Category Archives: #writing

The Wizard – Browser Game Review

The Wizard is a browser turn based fantasy puzzle game that will have you mapping out your moves, turn by turn, to collect treasure and new spells. Using a fun, unique spell casting system, you’ll chase down a thief through dungeons under the Wizard’s Academy. Fairly difficult challenge without a checkpoint system may leave most abandoning the game early on. But fans of Advance Wars and Final Fantasy Tactics will enjoy the atmosphere and planning required to move level to level.

Divekick – Indie Game Review

Divekick is a 2D fighter consisting of only two buttons built on a foundation of a simple move popularized by fighting games like the ones from Capcom. Trust me when I said that there is a great amount of depth and strategic gameplay available offering multiple characters to choose from, specials, and enhancements to tailor your fighter to your style. Local multiplayer and story modes are available which offer hours of enjoyment, but prepare to wait in an empty room while trying to connect to an online match.

Starting off

Wanna Go Fast

Before I started into this speedrun soiree, I did my fair amount of research and immediately ran into some roadblocks. Finding a speedrunning community is simple enough then you discover that there are multiple communities that are governed with a different rule set (well, most of them are similar except for the big one that you’ll find out about a little later.)

These communities, three of which are the power players, are SpeedRun.com, SpeedRunsLive.com, and SpeedDemosArchive.com. Each community has a different set of runners, rules, regulations, and following. Each community also has a different time for the fastest ANY% in Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers by a different runner.

So… what do I do now?

Do I try to follow and submit to just one of the sites or all of them? I started reading over the FAQs of each board looking for what is legal and what isn’t. See this speedrunning business is serious stuff. The members of the movement in beating games as fast as possible is an extremely small niche.

No one wants to cheat and display an unrealistic time in speedrunning. Because of this, the majority of these speed sites refuse accept emulators as a platform regardless of the version or style. It’s just too hard to find out if it’s a TAS or if there are any cheats enabled that may help the runner avoid damage or running through walls and the like.

SDA logo

Recording and streaming your gameplay makes it one more step difficult because the only accepted forms of recording is through a DVD recorder (are they still making DVDs?) or some sort of capture card to the computer, split video cables; just a bunch of stuff I don’t have and am afraid to purchase because at the moment I don’t know if I’m going to go through with this from start to finish.

If you read the Beginnings post (and you should), I noted at the bottom that if I was going to really take this seriously and work hard to get this done, I would like to be on AGDQ (Awesome Games Done Quick). Which, surprisingly enough, is sponsored by SpeedDemosArchive.com. Which means…

IMAG0009Yea, so no emulators allowed with SDA, but they do encourage using them to practice for obvious reasons (more on this later). I’m forced to use an emulator and the best controller I have at the moment is a PSone to USB converter. I do not own a NES to USB converter (which I need to get), so this is the closest thing I’ve got.

I started using the FCEUX emulator in the beginning but realized that the emulator seemed to run a little slow for my taste. I don’t know if it’s just the fact that I’ve played this game on actual hardware so much that I noticed the emulator just wasn’t running right. I don’t know, it just felt funny.

IMAG0010I then moved to the Nestopia emulator and had a much better experience. And yes, before you start to freak out, I do own a physical copy of the game so I’m not doing anything wrong. Let it go people! It’s a 25 year old game! Nobody cares anymore. Certainly not Nintendo and sure as hell not Capcom. Disney might. I hadn’t thought of that until now… hmm…

I continued my research by reading forum posts from the current holder of the single player ANY% speedrun by a guy known as Jeff Feasel coming in at 0:10:13 which was done back in 2011. Super long time again. Granted the run is pretty flawless. He gets some of the best RNG on bosses 2 and 3, nice jump patterns, etc. It’s a really nice run.

He gives a pretty good breakdown of what he did to get the lowest timed run and some tips to how he manipulated some of the enemies to do what he wanted them to do to help him along. On top of this, he’s humble. He states in his write up on the run:

 

In general there is still some room for improvement. There are two places I pointed out where a few seconds could be saved by using riskier tactics (Area F, and the boss of Area I).

So not only does he know that it can be better, he informs the reader on where so that someone else may have a go at it. Very cool stuff.

So, with all of that out of the way, what’s next? Well now it’s time to start playing. And figuring out ways to break the living shit out of this game.

The Beginnings

Wanna Go Fast

 

So the first question is always why? (Well other than which game) Why would you take so much time playing one game just to see how fast you can beat it? I’ll answer your question with another question (and I think you know where I’m going with this) which is “Why not?”

For those of you who have seen any of the Games Done Quick or TAS (Tool Assisted Speedruns) videos, you can see some crazy shit. I’m not kidding. Some of the stuff that these runners pull off isn’t just out of this world, it’ll melt your childhood. It’s amazing what you can do within the confines of a videogame that the developers would have never intended. Luckily with the absence of the internet during the 80s and 90s (years where the majority of the games played were created), these exploits can’t be patched out like new games can today. This has bred a community that finds these tiny holes in a game’s code and blow them wide open.

More specifically for me, it’s the idea of completely understanding something through and through. Since the game itself is finite (for the most part at least, you can still find new things in really old video games) meaning that there is an end to what can be learned. I like that feeling. Knowing how everything moves, how everything ticks, when to jump, when not to jump. That makes me feel… warm inside. It’s a strange feeling, but it’s kind of like knowing every single line to your favorite movie. You are still going to watch the moving again and again, but you have that feeling of standing next to your best friend. It’s a good feeling.

Now onto my game. I picked the Nintendo Entertainment System’s Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers. It wasn’t a random choice mind you. It started from a conversation that Eric Bailey and I were having over Twitter during one of the AGDQ events (Awesome Games Done Quick). He had heard about a challenge of playing a single player game in 2 player mode. Meaning that you’ll have to carry the second character around the entire game without killing him or dying in the process.

Upon further research, it appears that the challenge was initially created by a gamer known as BenevolentDickNES to another YouTuber known as Lumpz the Clown. For the video in question you can find that here.

Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers

 

Chip and Dale was a game that I’ve played through the majority of my childhood and was very fond of both it and the cartoon. It seemed like a good a choice as any when deciding to start speedrunning. So that’s pretty much it.

On top of that it’s a fairly short game. Quick paced, fun platformer, and just a great game in general. There’s very little RNG (random number generator. See you are learning all types of new things today. Good on you.), very predictable for learning patterns and the like. Plus I actually own a copy of the game which is a huge win (more on that later).
I’m hoping to document this as much as possible with no official end date in sight. I’m planning on writing down as many of my raw thoughts as possible along with any and all resources I plan on using or discovering. So welcome to my journey, I look forward to seeing how far I get. Maybe even to AGDQ? Maybe not. We’ll see. Whoooo!

Mastering the Game – 300 Words – REVIEW

300words review-banner

Searching the bookshelves at your local library will find many titles dedicated to bettering your life and your workplace. On the opposite side, a much smaller section, is a section of books based on video games. Never the two shall meet. And how could they? Mastering the Game: What Video Games Can Teach Us About Success in Life bridges that gap by showing how video games have transferable skills into the real world through a process author Jon D. Harrison notates as allegamy.

Team work, communication, time management, multitasking, problem solving; these are just a few of the skills that will propel you in the workplace. Honing these skills typically come from workshops, panels, on-site training, or boring videos on YouTube. But video games, although not in a direct manner of thinking, teach and train these important skills just by playing through a dungeon in the Legend of Zelda or an online match in Halo 3. Harrison points to popular games millions have played and shows that what you learn in a tutorial of your favorite shooter does transfer outside of video games. Harrison sites many games that on the surface look like a simple waste of time yet demonstrate core values and award for successful ventures.

Harrison also shows how games like Journey for the PS3 sets the stage for selecting your own path in life by presenting short term and long term goals and rewarding you for a job well done. That it’s OK to be confused or lost but know that there are signs or items you can pick up to get yourself make on track for your own happiness.

Mastering the Game is a quick read with eye opening accounts and packed full of awe inspiring connections found in those dusty cartridges sitting on your shelf.

http://classicallytrained.net/

Purchase Mastering the Game on Amazon

Print Length: 256 pages
Publication Date: March 28, 2015
Language: English
ASIN: B00UCRYILS

Mastering the Game by Jon D. Harrison