I Am Excited About Never Alone

I’ll just come right out and say it:  I want – nay, need to play Never Alone.

Never Alone is a puzzle platformer by Upper One Games that is scheduled to release on November 18, 2014 for Xbox One, PS4, and Steam.  In it, the player controls Girl (sometimes called Nuna) and Fox.  Each of them has different abilities that are essential to progressing through the environment and its puzzles.  In two player co-op, the second player controls Fox.

Nuna and Fox are on a mission to “rescue her homeland from an endless blizzard.”  Oh, that homeland?  It’s the home of the Iñupiat, a group of Inuit people living in Alaska.

That’s right!  This isn’t just another game starring yet another generic white guy that’s marketed to – surprise! – white guys.  Never Alone is a game about indigenous Alaskans that is made by indigenous Alaskans.  It’s something new, something different, something empoweringAnd I am excited about it.

Before I continue, let me say that I have nothing against white guys in general.  My father is one.  My brother is one.  I’m married to a white guy, for crying out loud!  But, we hear stories from white guys’ perspectives all the time.  I love the white men in my life, but they aren’t the only people who exist.  I appreciate it when entertainment mediums acknowledge that fact.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are the reasons I’m so excited about Never Alone.

First of all, the game looks absolutely gorgeous.  It looks like a cuter, less frightening version of Limbo.  The atmosphere of gameplay videos is, well, I don’t know how best to describe it.  Haunting.  Ethereal.  Otherworldly.  I just love it.

Second, I love that I would support a Native Alaskan studio with this purchase.  Upper One Games was actually founded by a nonprofit organization – the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) – that seeks to better the lives of Native Alaskans through addressing unemployment, alcoholism, and other issues.  That’s a worthy cause.

Besides that, Never Alone is also a beautiful attempt by the CITC to connect with their youth.  Instead of shunning video games as a waste of time, Iñupiat elders saw them as a new platform for sharing their folklore and values with the young, Xbox-loving generation.  That’s just so inspiring to me.  Games are a great storytelling medium, and I’m glad that Upper One Games sees that.  Watch the video below to hear it from their point of view.

Third, the protagonist is female.  Not only that, she’s Iñupiaq.  Meaning?  She isn’t white.  Video games with exclusively female protagonists are hugely outnumbered by male-centered games.  They get only half the marketing support, too.  Games featuring characters of color, especially female ones, are rarer still.  A game that stars one as a protagonist is practically a unicorn.  (Movies don’t fare much better.)  I desperately want to support diversity in any media, but especially in video games.

Fun fact!  The traditional protagonist of this story – which is based on an old tale called Kunuuksaayuka – is actually a boy, but the game studio changed the character’s gender.  According to the Never Alone website:  “The team really wanted to create a strong, resourceful, smart, brave character who could be a great role model for girls. Great female characters have historically been woefully under-represented in video games and the team wanted to help change that – particularly since many have young daughters themselves.”  They get it.  They really get it.

Lastly, I hope Never Alone will spark a new movement in video games.  I hope that it will be wildly popular and show developers and publishers that courting the generic dudebro gamer isn’t the only way to success.  I hope that it leads to more women and people of color working in the video game industry.  It’s a lofty hope, I know, but it’s not impossible.  The gaming audience is a diverse one, and it’s time that the industry reflected that.

Some gamers crave diversity and a new experience.  We want characters and stories that represent a wider audience.  If you give us that in a quality video game, we will gladly support your efforts.  We know that stories are powerful, and we feel that all people deserve to have their stories told.

Apparently I’m Playing “The Hunger Games Adventures” Again

I’m not sure why, but this is happening.  I haven’t exactly tried to hide my contempt for The Hunger Games Adventures.  I’m so confused.  Why is this happening?

Okay, honestly, what had happened was.  I got lost on the Hunger Games wiki and saw that a map of Panem from The Hunger Games Adventures (HGA) included District 3.  I don’t remember what article on the site included this map, but it got my brain wheels a-turning.  See, HGA only labels a district on its map if the player can actually travel to that district.  This meant that the player could go to District 3.  And if the player could go to District 3… Could I meet Beetee!?

wildblueyoshi, wildblueyoshi.com, books, catching fire, the hunger games, i love beetee, katy bug, awkward

Beetee is the main reason that Catching Fire is my favorite book in the Hunger Games trilogy. The other reasons are “It’s exciting” and “Finnick” and “Johanna.” (Why do I look like I’m trying to EAT the book, though?)

And that’s how I started playing this stupid timesuck of a facebook “game” after a nearly two year hiatus.  I say “game” because it’s really just another cleverly disguised storefront for nudging players into microtransactions.  Don’t believe me?  You poor, naive creature.  The game is obviously geared to take advantage of those with little patience and even less financial self control.

In the game, the player has a certain amount of energy.  Almost everything players do uses up a little bit of energy (the amount depends on what they’re doing).  The energy will regenerate very slowly over time.  There are also in-game items that players can make and use to regain a little energy.  Occasionally, small amounts will “drop” when the player completes a task, but that’s rare.  When you run out of energy, you can’t do much of anything until it regenerates.

Or, you can purchase an energy refill with credits instead of waiting around for it to regenerate.  How does one get credits?  The game occasionally – very occasionally – gives the player credits for certain actions.  I have 285 right now, but I’ve never purchased anything with them.  I’m pretty sure I got most of them just for starting my game.  The rest were probably promotional things from Home Depot or Taco Bell or some similarly stupid attempt at advertising.

But, if I wanted to take matters into my own hands, I could always purchase HGA credits with facebook credits.

hunger games adventures, facebook credits, stupid
Those facebook credits?  Yeeeah.  They cost real money.  Real money that could pay for real video games that are a million times better than artfully disguised, timesucking, wallet invasions.

hunger games adventures, facebook credits, stupid

God help the idiots willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for the world’s stupidest point and click adventure game.

I would be willing to put up with this mess for Beetee, though.

Beetee has become my favorite Hunger Games character – although I love Haymitch, Johanna, and Finnick almost as much – and I got excited at the prospect of meeting him.  He might ask me to do some stupid fetch quests!  Maybe I could help him with an invention, too.  This is too much.

Enter:  sad trombone.  There is no Beetee.  There is no Beetee.  THERE IS NO BEETEE.

All that pointless, dumbass clicking for nothing.

wildblueyoshi, wildblueyoshi.com, cat, speck, kitty, tortie, tortoiseshell, you are stupid

“That’s the saddest, stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”  –  Speck

And Beetee’s not the only Victor who has failed to appear.  The player goes to District 4, but there is no Finnick.  You even go to Finnick’s house and help his assistant clean the yard and pool area.  Ugh.  This is some bullshit, y’all.

Logically, I know it makes sense that you don’t meet Beetee or Finnick at this point in HGA.  When you go to Districts 3 and 4, the seventy-fourth Hunger Games is still going on.  This means that Victors are at the Capitol, mentoring their tributes, instead of doing their normal routines in the districts.

I still hope that Beetee will make an appearance, though.  What other reason is there for playing this dumb game?

No, seriously.  Please give me some justification for the fact that I’m still playing this game.

2011-01-27-Traps, traps, buttersafeHEY! THAT’S JUST MEAN!
Even if it does explain a lot…

Can you think of a nicer reason for why I’m still playing The Hunger Games Adventures?  Am I stupid for sitting through overly aggressive advertisements just to see if I’ll eventually run into my favorite characters?

Comic taken from Buttersafe. Used with permission. Click image for link to original post on buttersafe.com.

Yoshi Is Weird

As an early anniversary present, Hubbles got me a copy of Yoshi’s New Island for the 3DS.  This man knows the way to my heart!  He downloaded the game directly to the 3DS, too, so I don’t even have to take Pokemon X out of the system in order to get some of that sweet Yoshi action.  I probably shouldn’t call it “sweet Yoshi action” though, should I?

Hey look at Speck!  She’s so cute!

cat, kitty, tortoiseshell, tortie, yoshi, speck, dinosaur, blue

This isn’t the best picture to make people forget about that borderline dino-erotica thing you just said about getting “some of that sweet Yoshi action.”  Just so you know.

Anyway, after playing a few levels, I have some thoughts about Yoshi.  Mainly:  Yoshis are freaking weird. Continue reading

Summer Camp and Adorable Woopers

Earlier this summer, I worked as the pianist for an arts camp.  It was so much fun!  I loved working with the campers and with the camp’s vocal director.  Some of the campers were so smart and talented that it almost scared me.

On the first day of camp, I wore my Pokeball necklace and earrings that I made.  Several campers, including a girl named Maddie, were totally enamored with my jewelry.  After class, Maddie and another camper named Rebecca started talking with me about my jewelry, and our conversation quickly became a discussion of our favorite Pokemon.  I, of course, mentioned that Pikachu and Wooper are my favorites.

The next day, Maddie gave me this.

wooper, pokemon, wildblueyoshi, wildblueyoshi.com, maddie lowry, madeline lowry, art, hand drawnHow sweet!  She drew a Wooper for me!

After that, I found out that Maddie has weird a interest in serial killers and true crime just like I do.  We share some less weird interests, too, like classic rock and Pokemon.  Besides all that, she’s a great artist.  She’s pretty good with pencil and paper, obviously.  One day she pulled out her phone and showed me pictures of stuffed animals and AMAZING pottery she’s made, and all I could do was stare in awe.  She’s one rad kid!

That was only one highlight from my camp experience.  Working with campers like Maddie was great.  I hope the camp invites me back as the pianist next summer!  In the meantime I need to figure out where to display Maddie’s Wooper.  It’s so adorable that I just have to frame it.

Four in February 2014: FAIL

Welp.  I kind of failed at Four in February this year.  I was successful last year, but I ended up having a lot more stuff to do this year that had nothing to do with video games.  Who knew that I had all this work to do?  Real life sucks sometimes.

wildblueyoshi, wildblueyoshi.com, phone call, cell phone, katy bug, real life, you kinda suck right now

“Hello. Is this real life? This is Katy. Just wanted to let you know that you kinda suck right now.”

February was filled with work, decorating our house, moving furniture, litterbox scooping…  Gaming didn’t fit into that very well.  Anyway, without further ado, here is my fail list for Four in February 2014.

Borderlands 2:  Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt

Okay, this was more of a Pyrrhic victory than a straight up failure.  This DLC package for Borderlands 2 is the only one of my Four that I beat.  I played through it in a co-op game with Hubbles.  We liked it well enough at first, but some of the missions are so tedious that playing became a real drag.  Der monstrositat frustrated us to the point where we just abandoned the mission entirely.

We died many cheap deaths before we ever even got to the terribly designed final boss – who, by the way, sucked all the remaining fun out of this DLC.  It should be renamed “Cheap Death Magee.”  Borderlands usually has enough character and humor to offset small gameplay issues, but “Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt” was sorely lacking in the fun department.  Simply put, I don’t recommend it very highly.

Pokemon X

I just plain suck at beating Pokemon games in a timely fashion.  All I planned to do this month was to beat the last four gym leaders, but I only beat two of them.  Oh, well.  At least my goal made me progress a tiny bit faster than I normally do.  I intend to get the last two badges this month for “More in March.”  More in March is a thing that folks on the Four in February facebook page invented last year for those who didn’t finish their Four in February.  I plan to make good use of it after my terrible performance last month.  That’s two weeks to prepare for each gym.  If I can’t handle that then I have bigger problems than “real life.”

cat, kitty, tortoiseshell, tortie, speck, maine coon, ibsen, shitcake, wildblueyoshi, sleep

“You wanna talk real life? You take me to the vet, force medicine into me, and then you make me come home to deal with the fuzzy yellow shitcake back there. Still wanna talk real life?”
Thank you, Speck, for that attitude adjustment.

Breath of Death VII

You know how I said that I was doing well with this one two weeks ago?  Uh, about that…  For no reason whatsoever I suddenly stopped playing it.  This game is so fun.  Why did I start ignoring it?  I must remedy this ASAP.  Unfortunately, I won’t have time to play it for at least a day.  WHYYYYYYYY

Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Yup… Still haven’t touched it.  I haven’t even set up my retro gaming station.  I am made of fail.

I am ashamed.  I hope you did better with Four in February than I did.  The only thing left for me to do is cry and play catchup for More in March.

Magical Tetris Cup

My sister-in-law, Sarha, likes to give me coffee mugs.  She knows that I’ll use them, so they make for “safe” gifts.  These aren’t just any old mugs, though.  These mugs are awesome.  Did I mention the Ninja Turtles coffee mug she gave me?  No?  It makes coffee taste EVEN BETTER than it already does.

Anyway, she gave me a magical Tetris mug for my birthday.  It’s pretty rad.  Look at it.  LOOK AT IT.

mug, coffee mug, tetris, magical, heat change, i like to drink tea out of this one

Please don’t tell Sarha that I usually drink tea out of it. She probably pictured me drinking coffee out of it, but its size is better suited to the slightly smaller cups of tea that I make. Shhh!

Oh dear, what are those blocks of gray on the mug?  Good question!  Pour a hot beverage into it and voila:  transformation.

mug, coffee mug, tetris, magical, heat change, i like to drink tea out of this one

Now I want tea.

It’s just a heat change mug, so it’s not exactly magical.  All the same, I like to say “Magic!” whenever I pour hot drinks into it.  Don’t act like you wouldn’t do the same.

I love how its heat changed image shows the line piece – called an I tetromino – falling into place.  It’s that rare but awesome moment every Tetris player longs for.  However, I think the score and level don’t quite match up.  Level 15 is difficult because the pieces are falling really fast at that point.  Don’t you get more points for making lines at higher levels?  I really think that players would have more than 11,000 points by the time they get to level 15.

Looks like I need to test this.  I need to pull out my old Tetris cartridge and make some lines!  Er, after Four in February is over.  I still have some work to do.  Lots of work

What do you think of my mug?  Didn’t Sarha do a great job?  When it comes to giving gifts, she’s like a real life Leslie Knope.*

*Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec gives great gifts.  This has special significance in regards to this post because Sarha and I both love Parks and Rec.  She and I were Ron and Leslie, respectively, for Halloween a few years ago.

Now I want waffles.  If you watch Parks and Rec you’ll get the reference.

Note:  The pictures are affiliate links to Amazon.com.

Four in February 2014: Katy Bug’s (Lackluster) Midway Update

It’s Valentine’s Day!  You know what that means:  we’re halfway through Four in February!

cat, kitty, tortoiseshell, tortie, speck, wildblueyoshi, excitement, sleep

Continue reading