Month: July 2013

How the Summer Sale caused a blast from the past

rpg maker vx aceBack when I was in my early high school years, I was somewhat socially awkward. Luckily, while I still was figuring out how to engage in a real conversation without breaking a sweat or having a weird sound escaping my mouth, science was being awesome and introduced the Internet to an even wider audience. Cable connections shoved aside the slow 56k connections, and my dad decided that it was time to hook us up to the World Wide Web. It must have been somewhere around that time where I forgot about improving my social skills and decided to live a big part of my life online.

The Internet had a magical hold on. The bare thought that I could find whatever I wanted by simply typing in a browser was amazing. Before I knew it, I was visiting forums, chatrooms and fansites, browsing from the moment I came back from school to the moment my mom told me that my eyes would turn square if I stared at the screen any longer. One of the many beautiful things I found on the Web was the RPG Maker and the community that surrounded it. Making my own SNES-graphics RPG’s without any programming knowledge? Well, sign me up!

Well, one thing lead to another, and before I knew it, I had become a central person in the really tiny Dutch community of “Makers” (believe me, it was so small that, technically, everyone was a central person), while also keeping in touch with the huge German and gargantuan international community. Mind you, I never finished making a single game. I just played around: I tried out something nifty here and there, fiddled with an idea one day just to cast it aside on another and just had so much fun talking with others about the complexities of game design. Though I was barely 14, I already had learned so much about creating good-looking environments, the conflict between gameplay versus story and how the things I was doing were nothing compared to the big fish in the gaming industry. It was humbling, but also valuable learning experience.

However, I grew up and my interests changed. Without actually putting any effort into it, I had become able to interact with “real” people, and before I knew it puberty hit me with all its power. The RPG Maker and the community around it became a thing of my past, and I moved on to bigger things…until just a day ago. That’s when I saw it: RPG Maker VX Ace on sale on Steam! I knew about the latest addition to the RPG Maker family for a while, but the hefty price tag had put me off. Now, I was able to get it for a measly twenty bucks! I forked over my cash, and before I knew it, I was game-building like in 2002!

Suprisingly, my biggest catch in the Summer Sale so far hasn’t been a game, but a piece of software enabling me to make games. I’m not saying I’m gonna create a full game this time around, but you can be sure I’ll spend some time in that fancy new RPG Maker. I mean, who can resist a combination of nostalgia and the feeling of being a real game designer? I certainly can’t.

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The one that got away

When you’re halfway through your twenties and you had a wine or beer too many, you start thinking about everything in life. Your table at the pub turns into a Greek acropolis, where you and your drunken mates have gathered to discuss philosophy and the choices one makes when growing up. The liquor has given every one of you mental agility, leaping from topic to topic. Sooner or later, your congregation of shot-drinking and pint-swallowing wannabe toga-wearers comes to the one topic every man only discusses when a) having consumed enough Heineken and b) when surrounded by mates who have had an equal or higher amount of alcohol. It’s a topic that has us facing our worst decisions. It’s talking about the one that got away.

I remember mine. Man, she was perfect. At least, the first time I saw her. All the other guys said: “Chinster, she’s been in town for quite a while, but only attracts the weird dudes. Y’know, the one who think calculus is fun”. I never thought calculus was fun, but I certainly thought she was fun. So I went over to her. We talked for a while, and she told me what she was about. She was really into space. She told me about how she would love to visit far away worlds, flying her own spaceship with all she needs. As we stared into the night sky, naming our favorite constellations, she told me about how she thought a future society in the stars would look like. I was all ears, and while she just talked about interstellar trading lanes and warp drives, I was marvelled by the vista provided by the stars above and her looks next to me.

The problem was that when I met her, I was still a boy, and she was already a real woman. She had depth and complications. While I just wanted to watch the stars and talk about science-fiction, she wanted me to get involved in all kinds of complicated matters. You see, she had this whole group of friends who were also really into her, but in a platonic way. They met every evening to talk about their ideas of a future society in space, and they had some really complicated thoughts going on. They mapped out entire systems, and even had pretend wars over them. It was crazy! While I just talked about how cool it would be to fly a spaceship, they wanted to know what I thought about a trading route between their fictional star system A and B. I didn’t care about trading and politics, I wanted to talk about how we shoot each other up in our cool spaceships!

Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last long. She made everything far too complicated, though when I look back at it, she had everything I wanted: great looks and so much depth. Don’t get me wrong, I had many after her, and I’m glad to have the one I have now, but it still feels like she’s the one that got away because frankly, I was just a boy, while everything she provided was meant for true men.

Her name? Eve. EVE Online. She will forever be my MMO that got away…

Being a fan of fans

“Fangirl Vision” by pie1313

Fans (by which I mean the people who adore certain things, rather than the metal devices I bless these days for keeping me cold) are something I love to observe. This sounds weird (and it probably is), but studying the behavior of people who belong to one or multiple fandoms should be a science in itself. Fanology sounds catchy, so let’s go with that.

To clarify my fascination with fans, you must know that I can be a really enthusiastic man (trust me, if I love something, you’ll know), but for some reason I lack the capability of being a real fan. What do I mean when I say “real fan”? Well, let me tell you about living with a few girls who are all really awesome and stuff, but who all have the capability of “fanning hard” (gosh, that sounds wrong) when it comes to their fandoms. They are the kind of people who are up-to-date about when the next book from their favourite author is published, who discuss the last episode of their beloved show in depth on all social media and who turn into drooling and mindless teenagers when they see certain actors. They show honest and deep love for whatever they…well, love, and don’t mind if the world finds them strange for that. Watching them is a pure delight, as these highly-educated women use their vast mental capabilities to dissect shows like Supernatural or Hannibal, while getting all pumped about a tweet from some presumably hot actor.

And you know what? I love them for that. I’m a fan of them because of that. Not just of those girls I used to live with, but of fans in general. These die-hard fanboys and fangirls are both fascinating and disturbing, and this stark contrast just begs to be observed. Different fandoms are social structures on themselves, but no matter if you geek out about Harry Potter, Game of Thrones or some elf dude who had fifteen seconds of screen time in The Hobbit, certain elements can be found in each and every fandom. Though the thing they love might be different, the way they love is the same, and it’s always curious to observe.

Yeah, I might never be as big a fan as some of those people, but I will always be a big fan of all you fans out there! Though you scare me from time to time and have me question my faith in the intellect of my generation, I do understand that all you do is out of love. And what is born from love, often gives birth to love…even if that love is expressed in really gross Yaoi fanfic featuring My Little Pony and one of those guys from Merlin.

Oh fandoms, you never cease to amaze and disgust at the same time.

With (cautious) admiration,

the Chindividual

How To Get Through the Loading Screen

The video above is fairly accurate representation of what many people (including me) do during loading screens. Though I didn’t get smashed while waiting for my game to load so far, I recognize a few very familiar things in this video.

It makes me wonder…what do you people do while you’re waiting for the level to pop up? How do you cope with waiting for your buddies to click the “Ready”-button when playing a co-op game? Share your bizarre and strange activities with all of us!

In a perfect world

In a perfect world, many things would be better. Mondays would be smooth, weekends would last longer and the birds singing in the morning while you crawl back from the pub would tell you where the heck you left your front door keys. A perfect world would be, well, perfect.

Seeing how it would be perfect, we would also not have different consoles in this gaming utopia. All the giants of industry would have banded together to create the perfect console, a divine machine capable of a million things. You could play games however you want to play them: alone, with friends on your couch, online with strangers, while you stream your gameplay, while the NSA records your body temperature et cetera. Everything about this imaginary messiah of gaming would be perfect, and there would be no debate about it.

In this dream of a world, companies would not screw their customers and give them what they want: good games. It’s so simple, yet it seems so hard to grasp. We do not want all these fancy doohickeys and gizmos. We don’t need extra functionality or bombastic graphics. All we want is a piece of art, in which every stroke contributes to the total beauty of the creation. If something does not support the game’s fun and engaging gameplay, it is simply left out in this oh so perfect world.

This perfect world would know games that are only published when they are ready to be published, leaving money-hungry sharks out of the equation. Developers would be treated like the artists they are, and their paintings would not be put up for auction before the last highlight has been placed. Games would not be something you consume and then throw away; they would be tales we look back to when we are in the mood for nostalgia, and a warm feeling would rise in our bellies every time we do.

In a perfect world, this post would not be necessary.

Angels & Demons – it’s not about good or evil, but about right and wrong

“Demon VS Angel” by JoeSlucher

WARNING: The following post uses stories, creatures and terminology from real-world religion. People who are easily offended might avoid this post. The author does not intend to ridicule any religion more than it already does itself, but you are hereby warned. 

If you think this post will be about one of Dan Brown’s most popular books, I have to disappoint you. While I do like his works, this tale will be about real angels and demons (as far as there are real ones). Servants of good and evil are an eternal trope of fantasy and fiction in general. Since the day that humanity tells stories about gods and deities, it also tells about their semi-divine servants and messengers. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, angels and demons are common envoys of respectively God and the Devil, who epitomise good and evil. It is only logical then that angels and demons are than perceived as the good guys on one side (angels) and the bad guys on the other (demons). However, given the origin of the divide between angels and demons, I believe that the conflict between them is more one of who is morally right and who is wrong. ¬†Leave your bibles at home, ’cause we’re in for a metaphysical essay without the religious dressing!

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Still alive

Moving is serious business, and I’m glad I’m safe and sound in my new place. The only damage I took was a cut from ruining my blender, but for the rest I’m all nice and well. Next to starting living in my new place, I also had my first day at my new job. Starting out in a new job always feels like being an intern again: you have no clue of what the eff is going on, and every time you walk over to a colleague or superior to ask something, you feel like your question will be one of those stupid, eye-rolling annoyances no one wants to put up with. Still, I like the atmosphere in the office so far, and the fact that it’s just a fifteen minutes walk from my new home is also a big plus.

Anyway, considering that I’m slowly settling in and getting used to my new routine, my posting and update behavior will also return to what you’re used to. Who knows, maybe I’ll do something crazy like vlogs in the future. No one knows, but what I know for sure that I look forward to writing again for this blog, and I look even more forward to you reading, commenting and discussing what I put up here.

Thank you for dropping by, I haven’t forgotten about all of you!

Sincerely,

The Chin