I've had an extremely rough few weeks, and it looks like it's the foreseeable future is only going to get worse. I was really low today, so I decided to take a step back and take stock of my life. After that, I just wanted to come here and say: I appreciate you. I don't know who this is reaching, but I just want you to know that if you're here, you're helping. Thank you.
Best posts made by naltmank
I appreciate you
RE: Cup of Jones Episode Guide
Echoing what everyone else has said: Jones handled this immaculately. The only thing I'll add is that I hope everyone else treats the issue much the same way.
Perhaps this is being too forgiving, but I have to give that user the benefit of the doubt, and assume that maybe they really didn't know better, and thought it was fine to push the envelope. Obviously they pushed it way too far, which is why we're talking about it now. I get why people are calling for the ban-hammer, and that this person shouldn't be in the community, but I think that would be doing everyone - especially Jones - a disservice. Jones chose to give this person a second chance, and explain why what they did was hurtful. We should allow them to digest that information and try to learn from their mistakes. If they continue to act inappropriately, that's another story, but I don't think we should immediately call that person out now and tell them to get lost, or that they're not welcome here. Maybe they won't change, but if we forever shun them, then I think it's much less likely that they'll actually change their point of view, or their mindset. We have to allow them to respond, and at least make an effort. As someone who's been on both sides of a similar issue (although one with much less viscerally disturbing imagery), I just want to say that people can change if you give them a chance.
One Way Trip - Inspired by the ramblings of a delirious Kyle Bosman
Kyle mentioned an idea for a short story during today's Bosman v Wozniak, that I thought actually sounded kind of cool, so I tried writing it. It didn't turn out super well, but I still had a ton of fun writing it. As a refresher, here was the premise: a man is tasked with a one way trip off Earth, but not for anything cool. Just for like, fixing people's youtube or something. But then the wife has to leave, too. I think that was it. I'm pretty delirious right now, and just finished writing it, but here it is! It's very different from my usual style, in that I usually do more character focused stuff and have never really tried any major world-building type stuff. I actually really don't like my writing in this piece at all - way too much exposition and then the ending goes way off the rails. That said, I actually kind of like the world I set up and would be interested in writing other stories in this universe. Anyway, check it out if you want!
RE: Settle It: The Last of Us?
I talked about The Last of Us a few months ago. This is what I said then and I stand by it:
"I loved the story/writing/acting, but I was kind of annoyed with the game design. I thought they telegraphed the combat situations way too much, and that in general they were a little too frequent. I think the game would've been better (and much ballsier) if they refrained from throwing in so many combat encounters, and instead focused more on just walking around and exploring/interacting with the world (my favorite parts of the game), punctuated occasionally by the brutal violence. Think about how insane entire last act of the game would be if you had only fought humans a few times, or when you came across the infected they were rarely in groups larger than 3 or 4. That swarm near the end would've been bonkers, and the winter section would stand out for being even more crushingly brutal than it already is. I think those kinds of moments would stand out much more, while allowing the more character/world driven interactions more space to breathe. I don't blame ND for going the route that they did, nor do I even dislike the game for the way that it plays, but I do feel like it was a missed opportunity to do something incredible and unprecedented."
Reading this thread, I would also echo the sentiments that the character work is superb, but I think that goes along with great writing and acting. It's also superb world building, which is a big thing for me in games. Again, it's not that I didn't like the game, it's just that I think it could've been better.
RE: Frame Trap - Official Discussion Thread
Not sure if people have already seen it all, but the most recent frame trap has a really great opening; Kyle talking about the interaction between mental health, agency, and creativity was really inspiring. Link below is time-stamped to open with it, but of course the whole episode is worth a listen!
Youtube Video – [05:13..]
RE: The Last of Us Part II (PS4)
Before this conversation goes further, I think it's important we all ask ourselves the most important question of internet discourse:
Do you really believe that your next post will move the conversation forward in any way towards some sort of mutual understanding?
If no, do not post/engage.
If yes, stop lying to yourself and move on with your life.
RE: The EZA Community Top 25 Best of 2010!
Two games I love were released October 5, 2010. 1) Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and 2) Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Oddly, both have largely fallen largely out of the cultural conversation despite the considerable hype leading up to their release. I don't remember where (I think Gameinformer), but I remember reading one of the many "which one should you buy" articles that essentially ended like this: if you want to see how far games have come, buy Castlevania. If you want to see where games will go, buy Enslaved. I don't think the author fully appreciated how right they were.
Castlevania was the encapsulation of the spectacle-driven set-piece game design that dominated the mid to late aughts, and had more production values and talent behind it than just about any game I had seen up until that point (people forget that Kojima was one of the producers). It threw itself into the "bigger is better" mentality that made the original God of War trilogy so immediately impactful. I loved it. Enslaved, on the other hand, revolutionized performance capture and storytelling by emphasizing smaller character moments and interactions. I say this with zero exaggeration: Enslaved was The Last of Us before we even knew we wanted The Last of Us. Both games thrust the surly main character into the role of the guardian figure, and reinforced story/character development through gameplay where you actively play out this role through combat and traversal mechanics (aided to varying degrees by your less physically impressive charge), and force you to bear witness to the power of that relationship through a morally ambiguous conclusion. The main difference is that Enslaved desperately lacked the polish that oozes out of every frame of The Last of Us. Enslaved came out before developers truly figured out how to manage escort quests (note: not sure they ever did), and the initial reaction to this revelation was only reinforced by buggy gameplay and loose combat/camera controls. There is so much good in this game, but it consistently gets in its own way to such an extent that it's no longer fun to play. That said, I genuinely believe that if Enslaved had the same backing that Castlevania (or The Last of Us, but that ruins my "paired game" set-up from the first paragraph) had, it would be remembered as one of the greats. From the first hour you can see the pedigree on display, and it's a major reason why people knew Ninja Theory was a developer to watch. So glad they're getting the budget they deserve now.
RE: Friend Code - Official Discussion Thread
I know this wasn't the intent, and I think there were great points that ended up being made throughout the discussion about representation in video games in general, but the discussion about diversity and inclusion in smash bros and Nintendo as a whole on the most recent Friend Code really irked me in a way that I feel warrants some discussion. Please note that I'm not trying to call anyone out or condemn the conversation as a whole; I'm just trying to shed some light on an issue and educate as best as I can from my perspective as a mixed-race and third culture kid. Mods, if this sparks a discussion that gets out of hand, mute/delete this thread.
This has come up at least once before (in the initial BLM discussions, I remember Damiani noting that it took Nintendo and The Pokemon Company too long to make a statement), but I think it's important for people to understand that you can't apply American perspectives to a company as uniquely Japanese as Nintendo, and Japan has a long and troubled history with racism, sexism, and general bigotry. A recent example is in the ongoing BLM movement in America: I didn't start seeing widespread news coverage of it here in Japan until over a week into the start of the protests, and even then it was in the context of the spread of COVID. Then, when it did start gaining more coverage, this was the video NHK produced to try and explain the situation to a broader audience on a family-oriented news show:
Beyond the gross reliance on stereotypical depictions of black people, it claims that people are looting (and justifying looting) because of economic/wealth disparities between black people and white people, noting in particular the fact that black people are suffering the effects of COVID to a much greater degree than white people. It never once mentions police brutality. NHK pulled the video and provided a lengthy apology a few days later, but it belies the general ignorance most of Japan has about international issues regarding race and prejudice. This in and of itself has its roots back in the days of Sakoku, and I'd argue that that sentiment of isolationism has persisted due in part to the deeply traditional and hierarchical culture that permeates all corners of Japanese society. In other words, there is very little cultural exchange that has broadened Japanese perspectives in a meaningful sense in regards to many of these issues. While much could be said about the problems individualism has caused for problems America has been grappling with, Japan still struggles with a collectivist mentality where those that are "other" are largely ignored or seen as lesser. Discrimination is still prevalent in a way I think many people aren't aware of, perhaps due to the fact that it is (thankfully) almost never violent the way that it is in America. An easy example to point out would be the incident of a train announcer apologizing to his passengers for the amount of foreigners on the train, but people in the west are rarely taught about the general mistreatment of people with disabilities or other conditions, such as the treatment of the hibakusha and their descendents . However, the fact that discrimination isn't violent doesn't mean that it doesn't affect the mentality of many Japanese people and companies, and that includes Nintendo.
I've had this discussion before on the forums, but Nintendo is probably the least global video game publisher/console manufacturer, and by extension is the most Japanese in terms of overall philosophy. By saying something along the lines of "I don't get why they don't just have a minority as a main character" or "they should know by now that this is what's expected by people," you're ignoring the fact that, in Japan, that's simply not an issue that has been a priority. I'd argue that Nintendo, and especially the Pokemon Company, have done a far better job in terms of representation than just about any other primarily Japanese developer. I of course hope that they continue to improve, and I'm not trying to excuse the lack of diversity. I'm simply saying that even though the sentiment is just, applying western philosophies to Japanese companies without a greater understanding of the cultural and historical background behind their decisions is inherently flawed.
This is not really my main issue, though. What did bother me was that this discussion of diversity in Nintendo was triggered by the announcement of Min Min as a fighter. I don't think this was the person's intent, but the question of "why aren't there minorities in Smash" after a Chinese person was added to the roster reminded me of the kind of tokenism I've been grappling with my whole life. It reminded me of when, after Scarlett Johansson was cast in the lead role of Ghost in the Shell, people decried the lack of representation and then - often in the same sentence - said that they "should've at least cast Contance Wu."
The hypocrisy of people championing anti-racism and then promoting (or, in the case of Min Min, bemoaning) "just another yellow face" has always astounded me. There is an astounding amount of cultural diversity just within China (seriously - look at how many dialects there are, and then listen to them and realize how different they are), not to mention the vast differences between entire nations. However, I also recognize that, unfortunately, in a country where so much depends on the color of your skin, the relatively similar features of people from east-Asia makes it easy to gloss over these differences. However, conflating these nationalities and cultures as a single "Asian" race is deeply troubling, especially given the frankly horrific history of Japanese colonial rule. Much of this starts earlier than people realize - the treatment of the Ainu people and the Ryukyu Kingdom are largely analogous to America's history with Native Americans and Hawai'i, respectively. Most of what Americans know of starts with WWII. The Japanese Empire often championed brutal and efficient methods of capitalizing on their territories, and in the process committed countless war crimes and atrocities. The Nanjing Massacre and the use of Comfort Women throughout the war are probably the most widely publicized of these, but the scars run much deeper than just that, and with a much greater reach. It is for these reasons that there is so much tension between Japan and the rest of Asia, particularly China and Korea. Relationships are improving (for the most part), but I've still been told multiple times by Chinese and Korean friends that "if my grandma/grandpa ever found out I was dating a Japanese person, they'd probably disown me." For what it's worth, the sentiment is largely reciprocal among older generations here in Japan; my grandma (and even my mom) have both casually dropped sentences like, "yeah, I don't trust the Koreans," or, "I don't like Chinese" before like it's nothing. I try to ignore it because they're old and reticent to change, but it highlights the far-reaching consequences of this history. I know this is long, but I want to leave you with one final story, the reason I feel it's important to address these issues with care and grace: I don't remember much of high school - blocked most of it out - but it's made the news several times for its lack of diversity. In a school with ~900 kids per grade, over 70% of them are Asian, the majority of whom were Chinese or Korean, and sometimes still lacked American citizenship. One of my only memories is from sophomore year, walking down the hall and being accosted by dozens of classmates screaming, "APOLOGIZE!" before they giggled and ran away. The first few times didn't bother me too much, since I've dealt with much worse, but as the day drew on it grew tiring. Eventually I asked one of my friends what was going on. Apparently, one of the history teachers had reached the Japanese history part of the World War II unit. At the end of class, he had made the sole Japanese person in the section stand up and individually apologize to their Chinese and Korean classmates in front of everyone. The anger I felt in that moment shook me out of my "I don't see race" philosophy. It made me realize that it doesn't matter what I see - it only matters what other people see. I'm not trying to say that I've experienced anything on par with what black people and other BIPOC have had to deal with every day of their lives. I'm just saying that, by lumping Asians together in calls for diversity, you're writing over generations of tension and wrongdoings, perpetuating the problems you're trying to solve.
I'm not trying to say that you shouldn't criticize Japan or Nintendo. You absolutely should. The issues of diversity and representation are only a small fraction of the problems that need to be addressed. My goal isn't to start a flame war, or invite people saying things like, "tHis iS tHE pROBleM with SJW CULTURE," but bring to light what I feel are some of the issues I wish people were more aware of. I'm only bringing this up now because, after biting my tongue over the rampant fetishization of Japan by the gaming and nerd community at large, it's frustrating seeing these issues finally being acknowledged without what I feel is the proper nuance or perspective.
RE: Games so good you are surprised they aren't more popular?
Not sure if it deserves to be "popular," but one of my favorite games of all time is the gamecube/ps2 version of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. It has a super fun hack and slash combat system, and kick-ass couch co-op. I've beaten it both solo and co-op more times than any other game. One of my favorite gaming memories is when my friend and I got drunk in my room, loaded up the game with all the cheat codes to make ourselves ultrapowerful, and then just blasted through the campaign in one sitting. It's incredible and never got the recognition I feel it deserved.
Also Final Fantasy 3 is criminally underrated, but I can't really claim that a Final Fantasy game is unpopular.
RE: The EZA Top 100 Videogames!
In which @Inustar says "fuck the haters" and follows his heart. I respect it. I personally loved Mass Effect 3, even with its ending. I just thought 2 was better, and since the whole series is so closely related, I only wanted to put one from the franchise on my list.
RE: Selective Creation: Build the Necessary 25 Gamecube Games List!
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
Beyond Good & Evil
Mario Kart: Double Dash
Kirby's Air Ride
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Tales of Symphonia
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
Phantasy Star Online: Episodes I & II
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
My favorite Zelda of all time. Just oozing charm and vibes from every pore. I can't wait for @Haru17 to kill it in a few days!
RE: Let's double down on "Love & Respect"
@Faaip I'm applying to phD programs right now for marine ecology and last night's election gave me serious pause. I'm very unsure about what the future holds.
That said, while I know it's hard to stay positive, that doesn't mean you can't still love the people around you. Always make the effort to understand and respect one another, even the people you disagree with.
One last note: kind of hypocritical, given that I'm posting on a forum, but please don't engage in these kinds of big conversations/arguments online and on social media. Those are inherently counterproductive. Always make an effort to speak with others in person when possible. You can never truly understand what a person is trying to say unless you see them face to face. Body language and tone simply can't be portrayed as words on a screen, and it can be equally harmful surrounding yourself with words and ideas that only line up with yours. That's how the world becomes more and more polarized, and last night we saw how that turns out.
RE: 2016 - A Look Back
@SabotageTheTruth great post! It's very, very relatable. I plan on doing a more involved post later down the line (I'm drafting a weird personal essay/pop-culture review hybrid that I was hoping to workshop with you all at some point after my grad school apps are over), but I want to share a few of my initial thoughts here with you all first.
This has been a year of my highest highs and my lowest lows. Unfortunately, there have been so many lows recently that those moments of glory are hard to remember. I really front-loaded my year: I came back from injury for my senior-season at school and contributed in a huge way to our come-from-behind victory against our rivals at conference champs. That was dope. Also dope? Finishing my thesis, which pushed my GPA over the edge to let me graduate with honors. If the year ended then, everything would have been great.
Unfortunately, life happens. I moved across the world to Japan for what is supposedly a working gap year. That's how I rationalize it: it's only a year, during which time I can push my language skills and finally become fluent. I'm the first of my siblings to 1) live in a foreign country, and 2) "embrace our Japanese heritage." But as much as I can see the benefit of living here on paper, it just wasn't what I expected. I live out in the boonies, which, rather than forcing me to use Japanese on a regular basis, just makes me isolated. It's a bedtown, only ten years old, and going through such a forced demographic shift that it's lost any cultural identity. I live in an empty housing project, surrounded by other, larger empty building, surrounded by rice fields. That's not to say there isn't beauty here. I've seen things that make me stop and just stare in wonder. But some days it's hard to see those things, and I have to force myself to remember why I'm here. I like the school I'm working at, and there are days when I wonder why I've been feeling so bad. Then the company that hired me does something weird, not anything bad or even significant, but something just slightly irksome that I end up overthinking and overanalyzing, and before I know it that one tiny remark has sent me back into a spiral. My philosophy has always been to have a good sense of humor about everything and to try and find at least something that brings you joy in everything you do, and that's still true today. It's just harder than it should be sometimes.
All of which is to say that I've been really struggling with my anxiety and depression, and sometimes the world throws things at me that make everything even harder to deal with. November has been... not the greatest, but hey. That's life. And I don't want to make it seem like I'm just wallowing in sadness, because I'm not. I'm making strides to try and be a healthier person. I'm coming up on my first month without drinking, which means I'm one step closer to nixing that problem before it gets too far out of hand. I might be lonely out here in reality, but I like to think I've found a nice community in here with all you guys. Like @SabotageTheTruth and @Brannox, this is my first time ever doing anything like this. I would not have joined if I didn't truly believe that this would be different from other online communities, and I certainly wouldn't be posting overlong personal shit like this. In between all of my other obligations, I've started writing for pleasure again, which has helped me reconnect with one of my oldest passions. And, of course, Pokemon came out.
So yeah, 2016 has been a real mixed bag of a year for me, but it's not a lost cause. Life will always have its ups and downs, and I'm coming to realize that a big change is only making me more aware of the downs, not making them any worse. Plus, and this is the thing that I often forget, I'm young. There's plenty of time for everything to get better if need be. It's all just perspective.
RE: Kyle Bosman Guest Spot Masterlist
Not a guest spot and pure speculation, but I think Kyle might have gotten a shout out of sorts on the Taco Bell episode of Doughboys with Gillian Jacobs. Nick mentions he has a friend from "his video game industry days" that used to eat Taco Bell pretty much exclusively, to the point where he got scurvy. Given that both Nick and Mitch (the hosts of the show) are members/alums of UCB in LA, my gut believes the mystery friend is Kyle. Either way thought it was a pretty funny story from a pretty funny podcast that people might like.
"If I can pass with a C, why bother with an A? In the same way, Taco Bell gets me through the day"
RE: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (NS/WiiU)
Finally beat this game! Absolutely loved it. It weirdly became like a hiking replacement for me - I moved back to the city a few months back, and haven't really been able to spend much/any time out in nature. While not the same, there were times where running around and exploring helped scratch that itch I felt I was missing. All of which is to say, if you like Zelda BotW but haven't really spent much time outdoors, you should try hiking for real! I promise it's fulfilling!
One thing I'll say is that I don't think I ever really got "good" at this game - I ran from or snuck around just about every lynel and guardian in the game. Never even got a Lynel down to half health. That said, when it came to the finally showdown I realized that I finally got the timing to parry lasers about 70% of the time, which felt really good. I hope that dungeon/shrine designs are a little more involved in a sequel, since they definitely started to get repetitive near the end, but overall I'm really happy with just about everything in this game.