Sunday, August 31, 2014

Let's Get Cynical! 'The Fappening' and #LeakforJLaw

PLEASE NOTE: Let's Get Cynical! is not intended to be a collection of rational thoughts, but rather a quick rant concerning my immediate reactions and opinions. Please respond accordingly. 

Earlier today, private photos of many celebrities (I'd give a solid number, but more are being added as I type) were leaked to the internet collectively. When I say private, I think you all know damn well what I mean. Celebrities such as Victoria Justice, Ariana Grande, Kate Upton, and Jennifer Lawrence have all been victimized by an alleged hacker who collected all the nude photos and uploaded them to 4chan and it has since spread all over the internet. I'm still trying to grasp this whole situation myself, to be honest. How exactly does something like this happen? As much as I hate to admit it, that's very impressive hacking work; not everyone can collect private, supposedly deleted photos from famous people and leak them to the internet all at the same time. Then again, I suppose that's why it's such a big deal, and why August 31st, 2014 has been dubbed "The Fappening".

Most people's first impressions of "The Fappening" are positive, even celebratory. And while it may seem that way at first, you need to consider that each celebrity is an individual, and these were all private pictures. It's one thing when a celebrity does that purposely, or even when one celebrity has a single photo leaked, but when literally hundreds of naked pictures of stars with otherwise clean records get stolen, it's a humongous invasion of privacy. I can't even begin to imagine how Jennifer Lawrence feels, as she was already hounded by fans online. Victoria Justice has even begun claiming that all the leaked pictures of her are fake (which was quickly shot down by a redditor who found similarity between the faceless nudes and photoshoot pictures of the star). Overall, it's kind of... gross, really. Even worse, the hacker is probably viewing his or her self as a Robin Hood type figure, stealing nudes from the rich, and giving to the masses. I haven't linked any of the obscene pictures of the celebrities, and I don't intend to. If you want to see the images, it's a google search away. But I advise you consider the celebrities feelings on this first.

Now, the leak is certainly a bad thing in general, and naturally, fans would want to comfort and reassure their idols. Sounds like a great idea, right? Let's go show our support for our celebrities in need! And that's the thinking that helped created #LeakforJLaw, which is quite possibly the most idiotic way anyone could respond to this. Basically, the logic behind #LeakforJlaw is that if women everyone post nude pictures of themselves online, it will drown out the hype around Jennifer Lawrence's nudes and make this whole situation not seem like such a big deal. Which is of course what happened, right? Heh, NOPE. All that happened was 'The Fappening' got more publicity and girls quick to jump on the bandwagon have screwed themselves over (but, in the process, gained hundreds of followers). I cannot even imagine the type of person you'd need to be to think that #LeakforJLaw would be effective. A common argument is "How dare you try and shame women's bodies!". It's not that it's disgraceful, it's just the principle... it's flawed at it's core and really doesn't make much sense. But hey, now a bunch of male and lesbian redditors have more material to download.

If people want to show off their naked bodies on the internet, I fully support that. You go right ahead, #LeakforJLaw participaters. But that doesn't change the fact that all the celebrities involved in the initial wave of 'The Fappening' never gave permission for this pictures to be distributed online. And things like mindless twitter campaigns and mongoloid TMZ reporting will only make this ordeal last a solid week longer than it needs to. The entire situation is wild, wacky, and super dooper quacky. I'm not sure who else will be violated, if the hacker will get caught, or if anything else notable will come out of this, but I do know that this calls for some reminders of basic modern human behavior:

1. Respect people's privacy. Seriously, consider the feelings of the celebrities, love them or hate them (Hell, I don't even know half of them).

2. If you're comfortable displaying your naked body and you want to do it in an appropriate environment, go ahead. But be aware of anything else you might be causing in doing so.

3. Don't... be stupid? Yeah, don't be stupid. Don't take naked photos of yourself that you don't want leaked on the internet, because if you're famous, they will be. Don't steal private photos of people just for the Hell of it. Don't support the stealing of private photos. If you get paid to manage millions of people's photos (coughcoughApplecoughcough), you better make damn sure that they don't get breached this easily. And for the love of salmonella, if you don't support the hacking, don't give it attention by posting more nudes in that context!

This has been half-assed public service announcement from Goniloc. What's your stance on 'The Fappening'? Good or bad? And would you ever consider supporting someone in a way similar to #LeakforJLaw? Leave a comment below. That's an order.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Eminem Teases New Album Release, 'Shady XV'

Along with the recent release of his new single 'Guts Over Fear', Eminem has officially announced the November 24th release date of his newest album, titled 'Shady XV'. The album is a celebration of Slim Shady Records, containing hit songs from throughout the label's entire discography (including artists such as Eminem, 50 cent, D12, Bad Meets Evil, etc) as well as songs that are "Ooh damn, Jeremy, don't touch those yet, they're piping hot, fresh out of the oven" songs by all the artists. Shady XV will contain two discs (or albums, if you're a digital Damascus dingarooni): one composed of the previously released songs, and an entire album dedicated to new material.

Well, let's start off with the positive side of things: SLIM SHADY IS BACK IN TOWN, BOYS! That's right, Slim Shady (hotter than a set of twin babies) is back in action, hitting the high road at all time record-smashing speeds. Zooming faster than Lightning McQueen's dad on heroin, Eminem comes chugging down the tracks to drop some sizzle-sizzle crackle tea kettle tunes for the whole family. Eminem is easily one of my favorite musical artists of all time, so I'm very excited to hear his new stuff. But I have some many questions: Is Dre producing this? Is this what the rumored third D12 album is? Will Donkey Kong be featured in a song on this album? Why is Ricardo still reading this article?

However, all the excitement aside, I do have two major concerns. The first one is trivial; I didn't enjoy the Marshall Mathers LP 2 that much because of how 'pop' it sounded. The songs were still fine, but the album as a whole felt kind of empty. Plenty of people enjoyed it, though, and even if Eminem's songs aren't that great, more D12 and 50 cent is always a good thing. My other concern is on a different scale: With the way Eminem and Shady Records is dealing with this album, they're making it seem like a goodbye. Leaving the music industry 15 years after establishing a label would be a high note for Eminem to go on, and he has been talking a lot lately about how he's not as popular and what not. I'm personally okay with Eminem leaving as is, but I recognize that this sentiment is not universally shared. But what the Hell do I know, I'm just a low-budget hemophiliac with big dreams.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Renaissance of Fear: The Do's and Do Not's of Horror Games

With the rise of horror Let's Plays and social gaming (such as the PS Share function), the genre of horror has been getting a massive boost this console generation. Games like Amnesia and Slender kickstarted the rebirth of horror gaming, and the release of Outlast made sure that plenty of gamers were on board (especially since it was free on PS4). For a horror fan such as myself, a renaissance of fear is a godsend. We now have a plethora of titles releasing, such as Alien: Isolation, The Evil Within, Silent Hills (hell yeah!),  Until Dawn, Dying Light, and even more beyond that. Hell, I remember when the only horror game I had to look forward to was Resident Evil 6, and now there are so many that I can't even afford to pre-order them all. However, with so many developers jumping onto the spook train, I think that it's important to highlight what works in a horror game and what doesn't. This isn't to say that I don't want developers to explore new, creative ways to scare gamers; I'm just aware of past horror failures that I'd rather not see repeated. So without further ado, the do's and do not's of the horror genre.

DO have jump scares. Nothing is quite as frightening as something unknown suddenly popping out at you, except for maybe the anticipation of a jump scare. Which brings me to:

DO NOT rely solely on jump scares. Jump scares are a fantastic way to scare gamers, but without a solid atmosphere, it's just one jump after another and it starts to lose it's fear factor. Keep us in anticipation, make us dread to turn the corner. The key to making someone afraid is to keep them wondering what's going to happen next, and if your formula is jump scare + jump scare + jump scare, the unknown starts to become pretty damn known.

DO NOT have a lot of action/combat options. The biggest offenders here are the newer Resident Evil titles and Dead Space 3. Fear is derived from vulnerability, and giving the player a fully loaded machine gun doesn't exactly line up with vulnerability. Making the player completely defenseless is a solid way to induce screams (Amnesia, Outlast, Corpse Party), but it's not the only option...

DO have action of some kind. I'd like to see developers get creative with this. It's bad to have explosions and gunfights at every turn, but without something interesting the game starts to get a little stale. Let's look at Silent Hill 2, for example: You have a pistol, as well as a variety of melee options. However, bullets are extremely difficult to come by, and the melee options are slow are unreliable. This not only makes every monster that much scarier, but it's also a guaranteed "Oh shit!" at the beginning of every boss battle. You don't need combat for action, though. It can come in the form of a chase scene, or a monster encounter that requires you to think outside the box to survive (the Kaernk in Amnesia is a perfect example of this).

[Resident Evil 6]
DO have puzzles of some kind. Make the player confused, make them struggle to understand what's going on and what needs to be done. Amnesia, Outlast, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, they all include puzzles of some kind. If you have arrows plastered on every wall, directing you where to go, the game is reduced to little more than a mildly frightening game of tag. But if you include riddles, missing keys, locked doors, repeating rooms, ominous clues and things of that nature, the game becomes more intense and players get more from solving something. However, this can go wrong...

DO NOT overdo it on the puzzles. You're trying to stump the gamers, but you want them to progress eventually. The puzzles should be hard, but not 'half an hour wandering back and forth' hard. A big offender of this was the free demo for the new Silent Hill game, P.T. There were so many points where I had to look up not only what to do, but what in the hell the controls were. There's a part where you have to press R3 and look at a specific point, and in the beginning P.T. gives you the impression that there are no controls besides walking. Many people were stuck at the ending especially (I couldn't even beat it, because there is no clear way to trigger the ending), and as much as I enjoyed the horror aspect of the game, that is simply NOT how you handle puzzles. Make the player baffled, not overly frustrated.

[Silent Hill 2]
DO have a solid story. This goes without saying. If the plot of your game is 'There is a bad man. Don't let him get you.' coughcough*Slender*coughcough, then why the hell would I be interested in playing that? A creepy background story is great, especially as you piece together what happens in your mind. But once again, this can and has in the past gone horribly wrong.

DO NOT make your story crystal clear. There are horror games out there with constant cutscenes and lengthy, explanatory dialogue. That's fine and dandy for adventure games, but this a horror game! Like I touched on before, not understanding what's going on is scary. Amnesia has you waking up knowing nothing, and you find out what the plot is by reading notes scattered around the castle. Rarely is anything explicitly given to you, and even when it is, you can piece it together with the notes you've found to make realizations that some players would have missed. In Silent Hill, you don't even truly grasp what's going on until the very end, and even then it requires some thinking. Feed the story to the player piece by piece, don't shove it all down our throats at once.

[Amnesia: The Dark Descent]
Hopefully some horror developers are taking notes, be it from this or any other source. I'd hate to have this beautiful rebirth spoiled by some games that make LittleBigPlanet look scary. What do you think about the list? Is there something you'd add? Something you disagree with? Something banging on the door over there? Be sure to leave a comment with your two cents below.

Monday, August 11, 2014

BREAKING: Goose papa

Slim shady
Hotter than a set of twin babies 
Egg salmon salmon
Chooga chooga yurts mugga
Hubble roulette ya banned 
Slim harrow 
Hotter than a set of twin sparrows 
Jim Gordon 
Hotter than a set of twin champion fungal throat disease 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Top 10 DLC ideas for LittleBigPlanet 3

The LittleBigPlanet franchise is one of the rare exceptions to the 'All DLC is evil' mindset that many gamers are adopting, and for good reason. It's all entirely optional and you can still get the full LBP experience without spending a dime, but purchasing even one costume can greatly enhance your cosmetic experience in the game by giving you tons of new costume combinations. Every costume you buy is compatible across all LittleBigPlanet games after 2 (LBP 2, LBP Vita, LBP Karting) which will presumably include the upcoming LittleBigPlanet 3.  To make things even better, LittleBigPlanet has costumes from a wide variety of movies, games, and franchises, the most recent addition being the Maleficent Minipack. There are also costumes from fan favorites such as Nightmare Before Christmas, DC Comics, Marvel, Assassin's Creed, God of War, Uncharted, Toy Story, Infamous, The Muppets, Metal Gear, Shadow of the Colossus, Final Fantasy, and many, many, more. Media Molecule still releases DLC constantly, including free packs and costumes for holidays and season changes. With the upcoming release of LittleBigPlanet 3, it's safe to assume that we'll be getting a whole bunch of new DLC in the coming months. Here are ten DLC packs that I would love to see make an appearance sometime soon.

10) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - With all the hype surrounding the upcoming adaption of the Ninja Turtles, now would be the perfect time to release a TMNT pack. It could include the four turtles and shredder, and maybe Splinter if Media Molecule so chooses.

9) History Pack II - I love history, and I know plenty other people do too. I see no reason why Media Molecule wouldn't add in a few new historical figures, such as Josef Stalin, Gandhi, Da Vinci, Caesar, Abraham Lincoln, et cetera.

8) Guardians of the Galaxy - As everyone knows at this point, Marvel is not above any advertising technique, constantly shoving new movies down everyone's throats in any way they can. Most of the time it's pretty cool, though, and a LittleBigPlanet costume pack for their latest film, Guardians of the Galaxy, would be right up their alley. There's already plenty of Marvel costumes available in the game, but including the Guardians would solidify their new higher place in the Marvel universe. The pack would include, obviously, Star-lord, Drax, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot.

7) DC Pack II - LittleBigPlanet's massive DC Comics DLC pack that released early this year was amazing, and it captured most of the essential DC characters that you would want to play as. However, there are still plenty more heroes and villains that I'd love to see included. For example: Darkseid, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Doomsday, Plastic Man, Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, Red Tornado, Robin, Nightwing, Deathstroke, Green Arrow, et cetera. The DC Comics pack is fine as is, but it can be a lot better with another 5 costume pack or two.

6) My Little Pony - Love it or hate it, the My Little Pony fanbase is massive and easily one of the best communities for a TV show. A My Little Pony costume pack, including the likes of Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack would sell very well and most likely get a bunch of fans to purchase the base game. If it sells well enough (which I would anticipate it to), a second pack could be released including Spike, Celestia, Luna, Discord, Chrysalis, and Tirek. A level pack would also be very easy to make and satisfying to play, but that might be overdoing it.

5) Playstation All Stars - Obviously, LittleBigPlanet has costumes from Playstation's popular franchises like God of War, Infamous, and Uncharted. But there are still some All Stars that have yet to appear in LBP, namely: Parappa the Rapper, Fat Princess, Sir Daniel, Dante, Heihachi, Spike, Zeus, Isaac Clarke, and Sweet Tooth.

4) Silent Hill - Silent Hill 2 is the greatest horror game I've ever played, and it's very popular among PS2 era gamers and horror fans. A costume pack and maybe even a level kit could be amazing, including costumes of Pyramid Head, a Nurse, James, Heather, and Robbie the Rabbit.

3) Star Wars - Seriously, how has this not been done yet? Disney clearly has a deal of some kind with Media Molecule, and Star Wars is perfect for a season pass deal like with DC Comics. It would come with 5 levels detailing the original trilogy, and include five packs of costumes so that every character could be represented. The 25 characters would most likely include: Anakin, Obi Wan, Luke, Leia, Darth Vader, R2D2, C3P0, Han Solo, Chewbacca, General Grievous, Emperor Palpatine, Darth Maul, Boba Fett, Jango Fett, Admiral Ackbar, Greedo, Jabba the Hutt, Jar Jar Binks, a droid, Captian Rex, Count Dooku, an Ewok, a Gungan, and Lando Calrissian.

2) Alien/Predator - The Queen Xenomorph, and Predator. Maybe Ellen Ripley and Alan Schaefer could be included as well.

1) Dragon Ball - Of all the DLC packs possible in LittleBigPlanet, a Dragon Ball pack gets me the most excited. There are so many possibilites, and all the costumes would look so cool/cute. The costumes could include Goku, Vegeta, Frieze, Cell, Piccolo, Buu, Krillin, Trunks, Gohan, Roshi, Yamcha, Bulma, Chi-Chi, Android 17, Android 18, and many many more.

There you have it, my personal top ten for LittleBigPlanet DLC. Are there any costumes/packs that you'd like to see that I didn't include? Anything you disagree with? Be sure to leave a comment below!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Top 7 Historical Eras for the next 'Assassins Creed' Project

The Assassin's Creed franchise has been very questionable since it's launch in 2007, but when it comes to the gaming community, it's practically a household name. Gamers have mixed feelings towards the franchise, however, as Assassin's Creed Unity marks the sixteenth game in the franchise, or the seventh main title in the franchise. For a series that debuted seven years ago, it's hardly even debatable that Ubisoft is overdoing it. And yet somehow, every title has achieved critical praise and plentiful sales. Why?

Well, let's compare Assassin's Creed to Call of Duty, another franchise infamous for releasing titles too often. Call of Duty is despised by many gamers because of what little difference there is between each game; Several new maps and a new half-assed thirty minute campaign hardly justifies another installment, but Activision keeps churning new CoD titles out regardless. But whereas Call of Duty releases arguably the same base game every year, Assassin's Creed games each have a separate world, period in history, fleshed out story, and all around uniqueness to them. Ubisoft takes advantage of the wide array of historical periods open to them and manages to create an interesting game every time, even when the game itself falls short (*cough*ACIII*cough*). The Assassin's Creed franchise has been to Jerusalem, Italy, Open seas, and soon revolutionary France, and there's still so much history to delve into! While I must admit that I wouldn't protest the end of the series, there's still plenty of life left in it. Here's a list of five historical periods still not visited by Assassin's Creed that I believe would make for amazing installments.

7) Victorian England

The Assassin's Creed bloodline seem to be very heavy on European territories, so England could fit right in. Victorian England would have a very interesting map, with Neo-Gothic architecture such as the Big Ben (or Elizabeth tower), St. Paul's Chapel. and the bank of England. The Victorian era also hosts many interesting events, such as corruption within the monarchy (that can of course be amplified and blamed on the Templars) , the brief war with Crimea, and Jack the Ripper.

6) Revolutionary Russia

The birth of Marxism, the reign of Lenin, and the birth and reign of Stalin are all infamous for their corruption. And according to Ubisoft, where there's corruption, there's Templars. Revolutionary Russia is possibly one of the most propagandized and immorally governed places in recorded history (right up there with Rome, Nazi Germany, and Israel)  and would work incredibly well with Assassin's Creed lore. Not to mention the weapons used against the Bolsheviks would be awesome, featuring hammers, knives, guns, swords, and the like.

5) Sparta

Ubisoft seems to be going in chronological order with each game so maybe going back this far in History wouldn't work out too well, but I still think it'd make for a great game. The Battle of Thermopylae in particular (or the 300 battle) is filled with opportunities to add in secretive Assassin stuff.

4) Feudal Japan

This is an extremely broad era, but to fit in with the chronological approach, a Japanese Assassin's Creed game could take place during the Meiji period. The Assassin you play as would presumably be a Samurai, making the Meiji period perfect for a game. The decline of the Samurai class could be attributed to some shady Templar dealings, and the Satsuma Rebellion would make for a brilliant end-game battle.

3) Nazi Germany

If there's one thing that the PS3/360 generation of games has taught us, it's that people love Nazis. Well, fighting Nazis, not... nevermind. World War II had one of the largest impacts on the world when compared to other historical events, and the amount of information about the Third Reich and World War II available at this point is more than enough to create an immersive 1940's Germany in a video game. A World War II Assassin's Creed game could go in multiple directions, but personally I'm partial to the idea of an anti-Nazi German man doing whatever he can to take down Hitler, which may or may not include posing as a Nazi and infiltrating their operations. Maybe it's not the best fit for Assassin's Creed, but I'm confident that Ubisoft can pull it off.

2) Egypt

Egypt is in the same vein as Sparta, but would have an incredibly unique weaponry and setting. Once again there are many different periods in Egyptian history that can be taken (perhaps leading into another Ezio-like trilogy), such as the reign of king Ramesses II and the Ptolemaic line of rule.

1) Denmark (Vikings)

My number one pick for an Assassin's creed game would definitely be Nordic. Denmark life was so different from other cultures that a Viking game in Assassin's Creed would without a doubt be a breath of fresh air that the gaming community is craving. From the barbaric weapons to the sea travel and exploration to the all around badassery, a game set in Norway, Denmark, or Sweden would be incredible. The Battle of Svolder could be a nice central topic for the game, but there's really so much potential for any point in the Viking Age.

Would you want to see any of these games come to life, or just let the franchise die? Got any ideas of your own? Be sure to leave a comment below.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Serial Smoocher Still at Large

Throughout the past week, several local residents have reported seeing a suspicious, kissing prone figure wandering the streets of Gonilocia. Police reports indicate that anywhere upwards of 28 people have been smooched in this time frame, with 6 people dead and 11 hospitalized already. Despite their best efforts, the local authorites have been unable to find this serial smoocher, or Maximum Smooch, as victims have dubbed him. "It's unlike anything I've ever seen, really." Detective Spooks McButtons, the lead detective on the case, reports. "Most smoochers kiss around for the thrill, the excitement that comes with bloodshed and violence. But this Maximum Smooch character... [he has] shown no signs of pleasure or even regard for his victims. One kid, even, got smooched right on the nose and flew back into a wall. Cracked his head clean down the middle, but [Maximum Smooch] was already gone by the time he could look up."

   Witnesses have described Maximum Smooch as a "Pale, bony man[us] with piercing white eyes" and "...hard to miss". There is currently no indication of any targeted sex, race, or religion, but nearly all of the smooching assaults have taken place at or around the Ooglestein family cemetery. There was only one woman, Sabrina Gamga, who was able to get a clear shot of his face on camera. Please be wary of any and all characters with similar appearance.

We here at Goniloc's Grotto strongly encourage all residents of Gonilocia and nearby areas to lock their doors and windows, and abide by the Spooks McButtons task force recommended curfew of 1:08 pm. Stay safe everyone, and rest assured that this serial smoocher is top priority for our community at this time.