June 22

Geek Stuff | Fortnite

Come on, you know you wanna try it.

 

Fortnite, Fork Knife, the greatest game ever created, the bane of our collected existence. These are just some of the names given to the world’s most heavily played video game at the moment. Fortnite’s origin may have started in the tower defense genre but after witnessing the rise of the Battle Royale phenomenon known as Player Unknown’s Battleground, Epic Games (creator of Fortnite) decided to copy PUBG’s entire model, leaving out minimal features. The only discernable difference between PUBG and Fortnite are the material collecting/building,  vehicles and the obvious cartoon/arcade style that Fortnite utilizes. Originally, I was a diehard PUBG player, especially now that it’s on mobile. But the times they are a changing and after a week spent nestled in the crevasses of Dusty Divot, Flush Factory and Tomato Town, it’s safe to say I am absolutely crazy for Fortnite!

 

Of course, this wasn’t the case a few months ago. Fortnite was an obvious clone of PUBG, just less realistic and almost impossible to get a kill in. I was sniped left and right the first time I tried playing which ultimately led me to give up the game completely until the beginning of season 4. A few of my coworkers with kids were discussing playing the game and all the random nonsense that was happening around them. From tree snipers to random dance parties, all of their stories made me laugh with curiosity. They didn’t seem angry or bitter about constantly getting murdered before they even had a chance to find a weapon, they just couldn’t get over how funny it was having an open dance party in the middle of a corn field. So I bought the $10 battle pass (because what’s the point of leveling with zero rewards?) and kept my fingers crossed I wouldn’t regret it by the end of the night.

 

What followed can only be described as overly amusing antics. I stuck to my squad like glue those first few matches. I had managed to find a way to stay alive for longer than two minutes but my problems still rested with finding a weapon quickly. After ten matches I decided to stay in squads but break off from the rest of the group because, well, kids and young adults suck at life and communication. It was on one of these solo squad runs that I decided to start hiding in random places, dancing the entire time until someone found and killed me. I started referring to myself as “The Hide n’ Seeker”, a person whose sole existence is to hide and dance until someone finds me. The ridiculous thing about all of this though, half the time the opponents who found me ended up hanging out with me, dancing until someone else came along and killed us both. I’ve yet to find more than two people willing to party down with me in-game, but it gives me hope for the future. I in no way take this game seriously, unlike all the rage fueled children currently playing the game, and that’s exactly what YOU should do. Regardless of your age, Fortnite has something to offer everyone in its own absurd way. You just need to take more than ten minutes to find your niche and I guarantee you’ll never say “Fuck Fortnite!” again.

-DD

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June 4

Geek Stuff | FLCL Progressive

This past weekend saw the resurrection of one of Anime’s weirdest, most beloved series, FLCL.

Pronounced Fooly Cooly, FLCL originally aired in Japan back in 2000 with an American dub later on in 2003. I’ve tried in the past to sit thru these six episodes to no avail. Fortunately, with Adult Swim re-airing the first season every Saturday night I was able to manage a half hour a week for what is no doubt one of Japan’s harder to comprehend animes. And trust me, it isn’t the easiest thing to follow. In short, the plot revolves around a boy who gets hit by an alien with a guitar and then proceeds to try to be normal despite the robots that keep growing from his head no thanks to the alien with a guitar. There’s heavy sexual overtones, weird references to things I’m not totally sure exist, violence and the overall sense that this is supposed to be a coming of age story for the main character, Naota. All of those things are great but they hit you at a sprinter’s pace until the episode ends and you’re left scratching your head like Krusty the Clown declaring “What the hell was that?!”

FLCL: Progressive is the long-awaited second season to all the aforementioned above. And while it had a more focused feel to the storyline, one thing was for certain: this is still a very weird and sexually charged world.

The episode opens with a mysterious girl walking thru a tattered landscape. Everything is in black and white with the exception of a sharp horn growing from the girl’s forehead. She somehow finds herself in front of a giant red eyeball before waking up. Thru the course of her day, we learn that her name is Hidomi and she spends the bulk of her time ignoring the waking world whenever possible. Her neon blue cat ear headphones (which are always affixed to her head) represent her refusal to acknowledge anyone before they have a chance to get to know and subsequently reject her for whatever reason. We meet a few of her classmates, who are obviously part of the sexual overtone of the show, her mom and a brand new guitar wielding alien who rides in the back of a self-driving low rider instead of a bright yellow Vespa. Like Naota in the first series, Hidomi gets struck by the self-driving car and before the end of episode one, finds herself in the exact area where her dream took place.

Before the new alien with a guitar parts ways with Hidomi, she remarks “It looks good on you.” referring to the bright red horn growing from Hidomi’s forehead. The next day in school, Hidomi is left reflecting out the window as it’s revealed that her teacher is actually the original alien with a guitar from the first series. The class cheers, Hidomi looks hesitant and I feel a lot less confused by this FLCL than the one that came out over a decade ago.

The hallmark of this series is the music. The Pillows are the original J-rock band who composed an entire album just for FLCL 1 and it’s safe to say that they have done it again! One of my favorite parts of this show is the song “Little Busters”, a song that when it starts playing, signals to the audience that the episode is almost over. Every other track is brand new just for FLCL: Progressive and it feels like The Pillows never fell out of love with the series (Although I really wish “Ride on Shooting Star” was still the ending credits theme). Hopefully as the show goes on there will be more to enjoy, but for now, I am sated, mainly because we have new The Pillows to look forward to but partly because I know exactly what the hell is going on this time around.

-DD

 

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April 18

Geek Stuff | Gimme The Loot!

In the past year, the concept of loot boxes has risen and fallen only to rear itself once more. Some of us think they’re great while a larger portion of people think they’re the worst possible thing a game company can do to its customers. Before I get into my personal opinion, let’s start at the beginning. I’m sure by now you’ve asked yourself “What the hell is a loot box and why should I care? Is that like Loot Crate, the company that use to put together really cool mystery gift boxes?”

In a way, yes, but instead of getting randomly curated pop culture products, loot boxes are a form of micro transactions. Micro transactions, in the gaming world, are digital items that you pay real world money for. These items range widely depending on the game you are playing but what they all boil down to is paying real money for a randomized item that could be really great or really terrible (like you want an AK-47 for your solider in Call of Duty but you end up with a brown helmet instead). The upside is not all micro transactions cost money, you could grind away at whatever you are playing until you earn enough in-game money to buy a loot box and be done with it. The item you receive might be garbage but who cares cause you didn’t spend anything real. Unfortunately, not all people have the patience for level grinding and would rather pay outright for the chance at a gold level pick-axe. Like all of our societal problems, this one starts and ends with opinionated people who don’t want to take responsibility for their own actions.

Over the course of the last year, companies have come under fire from all walks of life calling loot boxes immoral, a money grab and dishonest among other nastier things. And while most of these people are cry babies who want to complain because they bought way too many loot boxes with real world money (check out the article Kotaku wrote about some dipshit kid who spend over 10K on loot boxes), companies have been bending over backwards to try and accommodate gamers who have problems with game companies making money past the initial 60 dollars you pay for the game. EA originally had micro transactions in Star Wars Battlefront 2 until enough people complained and they removed them all together. EA is bringing them back (thank god) but this time around you can only spend in-game money on their brand of loot box. The latest game to introduce loot boxes is Animal Crossing for iOS. Kotaku already had one of their flunkies write an article about how terrible this is, but honestly, is it? Is it wrong that game companies want to continue making money on a property that took them forever to produce and will take even longer to support? Nope! Is it immoral to offer people a hard way and a quick way of doing things? Not at all. Are these companies guilty of creating an addiction machine that is liable to ruin people with gambling problems? Naaaaah! All you have to do is not buy into it, that’s all. Every single game that has been outfitted with loot boxes has the option to buy them with earned in-game money, so stick to the plan and you’ll never go wrong.

If you’re one of the many people who wasted their money because they wanted to try and get ahead of everyone else, you have no one to blame but yourself. You’re well aware of the randomized chances of getting something good and even after getting crap box after crap box you still buy into it because you don’t want to spend honest time working towards that one item that will give you the edge on the competition. Like Verruca Salt, you want it now! And to the parents who think game companies are evil for this practice, how about you take 5 minutes to investigate the game you just bought Little Johnny Good Student because you know damn well they have no concept of money and will drain whatever bank account you thoughtlessly linked to their system.

So yeah, that’s my two cents. You have nobody to blame but yourself for getting caught up in loot box madness and I suggest instead of complaining about EA or Blizzard or Nintendo or Microsoft or Insomniac or Activision or Epic Games or Ubisoft, you take a hard look at yourself and remember, it’s called a grind for a reason.

-DD

 

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