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Great question. If I only had one video I could play it would be this.

Oh crap sorry! Extra Credits! Along with Heathcliff, I dedicate this story to the following people, in no particular order:

Ada Lovelace

Kurt Vonnegut

Bill Gates

Steve Jobs

Grace Hopper

Ray Kurzweil

Gabe Newell

Barack Obama

Michelle Obama

The Fam

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Games: Nobunaga's Ambition

Day 1 

So I run down to the mailbox to check for my new game fly rental. Bill, Bill, credit card...Bill, jury duty notice, Aha... here's the shit. I had put Persona 4 at the top of the list with about ten other selections below and in low availability, so I'm about to get my RPG on after I un-wrap this.... Oh... Nobunaga's Ambition: Rise to Power. For the PS2. Ok... It feels like I just got socks on Christmas morning, but it all good.

No really its cool, I put this on my game cue at some time or another. Which means that me of the past had wanted to play it. Actually, I always noticed this title on the shelf and wondered why it felt so exclusionary. Only the most Japanese among my group of gamers played it and even they walked away a bit shell shocked. When I would ask about it they simply mumbled something about watching my farm production and shuffled off. Hey, I played most of the Harvest moon series. So on the subject of farming, I feel "you can't tell me Nuuuthhinn!" Thank you.

But It can't be all that bad. I mean, they are in game 100,000,000 of the series. I hear you can dispatch spies, and murder Ronin. And I do hate me some bum ass, lazy ass, Ronin. So I guess I can crank up my trusty old PS Deuce and give this period piece a good bleeding. Ugh. I just read that last sentence.

So I will play it. But not today. I'm still working my way through Nordic Fallout, and we just got Gears 3. Gonna hit up a little fortress tonight as a chaser, just to keep the skills sharp. And then there is, you know, Work. But yeah, its on the list. I promise I will not send this game back until I have given it its fair shake. Definitely. Tomorrow. 

Day 10 

Oh, Nobunaga's Ambition. Hey. Little guy. You still here? Ok, lets go ahead and see what all of the fuss is about. Cool, so I pop it in and, what's this? A twenty section tutorial... Wow. That's not that scary. Just saving money on paper.

I'm introduced to Nobunaga, a Lazy rich kid who is visited by the ghost of his dead father. His father teaches him how to run his Daimyo, I imagine to be the equivalent of a European's piece of land in Feudal times .And after about a Dickens book worth of text, its time for Ghost dad to take his kid around and show him the ropes.

Here is how you farm. Here is how you allocate resources for the acquisition of new lands while focusing on an agriculture based economy. Here is how you deliver plans to your lieutenants and place them in the best position to create positive revenue streams based on their strengths. Here is how you wage war on your neighbors for no other reason but they are there. Here is how you control the proletariat with an iron fist. You know. The basics. Great. So part one through three of the tutorial is knocked out. Can't wait for section four. And it only took... two hours. I'll get to the rest tomorrow.

Day 20 

Oh, my fucking god. It just sits there on the table, staring. "I thought you liked RPG's fam? I thought you enjoyed story driven titles? What's wrong? is Nobunga a little heavy for you? Perhaps Barbie's Equestrian Adventure is a more skill appropriate title for a casual player like yourself." Fuck you, Nobunaga's Ambition. I never really loved you. You were just there, clogging up my game fly cue then stinking up my coffee table. Knowing I can't send you back until I have at least gotten out of your damn tutorial. For honors sake. I have 17 MORE of those left! I can't do this. This is just to much. What are you, Nobunaga's Ambition? Are you a RTS? RPG? Adventure? Political Drama? Excel spreadsheet? Passions? What? Tell me! Damn you. Look at my hands. I'm sweating. Damn, I'm seein' Demons! this game is work.

Day 30 

Last... Tutorial... Something about the proper use of archers during sieges using the L2 shortcut, and something else about paying tribute to connecting fiefs... almost... done... The tutorial is done. Now I am sending this fucking pox on my house back to the hell from which it spawned. Game fly. You taught me a valuable lesson about myself by sending me this...Game. You taught me my limits. Nobunaga. You defeated me today...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Issue: Games: Lost Power

Here is the thing. If I am stricken with amnesia and at every juncture solving puzzles involving conveniently placed fuze's and circuit boards, I am going to just assume that my past involved this kind of work. This would also be the case if I was running from splicers in an underground post Utopian hell, but still had time to direct water across a board or whatever the fuck you were doing to open doors in Bioshock.

I am not an electrician. I want everyone (especially game developers) to know this. I want to scream it from the rooftops. Taking voltage from one side of an electrical panel and distributing it evenly through a circuit is about as fun to me as having my pubic hairs removed by tweezers. Just so you know.  Games like Bioshock and Lost: Via Domus, seem to not have gotten the memo that I, in fact, have no Thomas Alva Edison swag. 

In the case of Lost especially, this puzzle element drastically hinders the flow of the game. situations that call for immediate action, tense situations where you don't know what is coming next, are derailed at their apex by these antiquated, filler, Myst-esqe,puzzles that would make even Steven Hawking type under his breath "For fuck sake..."

Uh oh, the plane I think I may have been on just violently crashed and is leaking fuel. Something needs to be done! I better run around and collect fuzes, cause when I complete a circuit on this electrical panel that gas is getting shut the fuck off!

Damn homie, I lost my camera and laptop, because I am a Photojournalist, that does electricity work as a side gig, apparently, and they are stowed in an electrically locked overhead compartment of the airplane that was ripped in half, but it can regain full power if I just put a fuze... there! Got it!

Aww shit, I'm in the hydra station and I am about to escape my captors. They are on the other side of this door, but how do I get to them? Fuck, man, I wish there was a... Oh there it is! A goddamn electrical box! Good thing all these random fuzes I have been picking up from the jungle floor and they left on my person after the strip search are compatible with every circuit box on the island! Can' no gwan preezon owld I! 

The whole, "putting puzzles in adventure games to lengthen play time," thing, needs to go to hell if the puzzles themselves cannot even be properly put into context within the world of the game. I don't remember Locke ever having to collect fuzes to escape a hatch lock down. 

The whole situation reeks of either laziness or a misplaced pretension on the developers part that fans wouldn't look past the "Razzle Dazzle" of having thier favorite characters from the show staring back at them through an uncanny valley.

They were at best pandering to the Idea of viewers of Lost being "smarter" than the average television viewer, and in doing so created what they thought would "challenge" us, or assumed that this smarter viewer was too busy reading Faust in braille while completing black belt level Sudoku puzzles blindfolded with their penises to play little "pew-pew games," and integrating plausibly challenging puzzles germane to the source material was not necessary to rake in the moo-la. 

And that ending... Ehh. It wasn't bad. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Issue: Games: Beyond Good & Evil

Beyond Good & Evil is an action-adventure video game written by Michel Ancel and developed by Ubisoft Montpellier, Ubisoft Milan, and Ubisoft Shanghai for GameCube, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, and Xbox platforms.

The story follows a reporter named Jade as she works with a resistance movement to reveal a planet wide alien conspiracy. The mechanics of the game have players using Jades martial arts skills for combat, her critical thinking for solving puzzles, and photography to gather evidence of the conspiracy.

Sides taken in the hundred year war for video games (which in gaming terms amounts to forum posts in all caps) has always been based on the question, "What is the most important ingredient to a game, story, or gameplay?"

And while players in camp gameplay have plenty of ammunition to use, we of camp story have few titles we may point toward that no one that has played the game could deny the story as it's driving force. It is a small but powerful pantheon, and different for everyone.

My list consists of The Secret of Monkey Island, Kings Quest, Chrono Trigger, Persona 3, Psychonauts, and Beyond Good & Evil. But like I said, everyone's is different.

Lyly and I play Skyrim differently. She owns a house and is married to a guy from the mage guild, who she says she married for the income he brings in from his magic shop. But she travels with him now instead of her former bff Lydia, not fast travels mind you, just ambles about from place to place the long way. I don't know about that guy.

I don't own a house or horse, and believe magic use is for milk drinkers. I also collect every book I find and read them in the Companions guild hall every night before I save and log. She thinks it's a boring waste of time, but I have been waiting my whole gaming career for the opportunity to waste time in that manner. Can't be shoving swords up dragons butts all day. You would run out of dragons or swords.

A few of the books I read could be whole games separate from the pages they live in. Who ever wrote them are great writers, and they read like they were written by people from camp story. I wonder if they own them, the stories I mean. Could they take what they wrote and do something with it, or do the owners of Skyrim own their words?

I hear rumbling from story guys in the industry that unless your last name is Meier or Levine you don't have a right to shit, which doesn't seem fair. Games create these massive sandbox worlds with potential for exponential growth. It would only help everyone to populate those worlds with as many different people, places, and things as possible.

Why would a writer give their baby up for adoption just because the state has a rule that gives it a right to the life of any baby born on its land? Back in the day the programmer was the writer, so it was easier. But things are different now.

Beyond Good & Evil 2 is coming out soon. I wonder where it will take us?

The Protoculture Mixtape v.7 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Issue: People: Big Momma's Soul food

Tyler Perry is an American actor, director, playwright, entrepreneur, screenwriter, producer, author, licensed driver, business owner, amateur magician, friend of Oprah, and songwriter. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana as Emmitt Perry Jr. He has three siblings, a father and a mother.

Tyler Perry didn't like his dad much because his dad beat him. But he loved his mom, and she would take him to church every week. So he ended up liking church because his dad wasn't there. When he was sixteen he had his name legally changed to Tyler so people wouldn't confuse him with his dad.

When Tyler Perry grew up he moved to Atlanta and decided to make plays and movies for black people using situations he saw while hanging around black people, and themes he learned from church. His plays and films include christian themes of forgiveness, dignity and self worth, and address issues such as child abuse and dysfunctional families.

Tyler Perry used his life savings to finance his first play, "I know I've been changed." It debuted at a local community theater, and was a failure in finance and public reception. So Perry took it back to the lab and spent the next six years tweaking and re-releasing it on the chitlin' circuit, with people hating it less and less each time.

On the chitlin' circuit he gained a following among black people who related to the stuff he wrote about. But as his work became more popular the criticism grew, the main focus being the perception that his work perpetuates negative racial stereotypes.

The most vocal detractors to Perry's work have been other black people. During an interview Spike Lee said, "Each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors but I still think there is a lot of stuff out today that is 'coonery' and buffoonery. I know it's making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better … I see these two ads for these two shows [Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns and House of Payne] and I am scratching my head … We got a black president and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep 'n' Eat?"

Jamilah Lemieux made similar remarks on National Public Radio. While thanking Perry for employing blacks in front of and behind the camera and for making work with humor and "positive messages about self-worth, love and respect", she criticized him for making television shows "marked by old stereotypes of buffoonish, emasculated black men and crass, sassy black women."

Cultural critic TourĂ© said in an interview that "Tyler Perry is perhaps the worst filmmaker in Hollywood" and was quoted as saying earlier that Perry is the "KFC of black cinema".

Listen, Tyler Perry is a bad director. I have watched his movies and am not a fan, except for Soul Food, c'mon, it was his "The Sixth Sense." (Crap, that wasn't him... Uh oh..) I do not like them for pacing, structure, dialogue and him being all up in the shots reasons, and would not if he made films for any race or subject.

But my mom does, she relates to the people, the places and the themes. Whenever I go home she sits the whole family down and we watch one of his 30 hour plays. And when non black people attack his work I suggest they accept that they may not know enough about black people to properly judge Tyler Perrys work.

But now I realize that statement implies I understand black culture enough to judge his work, and I probably don't. I am just a black dude with a 9-5 trying to figure everything out. The black men and women I surround myself with are also boring, educated, and semi functional. He makes movies for black people in the situations he saw while growing up, and the black people that lived those situations like them. 

I do not like his portrayal of the black experience, but accept that other black people do, and perhaps the reason all of us enlightened black people are so offended is because we know there are still real life black people out there "cooning" in the manner we see in his films. And we upwardly mobile Negroes are embarrassed of that version of us, we want to hide them. 

Eh, to each their own. And what the fuck is wrong with fried chicken?
The Protoculture Mixtape v.6

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