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Thoughts on Video Games

Once in a while I will get an idea for a quick article to write for VGG and then realize that I'm not sure where to put it. Many of the ideas that I come up with are either too general or too specific to fit neatly onto any one game page, system page, or forum. This is in essence the junk drawer for those thoughts. In addition, this seems like as good a place as any to express my personal thoughts on gaming.

Archive for Derek Green

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2013: Games To Play

Derek Green
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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While my schedule will include a more than generous helping of schoolwork, I am hoping to find the time to finish some of my unfinished business from 2012.

Shadowdancer's final boss has been stopping my cold in my tracks since April of 2012. I reached a similar impasse with Dracula on Castlevania: Bloodlines. At this point, I'm going to turn to the emulator and utilize save states to earn belated triumphs. Since I enjoy and respect both games, I feel that I cannot leave them unbeaten, even if I have to deviate from the original experience in ways that are contrary to my original intentions.

I have a save of Medieval II: Total War's Brittania expansion that I need to finish. At this point, I have it won as the Irish, but I have a solid 10 hours to put in to actually complete the victory that I have already won. At this point, Wales is still strong, but has placed its armies in southern England where it is expanding at the expense of the two feeble English powers, which are still battling each other over an increasingly small chunk of the island. If I can make peace with the Baron's Alliance, then I can potentially land three medium-sized armies in western Wales and take two full Fortresses and a huge city because they have completely neglected to garrison those places with more than two units. Their nearby forts are also unoccupied (a waste of good free maintenance space!) and I'll have to grab those as well. In addition, I am reducing Stornoway and will then need to muster a very strong army to take rebel Kirkwall, which is a well-developed city with a large and well-equipped army. At least I have begun upgrading my four largest communities in Ireland and my finances are finally stable since I control so much of the map. In the past, my computer has crashed when I'm on the verge of Total War victory, but this time, I feel like I have it in the bag.

I wanted to bring in the New Year with a video game victory and I came very close to beating Medal of Honor: Vanguard at around 2:00 A.M., but it was not to be. My sister's game disc has some defects which cause occasional freezes, including one which prevented me from moving on from my most advanced point. After that, the poor state of her old controller and my fatigue finished me off. I have my own copy of the game and much better controllers, so I could potentially finish my tour of duty with the Airborne either tomorrow night or the next.

Last year, I really enjoyed the original Shining Force, so I will definitely play Shining Force II as soon as I wrap up my unfinished business above. I have a save in Final Fantasy V (in the PlayStation FF Anthology) from September and I might pick that up or delay that and start it from scratch later on in the year. It is a good and underplayed game which I would like to enjoy and then review. Final Fantasy Tactics is right up my alley and on my shelf. I have had it for a while, but neglected it for no real reason. Front Mission 4 is a must-play, though I need to get some of that disc-restoring rub stuff since it is scratched up.

When my finances are a little more stable, I'll hopefully be able to get a TV good enough to run my Retro Duo on. This will enable my to put to use my currently dormant SNES library, including Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger, Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV, the second Nobunaga's Ambition game, Power Moves (why not?), and some others. On NES, I own and would love to beat Contra.

That seems like a good plan for getting my game on in 2013.
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Sun Jan 6, 2013 4:59 am
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Time Constraints and General Agony

Derek Green
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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This semester has been much more time-consuming than I had initially imagined that it would be. The graduate level Greek readings course that I'm taking dominates every afternoon and evening during the week and also dictates what I do on Sunday. Since I have to research and write three papers of around 20 pages each, you can imagine the difficulty this presents. Fortunately, my Greek professor is not holding class all of next week because he has to run a series of talks from visiting professors. This for me is nothing short of a stay of execution.

Normally, I would spend a lot of my week off playing and writing about games but at this juncture I cannot afford to do so. I am constrained to devote all of my time to getting in my research while I have the chance. Grading all of the 75 mid-terms and doing the Greek mid-term, which was a take-home exam which took me two entire days to complete, nearly broke me this past week and I only got my grades posted within two hours of the final deadline. Add three final papers into the mix and there is no chance that I can survive finals unless I do virtually nothing but plug away from now to December 13.

What tiny bit of spare time I do have, I am devoting to finishing off my application for the PhD program in Ancient History at Ohio State. I still have to get my transcripts, recover my GRE scores, and put some finishing touches on my writing sample before December 1. Since there is no future for me at my current academic institution and I have done all that I can do here, you can imagine how frustrating it is for me to have to work my ass off from dawn to dusk 3-4 days a week and put in a more normal 8 hours on the other days. I feel like I am working hard to no avail. I hate Lexington, Kentucky, the University of Kentucky, and being affiliated with those three things. In addition, severe budget cuts here at UK mean that the program here which gave my Master's could become a shadow of its former self as soon as next fall semester. So, while some down time with my video games would be most useful, I need to bend all of my remaining energy to working on getting the hell out of here.

I need to write reviews of Shining Force and Resident Evil, while working steadily at finally beating Castlevania: Bloodlines. Moral of the story, I will do those things but not within the next couple of months.
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Sun Oct 21, 2012 3:10 am
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Philosophy and Video Games

Derek Green
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Right now, I'm sitting in a coffee shop wavering between getting things done on my computer and reading Julius Caesar's Conquest of Gaul. A group of four Philosophy majors just sat down in the next room and they have begun to discuss the philosophical impact of video games. While I am a historian by training, I have always had a great deal of respect for philosophy, though hearing Philosophy majors talk about how they feel "static" doesn't mean much to me. Most of what this guy is saying is just a string of fake facts and unsupported claims which would be humorous except that his little audience is rapt. The one guy's rant shows a desperation to sound sophisticated, but he has made some points which merit consideration with regard to video games.

1.) There are "good" and "bad" video games based on whether they make you an active participant in the game. If you are forced to think about the impact of your actions in the game, as in Sim City, then it is good for you and helps you develop your intellect. I basically agree with this notion, but reject the idea that a less interactive game is bad for you, since even being constrained in a narrow set of game parameters as in an FPS does work your intellect in a different way as you still have have to strategize within a limited context.

2.) Children should not go to school before the age of 12 and should rather just play games, especially video games. As a kid that age, I would have definitely had sympathy with that view. However, the problem is that no matter how well-honed your creativity, you can't really accomplish anything without a solid knowledge base and you aren't going to get that knowledge of the world solely from games.

3.) I just realized from his comments that the guy is only into modern philosophy, which is probably why I find a lot of what he is saying to be as moronic as it is well-intentioned. He is dropping names like a mad man over there, advocating rule by philosophers to actually improve the world and seems unaware that this dude named Plato already thought of that around 2,500 years ago.

This is what I love about coffeeshops, you never know what you'll encounter.

Update:

"The Dick Cheney reference was an inside joke. It is more complex and harder to explain". So, it is hard for you to explain how Dick Cheney and his ilk don't seek a better world as most people do, but you can explain transhumanism and the links between the million and one buzzwords you are spouting every second? What is even better is that he is now invoking Aristotle, except that he is talking about stuff from Plato and using it as arguments in favor of anarchy. This guy's ideology is more incoherent than a fever dream.
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Wed Aug 8, 2012 9:18 pm
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My Computer Sucks

Derek Green
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Currently, I am working my way through five games, three of which are on my emulators. Since only my main computer is configured to run the emulators, my computer's decision to crash now at the end of summer as it did right before the season's start is highly inconvenient. Shining Force on Genesis, Bloody Wolf on the TG-16, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance on GBA will have to wait even longer. The sad part is that my computer is an Asus and is supposed to be known for having quality components. Everyone else with an Asus, including my younger sister, has had nothing but good luck. As soon as my two year warranty expired, the hard drive and the wireless card both went out. I have spent enough money fixing this thing to buy a new low-end $300 laptop. Here's hoping that whatever is wrong now is merely a virus and that the Geek Squad can fix it without deleting everything, because reinstalling all my stuff every few months is getting really old really fast. This comes at a time when my PS2 is dead and I won't be able to replace it for another two weeks when I finally get paid again.

If there is a positive side, then I guess it is that I'll be finishing Panzer General II and Romance of the Three Kingdoms II sooner than expected.
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Mon Aug 6, 2012 6:42 pm
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TurboGrafx-16... finally!

Derek Green
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Last year, my uncle pulled a TG-16 out of closet and gave it to me along with two games. I still have yet to figure out how to connect this oddly designed console to my TV. This has caused me no little amount of frustration.

Just a few moments ago I finally found a TG-16 emulator that I can run and I'll now have the rest of the day to try out an entirely new library of games which have hitherto been beyond my reach.

The only remaining obstacle is that I am not sure how to run (or even locate) TG-CD games. There are at least two games on that add-on that I would like to try: the original arcade Street Fighter and Castlevania: Rondo of Blood. If anyone knows anything about this subject, then please let me know.


Castlevania: Rondo of BloodTurboGrafx-16
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Fri Aug 3, 2012 8:48 pm
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VGGers and Nintendo

Derek Green
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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It never ceases to amaze me how despite several years of parity between the Genesis and SNES, I seem to be among the very few gamers on the site (and on the web in general) for whom experiences with Sega games were more formative. I played some SNES and NES stuff as a kid, so I'm not unfamiliar with it, but the basis of my understanding of gaming comes from playing Sega games, particularly on the Genesis. It seems like all of the other users on the site have Nintendo roots and of those a good portion are Nintendo partisans who view every other game company as a copycat of the glory that is Nintendo.

The Nintendo background provides interesting parallels and insights, but like all points of view, it has certain limitations. For most Nintendo-exclusive retro gamers, there was only one 8-bit system. While the Master System was definitely inferior because of its smaller and more limited library, it still had a few good games that are worth playing and because of its more advanced technology could run some of the same games better than the NES. Or much more galling for me, the notion that the SNES was so far superior to the Genesis that there is no point in even touching any of Genesis' games. This notion seems to be weakening due to emulation technology removing the risk of investment, but it persists with the notion that Genesis games were good, just not that good. When several users discovered, played, and loved Phantasy Star IV, they described it as "surprisingly" good, as if one should never reasonably expect a Genesis game to be great. I could understand such an attitude about systems that did poorly in the U.S. such as the Master System, the TG-16, or even the Saturn, but a system that sold 20 million units like the Genesis...!!!!????

I have always found conveying word of the good games on Sega consoles to be a worthy secondary mission (the first being to enjoy myself on the site) and for the most part, I find most Nintendo gamers to be fairly receptive and open-minded. It is just that there are a few who will defend any some of rare bombs from Nintendo and admit the badness of the game but claim that it had other virtues. Or even worse, gamers who mistake extreme difficulty with quality. That is one attitude that I will never understand.
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Thu Aug 2, 2012 5:30 pm
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