Resolutions – Broadening My Horizons

I can’t begin to tell you how many games I finished this year. Yakuza 3, Demon’s Souls, the entire Zelda series; this year has been one of the most productive for me in terms of finishing virtual tasks. As I’m literally a few hours away from completing Unreal 2, I believe I’ll end 2011 with a grand total of 65 games finished.

Yet, there are things I didn’t do this year; I didn’t play a single JRPG, Racing game or Sports title. I’ve also neglected my own social life. If there is any resolution I plan to make for next year, it will be to broaden my horizons.

This past week was a very pleasant one for me. At long last, I was able to meet fellow blogger VenusInFurs. We walked around the Union Square area of New York and had a wonderful afternoon getting to know each other better. We talked about whatever came to mind and nearly froze to death from the colossal winds.

That kind of thing is what I need to do more of next year. I don’t necessarily mean meeting other DToid members, but I do need to focus more on expanding myself to other people. I’ve only recently begun friendships at work, so why not take the extra step?

My trips to bars have even been a bit more fruitful recently. I was hanging out with my DJ friend and some girl walked up to me and told me her friend thought I was cute. Well, I strolled right on over and spoke to her. I even got her number (regardless of how that later failed). That’s something.

Gaming wise, I think I’ll finally tackle Command & Conquer 3 next year. A game I had wanted when I was in college (in 2007), I bought it on a Steam sale and have neglected playing it. As a matter of fact, I haven’t even touched Shogun 2: Total War either.

In an effort to bond with some of my fellow co-workers, I may also buy my first Madden game in 12 years. I know nothing of sports, but NBA Jam is just too awesome, so maybe I can dig the NFL.


THAT’S SOME FOOTBALL!

One thing I neglected this year was my love of cinema. I’ve always had a penchant for films, but I only managed to catch about four movies. Three of them I didn’t even care for, but I’ll happily say “Winnie The Pooh” was the best thing I saw this year; hands down.

Since everyone talks about the mega blockbusters and mainstream cinema, maybe I’ll just force myself to go. I have no problem plowing through games I dislike, so cinema should be a lot easier to digest. At least I could converse a bit more with others.

I loved that I saw a bunch of concerts this year and they weren’t all in the same genre. I didn’t think I’d ever get to see “The Big 4,” but that is now something I can check off my bucket list. I also caught Mastodon and Deadmau5, so I think for next year, I’ll focus more on classic rock and indie/local bands.

Regardless of what I do, though, I know that next year is going to be about exploring areas I haven’t dared before. I can’t promise that I’ll kiss someone, but I have a good feeling. If anything, I have enough cash saved now that I can buy a girl a drink and not regret it.

I also plan on finishing the test for my motorcycle license. I’ve come so far and the damn DMV is not going to stop me (regardless of how asinine their tests and policies are). I can finally bust out my Chuck Greene jacket and feel bad ass.


Maybe I’ll get the paddle going, too…

So look out 2012! If everything goes well, I’m going to kick your ass thoroughly! Don’t come crying to me, either! I’ll be too happy to notice your sadness.

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I’ll Never Cross That River

Nature nurture heaven and home
Sum of all and by them driven
To conquer every mountain shown
But I’ve never crossed the river

Puscifer’s song “The Humbling River” pretty much sums up my experience with Dark Souls. While I’ve cleared a few areas in one try, instances like that are countable on one hand. Most of the time, I approach something and fail numerous times.

Often times, my brushes with failure would lead me to a dark path. I would lose hope in the face of peerless strength. I’d ask myself, “Why can’t I beat this fucker?!” It’s tough to rationalize to yourself why you’ve been able to tackle gigantic wolves and minotaurs, but you make blunders in the face of a tree.

So while I’ve been around most of the world in Dark Souls, there are still certain areas where I tremble a bit. Every time I enter the sewers of the Depths, I fear that I’ll run into the cursing toads. When I trek into the Tomb of the Giants, I become paralyzed at the thought of those giant skeletons (a closet fear of mine).

Brave the forest, brave the stone
Brave the icy winds and fire
Braved and beat them on my own
Yet I’m helpless by the river

Braving every kind of environment doesn’t prepare one for the horrors of the bosses. While some areas are more intimidating in appearance, others actually prove quite deadly. Sen’s Fortress is a prime example of a cautionary area. Walking too fast will see you slammed by a boulder or sliced by a swinging axe.

The Catacombs are also home to many a pit. Falling drops you into areas where you are surrounded by skeletons. What makes this worse is how the skeletons won’t die until you find the sorcerer conjuring them. As if pitfalls weren’t bad enough.

The Demon’s Ruins are also littered with lava and flames, making travel extremely frustrating. Failing to take your surroundings into account will lead to a very untimely and disheartening death.

Angel, angel what have I done
I face the quakes, the wind, the fire
I’ve conquered country,crown, and throne
Why can’t I cross this river

When times get tough, I sit and ponder my actions. “Why am I failing? What am I doing wrong?!” Dark Souls requires me to carefully plan my attacks and attempt different things each time. Repeating what is safe often ends up with wasted efforts.

I think back to previous successes and my rage builds. I will myself to continue and lull myself into a false sense of security. I tell myself, “This is it!” and I press on. When I see the boss, my heart begins to race and I start shaking.

I take a few hits and shrug them off. The adrenaline surges and my eyes widen. My grip tightens and my breathing ceases. I flinch every time an attack comes at me and swear loudly when it connects. I pray that this will be the time.

And then I lose.

Pay no mind to the battles you’ve won
It’ll take a lot more than rage and muscle
Open your heart and hands my son
Or you’ll never make it over the river

I rest my head in defeat, ready to give up for the moment. I then remember that Co-op is a valid option. Others must surely be having the same struggles as I, so why not lend a helping hand?

I drop my soul sign and wait. While this usually yields nothing, sometimes I’m summoned and the two of us hike forward. Upon entering a boss arena with another person, I calm my nerves and allow them to tank.

While they are going to town on the guy, I’ll draw agro slowly and surely. As the boss winds up for an attack, I make a few quick jabs and draw its attention. I then retreat and allow my new best friend to continue his assault.

Still, he is only human as well and shares my same fears. He falters and takes damage. I see a dramatic drop off in HP on his bar and cry in fear! Unable to heal him, I desperately tackle the boss and give it my all.

I’ve failed again!

It’ll take a lot more than words and guns
A whole lot more than riches and muscle
The hands of many must join as one
And together we’ll cross the river

Nearly at wits end, I revive myself to human form and look for multiple compatriots. Three is always better than two, so I ease my own fears when I see an NPC and human coming into battle with me.

We sprint at the boss and begin to whittle his health down. Now that I have an extra ally, my own inhibitions are set free and I’m able to strike without fear. Nothing holds me back.

My actions become a second nature. No more guessing whether R2 does strong or L1 blocks. Instincts take over and impulses flow. Swords clash with flesh and blood sprays into the air.

My comrades are all on their A games and the boss begins to tremble. His health bar depletes faster by the second and we all close in. The three of us continue our assault.

We finally cross that river!

That ultimate victory is what makes Dark Souls something incredibly special. No game I’ve played give me this kind of rush. While the failures are strong and their impact often makes my question my skill, sticking to your guns and pulling through is a feeling that is unparalleled in gaming.

Still, since I’m not finished with the game, I will be staring at that river yet again. Nito, you’re going to make me cower. I’ll curse, I’ll shake, I’ll tremble and I’ll doubt, but my strength will get me to cross that river.