Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Day For Fathers

I have to admit I never put much thought into Father's Day beyond my own dad. It was always a day to take time to think about how much my dad meant to me. And he means quite a bit.

From him I learned how to be resourceful, how to stay focused, and how to be resilient. Some of the cornerstones of being a man.

But for the last several years it's been slowly dawning on me that not only is this day a time to reflect on my dad but reflecting on my own daughter. 

She is a good kid. Gets a little out of hand at times but nothing out of the ordinary that a teenager would do. She just finished up middle school and will be moving on to high school this coming fall but today she is blasting Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" for some unknown reason.

Here is the card she gave me today. Its good to know that she cares.

But I do worry. Am I going to be able to prepare her for the world at least as well (but hopefully better because what parent doesn't want their kid to be better than themselves) as my dad prepared me.

I'm sure my wife would have some words of reassurance to let me know that I will be the best dad I can be. Here is the card she gave me today.

Even though I've technically been a dad for about 4 years now its really just beginning to hit me that I'm a dad.

That's a lot of pressure and responsibility. But I'm slowly coming around to the belief that I am ready for it.

It will take time and I will make more mistakes along the way but I think I'll be alright.

This is a day for dads and that makes it a day for me.

Take the time to recognize your dad, anyone else's dad, and all the dads around the world that are doing their part to make this world better.

Friday, June 8, 2018

What Would You Do?

So earlier this week I had to go to the pharmacy to pick up some meds. In doing so I noticed something pretty odd.

The woman that helped me has on a really bright pink lip stick.

And it was smeared on her teeth.

I ultimately didn't say anything to her on the premise that she wouldn't want some guy telling her about her makeup.

When I get back to the car I run the situation by my wife who tells that no as a guy it really wasn't my place to say something (she wasn't hostile about it mind you).

And it got me wondering about why would it be out of place.

Would she take it as harassment?

Maybe she would be offended that a guy commented on her makeup?

Perhaps she wouldn't care?

Hell there is a chance she would thank me for telling her?

Is it possible that I could have said something about it and not caused trouble? Yes there is and thinking back on it more than likely she would have thanked me and gone to clean it up.

But at the same time I didn't feel comfortable rolling the dice on how telling her would go.

These are pretty tense times where a simple misunderstanding can turn into a viral event. Next thing i know my picture is on Buzzfeed on a article titled, "If You're A Guy That Sees A Woman With Smeared Lipstick NEVER Do This!".

The norms and standards and codes of conduct are really awkward these days and talking to people feels like a walking a minefield.

So ladies that wear lipstick reading this.

Would you want a guy to tell you that your lipstick is smeared?

How would you respond to a guy telling you that your lipstick is smeared?

Have a good night folks!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Can Multipath Games Be A Boon For Gaming YouTubers and Streamers?

(Warning: This post openly and freely talks about the video game Detroit: Become Human. That means this post will contain spoilers for this game. If you do not want any details spoiled then  DO NOT READ THIS POST!!! This is your only warning!!!)
The image above is from the recently released PS4 exclusive Detroit: Become Human developed by Quantic Dream.

Since I don't own a PS4 I've been limited to watching playthroughs of it on YouTube. And while I have spectated countless games in my day this one made me realize something. 

I've seen just how unique a player's own experience with a game can be and how that unique experience can be worth watching across different players even on the same game.

The main premise of the game is that in the not too distant future humans have figured out how to create life like androids in the image of humans. As such these androids are often utilized for tasks that many if not most humans don't want to do. Construction work. Child care. Even sex work. One driving force behind this is that androids unlike humans don't have the ability to choose what to do with their existence much less the free will to act on such desires. But what if androids started to develop those desires? What if if they gained the will to act on such them?

Detroit: Become Human gives players the task of playing out the seeming rise of androids as they fight for freedom from their human creators. This puts their fate, and the fates of many humans, directly in your hands. 

At the start of the game you play as Connor, an android assigned to assist the Detroit Police Department on any and all cases involving androids.

Connor enters a high rise apartment. An android servant has killed the father of the family he serves and is holding the daughter Emma hostage on the roof while armed with a gun. The fates of Connor, the rogue android, and Emma all depend on how you perform.

This is where I immediately was taken by surprise just how much of a gold mine this game can be. Here are three gamers going into the same situation and getting three different results.

In this clip we see JazzyGuns convince the rogue android to let Emma go just to be gunned down by snipers on nearby rooftops.
Here we have Suzy Lu grabbing Emma and pushing her to safety as Connor falls to his "death" along with the rogue android.

Finally TuYasRecords managed to push the rogue android off the roof, taking several shots to the back while protecting Emma.

And this is just the first instance of a tense situation you will have to navigate. Later events include having to decide what to do when a young girl is being abused by her father (which shakes Suzy Lu up real bad), dealing with an unruly hostage while hijacking a broadcast station, and whether or not to snitch on an android who murdered his abusive owner in self defense.

We have seen games before where the player has multiple choices to pick from. Do you use Jill or Chris in Resident Evil 1 (or Leon or Claire in RE2)? Who do you side with an any given Far Cry Game? Do you shoot Emily in Until Dawn after she is bitten by the Wendigo? And we've also see less remarkable examples where choices just don't seem to matter in the long run (coughcoughTellTaleGamescoughcough).

I think what makes Detroit: Become Human is that the games I mentioned above have major choices that are few and far between where you can easily go back and look at footage of what another person did. On the other hand with Detroit there are so many branching paths and intertwining decision that it's quite difficult (or at least time consuming) for a single player to see every single branching path.

In fact at this point I'm actually watching Detroit on the above 3 channels plus theRadBrad to see as many possible outcomes as I can in this game. Which brings me to my point about this being a great development for YouTubers and streamers that do video game content.

For the most part when it comes to watching gamers online people will find a few favorites and pretty much stick to them.

When a game like Detroit comes along it leaves viewers curious other choices and outcomes. However due to the nature of streaming game content gamers don't have much time to spend on a single game and will have to quickly move on to the next release.

But what about those other choices and outcomes?

These days with so many streamers and YouTubers active online its very easy to find a channel where the player will do different things than what you previously saw.

Now I'm not saying that these sorts of games need to become the flavor of the month where every publisher and developer has to drop battle royale and zombie action in order to cash in. But I do think we will see more of these games as time passes and I think streamers and YouTubers will benefit greatly from them.

I hope to see more games like this.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Looks like the NFL owners stand for something I suppose

It was announced today that NFL owners unanimously approved of a new policy in regards to the national anthem.

The new policy requires players and team personnel to stand if they are on the field during the performance of the national anthem. If any players or team personnel do not show the proper respect for the anthem the team itself will be subject to fines.In addition teams will have the option to fine any personnel for any such actions. Although personnel do have the option of staying in the locker room during the performance if they wish.

This bug me a lot. Its the owners' way of washing it's hands of the issue to protect the NFL's image from the reality that players have been protesting for the last 2 seasons. And make no mistake trying to frame this as an issue of "respect" is a smokescreen.

Using your voice to protest racist treatment is not disrespectful to the flag. If anything its making use of your voice to speak up for those that for the most part have no platform to speak up for themselves.

On one hand yes players have the option to simply not be on the field during the performance of the national anthem. This does give them at least some avenue to make their statement and use their actions to protest.

However to try to make this out about respect allows owners to paint the picture that "anyone who chooses to stay in the locker room does not respect the flag". And I'm sure that is exactly how it will be reported and spun next season when someone decides to exercise their right stay behind during the performance.

This allows NFL owners to send the protesters to the back so they are out of view while at the same time condemning their protest and control the resulting narrative that will come out of it.

I understand that you can't expect the NFL to do much about the racial injustice that plagues America but at the same time this policy does seem to show that they not only don't support the protestors for but are doing their best to tuck it away out of sight in a manner that makes the protesters look like the enemy.

Looks like I won't be watching the NFL this season.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

That One Game....

I think anyone that has been playing video games for a long time will eventually come upon That One Game. What do I mean by That One Game?

What I mean is a game that goes above and beyond being an entertaining experience. A game that actually fulfills a role in your life. I'm talking about a game that helped you through a situation that you may otherwise have not made it through. A game that changed, perhaps even saved, your life.

I was catching up on my YouTube watching a week or so ago and came across this video by ReviewTechUSA where he talks about how the game Halo 3 probably saved his life.

While watching his video I got to thinking about the games that I have played over the years. There are plenty like Skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur that blew my mind with how good they looked (for their time). Old beat em ups like Double Dragon 2 and Final Fight that get my blood pumped whenever I hear their soundtracks. Final Fantasy 2 for the SNES is pretty much my personal favorite RPG of all time. To this day I'll argue that Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest football video game ever. And Payday 2 will likely be the closest I'll ever get to committing a major crime. 

But despite all the awesome and cherished memories I have from those games and many more there is only one that holds a specific special place in my heart. A game that didn't really save my life but one that helped me through the darkest time of my life. 

It was January 2004. In the previous 6 months I had basically failed out of college, lived with my mom who had just recently separated from my dad, had lived with my older sister and her family after my mom had moved down there with them, and was back in my home town.

You see my mom was sick. Cancer. Diagnosed in Summer 2003 but I didn't find out about it until Fall 2003. She was living on her own in a large city when I moved in with her to help her out. But I was still in my young and stupid phase (early 20s) and wasn't really there for her. Then she wanted to live with my older sister in another state and since I had nowhere else to go I went with her in Fall 2003.

I still wasn't completely there. Between trying to get over fucking up in college, wanting independence, trying to work at a basic mall job and being young and stupid I was all kinds of fucked up and not much good to anyone. 

She moved back to our home town late 2003 with my dad and little sister. I stayed with my older sister until January 2004 when it became clear she needed someone to be at home with her full time. My dad was working and little sister was still in high school. The rest of the family actually had direction in their lives so who better suited to do it than the family fuck up with nothing going on in his life?

To give you context my home town is a hole in middle of nowhere. Like no traffic lights and the only major chain of anything there now is a Dollar General that was just built there about 6 years ago. Even though I had a car it wasn't in that great of shape and was serving as a storage unit for most of my possessions (we were living in a temporary camper after our family home had been destroyed by storm damage and were trying to get my grandmother's home up to a livable condition) including my consoles so I only had my Gameboy Advance and one game.

I'm not sure when I actually bought it but up until January 2004 I had barely played it. Like I had maybe done 2 gyms. So I figured now was as good a time as any to finish it up.

Once I restarted playing Sapphire again I felt something. I felt like I had something that I could actually accomplish. I was collecting pokemon. I was defeating gym leaders. I was figuring out puzzles. When playing that game I wasn't just a screw up with no direction. I was actually doing something right for once.

It was a bit of a preemptive coping mechanism. 

I remember when it came time to collect the golem pokemon Regirock, Registeel, and Regice. Now let me remind you that I was in a small backwater town that wouldn't get high speed internet until about 2008 and even if it was available at the time I didn't have a pc to look things up with anyway. Meaning that when it came to finding them I had to do it the old fashion way of figuring it out for myself.

Probably the biggest obstacle was translating the 7 sentences that were in Braile into letters in order to get the history behind the golems and the clues needed to find them. Oh and they weren't straight forward either so you still had to figure out exactly what the clues meant.

Finally capturing them was one of my personal biggest gaming achievements ever. And I would need all the help I could get for what was soon to come.

My mom passed away in March 2004.

It hurt. It hurt a lot. In fact it still hurts a lot. There was so much that I didn't get to tell her. So much of me she never got to see because either I was too stupid to show it or just hadn't discovered it yet.

But Pokemon Sapphire kept me together. It gave me something to work towards. It gave me a sense of completion. It kept me sane. 

That's why I was so excited when Sapphire got a remake as Alpha Sapphire a few years ago. It let me replay my favorite entry with better graphics online capability and fine tuned music. And to this day Mudkip will always be my partner pokemon.

I wouldn't say that it saved my life or anything that serious but it certainly did improve my life a lot and helped me when I was in a really dark place. 

For me there is no question that Pokemon Sapphire would be That One Game for me.

What is That One Game for you?