The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Archive for August, 2009


Posted by Matt on August 30, 2009

Now I’m going to have to rewrite a story for tomorrow because either of the former Premier of Manitoba is the luckiest bitch alive or was withholding information from us all a day ago.

My dad pointed out a review for this movie the other day, saying he wanted to take my mom to see it. This has confused me to no end.

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Game Ideas #2

Posted by Matt on August 29, 2009

(Note: I originally wrote this in April. I’m reposting this so I can continue on with my game ideas posts without confusing the lot of ya’. Also because I like them.)

And just to show that I’m not totally lacking in original ideas, I will pitch an idea not based on a long-established game franchise…

Idea: Heart of Darkness: The Videogame

Now, I only said it wouldn’t based on a videogame franchise, not that it would be completely original.

I bet you’re wondering why I decided to go with the original Conrad novel rather than just make a game based on Apocalypse Now. It’s quite simple, really: there’s slightly less baggage in adapting the classic novel rather than the classic movie, and, much as Apocalypse Now changed the setting of the story, so too would I be able to change the setting in the game. In short, it frees up the game for ideas.

How would one translate this story into a game? The plot does give you one big concept to develop around: you’re tasked with finding Kurtz, somewhere in the massive jungle and river environment. The whole game, then, would be about you travelling around a well-developed world, filled with unique places and NPCs, trying to find information about where to find Kurtz. That is the primary thrust of the game, and it provides you plenty of opportunity to include some great game concepts around it.

The game world, for example, can be made into something really cool. Like I said, it’s large and populated by lots of unique characters. And stuff would always be going on, either on a random (more realistic) basis or on a scheduled (probably more fair) basis. For example, say you know of a guy upriver who has important information, and you want to track him down. However, the guy is also a rebel leader, and could be assassinated at any moment. Stuff like that. Suddenly, a new sense of urgency, and a far more organic world. Of course, you don’t need to find every single person with information to complete the game…in fact, if you are so inclined, you could probably just travel around for hours and you’d eventually stumble upon Kurtz’s whereabouts. Of course, then you’d have no idea what to do.

Just like in the book and movie, you’re not alone. Over the course of the game, some of the people you meet can be convinced to join your little boat crew, some for higher prices than others. There would a limit to the number of people you can take with you on your dinky little boat; it’s not a goddamn clown car. So this means you have to really think about which guys you will recruit. Each one has their own unique set of skills that may come in handy: some are better marksmen, some are better navigators (which will help you during some of the rougher moments on the river), some will help you better communicate with the locals, some provide you a stash of useful items…the list goes on. It’s all up to you to prioritize things on your boat. Of course, considering this is a Heart of Darkness game, you’re likely going to have plenty of…drop-outs…to make room for other guys if you need it.

It’s essentially a text-adventure/simulation hybrid with elements of survival horror (you never know when you’ll be attacked by rebel fighters or wild animals) and sandbox games. The final part of the game, when you finally track down demi-god Kurtz, will add one last bit of intrigue. What DO you do? Do you fulfill your orders and eliminate him? Do you leave him alive and go off? It’s up to you. Or maybe not. Who is to say that some of your crew members don’t have their own agendas in the situation?

The other good thing about this game? It doesn’t necessarily have to be based on Heart of Darkness, and is pretty free when it comes to settings. Of course, you could say that about my Mario game idea too, but I just like the idea of Mario teaming up with a robot.

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Game Ideas #1

Posted by Matt on August 29, 2009

(Note: I originally wrote this in April. I’m reposting this so I can continue on with my game ideas posts without confusing the lot of ya’. Also because I like them.)

I’ve been thinking a bit about directions established game franchises can go to stay good. The problem with most gamers is that they are creatively retarded, and just want the same thing over and over again (while still whining that the games are rehashes). Me, though, I’m allllll right.

So now I’m going to talk about some game concepts I came up with. Why not? I’m sure I’ve done it before.

And what better way to start talking about videogame franchise ideas than with the videogame franchise?

Idea: Super Mario Metropolis

Now, it seems like a bit of a downgrade to take Mario from space back down to earth, and then restrict him to a certain environment, like a city. But wait! There’s more to it!

The story would be the basic one: Mario & Peach travel to the biggest city around, Peach is captured by Bowser, Mario must save her because that’s what he does. However, he’s got bigger problems: not only is the Princess locked a high rise tower that he can’t seem to get into, but he’s also constantly being chased around by police robots working with Bowser. Still not that much of a departure? Here’s the big catch: Mario himself teams up with a robot to save the day once again.

One of things I’ve noticed with most Wii games is that they usually only subscribe to one of the ideas that are possible for the system. That is usually the aiming or shaking concepts. There’s a lot more possible with this thing, and I hope to combine some of the old and unused ideas in here. See, players control both Mario and the robot, the former with the nunchuck, and the latter with the remote. Mario would get his usual abilities, which can easily be assigned to the nunchuck buttons. The robot would be a bit more complicated.

I haven’t completely figured out the specifics of the robot’s control scheme. Should he move with the d-pad, or by pointing? The pointing would seem to be necessary for some of the robot’s unique skills (long range weapons, for example, similar to the star bit shooting in Galaxy). Does the robot need to move at all? In any case, the general idea would be that you would control both characters simultaneously using each half of the controller package. Co-op play could be an option, too. This seems like a pretty basic idea, so I wonder why so few have used it before?

The game would be equal parts Mario, Pikmin, and The Lost Vikings. You will need to utilize Mario and the robot to solve the games puzzles. This will make some objectives easier (how much more relaxing would the average “take this thing from here to over here” challenge be with back-up?) and some more difficult, as you try to get down the timing and placement of both characters down pat. There might be a few sections where the two are separated, and you only have to pay attention to one of them at a time. There’s plenty of possibilities.

The basic “find the MacGuffins” gameplay would remain, but with a twist: instead of collecting 120 magic objects, you collect various machine parts, much like Pikmin. By collecting the appropriate combination of parts, Mario can use them to upgrade his robot buddy, granting him even more new abilities. The robot could transform into vehicles, and essentially work like a combination of the FLUDD from Mario Sunshine and the various power-ups from every other Mario game. Many of them would also be able to utilize various remote functions to add some variety.

Not only do these new abilities give you access to more challenges and thus more parts, they can also be used to bypass the security and traps and get further and further into Bowser’s skyscraper fortress. This is similar to the structure I had for my Zelda game idea, which I’m pretty sure I mentioned before, but should probably go into further detail about another time. It’s a different kind of game structure, one that progresses in a way that you feel a lot more part of it.

Of course, all this talk and I don’t address one major problem: level variety. One thing people didn’t like about Sunshine was that the island setting limited the different environments in the game, while on the other hand Galaxy was nearly limitless. The same problem could come up in Metropolis, but there are ways around it. A big city has lots of places to go that could provide suitable Mario worlds to explore: the park, the mall, the sewers, amusement parks, docks, factories, clock towers…and let’s not forget the big city itself. Each of these could also be expanded to include the archetypes (ice, lava, etc.), but maybe we don’t need them again. Just a thought.

There’s still some unanswered questions in this pitch, but even so, I think the basic groundwork for something good. Really, though, I just like the idea of Mario working with a robot.

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Posted by Matt on August 28, 2009

Fun thing that happened to me once:

When I was in grade school, I noticed that several kids were going inside earlier than everyone else. Considering that this was against the rules, I was curious to see why. So, a few times, I followed them in, as inconspicuous as possible. They all sat in the library with the principal. Sometimes there would be a TV. The principal would talk to them about things. It was all vague enough for me at the time that I really didn’t understand what was being discussed or why.

It wasn’t until recently that I figured it out. Those were Bible classes. Maybe the presence of Veggie Tales should have tipped me off sooner.

On a similar note, the school division is going through some sort of thing right now where they have to distribute flyers informing children about other religions so the local Gideon group can also be allowed to pass out Bibles to those that want it. Okay fair enough. I still kinda think it would be better if they did not print a pamphlet and just told those proselytizers to fuck off from public schools. But this is the next best thing!

On a completely unrelated note, I think recording my dreams was a good idea. Now all I have to do is figure out a way to chain them all together into one story or series of story. Now there’s a challenge!

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There is no need for me to rename the link

Posted by Matt on August 27, 2009

For reference:

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Bullshit of no interest Vol. 73

Posted by Matt on August 27, 2009

Some bizarre new thing announced at Gen Con.

I guess it’s a sort of cool way to sync up online card gaming with offline collecting and all that shit and it means you don’t need to take your deck of expensive cardboard just in case someone wants a round. But seriously, while dumb cartoons can get away with people playing their silly games by carrying around Ghostbusters shit, it certainly doesn’t work in the real world. Could you imagine someone wandering around with that hunk of technology? At best, you’d be mistaken for some sort of future terrorist, only to be revealed on closer inspection to be just an idiot.

But, yay for new ideas, I guess.

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The dead speak to me

Posted by Matt on August 27, 2009

Funny, this seems entirely appropriate for what I imagine is the majority audience for Play. By the way, Play fucking sucks.

Oh yeah, and nerd justification for said thing based on argument of ‘but but but they based it on something artistic!’ in the comments (or at least one comment). Hilarious how often that one pops up!

And because I’ve already gone on a spree of posts with no substance, here’s 20 quotes I quite enjoy from various sources in no particular order.

“I’m the insect who dreamt he was a man and loved it. But now the dream is over and the insect is awake.” – The Fly (1986 version)

“Second comes right after first!” – Buzz Aldrin on The Simpsons (“Deep Space Homer”)

“Were people this dumb before television?” – Don Delillo’s White Noise

“They never die/They just go to sleep one day” – David Bowie’s ‘Sons of the Silent Age’

“The main thing that I learned about conspiracy theory is that conspiracy theorists actually believe in a conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is chaotic. The truth is, that it is not the Jewish banking conspiracy or the grey aliens or the 12 foot reptiloids from another dimension that are in control. The truth is more frightening, nobody is in control. The world is rudderless.” – Alan Moore

“Solutions are not the answer” – Tricky Dick

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junior jumble

Posted by Matt on August 25, 2009

Ween’s The Mollusk is one of the greatest albums of all time. It takes the weird, style-parodying antics of the bands previous (and proceeding) albums, distills it into the best possible mix without any real clunkers, and comes together to form something that is infinitely re listenable.
If you hate one of these songs, I hate you.

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Posted by Matt on August 23, 2009

I love these stat tracking things. I know where you dozen or so readers live!

Otherwise, I do not have anything to tell you. Begone!

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Chaos Magickal Things

Posted by Matt on August 20, 2009

After being slightly involved in another discussion of 80s culture/nostalgia, I have come to a realization. I really don’t know if I should continue to be just annoyed by rampant 80s nostalgia, or whether I should be frightened by it. I mean, there was a reason that decade produced V for Vendetta, Robocop, and They Live. It also reminds me of the most menacing aspects of Seaguy (I hope the collection of the second series comes out soon, BTW).

Onto lighter things, after a packed summer of movie tie-ins (more than I’ve ever seen in one season), 7-11’s newest slurpee accessory is something a little out of left field. The Magic Straw (wish I had pictures, but I don’t) is a fucking wonderful contraption that confuses and bedazzles all. Watch in amazement as you drink from one straw even as it is clearly not the same straw that is in the slurpee itself! Gaze in befuddlement as you slowly (or, if you are not a subhuman, quickly) figure out that obviously there is another straw hidden within the shitty little figure holding the two other straws! And finally, be marveled at the real magic of the straw as it makes your hard-earned money disappear!

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