Reflection Time: My Blog Report Card

When I am gloomy I like to clean.  I like to clean my place and I like to clean my blog. As I was organizing my blog posts, I noticed maybe I should proofread before I hit the “Publish” button. I am so embarrassed, hehe. I made several typos.   Oh what a pain! I have to go through all my posts and make it pretty so that I can appear to be somewhat professional, even though I am just writing for fun.  Although lately, I think I should be more serious about what I want to achieve from this blog. What I intended for this blog in the first place has shifted. I was writing about games, but now I want to focus on my poems and songs. I would like to become a full-time poet/lyricist actually.

Yes, these days, I play games seldomly.  I did get my copy of Shenmue. I enjoy it but didn’t get very far. I am at the part where I need to join the mafia to figure out who is the tattoo artist. So far, it’s a fun detective/drama type game. I feel like I am playing an Asian soap opera.

One  character that stood out to me the most is the old lady. She kept telling Ryo (the protagonist) baby Ryo to stop wasting time. Somehow I feel that she was speaking to me as well.  I kept pressing X so she got annoyed and told me I’m hitting on her. So funny! Yeah, I will continue on my investigation. Similarly, my friends are like the old lady in Shenmue.  I am being lectured to cultivate my creative side and stop wasting time.  So that’s what I have been doing other than cleaning my place.  Telling an artistic person to be organize is like asking her to do the impossible.  Never know when inspiration strike! Once I am gone I am gone! It does take me a whole day to clean because I get distracted easily.

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Anyway, this blog will be quiet for some time. No gaming related content, as I am planning for a vacation. From now on,  I think I will do this Blog Report Card because it helps me put things into perspective. I was so close to deleting the blog after all this work.  I confess, I was feeling a bit stiff, as if I can’t breathe.  I started asking myself what’s the point? I know that my opinions are not popular, but then I realize I am  going to stand up for it anyway! And I don’t give a damn if I am a commentless blog in Seattle  as one blogger pointed out. Blogging is for my personal enrichment. If I write to gratify people it will become a chore. I already have a full-time job. I don’t need more stress in my life.  Unless you pay me, then I will entertain you gladly.

As for my final grade for my blog—I will give it a C+. Need to have a clear focus or else I’m just wasting time writing when I could be relaxing. We all know that writing takes time. On a good note, I think I have been good at attempting to be consistent. That’s quite an accomplishment for me since I get bored easily. By now, I think my blog would have been deleted. Thank goodness, I read my old posts. I put a lot of time into it so I will stick around.

 

 

 

Reflection Time: Video Games & Films

Recently Extra Life nominated me for the the Sunshine Award.  It made me smile as I appreciate the thought. But strangely, I was having a hard time answering his questions as I don’t have strong opinions about the film industry generally even though I have watched a handful of good films in my lifetime. I think I am a rather picky person when it comes to films.  If a film fails to grab my attention within the 30 minutes, I just quit watching it.  I have more patience with games than films because they are interactive. His questions, however, made me reflect about games and its relation to films and how I feel about it as a consumer. So I write my thoughts here and skip the tagging since I couldn’t answer some of the questions properly.

Back in 2011, I took Silent Cinema course  not necessarily because I am a film enthusiast, but I needed the credit.  To my surprise, I am really glad I did because I enjoyed the course a lot. I learned how films evolved overtime from something that was used for scientific purposes to entertaining the masses. In the early 1900s, the average person include the working class begin to have more time to watch films. It was a great escape and a cheap alternative to vacation. Similarly, I can see how video games can offer the same instant gratification. I enjoy traveling, but I was never the type who have a lot of energy in the first place.   Video games allow my brain to roam and since I’m the introvert type, I do enjoy doing single activities, which unfortunately society called people like me anti-social, which in truth, I don’t suffer from social anxiety and can be quite sociable. I just prefer some alone time to function as a proper human being. But of course, I’m one type of consumer. Some people play games causally and to past time. And there’s nothing wrong with that!  I remember a friend asked me to bring my Wii because I wouldn’t visit her without it. She actually really enjoyed playing games with me. We had a good time. Video games, despite its bad connotation as a social deviant activity, it is actually replacing films and becoming the new form of entertainment for the masses. There are different types of games for people to enjoy like how there are different types of music for people to listen.  So the term”gamer” is kind of outdated because it no longer distinguishes a particular group of people from the rest of the society as if there is something wrong with gamers. The correct term these days, might just be a gaming enthusiast.

Taking Silent Cinema course, made me understand why Last of Us was so successful and why it is appealing. It has that film aesthetic and the gameplay is extremely casual.  I could play the game during the weekdays after work without putting a lot of mental energy into completing it. Therefore, I think the game deserves it success, although I don’t think the medium should be ashamed of itself and try to morph into something else more mature (film). Video game has the potential to grow.  Don’t try to change its essence, which boils down to gameplay. This really got me thinking why I prefer Japanese games over western games. Japanese games are more experimental and don’t throw away the “gameplay” aspect even though it tried to imitate films (Silent Hill series is the perfect example).  However, Japanese developers can learn a lot from western developers. I find western games to be more realistic and honestly I prefer the realistic style over the animated cute style. But that’s just preference.

I have some friends who are more than a decade older than me. I get along with them pretty well. My new friend from work is a very beautiful, intelligent woman in her 60s. She was once a manager for a video store. She watched hundreds of films during that time she worked there so she can sell them. I have been discovering good films and books because of her lately.  She has good taste. We both have the same personality actually.  Unfortunately, it’s the age difference that set us apart. Lack of knowledge about games make it hard for older folks to  accept video game as a respectable medium. I believe some games do have the same aesthetic as great films.  I am pretty sure when I am her age, I can see myself becoming an expert in games and most likely still play video games (quality games). Then I can see myself becoming critical of the younger generation for the lack of taste in entertainment. Whatever the future holds, who knows.

I will end this post by answering one of Extra Life’s questions. My favorite film decade is probably the 1960s.  I love watching old shows such as Come Drink with MeBreakfast Tiffany’s and The Twilight Zone. When it comes to animation, I like anything from the 1980s.  But honestly, anything that have thoughtful dialogue would instantly captivate me.  To me, great art is timeless and it doesn’t belong to a certain era.

 

 

 

Dark Souls: My Adventure Continues

DARK SOULS

As I entered the boss fight area, Chaos Witch Quelaag greeted me with a flirtatious smile. She may be beautiful but her seductive smile has no effect on me. I was determined to take her down so I can ring the second bell.

Overall boss fight was not difficult; it lasted about 10 minutes. I summoned Maneater Mildred (have to kill her first in evil phantom form) to speed up the process. I wore the red cloak found in the high area near the waterwheel route, which leads to Blighttown and back into Firelink Shrine. From what I can recall,  the armor gave me a decent fire defense. I am surprised Manter Mildred in her peasant two-piece swimsuit  can take more damage than me. She was rolling in lava and hacking her butcher knife away and yet her life bar was still high. It was an effortless fight, but more so, it had to do with the environment being spacious. It gave me enough room to steer away from her lava attack and her swipe attack.

DARK SOULS

After defeating Quelaag, there is a hidden path that leads to her sister. I entered the covenant with her and she gave me Great Chaos Fireballs.  The Fair Lady won’t talk to me. I got to use a guide for this part as I can’t recall how to get her to speak.

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My next destination is  Sen’s Fortress which will lead to Anor Londo.  The Blacksmith said the lunatics are attracted to such a place. I can agree (sorry if you are one of those people). I think the part is more unforgiving than Blighttown.  I don’t like the thought of being chopped off by big swinging blades because at the bottom are big muscly enemies. The area reminds me of an old Dracula movie I watched when I was a kid. In the scene, a young lady was trying to escape from the bad guys and found herself on the ledge. Beneath her were something like insects. I can’t remember well. All I know it was gross and I was scared for her. Yeah, I really don’t like Sen’s Fortress, it’s my least favorite area. But as soon I rang the second bell, I knew I had to go there because the cutscene told me so! Maybe I will visit the Dark Root Garden area first. It’s better to be surrounded by trees than inside that fortress for the time being.

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I highly doubt I will get all achievements in the PC version. My intention playing this game is to prepare myself for Artorias of the Abyss DLC.  I never got the chance to play the DLC because I got sidetracked with other games during that time. I have always been very good with completing all the games I’ve purchased, but games  just kept getting longer and longer so my backlog kept growing bigger. I still need to complete Dark Souls Scholar of the First Sin (PS4), but I don’t really like dealing with a great mob of enemies. It sort of ruin the fun.

I probably will put this game down when I get my copy of Shenmue I and II remastered (PS4).   I bought it with a gift card I got from work.  I work hard so I can play hard. I think that’s quite fair.

I will leave you guys with one of the coolest quotes from the Blacksmith: “It’s okay to be undead, just have a level head.” I really like the Blacksmith! Until next time, take care now.

 

 

How to Connect with Friends

If you want a friend just connect to Lain.   Place the cursor over the email icon. Then click twice to open link. Do you have a message? Who is it from?

“It’s me.

I am just conscience

without a body.

Nice to meet you.”

 

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If you iron your thoughts,your reality will appear to make sense.  Put words in a dress and yet the meaning is still hidden. Eyes can see everything and yet still blind.

Just delete bad memories if you don’t want to remember. Just delete yourself  if you don’t want to exist. Even if we delete ourselves, we are still connected.

This is a free verse/doodling  for the animated series Serial Experiments Lain. What possessed me to watch it? Somehow, I remember an old chat friend telling me this was his favorite anime.  He once said, “All you need is one person to believe in you.” I disagree.  Actually, the only person you need to connect with is yourself. Once you are in tuned with yourself, then you can connect with others in a healthy way.

 

 

 

 

 

Love Is Never Everlasting

Poetry is meant to be heard. There’s no reason to keep it hidden.  I read my own poem.

 

There was once a man

across the ocean

who spoke few words.

One moment

was eternity

for two souls to meet.

“Love is never everlasting,”

You said.

So then I wonder–

what’s the point

of togetherness

if love rise

then fall like waves?

Beauty and the Beast

This post is not an analysis. It’s just a summary of what I thought about Beauty and the Beast play.

Assuming you are not familiar with Beauty and the Beast, it’s a tale about a narcissistic prince who denies a shaggy old lady into the palace.  As a punishment, he turns into his true form: a beast! To undo the spell he must learn to love and have love return to him. That’s the only way to be human again.  Sounds like a good moral tale and would make a cool video game. I like that sort of thing or perhaps, I am just old fashion. When I was a kid, I didn’t like the fairy-tale all that much.  My first exposure to the fairy-tale was the Walt Disney animated version.  Now as a grown up, I do appreciate the meaning behind it. I discovered the beast is not gender specific because beast is a metaphor for one of the ugliest traits found in human beings, and that is conceit.  This is something I wouldn’t have noticed as a kid. The moral of the tale is you shouldn’t deny someone based on their appearance.  Both the Prince and Belle had to learn that moral lesson together. The play also emphasizes on the importance having good manners, which unfortunately, most people lack nowadays. Overall, I enjoyed the play. Plus, they serve coffee and dessert. Great combo!  I was happy.

Even though I enjoyed the play, I prefer to read than watch a play (I like my eerie imagination more). Sometimes I just go to the theater for the experience and for the visual presentation. I like the stage props and special effects, but  the play didn’t leave me wanting more. But then again, I am not a frequent playgoer.  So I wouldn’t know how to rate the performance compared to other Beauty and the Beast plays. All I know, it’s an activity I probably wouldn’t go quite frequently.  I am not as nearly obsessed as the girl from Glass Mask.  I prefer reading alone in my place.

On the positive side, the play has made me rediscover picture books. I borrowed this book  from my co-worker.  I like picture books when I was a kid. I still do.  It’s a simple but effective way of telling story.

This version is different from the play as it highlighted that inner beauty is found within, and beautiful women do fall in love with “unattractive” men.  After all, attractiveness is really in the eye of the beholder.  I believe Leo Tolstoy mentions something similar to that in Anna Karenina.

I intend to watch the Belle et la Bete  (1946) directed  by Jean Cocteau.  Perhaps I would do a proper analysis if I find myself enjoying the film. When it comes to analyzing a story, I like to take my time. I couldn’t do that with the play.

P.S

Believe it or not I have not played games for over a week. Work is so unbelievably stressful that I just switched off my brain and do activities that don’t require thinking.

Dark Souls: What I’ve Learned in Ash Lake & about the Sexual Creatures

Cursed in Ash Lake1

I learned many things in my stay in Ash Lake because I got careless and greedy for the hard to reach item and eventually got cursed by two basilisks that greeted me when I entered into one of the enclosed area. What is interesting about Ash Lake is the way how the basilisk’s toxic black smoke turns into a crystal mist once the creature is out in the open area.  You still can get cursed if you let the mist consumed you, but the amount of time to get toxic is not as fast as the black smoke. I wonder if the effect has to do with my current stats, or there is something very special about this holy ground.

And so my progress in the game was stalled because I had to farm for Purging Stone, but I didn’t mind. The developer didn’t make it difficult to search for the stone because the Maneater Shells that drop the item can be found nearby.  On the plus side, the creature also drops Twinkling Titanite, a precious stone for upgrade purposes.  Having a lot of the stones gives player the freedom to enhance weapons and test it.  In my head, I am always thinking: “What weapon shall I use to kill my enemies?” The game sure knows how to respect the players’ time and give us that flexibility to make our own decision. Thanks Darks Souls for not making it dull, but at the same time, not overwhelming me with choices.

DARK SOULS

The magical thing about games like Dark Souls is its ability to keep my mind focused and entertained while offering educational benefits. I naturally like to study.  In the game, the symbolic meaning behind the Maneater Shells tickled my brain as soon as I understood what it meant.  The moral lesson of the Maneater Shell is if you poke your head at every attractive clams you encounter, you might get your head chopped off.   As you can tell from the picture above, there are a pile of skulls in its gaping mouth. So learn how to be a wise player because Dark Souls’ universe will punish you if you are careless.

Luckily, in the area, there are only two Maneater Shells. One is by the medusa Black Hydra. The placement of that Maneater Shell is meant to make it difficult to defeat the hydra upfront.  So the best solution is to shoot it down with arrows from afar.  I found a place just for that.  Unfortunately, I ran out of arrows so I couldn’t kill it.  I’m making a mental note to visit the place again once I unlock the teleport ability.

DARK SOULS

For such a small area, I really enjoyed my time in Ash Lake.  As I mentioned before, it’s an oasis.  I was bullying the poor giant mushroom with my Poison Mist spell and watched the confused mushroom heading for the water.  Eventually I got killed by its punch.  Obviously, it didn’t like me near it.  So then I collected my souls and headed back up to the big tree (The Great Hollow) and entered back into the swamp. The erected mushroom may be cute, but cuteness is also deadly, but more importantly not all enemies are hostile. They are merely just defending themselves.  No need to kill everything that crosses your path. Lesson learned.

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Back in the swamp,  I realized I equipped the wrong armor because I was just too eager to try on any new armor I came across. I do appreciate practical fashion that gives me good stats. The appropriate attire is Tattered Cloth Robe because of its high poison resistant. The armor is lighter as well–good for rolling.  I must confess though,  I was getting rather annoyed changing armor in this area because peeping tom Giant Mosquitoes can’t control itself and decided to pester. They can be such a pain.  In real life, mosquitoes gently land on your skin and rarely do you feel bitten.  In this game, the mosquitoes are obnoxiously vicious; they will repeatedly try to poke you even when your shield is up.  They can’t take “No” for an answer.  Running away would only worsen the situation as the number of them increased. It’s best to blast it with fireballs and get rid of them once and for all.  Confrontation is sometimes necessary.  Lesson learned.

There are many reasons why I love Dark Souls. One of the big reasons is its depiction of the world. It is not all that different from our world even though it’s a fantasy.  I love this type of storytelling because it tells stories without being outright offensive. Now don’t get me wrong, this game is not entirely perfect.  But I will mention my dislikes at a later time. For now, it’s time for me to stop fooling around and go defeat Quelaag.  I just hope I won’t lose my sanity in the process and turn completely Hollow.  Whatever humanity is left, I will fight for it.

Until next time, thank you for reading. Take care now.