Saturday, December 25, 2010

2011: The Year of Video Games

I was perusing through my GameInformer magazine when my brain finally put some of the dates that I'd been looking at together. Some of the games you should be most excited about will be coming out in the next year! The next year is going to be one of the most exciting and (hopefully) fulfilling year in video games since the current-gen consoles first released! Why? Follow along after the break and I'll give you ten good reasons why 2011 will be bringing us some of the best video games -- ever!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Notebook: A Year in the City

I know I promised you more chapters of Diaries of a Loyalist Pilot in the Notebook, but there's really no controlling where my pen takes me. Besides, there hasn't really been much of an interest in it, has there? I'm only kidding. I will continue that sci-fic escapade at a later date, but for now, I present to you something totally different.

A Year in the City is a simple romantic short story. It's boy-meets-girl, and it's sweet and heartwarming. Perfect for the season, I say. But it's more than that too. I guess, in a way, it's an ode to the future, to my own future, and a way for me to tell you my hopes and dreams in literary form. Please enjoy, and tell me what you think!

Yes, this is a screen cap from Zombieland. I picked it because I pictured Emma Stone playing the role of Jules. And yes, it was pure coincidence that I named my character Jules and she played Jules in Superbad. Pure coincidence. Nothing to it.
A Year in the City
By Blake Gabriel

To tell you the truth, I never knew what I was doing when I lived in the big city. It was always sort of a “day-by-day” thing. Wake up. Work. Relax. Do some more work, maybe clean up around the apartment. Go to sleep. Then, rinse and repeat. There never was a plan. I know my folks would kill me if they had ever heard that.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Notebook: Diaries of a Loyalist Pilot, Chapter 1

May I present Diaries of a Loyalist Pilot. It's a series of sci-fi short stories about a starfighter pilot serving in the Confederacy of Earth Navy during the 2174 civil war. I'm not really sure how many chapters there will be, but this will hopefully be the first of many. I hope you enjoy.

Diaries of a Loyalist Pilot
Chapter 1

I doubt anybody can really tell you how the civil war started. People will talk about the why, the who, the where, and the what, but no one can tell you how. Sharon, my co-pilot, said it's the inherent slowness of interstellar communications. It's like we're back to pre-industrial Earth, when the only way people could communicate was by horse courier. You can't send messages faster than light, so when you're some stick-up-his-ass admiral trying to coordinate his forces on one end of Confederate space with some other admiral back in the Sol system, well, things got complicated quick.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Re-Prioritizing My Life

It's another late night at college during finals week. I won't kid you; I'm not actually studying. I think I've just developed acute insomnia. It's been one of those nights where you end up thinking about the deep stuff - you know: life, the future, where you'll end up. And I thought, "Wow, I should really write down my top goals in life that way I don't forget them."

Okay, maybe not so cookie-cutter as that, but my train of thought was following that line. What do I want to be remembered for? What do I want to spend my life doing? Who do I want to be?

Don't worry. This isn't going to be one of those posts where I give you advice on what to do with your life. Pssshh... You think I care? No, that's a joke. I'm just kidding. But seriously. Yeah, I'm writing this strictly for my own benefit. Somehow, putting this organized, prioritized list on the World Wide Web will get the attention of the the "fate fairies" who'll magically bestow all of my wishes. Don't look at me like that. It is my blog after all. I can say crazy things if I want.

Friday, November 12, 2010

There's a Soldier in All of Us

That's the tagline for Call of Duty: Black Ops' ad campaign, accompanying a pretty epic commercial featuring, among many others, Kobe Bryant and Jimmy Kimmel. It seems Activision wants to market its FPS based on our inner desire to be a badass.

My only beef is that Black Ops is only one of many FPS games that have flooded the market. Inherently, they're all pretty similar. It doesn't matter if you're playing Modern Warfare 2, Medal of Honor, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, or even Halo: Reach. The premise is the same - you have a gun, go kill some people, and do badass things.

What I really want, however, is an FPS with a persistent, online world. I want to be able to play with potentially millions of players at a time. I want character customization and progression. I want to feel like a soldier, kicking ass and taking names. That's right, I want an MMOFPS.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Character Study: V

In the wake of November 5th, I thought it prudent to, as he says so himself, discuss the "character of this dramatis persona." To many he is the symbol of heroic sacrifice for freedom from tyranny and oppression. He is also branded a terrorist, a dangerous anarchist. But as Evey says, "what of the man?" Who is the person behind the mask?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

D&D 4E: Last Prophecy

I spent approximately two hours working on this video yesterday. It really has no purpose, no goal in mind. In a way, I was experimenting with the new Windows Movie Maker (which is still a pain in the butt and next-to-useless) and playing with the works of one of my favorite concept artists, Kekai Kotaki, and the opening theme from one of my favorite games, Suikoden III. 

The video is a trailer for a Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition campaign that I'm going to host during winter break, pretty much the whole of the month of December. It's called Last Prophecy, and forgive me if the the trailer is a bit generic. But I enjoyed working on it, for the most part (damn you, Movie Maker, damn you) and I hope you will enjoy watching it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Monologue of a Hopeless Romantic

I've always felt a little out of sync, out of touch with the modern interpretation of love and relationships. In fact, I often wonder if people even believe in love any more. That's a bit over-dramatic, but I really think the world's population of romantics is steadily declining. It saddens me, because what's a world without love?

Maybe it's the glut of romantic comedies that fill the silver screen, the popular music, and overall mainstream media that has something to do with it. It cheapens love, turns it into a consumer item. What happened to the idea of it as a precious commodity?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Really Should Keep My Mouth Shut in Public

So, this should definitely go up as one of my most epic fail moments. And by epic fail, I mean, epically fail. In order to save face, though, as difficult as it is at this point, I'm going to be a little vague about it. I hope you can get the gist of it. Because, in the end, this is freakin' hilarious.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Jersey Syndrome: A Favor for a Friend

So, a friend of mine has asked me to feature a video he and his classmates made on my blog. First off, I'd like to say I'm honored to be considered an important enough blogger to feature a video made by college kids for a class project. Especially a video concerning the rampant Jersey-ism that I feel must be addressed. Secondly, this isn't going to be a regular thing, strictly a favor for a friend of mine. So, don't be expecting me to post your YouTube videos here. Unless it's significantly amazing. Then, you can expect it on here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Impressions: Fable III

I've managed to tear myself away from my Xbox 360 long enough to write an Impressions piece about Fable III. I want to say that it's everything I've hoped for from the Fable franchise, but, though it's a very polished, refined game, it doesn't completely hit the spot. It might just be the nature of games like this; developers make us feel connected to these fantastic worlds, but it always falls short of reality and so falls short of expectations. Like in Fable II, you work jobs by playing mini-games to earn money and you slay baddies to gain renown. All it does though is leave you wanting more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Journal of a Survivor: Day 2

It's easy now to see why the people who would survive a zombie apocalypse (or actually, any viral epidemic) would be the sociopaths. I'm not accusing anybody playing HvZ here of sociopathy; the only person I'm pointing to is myself.

My hours during the day in between classes is dominated perpetually by paranoia. Behind every corner is a possible zed waiting to nom me. Every person I see in the distance is a possible threat to my very existence. Even the guys and girls I go zed-hunting with could be turned and possibly come after me. To echo a gigantic, upcoming film: "Trust no one."

It's getting hard to keep track of what's been going on. Campus has been a whirlwind of undead and human activity. The following is my record of what's happened starting from 9 AM Oct. 19 to 1:30 PM Oct. 20. I hope I'll be able post again later tonight for Day 3.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Journal of a Survivor: Day 1

Humans vs. Zombies has started down here at Ohio University. It's a game of dart tag that spans the entire week, where "human" players have to survive for as long as they can against an ever-growing horde of "zombies." Every human who is infected (his bandanna on his arm is grabbed), then he joins the zombie horde.

This is my account of the zombie apocalypse, the journal of a survivor. I'll keep recording every day for as long as I am uninfected. If I fall, then the zombie version of me will record a zombified record. I'm just that smart.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Valve Bringing Dota 2 to Steam

Personally, I was never much of a fan of DotA (Defense of the Ancients), a popular mod for Warcraft III where up to five players per team takes control of a unique hero to help an NPC army conquer the opposing forces. It was a fun game the few times I played it, I'll admit, but it also had a steep learning curve and a pretty noob-hostile community. However, I feel like this is pretty significant enough news to be worth mentioning here on my blog.

IceFrog, the mysterious, nameless person charged with maintaining and updating the current DotA-Allstars was hired by Valve in 2009 to work on Dota 2. The sequel is alleged to be pretty much the same game with new technology. The fanboys probably won't complain about that.

All of the same heroes, skills, and items will carry over. However, the game will run on the Source Engine so it will surely look a lot nicer. Voice chat will be integrated through Steam. The art style will retain the quirkiness granted to it by the Warcraft III engine. Dota 2 will be released alongside upgrades to Steam which will allow Valve to integrate in-game achievements, much like Blizzard's new

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sauron Looks to the North

Snowblind Studios, famous for the acclaimed Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath, is developing an action RPG called The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, based on J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy.

Set in the northern reaches of Middle-earth, the game will cover events not shown in the movies or the books. This gives Snowblind the power to exercise their creative freedom, though hopefully not at the expense of violating the nerd-sanctity of Tolkien's work.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Guild Wars 2 Rewards Revealed, Remaining Professions Hinted

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, dear readers. It's because classes have been so - Aw, who am I kidding? I haven't been able to blog in a while because ArenaNet launched a secret attack of awesome on the Guild Wars community, not because of the college workload.

Yes, ArenaNet has finally opened the gates of secrecy regarding how the Hall of Monuments will transfer your Guild Wars characters' achievements to the sequel. From the site, you can enter any of your characters' names and it will calculate your account-wide achievements and what rewards you have netted.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Infection Spreads: Zombie MMO Headed to Consoles

Keep your Zombie Survival Guides handy. The infection is spreading to a console near you. No, it's not Left 4 Dead 3. It's not downloadable content for your favorite game. It's a standalone, massively multiplayer online zombie game, or as the boys at Undead Labs call it, an MMOZ.

Undead Labs is a Seattle-based developer whose sole objective is "to create the definitive massively multiplayer zombie game(MMOZ) for console gamers." The studio was formed in 2009 by Jeff Strain, an MMO industry veteran, who has previously worked on groundbreaking projects like StarCraft, DiabloWorld of Warcraft, and Guild Wars. He is joined by industry talent such as James Phinney and Doug Williams, who both have previously worked with Strain at ArenaNet. What binds these guys together is their passion for gaming and, especially, zombies.

There's no doubt that crafting an MMO experience for the console is an ambitious and difficult job. Numerous talented studios have tried it in the past and failed. The team at Undead Labs has addressed this. On their blog, Strain emphasizes that their MMOZ project will not simply be a port of a PC game; it will be designed specifically for the consoles and play to their strengths.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Guild Wars 2 Team Covers Their Loot System, Hints at Crafting

ArenaNet's John Hargrove posted on the official ArenaNet blog, discussing the as-of-yet mysterious reward system. He addresses the four principles the Guild Wars 2 team kept in mind while designing the looting mechanics:
  1. "Everybody gets a swing at the proverbial pinata"
  2. "Rewards should be worth obtaining"
  3. "Players should look the way they want to look"
  4. "Players should be able to look truly unique"
  5. "Upgrading your gear should be fun"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kalypso Media to Release "The First Templar"

Bulgarian video game developer, Haemimont Games (who developed Tropico 3), is looking to deliver an action RPG set in the Middle Ages called The First Templar. It is set to be released by Kalypso Media in 2011.

The video above, which previewed at E3 2010, displays solid-looking combat against what seems to be an ogre as well as assassinations that would make Altair proud. I'm not really sure how an ogre fits into the historical Middle Ages, but the game's story follows a French Templar on a quest to discover the secret behind the Holy Grail.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Everything is Better with Lightsabers

It's a lazy weekend (and I'm procrastinating a little bit), so in an effort to spread some fun, I'm posting YouTube videos about lightsabers make everything better.

None of these videos are made by me and I make no claims to them. They are the works of their respective editors. I simply want to show the world video evidence that LIGHTSABERS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER!

Friday, September 24, 2010

BioWare releases more Smuggler info

BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic recently released more information on the Republic's Smuggler class. Just as the Sith Warrior emulates Darth Vader and the Bounty Hunter emulates Boba Fett, the Smuggler is SWTOR's Han Solo.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Notebook: Frontiers

This is the beginning of a new series on my blog. Notebook will be a collection of short stories, or in some cases, excerpts from longer works, written by yours truly. I apologize in advance if there are errors in some of these works as they are mostly rough drafts. Final drafts can be found posted on Scribophile. I appreciate any critiquing, as long as they are constructive, that you may choose to offer.

By Blake Gabriel

::Incoming transmission::

::Connecting to receiving module::
::Transmission received::

[I know this goes against every protocol in the Navy, but I had no other choice]
[This is the only way I can be sure our story can be told without Confederate interference or corporate censorship]
[This is the only way we can be heard]

[I am Acting Captain William S. Booker of the Confederate expeditionary frigate, Columbus. We were deployed on an exploratory mission in the Strahl Nebula in an effort to establish contact with alien species suspected to be inhabiting the systems within the nebula]

[Nobody expected to find what we did]

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Choosing Sides and Crossing Fences

I always knew I'd put up some kind of political post on this blog someday. I just never figured it'd be something like this. To begin with, I used to be interested in politics. It was my junior year in high school when I took A.P. Government and political debate seemed to be the norm. Everyone was just coming into their own beliefs and ideas and everybody wanted to share them. I even worked for the McCain campaign (Don't laugh; everybody worked for Obama) for a little bit.

Perhaps it was that experience that soured me on politics. It doesn't really matter to me. Republicans, Democrats, Tea Party - I think they're all sleazy, especially if they're in any position of power. Power corrupts, right? Okay, I'm sure there are plenty of guys actually dedicated to civic service and ably representing their constituents. There might even be more of them than there are corrupt sleazebags, but I figure if I just auto-assume that every one of them is a corrupt sleazebag, then the nice guys will surprise me. I mean, I can't really be disappointed this way.

But upon coming to college, I've seen more than a dozen recruitment posters for organizations like College Democrats or College Republicans. I even hear there was a Democratic Socialists club? All I know is that there's a bunch of them drunk on the recruiting drive (that's a figure of speech, but this being OU, I wouldn't be surprised if it was taken literally) and they all want me, you, and that other guy to join. It's not an easy decision though. There's only so much of me to go around. And how the heck are you supposed to decide in such a short amount of time?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Impressions: The Suburbs by Arcade Fire

I am, by no means, an avid fan of Arcade Fire. I enjoy their music, but I make no claims to understanding it. This Impressions piece is strictly from the point of view of someone who happens to like the sound of indie music, but isn't really (really) into the whole indie movement.

So, onto The Suburbs, Arcade Fire's latest album. I've always been confused. Is it The Arcade Fire or just Arcade Fire? That's getting off track, however. I'm sorry; it's an early morning in between classes and I thought I'd make the most of it by finishing this blog post.

The Suburbs is a continuation of the Arcade Fire sound that I first heard in Neon Bible and later, Funeral. Yes, I know, Funeral was released earlier, but my Arcade Fire experience wasn't really chronological. But it's safe to assume that if you enjoyed the earlier albums, you'll like The Suburbs.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Zooey and Ben

Well, I admit, this is sort of a creepy post. I love Zooey Deschanel, and I think it's time I tell the world how my fan-love has sort of evolved to this weird stage. I think she's a really talented artist, both musically and in film, and I really, really hope I get to meet her someday (I tweet about this constantly). I know she's married to Ben Gibbard, of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service fame, but I think it's great. They're a wonderful celebrity couple. I love Ben's music almost as much as Zooey's music (maybe) and I'm just waiting for them to get together and just bubble beautiful indie/emo music. I'd get that album instantaneously.

Anyways, the point of this post, really, is that I was listening to some of The Postal Service ("Such Great Heights") and I was thinking, "Wow, maybe Ben wrote this song when he was dating Zooey." I mean, it's possible. "Such Great Heights" was released in 2003 and Zooey and Ben got married in 2009. I have no idea when they started dating, but I'm willing to believe they at least knew each other by then. A six-year dating period isn't impossible.

Maybe a more avid Zooey Deschanel fan than me knows more, but for now I'm content thinking that this song was Ben's song for Zooey when she's away on tour. It fits. Anyways, here's the song so you can listen too.

The likelihood of all this conjecture being accurate is pretty low, but it's a nice thought. Zooey didn't start going on tour with She & Him until 2008, so maybe it refers more to her being on tour for filming. But the coincidence is just phenomenal. I like to think she listens to it when she's on the tour bus with She & Him, thinking of Ben.

It's such a sweet thought, one of those thoughts that romanticizes love and encourages us to believe in it still.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Character Study: Summer Finn

It's safe to say that (500) Days of Summer is one of my all-time, favorite movies. It doesn't hurt that my all-time, favorite actress is the titular character either. There is no denying that I am fully obsessed with Zooey Deschanel, so this may explain the subject of this particular post.

Don't worry, though, this won't be just me crooning about how great she is or how much I'm in love with her. I solemnly swear I will do my absolute best to maintain objectivity in what is going to be an in-depth study of a character I find intriguing and very well-constructed.

First, I should probably do a bit of explaining. If you don't know, (500) Days of Summer is a romantic-drama-comedy film. The movie is all about a guy named Tom who falls in love with a girl named Summer. He believes in love; she doesn't. It sounds like your average rom-com, but it truly stands out. The movie has so many layers (like a relationship) and what I'm trying to do is simply peel away at one of them.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Conflict of College

College is coming. For those of you like me who are preparing for the big leave, it's safe to say that we are all feeling a little weird about it. Moving away. Meeting new people. Living on our own. As I was told very many times, it's natural to feel a little anxious. But what probably freaks us out the most is that a majority of our friends won't be coming with us. We're dispersing to different colleges, scattered by the four winds. We're afraid we may never see each other again.

I will miss my friends. The people who over the years I've become close to, who shared my experiences and who I've come to rely on and care very much about. You know who you are.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A New Star Wars Movie, Please?

No, no, no. Don't get excited. This neither official or a rumor. It isn't speculation either. It's simply wishful thinking from an undying Star Wars fan and lore nerd.

The original Star Wars trilogy and the prequel trilogy are done and over with. Even though a remake of either trilogy would be cool, I think that a completely new Star Wars story is waiting to be told. There's so much material out there; the Star Wars universe is massive. A new movie could take place thousands of years before the Battle of Yavin or thousands of years after.

Just do a quick Google search of Star Wars stories that have nothing to do with the films. There's so many and a lot of them have nothing to do with the Rebellion era or the Clone Wars, which would be a breath of fresh air in what's becoming a stale environment.

To start with we have the Tales of the Jedi story arcs with Ulic Qel-Droma, Exar Kun, and Nomi Sunrider. In these story arcs alone there are two epic conflicts: the Great Hyperspace War between the Republic and the Sith Empire under Naga Sadow and the Sith War with Exar Kun and the fallen Ulic Qel-Droma. There's literally enough there to create a whole new, epic trilogy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Impressions: Starcraft II

Since I am not a professional critic (yet), I don't feel right calling this an official review. Instead I will just give you my feelings on the subject at hand. Impressions be my articles devoted to these pseudo-reviews. They won't be full reviews, but I'll share my thoughts with you.

So, for my first Impressions piece...

It's safe to say that StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is one of the biggest launches of the year. Its predecessor was, and probably still is, played all across the globe by some of the most the diehard fans. But Blizzard's sequel delivers an experience that not only recalls the original, but improves upon the basic formula in such a way that it could single-handedly revive a struggling genre.

A Little Introduction

So you know what you're getting yourself into, I'll give you a little explanation and introduction. A prologue, if you will, to future posts on Oven-Blaked. I'll cover the 5 W's and tell you a bit about myself in the process. After that, you can decide whether you wish to keep following my blog. Or not.

The power to choose is, and always shall be, yours (I would appreciate you sticking around though).


I am Blake Gabriel Tan. I graduated Hoover High School in 2010 and will be attending the E.W. Scripps School for Journalism at Ohio University in the fall. I love to write; innumerable forests of pages to unfinished stories (sorry, Earth) lie lost in my room. I write stories, both short and long fiction. I've tried my hand at poetry, but after senior AP English and studying the intricacies of poetry, I have given up. Additionally, I enjoy opinion writing (which is partially why I started this blog in the first place). I find my ideas to be more coherent and my delivery more eloquent when written (or typed).


Well, it's going to be my personal blog. You'll find my opinion here on various (mostly random) subjects, as well as reviews of movies, books, and video games, short stories, and excerpts from my longer stories. I will refrain from posts that simply complain or whine. However, I reserve the right to critique. I don't want to waste Web space or, more importantly, your time. You may also find cartoons I've doodled make their way onto here.


This is an easy one. It can be found right here on Blogger. I will also try to link future posts to Facebook and Twitter as well.


Starting from this point onward to an undefined time in the future. I will try to post at least once a week, though more or less than that is possible.


The biggest question of all. Why, oh, why? Maybe it's just to jump on the bandwagon of the modern, digital age so I can be one of those posh bloggers (or vloggers) and I can sit at Starbucks and chit-chat about nonsense. Maybe. I can neither confirm or deny such rumors.

It is safe to say that I am blogging because I like to write. I like to hope that the remainder of my summer is not just spent on Starcraft II and to prove to myself that I can do something productive (the productive nature of blogging can be argued, but I rest my case).

And ever since graduation I haven't written an opinion piece since the senior issue of The Viking Views. Since my eventual wish is to write for Game Informer or an entertainment magazine, I thought it prudent to continue using my opinion-writing skills. It's the only way to keep them sharp after all.

So, from here on out, it will be Half-Blaked by me, your host, Blake Tan. Enjoy and I hope you continue following my posts in the future.