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Ninja Blues: I’m writing there now!

Alright, I’ve got good news and I’ve got weird news.

The good news is, I’m writing about games again! The weird news is, I’m not posting it here anymore.

If you read this site, chances are you also know about my buddy Jarenth and his site Blue Screen of Awesome. He does his weekly column Indie Wonderland, and he’s managed to stick with his weekly routine while I sort of dropped off the face of the blogging world.

So, why did I drop off the face of the blogging world? Well, when I started out I was also sticking to a weekly schedule — a post every Friday. Once I picked up some regular readers I got motivated to post more often, and so I tossed the schedule out the window. Since I was posting on days other than Friday, I didn’t feel the need to post on Friday. Then eventually a week went by without me posting. I felt bad about it, but oh well. Eventually I hit two weeks. Then three. Then four.

As most of you probably know, I suffer from clinical depression. Depression is kind of like an emotional bully that stands behind you all the time, constantly whispering into your ear about how much you suck. When I saw that I hadn’t posted in awhile, my depression told me I was failing all my readers by not posting anything. I felt immense pressure to start writing again, but I felt like my posts had to be really good to make up for the time wasted, and most of the time I was too afraid to pick it back up.

Jarenth originally intended for BSOA to be a collaborative effort between him and his friends, but his friends all dropped off the site, one by one, and it eventually became a solo effort. He and I discussed both of our blogs, and we came to the conclusion that I would feel less pressured if the site I posted on was still getting posts without my constant input. And he was still keen on the idea of a collaborative site.

So, since neither of our individual sites went according to our plans, why don’t we pool our efforts into a new site?

Spoiler: We did exactly that! So feel free to visit ninja-blues.com. Jarenth will continue to write Indie Wonderland posts there, and I have my own column called Talk of the Ninja. (Get it?!) We even commissioned my wonderful and talented girlfriend Val to make the artwork.

I’ve already written two posts (one about Plants vs. Zombies 2, which you should totally play, and one about the prospect of a game about a loving and fulfilling relationship, because it was Valentine’s Day and wouldn’t you know I’ve been feeling lovey-dovey lately.) I have more posts queued, and I have plans to make content of a sort you haven’t seen from me before.

What does this mean for Ninja Game Den? It means the site will continue to do what it’s been doing: collecting Internet dust. But assuming you follow this site because you like my writing, rather than because you like the Ninja Gaiden pun in the blog’s name, then you’ll find what you’re looking for at Ninja Blues. I guess what I’m trying to say is: The good news is that I’m writing again, and the other good news is that my work is sharing a home with that of another video game blogger you might be interested in.


Recent Internet stuff I’ve made

Alright, so I haven’t been posting here, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been releasing any content online. I figured I’d let any people that might still consider themselves “fans” of this blog to know three recent things I’ve done:

1. My friends and I have started a Youtube gaming channel!

Oh, you mean Insert Game Here?

No. We decided to scrap IGH and start a new one. We stopped uploading videos on it awhile ago and when we all gathered around to start again, we didn’t like what we had. We didn’t like that we tied ourselves down to a full playthrough of a super-long game, we didn’t like that having all four (and even five, later on) of us present at once made the commentary a clusterfuck, and we didn’t like that we tried from the start to use our “usernames” rather than our actual names.

So we’re just going to pretend we never made any of that shit, and now we’ve started up a new channel called Self Checkout.

Self Checkout? Why’s it called that? I thought this was supposed to be about video games?

Here, our intro video sort of explains it:

Note: I’m the one in the Hawaiian shirt and straw hat. Yeah, my name’s Justin. That’s the J in JPH.

We’ve posted two videos so far, I believe. I’m not in either of them. We’re going to mostly play games in groups of two or three; the four of us will probably only be together during party games like Smash Bros. I have my own plan for a solo LP, and our new capture card just might allow me to follow through with it.

2. My partner-in-crime Val and I have started a podcast that’s actually not about video games!

You do stuff that isn’t video games?

I know, right? It surprised me too. The podcast is called Read It And Gripe, and in it we read and criticize the hell out of poorly-written young adult fiction. Here’s our first episode:

We read the first chapter of Evermore, which is presumably a hilariously stupid romance/melodrama/tragedy novel, if the hilariously stupid first chapter is anything to go by, but it’s also a playground for nitpickers like us.

We’ve already got a list of shitty books to read the first chapters of, but if you’d like to suggest one, feel free!

3. I wrote a guest post on friend Jarenth’s blog Blue Screen of Awesome.

It’s about a recent indie game called Rogue Legacy, and the post is pretty much the sort of thing you’d expect to read here. I sent it to Jarenth instead because he’s been too busy doing science stuff in the States to write his own weekly post.

So yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to lately. I have a lot more project ideas, but inspiration is hard, damn it.


A Bundle of Updates

I’m going to provide updates about stuff.

Game Analyses/Reviews

I used to write a lot of reviews and analyses of games here. That’s sort of died off, for the most part. Why is that? I used to blame the fact that depression and work was eating up my time and taking away my motivation to write. That may be part of it, but I think I’ve figured out the real problem:

It’s Twitter’s fault.

Yahtzee mentioned the weapon system in Darksiders 2, which made me think about equipment finding in dungeon crawlers and RPGs in general. If Twitter wasn’t around, I’d have written an entire post about this subject on NGD. Instead I wrote less than 700 characters on the subject via Twitter. I’ve been sharing a lot of my thoughts about games on Twitter lately, and I’m not sure I want that to continue. I get a much greater sense of accomplishment writing a full post here, and I have the space to more adequately explain my opinions.

So I’m going to try to restrain myself on Twitter from here on out. Hopefully this will lead to more posts about games I’ve been playing.

The Game I’m Making

I’m getting the narrative of my game much more fleshed out. I actually have the beginning and the ending all planned, and the middle is… Well, I definitely have a much better idea of it. I’ve also got a title for it, or at least a tentative one: I’m Just Tired. It will make sense in context. I promise.

As for the actual game design, i.e. messing around with Construct: No progress since last time. Sorry. I blame personal stuff and employment.

Oh, speaking of employment…

I Quit My Job

Well, sort of. I turned in my two-weeks notice a few days ago, which means in about twelve days I’ll be unemployed. Moneys be damned, but it was just something I needed to do.

I don’t have any jobs lined up, so I’ll be looking, but in the meantime this will hopefully mean more progress on my game and more posts in the near future. You know, whenever I find time between Guild Wars 2 and sleep.

Oh, speaking of Guild Wars 2…

Guild Wars 2

Awesome game. I’ve been playing it perhaps more than I should. I’ve got a level 52 Asura warrior and a level 13 human thief. If you’re on the Henge of Denravi server and want to hit me up, my account handle is JPH.6087. I’m in the Eikosi League, the official guild of Twenty Sided.

I actually considered making an official Ninja Game Den guild, but since a large portion of the guild would probably just be a subset of Eikosi League, the NGD guild probably wouldn’t get much action.

Oh, but speaking of official Ninja Game Den stuff…

Ninja Game Den Steam Group

I made a Steam group for NGD! Check it out by clicking on this text that I’m typing right here, this stuff, yeah.

I’d love to get us all together and maybe organize some Team Fortress 2 or Counter Strike: Global Offensive sessions. Or something, I dunno. Let me know if you have any ideas or if you’d be up for it!

And hey, speaking of a thing…

New Project

I have a new project in mind that I’ll probably maybe do here, probably. It’s a text-based Let’s Play about a game that I’m not going to reveal until I’m done with work. I’m sorry. Leave me alone! I’m just tired, alright?


Happy Birthday! Also, Announcement

Yes, happy new year and all that. What some of you might not realize is that today doesn’t just mark the start of 2012; it’s also the one-year anniversary of the start of Ninja Game Den!

Well, technically I created the blog awhile before January 1st of last year, but that was the day I published my first post and publicized the blog. That was long before most of you would discover it, but whatever, this is a pretty big deal for me, alright?

I now feel morally obligated to do something special to mark the occasion. So here we go: I’d like to announce that in a few days I’ll be starting a Livestream playthrough of The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. I plan to make this a regular thing, as I previously attempted with Fallout.

But JPH! You remember how Fallout went, don’t you?

Yes, I do. Morrowind is a different game. I’ve played it a decent amount already, and I didn’t find it utterly dreadful like I did with Fallout. But it does have a lot of boring stretches, and I figure it’ll be less boring if I have people to talk to along the way.

So, JP, what mods are you going to use?

This might sound a bit outrageous, but I’m not planning on using any, except for the Morrowind Code Patch, which fixes a number of bugs and miscellaneous issues (and, among other things, lets me toggle sneak mode).

I understand that the Morrowind modding community is impressively huge and talented, but for the purposes of a Let’s Play, introducing even one addition or feature that the designers didn’t intend for would open up a host of issues. Firstly, it could cause glitches within the game that weren’t there in the first place. Secondly, if I want to criticize the game for some minute detail, it could become hard to tell whether that issue is from the game itself or from the mods, and this problem would become more prominent with more mods included. And most importantly, it opens the floodgates for people to say “You’re not using the right mods! You should use these instead! They make the game way better!”

The first streaming day is set for Friday, January 6th. I won’t be free every Friday, and I honestly can’t say when I will be free, because my work schedule is completely erratic and unpredictable. I think I’ll just have to pick days that I’m off and announce those dates for streaming a few days in advance.

I’m not sure what build I’ll go for. The character I built for my secluded playthrough is an acrobatic ninja-type khajit, because what else would I do, honestly. For the LP I’m thinking I’ll roll a mage. An acrobatic mage, natch, but a mage nonetheless. I don’t know how magic works in this game, but I’ve heard that spellcrafting is one of the most fun things to do in Morrowind, so that might be the best option to showcase the game and to make me actually like it.

What do you think I should play as? Post a comment and say so. Or just show up on Friday and make your suggestion then.


Some Notes About Stuff

I wanted to address a few things.

The Aliens vs. Predator business

I just knew that if I said I was going to do something, it would be that much harder to actually do it. Many people operate more efficiently when under pressure, but it seems that whenever I’m under pressure, even if I put that pressure on myself, I will consistently say “Fuck it!” and go play whatever flash game is hot on Kongregate.

For the record, procrastination isn’t the only reason why I haven’t done the reviews yet. I recently watched the movie Alien via Netflix rental, what with everybody recommending it. (As for whether or not I enjoyed it: I did, sure. It was an uncomplicated horror movie, but it was very well made.) Watching it changed my perspective on the games; for example, neither of the games ever really established the fact that some people are actually androids. You’re just forced to figure it out when you kill a human and find you can’t bite his head, and then notice he’s bleeding some sort of strange white blood. Now I see the reason for this is because the game expects us to have watched the movies, and in Alien it’s a very gradual reveal.

Anyway, now I feel that I should wait until after I’ve watched Aliens, the sequel that’s next up on my Netflix queue, and then play through each of the campaigns again with my new perspective on the lore. Things will probably make far more sense, and I’ll be able to make more relevant, informed criticisms.

So the point I’m getting at is that those reviews aren’t coming for awhile. If they’re ever coming at all. Let me know if you’re looking forward to reading my thoughts on the games, by the way. If nobody actually cares, I just won’t bother. But if people do genuinely want to hear what I have to say on the subject, then I’ll definitely stick with it.

For now I already have other post ideas and other games to talk about. I have a lot of free time these days, though now most of it may get eaten up by…

NaNoWriMo!

Thinking of participating this year. I’ve never done so before, and I haven’t written original fiction in a long damn time, but this might be a good way to get back into the groove. I might even upload my story to this site at the end of November, though since I haven’t written in forever and will only have 30 days, it might be crap.

I definitely won’t meet the ludicrous goal of 50k words, since I don’t even know what I’m going to write about yet (though it’ll most likely involve ninjas). But hey, I might end up with something entertaining, even if it’s in a hilariously bad B-movie sort of way.