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March 2018

An Evening With Video Games Live

Video Games LiveI love live performances of video game music.  I've been to the Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddess concerts twice and seen the western pioneer of the genre, Video Games Live, three times over the years in Los Angeles at various E3s, but last week the traveling show made stops in Florida, so obviously my girlfriend and I had to go.  This was her first VGL show and she's a second-generation gamer, so I wanted to make it special.  We had front row center seats that I had to secure a year ago to an amazing evening of gaming's greatest hits past and present. 

Sure, sitting that close means that the big screen displaying gaming clips and other fun programming is slightly blocked by the performers, but you just can't beat being right up close to the action.  VGL founder, host, and performer Tommy Tallarico has a manic energy that you can best see sitting right up front, and when he calls out for responses or requests, it's the front row that he's going to hear.  My girlfriend badly wanted a Borderlands suite, but that wasn't meant to be this time (hey Tommy, add that one to your to-do list!).

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A Short History Of Ratchet And Clank

Ratchet And ClankSometimes I wish that Insomniac Games and Sony would reteam for new Ratchet And Clank sequels more often than they currently do, but then I remind myself that part of the reason the series is still innovative and entertaining is that the developers don't drain the creative lake by overfishing it.  At GDC 2018, some of Insomniac's current and former key people including writer T.J. Fixman recounted the history of everyone's favorite Lombax and robot duo in which they detailed the creative process behind so many important elements of the series.  From weapon design to cheeky subtitles to stacking crates, there's a lot of work that goes into this futuristic world.  GamesRadar has the story.

The Ratchet and Clank series spans 14 games, with some unusual highs and lows. “After about six years, we’d seen a number of changes to the development team, and a lot of the new designers didn’t really know how to design a stack of crates”, said director Brian Allgeier. This led chief creative officer Brian Hastings to draft a four-page document on the art of stacking crates. Unusual as it sounds, smashing up crates to release a shower of collectible bolts is one of the game’s small joys that benefits from a set of design rules. For example, they created guidelines for the shape of the stack, the number of the crates, when to include exploding boxes (to encourage use of your wrench as a projectile)… each little detail contributing to the game’s feel.

They're on to something about the crates.  One of the little joys of the Ratchet games, particularly near the end of the story when multipliers are active, is to toss the wrench at a large stack of crates, see them smashed to bits, and watch as what feels like thousands upon thousands of bolts come flying at Ratchet and somehow land in his pocket as spending money.  It's such a little thing, but the series wouldn't be the same without it.  Knowing that, I'm not surprised that there are pages of guidelines on how to stack crates properly for maximum enjoyment and fulfillment.  With all the care that goes into Insomniac products, why should the crates be any different?

Street Fighter TV Show In Development

Street Fighter IIThis is early news, but the idea is exciting.  A Street Fighter television series is in the works from the team behind the web series Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist.  There's no network, no completed script, or anything like that yet (just the business deal), but there's potential here.  Deadline Hollywood has the news.

Street Fighter the series will draw on the game’s World Warrior story-arc — introduced in the 1991 Street Fighter II: The World Warrior sequel to the original game — as the jumping off point, centering on four protagonists: Ryu, Ken, Guile and Chun-Li. Together, they fight to take down M. Bison, the evil mastermind who runs Shadaloo, a global criminal organization. Though on different journeys, our heroes’ paths will cross as they are drawn into the World Warrior Tournament, a competition devised by M. Bison to find the most powerful and capable fighter in the world. On the journey they come to share, they must draw on their strength, skills, intelligence and loyalty in a battle to survive and emerge as the World Warrior.

Street Fighter has enough characters and just enough lore to make a TV series worthwhile and it gives everyone involved a chance to actually tell the franchise's story in chronological order (none of this sequel, prequel, sequel, interquel, sequel to the interquel nonsense, please).  With the right casting and a slow pace at introducing new characters, I could see this show running for several seasons provided the plot starts out slowly and gives audiences a chance to understand the interpersonal relationships.  Starting out with the premise of a world tournament and then immediately jumping into the madness of Cammy being M. Bison's clone/next body and whatever the hell Seth was trying to accomplish in Street Fighter IV would be too much for those not up on their lore.  Take it slow and do it right.

Health Update: Attack Of The Pancreas

Dr. MarioWhenever I vanish for a prolonged period, you can be sure that a new episode of failing health is behind it.  This time around I'm dealing with an attack of pancreatitis which is a new experience for me.  Sure, I've had my intestines, gallbladder, kidneys, and liver fail at times before (not to mention that time when several of those organs plus others all fused together and had to be surgically separated), but the pancreas is a new spot on the bingo card.  For the past month I've dealt with pain, dehydration, malnutrition, and all of the other fun things that come with a issue adjacent to Crohn's Disease.  I've spent most of the time asleep in bed or at my doctor's office being pumped full of fluids, plus I have new medication to take the stress of my ailing pancreas for a while.  There were two weeks there where I didn't even have the strength to play any video games!  That's how you know things are really tough.  I'll be alright in the end and thankfully I've been able to stay out of the hospital this time, but for now I continue to rest and recover and, yes, I'm back to playing again when I feel up to it.  Thanks for your patience while everything has gone dark temporarily here at PTB.  I'll be back as I continue to feel better and can sit at the PC for longer periods.