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Showing posts from March, 2015

Chobits: An Unexpected Sci-Fi Treasure

When I was in junior high, I finally picked up an Amiga to replace my aging Commodore 64.  As I packed it into its original box and tucked it into the top of my closet, never to be fired up again, I found that there was a great deal of sighing.  So many good times, I think I had grown to love it.  But is it wrong to love a computer?

Sometimes, the ladies can not help but feel a bit threatened of the attention men lavish on computers, but when the brilliant four woman team of CLAMP approached this problem, what they delivered was Chobits.  This is the most thought provoking anime I have seen in years, the end of which was freshly streamed to my pensive brain as of a few minutes ago.

The premise of Chobits is one of near-future cyberpunk idealism.  Imagine if computers underwent the ultimate step in user-friendliness, and now were shaped like people.  You go down to the local "persocom" store, and arrayed on display are a number of deactivated androids, cute as a button, the ho…

Having Drawn Bored

If I am ever going to accomplish anything of value in my indie game development endeavors, I will need to finish a game.  However, it seems that there is a flip-side to that.  Today, I have decided that, if my progress is ever this badly stymied (as it has been while I have been binging on anime) then I probably need to take things back to the drawing board.

What am I making: A sandbox game with lots of dynamic content and other emergent game mechanics.  A pretty ambitious undertaking for a novice game developer, true, but honestly that is all I am really interested in making.  There is no doubt in my mind that I am past the need to generate simple prototypes at this point, especially because the tools I am working in make simple prototypes as easy as falling off a log.  I want to make something that pushes the way we think about games in some way or another.

What am I making it in: Currently, I am using Game Maker Studio because I believe it has more flexibility for procedurally genera…

Never Underestimate A Paper Tiger

When an anime ranks in the top 150 out of the 6000+ entries in Anime News Network, I know I am in for something good, and Toradora! (2008) is one such case.  Though this might look like yet-another high school drama harem anime, it is actually anything but.  It is a tale of five friends whose young hearts are so convoluted that even they do not know what they really want.  In other words, it is one of the more realistic treatments of characterization to be found.

The anime centers on Ryūji Takasu, our main male protagonist, he is a pretty typical, decent guy but he has a difficult time fitting in because his spooky eyes make everyone think he is a gangster.  He is a real neat freak who annihilates unfinished housework with quasi-religious zeal.

Only slightly off the central focus is our female protagonist, Taiga Aisaka, who lives next door to Ryūji in an upscale condo that overshadows his home.  Although Taiga is 17, about the same age as the others mentioned here, she is unusually sm…

Straining Quality From Casual Consolitus

This weekend, I am attempting to vindicate my shelling out $85 for Elder Scrolls Online by finding where the quality gameplay is.  So far, my search has been nearly fruitless.

There is one thing that this game seems to do very well, and that is the content.
The details of the world are great.  Great architecture and other world details are an Elder Scrolls signature touch, and Elder Scrolls Online represents it well.The quests are very organic and only rarely resort to the standard fetch quest or "kill x number of things" cliché.The appearance of equipment is good, and can be cosmetically crafted into many variants appropriate of each of the major races of Tamriel.  Even the voice acting is spot on with the Elder Scrolls franchise, with voice actors of popular characters from the mythos (such as Sheogorath) returning to reprise their roles.  The lore support is extensive.  Many quests, monsters, and locations tie in wonderfully to the previous games in the series.  Although E…

The Ideal Price For A Key To Tamriel

Though I built a negative first impression of The Elder Scrolls Online back in beta, the game has been out for nearly a year now, and they finally stopped fooling themselves and dropped the subscription cost.  Now, after purchasing the box, you can now play this game as long as you like, optionally choosing to spend a little more for DLC or cosmetic benefits.  The console versions of "Tamriel Unlimited" are forthcoming.

Despite my apprehension, I took the plunge, bought a collector's edition, and gave it a solid 6 hours of play.
For two solid reasons,The Elder Scrolls Online is finally free to be the game it should have been from the start:
This is a single player experience, it should not have a massively multiplayer cost.   I say this because grouping up with players has a very limited role and the combat mechanic is much more like Skyrim than it is a serious MMORPG.   Zenimax shot themselves in the foot there if they were planning on having this game generate MMORPG ap…

Sometimes, The Cat Skins You

The formula for cat girls is simple enough: young girls are cute, cats are cute, so young girls who are also cats are cute times two, right?  ... Cat Planet Cuties (a.k.a Asobi ni Iku yo) does not stop there, it includes girls with guns, nudifying weaponry, and even failed romantic comedy that shows lots of skin.  Cat's out of the bag: Cat Planet Cuties is basically straight up wish fulfillment.

The overall plot is pretty simple.  The Catians are a race so advanced that they have not changed in over 70,000 years.  They discover Earth, a planet whose people have uncanny resemblances, right down to speaking the same language!  Desiring an escape from their cultural stagnation, they rename their own planet from Earth to Catia and dispatch a scout to assess the viability of first contact with this new Earth inhabited by humans.  High jinks ensue.

Other than an excuse to see some fun sci-fi devices, the plot sucks. Let me count the ways:
Kio Kakazu - The male center of our harem, a 1…

Invisible, Inc Puts On A Great Showing

As one of the most finicky of the core gamers, it is remarkable that a game can hold my attention for six hours straight.  Invisible, Inc succeeded, a squad-based stealth infiltration game that tasks players with guiding cybernetically-enhanced spies through procedurally generated facilities in a futuristic corporate utopia.
While the premise is fantastic, my weakness has always been for great game mechanics.   You can not do much better than a deep turn-based game that lets you perform every move, down to the finest detail.  There is next to no randomness so, unlike XCOM, if your operatives fail to make a shot then it is because you utilized them incorrectly.  It feels fantastic to be a gamer again; perhaps it is my declining reflexes, but real time games have always been frustrating for their denying me this level of control.

The outer shell of the game is a world map in which you purchase skill upgrades for your operatives and select a mission from the world map.  Each session of…

Because Honor Among Thieves Is Honor Under The Sea

I find the most definitive episode of the My Bride Is a Mermaid (2007) anime to be episode 11.  When Nagasumi Michishio (the everyboy protagonist that all the girls end up crushing on) drinks an energy drink, his mermaid bride Sun Seto is shocked and explains mermaid drinks are not meant for human consumption.  Nagasumi proceeds to grow fifty stories tall and rampages throughout the suburb nude and in a primordial rage.

Nagasumi is lured onto a space shuttle via a fake giant box claiming to be full of forbidden pleasure and sent to the moon, where he rages despondently.  Sun's Yakuza gang leader dad is overjoyed to see his daughter's suitor disposed of.  However, as Sun Seto pities Nagasumi, her mother provides her with a magical spear and explains that, if it is filled with her feelings, it will surely cure him.  After a long declaration about how it does not matter how far she has to throw the spear, even from the Earth to the moon, her feelings will get through to him... sh…

They Are All Just Microcosms

This bizarro weekend, I have surprised myself by reinventing Digitally Staving Off Boredom.  
I started by experimenting with some lovely free blogger templates. Having gone that far, I realized this necessitated changing the tagging structure for all the posts I have here, spanning almost ten years of text walls.  In removing those tags, much meta data was pointlessly annihilated, but this is because I realized some some fairly important things: 1. What I discuss here are all examples of microcosms. The definition of a microcosm (according to is, "A little world; a world in miniature (opposed to macrocosm)."  Basically, the idea here is you create a smaller version of the world by translating it into an abstract form, such as words or a picture.  A lot of games I am excited about these days put a lot more detail into that, utilizing computers to simulate microcosms at a much greater detail.

I decided that I do not need tags to describe individual games: games…

Once More To Planet Valhalla

Despite not having anything as poignant as dwelling upon the nature of god itself to say, I thought I would write about the latest animes I watched while they were still fresh on my mind.  (I should really get back to work on my game development, as I have fallen off the wagon somewhat, but at least I have kept the morning exercise habit for now.)

The latter half of Ah! My Goddess: Flights Of Fancy (the second season of the 2005 anime remake) turned out pretty much as I feared it would.  In fact, the very last episode of the series focused on Keiichi working up the moxie to tell Belldandy he loved her... something that would have been touching if it were not for the fact that he already did many times earlier in the series.  Moving on to the manga, I have a little over 300 chapters to read (this anime was made at about the 200th chapter) but it is a pretty great manga.

I find myself on a bit of a romantic magical girlfriend anime kick right now.  Cat Planet Cuties is in the mail, but …