Dragon's Dogma basically plays like this looks. by McKn2007

I don’t know how to feel about Dragon’s Dogma Online

Michael loves Dragon’s Dogma. He loves it so much he gives it pet names. I call it “That Dawgma or “Dawgma” for short. Dawgma came into my life and I gladly sacrificed 85 hours before I finally finished it, and I don’t really finish games very often. I tend to grab an RPG, sink a bunch of time into it, experiment with the mechanics, put it down, and start over a lot, but I seldom murder whoever caused all those problems in the kingdom. I did this with Final Fantasy 7 – 10, Oblivion and Skyrim, and even Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana (which I SWEAR we’re gonna beat, Lee). All quality games, but I’m terrible.

… but I finished Dragon’s Dogma.

This is why I was so terribly excited at the announcement for the next game in the franchise called Dragon’s Dogma Online. It’s like Capcom heard the collective prayers of its fanbase and decided to give us the multiplayer we wanted, the lack of which was the most heartbreaking thing about the original game. Rather than giving us something we could play with friends, we got pawns; customizable NPCs who would fight with you throughout your journey. You could build and teach your main pawn while using the pawns of friends and other players, but Dragon’s Dogma always felt like it was meant to allow for more particularly with multiplayer

It wasn’t the plot or graphics that managed to entice me enough to actually finish the game; it was the mechanics. When you fight a dragon in Skyrim, you swing wildly at his wing or leg until he dies stupidly. When you fight a dragon in That Dawgma, you leap atop his scaly hide as he attempts to gain altitude, hack or cast spells at his wings until he careens into earth at which point your pawns dog pile him in an attempt to keep him grounded long enough for you to attack at his exposed heart.

Dragon's Dogma basically plays like this looks. by McKn2007

Dragon’s Dogma basically plays like this looks – McKn2007

Fights with giant monsters like griffins, manticores, and the dreaded cockatrice were complex, nuanced, tense, and satisfying as was fighting the variety of bandits, wolves and lizard men that would dare stand against you. Combined with excellent an excellent and diverse class system, survival horror elements, and a solid equipment system, Dawgma was a great and expansive world to ruin with medieval superpowers. To exist in this world with friends would have taken the experience to incredible heights and deliver an experience even more unlike any other RPG I’ve ever played.

Because multiplayer couldn’t happen, it almost feels like Dragon’s Dogma Online is meant to rectify its absence in the first installment. However, the more I learn about it the less excited I become. First, there are no English trailers yet or announce dates for the west. Secondly, the graphics look pretty much identical to the first game. In some ways, the look worse. Look at the way the Princess’ mouth moves in the latest trailer. Thirdly, while it’s not much to go on, the trailers make the game seem more derivative than I’d care to see. There are a few cool locales, interesting monsters, and cool set pieces, but plot is not Dawgma’s strong suit. Aside from the brain bashing, postmodern finish, Dragon’s Dogma’s story was largely uninteresting and nonsensical. Finally, Dragon’s Dogma Online has been announced as Free-to-Play, and this was the piece that pretty much killed much of my excitement.

Maybe I’m too much of an old head. Maybe I’ve been burned too many times. Maybe I’ve watched too many Jimquisition episodes. Either way, Free to Play games always come off to me as attempts to addict players to the point we give up more money than a game is “worth.” Worth is relative of course, but rather than thinking about all the fun I’ll have with the thing I bought, I’ll instead keep wondering how much more fun I could be having if I just spent more money. With free to play on the table, I suddenly get why DDO doesn’t look as good as it could and why it’s not being actively promoted in the west. A free to play console game from Capcom seems more like a test to get things set up for future current gen only release Deep Down, which is also announced as free to play, as well as a future current gen only version of Dragon’s Dogma.

While I ultimately have high hopes for Dragon’s Dogma Online, I can’t help but remain skeptical. I’ll enjoy it if it manages to come to the west. As it stands, DDO is not shaping up to be the experience I want. What I want is smaller than an MMO. I want just 3 of my friends to be able to build characters and play through a world filed with giant monsters and dangerous thieves. The mechanics would be tight, the action tense, and there would be a real need for us to work together and use our powers and skills in concert to win. It would be tight, fun, and fast. I worry that a world filled with 96 other PCs all out to do the same thing may diminish the overall experience in ways I often felt with the (admittedly few) MMOs I’ve played such as DC Universe Online, Destiny, Final Fantasy 14, and Warframe. While I liked those games, none of them were as enjoyable for me as the simple player experience of Dragon’s Dawgma. Plus I feel that being asked to spend real money on new armor, weapons, classes, and a game will definitely cut into how much fun I have with DDO.

While I’d like to trust that Capcom, they’ve hurt me too much in the past to just assume they’ll get it right. This is the same company responsible for killing the Mega Man franchise, several blatant cash grabs, and continuing to flood the market with fighting game re-releases and sequels without adding any notable new IPs to the genre and community. But dammit,  I want That Dawma Online and I’m going to give them money off the strength of the first game alone. I just want to enjoy myself when I do.

BVB- RedDog Logo-300dpi

Benny Versus The Beast: I’m In A Ska Band You Guys!

conversebenny23

We’re called Benny Versus The Beast and it’s pretty much the most fun you can have at a live event…. is what my mother told me when she saw us play a month ago. So… yeah… In your face. My mom likes my band and you should too.

We’ve been playing for a number of years and have recorded things for people, so I put together a compilation of these tracks. Please enjoy as I also learn how to use a soundcloud wordpress widget. Hooray technology!

The Honesty Principle

Complete and total honesty. I feel like I’ve been building towards it since I read that James Altucher article a few years ago. Cognitively I got it, but emotionally and spiritually were different matters entirely. It was easy for me to say that I was being honest while never actually giving up anything pertinent. While never sharing an unpopular opinion. While never making a promise or proclamation or changing my behavior.

This was easy for me to avoid, because I am charlatan. I’m in sales. I’m particularly good at selling myself on pretty much anything that makes discomfort and anxiety go away. I’m skeptical of everyone else and overly trusting of my own lies. All this time, I’ve never understood why so many of the people around me endorsed my ability in sales and marketing since I’ve never made any money doing it or spent any time studying it. Now I realize they were just reacting to how well I reacted to my own pitches. In Friday, Craig asks local drug dealer, Smokey a very simple question; “How you gonna sell weed if you always smoking it?” to which Smokey replies, “I don’t know… That’s my only problem.” That’s me. How could I possibly sell anyone any product when I’m the only person who uses it or even knows it exists?

December 2014 was all about going deep and learning about myself. Honestly, it was about the only thing I could make my brain do every day. I didn’t write, I didn’t post, I didn’t call practices or write lyrics. It was just more and more  shadow work and reading on spirituality and videos on how to better understand ones own wants and perspective. Things I learned about myself included my previously unknown lifelong history of soul crushing anxiety, the lack of importance I provide for my own problems, and a fear of sharing anything including my words, ideas, and art. Seeing as how my goal in life for the past 20 years has been to get paid well enough for being a writer, ideas master and musical artist, the fact that I can’t seem to share anything could considered a fairly huge problem.

It’s not like I don’t have ideas. Ask around. Literally. Ask anybody who every casually knows me. I have ideas, plots, pitches, quotes, anecdotes, stories, properties, musings. I muse. I muse like my daddy throws lightning bolts. I don’t share any of these things for your consumption and criticism. I don’t give up the goods on who I am or what I see. I sanitize everything. It’s like I haven’t grown at all since the 8th grade when any errant comment could force teasing so bad you’d have to go sit at your new girlfriend’s table at lunch, but you couldn’t give her the heads up because she never gave you phone number anyway. Because there was no trust. And that’s the common thread isn’t it. Trust.

I get so locked up in my own ivory tower that I can’t trust my friends or family with my vital spots. I can’t share my secrets or insecurities. I can’t share my work if it isn’t GOOD. I can’t tell if my work is GOOD until I’ve edited it. I can’t know I’ve done a good enough job with my edits until I’ve sanitized it. Well… unless I refuse to finish it. Then i don’t have to let anybody see it. If I have scars I can just cover them up. People are depending on me to mediate the disputes and look inside their souls to root out their damage. They need me to listen to them which is good for me because I need them to stop asking me pointed questions. My problems could be solved with about $500 dollars. I don’t need to burden anyone with my stuff. Deflect Deflect Deflect

Rigorous Honesty. Top 5. Chris Rock. 12 Step.

I’m making the proclamation right here that I will be dedicating my life from this point forward to the principle of honesty in all things. I’m tired of living a life where I’m constantly trying to manipulate everyone into thinking what I want them to think. I’m sick of being scared to share my art and lyrics or my incredible fetish toward female bodybuilders, athletes, amazons, and muscle girls, or the truth about my rather dire financial situation as I haphazardly transfer to working freelance whenever I want.

While I’m aware that I don’t HAVE to share anything, I would like to be secure enough to share whatever I have. Because it’s arrogant to think I know what everybody needs. That’s the kind of thing a Charlatan would think. So from here on out, that is what I’m dedicating Bikinis and Pancakes to. it will be non sanitized honesty from where ever that place is in my mind that makes such a thing. Which I think is my heart actually. I’m not sure… I keep falling asleep.

#SoulBikini #SpiritualCellulite #EditingIsForSuckers

Gimme some new shit…

Don’t waste my time with tributes, reboots, rehashes, reissues, or the redundant. If it isn’t new or innovative or doesn’t feel like its made for you, don’t pay for it. Stop watching it. Don’t promote it for free or talk about it. And don’t waste your talent making new versions of other peoples old ip.

I want that new. That scintillating. That special. That interesting. That different, or crazy. That excellent. Promote those who speak to you. Share those that need it. Love those who deserve it.

Most importantly, don’t vote with your dollars, DEMAND with your dollars. Make us make that shit you want, and if we don’t make it you make that shit yourselves.

That’s what I’m gonna do.

High Stakes Filmmaking: What the Guardians of the Galaxy trailers are trying to do

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The second trailer for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy recently dropped  with more of that space opera action we all crave so desperately. After watching, my pal Brison “Grand Hater” Jackson called to tell me how “meh” he feels about the whole GotG affair. How Starlord was too jokey, the comedic elements too trite, and how at that moment he felt he could take or leave this film despite being a Marvel comics fan for decades. He even said that Guardians of the Galaxy could be the first true misstep of Marvel Studios’ meteoric surge into film.

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Scandal x Microsoft: Spending Daddy’s Money Since 1975

It happens in the third episode of “Scandal…”

For the uninitiated, “Scandal” is a hit show on ABC in which Kerry Washington plays a Washington DC crisis management wonder woman named Olivia Pope who fixes things for around for a litany of high profile clients and (occasional broke asses if they are important enough.) Olivia is a fixer of the highest caliber; a “Gladiator in a Suit”. Her cases involve, saving careers, protecting reputations, and even preventing wars.  Things get so thick that sometimes things result in both the saving and taking of people’s lives. Naturally, she also finds time to have some sort of “intoxicating even without the touching” relationship with the President of the United States in between all of this. How she finds time to do all that and be sexually consumed with the philandering president remains a mystery to me (as does how he retains his presidential six pack), but I’m still early in season 2.

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Presidential six pack… Preparing to philander.

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Yay or Nay Rewind: Why Captain America: The First Avenger is Better Than the Batman: The Dark Knight

A conversation I had with Austin capoeira hotsteppa, Perdido last night after watching his sister’s 1st MMA victory (which doubles for a victory over fear in ways I’ll cover later) made me start thinking about this article from 2011.  However, this Bad Ass Digest article I read about the lack of stand up, morally strong heroes in cinema pretty much forced me to pull it out of moth balls when the writer wrote the following:

There is room for relatable heroes. Marvel Comics made its bones by giving kids characters they could understand, avoiding the monolithic heroes of DC – which makes it all the odder that one of the few true heroes on screen lately has been a Marvel character. Captain America: The First Avenger presents a hero who has all of the moral strengths and discipline when he was scrawny Steve Rogers that he would have as brawny Captain America. Steve was a good guy from frame one, and the movie wasn’t about him finding himself or discovering his heroism or growing into the mantle – it was the story of a guy who had what it took and stood up and did the right thing.

I felt it summed up my feelings about the 1st Captain America film and the 2nd modern Batman film and how the shield won out over the cape.

Captain America fighting-with-batman-l

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Father’s Day and why you should play video games with your kids

BeatMyKidsAtVideoGames

Make no mistake, I am a fortunate person. I was born to two loving parents in the early 80’s, who by the grace of hard work, perseverance, and understanding are still an item 33 years later (a sexy item at that!). In a world where a lot of kids are lucky to have even one attentive parent, I had 2 plus a television in my room. I like to think I learned as much from “Sesame Street”, “GI Joe” and Nick at Nite as I did from Michael Sr. and Charlene, but they’ll probably argue that till the sun explodes.

Digression aside, I was not just fortunate to have parents; I was fortunate to have young parents. “Doll” and “Big Mike” as they’re more affectionately known in familial circles, were 20 and 21 when I came onto the scene. I am 31 now and can barely imagine having a child to consider without hyperventilating. My parents were a different breed… or not… I guess they bred me, so we’re the same breed? That’s confusing. In any case, they were on the “start a family kick” before they even left college. Oh the humanity…

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Games That Should Be Made: Aquaman

It just swept over me like a wave… pun intended. I just thought about how the Aquaman concept would make a fantastic game. And I mean a real life, triple A game. I mean, I’d be MUCH happier with a big budget Aqualad (of Young Justice) game, but the universe hates me and everyone like me so that’s not gonna happen.Truthfully, you could swap in any aquatic superhero like Namor, Namora, or even Stingray (snort!), but since Aquaman is the guy everybody seems to hate, expectations would be low and surprise would be epic.  What would really be mad radical is if they made Aquaman look like Vinnie Chase. I know its a tough pill to swallow, but let me walk you through the reasons why this would be an amazing game.

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Who Cares Which Actor Should Play Luke Cage? Geeks Should Know Better!

PowerMan IronFist Cover

In one of the geeky Facebook groups that make up the only reason I even bother going to that cesspool anymore. Team leader, Ernest posed the question of who should play Luke Cage if anyone anywhere ever gets a movie about him off the ground. He made a poll with the following actors:

  • Terry Crews
  • Tyrese Gibson
  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
  • Michael Jai White

Interestingly, I got into a twitter argument with @Brison_J over this Cage business thanks to a tweet the Rock launched at Marvel about “being ready” for the role.  Go to Twitter and take my side. Brison is kind of a Rock fanboy.

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