Long Awaited Airsoft

This past Saturday after much planning and preparation, I finally played my first airsoft game. For most of the summer, I wanted to go out and see what it is like and now getting closer to fall; I feel I have only touched a shallow waters of a deep ocean.

In my city, this would be considered the edge of where sport and legality meet. Reading and seeing it with open eyes has made me appreciate it in a deep sense I can’t describe on my blog for it would reveal a bit too much about my past.

Tonight I traveled a long way to a quiet industrial complex to play a game of hobby and sport. A game where getting shot at is normal and pain demands to be felt. I purchase my tool in April in hopes of playing it in mid-summer. Everything was set; eye protection, batteries, bag, gun. Almost at a moments notice, I could trek the hour to the nearest field for a day long excursion.  Which today I did at Siege Airsoft.

Many would say it’s lunacy to shoot each other with guns loaded with pellets. Is it as crazy as watching two men bare fisticuff in cage without protection? Fringe sport as it is has show me what it really meant to play airsoft. As much the mainstream demonizes airsoft, I saw a lot of good tonight. After a pilgrimage to a store in hopes of calibrating my rifle, I met a few seasoned folks about their take on the game. As my rifle spent the hours in the hands of a technician, I can see the meticulous care and dedication; I saw a store brim with replicas and the few willing to uphold this game as a venture and a hobby. By the end with 4 hours before closing, I met a stranger who took me under his wing and a person I long awaited ever since I joined the community online. As I entered the chaotic nature of the Staging Area at Siege; it is apparent with BB’s dribbling across the floor and chatter in the humid summer air, they are not freaks looking for a a thrill. As normal as you or me, they want to do what a lot of people want to do – play a game. Perhaps with tolerance it could be much in sync with soccer and hockey, less organized  and more fluid. As I sat there and watched people load up and get dressed, I can see the eagerness and discipline in everyone around the room. Loading for me is simple and simply dressed, I sat and joined the sea of people waiting for the game instructions by staff. First game for me: VIP. As lots were drawn for 4 VIP’s a stepped up, how hard is it to be the VIP? As the staff instructed, there was a calm silence in the room as we are briefed about the game rules. As we stepped off into the field, it felt very surreal. partially built structures laid erratically within a warehouse sized room. With three small structures with stairs to a second floor laid front, middle and back of the enclosure. Well lit, I looked over to the predetermined teams. As the VIP, we had to hold tight for the team to take us to an extraction point laid across the map. As the game counted down from the referee tower in the middle. I crouch on the second floor in the second building. Game in three. Two. One. Then footsteps pounding as rounds ricochet off the wood and metal. I managed to fire my gun off. Pop pop. Pop pop pop. Then a sting on my arm, definitely feels like a hit. I crouch down in instinct and cried for a medic. Only 10 seconds in and already down. As I was healed, I over hear our escape plan. Peel back to the friendly side and push hard up the left. As we left under the rules of the VIP being escorted out, we held this guy’s back and ran straight to our side with very little rest we run under a set of arches and out of one of the buildings. As we reached the front, the pops sound violently close. As we neared the middle, we held our ground and began shooting back with vigor. We managed our way into a metal shed and held on. With nothing more than our escort. one of the VIP’s and I sat, shooting our of every opening we had. As the winds down to the last minute, it was time to make a hard move. We push behind out teammate and not stop until one of us reaches the top floor of the last building on the enemy side. As I watched dim blurs fly past the window and BB’s pelting the side, it was down to three of us to make it count. The spring to the stairs was easy but as time dropped to mere seconds, I made a quick dive over the last 6 steps. Belly first into a bed of plastic BB’s and a low groan in pain. It’s over, we won. After the round we left for the staging area and for me, to lick my wounds. In clear light, I saw I was shot about twice in the arm. By now, pain has left me leaving nothing more than exhilaration. I went back in for a few more games playing as a mercenary, then to help my team find and recover an object which is the supposed “bomb”.

After coming home with very little bodily harm, I feel elated and appreciative. In real life, gun fire bullets designed to maim and hurt people. What I experienced was very little to what people experience in their life. The realization of how safe we are to the world doesn’t fathom the pain of witnessing in it. I want to play more after this experience for sheer enjoyment. Not many games out there can induce such an adrenaline rush. But the next time I go, I’ll be sure to carry a long sleeve shirt and a gun that works properly to maximize my time there.

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Closing In Time

I can’t help myself when it comes to talking about my gaming channel at the moment. As I’m writing this post, I have been continually uploading video as often as I can for the past week. At the same time, I have been playing The Long Dark as expediently as I can for a gamer.

Stuff is in meatspace has been ramping up to the upcoming few weeks. I was worrying about if I can send out 4-5 videos a week. At the moment, I have enough for the upcoming week or two. As of new content, I think I will do what I can when I have time to record and edit. Unfortunately editing and recording for the next few weeks will not happen on the same day since I need some time to myself to do real life things. As mysterious as it sounds – trust me, it’s very mundane but private. Not to worry, I have a feeling the second half of March, I will have some time dedicated to video games and Let’s Play videos. If not, I will be hoping for a schedule I’ve have enjoyed for the last couple months.

I guess it’s one thing I’m lacking, besides motivation – time. Time for me seems to escape me quickly than others who perceive time. In all the time there is, I can never seem to get everything I want to get done. Looking at other people, they seem more productive. They do more than me and get a lot done, then there is me. I can hardly keep a hobby, a job and a lifestyle together yet people my age seem to have all this down. As fragmented my life may be, I want to keep it all together and do more of it. However, time escapes me and something loses out. There are 24 hours in a day, yet I can’t juggle sleep and everything I want to do in a single day. I know video games has been a big part of my life and I still want it to be. I do want something worth pursuing in the realm of reality beyond the screen. I still haven’t found what I want to do; even armed with much advice from others, I still have not landed into somewhere I want to be. Time; some people say, “You have all the time in the world”. I say, “nope.avi”. You don’t have all the time in the world, you never gain but only lose time. Time is constant and we only have the time between birth and death to leave a legacy of our existence. We only have so much time in this world before we cease to exist as a sentient entity. Regardless how you spend it, I think a life well spent is a life well spent living.

Time is what we make of it and the moments we do within them. We can gauge it’s distance but regardless, we see time from one point of view travelling in one direction. Until next time; much like a train, this one only has one ultimate destination and it’s up to you to enjoy the ride.

Re: Your First (Videogame) Love

Response to aander14’s blog post here.

For me, I had bunch of small moments that fell in the right place. For me when I started playing video game, I wasn’t much of an enthusiast. My parents were fairly strict and (Dare I say) somewhat backwards when it comes to new technology. Here’s the list of firsts that got me into playing video games.

The first time I ever met the digital world was probably in school when I was a kid. That’s when schools started to teach kids about graphic design and how to draw stuff on computers. The first computer I remember using was a Macintosh, I’m talking the years before the iMac went on the market and every school in my district pretty much had something from the late 80’s. Most distinctive piece of software was the paint program for it where you use dynamite to “blow up” your creations. Later as each classroom got it’s own computer, the district went forward with getting PC’s. Before the Apple computers were phased out of the computer lab, I remember playing Battle Chess or a variant of it. Until my parents finally got an SNES, this so happens to be the first exposure to video games in my entire life.

Then I got the SNES, or Super Nintendo for those who are a tad young and asking “what’s a SNES?” Remember how my parents were so strict on me playing video games? They were probably the epitome of tiger parents before the term even came around as “tiger parenting”. So essentially when they got me the SNES, they thought I was too young to have it and too young to do anything besides go to school and get good grades. My sibling on the other hand turned the argument around and got us the SNES. First game we got was Super Mario All Stars and at the time even with my parents putting money to this game console, the would hardly let us play it until we were done our homework or we had nothing else to do. After awhile, our library to include Super Mario World and Gladius II which was given to use by relatives. Later on in grade school, I met other people who owned the Playstation and the N64. At the time, the PS had GTA but I never touched it until a buddy of mine at the time got it and told me to try it. I mostly stayed on their N64 and my SNES. First exposure with platformers aside, I got into cinematic cutscenes and gun play of Perfect Dark. I got deep into the singleplayer and enjoyed the split screen, big head cheat fun of of PD.

The same buddy that got Perfect Dark got Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and they let me play it. That was when everything just click. I liked sandbox, violence and open world games. Even to this day, these are the tenets of video games I like especially when it’s not overly exaggerated and just allows some escape from reality. As I got older, my parents seemed to relax a little and got me the Game Boy Advance and some games for it. For the most part, I stuck to Mario Kart for the GBA and Pokemon Red. By this time I was coming up to my teen years and I was fairly entertained through cartoon violence. So Mario and friends later got boring to me, lacking the things I want in games. I laid fairly dormant with my GBA until I was around 13 when I finally got my first PC.

Growing up in lower middle class, my parents couldn’t afford what I wanted in a PC so I got something a bit low brow. More attuned to a workstation than a gaming rig, I got this 512 MB with 40 GB computer running the last Intel Pentium ever created. This was my gateway to the world. To top it off my parents let the world wide web into the house with DSL and that’s when everything starting to ramp up for myself when I played the many games I soon to find to be everywhere. Firs it started with browser games that are precursors to Facebook games. Then I got a collection of pirated games from my sibling when they moved away for university; but mostly I remember Mechwarrior 3. By this time, my life starting to go downhill. In my child-like mind, the world didn’t seem as beautiful and carefree. As I entered high school, I already accumulated a lot of time into my first MMO, Kal Online which was a Korean MMO taken place in Korean lore. I got as far as I could in the game but in the end at level 25-ish, I gave up after feeling the grind of the game. Of course I moved on; Silkroad Online, WarRock, and Cabal comes to mind. Perhaps there a dozens I’ve played and forgotten. After my first PC finally gave, I got a new PC and continued playing. First on the roster if memory serves was NavyField which was a Korean MMO naval arena. Of course the game has been updated many times over the years; when I remembered it, the game only had 4 nations (US, GB, Germany and Japan). This second PC lasted me a good while and I even tried to go off gaming to pursue increasing my grades. With all my efforts and looking back on it, it was indeed a futile effort and regardless of any scientific study; it didn’t change my grades, I was still the below average student since grade school. Fondest memory was the closest time I went into Major League Gaming; yes that’s right, I was close to MLG material at the ripe age of 15/16. At the time, I was playing America’s Army with a clan I was in trying to get a team together into MLG. In short, the power went out and I lost my shot at a small pot of cash at a small growing gaming tournament league. I believe the cash prize was about $14-18 grand USD per person. In it’s finality of it continuing to this day, my parents view of video games is damning. Video games is a form of entertainment and not a business you can get into, so they say. Yet I could’ve been the coolest kid in high school since I won $14 000.

By now, it was about 8 years ago where I finally found a job and made some money to get myself a custom gaming PC. This is where everything went to hell in a hand basket and yet opened me to the world of video games on an addictive level. When I got my current rig, I went to town on my bank account and bought games. I spent it as wisely as I could starting with putting it into games I can play on Steam. I bought the Orange Box which as Team Fortress 2, Half Life 2 series and Portal for a cheap price. I went back to my roots somewhat and got GTA IV, I even stuck around cyberspace to explore the free games it has to offer. Before my 8800 GT GPU died and my hard drive in need a refurbishment, I think I played about the same amount of games I had played in the past over a span of 4-5 years. Which brings us to the last 3 years and now.

Now, I’m stuck to sharing games with others. I like aspects of co-op games and sandboxes. I’m stuck to my old ways where I play games I like. If my play time in Star Trek Online isn’t proof of my past, I don’t know what would prove where I was in the past 3 years. Moving forward, I want to break away from my parents opinions on video games. I want to making a small inkling in playing video games. If I can’t, at least I want to do is share my love for video games to the world at large.

Transition

This year will be unlike the few years I have been on the blog. Though I will be still writing, I am pushing to organize everything a little bit. Therefore some changes will happen.

The Schedule. Stuff IRL

First off, I will not be changing my blogging schedule. Yup. Once a week every week until the summer. I cannot forecast the summer because of new developments in my life. With that being said, I have been employed which is a relief. However the most I can say is financially, I am still having trouble. By trouble, I mean I need a steady income. As of now I’m out of the red, but still trying to hold on the ground I’ve gained from the past couple years of spamming my resume out.

Secondly as of late 2014, I’ve moved away from reviewing video games. That’s just because rather than posting a review, my reviews are now in video form. On my gaming channel on YouTube, I’ve decided to play the games I like and share it to the world. Along with these games, I am looking into getting new games to review and even play through its entirety. So anything directly to gaming will go straight to my YouTube channel; my thoughts, opinions and views will be here.

Community Comments!

Over the past few years, I’ve have been timidly contributing to the WordPress blogging community by commenting on other blogs. Most of the time I realized I would post a wall of words on other people’s posts. To me I like my thoughts to be thorough which usually doesn’t result in a concise comment. So as I am now in the fourth year of my blog, it’s time that instead of building walls (of words), I start posting them here. Out of my schedule, these posts should not count towards my actual blog posts. There are some amazing bloggers out there who post some amazing content to make me think and contribute to their blog. It is only fair that I show you guys how I’m showing you readers how I’m contributing back to a community who has read my grief.

What about summer?

So one of my employers require me to be away for the summer. I am not quite sure how I am going to continually forward posts since I don’t think where I’m going will have a connection or access to my laptop or home computer. If WordPress allows, I will have some posts lined up for the summer until I return. YouTube is another matter. Since I don’t think YouTube requires me to be on to publish in real-time, my channel might go on hiatus. The same can be said for my blog if I can’t find some way to post ahead of time but only publish on specific dates. From what it looks like, the hiatus will be about 2 months long. In internet time, that’s a really long time.

2015 will be a very busy year for me. For my profession life and my hobbies I’ve created over the past few years. I would like to thank you guys for joining me from the start. If you guys just joined, I hope you guys keep coming back.

Until next time, let’s make 2015 happen!

Re: #472 Where are you Steam Sales?

A response to #472 Where are you Steam Sales?.

I’ve been on Steam for almost a decade (According to my badge, 8 years) and I’ve seen Steam change it’s marketing and this year I think they’re trying to wean their users towards what they want their platform to become.

At first when I started Steam, it was mainly AAA titles getting the holiday sales page. It was tough back then to look online for games other than what’s popular and hyped. With the advent of Greenlight, there has been bunch of submissions and approved games listed on the market. This is where the problem lies with the users and the consumers on Steam.

The indies don’t necessarily have a marketing team running round the clock to advertise their game since they want to produce the product than enhance their own image. Usually these small studios are running on a timeline and a budget unlike larger studios who can afford a bit of time wasted. This race to publish has granted us something unique in the industry at the moment, early access.

In my personal opinion, some of the developers seem smart on when to go fully public on their early releases while some have been just pushing hard to get the funding they wanted. While others are focused too into their product and they create a great product but not enough to generate awareness of it. So most games I found have either don’t reach expectation of the game while some just go under for not being well funded. This is what’s great about Steam. Steam can act as the marketing platform to sell the game on behalf the developers. And I think Steam sees this and it’s why a lot of early access titles are on sale for the holidays. It generates awareness for these games at an appropriate price while giving players the opportunity to be the kid in a candy store to buy a lot of games for a small cost.

Perhaps the lackluster feeling you are receiving is being you are not sure about these games and it feels you are not getting the sales you were expecting. I too felt the same way and it is indeed very difficult to buy a game when most of the catalogue is on sale. To that, I say we take the lessons we learned from Watch_Dogs; we take a risk regardless how much we spend and how popular the game, but it is indeed our risk to take.

Thanks for the article!

Things I’ve learned making Let’s Plays

I’ve never put in so much time for one thing I wanted to do; okay, I put in a lot of time for a few things. However I never been devoted to be a bit creative. It was always something I lacked. I can be creative at times to think of ideas (thus how this blog was born) but I never really been a visually creative person. Start of this year, I decided to make let’s plays on YouTube which somewhat harkens back to my old Black Ops gameplay. I always wanted to do something constructive or creative to develop something I had problem learning. For my new readers, I’m ADHD and I am not a very creative person; quite the unusual irony.

Over the past six months, I learned a few things from playing and recording video games. To veteran recorders and producers of gameplay, it may be obvious; but I do admire the fact the consistent and persistent nature of YouTubers. They remind me the humbling experience of being unpopular, bottom of the pyramid, way of finding a style. To those who haven’t had their mind set on WordPress wanting to do LP’s or record gameplay, I want you to learn from someone who doesn’t have a following and started with pretty much with a lot of time, plentiful amounts of procrastination and no money to put forward to upstart a hobby or interest. Take this as a warning or advice (or both).

Starting off, I needed a recording software. Something light on the system and can record the amount of time you need. For me, I need it to record continuously because I never know if there will be some good action bits. At the moment I’m using Open Broadcaster Software because it allows a one click solution with minimal set up but enough functionality to make changes to the encoding. At the beginning, I downloaded the program to replace CamStudio because the installation file I downloaded for The Dead Linger didn’t work. Both are free, but after having an experience in both products, I’ve come to realize the interface with OBS is easier and built towards online streaming and local recording than for tutorials and short presentations.

When I started with Banished LP’s, I recorded them in large huge batches. I’m talking like files sizes of 1GB times how much time I had. So in under x amount of hours, my hard drive would be capped out on raw video files. I think at one point I had 10 files lined up for uploading and those uploads would take up to 12 hours per file to upload. So it would take about 10 days to upload if you include time for me to just use my internet connection for anything besides uploading. So in the 30 plus episode run, it took a day each. However in TubeStar, the same 20 minute file would take about an hour or two. So if the game is very action based would require more frames. Therefore the file size will be larger compared to text based or 2D games. This is true in OBS by the way, try with your recording software of choice!

In making The Dead Linger, I found a difficulty with sandbox games where travelling is required. For one thing, you have to fill the time walking with something interesting. If you are a quiet gamer, definitely cut out the nothingness. If you have something to talk about, just talk and don’t hold back until you’re done. It can be interesting, informative, funny or just be somewhat like a small video journal about your life while you play. Just let it out and even if you are going to cut it, then cut it but it’s always to have some extra bits to have more to add if the video is a bit short.

Length of the video to me is only the limitation to the audience and your hard drive. However personally, I think people have a bit of a short attention span. With that in mind, I do my best to make my videos 20 minutes or less. At first, I aimed for 20 minutes. Now I end it when I think I have enough content or I set an end point. I guess it’s because Defiance has missions unlike The Dead Linger. So I can end one mission as a video. What I’m trying to say, find a way to end a video.

Early on, I said I’m not a very creative person. The truth really unfolds if you watch my YouTube channel compared to everyone’s LP. I don’t have a visual introduction, no end cards or effects. I just play as is and I do that because two main reasons. First being theory; I don’t really want to promote myself, I want to promote the games I play. The games are the feature on my channel and I want people to find their niche in video games. The large part I want them to see my video and try the game themselves. I think the second reason why I don’t have visuals is obvious. I’m not the best editor or graphic designer. I’m usually the idea man, the guy who wants to do it and get it done. I like to be the person to establish point A and point B and let people define the direction of travel. But at times, I do regret I’m not a visual person. I wish I could have some creativity so I could make graphics. But for now, you got to like where you start out. You don’t have to be established to start something, you just have to start.

Have I learned everything from making videos? I’m just about to get started. I don’t have a job, I don’t have the creativity, I don’t have best of anything. I just do it because I go in knowing I could fail and I would learn something from it or succeed and gain something I don’t really know and I could get interested into it. I might not make money from it because I consider myself small time but it doesn’t matter. For better or worse, I do what I love. I love video games, I love playing video games and I want to share my love with people who are still finding their love.

If someone who loves to teach a noob about graphic design and video production, let me know!

The Video Game

You thought the debate between console superiority was crazy, there is one which still debatable and attempts to define the gaming industry outside or within the entertainment genre. What constitutes a video game? This in many forms has sparked many opinions about what qualifies as a video game. Many are in depth, setting parameters which define most but not all video games to date. While the others grasp on the notion of a video game on principles of entertainment to define them as mere entertainment, which skirts the very purpose of the question.

Lets break it down simply, the noun itself; “video game”. Video being an electronic medium; TV, computers, anything with a visual display which can generate images. With an emerging tech industry, video is going beyond flat images and even innovating on it’s own medium. Holographic and 3D technology is slowly coming to fruition but will be awhile before it is accepted as common medium for all our commercial uses. “Game”; a form of play or sport. If it is competitive then it’s played with a rule set which luck, strength or skill is  a determining factor for a victory state. Now we are going somewhere; we can now say games are a sport and a form of play. Take that mainstream media for calling it child’s play! Suck it hard and savour it! Regardless of either play or sport, if there is a competitive element it must have winning condition based on those 3 attributes. So poker is a game since it’s a bit of luck and skill. Soccer is a sport since it’s all skill. FIFA 2014 is a sport because it requires skill to win. Starcraft? Definitely sport since the win condition requires skill; same with most strategy and shooters, though shooters are sometimes more of all the three than just the one. What if the “game” does not possess a competitive or sport component? Is it still a game?

Now we have to understand what exactly is “play” to understand what is defined as a “game”. Like sport, play is set in two camps, structured and unstructured. Structured being a clear set of rules enforced while unstructured where none are existent or clearly enforced. Under this all video games are games; games with no clear goal and those with one are all defined as play, in turn maintain their game status. Even sports can be play if rules or victory conditions aren’t observed. The National Institute of Play (apparently it is a thing), goes beyond the two camps to describe types of play. Attunement play is to make interactions with other beings or persons to socially connect to them. Body play involves human movement; jumping, reaching, rolling and anything you can do with your body. Object play is the manipulation the environment; skipping stones to moving your dear companion cube, this would constitute as object play. In it’s complexity, social play gets into involving a group into an activity; whether the group is one more person or a crowd. Imaginative play or pretend play would sit nicely under this type; this form is more creative where you make up your own little world or place in your mind. Narrative play; in short, storytelling can be considered play since it allows us to convey our experiences and stories onto others. Creative play, somewhat like the jazz music of play; where we build upon our own or other ideas which can help us understand complex thought in simple terms. All video games would fall under at least one of these categories regardless if there is a victory condition or not. Some can even go to say they may be two or more of these types. A game is both competitive and non-competitive with or without a end or victory condition.

As humans, we tend define the world as we see it. We qualify and quantify to the exact measurements for our satisfaction but in the end exactitude can lead to exclusion; what we can exclude, we could learn more about. Perhaps the question is more than to define what a video game is, perhaps it’s an exercise in humility. Regardless of the genres of games out in the world, video games is just another bit of our existence; a subset within a subset within another subset in the totality of human experience.