Monthly Archives: January 2015

A Leaf On The Wind

Hey Gamers,

Just popping in to say hi. Though I have plenty of work to do elsewhere, I thought I would take a moment to follow up on a comment I made a few days ago. When I was pondering my write up on Mario Kart and Nintendo’s recent crowd pleasing tendencies, I realized I had made a mistake.

Elton John Cat

…it’s a long level story.

Though the failure to mention Elton John in my Mario Kart post was indeed a misstep, it is not the one I was referring to. I was speaking to a mistake that was thoughtless on my part, as it was even more forgetful for a more important reason. Let me explain…

In my last post, I stated the following:

“This makes the second December in a row I have failed to provide anything meaningful to gaming culture, and for that I apologize.”

I didn’t think this one through too carefully, as I in fact wrote something very meaningful in the month of December, it just wasn’t on Active Time Event, nor was it a very joyous occasion. I’m referring to the small dedication I wrote to Ralph H. Baer, the inventor of the home video game console who passed away on December 6th. Though he lived a long life and left us at the age of 92, it’s never easy seeing someone pass away. Considering how important he was to my life and to our culture at large, it was hard not to get emotional due to his contributions to my life. Despite being down about his death, I knew I had to say thanks in the form of a dedication, as he was an icon who left behind an extraordinary legacy that has brought me endless joy.

Ralph Baer ATEMy farewell to Mr.Baer can be found here for anyone interested, and it links to a lot of other gaming outlets that celebrated the mans passing with some very heartwarming condolences. Even though we’ve lost a very sweet man and an amazing innovator, I feel pleasant knowing I can continue to thank him every time I pick up a controller, or when I write about the joys it brings me. I started re-reading Baer’s book: Video Games: In The Beginning, which is a fantastic read for anyone who’s interested in the history of video games and the birth of a medium. Mr.Baer wrote the entire thing himself, including patents, photographs, original blueprints and documented materials that were used as the premise for the first ever video game console.

Original Design Concepts Proposing A Home Game Console

Ralph Baer’s Original Design Concepts Proposing A Home Game Console (There’s So Many Documents About It!)

 

Seen Here: Ralph Baer Making History. No Biggie.

Seen Here: Ralph Baer Making History. No Biggie.

 

The Completed Prototype

The Completed Prototype! What Glory!

In closing, I apologize for carelessly stating I wrote nothing worthwhile in December, as I may have written one of the most meaningful pieces in the history of my writing. Ralph H. Baer and in essence video games, are why I do what I do every day so happily. Their significance could never be overstated, and Baer will be greatly missed. Though I did not get to meet the man before his passing, I was lucky enough to be able to play on one of his original prototypes called “The Brown Box” at E3 this past year, which speaks volumes to the man’s importance and relevancy even to this day. Despite being in a convention center dedicated to the latest tech, the newest games, and how much promise the future held for both me and gaming, it was playing on Baer’s Brown Box that sticks with me the most.

Pictured: The First Video Game Console Prototype Ever

Pictured: The First Video Game Console Prototype Ever

 

Not Pictured: Me Freaking Out Before This Picture Was Taken Because Of Excitement

Not Pictured: Me Freaking Out Before This Picture Was Taken Because Of Ridiculous Excitement

Thank you Mr.Baer, your thoughtfulness and your care has given me a controller to cry on, and for that, I am forever grateful.

Farewell.

~Pashford

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Drifting Along On The Winds Of Change

Hey Gamers,

As some of you may have noticed, I was woefully absent during the month of December. This makes the second December in a row I have failed to provide anything meaningful to gaming culture, and for that I apologize.

Things Don't Always Work Out As We Hope Them Too

Things Don’t Always Work Out As We Hope Them Too

I’m happy to say the circumstances that lead to my absence this December as opposed to last December were infinitely more preferred. December 2013 was most certainly a devastation, while December 2014 was absolutely a celebration, though the excessive fun having did leave me out in the creative cold.

Seen Here: Me Ringing In The New Year

Seen Here: Me Ringing In The New Year

That’s kind of like a second apology/I had fun hope you did too. I realized shortly after the new year I owed it to myself, my creative devices, and the gaming community at large to do something…anything of note, so here I am now trying to make good on my claims. I do also wish to give public thanks to everyone who helped contribute to my gofundme, which was a rousing success. It granted me the fantastic fortune of a brand new Wii U, and even Mario Kart 8 to boot (the latter of which I saved as an X-Mas present to myself). The Wii U was right in time for the release of Smash Bros, which I wrote about a couple time in the days following the games launch. The write ups were maybe…a little more dry than I intended them to be, but were rich in Vitamin E…

The E Standing For Entertainment, Of Course!

The E Standing For Entertainment, Of Course!

Err…at least as far as the pictures were concerned. They had a lot of E in them…

Tons Of Vitamin E

Tons Of Vitamin E

 

Vitamin E For Days...

Vitamin E For Days…

I am truly grateful of everyone who contributed to my gofundme, and though I have already sent each and everyone of you a personal letter of thanks, I wanted to say at least one more time….you really made a difference, and you really made me happy.

So thank you.

Falcon Gratitude 2
When I came back from my extended absence last year, I had a series of articles (which I’m quite fond of upon retrospection) looking at A Link Between Worlds and the Zelda series as a whole…something I’ve analyzed several times over. This year, I don’t have anything quite as long winded planned in my return to written reality, but I’m trying to change it up a little bit…by not talking about the Zelda series for a change! For example, would you believe me if I told you I was about to talk about a non-Zelda game?

Non *Zelda* Game

Non *Zelda* Game

Or that horses aren’t even involved?

Weeeell, technically.

Weeeell, technically.

Cheating a little bit here, but if enjoying Mario Kart is playing dirty, I don’t ever want to be clean again. While I really do want to discuss Mario Kart, in all of it’s ridiculous glory, I do reckon I should first discuss Smash U, as it would be the first time I’ve really talked about the experience on ATE as opposed to just alluding to it, which is odd now that I think about it. Smash is up there as one of my fave games to sit down with, and the new ones are no exception. I’m impressed Nintendo had the development capabilities to make both the 3DS and Wii U versions of Smash a reality in the same year, let alone within two months of each, but I suppose we should in fact thank Sora Ltd and Bandai Namco Games for being able to pull it together at just the right time.

Which Bandai Namco Don't Always Get Right

Which Bandai Namco Don’t Always Get Right

 

Like Sometimes Seriously Doesn't Get Right

Like Sometimes Seriously Doesn’t Get Right

 

Like, What The Hell, Dude? Were They Planning A Spin Off Game With These Two Idiots Called The Adventures Of Derp Face And Captain Horseshit?

Like, What The Hell, Dude? Were They Hoping To Launch A Spin Off Game With These Two Idiots Called The Adventures Of Derp Face And Captain Horseshit?

My initial write ups on Smash weren’t poppy enough, I’d say in review, which is really what Smash is: vivacious and pretty (much like the flower). We will ignore that in reality, poppies are used for the production of morphine and codeine, which ruins my comparison…unless you’re totally into that kind of thing, in which case I have no hesitation to likening Smash Brothers as gaming crack, just all around being a video game equivalent of an addictive narcotic.

An Average Example Of A Smash Player Between Matches

An Average Example Of A Smash Player Between Matches

I do in fact, wish to officially review Smash still, so I’ll keep my thoughts on the game more rapid fire and less explicit. To that point: super glad there’s an intro (3DS version lacked one), very pleased the online is functional and appealing this time around, and the balance struck between both Melee and Brawl feels just right. Even as a die hard Melee fan, I’ve surrendered to the notion that we can’t nor shouldn’t want the exact same thing for the rest of time, and Smash U feels fresh and familiar enough to have me hook line and sinker. The variety of play at hand in the new Smash was always a known known, but perhaps the levels of customization there after were an unknown unknown, with stage creation and new fan ideas for mini games being a delightful surprise.

Smashketball? But Of Course!

Smashketball? And How!

While the new Smash being good isn’t a surprise, per say, I think some of the ways that the new Smash is good, are. A consideration to competitive balancing as opposed to the denouncement of it was definitely one, cross-platform release was way more forethought than I remembered Nintendo being capable of, as well as online play actually mattering to the grand scheme of Smash longevity. And yes, while we can scratch our heads at certain elements of the execution, like no current plans for paid DLC (madness, I know), or an easy way to trade custom stages through the Wii U itself (though talks of an update have been mentioned), I still acknowledge an awareness on Nintendo’s part at paying attention to what matters most: us.

The Fans

The Fan...Err, Not Him.

Err, Not Him.

 

Yeah, Them

Yeah, Them

I say this with a certain sense of positive energy, as Nintendo hasn’t always had a healthy awareness of who really matters, as previously mentioned. Nintendo coming out and saying they want to add online functionality, including an easy way for fans to trade custom levels online means they are listening, and ultimately being more self-aware about what meaningfully relates to their games, which is good. What excites me more is that the positive momentum of Smash doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Smash U’s ambitions are just one example of Nintendo “getting it” a little more recently, another example being Mario Kart 8’s video replay system, in which Nintendo has once again showcased it’s the fans who help make the games worthwhile, and imbues them with the power to make Nintendo games more fun well after the game is released.

The Luigi Deathstare being a prime example of how developer tools (even incredibly simplistic ones) in fan hands, can help celebrate the little things about video games everyone loves so much, which is what matters at the end of the day.

Luigi Deathstare

Don’t Look At Me Like That


Okay, okay! Sorry…your death stare is anything but little, Luigi…

Just for clarity here, using Mario Kart as my current example, mindful systems with the intent of fan inclusion, is an acknowledgement on Nintendo’s part (by action at least), the company realizes one positive but big change they can make in moving forward. The Luigi Death Stare, which spawned from the replay system and through “fan creation” unintentionally helped to promote Mario Kart 8. This meme that was spawned from a 10 second clip ended up going viral and peaked so much interest about the game, it was a better advertisement for MK8 than Nintendo could have ever thought up of without the fans.

With Mario Kart 8 still in mind, you can even upload the clips to Youtube (even just aside from the mode “Mario Kart TV” in game to see what’s going on globally), which is a step forward in Nintendo using more topical technologies to acknowledge fans, and with it, a willingness to give us more control in helping to contribute to the games they make. Mario Maker is yet another example of Nintendo understanding just how important fan support, community and creation are in helping grow a healthy product, as the entire premise of Mario Maker is to make new content using an established Nintendo formula for your fellow gamers. Fan creation (and modding) have been key elements of contribution in modern day game design, a concept very successful companies in the field of video gaming adopted a long time ago.

*Cough* To Name Just One Slightly Relevant Example

*Cough* To Name Just One Slightly Relevant Example

I’m aware Nintendo has dun f***** up a lot…with the Wii U specifically, and in ways involving their own products and the community┬áthat are hard to accept as reality. In this moment, I must acknowledge that Nintendo has been imperfect in many regards, and is behind the times both technologically and conceptually in a variety of ways. However, it’s times like these I notice a willingness and effort to change, which is an excellent first step to self improvement. When I start to notice these little changes forming a bigger picture, a far more engaging bigger picture, I’m reminded while you can’t always “count” on Nintendo, they will always surprise you. This is exciting in this case, as the winds of change seem to be in Nintendo’s favor.

Let’s just hope that breeze turns into a gust and ends up being a wind storm.

Sounds Fun In Theory, Anyway

Sounds Fun In Theory, Anyway

In closing, while I’m always rowdy and raucous while playing Smash, Smash U is a part of a stable of games that represents a healthiness with it’s ambitions in relation to Nintendo’s future. A relief comes in analyzing Smash, Mario Kart etc, in that while Nintendo has shown time and time ago they know they have a community, these recent instances may be a sign they want it to be a real part of how they develop moving forward. Nintendo has shown they know how to have fun behind the wheel, but they may finally be understanding that they don’t always have to be driving for us to get somewhere good together.

Who knows? Perhaps now, like so many other developers, they realize we (the fans) know how to burn rubber too, and sometimes, having fun means throwing us the keys and saying “Let’s Go”.

Allons-Y

Clara See
11th Annoyed

~Pashford

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