anxious for pizza

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Ordering a pizza to your house is kind of an interesting concept when you suffer from even a little social anxiety.

Thanks to the glory of the internet, you can bypass at least one obstacle just by ordering online. No more awkwardly-phrased, poorly-executed orders over the phone with someone who keeps incorrectly repeating your order back to you. So that’s out of the way.

But then you go into waiting, where you have to allow time for the pizza to be made, baked, boxed and slipped into the delivery guy’s big, insulated shoulder bag. And then there’s travel time, with bonus wait time added on for when the delivery guy can’t find your house and calls you for directions, but then just gets more lost when you give him vague, unhelpful guidance. “Uhh, yeah, I’m in the house that has the lights on, and umm… there’s a mailbox.”

Finally – FINALLY – you see the headlights from the delivery guy’s car through the windows as he pulls into your driveway. At this point, the mood is like a mix of the dread and urgency that comes when the president puts the military at DEFCON 2 in anticipation of a declaration of war, mixed with the bated excitement that comes with the impending arrival of Christmas, the Super Bowl, a new Star Wars movie and other religious holidays.

Everyone’s running through the house, flailing their arms about and yelping cries of joy. The pizza hysteria sets in and you go from doing an awkward white guy celebration dance, shouting, “YEAH! PIZZA’S HEEERRREEE, BOYEEE!!!” to panicking and yell-whispering, “Ohmygawd, where’s the money?!” “We paid online!” “How much do we tip the guy?!” “We already paid the tip online!” as if the delivery guy has supersensory hearing and will drive off with your pizzas if he hears you talking about the money.

DING-DONG

And there it is. He’s here. With our pizzas. The delivery guy.

Maybe if we don’t move and stop talking, he’ll just leave the pizzas at the door and leave like UPS or something.

Nope, gotta be an adult.

So you casually open the door and act as if you’d forgotten all about that pizza you ordered until you heard the doorbell. So you say, “Oh, hey!” as if to imply, “You’re here already?”

Your ratty Simpsons t-shirt with the spaghetti sauce stain that won’t come out, and the “lived-in” look of your sweatpants really add to the casual, nonchalant attitude you’re trying to convey. It’s as if you just got out of bed, but hey, maybe you did. You can tell the pizza dude is impressed.

Then you make short, awkward conversation as he hands you a pen and a receipt, which you sign and then exchange for the pizza as if this is a hostage negotiation. Just hand me the pies and no one gets hurt!

Once you’ve made the hand-off and the pizza dude is walking back to his car, the last bit of paranoia sets in as you hope he knows you’re not stiffing him on a tip.

But now the door is shut and locked, and at last, you’re reunited with the love of your life.

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Pondering Nintendo ‘NX’ and backwards compatibility

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Backwards compatibility.

PlayStation 4 doesn’t have it.

Xbox One barely has it. As in, only recently, a select few “Xbox Preview members” were granted access, and only about 20 titles are currently supported.

Wii U is the only current-gen system that’s fully backwards compatible with all games in its predecessor’s library. But as with all backward compatible platforms, Wii U doesn’t run last-gen titles natively. You have to boot into an “emulation mode” that functions exactly like the old console. So when a Wii U boots into Wii mode, it operates like a Wii in every way, meaning you have no Wii U functionality. This means you can’t check your friends list, view the eShop, see current downloads, etc. That could change with NX.

Before Iwata’s untimely passing, he stated, “We do not intend [NX] to become a simple ‘replacement’ for Nintendo 3DS or Wii U.” A month later, Reggie said, “We’ve said publicly that we are already hard at work on our next home console.”

For these reasons, and contrary to popular thought, I do not believe NX will be a handheld/home console hybrid. Reggie’s emphatic statement about a home console and Iwata’s comment regarding 3DS lead me to believe that NX is a home console, and only a home console. But Iwata also stated NX would not be Wii U replacement, either. And that’s where my thoughts on backwards compatibility come in.

In a 2014 investors meeting, Iwata stated, “It will become important for us to accurately take advantage of what we have done with the Wii U architecture. It of course does not mean that we are going to use exactly the same architecture as Wii U, but we are going to create a system that can absorb the Wii U architecture adequately. When this happens, home consoles and handheld devices will no longer be completely different, and they will become like brothers in a family of systems.”

Now, I don’t know squat about hardware or programming or any of that stuff, but to me, that sounds as though NX could natively play Wii U games. There wouldn’t be a “Wii U mode” where you play outside the NX’s regular environment. Wii U games would be treated as regular games, played right there in the same interface/environment as NX games. All your menus, screens and functionality would be accessible without having to jump in and out of a clunky emulator mode. This way, instead of abandoning the platform once the new console is out, Nintendo can continue to fully support Wii U titles.

Think of it this way. You can upgrade or build a new computer with better parts. You can even upgrade your Windows OS, but essentially, at its core, it’s running on the same foundation. In turn, that means all the stuff you were able to run and play before still functions the same, but you’re also able to do new, better things that weren’t previously possible with your old hardware/software.

Considering Iwata’s comments regarding Nintendo’s hardware being “brothers” in an ecosystem, and the discussion of a new, cross-platform account system, it seems quite feasible that if you purchased digital versions of Wii U games, you could potentially download and play them again, free of charge, on your NX, based upon the fact that your account purchased them already. If NX plays Wii U games natively right out of the box, then there’s already a solid library of great games to play, in addition to NX launch titles and the promise of more to come.

But if that’s the case, you’ll need a Wii U GamePad, right? It’s possible Nintendo might sell GamePads separately, something they don’t do now, for people who didn’t buy into Wii U. Or, going a step further, it might be possible to use a 3DS for GamePad functionality. This is something Nintendo already has experience with, as it’s possible to use a 3DS as a controller for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

With all of that said, I don’t believe the GamePad or any type of tablet-based controller will be what we see as the main, front-and-center controller for NX. I just believe the console will fully support that functionality for people who want to take advantage.

Beyond that, I wonder if Nintendo’s next handheld could potentially play Wii U titles. The 3DS is getting a little long in the tooth, and the New 3DS is nothing more than a stopgap (a stopgap I’m proud to own, thank you very much). While Nintendo won’t want to conflate talk of a new handheld with talk of NX, I have to imagine we’ll be hearing about new handheld hardware sooner rather than later.

Considering Wii U’s relative lack of power compared to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that a new handheld device could be just as powerful as Wii U. And with that new, cross-platform architecture and account system, and the fact I can’t see Nintendo abandoning the two-screen functionality in its handhelds, it really doesn’t seem that far-fetched to think you could play Wii U games on the go.

Last year I postulated what Nintendo’s next handheld might be like. Some of what I talked about doesn’t seem likely or relevant anymore, but some of it still seems just as pertinent. I could be talking out of my butt, although we won’t know for a while, but it all seems worth considering.

Tempering Expectations

I don’t know the origin of the idiom, “Never meet your heroes,” but it seems to be as relevant as ever.

And now, because of the ever-present role of technology and social media in our lives, we don’t even necessarily need to meet our heroes for them to personally disappoint us. A careless remark to someone in a private conversation can turn into a full-blown national scandal.

It’s not that you shouldn’t have heroes – I certainly have plenty of my own – it’s just that we shouldn’t be consumed by infatuation for them. I think it’s healthy to have people to look up to, people who inspire us. And that can, of course, include friends and family members. But we often look outside our social circles for inspiration, and we tend to forget that even the most well-regarded individuals are just as fallible as we are.

People are flawed and they make mistakes. Some get caught up in the heat of the moment – or react to something offhandedly, not necessarily meaning anything by it – and say or do things they instantly regret. Others do deplorable things intentionally, hoping no one will ever find out, and either show no remorse, or give insincere apologies in an attempt to save face when it all comes to light. There are a million ways people can, have and will step in it. The point is, because we have expectations, at some point or another, we’ll be let down.

And whether we personally deem a person’s actions worthy of national, front-and-center, in-the-spotlight attention, is irrelevant. Once it’s news, it’s all many people will focus on. It’s not up to me to tell you how to feel, and it’s not my place to dictate whether a person’s actions necessitate forgiveness on your part. That’s not my prerogative. That’s up to each one of us, individually.

But when we’re let down by our heroes in any field, I think it’s sometimes at least partially our fault for putting them up on a pedestal. That’s not excusing their actions, nor is it absolving them of responsibility, but for a plethora of reasons, we tend to hold prominent people to higher standards.

But some of those people can’t even meet the basic standard of, what I’d call, being a decent human being. And I guess that might mean different things to different people, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect each other to be capable of respecting, and not purposely violating, one another’s personal, physical, emotional and mental well-being.

There are figures in society whose identities we hold up as moral beacons. And when they (almost inevitably) stumble and fall, it hurts more than when some stranger does the same thing. We may not know the full story behind any of the circumstances, but when we begin to see a basic picture of who they are outside the spotlight, it can entirely change our feelings towards them.

I don’t know what I’m really trying to say, other than maybe we should temper our expectations of the people we look up to, because they’re often not who we imagine or want them to be.

Remembering Iwata

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At this time last week, I was – along with the rest of the gaming world – still reeling from the news that broke Sunday evening. Satoru Iwata had passed away.

Just as I was about to hop off the computer for the night, I checked my Twitter feed and saw the first bit of news trickling out. I had to reread the the headline three times just to make sure I’d seen it correctly. Upon clicking a couple of links, my heart sank as the news was repeatedly confirmed.

And then I cried.

I was heartbroken, and I think I always will be. Continue reading

Thoughts on Charleston, the Confederate flag, and gun violence

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Hey guys, I posted this on Facebook last night. After some thought, I decided to share it here, too.

In wake of the horrific attack on the church in Charleston last week, I’ve been sitting on a number of thoughts, trying to wrap my brain around them, and trying to mold them into articulate ideas. I didn’t want to react in a knee-jerk fashion, and I didn’t want my words to get lost in the cacophony of social commentary coming from every direction.

But now I’m going to speak.

I don’t claim to have all the insight, and I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, but hopefully I can adequately provide my perspective, however limited it may be.

First, I want to address South Carolina’s decision to remove what is commonly referred to as the Confederate flag. It was most certainly, and unquestionably, the right move. That’s what I firmly believe. But I also want to expand upon that.

To anyone making the argument that it’s a symbol of “heritage, not hate,” I understand where you’re coming from. As a born-and-raised Southerner, I get that. For a long time, growing up, that was also my view and understanding. But over the years, and especially more recently, my opinion has changed. Continue reading

Jurassic World is here

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Although the theater where I first saw Jurassic Park no longer exists, I still vividly recall that warm Sunday afternoon after church, when my parents and I went to the Biltmore Twin, a second-run theater in the South Forest Shopping Center.

I had just turned five and hadn’t even started kindergarten yet. And like most kids, I’d come down with a full-blown case of dino fever. I’m not sure how many of you remember, but the release of Jurassic Park was an event.

I remember going to a huge dinosaur exhibit at the Biltmore Square Mall. I don’t remember whether it was directly connected to the release of the movie, but it was certainly there because of it, complete with an animatronic tyrannosaurus rex, among other giant lizards.

However cool, the animatronics couldn’t match the excitement of the resurrected dinos that were living and breathing in Jurassic Park. Twenty two years later and that movie is still just as good as the day I first experienced it. Continue reading

Kinda Funny

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For those who don’t know, Kinda Funny – the single greatest YouTube channel in existence – is the culmination of the charisma, insight, creative genius and passion of Greg Miller, Colin Moriarty, Nick Scarpino and Tim Gettys, and it is unrivaled.

They’re four of my best friends, and they want to be yours, too.

As a long-time reader of IGN, I’ve known these guys for years, through their writing, podcasts and videos. When they started their own weekly YouTube podcast, The GameOverGreggy Show, in late 2013, I was there. These guys became a regular part of my everyday life.

So around five months ago, when I first learned they were leaving IGN, as I ate lunch in the break room at work, I was devastated. Immediately after reading Greg’s tweet, which simply said, “I quit IGN,” tears began to roll down my cheek. I hadn’t yet processed what was happening, so my only response was to cry.

Little did I realize that the departure of these four individuals meant I’d actually get to spend even more time with them, as they have gone on to form Kinda Funny, where they create web content for their fans (their best friends) full-time. And this past weekend, I got to spend time with them, in-person, at MomoCon in Atlanta.

And let me tell you, it was freaking surreal. They are every bit as genuine, gracious, down-to-earth, funny and kind as they seem in their videos. They don’t take their success for granted. It’s obvious they care that we care.

When I first approached them, I introduced myself and said they might recognize my Twitter picture from my incessant tweeting at them. Before I even pulled up my profile to show them, Tim asked, “Are you the Doug guy?!” and as I proceeded to show them (my pic is Doug Funnie with a Braves cap), Tim shouted, “I was hoping you’d be the Doug guy!” And because of my Twitter pic, they all knew me.

That blew my mind.

Later that evening, along with other Kinda Funny fans, I got to hang out with them and actually have real conversations. Nick Scarpino, the Producer/Seducer, actually came up to me and spent an inordinate amount of time talking to me, one-on-one. IS THIS REAL LIFE?!

These guys are my heroes, and the fact that they not only know who I am, but wanted to talk to me, was almost beyond (Beyond!) what I could comprehend. They work so hard, and it’s absolutely appreciated.

The fact that I left Atlanta this afternoon having gotten two hugs from Greg and two hugs from Nick, a handshake from all four of them, visual recognition of who I am from all of them, some real conversations and their signatures is more than I ever dreamed. The fact that I got Greg to yell “Oi!” is just the icing on the cake.

As I write this, I have a couple of tears in my eyes, because I can’t wait to hang out with them again.

Kinda Funny is made up of best friends, and those best friends are family.