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BBBAAAAAWWWWW is the sound they make…. that's descriptive enough, right?

I have to admit, it’s been an exciting time for me. See, I grew up in the late  80’s/early 90’s, and I grew up playing video games. I blame my dad for this, of course (being a nerd seems to be an inherited trait), he’s the one who brought video games into the house, he’s the one that monitored the new ones coming out, and he was the one with the money to buy them. 

For the most part we were Nintendo people – a phrase that used to carry just as much weight as proclaiming the superiority of the 360 or the PS3; Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros, Final Fantasy, all those beloved pixels with their simple catchy melodies (and by simple I don’t mean they weren’t complex and well crafted). 

But, we were also PC gamers – a term that simply didn’t exist back then. Much like today, if you played games on the computer the general populous was confused, but oh man was it the place to be for a little girl who had a very active imagination and was just learning to read and comprehend. I think my love of writing and story telling came specifically from the computer gaming days. 

As high in regard as I hold ye olde console games, they cannot hold a candle to my beloved adventure games, games that taught me to think outside the box, games that made me engage in characters, games that were simply capable of more things than our very dear NES could ever dream (though it tried,  King’s Quest V on the NES). 

Back in the day we would gladly gather around whoever was playing a game at the time, we sat, or stood, or leaned, to watch the player try and figure out the world, the puzzles, everything. If my dad was playing, I was often on his lap. And we would spend HOURS like this, the players switching in and out, saying “try this on that” or “can you look at that thing there?” and I learned to write simple sentences “Look at tree”, “Use broom on floor”, “Take bow and arrow”. I always had an advanced reading level in school, and I don’t doubt that these games were the cause of it – of course I knew what perilous was, I had already played Perils of Rosella. I could put 2 and 2 together. 

Sarcasm? Sarcasm is practically my mother tongue: Space Quest raised me well.

I can’t think of the lessons Monkey Island taught me, a sense of humor? A love of the bizarre? Sam and Max made me appreciate the things that were twisted, but in a good way I suppose? Whatever those LucasArts lessons were, they’re there, embedded in my brain, making me laugh at the ridiculous, and figuring out the most convoluted solution to any given situation. 

They tried, oh how they tried, to keep Adventure Games relevant with the advent of cds. They lasted for a while on CDs too, until someone got the bright idea to evolve them into FMV games.

FMV games were… well, I will always say that they could be awesome. They are a genre that rarely holds up anymore, assuming a modern computer can even play them (which is tricky at best – SCUMMVM and DosBox have made many of the old adventure games compatible with modern systems, but it’s not 100%). But damn if I wasn’t impressed with them. I remember the X-Files FMV game, a game I never beat, and how cool it was that the game disks (which were like…7 or 8?) were in individual cases in a larger box, and each of those cases were shaped like a file. I felt very adult. 

But we all know that those FMV games, they were the end. Adventure games kind of died from there. Game companies weren’t interested in making them, and it seemed gamers weren’t interested in playing them: there was a new generation of gamer, gamers who grew up strictly on consoles, gamers who liked pressing buttons and killing things. This was a new era of gaming. 

And it kinda sucked. I mean, it wasn’t horrible, but for every one game I was interested in playing, there were 20 games that appealed to the people who weren’t me.

But some brilliant minds are still around – Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert, and The Two Guys from Andromeda for example – and these brilliant minds started Kickstarter campaigns to fund their own adventure games. And these games – well, not only have they been funded, but they have been FUNDED.

The Double Fine kickstarter, which neede $400,000 to be funded recieved $3,336,371. That’s 834% of their goal. 

And The Two Guys were no slouched either, they needed $500,000 and they got $539,767 – 107% of their goal.

(I suspect the disparity is that Double Fine and Tim Schafer are more well known that Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe, the 2 Guys, who were the creators of Space Quest).

And I just played a new game: Resonance by Wadjet Eye Games, it was released today (6/19/2012) and has all the graphical charm and comfort of I’d say a Monkey Island 2, or maybe even a Space Quest 5 or 6. The sprites are lovely, well detailed, and completely 2 dimensional – no pesky 3rd dimension to make you all bulgy! Yet it contains all the complexity we expect a modern game to have: compelling characters, a good plot twist, and multiple endings that actually make you think. I won’t spoil anything here, but I was quite impressed with its level of story-telling, it’s attention to detail, the voice acting, and the puzzles (while note quite as outside the box as the great ones, are still pretty good, though usually when you’re stuck it’s a case of bring everyone everywhere and try everything until something works).

TellTale has been producing an astounding number of rebooted series (I’m still waiting on King’s Quest TellTale!) that people have been buying.

And let’s not forget my console brethren, who have not only seen their favorite games rereleased on thePSN, XBLA, and VC, are also seeing an influx of games like Bastion, Braid, and Cave Story – games with all the graphical capabilities of an NES or SNES, but still very much enjoyable by today’s standards. 

What I’m saying is that right now it is a very exciting time to be a gamer my age – a gamer who grew up with the classics, because right now we are the ones earning money. We are the ones raising little nerdlings. We are the ones pushing for video games to be better than they’ve been because we know they can be! It wasn’t the teenagers that needed Bioshock. It wasn’t the children crying out for Mass Effect (though, admittedly some of us sounded like children when ME3 ended). 

It was people like me. And my peers. And every gamer older than I am. 

It’s not like we can’t enjoy a good FPS, but gives us something shiny a different and complex and unique and good, and we will cradle it in our arms, use it as a weapon against video-game nay-sayers, and completely worship the geniuses that made it. FOREVER. 

I have been avoiding this post, I really have.

January 25th, my dad died. He wasn’t sick or injured, he wasn’t suffering from a terminal disease… he just went to bed on the 24th and never woke up.

There is something you need to understand about this: my father was a good man. Good nothing, he was great. When I think back to anything bad he ever did, anything that could make the hurt less, it doesn’t exist. Yes, I was mad at my father in high school, but who wasn’t?

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Hey person reading this. If you haven’t played the game and fully intend to, don’t read this. I have a medical problem that makes it impossible for me to avoid spoilers. It’s ok if you read it mom. Most of this won’t make sense to you anyway.

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The problem with SWTOR.

… I honestly don’t know. Apparently it has something to do with PVP?
Is the game broken and does it need fixing?
Sure, I run into a few bugs here and there, but nothing I’d get in a huff over. I love SWTOR, I love that I feel like I’m actually part of a story, and have felt that way since level 1. I love my character, and the I love the world. I love the characters that surround me (even if Kaliyo has caused me no amount of frustration in combat). 

I don’t play PVP and I likely never will. I am bad at it, and frankly don’t see the point. I understand people like killing each other for whatever reason, but it just makes me resentful. And yet I enjoy my time more in SWTOR when I’m playing with my friends, cooperatively. I love the flashpoints, and the conversations. I love that It really feels like my character contributes something to the outcomes. I really love that there are different outcomes at all! It really feels like what I say and do matters. My friend and I are constantly asking each other what decision they made and what happened (we both play an Imperial Agent).
I am excited to level up and learn new skills. 
For an MMO these are new experiences for me. I played WoW until level 10 on 2 characters and stopped caring. GW until level 15 and started a new character cause I didn’t care. And those characters we never part of the story he way that you are in SWTOR. You don’t shape a character, you don’t change the story, you just go kill things for the sake of the narrative that you may or may not care about. What was the narrative in WoW? I know there was some war thing going on with GW but I don’t remember anything specific. 

When I get frustrated with a fight in SWTOR my instinct is to try try again or ask a friend for help. With the other two I just stopped playing. 

So now PVP is “broken” and people want to cancel their memberships and quit, etc… and I say good riddance, because if you are playing SWTOR purely for the PVPing, you are clearly ignorant of who Bioware is and what Bioware does and I, quite frankly, don’t want to share a server with someone who can’t appreciate that.

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So this is it. This is me saying I will not look at this again because if I do I will find something else to edit. And I’ll keep on editing it until it’s  lost all meaning…

not that there’s a lot of meaning to this of course, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, it took my professor 20  minutes to get the joke, and she fixed some editing problems.

So, the final version of my very first video project ever.

 

She Was Trouble from Jill Pullara on Vimeo.

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So we have  to make a 1 – 1.5 minute video for our final project in the video making class. This is my first edit – a rough edit. Took me 3.5 hours. I’m pretty happy with it right now, but we’ll see how I feel tomorrow, and what suggestions are given on Thursday.

..Well, technically this is my second edit, slight tweaks from the first which I couldn’t upload because a 1.2 gig .mov file takes forever to upload to youtube. So, instead, this is the .avi, and the quality of the video is crappy.

I see a few more places where I can tighten it, but I’ll probably wait until after critiques tomorrow.

She Was Trouble

After leaving the project for a night, i decided I didn’t like it as much as I had originally and went back to edit it again. There’s still some problems, but I’m a bit happier with this version, and I’m going to stop editing it because it’ll just be like trying to cut a straight edge on a piece of paper with scissors: I’ll keep trying and trying to get a perfect straight line, but can’t, and end up with nothing left.

Also known as George Lucasing it.

The second reason is that the class this is due for is in 1 hour and 15 minutes, so I really can’t keep on editing it.

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So, for my screen toolkit class, we had to make a completely audio project. This is the result.

There are a few parts I sort of want to edit again, but they are the parts I had a hard time making work in the first place. The piece wasn’t right without them, and they felt a little sloppy with them. Guh.

But I really enjoyed working on this, and am somewhat proud of the result. The video is on the youtubes because I can’t upload videos to this blog.

I have to go now because someone is staring at me. I think they need this computer, and I’m done. Just so you know, person reading over my shoulder, my hard drive is formatted for a Mac, and I have a PC at home. Rest assured I’m not using this machine for a program I could easily use on a PC. You could always stare angrily at that person a few stations down using a $2500 computer for facebook and email.

Yes. You.

…Nope, I can’t. This youtube uploading is slow work. Also, brush your teeth.

Yes, I AM checking my facebook now. Stop sighing. My upload’s at 90%. I want to get out of here too you know, and I have to commute an hour. Trust me I’m not here for the lulz.

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I went to see “The Muppets” on Wednesday, and let me just say

 

=D

 

That’s the short of it.

Now, to make this review fair, I will list the few things in this movie that bothered me. I don’t know that they’ll bother you though, or if you’ll agree with my reasoning, but nothing can be perfect afterall.

My one big gripe is the product placement. Now, it’s actually not bad at all, except for the one billboard of Cars 2 that is so prominent I noticed it, and that bothered me a lot. It was unneccessary; maybe it was a joke, since Cars 2 isn’t in theaters anymore, but if so it went over my head until just now, and I still don’t think it was funny or clever.

The other thing that bothered me was how LA it was. It was very Hollywood. I mean that in how clean and pretty everything looked. When I think back to all the other Muppet movies, they have a distinctly… grittier?… feel. I can’t say grittier is the right word, but there’s a certain amount of shiny that I accept in Hollywood movies – how seamless everything is – that I don’t like in my Muppet movies. I can accept, of course, that the movie takes place, mostly, in LA, and that this shininess is easily a reflection of that sort of ideal, but that doesn’t make me like it.

Writing-wise, I was a bit put off at how self-aware the movie was. I do think making jokes like “Then this is going to be a really short movie” can be funny, but there’s a lot of that “winking” to the camera (I say winking, but it’s more like staring right into the camera and saying “We know we’re in a movie, and so that’s the joke.”). Part of what bugs me about this is that it’s done too much. It really should be more of a wink to the audience, nothing more.

I feel like the musical numbers, while a heck of a lot of fun, were just too big. Also, too many human stars. See, when I think of a Muppet movie, and their musical numbers, they blended into the world. Yes, people were singing, but maybe it was the type of song, or the lyrics, but it didn’t feel like the movie was drawing extra special attention to it. The opening number, while catchy, was a big lavish musical number that, let’s be honest, could have been in almost any type of corny musical. The number was corny, and purposefully so, and the Muppets never seemed corny to me.

And it’s not that I don’t like Jason Segel or Amy Adams, they did a fantastic job, but, like (one of) my (many) issues with the Transformers movies  – if I’m watching a Muppet movie, I want more Muppets and less humans.

And Scooter’s and Fozzie’s voices were off. As far as Scooter’s voice being off, I think it’s more OK since he’s more of a minor Muppet people tend to forget… and more importantly, he’s been voiced by 7 different performers, so him sounding off to me doesn’t mean much. As for Fozzie… Frank Oz is still alive. Though Eric Jacobson has been performing him for 9 years, it’s still not the same voice, it’s too high pitched…but his enunciation is dead on. This might just be a case  of I have to get used to it since there was nothing wrong in the performance or writing.

All of that is problematic for me, so why, when I left, did I say “A++ would see again”?

Everything else.

The writing is dead on for the most part – the characters are all written correctly, there’s just so much charm in it. It also doesn’t ignore its own history, aging the Muppets – admitting it’s been far too long since they got together, and filling in the blanks between then and now. Animal is getting anger management help. Fozzy’s been working in ..ahem.. “nightclubs” with a band called The Moopets, Gonzo ended up owning a toilet empire, and Kermit and Miss Piggy had to go their separate ways. It is this part that is more surprising to me – not that they would go on their own ways, we all saw it coming, but in how much care was put into the writing so that it seemed natural, and that both Miss Piggy and Kermit were equally upset by this outcome. And the reason they split was not a silly one, but one that we’ve all seen and maybe experienced. (Oh,Gonzo and Camilla are still together though).

The plot is something that is all too familiar (And I don’t know why) – a rich evil guy will own the Muppet Theater, which he plans to demolish so he can drill for oil. The Muppets must reunite one last time to put on one last show, and raise the $10,000,000.00 it will take to own the theater, and their names, again. But it’s fairly obvious that the plot exists solely as a way to get the Muppets back together to put on the show.

There is, of course, the Amy Adams/ Jason Segel subplot of going to LA for their 10th anniversary, which Gary (Segel_ forgets about. And will they or won’t they get married. It feels tacked on, honestly, like it was something for the humans to do.

By far the best thing about this movie’s writing is in Walter, the new Muppet. He’s not super exciting – he doesn’t sing, or do karate, or tell bad jokes, or anything… he’s just a normal person (well, Muppet) who is a huge fan of The Muppets. He could easily be an everyman character -one that we are supposed to relate to. When Walter faints when Kermit calls him his friend, we, as Muppet fans, understand why. Walter’s journey with the Muppets is, essentially, OUR journey with them. I thought I could go on longer about him, but I think I did a pretty good job summing up his function in the movie. He’s more than a device for us, of course, he has a distinct personality, and he’s just so lovable.

I said earlier that there’s a self-awareness that I find off-putting, and that’s true, but there is just enough self-referential humor that I ate it up. Sweetums getting left behind at a used car lot, for example, had me floored. I don’t think anyone in that theater actually laughed at that, but I loved it. There’s a moment when they’re looking at the “Standard Rich and Famous Contract” that was signed in the first movie. So many little touches like that that did not seem shoe-horned into the script, just for older fans’ enjoyment – they were seamless. I suppose, in a sense, like the dilemma faced in The Muppets, the Muppets temselves realize that they are not as relevant as they once were; I still think it’s safe to say that a majority of children grow up watching Sesame Street, I don’t think that they have ever had the chance to graduate to other Muppety goodness, like I did. It is sad, but some of us have to face the fact that there are people out there that have no idea who Kermit the Frog is. But what I like about this movie is that 1.) they address that and 2.) they go on anyway. The Muppets in the movie put on a show for their fans, the many fans they still have, who are devoted to them, who never forgot them, and who are thrilled to see them. This movie is pretty much the same – it is for the Muppet fan, and almost catered to us. While I have no doubt in my mind that someone who had never heard of The Muppet Show would enjoy this movie, the characters’ journeys don’t mean as much to them, and The Muppet Telethon, while being entertaining  doesn’t have any significance.

But let me tell you, if you’re like me, The Muppet Telethon was glorious. Scooter does his “15 minutes to curtain” routine that he does at the beginning of every episode of The Muppet  Show, and they do the theme song! It was something magical and wonderful to see again. I teared up because I was so happy to see that again – especially when they all sang Rainbow Connection.

Everything they set up in the beginning of the movie had its pay off, the Muppets were on form, and from the beginning to the end, I did nothing but enjoy myself. It wasn’t until I stopped to think about the movie that I was able to think about what I didn’t like – and those things still don’t make me not want to see it again. I totally would in a heartbeat.

 

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It’s out. It’s fantastic. It’s gorgeous. Every geek you knohas barraccaded themselves in their rooms/houses/office/etc… with a 3 year supply of their favroite food…and maybe some empty bottles for peeing. Why? Because Skyrim is out. Bethesda has released their newest amazing role playing experience for gamers to obsess over, and yet I will never play it.

Why?

Sigh…. because. Because I know exactly what I’m going to do in this game, it’s the same thing I do in every Elder Scrolls game. I am going to get bored almost immediately.

Because when I play RPGs where I canmake my character be whatever I want, I invariably choose a thief, with a high charisma skill – because I love stealing shit and charming the pants off of people while I do it.

I can tell youexactly what will happen if I ever touch Skyrim:

I will make a character, probably an Argonian, they make good thieves…and can swim… which is important. I will go through the opening mission, and once I can do whatever the hell I want, I will spend my time sleeping during the day, and picking locks at night. I will talk to everyone and use my charisma to charm those dumb townies while I pick their pockets. I will get arrested and go to jail, do my time, and then wander around fighting things and just walking until I find another town to do the same exact thing. Because I’m me, I will inevitably come to a swamp or ocean or random pool of water that pops up out of nowhere, and, if I weren’t an Argonian, I’d spent the next few seconds trying to not drown, and will drown.

I may reload, but it’ll just be more of the same. It’s not that the gameplay is shallow, it’s that I need the main storyline to be like “Hey, listen, I’m glad you enjoy exploring the world, but you’ve got shit to do here… lives at stake, a great balancing of powers, wrongs to right. Chippy Choppy.”