Thursday, April 19, 2012

6 More Obnoxious Internet Commenters Cracked Missed

Way back in 2003 I was inspired by a combination of Seanbaby (NSFW link) and the Agony Booth to create my own website, full of all my artwork, role-playing character biographies, and various video game reviews. That site was Knight Productions and it sucked. In 2007 I was inspired again to create a blog with better reviews, less other stuff, and 100% less Angelfire bullshit.

While I was not actually inspired by, the website version of the now-defunct Cracked Magazine (aka the poor man's Mad Magazine), it has influenced me quite a bit since then, mostly by showing me that list-based articles are very easy.

While I try not to rip them off completely, a few of my own posts have been based on expanding on things they've said, like when we discussed The Top 5 Superpowers, and Why They'd Suck to Have or The Most Awesome PSA Ever.

I thought it was time to give credit where it's due, because I'm expanding on another of their articles. This time it's The 8 Most Obnoxious Internet Commenters. Following are six more obnoxious commenters. They might not be quite as archetypal as the ones in Cracked's article, but they're almost as common and unlike Cracked's 8 you'll never be able to get rid of them.

6. The Sheriff

A variant of Cracked's great defender, the sheriff can be found on any site with a regular staff of writers and performers making their articles and videos. The sheriff has made it his duty to protect the site, its content, and its staff at all costs. However, as opportunities to do so are rare he usually ends up just harassing random people.

Any comment that isn't completely worshipful will get a response from the sheriff. Trying to phrase your criticism in a nice way won't help either, as there is no disagreement polite enough that he won't burst in, call you a basement-dwelling homo, and start a petition to have you shot in the street.

To the sheriff it's a rough world full of haters and he's the sole protector of peace and goodness, always ready to run in guns-a-blazin' and deal out sweet justice. To everyone else, he's a sycophantic asshole who doesn't understand the concept of constructive criticism.

Why you can't get rid of him:
Because he's not really a troll, per se. A lot of times he's a long-standing member who's just afraid of his favorite website changing. Really, his whole deal would be almost noble if he actually had any real bad guys to fight.

5. The One Line Wonder

A relative of the ninja from Cracked's list, the one line wonder is generally more eloquent, though only slightly. Unlike the ninja, their goal is not necessarily to piss people off, but rather to make themselves look cool, funny, or smart.

It doesn't matter what the current conversation is or how much time and thought other people are putting into their arguments. He'll inject himself into the conversation just long enough to toss off a sarcastic bon mot, then leave the discussion until the next opportunity arises.

Why you can't get rid of him:
For every one line wonder out there trying his hardest to destroy the concepts of communication and debate, there are at least 10 worthless yes men who think he's absolutely amazing. They will follow him around, hang on every word he says, and defend him so rabidly that even the sheriff would say "okay, that's enough."

4. The Stealth Troll

At first glance this guy might look like the sheriff, above, as he appears wherever there's a comments section to rabidly defend whatever it is you're looking at. If you look a little closer, though, you realize two key differences. The first is that his insults are never in reply to any one person. The second is that his defense of the original material seems to be an afterthought at best; 99% of his post is just telling everyone else what a sad, pathetic collection of wasted lives they are.

Why you can't get rid of him:
The stealth troll frames his trolling in false admiration of the original material. He might add in phrases like "you keep doing what you're doing, sweetheart" and "some people are so quick to bully others" right before he goes back to his string of profanities. This combination of flaming and ass-kissing ensures he'll have the support of the site staff while still getting him the slew of angry responses he so desperately wants.

3. The Crusader

The crusader has never been to your site before, he knows nothing about the way it works, who runs it, or what the fans are like, but he heard that you disagree with him on certain issues and now he's pissed. These issues will almost certainly have nothing to do with your site and probably don't even really matter to anyone but him. Regardless, he's out for blood now and he won't stop until your website is brought down and all its staff and fans are dead.

Why you can't get rid of him:
Because he believes so strongly that his cause is just. He'll spread his argument to every comment section (or thread if you're on a message board) that he can until you're forced to deal with him. Even banning him doesn't always work, as the crusader has usually been banned so many times from so many different sites that he's found lots of tricks to get around it.

If there's only one crusader you might be able to talk to him and convince him that he's wrong. If they bring friends about the only thing you can do is ban them as many times as needed and hope they get bored.

2. The Inquisitor

A relative of the crusader, the inquisitor can also be seen as a stealthier version of Cracked's Hitler's apprentice commenter. At first he doesn't appear to be out of the ordinary. He pretends to be just another fan, the only strange thing about him being that he asks a lot of questions about one particular person on the site. Eventually he reveals his master plan: the person he's been stalking is a member of some group he hates, and this entire time he's been setting up an elaborate ambush to unmask and destroy them.

The inquisitor likes to believe that he's a master detective, putting together the clues -DaVinci Code style- to uncover the massive conspiracy that is the internet. Ironically, he'll always be completely baffled when his trap has been sprung and he instantly becomes hated by the entire community; he thought he was doing you a favor by revealing this wolf in sheep's clothing. If you're lucky at this point he'll realize he was a jerk and apologize. Far more likely, however, is that he'll decide you're all indoctrinated and transform into the crusader.

Incidentally, the inquisitor is also the kind of person who will look at the graphics I made for this post and become convinced there's some sinister meaning behind all the good guy characters wearing blue.

Why you can't get rid of him:
The thing that sets the inquisitor apart from the crusader is also the thing that makes him way more obnoxious: by the time you know what he is the inquisitor has already done his damage. At that point he also has a good chance of turning into the crusader, meaning he gets to annoy everyone as both and is just as hard to get rid of.

1. The Vengeful Ghost

So you've just signed up at a new website. You think it seems like fun and you happily put up your first post. You come back an hour later to discover your post has been endlessly insulted. Maybe everyone's an asshole, maybe you're the asshole, or maybe no one's an asshole and you just got off on the wrong foot. Regardless, you just don't fit in and any attempt you make to earn everyone's respect just makes them hate you more. What do you do?

If you're most people the answer is something along the lines of telling them to go to Hell, then leaving. You have no obligation to stay there, so why waste your life at a place you hate trying to get people you hate to like you when it would be much simpler to just find someplace else where you can actually be happy?

This simple logic is completely lost on the vengeful ghost. For whatever inexplicable reason he has declared that he will be a part of your site, whether you like it or not. He's been banned more times than anyone can keep track of and he keeps coming back. In the end he's really only hurting himself, but good luck convincing him of that.

Why you can't get rid of him:
Because you already did. He obviously knows a way around whatever measures you took and like any good movie monster he keeps coming back for more. As with the crusader you could try talking to him and you might be able to convince him he'd be happier somewhere else, but honestly if that logic was capable of getting through to him you wouldn't be in this situation in the first place. The only other option is to just ban him whenever he comes back and wait for him to get the hint.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Non-Review: XBox 720 and Playstation 4 To Restrict Used Games?

Recently there've been rumors that the next generation of Sony's console will restrict the playability of used games; when a game is first played on a Playstation Orbis console it will rewrite the coding on the disc, tying it to that console forever. If it's ever placed into another Orbis it will play only as a demo copy, unless you buy a patch from Sony.

Microsoft's next console, the X Box 720, could possibly be even more restrictive. As with the Orbis the disc will be rewritten, returning an "unreadable" error on any other 720 console it's placed in. Other rumors say that Microsoft is planning on doing away with their disc drive entirely and offering every game as download only.

At the risk of bringing a lot of grief on myself, I have to admit that there could be some good to come if they do this. Of course, there could also be a lot of bad, and it might not matter anyway. With that in mind I give you another installment of a feature I'm calling Knight Argues Ineffectually With Himself And Somehow Loses.

Why this could be good:
In the old days you had to know what a game was like before you bought it, because once you bought it that was it. You might get lucky and sell it at a yard sale or something, but aside from that the only way you could get rid of the game is to give it away or throw it away.

The ability to trade a game back in to Game Stop or Replay has made consumers less discerning. There's just no need for a gamer to know what they're getting before buying when you can just take it back if you don't like it. While shovelware games have been around since the Atari, now even our good games are starting to suck. Compare what's considered a good game today (Mass Effect 3, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim) to what was considered a good game years ago (Final Fantasy 7, Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind) and there's no comparison. Even our best games today are released half-finished, a couple hours long at best, with key characters and plot points removed to be offered as DLC later. Developers can get away with this because consumers will buy a game without thinking, and consumers do that because if it sucks, who cares? They can take it back to Game Stop and get most of their money back guaranteed.

Not only that, but this will also lower the price of games. Not only does the game store keep 100% of the money from used games, they also take a cut from the new games too. This forces the developers to jack up the price of the new copies and is part of why we're paying 60 dollars for games. No used games means we could see the price drop back down to 40 dollars like in the old days, or maybe even less.

Why this could be bad:
Speaking of giving games away to your friends and family, some of you right now are probably wondering, do Sony and Microsoft even realize that sometimes more than one person in a household owns an X Box or Playstation, and might want to share games? Well, the answer is that they do, and as far as they're concerned if you let your brother borrow your copy of Mass Effect then you'd might as well shoot a cop and expose yourself to an underage boy too, because you're already the worst criminal in human history.

Here's a better question, though. What if your own console breaks and has to be replaced? Not only are you out the price of a new console, but now you have to re-buy all of your old games, which might cost you even more than the console, depending on how many you have.

Why it doesn't matter:
The May 2012 issue of Game Informer included a release from Microsoft saying that they will not restrict used games, and if you think about it it wouldn't make sense for them to do so anyway. It's almost certain that the first console to do so will crash and burn and the console manufacturers damn well know it. The only way any of them would be willing to take the risk is if all of them are doing it. With Nintendo already dominating console sales worldwide and having already said they won't restrict used games there's no way Microsoft and Sony will give up their share of the market.

The generation after next may very well see this restriction, but as for right now? There are too many technical, marketing, and diplomatic reasons why this is a stupid idea. Come back in ten years and maybe this will be an issue.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Video Game Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender

This Saturday, April 14th, marks the series premiere of Avatar: The Legend of Korra, the sequel series to Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender. The first two episodes, "Welcome to Republic City" and "A Leaf In The Wind" have already been put up for free viewing on Nick's website. I've watched them both multiple times and already I'm in love with the series.

In light of this I wanted to do a review related to the series in some way. Unfortunately I can't really review the Korra series based on two episodes and anything I could say about the Aang series would basically boil down to "this sure is a good show, you should watch it" and that wouldn't make for very interesting reading.

So instead, I'll be looking at some of the really BAD things associated with The Last Airbender. No, not Shyamalan's version, I already covered that. No, I'll be looking at something even worse if you can believe it: Avatar: The Last Airbender the video game. Three games, in fact, two for the Gameboy Advance and one for the Nintendo DS.

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Avatar: The Last Airbender, the creatively titled first game in the series, is set just before the first season finale...I think. Honestly, it's not entirely clear. Unlike the other game I'll be looking at, this story is what is called a gaiden or "parallel story," a story that branches off from - but is not actually a part of - an existing story.

The problem is, the story is quite possibly the worst part of this whole mess. It's about an angry Earth Kingdom mechanist who creates her own artificial avatar (basically a giant robot with elemental powers) in order to destroy the imperialist Fire Nation. Trust me when I say that description makes it sound much better than it is. None of this plot means anything, it's mostly just sort of there. Then, there's references to the machines being made of "a metal that's stronger than metal" and also the idea that destroying a statue of the avatar will kill him, both completely asinine concepts the show never would have insulted our intelligence with.

I do have to admit, there was at least a little bit of promise in the basic concept. If the development team had actually been competent then this might have been an awesome bit of extended universe material for the series. As it is, however...

KR Rating: [2] BAD

Avatar: The Burning Earth
Unlike the previous game, The Burning Earth actually takes place at a recognizable point in the show's actual timeline: specifically, it covers (and I use the term very loosely) the events of the second season, although everything after the episode The Drill (for those who haven't seen the show, this episode is about a drill) are "hidden" levels only accessible if you score high enough in all the previous levels. Even then it stops just before the season finale, presumably because developers Halfbrick hate the world.

At least the first game had the decency to try to tell you a story. Sure, you'd be lost if you didn't already watch the show, but at the very least the events of the game itself were coherent if not entirely plausible. Burning Earth, on the other hand, doesn't explain anything, instead relying on your own memory of the show to explain what the Hell's going on.

Here's the really big thing, though. We don't really need all that stuff if the game is at least fun. When I played Shaman King: Master of Spirits, also for the GBA, it didn't matter that I'd never seen the show, or that I had no idea who Yoh was or why he had a samurai ghost following him around. The game was a really fun Castlevania-style platformer and you could get some really cool abilities, and that was enough.

As much as I did enjoy launching baddies sky high as the earthbender Toph in the few levels she appeared in most of this game is just a boring series of switch puzzles. The first game had promise but was killed by a half-ass execution. This game never even cared at all and sucks on just about every conceivable level.

KR Rating: [0] SHOVEL

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Into The Inferno
After the previous two failures they made one last game a year later based off the show's third and final season. There are two notable changes here and both of them made the game somehow even worse than its predecessors.

The first and most obvious change is the switch from sprite-based graphics to 3D-rendered models. Words can not describe how monumental of a mistake this was. The Ember Island Players looked more like the actual characters than these models do.

Above: The GBA graphics. Below: The "improved" graphics, which show the giant sky bison Appa and the tiny lemur Momo as not only being the same size as each other, but the same size as everyone else too.

The second change is to the control system. The endless, tedious switch puzzles and boring combat are still intact, much to the delight of masochists everywhere, but rather than being controlled with the directional pad like a real game, they decided to do absolutely everything with the stylus and the touch pad, an acceptable decision if you're making a puzzle game like Trauma Center but very much less appropriate for an adventure game.

After playing this game I now understand why babies cry when there's nothing wrong with them. This game is everything that's wrong with the world.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Movie Preview: Total Recall (2012)

I'll admit, the first time I heard about the new Total Recall I thought the same thing most of you probably are thinking: "Really? ANOTHER remake? When will Hollywood just leave old movies the Hell alone?!" But the more I think about it, the more I feel like the new movie could be really, really good.

For the zero people who haven't seen the movie, it's about a man, Quaid, living a boring life in the suburbs. He goes to a company called Rekall that can implant false memories of whatever he wants, basically letting him believe he has led an exciting life when he hasn't. Quaid asks to remember being a top secret government agent, but when the Rekall employees begin the procedure they discover that the memories they were about to implant are already there and are real. His secret out, Quaid goes on the run from his former handlers who now want him dead, all while trying to figure out who the Hell he really is.

Total Recall is, believe it or not, based on a short story by Phillip K. Dick, called We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. The Dick story, though including a fair amount of action (and also having the clunkiest title ever), is primarily a psychological thriller. By the end we're left wondering if what we just read is real or if it's all in Quaid's (Quail's in the story) head.

While the movie does mention some of these concepts, in the end it suffers from what I like to call "Arnold Schwarzenegger." Like every movie the Governator has been in it became a big, dumb action movie with a feel-good ending. The question of whether Quaid is still in the chair at Rekall is brought up, but we're still left feeling as though what we've seen is most likely real.

Now don't get me wrong. I really liked the first Total Recall, but I feel as though it failed to live up to what it could have been: an action movie for the intellectual set, a film that combines gunfights and car chases with serious questions about human consciousness and what makes reality real. In short, it could have been The Matrix nine years early and without Keanu "Theodore Logan" Reeves.

If done properly the new Total Recall could finally live up to this potential, and from the looks of things it might be headed in that direction. It's being directed by Leonard Wiseman (Stargate, Underworld, Men In Black) and written by Kurt Wimmer (Sphere, Law Abiding Citizen, also Ultraviolet before editors hacked it to death) and will be starring Colin Farrel (Minority Report, Miami Vice, Horrible Bosses) so there is talent here. Producer Neal H. Moritz has also said he plans on following the source material more closely than the previous film did and that he will not be releasing the film in 3D, calling it "too much."

I know it's still a bit early to get excited for a movie that's still 4 months away (release date is presently August 3, 2012) but...holy shit, this is going to be the greatest movie ever!