“Despite that, I chose to believe that the truth will out…”

31 08 2007

As reported by GmePolitics, The Virgina Tech Review Panel has released its final report, and low and behold, videogames (or video games) were not to blame. In fact, Seung Hui Cho barely played games at all. But I think the panel can say it better than I can. This paragraph discusses his early years:

“He was enrolled in a Tae Kwon Do
program for awhile, watched TV, and played video
games like Sonic the Hedgehog. None of the video
games were war games or had violent themes. He
liked basketball and had a collection of figurines
and remote controlled cars.”

And on his college years:

“Cho’s roommate never saw him play video
games. He would get movies from the library
and watch them on his laptop. The roommate
never saw what they were, but they always
seemed dark. Cho would listen to and download
heavy metal music. Someone wrote heavy
metal lyrics on the walls of their suite in the
fall, and then in the halls in the spring. Several
of the students believed Cho was responsible
because the words were similar to the
lyrics Cho posted on Facebook.”

This is great news for the industry, considering how many “prominent” political and psychological–if you can actually call him that–figures were screaming to god and all who would listen that video games beget violence, like the sky was falling. Video games have been absolved of creating violent psychos, at least in Virginia. That should make me feel pretty good.

But it absolutely doesn’t. One thing I’ve been saying since the whole thing happened is, why weren’t the students on campus properly informed? So much death could have been avoided had there been more notice than a two-hour-old e-mail telling young men and women that there might be a problem. So I decided to read the Panel’s report, top to bottom—Ok, so I skimmed through a few paragraphs here and there—and found some interesting stuff.

“At this point, the police may have made an error
in reaching a premature conclusion that their
initial lead was a good one, or at least in conveying
that impression to the Virginia Tech
administration. While continuing their investigation,
they did not take sufficient action to deal
with what might happen if the initial lead
proved false. They conveyed to the university
Policy Group that they had a good lead and that
the person of interest was probably not on campus.
After two people were shot dead, police needed
to consider the possibility of a murderer loose on
campus who did a double slaying for unknown
reasons, even though a domestic disturbance
was a likely possibility.

So why did those in charge of the University wait so long to inform students? Well, there were a number of factors. For one, the police were telling the University’s President and its emergency Policy Group that the first shooting—a double murder that took place on a campus dorm was most likely a domestic dispute, and that the murderer was probably no longer on campus. Statistically, the change of this being a much bigger incident was very low—hurray for resting on statistics. The Group was given no instructions or warnings by police to cancel classes or dismiss students from the campus, or even to tell them what had happened. Why did they wait for police instructions instead of taking control of their own campus and students who rely on them? Because in August 2006, a series of misinformation had SWAT teams swarming the school for an escaped convict who may have been on the campus, since the prison was nearby.

“In the eyes of the Policy
Group, including the university president, a
dangerous situation had been created by their
warning in that August 2006 event coupled with
the subsequent spread of rumors and misinformation.
The Policy Group did not want to cause
a repeat of that situation if the police had a suspect
and he was thought to be off campus.”

All of this being said, I think the most interesting thing covered in the report is whether or not the school should have canceled classes or put the school under lockdown after discovering the first two victims in WAJ. The panel states that stopping classes would have been feasible, if not difficult. They also state that, had the university taken any measure of action—because quite honestly, what they did was the epitome of inaction—lives could have been saved. But not all of them:

“It is the panel’s judgment that,
all things considered, the toll could have been
reduced had these actions been taken. But none
of these measures would likely have averted a
mass shooting altogether. There is a possibility
that the additional measures would have dissuaded
Cho from acting further, but…from what we know of his
mental state and commitment to action that
day, it was likely that he would have acted out
his fantasy somewhere on campus or outside it
that same day”

This is all pretty sad, and actually has made me pretty damn depressed for the day. I think I’m going to go take a nap, and have a good long think. Frankly, it’s moments like these that make me question who we really can rely on other than ourselves. What do we do when those whose job it is to protect us fail so gravely? /sigh, maybe slaughtering splicers will make me feel better.

kefka.gifPersopolian





Post-PAX Tho—oh GOD DAMN IT!

30 08 2007

So I had a really nice write-up done on how I felt about PAX, and for some reason it all went to shit. I hit publish, and by goly, would you look at that, only the first three god damn words showed up! I had a cute picture of a cat macro we made while we were there and EVERYTHING!

/sigh, fine, I’ll cut it short then, since the frakkin’ blog-gods don’t want me to update. Head over to Weekend Gamer. He’s got some great write-ups on being an Omeganaut, the Final Countdown, and PAX as it was. I had a great write-up too, but…oh, fine, I’ll shut up.

Tomorrow I’ll finally be getting my copy of Bioshock, which I will then proceed to weekend through. Being so old, I probably won’t review it. However, I will included it in an article I’m thinking of writing, about the industry scores games, and the trespasses we forgive video games that we would not accept in other mediums.

Peace,

cat macro,

kefka.gif Persopolian





PAX ’07: Micro-impressions

27 08 2007

So, after three long days of pseudo-journalizing, PAX is officially over. We played a lot of games, and being far too tired to do full impressions of the games I played, I’ll do quick run-downs of each one, noting the key points of each.

Read the rest of this entry »





On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness: Media Q&A

26 08 2007

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So last night, using my Gateway credibility, I went to the press-only Q&A with Hothead Games, the guys behind Penny Arcade’s game, On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. They started it off by showing the new trailer—which has already hit the show floor and quite possibly the tubes of net—that is seemingly built upon the previous one. The game looks a lot prettier than previous showings. The game takes place in a 1920’s setting, very film-noir, and while it looks the part, it’s quite obviously styled in Penny Arcade fashion. The trailer itself was short, and a little underwhelming, but the gameplay demo that followed was quite informative.

They started the demo with character creation. The basic customization choices are here: hair, facial features, different parts of your clothing. While this is not all that new, the interesting part is that the character you make will be presented in all of the games cutscenes, which are in 2D. Your character will also be saved from one episode to another, so you can keep him or her throughout the entire series.

After creating a character, they got into the opening cutscene for the game, which shows your character raking the leaves on his lawn when, suddenly, your house is trampled by a giant robot monster—that fruit fucker! As your character watches in shock and awe as the monster keeps walking, the infamous Gabe and Tycho run after it, and you join their team for revenge, apparently. They then loaded a portion of the game a little further along in the story. Your character has joined up with Gabe and Tycho at this point, and as you follow the trail of the monster, you stumble upon a shady-looking man with beautiful golden hair, carrying a sack. Seeing your trio, he runs away. Suddenly, the sack begins to tear, and from it plop a slew of, you guessed it, hobos. This is where they remind us that Jerry (Tycho) wrote all of the dialogue for the game. Gabe and Tycho decide to follow the trail of hobos.

This is where the demo really begins. Rainslick is point-and-click adventure game with various RPG elements mixed in. All movement and interaction is decided by the click of a mouse. They showed off various uses of this—opening apartment rooms in a slum, picking up items, etc—but the combat and characters are where the RPG elements come in. All combat is initiated by proximity to enemies. The developers decided to go against random encounters because, and I quote, “they suck.” Initiating combat takes you into a combat screen, showing you, your allies—Gabe and Tycho—and your enemies. The combat is turn-based, and each of your characters has an “initiative” bar, which determines when he can do specific actions. Some bars replenish slower than others, depending on the ability it represents. Your opponents also have enemy-specific attacks. In the demo, the hobos you faced have a move called “Fallen on Hard Times”, where they hold up a sign reading “will do damage for food”, and deal damage to your entire team. Again, they remind is, Jerry wrote the game.

Each of your characters has his own specific weapon—Gabe uses his fists, Tycho uses a Tommy Gun, and your custom character uses a rake. While these weapons cannot be changed, they can be upgraded with money and experience you gain at the end of every battle. Along with weapon upgrades, your team will gain new abilities, such as character-specific powers, and Team Up Attacks. When a character-specific attack is chosen, it initiates a quick mini-game which determines how much damage the attack does. For Gabe’s attack, for example, you are required to press the spacebar as fast as possible. If you get a perfect score on these mini-games, you will do maximum damage, which will reward you with a gruesome attack animation.

The environment looked very stylized, with a dark ominous mood, and retained a very Penny Arcade feel. Everything has the feel of a comic—from the slight touch of cell-shading the 3D environments to having the 2D cutscenes play out as moving panels in a comic strip. Hothead decided against giving the characters voices because they believed that, since every Penny Arcade fan has a different idea of what their voices should be, it would more take away from the experience than add to it.

The game will be distributed digitally on the PC, Mac, and Linux, through a website that Hothead will be releasing. It was announced today that it will also debut on the Xbox Live Arcade in 2008. While the combat doesn’t look all that deep or complicated, the game looks like it will be a lot of fun, if only for the hilarious dialogue and situational humor.

kefka.gifPersopolian





PAX ’07: Daily Schwag Report – Saturday.

26 08 2007

I am truly dissapointed with today’s swag. All I got was a tomb raider poster, and some damn stickers. That is all.

img_sprite1.gif –Kyle “Jastrick”





PAX ’07: Rooster Teeth Panel

26 08 2007

I must truly apologize for the length and depth of this article, as first did I not only forget to bring a writing utensil of any sort, but about halfway through voice recording, my phone froze up and I lost everything. I will try to remember as many questions as possible. Again, sorry.

After a short wait in line, they let us in, although the panel itself didnt actually begin until about 20 minutes in. Geoff quickly blamed it on RT Intern Gavino, who he said just wouldnt come out and say hello to begin the panel.

The panel began focused on what made RT what they are today, that being Red vs Blue. They showed us video from the newly released season 5 DVD, including more deaths for Caboose, and 3 other alternate endings to episode 100 aside from the original 3 set on the unsuspecting public. They also showed us some of the commercials they did for EA Sports. Questions then began.

Q: It was rumored that you guys won a Child’s Play auction prize dealing with Halo 3, care to elaborate?

A: The prize itself was a voice spot in Halo 3. As such, the 6 main characters (I assume Sarge, Grif, Simmons, Tucker, Caboose and Church), will be making vocal appearances in Halo 3 (Note to self: keep ears open).

Q: Will you guys continue with P.A.N.I.C.S.?

A: If the next iteration of F.E.A.R. will have a sufficient game interface that will allow us to do so.

Q: Ever consider making a Machinima in WoW?

A: No, as it would be too hard. Blizzard is very protective of our IPs, and there are a lot of douchebags who would get in the way of our filming.

Q: (This is by far the best question of them all) I think you guys are really great, and I like what you do alot. Also, if my friend matt is in the audience, stop being such a Douchebag and answer your god damn phone!

A: Applause and Laughter

And, That’s all that I can remember. Again, my apologies.

img_sprite1.gif–Kyle “Jastrick”





PAX ’07: Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass Impressions

25 08 2007

s29152_nds_5.jpg

Here was the number one thing that I had to get completed in my first day @ PAX. Well, after Mass Effect, which sadly wasnt playable to the public. For those of you who know me, I am one of the biggest Zelda fans in existence, owning every game except for two (Oracle of Ages and the original Link’s Awakening). This was one of the MUST DOs for my first game convention, and despite a wait, was truly worth it.

Now I can understand how this game sold the amount of copies it did in Japan. The controls are FANTASTIC. I was at first very iffy about an all-stylus controlled Zelda, but those fears were immediatley put to rest by the time that I had finished the Demo. The only one thing that I can admit that I had trouble with was spin attacks. More often than not, link would look at me very dizzy like he was about to throw up. All in all, October 1st cant come fast enough.

img_sprite1.gif–Kyle “Jastrick”