Obscured View

A few chosen words on the world of video games

Archive for the 'Humor' Category

Of developers and bathrooms…


No other phrase fits appropriately when dealing with the hygiene issues that can assault one upon entering most of the men’s bathrooms in any game development establishment.  The level of foul things or just simply unhygienic things I’ve been a hapless victim of or passive witness to is fairly staggering over the course of 16 years.

Walking into a washroom in a large development studio is a game.  Not a fun one, really.  It’s kinda like a lottery you DON’T want to win.  It’s that consolation prize that’s worse than winning anything at all.  It’s that image you’re not going to be able to get out of your head for hours afterward.  It’s that display of bodily function that I don’t need to be reminded that all my co-workers partake in… some with a lot more zeal and obvious enthusiasm than others.

It’s the artifact of an act that makes you wonder if you should ever shake anyone’s hand ever again… and if you do, sanitize yourself immediately following it.

There appear to be a few categories of players in this tragic tale.  Let’s break ’em down, but be aware that you can combo / stack categories for any one person, which some unfortunately do.

  • The Unsanitary
    Typically these types of restroom users simply don’t wash their hands after doing anything.  They relieve themselves, and walk out, likely directly to a client meeting, back to typing away at their keyboard, or picking things up in your office and playing with them.  I guess it’s just too much of a hassle to wash.  Besides, they showered this morning, right?  Well, maybe.  That’s for another entry.
  • The Moistener
    These are the folks that think running water over their hands for 3 to 5 seconds somehow certifies their hands as free and clear of any and all residuals.  Sometimes they use paper to dry afterward, and sometimes they don’t.  These are like the people that really believe that the dry-wash car wash foam is just as good as water and car wash liquid.  Yeah, keep dreaming.
  • Badgers
    Some places (like EA) have badges with the employee’s picture and name squarely on them.  These are usually clipped to the pants, which of course go down below stall wall level when people are doing their business.  There you are, seeing the goofy, smiling face of a co-worker staring at you from next door while you hear the sounds of their colon explosively expelling that macho double-del beef burrito they had earlier.  Ah, bliss.  Later, when you see them in the hall, try really hard not to replay those sounds in your head.  It doesn’t work.  Fortunately, unsanitary badgers make it easy to know who’s hand you should avoid shaking.
  • The Conversationalist
    Seriously, how anyone got into the habit of doing this is beyond me.  Who tries to have conversations while someone is taking a shit?  It’s kinda hard to discuss scheduling, projects, philosophy, or anything at all while you’re hearing things being expelled.  Libraries and bathrooms have a certain understood and unspoken rule: talk as little as possible.
  • The Gift-giver
    It’s like they’re leaving you something they’re proud of and want to share with the world.  Who knows, maybe mom took pictures of their “accomplishments” when they were toilet training and put it on the fridge (next to that picture of summer in Cancun, oh, wasn’t he just adorable?), but it’s really not what I or anyone else need to see… EVER.  I don’t want to know that you had a taco salad for lunch (with corn!), nor what made your sh*t green (green?! seriously!).  I don’t need to see corn, or peanuts, lettuce, how explosive it was up the sidewalls, nor if it’s floating or not, but oh boy you left it anyway, and now I have to enjoy it.  Thanks, fucker.  Does your wife / girlfriend have to deal with this at home?  Likely not, because you probably don’t have one after a few of these left around.
  • The Footloose (and fancy-free)
    Here’s one that I just don’t get.  Barefoot… at a urinal.  Barefoot?!  Have you ever looked down at the random spills and misses around any urinal in any public place?  It’s typically a nice mix of liquids from at least two orifices, plus the glorious occasional pube that finds its way into the broth.  Now step barefoot in that.  Wiggle your toes around in it.  Feel the coolness of it all, the mingling of discarded wastes and abandoned follicles.  Yeah, that’s nice, isn’t it?  What’s worse is that just like walking through a house with wet feet, you can track the perpetrator back out of the bathroom for a bit… not that you want to.  At least it tells you which area of the building you’re going to need to have sterilized.
  • The Cellphoner
    This is kinda like the talker, but since they’re on a cell phone, they’re usually LOUDER and MORE ANNOYING.  I can’t imagine what’s keeping the person on the other end of the phone on the line.  After hearing the echoing or any other sounds coming from my phone’s speaker, I’d hang up.  Since this is also a game company we’re talking about, there are rarely any conversations that are worth listening to.  At least with a quality fight with a girlfriend or an argument with a partner in a deal going south you can get some drama out of it — screaming, irrational dialogue, bizarre swearing chains, threats — but with gamers, not really.  Most of them are mundane, the kind of conversations that you had as a teenager when neither you or the person you’re talking to had any idea that you could have an idea.  Just tweet the fucking thing and shut the hell up, OK?
  • The Commentator
    Sometimes amusing, sometimes not.  Depends on your mood, I have to admit.  These types comment on their progress through the crap-taking or pissing process.  They encourage their “little buddy” while pissing or give you a blast-by-blast account of their last meal’s explosive exit from their colon.  When it’s funny, it’s like an audio recreation of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco, but instead of a bronco it’s a guy who’s having explosive diarrhea… and loving every minute of it.
  • The Exploder
    I don’t think I have to explain this one, nor will I try.  If you’ve seen this, you know that words simply fail.  The horror.
  • The Deodorizer
    Now you must be thinking that this entry is about someone that’s the complete opposite of the types mentioned before.  Nope.  These are not the ones that deodorize… these are the ones that need deodorizing.  In every office of more than about 50 game developers, there’s usually at least one that falls into this category.  They just reek.  They don’t shower often and they rarely use deodorant of any kind.  These types are not fun to be next to, be it in a stall or a row of urinals, because your gag reflex tends to constrict the muscles you need in order to expel things from your body in the proper manner.  They do however rapidly facilitate things coming out of other orifices that are usually reserved for when you’re really drunk or food poisoned.  The plus with deodorizers is that they’re also usually unsanitaries and sometimes footloose as well.  A 3-hit combo at least.
  • The Elvis
    They go in to take a crap and end up falling asleep, sometimes snoring.  All hail the king!

So that’s my list so far.  It’s not fair to say that this kind of stuff is limited to just the game developer environment.  You see a lot of this no matter where you are, but it just so happens that the type of people that work in game development seem to forget basic things like hygiene.

You could say that developers in bathrooms brings out the worst in them… usually while they’re bringing out the worst of their lunch.


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Counting on the chaos in Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead has a delightful secret to it.

It’s not some crazy conspiracy level secret, but a fun one, a specific one that makes it a great multiplayer cooperative game… and at the same time, just an OK solo player one.

So what’s that secret? Read on for the dirt.

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Who keeps a masturbation journal?

Such a huge fan.  For those of you not in the know, the original creators of MST3K have gotten back together for Cinematic Titanic, up to their old tricks yet again.  August 7th for this new one.

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List of Game No-No's

So, like I said I would,  I’ve started a list of things I’ve found in games over the years that have annoyed me enough to remember them long enough to make this list.

I’ll expand the list as I find more or remember more of them from the years I’ve spent playing games, or any good ones from comments made on the page.

You can find a link to the list up top, or just click here.

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Thank you, Target.

So I’ve been trying to get a Wii Fit for a while now, and have always found them unattainable.  So today, I get up early, pour over the Sunday ads, and find that Target says they have them.  Ok, on my way…

I get to Target around 7:45 and there’s two people already waiting there.  By the time 8 rolls around, there’s about 10 people behind me, waiting.  I have a feeling they’re all here for the same thing.  I figure, OK if at least they got one box in, all of these people will go away happy.

So the doors open, we get in, and… they have two Wii Fits.  Two.


Two is more of an insult than having none.  Two, for an entire store?  On a day you’re advertising them in the sunday paper?!  What sense does that make?  I would love to have had a (limited quantites) disclaimer, at least then two would be acceptable in some way.

Walking out, I hear the lady that was in the front of the line say “thank god I got here at 6:45”.

Ok, that’s a bit extreme.  I guess in hindsight I’m really not hardcore enough for a Wii Fit.  She earned it.  I don’t want to work that hard for my casual excercise device.

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WALL-E and Wanted — does the R rating do anything?

So my wife and I went to see WALL-E Friday night (great film), and were waiting in line for our 7:15 showing to start.  There were about 20 people ahead of us, and about 20 behind us that got there a bit early.  Most of them were couples with or without kids, and some families with friends and kids in tow.

Right next to us was the line for Wanted’s 7:10 showing.  There were about 100 people in line at least, and most of them were large groups of kids that weren’t anywhere near 17, and families with their kids, which ranged in age from 11 and up.

I was confused and had to go ask an employee if I was in the right line.  Yes, I was in the right line.  So there were more under-age kids in the line for Wanted (an R rated film) than in the WALL-E (rated G) line.

I have no problem with Wanted being more popular on a Friday night… but the number of 11-14 year old kids seeing the movie really threw me.  Did anyone even bother to check their IDs?  I’m figuring there was one kid that was 17 in the group, which allows the entire group in under the “parent or guardian” clause.  As for families with younger kids… OK, that’s cool if you want to parent that way… but WTF?

So what does the R rating mean any more?  Does it even have a place?  Most of what you see in an R rated film is on TV (cable at least) these days.  It seems like perhaps PG-13 is enough, and R should be what NC-17 is now, and NC-17 removed.

How the hell does the ratings board even make sense any longer?  I went and saw Orgazmo in the theater and it was NC-17… after which seeing it (and laughing until it hurt), I have no idea why it was rated as it was.  Oh wait that’s right, it made fun of religion (although it didn’t really).  Instant NC-17 for that, because kids could get the wrong idea!  Slow-motion bullet through the brainpan in full graphical detail?  Oh, that’s a bit graphic… but kids can handle that as long as they’re with a guardian.  We’ll say R.

I’ve made some violent games in the past, but I certainly wouldn’t expose kids to them at an early age.  The world is violent enough as-is that I don’t think kids need to see that kind of stuff until they’re older.  Be a child for a while, eh?

Amusing tidbit: “The Blues Brothers” was R rated when it came out in theaters.  Man, how times have changed.


MGS4 Review

Is it entertaining? Yes.

Is it fun to play? Yes, most of the time.  Some of the aiming mechanics are a bit off for my tastes, but for the most part your character does what you want them to do when you want them to do it.  The controls become second nature after a bit, although CQC combat isn’t explained at all through game play.  You have to read up on it via a menu.

Does it wrap things up? Yes, for the most part it does.  I’ll not give anything away, but you certainly get a lot of payoff.

Should you play it? Yes, absolutely.

Should you buy it? Depends.  If you’re going to play it more than once or play online, yes.  It has tons of collection items, rewards, and achievement-like things to gather in both multi and solo play.

Adam, you finished it already? Already?  There’s an achievement for finishing the game in under 5 hours with no kills… even bosses.  So yes, at my more lethargic pace, I finished it in about a week of on and off play, with at least one “holy crap it’s 3AM?!” session mixed in there.  That’s one nice thing about this game — you can actually finish it — and it keeps your interest throughout, unlike some other major releases this summer.  I’m looking at you, Niko Bellic!

If Michael Bay, the director, was a character in a book by King or Koontz, Bay would go off into some secret chamber somewhere in his compound, play MGS4 in some kind of all-encompassing aural and visual experience, and pleasure himself (in either simple or twisted ways, author dependent) while dreaming of making action scenes in his films that work on the level that some of the stuff does in MGS4.  When MGS4 is good, it’s really, really good.  It kicks Bay’s ass all over the place.  It laughs at him, then headlocks him and knocks him unconsious, steals his rations, and dumps him in a locker.  It may even put a claymore outside the locker for when he finally wakes back up, just for laughs.

Of course, you have to give Bay credit for creating the kind of patriotic bad-ass film that inspired Kojima’s team, but man if the Japanese didn’t just take it and run off with it, improving it at every turn.

If Kojima took any influence from Bay, it’s unfortunately in the lack of having a good editor, or listening to an editor if indeed they had one.  Anything you do in MGS4 is a time-commitment.  Watching a briefing can take 30 minutes… or more.  Try 90 minutes.  That’s almost half as long as Bad Boys 2 (yes, I’m joking).  Although you really don’t notice the time going by (unless your spouse is waiting for you for something) while playing the game, you still notice that you just burned hours of your day in a “quick” session once you’re done.

Gear selection choice is through the roof in this game, and frankly I don’t know why half of them are featured.  I realize that most are real weapons (neat to see the FN in the mix) and we’re traveling around the world, so different ones would be represented, but do we need 15 different rifles?  Really?  How about three diverse ones and one really customizable one?  No, 15?  Really?  Oh, ok.

I can’t tell you the chills I got playing this late at night with the lights down while Laughing Mantis was screaming “SNAAAAAAKE!!!” at me (complete with great reverb effect) and taunting me to find her.  Creepy!

So far this year, Metal Gear Solid 4 is the first must-play game of 2008.  Highly entertaining from beginning to end, and even more so if you’ve played the previous series entries… all the way back to the NES.

And just think!  You can now skip the next 4 or 5 (movie ticket price dependent) Michael Bay movies and still come out ahead, because MGS4 likely just did it all better.

P.S. I really have nothing against Bay or his films, it was just fitting to use him in this post… although he does need to get a better editor, or listen to one.


Castle Vidcons

I stumbled on to Castle Vidcons from a something awful comedy goldmine edition. It’s great stuff, and I just had to share.

Castle Vidcons Site

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