To say I’ve boarded the Hype Train would be a tiny understatement with the announcement of a new Silent Hill game headed by Kojima and Guillermo del Toro. Add onto that Norman Reedus is taking the lead, and I’m left giddy with excitement. This could be the kick Silent Hill needs to be great again. 1 – 4 are the only Silent Hills I accept as being part of the series. Maybe this new one, called Silent Hills at the time of this writing, will kick start the franchise.

To me, Silent Hill was always about getting under your skin. Messing with your head. Disorienting you. The playable teaser they presented on the Playstation Store hits a lot of those notes. Playing through the player finds them self in an unremarkable hallway, if you ignore the fact it loops on itself. All of the doors except the one that loops are locked and an eerie news cast from a radio talks of a father butchering his family.

The Fox Engine turns even the unremarkable into something to be marveled.

With each loop things in the hallway change, doors open and close, writing appears, sounds come and go. What seems to be a ghost even enters the fray. You need to figure out what the game wants you to do. This can leave the player feeling unnerved and confused. The player is forced to look closely at areas they may not want to (by pushing in the analog stick) and linger longer than is comfortable within the confines of the hallway.

This disorientation while being haunted by a malicious entity is a piece of what Silent Hill has been missing all these years. The new games seem to resort to jump scares and gore filled imagery; blatant in it’s attempts to frighten. The originals had characters that seemed off, tight camera angles to create a feeling of being closed in or used the same type of camera angles to make the player feel lost in a winding sea of fog and monsters. Alongside iconic moments, like Harry “dying” in the alley at the start of the first Silent Hill. They also had a clear theme to the horror, like guilt and sex in Silent Hill 2. Recent installments feel all over the place, just plunking down monster and level design with no real rhyme or reason. Cameras angles don’t feel purposeful anymore and in some cases actively ruin the experience. Characters are predictable and uninteresting.

With P.T almost everything felt just right. The disorientation, disturbing imagery and sound, using the tight confines of the hallway to force a first-person view camera into terrifying angles. The use of the zoom in feature reminded me of both Silent Hill and Fatal Frame. Two franchises that reveled in forcing the player into doing things they really didn’t want to. The use of the environment, changing with each loop, reminds me of my favourite part of Fatal Frame. You can (and will) experience different scares or imagery as you retread old ground.

Just keep looking just keep looking looking looking looking

Having Norman Reedus on board could turn into a huge boon. He’s a great actor and will hopefully bring that to bear. While Beyond Two Souls sucked so, so, hard a lot of people agreed there was some top notch acting involved that helped a lot in making it tolerable. If that same situation could occur, but with a good game, it could help elevate it to great status.

Always check your 6 o’clock in a horror game…unless a creepy voice tells you too. Than run.

My only fear is it will be too “odd” rather than frightening. Metal Gear Solid is chock full of strange moments that work for me, but can pull you out of the moment, which is disastrous in a horror game. After seeing bits of The Strain, Guillermo del Toro’s latest t.v. series, it also has moments of “WTF” and not in a good way. I worry that quirk will end up not working well within a survival horror video game. Or the game itself will drag like the latter half of P.T. I don’t need another Amnesia (which is excellent I’m not trying to bring it down), with no combat and finicky “puzzles” with little clue as to what to do. Looking at you “break window, walk outside, get item”.

I want Silent Hill again. Awesome Silent Hill.

(This is a rant. Getting it off my chest.)

Not too long ago I had to experience the unfourtunate; a MMO guild falling apart due to drama. Drama I was involved with. It’s always ugly, and leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. No one is clean or innocent of it, and it was sadly avoidable in one easy step.

Communication.

The group had come together in order to down the most difficult content. We formed up from two separate groups that had lost people to breaks and quitting. Things were fine in the beginning. We all got along and were excited to hit up new content. At least that’s what us, from what I shall call Group #3, thought. But, the other group, #1, had been at the fight for awhile now. They were already frustrated, and they took point as the veterans. We were jumping in needing to learn the basics of the fight. Tensions started to mount right from the beginning.

#1 was more aggressive (not all of them just a couple), they gave the impression we should already know what they had learned in three months of attempts. “Ughs.” and passive insults were rarely heard in the first couple weeks. As time went they became more common. #3 was collectively getting frustrated, but we didn’t know that yet. We were each trying to suck it up for the whole. Brushing it off.

It only got worse. The person who had stepped up as lead; they called out commands during battle, made decisions etc. Was obviously getting shorter of temper as time passed. This is where I made my mistake in this whole mess. I could see it plain as day. I even talked to him once about voicing concerns if he had any, don’t bottle and make it worse. But, I never outright asked him, “Are you okay?” It’s debatable if anything would have changed if I had said so at this juncture, but I should have tried to ask, to broach the subject.

Instead time passed. Justin, talking to another member of #3 about the raid, learned he was frustrated, and passed the information to me. I then talked to my sister, who said “Yeah, he’s mentioned that to me as well.” A couple conversations later and we find out we’ve all got the same feelings. We voice concerns, complaints, but decide to see things out.

We down the boss, cheers are had. But, on that eve a member of #1; the one who always had an insult handy when someone else fell, and an excuse for when he did, had something to say.

“If it wasn’t for Blue (me) and Xen (my sister) dying so much we would have had it down sooner.”

I was flabbergasted. It was so direct, so nasty, and so not true. I truly hope it wasn’t because we were the only women in the raid. But, that is the only thing different about us I could fathom. We didn’t die the most (he did, #3 kept a tally for kicks and to make ourselves feel better, and vindicated), and at that time we had been pretty quiet when people argued. I was instantly furious. The other members of #3 had all logged off, I think this particular individual didn’t realize I was still around. The leader defended us. He was a good guy, just frustrated at this point. I logged off, told my sister. We both agreed we know longer wanted to tolerate the rude one and his ways.

We hit it up again the following week for loot. We wipe, for hours. As time passes it gets uglier, #1s are scolding, chastising like we’re six year olds from the very first wipe. This puts everyone in a bad mood from go number one. By the two hour mark we’ve all transitioned beyond frustrated. None of us want to be here. This is where the “leadership” continued along with a cardinal mistake. Vinegar.

Back in WoW, when Gill (my sister) and I were hitting up the Frozen Throne our raid got stuck on the three princes. We call this “A Wall” a fight that seems insurmountable, weeks go by with no progress. We hit a wall and the co-leader of the raid, Geo, was pissed off. She was also making sure everyone knew it, by shrieking at us over Vent. Hawking blame wherever she saw fit, whether real or not. This was normal behaviour for her, we had people quit already because of it. Now we hit this wall. I told the leader of the raid, “If she stays; if you don’t kick her or tell her to stop, we’re going to lose this long list of people instead.”

He kicked her after one giant screaming fest the following week.

You know what happened? We instantly downed that boss fight. And all the others right up to the final brawl, The Lich King himself.

My point, screaming, yelling, berating, insulting, gets you “Walls”. Being supportive, helpful, understanding, working on and talking about problems (calmly) (and yes knowing when to remove someone from the raid) gets you downed bosses and fully heartfelt high-fives.

This is not the environment #1 was creating. Half of #3 wanted to outright quit at this point. We talked it out decided against it, I promised to have an overall talk about attitudes if it’s still nasty when the new content drops.

The new content comes. We hit up the new single boss fight. After some frustration we down it. There is some ugliness but nothing epic. Just passive aggressiveness. Moving onto the first boss of the new big set we collectively work on the fight. None of us have any idea what to expect. #3 is giving suggestions trying to figure things out along with #1. But, that underlying nastiness is still there. #1 suddenly starts expecting the world from #3, but not themselves. Yelling at us, and just us, for mistakes. But, only lightly chastising themselves when whoopsy doodles are made. I end up having that talk. Well, “talk” is generous. I discuss attitudes, negativity, how we’re worse as a group when it’s happening. We should be positive, let things roll off. If you feel angry don’t hit the push-to-talk button. I’m met with silence. Nobody says a thing, a couple “I agree!” sentiments from #3, but #1 ignores it. They keep on talking about random stuff, like I had never opened my mouth.

Communication. It is so important in every aspect of our lives. Even the fun MMO ones. Do you want to have fun and progress in a raiding environment with other people? Well, GUESS WHAT you need to talk to other people then. About issues or concerns, have discussions if things are obviously sour. ANYTHING. Nothingness is the worst thing you can do. It will end raids, or get you kicked from one.

This may be a major sore spot for me. Things went from bad to worse. The leader and I clashed over the stupidest things. I knew what he wanted, certain skills obtained. I knew he was angry about it. Hard to miss. I purposely didn’t unlock the skills. I instead said I wanted to talk about it. You know what he did? Directly insulted me with sentence number three. I was even about to agree to get the skill at my own pace. I shut down. Fast. Told him the negativity, the condescending nature of how everything was approached, was unnecessary, rude, completely out of line.

He switched characters and never talked directly to me again.

#3 was pissed. Tired of being ignored. I can recall giving suggestions for the new fight and not even being acknowledged. Three weeks later suddenly this is part of the new strategy.
We were always told why we died, what we did wrong, and how to fix it in the most rude manner possible. If you’re leading a raid, do not do this.

A: It’s spoon feeding, you will not get raid aware members capable of dealing with mechanics and issues without needing a call out by doing this.
B: It’s condescending as all get out. We are not children, we are equipped with eyes. We know what killed us (we even point it out ourselves sometimes), we know the mechanics, we know what should be actually done. If we don’t, we’re adults, capable of communication. Something I know they had forgotten how to do. We can ask, “Hey, not sure what went wrong, any ideas?”
C: It makes the person feel bad. Even if they know you’re wrong about it being all their fault, you are still calling them out in front of everyone else as the person of authority. Nobody enjoys that.

Gaaaaah, ok. Still angry. It’s the lack of trying to meet us halfway that really gets to me. To this day they see themselves as completely in the right. We don’t see ourselves that way. We are capable of looking back and seeing where we could’ve improved how we dealt with the situation. There were times we fed into it, circle jerking if you will, our anger. That never helps. But, we did try to address our problems, and got ignored.

The leader? He never wanted lead. But, he did have an idea of how he wanted the raid to be handled. People research the fights beforehand, and try them out in PUGs every week if we don’t down it. He never, not once, told us that. Not until the big blow-out at the end. Even when we tried to talk about it. Even when I outright said, “If you have a problem, tell us, we’re big people, we can take it and we can work something out.”
He was convinced we were in league with one another. In someways we were. We preferred to run with one another, but we would do things with the others, and we would invite them along with us. We didn’t want to ostracize him, we still thought of him as a decent person. Yes, we had our own private chat channel, to air grievances get a good ole’ “Gaaaaaaaaar!!” But, we still tried to strike up conversations in guild chat, or join in on them. He had the GALL to be pissed at us for his problems he never voiced, NOT ONCE. If you have an issue with someone, even if it is just, if you do not talk to them about it. If you let it boil, YOU are also in the wrong. If it is a misunderstanding, you are the ONLY one in the wrong for not talking about it.

We left on bad terms with the leader and the rude one. The other members of #1 we never had huge problems with. They either got involved but not nearly as much, or didn’t even notice there was a problem.

Sometimes I emote at leader, consider whispering him. He was a good person, he is a good person. Fun, nice. But, he took up a responsibility he didn’t want, let it get to him, stayed silent, ignored or escaped attempts to talk. Became mean. I’d like to go back to before all this. Where we could talk and run around doing random things together. But, for now, it doesn’t look like that will happen.

Communication. Use it, love it. Please, don’t let this happen. It doesn’t have to, it’s daunting, anxiety ridden territory. But, if you want to organize a group, you need to have a lot of it. If you want to participate in one, you need a little of it at least.

Talk.

I had a random thought the other day as I meandered around on my warlock, Usiri, doing the questline for my Felhunter. I was on the airship from Undercity to Orgrimmar when a random undead priest started healing me, not exactly unusual behaviour on the random scale. But, as I sat there thinking about it, and then thinking about it in a roleplaying context something struck me. If I was Usiri riding the airship and some random person I didn’t know cast spells on me, no matter the kind, wouldn’t that be a violation of my personal space? How must it feel to have some stranger’s magic arcing along your skin, suffusing you?

I imagined Usiri’s skin crawling from the foreign power, a sickness filling his gut as a spiritual violation was enacted upon him. He would of course be upset, and would probably lash out as is his personality to do so. Think of it as akin to riding the train and some stranger grabs your posterior, it’s not an experience anyone wishes to have (well most anyone). This in turn also opens up whole new avenues of harassment for characters of the less then savoury sort.

So, now when I’m IC I keep this in mind, prepared to yell at any who dare violate one of my characters.

(Posted way back in 2009)

The new grind of choice is Final Fantasy XIX. My main character is Blue Revenant, White Mage, Catman, Tailor, Occasional Flake. Got an alt, Dynaheir Rehte, Tank, Just Tank.

Been enjoying it so far. The fights, which are the main reason I play an MMO, can be a downright blast. We’ll see how long it holds my attention. So far, it’s looking to keep it for the long-term.

I do have an immediate complaint however. The grind. Specifically the grind for the currency (called Tomes) that is used to purchase the latest, greatest armour. Like most WoW inspired MMOs you grind out dungeons and raids to acquire this currency. And like all MMO populations, people ferret out the fastest way possible to do so. In XIVs case this involves running a single dungeon, the fastest one, over and over and over and over and over and oh gawd why won’t it stop!? There is a “Duty Roulette” that gives extra of the currency. But, you can only queue by yourself and you can only get that bonus once a day; it’s also a tiny bonus, only increasing the tome output by about half. In WoW, the one who set the bar for this and many other game systems, you could do the equivalent of queuing randomly (Dungeon Finder) as many times as you wanted and get a reward. First queue the raid currency, subsequent queues the dungeon currency. The big difference being you got the currency from queuing randomly rather than a reward from the dungeon itself. You could also go in with a full pre-made party. Pre-made party roulette queues is being added into XIV, however the reward will still only be the first queue of the day, making multiple random queues moot in the face of efficiency. The random in WoW kept it somewhat fresh as you could get one out of a large pool of dungeons. In XIV only three dungeons (of 8 endgame dungeons) has the current currency tied into boss kills, and only one is the fastest (Brayflox Hard). It’s monotonous and makes me want to throw up my hands and say forget it.

I would love on so many levels if XIV adopted more aspects of the idea WoW polished. I’m wondering if they missed the point of the currency reward being tied to the random queue rather than the dungeon, or they’re trying to make us go insane.

(This was originally posted over on “Eccentric Avatar”; I’ve decided to consolidate the two.)

Fatal Frame (one of my favourite video game series) had it’s latest installment, V, announced to be in development. No word on whether or not it’s being localized for North America and to that I only have one thing to say…or sing.

Warmachine eludes me. In trying to wrap my head around it I find myself becoming frustrated. Justin introduced me to it in an enthusiastic manner. Maybe too enthusiastic. For a good couple months it was all he would talk about, while I struggled to remember all of the small rules. Warmachine for those not in the know, is a table-top strategy game with players controlling one of many factions. You have these little figures that you and an opponent move around the table trying to overcome the other. I love the concept but all of the small quirks just won’t stick. I have a lot of trouble with remembering little things, like, “remember to get the mail.” A game that lives and breathes off the meta of these little rules is like a Lovecraftian horror to me.

Unfathomable.

Justin talking non-stop about it, about all of his units, all of the little bits; his lovely red Khadorians, drove me insane. I was feeling overwhelmed by my memory problems, and felt like all he talked about was Warmachine. Saturated in it even the glorious Protectorate of Menoth I tried to march across the table could not assuage my feelings of being crushed. After a couple of months trying to go out to group play meet-ups Justin was a little fed up with me. I didn’t seem engaged, and he asked if we should stop wasting money for me to get little figures. Agreeing that may be for the best, I still persevered on occasion. But, it was sporadic at best. For all of his sudden and undying love for the game (he bought a colossal, the largest, most expensive, unit in the game, a week after playing for the first time) his constant ramblings on Warmachine had turned me off.

“I’d very much like to talk about other things now, please.”

A couple more months went by, Justin had backed up on pushing it so hard. I went to a tournament, failed miserably, but thought I’d give it another shot. I do really like the figures. Justin got me a leader I had been eying (they’re called Warcasters or Warlocks if you’re playing a Horde faction), The Harbinger. A practical deity in of herself; floating across the battlefield invoking awe and terror as only a god chosen teenager can. Suddenly my interest went up as I tried a new playstyle (previously I had only fiddled with a dude called Kreoss). My win/loss average started going up, and I was trying really hard to remember the little things. More months have gone by and I now have a little over 50 points of little figures. I still lose most of the time and when I do win there always seems to be a but rolling around.

“But, if I had done this…” you would have lost handily.

“But, these rules were broke…” so it doesn’t quite count.

I’m trying to learn to take my losses in stride, not one of my strong skills.

“You’re losing because you suck; give up.”

All of the little things come haunting over and over. It feels like there’s something about the game I just can’t seem to grasp. Like a switch I need to turn on. But, I hope, try to believe in myself and not everyone’s favourite inner monologue so I can start bringing fire upon my enemies. Maybe writing the journey down, piece by piece, will give me the ability to keep a firm grasp on the unfathomable.

I just watched a street performer in Japan.  I was sitting in my home drinking a cup of tea watching a man perform thousands of miles away.  His friendly open face, the way he interacted with the audience, the use and choice of music all charmed me.  I wondered to myself if there were street performers such as this within my own home city; I have never seen one.  By the end of the video I had a smile on my face.

This may be an everyday thing now but for some reason it struck me at that moment how amazing it all really is as I thought, “I just watched a street performer in Japan.”

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