December 29, 2004

Ninja Claus is Real!

Well, Christmas is over for another year. I got some great presents but the whole affair was rather subdued. Perhaps my outright refusal to outgrow what should be the more fun aspects of the holidays is catching up with me. But now we’re in that awkward stage between Christmas and New Years where nothing really happens. So, or the most part I’ve just been relaxing and playing Pikmin 2.

Of course, not everyone takes it easy around now. Some people still feel the need to attack! Check out this message of festive cheer that I got on Christmas day.

i think the work is a little sloppy there ninjafool
Ahh, “ninjafool“. How quaint. It’s just so nice when people can’t express their opinion without adding an insult and trying to be clever about it. Merry Christmas to you too.

Anyhow, I just switched to a new ISP, so I don’t have outgoing e-mail right now, just incoming. So I might be a little late in responding to the forces that conspire against me. But have no fear, I’ll get to you eventually.


December 19, 2004

The Eternal Holiday Mystery.

What the Hell is the deal with Egg Nog?

Seriously, what is it? Why do we have it? How does it even exist within the defined realms of this reality? Why are people so convinced that it must embody the Holiday spirit? Who decided that it should come to pass?

I think it would be much better if, instead of the Nog of Egg, the traditional Holiday drink was chocolate milk.

Or better yet, chocolate milkshakes.

Yes. That is what I want for Christmas. A chocolate milkshake.

If anyone has any theories on the questions I have posed, let me know. Perhaps we can finally solve this mystery of time and space.


December 17, 2004

Busy as a Ghost.

I had a very long, busy, but ultimately fulfilling day yesterday. I went to a school to talk to students about drawing and anime. I spoke to 4 different classes, grades 4, 5, 6, and 7, more or less giving the same presentation 4 times. It was tedious and tiring, but I do what I can because the art programs at the elementary level are just pathetic, and maybe it can help drum up some business for Comic Book Masters next term.

I was pretty exhausted after that, but I was told that there was going to be a bit of a gathering at my old stomping grounds, the Ontario College of Art and Design. Even though I left the school a year ago under unsavory circumstances, I still have friends there who I don’t get to see very often, and I was invited, so I made the trip. It was pretty funny to walk into a room where most of the people there hadn’t seen me in ages and didn’t know that I’d be there. People looked like they had just seen a ghost! We had a co-op life drawing session, where each of us took turns posing with some costume elements while the others drew what they saw. I was the last to pose for the night. When it was over one of the artists gave me one of the drawings, so here’s a depiction of me as rendered by Sam G.

Striking, is it not? People came up with the most interesting comments while drawing me. I got complements on my arms, my fingers, and my nose. At least, in terms of how much fun it is to draw those parts of my anatomy. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, but I’ll take what I can get.

It was a lot of fun to do that and I’m glad that I went, despite how tired I was beforehand. Now that I’m finished with teaching as of last Saturday, I’m just going to relax for awhile and work towards getting this place into shape with some new updates before the year closes.


December 2, 2004

It’s December Already.

How in the hell did it get to be December? They say that time flies when you’re having fun. Well, I am not having very much fun, and yet time flies regardless. And now there is only one month left out of the whole year, and I don’t have much to show for it.

I wanted to have a new site update in October, and now it’s already December. Things are taking longer than I had anticipated, and my patience has begun to wear thin, but I’m still hacking away at it, even if it’s just a little bit at a time.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, so here’s a recent look at what a few folks have been saying about me.

(GI)Crash left us with this fascinating review.

this site sux so bad i cant believe that you made i puked eat me
Oh wow, such an articulate and well arranged statement. Obviously my verbal skills are far inferior to his, so I shouldn’t even bother forming a response, at risk of making myself look like an idiot. But thank you, Mr. Crash, for this beautifully written and fair assessment. I will be saving it. *sinister grin*

The esteemed Dr. Pillow had this to say, most likely in response to some of the other guestbook posts.

My observation is that you will be all the jealous type of Mr. Ninja. Jealousy is you, as because have no talent you don’t. That is my diagnosis. Cool drawings, Mr. Ninja
Well, uh, thanks.. Yoda. I think.

And from Tom, who seems to insist on speaking German.

hallo, geile seite, obwohl es ein bissel an www.chaosdigital erinnert.

viele grüsse, tom

Viel Dank Sie, mächtiges Tom. Ich bin ein Ninja!

And this puzzle comes from “chingAdA!!!” I think it’s some kind of secret code or something.

HEY… wow im so suprised on what happens in the end butt then ur like HEY.. well am in de right place or wat? ehehe plus i dont no where i am so ahah nice place byes!!
Good gravy. I could understand Tom the German guy better than this nonsense, and I don’t actually speak German. I think that whoever or whatever “chingAdA!!!” is, he/she/it likes this webpage, which is great and all, but seriously…. how? And why? And…. what? And…. byes??

Oh yes, and lest we forget Mark. The same Mark who keeps visiting my website again and again, only to say mow much he hates it. So great to know that children are finding such productive ways of spending their time nowadays. Why, when I was but a lad, I used to read magazines and play video games. I guess times have changed. So let’s see what Mark has to say on what has to be his 15th visit.

Screw you dood! This is possibly the worse sote I’ve seen in my entire life. I’m 15 and I can draw better than you ever will.
Wow, we’re really beginning to find out a lot about Mark. I feel a psychological breakthrough happening here. I never would have thought that such a well stated and intelligent opinion could ever come from one who is only 15 years old. All this time I thought he was much older than that, but it turns out he is the age of any other typical punk kid. Oh wait, I lied. This doesn’t surprise me at all, and he is just a typical punk kid. Yawn.

I love how he says he can draw better than I ever will. Good for him. Looking forward to seeing your website, Mark. Oh, what’s that? You don’t have one? Nor do you have any other proof of your illustrative superiority? Then prove it or shut the Hell up. You’re giving other 15 year olds a bad name. Jackass.

Such is the life of Ninjatron.


November 26, 2004

Game Over?

It’s the same song every year around this time. Coming up to the holiday season, the mainstream news media latches on to the video game industry and makes up a bunch of big stories. Are video games too violent, which system should I buy, which games are most popular, video games make more money than Hollywood, blah blah blah. People, none of this is news anymore. Most reporters who are outside looking in haven’t hit upon a worthwhile topic in years. It’s just a big excuse for them to either ride on the coat tails of a popular topic or incite fear in the hearts of worry-wart soccer moms.

Well I’m not going to talk about any of that stuff. Rather than talk about how games are popular, I’m going to talk about what’s wrong with the industry right now. I’ve been playing video games for a long time, and I see a whole host of problems that hardly anyone seems ready to acknowledge.

1- Mature Games: Too many gamers out there have this high and mighty attitude about them, thinking they are too “mature” to play anything that isn’t dark and violent or what have you. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they go out of their way to make fun of the games and the people who enjoy them, totally closing their minds to the possibility of these games actually being fun! People, that’s not mature. That’s immature! What’s worse is that the business itself is doing nothing to buck this trend. If you haven’t played games like Super Mario Sunshine, Pikmin, or Katamari Damacy just because you think they are “childish“, then I honestly pity you because that’s just sad.

2- Online Gaming: So playing online is supposed to be a big revolution, right? Well, that’s great and all, but when developing an online mode takes away from the single player experience, or worse yet, takes away from actually making the game good, then who cares if it’s online or not? Especially if it’s a game where there’s hardly anyone online to play with. And then there’s the other extreme, where a brilliant game comes out with plenty of great features, but the included online mode is a throw away extra with several limitations. Online shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of a game, nor should the inclusion of an online mode have a significant effect on a review or whether or not a game gets released on a certain system, but if you’re going to do it, do it right! And while you’re at it, don’t make me have to pay extra for it either.

3- Lack of Originality: Too many sequels and too many games based on movies have been big problems for a long time, and everyone has acknowledged that. So why is the problem getting worse? Do we really need a new chapter in the saga of “whatever” rushed out every year? If you’ve got to give us a sequel, spend the extra time to make it worthwhile, and give us something new in the meantime! The real problem here is that people are all too excited being force fed the same sort of games, year after year, and when something new and original comes along, it gets ignored. Come on, folks. Step out of your little box and try something else.

4- Marketing to a Release date: This is becoming a big deal. Look at how many big Triple-A titles have been released or are being released soon for the holiday season. Big, huge games. Too many of them. There are too many games and not enough time and money to play them all, which means that some games are going to be lost in the shuffle. See last year’s “Beyond Good and Evil” for an example of a game that got great reviews but didn’t sell because of over saturation. Must they all be released at the same time, just to capitalize on the holiday buying season? If the gaming market is getting bigger and older like people in the business like to boast that it is, then it shouldn’t matter very much if a game comes out in time for the holidays. We’ve got our own money, and we’re going to play games whether or not Santa Claus leaves some under our tree in December. Instead of rushing production of a game for the holidays, and potentially sacrificing the quality or cutting promised features to meet the deadline, why not release the game when it’s actually done? Spread things out a little so that we’ve got something to play in March or August, when hardly anything new comes out.

5- Games becoming too complicated: People like to brag about being “hardcore” gamers, and the industry has been catering to them. But if so many games are being made for the hardcore, then where are the new players going to come from? The business needs to expand. People who wouldn’t ever think about playing video games are never going to if they’re too complicated. You shouldn’t have to memorize button sequences or navigate menu screens to do anything cool. Make it more intuitive and stop scaring people away.

There’s much more to it than this, like the swelling of budgets and development times, but simply as a player removed from the industry itself but a follower nonetheless, these are my major issues. he only reason why I have these issues is because I love video games, and I want to see the industry flourish. People may think that Video Gaming is huge today, but I feel that if some of these problems are not taken care of, then a snowball effect is going to either severely cripple the industry, or make the future of video games one that I wouldn’t want to play in.

On a similar topic, check out this livejournal post from a former Electronic Arts employee who was fired. He’s speaking out against the policies of his former employer in the hopes that something will change. It’s long, but very fascinating reading from someone who’s worked on the inside.

Anyway, what am I playing now? Well, I’m about a year behind the times, but since it recently became a Player’s Choice title, I picked up a copy of “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker“. I love the Mario games, but I had never really gotten into the Zelda games until now. It’s an amazing game, far removed from the problems I’ve just listed, and I’m really enjoying playing it. So while all these other folks are shooting hookers in Grand Theft Auto and killing evil Teletubies in Halo 2, I’m cutting grass and breaking clay pots with my sword for rupees! It’s great!