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What kind of year it has been

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13 months, 50 Blu-rays, 2 degrees, and innumerable personal failures since my last post and… hi. How are you? It’s been a while. Why won’t you look me in the eyes when we make love?

This last year’s been sorta rough. Not nearly as bad as 2011, which I would rate as objectively the worst year of my life, but nonetheless something of a bitch. I’ll try to summarize an entire year in one paragraph for the both of you who care (hi real drew! hi other person!).

The first 5 months didn’t count since I was slogging through my senior year of school and nothing really interesting happened anyway. After finally graduating, I worked all summer and then took an ill-advised detour to grad school, which I hated and left. Then I sat on my ass for a few months, various annoying shits happened, and now I’m working once more. Also I’m writing games again! Wheeeeeee

But enough about my enormous throbbing manhood, let’s talk movies and games. 2012 was a remarkably mediocre year in both departments with a few exceptions, such as The Cabin in the Woods, Moonrise Kingdom, Argo, Looper, Seven Psychopaths and Django Unchained for films. Dishonorable mentions go to The Devil Inside, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, and especially fucking Prometheus. 

Hey, speaking of dishonorable, Dishonored was one of the very, very few games that came out in 2012 that I actually played, and it wasn’t half bad. The gameplay was addictively fun, if a bit too easily exploited, and the art design was magical, but I don’t think I’ve seen a more formulaic, predictable, and ultimately unsatisfying story in anything not featuring sparkly vampires (are twilight jokes still cool? i dunno i’ve been under a rock for a year whaddaya want from me). FTL was a standout for ’12, particularly the entire night I spent playing it while stranded in the Atlanta airport. Another old-school indie release I enjoyed was Legend of Grimrock. I’d never really played too many dungeon crawlers before but I always enjoyed those I did, and Grimrock absolutely aces the crawling of dungeons. Finally, the only other notable game that came out in 2012 that I didn’t actually play until 2013 is Far Cry 3, and it’s definitely my favorite of the bunch. Despite being stuffed to the second sphincter with nitpicks (the save system, Uplay, the menus, and so forth) it’s easily the most purely fun playing experiences I’ve had since Skyrim. Add to that the facts that Ubisoft actually gave a shit about the story and characters, the Emma Stone levels of sexy graphics, and all the awesome stuff I’m too nice to spoil and you get my game of the year for 2012. 

Okay I’m done now go home

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Written by Drew Wellman

01/22/2013 at 9:53 PM

Posted in Everything

Oh Fucking Mother of Mercy Skyrim

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I’ve been playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim for the last month and Je-he-he-hesus is it awesome. I’ve got my three characters: Midge Magerson – destruction specialist and sneak extraordinaire, The Angriest Orc in the World – greatsword aficionado who is not to be fucked with, and Billy Mays – traveling salesman. I’ve also got a new graphics card (the ATI Radeon HD 6850) which runs it magnificently. Of course, even the fastest hardware in the world wouldn’t eliminate Bethesda’s trademark bugs, which have at the very least yet to render my savegames kaput or my game unlaunchable in the cases of Fallout 3 and New Vegas, respectively.

Also in the several months since the last update, I have procured a Playstation 3 and numerous Blu-rays, such as Hot Fuzz, In Bruges, Inglorious Basterds, Firefly: The Complete Series, and Taxi Driver. Which are good. Aside from Skyrim, I’ve also been playing Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, Metal Gear Solid 4, Pokemon Red, Blue, and Silver, among others. Finally, I’ve been listening to Electric Six, AFI’s older albums, and Chopin.

This concludes your daily update of things absolutely no one gives a shit about.

Written by Drew Wellman

12/14/2011 at 2:36 AM

Posted in Everything

Reviews of stuff

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Despite being pretty busy for the past few weeks, I’ve also been having my fair share of fun. Naturally this includes copious amounts of movies and games, so I figured I’d jot down my opinions of them before I forget whether I liked them or not. Let’s start with the movies.

Super 8

Saw this one in IMAX and I gotta say, it probably helped. For the most part, it was another JJ Abrams pretty good but not great popcorn flick. The writing alternated between trite, corny, pseudo-emotional bullshit and genuinely funny, with special props going to the legitimately hilarious stoner character. CGI wasn’t to obtrusive, mostly staying in its place, except for the horrendously overdone, exploderriffic train crash sequence that doesn’t even hold a candle to the Fugitive.

X-Men: First Class

Dear lord this movie was stupid. Now, I admit, this is the first X-Men flick I’ve seen all the way through and I’ve never read the comics or watched the shows or bought the Wolverine print underwear but this film just lacked focus. While Magneto and Xavier are pretty interesting, well-written, and well-handled by the actors (James McAvoy, in particular), pretty much every other X-Man only gets their own short, boring little arc, if that. But I know better than to expect quality from superhero flicks (Spider-Man 2, Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Watchmen notwithstanding), what really surprised me was the god-awful, shittilly rendered, bad even for a made for TV movie CGI. I mean it’s not that hard to model and animate a fucking coin, but it was apparently too big a job for these guys to get right. I swear, the ships especially look like something out of a shitty History Channel World War II documentary. And Kevin Bacon chews the scenery.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I’m not gonna lie, this is probably the best Sweedish film I’ve ever seen.

Right. But it is pretty much amazing from start to finish. The character of Lizbeth Salander has to be one of the most compelling and memorable characters in the last decade. This movie also has one of the most intense rape scenes I’ve ever witnessed, taking the viewer from a state of emotional disgust and fear to one of confused, furious, yet excited vengeance. It’s a must-see. It is getting an American remake this winter and I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, the original is great and I don’t know if the American movie industry is mature enough to handle the brutal depictions of sexuality and violence in the story. On the other hand, if anyone can pull it off, it’s Fincher.

Reservoir Dogs

Tarintino’s debut film, which I only recently got around to watching. It earned him widespread attention, and with good reason. I’ll just say if you’re a fan of Tarintino’s other work, or simply enjoy Mexican Standoffs, witty dialog, nonlinear storytelling, and nice suits, you should definitely check it out.

And now, teh gaemz!!!111

L.A. Noire

As far as I can tell, I’m around halfway through the second disk and about halfway through the game as a whole, and so far I like what I’ve seen. I always like giving new IPs a try, if only to convince myself that the future may not be a mindless sequel wasteland, and L.A. Noire is standing on its own well. It’s not nearly as fluid and continuous as I had hoped, rather most every aspect of the gameplay is discrete and binary. Everything’s either right or wrong, you either get an interrogation question right or you get it wrong, you either find a piece of evidence or you don’t. There are a few times when there’s some flexibility, like when you can pick from a couple pieces of related evidence to prove the same point or how the order in which you visit locations on a case can affect who and what is there when you arrive, but for the most part there is one right way. The much-hyped facial animations are stellar, even if suspects couldn’t be more obvious when they’re lying even if they broke out the trollface, and the driving and shooting are solid enough for me. The writing and performances are top-notch and altogether it’s really fun to play. There are a few other flaws, like how cases seem to have arbitrary action sections (WHY DO THEY ALWAYS RUN?!?), many of them involve little inductive reasoning on the part of the player but instead jump to conclusions for them, and you don’t really “solve” cases so much as you collect all the items needed to solve them. More often than not, I’ve ended up arresting guys on accident because the game railroaded me into finding the right guy. Still, all these complaints started at the beginning and have gradually been alleviated through what I assume to be the difficulty curve. Either way, I’m looking forward to playing this one through to the end.

Persona 3

I’ve been playing various flavors of Persona 3 for a few months now and while it’s certainly not as good as P4, it for sure has more of that “cinematic and compelling” stuff Gamespot reviewers rave about. I’ve been playing both Persona 3: FES, the enhanced remake for the PS2 that mostly resembles the original and Persona 3 Portable for the PSP, which takes quite a few cues from my favored sequel. Long story short, the P3P version is better in terms of gameplay and is recommended for those coming from 4 while FES has a much better feel to it in the areas of story, presentation, and cohesion. I’d still recommend the game in either form

F.E.A.R.

I got this way back during the Steam sale last Christmas and I’ve been slowly working my way through it ever since. It’s pretty good, I guess. Not at all scary (vastly inferior to Monolith’s other first-person horror game, Condemed), but still a solid shooter. The main thing I love about it is the incredible, visceral, punch-packing, loud-ass, not gonna fuck around shotgun. It just feels so good to shoot.

SWAT 4

After seeing Spoony’s Let’s Play videos of this game, I decided to check it out. What attracted me to it and L.A. Noire was the strictly enforced by-the-book, procedural gameplay that required realistic performance as an officer of the law, i.e. not murdering everyone. For the most part, it works pretty well in SWAT 4, though it oftentimes makes for some really unforgiving levels that rape you in the ass until you cry Uncle. I still wish Officer Girard would stop alternatively getting shot all the damn time and flashbanging my face.

Guitars Hero II and III, Rocks Band I and II

Faulty internal pluralization ftw. But this is pretty much what my roommates and I do when we’re not doing anything else. I really need to get a second guitar controller, or preferably a drum kit, but those things are impossible to find for cheap.

 

So yeah, that’s basically it for now. Been fucking around with sweet NASA helicopters, installing Linix all over the damn place, and got some bitchin’ new headphones. Pretty rad.

Written by Drew Wellman

07/01/2011 at 11:58 PM

Posted in Everything

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I’m working for NASA

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Interning for the summer, at least. At Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

 

I’ve been to the beach twice and I make bacon whenever I want.

Written by Drew Wellman

06/23/2011 at 4:16 PM

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LoadingReadyRun: My gateway drug

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I often start on a train of thought and, as it progresses, my mind goes on different tangents and rabbit trails until several minutes later when I realize that my brain is totally off topic and I try to retrace the path back to the root of the thought tree. After doing this for about the third time today, I decided to do the same thing with my current interests, how I stumbled upon the things that I like, and it turns out that LoadingReadyRun has been far and away one of the biggest influences on my multimedia life.

In a more basic sense, I suppose it stems from internet comedy in general. The root of this tree is IRL, and its children are online. The farthest back I can trace in a continuous path is back in 2008 when a couple of my real-life friends told me about a YouTube sketch comedy group called Balloon Shop who used to attend their high school. Back then, we thought they were flippin’ hilarious, but really, they weren’t and only got less so. Before becoming disenfranchised with them, one of their members posted a link on his Facebook to the Zero Punctuation review of Gears of War 2 on the Escapist in January of ’09. I thought it was pretty funny and decided to click around on the other videos on the site, when I found Unskippable. Watching that, I noticed that the voices seemed familiar and clicked the link to their site, whereupon I recalled that I had seen LRR’s “Fun With Microwaves” video back in 2008. And from there, things went squirrelly.

An archive binge ensued, and I continued to keep up with LoadingReadyRun as they released new videos and created new series. I paid special attention to CommodoreHustle and the Phailhaus, and also started listening to their podcast. When I realized that they were very much not dicks and actually had very good tastes, I began trying out things they recommended.  Here is a short list of things I experienced through the direct influence of LRR: In Bruges, Persona 4, Magic: the Gathering, Metal Gear Solid, Andrew WK, Child’s Play charity, Yu-Gi-Oh: Abridged, poutine, and more. I even gained a newfound appreciation for Sir Mix-a-Lot’s magnum opus, Baby Got Back.

But the amazing part is that these direct children also led me to secondary interests. The unholy gangbang of Persona 4, Yu-Gi-Oh: Abridged, and LRR’s personal recommendation led me to commit an atrocity I’d never dreamt possible: I actually watched anime. And not just the little bits of Yu-Gi-Oh and Dragonball Z I saw on Toonami after Ed, Edd, & Eddy when I was a kid, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Code Geass, and FLCL. Don’t worry, I haven’t turned into some otaku monstrosity or anything, but rather through LoadingReadyRun, I have experienced many different genres of entertainment I would have otherwise never even considered. They’ve really opened me up to a wider sample of culture, given me a better appreciation for the world around me, and simply entertained me in dozens of ways.

So thank you, LoadingReadyRun, for helping shape who I am today. You’ve led me to numerous culturally enriching sources of  entertainment and given me an assload of laughs. Keep doing the awesome stuff you do.

Unrelated, but I’ve written another article for HardyDev on the nominees for the Best AGS Game of 2010 award, which astute readers will notice is pretty much the same article I wrote last year with some of the names changed around.

Written by Drew Wellman

02/23/2011 at 12:31 AM

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The last two months in a picture (and also words)

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So it’s been approximately ages since I’ve done anything in this space, so I figured I’d quickly summarize my last two months with a picture.

(Numbers are roughly clockwise)

1) My torn-apart Eee PC 901. A while back, I broke the LCD by using it as a carrying handle, a use it neither was designed for nor deserved. So I ordered a replacement and assumed I’d be able to install it myself. This was a good assumption; expecting the shipper to send precisely the right model was not. All-in-all, the pins didn’t match up and the backlight didn’t work. Ordering the right part soon.

2) Machine of Death. A great book that I’ve been reading. I think it might be the first actual hold-it-in-your-hands paper book I’ve bought for my own personal reading enjoyment in years.

3) 3D glasses. I was on an Amazon shopping spree and figured why not.

4) My newly repaired Macbook Pro. The turdbiscuits at the Apple Store finally believed me that the issue was the same one I told them it was all along, namely that the Wi-Fi card was Wi-Fried, and repaired the slut of a laptop. So far, so good, but I’ve renamed it “Morgan”.

5) Playstation 2 and Persona 4. I picked up a used PS2 and a bunch of games for dirt cheap over the holidays and have really been enjoying it. Persona 4 is the one game I’ve spent the most time on, over 20 hours according to my save file but many more hours were played but lost to death. It’s really quite fun and I’m looking forward to playing more of it.

6) Magic: The Gathering deck. Yes, I’ve gotten into Magic. I have a few friends with whom I play a couple times a week and currently have 3 decks. Hopefully, I will be able to refrain from converting my entire life savings into trading card form.

7) My DVD copy of The Social Network. The local Blockbuster is shutting down and are in the process of liquidating their DVD inventory, so everything is on sale for, again, dirt cheap. I picked up the special edition of what I consider to be 2010’s best film for a delicious $8.

 

Otherwise, most of my time has been spent on game development and school. I made another Oceanspirit Dennis game and am currently working on two other unrelated, non-OSD game projects. I also might be working with a certain someone on a certain something that may or may not certainly be a book.

Written by Drew Wellman

01/25/2011 at 12:14 AM

New PC!

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I got a new PC. I made it myself. It has fancy parts for fancy games. Hip hip hooray. With the new PC comes new games, which I could not previously run. These include Just Cause 2, Crysis, Prince of Persia ’08, and all my old games on maximum settings.

Pics!

Shiny...

Messy... I'll get around to organizing the cables.

I’ve been pretty busy recently, working on several different things. Oceanspirit Dennis has been Oceanspiriting, but I’ve got other, different, game-related stuff on my mind. Not sure if anything will come of it.

Written by Drew Wellman

11/13/2010 at 10:57 PM

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