Tuesday, December 14, 2010


America. The only truth in life is that we have a right to live it. In reality death is its only destination, yet we always think of it like it's all about the moment we're living in. The here, the now, the second. They're the reason we involve ourselves with recreation, procreation, and domination. We're on a train that plows straight to the end; we don't choose how, when, or where it begins. We only decide what occurs before it hits that last bend. The tracks may be smooth or they might be incomplete, but either way the train and our fate must meet, greet, and detach. So that's that. Know that this life is not your purpose, it's not your end. This is just the car ride to where the vacation begins. So don't lie to me please, it's about more than starving children, hurting women, and dying trees. It's about the cause of these and where they will lead.

America. When songs are sung of your beauty, it is inevitable that someone will mention liberty. But are we truly free? Do we need liberty for the continuity of our pursuit of happiness? Will freedom really save a man in his hour of duress? When he's so confused that his relief is stress and his answer a test? The probability, the odds of a person living truly free...well, to be honest, they're one in three. In the world there are 6,887,842,952 different people. A third of that is 2,295,947,651 persons, and that number of free individuals is only real if every one of them claim as much without their parents' or friends' coercion. With the rampancy of untruth I'd say the actual number is closer to one in three of one in three, which is more like 765,315,884, but to what percentage of that number can the land of liberty hope to give birth?

America. The true beauty you claim abides in our ability to ask. Questions like: "So what's the catch? We're born, live, die, and that's that?" Those issues create a dimension that transcends the simple pursuit of happiness. For happiness is something that cannot last, happiness can be found without the freedom to choose. Happiness is found in the moment, an instant, the fun things we do. What we struggle to acknowledge is that happiness isn't always found in the truth. We lose a friend, hurt a leg, make a bad grade . . . all of these things cause our happiness to whither and fade. But joy, something truth brings, is never determined by the mood of the day. Joy is found in reveling in what we know to be true... or false? I'm at loss: I want you to be happy, but knowing the truth can lead to feeling worse than crappy. But perhaps it's not about how we feel? Perhaps its all about joy, death, freedom...the only things that are real?

America. You give your people possibilities despite the improbability that they'll take action. But what if your very existence spoke to the truth of what's really happened? What if your legacy was veracity and your tombstone a testament to morality? But more than reality, a message of the hope you have for our individuality, spirituality, and integrity? An account of not just who we are, but of who we can be; a tale of more than rich fools, a story of more than nice clothes, beautiful houses, and precious jewels.

Let ours be a saga of love, a history of good. Yet most of all, let our narrative be a witness to the God-chaser's truth. Let us be a witness to the fact that we owe nothing to you, but everything to the God we as a people, not a nation, can freely choose.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Medoly of Words

I love music. It helps me keep my sanity when I feel like I'm alone. I don't just mean listening to it, but creating it. It's a mystery t0 me: how can something contain the ugly truth and yet still be so beautiful? Lies, hatred, anger, pain, sorrow, envy . . . music is one of the few places that can bear them all. It shapes them into a cure instead of the poison that they are.

It's an outlet for everything that's building up. I can talk to God and play at the same time, or even worship while I play. It doesn't get much better than that. It's a venue for introspection like no other. Incomparable. It's a marriage of writing and sound.

Here's a piece of introspection that I found inspiring. Explicit language!

Rafael Casal - 'Ego' from Chris Wiggles on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Drip drop, drip drop....

Drip drop, drip drop. That's the sound the rain makes as it plops.

I love this kind of weather. It's cold, foggy, and best of all, wet. I don't even understand why. Perhaps a lot of my best memories are associated with it? Who knows.

As I sit here writing on this blog for the first time in ages...I've just been made aware of another way in which God has revealed himself to be amazing. A friend of mine was recently shown that she can be used by God in ways that she had never imagined and through things that she thought were worthless and boring. It's always exciting to see Elohim "manifest". It's a great little nudge when you're down and feeling pressured.

That aside, I've been thinking about creating a gaming blog for a while, writing for it five times a week. It'll be hard to keep up with it, but I know it's something I need to do to advance from the level I'm on at the moment. That and I hope to start creating videos soon. I need some kind of big, collaborative project to work on, too. It's good to get in groups and contribute ideas, yet it's even more exhilarating to work on executing things that way . . . or at least it is for me.

So my creative goals are:
Update this blog at least three times a week
Start and maintain a new gaming blog
Write five pieces on gaming a week
Find a group of people who want to brainstorm
Start making video concepts

Wish me luck. =)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

If Ladies Could Fly and Birds Could Dance...

Ladybird, ladybird; flying seems to come to you so easily. Red back, spotted up and down. Polka-dotted like a summer dress, what beauty there is to be found! Brilliant in your unassuming form, in your shape exists a majesty beyond the norm. Subtle, small, and seemingly obsolete, what happens when you're crushed by oblivious feet?

Will the sky turn gray with sorrow? Will the sun still rise tomorrow? Will the rivers run dry to supply numberless tears? Will the wolves howl and the bluebird sing of fear? When the ocean has roared its defeat and the wind breathed its last breath . . . ladybird, will they remember your death? Does it really even matter? Is there a point to it all? Tell me, ladybird: do you too feel oblivion's call? It beckons, pleads, and prods. Wanting for more, it's jealous like God.

You beg for relief, so why do you refuse to receive? To be free . . . must your friends, you leave? Ladybird, you're a fragile thing, fleeting like the wind. When your time draws to an end, the very rules of the earth shall bend. Worldwide mourning shall begin.
This was written for a friend who attempted to commit suicide several months ago and has now descended into heavy drug use. Her name is Song and she's a beautiful daughter of Elohim. For those of you who don't know what a Ladybird is, it's often regarded as one of the most (some would say few) beautiful insects in the world. We gave Song the nickname ladybird because she liked the old nursery rhyme associated with it and often said that if you caught one you'd get one wish to help someone other than yourself.

She doesn't have facebook or much social contact, but I'd love it if some of you guys would say something so I could print it out and give it to her. If you know anyone who'd want to say something then that would be awesome. I want to show her that the world WOULD mourn if she left it, and that there are people who care. Thanks, love you guys.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

***** Purity.

WARNING: Explicit content below. Read at your own risk.

I've been placed in a peculiar position. I met a man not long ago who has been separated from his wife for about six months. Let's call him Mike-san, shall we (Japanese titles, ftw!)? Mike-san and his wife both have their issues, and during this time of seperation there was some adultery on both sides . . . but that's not the point. They've been trying to work things out and he WANTS to, especially for the sake of his children. So we've been talking about the situation on and off and I've been given the opportunity to speak Elyon's truth into him.

Though he has been walking in the dark for a bit, he's a believer; he still knows who his help comes from and remembers who has gotten him through his darkest days, but like all of us . . . occasionally he needs reminding. To many of us that comes wack-a-mole style, but he lucked out. This guy isn't a tame "Christian", though. Tattooed, did jail time, and looks like he could crush me. O_O

He's raw.

For some reason that is beyond me, he looks to me for advice and actually listens to what I have to say. Why? I don't really know. I never approached him and told him that I'm a Christian; I never condemned him for wanting to have sex (come on, everyone [sane] wants to have sex). So what did I do? I listened. Mike-san told me something the other day that shocked me. He said that he envies me, so of course I asked him why. He has slept with so many women that he doesn't remember their names or faces, nor can he recall how many times he's had sex. Now,  I've never told this cat that I'm a virgin, but apparently he just KNEW.

He told me this: "People may try to fuck with you an' tell ya give in, but don't do it. Stay like you are and do you. HOLD to your beliefs. Neva let 'em tell ya' shit."

In helping Mike-san I've probably helped myself more than him! In case you were wondering what the title is, let me tell you . . .

Enjoy Purity.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

To Dream Again.

As of late I've been really bored even when I'm active; and no, I don't mean your typical "boring" activities like work. It's the FUN stuff that I find boring, and I do believe I've figured out why.

It's "purpose". People want to hang out all of the time, and I understand how crucial fellowship is (quality time is the way I feel loved the most; emphasis on quality), but they so often lack purpose. Why doesn't anyone ever get together and DO something? I suppose it's likely due to the fact that so few people actually HAVE purpose. Of course, they say the best way to find your purpose is to help someone else fulfill theirs. I want to start something. Something BIG.

I need writers, artists, musicians (that means vocalists and instrumentalists), photographers, cameramen (women are welcome too =P), organizers, and anyone who thinks they can be the least bit creative.

It's funny - everybody thinks "Wow, so-and-so is SO creative!" likes it's something amazing. What's amazing is that so many people think they aren't. We're made in the image of THE creator and it's astonishing that someone can be creative? That's expected, and if you're NOT being creative then you NEED to be; it's as important as eating and breathing. It's part of who you are, and if you're not doing something then you're not satisfying your "creative stomach" . . . and then you're gonna go hungry, eh?

So if you said no because you thought you weren't creative . . . FAIL. That just means you need to hit me up. Stop acting all "grown", it's time to dream again.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Veggies & Psychopaths...

So I recently decided to be a vegetarian. Strange, I know.

It came about when I read about someone who decided to be a vegan for the summer. I admired the discipline and dedication [to moral beliefs] this person displayed, so I started thinking about it and decided perhaps I could do it, too. I, however, could not be a vegan. That involves consuming no animal products whatsoever, which would include milk, cheese, and the like. Seriously? Uh, no thanks.

So for my overall health and to test my mettle, I've decided to be a vegetarian instead. I'll also be eating fish, but I'm going to try to stay away from it as much as is [healthily] possible. If anyone cares to join me . . . do tell. Now, before you go losing your minds, I'm not going to be "legalistic" about it. If I'm at someone's house and they serve me meat unaware that I'm not eating it I will NOT just completely turn it away. That's just freakin' rude.

To all of you veggies and veegs . . . have some stinkin' manners!

Oh, I've also been reading a book about psychopaths lately, and no, not the serial killer kind. Instead I've been researching the kind that are nonviolent and hardly even eccentric. Supposedly they'll still display some ounce of insanity, but not always. What really makes a psychopath is the lack of a conscience. In a person that's not violent it doesn't sound too scary, but if only you knew.

Now you may be wondering why I'd read such a thing . . . and the answer is that it's to add to my knowledge. Understanding is something I've always craved, and the more I know the better my writing. That's probably why I've studied many things that most people shy away from (serial killers, demonology, nightmares, the Bible...)

Funny thing, apparently the way I used to be could almost be described as psychotic; I had nearly ever symptom down to a tee. Who knows, perhaps there's still a little bit of psychopath left in me? ^_X

Another short story coming soon: "Love would find forgiveness, so have you really ever loved at all?"

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Sound Of Silence - A short story

"What do you want?" grumbled the bigger of the two boys. It was late at night and their parents had told them to hush and go to sleep hours ago. The smaller child, energetic as he was, just couldn't find sleep's embrace. "Tell me a story!" he whispered none too quietly, "How about another super hero one?". The older brother, for surely they were siblings, realized that there was no chance of his brother forgetting and falling asleep, so with a frown on his face and malice in his heart he decided to tell the boy a tale he'd never forget . . . .

Once upon a time there was a family, a perfect family. They all got along and there were never any arguments or scuffles. Across the street from these wonderful people lived a young man. Now this was not your typical young man; he didn't hit the town on the weekends nor did he have any lady friends to share his life with. No, the only thing this young man had were his books. Books of all kinds, colors, shapes, and sizes. Among these books there those full of nightmares and sadly ever afters, and these books the young man took to more than the others. 

One sunshiny day a child of the perfect family was playing outside. With dreams of underwater voyages and expeditions to the center of the earth playing in his head, he wandered around the neighborhood making noises that young boys at play tend to make. It just so happened that this day the young man sat on his porch reading his tales of sadness and grief. 

Oblivious to his surroundings (as young children so often are), the boy found his way to the doorstep of  the young man's house. The rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance, and disturbed by the noise the young man looked up from his book and saw the lad. Smiling to himself and remembering the days when he too was an innocent child, he waved a hello. The boy, wide-eyed and kindhearted, waved back. "Aren't you the man with the boogs?" he said, for he had struggled to pronounce his "Ks" for some time. Grinning even wider upon hearing the peculiar speech of the child, the young man replied. "Why, indeed I am! I've got all kinds of books containing all kinds of stories: Some big, some small! Some short, some tall! Some true, some false!"

The boy thought the man had a funny way of speaking. Almost like the leader of a circus ring or those strange businessmen at the county fair. Weird. 

"Would you like to take a look at my books?" asked the man, "There are so many stories waiting to be heard". Not thinking anything of it, the adventurous little boy furiously nodded his head yes. As he walked into the house he was astonished by the sheer number of the man's books. Outside it had begun to storm so the young man called the boy's parents so as not to cause them to worry. The explorer in the boy ushered him from shelf to shelf staring at book after book. He was so fascinated by all of them that he couldn't decide what to read, but after some time he stumbled upon a shelf that was different from the others. The books on this shelf appeared to have a life to them, as if the authors had poured their very souls into their work. 

Seeing the interest in the his eyes, the young man decided to let him have a book from the shelf. The title of the book was lost to history and its previous owner, but that didn't stop the lad's look of elation at receiving his first storybook. Shortly thereafter the storm let up and (being the responsible citizen that he was) the young man sent the boy on his way. A smile on his face and book under arm, the boy (being the mischievous child that he truly was) went to his secret hiding place and began to read the storybook. It told of majestic knights and beautiful princesses, hideous witches and vile dragons, mystical lands and haunted mansions, magical dreams and devilish nightmares. The boy, a talented reader due to his mother's efforts (against the wishes of his father, unbeknownst to him), read and read. He read until he could no longer keep track of time or reality itself. When he finally finished reading he felt different, almost as if he were no longer the same person. As he made his way home he could swear he saw things following him, leering at him from just beyond the edge of his vision. 

They whispered of horrible things, things too horrible to be spoken of here. At first wary, the boy soon threw caution to the wind and broke into a full sprint towards his home. Apparently realizing that the child had noticed their presence, the things gave chase in silence, thus making the experience that much more terrifying. In an attempt to escape the fiends the boy cast his thoughts to lovelier things. The stories he had read resurfaced like a drowning diver; with them came a sense of peace and security. The fiends, for no other name is fitting, vanished and the world became a bit less scary. He made his way home to his perfect family in once piece, book under arm. 

After some time he saw the fiends again . . . and again and again and again. He began to notice that his family wasn't so perfect after all. His mom left, dad became an alcoholic, and his sister was never home. He grew older and got his own place, his own money, and, most importantly, his own books.

Disturbed from his reading, the [now] young man looked up and saw a young girl. "Aren't you the man with the books?" she asked. "Why, indeed I am!" he said, smiling at her ignorance innocence. "I've got all kinds of books containing all kinds of stories: Some big, some small! Some short, some tall! Some true, some false . . ."

And they lived Sadly Ever After . . . . 

"Now go to sleep!" demanded the older brother, and with that he fell asleep himself. The smaller boy tapped his shoulder in hopes of hearing another story, but to no avail. Sighing in exasperation, the small boy rolled over and as he was about to close his eyes he could swear he saw something just beyond the edge of his vision. The fiends things began to shift closer, silence the only sound they made and causing them to be that much more terrifying. Screaming in fear, the boy rushed to his parents' room. "I see things, Father!" he cried.

"Lad, it's only your imagination." replied the [now] old man.

"That's what scares me . . . ."

Elsewhere in the house, the older brother (a young man, really) smiled.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Twin Swords & Life-Giving Words

It's amazing the feeling you get when you've struggled with something 
and then you kick it in the face. That's not to say you're not tempted 
to do it anymore, but every time it rears its ugly head what do you 
do? Why you bash it into the ground like a whack-a-mole, of course. =)

Thing is, though, we hardly ever kick the can alone. You ask Elohim to 
throw some help your way, forget about it, and maybe even go back to 
doing what you were doing before. Suddenly He tells you to do 
something CRAZY, just plain out there. You know those moments when 
God's plans don't quite line up with YOUR plans? "Your plans" . . . 
Haha! (That was a rhetorical question for those of you lacking in 
wit...look up rhetorical yourself!)

Ahem, anyway, you eventually come to your senses and do what he says. 
Completely nonsensical, but you "indulge" God anyway like you're 
actually helping him. Heh, silly humans. So you do it, all the while 
wondering how exactly you got conned into it, but somewhere along the 
way you meet people and you grow close . . . too close. So close that 
a little friction starts; next thing you know sparks are flying and 
the blade is meeting the grinding stone at a rapid pace. An ancient 
tome* says that the wounds of a friend are faithful, and iron sharpens 
iron. Through the process you're both made into blades of the purest 
metal (Mithril or Adamantium, if you will) that shine brighter than 
you ever could have alone. The impurities become that much more 
obvious against the "shininess", so what does that other person do? 
Attack the weak spots, naturally, but in a life-giving way.

After they've been "through the fire and flames", the blades 
become a pair. Twin Swords, yes? Alone they are fantastic in their own 
right, but together? Together they are legendary.

We've made a big deal out of the forging process, but let's not forget 
that without the author and executor of that process it's nothing. 
Elyon is the great Blacksmith, and he makes Muramasa's weapons look 
like Fisher-Price toys.

A fool, I am.

To think that the I, mere ore, could help the Blacksmith? 
Preposterous! My Father knows best (the divine one AND the earthly 
one, though I'm loath to admit it) and when HE speaks I should listen. 
He told me to jump into the fire because he knew what a brilliant 
piece of work I could be.

I asked to be fixed, and thinking that God forgot about my plea I went 
on my merry little way. He did NOT forget; he just had 
something way better in mind.

*The Bible

Oh, and as a sidenote: I'm working on a short story about . . . well, you'll see. It should be pretty loopy, so everyone should read it. Too-da-loo!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Waking up to Wonders, Wolves, and God.

Last night (May 4th . . . ) I got home, laid in my bed, and proceeded to pass out. After about an hour I was startled awake by a howl. Assuming it was a coyote, I rolled over and attempted to fall back asleep; the moment I began to drift away once more the coyote howled again, this time even closer. Annoyed and slightly curious, I rose from my bed to lookout the sliding glass doors. There at the edge of the woods was one of the largest coyotes that I've ever seen. I'm still not sure it was a coyote as it was black and humongous. Apparently some timber wolves were set loose in Alabama recently and have begun to breed, so perhaps it was actually a wolf.

Regardless, my curiosity grabbed me by the neck so I turned off the house alarm and made my way into the woods. Oh, and I put clothes and shoes on, too. Naturally, the wolf-creature retreated upon my opening of the door. I followed it into the woods for what I'm guessing was about a mile or so . . . yes, I'm aware of the fact that this probably wasn't the wisest idea. You can stop thinking about that and refocus on the story now! Err, back to it.

Wolfie (which is what we'll call him for the remainder of this tale) was moving rather quickly and thus I was hard pressed to keep up, but I had noticed that we seemed to be following the creek that winds its way through the woods/forest/trees. Now I've always had an infatuation and fascination with flowing bodies of water. As is wont to happen when I'm near a stream, I stopped to see what kind of aquatic life was lurking within the creek.

The moon has just begun to wane (it was gibbous for you celestially minded weirdos) and the trees are spread fairly thin so I was able to see quite well. Peering into the water, I spotted a flash of color. Intrigued, I leaned in for a closer look; to my surpise it was an orange-spotted sunfish! I know, not really that exciting, but I have been searching for it going on a decade. Oh, and they're definitely not nocturnal, either. Anyway, I watched it for some time.

As anyone would do, I assumed Wolfie was long gone, but not so. As it turns out, he was just sitting there some hundred yards away. Coming to my senses I resumed my pursuit. It didn't last long. We came to a part of the stream with a slight waterfall, and the width of the creek was nothing to be laughed at. Seeing as I was in my toms I decided to let Wolfie go on his merry lil' way as he crossed  the stream and slunk further into the woods. Slightly dismayed that I couldn't see my foolishness to fruition, I saw a faint splash of color in my peripheral vision. Naturally I thought it to be some woodland creature, but to my astonishment (just an example!) it was actually a moonbow. Yes, a lunar rainbow, right in front of my very eyes.

To some this may not seem like a big deal, but seeing a moonbow has been one of my goals for quite some time now. So I witnessed three wonders in the dead of night. God instilled a smidgen of color into the black and brown of the nighttime woods; and I saw a black coyote or wolf, both of which are exceedingly rare.

Why? Maybe because I needed to be reminded that my God does wonders all the time in the heat of life just like he did in the dead of night. His majesty is everywhere we look, but are we willing to wake up before two calls? Does the phone have to ring more than twice for you to pick up? Must the coyote cry its cry more than two times for you to roll out of bed? The Psalmist and so many others cry "God, have you fallen asleep?" out of desperation, but if only we would shut up and listen, we could hear him speak.

Psalm 121 says that He never slumbers, and to the question "Are your wonders known in the place of darkness . . . " . . . the answer is yes. After following Wolfie, finding the fish, and seeing a moonbow I began to make my way home, and on the way home I heard a tiny whisper in the wind. It said something that a friend told me a long time ago, something that the friend was just repeating.

"Be still . . . know that I am God."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Is it Selfish Ammunition or God-driven Commission?

I was recently given rap artist B.o.B.'s new album "The Adventures of Bobby Ray" (which I'm not allowed to listen to, yay!), and at the end of the album there is an interview with him. During the video he mentions that he originally started writing as a form of self-therapy and it kinda flowed. Listening to that reminded me of when I first started putting pen to paper.

It was just like that . . . a smooth, flawless conglomeration of nouns and verbs that I just threw together as a way to vent. Did I ever think it would turn out poetic or even comprehensible? The thought never crossed my mind; I was just practicing my hideous handwriting after a spout of frustration and anger.
Now I can't go a day without writing something, and I'm gonna keep writing until I can't write anymore.

No paper? Use a napkin. No napkin? Use my skin. No pen? I'll scratch it out, then.

I've heard that some great lyricists wrote as much as ten pages per day of prose and/or verse. Upon learning that my first thought was "Crap, that means I have to write fifteen to twenty". Once I discovered that I had the slightest gift for writing I made up my mind then and there to go after it. I read books every chance I get in the hope of being inspired. After all, the key to true creativity is to steal. Nothing I put to paper is actually new: it's all in the way one presents it.

I just need to take some salt from here, a little pepper from there, then throw it all together for a nice bit of flavor. Now that I've set a goal, I'm not going to let anything short of divine intervention stop me. I've found that too often people sway in the face of a challenge or the slightest bit of adversity. I strive to be different. Even if it means being labeled an idiot for pursuing what appears, for all intended purposes, foolish, then call me a fool.

I know my goals; they're written in stone (oh, and in a journal). I will always evaluate them and put them up against God's word (i.e. the Bible for those of you who are a wee bit slow), but should they stand in the face of that . . . I will see them completed.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

On Ballet, Fools, and Respect.

I had an epiphany last night while watching a ballet (manly, I know; I went home and played a Ninja game to regain my masculinity). 

As I observed the different dancers I of course noted how graceful they were, and based off of what I saw I found myself thinking that certain ones would never amount to much as dancers. Immediately after this thought popped into my head I was slightly taken aback. 

I pretty much told those girls (and the one . . . questionable male) "you can't do it". Do you know how many times I, and countless others, have been told that? Seeing as that's a rhetorical question, I'll answer: far too many. Such words are spoken over children and even young adults so often that they become discouraged and put out. 

As a result they give up before they ever really gave themselves a chance. For all I know they could go on to be great dancers. We judge too quickly: we should judge based off of ones will and determination, not their skill, as given enough time it can grow exponentially. Only a fool makes a judgment from a first impression. 

While on the subject of judgment, I've found that when someone speaks ill of things I love and which I'm passionate about, it "turns me off" to that person. Or, more accurately, it lessens my respect for them. Now, if you're criticizing something I care about . . . that's a different story entirely. As a matter of fact, I'd enjoy that. Few things delight me more than a good critical analysis, however, if you're disregarding something due to misinformation and ignorance, that disgusts me. 

It leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. A really, really bad taste.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Prime; To be alone

  An unidentified distress signal flashes across my screen and my gunship promptly traces it to a  ship orbiting the planet “Tallon IV”. In an instant I set the ship into motion, heading directly for the distress beacon. Upon my arrival I leap out of my ship onto Frigate Orpheon. Debris floats in space around the frigate, bits and pieces of the ship that were apparently torn straight from the hull. Noticing no signs of life in the immediate vicinity, I make my way through a series of force fields and blast shield doors, my Power Suit clanging as I take step after wary step.

While traversing the cluttered hallways I notice corpses everywhere . . . hanging wires and broken screens that spark and crackle as they slowly die. The only thing stirring are twisted parasites scuttling here to there, roaming through the air ducts and small tunnels that they’ve burrowed into the ship.

This leads me to believe that the mutated insects have been free for some time, and as I wander through the many passageways and rooms a feeling of claustrophobia sets in. After some time I stumble upon a room filled with imprisoned life forms; radioactive toxins litter the room, oozing from the crates that I can only assume encased them.
Growls and creaking doors vibrate the air with sound. Some of the cages shake as their inhabits seize in fits of madness and rage. Presumably the toxin was used for the mutation and experimentation of said creatures.

 I briefly change my optical visor to Scan Mode and confirm my suspicions. While examining the information with my scan visor, what I had previously thought were corpses begin to fire at me. The humanoids are greatly weakened, thus I easily dodge their shots and quickly dispatch of them, but they are obviously hostile. After inspecting one of the creatures closely I learn that they’re called Space Pirates. I know the name: vicious creatures that conquer planets merely to add to their riches and power. They’re a menace to the Galactic Federation and all peace-loving peoples.

It would seem that nothing on Frigate Orpheon is friendly, and despite the fact that I originally came here to help, I don’t believe there’s anything here that wants my aid. After weeding through the bodies and exterminating all of the Space Pirates I continue to explore the remainder of the frigate. As I slowly make progress I stumble upon the main reactor for the ship. Seemingly from nowhere, a massive parasite appears and attacks me. A hundred times larger than what must be its offspring, the parasite is quick and highly aggressive. With no help in sight, I face off against the behemoth alone. Somehow the doors have sealed and my only chance at survival is to destroy the monstrosity before me.

The battle is hard won, but I emerge victorious nonetheless. Upon defeating the creature it plummets downward and its hulking carcass collides with the reactor core, causing the reactor to go haywire and sending the ship out if orbit and straight into turmoil. The Varia Suit that I’m wearing gets a read on the ship and estimates a countdown before the reactor superheats and blows the whole ship. There isn’t much time, so I rush from room to room, hurriedly seeking an escape. With relatively no time left, I find an elevator leading out, but the ship rocks with explosions before I can safely reach it. The resulting blast sends me flying at breakneck speed and I slam straight into the elevator wall. As a result my suit starts to malfunction , downgrading my heat-resistant Varia Suit to a mere Power Suit. In the process I lose many of my abilities. Missiles offline, Space Jump offline, Morph Ball offline . . . in essence, I’m relatively helpless. Down but not out, I emerge from the elevator and rush towards my gunship. As I’m about to reach it I notice metallic flash out of the corner of my eye. I turn to get a full view and notice a dragon-like creature that is also fleeing the exploding frigate: Ridley, the leader of the Space Pirate army. More importantly, the one who murdered my parents. 

Hatred boils inside of me, and the need for vengeance is stronger than any rational thoughts I might have had. I jump into my gunship, fire up the thrusters and race after him as he escapes to Tallon IV. With total disregard for personal safety, I fly headlong into an atmospheric storm and my ship is struck by a stray lightning bolt. With my ship’s integrity compromised I begin to spiral out of control and the only place to go is down. I struggle to maintain control but my ship crash lands in a grove. In the chaos of the landing I lose sight of Ridley, and now I’m stranded on a planet that I know only one thing about: there are enemies afoot. 

This is the first hour of gameplay in Retro Studios’ Metroid Prime, and while no story is forced upon you like in most modern day adventure titles, the gameplay itself tells it. From the loss of your abilities to the hostile nature of everything that moves, the game leaves you vulnerable and alone. The forlorn tundras of Phendrana Drifts and the desolate temples of the Chozo Ruins scream desertion, which is exactly what the planet is. Everything about Metroid Prime lets you know that the world is against you. Being one of the few games that doesn’t have a conventional narrative, Prime does a remarkable job at telling a story, better than most. This is largely due to the fact that while the story is linear, the gameplay and the way it all unfolds is not.

To truly understand what’s happening the player must “scan” enemies and other objects. Doing so exposes the weaknesses and abilities of enemies, and it also displays a paragraph of data that one of the planet’s inhabitants may have recorded in a log. This way the history and mythology of Tallon IV is revealed at a pace that you choose; you’re never bombarded with more information than you can handle. The result is a much more organic feel. The story is never too slow or too fast because the majority of it isn’t triggered by unavoidable events (e.g. boss battles, entering new areas, etc.). Pacing is often one of the biggest factors in the generally story-driven adventure genre, but Prime neatly sidesteps this issue.

With that said, some players may find fault with it because they aren’t spoon fed, something that has become quite a common feature. Such players will quickly lose interest with the story as there’s not really anything “happening”. Generally when players dig into the plot they become more and more immersed, causing the way they play to be defined by spoken, but not necessarily forced, rules.

The tale told in Metroid Prime is one that resonates with many people, too. At one time or another everyone has had that rebellious “me against the world” mentality, and the game exploits it to great effect. When you’re playing out something familiar it makes it all the easier to become fully engrossed in a story, and once you’re in there’s no way out until you’ve finished. You just have to see the plot to its climax. That’s art at its finest, which is what makes Metroid Prime such a masterpiece.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Smoke it. Hit it. Forget it.

If you are reading this article then you are probably one of three things: bored out of your mind, hopelessly lost, or my mother. I created this grand waste-o-space to share my thoughts on the game industry and identify what certain games are doing right and what they're doing wrong. Is that new game really as amazing as reviewers "get paid" to say it is? Here I hope to reveal whether or not a game is all that you dreamed.

With that aside, let's dive head first into the matter at hand: video games and their cultural relevance. At times I fancy myself a philosopher of sorts, so bear with me!

There are a gratuitous amount of people that look at games and dismiss them as mere toys; on the flip-side, those same people constantly criticize games and even attempt to hold said games responsible for their own failings as a society. How could anyone even dream of holding a toy responsible for a murder (The Manhunt incident)? Or any act of violence, for that matter? And no, Chucky doesn't count. Truth be told, people are caught in the choice of acknowledging video games as an acceptable part of our society or dismissing them like every other childish fad.

The problem is they are already far beyond that: they're a direct reflection of the state of our culture. Upon the dawn of the sixth generation of hardware, there came about a subtle shift in western made games, and it reached its peak in the 2005-10 period. Grand Theft Auto IV, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Gears Of War, Halo  . . . the list goes on. Violence has become the only creative element that really sales; well, violence and whatever has "Wii" or "Mario" pasted on the front of it and "Hero" on the back.

Why is it that shooters sell so well? I'll give you a hint: it has something to do with violence. What's that you say? "Perhaps it's because people are so violent"? Bingo! Now, I know, right about this time you're thinking "but people have always been violent, Malcolm!". To that I'd respond with a resounding "duh" and then choose to completely ignore you . . . . Anyway, the reason that the best selling video games are so violent is simple: rebellion. The whole industry is in rebellion, mainly due to a complete lack of respect and acceptance that gamers experienced in the mid eighties to the mid nineties. Gamers were usually portrayed as creepy, basement dwelling scum, or better yet, angry fat kids. Well guess what? Those scum are the ones designing games nowadays, and since society wouldn't accept them . . . why should they accept society's rules? So they lash out through their chosen form of expression.

My little theory still doesn't pan out quite yet, amirite? Well the people buying the games right now -that's me and [hopefully] you- guess who they look(ed) up to? Their predecessors, the angry fat kids and the scum. So we buy what they say is cool; we're already naturally violent, so it's not like this takes much stretching. Thus the industry as we know it is born! There's also the theory that as the "faceless generation" we're merely seeking attention, just like with the "emo" movement. From one extreme to the other, or so the theory goes.

One way or another, what we've learned leads back to one central point: video games effect, and even shape, our lives in profound ways. Anything that has the potential to have the message of a novel, the shock value a of film, and the emotional roller coaster of music should never be regarded as "less than" or a toy.

As horrible as it sounds, video games can change lives (for better or worse), while toys can only change moods.