It’s August 2016 and I finally Played The Last of Us

Just going to say this early on that this post will contain major spoilers for the game.

You good?

Okay. Onward.

Overall thoughts: I would recommend the game to others. Aside from narrative, how much I was entertained by a game is a huge factor in whether or not I enjoy it. I will also say that the entertainment spiked in the beginning and then didn’t quite resurface until the last third of the game for me. However, there is A LOT that this game offers and I fully acknowledge it.

Favorite things: Soundtrack, environment, character development, writing, and voice acting.

Not so favorite things: Mechanics, story.. did I mention mechanics?

I do realize that I have an unpopular opinion here when I say that story wasn’t  my favorite thing. And let me differentiate between writing and story. The dialogue was superb. I loved the characters and how their paths were executed. But the story as a whole didn’t grasp me. I will explain that later.

I believe there are quite a few things that have affected my experience of the game.

The hype. As much as I try to stay away from hype (as opposed to strong recommendations), I do believe the constant telling of “OMFG THIS IS THE BEST GAME EVER. IT’S MY FAVORITE. YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE IT” killed some of the hype I would have experienced with it. I try to keep my expectations to a reasonable standard, but once I announced my desire to play the game, my expectations of it inevitably grew. I wanted my feelings to mirror those of who played the game previously. More than a few people have told me that they wish they could wipe the game from their memory just so they could experience it again. That’s quite a compliment. Unfortunately, after completion, it ended up being that I did not share the sentiment.

Streaming. Entertaining an audience while trying to focus on a game exhausts a lot of energy. I think I did a pretty good job of equally distributing my energy between the two, so I can’t fully say if this contributed to me not being completely connected to the game. I know how I feel once I bond to a game regardless if I am streaming or not, and I did not quite feel that with TLoU though I really wanted to.

Predictability. Aside from David being revealed to be creepy AF (seriously, eff that guy), the story was highly predictable. It wasn’t hard to determine what would happen to who ie…Tess and Henry, and it was pretty easy to figure out how the game would end. Admittedly, I was about 80% right. For fun, I will write out how the ending played out in my head. I came up with the scenario after I played the Winter chapter. And hands down, Winter was the best part of the entire game aside from the DLC.

However, as I said before, I separate writing from overall story. I very much enjoyed the characters. They were done so well, even David. Each of them served a purpose, each of them were different and held their own. I don’t believe there was a weak character in the story. Certainly, some were held longer in the spotlight than others, but I didn’t feel that any of them were filler or fluff. I didn’t have to question why they existed. Even a damn deer played an important role.

The game itself was damn beautiful. That paired with its amazing effing soundtrack was such a lovely experience for those particular senses. I couldn’t get over the details of the world. Everything about the environment was 10/10 would stare at again. The parts that were beautiful were mesmerizing and the parts that were meant to scare you were pretty terrifying. Seriously, hats off to the teams who were involved with all of the above. My eyeballs and earholes thank you.

What did take me completely away from the game many times was the mechanics. I. Loathed. The. Mechanics. Most of my rage spewed out of me whenever an NPC was being anything but stealthy or when I had to make sure that I had my firearm selected because I couldn’t remember exactly what I had currently equipped in my invisible arsenal. Seriously, the gun would be holstered after about five seconds of inactivity. Anything you would have equipped (bow, firearm, smoke bomb) would be “put away” after inactivity, however, when it came down to the second you needed your firearm, that trigger function would bring up whatever item you selected last. You ever try to shoot a Clicker with a mine? It’s not very effective.

I’m horrible at stealth games, always have been. I was genuinely scared that a lot of the gameplay in TLoU relied on stealth, but I did my best. It was incredibly difficult for me to gauge how far away I had to be from infected so they wouldn’t be able to detect me. It was near impossible for me to effectively use bottles and bricks because everywhere I threw them, they were apparently just outside of an enemy’s “awareness range” or what have you. And if I was successfully sneaking around, an NPC would just fire a round off and alert the whole damn city where we were. That last one enraged me to no end. If a game wants to add stealth, then either give a player NPCs that are also stealthy or give the player the option to make an NPC aggressive or pull back entirely. I cannot tell you how many times Ellie or Bill or whoever got me killed or made my experience a living hell because they were too trigger happy.

The ending. Just FYI, this is my blog, so I’m writing entirely in my own opinion. I was fine with the ending up until Joel lied. Now there’s a lot to process here. Is Joel a bad man? Yes and no. He acted as I think most loving parents would. I did say multiple times that I believe Joel would say “phuq mankind” in the end and he did. I did not anticipate him doing the same to Ellie. What I mean by that is by lying to her, he effectively damaged or even destroyed his relationship with her. All that time building that bond, putting up with all the BS that the world had to throw at them and he lies to her. She’s not stupid. She already has her suspicions and I don’t think she bought his “yeah, I was telling the truth” either.

Is Joel a good man? Yes and no. He’s an average guy who was placed in very traumatic situations. He has protected people he’s cared for, but it’s no secret that he’s done some shady shit in his past. He has never been completely selfless, so it wasn’t a surprise for me when he took Ellie from the Fireflies. But I was not expecting him to be so selfish as to lie to her. I think it was part a) he knew Marlene was right and that Ellie would sacrifice herself b) he didn’t want to lose a second daughter  and c) he would rather Ellie hate him while she was alive.

I don’t think he realizes that her hating him for what he did will be, in a way, worse than if she were dead. Should she figure out that he lied, she could do everything she can to leave him and go back to the Fireflies. The world had taken everyone she ever loved from her. And now the one person she loves betrays her; she wouldn’t be able to trust again and could set her down an escalated tragic hero path. Speculation, but the lying just threw me. It struck me as instead of the Fireflies killing her, he did, but metaphorically.

I could write a lot more, but this post is long enough as it is. Bottom line is that the good things about the game were great and the bad things about the game made me miserable. I recognize why so many people have such high praise for TLoU, and while I wouldn’t say that the game is a top 3 favorite, there is no doubt that it’s a good game overall, and again, I would recommend it to friends.

If you care to read more, this was my end game prediction I concocted in my head after I played Winter. I’m more than likely going to write this as a fanfiction. Don’t judge. Fanfiction is awesome.

Joel and Ellie would make it to the Fireflies. Of course, they have every intent on creating a cure; however, they find that the process to make this vaccine would ultimately end up killing Ellie. And it wouldn’t be a humane death. She would suffer. Joel wasn’t going to have any of that. So he thinks “phuq mankind” and tries to bust him and Ellie out of there. He fails. Ellie ends up mid-process in whatever round of testing they run on her, it goes wrong and she’s in so much pain ,there is no way to reverse it or help her. Joel is placed in a very emotional position. He makes the decision to kill her. The last scene is Ellie’s grave next to Sarah’s and he’s singing to them.

The Pokemon Go Bandwagon

I’m going to Oreo cookie this.

The good: This game encourages you to do two things: go outside and be social. And it’s working. I live in a city where social life is very clicky and if you don’t fit into certain types of lifestyles, then you’re not going to have much of a good time. However, I spent the last couple days actually playing PokemonGo as it is meant to be played, and I had small conversations with people I’ve never met. We were all having a good time at a park and I even ran into a former coworker. She was walking around another park with her son. It was quite cute. I am fascinated how much this game has affected the lives of its players for the better in such a short amount of time.

I tend to use humor to mask my true feelings. I throw around a lot of jokes about this game in particular but this is really a strange phenomenon to me. And while I was still being cautious, I didn’t feel threatened by people around me. Last night, I forgot I was in my city. A city that taught me to never trust people. A guy walked up to me and asked me about a gym and I didn’t automatically believe he would hurt me. This is definitely a game where you need to use caution, but at the same time, I’m amazed at the camaraderie and fun innocence I’m seeing. My mind is blown. Bless this game.

The bad: On the real with PokemonGo, it’s a fun game. It’s a game that encourages you to be social, but at the same time you HAVE to use caution when you run into other people. The reality is that just because someone plays the same game as you, it doesn’t mean that they are good people. This is no different than going about your everyday life. It’s fine to meet people, but don’t tell them where you live, where you’re going to be (especially if it’s a location out in the middle of nowhere) or where you plan to be every day and night. Use caution. People are already exploiting the hype around this game and police stations are issuing warnings to people to be careful when interacting with strangers. People are leaving lure modules in Pokestops and robbing them when they show up. Yeah, that’s the kind of fucked up world we live in. We can’t even truly enjoy a game that focuses on social interaction and going outside to be healthy.

Enjoy the game. Just be careful. Please.

Back to the good. Here are some moments I’ve had/created while playing Pokemon Go.

 

 

Life Update: Holy crap, am I an adult?

I will try to make this post as short as possible because I’m sure the last thing you want to do is read a wall of text.

The bullet points!

  • I stream at twitch.tv/geekyfriedrice It’s a lot of fun. I have a small following (almost 500 followers! =D)
  • I started up a Patreon for those who wanted to donate to the stream. I veered from Paypal because I heard a bunch of horror stories about it. The content I produce from my livestreams is essentially highlights (funny/scary moments) that are entertaining to people.
  • Because Patreon has been set up, a friend of mine said that I should create a fictitious firm name so that will help track funds, make sure I file taxes as appropriate, etc…
  • Y’all know me. Community is important to me. The feelings of friendship, camaraderie, and just knowing you guys have a good time whenever I stream and make my videos are the sole reasons why I even do this stuff at all.
  • So I did a thing.

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That’s you guys! The community associated with GeekyFriedRice will now be known as the GeekyFriedRice Guild! I’m using #GFRGuild on Twitter and Twitch and it feels pretty good. Never did I think this would be something I would do in my life. I just play video games for the hell of it and it became something more than that over the last 4 years. I started streaming for Extra Life and my first stream was LITERALLY a camera being pointed at my TV. I had no idea what I was doing. But here I am and I finally found a home for friends, Twitch regulars and new followers to hang out and just have fun.

I have some other extra stuff in the works, but I wanted to say thank you to you all. And btw, fun fact, GeekyFriedRice was thought up by my buddy @BuckeyeDon. Double thank you to you, sir.

That’s it for now!

Less than three you!

Community: a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals

Definition of a community straight from Google.

People have time and time again asked me how to grow a following, build a community and how to network with those in a given industry. Truthfully, I am both humbled and bewildered that people would seek my advice in this category; however, I have come to realize that there is a level of “success” I have achieved over the years and the best rewards I have received are genuine friends and good life experience. I found myself responding with the same answers, so I wanted to consolidate them here. Please also keep in mind that while I try to be as helpful as possible, these concepts may not work for everyone. They are my own personal experiences and what work best for me. Second note, I primarily work within the video games/video production industry.

How do you use social media effectively? Short and simple of it is to just use it. If an application is widely used, you have to teach yourself how to utilize it regardless of how you feel about the interface or the overall process of the platform. You may like Twitter more than Snapchat, but both are “in” so if you want to reach a wide audience, then buck up and get to learning. You’ll find out what engages people and what drives them away. No matter what social media platform you decide to start out with, I suggest following the most popular profiles, the people who are juggernauts in that given audience. What do they produce? How do they interact with people? What’s makes them attractive to their followers/subscribers? When I say popular accounts, I don’t mean the ones that can just say “hi” and have that post spread like wildfire. I mean the ones that actually produce content in some form. You want to study people who are engaging.

Twitter works best for me as it’s a very convenient tool to use for keeping tabs on friends and people and companies that interest me. I use it as a source of not only maintaining my personal relationships but also a resource for networking and keeping up with industry news. I enjoy interacting with people whether or not they know me. Whatever I reply to, I try to ensure that it contains a certain level of quality to it as I want to bring value to the conversation. Maybe I felt like complimenting someone on their food photo or recent career achievement, maybe I wanted to offer some insight or somehow uplift a person’s spirits because they needed it. Whatever my response would be, I always aim for my words having purpose. Understand that how you respond to a company account or someone you don’t know should differ from how you interact with friends and family. That is something you should never forget.

When people say I don’t have the time to do all that. Make some. Find a balance in your calendar. One aspect of growing your community shouldn’t be your entire focus. Spread out. Example, you may be a pro at tweeting, but you cannot expect to build a following if you don’t want to invest in any others. Networking is hard and it takes time, but you will be surprised with what you learn not only about companies and industries you are interested in, but also things about yourself. If you go out into the unknown and interact with people, you will gain a lot of varied social interaction experience. You will make some mistakes, but you cannot let that hover over you for the rest of your life.

A little secret from me, I never view people as numbers or objects even if they see me that way. Bottom line in this scenario is that you learn about which people/companies you would rather stay away from as opposed to invest time in. A lot of people take this perception personally. Why? If someone openly showed their hand and it’s not to your liking, they just did you a huge favor. Think about it as a personal relationship. If your significant other revealed that you were nothing more than an object to them, you wouldn’t stay, right? Move on and gravitate toward people who would support and encourage you. That’s what I do. I want to be around people who believe in me, not drag me down. But in order to find those people, you have to do some searching. So make time to find your community. Growing an audience is part doing what you love and people finding you and part you going out and telling them that you exist.

One thing I’ve started doing is going through Twitch and finding streamers who are entertaining and interact with their chat. It’s how I would want to treat my Twitch channel, so those are the people I want to support whenever they go live. Turns out, a few of them stop by in my channel every now and then as well. Win-win.

Be genuine. People can pick up when you are not being truthful or sincere. It may not be immediate, but your actions, your words and how you present yourself make an impact on a lot of people regardless if you are in the spotlight. People know people and people talk to those people. Your reputation starts as soon as you make that first post or say that first word.

Branding. I asked people what reminded them of me and my friend, Don, said geeky fried rice. I rolled with it and it’s been my personal brand since then. My friend over at Ruby Glue Design developed the logo and I worked on how I wanted to present myself. Ultimately, I want to create a place where geeky and nerdy is accepted and required. In my younger years, my geeky hobbies were looked down upon and I was teased constantly for them, but as I’ve grown to accept myself and my passions, I decided that I want to create and provide sanctuary to those who just want to be themselves. It doesn’t matter if you love comic books or video games only or if you just love movies or cosplay…you have something in your life that you love, and I want to help you embrace and celebrate that.

tetris

Accept that you don’t know everything. There are tons of people out there who are more experienced and knowledgeable than you.  Look up to them and learn from them, even more so if you don’t see eye to eye on everything (I am serious about that). You need people who can make you see outside YOUR box. Even if you have negative experiences with people in the same field, the most important thing is that you learn something from them. There are mentors everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they are all the same type of personality. Some are friendly, and some are tough and it’s good if you run into a variety of them. It’s the best way to grow.  Keeping an open mind when you want to show that you are unwavering in what you do is great, but remember, there is a time and place to be confident and a time and a place to be humble.

Support others who are in the same boat as you. This ties into the making time to network point. Empathy is your best friend here. On your journey to building your community, you will find many others who are on the same path as you. You may not necessarily be side by side on this adventure, but your overall destination is the same. You will go through the same struggles and obstacles and you will find what your strengths and weaknesses are. You will also surprisingly learn these things of your peers. Often times, you will bounce ideas off of each other, collaborate together and you may even be in a position of offering a second opinion or advice to a comrade. I have witnessed people unintentionally shoot their peers down before any constructive criticism can be mentioned and it’s pretty brutal to watch. Don’t agree with how someone is executing a project? There’s many different ways to express that and saying “why bother? That’s f***ing stupid” or “you might as well give up right now” is not the best approach. More than anything, I want to not only build my own community, but I want to help others do so  with theirs. If I am not 100% on board with a friend’s idea, I will offer both constructive feedback and a different approach that they can consider in the future. Whether or not they take that advice doesn’t affect me, but the ways in which I offer my support matter a great deal to them.

Expectations. Stuff doesn’t happen overnight. You have to continually work to maintain your relationships, your connections, your brand, how you present yourself and of course, you have to just keep putting content out there. Keep moving forward. If you want this to happen, then don’t stop because you ran into a few obstacles. Of course you’re going to run into walls. Nothing worth having has ever been easy to acquire.

I never thought I would be here posting blogs, creating YouTube videos, making Vines, livestreaming video games and building a community of my own. My past self would never believe it. But I’ve found my niche and I don’t plan on stopping.

Until Dawn Post Game Thoughts: The towel still didn’t fall off

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My blog post will contain some minor spoilers. Fair warning. 

Until Dawn, created by Supermassive Games, is a survival thriller game that covers many forms of horror including serial killer, psychological, environmental, and paranormal.  A year ago, I was granted an opportunity to play the demo at the Playstation Experience hosted in Las Vegas. I wrote my thoughts on the demo here. For those who read my post on the demo, I will tell you that the damn towel is still magically wrapped around Hayden Panettiere’s while she runs around and throws things at a masked pursuer.

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I am happy to say that I was blessed this Christmas season, and my family chipped in to gift me a PS4,so naturally, one of the games I picked up was Until Dawn. I had seen snippets of gameplay and read positive reviews on the game and those encouraged me to purchase it. I finished two playthroughs of the game and I give it 8/10.

The bit that was available in the demo was included in the game itself, and my feelings still remain, but the rest of the game was fantastic. I love the horror genre, and I love a game that has replay value. An entire playthrough could run approximately 9-10 hours. There are 10 chapters, so be prepared to dedicate one hour or more to each of them.

I will get my main issue out of the way right now. The saving system can really mess with you. This was my scenario. I completed one playthrough. A couple people died. I want to get the trophy you would receive if everyone survived. I do not choose “New Story”, I simply replay the original save from the very beginning. I mess up in chapter 4, and I figured since I completed everything once already, I could replay the chapter and the choices I made in chapter 1-3 will save. NOPE. I replay chapter 4 and I notice that the game plays out the same way it did in my original playthrough. Your choices will only be saved if you complete the entire game all the way through. Since my first major mistake occurred in chapter 4, I start back there and continue on, so I now have a hybrid of original playthrough choices and new choices of my “second playthrough”. I get to chapter 9 and mess up again, effectively destroying my chances of obtaining the all survivors trophy. My only non-hair pulling option is to complete the playthrough and then go back to chapter 9 and not mess up again. That is my one huge grip about the game.

The replay value of the game lies in the choice system. Lots of different decisions will open or take away dialogue paths and certain areas of the game. On the first playthrough, the jumpscares got me. Some were quite predictable, but there are some pretty well placed ones throughout the game. One setback is that these scares are only effective the first time through unless you play the game a year from now and forget when they happen.

A lot of the game’s value lies with the environment. The visuals, the sounds (or lack of), the finely crafted levels that prey on one’s fear of seclusion and helplessness was incredibly rich. Playing the game twice with only one night’s rest in between was really affecting my psyche because I was in a state of constant anxiety, so I had to immediately stop after my second playthrough. It’s a great rush.

I also must give props to the voice actors. They were so spot on with their delivery and easily made me genuinely love and hate their characters. Freaking Emily, man Freaking, Emily. I only kept her alive because I want that all survivor trophy.  Seriously, the voice acting is top notch in this game. So props to Nichole Bloom for bringing to life a character I hate more than the SkiFree abominable monster snow yeti (or whatever the hell it is). You know… this creepy guy.

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Throughout the game, you take control of one of seven characters. You do not get to choose who you control as I originally assumed when I played the demo. Each character has their own personality traits; however, I did notice that it was difficult for me play as seven different people and keep in tune with their personalities without incorporating my own feelings into the decisions. Halfway through chapter 2, I had forgotten who was the intuitive one, the adventurous one, etc… and I just answered as I would naturally. You craft your responses differently once you complete one playthrough, but the value of having different personalities slowly became lost on me the longer I played. It is blatantly obvious who the nice and not so nice characters are so I just stayed with my gut instincts on reacting and then chose different options during the second run.

Overall, Until Dawn takes the best of your fears and ties everything up in a very enjoyable bundle of horror. You have no weapons and must rely on quick wit and decision making in order to survive. The game is full of intense moments, and a lot of that anxiety is inspired by the anticipation that something is about to happen as opposed to something actually happening. I would recommend this to people who enjoy the genre and who wouldn’t mind a good scare here and there.

GFR approved!

What did you guys think of the game?

My birthday wish: My 4th year with Extra Life

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I am proud to announce that I will participating in Extra Life again and just like last year, I will be leading a small team of awesome Extra Lifers to a goal of $1500. In the last three years, I’ve managed to raise nearly $3,700 for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals based in Reno and Las Vegas, and that makes me so proud and happy to be a gamer. If you are not familiar with the program, gamers from all around the world play video games (most for 24 hours straight) with the goal of raising donations for a children’s hospital of their choice. ALL proceeds go these hospitals. There are many children who benefit from this program as they suffer from illness, injury and other ailments. Every little bit helps.

For 2015, I will again be livestreaming my event and much to the enjoyment of my Twitch followers, I will be playing horror games (titles TBD). Also note that every donation of $15 or more made to my page or to my team’s page will automatically enter you into a raffle for some cool prizes. In previous years, I’ve given away game codes, video game action figures, Rooster Teeth gear etc… At a later time, I will post up specific prizes that you can win.

October also happens to be my birthday month, so reaching my goal is a very special birthday wish for myself. In lieu of presents, I encourage all my friends and family to donate to my page instead.

I’m very excited to be participating in this event again, and I hope you will come along for the ride. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated, joined my team, and shared my page. From the bottom of my heart, thank you and I love all of your faces.

For your convenience, here are all the related links:

GeekyFriedRice’s personal Extra Life Page 

Team GeekyFriedRice’s Page 

Twitch Channel

Let’s shatter this year’s goal. FOR THE KIDS!

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Blood related or not, a mother’s love is a mother’s love

When I was much younger, I always thought your mother was someone who strictly gave birth to you, and that’s it. I believed that no one else who could be your mother; the idea of a mother figure was nonexistent. I am blessed to have my birth mother in my life, and she’s still here to this day. We don’t always see eye to eye on certain things, and we do argue, but she’s always done what she felt was best for me and my little brother. She put us first before her own needs and she fought for us when she felt we were wronged. My mother has always done her best to provide for us and even when life threw us curveballs, she adapted and didn’t let anyone push her or us around. She’s quite a strong woman. Tiny, but strong. And she’s the best.

As I wrote, I am lucky to still have my mother in my life. As a kid, I never imagined my life without her. I never once considered what it would be like to look up to another woman as a mother. That concept just didn’t exist for me. It wasn’t until I played FFVI, that I realized a familial bond could exist between a child and a woman who is not his/her biological mother. I love FFVI for many reasons, mostly because all the characters were captivating, the villain actually succeeded in destroying the world, and the female characters were pretty badass. Terra Branford remains one of my favorite video game characters of all time. Terra is the first playable character in FFVI, and her story begins with her feeling lost, used and fearful of the world around her. Her memory was wiped, and she had to learn to trust people again. She began as a shell of a person but blossomed beautiful by the end of the game. Throughout the story, she begins to find herself, finds her purpose in life. It isn’t until she becomes a guardian for several orphaned children that she comes to terms with who she is and what she wants to fight for.

It was one of the most touching scenes I experienced in a video game. And it made me realize that there are many women out there who look after the people in their lives whether blood related or not. Who knew that I could learn such an important lesson from a video game? So to all the women out there who are actual mothers, mother figures, or play a similar mother hen role, I wish you a happy mother’s day. May you feel that you are always cherished, treasured, and loved by those you look after every day of your life. Thank you for your love, for your strength, for your wisdom and your patience.

Never forget that you make the world a better place.

Happy mother’s day!

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