Blog Archives

Push the Button

I had an unexpected moment in a police station that got me thinking about my life. Or rather, my character did.

A little while ago, Emily Reese of Top Score interviewed Normand Corbeil, the guy who composed the soundtrack to Heavy Rain. I was terribly intrigued about the music and the game. So, when Pastor Shep — our most experienced pastor and resident unexpected gamer — let me borrow his old, busted PlayStation 3 in a bid to convince me to join him in White Knight Chronicles, I also borrowed his copy of Heavy Rain to try it out.

Heavy Rain European cover art

Now, I dislike quick time events as much as the next guy. I found myself shaking the controller up and down, watching Ethan shake a carton of orange juice, thinking to myself, really? Our hero proceeded to help set the table and play with his kids. Hardly a fast-paced intro.

But it definitely picked up, and I got engrossed. Then came that unexpected moment.

My character was in a police station, being questioned, and his possible responses were floating around his head, each assigned to a button. I took a moment to pick a response; a moment too long, apparently, because my character gave a response without me pressing a button.

Dialogue options in Heavy Rain

Given the unusual game design of Heavy Rain, I was only a little surprised. Then, I found myself wondering how much the game would do by itself if I just set down the controller. Maybe I could get through large sections of the game without doing anything.

I remember living like that.

There was a period of my life where I just coasted. My basic physical needs were taken care of: I was living with one of my parents. Life was comfortable enough: I had my Game Boy and my laptop, and a few hours of work to do each week for spending money. Frankly, I didn’t do much.

Opportunities came and went. I wasn’t ready for them. I wasn’t in the right place to act on them.

Life is like some of those scenes in Heavy Rain. If you just sit there, life will move around you. Someone else will make decisions for you. Your circumstances will slide out of control.

The problem is, that’s seldom how we see it. When we sit still, we imagine our lives in stasis. We get comfortable, and ride it out as long as we can. But we always think we have longer than we actually do.

Then comes the day when we run out of money, or a relationship crumbles, or we get kicked out of the house. When we realize we have no goals and no forward momentum. When we realize we’ve been drifting more than living.

It took me a while to realize that I needed to change. My comfortable little world started to seem awfully small compared to what God was offering me. So, I found a regular, decent-paying job, saved up, and found my own place for the first time. I had to stop sleeping in until ten. I had to keep a tight budget. I had to be a little more conservative with my money and a lot more adventurous with my life.

God was calling me to push the button, and I’m glad I did.

Are you stuck? I’d be glad to pray for you. Have you followed God’s call out of complacency? I wanna celebrate with you. Let me know in the comments, or via the contact page.

Blasting Bad Guys

I’m just now playing through Fallout 3, and I’m enjoying it a lot. I love post-apocalyptic fiction. It’s also been a while since I played through an RPG, so it’s a nice change of pace from my usual shooters.

When I play video games, I get pretty immersed; that’s doubly true with roleplaying games. I try to keep a healthy distance from my characters, but I find myself getting into them all the same. Most often, I play characters somewhat similarly to the way I think I would act in their situation.

For example, when I found myself in the first subway area in Fallout, I was reluctant to open fire on the first raider I saw. I had put a lot of points into the Speech skill so I could talk my way out of problems, and I hoped I could do so with the leather-clad gentlemen with the handgun. Yeah. Not so much.

In RPGs like this one, you gotta have stuff to kill for experience. Enemies. And you can often tell they’re enemies because they’re marked as such: in Fallout 3, their names appear in red. It makes things simple. If someone has an actual name and it appears in green, chat ’em up. If they have a generic title that appears in red? Apply shotgun. Reload. Repeat until dead.

Neatly-labeled enemies are great for video games.

If we treat real people like that, we have a problem. Read the rest of this entry

The XLM LAN-tacular!

The Extra Life Ministries LAN-tacular will be at my place on September 17, starting at 2 pm.

First, we’ll have a massive game of Call of Duty: Black Ops! There’s nothing quite like being in the same room with a bunch of other people you’re playing Nuketown with.

Then, throughout the afternoon, will be the first ever Extra Life Ministries Worms 2: Armageddon Tournament! Show off your ninja rope skills and compete for the awesome, spectacular (to be determined) prize!

RSVP on the Facebook event! And if you wanna compete in the Worms 2 tournament, leave a comment on the event with the name of your team and the names of your 4 worms.

So, come hang out with cool people. Then blow them up.

Razorclown Roundup: August ’11

I recently beat Portal 2 co-op with my brother-in-law. Great story, great gameplay, great for bonding. I also learned something valuable: it’s easy to get snippy with someone when you’re playing a collaborative puzzle game past midnight, when you’re both mentally dulled. For the sake of your friendship — and science — call it a night and come at it fresh later.

I’m planning on running a couple roleplaying games. I have a couple interested friends I’d like to initiate. I also want to run a Pathfinder game for our usual DMs; it’s rare that they get to be players together. Ideas are beginning to percolate for both games. Now, to get my notes together and schedule some sessions (aka the tricky part).

I’ve been playing Team Fortress 2 and Black Ops. You can find me on Xbox Live or Steam on Thursday evenings and during the weekend.

Speaking of video games, the Extra Life Ministries LAN-tacular is coming soon. More details shortly.

In the meantime, check out my new Tumblr page for occasional randomness. That’s where I’ll post pictures I take with Instagram, cool dystopian stuff from my friend Cody’s feed, and what have you.

My Tumblr page

Methods of Delivering Bullets

So, I was playing along in Call of Duty: Black Ops. I’d outfitted my classes that reviewers had recommended: my most-used guns were the AK74U and the Famas. Then, around when I hit level 34, I switched out most of my weapons for fun.

Below are my current loadouts. A few notes: I rarely use my secondary weapon, and I never use it if it’s a pistol. I’ve been working toward all the Pro perks, which is why several of my classes have Ninja. And I like frag grenades because you can cook them.

Any suggestions? What do your loadouts look like?

CUSTOM 1
Primary: PM63 – Rapid Fire
Secondary: RPG
Lethal: Frag
Tactical: Decoy
Equipment: Claymore
Perk 1: Scavenger Pro
Perk 2: Sleight of Hand Pro
Perk 3: Ninja

The PM63 slings lead fast. And it reloads über-quick. I’ve been able to reload mid-firefight and get the kill in a snap. With Scavenger, I can keep bullets in the air at all times. Fun to play.

CUSTOM 2
Primary: AK74U – Extended Mags & Suppressor
Secondary: RPG
Lethal: Frag
Tactical: Flashbang
Equipment: Claymore
Perk 1: Lightweight
Perk 2: Warlord Pro
Perk 3: Ninja

When I need a silenced class, this is my go-to.

CUSTOM 3
Primary: RPK
Secondary: Crossbow
Lethal: Frag
Tactical: Concussion
Equipment: Claymore
Perk 1: Lightweight
Perk 2: Steady Aim Pro
Perk 3: Ninja

I recently discovered the joys of light machine guns, and wanted to give the RPK a shot, as it were.

CUSTOM 4
Primary: Stoner63 – Extended Mags
Secondary: RPG
Lethal: Frag
Tactical: Decoy
Equipment: Claymore
Perk 1: Lightweight
Perk 2: Hardened Pro
Perk 3: Hacker Pro

The Stoner63 is a beast, but given how often I miss, I need extended mags to get the job done.

CUSTOM 5
Primary: AUG – Reflex Sight
Secondary: Crossbow
Lethal: Frag
Tactical: Flashbang
Equipment: Claymore
Perk 1: Scavenger Pro
Perk 2: Sleight of Hand Pro
Perk 3: Hacker Pro

I’ve also been impressed with the AUG. I’ve often stayed alive with it long enough to need Scavenger, which is usually a rarity.

Shoot the Clown

My typical Friday night? Hang out with wife and baby until they go to bed, then park myself in front of the Xbox.

I’m currently playing a lot of Black Ops, with a little Halo: Reach here and there. That and the occasional bout of Rock Band 3. Most often, I’m just playing to relax. I don’t mind making new friends, though.

If you wanna shoot at me, send me a friend request! If you mention Razorclown Ministries in your request, I will add you. As you can see in my right sidebar, my gamertag is Razorclown.

I’d say something very Bruce Willis-y like “Come on. I dare you,” but the fact is, you’re probably better than I am. Come find out!

Hypocrisy!

Anyone remember my rant on achievements? How I said they’re not to be taken seriously? How they’re not that big a deal?

I spent hours getting this:

Here’s what you have to do to get it:

It was really hard.

…don’t judge me.

Add to Friends List

I got the chance to play some Halo: Reach online yesterday. I do love me some shooty action, but playing online is always a mixed bag. There are some not-fun types out there that love nothing more than to cuss you out or – perhaps worse – scream nonsense into the mic until your ears bleed.*

Yesterday, though, I had the pleasure of playing with several people that just made my day.

The icecreamKi Gamertag A hilarious South-African-turned-Aussie.

Cruzon63 GamertagCruzona63 Gamertag

A brother and sister who play together.

Son of Attack Gamertag

killawat55 Gamertag And several other fun chaps.

In a world of griefers and sore losers, you guys stood out. Thank you for a good time. Stay awesome.

And a special thanks to Cruzona63 for the shoutout! That warmed my heart.

 

*I try to give people a chance before I mute them. I think I’m too generous, sometimes.

Achievements Aren’t

I admit, I get a little thrill when I hear that little pa-pluck sound.

There are several websites dedicated to these things. I even instituted an achievement system on a forum I moderated for my friends, and they went nuts. “I can haz?!”

They’re addictive though, aren’t they? I really like being told I just achieved something. Even if it’s something mediocre.

Really?

It becomes a problem when we start making them a priority over our real purpose.  Achievements, unlockables and other milestone reward systems are just there to tickle our sense of accomplishment. If we were doing something important, I daresay they would be utterly irrelevant.

Thing is, doing important stuff is not always fun.  We have a definite sense of purpose, but we like to be entertained.  Someone in the game industry had a stroke of genius: capitalize on our innate sense of purpose within games.    They developed a something-important simulator.

We like achievements because our lives have actual meaning.  We were designed by God for great things. (Ephesians 2:10)  I guarantee you your life is about more than your gamerscore.  Games are fun.  Achievements are definitely fun.  But really?

They’re not important at all.

(Related note: achievements feed our desire for instant gratification. The last thing we need is for anything else to feed our desire for instant gratification. It seriously hinders our ability to get through life.  For one thing, it makes it harder to pray. If we get stuck in a mindset free of patience, we get frustrated and disheartened if God takes more than 12 seconds to give us what we want.  For those keeping track, it usually does.)