Tuesday, August 28, 2012

So what's the big deal with Guild Wars 2?

You know damn well that the only reason I'm sitting here writing anything at all is because I can't log into the damned game.  But I'm not here to talk about that.  At least not completely.  Depending on where you read or where you watch, the Internet has either been very, very busy in talking about this game (as with reviewers), or very, very quiet (because everyone else is probably playing the damned game).  I suppose the most important question is, "Will this furor last?"  But first, let's take a step back and have a nice look at the game.  

Already from playing in the beta weekends, I knew this was a game that did a lot of things correctly.  For example, I knew they did the combat correctly, albeit it is not without it's problems.  It's the kind of combat that I tend to enjoy.  It's fun.  It's diverse.  And there's some skill necessary to do it correctly.  More importantly, though, I knew that I liked the overall style of the game.  As sad as it is to say, if I don't like the way your game looks, I'm probably not going to play it for very long.  Just look at Dark Souls.  I really can't stand the look of that depressing murder-fest.  And after 79 minutes I was done with it.

As far as MMOs go, it does something else right for me:  the races.  This is one of the main reasons why Rift irritates me.  What can you play?  Basically human, dwarf, or elf.  Or basically, human, short human, tall human.  And that bores the fucking shit out of me.  If I'm going to spend hundreds of hours starting at an avatar within a game world, work towards making him more powerful and work towards getting him impressive looking gear, then why the hell would I want to play something that looks like a human?  I see those every day.  I don't want to see them in my game, too.  WoW did that correctly for me.  And now, GW2 has done it correctly.

You'll probably start to see a trend here.  Guild Wars 2 presses a lot of the correct buttons with me.

Here's another thing that always bothered me about MMO games:  You get dropped into this HUGE world, and in front of you is a questgiver.  They send you here, then you come back, then they send you somewhere else where there's another questgiver who will then send you somewhere else.  So basically, you've got this HUGE world that begs you to explore it, but the game keeps trying to keep you from doing that and puts you on rails that guides you from point to point as you level.  You might get a little bit of experience for exploring.  Maybe an achievement or two.  But that's about it.  The reward for exploration in GW2 is better than anything I've ever seen before.  Not only do you get a rather considerable chunk of experience for exploring, but the designers put hundreds of nodes in the game that intended to make exploration all the more interesting.  These include but are not limited to "Vistas", which a lot of the times involve doing a jumping puzzle of some kind to get to them.  So now exploration is not only interesting and rewarding, but also something a bit challenging.


The perks given to exploration along with the leveling system leads to a gameworld that feels very much alive.  No matter where you go, there always seems to be something happening.  There's a skill point to earn over there, there's an event taking place over here.  And so on.  It gives you the feeling that the world is bigger than you and that it continues on without you.  It also does an excellent job of making sure you're going out into that big world and not just staying put queuing up for things.  It does the MAJORLY part of MMO correctly.

This isn't without downsides, though.  Aside from the group events, which naturally should be designed for a group of people, a lot of the regular events feel too difficult when you try to do them on your own.  Obviously this is a minor complaint, since this game is meant to be played with other people and the designers encourage that fact as often as they can.  However, I worry what will happen in a few months time when most people are done with a majority of the content and there's no one around to help that new player with those difficult events.  This is helped out a little bit by the "effective level" system they have in place, where your level is adjusted down when you enter a lower level area.  But I don't think it will fully solve the problem.  You may get scaled down, but the content is the same.  Gamers get bored easily.  They're fickle.  And they consume content faster than it can be logistically and financially created.

That leads me to my next worry:  End game.  No one knows what it is, or if it even exists.  The leveling in this game is so very rewarding and so very fun.  It's driving me to play quite a lot.  I worry that once that level cap is reached, there really won't be all that much to do.  This happened with SWTOR, and it's one of the infamous reasons why that MMO has, for lack of a better term, failed.  I hope that the designers have things in place for people at max level, and that it's something as diverse and interesting as what we go through to get to that max level.

I'll have much more to say later, but there's some first impressions for you.  (Yes, you can read that to mean that I can now log back into the game.  Because that's exactly what happened.)  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dark Souls

Unfortunately, I'm not going to be nice to this game.  You shouldn't take this the wrong way, because I can truly see why it is highly rated and why it seems to be so well liked.  But that doesn't change the fact that I hate just about everything about it.

Let's start with the elephant in the room -- it is a straight console port with nothing added to it for the PC.  This directly leads me to the number one reason why I hate this game.  I expected that using a gamepad would probably be the superior way to play Dark Souls on the PC because it's a straight port.  So I did try to do so, and I hated the camera.  I want the camera to point where I'm looking.  I don't think that's really too much to ask.  If I'm not looking somewhere, why would I want my camera to be there?  It seems pretty simple to me.  Unfortunately, you need to turn the camera yourself when you use a gamepad, so I decided to switch to the mouse and keyboard, because moving a camera with a mouse is incredibly easier.  It's a natural motion that doesn't require me to awkwardly remove my fingers from the right trigger buttons in order to see where the fuck I'm going.  Unfortunately, moving the camera with the mouse is twitchy and stuttery, and it gave me bubonic plague.  Black death aside, one argument that I keep seeing in reviews for the PC version of this game is "it's a straight port but that's okay because it's a good game".  No.  No.  NO.  It's a good CONSOLE game.  I am playing the PC version.  If I cannot properly play the game with my PC peripherals, then it is NOT a good PC game.  It is a bad PC game.  Very bad.

Also...you leave the Windows mouse cursor visible in the game?  Really?

I will not go through this post without some positive things to say about the game, though.  Aside from the horrendous camera issues that I have with the game, the other controls are quite alright.  I found myself having an easier time on the mouse and keyboard when it came to most everything else, to include attacking, blocking, and dashing.  I am not familiar with a gamepad and therefore I am very slow to learn the controls when I play a game with one.  But I was quick to learn the keys on the keyboard and once I got past "E" not being "Action", I was fine.  I think that my entire opinion of the game would be quite a bit different if it wasn't for that damned camera.

But not entirely.  I still have other problems with this game.  Let's talk about tone.  Now, the whole overly twitchy and stuttery camera is a subjective criticism, I would think.  You could make the argument that I'm supposed to use the gamepad.  And I counter that argument with the fact that I am playing a PC game.  You could argue that it's not a PC game.  And I will argue that I am playing the game on a PC, therefore it is a PC game.  Basically, what I'm saying it, shut the fuck up and stop trying to make the differentiation of a PC game a grey area.  It's not.  Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition is a PC game that has bad PC controls.  Period.  That is subjective.  Now, let's move on to something objective.  Here, you are fully entitled to disagree with me.  

(You have to imagine how my brain works when I write this stuff.  There is actually a little voice in my head that is arguing with me as I make these points.  It's quite entertaining, really.)

I hate the tone of this game.  I fully understand what they were trying to accomplish, and I think it is brilliant.  I really do.  But I hate it.  It's depressing.  You feel utterly alone.  No one is going to help you. There's no incentive to leave that cell you're in at the start of the game, because you know all that you're going to get is death.  Over and over again.  Fuck that.  It's an utterly brilliant way of immersing you in the world, but it's not for me.  You see, Fallout also gives you this feeling that you're all alone in a very big world.  But it doesn't make me take-all-the-sleeping-pills depressed.  I understand that this is by design.  The lead designer must be a very depressed and sad individual to create a world that looks like this.  The whole point of the world is that it is dark, due to...well, due to the whole main story of the game.  Your entire goal is to bring light back into the world, so of course it makes sense that everything will be dark.  It's actually quite an interesting story and concept.  Just not one that I can bring myself to dedicated a lot of time to playing.  

I'm sure the reward is quite worth it.  In fact, I've heard that the game is impressively rewarding.  But I find that to be quite useless if the journey to get there is so damned dull.  It looks dull.  It feels dull.  It sounds dull.  I hear that voice in my head again.  It's screaming, "That just means that you prefer a flashy, mindless game with wonderful graphics that requires no skill to play!"  Well, no.  That's not what I'm saying.  I don't mind something being difficult.  But if I'm going to put myself through dying over and over again, I at least need to be enjoying myself.  I did not really find myself enjoying much about Dark Souls.  There's a thin line between "dark" and "depressing", and for me this game goes over that line.  

This problem for me is exacerbated by the graphics and textures.  I've said I don't mind difficulty, but I do mind sub-par graphics.  I like graphics.  Everyone says that gameplay is all that's important, blah blah blah.  Well I say fuck you.  I have a PC capable of rendering fantastic graphics at a lovely framerate.  I enjoy good graphics.  I enjoy great character animations, smooth textures, superb lip synching, and beautiful set pieces.  Dark Souls has none of this.  The animations are stiff.  The textures are blurry.  There is no lip synching.  Lips don't even move!  And the set pieces...well, they are grey.  Grey everywhere.

I have no problems seeing the appeal of this game.  I just refuse to look past it's shortfalls and have the unfortunate luck of not enjoying the tone of the world in which the game is placed.  That's a shame really, but not one that I'm terribly upset about.  We live in a time when there are a LOT of games out there to play.  I will not find myself lacking in any regard.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Most Clichéd Title in the World

I was going to make an attempt to move this blog into a new location.  A while back, probably about a year ago now or maybe a little longer, I had this blog hosted on my own website.  I preferred it that way, because it then felt like mine.  I'm sure you can relate those feelings.  However, there came a point where Blogger did a large scale upgrade to their system.  It was part of a transition, because they had been acquired by Google.  (As if Google didn't already own the entire universe.)  As such, the ability to host my blog on my own site meant that I would miss out on a ton of features that quite honestly should be standard for a blog.  So, I made the decision to host it on Blogger, and it has been ever since.

The problem is...well, that's not really a correct term to use.  It's not really a problem, per say.  It's just sort something that bothers me.  Anyway, I have my own web domain as many people probably know. I used to host the WPHPA Website on it, I have my cel gallery hosted on it, and I have quite a number of other things hosted on it.  My main, personal e-mail address also utilizes it.  Even so, I feel that it doesn't quite get as much use as it should.  Today I was having a look at all the modules I could install and use, and it's really quite impressive.  It sort of bothers me that I don't give this domain much use, considering that I do pay for it yearly.

So today, I made an attempt to create a Wordpress blog.  Well, I say attempt, but I did actually succeed in doing it, so I suppose 'attempt' is not particularly the correct word.  I actually created about four blogs successfully, and tinkered around with all the settings.  I was going to use it and transition my blog over to it.  There's even an import plug-in that I had installed, and I was able to import all of my posts from this blog over into that blog.  Unfortunately, the formatting of the text is not holding in the transition, and I'm ending up with posts that have the first paragraph in orange font and the rest of it in the native color of whatever template I'm using.  In addition to that, it seems that Wordpress really doesn't like blog posts that do not have a title, and you therefore cannot click on anything to go into the actual blog post and read it proper.  That would be much of a problem if the entire blog post was visible on the main page, but a lot of the templates that I like include automatic "breaks" in the post that require you to click on it to read the rest of the article.

So as it stands now, I'm not having much success with transitioning the blog into Wordpress.  It's a shame, really, because I really like Wordpress as a whole.  It's got a lot of interesting features that Blogger lacks, and it's actually quite a bit easier to install plug-ins.  There are other options for me, but I hesitate to use a blogger service that isn't in the top 5 providers.  I'd like to remain compatible and use something popular that is sure to have support and updates for a long time to come, rather than use some lesser known provider who may disappear or cease support in the coming year or so.

I will probably tinker around with it a bit more before I made a final decision on what I want to do.  Tally ho...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sleeping Dogs

When it comes to open world games, for me there is probably nothing that will ever compare to Bethesda.  Their open worlds for Fallout and The Elder Scrolls are done the way I want open world games to be done, and that's really all there is to it.  However, I do enjoy dropping myself into a game that contains a "real-world" open world.  This is why I have played through GTA IV multiple times.  Or, at least ONE of the reasons why.  It is also a very good game, to say the least.  And since Bethesda hasn't yet made any "real-world" open worlds, GTA IV is the best I have ever seen.

Now, we have another game with another "real world", in the form of Sleeping Dogs.  Here we have a game with an open world rendered after Hong Kong, and the amount of detail the developers have put into it is nothing short of astounding.  For all the people that complained the Liberty City looked too bland and boring in GTA IV, they will not be able to make that complaint here.  Well, actually, of course they will.  What am I thinking?  Somewhere, someone will say the design is boring, because that aesthetic is subjective.  But you know what?  I don't give a fuck if it's subjective or not.  If someone thinks this game looks bland, they're a fucking idiot.  There.  I said it.

Let's move past the visuals now, though, shall we?  What we have here is a pretty standard GTA-type formula with some interesting changes.  It's pretty safe to say that if you do like Grand Theft Auto, especially GTA IV, you will most likely also enjoy this game.  It has many of the same features:  A very realistic open-world city, a gangster theme, lots of side quests, lots of driving, and a decent main storyline that will last you about twice as long as a standard 8-hour single-player game.  (From what I am told.)  The side quests will extend the game time by a significant amount, as is standard for these types of games.

The game differs in a few significant ways.  The first is that unlike GTA, Sleeping Dogs offers unlockable skills.  These come in three varieties:  You have your "Cop Skills" that are unlocked by completing undercover cop missions, "Triad Skills" that are unlocked by completing Triad missions, and melee skills that are unlocked by finding the statue collectibles that your Kung Fu master lost.  Each of these "skill trees" have two branches, so this leaves you with a lot of choice and variety.

The other significant different for GTA fans is that, at least in the first large chunk of the game, there is more of a focus on melee combat.  I've yet to use a gun, and I've been playing for about six hours so far.  Granted, I've been mainly doing sidequests because that's what I'm like, but that's still a significant amount of time to be without a firearm within a game that focuses on cops and gangsters.  And that segues into some actual discussion regarding the melee combat.

First of all, it's not Arkham City.  I will say right here that I feel the combat in Arkham City is superior in every way to this game.  Is part of this simply because in Arkham City you're the mother-fucking Batman?  Probably.  But it is also because AC's combat looks more fluid, feels smoother, and is less annoying.  But that's not to say that Sleeping Dogs' combat is bad and unfun.  It's quite good and it is quite fun, and I have a feeling my opinion of it will become shinier once I find some more statues and unlock some more abilities.

Overall, what we have here is a very solid game, but nothing terribly significant.  I'm enjoying it, and I can tell that I will sink a lot of hours into it.  I have a feeling, though, that it is not going to have the staying power of Skyrim, Fallout, or even GTA IV.  This is one of the reasons why I'm doing all the side quests I can first -- I have a feeling that after I complete the main storyline once, I'm going to have no reason to continue playing.  That is a bit of a shame, but if I get 20-25 hours out of this game, I would say that it was quite worth the effort indeed.  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mollies. Mollies everywhere.

On Saturday, I noticed a little black dot swimming around in the aquarium and realized that we had baby Black Mollies.  By the end of the day, I counted four in total, which is about average for one female to have at once.  That was all well and good, and the little things were pretty damn fun to watch.  I expected them to have offspring eventually, but not that quickly.  I'm guessing they were already pregnant when we purchased them.

Cut to yesterday.  Now, I count at least 12 babies in the tank.  They're just everywhere.  Both of the females had to have had some at this point, because I've never had one Molly have that many babies. Black Mollies are rather large when they're born, when compared to other live-bearing tropical fish, so I can't see 12 of the suckers fitting in one of the females.  They weren't even that fat!

In any case, so now we have about a dozen (maybe more, who knows, the little buggers are hard to count) swimming around in the tank, and it's going to become a problem if they all end up surviving and growing to maturity.  That'll make 20 fish in that tank, which is....well, that is quite the even number and also the absolute max number that we would want to have in that aquarium.  (One gallon of water per fish is what we want, when dealing with fish of this size.  AKA small fish.)

So, my plan for getting some more guppies or even a pair of Angelfish is now moot as we wait and see what happens with all these Mollies.  I'm fine with that.  I like the idea of a tank full of them.  
I've recently noticed that there's a bit of a gap in the whole PC gaming news department.  At first, I didn't feel it was anything worth commenting upon, because it seemed to be a case where it was a game that wasn't going to be all that popular on the PC to begin with.  But within the course of 24 hours, PC gaming media failed me again with a different game.  So now I think it's worth talking about.  Allow me to describe these two issues, and my ensuing problems with them in regards to the PC gaming media.

The first occurred on the morning of August 10th.  I remember seeing an article on RPS back in June stating that The Amazing Spider-Man game was coming to the PC on August 10th.  RPS was irritated by this, because it was several weeks after the release of the console version of the game, and also several weeks after the release of the movie into which it is tied.  Their argument was, understandably, that even if the game was good, no one was going to care about the PC release due to the buzz from the movie already fading by the time August rolled around.  They were right in that regard.

So August 10th rolled around, and I took a look on Steam because I actually did want to play that game.  It's been years since I've played a Spider-Man game.  And, from what I could tell from the console reviews for this one, it wasn't terrible.  Probably not great.  Maybe a bit meh in places.  But for Spider-Man fans it was probably an enjoyable experience.  I was willing to accept that, except that it was no where to be found on Steam.  (Did you like that whole "accept that, except that" line?  I chuckle at my own plays on words sometimes.)

Since it was no where to be found on Steam, I took to PC gaming news websites to see if any of them reported on a delay in the release.  I found nothing.  I checked the Wikipedia page, and the release date for the PC was still listed as August 10th.  Puzzled, I finally looked up the official website for the game.  They posted a comment on August 9th stating that they wouldn't be releasing the game on Steam on August 10th as they had planned, but were looking into releasing it at a later date.  Further puzzled, I then looked to see if I could purchase a physical copy of the PC version of the game somewhere, such as Amazon or Gamestop.  None to be found.  No listing for it at all.

So basically, I have no fucking clue what is going on with the PC release of this game.  That in itself is rather worrisome, but what bothers me even moreso is that fact that no one seems to even care.  It's been 5 days now, and still no major PC gaming websites have reported a thing about it.  This really bothers me, because it makes me wonder just how good of a job are these people actually doing?  If I'm noticing this about a game that I would think would have quite a large audience, what else am I missing?  Spider-Man is Marvel's flagship super hero.  He's one of the most popular super heroes in the world.  Yet there is utter silence when this game is delayed...and not just delayed, but delayed with NO mention of a new release date.  What the hell is going on?

The next example involves the whole release of Legends of Pegasus.  If you thought the launch of Diablo 3 was a disaster, the LoP release will make you think that you lead quite the sheltered life.  It's upsetting enough that I paid money for this game and I actually cannot even play it even today.  But again, what irritates me the most is the fact that NO ONE has reported on it.  Sure, the Kalypso forums are filled with unhappy customers.  Same with the Steam forums.  Kalypso has even released a statement acknowledging the problems and stating they are working on resolving the issues and will be giving their customers a free gift as an olive branch.  That's all well and good.  But where are the news articles regarding this?  Why aren't gaming websites, blogs, et. al. keeping us informed?

Perhaps one of the reasons for this is because LoP just isn't that big of a release to warrant writing about.  But I have a feeling there's another reason at hand.  It just so happens that Gamescom has begun this week in Cologne.  All off the staff for, say, PC Gamer and Rock, Paper, Shotgun are busy covering that event, and trying to be the first to get the scoop on all the AAA titles that are on display there.  And THAT is something that I have a major problem with, and it bothers me even more than not knowing what's happened to the PC release of Spider-Man and not knowing when the hell LoP will be playable for me.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Chicken Shit

There is an interesting controversy that has been dominating the headlines lately.  In a nutshell, the president of the Chik-Fil-A restaurant chain does not support gay marriage and donates considerable amounts of money to organizations who lobby against such unions.  The problem that I see is that no one seems to understand the whole situation.  I'll admit that I myself didn't really understand it completely until just this morning when I decided to do the research.  So now I'm prepared to tell you exactly what's going on.  

So, with any debate, there are two sides.  You have Chik-Fil-A and its supporters, who are opposed to same-sex marriage.  Then you have the supporters of same-sex marriage.  The entire thing has become political, with conservative politicians taking pictures of themselves eating at this restaurant to show their support for their views.  These conservatives, and these supports of what Chik-Fil-A are doing, are also lambasting the opposition by saying that they are infringing upon free speech.  And sadly, in some cases they are correct in that accusation.  

Here's the thing:  If the president of Chik-Fil-A wants to say he doesn't support gay marriage, that is perfectly fine.  He can do that.  Everyone has a right to their own opinion and they are free to do whatever they want.  And that works both ways.  If I, then, want to protest Chik-Fil-A's stance by not eating at their restaurant, that is also my right.  If I want to also protest by going to Chik-Fil-A with my boyfriend and kissing him outside the front door of the restaurant, which thousands of people will be doing this very day, then that's also my right and no one can stop me from doing it.  That is why this country is so amazing.  

Calling for Chik-Fil-A's restaurants to be shut down is not okay, however.  Suppressing the organization is not okay, because they do have the right to their views.  That type of dialogue needs to stop, because it's only making things worse.  I hope the mayor of Boston, who stated he wished for such a thing to happen, realizes this and backtracks.  Equality cannot be achieved in this way, because what you're asking for in calling for the restaurant's closure is not equality in itself.  

But, there is a REASON why such radical demands have been made, and this is where the very tricky problem arises.  As I said, the president of that restaurant can believe whatever he wants.  That's his right as an American.  I really don't give two flying fucks about his opinion, because he's just a little rich man sitting atop his rich company with the means of speaking to a large group of people.  Big deal.  

But the problem, the very real and serious problem with this, is where he sends his money.  Through his company, he has donated large sums of money to an organization called the Family Research Council.  I have a very serious problem with this group.  Here is a quote from their website:

"We oppose the vigorous efforts of homosexual activists to demand that homosexuality be accepted as equivalent to heterosexuality in law, in the media, and in schools. Attempts to join two men or two women in "marriage" constitute a radical redefinition and falsification of the institution, and FRC supports state and federal constitutional amendments to prevent such redefinition by courts or legislatures."

Additionally, they also lobbied against a certain bill in Congress.  This is the point, the reason, why the above drastic statements against Chik-Fil-A were made, and the reason why they seem like such an over-reaction is because most people do not know this fact.  This bill that FRC opposed was a United States condemnation of acts being carried out in Uganda against homosexuals.  Uganda was EXECUTING gays.  The United States drafted a bill in Congress to officially condemn those acts.  And the FRC lobbied AGAINST it.

Now we have a problem.

You can oppose gays all you want.  You can disagree with their lifestyle, you can hate them, you can call them names, you can protest their existence.  That's any American's given right.

But once you try to interfere with law, once you start to take away basic human rights, once you start oppressing a human being just because of who they love, then you have over-stepped your rights.  No one, absolutely NO ONE, has the right to tell another person how to live their life.  No one has a right to say one person cannot love another because some old book written by other humans who are now dead say so.

So yes, I can see why the opposition to Chik-Fil-A are acting as they do.  But what needs to happen here is clear dialogue on WHY it's a problem.  People need to be informed of what they're supporting.  I have a feeling that a lot of those people flocking to Chik-Fil-A are doing so because all they see is what in their minds are a bunch of whiny gays complaining that someone doesn't like them, or being hypocritical by demanding equal rights but only when it's for them and not against them.  Or whatever.  The point is, I think if everyone knew WHY this was a problem, the queue at Chik-Fil-A would be a bit shorter.

Not a LOT shorter, though.  I'm not naive.  I realize that over half the people in this country would probably stab me in the face if they knew they could get away with it.  But it doesn't bother me.  I'm the better person.  

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Indirect Conclusions

I had a bit of a revelation this morning.  I was thinking about all the games that I enjoyed recently, to include Max Payne 3 and the newly released Orcs Must Die! 2.  I began to ask myself some interesting questions.  When it comes to gaming, I am above average in my experience with the hobby.  I am not talking about skill in my ability to be good at games, but rather just my experience with games themselves.  I play a lot of games.  I tend to study even more games that I won't ever play.  I frequently check new releases, I look at trends, I read news, and I do all of these things.  When it comes to how informed I am about games, how "in the loop" I am when it comes to the industry, I am probably on par with most publications and commentators.  Basically, I -know- games.

Due to this, I began to find it oddly intriguing how I tend to enjoy games that the majority of my peers do not.  Obviously, there are the universally liked games.  Skyrim, for instance.  Even TB states that Skyrim is a good game.  He doesn't agree with the reasons why other people like it, but he likes it for what he thinks it is.  It's one of the rare times the community is in agreement on something.  What I find intriguing, though, is that my taste in games is not so inclusive as my taste in other forms of entertainment.  When it comes to movies, I tend to enjoy good and bad movies alike.  I just like movies.  When it comes to music, I tend to enjoy good and bad music with some special exceptions.  (I don't like country music, nor most rap.)  I just like music.

I would like to think that I also like games.  Obviously I do, otherwise I wouldn't be so ingrained in the hobby.  So it makes me ask the question -- Why is it, then, that I don't play the most popular games in the world?  Let me make some comparisons, and I think you'll see what I'm trying to say here.

The #1 movie right this moment is The Dark Knight Rises, according to box office reports.  I have seen this movie and I loved it.  I would say that when it comes to movies, at any one time with very few exceptions, if a movie is #1 at the box office, it is a movie that I have either seen or I am interested in seeing.

The #1 song right this moment is Call Me Maybe, according to the billboard charts.  I have heard this song, and I enjoyed it.  It's not my favorite song, and I wouldn't say I love it.  But it's fine, it sounds good.  (Though, it has so permeated pop culture at the moment I am quite sick of it, to be honest.)  Regardless, I have heard it and I didn't hate it.  Generally speaking, if a song is #1 on the billboard charts, I have heard it and I probably like it, with a few exceptions.

Now, it's a bit difficult to determine the #1 game at the moment.

If I go by Steam, which is not a good indicator, then the top selling game right now is Arma II.  We all know this is because of Day Z.  Regardless, I hate Arma 2 and I hate Day Z.  If you go by players, then I would venture to say it's League of Legends.  I don't like LoL.  And if you go by the current player count on Steam, it's Dota 2.  I don't like Dota 2, either.

So why am I so different?

The simple answer is because I don't need what Day Z, LoL, and Dota 2 provide.  Well, don't need, don't want, don't like, don't give a rat's ass about is a more accurate and overly wordy explanation, I suppose.  What is it they provide, you may ask?  Why, that's simple:  The ability to prove your superiority over others.

Perhaps playing competitive horseshoes for ten years has exhausted my need to prove I'm better than anyone else, but I just can't for the life of me find enjoyment out of it any more.  Don't get me wrong, I fully respect the people who truly get a thrill out of out-duking someone, and I fully recognize the skill that it takes to do that.  I am not attempting to take anything away from players there.  I also understand it.  I am just different.  I do not care.

I think this is why I hate those communities so very much.  (Because let's face it, that's the real reason why I don't like LoL or Dota 2.  It's not the actual gameplay itself, it's the mentality that it creates within its players.)  When I used to play LoL and get frustrated with it, it wasn't because someone was playing better than I was.  I didn't care about that.  I would get frustrated because everyone else DID care.
I would get frustrated because they seem to have this misconception that their better skill at the game actually means something in the complexities of the universe.  Like they won some kind of prize.  And it would baffle me.  Are they so insecure with themselves that they must boost their self-esteem by belittling a complete stranger?  Were they bullied in school?  Did their mother not love them?  Did someone run over their kitten? 

What it comes down to for me, sadly, is that playing LoL or Dota 2 or Day Z makes you feel like the whole community is one big clique that you're not a part of, nor welcome to join.  So with me already not particularly thrilled with the games themselves, why should I even bother with them, then?  Simply put, I shouldn't.  So I don't.  I am in the minority there.

And that's okay.


Holy smokes.  The last post I wrote for this blog was on October 18, 2017.  Through the little more than  two years since, this blog has be...