Tuesday, July 31, 2012

7 Old Cartoon Girls I had a Crush on

As a male boy, when we are young, we all have those weird feelings and stuff happening to us. And after passing the age of treating girls as number one enemies, we start looking at anything female in a different light, and specially with an intention way different than making them cry because we tossed bugs at them. Some of them are almost nerd sex symbols today. Characters like:

Yes, April had a penchant for being kidnapped, but ropes, a hot red head... you got the idea...

Cheetara is the one character I would go furry for. And in fact, I blame her for all the furries we have today.

He-man was way better cartoon. But She-ra and her female friends were way hotter than anyone in He-man's party.

A lot of guys loved the blonde girl, but I always had a weak spot for Gi.

Bad girl with glasses and in leather? The Baroness is probably the greatest fetish girl in cartoons.

A lot of kids(and some adults) probably had some funny feelings watching Roger Rabbit. After all, look at Jessica, his wife. Lucky rabbit.

My first cartoon crush. The third red-head in my list. Hmm. But damn, I loved this sweet girl.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Caring Less

And yet it would be an improvement. We, as a society, are too concerned with the particular lives of people we barely know. Like that famous couple from that infamous movie and that cheating case. If we cared more about our own lives and less about others lives, specially when their options on how to live their lives don't have any affect in our own.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

How the Used Digital Sales Market Will Work

I am not saying that the used games market is bad for the industry. It is just not as good for the gamers as many gamers think it is. Like the traditional used games, the only one who really is benefiting from it is the likes of GameStop. They will buy your 'used' game for way less than they will sell it, and you can only use the store credits in the store itself, meaning that GameStop will always profit.

Also, don't think that you will trick GameStop by buying lots of games in sales and trade it above value when the game goes back to normal prices. If I thought about this, GameStop thought about it too. They will always pay the lowest possible, so once the prices goes down, even if temporarily, they will lower the price they pay back and never pay more for it.

While it seems a victory for gamers that the European Court decided it is within their rights to resell digital products, it is not mean we will reap any benefit out of it. The publishers and developers will make sure they will not lose any money from it, making things like on-line passes, freemium formats and subscription models the rule for all games. Oh, and always on-line DRM, as a way to know that when you sold that digital copy you are not playing a backup you made.

I know I am sounding pessimistic here, but we tend to just analyze things in one perspective. While it is positive the idea of selling digital goods, in a world who is going more and more digital, it can come for a price too high to us.

Friday, July 27, 2012

How to Improve the Olympic Games

Because let's face it, you probably aren't aware of half the sports in the Olympics. putting competitions that aren't quite sports but are way funnier than some actual sports would help a lot. And if gluttony is not the capital sin of your liking, we all know the one who would make the Olympics the most watched event ever.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Mass Effect Trilogy: Final Thoughts

First, as a Playstation 3 only owner (my PC is crap), I haven't played the first Mass Effect. a shame, in fact, one I hope one day to correct. my only contact with the first game is the interactive comic at the beginning of ME2. So, my thoughts about the trilogy will be based on the two later games and the comic.

Mass Effect is a huge game, for starts. it have dozens of locations in each game, with a great number of alien races. many compared it as the Star Wars of videogames. I think that Mass Effect is better than Star Wars for several reasons. The races are more realistic, not just created to look cool, are more developed as a culture and as characteristics of its individuals than Star Wars. While Star Wars, if you base only in the movies and not on the Expanded Universe, feels very artificial when compared with ME.

The universe set in ME is one I can believe as possible, not just the product of some people with lots of imagination but very little concern about how much believable the universe is. All the background offered help to feel the universe is not just a series of backgrounds, but a living entity in itself.

The story on itself is not really unique. Shepard is set to save the universe from a menace most people don't believe it exists or not want to admit it exists. So, he/she group up with a set of unique characters to save the universe. And it is those characters the meat of the game. Most of them feel unique and interesting enough to keep myself interested in their backstories, in their past and in what could happen to them.

It is very rare to find a game where most of its cast escapes many of the stereotypes who populate games. Not that it doesn't have its share, like Miranda and her now infamous buttocks. But characters like Mordin, Tali and Legion more than compensate this.

The story itself is very standard if you look at it superficially. But what make it great is the amount of influence you, the player, have on it. Not only your decisions can have impact in the current events, some will come back to bite you when you least expect. I felt consequences of decisions made in the first Mass Effect game (through the interactive game) come back in the third game to punish me. This is what make the game so interesting. To see how past actions affects you in current events.

Gameplay wise, there is nothing really to write home about. It is a 3rd person cover shooter and it is competent. It is nothing near amazing, but good enough to not be a problem. The choices you make through the games are the real mechanic that set Mass Effect apart.

Shepard, as a character, is also part of the gameplay. It is the Shepard you want to be, a ruthless badass or a paragon of virtue, all depending on how you wish him/her to be. Shepard will be amazing as long as you make him/her to be.

My favorite character of the NPCs surely is Tali, the quarian engineer. She is lovely and energetic. Garrus is pretty damn good too and feel like a real badass. others don't feel so interesting like Jack, Miranda or Ashley, but they aren't a pain in the ass so they hardly affect you appreciation for the game.

And that final in Mass Effect 3 is hardly the awful thing many people decided to make it to be. I felt it was very satisfying. Sure, your choices will not matter in the end, except that one final choice, but it is not like your choices don't mattered. They all mattered during the adventure.

The Mass Effect trilogy is a great sci-fi RPG mixed with a good, competent 3rd person shooter. If you love epic stories, great characters and surprisingly good story choices who affects the game, this is a great game that deserve to be played from the first to the last one. It is not a game for those who only care about shooting stuff, since there is way better shooters in the market without all this story to interfere.

I am glad I gave Mass Effect a chance and this ride have being incredible. I don't know what they will do with the franchise from now on, but surely is a great series that I will keep my eyes on.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Apparently Benigns Stereotypes (That Hurt More Than Help)

Stereotyping is the fine art of putting a whole group of people under one umbrella, usually a very hateful and prejudicial one. But we have some stereotypes that sounds all good, by making a whole and diverse group of people to fit under one single set of awesomeness. But while this may seem harmless and pretty cool, in fact those stereotypes can hurt as much as the bad stereotypes. Like being born in certain countries make you very good at certain sports.

He can make ten goals, while she can defeat a ninja army.
Being Brazilian means we carry certain stereotypes. Like being awesome football players (the one with a ball and use your feet, not the one you use your hands and a cigar-shaped object). Or Chinese being awesome in kung fu. Or Canadians being good at hockey. At first it does not seem a bad thing, because this stereotype is people saying how much you are good at something.

Until they ask you to do this something. And them discovering that like in any sport, only a small part of the population are any good. In any country. This is specially bad when you are in school and got picked to teams because someone think because you are born in certain place, this place give you magical sports power to do whatever it must be done to win a game. And then discovering that the Brazilian guy really sucks at football and putting all the blame on him.

Another stereotype who hurts a lot is the guy with glasses must be smart. Or the Asians are all good with math. Asians with glasses are so damn smart that they can change matter with the power of their calculators and clever use of functions.

Again, the problem is that this misconception put the people victim of it in a very mean kind of trouble. Of people expecting too much of them. And getting disappointed when they discover that their friend Li is so bad at math as they are and they all got F/0 in their grades because they decided to copy his Math tests.

Another people who get this kind of problem is fat people. No, we aren't funny all the time, always in good mood. We can get angry too. Fat don't create a magical mood change substance that make all fat guys funny and always happy.

Another stereotype is the old foreigner, usually Asian or a tribal native, who is an spiritual counselor and have the wisdom of 10000 years old culture in his mind. Well, guess what? Old foreign people aren't that different from old foreign people anywhere. They have experience, not necessarily wisdom. your grandpa probably can give you way better advice about life than an old man in India, with the advantage that you can understand him. That old sage in the streets in India can have the same amount of knowledge than the old hobo in your neighborhood. just remember that.

Another kind of stereotype that is bad is the one we see plenty in highschool movies. The beautiful, popular kids are always bullies, while all the weird kids, nerds and ugly people are all good hearted people who are misunderstood victims.

Don't get me wrong, bullying is an awful thing and no bully must be portrayed in a good light. Nothing good comes from bullying. It is just that being beautiful and popular don't make you a bully automatically, while being one of the 'weird' kids don't make you an angel.

The problem is by stereotyping bullies and his victims, you make it seems that is a pretty black and white matter, while it is not. Being athletic and beautiful doesn't mean you will not be victim of bullying. Bullies will use anything as an excuse to bully. A weird accent, a bad grade, an unusual taste in movies and games. Also, not all bullies use physical strength to intimidate. many will use words to morally attack its victims. many times, victims of bullying are bullies themselves, discharging in one weaker than them thew abuse they suffer themselves.

In the end, stereotyping, even positive ones, are bad things. It generalizes and make the life of the people being stereotyped harder than it should. So, it is better to avoid stereotypes at all, even the seemingly good ones, because they can be hiding serious problems that must be dealt with.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

And Fear Grows

This picture just appeared in my Twitter. The text was in it already, not my addition, neither I believe it is Anita Sarkeesian words or anything. I already talked a bit about what are my fears about her project about videogames. And honestly, this pic makes nothing to change my fears. First, this is the positive views, that I have not hope to see it happens:

Warning: I have no evidence about what Anita is going to do in her videos, this is pure speculation of my part.

She will play all of those games, to have a huge diversity in female portrayals, from different teams with different philosophies. She will take her time to play all of them, carefully analysis the female portrayals in the context of the game, its story and how the characters interact between each other. She will put them in perspective and will not only take on the bad examples, but also, she will present any good examples she find out, and will comment if the proportion of bad examples is bigger than the good examples. She will carefully explain why she believe something is bad and compare it with the good portrayals she come across.

If possible, she will seek for others opinions, like the game creators and will not make any assumption of their intents without having talked to them. She will not dismiss anything without making a point, based not in personal feelings but in an informed opinion.

well, that is what I hope she do, but I have troubling believing it will be.. here is what I fear she will do, and it is mere speculation from my part:

She will not play all those games. She will select a few games more likely to confirm her point of view, play them for an hour and take whatever she can at face value. She will not mind any games whose portrayal of female characters are not sexist or don't help her make her points. She will not search for any interview and try to understand what the game creators wanted by making certain characters. She will just assume they are sexists with the worst intentions. She will take characters from popular games and interpret them in a way who fits he points of view.

She will make sure that any character she find that is not a sexist portrayals have at least on fault that she can use against them and will just roll her eyes and say come on on many of them without taking anything else then her own prejudices about them. that any argument stating how she may be wrong will be dismissed as an argument a sexist would use. Also, look at the games in the pile? What kinda of sexism she hopes to find in games like Little Big Planet, who have no human beings in there, Blur, a racing game where you only see the cars or Virtua Tennis 4, a game who only use characters who resemble real people?

Again, I will watch all of her videos, and give her a fair chance to prove my hopes to be right and not my fears. That many of those games in that huge pile are games she already owned and she just put in there. But all of this make me lose my hope and grow in fear. So, I ask of you, Anita Sarkeesian, to be fair in your videos.

Or else, you will hurt your cause, a cause worth fighting for, more than help.

Monday, July 23, 2012

7 Great Game Mechanics Ideas (And How Developers Waste Them)

Sometimes the people designing our games have really brilliant ideas, that make gamer thrilled and looking on how clever the guys who had the idea are. But them, some way less clever people decide that they should implement the idea, but instead of looking for the guys who did it right and keeping like that, they decided that SCREW YOU, THAT WHAT WE WANT and give you a piece of crap of the good idea they decided they could 'improve'. And them make it the worst game possible.

7. Quick Time Events.

OK, hold your torches and pitchforks. Quick Time Events. more popular name QTEs, are not that bad at first. See, they are a clever idea so the player can executed a very complex action at ease, even if the action by itself meant nothing. It is a good way to do something cool and thinking it was all the player without making the need for a suit tracking all your movements or a controller with 200 buttons. God Of War made it right, with the QTEs being rewards to the gamers. You only start one after you have weakened the enemies enough through traditional gameplay. In common enemies, you usually are rewarded with a brutal final blow. And they even give the gamers space enough to screw up a few times. Which is great, specially in the first time you have to pull it off. Other games...

How They Screwed Gamers:

By making messing up with one of those damned random, unexpected buttons appearing in your screen, an automatic game over if you fail. Games like Resident Evil 4 give you no space for mistake. You must keep watching the cutscene with all your attention, controller firmly in hand, or at any moment a flashing button that you miss will cost you a lot of work. And most game makers decided to keep it that way, frustrating millions of gamers who lack the psychic ability to predict random button presses.

6. Cutscenes

Let's admit it. If you have being gaming long enough, a cutscene was the biggest reward you could get. In a time where most games had barely distinguishable as humans sprites, cutscenes, usually way better than the in-game graphics, were amazing. Not only  that, cutscenes finally allowed gamers to have story in their games, not just in the paper manuals. In fact, cutscenes basically changed videogames from sophisticated toys to a form of media.

How They Screwed Gamers:

And them some game makers decided that cutscenes were all a game needed. And we got stuck upon lengthy segments of non-interactive short movies, with controller resting in our laps, taking time we would be prefer to be playing. While I don't think cutscenes should be done for, I think some people need to understand that if we gamers wanted to see movies, we would just do that, and cheaper than buying a game. So, keeping the amount of non interactive scenes short, sparse and interesting would not make us hate your games. Oh, and nobody like unskippable cutscenes, especially when we died by the fifth time over that cheap boss fight.

5. Boss Fights

Back to the arcades, boss fights had a way higher meaning. being able to get to a boss with one coin would put you in the badass hall of fame in the time. Or finishing him off in a certain amount of time. Because of that, most bosses were hard, but had patterns and ways to dispatch them out with a bit of patience and skills. Some were out right awesome and people would have a great time fighting them.

How They Screwed Gamers:

By forgetting that it should be fun, not a chore and an exercise in luck. I have lost how many times I have lost a boss fight not because I wasn't powerful enough or bad equipped, but because every time I was almost defeating the damn boss, the damn cheater decided to randomly pull out an all-powerful, one-hit kill out of nowhere and pulverize me. And when you try again, this time expecting the powerful attack, saving resources for it, it does not come. Unless you have used the damn potion or heal spell and them he decided to use the attack. Oh, and a boss fight should not take an hour to be done without the possibility of saving mid fight. We may be gamers, but we have things to do too.

4. Customizing our Characters

Being able to make the main character of a game look like how you want is great. It can look like you, a favorite character from other game or media, just something you thought it was hilarious only to regret it the moment you remember you have to watch this ugly monster you made during dozens of hours. It also make the character feel like yours, not just a character you watch, but your character and his adventure.

How They Screwed Gamers:

By making the damn game in first-person, watching his back all the time or making him use a damn helmet all the time. Skyrim make you loose a great deal of time to create a character he is not ugly. And them you never will see its face ever again. Not in conversations, not in battle, not ever. And the fact that you can't take your helmet off  piss me. Bioware corrected this mistake in Mass Effect 3, allowing your customized Shepard to be seeing without the helmet in conversations. But many other games, customizing characters is just a waste of time.

3. NPC companions

Adventuring can get lonely, specially in single-player games. Having some trustworthy NPCs walking with you help the game to have a more realistic feel, while providing a more fun experience. Listening to your NPC friends shouting and fighting at your side can feel a great time. They may even save your ass if they are done right and provide some tips about how to deal with the situation.

How They Screwed Gamers:

Or they will always get in your, need to be saved, using resources in the wrong times, getting in front of your shots, not healing you or hitting the target. Damn, some of them aren't worth even as bullet sponges. you would be better alone.

2. Episodic Content

The idea is great on paper. You make just a part of the game, sell it cheaper to gamers, who will probably buy way more copies since it is cheaper and with an already established fan base, you sell the rest of the game a piece at time, selling way more copies than if you sold an entire game. During the first time I listened about episodic gaming, it seemed that all games would go like that and everyone would be happy. Gamers would save money from bad games, developers and publishers would know if they had a sure hit or a sure miss in their hands. A lovely dream.

How They Screwed Gamers:

They discovered that developing part of a game is as costly as developing all the game. See, making the engine and the gameplay is like 50% of the game anyway. Creating the environments and story is the rest. A big game would suck almost as many resources to have just its first part made than making the whole anyway, and that is why most gamers using the episodic format are simple games when compared to the kind of games people was expecting to benefit from the format. And we all know a case were people are still expecting the conclusion to a certain episode.

1. DLC

The tempting idea to have even more game after you finished what you had, paying cheaper for it and extending your adventure. There is nothing not to like about DLC!

How They Screwed Gamers:

By making DLC being just codes to unlock disc content, many of them useless customization items that make no improvements in gameplay or by dividing the community. That is how you get a cool idea and change it in a piece of shit.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


I am not saying here that we should not strive for perfection in what we do. We must try our bests and always seek improving what we do. Neither I am saying that we must accept broken or mediocre things. We must see if we can get the best, always. What I am saying is that we must accept that things aren't and will never be perfect. If we start demanding perfection and rejecting anything who don't fit or particular view of perfection, we would have a very miserable existence, always unhappy  because things aren't perfect.