New Location [Ch-ch-ch-Changes]

Posted January 8, 2009 by donttreeriddle
Categories: Uncategorized

Hello, it’s come to my attention that our show has a brand new website, which is more tightly integrated with this blog. For all intents and purposes, it is this blog, actually. Except it’s not on wordpress.com, and it’s not on .Mac either.

I managed to snag some hosting for a very cheap price, and am taking my show on the road. The new site can be found at, simply, http://www.donttreeriddle.com. It’s currently under construction, so give it some time to look the best that it can.

As it is, this site will cease to be developed. Instead, all efforts will be focused on the new one. What do we have in store? Well, my first order of business is to optimize the podcast feed and get listed in iTunes, and on other directory services. It’s easier to market a show that way.

Everything else will remain a secret until it actually develops. Until then, update your bookmarks and prepare for a great new season!

Chrono Cross [Backlog]

Posted January 2, 2009 by donttreeriddle
Categories: Uncategorized

So, I’ve started to work through my backlog a little bit.

Everyone who consumes any sort of media has a backlog. If you have Tivo or a DVR box, you’ve certainly got about a billion episodes of your favorite shows that you haven’t watched. DVDs you bought but never watched, books that sit on your shelf just for show, etc.

With games, you buy a game when it first comes out. Your zeal is umatched, you think “man, I’m going to play through this whole thing in one weekend.” Then, years later, it still sits there unfinished.

My most obvious offender of this is Chrono Cross, the stepbrother of / sequel to Chrono Trigger. I’ve only gotten 1/3 of the way through it, and it came out in 2000. Since I just recently spent a great deal of time playing the excellent DS port of Chrono Trigger, it’s only logical that I’d see the series through to its poorly budgeted, mistranslated conclusion.

My first thought was about how poorly the game has aged. But what game from that generation has aged well? The sprites of late-era SNES games have a kind of unified charm, a cohesion of art direction and technical capacity. Every prominent PS1 RPG is rendered as follows: gorgeous pre-rendered backdrop, jaggy polygonal player characters. In Chrono Trigger, battles happen seamlessly on the exploring field. In Chrono Cross, the player is jarringly ripped from the beautiful dungeons and towns into a muddy representation of the environment. This is more a consequence of the hardware limitations of the time. Even though current gen RPGs eliminate this visual divide, I actually can’t be bothered to play them.

As it is, the last JRPG I’ve played to completion was Final Fantasy X. That was in 2002, a full six years ago. I attempted to play FFXII, but couldn’t get motivated to go beyond the first five hours or so.

The real reason I’m compelled to play this game is the story. Even though it rapidly degenerates when you get beyond the plot of its spiritual successor, Radical Dreamers, the promise of definite ties to Trigger drives me forward. I’m about 25 hours in, and just about to get to the second disc. A somethingawful.com writer, Bobservo, called the story “the literary equivalent of spinart” in a twitter post a while back, and I have to agree. Its preponderance of characters doesn’t help the cause. 43? Really? I felt like Trigger was pushing its limit with 7 characters.

That’s all I’m going to write about the game for now. When I finish it, expect a spoiler-ridden followup post with my exact thoughts about the game. It’s been a nice diversion over winter break, and I don’t think I’ll regret sinking the time into it. As it is, I feel like the only thing keeping it from being a really good game is the fact that it has the word “Chrono” in the title.

Postscript: One of my new year’s resolutions is to update the blog more frequently. I hate it when blogs or websites promise “I’ll update more!!! Life has been so hectic!!!,”  so this will be my only mention of it.

A Treatise on the Literary Influences of Valve’s “Portal” [Portal]

Posted December 2, 2008 by donttreeriddle
Categories: Uncategorized

“Portal,” an all-too-brief puzzle game developed by Valve Software, has roots in many of history’s greatest works of literature.

For example, in Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo,” Edmond Dantes breaks free from prison. That happens in “Portal,” too.

Turning 21 [Getting Poisoned]

Posted November 20, 2008 by donttreeriddle
Categories: Uncategorized

Well, it looks like I’m going to turn 21 tomorrow.

Being able to legally purchase alcohol? That sounds pretty sweet. I’m glad I’m too poor to ever become a drunk, though.

Not so sweet? The fact that all of my friends are going to try and kill me.

To properly keep you aware of my situation, I’m going to be liveblogging my adventures tomorrow night. That is, if I can remember to do so.

Keep track of this at my twitter, which can be found at http://www.twitter.com/zap1120.

God help me.

From “Awww” to “Awwwesome!” [Animal Vids]

Posted November 19, 2008 by donttreeriddle
Categories: Uncategorized

Swing on over to this Wired post to catch their Top 10 Amazing Animal Videos.

Not to be sated by the occasional LOLCat image macro, I tend to seek out the more edutaining videos of animals. This blog entry sums it up nicely, and a lot of my favorites are there…

Except for the Lyre Bird.

Another cool set of videos can be found here, accentuating the weirdest creatures out there.

Nature is pretty sweet, no?

Breaking News: Fallout 3 is Depressing [Fallout 3]

Posted November 18, 2008 by donttreeriddle
Categories: Uncategorized

burn_pipboyThis just in, Fallout 3 is depressing.

It’s safe to say that the game is consuming my life. That much, I expected. It’s a phenomenal title, and worthy of anyone’s time and attention during this crowded holiday season. Since release, I’ve sunk nearly 40 hours into the game, something that’s unheard of for me. Not since the days of Final Fantasy Tactics have I put that much time into ANY game. It’s just that compelling of a game, I seek out time in my schedule to convince myself that I can be playing it.

Here’s what I wouldn’t advise, though: Listening to NPR’s “Planet Money” while you play it.

I do this with lots of games. Sometimes there’s a long stretch of time where nothing really happens, nothing needs to be heard, etc. So I turn down the in-game music, and listen to a podcast.

Why is this a bad thing? Fallout 3 is depressing enough. The first time you set foot into a completely devastated Washington DC, your heart will skip a beat. The sense of loneliness, desperation, and ruin pervades the entire experience.

And it’s all entirely feasible.

Well, not so much the Super Mutants or the robots, but you know what I mean.

The threat of nuclear annihilation is very, very real. Our generation doesn’t fixate on it as much as the Cold War era did, but it’s still there. And Fallout 3 harnesses that fear, and presents a very convincing alternate reality.

Listening to anything related to the state of the world today is not advisable when you’re playing this game. With the economy the way it is, it isn’t hard for the mind to wander. It isn’t hard to imagine that an impoverished world will turn to war for resources, which will destroy us all.

The plummeting Dow Jones, the rapid deflation of the world’s currency, the utter fallability of our global financial system… That doesn’t really gel with playing a game this stark and depressing.

If playing games is about escapism, then this runs counter to that fact. This is immersing yourself in a paranoid state, and exhausting yourself in the process.

My advice? Don’t listen to economic podcasts while playing this game.

Oh, and save up those bottlecaps.

About Video Games

Posted November 15, 2008 by donttreeriddle
Categories: Uncategorized

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me: I love video games.

I love to play them, I love to talk about them, I love to write about them, and one day I hope to make them my living.

As such, I plan to write about them some more.

Expect to see notes about what I’m playing right now, thoughts on current events in the industry, and reflections on games from the past.

Don’t expect to see anything bleeding edge or current. By the time any game gets into my hands, it will probably have been out (and written about extensively) for a few weeks. Since I’m not a major publication, I can’t get preview builds or anything.

Also, I’ve got an extensive backlog of games to play, so as I revisit older games, expect to see some titles that have passed their expiration date on the blog.

That is all, good day.