Archive

Archive for July, 2012

The Answer to “Don How Was E3?” – Part 2

July 4, 2012 Leave a comment

You can’t say this isn’t the cutest Mario in awhile…..

Tuesday, the official start of E3, started off with a delightful IHOP breakfast. Bright and early at 6:30am, we made our way to Nintendo’s conference afterwards. The only thing I didn’t like about these conferences was standing outside waiting to get in… especially first thing in the morning.

Once we got in and got settled, the show started and I was feeling pretty hyped about things. Raccoon suit Mario in the 3DS Mario game coming out, that amazingly-cute flying squirrel Mario and the Wii U amusement park game (not really the game itself but the Luigis Mansion mini game) all had me stoked. I could really care less for the Miiverse thing, but whatever.

After the conference was when the fun really began. The three of us made our way to the convention center and walked around upstairs. Kyle stopped at the THQ meeting room and got me an impromptu appointment for Metro Last Light, Company of Heroes 2 and Darksiders 2 so I missed out on Square-Enix. I really wanted to see Theatrhythm Final Fantasy but oh well, I feel it was worth it.

All three of THQ’s games made a strong impression in one way or another. Metro had this surreal environment going on, while Darksiders 2 improved the original by adding loot (I LOVE loot, by the way) and Company of Heroes 2 turned me on to the series even though I don’t generally like RTS games. I’m actually buying the first Company of Heroes after seeing CoH2. I did miss the gas mask swap for Metro, as it was due in the next day. *insert big frownie face*

I had enough time for a quick break and some coffee, and went to go meet up with a former-colleague-turned-PR rep Greg Hutto. The problem was.. I got lost. Mind you, this was my first time at the convention center and my super-awesome Editor-in-Chief left me by myself, so it was bound to happen. Looking back, I find it hilarious, but as time ticked down and I was nervously asking people “WTF AM I AND WHERE IS THE MEDIA LOUNGE?!”, I was getting worried I wouldn’t make it to Sony Online Entertainment in time. I missed Greg, chugged a cup of coffee and ran off to my next appointment after finally finding my way.

Company of Heroes 2. Not to be confused with The Oregon Trail 2.

SOE was delightful because I finally got to meet Raquel. She’s always been super-nice in emails, and helped me a lot when I was first getting my feet wet doing PR work. It was also super cool because she was the first person to recognize me by name. Being new to this and all, that’s an exhilarating experience! So I played Bullet Run and a Wizardry Online game before Greg came over and met me. We chatted for a minute before Kyle and Royel showed up then it was off to meet Jerry, who somehow remembered me from six months prior.

Back to SOE and Kyle stayed around for Planetside 2 while me and Royel scampered off to Konami. Met a delightful lady there that showed us around. To be honest, I felt sorry for the poor girl. She didn’t know much about the products and had to read off of a sheet, so I just assumed she was newer and mostly dealt with emails and such. I DID get to play Metal Gear Solid Rising, which was a lot of fun. I was never interested in it before, but at least now it is on my radar of things to look at upon release.

Last for the day was a presentation from Bethesda. We got to see a demo of Dishonored, which looks much better than I anticipated. I didn’t get hands-on with it, sadly, but heard good things about it from people that did play it. Then we were treated to an epic showing of Elder Scrolls Online. As I am running long at this point, I will spare you the details, but let’s just say “I want!”.

Once we “were” home, we walked down to Subway. I tell you this because the girls working there were fawning over our Black Ops 2 lanyards. hahahah. We forgot to take them off, and we got them by going by the Activision meeting room, but I just found it hilarious that those two girls were reacting like that.

Day 3 is next, complete with a party at the end!

<3,
Don Parsons

Behind the Work – When an Idea Goes Wrong

July 3, 2012 Leave a comment

A few posts ago, I mentioned an editorial I do about the progression systems in multiplayer shooters. I’ve done a few now and am currently in the middle of “Progressing Through The Line”, a detailed synopsis of Spec Ops: The Lines unlockables. After played the single player campaign for a few days, I was pretty excited to get this going. Then… the other day happened.

In all my years of playing competitive shooters, I had heard of statistics wiping or getting messed up but I had never actually experienced it. Now, since this editorial relies so heavily on statistics this is an important factor. As soon as the match ends, I start scribbling down unlocks, kills, and all sorts of other things hoping to get them all before the next match starts. In Spec Ops, the host generally leaves the match for one reason or another (I generally assume they were mad because they lost) and you are immediately booted back to the menu. This is the first of many problems, because a smart developer would try to migrate the lobby to another host instead of dropping everyone. So I now have to sort through every single loadout option to find what is new.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the actual statistics screen lost 40 minutes of playtime somewhere. So instead of checking my stats to see how long I have played and the total kill count, I’m manually keeping tabs on things. It also lost about 30 kills and somehow I lost a level of progression.

To be quite honest, these are some of my favorite pieces to write. I would much rather find a creative way to talk about the progression system in a shooter than actually review it. Publishers also like the idea, as it is a unique way to cover the game. I absolutely hated playing Starhawk, but writing the editorial was fun (albeit a challenge to keep unbiased). I normally have these pieces done pretty swiftly (a few days), but this one has taken over a week simply because I cannot stand playing it.

The online portion of the game is not just an afterthought, but a poorly executed one. The standard Deathmatch mode can be fun, but spawning in front of enemies is a serious issue. Team Deathmatch wants you to play as a team, well Squad as it is 4v4, but no one plays together and no one uses a mic. The individual mode that stands out the most, Buried, becomes a camp-fest once a team starts losing badly enough. If that wasn’t bad enough, the maps are poorly constructed and offer little room for tactical movement around the camping team.

That said, I should have the article up by the weekend. I need to power through and get it posted soon. The single player is enjoyable, though, so if that is your thing, by all means give it a go. Enjoy your holiday tomorrow, and come back and read day 2 of E3! 🙂

<3,
Don Parsons

The Answer to “Don, How Was E3”? – Part 1

July 2, 2012 1 comment

I was asked quite a few times, and always tried to answer the best I could, “Don, how was E3?”. I know it is a month later, and this has become mostly irrelevant, but hey, I like to type and I’m bored. Why isn’t this going on Vagary? I waited too long, to be honest.

Attending E3 is one of the biggest achievements a gamer can unlock, only unlike XBOX Live achievements, this one is real. Outside of getting a job in games writing that pays or a job working PR for a big game company, this was the bar I set for myself a year ago. But enough rambling. Each part of this mini-series of sorts will cover a day. That gives me more time per-post to recap as much as I honestly remember and hopefully keep your attention.

Monday is when my fantastical journey in LA began, though E3 technically starts on Tuesday. After waiting at the airport for an hour and a half for my companions to show up, we took a taxi to the hotel to drop our bags off. Now, I’m from Oklahoma. The city I live in, Bartlesville, has a taxi service, but I have only seen it drive like any normal vehicle. Taxis in LA are a completely different story; they speed and hot rod like I did back when I was young and dumb. I never understood why the game Crazy Taxi played the way it did until my trip to LA.

Our first conference was EA at the Orpheum Theater. Yes we missed Microsoft and no I am not going to recap EVERYTHING. When we got there, we looked at each other in disbelief and walked to the back of a line that quite literally wrapped around the building. “There is no way all of these people are going to fit inside”, was my thought as I frowned and looked at my bar code for admission. Of course, I was wrong. That building fit all of those people and once the door opened it was actually a quick process to get to our seat. The conference was fun, though, and being there makes the spectacle that much more enjoyable. Not much was shown that had me overly excited or surprised though.

Next was Sony, and we managed to find a free(!) shuttle to their location. We still had an hour until check-in at 4pm, and we were all incredibly hungry. At this point, I had only had peanuts from the plane rides that morning to eat. Anyone that knows me will be shocked and probably reading that last sentence a few times. We decided to skip food (though I don’t recall why) and got in the long line for Sony’s conference.

In hindsight, we didn’t need to be in line. Once 4pm hit, since we had our passes, me and Kyle Baron (I never introduced my cohorts Kyle and Royel Edwards. :D) meandered into the large fenced off area Sony had outside. An open bar and vendors lining two walls had us drooling. Again, we were parched. We got to stop and chat with the guys at IGN (Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty), which was a real treat. It was more than just a handshake which made the experience a little more surreal. Doing games writing for a small site, you look up to these people to a certain degree, at least I do. So having them just chit-chat for awhile and not brush us off like the nobodies we are was nice.

I believe at the end of that two hour long pre-event party I only consumed three dishes of food and two beers. Disappointing, right? We filed into the building at 5:45 and I prepared for the one show I had to see. I will say, Sony did have one helluva show in regards to light and sound. The Wonderbook thing was cool and the only thing new that interested me, but I have to agree with the majority, it did run a little long, especially after the short amount of time devoted to the Vita. Oh, and PSOne Classics “COMING SOON”! YES. Except, a month later, and I haven’t heard anything else about it.

We got back to the hotel and met our non-Vagary roommate for the week, Justin. Justin is a freelance writer with an unusual personality. He says what he thinks, and had me laughing quite a bit. He’s actually on a crowd-funded trip across the country to visit various studios and has had to sleep on the streets a time or two, so you should not only go read his work (his writing is as entertaining as his personality) but donate to him!

Gamer-Unplugged

That wraps up the first night. We went to bed relatively early. I did not have to share a bed all week, as Justin opted to sleep on the couch. Stay tuned for part two coming in a day or two. Hope you enjoyed. If you have questions or comments, there’s a spot for you below. 🙂

<3,
Don Parsons

Almost a Year Later..

July 1, 2012 2 comments

Tumblr fails. Just sayin’.

It’s been almost a year since I have been at Vagary.tv. I tried to open a Tumblr to mindlessly ramble about things I work on. Reading a review is a good way to gauge a game, but there’s always other things to be talked about that just don’t fit into the restraints of a review. 

The past year has been a crazy rollercoaster ride. Luckily, my wife has fully supported every step I have made with Vagary and I am very thankful for that. She also has this way of picking me up when I’m down, and keeps me motivated to make that next step.

So what has happened over the past year, you ask? Well, last time I posted here it was about the opportunity ahead. I took that opportunity and ran with it. I was basically given free reign to do my own PR work. After some grooming from one Mr. Greg Hutto, the site owner Ryan Kenward and our current Editor in Chief Kyle Baron, I found great success with my communications with PR firms and publishers. I may not be the most eloquent writer who uses big words to dazzle people, but I am quite savvy at the keyboard and I know how to butter people up. 

The VERY first game I got was Disgaea 4 for PS3. Over the course of the following four months, I received dozens of games and gained a good reputation for myself by handling multiple games at once and still having the reviews done before most people could handle a single review. 

Being overworked is exhausting, I will fully admit that. I also can’t complain much because I do it to myself. Not sure what will actually come in (I get about 80% of what I request), I sometimes book multiple reviews just so I am guaranteed some work. People warned me about burning myself out, some insisting it was bound to happen; a year later, and I beg to differ. 🙂

Back on point though, I was making quite a name for myself both internally and to my contacts (more on the latter later). I suggested to Ryan that I do everyone’s PR work, as I didn’t mind doing it and to be honest, it was my favorite part of the job. He agreed and I started getting our writers material to work with. It’s a rewarding feeling when someone gets excited because I got them a review copy to work with. Of course, excitement varies from person to person. Generally though, everyone is appreciative of what I do and show it in different ways.

I started doing a release list, which went through a few revisions before I settled on what I have now. You can see an example here with last week’s list. I started doing a regular editorial that publishers seem to love, detailing the progression systems in newly released online shooters. I organized a “Release Radar” that is a HUGE hit. The current one for Q3 has only been up for three days, and is already the third most-read article in the past 30 days.

Before I wrap this up, I wanted to touch on E3. I met some great people, including people I had been emailing for the past eight months. The coolest part was when they recognized me by name, hell, one of them actually recognized me before my brain registered who it was. That was easily my highlight of the show.

Stay tuned, and I’ll do my best to throw together some half-assed pieces on things I am working on. I love Vagary a lot, but am very hopeful and happy to resurrect Gameciety for any length of time I can. This pet-project was what got me where I am today, mind you.

With love and stuff,

~~~ Don Parsons