very little Korean you need to worry about other than item names, song titles, and interface, but those are pretty minor to the overall gameplay. The game starts out with a series of options such as free, standard, and network modes, a jukebox for casually listening to the music, and a collection option where you can customize your character's look, and check out various unlocks you have obtained. When you first start the game, you only have 2 stages, 20 songs, and a couple of outfits to choose from. In order to unlock more you'll need to play through the game's Standard Mode to get more unlocks.

 The way Standard Mode works is you work through 5 stages, each with a set of 3 songs to choose from of increasing difficulty. Each stage pits you against 1-4 AI opponents to face in a Battle Party score battle-type of situation. If you score more points than the AI scores you win the round and move on to the next stage. After the 5th stage is a sort of bonus "boss" stage, where you play a very fast 150+ bpm song against a tough AI opponent. While it's not real necessary to beat this final stage since you will have already unlocked something during the first 5 stages, beating this final stage unlocks even more to the collection.

 Basic gameplay includes 2 difficulties and 2 modes of play. Easy difficulty allows for 2 passes of the bead to enter in the button commands before hitting the final beat to register a score. Normal difficulty only allows for the first pass (much like the online game) only giving you a short amount of time to hit the button commands. There is also a 4-button, and 8-button style of play. 4-button only requires you to press the arrow commands (you can use both d-pad and face buttons). 8-buttons requires both arrow and face button combinations for an added challenge that is actually more difficult than the 8-key variant in the online version of the game.

 There are very slight differences between the PC online game and this portable version. The most obvious is the layout is very different with the level, scrolling bead, and Chance icon are all located below the button commands rather than above. There is also an HP meter at the top corner of the screen which plays a roll similar to other rhythm games. The more you miss the beat, the lower your HP drains until it is empty and you lose. The arrow pattern is very different from the PC counterpart. In the online game you start with levels 1-5 in 4-beat repetitions without stop. From level 6-9, you go through 4 sets of commands each level with short breaks in between. Afterwards you loop from levels 6-9 until the song ends. In the PSP version, you rest after every level and there is only one command for each level. Also, the loop goes from levels 3-9. Lastly, if you happen to dare yourself to switch on Chance mode, the game shuffles between 1-3 chance arrows per command. Finish moves are still with only 1 chance arrow as is custom to the game.

 Overall, the game is a very nice alternative for when you're not near a computer and need to get your Audition fix, or get some arrow-reading practice. The game comes with a nice collection of over 60 songs along with some exclusives not found in the online game from artists like Sweet Box, XR, The Gold, and Wa Wa. If you are lucky enough to find yourself a copy of this rare game and you love the online game, I highly suggest you grab it while you can. It is a nice alternative to the online game and also gives you a taste of what the gameplay interface looked like before all the graphical updates you see today!

 A couple weeks ago I started my grand adventure into the Ys series with Ys Chronicles on Steam. The first game was pretty straightforward and wasn't too hard of a game, even on nightmare difficulty...that is until I hit the final boss in the game. I probably spent a good 5 or so hours trying to beat this one boss, and not once, but TWICE was I cheated with 1 last hit before I died. It's the worst kind of situation you could ever think to deal with when it comes to an epic conclusion to an epic boss battle with tense music playing in the background. Ys II thankfully was not as difficult to finish, but did take awhile longer to finish due to the extended leveling system compared to the first game.

 Yesterday I started my adventures through the Organ Trail and it's a pretty fun game, pretty much everything I had imagined it to be as being a spiritual (indie) successor to the old 80's classic Oregon Trail. I'm currently working towards getting 100% achievements, but with the little bug in the Steam counters with this game, it's a little bit of a hassle trying to get achievements as investigating 30 points of interest, or completing the game 5 times. Half the time they count, while other times they do not, leaving me to work harder than what is required of me. :/ But, it's an enjoyable game so I'm sure I'll manage the setback, even if it means beating the game 10, or even 20 times to get just one achievement that asks for just 5.

Also a couple of games that I have played previously (BIT.TRIP beat/core, Hack, Slash, Loot, and To The Moon) that did not have trading cards finally got them, so I went back for a couple hours and replayed a bit of those games to collect free cards from them. What's interesting about this is that one particular game, namely Hack, Slash, Loot, I gave up on after only an hour of playing simply because I wasn't understanding the game mechanics, and was not grasping the thought that you unlock (better) characters as you continue to die. Going back to that game to get the cards I finally grasped that mechanic, and I'm a little on the fence about giving the game another serious shot someday. Were it not for the card collecting I don't think I would've given this game a second chance after my first impression.

 Ok maybe not in the literal sense, but it sure does feel that way when you've lived nearly 30 years of your gaming life and never had an NES when you were a child. We were the one in 50 households that had the Sega systems starting with the Sega Master System back in the 80's. If I was living in Brazil or anywhere in South America I would be one with the popular crowd, but unfortunately that was not the case. I can remember when I got the Sega Genesis for my 6th birthday I asked my dad if we could get a NES, and his response to me was "When you're 18 you can buy one yourself.". Little did I know at the time once I hit 18 the NES was no longer in retail. I had a Playstation 2 all the while fully indulging myself in the beauty of emulation and playing all the Nintendo favorites on my computer.

 College life comes and goes and I soon find myself in the adult working field. After roughly 5 years slaving away at a job that's nowhere near who I am I thought up the idea to start my own business and become my own boss buying and selling video games. This brought me back to the realization I was free to buy all the Nintendo consoles that I had missed out on. Without a second to lose I look through a picked up a NES console and (35) game lot for $250!

 A week goes by and the big heavy box finally arrives. I have never been this happy to own a console in a very very long time, and it certainly won't stop there. The SNES and N64 will probably be next in line that make me orgasm with thrill and excitement. Afterwards the Gamecube, Japanese Wii, and maybe Wii U later on. I know it's weird I'm looking to a Japanese Wii, but when you're a Fatal Frame/Project Zero fan you have to go all out...and besides, doesn't the Wii U play Wii games? Both regions covered right there.

 There are a lot of great games that came with this system. All the Mario's, Zelda's, TMNT's, Contra, Double Dragon II + III, Battletoads, Kid Icarus, and Metroid just to name a few. Out of all the games there's at least 9 that I would personally keep for my own collection, however if the sales from the rest of the games do not net me a profit from what I paid, then I will sell a couple games to make up the difference and keep whatever is left. From the pricing research I've done I should make roughly $70 in profit just on the games alone, which is nice.

 While I can safely say I have played on an NES console at friends houses in my childhood, I have never owned one myself until today, and I will certainly take great care in it and treasure it as I play and sell games for the console!

While I may not have any of the NES games listed at this time (need to order some dust covers first) if you are at all interesting in seeing what I have available, you can check out my listings here

Sunday, April 13, 2014

PAX East - Day 2 Recap

I'll make this short since I'm on a fairly tight schedule this morning. 

I spent the day going to some panels such as the Extra Credits panel, The Runaway Guys-Thrown Controllers, and a case modding panel. The Runaway Guys panel was pretty special as I just happened to be in line next to slowbeef, Diabetus, and a variety of members from the Something Awful forum. For once I was with people that actually knew video games overall, not just one generation or the other. It made the panel that much more fun to attend. I didn't do all that much aside walking around more through the expo hall and game rooms.

 Today is the last day of PAX and is also usually the day that discounts are made in the various shops. Hopefully I can find something that doesn't seem overpriced compared to internet pricing. Of course at the end of the day convention depression hits and I'll have to find ways to keep my spirits up as I head back to serious business...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

PAX East - Day 1 Recap

It feels pretty familiar after the first time I went last year. Lots of games, lots of cosplay, and a very positive environment all around. This is the gaming community that I know and love and I wouldn't trade it in for anything in the world.

 The first day was mostly just scoping the place out. I didn't get to go to many panels as I would have liked, but being the first day of PAX and having so much to look at, I would have rather familiarize myself with the layout first before anything else.

The expo hall was not to disappoint. So many awesome games on display in both the major retail and indie fields. Games like Boarderlands The Pre-Sequal, Watch Dogs, Wildstar, and Wolfenstien: The New Order. But that's not all as some developers like to come in later in the convention and show off games, so it's not always the same games twice.

 Of course what is a convention without some celebrity sightings, or in this case, more from the YouTube front. I got to hang out a bit with slowbeef and Diabetus from Retsupurae, and other members of the Something Awful LP forums like Psychedelic Eyeball (making his first public appearance), and thevoiceofdog. My first run in just happened to be on the street before I even entered the convention building, and that was with James Portnow from Extra Credits fame (also professor of DigiPen Institute). While heading out of the expo hall I caught Jerry Holkins, one of the co-founders of Penny Arcade. I'm sure I'll be seeing these guys and more later on and will keep you posted. I had also met a good friend who I've known for roughly 7 years for the first time. We met over the MMO, Audition Online Dance Battle. It was a really nice meetup to say the least, and because we live pretty close I'm hoping we'll get to hang out more often.

 Lastly there were the variety of games found in the classic console and console free play rooms. Most of my time was spent in the classic console room where they has a challenge station setup for beating the first level of Super Mario Bros 3 in the fastest time. Me and a couple other guys took turns perfecting the route and managed to get the ingame timer down to 291. Points were also included if there was ever a tie in matching the fastest time. I managed to tie the record both in time and points, and got very close to beating it at one point, but unfortunately it was getting late and I had to catch the train back to my hotel room. I also had the privilege to play against slowbeef at Street Fighter Alpha 3. He wasn't real great at fighting games but he did manage to get a 5 win streak before some who supposedly hasn't played the game managed to beat him. Later on I managed to get a turn in and beat him fairly easy. I felt a little sorry since my recent developed fighting skills with DOA were sort of carrying over to Street Fighter despite the difference between a 2D and 3D fighting game.

 That just about sums up my first day at PAX East. Total blast to see the passion of gaming not be dead despite all the media saying otherwise. Hopefully the next two recaps won't be as long winded, but that just goes to show my excitement when it comes to a gaming convention.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pre-PAX Post

  In roughly 6 hours I will be heading out to Boston to attend this years PAX East. Last year I had only gone for Friday and Saturday, but this year I will be attending for the whole weekend. It was much surprise to me being the first time this year that they announce ticket sales in advance. This year, the 3-day passes sold out within the first hour of being available! Luckily I managed to snag the three single-day passes, which is extra money, but still gets me in all 3 days. Even the letter that came in the mail stated "You actually represent the most hardcore contingent of the PAX audience." Not quite hardcore enough to get 1 3-day pass, but oh well...maybe next year?

 I'll try to update each night with what I did, what I saw, who I saw, etc. Unfortunately, high quality pics won't be shown until after the convention is over, but maybe I can get some crap phone shots for you guys if I ever think of it.

 In terms of the status of Start to Finish updates. I have uploaded a new episode today, and will be uploading another when I get back from the convention, which takes care of the first of two missed episodes from my little overheating problem from a couple weeks ago. So enjoy that, while I spoil myself with more games.

 Starting last week my PC started shutting down by itself, and that usually can mean one thing: the CPU is overheating. The first few times it only happened in the morning after waking up from sleep mode, but would be fine the rest of the day, but since about Thursday afternoon, it's been shutting down after barely 10 minutes of being powered on after being off for an extended period of time to cool off. As a result, I pretty much stopped trying to turn the PC on for a couple days. Bought myself a Corsair H60 water CPU cooler at Newegg for $80, so I should be getting that sometime this week.

 Today I turned on the PC for the first time and is surprisingly running well (so far), but that won't stop me from installing the new heatsink, since I'm sure it's going to shut off again later on in the week, even if it never does for the rest of today that I'm typing this out. MAYBE if the PC can hold out today I can get the next Start to Finish encoded and uploaded without interruption!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Twitch Completes Pokemon Crystal!

 In 13 days, 2 hours and 3 minutes Twitch has fully completed Pokemon Crystal in record time, 3 days faster than they completed Pokemon Red a few weeks back. Next week begins the playthrough of Pokemon Emerald! Twitch is starting to learn how to work together to complete Pokemon, so will they manage to beat Emerald even faster?

Johto Region: 

Kanto Region:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Twitch Plays Pokemon Red: COMPLETE!

How was it possible? Who would've thought tens of thousands of Twitch users could complete one game? You can watch the major victories unfold here!

 It was a grueling 13 days, but roughly 60,000+ Twitch users have managed to capture all 8 gym badges and are now heading into the home stretch to face the Elite Four (+Blue)...but let's not get too excited here and look at the situation we're now in.

 In order to complete the game at this point one must defeat all 5 trainers in 1 run. If all Pokemon die, you are sent back to the beginning and have to do it all over again. With the mayhem that Twitch users ensue, this final stretch could take longer than it did arriving! Now granted, all experience gained through Pokemon battles does carry over, so the leveling up will not be hindered. However, without any way to quit the game and load the save after each trainer, it will be nothing but battles and training for the next week, two weeks...maybe longer. To ensure the game is completed in some degree, the team will need to all (or most) be at max level. This does not save us from the random flock of trolls that may swoop in and decide to release the Pokemon we all worked so hard to level up and raise, and if that becomes the might as well consider this game unfinished. I do have faith that some miracle will happen and that will not be the case and we can finally see the end to this game!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What is Flappy Bird?

 This game has a very interesting, uh..."history" that I can see turn to "the legendary indie app" that only had a 1 week popularity lifespan. I can see the popularity in the game, but I could also see that popularity die down faster than some other titles such as Words With Friends and Draw My Thing. I had downloaded, played, and deleted the game within an hour. The gameplay concept isn't really new, but it's an interesting take on it. I used to play a flash game called Helicopter, so I guess having that kind of experience with the exception of "tap to flap", I wasn't all that interested in Flappy Bird. I certainly could see the competition, but for such a simple game I didn't see the game popularity last too long to begin with. Unfortunately the dev decided the overwhelming popularity was too much for him and as of today he pulled the plug on the game...oh well.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

More Blog Updates!

  •  Added "Start to Finish" series page with links to all the episodes.
  • YouTube updates will now be featured here for some added exposure.
  • More posts
  • More bullets
More sleep = more energy!
More energy = more productivity!
More productivity = more money!
More money = more games!

This is what I walked away with when I came across this article explaining the game of life and how you could look at it through the eyes of a gamer. Life is a game This is your strategy guide.

 Being a Steam user certainly has it's downside when it comes to the annual sales. The Summer Sale is probably the one that hit me the hardest as I bought almost $100 worth of games just in the sale alone. The Fall and Winter Sale's were not as damaging but were not without roughly 10+ games bought from those as well.

 This will be the year I start grinding out all those games as efficiently as I can to minimize any more potential loss of money on more games that won't be played for extended periods of time. I've come up with a couple tips to help you get the most out of your Steam backlog.

1. Play the indie titles first! Ones that have just a couple achievements tied to it (less than 10, or up to 15) usually are the ones with roughly 5 hours of gameplay to them. The only exception to this rule are the rogue-likes, which can take anyone 50-100 hours to fully complete if going for all achievements and not just play from beginning to end.

2. Not sure of the average length of a game? is your friend! This site provides the average length of just about every game in existance based on user feedback. This site also includes the fastest completion, main storyline, and 100% completion times. An excellent source to pick out the shorter games from the long.

3. Game first, achievements after. If you're like me and you absolutely have to get all (or most) the achievements, make that your second priority when it comes to longer games. If you worry about achievements, you'll only be wasting more time on a game when you could be playing something else. A great example of this is Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. To play through just the main story could take you roughly 20 hours the first time through...however if you aim for all the achievements during your playthrough expect to spend a good 50+ hours...That's 50 hours you could have spent knocking off another 2 or so games in your backlog!

4. No achievements? No problem, play to enjoy!

 With these points in mind I will most certainly be able to get through roughly half, maybe even most of my backlog by the end of the year, but I won't call that definite for sure. Anything can happen that may potentially turn my attention away from Steam altogether for an unknown amount of time (such as my slightly growing backlog of PS3 games...).