It's 2013 and that means... Well, it means I'm going to keep doing what I've always done: PLAY VIDEO GAMES!
Now last year, I really cheaped out. Two of the games I listed were REPEATS, and the rest were very predictable based on 2011's picks. This year I've decided that (despite still being highly-anticipated) I can't put them in my top five AGAIN... Those games are:
* Blizzard All-Stars (formerly, "Blizzard DotA") -- Third year running on this one, so I definitely couldn't list it again. Now why am I anxious for this game? Well, I'm a huge League of Legends fan, but I hate buying boots every game. It's like... I want to work on my Attack-Speed Vi build but I can't afford a Zephyr because I still don't have tier-2 boots, dammit! All-Stars promises to simplify the formula so that players can concentrate on important things, not redundant things like buying boots. I effing HATE buying boots!
* StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm -- I'm sad to say that, I'm starting to lose my faith in Blizzard. They are becoming the company of unfulfilled promises. We STILL have yet to see features promised at launch in SCII and Diablo(w) 3. You know, they used to take a long time to release games, but they would be incredibly polished. Now they take a long time to release games, and they're STILL unfinished. Anyway. Heart of the Swarm. I'm more looking forward to the story than I am the multi-player, which is a sad reflection. But as far as quality RTS titles go, StarCraft is still the title to beat, flaws and all.
* Grand Theft Auto V -- This one goes without saying. I love GTA, but I hated "IV". Everybody did. The game was way too serious. I think Rockstar knows this. So far, all signs suggest that "V" will be a return-to-form (cue the Halleujah chorus). Now, they just need to promise us that they'll drop the whole "relationships" nonsense... If I have to update my in-game Facebook status to "Just robbed a guy. LOL!" in order to reach 100% completion, someone from Rockstar will be thrown from the top of a 16-story building.
Enough of that, let's talk about what's NEW on my radar for 2013!
Tomb Raider: The year was 1996 when Tomb Raider was released, and Lara Croft was the hottest arrangement of polygons that ever existed. I was a 6th grade boy at the time, so how could I not fall in love with Lara Croft the game? But with time, my taste in imaginary women evolved, and despite remaining a super hawt hawttie (and later portrayed by super hawt hawttie Angelina Jolie in film) my interest in Lara Croft the series wanned.
Then this game appeared. While it's an "origin story," it's not a return-to-form to the primarily puzzle-focused action platforming style of the original games, it does look much more interesting than your average First-Person stealth game, focusing a lot on using (or reacting to) your environment.
Not sure if I'll be picking this one up at launch (March 5, 2013) or if I'll wait for a sale, but Lara CroftTomb Raider is definitely on my list.
5) Antichamber - Alexander Bruce
Antichamber is an indie puzzle game (surprise!) that takes place in a barren white... place. You know what? I can't describe this game. Here you go:
It comes out today (1/31/2013) and I will be buying it instantly. Watch my YouTube Channel for da vids!
4) Pikmin 3 - Nintendo
Pikmin is a unique game, straddling RTS and puzzle adventure genres... two of my favorites. The weird thing is that I had never even heard of this game until the Wii U (maybe because I never had a GameCube?). My first experience playing Pikmin was the mini-game in NintendoLand (bundled with the Wii U), and GUESS WHAT? It's ridiculously addictive! If you've never played a Pikmin title, this video will get you caught up:
(Clive does not endorse racist comments)
Pikmin 3 will be released in Q1, 2013.
3) SimCity (5) - EA
I like SimCity games. A lot. Lara CroftSimCity 2000 (SC2k) was probably the first video game I actually LOVED. I could (and did) play it for hours on end. But then something terrible happened. EA bought Maxis, the studio that designed SimCity and SC2k. Then they started concentrating on crap like The Sims and incorporating social garbage into SimCity titles before anyone had really figured the whole "social" thing out yet. Basically, the franchise hasn't seen a truly significant upgrade since SC2k.
EA is calling SimCity "5", a "reboot" (hey, it's the hip thing now). Nevermind the fact that every single SimCity game is a reboot... and enhanced version of the original. SO SCREW YOU, EA! You know this isn't going to change anything! More attempts at "social" gaming (which will fail because it's EA), more micro-management instead of macro-management, small cities, and less "emergent" gameplay... basically all the things that die-hards will generally dislike.
Oh, except now there are curved roads. Congratulations, EA. You can now build a feature that has existenced since the dawn of civilization.
Okay, okay... I will admit that I am pleased that the game is using "exact" simulation instead of using numeric approximations like in previous titles. And also, the game looks great. I guess that's one benefit of having EA at your fingertips.
SimCity "5" holds a lot of promise, but I'm assuming they'll pander too much to "The Sims" players and try to gear the game towards scenario-based play. Hopefully Maxis will prove me wrong when the game releases on March 5th, 2013.
2) Watch_Dogs - Ubisoft ("No, YOU be soft!")
You already know I love GTA, but even I will admit that the formula is getting a little stale. So when I heard about Watch_Dogs I got pretty excited. It illustrates an important lesson in both life and high crime: Don't work harder, work smarter.
Remember the mission in GTA III where you have to kill Don Salvatore when he's leaving Luigi's club? If you didn't have a rocket launcher, you were pretty much screwed. If you did have a rocket launcher, you probably used a cheat code, you cheap bastard. I have too much honor for that, so I would pile up as many cars in the road as possible so that when Salvatore's brigade left the club, they'd get stuck in the cars. Then I'd toss a grenade, watch the chain reaction and usually get blown up in the process.
What does this have to do with Watch_Dogs? This game allows the player to hack things. So instead of stealing ten cars to cause a pile-up (and gain the cops' attention), you could, oh, I dunno... hack a street light, make it green in both directions and cause a massive pile-up... all without looking suspicious as hell.
So basically, it's a hacker-inspired GTA.
I want. But no release date yet. :( Just "2013".
1) The Witness - Jonathan Blow
Indie Puzzle Game. That's probably all that needs to be said about why I'm looking forward to it, but I'll try to elaborate.
Jonathan Blow has a weird brain. That weird brain created an amazingly weird but clever game, Braid in which you manipulate time to solve puzzles. It's one of those games that makes you feel really smart for figuring it out. The "story" was ambient and didn't punch you in the face like most games, which I appreciated. And while none of it mattered during the gameplay, the final "cutscene" was mind-blowing. Needless to say, my expectations for mind-blowing-ness are equally as high for The Witness.
The other thing that really intruiges me about this game is its striking similarities to MYST. A lonely but beautiful island with nothing but mysterious puzzles to solve. There aren't many videos worth showing, but just look at this picture and tell me you don't see MYST. !
Now, J.Blow hasn't set a release date, but he has mentioned on his blog, that his team is moving out of development mode and into production mode. That's a good sign, right? HURRY UP, GAME!!!
Hey, Kiddies. It's been a while but I'm still here, and I still post when I have something relevant to say. Well right now just might be one of those times.
Now I upload a lot of videos to YouTube. Most of those videos are video game walk-throughs or StarCraft Commentaries. One of the more frequent issues I run into is with over-zealous copyright protection claims against my videos, specifically when it comes to video game music.
I've grown accustomed to automatically disabling the music in games because if I don't, I get a bajillion take-down notices, or at the very least, notification that my video is subject to ad revenue "sharing" with the "rightful" owner. I laugh because they call it revenue "sharing," but I never see a single cent.
"But Clive," you say. "Why should you? You didn't create the music." Nope. I didn't. But neither did the game developer. How, then, did the copyrighted music end up in the game?
The game studio finds music they would like to use, then contacts the studio / record label that owns the song, who then licenses use of the work within the context of the game.
In copyright terminology, a work that contains other copyrighted works is called a "derivative work". In order for a derivative work to, itself, be copyrighted, the creator needs permission to use any individual copyrighted works that make up the derivative work. Once this permission is granted, ownership of the non-original works **within the context of the derivative work** is yielded by the original content creator to the creator of the derivative work.
What this means: If 'ABC Record Label' gives 'XYZ Game Studio' permission to use a song in a game, and a YouTube video appears featuring the part of the game with the (authorized) song, a copyright claim can _ONLY_ be made by 'XYZ Game Studio' – NOT 'ABC Record Label'
At this point in time, copyright holders have a lot of power. They don't, however, have the power to take down or glean advertising revenue from derivative works that feature content they authorized. If you get a Content ID match from anyone else but the copyright holder of the work featured in your video, you should absolutely dispute it. You got that? Don't let yourself be pushed around by copyright bullies. Know your rights. Dispute the copyright claim using the option that the material "is not eligible for copyright protection" and use this in the explanation box (change the names and titles as needed):
The sound recording in question is, in the context of this video, an element of another work, "[Game Name]" (the derivative work) owned by [Game Studio]. [Record Label] yielded its copyright claim to the work in question "[Song Name]" when used in the context of the derivative work "[Game Name]" to [Game Studio]. Thus the use of the sound recording in question is not subject to copyright claim by [Record Label].
Another powerful defense to over-zealous copyright claims is Fair Use. If you do game walkthroughs, you can use the following dispute (though it may hinder your ability to later monetize said video - research each Game Studio's stance on video uploading and become familiar with the Fair Use principles):
This video is for educational purposes only (video game play-through/guide) and has no market impact on the featured work ("[Game Name]"). Thus, the use of the work in this video is considered "Fair Use," and subsequently not subject to copyright claim.
Stay strong, video-makers, and fight the power-hungry copyright bullies!
This year's list is a complete and utter cop-out and I'm sorry. I'll explain why I say that at the end, but for now let's get to the games!
5) Prison Architect - Introversion Software
Either Introversion is a completely amazing Indie game studio, or I'm just a shameless IV fanboy. I'm starting to think the latter. After last year's #3 pick, Subversion, got placed on hold, I was pretty upset. I know, delays happen _all the time_ with Indie studios, but I've been drooling over whatever little scraps of the game I could get my hands on for about 6 years. So maybe I'm just heartbroken and looking for something to fill the void, and maybe Prison Architect is just another pretty face, but boy am I intrigued!
Few facts are known about Prison Architect, but how can I resist something that looks like an evil SimCity? I SIMply can't. Bahahahaha.
Prison Architect has no specific release date other than "2012," per IV's website.
4) Warp - Trapdoor Inc.
Warp is a puzzle-based stealth action game centered on a little alien named Zero, who has been trapped by scientists in a labyrinthine facility. Luckily, Zero has a number of abilities he can use to escape, such as "Echo" (which creates a false illusion of himself used to trick facility guards), and "Swap" (where Zero can literally swap places with a similarly-sized object).
If you know me even a little, you know that I like games that make you think. No mindless first-person-shooters for me, thanks! I'd much rather replace your innards with a barrel of noxious chemicals (ka-boom) or manipulate the inbred facility guards into doing something moronic for my own benefit. Combine this with a comical yet edgy style and you have a recipe for an excellent puzzle-action game!
Warp is set to hit XBLA on Feb 14th, 2012, and PSN & PC March 13th, 2012.
3) Grand Theft Auto: V - Rockstar Games
This should be no surprise. Instead of going on about about how much I want to play a new GTA title, I'm just going tell you what GTA:V needs to out-perform it's lack-luster predecessor and become an ultimate smash-hit.
If precedent is any indication, GTA:V will be released in October 2012 (the month every console-bound GTA game has been released).
2.b) Blizzard DOTA - Blizzard
You might be saying "2.b," WTF is that crap? Well, one, since it's technically a StarCraft II custom map, it *probably* shouldn't have its own slot. I struggled with that last year. Two, since I already mentioned it last year, it doesn't really deserve to cannibalize an entire slot, especially from the game that actually belongs here, but more on that in a bit.
So. Is it really any surprise that Blizzard has yet to release this map/game? I mean, they first teased it "only" about 18 months ago as a simple pet-project... a mere custom map to play via StarCraft II. Yet, like with all of Blizzard's projects, they go utterly berserk on the polish, which sets games back further than any reasonable speculation would suggest. Blizzard DOTA is no exception. In fact, some are now guessing that it will be released as a stand-alone title, if not initially, then "shortly" after release (with GENEROUS use of the sarcastic quotation marks).
The only real thing that has changed since last year is that I've become a much bigger "DOTA"-style fan. I've been playing League of Legends, and it is indeed Legendary, though not without flaws. As Blizzard is apt to do to well-established genres, I'm anticipating a much-improved gameplay experience that marginalizes the idiotic tasks (last-hits, mandatory boots, completely IMBA new heroes every month, etc) and let the game focus more on strategy.
Blizzard DOTA will be available presumably via StarCraft II's custom game library... "SOONISH." Translation, you'll probably see it listed here again next year.
2.a) StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm - Blizzard
This is the REAL entry for the #2 spot. Without it, Blizzard DOTA would not have been possible.
Picking up where we left off (SPOILERS), we now follow the story of Kerrigan's re-acclimation to her human form. Has she been purged of her anger, spite, and blood-lust?
It doesn't look like it.
As far as multiplayer goes, I'm looking forward to nerfed Zerg, and TvT matches that don't put me to sleep.
Heart of the Swarm will be released... this year. I think.
And now, my most-anticipated game of 2012.............!
1) FEZ - Polytron Corporation
FEZ is a 2D/3D puzzle-platformer by indie developer Polytron. It follows a character by the name of "Gomez," who is tasked with restoring the disintegrating universe by collecting cubes hidden throughout his world. He does so through the use of a magical fez, which allows him to break the bounds of his 2D existence and travel in three dimensions. The catch, however, is that Gomez is always constrained to two dimensions at a time, resulting in some mind-bending effects (see the video below).
FEZ has an amazing mock-8-bit artistic and musical style, but the pixelated universe is surprisingly detailed and craftfully designed, full of vibrant colors, and lively, animated critters. The beautiful soundtrack changes dynamically as you collect cubes and progress to new worlds in the game, creating the perfect, inviting, peaceful but mysterious environment.
Yes, FEZ was here last year, but the more I've followed it, the more drawn in I've become. Gomez's world has such an amazing ambiance. Lonely. But peaceful. It invites you to explore every nook and cranny. It's exactly the type of game I could spend hours simply watching.
So that's it for the list... Back to why I'm disappointed in myself: It seems that I have a well-set pattern for my games of choice:
Last Year -----> This Year Introversion game (Subversion) -----> Introversion Game (Prison Architect) Rockstar Game (L.A. Noire) -----> Rockstar Game (GTA:V) Puzzle game set in sterile laboratory (Portal 2) -----> Puzzle game set in sterile laboratory (Warp) Blizzard DOTA -----> Blizzard DOTA (yeah, and Heart of the Swarm) FEZ -----> FEZ
So I do seem to have my preferences... that's not necessarily a bad thing, but I do want to make an effort to expand my gaming horizons a bit. I highly doubt, however, that 2013 will have any direct "replacements" for my 2012 picks. But, I'll worry about that when 2013 rolls around. Until then, I'm going to enjoy what 2012 has to offer!
GTA is on a cold streak, IMO. San Andreas was filled with bloat... working out, hair-dos, tattoos, gang territory, and don't even get me started on the jet-pack. Senseless gimmickry and filler.
And I'm gonna say it... I was pretty disappointed in GTA IV. Niko was a snore. The "acting" was forced. The story was incredibly disjointed. The "villains" were not well established (with the exception of Demitri). Overall, it was just too big for its own good. The flow from one mission to the next, and one employer to the next was virtually nonexistent. The attempt at building relationships through social activities was unnecessary clutter and, frankly, a waste of time. I HATED that other people would freaking CALL ME in the middle of a mission and ask to go to the freaking strip club. I'M IN A SHOOT-OUT! NO, I DON'T WANT TO GO TO THE STRIP CLUB!!! And then my relationship status with the guy goes down... WTF is that?? So now I can't buy armor and guns from you because I won't waste time playing some terrible rendition of "bowling" with you?? That's moronic.
I haven't played through "Lost and the Damned" or "Gay Tony" yet because I told myself I had to get through "IV" again before I did. Clearly that hasn't happened. I've heard they're dramatically improved, a lot more focused on a well-developed story and (at least with "Gay Tony") bring back a little humor to the franchise.
That was another thing I didn't like about "IV." It was waaaaaaaaay too dark. The games have a dark premise to begin with: pursuing a life of crime in order to rise to power and exact revenge on a certain someone. The nice thing about "III," "Vice City," and "San Andreas" is that they had excellent use of humor/satire to balance the darkness of the game's premise. "IV" just had darkness piled on top of darkness. It almost became depressing to play.
So now with GTA:V's recent announcement, I've started to grow skeptical of the franchise. Maybe it was the combination of GTA:IV's visual style or the return to San Andreas, but I was filled with dread over this new game.
So as usual, I, having never designed a game in my life, have a recipe for GTA:V's sure-fire success.
1) Rework "relationships". I like the concept of being rewarded for close friendships, but that should be scored within the context of missions done with that person. If you perform well in a mission alongside a "friend", he/she gives you more street cred. The more street cred you have, the better the service that friend provides. Also, "friends" will never, _EVER_ call you. The player should just assume that the main character maintains the relationship in off-mission time. GTA is not The Sims. You shouldn't have to tell the main character to sleep, eat, pee, and water the Geraniums in order to win the game.
2) Make filler fun. Every GTA game since "III" has had *some* sort of filler. Whether it's the fire truck missions, working out or playing pool, there are certain things that feel like they belong in a GTA game and things that do not. If you were an unsavory character, what would you do in your free time? You'd probably make side money doing unsavory stuff, right? I liked the idea of street-racing, but I would add things like, maybe a fight club, an under-ground gambling ring, maybe you could hire out your services, maybe you could just randomly rob people... I really enjoy some of the wonky, unrelated hit-man missions... Marty Chonks from the Bitchin' Dog Food Factory (in "III") comes to mind.
3) Real Estate. One of the most fulfilling parts of GTA: Vice City was acquiring property and making it profitable through unscrupulous acts. It really helped the feeling of "owning the town" by the end of the game. It was a direct theme in Vice City, but it doesn't have to be as obvious in "V." Extra money could make it easier to acquire rare weapons and vehicles that would otherwise be difficult to attain. This would imply that you could BUY cars... yeah, I know, it kind of flies in the face of the entire "Grand Theft Auto" premise, but as we've grown to learn about GTA, it's a game of choices... Not everything you do has to be a criminal act.
4) More humor. GTA IV was too dark. The game/story should not take itself too seriously. Enough said.
5) Over-arching nemeses. This has been something that has bothered me about the last few GTAs. You don't really know who the "big boss" is until the last couple missions. In "III" (here we go again) you knew right away that Catalina betrayed you. Throughout the entire game, it seems, you're just a couple steps behind her until finally you catch up. I'd love to see something similar, maybe with a law-enforcement figure who is trying to put you away. Not just an officer, like Tenpenny, but a crooked chief of police or someone you could feel good about exposing or... well... dispatching by the end of the game.
My unofficial #6 is simultaneous PC release. Not really a game-play thing, but I'd prefer not to wait and additional 6 months to play this game.
I've decided to start a series of fitness blogs. These are mostly for me, to keep myself accountable, but instead of just aimlessly typing, I figured I'd at least try to give it some sort of greater purpose.
The "Less of a Fatty" series (which I've decided to call these) is aimed at being a source of information and encouragement for those looking to start getting involved in personal fitness. Similarly to the original "How I Became Less of a Fatty" post last fall, these will have more of a "personal journal" style, from the point of view of a fitness novice... me. Unfortunately, I realize that the deeper I get into my own personal fitness journey, the less I will be able to use my first-hand accounts to represent other novices. Nevertheless, I will always strive to keep these posts aimed at beginners / the fitness-curious.
And of course, the contents of any blog, including this one, represent the opinions of the author, and should not necessarily be taken as "actual advice" or worse, "fact." As they say, your mileage may vary.
--For those new to "Less of a Fatty..."--
...a little background first. (Don't worry, not every post will begin with a sob story. ;) )
In my younger years, I had always been a little bit on the heavier side, but it wasn't until college and the freshman "15" - hah - that my weight slowly started to steamroll... pun completely intended. I knew I had gained weight, but I didn't make the realization of how large I was until several years later. I was taken aback by a photo from my then-recent honeymoon: Chipmunk cheeks, double-chin, sunken, tired eyes... I was fat.
Weighing 240 pounds, I had a BMI of nearly 32, which is "obese." Like I mentioned in "Part 0," the medical matter-of-fact-ness of the word "obese" slices a little deeper than simply calling myself fat. Though I'm no longer "obese," I'm admittedly still a little jaded about that aspect of my past, so in the style of my typical defense mechanism, almighty sarcasm, I have an unbreakable habit of putting that word in quotes as part of my (feeble) attempts to make it less official. But it was.
I knew I wanted to change something, but I didn't really know what. I was far from the fitness-type, so exercise was not at the top of my list. Instead, I began to make small, incremental changes to my diet, like substituting diet soda and paying extra attention to my portion sizes. Progress was slow, but it was progress. Over time, I started to incorporate mild exercise (in the form of the accursed Wii Fit), which grew into moderate, more frequent exercise, which grew into, well, doing Insanity.
Looking back, I am now firmly convinced that this slow methodical approach is what made all the difference, contrary to my trial-by-fire recommendations in Part 0. So many beginners set goals like, "I'm going to lose X pounds in Y weeks." While we are understandably impatient to lose the weight, we are ultimately setting ourselves up for failure. The problem with diets and intermittent exercise is that they aren't permanent. You can't change your body with temporary behavior. Your physiology is simply more resilient than you and while you might have the upper hand for the duration of the diet, your physiology will win the moment you stop. The only way to overcome your body is to make healthier choices "business as usual."
Even if one realizes this, there is still the impulse to change everything at once: "I'm going to start getting up at 5:00am to exercise, I'm going to eat 5 small meals a day, take the stairs, drink protein shakes, count calories..." etc. For most people, that is waaay too much to undertake at once. They eventually get overloaded, frustrated, and they quit. Instead, I recommend starting with a single small change and incorporating it into your "business as usual." Once that change is internalized, take on something else. Patience is a very good thing to have when losing weight!
In retrospect, doing Insanity was far from a seat-of-my-pants decision, as much as I may have made it sound like one in Part 0. I had already undertaken changes in my diet and had been "running" on the treadmill fairly regularly. Though it was a huge change in my _exercise_ regimen, it was one that I had built up to and was ready for. I absolutely would not have had as much success with Insanity had I tried it at my heaviest, 240 pounds, having never exercised before in my life.
So (in my very unprofessional opinion) the two most important things are - 1 - to set small, tangible goals, and - 2 - to be patient.
And of course, since I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, - 3 - take everything I say with a grain of salt! What worked for me might not work for you!
The next entry is going to follow this one very shortly, so if you haven't read Part 0 yet, you may want to do that now so you're up to speed. For the rest of you, stay tuned for Part 2!
P.S.: All new "Less of a Fatty" blog entries have waddled over to the F1t N3rd.