Tag Archives: iidx

Game Over Media Interviewed Me

Back in November, I got an email from a friend-of-a-friend named Alan Flaten, a grad student at University of Florida. One of his projects was related to beatmania IIDX, and he felt that an interview with me would really help bring the project together.

The interview went live on his site back in April, and I realized just now that I neglected to link to it. So if you’re deeply interested in my answers to questions like “When and why did you decide to start-up VJ Army?” and “Do you still play IIDX today?”, now you can know! (Not much has changed answer-wise since November.)

Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

VJ Army 4.0 Preview

In January of 2004, I launched the first major version of [VJ Army](http://vjarmy.com/iidx/), my Beatmania IIDX score tracking and community site.

Since that time, over 2500 users have registered, inputting nearly 500,000 scores collectively across 10 different game titles. By all traditional means, the site is a smashing success.

However, reality has set in recently: the site has always been rough around the edges, because I am not a designer. Worse, my time to work on the site has been greatly limited as my work obligations continue to grow.

Luckily, there is relief in sight. I am happy to announce VJ Army 4.0, scheduled for release around September 1st of this year. 4.0 represents massive overhauls to both the codebase and the VJ Army coding process. I’ve been really pleased with what’s been accomplished so far, and I’d like to give you a little tour through some of the fantastical newness.

Warning: lots of mind-blowing screenshots ahead.

Continue reading VJ Army 4.0 Preview

Four Gaming Travesties In Half A Week

One: Nintendo [delays the new Zelda title](http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4158758.stm) until well into next generation land, guaranteeing the Gamecube won’t have a high profile title at Christmas time. I look forward to again seeing “ONE CONSOLE PER PERSON (EXCEPT GAMECUBE)” signs this holiday season.

Two: Nintendo also, after slashing $20 off the price of the DS, says the Gameboy Micro is going to be priced at $100. For $30 more, you get a DS, with lots more functionality. For $20 less, you get a GBA with a bigger screen. Who is this supposed to appeal to?

Three: Microsoft, not to be outdone by Nintendo, announces pricing for the Xbox 360, and manages to make [nearly every fanboy they had turn against them](http://www.majornelson.com/2005/08/17/xbox-360-details-and-prices/#comments). It’s not that there’s [two pricing levels](http://www.gamespot.com/news/2005/08/17/news_6131245.html), it’s that the baseline machine doesn’t have a hard drive, which means developers now have an lower hardware baseline to shoot for than they did for the original Xbox. Also: $50 for wireless controllers, $100 for the add-on hard drive, $100 for a wireless network adapter, and $60 per game make this one expensive console.

Four: Konami decides to [make Beatmania USA purple](http://media.ps2.ign.com/media/748/748592/imgs_1.html). I am not kidding when I say this: this is the ugliest Bemani game I’ve ever seen. Worse than all the 5-key mixes, worse than 3rd Style CS, possibly even worse than DDR Extreme USA. Why did I get my hopes up about this? More importantly, why did Konami tease us with pictures of the 9th Style interface?

I’m going to go cry into my copy of Taiko No Tatsujin PSP now. The pure unadulterated cuteness will surely get me out of this funk.

Tear It Up

Back in April of 2003, I wrote a post [discussing my disdain](http://vjarmy.com/archives/2003/04/if_i_read_any_more_fanfiction_i_will_be_driven_to_murder.php) for fanfiction – particularly that of the DDR variety. I think most of the links in the post are dead, but the point remains the same: fanfiction for video games, particular video games without a plot, is a crime against humanity.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m passionate about games. Twenty years of gaming gets you a lot of addictions and obsessions. I’ve played some games long enough to temporarily ruin my vision, taken mutli-hour car trips with people I barely know to play games in arcades, and written way more PHP to handle game accounting than anyone should have to in the course of their life.

But there’s a line for me. Somewhere past cosplaying at conventions is a breed of gamer who takes things way, way, way too far.

Today, Aaron Ramsey discovered – quite accidently – the [Beatmania IIDX Platinum Livejournal community](http://www.livejournal.com/community/iidx_platinum/). I should, in all fairness, know by now not to click links titled “SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL ME WHAT THE HELL THIS IS ABOUT”.

If there’s any game I’m obsessed with, it’s certainly Beatmania IIDX; anyone who’s been reading here for longer than a month has been subjected to the regular tangent about it. I am not going to go into details to describe the percentage of my gaming attention this game occupies. That said, this community scares the living shit out of me.

IIDX_Platinum is a role-playing group. This means each and every person in the community plays the role of one of the IIDX “characters”. Let’s stop right here, for the benefit of those people that don’t play: The characters in IIDX are largely relegated to screens that show your scores. They only occasionally appear in videos. They have very minor back-story associated with them, which is then obsessively filled in by people who think it’s worth filling in.

To base an entire perpetual role playing game off of characters that don’t have any characterization is…to make the obvious joke, *just disturbed, guys*. This is even acknowledged in the [group rules](http://www.livejournal.com/userinfo.bml?user=iidx_platinum):

> I’ve done all the research I could do and there isn’t a website that describes all the character’s personality.

There are other sections in the rules that are equally troubling, like the full acknowledgement that there may be [yaoi](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaoi) and [yuri](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri):

> Keep an open mind. *This community/rp group is run by yaoi fans… and we do allow yaoi, yuri, and het in this RP. Anything lemony, please warn us in advance.*

Some people may find this hard to believe, but Beatmania IIDX is a fun game even if you *don’t* pretend the characters on the results screens are having homosexual relations with each other. I personally don’t think it adds anything to the gaming experience – but maybe that’s just me.

I don’t mean to go on a complete snark binge here, so let me get to the heart of the matter, which is based largely in this line in the group description:

> Forgive us for being uncreative (or maybe being lazy) at the time, but this role-play has no set definite plot or anything like that. I mean, our boys and girls are DJ’s. Still, that’s not to say that it’s all they ever do. They are human after all, and go through the same things that we all do. Happy times, fun times, depression, frustration, anger, emo, angst, etc.

If these characters truly “go through the same things that we all do”, what’s the motivation here to write about someone else’s (fictional) life ? Why would you want to *pretend* to have issues, especially those that aren’t your own? Is there really an emotional rush for *pretending* to be in love with someone else who doesn’t exist? Since all of these love stories seem to end in heartbreak, why would anyone want to pretend to go through that?

Don’t misread that as saying there isn’t something to be said for going through all of these things yourself; there’s a lot to be learned from falling into and out of love, from releasing your frustrations and having your friends be there for you in your darkest days. But you need to go through these life experiences as yourself, not as a fictional DJ (or any other character from one of the thousands of roleplaying groups online).

In total, it strikes me as rather tragic that there are so many people out there who are content to churn out pages upon pages of fictional [phone conversations](http://www.livejournal.com/community/iidx_platinum/57710.html#cutid1), [AIM chats](http://www.livejournal.com/community/iidx_platinum/63104.html#cutid1), and [trips with fictional friends](http://www.livejournal.com/community/iidx_platinum/64835.html#cutid2) rather than try doing any of these things as themselves.

Life is too short to spend it writing a story for someone else’s life.

Beatmania USA Announced

After years and years of it being a joke in the community, Konami is releasing a US version of beatmania IIDX. Over 50 songs, apparently split between a 7-key mode and a 5-key mode. Engine is the 9th Style engine with some tweaks – the stars are back, amusingly.

Aaron Ramsey has dug through the 62 “screenshots” (mostly artwork, not screens) that Gamespot put up, and has generated a partial songlist including the following:

– Metal Gear Solid Main Theme
– La Bossanova de Fabienne
– Hunting For You
– Overblast!!
– Dancin’ Into The Night
– Nothing Ain’t Stoppin’ Us
– in my eyes
– Paranoia Max “Dirty Mix”
– The Shining Polaris
– I Was The One
– Star Field (not totally confirmed)

Most of the players who frequent this site (who already know about the announcement) will groan with this songlist, as it’s certainly leaning towards the easy side of the song list, but that’s to be expected for a first US mix. It’s nice to see the five-key revivals, although I would enjoy it more if they were songs I had more of an interest in (Inclusion of *Feel The Light* would mean I could finally ditch the PSX games).

The implications of this release are honestly boggling my mind to the point where I’m finding it hard to type – I will need some time to digest it all. Needless to say, VJ Army will be supporting the US mix, and any further US mixes down the line.

Dilemma Resolved

I realized, about a month or two ago, that I was going to have a real dilemma on my hands come March 24th. In one hand, you’ve got the PSP launch. In the other, you’ve got the home release of my all time favorite IIDX version, 9th Style. Both would be released on the same day and, negating the shipping difference imposed by importing 9th Style, I’d be stuck in Gaming Overload again.

But luckily, Play-Asia finally picked up my support request and now we have no issues, since this is shipping a few days later:

To everyone on VJA and PNN, thank you again. You’ve made one little IIDX nerd overjoyed.