Next Generation

Next Generation was my favorite videogaming magazine. Compared to its peers - EGM, GamePlayers, GamePro, GameFan, etc. - it was refreshingly insightful, lined with excellent column-writers from all parts of the game world, perfect reviews, filled with amazing interviews and fresh features (which were all promptly copied from other mags), and had a decidedly mature tone. It didnt treat you like the 13 year old EGM assumed you were, and even if I was 13 at the time (actually, more like 14/15), I was able to read Next Gen and instantly feel more informed.

Of course, it wasnt perfect - the excellent editorial quality faltered as time went on, they were loose with facts at time, etc. Imagine Media cut them off abruptly sometime in 2001, and well there hasnt been a similar magazine since. Some mags have incorporated some of Next Gen's ideas on writing and approach but it hasnt been the same.

So imagine my surprise when Next Gen relaunched as a website. And, in my humble opinion, they couldnt have picked a better time - IGN is an ugly mess of a game site, GameSpot has been faltering for a long time, and there are no solid independent sites the way there used to be (history lesson: IGN - Imagine Games Network, that is, used to be, literally, a network of small fan-run sites on all sorts of game-related topics).

It feels, in many ways, much like the old mag and site - the daily on-time updates, a focus on the things that dont generally draw attention to the things not talked about on the other sites. The articles are short, sweet, and fit on a single page. There is a bare minimum of advertisements - no McNextGen or anything like that. Its all very good and feels very much like Next Gen would have been had it not been axed.

There are a few complaints, though: the site is currently very column-heavy, and its lacking a proper framework for the content (the generic categories on the side dont give a clear indication of what type of text we will be looking at). Some reviews in the old-NG style would be welcome, but I can understand why theyd want to avoid that grind. And the columns are excellent.

Check it out.

Serious Business

WORLD OF WARCRAFT IS SERIOUS BUSINESS!

Seriously. Here are some actions that annoy me in World of Warcraft:

-Corpse Campers
-Level 60 UD Rogues killing lowbies like yours truly outside of Booty Bay and shit.
-Players who dont wait for the mana guys (like me, a Druid) to regain mana before attacking the next mob.
-Players who say they need shit "for their alt" from an instance.
-People who dont properly hold aggro.
-Level 21/31/41 non-Druids grabbing the flag in Warsong Gulch.

Now Im not gonna lie, Im not perfect and most of the WOW players are pretty solid and fair. Even the above doesnt drive me nuts - its annoying, but what can you do (though its not fair to accuse a healer of poor healing skills when the group cant hold aggro).

But one thing annoys me more than all of that. People who take the game so fucking seriously. Treat it like life or death. Bitch you out when you do something supposedly run. Ive grouped with at least two of these players and they were both miserable people and miserable experiences. 99.9999% of people play World of Warcraft to sit back, relax, and have fun, but its always those few...

Once I hit 60, though, I guess I dont have to play with dorks like that anymore. More motivation, I guess? But at the same time I got like another 16 levels of it.

grand theft auto san andreas

GTA is an ugly, violent game. Possibly the most violent in history. It has absolutely no redeeming moral or ethical values whatsoever. You play as a horrible, violent person - whether its some generic con, some fat gangster in Miami, or an ex-gangbanger in East LA. Throughout the game, you kill innocent civilians in all manners of grotesque-ness, kill police officers with impunity, get prostitutes, deal/do drugs, lead turf wars against other gangs in their neighborhoods, and organize drive-by shootings.

Yet, a bunch of silly simulated sex made the entire world explode.

I really dont know whats going on here. Rockstar left some sex scenes in the code of GTA (very common, its hard to take stuff out without introducing bugs) but left it inaccessible. A modmaker found it and made it available for PC owners. People immediately started saying GTA has pornography in it.

Which it does... kinda. But people now are talking like GTA is all of the sudden far worse than it ever was. Sloppy reporting on the news is out of control - ABC Worlds News Tonight, an other respectable show, failed to make a distinction between the PS2 and PC version of the game, claiming that it sold 12 million copies and the mod is easily downloadable for anyone (nevermind that at least 95% of those 12 million are for PS2, which the mod doesnt apply too). I literally heard someone say on the news yesterday, "GTA is not for kids". HELLO?! It was NEVER for kids.

This is exactly the same as the nude patches for virtually every moddable game out there. Okay... not EXACTLY. Because that is stuff put in the game. But check it:

To get the nude patch of DOA Volleyball/Half-Life 2, you need to download and install a mod.
To get the sex scene in GTA SA, you need to download and install a mod.

ERM. Okay, yes - its in the PS2 game. But you need a PAR and a few hours of time to get these lame scenes. Worth it? I dont think so. Maybe some horny teenagers will go through the trouble, but who cares? Why is all this awful violence and shit okay but a little bit of simulated sex so bad? What planet do we live on?

Some people have said Rockstar deserves this for leaving the content in. I disagree. This is bullshit and nobody deserves it. Its just stupid, and Im almost as embarrassed about this as I was about that Janet Jackson Super Bowl thing. Two completely unnecessary, stupid things.

On Duke Nukem

Duke Nukem is the gayest character in videogames. I mean that literally - he is the most homosexual character videogames know. Sure, he gives money to strippers and has big guns, but lets be real: this guy is gay. 3D Realms loves to flout him as the real man's man of videogames, but its just not working out. They're clearly in love with the dude, and not just as friends:





Compare it to:



Yep.

(no subject)

I dont know what to make of Rob Zombie's new movie, The Devil's Rejects. I saw a clip on Conan O' Brien that was very cool, very creepy - and made me want to see it. But then I watched the trailer, and the commercials, and they make it out to be a standard-like horror movie.

Of course, there's a well known axiom: trailers and commercials are always the movie the studio wish was made, not what was actually made.

I think horror movies are stupid and idiotic, and The Ring is possibly the worst thing in existence - not because it was so horrible, but because it spawned all these shitty, worthless movies that have been stinking up theatres the past two years.

So I dunno, I guess Ill wait for reviews on Devil's Rejects.

A Tale of Two Warcrafts

Just looking at the name of this LJ, it should come as no surprise that I think World of Warcraft is a great game. Its great because, unlike every other MMORPG, its actually fun. Allow me to explain. I bought EverQuest the day it came out - for some reason I have no problem remembering this date, it was April 16, 1999. I played the game quite a bit for three months, and put in about 100-120 hours playtime. I think I got to level 11 or something. By level 11, I was in the exact same area I was in at level 5, which was the zone outside of town. I was killing stupid bears and snakes and shit. And thats it! EverQuest would be, literally, "go and kill stuff. Sell what it drops to vendor". You do this 1000 times and you get a new level. You do it 2000 times again somewhere else and move up another one. This was the game! There was no game to it. It was just hitting the A button and watching your gimp swing a sword! Not fun, not fun at all. They called it EverCrack because it was so addictive, and this name fit - crack isnt any fun to do, its bad, its evil and ruins your life, but youre too fucking hooked to stop. Thats what EverQuest was.

But World of Warcraft is FUN. The combat is dynamic and interesting, and the game constantly shuttles you to new areas to keep it fresh. Yea, at level 30 youre fighting the same murlocs you fought at level 7, except theyre blue and have more HP, but no matter. The quest structure the game hangs its hat on does the trick, giving you ample experience for the grind work. Some areas are undeveloped on the quest side, and a lot end abruptly when you expect a longer chain, but the team is always adding more. PVP can be annoying but its fun. Warsong Gulch is TFC for MMORPGs. Its easy to get money. The game is huge, beautiful, and has tons of stuff to do.

Too much stuff, in fact - my character, at level 43, is burnt out. Well, I am burnt out. Ive put a lot of time into the game and its fun, but I need to take time off. I need some time to come back to the game fresh. I doubt Ill abandon it completely - its a great deal of fun, and I know the good stuff comes at the end, but still. Ive put nearly 9 full days worth of playing since late April when I got it - that is about 200 hours in two and a half months, or nearly 20 hours a week.

So, with that, I decided to put WOW to the side for a little bit - could be a few days, a week, a month, three months, I dunno. But I need a game to play, and only one came to mind - Warcraft III. I got this game last summer because I got bored of Age of Mythology, and immediately took to it. The game is just a masterpiece of design, and has so much for everybody. The game forces you to be quick and on your toes at all times, individual control of units is a must - its almost like a shooter in that regard. It also requires an in-depth knowledge of the game system - much like a top-notch fighting game. At the same time, its undeniably a strategy game, and there's no rock-paper-scissors type stuff to it - the interaction and play is much deeper. Comparing it to Age of Mythology is like comparing Street Fighter 2 to DOA. Theyre both good but you can tell which one is clearly superior.

I played it a lot last summer, but as soon as I got into battle.net (I had like a 5-8 record) I had to leave for school and didnt have any time to play. But Im getting back into it, its still amazing. My favorite race is the Orcs, but Ive been messing around with Humans. When I started, I was playing humans a lot like I did Orcs, but it just doesnt work - humans are much softer in the beginning of the game, and require early expansion and tons of resources (a lot more wood, in particular). Its not all negatives, though - humans are much better prepared for air assaults (if you dont see it happening early and train troll berserkers, you're sunk - but the rifleman is a core human unit and can attack air) and much better healing powers. So its interesting and fun to play around with them, but radically different from Orcs.

Is Warcraft 3 the best strategy game ever? Yes, by far. Rome: Total War comes close, but its messy the same way Civ2 is. Warcraft 3 is totally focused and fine-tuned. Is World of Warcraft the best MMORPG ever? Yes, by a mile.

How does Blizzard do it?

Fantastic Four

I just want to use my first real post in this weblog to talk about how stupid and ridiculous the Fantastic Four movie looks. I mean... seriously. I know Spiderman made a lot of money and that has made Hollywood want to turn everything into a comic book (and Marvel/DC seems $$$ in their eyes because of it) but Spiderman was successful first and foremost because it was a good movie.

Im not gonna pretend I know anything about the comic books (I never read comic books, ever), but this is just stupid.



Come on.

(no subject)

I was working on a full weblog software system, in PHP. In fact, I still am, and Ill probably return to it later to finish it up. I had a few more revisions of it, but it was still early and very crude compared to Movable Type or whatever. But I didnt stop thinking of things I wanted to talk about, so LJ is the next best thing.

Ill post about videogames, movies, whatever! YAY!