Month: May 2013

Geek Jitsu – a special guest post

dbz vegeta dragonball z

Woah! I really wanted this week’s Geek Jitsu to be about something completely different, but then someone crushed my door with a swift blast of energy. Before I could get angry, it turned out to be Vegeta, the prince of all Saiyans! Looks like he thinks my advice in this column is rather dumb and wants to add a few…sidenotes. So yeah, let’s sit down with him and…wait a moment. Mister Vegeta, what are you doing? What, this isn’t an interview? You want to do what?! No, this is my blog, you can’t ju– AAARRGHH!!!

[ an explosion can be heard, followed by a pleased laugh ] 

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The de-mystification of games through achievements

achievement ygotas yugioh yu gi oh joey brooklyn rage

“Brooklyn Rage Achievement” by Zuo-Ci

About a week ago, I had another great conversation with my friend Dis. Dis (which is just the abbreviated version of the nickname he likes to use) is a guy who ponders about the stupidest things, but sometimes I join him in his mad thinking sprees and together we can actually discuss some fascinating things. Sometimes we elaborate on the philosophical depth of the Manual of the Warrior of the Light, just to continue the next day with a topic like euthanasia. Lately though, we have been discussing an even greater topic: achievements.

Yes folks, those blasted cheevos. Since they have become a shtick of gaming, achievements have us doing the weirdest things just to get that “achievement unlocked” pop-up. We place masks on zombies in Dead Rising, enjoy orgies in Fable II or simply press Start in The Simpsons Game. Achievements reward us for both normal and really strange activities in our favourite games, and are a nice pat on the back for most of us.

However, Dis and I came to the conclusion that achievements also contribute to the “de-mystification” of video games. In a way, achievements are spoilers. Simply seeing an achievement like “Kill Boss X without using the yellow power-ups” tells you that Boss X will probably be hard, and it also states that X will be a boss. What if X is your buddy for most of the game? Haven’t the achievements just given away a really cool twist? Also, achievements tell you about things you might not know are there. Many RPG’s hide legendary items throughout the world, which you should only learn about by talking to NPC’s or by stumbling upon them. However, one look in the achievements list tells you that you get fifty Gamer Points by finding Glundragir, Bane of the World Tree (or whatever the epic sword in your favourite RPG is called).

Of course, one might argue that in a time where walkthroughs are free to get on the Internet and message boards analyze every aspect of every title, games are already de-mystified. Still,  walkthroughs and message boards can be dodged, while it’s harder to escape from a built-in achievement list. If I want to like, I like to keep a new game exciting and mysterious, and achievements certainly don’t help.

What’s your opinion? Do cheevos ruin your sense of discovery and exploration, or do you fully endorse them, planning your playthroughs around getting as many of them as possible? Vote below, and leave your opinion!

An award? For me?

I don’t always get awards, but when I do, they come from awesome people like Cheeese Toastie! 

A few days ago, Sam Leung a.k.a. Cheeese Toastie gave a few fellow bloggers and me the Sunshine Blogger Award, a reward that travels the Internet to acknowledge bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere. Thank you very much for that acknowledgement, but as with many of these awards, I’m obliged to do a few things before I shelve it in my digital home.

  • I have to use the award logo in a post or somewhere on this site. Well, uhm…done!
  • I have to include a link back to the person who gave this nice flower to me. Alright, one more time then!
  • I have to offer ten pieces of random information about myself. See the list below for that.
  • I have to nominate ten other bloggers who deserve this nice award. Again, see the list below.
  • And finally, I have to let my nominees know about their nomination

So, let’s get to the ten pieces of random information about myself then. Be prepared to get to know the Chin a little better, Internet!

  1. I used to bite my nails, but these days, I only do that when I’m extremely nervous.
  2. Though spiders scare me, I love to watch documentaries about them. Such grace in the movement of their legs…
  3. I get nervous and annoyed when people have the hiccups.
  4. I like big butts and I cannot lie.
  5. I hate to drive cars, and I only got my license because everyone kept bugging me about it.
  6. I had braces.
  7. Christmas is my favorite holiday.
  8. I love to start pointless discussions about the most complicated topics.
  9. I’m pro-choice and a supporter of gay rights.
  10. I love “Ten Things I Hate About You”.

Was that random enough for you? Good. Now, let me pass this on to as many people I can think of. I’m not following that many bloggers, so I can’t pass it on to ten people. Still, these people deserve the Sunshine Blogger Award:

You guys keep on being awesome, and I make sure this blog remains a sunny, inspiring place. Deal?

Thanks again for the award, and keep on blogging!

Geek Jitsu – the fatter, the dumber?

nerd fat health

“Young Nerd” by Costalonga

We geeks like to think of ourselves as a bunch of intelligent, educated people. So far, about one half of the fellow nerds I met are actually pretty smart, while the other half consists of people with love for just one topic that takes up all their brain capacity. They aren’t dumb, but then again, they are stupid in a special way.

Anyway, I’m not here to discuss narrow-minded people with one-track minds. No, dear readers, it’s Wednesday once again, which means that it’s time for Geek Jitsu! So why did I start this post then with a piece about how geeks deem themselves intellectuals? Well, that’s because you should take care of your weight then, because the fatter you are, the dumber you might be!

Now, hold your horses and don’t become anorexic to save your IQ just yet! It’s not like the additional pounds on your waist are eating away your brain cells like you munch a bar of Hershey’s. However, it’s fascinating how research has shown the correlation between obesity and reduced cognitive abilities. For a while, science has suspected that there is a reason that, on average, highly educated people have less tendency towards obesity than those with a lower-educated background, but the proof for that is scarce. Now, however, science has something to use to back up such claims.

Of course, I’m not trying to say that all overweight people are dumb. That’s simply not true. What I’m trying to say though is that your physical and mental health influence each other. It’s a typical case of one needing the other, and vice versa. Yoga practitioners know that the human body is a temple, and a healthy mind can only reside in a clean temple. On the other hand, well-developed cognitive functions will help you in your quest to live healthy. They will make you question your food habits, have you process information faster and even provide you with a sense of healthy guilt every time you skip on a training session. Imagine life without that voice inside your head, pushing you to go hard!

So, the research presented above just goes to show that living healthy is not just about having a good-looking body and rocking those swimming trunks like a young Hasselhoff; it’s also about giving your mind the opportunity to grow and function normally, guaranteeing a carefree life. So next time you feel like going to McDonald’s for the third time in a week, ask yourself: how much will my cerebral cortex hate me for this?

Keep on sweating!

Wow.

xbox one reveal

Really, Microsoft? Really? That was your reveal? That’s what you had us waiting for? That’s what will innovate gaming, according to your marketing machine? Wow. Just wow.

Really, I hate to be cynical here, especially since people might call me a fanboy because of my more positive opinion about the PS4, but I just can’t hold myself. I’ll admit, features like the voice and Kinect control give the console a futuristic, somewhat cool feeling. However, if you want to impress the general gamer, don’t base your game reveals around almost only sports titles. If you do that, you might as well call your console the Brobox and ship it with a free six-pack of Budweiser and some cups to play beer pong in between Forza races.

Do I sound disappointed? That’s because I am. When Sony decided to put the bar not all that high, I was hoping that Microsoft would take the chance to re-ignite the console war. This excuse for a successor to the Xbox 360 barely touches the bar.

As I said, I hate to be the grumpy hater, and my lack of arguments for my disappointment makes this piece of text not much better than your run-off-the-mill angry forum post, but I just have to put this somewhere. Maybe it’s not you, Microsoft, but me? We might work it out somehow.

Oh well, let’s wait for E3. Maybe Microsoft is holding back some great reveal, which will force Sony to step up their game. Please, allow me some wishful thinking after this boring reveal…

P.S.: I call dibs on designing the Brobox. Should it fist-bump the players at the start of every gaming session, or call them “dude” every five seconds?

Participating in the War for the Overworld

war for the overworld wfto kickstarter

In January of this year, Subterranean Games ended its Kickstarter for War for the Overworld, a game that has been described and is to many the “official” spiritual successor of Dungeon Keepers. If you enjoy funny, yet somehow dark strategy games, you will have probably played at least one of the two Dungeon Keeper titles published by Bullfrog Productions. And, if you’re like me, you’ve been waiting for a part three for fourteen long, long years. Folks, let me tell you that War for the Overworld will be that part three.

Now, I might be getting ahead of myself here. Since Thursday, you can buy the Bedrock Beta of WFTO, and so far, there’s not much to do in-game. Sure, you can already dig your way through rocks and build a few rooms, but many other functions still have to be implemented. Luckily, the developers are really transparent when it comes to the design process. Weekly updates will expand the game gradually, and for €21, you can follow the evolution of this very promising game while being the first to play with the ever-expanding range of features. So far, it already feels and looks like Dungeon Keepers, which is causing the child inside of me to jump around like it skipped on his Ritalin prescription.

If you want to:

  • show your support for a great developer
  • your love for a successor to one of the funniest games in existence
  • be a part of a long, yet interesting design process

then you should certainly fork Subterranean Games some cash and be a part of this thingy. Be aware though that you’ll participate in a real beta, not something an MMO developer would call a beta just to cover up what is actually a soft launch. You will find bugs. Many bugs. You have been warned.

Then again, all the bugs in the world can’t live up to the fact that I’m digging tunnels again while staring at creepy yet cute minions. Must resist the urge to slap them too much…

Why you should give RIFT a spin when it goes F2P

f2p survival header

Over at GFN, I talked about the ins and outs of F2P games. After finishing the piece, I was far too eager to dive back into RIFT . I just couldn’t wait until June 12, so one thing lead to another and before I knew it, I was knee-deep in Telara and all its wonders. From day one, RIFT always felt like a pretty polished game to me. Though it follows many of the genre’s tropes, it’s a lot of fun to play. I hadn’t touched it in a while, so I was surprised by all the neat little additions. Trust me, there’s A LOT in RIFT these days, and soon, you can get it all for free. Free! Still not hyped? Alright, let me help you out!

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Geek Jitsu – Tumblr reminded me of something

Let me share a little something with you: Tumblr scares me. The reason for that is simple: I don’t know a single sane person who’s on there, and most of the stuff that Tumblr spawns is related to some weird fandom I just can’t wrap my head around (why do all you geek girls love Tom Hiddleston so much?!). Some people warn you of 4chan’s /b/, but I warn people of Tumblr in its entirety.

Now, to be fair, even the darkest hellhole of the Internet can be of use for something, and this week, Tumblr reminded me of some handy knowledge. The picture below appeared on seinen-engel’s Tumblr, and has been madly reblogged:

I want to use this week’s Geek Jitsu to discuss this list, since I think that this is relevant to many a geek trying to live healthy. In a subculture where both genders are heavy sexualized in our media of choice, be it games, movies, tabletop RPG’s or the likes, it’s easy to associate many superficial physical features with health. The list above should be a helpful reminder to you, but I still want to work it through, point by point.

  • The first three items on the list: I summed up my opinion about that pretty well in another edition of Geek Jitsu, so there’s nothing left to say.
  • Rips and hip bones aren’t meant to be visible: while some of us are just bony by nature, most geeks will have a normal physical appearance. That includes the fact that your rips and hip bones shouldn’t be showing. If they do, you might consider actually gaining some weight.
  • Collarbones are not meant to jut out: unless you’re Benedict Cumberbatch, everything I said on the previous point applies here as well.
  • It’s normal to have rolls on your stomach when you sit down or bend over: how also would you want to bend over then? D’you want your belly to be just in the way? Trust me, nature got you covered, even if it makes you look like you’re a walrus. Trust me, you’re not!
  • It’s normal to have a stomach that curves out: it really is. Of course, there’s a difference between a curved stomach and carrying around a keg of concentrated fat, but I’m assuming that my readers are smart enough to spot the difference.
  • Both points about stretch marks: this doesn’t just apply to girls. As a guy with a stretch mark-covered belly, I know how annoying and ugly they can look. However, after thinking about it, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. As the picture says, stretch marks come from growing, but they do also appear when you lose weight. Your skin is a bit loose there, still used to the amount of fat it had to cover. This makes your stretch marks badges of honor, showing the world how you won the fight against yourself. Wear them with pride, and have the world know that you are a symbol of physical change!
  • BMI charts are not accurate: thank you for supporting me here, list! I keep telling people  the BMI is no accurate way of telling if you have a healthy weight or not. It leaves out too many factors (like muscles) and will only depress you. It’s a nice general indication, but not the doctrine that should control your life.
  • Six packs abs are not necessary: though my vanity would like to disagree, my logic has to agree with this points. Having good-looking abs is nice and great to impress the ladies, but they are no prerequisite for a healthy body. If you want a six-pack, go out and get it, but don’t believe that others can’t look good without one.
  • Eating whenever you are hungry is perfectly fine: though I technically agree, I would like to point out that you should get to know the difference between being hungry and just wanting to eat. I’ll discuss that in another installment, but you can already think about it. Nevertheless, starving yourself doesn’t grant you a super-powered body, it only shows how stupid you are.
  • The best way to get a bikini body is to a put bikini on your body: power to everyone who just does that, but be ready for some backlash!

That’s my two cents about this list. Generally, I think it’s a good idea to keep it somewhere visible, as a helpful reminder and a good set of guidelines. Thank you, Tumblr, for providing me with something not-fandom-related and / or really scary.

Geek on!

 

It’s a great time to love (digital) card games

As my recent posts about the mother of all trading card games show, I am a big fan of the genre. Something about building your own deck, tinkering with it game after game, until you have the ultimate tool to wreak havoc on your friend’s cards is just alluring, and there’s a reason I keep trying different TCG’s over and over again. It’s great to know then that several big fishes of the industry are about to launch a few new titles, and this post is dedicated to three digital TCG’s I’m looking forward to.

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A Marvelous Weekend

marvel heroes roleplaying action cortex

“Marvel Comics presents cvr” by Elde;gado

Next to having too much fun during a birthday party and a Mark Knopfler concert this last weekend, I found a way to make Friday till Sunday even more awesome by squeezing in some Marvelous pastimes. Yes, that’s Marvelous with a capital M, since both of the games I played this weekend use the Marvel universe as their setting. Together with Dee, I explored the rules of Cortex Plus and the Civil War campaign in the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game, while I was also able to take a quick look into the final beta weekend of Gazillion’s free-to-play game Marvel Heroes. What’s my opinion about both games? Well, read on to find out.

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