Gaming without your brother

Monthly Archives: April 2012

I bought Portal 1 & 2 during a Steam sale a year or so ago . . . I think I got both for $20 which is usually too much for my budget but I also knew that I would be labeled a heretic gamer if I never played the games. I figured it was imperative that I play the games in order, so I fired up Portal 1 and was instantly disappointed: it was in the first person perspective.


DISAPPOINTED! (from this video, if you've never seen it:

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s a bad way to make a game, I just have major problems with it from a medical perspective. I tried to figure it out via a reddit question months ago and got this video in response, which I think does a good job of explaining how developers contribute to the problem of motion sickness in FPS games, but doesn’t exactly explain why CoD is a best seller and people don’t vomit like I do when I try to play.

But at the same time, I think part of it must be developer related because some games I can’t play at all, and some I am able to power a few hours into before having to turn it off. Team Fortress 2 for example is a game that I can play all right for a little bit. Unfortunately, I could generally only do one Portal chamber at a time before I’d have to turn off the game (not even a chamber sometimes, depending on how long it took me).

The other difficult thing about Portal 1 for me is that I’m terrible at puzzle games. I got Braid in one of the Humble Indie Bundles it was a part of (don’t remember which number that was) and googled a ton of solutions because I just didn’t have the patience to sit and figure it out. I’m terrible, I know. So in that respect, it was almost a good thing that I couldn’t sit and play Portal 1 for long periods of time because by the time I was getting nauseated, I was usually also getting stuck, so I’d leave, come back a few days later, and suddenly see the solution. Having said that, I did google a number of things, and felt like a traitor. More than a traitor, I usually felt really stupid because I knew I should’ve been able to figure out the solutions I googled on my own.

So did I think Portal 1 was all it was cracked up to be? Sure. I guess. I don’t really know what it was cracked up to be, since it’s been so long since it was released. I know that it was stepping stone to Portal 2 which multiple people have told me is the greatest game ever made. While I know I won’t believe that, I’m hoping for a good time.

I think the main praise of Portal 1 and I’m betting Portal 2 was the humor. During the last boss battle in Portal 1, I was laughing out loud at the clever, passive-aggressive one-liners GLaDos had. Humor in video gaming is always great, and I think it’s missing from a lot of non-RPG games (and RPGs for that matter), so it was refreshing to hear it in Portal.



And of course, at the end of the day, Portal is just a cool idea. Entering at one spot and coming out of another, HAL 3000’s granddaughter, and cake. That is a winning combo right there. I suppose I’m just glad I took the opportunity to play it, get a few more nerd references now, and can relate that much more to the majority of gamers. And of course, now I can start Portal 2, maybe after this nausea wears off . . .

As I alluded to in my first post, I’m graduating from college soon, but unfortunately I still have the hurdle of finals week to jump through. I wrote my first post because it was on my mind and I wanted to at least get things going, but I knew that after that the blog would be stagnant for a few weeks while I wrapped up a hellish semester.

My last day of classes was on Wednesday and my first final is on Saturday. The intelligent person would have spent the past two days writing his or her research paper. Unfortunately, I am not the intelligent person.

Yesterday I tried out AirMech which is in alpha testing in the Chrome web browser, so it’s free! I didn’t do my homework, so I’m not sure if Carbon Games plans to keep the game free or not. Anyway, it’s fun enough, but almost exactly like League of Legends except you’re a robot/airplane instead of a mythical creature . . . I’ll probably keep it in my Chrome apps but I doubt I’ll revisit it any time soon. Having said that, I love everything indie, so props to Carbon Games for putting out a good product in a popular niche that people are playing a lot these days.

After I gave AirMech a run through, I tried out the Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances browser game (also free and in beta testing right now). I never actually played Command & Conquer back in its hey day so I don’t know how much of this iteration is just the old game put in browser, but for a C&C virgin like myself, so far it’s been fun. Lots of base building, not a whole lot of action so far, but you get to battle other players and join alliances with others as well so I think it has some potential to be entertaining enough.

And then earlier this afternoon I saw a Kotaku headline about Shigeru Miyamoto toying with the idea of making a sequel to A Link to the Past for the 3DS. My nostalgia gland went into overdrive as I thought about how fun that game is to play, and how (you guessed it) I never finished it so it’s on The List! I played it for about 6 hours tonight and got through two castles in the dark world before I realized a) I should write about this and b) I need to sleep.



I think it would be pointless to review this game: everyone should play it, it’s incredibly fun and is just a well-made game with an engaging story. If you don’t play it . . . I almost said something really rude, but I’ll keep that to myself. Just play the game. What I do feel like sharing though are impressions as I delve back into this world.

A) Wow, Twilight Princess was really just a remake, huh? Dark world, light world? I recently heard someone say they hated the Zelda series because everything is pretty much the same, and actually, I had to acquiesce to this person’s point. However, I say if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Obviously people love the rote gameplay of Zelda (including myself) so more power to Nintendo. The last Zelda series game I played was Twilight Princess so it has been cool to see the origin of a lot of the ins & outs of TwiPri (is that a thing? I don’t want it to be but I’m gonna leave it) in ALttP (that can’t be a thing, but again, I’m just gonna abbreviate).

B) That music! As it all started up again I was loving it! Bobbing my head, chair dancing, making syllabic noises along with the instrumentals! And then I realized every theme is no more than 12 bars repeated, over and over and over . . . Granted that’s true of a lot of videos games now, and particularly a lot of earlier video games. But still, it’s an interesting comparison between music now and then. And who am I kidding, I still love it. NOSTALGIA.

C) I watched my brothers play this so often that I know where everything is even having never beaten it before. It’s fun pretending that I’m really good at video games.

How did people ever find this?

How did people ever find this? Granted, it's kind of random so logic would say "just try to bomb it" but man, the no-crack-in-the-wall bomb spot . . . good thing I remember my brothers blowing it up.

D) You guys, I am really bad at video games. Throughout the quests for the 3 pendants and even all the way up to fighting the wizard in the light world, I was cooking! I don’t think I died once, I was just going to town on all of those baddies. Then I hit the dark world dungeons and I died about a million times. Give or take a few hundred thousand. Seriously, I am bad. I’m confident I’ll get better but man. There was much swearing. And much wishing I could mod armor or something modern gaming-ish like that for Link. Although I gotta say, the Master Sword with full health is always a fun combination.

2nd Crystal Dungeon Boss

This clown took me way too long to even get to, and I feel bad about myself because of it.

E) The modern gaming notion of hording and checking every nook and cranny for potential items is great to apply to older games. I was grass cutting and bush whacking in every frame and got 999 rupees in no time. And then I bought the Zora flippers and spent the rest of my dough increasing my bomb and arrow maximums, and then I got 999 again.

Anyway, that’s all for now. My “official” ALttP post will be up once I finish the game but, in an effort to actually pass my final exams, that may not happen for a week or so. If you have any commentary or questions about Zelda, AirMech, or C&C, leave a comment!

And so it begins . . .

Months ago, I realized my undergraduate education was coming to a close, and I would need to get a full-time, non-student job in the near future to pay debts and get health insurance. It struck me that the “real” jobs everyone was supposed to get once they graduated didn’t really appeal to me. I had been headed down the editor/publishing house track, which admittedly wouldn’t be so bad, but in reality, I wanted to be the one writing, not the one making the editing marks. So, I abandoned a well-paying, part-time job to get a low-paying internship, but it would let me write about technology news every day and would give me a little bit of experience writing creatively, i.e. writing sales copy.

The further I got into this internship, the more I realized that there were good jobs, and then there were great jobs. This internship has turned into a full-time job, and I enjoy many things about it, but it’s still just a good job. Why? Because in it I get to follow a hobby but not a passion. I like technology and computers and such in general, but my passion is gaming.

Growing up in my parents house, video games were frowned upon and thought of as a waste of time (and to be fair, so was TV and general loafing around). After my brother moved out and took his consoles with him, I didn’t game much. As a college student, I played games a little bit but for the most part, it was cost prohibitive and more importantly, I fail at setting parameters on my gaming. So a one hour break to explore a little bit further in the latest game would turn into four hours of completely ignoring homework and studying. Now that I’m about to graduate college, I’ve gotten back into gaming with gusto and realize how much I’ve missed all of the wonderful aspects of gaming like new worlds, fantastic story lines, engaging sound tracks, and more. Blog post about the wonders of gaming forthcoming.

So, to follow my passion, I tried to apply for jobs writing about games and gaming. I realized that I had no experience writing about games and gaming, and would probably not get the time of day from any gaming related sites (and I didn’t). The idea came to me to just write my own gaming content and self-publish (read: blog) and hopefully, even if I don’t garner any internet traffic, at least I’d be building a writing-about-gaming portfolio. But everyone blogs about gaming! How could my experience be any different?

My first thought was to attack the text document of classic games I’ve never finished and am ashamed to bring up around other gamers. Still in school mode, I thought of trying to game under a time limit, like finish all these classic games before the end of the summer. I then realized that in the real world, people don’t think in seasons the same way students do, so maybe adding more games, and saying a year would be a better gimmick.

And then it hit me: why have a gimmick at all? If we’re assuming I’m a good writer and these are classic games, doesn’t that generate a bit of an audience in and of itself? And frankly, I didn’t want the pressure because I’m just that lazy. So the only question left was the title. I thought about the whole woman gamer angle but didn’t feel like it was original enough. We’re a growing breed, so that might be hackneyed. Then I was graced with another epiphany: I got into gaming and continue to game and become a better gamer because of my brother.

On the About page of this blog, I talk a little bit about growing up with a gaming brother. When I showed my brother the page, he liked it and said he felt kind of bad about his gaming habits when we were kids (i.e. not letting me play very often and selling games before I was finished). A) The selling games thing was never very upsetting, because he was feeding my habit so who was I to determine when games would or would not be sold? Plus, if he had waited around for his kid sister to finish those games, he would’ve never been able to buy any new ones. B) I don’t think there’s an older gamer brother on the planet that doesn’t monopolize the system and games he bought, because he bought them. All is fair in love, war, and sibling gaming time.

I point that out to make sure everyone knows there’s no animosity between siblings here, and also to bring up the flip side of the issue: if I hadn’t had a gaming brother to look up to, who astounded me with his skill and excellent taste in games, I don’t know where I’d be today in regards to gaming. I truly feel like gaming has improved my life, and my brother was a direct influence in making me appreciate gaming. So, sure, this site is supposed to be a little bit funny, as in now little sisters can break free from big brothers and game, but it’s also a bit of a nod to one of the coolest gaming guys I know, who gave me the great gift of video games: my brother.