Monday, October 29, 2012

Character Breakdown: Kratos

Name: Kratos, God of War
Game(s): God of War 1, 2, 3.  God of War prequels.  Mortal Kombat.  Assorted cameos.
  • Unparalleled warrior
  • Vengeful
  • Ruthless
  • Determined
  • Powerful
  • Flawed
Let's start at square one.  Kratos is a badass.  This is a character specifically designed to enact every cathartic, violent power fantasy that every gamer has.  His movements ooze strength and power, his combat is brutal and unflinching, and the game overall is animated, dark, and gory.  Kratos is the epitome of desensitized anti-hero, driven solely by personal motives, and uncaring of the consequences of his actions.

Kratos wields two chained blades as his main weapon, though he masters several other styles of weapons in his journey as well.  As a spartan, he is a warrior without peer, striking down anyone or anything that gets in his way.  His combat style is flashy and violent, with lots of face smashings, joint breakings, and literally ripping people in half.

He is frighteningly strong, but even more than this, he is unrelenting.  He doesn't tire, and he never stops.  Physically, this is an astounding feat, considering all he goes through in his adventures.  Mentally, his determination is admirable, though it leads him to be ruthless and uncaring, sometimes to his own destruction.  Kratos is a flawed and damaged character, who spends most of his time recovering from the deep, and somewhat self inflicted wounds on his own psyche.

As usual, we're going to look at Kratos' physical capabilities first.  We're going to focus on a workout style promoting a mix of explosive power, and astounding endurance.  Then we'll take a look at skills and combat style, focusing on efficiency of movement, power techniques, and brutal self defense.  Finally we'll take a peek into the damaged psyche of the Ghost of Sparta, and how Kratos causes many of his own problems and conflicts, and what we can learn from it.

It's good to be back, and I'm psyched to be doing one of the most iconic characters from the modern era! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, or like the blog page on Facebook to get a heads up on blog updates!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Wrapping up Dovahkiin, and where this blog will be going.

Hey guys!  Okay, let's put a cap on Dovahkiin, by examining the idea of being a hero in Skyrim.  Skyrim is so addicting, in part, because it is the ultimate escape game.  You have an entire world simulated in front of you, and a character that you can literally mold any way that you like.  This is addicting in that you can do fantastical things in Tamriel that you can't do in the real world. It's addicting(and my half dozen characters spread across several hundred play hours speaks to that).

Something you have to remember, though, is that real life gives you a chance to do things you can't do in Skyrim.  True, you can't slay dragons, or shoot magic fireballs(although Prometheus Device guy does a pretty good job), but you can buy a house(for real), or feel the touch and love of another person, or know that truly alive feeling you get when you do something amazing like go bungie jumping or whitewater rafting.  The real world and the game world are different, and each have its own strengths.  It would be both a conflict of interest, and pretty alienating, to suggest you stop playing games and exist only "irl."  But you should remember that every day is also a chance for you to have a real-world adventure.  You can go out, and level up yours skills. Take chances, face down challenges, adapt, and live.  And then come home and play Skyrim till you pass out that night =P

In the interest of leveling up myself, I've made a few decisions regarding this blog, as well.  I would like to put more time into it.  But as you've seen from my two hiatuses in its existence, that's difficult sometimes.  Real life gets in the way.  Part of the reason for this is money.  As such, I've decided I'm going to start generating revenue via this blog.  It's not going to be anything crazy or obtrusive.  I'm thinking of starting with some Amazon referral links, and maybe some unobtrusive ads from Adsense or Project Wonderful.  I'm also thinking of setting up a chip-in jar where you guys can donate money towards extra updates or something.  I'm open to ideas here, so feel free to suggest them.

The good news is, with this renewed focus, I will most likely be moving the blog to a more permanent and customizable home.  This will probably be a bit in the future for now, but I'm going to be looking into snagging a URL and webhost for it.  This will most likely come with a redesign, including a more intuitive layout, so look forward to it.  Additionally, I'm looking to just write more in general.  I've got another blog brewing, and I'm thinking about writing a book or two as well.  I like writing, I think I'm decent at it, and other people seem to enjoy it, so I figure, why not?

I saw a massive resurgence in visits to the blog when I posted that update yesterday, and I thank you all for sticking with me.  I know we're gonna have some cool adventures.  =) This will probably be the last post until Monday.  Keep an eye on the Facebook page and my Twitter so you know when the next update goes out!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Skills of Dovahkiin: Your Life as an RPG

Ever wanted to Fight like Dovahkiin?  Well now you can, with the Video Game Combat Guide: Sword and Shield!

Hi guys!  Sorry it's been so long!  I've missed all of you :(  My life is, as always, busy, but I missed writing and I have etched out time and found inspiration to continue!  Yay!

So, where were we? Oh yeah, we were on Dovahkiin, the nord/redguard/orc/breton/argonian/khajiit/dunmer/falmer/altmer star of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim  He/she is a moldable, malleable character, and has honestly been a bit of a challenge to write for in our normal format.  So!  Let's look at the (possible) skills of Dovahkiin!

  • Swords, maces, axes, bows, and pointy things.(no fists perk tree ;-; )
  • Shields, armor, and protecty things.
  • Blacksmithing, enchanting, alchemy, and crafty things.
  • Sneaking, stealing, lockpicking, and subterfuge-y things.
  • Fireballs, lightning, invisibility, mind control, and magic-y things
So, some or all of these things are approachable.  I'm going to touch a bit on the things we haven't in a bit, but first I want to highlight Skyrim's leveling mechanic.  If you've played any elder scrolls game, you know where I'm going with this.  If you haven't, then let me enlighten you.  Elder Scrolls games emulate real life in that, the more you use something, the better you get at it, skill-wise.  Other games are starting to do this now, but the ES series is kind of the hipster of the crowd.  They were, in fact, doing it before it was cool.

How does this apply to you?  Well, like I said, they are attempting to emulate real life.  When you do things more often, you get better at them.  This should seem pretty straightforward, but a lot of people don't know or think that it applies to everything.  Natural talent can help, sometimes, but it's no substitute for hard work, even for things like art.  And this applies to EVERYTHING.  Not good at talking to the opposite sex?  Practice(even on something like Chatroullette [warning, Chatroullette may contain penises]).  It's said it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a  master at something.  In martial arts, we say you have to perform a move 10,000 times before it becomes yours.  So if you want to get good at something, do it, even if you suck! Getting better will come with time.

Now, that said, let's take a look at Skyrim's skill offerings.

Swords, maces, axes, bows, point things:  This is something we've covered before.  Look into finding a local historical fencing/stage combat organization.  Purchase or make a bow, get a target, and go practice in your backyard.  Get a couple PVC pipes, wrap them in foam, and challenge your friends to duels!  The most important thing is to get out there and do.

Shield, armor, protective things: Harder to do on the armor part, but if you can find a good rennaissance organization, or stage combat organization, they can help!  Barring that, strap a belt on a piece of plywood and pair it up with your PVC foam boffers and, again, challenge your friends to combat!

Blacksmithing, enchanting, alchemy, crafting things: Ooh, this is fun. I recommend Instructables as a starting place.  Blacksmithing at home is actually more possible than you think, and probably cheaper than you think, too.  Enchanting is kind of difficult, as magic-by-the-bethesda-definition doesn't exactly exist in the real world, but I'll bet if you pick an "effect" you'd like your object to have, you can figure out a way to do it with some Instructables!  If you're more the alchemy type, you can look into herbal medicine and wild plant identification for the more holistic potion side.  I like First Ways: An Urban Foraging Blog as a good starting point for this sort of thing.  If you're more the pure science type, then maybe you should start experimenting with chemistry in your spare time!  Here's a couple links.

Sneaking, stealing, lockpicking, and subterfuge-y things: I am not one to encourage illegal activities, but learning to be stealthy is fun without illegal rewards required!  Practice sneaking up on wild animals, that's really hard.  Or practice sneaking up on family members, if you want to be creepy.  Here's the Army Field Manual appendix on being a sneaky person.  Lockpicking is also fun and harmless, if you choose for it to be!  The awesome people over at lifehacker have this nifty guide. There's also the Greg Miller site, for a more comprehensive look!  For pickpocketing...well, I wouldn't condone such a thing, but I've heard tales of pickpockets hanging strings on bags and extracting wallets from them without ringing the bells.  Not that I would encourage such a thing.  If you do decide to take this course of action, remember that in the real world, your actions have consequences, and jail time doesn't just pass in a day.

Fireballs, lightning, invisibility, mind control, and magic-y things: This is the more difficult of things to emulate in the real world, for previously mentioned non-real-magic reasons.  However, for fireballs, lightning, and even invisibility, you can probably resort to nifty gadgets, many of which you can find on the previously mentioned Instructables.  For mind control, your best bet is probably learning body language.  There's lots of resources online for how to do this.  Also, look up the book titled, "How to Win Friends and Influence People."  It was written a while ago, but is FAR from outdated.  The principles outlined within it will go far for increasing your people skills, and your ability to bend others to your will(mwahaha). 

The bottom line, is, again, practice.  Pick a skill, and GO FOR IT!  And try to focus on just one to start, it will make your life much easier in the long run(don't worry, you have plenty of time to master anything you'd like).

So that's it for today.  It's good to be back, folks.  I'm not sure what kind of update schedule I'm going to be on for the time being, so I suggest you keep an eye on the Facebook page and my Twitter so you know when the next update goes out!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace