No touching my VisionBalls

Ever wanted to use your iPad but don’t have enough stupid hands to multitask? No? Alright then. Do even have an iPad? Well, that’s too bad. I’m still gonna tell you about this new tech though so deal with it.

According to the grocery store copy machine flyer given to me at this show floor demo, literally sitting on the floor, “building upon the spatial-tracking success of the best-selling applications Wall Painter and Home Decorator,” this middleware will use the front facing camera in the iOS devices and enable motion tracking for use in games and apps. But seriously, Wall PainterHome DecoratorBest selling.

Demonstrating the tech in a basketball game VisionBall, the camera is able to detect the depth of your hand and individual fingers and gestures like shooting a basketball will, obviously, shoot a basketball. The tech is very similar to early EyeToy games and, more recently, Kinect games… like Sports Champions.

The tech has been in development for six months now by one single man, Joel Teply. According to his representatives, Teply is in deals to collaborate with CNN and Pixar. Yeah.

The demo tech was made in a week before E3 and had some hitches especially with the convention center lighting. There were multiple options to fully calibrate the tech and by multiple options, I mean sliders. Like Jerry O’Connell’s run on FOX, these won’t make it into the final product. Janky is where the tech stands right now but still, motion controls is the equivalent to a VD for video games.

Where this tech’s real focus was was at WWDC, showing off its VisionBalls to the heads of Apple and getting some great buzz from developers, according to Nathan Evans, project manager at Digital Rising. This E3 demo was just to show that something is coming and in the works. I don’t blame them for having troubles with the tech since the rush it had endured, but to prove that there is something in the works is beneficial. I still stand by my views on motion control in games but as a use in different applications like navigating through the OS, I can see the potential. I’m lazy so waving my hands around and actually having those actions do something seems beneficial, especially lying down in bed just inches away from my computer.

Upon further discussion with Evans, the main difference between this tech and Kinect is that it isn’t tacked onto an otherwise controller based navigation system. iOS implements all touch so this tech’s finger recognition might prove better than Kinect’s often janky navigation.

Kinect comparisons aside, this tech is still work in progress but the potential still stands in making every iPad user a bit more lazier. Seeing the VisionBall demo didn’t very much pique my interest, due to its early bugs and unsurprising game concept, but if this tech can get us closer to that “Minority Report” style of navigation, as what the Move and Kinect initially promised, I’m all for it.

Until then, shoot some VisionBalls, paint some walls and decorate some homes. Just don’t touch me.

Originally published on June 15, 2011 @

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Unexpectations: E3 2011 Day 1 “So says Mr. Destructoid…”

Day 1:

Gas. Brake. Traffic. I thought 9:30 in the morning would be more than sufficient for clear roads. Of course, I was wrong. The usual 45 minute drive turned into an hour and a half of me cursing every congested junction I pass. I just wanted to get to E3 already!
Well, after a strenuous test of patience, I had finally arrived… to a four block trek.

Photo by Kenny Redublo

First walk of the expo

Not too bad considering the beautiful weather. For someone who doesn’t really know the existence of time before noon, I had quite the bit of energy. It was the E3 energy.
Dressed in my best bowtie and vest, I was ready to ham it up as Mr. Destructoid. To strut was my calling and to pose was my purpose.

Fresh out of the Nintendo press conference, I met Jesse “Tactix” Cortez, the ever great Dtoid SF community manager and most of the Dtoid team.

Photo by Kenny Redublo

Always be busy

Photo by Kenny Redublo

Work work

The burning excitement was still ever lasting from the press conference, with the Wii U announcement and other Nintendo charm in the eyes of the staff. It was really great to see that common glee for video games instead of getting blank stares.

Having some spare time before I get into some mascot hijinks, I got to tour the expo floor. Due to me being excessively ready with camera equipment, Niero asked me to tour the Nintendo booth since that is what would be the hype of the day, coming fresh out of the presser. And focus I did.

Lines galore and pretty ladies tethered with tech, the Nintendo booth and its pretty lights was a warm welcome to E3. With tons of demos and the Wii U actually playable, give or take, the booth seemed to take the attendee saturation statistic.

The wait time signs proved no hinderance to eager attendees, while some just wanted the “experience.”

As the booth started to fill, the girl holding the Wii U controller I had previously talked to became surrounded by overly anxious photographers, taking awkwardly close photos of the controller near her crotch.

Photo by Kenny Redublo

Calm before the storm

Photo by Kenny Redublo

Never mind that hottie, that's the effin' Wii U!

A look of discomfort was shot across the lurchers to me, in which all I could return was sympathy. So sorry, miss.

As I frolicked the floor, I couldn’t find the urge to stop myself and just play something. I was on a roll to just get footage of everything. I was addicted to footage. Video games were a second priority and I had no idea why. It was the journalist in me branching out. I also got to give Jeff Gerstmann and Vinny Caravella of Giant Bomb greatness my business card! Alright!

But I still did manage to break away from coverage lust to play Dance Central 2. I can’t express the joy I felt dancing to Montell Jordan’s ‘This is How We Do It.’ It is just ‘how we do it.’ I was also really happy to find out that one of the dancers remembered me from last E3. Not one for goodbyes, I told them I’ll be back… wearing a robot head.

It was time to don the mask. And a role it was.

Photo by Kenny Redublo

You know. Robot business.

Being silent in that head as I followed Jesse’s feet around the floor, all I could think about was that Sanford and Son theme song to motivate my strut. It worked, since I heard some ladies say, “I like how the robot walks!” Success.

Photo by Kenny Redublo

Mission accomplished.

So I posed and strutted and apparently met quite a few people. I think I met the head of Gaijin Games. That would explain that Commander Video pin I had on me.

Photo by Kenny Redublo

Dtoid Royality Hollie Bennett

Photo by Kenny Redublo

The infamous bastard himself, Mr. Caffeine.

I danced to Glee songs that Jesse would sing. Apparently, Glee is a thing.

Ladies love cool Mr. Destructoid according to all the photos I saw after my tour of the floor. I couldn’t really see any of them but hamming it up as I pointed and posed as cheesy as can be was the best part of being Mr. Dtoid.

Photo by Kenny Redublo

Also, cocktails.

As the first day of E3 ended, I was sweaty and fancy all over, but the night hadn’t even begun. And did it ever have its lasting effects.

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Unexpectations: E3 2011 Day 0

No, I was still unprepared. After a night of whiskey, beer and meeting people with great cheer, I decided to stay in neighboring Highland Park with my sister. I already planned to stay there for the days of the expo but under these certain circumstances, I had to make some exceptions. So for the day -1 and 0 posts, I won’t have any photos or videos since I was quite unprepared and maybe hungover.

Day 0:

Nonetheless, I headed over to the convention center as early as I could muster for some scouting. I ended up sitting in a chair by the press registration for at least an hour and a half, somewhat falling asleep. I had my reasons but I did end up getting out of there.

I realized it was almost time for the EA press conference and it not being that far away (and also getting my parking money’s worth), I decided to take my chances. Six or seven blocks later, I had arrived at the historic Orpheium Theatre with a sprawling line overflowing the sidewalks.

Well here are the press elite. Being a games journalist lurker supreme, my mind just starts name dropping all the people I see. I ran into 1UP’s Jeremy Parish on the way there. I was silently giddy while trailing behind Jeff Gerstmann, Vinny Caravella, Drew Scanlon and Patrick Klepek. I spent my time over there hanging out with Sterling McGarvey and Andrew Pfster, since I had met them previously at Insomniac Games’ Community Day about two months ago. I was happy they had remembered me so I didn’t feel too uncomfortable being in a place where I really did not belong.

After long periods of waiting and trying my hardest to look like I belong, I had the chance to get into the conference.

“Hey there. Can I get your name?”

“Hey how’s it going? My name is Kenny Redublo.”

“…..ummm. I don’t see your name on the list. Did you get an invite?”

“Hmmm. That’s weird. I did get an invite but I guess I’m not on the list. I talked to one of your staff members earlier and he said I would be fine.”

“Well, I’ll see what we can do. Just wait on the side. Sorry.”

Yes, I lied. I’m no one in this industry, but that just gives me more opportunity to exploit that fact. If I’m no one, I can be anyone.

Well, this time was not a success. I hung out with some other press members that were cool enough to let me just tag along.

And tag along I did. After EA was a bust, Ubisoft was just down the street. We had heard it was a first come, first served conference so our chances seemed much more hopeful.

Conferences are pretty damn hopeless. Especially for me.

We waited in the “without conformation” line until we got inside of the Los Angeles Theatre.

“What’s your name?”

“Kenny Redublo.”

*reads ID*

*reads list*

“I don’t see your name on the list.”

“Oh that’s weird. Well I’m with him.”

*point towards one of the guys I’ve been hanging out with*

“Well do you have a business card?”

“Aw actually I left them back at the hotel.”

“You don’t have a business card.”

(She knew it was all malarky)

(She had to)

“Sorry. :(”

Denied again. I was playing a losing game to begin with but it was still worth a try. At least the other guys I was with didn’t get in either. We had a defeated pizza lunch at the place next door before we said our goodbyes.

And so, I left. I smelled like beer from the night before due to Hamza Aziz spilling on me from the pre-E3 party and needed a shower. So I went home.


Design by Kenny Redublo

This took five hours of drawing, scanning and procrastinating.

I wrangled my (borrowed) cameras, my (borrowed) microphones, clothes, bike, vest, bowtie. This time I was ready. First day of the expo was tomorrow. It was time for business (cards).

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Unexpectations: E3 2011 Day -1

My original plan for E3 this year has been a bit modified. I was going to go as press for the Student Voice, but through unexplained circumstances other than laziness, I forgot to turn in my press credentials. I was out this year and I was fine with that. I actually wasn’t. As the expo inched closer, I started to go into business mode. Every E3 contest I saw, I entered. I tried. Oh, did I try.

My sleepless nights were riddled with ideas for entries. Videos of conversations, casual eating, the chugging of gallons of milk. Anything and everything came to mind when it came down to the wire. What I learned most from this new found inspiration is that I can be motivated. Motivated to write, to film, to talk. And it has paid off.

Day -1:

With this burning motivation, I found myself getting into the communities of Giant Bomb and Destructoid. I managed to set up a SoCal Giant Bombers E3 meet up and got some response, but that response was overwhelmingly great! I always strayed away from message boards and forums since I never thought I was being heard. When my ideas and interests are shared, there is no other gratifying feeling than that. With hopes of the E3 meet up actually pulling through, I was getting the comfortable feeling of not lurking alone.

As for the E3 contests I joined, my efforts with the contest were fruitless, but the Destructoid contest gave me a mention. It was no E3 pass but I was glad my sleep-deprived ideas were appreciated. Feedback was the real prize I won and it is gratifying.

Well, in my grogginess of wake after a night of more E3 planning, I gathered word of the Destructoid pre-E3 party. I always wanted to go to an E3 party but I was never of age or work had to conflict. It was Sunday. Nothing to do. Nothing planned. Until now. Drinking is always more fun when you’ve got something to talk about and with the shared interest of video games, there is drunk fun to be had. The party also gave me the chance to inquire about another E3 desperation attempt. Destructoid had an open call to LA locals who own nice suits to become Mr. Destructoid, their mascot whose swagger scours the expo floor. When I saw that open call, I was game. I like wearing nice clothes and I think I can strut it out, especially wearing a robot head.

Seven Grand was the venue and whiskey were the drinks. It was my kind of place. Dim, lots of wood paneling, on a second floor of a classic downtown LA building. It was classy. But video games. The first thing on my mind wasn’t just to schmooze with game journalist elites. I like to meet people. Naturally. So, over drinks, pool and smoking lounges, I got to meet people. Fun people. People who actually introduced me to the heads of Destructoid and founder Yaniero Gonzalez was kind enough to be Mr. Destructoid. As much as I wanted to talk shop, we were at a bar, for a party! Business can wait and wait it did, for the night went on with more genuine conversation (well, as genuine as it can get with alcohol) about what we all love, video games. And California burritos.

My only regret is that I didn’t make business cards in time for the party. I would get a business card then as they waited for a similar exchange, all I could give was an excuse. “I forgot?” “I’m just a fan.” “I don’t work for the industry.” Each excuse I gave made me feel like such a kid. Very professional, Kenny.

Well, after meeting assorted game journalists like Leigh Alexander, Phillip Kollar and most of Destructoid, I’m motivated. Eyes up, business cards ready. Bring it.

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welcome welcome

After some copy and pasting, I’ve collected a collection of previously published writings for professional purposes. Yes. All the posts previous to this one are most of my writings from the Student Voice. All the links are provided in the posts and hope you enjoy reading!


p.s. This site is still a work-in-progress. I hope to get some help getting it looking fancy, design-wise.

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“Monsters” review: Sci-fi done cheaply beautiful

A beautifully shot, yet flatly acted romp through the Infected Zone.

Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing

Whitney Able in "Monsters"

When disaster strikes, panic ensues. As the situation turns dire, logic seems impossible and grief sets in. What happens when we move on?

Where the typical monster movie ends, that’s where “Monsters” begins.

Set a year after NASA discovers a possibility of alien life on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, a probe sent to collect spores from the planet crash lands in the Mexican ocean. Soon after, new life forms are discovered and half of Mexico is deemed the Infected Zone.

Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), an American photojournalist, is sent on a special assignment to escort his boss’s daughter Sam Wynden (Whitney Able) back from Mexico into the US.

After failed attempts to easily and safely return home, Kaulder and Sam must take their chances through the Infected Zone.

At its core, “Monsters” is essentially a road movie. The exotic scenery, the varying modes of transportation, the consistent yet so far away destination are all elements of the typical road movie, but aliens are thrown into the mix. This dangerous factor does not seem to create any sense of dread upon the journey though. Maybe due to the acceptance of the creatures or just pure ambiguity, nothing seems to phase the main characters in their unfortunate ordeal.

Trying to capitalize on their real-life relationship, Able and McNairy’s on-screen chemistry comes off as strangely dull. With flat line deliveries and boring conversations, the use of improv was wasted from these two actors.

Though not masterfully acted, “Monsters” has its scenery to rely upon.

Vast landscapes and thick jungles littered with the ravages of the creatures convey the film’s strong points. The delicate cinematography shows where this first time director’s (Gareth Edwards) roots and strengths lie. Edwards lets each shot tell its own story, but that, in turn, takes away from the actors. Paired with a subtle ambient score, “Monsters” is more a visual and aural treat than a narrative driven film.

As a cheap complete indie package, “Monsters” excels in aspects like CG, even surpassing some blockbuster films, cinematography and score to hide its minuscule budget, but its plot holes and flat performances keep this film from being the breakout sci-fi hit it has the potential of being.

Originally published on Oct. 28, 2010 @

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Machete review: Mexploitation at its sharpest

Machete is bringing back the exploitation films of yore into this crisp and clean age.

Property of Rodriguez International Pictures

Cutting down corruption, one limb at a time.

As the film grain hits the screen in this high-definition era, there already is a feeling of being duped.

Machete is bringing back the exploitation films of yore into this crisp and clean age. With an absence of logic and bloody blade, Machete is a disgustingly ferocious satire on America’s immigration issues and the sensibility of taking themselves too seriously.

Machete follows the exploits and “Death Wish”-esque revenge trail of titular character Machete (66-year-old Danny Trejo), a legendary straight cut ex-Federale literally cut loose by Mexican drug lord Torrez (the ever substantial Steven Segal). Machete’s incorruptible ways sends him from his loyal life with his wife and child to the deepest depths of sorrow with Torrez killing his family and marking Machete an enemy of Mexico and an immigrant worker in the United States.

As a day laborer, Machete meets Luz (the subtly angry Michelle Rodriguez), taco shop owner and image of the Mexican revolution against Senator John McLaughlin (the very faux-Texan Robert De Niro) and his campaign for harsh immigration laws.

As Machete gets deeper involved in corrupt American politics due to businessman Michael Booth (Psycho 3’s… um Lost’s Jeff Fahey), he becomes ever entwined with Immigration Officer Sartana Rivera (the post-baby Jessica Alba) and her struggles with what is right and what is wrong. From just a simple revenge plot to a full-blown revolution, Machete delivers on its explosions, plot-wise and action-wise.

Director Robert Rodriguez continues the Mexploitation genre he started. All the elements are in place. Drug lords, immigration, corruption, revenge and the search for redemption.

Though not as serious as his films in the Mexico trilogy (El Mariachi, Desperado and Once Upon A Time In Mexico), Rodriguez ups the fun factor by making the absurd commonplace.

There is no need to question why Machete can fly through the air on a motorcycle firing a mounted mini-gun or how a man’s intestines can support his weight through a window. It just is. Rodriguez has made what he wants to have always seen in a movie and he isn’t alone.

With these absurd ideas come and an even more absurd and surprising cast. Seeing Steven Segal as a Mexican drug lord speaks volumes by itself, but adding in Don Johnson, Robert De Niro, Cheech Marin, Tom Savini and Lindsay Lohan essentially playing herself flushes logic down every Hollywood agents’ throats.

Performances from Alba and Rodriguez are as bad as predicted but considering what this film is, everything is forgiven and actually very welcomed, contributing more to that exploitation film feel and its welcomed flaws. Machete is a very redeemable oxymoron.

Though Machete has many of its flaws on its sleeve, present and proud, this self-aware attitude makes up for any of those shortcomings then gives Hollywood logic another shot to the head.

Originally published on Sept. 13, 2010 @

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War freezes over in Killzone 3

The war against the Helghast heats up in the tundra in the next installment of the PlayStation exclusive shooter series, Killzone 3.

Photo by Kenny RedubloThe trials of the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance against the Helghast continue with increased brutality, having players assume the role of Killzone 2 protagonist Sergeant Tomas “Sev” Sevchenko armed with new tools, weapons and moves to take down the fascist-like oppressors.

Prominently displayed at the Sony PlayStation booth, E3 attendees were given the chance to demo the game in either 2D or 3D, a first for the series and following Sony’s push for 3D gaming. The demo was split in three parts: infiltration, jet-pack and WASP, showcasing the new features of the game. The first section focused on the on-foot combat of the game, where Sev infiltrated a Helghast base with Master Sergeant Rico Velasquez as his trusty brothers in arms. This section introduced the new melee system that features up close and personal knife kills and neck snaps, adding to the brutality of the war and desperation in the new arctic environment.

The second section featured the Helghast jet-pack. Able to jump to new areas and different flanking tactics, the jet-pack provide the biggest change to the series so far. Enemies and players can fight in new high flying ways.

The third section feature the new weapon the WASP, a multi-firing rocket launcher. Players are faced against a Helghan tank with which players only means of victory is the WASP. Many players at the demo had difficulty figuring out where the WASP was on the map and were trying to defeat the tank in different ways with no success until a rep told them where to go. The game is still the pre-alpha development stages so the developers have time to provide a better way to guide players to the right objectives.

For being very early in development, Killzone 3 is shaping up to be a worthy and prettier successor to an already visually and mechanically solid title. Other than supporting 3D gaming, Killzone 3 will also support Sony’s motion controller, the PlayStation Move, increasing immersion in the war against the Helghan. Killzone 3 is aimed to release in Feb. 2011.

Originally published on June 19, 2010 @

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In the belly of the beast: PixelJunk Shooter 2 Impressions

Going with the flow, PixelJunk Shooter’s dynamic fluids and scientist rescuing antics return to the PlayStation Network with new creative game play mechanics like light and corrosive acids.

Photo by Kenny RedubloContinuing right after the first game, players find themselves rescuing more scientists from peril in even more perilous landscapes while discovering the strange inner workings of an alien planet and its inhabitants.

The E3 demo showed off two levels that introduced new mechanics unseen in the PixelJunk library. In the level “Inner Space,” the dynamic of stomach acid is introduced, where if any is splashed onto the ship, the outer hull will corrode until it is rinsed off with water.

The acid gives the game a more urgent feel and makes the players focus on the careful exploration and control of the ship.

In the level “Lights Out,” the light and dark mechanic is introduced, where players must tread carefully and quickly through the dark environments or the alien equivalent to the boogieman will destroy the ship. Though sometimes frustrating after many retries, this mechanic also adds to the sens of urgency, but also displays the harsh and dangerous enemies of the game.

Though the game play is essentially the same as the first title, these new mechanics keep the series interesting and challenging while maintaining their signature visual style of high definition vector graphics and lively color palettes. More details on the release date will be revealed later in the year.

Originally published on June 19, 2010 @

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Harry Potter and the Gears of Wizard War

Harry is back. Older, wiser and more bad-ass. Maturing with its audience, the video game for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a dark change to the series, mirroring games like Gears of War and Dead Space to convey that Hogwarts is at war and all rules are off.

Branching away from its light-hearted platforming roots, Deathly Hallows is a full fledged cover based third person shooter. Harry’s circumstances have changed drastically this time around. After being exiled from Hogwarts and on the run from Voldemort’s dark influence on the wizard world, Harry is in desperate times. All he can do is fight back with everything he’s got. And he’s got quite an arsenal.

Each spell at Harry’s disposal is very much an equivalent to any weapon in a third person shooter, but with some twists. Stupefy acts as Harry’s pistol, damaging enemies with single shots and reliable accuracy. Getting to the big guns, spells like confringo and expelliarmus act as a rocket launcher and shotgun, respectfully. Other spells like confundo are non-lethal spells that turns the target against their allies to disarray their tactics.

Harry’s spell repertoire add a good sense of variety to the combat, but pausing the combat to switch spells on the fly needs some work to obtain that seamless feel to the combat. The heads-up display is at a bare minimum like in the title Dead Space to add immersion in the game world, but the camera movement feels disconnected to the player and can create some problems in combat. The developer still has some time to iron out these quips before the film’s release in November, but other than that, the game is looking to be an interesting and welcome change to the series. Harry’s fight against Voldemort will not go out without a confringo.

Originally published on June 19, 2010 @

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