Monday, July 27, 2009

Wasteland Journals: Sarge

If my characters from Fallout 3 kept dairies, I'm pretty sure it would go like this...

Name: Sarge
Alignment: Neutral
Wasteland Occupation: Mercenary
Bio: When Sarge left the safety of the Vault, he quickly learned two things: 1) It's hard to make friends and 2) Money's the only friend you really need. Sarge quickly picked up a gun and made himself a gun for hire on the Capital Wasteland. He doesn't think too much about good or evil, or rather, he won't. He's only concerned about how he's getting paid.

Day 14: Picked up a distress signal from some Brotherhood Outcasts. Figured those guys always have some neat tech to shoot dudes with, so I'll help them out if they loan me one of their sweet laser rifles.

Day 16: Finally out of that simulation of "Operation: Anchorage" those Outcasts wanted me to finish. It was fun and all but knowing I was just a cog in the wheel of the American army was annoying. Luckily, the Outcast let me pick up the Chinese stealth suit that was locked in their vault. You know, after dealing with a slight mutiny and all.

Day 24: Deathclaws are getting more and more active nowadays. This stealth suit let's me skulk around and plug holes in the back of their skulls at least. Figured I'd put their corpses to good use and make me a Deathclaw gauntlet.

Day 25: I should probably lay off the gauntlet. It's easier to track me even when I'm invisible since this Deathclaw gauntlet just turns people into a fine red mist all over me.

Day 29: Hving som trubl typin. radiashun Poisinin hurt bRaiN. Pit have lots.

Day 31: Finally finished my business in The Pitt. The arena games in The Hole were murder on my body. Not only did those gladiators mean business, but my geiger counter was going crazy while I was in there. Luckily that's all I had to worry about. These so called "trogs" are pretty weak sauce compared to super mutants. Plus this silenced assault rifle called the Perforator works wonders with my lifestyle.

Day 44: Decided to take down a Mutant Behemoth on my way over to town. Decided to lay down a mine field of bottlecap mines and sprung the trap he set that would make him come barreling over the hill over. Stealth suit didn't fool him though, so I had to turn on a Stealth Boy. Boy do I love laying down mines and luring people over them!

Day 51: Heard from another merc one day how there's some nice swag down in Vault 106. Boy was he wrong. Air tastes purple and freaky hallucinations. Not going down there again! And all I have to show for it was this cheap bobblehead!

Day 55: Running out of ideas to make more money. Either I've already worked the contract or the person's dead. Well, I can either help get Project Purity running or head down south. Heard there's a steamboat. I think it's heading to Maryland or something.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A casual perspective on fight game terminology

God bless your hearts for listening to me when I get technical on fighting games, but I doubt anyone understands me. Really, only two or three people really understand the jargon I use when I start talking about fight games, so how about I enlighten some of you on some of the important terms, jargon, and mumbo-jumbo you'll commonly run into?

Frames: This refers to a measure of how long a specific animation of a character lasts. Instead of measuring a passage of time, it measures the frames of animation that makes it up. Active frames refers to the part of the animation when the attack actually hits. Start up frames refer to the frames before the active frames actually kick in. And finally Cool down refers to the frames before you can do anything else. Basically, you have to wait for the animation to finish before you can start moving around or blocking, which is where we have the term...

Punish: We use the word punish to refer to capitalizing on your enemy's mistakes and counter attacking. Say for example you throw out an obvious uppercut that I block. Since you have to wait for the cool down on that attack, I'm basically going to punish you for your mistake of throwing out such an unsafe attack, preferably with a super move!

Whiff: Basically, an attack that misses. It's pretty straight forward.

Invincibility: This is usually a period of time during a character's attack where they're completely untouchable. Ryu's dragon punch is infamous for this, as it usually beats a lot of attacks because he's invincible while he executes it, and if an enemy tries to attack him, their attack will miss, and they get a face full of fist.
In fact, people commonly refer to moves like this as DP's, or dragon punches, even if they aren't even uppercuts. DP just refers to a move that has a healthy amount of invincibility.

Super Armor: This is a little different then invincibility. Instead of a move letting a move pass through them, the character will absorb the attack instead, and continue on with the attack. A lot of bigger characters usually have moves that have super armor due to their strength and size.

236, 214, and other combinations: This is the universal way of demonstrating how to execute special attacks using number notation on an arcade stick. Here's how to imagine it...
7 8 9
4 5 6
1 2 3
5 stands for an arcade stick in neutral. As you can see, 236 means quarter circle forward and 214 is quarter circle back. If you see 63214, that's half circle back. Once again, we just refer to 623 as DP's, cause it's faster. These number are, for the most part, universal in understanding among fight game communities.

360s and 720s: In almost every fight game, there is a character who works by grabbing enemies and tossing them around like ragdolls. It seems like every big grappling character's biggest throw command moves involve moving your joystick in 360 degrees and the corresponding attack button. Even stronger versions are usually 720 degrees, or two spins.

Cancel: So you know moves have cool down, right? Well, some moves can strategically "cancel" into another, that is, to cancel the cool down animation altogether and segue into a new attack. Ryu has an old cancel where you go from his crouching medium kick and go straight into his fireball once it hits. So instead of kicking and waiting for the kick to finish, Ryu throws out a fireball as soon as the kick connects.

Link: This requires more skill then canceling. Linking a move means knowing exactly when the animation for an attack ends and doing another attack that will presumably connect if your timing is good.

Stuff: Used as a verb, this is when an attack completely beats out an attack if they both happen to meet each other at the same time. Taking Blazblue's Tager as an example, he has an attack called sledgehammer that moves him forward as he swings his arm, and this will stuff just about any attack that comes his way. Tager will usually use sledgehammer to move across the screen safely without having to worry about incoming attacks.

Jump in: Refers to any generic attack where you try attacking while jumping on top of your enemy. Why jump in? Because you must be blocking high in order to actually block it. Which leads to...

Overhead: A character's unique attack that also must be blocked high. Overheads are usually unique attacks so a player can try breaking someone's guard without having to jump in on them. A lot of newer players have the wrong impression that blocking while crouching will somehow magically stop everything, while in reality, we have overheads to stop this kind of train of thought.

Turtling: A strategy where the user runs away and blocks any incoming attacks. This usually involves a lot of waiting and baiting and punishing any aggressive attempts. It's basically playing it safe, but is very boring to spectate. Lots of competitive players frown on turtling.

Rushdown: The opposite of turtling, where you throw caution to the wind and pressure the opponent with lots of rapid attacks, whether they connect or are blocked. The enemy can't fight back if they're blocking, right?

Spam: Repeating an attack endlessly. The reasoning is that "if it works, then use it!" usually accompanied with "I don't know how to do anything else." For example, Akuma from Street Fighter can just hang back, turtle, and spam fireballs the entire match. Good Akuma players can employ different strategies (Akuma is usually a rushdown character), but spamming fireballs is basically a one track strategy that can be punished quickly by decent players.

Flow chart _____: Going off of spam, this is a relatively new term coined from SFIV and Ken. Flow chart Kens were notorious for using his DP at every chance, even if commonsense dictated that it'd be easily blocked. Flow chart characters are usually people who have fallen into a routine they're comfortable with but are also predictable and the chart usually consists of a number of basic technique everyone uses liberally, but is repeated ad nausea in this case. Here is the chart that started it all. Jin Kisaragi from Blazblue is starting to gain popularity as a flow chart character as well.

That's all for now! Hope you found this enlightening!

Move over SFIV, here comes Blazblue

Months ago, I got my first taste of Arc System Works new Guilty Gear successor, Blazblue, at Tilt arcade. It has since then moved on to Arcade Infinity before awaiting it's console release. Now, I'm not the most elegant arcade stick player, so I'm thankful for it's release on pads for my thumbs. Now that I don't have to pay a quarter per play, how much more fun is it? I've talked about the game in brief before, so what's happened to the console version?

Work for it son
Now that you have all the time in the world to play this in the comfort of your own home, you're gonna need it. I'm not gonna say there are some awesome unlockables, but what you do unlock is pretty nice. Interesting artwork (my fav is "Noel's Birthday 12/25") home version Astral Finishes, and a decent story mode to work through. Yes, compared to SFIV's dodgy arcade mode "story" where we see your characters paper thin reason to venture out and punch faces, Blazblue's story has some meat on it. It's a big conspiracy revolving around Ragna and the Azure Grimoire he's stolen, aka Blazblue. Each character's story and ending interweaves with others and yet doesn't due a weird anomaly which Rachel's story helps explain. Not only has the awesome music made the transition intact, a few new songs have been added for our pleasure, including Bang's install theme and the new home console theme.

Show'em what you're made of
Now, like every other good fighting game with online capability, the netcode responsible for how you play online is great yet is lacking in some places. However, Blazblue definitely has things SFIV could take notes on. Player matches set up lobbies, so more then one other person can join you. This means two people can have a match, while the others not only wait in line in the lobby, but can view the match in real time! A great way to pick up some tips on the fly or watch how your opponent works. The method in which the game handles latency is also impressive. Even in decent level pings, the latency is good though it may occasional lag a few frames (if it's not perfect that is). The opening intro always lags as it picks up the slack, and by the time the match actually starts, it's as if the game has gotten a hold of the perfect way to smooth over the latency.
On the other hand, "ranked" matches have some shakey legs. As ranked matches go, you should get a random match based on your skill and have a fight on equal terms. It gets things right at first glance because ranked specifically has double blind character selection, but when you look at it in depth, you can actually cherry pick your matches, which defeats the purpose of it being ranked in the first place. You can see their level, favorite character, among other things. the only sembalence it has to being ranked is the fact you have one match and are promptly sent to find a new match if you want.

The game itself has been sweetened since it's arcade release, so it's a good a time as ever to try this game out. It seperate itself from the crowd by having lots of offensive and defensive options, small but well thought out character roster and design, and a story that you'll actually care about. Story mode itself is kind of anal on the definition of 100% complete, since getting every character's story 100%'ed wil take a while, but the alternate endings and good story overall make up for this this caveat. Lastly, I want to let it be known that one of BB's achievements pays a hilarious homage to Guilty Gear called, "Ride the Icening" which is a reference to Ky Kiske's "Ride the Lightning" which in itself is a reference to Metallica's song of the same name. Well played Aksys, well played.

And so my brain returns from Anime Expo (part 2)

Way back when I was still a naive con attendee, the dealer's room was the only thing I went to during con. Now I know there are more interesting things like panels and main events (when programming operations are on time anyways). Still the biggest life pulse of Anime Expo to me is the dealer's room, or exhibit hall. Although it's Anime Expo, there were plenty of things for a gamer too. Afterall, this year is getting a lot of good fighting games, and fighting games are at home with anime as anything else. What was there?

Capcom booth
There biggest presence there was Tatsunoko v. Capcom in it's localized form. None of the new characters promised to fill the void of one of the removed giant characters were present. In fact, both giant characters, PTX and Golden Lightanwere still there, but the most popular characters that I saw were Ryu, Morrigan, Ken the Eagle, Jun the Swan, Tekkaman, Megaman, Viewtiful Joe. People also played some Soki, Casshern, Alex, and Chun-li.
The game is an ambiguous mixture of fast gameplay from tags and air combos and slow methodical character movement. Dashing was underplayed for a lot of air dashes and jumping in and fireball game was weak because almost every projectile in the game has tremendous start up animation. However, when you launch you opponent, people familiar with MvC2 style air combos would feel right at home.

Aksys booth
Their booth was hawking all sorts of Blazblue tie in merch from Japan, like mini posters, t-shirts, and the game itself of course. Their biggest item was the bundle bag, which was a canvas bag carrying the game and almost every piece of swag in the counter including the shirt, poster, Mana drink, and more (I have no idea what the drink tastes like, but it imagine potions from rpgs). On the side was maybe one booth for Battle Fantasia (meh) and both the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Blazblue in play. The 360 had sticks while the PS3 had pads. Competition looked relatively tame, but there was one person who was obviously domination. I find out afterwards after getting my Tager beaten by his v-13 that he was apparently the best player from NorCal. What a humbling experience!

Various used gamer booths
There was a large assortment of smaller used game store booths displaying their niche Japanese import games. There wasn't a whole lot interesting since I was caught up in Blazblue fever on my 360, but there were plenty of interesting DS games. One which caught my eye was Super Robot Taisen Original Generations for the DS (or something to that tune anyways).

And so my brain returns from Anime Expo 2009 (part 1)

Anime Expo has come and gone again, and like the years before, I staffed in the infamous Access Control, aka The Red Vests. Over my 5 day reprieve from reality to help organize and also enjoy AX, among one of the biggest events were guests of honor Daisuke Ishiwatari and Toshimichi Mori, figure heads of the Guilty Gear series and the new Blazblue game. There were a lot of interesting booths in the dealer's hall, including a large enclosed booth called, "Manga Gamer" and the long awaited english localized Tatsunoko vs. Capcom game over at Capcom's booth.

Ishiwatari-san and Mori-san

The day of the big Ishiwatari, Mori panel, I was working the dreaded registration hall. At roughly 9:30am, it was a good time to ask my squad lead for time off. Staff do encourage us to enjoy AX to it's fullest when we find the time, and for staffers to enjoy panels during their shift, we fill the spots with volunteers, or green vests. So I ask for my leave and presumably left my position in the hands of some green vests. Upon arrival of the panel, probably over two or three hundred people had arrived before me and gotten in their seats.
I took me seat, next to relative normally dressed attendees, though I could see the occasional Ky cosplayers or (ack) Bridget cosplay. The entrance of Ishiwatari and Mori was met by a storm of applause a barrage of flash photography. As they settled down in their seats we got the gist of what everyone was here for; Q&A. There were a lot of good questions, both as being genuine inquisitive, or getting a lot of laughs. My favorite for example, was directed at Iron Tager, a character from Blazblue. His unique power let's him magnetize his opponents in order to draw them closer to him. One smart person however, asked how he's capable of using a cell phone (from his win pose) if he's magnetized. Another interested thing is that Mori-san, the creator of Blazblue, pronounces it Blaze-Blue. However, every time someone at the mic pronounced it Blaz-Blue, the room filled with the loud murmurs of people in hushed, but heated argument, obviously in reaction to why the person pronounced it so incorrectly.
After the panel, everyone was invited to the autographing session being held on the opposite end of the convention. Around 100 or so people had shown up and I received a ticket marking me as the 70th in line. There were plenty of people just getting autograph boards signed, but also Guilty Gear fans getting Guilty Gear games signed, posters, and art books as well. Unfortunately, the line was cut off at around number 50 and I was left out to dry. Luckily, two other staffers were with me in line, and as they tried exerting some staff privileges, I joined them, and luckily, became the last three people of the day to get autographs from Ishiwatari and Mori.

From AX 2009

From AX 2009