-SFxT- Lars/Jin Best Pandora Damage Yet

In the process of noting down some stuff for a new tech video, I managed to pull off the best damage Lars and Jin can do for Pandora (without gems). Admittedly, it involves a counter-hit, so it’s situational because of that, but the sheer damage is impressive. Be sure to like it if you thought it was cool!


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-SFxT- Jin Counter-Hit Close Fierce

A quick video for a quick find. Jin can combo off of his counter-hit close Fierce punch! It’s neat if you can convert it into bigger damage, but even the initial hits do a ton of damage anyway. Be sure to like the video if you thought it was cool!


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Taking Advantage Of Players’ Bad Habits

199683_10150451236240026_80744115025_17696127_3542639_nOne of the things I never really thought about was how to identify people’s habits, in particular their bad ones. In competitive games, everyone (even if they don’t realize it) fall into habits; things they do by routine, in each game they play.

Sometimes, these habits are what allows people to be good and win most of their games. However, those same habits can be people’s undoing. If you pay close attention, you can use those habits against them and make them think twice about what they’re doing.

Firstly, you’ll have to be in a mindset of looking for habits. In shooters, it might be that someone repeats the exact same sequence in a gun fight i.e. aim, go prone, shoot, sprint. If you see someone doing this without fail, then anticipate it and adjust your strategy accordingly. In fighting games, it could be that someone likes to use the same buttons over and over. If you see that the player will commit to this, make them regret it. Pick an option that counters what they’re doing and force them to change it up or risk losing the match.

Habits are hard to break. The best players are able to switch between their usual patterns and adapting to different playstyles. This is tricky because it means stepping outside of your comfort zone to play differently, dealing with someone in a way that you’re not used to. If you know a player who is particularly bad at this, then take advantage of it.

Obviously, it’s not a definitive strategy for victory by just combatting habits. A lot more goes into winning competitive games, especially the element of random and people making sudden adjustments. The reason I mention bad habits is because it’s one of the most overlooked aspects of head-to-head gaming.

We’re so concerned with increasing our own skill and building our own game plan that we forget that others do the same. Remember, you’re not just fighting that player’s character, you’re fighting the player. And unlike cheap A.I. that can read your button inputs, human beings can and will make mistakes.

Hopefully you have an idea of the importance of utilizing awareness of habits to help you get better in competitive gaming. It’s not about reading minds or always making the right decisions, it’s about noticing simple patterns and doing something to counter it. Think of it like solving a puzzle, where success means dominating an opponent. Gaming can be complex and this is one of those things you need in your arsenal.


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Why I Stopped Sharing My Personal Opinion

zfk44sThis one’s a bit personal, so click away if you’re not willing to read my spiel about absolutely nothing. Ultimately, this piece of writing is insignificant; merely a way for me to explain something very particular about my life. Forgive the nihilism, for there will be a lot of it.

Those of who that follow and/or know me through social media have noticed that I tend to not share my opinion on topics as much as I used to. Sure, you’ll see my occasional quip about some relevant event or I might make a string of tweets moaning about some anime or something. But for the most part, it’s been radio silence from me regarding my feelings on things. Now why is that?

In the dense black hole that is the internet and its comments sections, I immediately realized that I was fighting a sour battle; not even a losing one, but a pointless one. The act of arguing on the internet is time consuming, tiring, and essentially meaningless. That is unless you have some kind of influence or prestige within online communities. Let’s be real here; not all opinions are created equal. Something completely profound that’s said from a popular figure is given more weight than those from anyone else.

Upon this realization, was the sobering choice I decided to make: to just stop trying. The child-like naivete which I carried, one that led me to believe that my voice could make a difference, has long since departed. These days, it’s not about distributing common sense or utilizing logic, it’s about having the loudest voice. Or being the most controversial. Or taking an extreme side. No one pays attention to the quiet guy until one day he smashes a plate against the wall.

And quite frankly, I am not that guy. I’m not a person willing to risk what little peace of mind I have in my life just to receive a few nods from people. Of course, I still crave the drug of validation like everyone else, but recently I’m finding it…unnecessary. I’ve found more fulfillment in my life from achieving personal goals and having fun, being devoid of much money, social interactions or a love interest to fill that void. If that sounds ‘sad’ to you, then that’s ok. I got over it a long time ago, so fret not.

The simple fact is that I thought that standing out from the crowd or not being afraid to speak your voice made a difference. Some kind of difference, regardless of how small it may have been. Honestly though? It doesn’t. Not all the time anyway. Success is the exception to the rule, not the rule itself. Most people fail. Really, the reason we raise up the successful and inspirational to iconic status is because failing is easy, but winning is hard. Therefore, the successful deserve the praise they get. It’s a good thing, honestly.

In light of that, devoid of such successes and realizing that a lot of it was self-serving, I began to keep my opinions to myself. Stayed out of discussions, stopped arguments in their tracks, and agreed to disagree. Some might see that as me being dismissive or callous, but it’s not. I’m simply choosing to acknowledge someone’s opinion, disagreeing, but keeping my ideas to myself to avoid unnecessary conflict.

I’ll be honest; it actually perplexes me that others seem to care what I think at all. I’m not that much smarter than anyone else, even if once I deluded myself into believing so. I’m no authority on anything, and any wisdom I have is as good as the limited experience I possess. My opinions are so often contrarian to what most people I know closely say, that honestly it’s exasperating. They want to know what I think, but to what end? The opinions will be traded, nothing will change and no consensus will be reached. How then is this different from the opinion never being shared at all?

If debates are only made for the purpose of entertainment in mass media or validating people’s already pre-held assumptions, then I want no part in them. When logic takes a back seat to emotion and socio-politics, then I’m sorry but that’s where I get off the train.

Consider also the insanity of internet outrage culture. The mere act of sharing an unpopular opinion is enough to get you character assassinated and have your livelihood ruined. Over an opinion. Once, I thought fame and popularity was glamorous, or a way to do good by a large amount of people. Now though? I reel at the thought of getting more attention that what I have now. I’m happy for the fans and friends I have, but that’s where I draw the line. I refuse to become another target for people’s idiocy and vitriol, all because I couldn’t fall in line with the prevailing narrative. It’s not even fear that holds me back, it’s annoyance.

So let’s look at the criteria: small, non-extreme voices are swept away in the tide. Without the need for validation, pursuing agreement from others is superficial. Attempting to succeed with opinions alone is a long, thankless road. Debates, though gratifying and entertaining, are pointless in terms of any actual progress. So given all these conditions, let me ask you, the reader: what is the point of me sharing my opinion at all?

I will add the very important caveat that my nihilism here is not discounting the accomplishments of people who stood for what they believed in. I don’t completely think that no one can make a difference, or that debates/opinions are pointless in themselves.

I simply just decided to discard my idealism and embrace the reality of my situation. And that reality is just me, some…guy, like any other guy. Not the smartest guy, not the coolest, nicest, best looking, charming, influential, imposing or likeable guy. Just a guy. And a guy who’s chosen to keep things to himself. My opinions never made my life any better. So I hardly see keeping those opinions to myself going to make my life any worse. At least I hope so.


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Let’s Talk About Rats (or, Trying To Add Different Game Mechanics)

LoS2 rats

The one thing that I heard was a detriment to Lords of Shadow 2’s overall reviews was the stealth and ‘rat’ segments of the game. They were these awkwardly out-of-place parts of the game where you had to sneak around and transform into rats to do a mini-game, just to advance to the next part of the game.

It’s not as bad as people made it sound, but I fully understand the issue with it. I suppose the core of the problem is that it’s shoehorned pacing into an action game which, in all honesty, would have been just fine without it. LoS2 (my abbreviation for Lords of Shadow 2) is an amazing action game despite not being on the same caliber of the first game. But I agree that the game didn’t need the rat segments, at all. It was cool during some parts of exploration though.

I’m sure someone somewhere thought this was a good idea. Someone probably thought it would actually be fun, and I don’t blame them for thinking that. Realistically, tons of games have segments in them that stick out like a sore thumb. That is, aspects of the game that have absolutely nothing to do with the core gameplay yet you’re forced to endure minutes to (in worst cases) hours of it.

In some games, this is a minor annoyance or deviation that is easily forgotten. In other games, it’s an entirely problematic feature in a game that hinders the replay value. For as creative or relevant as some mini-games may be, it actually prevents me from playing games again because of it.

I will say that the rats segments of LoS2 won’t deter me from playing the game again though. The game is much bigger than those parts, and really it’s more like the puzzle segments of LoS1. When I looked at it that way, I felt like if I solved the puzzle and moved on, I’d be fine. I mentioned in my LoS2 semi-review that it wasn’t a big deal, and I still stand by that now.

I get why developers do this though. When you have a game with a particular core focus, you want to mix it up by adding elements that stray from the formula to keep things fresh. Call of Duty in particular is known for this; giving you fun gadgets and cool tech to use for a brief part of the campaign. A lot of games are successful in this, and it actually adds to the replay value. You want to replay these games because of those segments, hence why game devs are fond of these additions.

Obviously, there’s the chance that it was created as filler/padding, to make a game feel longer or have some kind of variety. As boring as they are to have, consider the alternative. Imagine a game that has the exact same gameplay, in every single level, with only slight increases in complexity but nothing new or different. As much as it may be a game design trope, it’s one we’re particularly reliant on due to how it makes even the dullest games feel somewhat interesting.

It’s a delicate balance, I admit. Adding different mechanics that divert from core gameplay work sometimes; and when they work, they work well. However, when it’s badly executed it just makes the game look worse as a result. I feel LoS2 got the bad end of the stick, when the rats segment weren’t nearly as bad as some games. I will fully admit that I am severely biased and I love that game series enough to justify a crappy mechanic like that in an action game. It’s a mixed feeling regardless.


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Beware of complacency

USFIV Decapre Screenshot 03_1394986108

It’s easy to feel comfortable in your current level of skill. You might think you’ve got it made and there’s no real need for you to level up or learn anything new. It’s a fair assumption, especially if there’s no immediate urgency to where you’re at. If you’re good enough at something, for example a game, card game etc, you might not have to put in much effort to improving yourself.

That said, complacency is the enemy. Being in your comfort zone is good, and if you’re a casual gamer* then you have nothing to worry about. But for those of us that play competitively, in some capacity, never think for a second that you’re the best. There is always room for improvement.

(With my combo videos, I pushed myself to try harder combos and make more exciting content)

Common causes of complacency are usually not being challenged enough. If within your group, or the people you encounter, you’re the top dog, chances are you’ll ending up thinking you’re top dog altogether. Call it inflated ego. While I don’t personally believe that people need to be pounded into the dirt to be humbled, or face opponents way too strong for them, I do think people deserve a little push. Just some decent competition that gives them a wake up call and says ‘Hey, you can do better than this’.

The issue with being complacent itself is the risk of this inflated ego being believed. So inevitably when your world view is challenged, you’ll reject it so harshly and never see the light. We’ve all seen cases of people who think they’re good at something until they meet someone better, then they vehemently lash out and make excuses. If you’re constantly in a state of self-improvement, then you’ll never even touch this mindset.

Sometimes with competitive games, we enter a lull where we’re just mowing people down and everything’s easy sailing. This isn’t a bad thing, and I personally love feeling powerful and seeing that my progress has made a difference. The feeling itself isn’t the issue, but if we become reliant on this feeling and just stay put with how good we might be, that’s when development stagnates.

(I came a long way while playing BlazBlue. Learned a lot about fighting games cause of this series)

So every so often, it’s helpful to push yourself and seek out greater challenges. Take some risks. Or, if fate dictates it, you’ll meet just the right person to make you go that extra mile. This has happened to me countless times in both fighting games and FPS, where I’ve encountered an opponent ferocious enough to make me sit up but not so overwhelming that I feel, well, overwhelmed. These individuals activate a fire in me that keeps me alert, makes me think harder and smarter than before. So whether I win or lose to them, I know that I’ve reached the next level, as it were.

Essentially, growth in competition is fostered by the drive to do better. It’s not always in leaps and bounds, and sometimes you’ll only really get some new piece of information and nothing else. What matters is that even at your best, you can still find things within your arsenal to keep you ahead of the game. Complacency is the enemy, but learning is the answer.


*Note: when I say ‘casual gamer’, I don’t mean that as a strict definition. Rather, I refer to anyone who doesn’t play games competitively and isn’t concerned with getting better at games in a serious way.


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How Do You Top A Personal Classic? [Lords of Shadow 2 Commentary]

LoSDracula3I finally got my hands on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 after wanting it for so long! It’s the sequel to one of my personal favorite games of last generation (as in, Xbox 360/PS3) and I was blown away by the reveal trailer when it first hit. Ever since then, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the time I would get to play it. And now I have!

So, what can I say about it? It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe. My expectations weren’t massively high, and I was wary of the mixed reviews it got (not that reviews alter my opinion all that much). I wasn’t setting the bar too high, but I was basing it on my experience with the first game. I’d say that this game’s quality fell somewhere in-between.

I mean, Lords of Shadow 2 is awesome, let me make that clear. It’s one of the best looking Xbox 360 games and has the same phenomenal quality that the first game did. However, it isn’t the first game at all. LoS2 was a sequel to the spectacle and story of the first game, but not its overall experience or the unique magic that the first game had. The first game wasn’t perfect, and neither is the sequel. Given that the second game is open world and not linear chapters, that also changes just what my experience of it was like. It’s a good open world though, with fun platforming and constant enemy encounters, so I’m ok with it. LoS2 ceased to try to take bits and pieces of other action games and now it’s found its own unique style, which is great.

Of course, I have to briefly mention the rats. I admit, the rats and stealth sequences weren’t the most fun parts of the game, but if you look at it in the context of pacing within gameplay, it sort of makes sense. LoS1 had plenty of diverse puzzles and unique levels that slowed the game down and focused on overcoming a particular sequence. I do admit that stealth really did have no place in LoS2 and it could have done without it, especially given that you’re Dracula. However, gameplay-wise I sort of get why they wanted something a bit different from the usual flow of gameplay. If you look at the stealth segments as more of the trial and error puzzles of the first game, they’ll seem less silly.

Still, I can’t state enough just how amazing the presentation of the game is. Other than the phenomenal graphics, some boss fights do some really unique things visually, stuff that even current gen (Xbox One/PS4) games aren’t doing. It made the game feel much more epic as a result, and I was happy that the scale of the adventure was bigger than the first game, if even the size wasn’t. Yes, LoS2 isn’t as long as the first game story-wise, which took 20+ hours just to beat the base game, whereas LoS2 took me maybe 6 hours? Difference is, LoS1 was done in chapters and had several levels which had long puzzles or traversal, whereas LoS2 gets you right into the combat most on the time, only occasionally dumb-founding you with puzzles. Like I said, they’re not the same experience, but that’s not a bad thing.

AlucardDLCAlso, the ‘Revelations’ DLC was awesome too, mainly because you got to play as Alucard and use his sword, but also because it had unique levels and puzzles (and no rats either!). If this series ever receives a third game, which is hard to imagine at this point given the crap going on with Konami, I would want it to focus on Alucard and expand his arsenal of powers. The DLC had some really cool ideas for how different Alucard plays from Dracula, and it was fun using his unique fighting style. The last boss of the DLC was really cool!

To me, LoS1 was a classic, a personal one. It’s not highly popular, despite receiving great reviews from critics, but it’s a classic amongst some fans of action games. LoS2, being a sequel to that game, had the responsibility of somehow topping that experience, and well, it didn’t. Not because the game is bad, or isn’t not fun, or that its shortcomings hindered it, but that it’s not the experience that the first was. That is to say, it can’t top the first because it doesn’t need to. I got to play a phenomenal action adventure game that I’d been wanting to get my hands on for a long time, and that’s enough for me.

Essentially, LoS2 may not have replaced the first game in my heart as an instant classic, but that’s just fine. I’m not the kind of person who overly compares games or acts like I need to put down one game to enjoy another one. It was fun, exciting and engaging throughout its campaign and even afterwards as I gathered all the collectible items (which extended the game to over 10+ hours, so really the game is as long as you want it to be). The DLC campaign plus exploration took me about 5 hours, so I feel content. I hope if there’s ever a LoS3, it’ll be even more epic and visually stunning as the first 2 games!


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Let’s Talk About Yukino [Oregairu 2 discussion]

Yukinoshita oregairuSo. Episode 7 just happened. This leads me to a conclusion I reached a long time ago. And before I start, I should mention that no I’m not a blind Yuki hater and I fully understand the character, so please hold your keyboard rage. It’s because I get this character that I feel there’s one thing she’s yet to do: make the effort.

So far, Hachiman (aka ‘8man’ on anime boards) has been falling over himself to try to patch things up or at least make peace with her since the incident in episode 2. And yet, all of it has seemingly made things worse. Just to end up with her saying those harsh but somewhat true words in episode 7. But to be honest, it’s not all that fair. Yui was the first to bounce back and realize that 8man’s actions are selfless and painful, and she cares enough about him to understand that. Hayama, Totsuka, Komachi and the rest of the auxiliary cast notice this too, and are trying to help him. So exactly why is the ‘genius’ that everyone adores too thick or stubborn to want to do so too?

Lately, it’s been all about how she feels. What the character Yuki, as she’s portrayed, seems to be doing is viewing 8man’s actions solely by how they affect her. At first, I thought it was that she cared for him and was worried about his self-deprecating ways, but her actions leading up to ep 7 suggest otherwise. If she’s so smart, why can’t she see that he’s doing all this for her as well as the club? And yet she turns around and acts like he’s making their relationship superficial by turning up to the club. Granted, what she said wasn’t out of malice or hatred, but out of sadness for how their interactions have become. But that’s why it’s so selfish. 8man has been through so much crap in his life, and has to deal with people from his past showing up too. In season one, he was disappointed by both Yui and Yuki yet still went out of his way to help them.

But just because he makes a few fumbles, suddenly she’s sad that he’s not making her feel good about being near him? Not cool. Everyone else is worried about 8man’s actions leading to him ruining himself, and as his friends it makes them sad. They want to help him, but they also want him to open up to them. Hence, a reciprocal interaction. But what has Yuki done, other than get mad/sad each time he does something she disagrees with. If she cares so much about the special relationship they had, why hasn’t she done anything to fix it other than keep her distance and be mad about it?

Here’s the thing: I know there’s a resolution coming. People on My Anime List forums are hinting at a major ‘feels’ moment in the next episode. But from how this is set up, it’s super one sided. This whole time it’s been 8man trying to patch things up with Yuki, whilst any interaction with her since has been nothing but scorn and sad remarks. How is that fair? When is she going to make the effort to try to appreciate his circumstance? Yuki, as she’s written, is the only character pushing him away when he’s been trying so hard to change. He’s been constantly evaluating his recent choices and opening up to others and asking for help. Note, 8man is a character by design who has fallen into one bad circumstance to another and has become a loner. He’s unable to see his self-worth, open up to anyone or appreciate anyone’s feelings.

In spite of this, characters like Yui know that’s how he is and it won’t change anytime soon, but she still cares for him and is happy to see him trying. Think of all the sweet moments they shared since episode 2. When Yui’s sad, it’s because she sees the club’s relationship deteriorating. Yet all of Yuki’s problems thus far have been me me me. Not once have you seen her make the effort to talk to 8man and patch up the rift between them or even vaguely appreciate why he’s in the mess he’s in currently. Any doubt I had before about her feeling sad cause of 8man’s situation were dispelled by her clearly selfish words in ep 7, which put the full onus on him to open up and tell her sorry, I messed up, I need your help etc. And that’s just not fair. When the heck is she going to take the time to bend over backwards for him? That’s all I want personally. If she cares about him so much, as people seem to claim, when in god’s name is she going to show it?

But what about you? What do you think of Yuki’s development lately?


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My Strider Let’s Play Is Complete!

My first full Let’s Play in a long time is finally done! The final video, episode 32, was just uploaded and with that I’m finally done with Strider on Hard mode. Doing a new let’s play was very eye-opening and I learned a lot about what to do better next time. Sadly, the views on the videos are poor and in a lot of ways it was pointless for me to upload the videos. However, I wasn’t doing this for fame, I did it for fun. So check out the full playlist of the let’s play below. If you wanna help me out, consider donating and/or gifting me to help with my gameplay output!


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SFxT Nomination Challenge 2 – JST Entry

I got nominated to do a video for the second SFxT nomination challenge, so I got it done! I already had an idea of what I wanted to do for combos so it didn’t really take all that long. The combos themselves were tricky though. More information in the video description!


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