Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Saturday Evening Post

Inequity?

First scenario: Download music MP3s from a file sharing service, get sued by the RIAA, owe upwards of $1,000 per song downloaded if it goes to court and you lose, or settle out of court for around $3000 - $4000. (I'm pulling these numbers from memory. Actual amounts may vary, but are still silly high.)

Second Senario: Be Sony, a member of the RIAA, put out multiple CDs that contain DRM that damages your customers' computers and leaves them vulnerable to hackers, settle so that the customers effected are reimbursed by allowing them to download three albums from a pool of 200 as DRM-free MP3s for free OR receive a cash payment of $7.50. Never mind what it cost the customer to repair their computers and fix whatever other problems that may have come from your DRM. (link)

It looks to me – if you are the corporation who owns the copyrights on the music – three albums worth of songs, say 33 songs, are worth $7.50 total, or 22¢ a song. If you are the citizen who downloaded the same number of songs from the web without permission, you could be held liable for $33,000 in damages if you go to court, or $121.21 per song if you settle out-of-court. If my math is correct, that's 551 x what they've established as the value of their music with this settlement.

How the fuck do they figure THAT is just?

As of 29 days ago, 14,800 people have settled with the RIAA out-of-court and more than 3000 have paid the settlement amount according to this site. Using the middle range settlement amount of $3,500 that means that with these lawsuits the RIAA has potentially made $10,500,000. Just from suing their customers.

I'm now stating that, as of this moment, I will never again purchase new music unless it's from an independent label who is not associated with the RIAA. Instead I will limit my music purchases to used CDs. They don't get a dime that way and it's perfectly legal.

Addendum: Check this boingboing story out.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Because fur is a bitch and it's Friday

My, what a busy week. I did find a bit of time to work on Heather's drawing for my "Great Redraw Project of 2005... er. 2006!" Unfortunately, she drew something furry. Drawing fur is not easy. At least it's not easy for me. And this is a big furry bugger. Heather did say that I could draw it without fur, but that would kind of defeat the point of this project. So, instead, I've limited myself to just the head. I know, loser, giver-upper, whatever. The point is I did some of it and I'm posting it for your enjoyment, as opposed to not posting anything until I finished it some time next week and going crazy drawing fur. You takes what you gets. Click to gets bigger.

Here is the portion of the original that I re-drew:



and here's the result:



Next on the plate is a drawing by Jared von Hindman that is... strange. Oh, and Pat, did you have something for me, or did you really want me to draw that mascot you linked to? Let me know.

Have a good weekend everyone and a great New Years Eve! I'm off to lunch!

---

Unrelated, but if anyone knows where I can host – for free – .mov files up to 30 megs in size, I have a few movies of some of my "Sand" projects that I would like to share. If not, no biggie.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

If your computer is fast enough...

You might want to give this Java "Toy" a shot: Sand.

You can follow the links for explanations. Also, on the Digg page you can download the program for off-line tinkering. It's loads of fun.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

All The News That I Care To Share - Tuesday Edition

Thanks again to all who were concerned about my health. I now feel as though I have a minor cold which is quite preferable to the flu. I hope it stopped with me and doesn't continue to pass around to everyone I work with and mutate into something that wants a 401k and benefits.

Hey! Guess what? Tricia and Jenn are trying to breathe life back into the Fizzle & Pop forum! Who knows? It worked for Jesus! Although He wasn't dead nearly as long. Not that I'm saying the forum is anything like Jesus. For starters it won't heal anyone and would sink like a rock in water. No loaves and fishes for any of you out there who might be hungry either; just, you know, words.

I've made both of them full Admins so they can help keep things running smoothly and Tricia has already posted "the words" for a new round of the Storytelling Game. You have far more than a week to participate if you would care to; submissions end on January 16th. Head on over and check it out if you don't have any idea what I'm talking about.

Hey! Guess what else? You remember that video game 'Rez' that I might have mentioned awhile back? The game that I regretted having traded years ago and was selling on eBay for $59-$199? Yeah. That one. Well, I was in Rhino yesterday looking for a unique way to blow my $50 Holiday Bonus and there it was, sitting on the "New PS2 Games" rack. I wish I could have seen my face. Heather wished she'd had her camera. It was $49.99 new. So, yes, it's back in my collection and it won't be leaving without some sort of massive tragedy. And it is every bit as fun and hypnotic as I remembered.

Let's see... I've covered health, forum, Rez... what am I missing?

Oh yeah! A big thanks to Pat Angello for having the contest that led into my possession a 4-disc CD set of his favorite tunes that arrived while I was all flu'd up! They're awesome! And that's not just the flu talking!

Also big thanks to Jared over at Head Injury Theater for having his "Name that obscure movie" art contest at the end of October! The original paintings of my children's Halloween costumes also arrived while I was flu-ridden! Same day in fact! They look great! Still not the flu talking!

Annnnd a pre-emptive big thanks to the Retropolitan for the three prizes he's sent to me that should be arriving by tomorrow! It was going to be one and turned into three! Sweet! I have no idea what they are even though he sent me an email letting me know. He was kind enough to put in a "spoiler warning" and I decided to keep it as a surprise. I'll let you all know what they are when I find out.

Anything else?

...

Christmas was a lot of fun, even though the last week has felt like a month. I believe it has something to do with sleeping 20 times in a day for awhile there. The kids seemed happy with their haul, Heather enjoyed her presents and I'm pleased with everything I received. There's still debris about the apartment that will need tending to at some point, and there are two new super-fuzzy rodents that will be loved with great gusto until they either die or escape. My money's on "escape". I'm half expecting to come home to a sad little girl with impulse control issues: "I just wanted to pet them and *spoing!* they were out!" They've already been plotting their route over the last couple days during their ball jaunts; I can tell.

Have a great week everyone! I'll try to have a drawing up at some point, depending on how busy I am. There's a big annoying project that is due by Friday and I have half of it, so we'll see.

Friday, December 23, 2005

My state of health.

On Tuesday around noon I felt something coming on. By 8 p.m. I had a horrible repeating cough. The next morning, around 4 a.m., I woke up due to having vomited a tinch in my mouth. It was orange juicy, but otherwise not at all pleasant. I managed to get in to work and held on until shortly after lunch. I just couldn't concentrate at all. I figured I would go home, take some cough medicine and sleep it out. When I got home I was barely under the blankets before I was shivering with severe chills and sweating like a huge sweaty thing.

My doctor isn't open on Wednesday and even if he was I hate going since it nearly always turns out to be something that I just have to wait out and I feel like I've wasted my money.

That night I had a fever of 102.2 degrees. I really felt like I was going to die and I couldn't sleep for more than an hour or two at a time. The fever broke around 11 p.m. and I felt as though everything was going to be fine.

It didn't feel so fine when it came time to get ready for work. When I was finished with my shower I'd decided I would go to the doctor after all. Heather drove me.

After the doctor heard my symptoms and checked me out he said that it seemed as though I had bronchitis and he prescribed a z-pac, however he felt some of my symptoms made it sound like I might have a respiratory flu so he wanted me to take a lab order to a company called LabCorp that was about a block away and have a flu swab done. He said they might not do it, in which case I would have to go to a hospital to have it done.

They didn't do it.

I went to the hospital.

I felt like utter Hell by this point; all the walking around was doing me in. After what seemed like a half hour in the hospital's waiting area I was taken into the lab and was given the pleasure of having a feathery swab stuck up my nose about as far back as it could go and wiggled around a bunch. Once in each nostril. In case the flu was hiding or something. I swear my brain gleeked. Then Heather and I went to Walgreens to have my prescription filled. The lady said it would be an hour wait. Bah to that. We went home and I laid down for a half hour.

I started the z-pac and hoped that would be that. This morning I got up, still felt a bit like Hell, but I also felt I really needed to make an effort to go to work. Yes, I'm that dumb. Heather drove me to work so that I wouldn't crash during a coughing fit or just pass out on the highway. Fortunately she stuck around to talk with Derek because everyone, including my supervisor, felt I should go home. They weren't at all busy which surprised me and would rather I not be around all oozy and coughing and such. Heather drove me home. She's been so patient through this all. I do love her so!

At about 11 a.m. I got a call from the doctor's office. The test result was in. I'm the dismayed father of a lung shredding baby flu! Cigars all around. He wanted me to stop the z-pac and start on some new med that they phoned in to Walgreens for me. It's a twice a day thing so unless I wanted to get up at 1 a.m. for the next five days I had to hold off taking the first dose until 7. Which is in about 7 minutes.

Oh and the kids? The wee girl had to have a tooth pulled on Monday; a baby tooth, thankfully. And she has been on antibiotics since due to an infection that had set in. The not-so-wee boy went to the doctor on Tuesday (or maybe Monday) for his cough and his doctor determined that he has croup, then again on Thursday because of ear infections and he is now on antibiotics as well. Ho ho ho. Merry Christmas to all, and to all some germ warfare.

I hope everyone else has had a better week and has a wonderful Christmas weekend, whether you celebrate or not.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

One down, five to go.

I decided to re-work the drawings that I've been given in the order that I received them. That means that Derek is up first.

Here's his original drawing (click for bigger):



I took the drawing, scanned it in, made a trace of his original main lines on a floating layer, then added my "stylistic touches" on a layer above that.

This was the result (again, click for bigger):



And that's enough of that for one day. My fingers are cramped.

Will I be done in time for Christmas? Ho ho no!

Oh, and Derek, if you want me to make the PDF of the final, let me know.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I'm busy.

Yep. That pretty much says it all. But what the heck? Here are the details: I have a full page, full color ad that turned into a half page, full color ad when I was nearly finished with the shell* – AE: "I'm glad I found this out before you were too far along." Me: "Grrrrr." – and it's due tonight at 5. Nothing is being dropped from it despite having half as much space as before. I just got back to where I was before the size changed and I'm STILL waiting on half of the vehicle information. So. I'm eating my lunch.

I have six drawings to rework; one from Heather, one from Derek, one from Jared and three from my daughter. I obviously didn't get to it on my time off last week, although I DID get some of the house cleaning done that I'd been putting off and all of my Chrstmas shopping and wrapping finished. Not so good for you, but good for me.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

---

* That means I had everything laid out where it needed to go and was just waiting on the details.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Good? Bad? I'm the guy with the tablet.

I heard back from the publisher of Dark Recesses this morning. The news is good so far. She said: "Fairly impressive overall." and "I would definitely be interested in having you do something for issue three once the stories start rolling in." So, yay me I suppose.

Now I'm nervous.

The thoughts that are doing laps around my noodle are "What if I screw this up? What if, when I have the story in my hands, I can't draw a damned thing that is worthwhile? Or they just don't like it?"

It's been said to me before; I have a fear of success. Because somehow, in my mind, personal success is linked with imminent catastrophic failure. Ugh.

Enough thinking about this. The first step has been taken, my artwork was good enough to get me to the second step and now I need to just relax and see what happens next.

Well, okay, perhaps not just relax and wait. What I really need is more practice drawing.

That's where you come in.

Yes, you.

I want to try out a new drawing exercise. Well, new to me at least. What I need for you to do is draw a monster, even if you "can't draw", and email it to me. Or post a link to it. Or, if you know me personally, hand it to me. Whichever. I will then redraw whatever you give me in my own style and post the results. If you don't want anyone to know that you drew the original, just tell me and I'll leave your name out.

I got this idea from Dave Devries, the artist who makes awesome paintings from children's drawings. At his home site you can see what he's doing. It will also show you the level of art I'm looking for from you for this exercise. It does not, however, reflect the quality of the artwork that I expect to achieve. I'll just be happy if this helps to kick-start my dormant creativity.

For further incentive to get you to submit monster drawings for this exercise, I'll send you a print quality electronic version of my drawing once it's finished. Probably in PDF format.

I'm taking Wednesday through Friday off from work this week, and with luck I'll have a bit of time to draw then. So the sooner you can send me something, the better.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Reworking old work

A long, long time ago...

Back when I first started working in the art department at The Gazette, eight or so years ago, and had my hands on a Macintosh and Photoshop for the first time since college I did a wee drawing just to see if I could draw using the mouse. This was the result:



I decided at that point that, no, I can't really draw with a mouse. Not really. That's why I asked for a Wacom tablet for Christmas two years ago. I'm finally getting around to actually drawing with it, as you've seen from my last few posts.

While browsing through my online archive of stuff I've drawn, looking to flesh out my Style Portfolio set at flickr, I stumbled across this drawing once again and decided to redraw it. I've always liked the creepy look of the guy and wanted to finally do him justice. Here's the result (click pic for larger version):



So, what do you think? Better? Overworked? Let me know.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Okay.

If you notice my artwork looking like this, please don't keep me swaddled in canvas in a cushy room. Thank you.

Keep your whats'ums* crossed...

*Fingers, legs, eyeballs. Whatever.

John Hubbard, the author I did the cover illustration for awhile back, sent me an email on Monday with a call to artists attached. The business requesting art is a recent horror e-zine called Dark Recesses Press. While they only pay for cover art, they do accept interior story illustrations for which they offer exposure. Something my illustration (haha) "career" could certainly use. I figure at the very least it would offer me some practice which I need, and it would be interesting working with an art director from the standpoint of an illustrator rather than a graphic designer. It'll also be interesting to see if they consider me "good enough".

So, I sent off an email letting them know that I could be available, asking if contributors get a free copy of the zine and sending them a link to my newly constructed Style Portfolio set at flickr. It's some old and some new, several styles represented in the hizzouse. Word.

One thing I've known about my art for quite some time. I'm shyte at drawing backgrounds. I'm too focused on the foreground. Several of my instructors at RMCAD mentioned that as well, "Great job on the character drawing, but you need to develop your background drawing skills to anchor it in place." I suppose I should start sometime. That and hands. And feet. And hair and motorcycles and cars and horses and... and... man. I still have so much to learn.

Anyway, I'll let you know what I hear from them, good or bad. In the meantime, if you want to follow the link to their page and check out their premier issue I won't stop you. They're just finishing up the second issue, due out January 1st, which will take the place of the first issue and the only way to get it after that point would be to order the CD.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

2 Drawings

Here are two of my most recent drawings. You can click on the image to view a larger version.



I drew this as a surprise for Heather. For those not "in-the-know" it's a drawing of the character 'GIR' from the short run cartoon series 'Invader Zim'. He's her favorite character. The title doesn't refer to the piggy that GIR is holding; rather it's a line from the episode 'Rise of the Zitboy' when Zim asks GIR why there's bacon in the soap. If you haven't seen the series, do yourself a huge favor of funny and check it out.



And this is the start of a header design that I was making with Monkey in mind. It wasn't turning out like I wanted, so I stopped before completing it. I sent it off to him anyway and he said he loved it. So. There you go.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Evelyn is a nasty, nasty woman.

A warning, and I'm not kidding: If you don't like discussions involving sex and the attendant fluids you should skip this post. If your name is "Mom" or "Karen" you should skip this post. If you are squeamish you should skip this post. If you aren't amused by unsolicited spam offering penile enhancements you should skip this post. Odds are, even if nothing else applies, you should skip this post. I will be getting crude and unpleasant. There's just no avoiding it. Now on with the show.



Spam so fresh you can taste it. But I wouldn't advise it.

Here's how it started (my comments in red):

From: Evelyn Ambrose
Subject: Mt Hood Hosting Recurring Update Confirmation
Date: December 3, 2005 3:38:28 PM MST
To: collin

So far, so what. I knew it was spam of some sort. I was quite sure I'd never been in any agreement to host Mt Hood. Why, I barely know the geography. But what the heck. I enjoy some spam now and then. Let's see what's inside...

-Increase Your Sexual Desire and Sperm volume by 500%
500%?! Good lord! It would be like being a teenager again! Without the curfew. I could see the marketing value of offering increased sexual desire, but sperm volume? Why? Do they figure guys really want to be thirsty afterward? When "all" is "said and done" you would feel like you'd just crossed the desert, losing that much fluid in one go. And the clean-up... I'm not even going to go there. I just don't see the appeal.

-Longer orgasms - The longest most intense orgasms of your life
Yeah, like I want to be making THAT stupid face any longer than I have to.

-Rock hard erections - Erections like steel
Which is it? Rock or steel? It's helpful to know in advance so you can choose proper nicknames. "Howdy! Name's Flint and this here's my little pal 'Rusty'!" Or, you know. Vice versa.

-Ejaculate like a porn star - Stronger ejaculation
What? Mostly out of frame for minimal pay? And when is strength an advantage? Is it something you could use to defend yourself from a mugger?

Mugger: "Gimme your wallet!"

Man Armed With Penis: "Okay. Just a second. It's in here somewhere. Any minute now. It might help things along if you said something sexy."

-Multiple orgasms - Cum again and again
This too could be helpful against a mugger.

Mugger: "Oh Jesus! Dear Lord! Please! Stop! I can't breathe! God as my witness I'll never mug again!"

MAWP: "Wheeeeeee!"

-SPUR-M is The Newest and The Safest Way of Pharmacy
Hahahahahahah! "SPUR-M". Heheh. The rest of the sentence is nonsense, but how's that for a product name? Would you trust the ingredients of a product named that?

-100% Natural and No Side Effects - in contrast to well-known brands.
Especially when the contents are supposedly 100% natural? "Chocolate Milk" contains chocolate and milk. SPUR-M contains... something 100% natural. And no side effects, except a possible chance of gagging while swallowing. But that's natural the first few times. Totally natural. It gets easier the more you do it. And what brand could possibly be more well-known than "SPUR-M"? Ask your grandma. I'll bet even she's heard of it.

-Experience three times longer orgasms
Now it's time for FUN WITH MATH! (5 x volume) = (3 x time interval) = Ouch! It would be like trying to hang onto a fire hose. God help anyone on the street if you've left the window open.

-World Wide shipping within 24 hours
That's not bad. The waiting period on a handgun is three days. With same-day shipping you could be on the street, fighting crime in a way that is guaranteed to make the news in under 48 hours. Just remember to pace yourself and keep hydrated. The war against crime has never been so sticky.

Click here (web address removed because the whole idea is stupid)

Let the holiday beggin' begin.

Okay, close friends and relatives, if you are at all curious about the things I would like to have for Christmas I made a web wish list with links and everything. It's broken into three parts according to where it would be best to order from. The way I see it, making an online list is no more tacky than asking for money and a lot more helpful than my usual answer of "I don't know. Whatever will be fine." If you pull something from this list I guarantee I'll enjoy it. If you have something else in mind that's fine too. Heck, Derek did made a net list and I totally ignored it since I'd already ordered his gift two weeks earlier.

The list is here: F&P: Christmas Wishes

Friday, December 02, 2005

Ho-Ho-Holy Crap! - Part 1

Recently I had reason to hit our ClipArt collection again in search of a Santa. Some of you may recall, way back "in the day", when I used to take some of our more horrid clipart and turn it into CliparToons.

I don't do that anymore.

I will, however do this to you.

I mean "for you".

Below, you will see the first five "Bad" Santa clipart images that amused me. When looking at these, remember, someone did them on purpose AND might even have earned cash money for their efforts:


Here we have an image that would go
GREAT on any company's newsletter.
Unicef perhaps.



"Be good or I will break you."



Now we finally know what Santa
does with the bad little boys and girls.
Well, the boys at least.
"Don't worry Father, they'll be under your tree
Christmas morning as promised. With bells on."




"I AM SANTA CLAUS!
And I've got a bug stuck in my schnoz!"




Judging from the expression on the pig,
this is Christmas in the DEEP South.
"Squeal like a Santa Piggie!"


Others will surely follow throughout the season since I have a pool of over 200. No need to thank me. Don't try to stop me.

Have a great weekend everyone! Remember, you might think that bleach will get the images out of your head but that will just ruin your eyes. You need a drill to really get at them.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Gamer Geekery Alert

This post is likely only to appeal to you if you are a gamer or know a gamer. Sorry. It happens.

Through digg.com I found this link: Joystiq’s top 10 hidden gems of this generation

It's actually 11 games, but who's counting?

Personally, this list is of interest because, out of the 11 games listed, I have owned – and in most cases still own – all but one of them. Be warned, I will slip into gamerspeak throughout the rest of this post as I talk about my feelings for each of these games. Now on to the geekery.


10a. Stubbs the Zombie

Yeah, obviously I bought this one. I'd been watching it develop from the first rumor I heard of its existence over a year ago because, deep down, and this may shock most of you, I like the zombies. This was the first game that I can recall where you get to play the zombie and build a hoard. Every other game that I've played that had to do with the walking dead, from 'Zombies Ate My Neighbors' on the SNES to the 'Resident Evil' series, had you fighting your way free. This one promised the ability to BE the menace and it sounded great on paper. It was still good in execution, but not great.

A big problem is you move slow. Slow, slow, slow. You move faster than the other zombies that you create, but slower than the living that you are trying to kill. They can even walk backwards while shooting at you and remain just out of reach. Also, it's on rails. Those of you not familiar with gaming terms (assuming you are even still reading this) know this means there is basically only one path to take. They aren't tight rails, it doesn't move for you, but there's still pretty much just one way to do everything all the way through the game.

Ever since playing Grand Theft Auto 3 on the PS2 I've been aching for someone to turn that engine into a zombie game. My original thought was that it would play like the RE series only with GTA3 openness. You would start the game with the majority of the people around you as the living, only as time goes on the dead spread and the game get darker. Set the game clock to an actual 24 hour schedule with your ultimate goal being to survive for three days. As night falls and chaos increases you would try to stock up a safe house. You can still use vehicles, etc. only the later the game gets the more hazards there are to deal with. Missions would be to reach certain locations, try to rescue family and friends and get them back to the safe house to help with the defenses, to make ammo and medical supply runs, etc.

I know there has been a total conversion made for the PC version of GTA3 that runs something like this, but I have a Mac so I'm shown no love.

With the announcement of Stubbs, I was hoping for similar gameplay to what I've just described, only flipped. You would be trying to take over the entire city, root survivors out, build an undead army, etc. But no. Stubbs is tightly scripted with you locked into the area of the moment. No progressing backward unless it's in the script.

If it had been that type of game I would have held onto it for as long as I could. Instead about a week ago I traded it, while it still had a decent trade value, in order to pick up Half-Life 2 for the XBox. My intention is to pick it up again, used, in a few months for $15 or so. As you will see in a bit, that can be a bad gamble. I did beat it at normal difficulty before passing it along so if I never see it again at least I'll have the memories.



10b. Indigo Prophecy

This one looks cool, is very engaging, clever, and creative, but moving around will make you INSANE! It suffers from cinematic camera angles and abrupt control changes when those preset angles change.

There's a point early on when you have awakened in your apartment after having escaped from the murder scene and a cop starts knocking on your door. You have a limited amount of time to hide all evidence of the crime you committed and answer the door before he breaks it down and arrests you. I got arrested the first two times through because of the damn camera shifting too much as I passed through the rooms.

I took a break from playing this one just past the stage where the giant bugs are attacking you among the cubicles in your office building. I haven't returned, but not because it's not a great game. It is, in spite of its flaws. I just got distracted by Stubbs the Zombie. I will return to it someday. In the meantime, my son beat the game. He's warned me that I'm going to hate the ending. This is one that I will not be trading, even when I do beat it and I'm hoping very much for either a sequel or a whole new game with this level of depth and BETTER CONTROLS.



9. Rez

Rez was cool. It was like an interactive album. You got to play around in the music while blowing stuff up. Every shot you made or didn't make changed things up a bit, as I recall. I miss Rez. See, this is where really wanting a new game can get me into trouble. I traded Rez, and I can't even remember what game I got in its place, but whatever it was, it wasn't worth it. Rez is next to impossible to find now. If you can find it, it sells for over $70 used. This wasn't the first time I've traded off a game that later became rare. The other one that sticks out in my mind was Final Fantasy Tactics on the PlayStation. It was another situation, like Stubbs, where I traded it thinking I could pick it up cheap later only to have it go rare on me. I finally did re-purchase it used for close to what I paid for it new. Around $50. Then fate nudged me in the ribs, smirked and said, "Watch this." Sony re-released it as a "Classic" title that cost only $20, new. Bastards. This wasn't the last time that fate worked against me. Keep reading. In the meantime, I miss Rez and would like to play it again. Here's hoping for a sequel or re-release.

minor update: I checked Amazon for Rez for the heck of it. The prices ranged from $59.99 to $199.99. The odd thing was, the people who were offering it still new and in the wrapper were on the low end of the spectrum.



8. Killer 7

THIS is the only game on this list that I've never played and never owned. Why? Because, in spite of the fact that both of my children have watched me play, and/or have played, probably every game I've owned, this is one I can't risk them watching or playing, no matter how much I want to try it. The reason is because from all I've heard about it, it is a sick and twisted game. Beyond anything I've ever owned. So until they are grown up and it shows up as a retro title I'll have to do without. Pity me. You know you want to.



7. Alien Hominid

This one is also sick and twisted, but it's funny and cartoony so I can forgive it. It's also difficult which tends to keep the kids away. I got it for the heck of it and it turned out to be surprisingly good for a retro, side scrolling, shooter ala. Metal Slug or Contra. It's also the only game I've owned where you can jump on an FBI agent's back, ride him around for a while as he's screaming and then bite his head off. It's the little touches that make this game fun. It's even more fun with two players. I think I might dig this one back out and play it again this weekend. Maybe make Heather play it with me. She likes when I do that.



6. Ikaruga

Hard. Hard, hard, hard. Difficult, you might say. But gorgeous. Ever since my arcade laden teen years... actually, ever since getting the handheld Super Cobra game for Christmas when I was (wait for it) nine-ish... I've had a soft spot for shooters. Mind you, with the exception of that handheld Super Cobra, I've never been that good at them, but I've always liked them. And this is a pretty and clever one. Have I beaten it? Hahahahahahahah. No. Will I? No. But I still hang on to it because it's one of the best I've ever played.



5. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

This wasn't on my gamer radar until the news came out that it wouldn't be published on the Nintendo 64 and would instead appear on their next-gen system, the Game Cube.

Eventually.

Then I forgot about it for awhile.

Then, as the release date approached I started to see more and more about it, and the more I read the more I craved it. CRAVED I SAY! I bought it as soon as it was released. Now, I'll admit I don't finish every game I buy. Either the game gets too difficult or I get interrupted for an extended period of time and would have to start over, so I set it aside. I'm not the kid I once was. I can't game all the time.

Eternal Darkness was deep and dark. You play the game throughout many time periods as different people with different abilities and you have to battle creatures out of a Lovecraft universe while maintaining your sanity. It gets hard. I gave up about six hours in. For at least four months I didn't touch it. Then, one Summer I started it up again because Justin was begging me to. He wanted to see what was going to happen next, but he hates playing "scary" games. He would rather watch. That's been true for the whole Resident Evil series, the Silent Hills and Fatal Frames.

I didn't start all the way over though, I just jumped back in at my last save point. I got killed a lot, regained what skills I had and finally beat it. On the first color. See, early on you choose a colored idol that represents a certain elder god. There are three to choose from, each with it's own power. Each color is stronger than one of the other colors and weaker than the third. The catch is, when you choose an idol, you are really choosing the enemy god that you are going up against.

I chose red the first time through. It turns out that's the hardest one to fight. Red is strong magic. So I finally beat it. Then played again, this time choosing green. Beat it. Again. Blue. Beat it. AGAIN. Why? Because once you have beaten it on all three colors you can gain access to the purple idol. I'm pretty sure it was purple. I've seen someone say it was orange. Either way, it trumps all colors. Everything else is powerless against it.

That's probably enough babbling about this game. Suffice it to say, I got my money's worth out of it and I still own it. It was fun.



4. Ico

This is another game that I stopped playing because I was stuck and then returned to finish later. It's a great, expansive game. The scale can be boggling at times. Essentially, you have been imprisoned in a mammoth castle, you find a princess in a cage, and you have to drag her around – minus the cage – while trying to find your way out. You have to fight off smoke demons who appear from time to time and attempt to snatch the princess from you. If she gets taken, you lose. It's hard to explain why I like this game so much, but I do. Just thinking about it makes me want to play it again as well. Good choice for the list.



3. Disgaea: Hour of Darkness

This is a tactical role playing game with attitude and very clever writing throughout. The problem is, it's HUGE. The only way I'll be able to beat this game is if I'm bed ridden for several months. It's just too deep for me to be able to play through without interruptions. This game has convinced me that I can no longer play RPGs, no matter how much I love them. I just don't have the time to commit. This one has also gone rare, and while I DO still have my copy of it, there's a scratch on it that came from a time when I'd loaned it to someone. I buffed it out for the most part, but I'm not sure if it'll play past that point and it will suck mightily if I do manage to find the time to play it again, reach that point, have it crash and then be unable to replace it. Time will tell.



2. Beyond Good & Evil

This is yet another game where I got stuck, quit and then returned to, actually starting entirely over, and beat it months later. Turns out that I had the wrong mentality the first time through. I tend to prefer the scorched earth style of game playing, even in stealth games like Splinter Cell and this one. That means if I had any way to take someone down, I took them down. I hate the thought of a mobile enemy at my back. Makes me itchy. Well, there's one part in Beyond Good & Evil where it MIGHT be possible to take out the three guards, but it's far smarter to just sneak on through, grab what you need and then sneak out. When I realized that the rest of the game went pretty smooth. It's a bit short, but it's top notch gaming all the way.

This is also the other game that fate shafted me on. I bought it for $50, new, a month or so after it came out. A week and a half later they slashed the price to $20 because it just wasn't selling. At the end of it all though, it was worth the full price and is certainly worth the $10 you can find it for now.



1. Psychonauts

This game was already firmly on my radar when XBox pulled the plug on it. They decided they weren't going to publish it and it looked for awhile as though nobody was going to step up and get it finished. I was seriously bummed when that happened. Fortunately, Majesco picked it up and released it.

This is, without a doubt, one of the most creative games I've ever played. The basic idea behind the game is that you are training to become a "Psychonaut"; someone who travels into the minds of other people to dig out information. Something bad is going on behind the scenes though and it's up to you to stop it. While you are in another person's mind, you are in another world.

The trip that stood out to me the most was when you enter the mind of a man who was a descendent of Napoleon. You start off in a tiny room with the guy whose mind you're in and Napoleon. Between them they are playing a board game. The guy has given up and he's being berated by his ancestor for being a quitter. It's up to you to help him win. So you climb on the table, and then climb down into the board game. You are now a giant standing on a hexagonal field, yet smaller than you were originally. You find the spot you want to be on the board, press a button and you shrink down until the board is the whole world. If you look around the houses that are on the game board you can find one that has windows you can see inside. What you see is the man whose brain you are in playing a board game with Napoleon in the room you started in. If you go all the way back out of the board game to the original room and look out the window you'll see the terrain of the board game. It's much cooler to actually experience than I've described it and that's only one of the many heads you'll enter.

SO. Have I beaten it? No. But I came sooooo close. I got pissed off.

Here's why. Later in the game, as you travel along, you are looking for the brains that were stolen from the other children who were in training. You gather some up and then return them to a lab to be reinserted in their proper noggins. This makes you more powerful. There are also cards and cobwebs that you gather and trade in at the same place for more cards to also gain power. Great so far. However, there is a point where, once you've passed, you can no longer trade them in. I passed that point and didn't have a saved game within several hours of there with my pockets full of brains, cards and cobwebs. I lost it all. Color me mega-pissed. Will I return to it? Probably. Just not yet. Not yet. Still pissed. What I won't do is get rid of it. In spite of the frustration it's a wonderful game.


And there you go. Sorry for all the geekery, it shouldn't stain you permanently.
"Boring a hole in the patient’s head creates a door through which the demons can escape, and - viola! - out goes the crazy."