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Temporary Un-neglection October 13, 2010

Posted by Weng in Rants.
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So, I just realized I’ve been utterly bogus, as usual, and not bothered updating my blog for close to 2 months.

It’s a time thing really, university being near the end of semester is getting to that Crunch-time period where everything is happening. This is a terrible excuse because when I wasn’t updating my blog in the past 2 months, it wasn’t ALL crunch-time, in fact it was probably spent playing videogames or something.

In terms of news:

I’ve made up for coming dead-last in the first major Perth-based Super Street Fighter 4 tournament (which I blame on lack of sleep and assignmental stress) during the Perth EVO APAC qualifier by coming 7th in the second Perth major SSF4 tournament losing to two different Asian people named Daniel in the process.

The not-exactly-huge Perth Arcade Tekken 6 scene has been brutally massacred by the mole of a Timezone arcade manager claiming we were ‘abusing the system’. Previously you could pay $10 for an “Unlimited Play” half hour package that allowed you to swipe once a minute for a max of 30 credits (assuming you were being efficient and swiped exactly on the minute, pretty easy to do if you have any kind of stopwatch, or a stopwatch iPhone program).

Wednesday nights were when we congregated and did like a rotation system sharing cards and taking turns in paying for credits. So, the manageress didn’t like the fact we were doing this and now the packages have been changed so the only one usable is a “20 Credit for $30” package, making it $1.50 a credit. Note that this is an arcade fighting game where a credit lasts generally lasts you like… 2-3 minutes tops. Also, the game itself has been out for YEARS and you can buy yourself a PS3 copy for $50 now and it’s pretty bullshit.

So the hope really is that we end up fostering a strong-ish console based scene ala Street Fighter with, again, the problem being a lack of hardware (not everyone in the Tekken scene owns a decent arcade stick and a lag-less monitor which really matters since Tekken is a game where frame display lag really matters) and finding a venue that has enough space for everyone to congregate. Sad days.

In more me-related news, I’ve been doing a twice-a-week kickboxing class at the gym at uni for the past six weeks and I have a pretty vicious side-kick. I’ve also sort-of-front-kicked a girl in the face (accidentally! It was entirely her fault!) but that’s another story for another time.

Maybe a return to monumental walls of text when I finish with exams for the year in mid November.

Till then, reader-who-I’m-writing-to-who-doesn’t-really-exist, au revoir.

 

We Are All One

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The World Warrior: London August 19, 2010

Posted by Weng in Street Fighter, Travel.
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3 comments

‘Cause in sleepy London town there ain’t no place for a Street Fightin’ Man… no – The Rolling Stones

Despite sort of self-promising that I’d update with some semblance of regularity during my holiday, it’s been about like a million and a half days. I had grand plans, grand designs, I meant to update every couple of days so the… 2 people (if I’m lucky) that read this blog could experience it all vicariously but that never panned out. I mean really, when you’re on holiday, you’d rather sit around doing nothing or DS-gaming it up than writing small essays about your life.

So seeing as I can barely remember what I did on a day by day basis any more, any blogs about the European adventure would be broadstroke articles rather than long boring “Dear Diary: I woke up today, had McDonalds for breakfast and went to go to the London Eye. It was disappointing.” journal entries. I’m no-where near famous or important enough for anyone to really care about my day-to-day life, really.

Topic 1: the obvious topic – the European Fighting Game scene. And by European scene, I pretty much mean London seeing as: I don’t speak French and didn’t want to wander blind into a French arcade where I may get ‘Parlez vous Fucking-Stabbed-or-Mugged’; regional northern Scotland has very little in the way of a centralized population, let alone a centralized Fighter scene and; Edinburgh doesn’t have anywhere near enough Asians to have a serious Fighter Scene.

Also; by Fighting Game scene, I really just meant Street Fighter. As (shitty, shitty) luck would have it, one of the Tekken 6 machines in London (the ‘good’ one) died the week before I got there and was only back in commission about a week after I’d already left.

So essentially – it all rolled back to the Stones, and whether in sleepy London town, there was a place for a Street Fighting man.

Elton John: Actually the inventor of piano keying.

‘Cause Saturday night’s alright for fighting. Get a little action in – Elton John

I arrived in London, from Paris, on a Saturday afternoon having no sense of direction, both in a spatial sense and in a “What-the-shit-am-I-going-to-do”. My attempts to get in touch with people via NeoEmpire (the British/European version of the SRK/OzHadou forums) seemed fairly fruitless so the only guaranteed thing I had was a meetup on Sunday afternoon in the middle of nowhere.

My first step after getting into the hotel room was finding out where the nearest Underground station was, simply so I knew where I’d need to go for wherever I ended up going next. As I got to the Gloucester Road station, I picked up a Tube map and found there was a station called Goodge Street and suddenly remembered there was an arcade called the Goodge Street Casino and that’d probably be as good a destination as any, if only to scope out where it was for future reference.

The arcade is called the Casino because that’s what it kind of is. There are two floors; the top floor being a small room filled with Slot machines, Poker machines, all that jazz; the bottom floor was where the ‘real’ arcade games and pool tables were.

The crowning glory of the place was SIX Street Fighter 4 cabinets, all linked together meaning a potentially different opponent each time. Versus matches were set to 3 rounds and for a pound (about $1.80), you got 2 credits.

SF4 Everywhereeee!

Sticks and buttons; actually not shit.

The rest of the arcade

Fun Fact: Before I took these photos, there was a brief power failure and all the machines died. The African guy on the right who was playing Galaga (and was supposedly some kind of epic amazing champion at it or something) had been playing on that one life the entire time I’d been in the arcade (maybe… 40 minutes to an hour?) and then when power died, he had to start ALL OVER AGAIN.

Despite being a quality SF4 setup, it was rather quiet on account of Super SF4 being out. When I was there, I was lucky enough to run into a young guy named Yota who played most of the cast amazingly well. By amazingly well, I mean his execution was absurd. There was hardly a single dropped combo every time we played and this included things like ElF RSF-Loop Shenannigans and general-Viper-madness. That and he also had a very solid game in general outside of crazy-good execution.

AND, as luck would have it, Yota was also part of the London Street Fighter scene! Score! When he found out that I was from Australia his immediate reactions were (heavily paraphrased) something like:

  1. “Oh wow, Daigo was just there for EVO APAC wasn’t he?” and;
  2. “Do you know Johnny/Humanbomb? When I went to Japan to visit my relatives, I was in Tokyo at the same time he was and I played him there. He’s really good.”

Mad props to the Australian SF scene from the other side of the world. Go Humanbomb and everyone who organized EVO APAC 😛

It wasn’t until slightly later in the week when I found out that he was like 16 and had been playing on a stick for like 10 years (which means he started at like… 6?) which makes him some kind of Street Fighter Wunderkind.

He then showed me the way to the Trocadero Funland which is the other major arcade in London. There aren’t any photos of that because it was comparably a hole. The games were double the price (1 pound for 1 credit) and the controls were also of a lower quality. That and the general skill level of players there in all games was fairly poor with a lot of scrubs and mashers.

Yota then said he’d try organize something during the week I was there or let me know if there were any meetups happening with the rest of the guys and we eventually parted ways.

Sunday – Cities at the end of the train line

When I initially got to London, the only thing at all I had planned for my week there on holidays was going to the weekly SF casuals session at a place called Games City. Like seriously, I wandered through Europe without a clue of what I wanted to do OTHER than play video games. Sure I did end up doing other things but this was the only thing set in concrete that I was like “FUCK YEAH I NEED TO DO THIS WHEN I’M IN LONDON!” Anyway, Games City is in an area called Walthamstow which is like the end of the trainline in the London Underground Tube network. Then after that train trip, it was a 15 minute walk from the station to there. It was a bit of a trek, basically.

That and I had no bearings other than written directions from Google Maps which basically said “Follow this road for aaages” so I could quite easily have gotten lost or mugged in what I assume is a dodgy area where people get stabbed.

Basically, every week for 5 pounds entry you get like unlimited play-time from noon until closing time (about 4-5pm). I was sort of cursed by a bit of a low turnout but it was kind of amusing watching the England-Germany world cup soccer game (the one where England lost 4-1) with English people who ended up spouting SF slang any time anything happened (e.g. Germany scores: “FUCKKKKK MANNNN ENGLANDS SO FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE~!!!”).

England Team = SOOO FRAAAAAAAAY~! English people: SALTY AS FUKKK

When it isn’t hosting SF meets, Games City is somewhat like a cybercafe except with a whole heap of consoles and games as opposed to just having a heap of computers. Also: possibly in an attempt to give school kids things to do on Friday and Saturday nights as opposed to being all Ali G/Skins and setting fire to shit, the government funds a program where:

Games City is also probably the one positive of the fact that I’m a moron and don’t know how to down-scale photo size/quality, ending up with like stupidly large 4000×3000 reso pictures if you click on the thumbnails. This is because they just had the most amazing painted murals on the walls of like videogame characters (other than Ryu and Ken who ended up looking like strange transvestite women for some reason). But yeah, they’re pretty amazing and worth checking out.

Tranny Ken. lol.

One thing I really ended up learning from this particular session was just how little experience that I, and arguably the rest of Perth and possibly Australia, have in terms of matchup knowledge. Especially with the new Super characters. Whilst I went fairly well against one of the guys there I spent the most time playing, Matthew, when he was using characters I was familiar with from Vanilla SF4 like Rufus and Boxer (two matchups I’ve at least played an awful lot thanks to Ric and Jase in Perth, respectively), I had amazing amounts of trouble when he switched to Cody whom he actually knew how to use properly.

I was suddenly massively on the back foot because I had no idea about where the holes in his blockstrings were or where I could punish or things like what specific distances I was able to jump in from. It’s probably a bit too big a call to totally generalize how I feel to the rest of the Australian scene as a whole but I know when I got Super, I tried some of the new characters and played around with them a bit but kinda just gave up on them.

I kind of just went “Eh, screw Adon, he’s like Bison in terms of needing to link his lights, his followup off it isn’t just spammable and safe ala Scissor Kick and he doesn’t have as obvious anti-airs as Bison. That and he needs to work uber hard to do things. Jaguar Tooth is totally unsafe and all his specials are useless against grapplers” or “Oh god, Juri needs to hold buttons? I can’t keep this stupid claw-hand shit up without getting RSI”. A lot of others I know tried out new characters, didn’t have any form of instant success and just gave up on them entirely. I could also be wrong about this but I think if you looked at the character usage at something like EVO APAC, out of the entire field, I don’t think anyone was using a new character from Super at all.

Strangely enough, during all the time I was in London, my execution was pretty decent. I wasn’t missing many of my links at all despite my otherwise-dubious execution. It kind of prompted a fairly funny line on the Sunday when one of the guys who was spectating was like “Oh shiiiii, look at vemm links, he’s goin ‘I didnt fly 10000 kilometers to lose to youse. I’ve come too fuckin far for that!'” (just imagine that in like a Jamie Oliver style accent. I can’t convey that in text, at all).

That and the kinda unique London accented version of SF-vocab like freeeeeee sounding like FRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY~!!! was really kind of charming. Less charming was how much of a douche I realized I was when one of them was like “You right?” and I was like “Yeah, I’m fine” before realizing that it was a rhetorical question. Something like a “How’s it going?”, you aren’t really asking, you don’t ACTUALLY care or want to know. Society just says you go “Yeah, I’m good.” A better example would be like a ‘sup really. He was like ‘sup and I was like “Nothing is up.” Whattadouche.

After Sunday it was kind of quiet on the SF front other than occasional dropins to the arcades if my sight-seeing took me in that general direction (it always did, somehow :P).

Then on the Thursday, Yota got in touch with me via Facebook and asked me to go to Gamerbase, a place kinda like Games City which operates inside HMV – a music/DVD/games superstore ala JB-Hifi – where there were casuals happening. Sadly, I’d already bought tickets to go see the musical Hair (one of three that I saw during my trip (whattatheaterfag) that evening. I may even bother writing about it all at some stage but I probably won’t.) so I couldn’t actually go for the whole time. Fortunately, Gamerbase was in the Trocadero which is right near Piccadilly Circus, which in turn is right near the West End and near the theater where Hair was playing so I decided to skip dinner and just drop by for an hour before the musical started. Fortunately, they also had plans organized for a meetup at Gamerbase the next night so I wasn’t totally deprived and I WAS able to go to that. Score!

Gamerbase1

It's like being back at home! Street Fighter setups everywhere~!!!

Randoms playing Pro Evo

Again, I ended up meeting a whole heap of people, but sadly no Ryan Hart (the UK player who EVERYONE knows despite everyone else also being pretty amazing but without the name recognition) who apparently is now older, has more of a life and doesn’t have time to make it to every single meetup ever.

One interesting thing from this session was their rotation system. As opposed to doing a best-of-three games style system, their version is a “Two Credit” system to mimic their arcade cabinets where you got 2 credits or one pound. Basically, instead of each match with someone coming on being an individual best of 3 set, you had 2 lives. Once you’d lost two games, whether you had like… a 50 game streak in between or something, you were out.

It was definitely an interesting system with pros and cons. Like I found when I tried running it in a casual meetup in Perth a few weeks ago, I had more of a sense of urgency. It wasn’t a matter of “Oh, I can afford to be careless and drop a game”, it was SERIOUS BUSINESS the whole time from the word go because I didn’t want to drop a game and go to the end of the line. It also increases the likelihood of the super-dominant players in a group being kicked off since it’s much easier to win 2 individual games in different times than it is to take two straight against them.

On the other hand, it does lead to scenarios where you end up having a really close game with someone (say… you’re on your last life and you go 1-1) and instead of having a finishing decider match, you kinda just lose… This happened like 3 times on the one night that we ran the system in Perth and it was kinda a bummer.

Overall, the whole ‘World Warrior’ experience was definitely worth it. I learnt a lot really, little tidbits here and there, significant matchup advice (apparently Bison Ultra 2 completely shuts off Ibuki’s Kunai crossup mixupgame. Did not know that, at all), met some amazingly cool people through the fact there was that common ground of Street Fighter.

If you don’t know people, reading tournament results is like a series of names and characters but actually being able to put faces to them, people you’ve played in the past. For instance: reading the Top 8 of the European Console League – Liverpool and knowing you’ve played F Word and Yota who came 3rd and 5th respectively, it’s really immensely cool.

Eventually, it hit midnight, the store closed and we were kicked out to the mean streets of London. We ended up standing around at an intersection doing the usual post-event chit-chat thing for a while checking out the laydehz out on the town for a Friday night. One of the guys worked in schools as like a Youth worker and had a whole heap of “Whats Happening to my Body” style pamphlets for men and women with him and we psyched eachother out about actually giving it to someone on the streets for the lulz and seeing what would happen… I never did of course, I’m a massive pansy.

Then suddenly,  two policemen ran past chasing someone and the huge mob mentality of like… everyone in the street was like “STACK ON THE POLICE~!!!” I had a flight in about 7 hours time and still had to finish packing, that and I didn’t really feel like getting in trouble with the law so I bailed and walked to the train station as about 10 police cars drove in the direction I was coming from.

Turns out I heard on the news once I’d arrived in rural-highlands Scotland where I’d be for 3 weeks with no Street Fighter someone got stabbed there where I was that night, and actually died. How amazingly unpleasant.

So yeah, the Rolling Stones, totally wrong – London town is definitely not sleepy at all. Shit has changed since they wrote that, obvious. And also; there definitely was a place for a Street Fighting man.

Epilogue: What does happen when you give out “What’s Happening to My Body?” pamphlets to random people on the street? I never got the answer to that question BUT I found out later on that one of the guys (I’m not going to mention names just incase) did. Turns out he gave it to a laydeh and they thought he was funny and he got a BJ out of it. Fun fact.

9321 Miles of Solitude June 23, 2010

Posted by Weng in Me Complaining About Things, schadenfruede, Travel.
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I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not a huge fan of flying. It’s nothing to do with the turbulence or deep-vein thrombosis or even the possible potential for Lost-style shenannigans. Jetlag isn’t even a huge problem since I’ve done so many all-nighters over the course of the past few years that going 24+ hours without sleep isn’t that huge a problem.

A few things stand out really: no internet; no electrical charging and hence minimal battery lifes for things and; the horrible, horrible food.

This was all then amplified to the n’th degree on my recent trip back-in-time to Paris recently. I’ve only ever been ahead of the +8GMT timezone and this was the first time I’ve ever gone before that and hence, trip back-in-time. I can’t do what white-folks can do and call trips to Europe visiting the Mother/Fatherland, being Asian kind of stops that.

My flight from Perth to Kuala Lumpur on Monday marked the second flight in a row I ended up sitting by myself, absolutely no-one next to me, empty seats. Before that, it was almost a year ago on a trip back from Queensland with an army of butch female netballers (that were fortunately nowhere near me) and Swine Flu.

It was largely uneventful, I rationed my DS battery life (having the olde original model with the crappy battery life), got the lamb curry and rice dish because it would probably be one of the last rice-based meals for the next 5 weeks and watched How To Train Your Dragon.

It was a movie that people were telling me was good but not one I had the inclination to pay to see, or download illegally for that matter. It was definitely worth watching though, I mean it had vikings and dragons and Leonidas from 300 in it. How is that not the makings of an epic movie? It also had the fat guy from Superbad, McLovin and Ugly Betty; how is that not just the greatest voice acting cast, like in the history of ever.

On landing in KL Airport, there a horrribble promo-video from Malaysian airlines in the form of a terrible, illformed song that just went for far too long and never seemed to stop. It’d hit a crescendo and you’d think it’d end before starting on a another long verse-and-chorus. If you’re feeling particularly masochistic, you can listen to it, all 5 minutes and 45 seconds of it, below.

The hellish banshee-screech that was the Truly Asia song marked the most minor of problems on that transit leg. After an obligatory parental phonecall to tell them I was still alive and hadn’t been in a fatal aviation tragedy, I roamed around for food. All the food places are all horribly scattered around the top floor of the airport and to get from one to the other is a fairly long walk.

Then there was the fact I’d been told a number of times that all the Malaysian food places at the airport were crap. That left me with… Starbucks which looked too busy, Burger King which had no particularly interesting sounding Malaysian-speciality-dishes/burgers to bother with, some strange ‘Meditteranean’ restaurant and Delifrance. Whilst it seemed most appealing out of all the shitty options at the time it would have made absolutely no sense to go to Delifrance when I was FLYING TO FRANCE.

I then started looking back at the Malaysian places to find that, at 10pm at night, they didn’t have any Nasi Lemak left. So I settled on some ‘Irish’ cafe called O’Briens’ where I had a guava juice (so so Irish) and a slice of crappy blueberry pie. I took a picture of said pie on my phone and did some wandering and being all disgusted at the prices at the shops before heading down to the customs gate and dealing with all the metal detectors and the boarding passes and there I was at the transit gate. I then did a rumage through all my things doing the check-off:

  • iPod – check
  • Wallet – check
  • coin-wallet now holding DS games – check
  • wrist-watch – check
  • passport – check
  • boarding pass – check
  • Mobile phone… … … …

I did the typical 3-pocket touch system, a fail. I dig through the many compartments of my backpack carry-on luggage, also an immense fail. Probably an immense lol for the Australian family watching me freaking out and swearing under my breath for a good 3-4 minutes, as I went to leave to frantically run to try search for it, the woman said I’d dropped something on the ground. I hoped it was my phone, in actuality it was just the little black ring thing that you have on belts.

I ran out through customs and metal detectors on a mad rush of a mission to find my phone. I had about 45 minutes to do it. I ran to the last place I had it, the Irish cafe, a total fail. I walked through all the shops I’d speed-browsed in, again to no avail. I surrendered 15 minutes prior to my scheduled departure time and sat down dejected next to a Frenchman who was already in the seat next to me. We had a brief chat, he was in Malaysia on work designing villas or something for stupidly-rich-Malaysian people, I told him about the dee-bar-clay of losing my phone as I was about to embark on a 5 week journey and was all panicky and fidgety about it.

Then he checked my inflight monitor thing since his was in black and white instead of having any form of colour. He ended up moving to another free seat, one that did have coloured in-flight entertainment. Perhaps also due to the fact he probably knew 12 hours on a flight with me in a near hysterical state wouldn’t be very fun-tastic. And again, I was alone on a flight. No-one next to me.

Normally this’d be a great thing, except when you’re freaking the shit out about some greasy Malaysian with your phone that has international roaming unleashing super-expensive international calls of an apocalyptic nature. I sat there staring at the flight-path video they showed without anything else for the better part of two hours or so. Any attempts to sleep were marred by thoughts of stupid phonebills that would arise whilst I was unable to do anything to cancel the phone. I ended up getting about an hour tops on that flight.

The advantages of having two window seats to yourself eventually got slightly better, you can sit diagonally to have slightly more leg room, move between window and aisle to get some semblance of a view, having two tables to rest used cups and trays of food on… great times. There’s also the omnipresent aisle benefit of easy toilet access, without having anyone trying to get over you at any stage.

The hour of sleep I did get was during the movie Up. From what I saw of it, it had the makings of a really good film. It worked in the same way that reading the first and last chapters of a book probably did. You find out who the characters are, get to some situation “Hey, there are talking dogs hunting that bird that are commanded by someone. The old man is all angry and hates everyone, especially the little fat kid and his shenannigans” ,”Heyyy so that’s who the badguy is! Take that bad guy! Yeahhh go good-talking-dog! Awwww the old man likes the little fat kid now~!!! Awwwwwwwwww…”

It was still a horrible journey having no-one to have any semblance of a conversation with. 17 hours of solitary activities gets very boring. I mean sure, someone may bring up the argument that I do that a lot of the time anyway when I’m in a frantic gaming state but that’s generally paired with the fact I’m perpetually connected and accessible via a mobile phone, the internet or Facebook or so many other mediums. I can also Facebook stalk or just randomly internet it up. This was a ‘truer’ form of isolation than my usual singleplayer gaming-sessions in my hovel: suspended in a tin can in mid air, no outside world contact.

I’m most definitely a child of the Information Age, removing me from the constant stream and it’s like I’ve lost a limb. Remove any ‘real’ human contact on top of that and give me some horrible situation to overanalyse and think about and I’m a paraplegic of Christopher Reeve-esque proportions…

To end with in my initial-journey-entry, great series’ have soundtracks and I feel that, despite not fitting the descriptor of great, the whole series of travel bloggerizing deserves some kind of soundtrack. I mean sure, most of my blogs have YouTube links to vaguely related songs anyway but I suppose these can have slightly less abstract links.

Anyway, without further ado, A Thousand (x9.321) Miles – Vanessa Carlton