500 FREAKIN’ BLOGS!
That’s right, dear childrens. The Wizard Dojo has gone from one milestone and dived immediately into another. After writing 200 video game reviews, I have now etched my way to 500 total blogs here at the Dojo. Saints be praised! Credenza’s alive!
Of course, reaching such a milestone means it’s now time to throw dignity out the window and bombard you all with stupid gifs and stuff.
Yeah, I know it’s considered tacky to brag, but oh well. It took a lot of hard work and spelling errors to get here. So I’m going to brag a little bit. Besides, it beats all the faux self-deprecation all those celebrities do to feign humility. So I shall brag away!
Even Princess Peach has arrived for the occasion!
Surely this most five-hundrediest of blogs is a special occasion! Time to watch Godzilla do a happy dance!
In all seriousness, I thank all of you, my dear readers, for keeping me going. But more importantly, I’d like to thank ME for being able to write all these posts.
In a more serious note of seriousness, let’s take a moment to celebrate this in some ways other than gifs and dancing Godzillas. First, let’s start with my second batch of answers for my Ask Me Anythings.
Answer you Everything!
Just as the case was with my 400th blog, I let my readers ask me whatever question they’d like in a previous post, with the answers being placed here in the milestone post. Because I’m Mr. Popular, I received a staggering three whole questions from my readers (technically four, but alex9234’s question was very “in the moment,” so I answered it then). Here we go!
I’m actually very glad that you asked this, Mr. Panda. I always kind of want to share my more creative endeavors, and not just my opinions, but I’m always afraid it might come off as bragging (like actual bragging), so I don’t ever really follow through with it. So thanks for giving me an excuse to do so, Mr. Panda!
Anyway, I actually have a couple of different concepts floating around in my head as far as gameplay is concerned. So really, what direction I decide to take my first game in all depends on what I feel confident I could make as I progress in the world of game development. Obviously, you don’t want to dive right into something that would be beyond your abilities on the first go, but you also don’t want your first work to be underwhelming. So for the game itself, it’s a little difficult to say what would be its direct inspirations at the moment, because it depends on which concept I end up going with.
With that said, I can confidently say that the kind of games I’d like to make would be platformers and RPGs, as well as combinations of the two. If I go the platforming direction, I’d definitely look towards the likes of the Super Mario and Donkey Kong Country series, along with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, as the games I’d be most likely to look for inspiration.
If I go the RPG route, I’d definitely look towards the Mario RPGs for inspiration first and foremost, primarily Super Mario RPG and the first two Paper Mario titles.
There are definitely other great games that have creatively influenced me, and their inspiration would no doubt end up in whatever I may make in some form or another (I’m a huge fan of Zelda, Dark Souls and Portal as well), but I can’t say anything concrete at this moment, because my first game is still in the “dream” stage.
Outside of gaming, Studio Ghibli films, particularly those by Hayao Miyazaki, are my biggest creative influences. Others include Star Wars, Disney films, Pixar films, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium. Though again, I’m really just naming a bunch of stuff I love at this point.
However, I can share a wee little secret with you, Mr. Panda (and whoever else reads this, I suppose). I actually do have at least one fictional universe that I’ve been thinking of for years, which I would, for lack of better analysis, describe as something of “Super Mario meets Miyazaki.” At least in the sense that those two things are what have most shaped it. I’m not sure if I would set my first game in that world, however. Again, a lot of it depends on how things fall into place.
Sorry I can’t give you much more information than “I like these things I listed” but feel free to ask me more of such questions as time goes on. Maybe one day I can give you better answers.
But for now enjoy these sprites I made again!
Dylan417 asked: What are your thoughts on the (bleak) future of Ghibli? I know they are still active with smaller projects but… Does it really have to end with Miyazaki? Personally I thought that their last two movies which weren’t directed by Miyazaki, Kaguya and Marnie, are among the greats. Marnie might even by my favorite Ghibli movie since Spirited Away. Is hand drawn animation sadly just a dying art form?
Well, I sadly have to admit that Studio Ghibli’s future has been in question for a while now, and the idea of Studio Ghibli closing up shop scares the Hell out of me.
However, these past few months there has been talk about Miyazaki coming out of retirement (again), which would definitely liven up the Ghibli brand again. Even if he doesn’t, I can still imagine Studio Ghibli giving one more go at a feature film in the next couple of years to see how things go, even if its a smaller feature.
It’s also very sad to say that hand-drawn animation is becoming rarer and rarer. I don’t think it will ever go away completely, but with Ghibli’s indecisive future, its greatest standard-bearer is no longer a shining beacon. There will still be a few hand-drawn features here and there (mainly foreign ones, like a few anime and those made by Cartoon Saloon, for example), and even Disney has said they have a few ideas for traditional animated features in the tank (though it doesn’t sound like an immediate priority), but tragically I don’t think they’ll get back on equal footing with CG. It will never die, but I don’t see it getting in the spotlight. As much as that pains me to write.
Red Metal asked: A lot of prominent gaming critics are quick to point out how much better gaming allegedly was in the eighties/nineties. Do you agree with this sentiment?
Ooh boy. Time for some controversy.
I am a long-time gamer. Having been born at the tail-end of the 80s, I mean it quite literally when I say I can’t remember a time when I didn’t play video games. They’ve always been a part of my life. During my childhood, I played the games from the 80s that were older than myself, and the 90s games that continued to be released. I witnessed the Bit Wars, the rise of the Playstation brand, and the tragic fall of Sega first-hand (well, first-hand as a consumer). So while I may not be the oldest gamer out there, I like to think I have a strong history with the medium.
That’s why it’s probably controversial when I say that, with the exception of the 16-bit generation of the SNES and Genesis, gaming is, in most ways, better today.
Before you all form an angry mob with Gaston and storm my castle, let me explain myself a little.
There are plenty of things I really, REALLY don’t like about modern gaming. Over-reliances on cinematics? Can’t stand it. The idea that open-world automatically equates to good, and linear automatically means bad? Dumbest thing ever. Games that do little in the form of gameplay, but carry around a pretentious attitude and call themselves art? Get the hell out!
Honestly, I could go on and on about things I don’t like in modern gaming. But, the fact stands that the 80s and 90s paved the way, meaning that modern games have a largely smooth road to drive on.
What I mean by that failed attempt at an analogy is that video games were still in their infancy in the 80s. Yes, we got timeless classics like Super Mario Bros. and Tetris, but we also had games like Deadly Towers and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and had to deal with glitches and other technical issues that were very common at the time.
Sure, the gaming industry made huge strides in the 80s, and there were plenty of games released in that decade that still hold up. But there are also plenty that showcase just how experimental gaming was back then, with many games being unfair, overly cryptic, tedious, having poor controls, and so forth.
Another problem is that, once again, because video games were in their infancy, there often wasn’t a quality standard to go by (though platformers really had no excuse after Super Mario Bros. was released). Today, video games are a booming business, and many of the “suits” in the industry understand how gaming works. Back then, the publishers and developers were two very different entities. A publisher – not knowing the finer details of game design – could have (and judging by a number of games, often did) simply go with the idea that kids like video games. So they’d see a clearly unfinished build from one of their developers, and rush it out into stores. If it was a video game and included a fantasy world or a movie license, kids would like it, right?
These days, we’ve learned from the mistakes of the past, and now the “suits” are a bit closer to the same boat as the developers. There’s a much easier communication there. There’s more feedback, video game reviews are far more widely known, and so on and so forth.
I mentioned that the 16-bit generation stood as a shining example of quality gaming history, and I stand by that. The reason being that the 16-bit generation seemed to be the time when – as stated – the gaming world learned from past mistakes. It basically felt like a perfection of the craft up to that point, and as a whole, it still holds up as the most timeless era in gaming.
After the 16-bit days, things hit a bit of a reset button, because gaming made the jump to 3D. So it was like learning to walk all over again for the video game medium. We went from a perfected craft to one that was starting from the beginning all over again. So the same mistakes and aged elements from the 8-bit (and previous) days came back in full swing.
Once again, we have a timeframe that still saw a few handfuls of timeless greats, like Super Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time, but they are even fewer than the 8-bit generation. Weird controls, wonky cameras, terribly aged visuals, and many other elements from the early 3D days of gaming are proof of the inexperience developers had with gaming’s new direction back then. I don’t necessarily fault them all for it, because they were pioneering a whole new way to play video games, but the fact stands that this generation has not aged well for the most part.
My controversial stances continue, however, because while the PS2/GameCube/Xbox/Dreamcast days are also fondly remembered, and certainly don’t feel as experimental when played today, I don’t think that era has as many standout classics. It may be better aged than the previous generation, but it also wasn’t the same “perfection of the craft” that the 16-bit generation was.
To wrap this long, long rant up, gaming has a nice level of polish today, because it learned from what came before it. The 16-bit generation brought 2D gaming to an unparalleled height, because it learned from and perfected what its preceding generations did. I think we’re seeing something similar now. Sure, there’s still a lot of crap, and too many games are trying way too hard to be movies these days. But I think there’s enough polish to be had in today’s games that I can imagine them holding up decently down the road. The fact that we’ve seen such creative and expertly realized gems like Portal and Dark Souls should say a lot about the benefits of modern gaming.
A Brief History of Wizard Dojo, and Where We’re Going
As you may know, I launched Wizard Dojo on Christmas Day 2014, with twenty-something pre-written posts published on day one (with my Mario Kart 8 review being the one I chose to be the very first post). I had a previous site that I had for a few years prior to this, but that site’s early years were terrible, and even when it did “git gud” it still wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be. So I started fresh, and created Wizard Dojo, where I hoped to better explain my opinions, have everything more organized (I have OCD, you see), and have a good combination of insight and (in my opinion, anyway) entertainment in regards to how I explain the things I like and my feelings for them, while trying to mostly stay away from the overly cynical and dismissive nature of most sites that focus on things like gaming.
But why the name? Well, to be honest, I suck at naming things. When I was in the process of starting this site, it took a few months (yes, months) before I could get it up and running, because I couldn’t think of a name for it! At first I was trying to think of something that would explain what it was (a site about video games and animated films), but couldn’t come up with anything that both described that and rolled off the tongue. I also tried to name it something that included the word “Power” in the title, as an homage to Nintendo Power. But that just wasn’t working.
Then, either through memory or by seeing an old episode of The Simpsons, I remembered that the comic book store from said series was called the “Android’s Dungeon.” As much as I utterly despise what The Simpsons has become, the earlier seasons were gold, and I thought the name Android’s Dungeon was really fun for how blatantly nerdy yet awesome it is. So I decided to see if anything like that would work for my site.
That eventually lead me to the name we all know and love, Wizard Dojo. Because wizards are cool, and the idea of them having a dojo is just badass (come on, imagine what an actual wizard dojo would be like!). Sure, the fact that the first word ends with a D and the second word begins with a D sounds a little awkward, I think that, for the most part, it’s a fun name, and it somehow actually fits with the kind of stuff I write about.
In a more uneventful story, I chose the username TheManCalledScott because my real name is Scott. Absolutely thrilling.
Now that I think about it, I often use the username Doctor Roscottnik on other sites, as a play on my name and that of Dr. Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog. That’s actually a more creative name. Why didn’t I use that here?
You may have also noticed I’ve gone through a few different profile pictures since the Dojo’s founding. Let’s revisit them, shall we?
My original and currently longest-reigning profile picture was Nester, the original Nintendo Power mascot. As you might’ve guessed, my usage of Nester was done after I failed to pay homage to Nintendo Power through the site’s name. I used the Nester image from the site’s launch on Christmas 2014 all the way up to around January of 2017.
The second of my three profile pictures was easily my shortest-lived, as it only lasted a few weeks. Still, I have a fondness for it. Basically, I was watching Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and on one part there’s this guy with the most absurd telescope imaginable (seriously, look at how he has to hold that thing). So I got my phone out and took a picture of my TV screen (hence the poor quality). Because more people need to be aware of whom I affectionately refer to as That One Guy From That One Moment Of Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind Who’s Holding That Comical Telescope. Or TOGFTOMONOTVOTWWHTCT, for short.
My third and current profile picture is the most appropriate yet, because it’s an actual wizard. Kamek, the antagonist of Yoshi’s Island, is one of the more underrated Mario characters. This site’s called Wizard Dojo. He’s a wizard from my favorite video game series. So he’s my profile picture.
Here we are, 200 video game reviews, 114 animated movie reviews, and…uhhh… a lot of other stuff later, and now we’re sitting pretty at blog 5-0-0. Where does the Wizard Dojo go from here?
Well, to be honest, it doesn’t go very far. I’m just gonna write a whole lot more crap. Expect me to get back to the usual reviews and such really soon. I’m going to keep piling them up so high, that the internet will run out of gifs before I stop celebrating all my milestones.*
*Not likely to happen.
Oh, but to wrap this up, there are two very big things I’d like to bring up in regards to my goings-on. The first is that I soon plan to start making YouTube videos of some sort. I’m not entirely positive what they’ll be at this moment, definitely video game and movie related though. Simply doing video reviews may be a bit redundant, but I could probably find some way to make it different than just video versions of what I write here. This is a pretty big deal for me, as I’m a lifelong sufferer of social-phobia. The idea that I’m willing to go through with something like this was once unthinkable.
I can’t say for sure when I’ll start with my YouTube stuff, but hopefully it won’t be in too long. I’ll keep you posted.
The other thing I want to discuss is bittersweet. As stated numerous times, I want to one day make a video game game. And as I learn more about game design and such, no doubt more and more of my time will go towards that. This means that, once making a game becomes a priority, I imagine I may slow down with the frequency of my blogs.
I know, your lives are now ruined forever. How will you go on?
Fret not, because this is still probably a long ways off. And even when that day does come, I have no plans to stop writing reviews or ending anything about Wizard Dojo. I’d just slow down and maybe release my writings on more of a schedule. As opposed to writing blog after blog that no one reads, like I do now.
Anyway, before I go, it’s time to give a little thanks.
Matt from NintendoBound: For being my longest-standing blogging ally, and the best damn Nintendo blogger ever. Your continued readership is infinitely appreciated, and you have encouraged and inspired me to up my game. Thanks!
Alex from After Story Gaming: For being the big fan and supporter my writings don’t deserve.
Red Metal from Extra Life Reviews: For always giving such detailed insights and for all the support… and for always hitting that like button.
Alex from Mr. Panda’s Video Game Reviews: For all the support and encouragement you continue to give me and my writing.
Do you guys know what happens when TheManCalledScott thanks you during his 500th blog? Do you know what happens?
Oh, and I can’t forget that I’d also like to thank my dog, for being the greatest badass the world has ever known.
With that, my friends, I take my leave of this overly-long blog (seriously, I didn’t know I’d write this much going into this). And what better way to end things than with the theme song to Super Sentai Zyuranger?