Thursday, March 20, 2014

Life, The Universe, and Everything Else That Comes To Mind

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I've been in a lot of confusion about my life and I've also not come up with many answers. I've even looked to science to try and help me feel like there's more purpose to my life when I don't feel like I have any. I feel no hope for moving forward and questioning if I even do have a greater purpose. It's all really big and I feel like an ant.

Lately, I've found myself asking a lot of questions. Some of these relate to things like my life, my future, and the future of those around me. Other times, these questions come in the form of bigger thoughts, like everything around us; the Earth, the stars, the universe, and so-forth. I'm not sure if all of these thoughts conflicting with each other is my reason for feeling the need to write this, but as I do so, I hope this all goes somewhere, and that maybe I can even enlighten myself a bit while I reach out to everyone else gracious enough to read this blog.

Have you ever felt like nothing but a small ant in a world of bigger things around you? Have you ever felt like you were meant for bigger and better things in the world, but have no idea what those things are, or how to ever attain them? These are all things I've been feeling for the last few years; likely even more now than ever before. When I was younger and just entering college, I felt like I had so much ahead of me (and others will tell me I still do, rightfully so). I could take courses and learn about practically anything I wanted, and I wanted plenty. Some of my favorite classes ranged from Programming, Business Administration, and Marketing; all the way to less business/tech subjects like Music, Film, and even Public Speaking (something I did not expect to get much out of at the time). This seemed even more exciting when I actually started getting better grades around my final two years, giving me National Honors; something I never had in my entire life.

It didn't stop there. For the first time since I can remember, people actually began liking me for who I was, instead of finding flaws in my "not-very-socially-acceptable" way of life. I would tell a girl that I loved watching classic Ultraman episodes and reading J. Michael Straczynski's run on Amazing Spider-Man, and she would actually find this intriguing for some ungodly reason. I could make an obscure reference to some music/show that no one knows about, and have someone actually catch it! And even the people who had no idea what I was talking about seemed to like me too, whether for being nice to them, or displaying interest in the things they had to say as well. I think this gave me some hope that the "real world" would be the same; that the people I would meet in future careers would also be as friendly and accepting as I've tried to be for them.

So what changed? I suppose it's odds working against us. In college, I met a lot of people I really liked, to the point where I believed I really liked people in general. Unfortunately, things started to shift a bit after that. I did still continue to meet nice people who I'd gladly interact with again, but I also met more than a fair share of people that I'd never want to be within a 10-mile radius of as well. What I meant by odds working against us, was that with all of the excellent friends and acquaintances I had made, I was bound to come across more people that would have the opposite effect on me. For every group of nice people, there seemed to be an even bigger group of nasty people right around the corner. Individuals who not only couldn't care less about me or anything I'd have to say, but worse; those who would act like anything they did was immediately more important than anyone else. There are certain traits in other people that set me off, and this is easily one of them. More depressing is the notion that our Country and major business are more-or-less run by individuals of this type. I truly hope I am wrong about this, but if I am, I have yet to see it so far.

While getting a bigger job has made it easier to save up money for building a better life, there are other things that I feel like I've been losing in the process. One of the biggest and most painful for me has been time. Time is something I used to have much more of, and that I used to organize in all sorts of ways in order to manage both a social life and a life of hobbies. Now it's hard to make room for either one. I spend over an hour and fifteen minutes to get to work and another hour and fifteen to get back. I'm tired by the time I get home; too tired to do much else other than try and force myself to stay up a little later to watch a show/movie or play a game. This drags me into a vicious cycle where I'm relying on coffee just to get through the first half of the work day. The '9 to 5' lifestyle can really take a toll on those who are unprepared for it, and as a type-1 diabetic, my blood sugars are definitely not appreciating what I'm doing to them on a near daily basis.

I understand that life is never at the point where things are suddenly supposed to get easier, but I don't believe I was ever taught that things are supposed to get so much tougher either. We're stuck in a failing economy that is only getting worse, and we're being told to keep and hold on to any job we can get. This doesn't make the notion of getting away from the current predicament any easier, especially if I plan to move up in this company someday.

And because of that, it's like I just... freeze.

I get nervous at the thought of looking for or applying myself to anything new. Whether it sounds silly or not, the world is a 'scary' place. Being told constantly that we need to hold on to everything we have only makes it harder for me to take that plunge. I'm not married and I'm still living at home. In the 60's, I would have been considered a failure at this point of my life. Even knowing that many others are in the same boat as me doesn't make me feel any less shame over this fact.

When I would get sad about things involving the real world, I would usually just refer to games or movies/shows to take me away from it, even if just for a while. For some reason, these things have not been having the same effect on me that they used to. I now get much better distractions from reading books and continuing to try to learn new things. Recently, science has become a bit of a new obsession for me. I used to believe I was just looking into it in the same way I used to look into all of my other interests back in my college years, but something has been quite different here. Lately (and without me even realizing), I believe that my subconscious has been directing me toward science lately as a means of answer-seeking and enlightenment. This started after the discovery of the (no longer fabled) Higgs boson particle. Nicknamed the "God Particle," it is meant to help us delve into the origins of the universe, and possibly of life itself.

This concept absolutely fascinated me, to the point where I went and picked up Jim Baggot's book, "Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the 'God Particle'" to learn more about the history of the matter. While I didn't immediately understand it all (as I make no claim to be an expert in physics of any kind), I understood more than enough for my eyes to be opened wide. I had to get more, read more, and learn more. This search brought me to Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" and more recently, Carl Sagan's "Cosmos." My eyes were already wide open after my reading on the Higgs boson, but these books just took that knowledge to whole other levels and brought me to places I didn't realize that my mind could initially travel to.

While there was some fulfillment in the sense of learning more about that which is all around us, this also left me feeling quite small and lonely in the process. Of course it is fascinating to hear about other worlds and even multiverse theories, but when trying to figure out your place in the one world you actually live in, this can make you feel pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of it all. Despite all of this new-found knowledge I've gained about "how stuff works," I highly doubt I'd have much of a place in the scientific world today. I've never really thought of myself as smart enough for all of that. The best I've ever been able to do is describe concepts to people in simpler terms so that they understand them. While I'm sure there is a profession for that type of thing out there (technical writing or something similar), I have yet to really find it.

I guess what this all amounts to is that I'm still looking to find my true purpose/calling in life, and while I never dismiss any possibilities for myself, it seems like it is growing increasingly difficult for dreams to become a reality as the world deals with ways to handle the money it already owes, yet never really possessed in the first place. If I could stop everything I was doing to go and master every form of musical instrument in the world, learn to speak every language in the world fluently, or become a published writer, I'd do it all in heartbeat. But it just doesn't work that way, and I guess the realities of life are hitting me a little harder than they normally do. This is not to say I'm giving up on any personal dreams I have; just that I want to look at things realistically and objectively. I'm in a bit of a slump right now, as I'm sure anyone reading this has also been, regardless of the paths that life has had you take. Whether you want to join me in this scenario, or maybe even talk about your own life experiences, I'd be more than eager to hear about it. One thing that usually helps people through these roadblocks is the advice of close friends/family, and I think this is no different, online or otherwise.

I hope reading this has triggered something within you, whether it was thoughts of your own on the situation, or ways you would deal (or already have dealt) with a circumstance similar in your own life. Thank you for taking the time to read this, whoever you may be. Knowing that people are willing to open up more for knowledge and discussion (even if it's just one person) makes a difference to me, as I hope it does to others.

Take care everyone, and good luck.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Deadpool Reviews Call of Duty: Modern Titanfall (PC/Xbox One Game Review)

... Wait, you mean that wasn't a Call of Duty game?... But it... Really?... Uh... Okay dude, whatever you say. Well, this is going to be awkward now...

So the developers at Respawn Entertainment, formed by two former Infinity Ward developers, decided "Hey, the shooter genre is getting boring as s@#t again, let's add robots and wall-runs and ledge-grabbing!" Turns out, that was a brilliant f@#king idea! No one had ever through of combining any of these elements into first-person shooters before! ... What? They have? What the hell is Mirror's Edge? Lost Planet??? Is that some 70's sci-fi flick? Well..., this just got awkward again...

Alright, so it's not the most unique concept on the planet, but it works dammit! Who needs a crappy single-player that nobody was going to play anyway, right!? Well actually, I have mixed feelings about that. While it's true that if you're going to make a half-assed single-player campaign, then there's little to no point in making one in the first place. However, WHY can't they make one that's good then!? People still rave about the great campaigns in Half-Life, Bioshock, Goldeneye, the first Modern Warfare, Perfect Dark, and so many others. I don't see why we can't have a game with a campaign and multi-player that equally rock the socks. If Titanfall had an offline single-player campaign, I'd have jumped on that like Twitch on Pokemon! Yeah, that's right... I reference current events (Praise be to the Helix Fossil!).

The game actually does have a campaign, but it's not what you think. In fact, it's so much not what you think that I'll have to use quotes going forward whenever I describe it. The "campaign" is actually a set of story-themed stages that are not very different from the classic multi-player as it is already. There's a war going on, and instead of talking much about anyone important in it, you're just thrown into the center of it like mindless grunt you are. DANCE YOU SHEEP! DIE FOR PEOPLE MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU!!!

So now that I'm pretty much tapped out of bad things to say the moment (though I'm sure I'll come up with more ^_^), the game is actually pretty sweet. It's hard to deny that shooter fans are going to flock to this and for good reason. Not only is it a lot of fun to double-jump and wall-run while searching for your targets, but controlling those Titans can be a pretty bad-ass feeling. Hell, even fighting them with your regular weapons can feel pretty damn cool! You definitely can't play this game the way you'd play other shooters. Otherwise, you'd get your ass handed to you pretty fast.

There's technically three types of situations you really need to master in oder to accel at this game. The first is the pilot vs. pilot scenario. This is your little guy vs. their little guy, crazy acrobatics and all. The second is Titan vs. Titan. Giant robot vs. giant robot basically. This is the scenario everyone wants to be in because it's about as high up there on that food chain that you can go. The third scenario is Titan vs. pilot. This is where s@#t gets real, because you have to double-time it on the pilot side of things to have any impact whatsoever. But it's not impossible like you'd think.

You're provided an anti-Titan weapon on top of your regular one to switch between. This adds another layer of strategy to the mechanical mix. While these weapons don't exactly make you invincible against the Titans, they can give you just what you need to hold your own, and sometimes even take one out if you're lucky. I actually did this sucessfully once and ran like a cheetah out of there before he realized it was me, laughing all the way! Glad I didn't have a mic on, that wouldn't have sounded natural...

One thing that people will either love or hate about this game is the grunt/specter setup. These are AI enemies, put in the game to basically be cannon fodder, and build up points faster so you can call your Titan to the battlefield faster. Players can even try to blend in with these if they really want. I will say it is quite annoying to think you're about to get this epic kill on someone, only to find out it was a grunt or a specter though. I felt so cheated every time I thought I was awesome, only to find out I actually sucked more than I realized. I don't think they really hurt the game though. It just adds more the fray.

Piloting the Titan can actually be quite frantic in itself. You're given a regular weapon for the right arm (like a chaingun!), a left arm item or weapon (like a shield!), and a dashing ability for those "get the f@#k away!" moments (like my blind dates!). If you run out of health, you're given time to either keep shooting for a few more seconds, or eject before you get blown up with it. This adds even MOAR strategy, because this can be the difference between takingout more enemies, or getting screwed over and not getting any experience points. The number of players or grunts you kill can determine how quickly you'll be able to summon up another Titan.

Speaking of experience points, I actually like the experience system in this game. On top of getting the most points for the best and most epic kills, you also get some great incentive to level up and unlock more pilot types, Titan models,and weapons and skills. You are also given Burn Cards for kicking ass. These will allow you to do special things throught the matches like increase your firepower or speed. Again, it all adds to the strategy, and works surprisingly well. I think the best way to describe the layout of this game would be smooth. It's amazingly silky smooth in its setup; you dig?

What really makes the game shine is all of those "Oh shi-" moments that you and your friends will have. Whether it's dropping a Titan on top of someone else's Titan, essentially destroying it and the pilot, or shooting someone outof the air from far away right after they ejected from their own Titan, you know it's going to be fun to talk about later. I could make a whole other blog, just filled with funny experiences I had with this game if I wanted.

So despite my general thought on FPS games (DUDEBROFOOTBALLGAMER138), this is actually something that I'll want to come back to again, especially with friends so we can laugh at all the insanity. Because you all know how much I love my daily dosage of insanity!... Seriously though, I'm just as surprised as you...

9 AI Grunts Wasted Out Of 10

So what's with the trend of using the word Titan in everything these days. It was crazy enough with the Attack on Titan anime, but now it's in our video games too!? What's next, comic book crossovers?... Please? >_>