The Chronicles of hXd.

Posted on Jun 3rd 2009 at 01:56:18 AM by (hXd)
Posted under site news

Don't get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of Left 4 Dead, and the fact that it was announced on today that the sequel will be released November 17th was a great surprise for me:

E3 2009: Left 4 Dead 2 Hands-On
We've been to Valve to play the sequel, and we've got plenty of details about what's new and what's different.

by Jason Ocampo

June 1, 2009 - By the time you read this, Valve will have announced the existence of Left 4 Dead 2 at Microsoft's E3 press conference. By watching the announcement trailer, you'll discover that there are new characters, special zombies, and even melee weapons like a chain saw. But if you want to learn more, read on, because we were at Valve last week to actually play through one of the sequel's campaigns (the E3 demo only features the first two levels of the campaign that we played), and we got all the bloody details.

Now it might seem unusual for Valve to be rolling out a sequel to Left 4 Dead so quickly; after all, the original game shipped on November 18. The sequel is due out on November 17, almost one full year later. However, Valve's Chet Faliszek (known almost universally in the industry as just Chet) told us that when they finished production of Left 4 Dead last year many of the developers had ideas they wanted to pursue for a sequel. And since Valve employees get to choose their next project, it quickly paved the way for Left 4 Dead 2.

Here's the quick summary: Left 4 Dead 2 will feature five new campaigns, as opposed to the original's four. Each campaign will have support for four-player co-op, as well as Versus mode and Survival mode. There is one new gameplay mode that is not being revealed at this time. There are four new characters, new weapons, entirely new melee weapons, and new items. On the flip side, there are new zombies, new special zombies, and a bunch of new gameplay mechanics designed to disrupt many of the tactics and exploits that players have discovered in the first game.

Left 4 Dead 2 is set in the American South; there's going to be more of a narrative thread that connects the campaigns this time around, as opposed to just the seemingly random campaigns of the first game. The story starts in Savannah and works its way to New Orleans. The Savannah campaign is intriguing because all Chet would say is that it's a city where the zombie infection hasn't hit yet. We played the New Orleans campaign, called The Parish. It represents the final map in the narrative: the goal is to battle your way through the city, including the famed French Quarter, to reach a military helicopter for extraction. In between, it sounds like there may also be a swamp-based campaign, but that's all we know for now.

The first thing that surprised us about The Parish is that it takes place in full daylight. Yes, the zombies may like to come out at night, but they're apparently not indisposed to tearing your guts out in the middle of the day. While it's weird to be battling zombies while the sun is still up, it's certainly pretty; there's something about the friscalating dusklight that makes you want to stop shooting zombies for half a second and just soak it all in. Not every campaign is set during the day, but it does make for a nice change of atmosphere. It also affects the gameplay, as zombies can behave differently during the day. The biggest example of that is the Witch; during the night she likes to sit and cry. However, during the day she likes to wander around like a homeless old woman and cry, and that's a big recipe for trouble. Chet says that the Wandering Witch has a nasty habit of showing up at the worst possible times -- say the middle of a frenzied zombie horde. You might not even notice her until it's too late.

Much of Left 4 Dead 2 is designed to shake the existing gameplay up. The crescendo moments from the first game turned out to be too easy to defeat. These are the times that you have to hit a switch that alerts the zombie horde; most people simple holed up in a corner with their teammates and simply rode out the storm. To eliminate camping as a tactic, the crescendo moments have been rethought. Now you might have to hit a switch that alerts the zombie horde, but then you have to battle your way through a mess of undead in order to hit a second switch that actually stops the zombies from swarming you. In another crescendo moment, there's no switch. Instead, there's a parking lot stuffed with cars, and every one of them has a car alarm. Now imagine that a swarm of zombies hits you while you're in the middle of this lot; you have to be very careful, or else a stray shot could make your predicament a lot worse, and things can cascade from there.

The finale of The Parish campaign is also a change from those found in the original game. There's no last stand while you wait for rescue; instead, you must battle your way across a lengthy highway bridge that's cluttered with cars, trucks, and zombies. It's a ridiculously fun blast to run through, as there are all sorts of hazards, including a lack of railings that could send you dangling off the edge (or, more likely, have a tank or charger send you flying off). There are also different routes that you can try and take, like climbing atop the tractor trailers.

The director will also have spatial control over parts of some levels. Yes, it can and will change the layout of the map to challenge you. The example in The Parish campaign is the cemetery; if you're familiar with New Orleans, you know that they don't bury their dead because the water table is so high; instead, cemeteries are full of crypts. Now the director can alter the layout of the cemetery based on how well you're doing. If you're doing poorly and need help, the route through the cemetery might be as simple as a straight line. If you're doing well, the cemetery is more like a maze and can lead to dead ends. The idea is you can't know the pattern beforehand every time you play.

While we're busy pouring on all the "good" news, let's mention the new zombies. There are going to be at least several new special zombies, though Valve is only talking about one for now: the Charger. The Charger is designed to defeat the tactic of the human players getting into a small room or other tight space and camping from there. Do that against the Charger, and you're in trouble, because he's a bull. He will get a good head of steam running and just slam into you; anyone he hits is knocked to the ground and vulnerable for a few seconds.

If the Charger also grabs hold of a survivor, he pile drives them into the ground repeatedly; the only way for the survivor to escape is for someone to help him. The Charger is not as tough as a tank, but he can take some damage. And while he's fast, he's not as maneuverable, so you can dodge him like a bullfighter dodging a bull. On a personal note, I can't tell you how many times the Charger caught me unaware from behind; one moment I was standing my ground and mowing down zombies and the next I was flying through the air. When a teammate yells out a Charger warning your head needs to be on a swivel. Then there are the hazmat zombies. These aren't special zombies; they're just guys who were in hazmat suits when they were infected. The thing is, though, they're immune to fire and incendiary weapons (more on that in a bit).

So you get the idea: Left 4 Dead 2 is going to be tougher. To make things fair, you're going to get new toys to play with. There are going to be new firearms to go along with the old ones; we played with a silenced submachine gun (the silencer has no gameplay affect; it just looks and sounds cool), a new assault rifle that we really liked because it felt tighter and more accurate than the existing one, a new scoped assault rifle that acts like a semiautomatic sniper rifle, and more. These weapons have slightly different characteristics, so it's not just a cosmetic change from the current arsenal.

Next, Valve is introducing melee weapons. We played with an axe and a frying pan, but there's going to be a chainsaw and a baseball bat as well. The idea behind melee weapons is that they can one-hit kill most of the special zombie types, but not the Tank or the Witch. This makes them useful if you're low on ammo or you're in a spot where lots of gunfire spraying around is a bad thing (like that aforementioned parking lot). Finally, there are going to be special items that can give you a temporary boost; in our case we got incendiary rounds that sets zombies aflame when you hit them. The thing is that you only get about 50 incendiary rounds before you run out, and you can't save them for later use. Once you get them, you have to use them.

You'll also play as four new characters. While Chet says that they still have great affection for the original Left 4 Dead four (Zoey, Francis, Louis, and Bill) and that they view them as the series' Gordon and Alyx (the central characters of Valve's Half-Life series), the new setting and campaigns demanded a new set of faces. So there's Nick, the guy in a flashy suit; Ellis, the mechanic; Rochelle, the girl; and Coach, the big guy. Rest assured that their dialogue and commentary is shaping up to be as fun and witty as before, and fans of HBO's The Wire might recognize one of the voices.

When you consider the amount of development time, Left 4 Dead 2 is a pretty impressive achievement. Valve is making a lot of tweaks and changes in such a short amount of time. The fact that there will be five campaigns rather than four is also a big plus, since the one thing almost every Left 4 Dead fan can agree on is that there could always be more campaigns. On a similar note, Chet noted that they were discussing including the original four Left 4 Dead campaigns with Left 4 Dead 2. The thinking is that this would make things easier for consumers. After all, if you and your buddies are playing Left 4 Dead 2 and you all want to play a campaign from the original game, it's an incredibly annoying and disruptive hassle to have everyone quit Left 4 Dead 2 and start Left 4 Dead if you're on a PC, or swap out the Left 4 Dead 2 disc for the Left 4 Dead disc if you're on an Xbox 360. User feedback would probably help sway Valve, so make sure to let the company know what you think. And despite the fact that Left 4 Dead 2 is a reality, Chet said that the company isn't abandoning the first game and that it has plans to support it in the future with new updates, like four-versus-four matchmaking.

We had a lot of fun playing through The Parish campaign; let's just say that there was a lot of screaming and yelling going on as something new hit us. Yet despite all the details we came away with, there are a lot more left to be unearthed. What are the other campaigns? What did Chet mean about Savannah being a city where the infection hasn't hit yet? What are the other special zombies? What are the other weapons and items? What's the new gameplay mode that Valve isn't talking about? Answers are sure to come in the coming months, but until then, we'll wait in eager anticipation for Left 4 Dead 2 on November 17.

Original source:

All that good stuff having been laid out, I am left scratching my head- why release all this stuff as an entirely new game when they could have just as easily made it into additional content you can download? While the Survival mode that was recently released was a good addition, I felt as though the 360 owners got gypped. PC gamers have access to custom maps and such, provided you are a great programmer and/or know where to look for maps, but for 360 owners, we just have the basics.

Could you say that I'm cheap? Maybe. I just don't feel that paying another $59.99 for this stuff is necessary when it could have been a $15-$20 download. Just my opinion though.

Posted on Feb 2nd 2008 at 05:52:27 AM by (hXd)
Posted under site news

So I wrote this for my Media Literacy class based on material we had to read (Media Literacy by W. James Potter, if anyone knows the subject):

Automaticity; a synonym being automated, defined as machine-done. Our brains could constitute as bio-machines of sorts, being the central station in which all of our body's tasks are originated. It's where all of the decisions we make are calculated by our own will, regardless of what anyone or anything says otherwise.

Potter's claim that the media attacks us through our 'filter', the barrier we put up to block anything not of interest, is something that I just don't agree with. The barrier is put up for a reason- because we are not interested in that item or story, not
because the media says that we are not interested. Your choices are yours alone. For example, I feel it is necessary to remove myself from the plane of popular music. I have never heard the Soulja Boy song in it's entirety. I didn't know who Hannah Montana was until a few months ago. I have no idea what's on MTV anymore (I do know it's not music), and I don't particularly care either. I make my music choices based on standards that I have created over the years of my own musical enjoyment.

If anything, I believe that the 'filter' in a blessing more than a curse. If we didn't have this control over what we absorb or don't, we would be slaves to what corporate America wants us to believe, and also to mass conformity, which is another entirely debatable issue in itself. In the end, your choices are your own, and if you are caught up in what people are trying to sell you, there's nobody to blame but yourself.

As far as the second chapter and the issue of information vs. knowledge is concerned, I'm going to throw in a very controversial topic: stem cell research. I'm sure everyone know the debate in one form or another; possibly finding cures to diseases versus tampering with unborn fetuses. Nevertheless, this is the perfect topic to equate with this issue. People's own moral judgements come into play with this debate; taking life before it's had a chance to live, the needs of the few versus the needs of many, what have you. But these opinions and judgements are what make information such as pro-life arguments, that may not necessarily be backed up by facts and scientific evidence, but still touch those with strong moral backgrounds on that subject.

"The medium is the message". What can be said about this? What I take away from it is that the way you are putting out your information is equally as important as the message you are trying to get across. For example, would you trust The New York Times over some random person on the internet posting a blog about the political landscape. Sure the guy might have done his research and offered an unbiased analysis of the contenders and what they represent, but the name 'New York Times' carries so much weight because it's an established paper that has been in print for years. They could even be bearing the flag for a certain contender (read: Hilary Clinton), and people would still eat it up because it's the New York Times. Blogging has had such an impact on our media landscape because it's, for the most part, free of any type of marketing and/or political bias. It's simply people posting what they want to post, whether it be an opinion or genuine unbiased information.

"A" material right there.

Posted on Jan 8th 2008 at 01:16:39 AM by (hXd)
Posted under site news

So as you all know I recently made the decision to come back to NY after failed attempts to get into school in Georgia. I got a call on Friday from a contact at my old school saying I had a chance to get into Ramapo College for the spring, providing that I had everything taken care of by this Wednesday. So on Saturday I packed my essentials into my car (computer, TV, video games, art supplies, clothes) and drove 15 1/2 hours to NY in a straight shot, for fear that my stuff would get stolen.

I'm currently in the process of gettings my things unpacked and in a somewhat organized fashion. I got my transcript from RCC today and tomorrow I hit Ramapo to hopefully seal the deal and get me back into school. I'm so excited about this it's not even funny.

I do miss Georgia, though. I had some good life experiences there (getting to bond with my dad and my other brother, life outside of Rockland, meeting someone...). Who knows, I could end up back there someday- I never say never. But for now I'm looking forward to school and getting my life back on track.

Posted on Jan 1st 2008 at 07:18:57 AM by (hXd)
Posted under site news

2008 is here. For me, it's going to be a fresh start, for various reasons:

1. After debating it all week during my vacation, and facing truths I may or may not have wanted to accept, I decided that I will be moving back to New York as soon as possible. There are a few factors that come with it, such as my not making enough money down here, and that my dad STILL doesn't meet the requirements for the HOPE scholarship. The commute to Georgia State plus having to work on top of that would cut into my homework time, and not only would I slowly go broke but I wouldn't have decent grades due to all of the interference. I feel that this decision is what's best for me, as do most people I know. So I will see it through with my future in mind.

2. I feel as though I'm slowly growing more and more apathetic to the goals I strive for in life. The six months I spent in Georgia playing video games and working being case in point. I need to start practicing art more and get myself a camera so I start taking pictures again. I always wanted to learn Japanese. Get in shape. Learn how to use Photoshop and Illustrator to the most potential that I can use them. Goals that all somehow got thrown to the wayside.

3. I need to start living my life for me instead of constantly walking on eggshells for other people. I need to be unafraid to speak my mind, even if I'm probably wrong. Life's too short to try and please everyone, you can't be afraid to butt heads when it comes down to it.

I did accomplish one thing in 2007 that I have no regrets about: I took chances. I moved down to Georgia in pursuit of a dream that unfortunately didn't come true. But no one can ever say that I didn't try. I took a chance on a girl, and it didn't work out, but I treasure the time we spent together.  I've always played things too safe in my life: never threw my security on the line for a dream, never put my heart on the line for the oppposite sex, and I finally did these things. And if I could do it again, I just might.

And that's the story. Hopefully I can accomplish these things and more.

Posted on Dec 29th 2007 at 07:16:24 AM by (hXd)
Posted under site news

Wow what a week. From the moment I got off the plane to the minute I got on the returning flight was pure awesome. Synopsis?

Day 1: The first day I spent mostly with my family and we went to this awesome all you can eat Japanese place in New Jersey. Saw my little brothers, then I went and spent some quality time with the DTS crew, played Loaded Questions (a great party game btw) and went to the diner, ending at around 2 am.

Day 2: I went to my old job and saw some people very briefly, as the store was packed with people doing last minute food shopping for Christmas Eve/Day. Saw my little brothers again and my stepsister. Went bowling with some old co-workers.

Day 3: My little brothers were in a Christmas pageant at church so I went to see them, it was the cutetest thing. Went to Hoboken NJ to catch the ferry to NYC, and my family and I got soaking wet because it decided to pour. Went to see Cirque De Soleil's WINTUK. Nice narrative about a boy that wants to see snow, but it just wasn't a Cirque De Soleil show, it was rather dissapointing. Called it a night early.

Day 4 (Christmas Eve): Went to lunch at Chili's with some people from my town, went to church and back to my house for the annual Christmas Eve Extravaganza. One of my friends who lives in Boston came over, made the night so great. We played Smash Bros. with my little brother and later we watched Paprika. Everyone went home around 3 am.

Day 5 (Christmas): Went to my mom's in the morning to get my stocking and help my stepsister set up my brothers' Wii that they got for Christmas. We play Wii Sports and hilarity ensues. Went back to Grandma's for Christmas dinner. Now usually one of my aunts n' uncles on my mom's side hosts a Christmas party for that entire side of the family, but this year nobody did nanything, which was a bit depressing. So I just made my rounds to each of the branches to catch up with them. Went back to my mom's and played Guitar Hero with my stepsister until about 12-12:30.

Day 6: Visited one of my friends at A.C. Moore. We had guests for dinner and I recieved an impromptu call from a friend from college, we talked for a half an hour. Went to my BFF's house in Monroe for Rock Band and Guiatr Hero, got home around 2 am.

Day 7: Met some more friends for lunch. Last dinner with the family @ my favortie pizza place. Met someone from DTS to see I Am Legend, went back to her house for a few hours. Went to the diner again, said goodbye and came home at 3 am.

Day 8 (today): Packing and whatever was left of laundry. My mom and brothers came over to have lunch and say good bye. Left at 2pm to catch the plane. My flight was delayed about an hour and 35 minutes.

Ugh I so did not want to come back to Georgia.

Posted on Dec 24th 2007 at 05:00:03 PM by (hXd)
Posted under site news

So I'm up in NY living life large, seeing my old friends and reminiscing about great times, spending much needed time with the rest of my family, and seeing how much my home county has changed since I left. I'll probably blog again when I come back and put up some pictures of my grand adventures. Until then, stay classy.


Posted on Dec 7th 2007 at 04:49:45 AM by (hXd)
Posted under site news

So this morning a got a txt from my lady stating that we "needed to talk". As most guys know, nothing good ever comes out of those words. My stomach was in knots the entire day and my heart hurt.

So after a mere month and a half of dating, my (former) lady broke up with me tonight over the phone. It was a bullcrap reason, too- she said there wasn't a connection between us. Well then, why did you drag it out this long?

She also used the "It's not you, it's me" line, which really got me.  Lamest line ever.

It isn't fair, because I put 100% of my heart into this and she basically lied to me for a month and a half. And the sad part is that I still have feelings for her, when she clearly doesn't reciprocate.

I'll never understand women.

Posted on Nov 29th 2007 at 06:01:54 PM by (hXd)
Posted under site news, site news

So I'll start a blog here.

Let's see, what's going on with my life? My little brother is sick right now, 101 degree fever. We got him some ginger ale and chicken soup. I have to go to the bank today and deposit money. Then I'll promptly go spend it at GameStop or Best Buy.  Play some games. Wait for my lady to call me about the movies tonight. Possibly go to the movies tonight.

I need to make more friends down here in Georgia. All my friends are back in New York, and I'm going to see them and the rest of my family on Dec. 21st- 28th, can't wait! Of course the friend issue will change once I go back to school. Oh yeah, none of you guys know that story, let me fill you in.

The reason why i came down to Georgia was to go to this really good art school, all banking on the fact that the state's HOPE program would pay for the tuition. Since no one in my family does research (me included) we failed to realize that HOPE would not cover all of the expenses, and the school wanted 3/4 of my life to go there, so I declined. Then I tried Georgia State University. I was 2 months late for fall semester application. So now I work at a supermarket while getting my paperwork together for the spring semester.

I guess it's not a bad thing. I never would have met my lady that way (she works at the pharmacy), and it gave me some rest after the grueling semester that was my final one back in NY.

So I guess that's it for now. More later.


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So this is where I will ramble. About things.

Stuff in my life, stuff I think about, video game related rants and inqueries.

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