Thursday, 20 December 2012 12:07

The Legend of Noel

Where Christmas and gaming combine

It's staring at us, mockingly existing in the digital space, taunting us from its fortress of my parents' 32', 4,000 pound CRT beast. The gentle Wii menu music chimes around our mental anguish, flowing like a river around two stones. We know it has to be done, but we fear pain, we fear frustration, we fear defeat. We aren't the stone-cold bundles of reflexes and Pixie Sticks that we once were back in the mid-'90s, when it was still okay to have an NES and 'Boy Meets World' was still in production. It's haunted us for years, a black mark on our gaming records, but today, we move forward unto a new dawn.Today, we shall play 'Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.'

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 28 November 2012 23:42

Bottom of the ninth at St. Joe's

Gaming through grief

Six floors. Six floors to the top of St. Joseph Hospital and the temporary home of close to a dozen of my family members for the past four weeks. Days like this, the weight on my shoulders told me I was carrying the elevator instead of the other way around. Since my grandmother had been admitted with weakness, things had steadily progressed into a spiral of unknown maladies until she was reduced to a mere shadow of her former self. I sat next to her bed as her eyes flickered back and forth, microseconds of wakefulness that were immediately dragged into what appeared to be nightmarish minutes of restless sleep.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 18:09

Presenting The Protomen

Gaming's best tribute band is barely a tribute

This world is full of people between the ages of 23-35, covering NES music in an attempt to hold onto the awesomeness that was 8-bit gaming. They pour themselves into their work, trying to recreate each and every note exactly as they remember it from their childhood, clad in their Transformers/She-Ra jammies as they explored these lo-res environments of imagination.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 15:51

Quad-Core Hipster Power Pro

A new MacBook put through the gauntlet

I finally broke down and joined the dark side. Citing high-demand professional needs, I broke the bank and invested in a new MacBook Pro. Now, surely you're all thinking that this computer (whom I fondly refer to as Wheatley and/or The Intelligence Dampening Quad-Core) was obviously going to raise my productivity to new heights at work.

Pfft. No. Gaming.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 16:14

Top five series in gaming

5: 'Final Fantasy' 


Whatever your opinion on the post-Sakaguchi/Umaetsu era, there is absolutely no doubt who shaped the RPG as we know it. During the 90s, Squaresoft (now Square-Enix) seemed to have an intricate knowledge of making a narrative that could pull you in and give you a personal connection with each character. The amount of emotion that was given to each and every one of their characters was evidence of the time spent making them individuals in their own right. The battle systems were sleek yet complex, and the added challenge of hidden bosses lurking the dark corners of the world made each experience both unique and familiar.

Published in Tekk
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 15:53

My empire of dirt

One man's decision to walk away from gaming

Some time ago, I contacted a friend of mine through the time-honored method of cellular text, inquiring if he'd like to partake in a match of 'Sins of a Solar Empire.' I was a little perplexed and intrigued when he responded with a very serious request for me to do something incredibly important for him, something that could very well define our friendship. With far more than a bit of curiosity, I agreed to hear him out, and he sent me one of the longest novels of text that I've ever received in this digital age.

My friend was incredibly upset with himself. He felt that he was wasting his life away whenever he played video games, that his need for entertainment was transcending his desire and ability to be creative. Whenever he immersed himself in a game for long periods of time, he would come out of the fog depressed and angry with himself for wasting so much time on something that wouldn't last. There was no way he could balance gaming with the rest of his life, and he felt that if he continued, he would wreck any possibility of being a productive member of society. In a move to distance himself from this kind of behavior, he asked me to keep him accountable and keep him away from video games.

Published in Tekk
Friday, 08 June 2012 12:42

Stuck on Repeat

Connecting the cubicle farm with gold farming

I'd like to warn you in advance: This one is going to be rife with my patented brand of pseudo-psychological gibberish. Please brace your BS meters in advance.

Today, I'd like to discuss the impulse that drives us to grind in video games. Now, I'm not talking about that nasty little dance move that creep from the local club likes to pull off when he's had one too many Jell-O shots. For the layperson, grinding is any activity in games that requires an incredible amount of repetitive action spread over a long period of time in exchange for experience, skill levels or items.

Long considered a lost art, grinding was not only expected in the early days of RPGs, it was a downright necessity to lengthen games that otherwise would be fairly short. Hundreds of hours would need to be spent running back and forth in fields, forests and dungeons, enticing random monsters to throw themselves on your character's swords in order to gain level after yet another level. As we progressed in terms of technology and gameplay mechanics, we never really abandoned grinding, we just refined it. Random encounters in 'Dragon Warrior' became strategic material gathering in 'Mass Effect 2.' Experience was added to shooters and gave new life to the genre, possibly most prolifically with 'Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.' MMOs introduced epic quest chains to obtain the most powerful weapons and armor in the game, and some, such as 'EVE Online,' actually require days and sometimes weeks to train certain skills.

Published in Tekk
Thursday, 24 May 2012 12:58

Social Networking's Quiet Curse

Quietly cursing at social networking

In the dark, quiet days of the beginning of the 21st century, there were many places to express yourself on the interwebs. These ancient relics, some still in view today, were known as 'blogs.' These grammatical punching bags offered a way relieve the stress from the everyday grind. Hidden behind anonymity, we could unleash a torrent of vitriol and suppressed thoughts, relieving stress and making our opinion known to all. Problem is, you needed the exact address to get to these blogs, making it a little harder for prying eyes to find.

Enter Myspace.

While not the first social networking site to come along, it was the first one to reach mythic proportions of popularity. MySpace offered a way to connect you with all of your friends by name, so you suddenly had an audience with which to share the thoughts you generally hid throughout the day. Problem is, now people knew exactly what you thought of them after you'd been far too nice to them. Your anonymity couldn't save you from being labeled a hypocrite.

Then we all found Facebook.

Published in Tekk

BANGOR - When Jon Logan started college at the New England School of Communications in Bangor, he knew he needed to attend class, study hard, pass in all his homework, and if there was any time left over after all that, then he could spend it any way he wished. However, this sophomore is now discovering using his free time to play and review video games is not only earning him class credit but also the attention of quite a few followers, including IGN Entertainment - a media, digital distribution and game technology site that's a division of News Corporation.

"I never thought it would take off like this," said Logan, who created the blog as part of a class assignment in February.

"The reason I started doing it is a lot of gaming web sites are getting agenda based, telling you what they want you to hear, " explained Logan. "I wanted to talk about things going on in an unbiased manner."

Logan reviews and blogs about console, PC and handheld games. He writes about how the game looks, whether a user will find it easy or a struggle, and if the game is fun or not. While blogging about the PlayStation Vita, Logan posted some covers and backgrounds he created himself that can be used on the handheld gaming system. 

Published in Tekk
Thursday, 05 April 2012 15:06

A Link To The Past

The beast called Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a terribly funny thing, a cruel, warped mistress that can build our memories to god-like expectations. For instance, I write this while listening to an old recording of my old band, and hearing my 18-year-old voice crack and passionately hit high notes that I had no business reaching for. But as I listen to it, I remember the feeling of being onstage, belting out words that came from my heart, the weight of a microphone in my hand and a feeling of being exactly where I belong.

Games run this same gamut with me. I'll hop over to Good Old Games or find some Top 100 NES/SNES games, browse through the list, and upon seeing my childhood favorites, my eyes grow distant and my heart wistful. It's like all of my friends have come together for a high-school reunion.

'Oh, Lords of the Realm II! Do you remember the good times we had sending those peasants to fill in the moat under a hail of arrows? And how you could send correspondence with the AI opponents, like sending fart jokes under the banner of a compliment? Sheesh, that was endless fun! How are you making out these days? Oh, Sierra went under? That's too bad, man. Your third game sucked? Aw, man, I am so sorry. Hey, I'd love to stay and chat, but I see Space Quest and King's Quest over there, and I wanted to catch up with them. Take it easy, Lords of the Realm II!'

Published in Tekk
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