Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013 Motorsports Recap! Part 2, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Hello boys and girls!  You know what time of the year it's CHRISTMAS time which means more ass-kicking race car clips for you!!  Let's begin.

The All-Star Race is a side attraction to the circus show to the NASCAR, but at least they got one good thing going for it.  Qualifying for the All-Star Race is different than regular season races and is a little game of its own.  Each driver runs three laps and has to make one pit stop.  There's no speed limit on pit road so they ZOOM right on through!  See the Beginner course trick from Daytona USA.  Bitch please, I drive through pits to shave 1.5 seconds off my laps. Though in NASCAR, you have to stop in your pit lane, so yeah, there's that too.

Messing up your pit docks you time penalties so don't screw up.  Top three qualifiers get $50K, $10K, and $5K respectively to share between themselves and their pit crews.

In previous years preceding the All-Star Race was the Pit Crew Challenge.  Basically, pit crews raced against the clock to complete their respective tasks and push their car across the finish line first.  It's a clever little ruse and pit lane choices for the All-Star Race are determined by the results of the Pit Crew Challenge.  But they didn't hold the event in 2013 for some reason so...yeah, disappointing.

These pit crew guys are athletes too, you're a fool to think otherwise.

Anyway, speaking of pit's Indy Car again.  This was at Sonoma, the 15th race of the season (out of 18).  In the thick of the championship hunt, Scott Dixon (red car) and Will Power (black car) pitted late in the race.  One of Power's crew members was walking with a tire and Dixon clipped him as he drove out.  Fortunately he wasn't hurt but Indycar penalized Dixon a pit drive-thru.

Dixon dropped from first to 15th and Power laughed his ass of as he won the race.  There was debate that the pit member deliberately stuck the tire out in order to hinder his rival.  It could've been an accident because the Indycar pit lanes differ from the lines on the pavement.  Regardless, hitting other pit crews is a black & white issue so there was no room for Dixon to debate.  There was some controversy but regardless, Dixon won the Championship and Power came in 4th overall.  Serves them right.

Back to NASCAR funny antics!  Here's Max Papis and he likes slapping people.  After the Nationwide race at Road America, he pays a little favor to his rival Billy Johnson, while walking away with that shit-eating grin.

And Max Slapis would later get his at a Craftsman Truck Race at Circuit Gilles Villeneue in Montreal.  After getting involved in a late-race wreck, a crazy lady (girlfriend of the driver of the #6 car, Mike Skeen) bitch-slapped him in the face on camera (it's at the end of the video).

Max claimed his jaw was dislocated and his ears rung after that hit.  If so, well, I smell a lawsuit!  No idea what came of it...

More fighting in NASCAR??  NO WAY!!  Rednecks gonna redneck.  BUT FIRST...Le Mans 24 (or "Luh Mah").  Drunken louts mumble and moon the camera.  THIS IS FRANCE, THE CULTURAL CENTER OF THE WORLD, WE DON'T DO SHITE LIKE THIS, RIGHT????

Back to NASCAR, basically Joey Logano is the Grim Reaper.  Well, what do I mean.  Joey gets in a fight with Denny Hamlin after a race at Bristol.  Denny would later get injured at Fontana and sit out for six weeks.

Who's next?  Tony Stewart goes redneck on Joey.  Whoops, Tony gets hurt in a dirt race in Iowa.

And Ryan Newman ALMOST came to blows with Joey but held back.  Good for Ryan!  Cause nobody f**ks with Joey.

Ya wanna see more fighting?  Let's get back to Danica Patrick.  Kyle Petty, "Danica Patrick is not a racecar driver!"  Instant classic, although I wouldn't say Kyle is that much better than Danica.  Only eight Cup Series wins in 30 years of NASCAR.  Ooooo, burned, Kyle!!!  Give Danica a couple more years and a non-shitty race team and she'll whoop your old man ass.  Okay, maybe not, but he makes a good point.  Danica has been in more than her fair share of commercials (plus one Sega racer) and doesn't have much to back it up besides a pair of tits.

But Danica is still not immune!  Here comes Jay Mohr at the NASCAR awards banquet--wait, that ass clown that read jokes off the sheet of paper at Blizzcon??  Yes indeed.  Danica and her new BF Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are not amused.  Seriously, can someone who is NOT an idiot criticize Danica for once?

Oh hey, one more clip.  This is between truck drivers Kevin Harvick (#14) and the "spoiled rich kid" Ty Dillon (#3).  Dillon clips Harvick and they both take a dive.  Harvick pulls up to Dillon's pit stop and gets a sledgehammer tossed at his car.  Last time I checked, getting hit by a tossed sledgehammer can be rather painful.  Whose the wise-ass who threw it?  It's at the end of the clip BTW.

And some more funny/cool shite:

*Brad Keselowski goes for a leisurely jog.
*Tony Stewart REDNECKS at the new cool Kyle Busch.
*Carl Edwards gets paper on his grille and gets in a fight with Greg Biffle when needing to use Greg's bumper as a toothbrush (the story sucks, I apologize).
*Brutal last-lap wreck at Talladega truck race.
*Greg Biffle's pink bumper peels off during the caution and channels his inner Mister Mayhem.

*I become a Kurt Busch fan because he drives the Wonder Bread and City Chevrolet cars in Sprint Cup and Nationwide respectively.  Mad props to him.  Kurt ballin on your chin.

*Donovan McNabb says NASCAR drivers are not athletes.  You know what, Donny boy?  You're a washed up QB like Jake Delhomme and Rex Grossman who bummed your to Superbowl losses against superior teams with superior QB's.  Definition of sport: "An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment."   Driving fast cars for 3+ hours requires a lot of stamina (and is very frustrating).  Otherwise, everybody would be doing it.  Besides, ESPN airs Poker and Spelling Bee championships and can those be called sports??  GET OUTTA HERE...

*Jimmie Johnson wins his sixth title.  Real shocker there.  Matt Kenseth almost had him but had to choke down the final stretch.  The fans on social media were raged at Jimmie's win because he's a "cheater" and he doesn't deserve it.  Unlike other NASCAR legends like Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty, Jimmie didn't build his own team from scratch--he basically inherited Hendrick's birthright.  But regardless, kudos to him since to win that many titles when everyone hates your guts is definitely admirable.

*Also, F1.  You thought Jimmie was ruining his sport.  Well, how about Sebastian Vettel, German driver of the Red Bull team?  He won the last 9 races of the 2013 F1 season.  Yes, NINE WINS IN A ROW.  He also won the last four championships in a row.  Now F1 is talking of adding more double points races in order to level the playing field to give trailing drivers a chance to catch up to runaways like Sebastian.  Just like NASCAR instituting the Chase in response to Jimmie's domination (read my thoughts on the Chase here).  Parity, what's that?  Lol...

I pick my nose after every race.

*RIP Jason Leffler.  RIP Allan Simonsen.  RIP Paul Walker.  Fast cars are still not safe.  It makes me sad but they are to be admired for being true gearheads.  I already said my piece on deceased drivers after the Dan Wheldon crash.  Injuries and death keep happening but some would rather risk it than live a boring safe life so kudos man...kudos... ;_;


Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Motorsports Recap! Part One

Hello boys and girls!  It's been a while but don't fear, I come bringing good tidings of old motorsports of 2013!  I stockpiled clips of racing during the whole year to fill your warm fireplaces with joy in this abstinence of race cars this frigid winter.  Ok, let's get it on, I got a lot of catching up to do.

First we will we start with IndyCar.  No, not the Indy 500, but close to it.  This is the Firestone Indy Lights race held on May 24th, two days before the Indy 500.  It's like the Minor League of IndyCar.  But this race had one of the best finishes in history.  It must be watched.  You will never see four cars outside of NASCAR finish this close to each other in a long time.

Once you're done pissing yourself, it's time to move on to May 26th!  Alright, this is the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500, the greatest spectacle of motorsports.  You win the Indy 500, you are a legend among drivers regardless of your other feats as your name goes on that hefty trophy for all time.  Even if you aren't a full-time IndyCar driver, you can still participate for the glory of racing.

This year, the honor goes to a Mr. Tony Kanaan of Brazil.  It was arguably one of the best runnings of the Indy 500 of all time because there were a grand total of 64 lead changes (among 14 different leaders), which eclipsed the previous record of 34 set last year.  While it was exciting, the race ended under a yellow flag because Dario Franchitti wrecked with three laps to go.  Since IndyCar doesn't do Green-White-Checkered finishes like NASCAR (which means you run the 200 laps and no more than that), the race unenthusiastically ends with the cars puttering across the finish line.

There are implications to this.  Kanaan and his rivals, primarily Carlos Munoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay, were exchanging the lead every couple of laps so it was basically a crapshoot going into the final 5-10 laps.  This is because in IndyCar (and not NASCAR), there are rules against blocking faster cars more than once.  If a faster car is about to pass and you can't outrun him, you may only move to block him ONCE, afterwards you give him the right of way or else you're penalized.  Since the cars are so close, they were able to draft and pass each other continuously.  Therefore, had Franchitti not wrecked with three laps to go, Kanaan might've surrendered the lead to Munoz or Hunter-Reay and lost the race.  But no, Franchitti sealed his fate and thus will be receiving a Christmas card by a certain someone this year, I bet.

Vin Diesel's Brazilian cousin.

Now, this finish-under-caution wouldn't be such a downer except for the fact it has happened in the three of the last four Indy 500's with the odd man out actually involving a crash as well but no caution (J.R. Hildebrand's chokejob).  So basically it's "Wreckers or Checkers."  Can't blame 'em cause winning the Indy 500 is the highlight of your career.  But still, I kinda wish they had the GWC finishes like NASCAR does.

Later that day, there was the Coke 600 in Charlotte, the longest race of the NASCAR season.  And the commentators were dumping all over IndyCar for not implementing the GWC finish.  Okay, fine, they make a valid point.  But then they take a text message poll, "Which race is harder to win, the Indy 500 or the Coke 600?"  At that point, I think I shit myself.  Now, I love my NASCAR and can understand the 600 miles are so taxing, but the Indy 500 is the BIGGEST RACE IN THE WORLD and I think tacking on an extra 100 miles (in slower cars too) isn't enough to make it harder than the Indy 500, I'm sorry guys.

As for Formula 1, Monaco was boring and I was too sleepy to pay attention (it aired at 3 am in Florida).  All I remember is Pastor Maldonado being popped like a pimple.  Monaco is apparently too tight to be competitive anymore.

Now, back to NASCAR.  Because I love NASCAR even if it sucks.  A week before the Coke 600, NASCAR holds a mid-season All-Star Race.  It's worth zero season points but it has a million dollar prize for the winner.  It's a short race (90 laps, 135 miles) with four forced cautions to split up the monotony (why???).  It's balls-out racing and there's no teamwork here so cut your opponents off Mario-Kart style for the bookoo bucks!!

Listen to the cool-ass music.  Anyway, this year there were 22 drivers with 21 of them being selected by certain merits--having the most points in the season, winning at least one race, or winning the pre-race event beforehand (the pub all-star event against crappy slow cars who don't stand a chance).  Also, there's room for one additional driver who wins the "fan vote."  Take a wild guess who got into the race this year?  Huh?  From Jasper, Illinois, it's Danica Patrick.  She finished 20th.  And Jimmie Johnson finished first.  OF COURSE, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT???

Now, to dump on NASCAR some more, let's take a look at Tony Kanaan and Jimmie Johnson who won both their respective races.  Jimmie Johnson won $1,000,000.  Want to take a guess what Tony Kanaan won? $2,353,355, a 2014 Corvette Pace Car, and 2014 regular Corvette, and the most fabled race trophy in auto racing.

Go home NASCAR, you're drunk.

Oh boy...there's so many more videos left to show you so I'm going to call it a day for now and post the rest later!  I promise.  Cya tomorrow!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rush: An Adrenaline Shot In Movie Form

When I heard there was going to be a "Rush" movie in 2013, I nearly pissed myself.  They're making a shitty movie adaptation for San Francisco Rush the game, a la Need for Speed?

Actually, no, this has nothing to do with video games, cause this is "based on a true story."  A really good story about two rival Formula 1 drivers, James Hunt (England) and Niki Lauda (Austria).  And thank you Ron Howard for being an actual petrolhead and not f***ing up this movie like Hollywood usually does (the movie cynic in me enjoys poking holes in things, like this).  88% on Rotten Tomatoes isn't bad!

As you can tell, this was in the 70's when safety was of little concern and musicians actually made decent music.  No seriously, they actually play Gimme Some Lovin' in the first racing scene which proves Ron saw Days of Thunder, or something, so tack on an extra star to the final score!  Rubbin' is racing!!!  Boogity boogity!!!

Here you have the two protagonists, Lauda and Hunt, who are Formula 3 rivals that moved up to Formula 1, and they totally contrast in personality.  James Hunt is a raw talent, a brash driver who loves to party.  He defied F1 driver tradition that a driver must behave and be treated like royalty.  Hunt loved the lady parts, as you can see right away within the first 30 seconds of the movie, Hunt is banging the nurse.  So thank you James for turning this movie into a porno.  He's also bulimic because he throws up before every race.

Mim-bo (noun) - a male bimbo.

On the other hand, Niki Lauda is the MAN.  More reserved, cool, calm, and calculated, he could tune cars like no one's business.  He has a cool-ass name and actually stayed faithful to his wife (at least for a little while).  Niki is what's great about racing.

Pictured: my new man-crush.

So quick rundown of the movie.  Hunt and Lauda are in Formula 3, Hunt wins the championship and later gets a Formula 1 ride with Hesketh, some crappy race team that thought driving a bleached white car with no sponsors is a good idea.  On the other hand, Lauda "cheated," denounced his father's boring-ass businessman lifestyle, took out a big loan, and swooned the Ferrari people by building a superior car that outdid the previous ones by several seconds.  Lauda would then later race a coupe through rural Italy to impress two fanboys and his future wife, proving that he's a baller.  At this point, the HEAT WAS ON between the two gentlemen...

Both sweet whips with that vintage 70's camera tint.  Notice the lack of #hashtags on their names (#twitterblows).

Both drivers took turns having strokes of life-changing bad luck.  Hunt was first.  Hesketh ran out of money and fired Hunt, leaving him to sit at home and watch his wife cheat on his scummy ass.  Hunt would later bang the flight attendant in the restroom to showcase his libido.  Lauda would go on to win his first championship, something that is skimmed over in the film.  The 1976 season is when Hunt gets a ride at McLaren and the two begin their duel.

Season begins in Brazil with some damn hot Carnival babes and quick 10-15 previews of each race of the season.  Lauda would take a commanding lead in the points as Hunt's car would frequently explode.  Hunt goes into Hulk mode and strikes back, winning a few races of his own, making them 1st-2nd in the points.

Later it's the German GP at Nurburgring.  Yes, THE Nurburgring Nordschleife with 154 turns.  And to make things worse, it's raining.  One racer was already hospitalized during practice.  Lauda then holds a driver's meeting and tries to call the race off as too dangerous, Hunt basically calls him a pussy, and the drivers race anyway.  Both Hunt and Lauda opt for wet tires at the start only for the track to dry up quickly and both to go to the pits for dry tires after the first lap.

And here's where Lauda's bad luck strikes.  Obviously way behind from the leader, he pushes the car so hard the suspension breaks on one turn as he goes careening into the wall in a blazing inferno as some other guy wrecks into Lauda's flaming casket.  Lauda suffers paralyzing burns and smoke inhalation while Hunt laughs his ass off as he wins races while Lauda is on the hospital bed.

This wreck seems oddly symbolic to my recent woes that I teared up in the theater.  One morning in May 2013, while racing to work on the wet pavement, I push the car harder than I should in an attempt to make up ground.  Eventually the wet pavement gets the best of me as I slide into a dumpster, smashing it up in the process.  Three days later, I would be fired from my job and sit unemployed for five months as distraught me has to watch my friend and rivals move up the career ladder without me.  My story isn't as bad as Lauda's but the similarities are there!  Fuck wet blacktop parking lots, put up a friggin sign or something.

Eventually, Lauda would go through accelerated therapy, have the junk sucked out of his lungs and the bandaids peeled from his head.  A month passed and Hunt nearly caught up to him in the points.  Lauda gets back out there (a burnt up disfigured mess, no doubt) and after giving the best "fuck you" I've ever heard to an asshole reporter, puts up a solid 4th place at Monza with fans running at his car after the race while Hunt DNF's again.  Which meant one thing...


Final race of the season!  It's at Fuji Speedway--PREPARE TO QUALIFY!!!  Oh, and it's raining.  F1 cars can drive in the rain but in the storm that you see here?  Well...yes they could back in the 70's, when they had big balls and the rides were high enough to make wet racing possible.  After one lap of driving through dense fog, Lauda does the most admirable thing a driver can do--goes to the pits and retires from the race.  It's too dangerous, he said, it's not worth risking your lives over a stupid trophy!  Tell that to Hunt who needs to finish 3rd or better to beat Lauda for the grand prize.  It was a nailbiter for Lauda as all he could do is watch and pray Hunt doesn't win...

Obligatory F1 car in the rain shot.

SHOCKER--Hunt finishes 3rd, wins the championship, and Lauda has no regrets.  It wasn't racing, Lauda said, it was stupid of Hunt to risk his life like that.  After a bunch of TV appearances and booze, drug, and women sessions later, Hunt meets Lauda again, Lauda having taken up the hobby of flying planes.  They tip their hats to each other and the movie ends.  Lauda would go on to win two more championships and live to see the premiere of this movie (which he admired, BTW) while Hunt would go on to be a race announcer and die of a heart attack in 1993.  While Hunt turned out to be a washed-up loser who won his only championship cause his main competition was hospitalized by a near-death experience, Lauda later admitted Hunt was the only driver he was ever jealous of.  Which means a lot from the man, myth, and legend that is NIKI LAUDA.

Great movie, would see again.  Very accurate and gives you a sense of what vintage Formula 1 racing was really like  Only disappointment is that there's too much talking in the first half of the movie (come on, I wanna see some racing), plus there's no final race between Lauda and Hunt to settle the score once and for all.  But a final race would be unrealistic.  Also at no point do they play a Rush song in the movie though that would be cheesy as hell.  So I'll give you some Rush right here.

Oh well, I give this FIVE out of FOUR stars (remember the additional one cause of Gimme Some Lovin').  Just go watch the movie, seriously, right away, race in an F1 car to the theater or Redbox now.

1976, same year Fleetwood Mac would release The Chain, best F1 song ever, no question.  I WANNA GO FAST!!!

I can't tell you how many times I typed "Nikia Lauda" while writing this post, lol.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Vehicular Robbery Five Thoughts (GTA 5 For The Idiots)

Alright man, this is a post about Grand Theft Auto 5.  I'm pretty sure a few of you have played this obscure gem of a game.  I mean it only made $800 million on first day sales (beating out Modern Warfare 3's meager $500 mil) and had more than a thousand people work on it.  But I might as well talk about it, especially since driving is a crucial part of the game which means millions of people are gonna go cruising the streets of San Andreas.  So let's get this rant out of the way now--what I liked and disliked about the game.  Please note I haven't played GTA Online yet.


* It's fun, I really enjoyed it.  They loosened up the handling from GTA4 so you have more control at high speeds.  It reminds me of San Francisco Rush but with normal gravity and you're less likely to spin out.  The cars is very springy and the camera shakes at high speeds which conveys a nice sense of speed.

* The car damage is well done too.  Unlike previous GTAs, simply running into stuff at normal speeds won't cause the car to ignite into a fireball.  Instead, the wheels will get jammed or pop which has a slight impact on handling, plus engine power can drop off rapidly which basically renders the vehicle useless on its own.  The cars seem tougher this time around too.  The visual damage is toned down a bit too so you car doesn't look like a total piece of crap after a wreck or two.  The only thing that irks me is that the car lights go out from even the slightest wreck which means at night, you're driving around in the dark too often.

* Love the car selection in the game--you can see pictures of each here.  Watching my brother play the first time, I watched him jack a Porsche and before the text popped up, I said "that's a Comet" and surely it was.  Jacks a Viper, "that's a Banshee."  Jacks a Lamborghini, "that's an Infernus."  I like how they gave fake names to the car manufacturers--Vapid = Ford, Bravado = Dodge, Declasse = GM, Canis = Jeep, Benefactor = Mercedes, Obey = Audi, Ubermacht = BMW, Pegassi = Lamborghini.  I kinda wish there were more definitive vintage muscle cars in the game (they're all kinda bland IMO) as well as a stock car (the Hotring Racer from previous GTAs) but you can always get a Buffalo (Dodge Charger) and put a stock car spoiler on it.  Which leads to...

* Car tuning!  You can take any standard car to Los Santos Customs and soup it up some.  Change the paint job and rims, add a few body mods, even install some performance parts.  The customization is really shallow though.  Paint jobs are still limited to basic two-tone paint jobs (no generic flames/stripe mods) and with the exception of turbo, lower ride height, and bulletproof tires, there's not much improvement you can make to the cars.  Handling and acceleration receive a boost but if you were expecting Forza or even NFS customization, you will be highly disappointed.  Which leads to another...

* One thing that really irks me about a lot of racers is the lack of a speedometer.  I mean why not?  You're cruising along and you have the GPS, ammo count, and maybe the phone, so this whole "minimal HUD = good" crap is nonsense.  So why not add a MPH/KPH counter somewhere?  It'd make cruising down the highway that much more intimidating.

* And now to the subject of actual racing (or driving really fast).  I harped on this before a while ago--how GTA city racing isn't all that great.  The "racing" is kind of tedious for one reason--it's WAY too easy to hit something and come to a dead stop.  In traditional arcade racing, if you smack into something, at least you'll still have some forward momentum.  But here, obstacles littered near the street like trees, power poles, even seemingly innocent things like metal or wooden signs cause you to immediately die and come to a dead stop.  Literally, I saw my brother drive a big Ford (errr, Vapid) truck through a volleyball net, the truck stopped, and the net was still intact.  What's the deal?  Also, are there any other street races in the game besides this one near Franklin's house?

* The camera angle while driving.  I do like how the camera pitch is close to the ground--gives it a great sense of speed and all that.  But sometimes I wish I was driving with a camera that was higher above the ground so you can see over the traffic and get a better sense of the traffic and racing line.  The primary use for this would be when the car pitch changes (you go up/down a hill).  Sure you can use the joystick to move the camera up but that can get tedious.  I can't tell you how many times I would go over the hills near Michael's house only to hit a SUV that decided to stall in the middle of the road and once I saw it, it was too late.

* Added the ability to rotate the car while airborne.  This can be insanely helpful and it's not overly sensitive like the wings from Rush 2049.  But what annoys me the most is that it only affects the pitch and roll, not the pitch and yaw (pitch = up and downhill, yaw = steer left and right, roll = flip over sideways).  It's a real mindf**k because I keep thinking I can change the yaw while airborne, plus I tend to prematurely hold the steering wheel in the direction I want to turn when I hit the ground to steer away from rolling over.  But rolling in midair just makes things more perplexing for me.

* Why isn't there an instant replay feature in this game?  When you perform a nice stunt or narrow escape--wouldn't it be nice to see it again?  Can't tell you how many times me or my brother did something YouTube-worthy only to say "crap, we'll never ever see that happen again."  Here's an example--thank God this guy was recording at the time!!

* Also seems really easy to die when riding a bike or four-wheeler.  It's hella fun to go cruising off-road on one of these but if you hit a rock or tree and stumble a moderate distance, you can die pretty quickly.  Boo!

* One last thing, it's about saving cars in the garage.  Each character has a default vehicle that even if they lose, it still appears in their driveway (Franklin = Buffalo, Michael = Tailgater, Trevor = Bodhi).  That's great and all, you can mod those vehicles and they keep 'em forever, but if I use another vehicle, sometimes it appears in your driveway or impound lot, sometimes it doesn't.  As Michael, I stole a Tornado (Chevy Belair), modded it, took it to a mission, had to leave the car behind and hop in a stupid van or something.  I return back to where I left the Tornado and it was gone.  Thankfully, I return home and the Tornado is parked in my driveway!  I then take the Tornado to another mission, leave it behind, and return home thinking the Tornado will still be there.  WRONG!  Instead, the Tornado is replaced by the daughter's Weeny Issi (Mini Cooper) convertible and the Tornado was never found again.  I really wish you could designate one or two vehicles as "yours" to permanently respawn at your house but I'm not sure you can do that.  Bummer...

* Radio stations!  Guess this belongs in the driving section.  Here's a list of all the songs in the game with YouTube links.  I wasn't too crazy about these this time around.  I'm still convinced Vice City followed by San Andreas had the best radio stations (70's/80's music FTW).  For me, there were a few gems in GTA5 that I had to add to my music collection, primarily The Trammps's Rubber Band and Foreigner's Dirty White Boy.  But a lot of it was "ehh, whatever."  It's like a bag of trail mix--some good songs I really wanted to listen to, others I had to change the channel.  The one classic rock station had some great stuff--Dirty White BoySaturday Night's Alright for FightingPhotograph, Hollywood Nights, Radio Ga Ga, the rest was soft rock I couldn't bear.  Needs more awesome driving music!  Why no metal stations like V-Rock from Vice City?  Probably my most listened-to stations in terms of "switch to it and not change it every minute" would be Radio Los Santos (rap) and Channel-X (punk), also Vinewood Boulevard Radio (dudebro rock) though that last one gets on my nerves quickly.  FWIW, when I heard Adolescents' Amoeba on the punk station for the very first time, instant Tony Hawk 3 nostalgia came to mind and I pissed myself.

* Overall, GTA 5 is a fun driving game.  But a fun racing game?  No, not really.  Aside from one NFS/Midnite Club-style event and missions that involve keeping up with a fleeing target, there's no real "racing" in this game whatsoever.



* Really nice draw distance.  Unlike previous games that would utilize fog to hide the pop-up, here you can see nearly forever.  Stand on Mount Chiliad's summit and see what I mean.  Great work for aging hardware in the twilight stage of its life.

* Shooting!  Okay, the auto-aiming is really nice since you can pop targets one at a time--it's really cheap at times, I admit.  But the problem happens when you fall out of auto-aim, you have to put the gun down, look at the guy, then put it up again just to lock on to the person.  This is tedious as hell when trying to kill people at close-quarters since you have to pivot the camera directly at him--try rotating 90-degrees only to die.  Manual aim is a bit difficult to get used to.  Games like Call of Duty have looking down sights and aim assist to lower sensitivity when aiming at people, though GTA doesn't seem to have that so it's hard to get a precise shot on anything.  Overall, if I wanted to shoot people, I'd rather play Call of Duty because in GTA, shooting people is either too easy or too hard.

* Characters!  The three characters are pretty cool.  Franklin has no backstory other than "he's a hustla trying to make it big" but I'm cool with that.  He seems really "nice" for a GTA protagonist and has the hood lingo to boot and that's fine with me ("shit I always tryin to make some paper doo").  Michael is basically Tommy Vercetti as a family man, again kind of a cool guy with a nice pair of man boobs, plus he has a deep backstory that propels the game forward.  As for, he seems like the quintessential GTA protagonist.  The dude is hilarious.  He does say and do some things you'll find detestable but this is the kind of guy I can see winning a GameFAQs character contest round.  So props to Trevor and his big balls.

* Cops are too aggressive with the stars.  If you steal a car or blow something up, sometimes you'll get one star and get away easily because cops will take a while to get over to your location.  Otherwise, they just have a vendetta against you, being the protagonist of one of the most vile, disgusting games in recent history.  Shoot a pedestrian or gangster dead, get one star.  Bump into a police car, get two stars.  Gimme a break.

* Why is GTA 5's rendition of San Andreas on a big island out in the middle of the ocean?  This was also in GTA way back to 3, possibly earlier than that.  Saints Row could get away with their city being on a continent--here, being stranded on a large island just seems kinda pathetic, really.

* I beat the whole game and the missions were fair with a nice variety.  I don't feel like replaying them, particularly because of the funny shooting segments, but if you're a sucker for movie-based games that hold your hand with liberal use of checkpoints, well here you go, enjoy it.  MILD SPOILERS: The three multiple endings kinda sucked though, only one is the true rewarding ending with some badass missions to finish it off.  The other two are tacked on and don't really tie up anything other than to satisfy some vendetta against one of the other playable characters.  So you know which ending to pick, the one where everyone is happy and all the punk-ass bitches that harassed you the whole game die. :)

* I finally reached 70,000 Gamerscore cause of this game.  And yet I don't plan on getting the Xbox One so I guess my score ends there.  Playing through all these outdated sports games for the cheap achievements will definitely be worth it when I'm 90 years old.

* On the mission where Trevor works on the dock, you can crush this guy here with a crate and the mission still continues just fine.  I've done it on every playthrough, it's great.  I cried laughing over it, man I'm pathetic. :D

* This is the best cutscene glitch video I've seen and I happened to record it.  I only regret that I recorded the very end of it (couldn't find my phone soon enough).  If you get cops tailing you when you begin a cutscene, they will invade the scene and shoot you while it's playing.

Oh my gosh...I've said way too much about this game.  There's a few more things but I want to call it quits now.  Overall, great game despite my nitpicks but I didn't get the "wow, this game is awesome" vibe like I did playing Vice City or San Andreas (the PS2 one) for the first time.  Must be due to my age--I'm too cynical to enjoy games fully anymore--old games are always better than new ones.  Okay, good night everyone.

REVIEW SCORE: A crappy not-well-thought-out 8 out of 10

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Things Are Looking Up For 90's Arcade Racer/Arcade Games

A recent update from the guys over at The 90's Arcade Racer.

At this point some of you may feel like we’ve been working on ‘90s Arcade Racer since the ‘90s. That’s not entirely true, while Antonis and I were indeed playing Scud Race (Super GT in the US) and Daytona USA some 20 years--that was just preparation for the game we’re developing now.

Here’s what’s been happening the last couple of months with ‘90s Arcade Racer.

Physics, physics and more physics!

In the 100+ hours I’ve spent on racetracks combined with the thousands of hours logged playing racing video games, there’s something that feels quite counterintuitive to the genre. You would think super realistic racing games would have super accurate and lifelike physics -- but that doesn't necessarily always make a better product. To really give the sensation of speed, gravity, lateral gravity, as a designer you end up removing many functions that make a vehicle simulation “real”, in the theoretical sense. A driving simulator, more often than not feels like a floaty, unresponsive boat. Part of that is because you can’t feel yourself slinking around a bucket seat, you don’t have the sensation of a vehicle’s weight shift between the four corners; there’s an entirely missing dimension in racing games.

Antonis and I are going for a fun and arcade racing feel, we’ve said that from the start. Those two descriptors are equally important to the project. Getting to the balance of an arcade feel while offering a challenging experience and still giving the car some complex real-world behaviors is where our own challenge begins.

Once you start playing a racing game, especially an arcade-style one, terminology like camber, caster, differentials, toe, torque and drivetrain are quickly forgotten. Initially I spent a lot of time trying to get an arcade feel out of a real vehicle simulation. After extensive experimentation what Antonis and I found was that it just wasn’t working.

In this case it’s much easier to build something from zero and create an experience that perfectly recreates the perception and expectation we all have of a typical arcade racer. Version 2.0 of ‘90s Arcade Racer physics is built within the expressed intention of creating a real arcade racing game. What that means is that the game is really feeling like should. The car reacts in a way that is indicative of an arcade racer, it moves and accelerates properly and now we have a really fun grip and drift mechanic within the game. Although it’s been challenging having to build physics from nothing, this has allowed us to really build the vehicles exactly how we want and how they should feel.

I’m pretty confident that we’re very much in the right direction with the physics and you’ll probably agree once you have an opportunity to play it. Antonis, has been doing great work on creating the world of ‘90s Arcade Racer. But I’ll let him do that update.

Recently, I was concerned about the progress that was made towards the car handling in the game.  I even sent them a note beforehand asking "are you going to post a new video of the car handling?  what's it going to be like?" to which they replied "we're working on it."  I get a good vibe from this recent post--that their heart's in the right place and they aren't going to half-ass the most important part of a racing game.  Visuals are great and all but if I putter around in a car that feels like something spawned from a Unity tutorial, then the whole thing is for naught!

I bolded part of the post above because it's really damn important.  I talked about it before--sense of speed in racing games.  Sense of speed is almost incompatible with realism.  As long as you're in your living room sitting on a couch, you're not going to get a sense of speed by looking at realistic car physics on screen--the "floaty, unresponsive boat" feeling--unless you're willing to break some rules and go unrealistic in some aspects (i.e. excessive vibration of the suspension at high speeds).  I'm glad they recognize this golden rule!

You know, I've programmed vehicle handling over different mediums--Unity, Unreal, and stupid OpenGL car sprites.  With Unity and Unreal, you make these "wheel colliders" that you attach to the vehicle and do all the nitty gritty physics work for you--you set the torque, braking, suspension, skidpad, etc. and let the "realistic" car handling take over.  Yet I don't think it's possible to recreate a Daytona, Scud Race, or OutRun using built-in tire physics--the power comes from the entire car itself, not the four wheels.  Since these are 15-20 year old games, I doubt they were so advanced as to use realistic tire physics anyway.

If you're confused, imagine the car is pushed forward by one big invisible wheel instead of four tiny visible wheels.  By not using wheel physics, you're simplifying the vehicle handling but it allows you to precisely program the car handling the way you want, hence giving the car some predictable effects--like being able to slide at a fixed angle or accelerate/steer normally with your tires shredded up from a wreck.   In other words, you look at the handling of a 2D game like Super Sprint that technically doesn't "recognize" wheel torque and whatnot--it's just a block sliding on the screen--nowhere in the code does it mention "suspension" or other real-life handling terms.  The tire effects are dictated by the car, not the other way around, so when the tires kick up smoke and whatnot, the tires aren't really doing "anything," it's just for show.

I really want to see how they pull it off code-wise because I'm a nerd like that, heh.  If Super Sprint has taught me anything, it's that car handling takes a LOT of iteration to get it right--you can't just skimp on it.  Sadly, me passing on realistic car handling is why I'm often confused by real-life tuning like in GT and Forza.  Oh well, it's a fair trade--would rather make fun racing games than realistic ones! :)

There's still more to do.  They really need to implement manual transmission into the game (which I don't doubt they will), plus get some great audio too.  I want to hear roaring engines and a kickass soundtrack.  Good luck trying to do so without Takenobu Mitsuyoshi or Dennis St. James.  If in doubt, then just emulate AC/DC since that's not bad at all. :)

Just an aside while we're on the topic of realistic vs. non-realstic games.  I stumbled upon a very interesting Grand Theft Auto 5 GameFAQs topic and read a very intriguing post.  Yes, something good that came out of GameFAQs, it's a miracle.  But here's a post from NeonYoshi11:

Just played san andreas 3 months ago.

It looks like crap.

any game going for "realism" will eventually looks like crap.

This is why Art Style matters more than realism.

This is why Wind Waker still looks better than most games today, even the GC version.

IF you look closely, to disguise the old tech in the PS3/Xbox360 they use art that resembles realistm mixed with cel shading.

So it's got a bit of Street Fighter 4 in it, but in a realistic way, this allows them to improve "graphics" while not taking away performance of the game.

That's dead on.  Realism is basically an always-moving bullseye.  Even if you hit it, the bullseye keeps moving without you.  It's why a lot of games which sell off realistic graphics (Forza, Madden, etc.) often go through numerous iterations and why games like Daytona USA and OutRun 2, while super-old, still stand out and look fun to play.  Sadly, I wonder if the gaming gods get the memo since they're fine and dandy with destroying console backwards compatibility and DRMs that shred old games.  Just make sure to give your game differentiators so that your game won't become GameStop used game filler ten years down the road.  Antonis and The 90's Arcade Racer have a firm understanding of this!  Okay, you get the idea, I'm done for now.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

NASCAR: The Reality TV Series

So this is the first time I've posted in a month so it'll be difficult but I'll try my best.

The NASCAR season has 10 races to go.  This is the "Chase."  Let me explain for those who don't know.  For the first 26 races of the season, drivers gain points and wins, like a regular race series.  Once the 26 races are over, the Top 12 drivers are entered into the Chase, where the points are reset and it becomes a brand new season over the last 10 races.  Drivers that fail to make the Chase still participate in the races but only the 12 Chase drivers can win the championship trophy.  So basically, if you want to win the Big Trophy at the end, you MUST make the Chase.

As you imagine, there's a couple of problems with this.  The first one is if you gain enough points to lock yourself in the Chase, those last couple of races become meaningless in terms of the Championship.  Look at Jimmie Johnson's record over the last 4 races--finished 40th, 36th, 28th, and 40th, very noobish, I figure Jimmie liked wrecking the car cause "YOLO, I'm in the Chase anyway."  Yeah, Jimmie has that baby girl but who cares, NASCAR trumps family.  The second one, which we can see on display now, is that racing teams will "game the system" to get their drivers enough points to make it to the Chase.  That is not to say this has never happened in motorsport but the nature of the Chase just acerbates the problem.

Richmond was the 26th race, a 3/4 mile oval.  Four drivers were on the bubble--Joey Logano (#22), Martin Truex Jr. (#56), Jeff Gordon (#24), and Ryan Newman (#39), and only two of the four could make the Chase.  A couple of things go down and here's what I got out of the flurry of news the last few days:

* Early in the race, Jeff Gordon struggles and goes a lap down.  Going a lap down is a death kneel for a driver's chances of winning.  Think about restarts as "rounding up" your lap progress so if you're on the lead lap when that happens, you gain a lot of ground (dropped a second behind the leader) that you don't get a lap down.   So stay on the lead lap as long as you can.  Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson dings his car to draw a caution that helps Jeff get his s*** together and back on the lead lap.

* Brian Vickers is ordered to pit with a few laps to go to help his fellow Michael Waltrip Racing teammate, Martin Truex Jr., move up another spot.

* Joey Logano falters late into the race (about 20-25th place).  One position ahead of Logano is David Gilliliand (#38).  Penske Motorsports (Logano's team) bribes Front Row Racing (Gilliliand's team) to tell the Gilliliand to slow down and let Logano pass.

* But worst of all!  Late in the race, Ryan Newman is leading the race by a sizable margin.  If he wins, then he's in the Chase.  Michael Waltrip Racing, owner of Clint Bowyer (#15) and Martin Truex Jr.'s cars, is aware that Truex Jr. is in jeopardy of missing the Chase if Newman wins.  So Clint (who is a lock for the Chase) is ordered to spin out with 5 laps to go to help Truex Jr.  A caution comes out and on the restart, Newman loses his momentum and finishes 3rd.  It gives Truex Jr. just enough points to make the Chase.

"39's gonna win the race"
"Well that kinda sucks...5 more right here"
"Is your arm starting to hurt?"
"I bet it's hot in there, itch it"
"Oh yeah"
*le spin*

There's no real defense of what happened here.  Shoot, in the post race interview, if you stare away from the camera and say "Yeah, uhhmm, we had a bad tire..." you're lying.  And Clint continues to do television interviews denying any wrongdoing with team owner Michael Waltrip claims Clint really had poison ivy (who tells someone to really scratch their arm on the radio???).  He's not in court, he doesn't need to plead the 5th, he's already been slapped on the wrist, he might as well say "I cheated, I'm sorry" and just get on with it.  But no, he continues to shred any credibility he's had thus far.  If you're dug in a hole, most give up but a few keep digging their way to China.  Remember this is the same guy from a year ago who instigated a brawl with Jeff Gordon so I'm not surprised by Bowyer's actions.

Post-race, the initial result were Truex Jr. and Logano are in the Chase and Gordon and Newman are out.  However, the next day, NASCAR penalized Michael Waltrip Racing, deducting points from Bowyer, Truex Jr., and Vickers and suspending their pit chiefs.  The point loss was enough to replace Newman with Truex Jr. in the Chase.  And then, a few days later, after the Logano controversy comes to light and after Gordon's bitching, NASCAR puts Gordon in the chase too for a grand total of 13 Chase drivers, flagrantly tossing the rulebook out the window.  As of now, Logano or Gordon were not penalized for their mutinies.

The only thing more baffling is Michael Waltrip's dance routine.

EDIT: It gets better!  Today, NASCAR adds a new rule to the book that reaffirms COMMON SENSE SPORTS ETIQUETTE that we were taught by Herm Edwards years ago.

NASCAR requires its competitors to race at 100 percent of their ability with the goal of achieving their best possible finishing position in an event. Any competitor who takes action with the intent to artificially alter the finishing positions of the event or encourages, persuades or induces others to artificially alter the finishing position of the event shall be subject to a penalty from NASCAR. Such penalties may include but are limited to disqualification and/or loss of finishing points and/or fines and/or loss of points and/or suspension and/or probation to any and all members of the teams, including any beneficiaries of the prohibited actions.

Artificially altered' shall be defined as actions by any competitor that show or suggest that the competitor did not race at 100 percent of their ability for the purpose of changing finishing positions in the event at NASCAR's sole discretion.

Is this really necessary?  Are NASCAR drivers dicking around that much that they need to be told "you better try hard or else"?  Can't we just say "don't game the system" and call it a day?  Okay, so this 100% balls out thing is A BIG F'ING DEAL.  Get Rich Christensen on the phone.  He runs bracket drag races (which make no sense) and he can tell when you're not going all out, hence the name of his show PINKS: ALL OUT.  Some BS like "Jimmie Johnson ran a 32 sec lap at qualifying, now he's running 31.5 sec laps late in the race, he's clearly sandbagging, BLACK FLAG HIS ASS."


NASCAR has no idea what they're doing.  Truex Jr. is the sacrificial lamb in this situation.  It's a shame because technically, he did nothing wrong, his teammates did.  Bowyer and Logano are still in the Chase, Truex isn't.  And after learning about Gordon's inclusion in the Chase, Truex Jr. objects to it.  Think about this--if Truex is punished by Bowyer's yellow flag, shouldn't Gordon be punished for Johnson's yellow flag too?  So basically, NASCAR is like a reality TV show that adds and changes flimsy rules as it goes on to create the drama it so desires.


Besides, I'm getting tired of the Chase being called "NASCAR's playoffs" anyway.  In other sports, if you lose a playoff game (or series of games), you're eliminated from subsequent competition.  Players/teams are eliminated until one remains.  In NASCAR, this isn't the case since you can still participate in and win races even if you're mathematically eliminated from the Chase or aren't even in it in the first place.  Just get into the chase, get a car that can win mile/mile-and-a-half tracks and win the championship.  Besides, what are the odds these non-Chase drivers can win the Championship at that point in the Season?  Isn't the Chase useless except for resetting points and nullifying the progress made over the last 26 races?  It's absurd and I'm pretty sure most NASCAR diehards want it eliminated after 8 years of its institution.

Oh well, I'm a NASCAR fan but still, I have to shake my head at these guys anyway.  Tomorrow, we go Boogity Boogity Chase Racing again and it'll be brushed aside.  So anyway, that's it, and screw Alabama for yet another curb stomping of a SEC rival (Texas A&M).  Life sucks and I'm still unemployed but the SEGA flame never dies.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Updates To Sonic All-Stars Racing, 90's Arcade Racer, And My Optimism

Okay guys, we're back online and I'm sorry about the huge ass delay.  I'm alive and kicking, just barely though...

This news is OLD'd but I don't care, I thought you'd want to hear my take on it.  So, the new DLC character for Sega All-Stars Racing is the Russian commander from Company of Heroes 2.  This is DLC that came out on July 4th which makes no sense since it's an AMERICAN holiday, not a Red Commie one (BOOOOO) but that's besides the point because the character choice is certainly a strange one.  It's a WWII tank/submarine/fighter combo and that alone deserves praise because the idea of driving a TANK sounds like real neat idea.  Otherwise, my response might as well be summarized by this...

This character, along with the other PC exclusives like the Tactician and the Shogun really show how much Sega has fallen off the map.  Perhaps I'm a bit bitter that I wish more relatable Sega characters like Ryo Hazuki, Segata Sanshiro, Jacky Bryant, Ristar, Vectorman, Bonanza Bros. Toejam & Earl, ChuChu's, or even freakin Bayonetta made it into a game that was meant to promote Sega's Golden Age.  Or also bitter that DarthS0L, Sumo, or Sega basically played us for fools, proposing "Internet petishuns" to help get our favorite characters in the game that were all for naught really.

But the main cause for bitterness is seeing characters from games that I could barely consider Sega in nature (Football Manager, Total War, Company of Heroes) are getting precedence over the other characters for political posturing--people who liked Sega All-Stars Racing are more likely to get into Football Manager, Total War, etc. and vice versa.  It's free promotional material for games that are just painfully non-Sega in nature.  I mean Western-developed games about gritty war heroes and football simulators isn't what Sega should be known for.  It shows that they've completely failed to develop good games in recent time and are willing to stamp their name on any decent games they can get their hands on to seem relevant once again.  I'm not saying games like Football Manager or Total War suck, but whenever I read stories about them on the Sega blogs, my thoughts basically devolve to "meh" since I didn't get involved in Sega years ago just to read about them.  Really, to this day I'm still utterly baffled that Sega would get involved in the Aliens franchise, only to watch garbage Gearbox and Randy Pitchfork piss all over it.

Anyway, cause the Reddit-spooge-inducing Steam Summer Sale is on, I picked up Sonic All-Stars Racing: Transformed up for PC for $8.  Not bad and I hope you did too.  I haven't played it yet but I'll have it for 60 FPS goodness on a rainy day.  One problem I finally realized after all these months is that the game isn't going to work with this fancy GT steering wheel I got a while back.  Why??  Because you can't fly planes with a steering wheel.  Now that's just lame...  Think I said this before but if given the choice for cars only at 60 FPS or cars/boats/planes for 30 FPS, I'd take the cars at 60 FPS.  And the steering wheel compatibility is another reason...

Sonic All-Stars Racing: Transformed is basically in its waning phase and if Sumo were to add anything else to the game at this point, I'd probably shit bricks.  Doubt it'd happen though.

We do have another update from another game and it's from The 90's Arcade Racer crew via Kickstarter email.  This was some time in June.  Basically, they're going all-out with this game now, as they have introduced what appears to be an airport terminal level (Scud Race, duh) as well as the "Omnomnomnom" car which is clearly meant to be the Phantom Full Force car.  In other words, I think feature creep is kicking in as the crew has said f*** it to normal arcade conventions, let's crank the number of cars and tracks in this game up to 11.  Here's two hi-res screenshots.

Now, I might as well tell you what happened recently too and this was after I got fired.  Basically, I sent Pelikan another email about my recent woes and said I can help with the game if necessary (also gave him the link to my personal portfolio site).  He sympathized with me but has since then never replied back with an "offer" (even a free one would do, that's how much I want to help with the game).  And I can understand the lack of offer since I am a programming noob who lives on a completely different continent than he does.

So the game is coming along nicely and let's face it--I've kinda run out of things to do for racing games.  The 90's Arcade Racer is basically out there honing in on the Sega Racing Utopia Project we've all desired while Sega and Sumo Digital are jerking off and every other racing dev is obsessed with making their racing games as photorealistic as possible, gameplay or fun be damned.  I did throw out the idea about a year ago that I should create my own 3D arcade racing game like Daytona or OutRun on my own but let's face it--it'd never work.  I'm not an artist and I no longer have access to the same tools/software that I did during my days at grad school.  It would be like constructing a car out of popsicle sticks but no glue.  The 90's Arcade Racer is doing better than I ever could in a freelance project so I'm basically left in the dust to play the role of an inept cheerleader.  You have no idea how much this depresses me.

As an aside, and I hate getting all emo once again, but my motives have most certainly changed over the last couple of years.  At first it was all "hoorah, we're gonna work for Sega and make Daytona USA 3," then it's "well, Sega seems out of reach but it might happen and I might get to work on some racing games," to "I don't give a shit anymore, I'll work for anyone who pays for me."  My optimism certainly got shot down, curb stomped, and roasted as firewood really quickly.  I'd consider it fortunate if I ever get to "contribute" to a racing game ever again outside of Super Sprint.  Argh, everything just got all fucked up since I was fired and I'll be lucky if I ever get a job working at a video game studio again.  Sorry to be Debbie Downer.  I'll be back with more updates someday so later guys.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

E3 Drivel, Sony, Racing Games

Guys, I have a confession to make.  I haven't been keeping up on E3.  I do not care about 99.9999% of the games they talk about.  I know about how everyone is taking a dump on Microsoft whom is trying to spin-doctor their way out of the fact their console sucks. Microsoft blows now, Sony all the way, even though I have little incentive to buy any next-gen consoles.  But I will tell you what I know.

This is the best thing that Sony has done since Kevin Butler.

Yeehaw, watch this burn on nine different screens for nine times the sizzle.
Also the PS4 is region-free, Xbox One isn't, oh happy days are here again.

See you in Hell, Microsoft.  Where you'll be forced to play sub-par Kinect games for eternity, the same exact games you forced your pitiful developers to make.  Really, they have a patent on viewing/counting the number of people the Kinect picks up on, NO SERIOUSLY, READ THIS.  Didn't get this from from /r/gaming either.  See you in hell too with your little 2-second satisfaction posts for LE SWEET, SWEET KARMA.

As for Pokemon, you now have Fairy type Pokemon.  Boy I'd never see the day, rofl!!  As for Smash Bros, you have Mega Man and Wii Fit Trainer.  Hooray Nintendo.  Let's hope that Sonic makes a return especially to return the favor that Sonic games are going Nintendo-exclusive.  Speaking of Sonic and Sega, well, there's really nothing I give a crap about.  There's new Sonic games, including another Sonic & Mario Olympics game (WHO KEEPS BUYING THESE????), Bayonetta 2, and some Mickey Mouse game I don't care about (I'm trying to get the fuck out of Orlando, remember?) but that's it.  Hey Sumo, where is that elusive DLC character for Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed?  Where's Ryo Hazuki?  Where's Segata Sanshiro?  Where's Yu Suzuki with the Shenmue 3 announcement?  And that's how the world turns for a Sega fan--get your hopes up, wait, wait, wait, wait, get old, wait, wait, wait, wait, muse about how good you thought Sega was, wait, wait, wait, wait, then get a life or die of heartache.

Now about racing games.  Nope, nothing I care about.  Forza and Driveclub are bleh--too much realism, not enough emphasis on having fun.  Well, how about Need for Speed: Rivals?  Surely this game would induce vomiting but hold up a sec--just watch the gameplay footage.  It's a bit weird cause there's multiple screens going on.  Basically, it's simultaneous gameplay from the points of view from the evader and the cop.


Now this game isn't made by Black Box, responsible for the atrocity that is NFS: The Runs, or Criterion with their overrated crash-gasm games.  This is from Ghost Games, a new EA studio out of Gothemburg, Sweden.  And overall, looking at this game, it doesn't look TOO bad.  Basically, it feels kinda like the old NFS games--you drive around, cops are behind you with the radio chatter, you weave around ever-changing landscapes, and there's no stupid bonuses for doing stunts, shunting and using EMPs to make your rivals crash and die.  Here's footage from NFS 4: High Stakes on the PS1.

Looks familiar, don't it?  Plus Rivals has Ferraris in it.  Hey, if Ferrari endorses something (*coughoutrun2cough*), you know it's gotta be good stuff.  But I'm not getting my hopes up cause this is still a NFS game that has EA's greasy fingerprints all over it so I'm still a no-buy for me.  But it's worth giving props where it's due.

Other racing games...well, there's also Mario Kart 8.  Their new feature this time around is driving up on the ceiling and walls, kinda like in Super Mario Galaxy, to create more dynamic looking tracks.  They also seems to have tightened up the handling a bit cause I bet you they saw Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed and thought "oh shit we're gonna get our asses kicked here" even though they have yet to introduce boats or planes into their game--rather they stuck with hang-gliders and driving on the bottom of the lakes.  Sumo, you got Nintendo where you want 'em.

One more thing.  Dead Rising 3 sucks ass.  What made the first two cool were the colorful mall/casino backdrops.  Here's it's a crappy-ass town loaded with gritty shaders.  Oh, and I don't give a damn about The Last of Us either.  I know that's not E3-related but I'm tired of hearing about that damn game.  Again, where's Shenmue 3.  Later guys.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Nightmarish Week Of Losing My Car And Job

GUYS I'M DOING ALRIGHT NOW.  Sorry about the radio silence.  This has been a really shitty week--let me just describe it as best as I know how.

Things are going swimmingly.  The project we're working on received a six-month extension and the company is upsizing!  Everyone is let off work a few hours early but I stay to add an alternate control scheme for the vehicles as presented by another one of the programmers (accel, brake, and steer are mapped to the left joystick).  Got that in, impressed the "boss," and got a three-day weekend (Monday was Memorial Day).

After an average Tuesday workday, I drive in to work on a damp Wednesday morning.  As I enter the parking lot in my blue 2-door bullet-shaped sedan, I traverse some slippery black pavement with one more left-hand turn to go before I reach my parking space.  Hit the brakes but OOPS, the car won't slow down or turn as I careen into a fenced region with a dumpster inside at about 20 mph.  Airbags go off, windshield cracks, and an undetermined amount of damage is concurred to the front right of the vehicle as two of my coworkers run over to aid me...and end up slipping on the black pavement as well.  Shows you how ridiculously bad this pavement is in the rain...a sign or a speed bump would've helped you sons of bitches.  It was the most BS way to crash, really.

I am not physically hurt but have to hold back man-tears because of fear my vehicular companion of 7 years may have taken its last ride.  After making a round of calls to the cops, insurance, rental car, AAA guys, one placed to my family, my dad's response was basically "HOLD ON SON JUST LEAVE THE CAR THERE!!" as he hopped in my mom's black 4-door Mercedes and drove 9 hours from Louisiana (my original home) to Florida (my workplace) just to help fix the car.  I called off the tow truck and the rental car as he showed up after work to bang the car together a bit.  Turns out all the damage was cosmetic and all it needed was a new windshield, airbags, and front right light and bumper/panels.  My dad was able to drive it back to the garage to get the windshield replaced which was a miracle in and of itself.

That combined with the ticket would probably set me back at least a week's salary which isn't TOO bad and is certainly a relief because I thought I would be reamed with much more than that.  I didn't think things could get much worse than this but guess what--it did! :D

FRIDAY 5/31:
So anyway, after spending some impromptu quality time with my dad on Thursday, he jets back to Louisiana Friday morning in my blue car for repairs while I drive the Benz to work for the second day in a row.  All is good as me and everyone else appear to be loafing around the office before the weekend arrives.

At 6 pm, one of the HR ladies comes to my office saying she needs to speak with me.  I say okay, and we make this rather awkward walk down the hall to the conference room.  I've seen that expression on her face before, the one that's like "you're fucked so I won't say anything to you" as I'm forced to sit in the room alone for a few minutes waiting for people to show up for the eventual sacrificial lamb ceremony.  Two more HR people arrive and, to summarize, say "We're letting you go at the end of your probation period because the engineers say you have had performance issues, goodbye."  (FYI, engineer = programmer)

At this point, I turn pale as my worst nightmare turns true--I had failed to hold down my second job for ridiculous reasons and all I could think of was the metaphorical vacuum cleaner that had sucked me right out of the womb and tossed me into the dumpster--the very one I had run into two days ago.  I beg them to tell me what I had done wrong or how I could have improved but they basically deflected it, saying that they're not engineers so they have no idea.  Hey, this is wonderful.  I'm being let go from my job without a single clue on how to improve myself going into my next job.  It's as if the cowardly engineers who called for my abortion decided not to stare me in the face one last time and try to help me out as a human being in need of improvement just so that they could bolt home from work and get the weekend started a few minutes later.  You've gotta be kidding me.

After getting shit-canned for the second time for no good reason, watching both my car and my job get destroyed in seconds, I panic and start calling friends and family, including my parents, to tell them about how molested I had just felt.  What happens next? Dad calls and says "HOLD ON SON I'LL BE THERE TO BRING YOU HOME!!"  That's right, my dad who had just arrived back in Louisiana after driving 18 hours in the last two days insisted on driving straight back to Florida AGAIN (in a different car besides the blue bullet) with my brother and his GF in tow just to help me pack up my stuff and return home with my family.  Apparently I couldn't have made the 9-hour drive alone by myself (I was too emotionally wrecked) and my mom wanted me home for her birthday (June 2nd, 2 days from now) so yep, there goes my dad again.

At this point in time, all I could think about is why exactly was I fired and how utterly distraught I was.  Was it because I was a terrible employee?  Was it because I wasn't smart or good enough at this job career?  Or was it because I rubbed my boss the wrong way?  These are thing that had me in a cold sweat as my dad showed up at 5 am to pick me up and drive me home that day, making him drive a grand total of 36 hours in the last three days.  Thanks game studio for sucking ass and not firing me on a Thursday.  Would've saved us a lot of stress and gas money.

I get home and spend time with my family at last.  Too bad as soon as I get home, the house basically collapses in on itself as I have to contend with other issues--Brother #1's girlfriend who is always getting in fights and stirring up trouble, Brother #2's loudmouth friends and irrational obsession with whoever uses his toothbrush, Brother #3 and his friend always playing video games and bothering me at every waking moment.  It's like not only did getting fired fuck up my life, it also fucked up my family's cause now I'm another obstacle that's trying to inhibit progress or some bullshit like that.

After a weekend's worth of radio silence, I finally get in touch with one of my friends at the company.  He says that I was the only one fired and that there were meetings going on discussing why exactly I was fired.  In other words, every single person, including the engineers who called for my head, was discussing my termination with everyone else EXCEPT FOR THE PERSON WHO ACTUALLY GOT FIRED which is me.  There was nothing I could do but picture my sacrificial lamb corpse being flogged and molested some more as every single lie about me propagated through that building and all my credibility was shot to hell.

I immediately fell sick once again as my mother decided to take actions into her own hands and send a "to whom it may concern" email to the company in a last-ditch attempt to find out what was being said about me.  Was this a good idea?  I DON'T KNOW, I'm in panic mode as it is so it's not like things could get that much worse.  Who replied?  The head of the company, not one of the engineers, who rather than try to find out some legitimate information replied with a jerk-ass email about how he's sorry and how it's a big company and you suck so STFU and never bother us again.  My mother was aghast and so was I.

Another miserable day and, after rocking the boat for so long, I finally get some sort of e-mail response from an anonymous engineer (though I can tell who it is) with a list of wrongdoings and things I could do to improve myself.  The list was mostly bullshit--basically a couple of one-time errors that I had made in the last two weeks that I had since then apologized and corrected.  What's one for instance?  "Including vestigal code that could possibly break the game's logic or the build in the future."  It was one instance of me setting a UDK actor as the parent of another actor and that was over a month ago.  Boss man asked me what I had meant by that code and I walked in, succinctly explained what it had meant by these few lines of code from a long time ago, and they were removed and no harm was done.  But somehow, because of this one incident, I was essentially leaving landmines throughout the entire database.  Okay.

Another thing--"Doesn't know how to follow design documents or take instruction."  This one I love so much.  Basically, the last thing I was working on with the game was UDK vehicles--a tank and two 4-wheel-vehicles to be specific.  And after receiving a bunch of good feedback on how the vehicles have handled, I received an outdated design document for the vehicle as well as feedback from various designers, some of whom spent time in countless meanings or weren't at work at all.  So I was sorta left with a bunch of incomplete, conflicting design ideas for the vehicles, some of which I had to bang together and hand off to whomever was reviewing them at the moment.  I always carried and pen & paper with me to write down any suggested changes which I implemented one-by-one.  Yet somehow, it's all my fault for being a lousy employee.

Yet another thing--"Don't submit huge chunks of code at once and review over it 100 times."  Basically, just be all tippy-toed when editing code which IMO sorta conflicts with my programming methodology.  I just took very small steps trying to edit large systems of the game and whenever I'd try to hurry things up, I'd get a stern lecture.  It was really nonsensical and is another thing that just clashed with my boss.

And lastly, the most fun of all--"Repeatedly late" and "Always playing games in his spare time."  The time frame to arrive in the morning is from 8 to 10 am.  You must stay for 9 hours each day.  Me, I opted to arrive at 10 am and leave at 7.  It was a good deal and my bosses rarely spoke up against it.  But somehow, in that last week, wrecking my car and limping to work late didn't help my cause any.  It's like the flair from Office Space--you want me to show up at 9 am?  Then make it a rule to show up at 9 AM!!!  As for the games--we always have a one-hour lunch break to hang out and play games if we like.  I was playing games during that time but because of how low-pressure the time was that last week of employment, I would occasionally open up my iPhone to click on my Tiny Tower buildings.  Not like I replaced work with games...I just started running out of work that last week because everyone was either in a meeting or simply loafed around as well.

In short, my worst nightmares had come true--my boss only took the worst aspects of my tenure (from his point of view), blew them up really large, and used them to incriminate me as a terrible employee.  To make it worse, my boss had opted not to be transparent with my wrongdoing this whole entire time, essentially feigning friendship with me until the last moment when I was taken out via a firing squad he wasn't even present in.  I still have yet to reply to that e-mail.  Technically, they have my balls in a vice so I can't reply even with the slightest disagreement since they'll think I've learned nothing and won't give me a positive reference in my future employment.  Just the quality of everything has went to shit since I got fired.  Did I learn something from all this?  Sure!  Be more transparent with your boss.  Be more conscientious with your image.  Also try showing up to work a little earlier and put down the iPhone.  But there are ALWAYS things you can do better to improve your image so that's beside the point.

TLDR: The whole thing boils down to this--I had a picky boss whom had duped me into thinking I was doing a good job up until the very last moment when I was fired and accused of being a terrible employee.  He had taken forever to get back to me with a crummy email listing a bunch of wrongdoings I don't necessary agree with.  I am currently unemployed and living with my parents but I'll find another game programming job somewhere (I SURE HOPE SO) and hopefully rebound from this mess.  Thanks for reading.  I want to get back on-topic with some Sega stuff, some Indy 500 or NASCAR talk, it's just that I feel like I've been dunked repeated in a tub of dog piss over the last couple of days so it's gonna take some serious time to recover.  Thanks for your understanding.