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RANT: See You, Space Cowboy

As last week's rant MIGHT have hinted at, I've experienced a bit of a personal revelation about the things I want to write about and what I want to accomplish while I'm writing. Simultaneously, thanks in part to my move to Texas, video games (at least, video games outside of work) have been the furthest thing from my mind.

Long story short, I'm going to be taking a bit of a break from the Not Our Day Job scene for a bit, and take some time to figure out how I'm going to proceed - whether here, or in some other capacity.

I appreciate everyone who's read any of my work, and I hope that I've managed to entertain - or possibly even enlighten? - anyone out there. Thank you.

RANT: Self-Indulgent Bullshit

This is not the article I intended to write. After a week of laboriously avoiding the problem of "what I'd write next week," I confronted myself with an ultimatum of sorts: If I couldn't think of anything to write about that I could get earnestly excited about, then maybe it was time to reconsider this whole regular schedule of forced writing altogether.

I accepted my own terms on the spot, and set about deconstructing the problem in a very essential way: What could I write about, gaming-wise, that I could execute within a reasonable amount of time while thinking very little about it, and - as I'd already stipulated - could reasonably get excited about? Within about three minutes, I realized that I could finally execute on a long-desired Casting Call article for 1994's Final Fantasy VI (released as III here in the states) for the SNES. Boy howdy! I had half the list already filled out before I left work that day.

A personal activity intervened on Tuesday night, preventing me from writing it up then - and I'm glad it did, because I started in on it tonight, and as I wrote the preamble... I could see that something else needed to be said.

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TOP 10: Gaming Tribute Sites

I don't know about you, but I've been around this big ol' Internet for a while now. I was around back before fanfiction had been invented. I've seen the rise and fall of mighty 'net empires for years upon years. And I'm the youngest out of the stable of stars here at NODJ! Imagine what these other codgers could tell you!

Me, I've always been big into games. Heck, the first time I wandered into the World Wide Web outside the confines of America Online's preset content was in pursuit of a Final Fantasy 7 fansite of any worth. (Are any of my readers here today Rocket Town denizens from days gone bye? A lot of friendships got started there...) In the many years since that first fateful hyperlink click, gaming has become more and more of a collaborative fandom, not only becoming a bigger and bigger industry, but inspiring more and more acts of daily recreation and entertainment outside the world of our handhelds, our phones, our consoles, and our computers.

What follows is perhaps not the "top" ten best sites dedicated to extracurricular gaming content, but they're certainly some of my favorites.

I typed "gaming tribute sites" into Google Image Search and this is the first result it gave me. JOURNALISM!
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RANT: Into the West

I bid you greetings yet again, dear reader, from a distant land of sand and fire. As the sudden spring break last week may have called to your attention, I have uprooted myself from the peninsula'd paradise where I've spent the past quarter century and have gone off to seek my fortune in the distant land of Texas.

It's an exciting time for me personally, as I've never lived so far away from my family before, nor have I left behind such a substantial group of close friends. Leaving Central Florida has effectively ended some relationships, while it's actually strengthened many more. I've never had such a great collection of friends in my life, and I'm extremely grateful for that.

But the well-wishes of your close confidants can only carry you so far. Once the wine is all drunk and the farewells are finished, it's time to get up and go. In my case, that meant relying on myself for the coming up with the plan and then executing it. What I lacked in real-world experience, however, I supplemented with the countless lessons that video games have managed to teach me throughout the years.

Lean in close, dear reader. This rant comes from the heart.

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RANT: The Angry Mob

I spoke only a week ago about how Kickstarter can be used for some truly great purposes - and some truly godawful ones. This is a great example of the bizarre kind of hive mind behavior that I find so fascinating - and startling. Kickstarter allows thousands upon thousands of individuals to consider contributing money - very small amounts, very often! - to get a project going... or, in some cases, fund it completely. The tidal wave of donations towards Double Fine's Adventure Game project is only one example of crowd-sourcing as a real-world application of the power of the Internet horde.

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RANT: Kickstarter Revolutionizes Your World!

Kickstarter has been around for a few months by now, and it's gotten some hype as a great way to support independent projects, but it didn't really make it to the big time until Double Fine announced their old-school adventure funding project - a project which set records within hours of being initiated, and which recently ended with over $3 million dollars contributed towards it. It was a spectacular effort on the part of the studio and the fans, and sets a new precedent for getting great games off the ground.

Unfortunately, while Kickstarter might well be a viable new tool for competent developers and dreamers to get their work funded, it's also an avenue for pipe dreams and scope bombs. Case in point: Your World, an MMO "built by Gamers for Gamers funded by Gamers." This rosy-eyed attempt to craft the perfect MMO is such a spectacularly disastrous-looking abomination that I'm still not totally convinced it's not a joke. The sad thing is, though, that I really do think that it's real - and that it will never succeed.

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RANT: NODJ Comment Spam

We at NODJ are grateful for each and every one of our readers, and we eagerly pour over any piece of feedback that we receive - positive or negative, constructive or critical. Simply that you acknowledge the ongoing existence of our little laughshack here makes every message, every comment, every ThumbsUp an absolute treasure.

But this weekend I got some utterly bewildering comments on some of my articles. They seemed complimentary, thoughtful, and somewhat relevant to the subject matter of the article. But they were also.... off. Disjointed. Cobbled together by a mind that wasn't quite all there.

They're spambot comments, absolutely - I could tell that from the rapid succession with which they all appeared on the site, waiting for my administrative approval. But what's most bizarre about them is that the script that generated them appears to have trolled (the fishing kind of trolling) the Internet for relevant comments about the subject matter of each article and created a mash-up medley comment that it then used to post. What results is an unsettling combination of logical and random. It's as though Michael Bay's incarnation of Bumblebee suffers from the same deficiency at typing as he does regular speech - and inexplicably reads our website.

While the "endgame" for spammers like this is uncertain - how is it that they thought these comments would sneak through the filter? are they getting adaptively more intelligent? - some of the comments are truly bizarre. Bizarre enough that I thought I would share some of the best ones with you today.

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What do you do when you've got a hit new IP on your hands? The most immediate step differs from major publisher to major publisher. EA would take the IP and get a version playable for every platform on the market (go look up Dragon Age: Livejournal Adventures and Dead Space: The PLAY-DOH Experience if you don't believe me.) Activison, on the other hand, would keep making the same product, cramming as many conceivable celebrity cameos in to justify the rebranding (get ready, kids, here's Transformers: Battle for Counting Crows, coming this fall!) before the license burned itself out. Nintendo, obviously, would immediately stuff the well-loved property into a high security vault and blot out any mention of its existence. But no matter who you are, there's an all-important step that you take when you've got a hot property like Robot Entertainment's dazzling iOS PVP game Hero Academy on your hands - LICENSE DEM MOVIE RIGHTS!

We here at NODJ figure it's only a matter of time before someone turns this game into a movie. Whether it's Uwe Boll or Paul WS Anderson is anyone's guess. But no matter who's at the helm, a casting director's gonna have their work cut out for them. So to celebrate the release of today's Dwarf team for the marvelous little mobile game, we're gonna shoulder some of the burden!


RANT: The Musee Mechanique

During my extracurricular adventures of the past couple of weeks, I visited San Francisco for the first time. Lots of my stops were of a typically touristy nature: Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street. I rode a cable car. These were all actually pretty fun - I willfully went back to the Wharf. They have sea lions!

A couple of the friends that I'd asked before I headed to the West coast suggested that I poke my head into Musee Mechanique (warning: link has sounds of a terrifying nature auto-playing without volume controls.) This curious destination is a museum dedicated to the penny arcade machines of yesteryear - and some of the proper video game hits that got this whole crazy interactive industry going.

Like any diligent NODJ correspondent, I dutifully chronicled my trip to the museum with my camera, capturing images both nostalgic and horrific.

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RANT: Essential Skyrim Mods

I'm on vacation, which means I have even fewer cares that I ordinarily do on a minute to minute basis. However, it also means that I'm playing a lot more Skyrim, which means I have at least a small bit of game-related experience to talk about today. Despite the fact that Skyrim's already been out for a couple of months, the buzz hasn't yet died down on this enormous, sprawling RPG. I got into it on release day but, through some poor choices, built a character unable to stand up to the rigors of picking flowers, much less slaying dragons. I've since restarted, and while I'm no more lethal in combat, I'm a dynamo when it comes to herbology. John Marston would be proud.

Anyway, regardless of what sort of Dragonborn you choose to create, there's a lot of mods out there that will make your overall experience a lot more enjoyable. Here's a few of the ones I'm using. If you're playing the game on PC, then give 'em a look.

Dick Joke

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TOP 10: Reasons to Support SOPA

It's January 18, 2012, and before you rush off to Wikipedia to silently confirm for yourself whether or not today is Kevin Costner's birthday (hint: it is, and the Hallmark card store does rush deliveries,) let me remind you that today is the day of the 2012 Internet blackout in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act, a hotly contested bill before the United States House of Representatives that has the entire Internet in something of an uproar. Opponents of the bill say that it gives the government free rein to censor the Internet without due process, essentially cracking down on free speech and right-of-use to materials on the Internet in the name of copyright protection. Many sites across the Internet, including renowned timesink Wikipedia, have voluntarily shutdown operations for the day, essentially staging a digital protest against the bill.

You'll note, of course, that NODJ is still online. This is not merely due to the fact that our viewership is so low that we somehow consume negative quantities of bandwidth, although we appreciate the monthly check for $4 and change that our hosting service sends to Murdernator's post office box. No, dear reader, our site is still online because we at the Not Our Day Job offices stand firmly in support of SOPA and the changes to the 'net that it heralds. It would be lazy of me to make such an outrageous claim and not provide a reason or two why we've taken such a bold, contraversial stance. Fortunately, I have not only one reason, I have ten, and making them eminently list-worthy.

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The beginning of the year usually marks an atypical sort of anniversary for me - yet another year when I didn't make it to MAGFest. The Music and Games festival just celebrated its tenth year running, and once again, I was a total loser and didn't go. Every year, whether through financial constraints, previously-made plans, or simple work-related obligations, I find myself unable to attend. While I've usually got plenty of reasons to kick myself, this year in particular sounds like it was incredible year to attend, with a ton of game bands and booths, culminating in a finale performed by none other than Nobuo Uematsu (longtime composer for the Final Fantasy series) and his own rock band, the Earthbound Papas.

After the jump below, I've compiled some of the precious YouTube footage of this year's celebration of gaming and gaming music. Hopefully, next year, I'll be able to speak a little bit more personally about the proceedings.


RANT: The Old Republic Impressions

I played a ton of the new Star Wars MMO this weekend. While I'm aware of the psychology of MMO gameplay and deal with my own ongoing issues with Warcraft addiction, I've waited too long with too much anticipation to NOT try out The Old Republic, especially when I had Early Access privileges for preordering the game. That meant I could jump into a server this weekend, before the game was actually on store shelves, and fly around the galaxy on adventure without the burden of a monthly subscription fee. The game surprised me in a lot of ways, almost all of them good. Here's my big takeaways from the experience.

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RANT: The Binding of Isaac

I recently took advantage of the Indie Music Bundle offer wherein I procured a large number of indie game soundtracks for a low low seasonal price. Although I hadn't heard of many of the games involved, they're produced by folks whose work I've appreciated in the past (mostly thanks to the game music site Overclocked Remix and so I was happy to spend a couple of bucks supporting their work, and reap some good game music in the meanwhile.

One of the soundtracks that I hit upon was for a game that I'd heard about over the past couple of months, but hadn't had much exposure to, called the Binding of Isaac. The second track offered me the audio from the following trailer, which also serves as the game's opening.

Yeah. This game is weird.

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